I thought I’d reveal the cover design for my sophomore novel Broke; a partially autobiographical story which takes on the plight of the working poor and the homeless while, in no uncertain terms, calling out widening inequality in Tory Britain. Here it is: Boom! Those who’ve supported me all these years will know what to […]
What da cover says: Nobody gives a shit anymore.
We are all selfish, greedy, impatient, uncaring, and ruthless – but maybe we can take a moment for a story.
With modern technology and the ease of interaction, we have become more confident and less concerned with anyone or anything that does not directly impact us. We have also become cruel. Desensitized to sex, violence, and death as a result, and stepping over any bodies that fall in our paths on the way to the end of another boring day.
An old man tries to find a reason to keep going. A cocky insurance adjuster looks to deny you everything, including your dignity. An IT rep does what he can to impress a dissatisfied mother. A morose fast food employee has to decide if she wants a promotion or a quick exit. A shady secretary uses the only assets she has to win the support of her boss, a dying fiancé, and the family she left at home. A lone nurse tries to provide help in a medical environment devoid of any care. A single mother learns too late that her children are her life.
Everyone for themselves. Everyone worthless.
Equal in death.
What I says: I am one of those old fashioned people who can easily be swayed into reading a book by a good cover, so far this hasn’t let me down. When I first saw this book I thought, nah, looks dull, then I looked a bit closer at what looked like writing in the background, a collection of quotes of reviews about the book? One in particular caught my eye, “Had a cry and a wank at the same time.” Well that was me sold.
The book looks at the world and how it is filled with terrible, selfish people, the real dregs of society, gold-diggers, insurance guys, fast food managers and the worst of the worst….IT support. From each character you come across you get a sense that they were never always like this, events in their life has led them to being like they are, it almost reads as a warning, there is still time to turn things around, little things might help, like treating one of the main characters with a little respect. Michael is a homeless war vet trying to get by, suffering from PTSD. Kevin Berg cleverly uses him to introduce each of the other characters in the book, how they treat him tells you how their life is going to play out.
There are some fantastic lines in this book, my favourite has to be the one used in the books blurb:
“Everyone for themselves. Everyone worthless.
Equal in death.”
I feel lucky that somebody had a cry-wank over this book because I probably wouldn’t have given it a go.
What da cover says: ARABIA is the story of Jonathan Raban’s magic carpet ride through Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Yemen, Egypt and Jordan. Not only does it reveal the Arabs and their culture, it also introduces us to a series of memorable individuals.
Much of the book’s strength is the author’s gift for friendships. He brings us into markets and hotels to glamorous parties and seedy rooms, to a sheikh’s fortress and the home of a Bedu family. He opens up the world of the rich and the poor and gives us the feel, the smells, the sounds, the very texture of Arabia.
What I says: I recently read my first ever Jonathan Raban book, Coasting, and thought that was one of the best books I’ve read, Arabia has just blown that book out of the water.
Arabia is nothing short of a masterpiece, incredible writing, powerful, funny and historically in-depth. Raban decides on travelling around the Arabian countries due to the number of Arabs moving in near where he lives, he tries to communicate with them but struggles to find a way in. Instead he decides to visit their homelands to learn more about their history and culture.
He fully immerses himself to experience all levels of each country, from the rich to the poor. When he decides to try qat for the first time, a narcotic plant you chew and gets you high, the writing becomes a lot like Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the back and forth between his sober self and the him that is going crazy on qat was pure brilliance.
One thing that stands out is his honesty, by the time he reaches the last country on his tour he is feeling homesick and isn’t afraid to say that he has had enough, the noise and madness, the bizarre censorship rules and the lack of art all start to get to him.
He gets to travel around countries at a time when they are just starting to evolve into the modern world, to see these changes happen must have been an incredible experience. If you don’t read this book then you will be missing out on something truly special.
What da cover says: A vivid and perceptive book combining memoir, scientific and cultural history with a bewitching account of landscape and place, which will appeal to readers of Robert Macfarlane, Roger Deakin and Olivia Laing.
Long captivated by the solid yet impermanent nature of ice, by its stark, rugged beauty, acclaimed poet and writer Nancy Campbell sets out from the world’s northernmost museum – at Upernavik in Greenland – to explore it in all its facets. From the Bodleian Library archives to the traces left by the great polar expeditions, from remote Arctic settlements to the ice houses of Calcutta, she examines the impact of ice on our lives at a time when it is itself under threat from climate change.
