SLAVERY IS MORE THAN CHAINS AND SHACKLES
SLAVERY IS A STATE OF MIND
Immerse yourself in this highly anticipated political docu-drama set in the Deep South amidst the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.
Martha was a young white girl living in the Deep South, inundated with the racist sentiments of the times. But Martha’s natural curiosity and generous heart led her to question this racial divide. When she discovered a primitive Negro family living deep in the woods near her house, everyone’s life changed for ever.
Take the journey of a lifetime alongside Martha as she forges relationships that lead to self discovery and a clearer understanding of the world around her. In the Land of Cotton provides an outstanding snapshot of life in the South during those troubled times – a snapshot everyone should take a close look at, regardless of era or color.
The year was 1956.
I have a feeling that there’s a fascinating story lurking on the pages of In the Land of Cotton: the problem is that it’s buried beneath a lot of clumsy writing and careless mistakes, most of which could be cleared up by a careful edit and a thoughtful rewrite. Several sentences were so poorly-written that I had to stop and reread them in order to understand them fully; and there were a few places where entirely the wrong words had been used. The foreword is particularly badly-written and does the book no favours—I would drop it entirely; but if the writer is determined to keep it then she’d be wise to at least explain who its author is, and why his opinion of her and this book is significant: because although he’s clearly significant to her, I don’t know who he is or how he is connected to the book.
Overall, then, this book is a missed opportunity: its writer rushed into publication before she was really ready for it. Her writing is not yet good enough to be published, and her editing skills will have to be far sharper than they are right now if she wants to make the best of her work.
If she had worked harder on learning her craft and been a little less eager to get into print she’d have done herself and her readers a big favour: as it is, the book just isn’t good enough. I read seventeen pages of In the Land of Cotton, and I closed this book feeling saddened: the writer could have done so much better if she had only taken a little more time.
16-year-old Ruth Levinson is snooty, pampered, and in cold control of her destiny. Until Solomonovsky steps into her life and sends it hurtling off into the darkest corners of hell. Can she escape unharmed?
‘I enjoyed it, admired it, and found myself gripped by it. I put my work down to read 30 pages or so, and read the whole book at a sitting.’
(Creator of Reginald Perrin)
Solomonovsky has been languishing in my reviewing-bag for far too long. I’ve made several attempts to read the book so that I could write a decent review: but despite Michael J Landy’s fluent writing and mostly-clean editing I’ve made very poor headway with this book.
Solomonovsky is a painter, and Landy frequently lapses into floweriness when showing him at work. Although I suspect this was done in order to convince the reader of Solomonovsky’s genius, it had quite the opposite effect on me: I found Solomonovsky a tiresome, boorish character. I didn’t like him at all: he’s arrogant, manipulative and sexually predatory, without a shred of kindness to redeem himself with and no, I don’t for a moment buy into the stereotype that creative people are allowed to be so very oafish: arsey behaviour is unacceptable no matter how you earn your living. And because of that, I simply do not believe that the women who encounter him would behave the way that they do: they all adore him no matter how rudely and disreputably he behaves, and no reason is given for his behaviour. At least, no plausible one.
At one point a prim and respectable married woman, who is so emotionally buttoned up that even her husband has never seen her naked, is asked by Solomonovsky to pose naked for him.
She finds the idea, and Solomonovsky, appealing (god knows why: he is unrelentingly self-centred and rude) and although she hesitates, when he shows her his painting of one of her friends, who is equally repressed and absolutely starkers, she is persuaded:
“Lilian Bookbinder. When I look at her, displaying her nakedness, I know what she is thinking. I have been allowed to see deep into the soul of another human being. He has done that. He has made me read the expression on her face and now I know her better than anyone does, I understand her the way Solomonovsky understands her.”
I would have thought a more reasonable reaction for her would be to be horrified at the idea of him showing a painting of her own naked self to all and sundry: but no, not only does she find the whole thing somehow enlightening, she agrees to allow her sixteen-year-old daughter, who she chaperones everywhere, to also pose for Solomonovsky alone despite it being obvious that the bloke is going to come on to the daughter too.
This could have made for a powerful story if it had been made more believable: I’m sure that could have been done if the writer had given his characters a little more depth, provided them with some plausible motivation, and explored their internal conflict with more thought and care. As it is, I just didn’t buy it and my reading ground to a halt as a result.
