Great Expectations!

So I’m over at Jason’s blog again, talking about my all-time favourite book – surprised I’ve been asked back?  Hmnn, I don’t have a gun this time,  so maybe that has got something to do with it?  I’m talking about my favourite novel, the fantastic Great Expectations by the tremendously talented Charles Dickens.

Jason asked me some interesting questions, and I did branch out little, discussing themes and Victorian social problems and other great works of literature. Jason has added some great illustrations too, and the blog is gorgeous, take a peek!

I did manage to slip in, ever so subtly mind you, a discreet mention of my new book, Nightmare Asylum & Other Deadly Delights which is out with marvellous NTTK in February 2019!

 Over to Mr. beech…

So, a classic of English literature. What do you love about it?

I do believe that Charles Dickens was a genius, but there are a couple of reasons I like the novel so much. Firstly, I think it has the best plot of any book I have ever read – it’s so engaging, complicated and has a fabulous revelation, which ties up the actions of the seemingly unconnected characters and different strands of the plot! Not only has Pip been deluded about his benefactor; he has placed his trust in a future which doesn’t exist, believing that steel-hearted Estella was meant to be his wife…read more

 

Her Name is Mercie ~ A New Short Story Collection by Chris Roy

If you prefer your short stories on the dark and dangerous side, there is a great new book due out on Amazon today! Her Name is Mercie is a superb collection of contemporary noir, which slides seamlessly through genre boundaries into psychological horror and suspense, especially in the horrifying story, Libby’s Hands. There’s a very distinct writing style and some excellent prose in the other stories too, especially in the mythical and intriguing, Hunger and the taut and suspenseful, Marsh Madness.

In the title story, Her Name is Mercie; an ordinary young woman is betrayed by the police when her parents are inexplicably shot dead in their car. This is a story of modern day greed and corruption: if you push someone to their breaking point, it can be surprising to see what they are capable of, and Mercie is not a girl to be deceived! It’s a story of revenge, of finding loyalty in strange and unexpected places; but don’t for one second, imagine that the route this author takes will be predictable! Chris Roy is a master of suspense; he ratches up the tension to breaking point, only to deliver you without a safety net, straight into the unknown.

The cohesive theme of this collection is family; what it means to experience betrayal and disloyalty from external forces, as well as from the very people that you love and trust the most! There are also motifs of justice and redemption – perhaps the ‘family’ which you have built for yourself, is the only thing able to survive in a nightmarish world, where love and loyalty, can never be truly taken for granted.

Her Name is Mercie is out today!  ~ Expect the unexpected. Expect to be entertained!

www.unjustelement.com

Twitter@AuthorChrisRoy

Goodreads

Facebook

Check out the super creepy video!

Helen Dunmore∼Your Blue-Eyed Boy

Your Blue Eyed boyWhen a writer whom you admire immensely, dies, and you have to start referring to them in the past tense, even though you know that their work will endure, long past their own personal expiry date (5/6/2017), the question is, which book of theirs do you review?

Should it be Helen Dunmore’s last book, Birdcage Walk, which contains insightful references to the illusory nature and often damaged durability of life? Or perhaps it would be more meaningful to pay homage to the novel whose influence, if you are kind enough to look for it, can be seen in my own writing (especially in the flash fiction, Winter Baby).

As both a writer and reader, I cannot resist opting for the novel which impressed me the most, the book I have read endless times, whose characters gained my attention years ago, and were seemingly unwilling to let me go. So for me, in remembrance of her brilliance, it’s got to be, Your Blue-Eyed Boy.

The novel is about blackmail, ‘the most intimate of crimes’  it’s about how it makes you feel, how it entangles and corrupts your soul and the lengths to which it can make you go, in order to keep your dark, shameful secrets from destroying your already troubled life.

“The wind blows harder and your house begins to move on a sea that was always there, beneath the crust of the land. And you are afraid, but you are beginning to move with it.”

Simone is deeply in debt, she has taken a job she doesn’t want or enjoy, in order to support her family, through her husband, Donald’s bankruptcy and subsequent emotional breakdown. Donald is gravitating towards suicide, his attitude of relentless negativity is wearing Simone down to a point in which things look very desperate indeed.

