Book reviews

The Introvert Confounds Innocence by Michael P Michaud – *EXTRACT*

 

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I’m so happy to be able to share an extract of the marvellously unique tale that is The Introvert Confounds Innocence by Michael P Michaud…..

 

Here’s a little about the book first….

 

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 

The Introvert, our unnamed protagonist is now living with Donna and his 4 year old son, Toby and of course his dog Molly. 

He’s got a subscription to a child psychology magazine that is helping him to try and make sense of children’s minds, but he also uses it when thinking of people and how they behave, or how he thinks they behave. The introvert, thinks a lot!

He and Donna have a neighbour, Hayley who has a dog called Mr Muggles. When he sees her being rough with the dog, his thoughts turn dark…..he really is strong on animal rights.

When Hayley’s boyfriend abuses her, and comes to the introverts home to wait for her to come home….there is an altercation and some cleaning up to do….

When Josh is reported missing, an English detective begins investigating, with an odd accent and way of speaking, confusing the introvert at times. Is he under suspicion?

With young Toby being bullied at school, the introverts thoughts begin to get dark ….but can he resist making Timmy red and open? 

This is a dark, bizarre and humorous tale,  that will make you cringe but laugh at the same time….totally unique and I can’t wait to find out what happens next….

 

And without further ado…..Here’s the extract……

 

This is an extract from The Introvert Confounds Innocence when the introvert first meets his new coworker, a legally-blind little person named Gordon.

 

“So you can see, after all?” I said.

 

“Not very well, but I have these to tell me what’s on the screen.” Gordon motioned to his earphones, and while I had originally thought that maybe he just had those to listen to music, it turns out that he’d installed a special program into his computer that helped him navigate through its contents. He also had a special braille keyboard and I could see that he was already typing information into some sort of spreadsheet. I started thinking that in many ways Gordon was like a bat because he was able to rely on his other senses and get the job done just as well as the rest of us. I was thinking this about the bat, and then I decided to share it with him because I thought he might be interested in the comparison, but in- stead he just stared back at me with a funny look in his face.

 

“A bat?” he asked, turning in my direction. “You fuck- ing serious?”

 

“Yes,” I said.

 

“That because I’m black?”

 

“No,” I said.

 

Then I saw him shake his head for the second time and he started clicking a few things on his keyboard and then he picked up the phone and made a call. The next thing I heard he was on the phone with someone named Mrs. Bennett, and I could hear him talking about the benefits of our new, healthy, vacuum technology which he must have learned at orientation, and he was on the phone for an awfully long time and he was even laughing and talking about Europe, which had no connection to vacuums at all, and soon after that I heard him taking down her order.

 

“Congratulations,” I said, after he’d hung up the phone.

 

“Thanks.”

 

“If you sell vacuums that easily, then you will surely make the bosses happy, and that usually makes for easier days at work.”

 

“Oh, it does, does it?”

 

“Yes,” I said. “Also, we run contests sometimes and you may be able to earn extra money or prizes if you win one of the contests.”

 

“Thanks,” he said, only he was still looking at me strangely, so I tried to think about some of the things I’d said and if anything was odd, but nothing came to mind.

 

Only then I started thinking about the bat comment, and it occurred to me in that moment that most bats are black, or at least that’s how they’re depicted in cartoons and on Halloween decorations, so I thought that maybe somehow this had offended him, even though I hadn’t actually considered the color of his skin at all, but I was thinking about how bats have heightened sensory perception which allows them to hone in on bugs for food and to fly quickly around stalagmites and other obstacles, and I figured that if bats could do that with bugs and stalagmites that maybe Gordon could do the same sort of thing with special phones and keypads. Then I thought about the January issue of The Child Psychology Magazine about being sufficiently happy, and I thought that maybe he wasn’t even sufficiently black to consider himself black, and that perhaps that was why he was offended. I was thinking of all of this in my mind and then I said it, hoping Gordon might better understand my earlier bat comment. Instead he just looked at me in the same way that he’d done before.

 

“Sufficiently black?” he said.

 

“Yes,” I said.

 

Still he just stared at me. “You fucking with me?”

 

“No,” I said.

 

He stared at me for a while longer. “You eat a lot of paste as a kid?”

 

“No,” I said.

 

“You sure?”

 

“Yes,” I said.