I read to page forty-five and despite Landy’s unusually fluent and articulate prose, find myself relieved to be done with this one.
What is it that makes us straight or gay?
Is it environment or genetics?
Choice, chance or maybe even persuasion?
The answer to this age-old question is one that fledgling writer Margaret Allen sets out to discover as she endeavors to complete her first book. Taking on a subject she believes she knows well, she begins a very human odyssey, examining the lives of gay women, all of whom come from diverse backgrounds and mindsets.
Among those whom we meet are —
the florist, whose parents try to “cure” her of her homosexuality;
the twins who, separated at birth, live their lives at opposite ends of the economic spectrum;
the radiant redhead and her three failed marriages;
the poet who spent most of her young adult years as a nun;
the Kentucky woman who, as a new bride, makes a rather shocking discovery;
and the non-verbal, wheelchair-bound woman, who is a political activist with an extraordinary ability to communicate.
As we share in their deeply personal narratives, Margaret’s book ultimately raises the question: “Are relationships between two women really all that different than heterosexual ones?”
Outside the Lavender Closet brings to life a collection of contemporary stories inspired by actual women and true events.
Martha A Taylor’s Outside the Lavender Closet: Inspired by True Stories is affectionately-written and has an easy charm to it: I genuinely liked the narrator and her group of friends and I wanted the book to do well, but in the end it was let down by a series of careless errors which include all the usual suspects: punctuation, spelling, grammar, homophone substitution, cliché, and some rather odd logic.
That list of errors sounds much more damning than it should. There were lots of errors, and the text is often clumsy: in order to bring this book up to a publishable standard it needs to be completely rewritten, to sort out all the confusion and unbelievable dialogue; it needs a very strong edit to make it coherent and tight; and it needs a full copy-edit to clear away all those irritating errors. That’s a lot of work, none of which would be worth doing on a text which was completely substandard: but I think it’s worth doing here because despite all of its problems this one has a warmth and a character to it which most of the books I’ve reviewed here lack. It might well turn out to be a bit of a treasure if it were properly worked up. As it is, it’s just not good enough, I’m afraid, and I read just three of its one hundred and forty-nine pages.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A young boy is charged with finding them“One of those unique and wonderful manuscripts that come one’s way all too rarely”“A most unusual and beautiful story that lingers in the mind long after one has read it”
~ ~ Senior Editor at a major UK PublisherThe singer emerged, and his music raged across the land, a wild, swirling cloud of chords laying waste like locusts to all that was soulless before it ..I come not to bring peace, he said
This story may be freely read on-line. But if you buy the book it will please my wife and impress my friends. Maybe yours too if you gift it to them. And you can read it in bed
For any freethinking, enquiring mind over 12
I’m not a big fan of spiritual or inspirational fiction: I find it predictable, cheesy and often quite cringe-making. So I’m not the best person to review this book, which is rooted firmly in those genres.
Despite my reservations, that hideous big “7″ on the cover, and the truly horrible fonts in which this text has been set (authors: if you’re considering using fancy fonts in yourself-published book, please read this first), I thought that this little book was charming.
That doesn’t mean it’s perfect: no book is. Some of the storytelling was a little too forced and predictable from me (but that might well be down to the book’s genre which, as I’ve already explained, isn’t my favourite); the language used was a little formal and old-fashioned, which distanced me from the story and so stopped me becoming emotionally involved with it; and there were, of course, punctuation problems with it (for example, a couple of instances where a full-stop had managed to slip outside a quote-mark which should have contained it, and a dash used where a hyphen was required). There were a few lapses in meaning, to: for example, on page 21 we are told,
The specially-made gown — designed by the greatest couturier in the kingdom, assembled by a hundred hand-picked seamstresses from the finest silk of faraway lands — was cheap.
He Dared to Dream an Impossible Dream.He Risked Body and Soul to Make it Real.
“A VOYAGE BEYOND REASON”
On September 13, 1996, twenty four year old Benjamin Wade set out on a solo voyage in a tiny sea kayak. As he pushed off from the shores of San Felipe, his goal lay 6,000 miles away – and deep within his own soul. The chance discovery of his journals, buried on a Colombian cliff above the sea, uncovered a mystery which took many years to finally solve. His journals tell of misery and elation, of triumph and failure, of insight and insanity. Follow the events which will forge his character, and follow the mind of a young man set on achieving a dream that no amount of misfortune can dissuade him from reaching…on a journey that challenges his survival, and brings him face to face with himself.