The Library of Ice is a fascinating and beautifully rendered evocation of the interplay of people and their environment on a fragile planet, and of a writer’s quest to define the value of her work in a disappearing landscape.
What I says: This was quite a meandering book, Nancy Campbell would be writing about something and then suddenly move onto to something else, the book seems to behave like an iceberg in that it will go where it wants. The writing is so interesting that I was left wondering if those tangents actually ended and the initial subject was returned too. I honestly can’t remember, but it doesn’t matter because there is so much here that you don’t feel like you’ve missed out on anything.
The book starts off with Nancy giving up her job because she gets offered a place as resident artist in Upernavik, Greenland, she falls in love with the place and that becomes the start of a seven year obsession with ice. The most amazing thing for me is how ice has managed to get itself involved in so many areas of life. Art, books, music, film, science, adventure, history and myth, there is so much of it that I was impressed it was possible to fit it into one book. I did spend a lot of time googling some of the more interesting facts.
If you want to read a comprehensive collection about ice then this is the place for you. In fact the only important thing to be missed out of the book I could think of is:
Thanks go to Netgalley for a copy of this book.
What da cover says: Identical twins Talulah and Taliah have never been apart. Viewed as curiosities by children and adults alike, they coexist in an insular world with their own secret language. But being identical doesn’t necessarily mean being equal…
Soon a series of momentous events will send Talulah and Taliah spiralling out of control, setting them on a collision course with a society that views them as two parts of a whole. Will their symbiotic relationship survive?
Perceptive and poignant, Symbiosis explores our enduring fascination with twins and the complexities of twinship.
What I says: What’s one of the creepiest things in a horror movie? Kids that’s what! This book has girls, so doubly creepy! They are twins with a special connection so super creepy all round.
The writing is weird, not sure if it is first/second or third person, it’s like a documentary and the narrator is telling you what you are looking at, what is being thought and what has happened. For me this style made it very easy to settle down and get in to.
Guy has done a lot of drugs… I mean research into drugs, the twins get put onto a variety of meds and the book does a great job describing the effects they have on them including side effects.
The story is strong, moves along at a steady pace with an interesting conclusion, this reader is still left wondering though, was Dr. Singh’s diagnosis correct?
One thing this book needs is a glossary at the end, the twins have their own language which they talk in at lengths sometimes and I found it tough at times to figure out what was going on (especially in the final scene), a glossary would have made translating a bit more fun. It’s a bit like A Clockwork Orange, the version I read had a helpful glossary.
This is definitely Guy’s strongest book to date, it really deserves to make a breakthrough and get read by millions, looking forward to what he writes next.
I’ve read another creepy twins book, review of which is HERE.
Hello folks, today I am interviewing local business man/Demon J’ephh Smhi’th, thirty-seventh acolyte of D’ouggh, Son of J’hon. You’ve probably met him at some point, ever felt pissed off for some strange reason? I expect J’ephh was behind that.
Q1. Hello Sir, how are you doing? I was wondering, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Your job sounds interesting from what I’ve heard.
Eh, hi, I’m J’ephh Smhi’th. Back in the day, they called me Jeff Smith, but when I came into my new position, regs say we need apostrophes and crap. To fit in. I died comin’ up a hundred and fifty … three? Years ago. My sins weren’t so horrible, technicalities really, The dogmatic stuff’s the worst.
So, instead of pits of fire and junk, I’m stuck with servitude, but at least it’s one where I work on the surface. I get to run around lookin’ a lot like I used to when I was alive, get some sun, chat to people, all that good stuff. I just have to fill quotas on CMTs (Common mortal torments). Know how karma can be a bitch? Well, call me bitch. If someone’s been really low-key sinning… mid-grade asshollery, that kind of thing, I get tagged to go cause them a hassle.
Q2. For the job roll you got assigned was there an interview process? (Just planning ahead as I expect I’ll be heading that way one day.)
I don’t know how I was assigned this specifically. I don’t know if I’ll ever get reassigned, it’s not a very communicative management structure. For all I know, the difference between being made a slave instead of being turned into an eternal rectal tiki-torch comes down to a time in life when you decided not to kick a puppy.
I can imagine there’s some scorecard or grading system, but again… I’m not in management, so I have no idea. I can only say- play it safe, karma, as I mentioned, is a bitch. And I think she peeks at Saint Peter’s books.
Q3. So, have you ever met the big man Satan himself?
