Friday, 24 June 2016

On Sale now - The whole Leech series by James Crawford

Who doesn't love a bargain? I know I do, and on a cold, rainy day (which is what I'm having) there's nothing better than curling up somewhere warm with a really good read.

Today you can get the whole Leech series by James Crawford for 99 cents - well it shows up for me as $1.00, but that's no doubt due to the exchange rate between our countries. In any case, it's a terrific bargain, not to be missed, especially if you like a nice, clean gay romance. 

You can read my review of the first book in the series HERE.

Buy the entire series for the promotional price HERE.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Book review: Domechild, by Shiv Ramdas

The mysteriously intriguing opening of Domechild leads into a powerful exposition of the kind of society towards which we of the 21st century seem to be heading. I don't think I will ever view Facebook quite the same way again.

The book didn't quite sustain its early promise of humour; although it was exciting, and kept one turning the pages, it didn't really stay funny after the opening chapters, not to me, anyway. I had expected it to be a riot of laughter all the way through, based on what someone else had said, but, I hasten to add, this was not a promise held out either by the author or the publisher.

For me, Domechild's real strength lay in its portrayal of a dystopia projected upon features of our world as it now is; like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four, it offers a chilling glimpse into one possible future, and does this entertainingly.

I did have some reservations about the ending. The book seemed to me just to stop, without adequately resolving itself; whether this was done with the view to a sequel or not, it is a grave fault in a novel. All the same, well worth reading and I'll certainly look for more from this author.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Book review: The Manson Effect, by Debra Barton

A sound and very complete exposition of all the known facts relating to the Manson murders, this is bound to be of interest to history buffs.

Written in a chatty, informal style, the book relates the events as far as they are known, with sections profiling each of the participants - the perpetrators and the victims. Links are provided to recordings of many of the actual proceedings, transcripts and parole hearings. It's a fascinating read and well worth the price for the paperback. I myself received an ebook from the author for review, but I cannot find as at the date of writing that the ebook has yet been published. No doubt it is coming soon.

For more serious students, the enormous bibliography provided is both an excellent resource for further study and a testament to the author's commitment to accuracy and completeness. Highly recommended.

Trigger warning: this writer uses 'lay' intransitively.

The Manson Effect is available from AMAZON.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Why grammar, spelling and sentence structure really do matter in casual writing.

We've all seen it - someone slips up on his grammar in a Facebook post, someone else lands on him like a ton of bricks, three or four other people go for the someone else with flamethrowers and a massive free-for-all erupts, with undignified ranting and, depending on the forum, perhaps some really good offensive memes. It's one of the most common tropes one can see in writing groups, and yet no one ever seems to be bored with the argument.

Two camps are evident in this ongoing war. The first takes massive offence at any perceived or real imperfection in a poster's English. The second takes the view that the first group are Nazis, have sticks up their arses, and expresses various other views in progressively more vulgar terms.

Without wishing to be drawn into yet another flame war myself, I have to say that I'm with the first group, although with the caveat that this applies only to writers or would-be writers. If a person isn't very well educated, he can be expected to slip up occasionally, and there is absolutely no point in getting all bent out of shape over the spelling mistakes of such a person. Perfect English doesn't make one a better hairdresser, or cook, or brickie's mate. You might be a bit sad contemplating the amount of tax you've paid over the years for state schools, but that doesn't need to be foisted on the person.

But writers. Ah yes - writers. People who work with the written word, who build airy castles made out of words and sentences. People who sell these creations for money. If you are calling yourself a writer, whether published or not, you have, in my view, absolutely no business to be inflicting your illiteracy on anyone. The fact you are in an informal setting has no real bearing on this.

Consider table manners. When you sit down for a quick bite of lunch with your husband, when you're having a solitary breakfast before dashing off to the office - you don't require of yourself the degree of precision and formality that you would bring to, say, a gala dinner at Government House. There is hopefully, however, a minimum standard below which you don't descend, even when alone. You're not going to, for example, shovel up stew with your hands, or drink directly from the milk bottle. ARE you, Virginia? No, although if you're en famille or just with a school friend, you might speak a few words with your mouth full. 

Of course, if you were raised by wolves and don't know any better, people are almost certainly going to cut you a lot of slack about your table manners, and you will no doubt enjoy many happy evenings at Pizza Hut, although you are unlikely to be invited to Nobu any time soon.

But if you do know better, and if you behave like a pig on purpose at a formal occasion (I'm reminded of that truly disgusting scene in The Assassin) then it is deliberate ugliness, like young bogans spreading their legs and burping and farting on the tram; a kind of bullying, or perhaps a kind of vandalism, but certainly rude, uncivilised and hostile. 

Similarly, split infinitives, dangling modifiers and the egregious intransitive 'lay' are, when used by one writer to another, a sign either of overt hostility or of incompetence.

Now I am aware that many people disagree with me about this. You can read an example of the contrary view HERE, both in exposition and in a practical demonstration. Of course I do agree with Hutchinson's assertion that you should be yourself. No doubt you should; but I feel one can be oneself just as well in a clean shirt as in a filth-smeared rag.