This October, be a man!

…like Miss Appleby. In Emily Larkin’s amusing romance Unmasking Miss Appleby, downtrodden Charlotte Appleby receives a visit from her malicious fairy godmother, who offers her a choice of supernatural abilities. From the look in the fairy’s obsidian eye, some are more poison chalice than gift – but Charlotte eventually settles on metamorphosis. Because she really needs a job, and in the 18th century or thereabouts, well-paid positions are restricted to male applicants only. When newly-enpenised Appin lands a plum position as the Ninth Earl of Cosgrove’s secretary, difficulties ensue – just as the fairy knew they would. It’s well written, cheeky, and original, and you can find it here.

For a gritty psychological thriller in the style of John Grisham (and I have to admit, I’ve read nearly every book Grisham wrote) look no further than B.B.Griffith’s The Sleepwalkers. Gordon Pope is a disillusioned, divorced child psychiatrist who takes on court work. One day he’s asked to contribute to the defence of a twelve year old who – it’s claimed – tried to murder another kid at a sleepover. The crux of the case is – was the perpetrator asleep at the time? It’s pacey, gripping – and the psychological background is pretty damn interesting. You can find it here.

And now to memoir. Wanderlost: Shots of literary tequila for the restless soul, by Simon Williams, is a lively account of the author’s misspent youth. It could have degenerated into one of those ‘I spent my entire twenties high, pissed or screwing around, so I thought I’d relive that in three hefty volumes’ things – but it isn’t. You will find more insightful bon mots in three pages of this than the whole of War and Peace. Possibly. You can find it here.

And now I’ve introduced sex, let me introduce you to Guilty Pleasures and Other Dark Delights, edited by Steve Dillon. This is a collection of – surprise surprise – erotic short stories (plus a novella), but unlike most erotica, it’s a heady mix of funny, scary, weird, ironic and well…try it. Most of the stories are pretty good, and there isn’t a topless billionaire in sight. Thank God. You can find it here.

My author brother Pete has derelicted his duty this month and hasn’t come up with a fifth excellent indie, so I’ve spitefully decided to review his second book in the Tales of the Wild series, The Servant’s Story. If you enjoyed A Walk in the Wild, you’ll like it (and if you haven’t read it, try it). It’s a light-hearted fantasy adventure set in a world where magic is available and utterly practical (who would set out on a camping trip without packing their Magic Massage Kit, for instance?). Up and coming lawyer Izuli is on her way to a new job when she’s captured by a robber baron with tax problems. Meanwhile, a bunch of clueless ne’er do wells seek hidden treasure in the fabled Wild. The two plots come together in a surprising way – but you’d have to read the book to find out how. You can find it here (and that’ll teach you to skip out on your reviewing duties, Pete!).

I have a particularly brilliant indie book to introduce next month (when it comes out) among other things, but meanwhile, here are a bunch of free fantasy books, and a song in appreciation of the general scrumptiousness of life (on limited occasions).

Read – or written – anything amazing (and self-published/indie) recently? Let me know and I’ll consider reviewing it!

 

5 Comments

  1. Here’s my review of ‘A Trace of Smoke,’ A Trace of Smoke

    by

    Rebecca Cantrell

    Independently published

    I downloaded this ebook from Amazon’s Kindle Store in order to have something to read on the plane. I always like to have something to read in my phone-cum-Kindle, as that means I’m not dependent on having access to wi-fi, and I don’t have to carry a paper book with me. It’s taken me some time (years, actually) to get used to the idea, but I find it’s an invaluable addition to my ability to never being without something to read at hand.

    I chose this book by Rebecca Cantrell because it promised to describe what life was like in Berlin in the early 1930s. I was not disappointed. Apart from the somewhat lurid plot of the novel, the book contains a vivid account of the way Berliners lived and loved at that time, the rising political power and physical presence of the Nazi party and – in a particularly sensational way – the life of the homosexual community there.

    In the author’s afterword she details the sources of her very extensive research into the time and place she describes in the novel, and I personally found this very impressive. She watched movies, read books, interviewed people and undoubtedly invested an enormous amount of time and energy into extending her knowledge of pre-war Berlin. It would seem that she spent several years at high school in Berlin, so that her knowledge of the German language obviously helped her in establishing the setting of her story.

    Although I found the book enjoyable, serving to provide both entertainment and information, I came across occasional linguistic lapses in the English, lapses that could only have been made by a non-native speaker. The text flows well on the whole, but when the narrator, who is the main character, talks about “a dress I wore” rather than ‘a dress I was wearing’ and similar occasions when a continuous construction is required rather than the past or present simple, it constitutes a jarring disruption of the flow of the text. That kind of thing should have been picked up by the book’s editor.

    Notwithstanding, I have downloaded the two subsequent volumes in the series, which follow the fate of the main character, Hannah Vogel, as the atmosphere in Germany under Nazi rule becomes ever more ominous. Although Hannah is not herself Jewish, the sense of menace overshadows the daily life of all Germany’s denizens, and especially those who do not support the Nazi party. The danger to Jews and foreigners is also evident throughout, and the sense of ever-increasing peril assumes increasing prominence.

    So I’m looking forward to my next flight, or possibly even my next visit to the doctor, both of which will inevitably leave me with time on my hands, and the chance to read what I’ve downloaded onto my phone.

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