He doesn’t really use the name ‘Satan’ too much these days. He lost his taste for it when people started calling America ‘the Great Satan’. Not that he has anything against America specifically, but it waters down the brand, you know? He sticks to Lucifer. I thought it would kind of bring up bittersweet memories of his early days, but what do I know? I’m basing all this on speculation.
No, I never met him. It’s like asking a repair rep on a Microsoft help-line if they ever met Bill Gates. It’s not a small community down there. You think Earth has a lot of people? Think of how many people have DIED. Last I heard, the count mas over 113 BILLION. With a B. Even a modest chunk of that is… well, it’s a lot more than the man at the bottom has time to have tea with.
Q4: Tell me more about your work, what exactly is it you have to do? I know you gotta cause some hassle, can you give a recent example of a job you’ve completed?
Well, I get a… call it a vision… but it’s more like a post-it note shows up in my head. Today started with a lady who left a fake note on a parked car she scraped up with her own car. You know, one of those “A lot of people are watching, so I’m writing this note to make it look like I’m giving you my number” things.
Next time she parked her car, I was there to place a nail where it would drive into her tire when she moved again. Easy peasy.
After that, I had to go to a cafe and order something after taking forever to decide… he got sick of standing there waiting and told me to call him back when I decided, which I did, then changed my mind. Quite a few times. I finally ordered something, then when I got it, I yelled at him for ten minutes for getting the wrong one. He got the right one, but I insisted I had actually decided on one we hadn’t even talked about.
Did I mention I went in as a bike courier, and managed to knock crap off counters with my bike ‘by accident’, twice when going from the door to the counter, and once more on my way out?
The trick, at least for me, is trying to minimize agitation to innocent bystanders. Like the cafe thing, I waited until there weren’t many people in there, and when another customer came in behind me, I started to wrap it up. Might not be how the job was intended- I sometimes wonder if agitation of innocents is part of the job. I know his customer service will be suffering for the rest of the day, and I feel bad for the other customers.
But that might be all part of Lucy’s plans. Which then I’m a part of it, because of COURSE I am, and THAT makes me feel bad sometimes, but that’s part of my own torment, I guess.
Then I had a less complicated one, where I just yawned overly-dramatically while walking down the sidewalk and elbowed some shmuck in the head. And then blame him, of course.
Q5. Here’s a question from Abbygayle, aged 7, from Upper Twatton. “Can the public hire you? Tattianna cut the hair of both of my Barbies and I wanna get revenge on her, would you cut her hair whilst she sleeps? How much will it cost?
Fraid independent contracts are a big no-no. My contract is pretty binding, blood signature and all that. You CAN offer your soul to the big guy, if you know how to get his attention, but he tends to do that ‘works in mysterious ways’ shtick. Lucifer answers every prayer, but sometimes the answer is no, blah blah. Honestly, it’s not very efficient for quick revenge. Lucy helps those who help themselves… And doing ‘things’ yourself is a great way to get on his radar. This is one way to work up credit for bigger things down the road, but… there’s that whole soul thing.
Look, I’m a company man because I have no choice, but I’m not a Company Man. At 7 years old, don’t get tied up in contracts. You see kids getting cell plans that young, and it’s already a bad situation. Lucy doesn’t do 2-year contracts.
Shop around. Maybe a grade 5 bully can hook you up for like… a bag of crisps. That would be a kid on my career path. So, like… hire that kid, then do me a favour and follow it up with a prayer for the bully to the other team. Kinda a bait and switch as far as the Lucy/Jeho thing goes, but frankly, I think they’re into that. It’s certainly been going on long enough.
Q6. Do you have any hobbies you do in your free time?
Well, weekends are my main free time, but I also have to spend ‘em down below. Topside, I’m on call all the time. Like I could get pegged to do a job at any moment right now, so it’s hard to plan anything fun. I bike, strike up conversations with anyone, really. Enjoy nature… that’s all I can really trust on having time for.
Down in the bad place, options are pretty slim, too. I get to let out my tail and relax a bit. Sometimes I go to a pit of really, really bad folks, and throw things at ’em. Sounds cruel, but these are the types that no one would feel bad about jamming a fork into their eye socket. Hardcore Nazis, serial rapists, private defence lawyers, people who post “FIRST” in comment sections.
OH! And the food SUCKS down there. Always. You expect spicy, right? SURE, only if you hate it. I love spice, and to me everything down there is like gargling a mix of banana slugs and glass. I have some friends down there who are pretty much in the same boat as me, we tried to unionize once, but of COURSE down there the mob got involved INSTANTLY.