 

After this we didn’t speak anymore, and Gordon went back to pushing buttons on his specially designed devices.

 

I had often found it difficult communicating with my colleagues, and this seemed to be another one of those times. And while I thought that it might be different with Gordon, it turns out that people were all very much the same, even little people who might be dwarfs, and those who were sufficiently blind and sufficiently black.

 

Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the opportunity to share this extract. 

 

 

Book reviews, Horror

We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

“A stark and frightening novel. Horror fans should definitely seek this one out.” – Booklist.

When a troubled psychiatrist loses funding to perform clinical trials on an experimental cure for schizophrenia, he begins testing it on his asylum’s criminally insane, triggering a series of side effects that opens the mind of his hospital’s most dangerous patient, setting his inner demons free.

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MY REVIEW

Set in Sugar Hill hospital, a facility for the treatment of various mental illnesses,

Dr Alex Drexler is working on a cure for schizophrenia, by injecting a drug into the pineal gland, it seems to be working and just needs refining…..but funding is a problem.

So, when his boss Eli is deemed responsible for an employee murdering Alex’s brother and his treatment of patients is questioned and certainly questionable, immersion tanks for one.. The powers that be give Alex the job and they want him to use his ‘cure’ on patients, against all protocols…..he agrees!

Now, one of the patients is Crosby Nelson, known as the Apocalypse Killer who sees demons and so Alex decides to test his drug on him….all seems to go well and Crosby reacts well. But then all hell breaks out.

“Not all the voices we hear are imaginary”

Crosby’s inner demons have been released and they have brought darkness with them.  Just what is real? And who are the ream monsters?

The back stories for each of the characters really helps build the picture, each of them have their own problems and a darkness in their lives…..a fine line of being a carer or a patient themselves….

A creepy supernatural horror with some truly menacing moments…..full of menace and crackles with atmospheric tension. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Brian Kirk is an author of dark thrillers and psychological suspense. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July 2015 and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

His short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies. Most recently, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, where his work appears alongside multiple New York Times bestselling authors, and received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year compilation.

During the day, Brian works as a freelance marketing and creative consultant. His experience working on large, integrated advertising campaigns for international companies has helped him build an effective author platform, and makes him a strong marketing ally for his publishing partners. In addition, Brian has an eye for emerging media trends and an ability to integrate storytelling into new technologies and platforms.

 

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched recently in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

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Book reviews, Fantasy, Psychlogical thriller, Science fiction

A User’s Guide To Make-Believe by Jane Alexander – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A compelling read with an engaging but flawed heroine, exploring a near future with an all-too-plausible Black Mirror slant on reality and fantasy. Taps into cautionary tale fiction or ‘near dystopias’ in the wake of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Whatever your fantasy, live it with Make-BelieveTM. The only limit is you.

Cassie worked at Imagen, the tech giant behind the cutting-edge virtual reality Make- BelieveTM, and she got to know the product well. Too well. But Cassie has been barred from her escape from the real world, and legally gagged by the company.

Her dream job now seems to be part of a larger nightmare, and Imagen is not done with her yet.

With Imagen holding all the cards, and personal and publicity freedoms at stake, how far will Cassie go to end the deception?

Immerse yourself in a near-future world with an all-too-plausible slant on reality and fantasy for our ‘connected’ times.

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MY REVIEW 

Imagine a day dream brought to life. A fantasy VR world that feels real. That’s what Make-Believe offers…but at what cost?

Cassie is an ex-employee of Imagen, the developers of Make-Believe, she found a glitch that allowed her to stay in Make-Believe beyond the 2 hour limit. When Imagen found out she was dismissed and barred from Make-Believe…

As she investigates further she finds disturbing information and plans to fight….but can she win?

This is set in the near future and is so very scary in its plausibility. In this troubled world who wouldn’t want to escape into a fantasy world of your own building? 

A mix of San Junipero (Black Mirror) and Total Recall, the lines blur between dreams and reality. A thought provoking and utterly terrifying thriller. Just fantastic.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here:  https://amzn.to/2TX9Iad

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Jane Alexander has completed a PhD in creative writing and teaches at the University of Edinburgh and the Open University. For several years she ran creative writing workshops for people in recovery from substance abuse. Her first novel was The Last Treasure Hunt (Saraband 2015).

 

 Twitter: @DrJaneAlexander