Monday, May 29, 2006


Those of you listing with amazon may appreciate a new online service called 'Titlez' that will track the google ranks of your books. They also have a very useful news page with a stream devoted to self-publishing news.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

‘The Hell You Say’ by Josh Lanyon

Reviewed by Lamia

TITLE – The Hell You Say
AUTHOR – Josh Lanyon
PRICE - $15.95 (ebook $6.00)
GENRE - Mystery
ISBN – 0-595-38512-5
PUBLISHER - iuniverse
POINT OF SALE - iuniverse

This is the third of the Adrien English books, but the first I’ve read. He’s a mild-mannered bookseller and mystery writer in Los Angeles – and one of those people to whom things just happen. Here, he’s drawn into an investigation of a series of murders linked to the occult, when his assistant, the wimpy Angus, is so scared by a series of satanic threats delivered over the telephone that he leaves town.

English’s interest soon draws the attention of the people who’ve been menacing Angus, but the discovery of a demonic symbol on his front doorstep, executed in red paint, just makes him more determined to find out what’s going on.

Lanyon creates a rich cast of characters, from English’s overbearing mother, Lisa, her prospective husband and his three daughters, to the suave Professor Snowden, for whom Angus has been working as a teaching assistant. There’s a charismatic author of horror novels and his manager, aggressive Goth girl students, an elusive Harry Potter look-alike and the disparate members of English’s Partners In Crime writers’ circle. And as he struggles to cope with keeping his business going, pursuing the investigation, and battling a continuing emotional crisis, there’s a procession of weird characters he takes on to help him in the bookshop.

But central to the whole novel is his fraught relationship with his lover, a police detective, Jake, whom he describes as ‘deeply closeted.’ As he says. ’Jake despised himself for being sexually attracted to men.’ Jake is also seeing a female cop, and the subtext to the story is his state of denial, laced with his undoubted affection for Adrien. Jake emerges as a pretty unsympathetic character, but nevertheless, this is a love story as well as a mystery, and at the end, although Adrien faces up to a future without him, nobody will be taking bets on Jake not appearing in any future Adrien English books.

And if there are any more, I for one will be in line to read them. Lanyon’s style is easy and readable. He’s actually very funny, and there’s a lightness of touch which makes this a real page-turner. He has the facility to move swiftly from scene to scene, which makes it a little episodic and choppy, but suits the style and the subject matter.

If I have any criticism, it’s that the humour can sometimes teeter on the edge of being facetious. And Adrien English is so buttoned down that there were times I was screaming in frustration on his behalf. One tiny gripe; I winced at the misuse of the word inferred – but this in self-published novel which is otherwise exemplary in its use of spelling and grammar, so really I’m just being picky here.

‘The Hell You Say’ is a well-written and sharply plotted novel, but more, it’s the closely observed characterisation, the attention to the people with the walk-on parts, the small details, which make this a pleasure to read.

RATING: 7/10

10/10 Amazon
8/10 Booksnbytes


Barbara Bauer's Bark

Those of you who appreciated the currently unavailable writer's site Absolute Write may be interested to know that the so-called agent Barbara Bauer was behind having the web host drop it because she is listed there (and elsewhere) on the list of '20 Worst Agents'. I leave you to draw your own conclusions but you might like to read Miss Snark's thoughts on the matter.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Closed to Submissions

In order to get through our reviews in a timely manner we are closed to both submissions and queries at this time. We will be following up on any queries or submissions that have already been sent, but ask authors to please hold off on sending any new queries. If you are exceedingly keen you may send a simple email asking to be notified when submissions re-open--this should be no more than a blank email to PODPEEP @ GMAIL.COM containing the words 'please notify' on the subject line.

'Seasons Black and Red: Poems for Manic Depressives' by Phineas Narco

TITLE – Seasons Black and Red: Poems for Manic Depressives
AUTHOR – Phineas Narco
PRICE - $4.00 (ebook) $12.00 (print)
GENRE - Poetry

The focus of my interest in poetry has always been the ideas, glimpses of the world from a unique point of view. The better poems in this collection (there are over sixty) give that moment of vivid recognition of a new idea, an idea passed to you from the poet as a gift--a thought you would never have on your own. There are virtuoso moments such as the description of a convenience store hot dog in 'My Daily Bread'. The use of poetic devices like rhyme, assonance and repetition tend to have more amateurish results and the poet is at his best in free form pieces like Hell: "Hell is being in a Laundromat on the lower east side..." wind up to a trademark pithy last line.

I would not call 'Seasons Black and Red' the mature work of a fully realized poet, but it is a fascinating looking into a poet's notebook showing that he has an eye for the telling details of real life and a willingness to experiment, with variable success. At least half of the poems have at their heart a thought of image well worth contemplation. 'Seasons' is definitely a worthwhile read especially for those looking for a voice that opens up a window on living with the shifts in mood and vitality that distinguish bipolar disorder--or poetry that comments on the seedier side of everyday life from an excruciatingly self-aware perspective.

RATING: 6.5/10

10/10 Lulu