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review 2018-02-20 22:12
A real-life Just William.
Billy Brown Tell Your Mother Signed H B - Billy Brown
I've always enjoyed reading memoirs written by 'real' people (as opposed to celebrities) and Billy Brown was a wonderful post-war character with the gift of the gab and a finely honed entrepreneurial streak.

He got his first job at the age of 9, tying bundles of firewood for Big Mike. This opened doors for him and he branched out to selling firewood from the discarded boxes at the market. Eventually his contacts allowed him to source pretty much anything for the right price. He became known around the area for his huge old pram, with which he transported his goods.
His other pastime was scouring the bomb sites from WWII for metals, bric-a-brac and treasure. He even found an old German gun, which he sold for untold riches. 
Unfortunately he was also a bit of a rogue and found himself in trouble on several occasions. I really felt for him when his mother punished him by confiscating some of his hard earned cash.

This is a wonderful reminder of a simpler time, when children roamed the streets for entertainment and neighbours kept an eye out for them. Set in Brixton, it also tells of the relocation of families into the new flats, with running water and heating, and the influx of coloured workers from the Commonwealth to drive the buses and tube trains.

My only criticism arose from the fact that I was listening to the audio version, read by the author - who is now in his seventies. I was aware of a disconnect between the narrative of a young boy and the reading by a much older man.
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review 2018-02-07 13:04
The Contadino ★★☆☆☆
The Contadino - Frank J. Agnello

With better editing, this might have been an enjoyable read. There is a good sense of place and history, and the characters are interesting. But it was difficult to get past the frequently shifting tenses, the missing commas, and even a couple of incomplete sentences. These flaws pulled me out of the story multiple times in every chapter.

 

Paperback copy, a gift from my father several years ago, because the setting and historical events reflect our own family’s history of Sicilian immigrants to the USA around the turn of the 20th century.

 

Previous Updates:

2/4/18 - pg 3/472

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review 2017-10-15 19:00
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Kindle Worlds: Imperfect Love) by Mira Gibson
Signed, Sealed, Delivered - Mira Gibson

 

In a world where image is everything, is it worth sacrificing your soul to get ahead? Signed, Sealed, Delivered is a self examination. Zach is a product of his own mistakes. The lure of fame, has turned him into a person on the verge of losing himself and exploiting others. Will he see the error of his ways before he loses his chance at redemption? Thought provoking tale that is equal parts laughter and insight.

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review 2017-10-15 00:00
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Signed, Sealed, Delivered - Mira Gibson In a world where image is everything, is it worth sacrificing your soul to get ahead? Signed, Sealed, Delivered is a self examination. Zach is a product of his own mistakes. The lure of fame, has turned him into a person on the verge of losing himself and exploiting others. Will he see the error of his ways before he loses his chance at redemption? Thought provoking tale that is equal parts laughter and insight.
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text 2017-07-23 18:06
A work of no literary merit*
The Aggressors!! - Chris Hamlin,Shane Cuthbert,Marcus Harwood,Dan Lee,Chris Young,Brett Savory,Jeff Robinson

Full disclosure: I know Brett.   I talk to him each year at Readercon, I've made his wife cry with beautiful reviews of her poetry, and he talked to me about this book itself.  I was going to write a kinda mean review based on what I'd heard, and send it to him, but I'm not sure I'll bother sending it anymore. 

 

I also need to tell a story before I start talking about this work, just so you understand what I thought.   Back when I was reading a lot of Transformers fanfic, there was an author who wrote a couple stories.   (I found them again, although I vaguely recall them being in all caps and one about Jazz getting spanked that seems to be gone.   But here: read Happy Birthday, Megatron if you dare.)   This, guys, is one of the worst things I've read.   I mean, I know I've read some self-published bullshit and yet this...

 

And I'm awful because I laugh every time.   So when someone tells me a book they wrote is really bad, and I'm reading something superb by them, my mind kinda vaguely thinks, 'well, it't can't be that bad.   And I keep getting shocked that it is. 

 

So some backstory: this was a multi-author universe that the boys started when they were just that.   Boys.   Young men, if you will.  So I figured it might be some fun, even if it was offensive - which it seemed it might be.   I've also seen Brett bing his wife coffee, I've seen how kind and generous he is, and I've seen him interact with other customers.   I've seen him with the authors he works with, and he's always lovely.    I knew he'd written this a while ago and he wasn't the same person anymore.   As I mentioned, I also knew he'd grown into an amazing written, as evidenced by A Perfect Machine.   (Which I'm savoring, but also scared by because Brett was very vague about the ending and now I think it might be the machine story that makes me sad at the end.)

 

As far as the aggressors, I wasn't either amused enough to laugh or offended enough to really hate this work on that level.   (I did roll my eyes after the fourth or so time a 'cunt' - body part, not person - was described as smelly.   That was also the only time this book seemed really vicious.)  However, that fanfic I linked up there?    Those two stories might not have the punctuation and technical writing skill this book has, but they are at least more coherent.   Partly, I think, due to length: they didn't have time to get their plots quite as twisted up as this book did.   And at least those stories make me giggle like crazy.   

 

This book felt like it really, really wanted to make me laugh, but I was vaguely bored.   I kinda kept reading just to see if it got better, and it kinda never did.   If anything, it got more and more disconnected.  

 

So, yeah, I'm gonna write a brutally honest, full on mean review and not send the link to Brett at all. 

 

*Brett Savory himself gave me this title. 

**A Perfect Machine.   Brett signed this for me this year, too.

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