So yeah. My best free time is up here, in the little moments between jobs.
Q7. Could you give the readers a book recommendation to sit on our fake library?
I ran into this one a bit ago. Rubberman’s Citizens. Check it out, they live down below, but like… underground on Earth, not Hell. And they’re all ignorant as h… heck. But not evil ignorant jerks… well, not all of them, but they know a ton of nothing about the lands above. They’ve been under there for generations, and there’s a few thousand of them. This place is pretty big and divided into sections of groups who are ignorant in different ways. The Citizenry section is kinda known to be rough, and the Citizens are run by … okay, it’s a bad scene. Ever heard how war is worse than Hell, because at least in Hell, they deserve it? Well, a lot of people in Citizenry don’t deserve things like public exhibition rapes, and generally getting beat on. I was expecting it to be bleak all the way through with the hero Leena just surviving, but people who deserved things got some THINGS. By the end, it was kinda heart-warming. Compassion flowing from a history of hate and abuse. And some nice, healthy revenge. Revenge bad, wrath belongeth to God or whatever, but he helps those who help themselves. Frig, I dunno, pick your dogma, something will fit.
Or you could just go for Dante’s Inferno. Always good for a laugh.
Q8. If your life was to be made into a movie, who do you see as playing yourself?
Ooh, me in a movie? My mind goes to Brad Pitt right away, and I’m thinking of Se7en. Except I’m not as stubbley. Edward Norton comes to mind, but… I think I’m a little cuter than him. Am I on his level of wiry? Maybe. Eh, put me between Pitt and Norton. That sounds dirty. Why not? They’re cute by Earth standards.
Q9. Question about when you were alive…. Who was the love of your life?
Oh, I suppose I’d have to say it was Lizeldia. By no fault but my own, I hurt m’lady as I turned to wine and opioids more and more until they took my life. And there’s my greatest sin, my weakness as I let it hurt her. I’ll spare you all the details. I’d hoped that if I made such admissions, I’d be forgiven, but ****ING CONTRACTS!!!
Q10. Have you ever had to deal with President Trump? What would you do to him?
Oh my, wouldn’t that be nice? There’s many bigger boys than I who’ve put in bids on him. Most us are just hoping for a chance to watch when the time comes and he comes on down. He’s been set off limits to any visits such as my work while alive mainly because everyone’s interested in how badly he can do it to himself. My issue with that is that his methods don’t just hurt himself. But, I’m just a peon grunt, and Lucy works in mysterious ways. But…fantasy time? What would *I* do to him? How many of the Saw movies have you seen?
Brilliant! I enjoyed that interview and I hope it puts me in good stead with the folks downstairs for honestly portraying the good work they do up here. I’d like to thank Joseph Picard for taking part in this, check out his WEBSITE also catch him on GOODREADS, FACEBOOK and TWITTER. Be sure to have a look at his books as they are good fun, a few of them are now also available on Audible.
What da cover says: Therapists do not and cannot give answers. Explore the true nature of the therapeutic relationship, and realize that the guru is no Buddha. He is just another human struggling. Understanding the shape of your own personal ills will lead you on your journey to recovery. Sheldon Kopp has a realistic approach to altering one’s destiny and accepting the responsibility that grows with freedom.
What I says: I am one of the people to read this book because of it being mentioned in the TV series “The Fringe”. It was recommended reading to understand the relationship between Peter and Walter. I have never read a book on Psychology (the voices in my head had up until now convinced me I didn’t need to) and I didn’t expect to enjoy this or understand what was going on. Incredibly I did enjoy this, I think I even understand the reason it was mentioned in the TV series, the journey is not just for the patient it is for the psychologist too.
If Sheldon B. Kopp had been born 10 years later he would have fit right in with the beat generation, his general outlook on life fits right in with them. He comes across in this book as very honest, He talks about a breakdown he had after an operation, he writes about his early patients and the journey had to being able to help them better.
This book is about taking a journey/pilgrimage, doing something life changing, I would recommend this to anybody who has been on one or is planning too, it may give you a bit of insight.
My favourite part of the book is the section where he is talking about literature which features some kind of journey, from the Canterbury tales to Dante’s inferno it gives you a look at a side of these stories you might never have considered before. My only wish (and this is why it only gets 4*) is that he never covered anything by Jack Kerouac, the writer who has been on so many journeys, it would have been interesting to see what he thought of that.
I really enjoyed this book and glad I gave it a chance.