Add to the mix, a disturbed middle-aged man, recently released from prison, who was once her lover and has become her nemesis; the prognosis is not healthy, the characters are horribly damaged and appear to be on the verge of dissolution and disintegration.

“He has consumed himself. He has made himself not exist anymore in this middle-aged man with bulky flesh and face. He has lost his fine sharpness. He is loose and blurred, like a photograph out of focus, stickered with a note from the laboratory that tells you where you have gone wrong. I look for what I knew before.”

The writing is beautiful, dark and uncompromising in its willingness to explore what it feels like to face a serious threat, only to discover, that perhaps the most deadly danger of all, was already lingering, malevolently, inside of you.

Why do I enjoy her writing so much? It is her style, which is unique; her special combination of poetry and prose blending seamlessly, giving a sense of transcendence as if she is pushing at the boundaries of what it is possible to express.

♦♦♦

Helen Dunmore & her poetry: Passionfood-three poems about love.

 

Please note that I will be taking a two-week holiday break and then I will be back with some travel reviews

 

You’re Not Supposed to Cry ∼ Gary Duncan

After I mentioned this book by Gary Duncan in the previous post (when I was interviewed by Fiona Mcvie), I thought it would be a good idea to write a book review – as hopefully, you will already be aware, I try to keep  a balanced  blend of books, travel pieces and my own writing on this site, and I haven’t reviewed any new books for almost a year!

gary photo

So why this one? Obviously, I really enjoyed reading it or I wouldn’t be posting this; but what was so special about it? This book is actually a collection of flash fiction – around 60 in total, each one beautifully crafted and insightful from writer and editor Gary Duncan, who runs the website Spelk, which is dedicated to amazing pieces of flash fiction. Do I have a personal favorite? , Yes of course, for me it got to be Better Than This,  in which a young man with sex on his mind, is lured into babysitting for a woman who appears to have no moral qualms about deceiving him, or leaving her young children with someone she barely knows; in order to enjoy a night out with her equally horrible boyfriend. The story made me smile, but horrified me at the same time!

In this collection, the situations and characters are very flawed and human, and there are many layers of complexity, which draw you into a fragmented, but instantly recognizable, fictional world. But instead of  me wittering on  endlessly about how much I  enjoyed it, here is my actual review:

This superb collection of flash fiction offers readers a perfectly formed, miniature world of other people’s wishes, desires, dreams and regrets. The elegant but understated writing style creates a dynamic tension between the simplicity of the stories, and the complexity of the lives and actions of the beautifully formed characters, which we are observing. Each story, memory, fragment and feeling, has been crafted with a very poignant sense of emotional intelligence.  Some stories are subtle; some will make you smile, while others are uncompromisingly honest. This book is a kaleidoscope of multifaceted characters and situations, whom you will remember long after you have finished reading; finding their hopes, fears and very human humiliations, have somehow, quite imperceptibly, blended into your own.

Yes – it really is that good – but don’t just take my word for it! – check it out for yourself…

 

Gary’s book at Vagabond Voices

At Amazon co.uk

The Last Laugh by Paul D. Brazill

If you enjoy a bit of tasty crime, but have never read Paul D. Brazill, then this collection of short stories is an excellent opportunity to do a little covert exploration into the dark underbelly of his seedy, but seductive world. Guns, gangsters, old geezers with grudges and whores without hearts proliferate his pages; luring you in, before taking you down. With twenty mouth-wateringly delicious crime stories to choose from – how could you possibly lose?

german-rings-with-skull  aA stealthy aside, about the writer himself: The tremendously talented jazz musician, Miles Davis, once said “If you are going to tell a story, man, you’ve got to give it some attitude; don’t be coy with that shit.” And if this is the type of commitment you demand from your own personal reading material; then Paul D. Brazill is your man. In this exceptionally exciting crime collection, being coy is the last thing you could ever accuse him of. Not that I would like to try…

2015-Whole-Body-Blood-Scared-Others-Halloween-Cosplay-Lace-And-Polyester-White-And-Red-Blood-MiserableBut on a more serious note, there are plenty of things happening here, that Paul D. Brazill should be held accountable for: a blood spattered bride, vicious vendettas and a dead pimp in a trunk, to name but a few. And not only these – the list of his serious literary crimes increases rapidly with each twisted tale. But you don’t need to take my unreliable word for it – you can check out this superior collection for yourself.