Tom Gauthier weaves the word pictures and intimate thoughts of Benjamin Wade into a gripping story of the struggle for survival and the reshaping of a young life in a way that few of us could imagine.
As with so many of the books I’ve reviewed here, Tom Gauthier’s A Voyage Beyond Reason: An Epic of Survival Based on the Original Journals of Benjamin Wade is let down by the writing, which is often overdone and frequently relies on clever tricks rather than on good writing to make the author’s point. I found inconsistencies in the tense used; an intrusive amount of passive voice; a couple of contradictions in the text, and homophone substitutions; there were several missing hyphens and the author would do well to cut his comma-use by half. But what irritated me most was the significance with which Benjamin Wade’s name was used in the early parts of the text: this implied that I should know who he was, but no information about him was given to support that implication.
Despite that, this is one of the better books I’ve looked at here. With a strong edit it could be vastly improved and it has real potential to make a fascinating read if that is done: but as it is, I found my fifteen mistakes within its first seven pages. A shame.
Finally, the greatest story never told gets told.
Join one man for the adventure of his life and, in doing so, experience growing up in rural 1980s Ireland. Meet this man’s eccentric group of friends, follow his escapades throughout Ireland and beyond, and gain valuable insight into the life of a lord … Lord of the Rams.
What Munterconnaught’s book critics are saying:
“A great present to give to somebody you don’t like.” – Shane Brady
“I’ll buy two copies. F*cking brilliant.” – Eugene Tighe
“The worst pile of shite I’ve ever read.” – Trevor Geraghty
Ronan Smith’s Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told has an interesting illustration on its cover and it’s a pleasant-enough read: but it’s a very episodic, built from a series of short anecdotes which are connected only by the characters they feature. There is little flow through the text; instead we moved from anecdote to anecdote via chunks of exposition and this lack of narrative arc means that the reader has no motivation to keep reading: it’s all too “samey” and provides no tension or climax.
The author has a slapdash approach to punctuation which doesn’t help: his use of dashes is spectacularly inconsistent, particularly in the acknowledgements; and he really needs to decide if he’s going to hyphenate “smart-ass” or not, rather than alternate between the two forms. There were several instances where the writing was muddled and imprecise: I could usually work out what was meant, but sometimes could not be sure. On page nine, for example, I found this sentence: “Standing beside his mother, Rams stared in amazement at a woman unlike he had ever seen before”. This is not good writing, and from my brief read and a quick flick through, it’s typical of the entire book.
Overall, then, this read more as a first draft than as a publishable book. It needs restructuring to provide a proper sense of growth throughout the narrative; it needs to be rewritten so that the anecdotes seem less isolated and provide a sense of growth and climax. The characterisation could definitely be improved; and it needs a strong copy-edit to deal with all those careless mistakes. The clichéd subtitle does the book no favours; and the lamentably weak back cover copy could have been written for all sorts of books. I read just eight pages out of the 215 which make up the story.
Of Dreams and Realities is a splendid new collection of poems that proves insightful in its reach and elemental in its grasp. This collection is industrious and sly—a bit of hardworking magic in the everyday subtleties of life.
Frank Louis Johnson’s poetry is ironic, charming, and sincere. It contextualizes dreams and realities against the broad canvas of reverie and aspiration. His is a veracious world, delightful, authentic and inspired—his poetry sees the glass half full, not half empty, with verses that rhyme and make merry no matter how dark the day or hour. Timeless in their scope, the poems of this, his second full-length collection, are pure inspiration.
I suspected that Of Dreams and Realities was going to be bad when I read the back cover copy: it’s nebulous and full of hyperbole and while it does point out that the book is a collection of rhyming poetry, it tells the reader nothing else. Consequently, it fails in its purpose, which is to sell the book to potential readers.
And then I came to the poetry. I found random capitalisations, sloppy punctuation, and all sorts of inversions and clichés. Several of the rhymes didn’t actually rhyme; and the concept of meter is abused in every way imaginable. I found my fifteenth problem with the text on the first line of page three (out of just thirty-nine pages) and if I do read any more of this book it will be due to my compulsive case of editorial voyeurism, and not because of my appreciation of the poetry it contains.