Interested? Then let’s seal the deal, and if my female persuasion and covert manipulation have not seduced you into downloading a copy right now, then with all due respect, stop wasting my time, as The Last Laugh is most definitely on you!

 

pdb
Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk

 

The Death Of Three Colours by Jason Michel

Jason Michel’s unique writing speciality is the character on the verge of mental meltdown. In his latest novella, The Death Of Three Colours, Jonah is a man existing at the brittle edge of rapidly disintegrating economic and cultural system. His interactions with the rest of humanity consist almost entirely of an allegiance to a tightly-knit group of petty criminals, drug dealers, and their associated wives and girlfriends. The normally independent Jonah, who has enough existential angst to fuel an entire John Paul Sartre novel, becomes drawn into the groups’ ambitious new plans to expand their drugs empire internationally using the internet, from the relative comfort of the run down pub where they all, regularly meet.

Jonah is a closet internet entrepreneur, who can envisage a somewhat frightening future with new currencies on the Dark Web, and his skills prove to be invaluable to the business. With his help, the band of the disparate petty criminals can foresee a future in which their careers are about to progress to the big time. Unfortunately, given their ages, average intelligence level, and the clashing of overblown male egos, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

As mentioned earlier, Michel’s characters are never entirely, psychologically sound. Jonah’s psyche is fragmented and he wrestles daily with his wicked alter ego Milton, whom he is barely able to control. Milton is a violent, vicious, misogynist and the nearest this guy is ever going to get to paradise is in the acts of fulfilling his own monstrous needs.

Don’t be fooled into believing that this is a simplistic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type of situation, as Jonah/Milton is fully aware of his psychological condition –  so, don’t expect a shocking reveal moment of the type found in Fight Club. At times Milton can be useful, and Jonah is prepared to acknowledge this, although the idea of dependence on the caged monster inside of his head fills him with shame.

Jonah is no angel either, when he is not dabbling in the Dark Web his world is ruled by his two overriding obsessions. The first of which, and predictably male, is sex, but his character has matured enough by now, to welcome a relationship into which he can ‘share his inner world’, without the need of painful medical intervention. So along comes Sally and he is looking pretty set. Unfortunately Sally has enough historical baggage to comprise everything he has been working towards: is she a dangerous femme fatale?

His second obsession is of the mystical goddess variety. No, he isn’t trying to upgrade his girlfriend; this Mexican folklore saint literally rules his world. Not only does he worship her but he fantasizes about sleeping with her too. (I know, I know, typical male behaviour).  But the scene in which this happens is far from ordinary as Jonah is seeking sexual perfection in the form of a transcendent, ethereal and orgasmic state in which he can reside forever. That might not seem too shabby for a year or two, you might think, even if his chosen goddess is skeletal and not traditionally attractive by most peoples standards –But a word to the wise – passion between the gods, saints and humans rarely ends well and Santa Muerte, also known as the goddess of death, is a demanding and vengeful mistress…

Captura de pantalla 2012-10-16 a la(s) 18.03.13 (1)

I don’t often do book reviews, and this one is the first on my site, so why now and why this particular novella, you may be wondering? I chose this book as it a terrific read! I loved the dark, poetic prose, the Mexican mythology (or alternate religion), and the exciting plot with plenty of twists and turns, with characters I could emotionally invest in. Best of all though, was the cruel undercurrent of deliciously dark humor that runs stealthily all of the way through it.

This is a crime / horror novel and I must in all conscience include a mild warning for potential, psychologically unsound and emotionally unstable readers – prolonged reading usage may cause addiction, and in recommending this book, I am not prepared to take on any personal responsibility for that situation… You can read The Death Of Three Colours by Jason Michel, entirely your own risk! Links below…

Jason
The Death Of Three Colours at  Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk