Thursday, March 26, 2015

In Search of A Revolution by Christoph Fischer

In 1918 young Zacharias Nielsen boards a ship in Copenhagen to join the Red Guards in the Finnish Civil War. Encouraged by an idolised teacher with communist leanings, he follows the call for help from his Nordic Comrades, despite his privileged background. 
His best friend, Ansgar, has opposing political ideals to Zacharias but, for his own personal reasons, finds himself soon stuck in the Scandinavian North with Zacharias and Raisa, a Finnish nurse who helps them in their new life. 
Through the years that follow the brotherly war the trio see the political landscape in Finland and Europe change as Communists and Fascists try to make their mark and attempt to change the world order. 
Our heroes must find their own personal and ideological place in these turbulent times as friendship, honour, idealism and love triangles bring out some personal truths. 

The book spans almost thirty years of history and the various Finnish conflicts: Civil War, Winter War, Continuation War and the Lapland War. Watch the political and personal self discovery of characters in search of their own revolution.

My Review 

“For a real communist, countries don’t exist - there are only people.”

In Search of A Revolution by Christoph Fischer is another great book that captivated my attention right away. I have read several of this author’s books and all have resonated with me in their own way. He writes with great passion and authority. They are mind-blowing reads that are all well-written, precise and more than anything effortless to get into. This latest book is no exception. This takes you to another place and time but feels familiar and comfy. A book that is not easy to put down once you have started. 
 I was so immersed in the life of Zacharias, Ansgar and Raisa.

From the start I was totally hooked. There is so much heart that I was caught up with emotion as I read with great vigor and interest. This story is filled with lies, deceit, and big drama. The suspense had me holding on, quickening my pace, reading is a fury! Loved the mystery that was In Search of A Revolution!

Quote ~

"Just imagine what the world will be like in a few years if we succeed? There won’t be any class differences and no divide between rich and poor. You’ll look at a man and you won’t have to worry how to address him and how to pay him the respect that society demands for his status. Everyone will get respect and address in the same fair manner, nobody will have more than their neighbour and there won’t be any more need for crimes. Nobody will look down on a farmer like you. How is that not worth fighting for?”


Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family. 
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. 
He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mark Barry's "Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals" & a little Q & A

Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals

By day, Terry Flynn clears the houses of the dead while by night, he drives alluring lesbian prostitute, Chloe, to her “tricks” - members of the “Feminocracy”; Nottingham’s increasingly powerful strata of senior civil servants, businesswoman and female professionals.
Despite himself, he falls in love with Chloe. And so does Hope Calder, impossibly rich COE of Calder, a multi-national conglomerate. A woman who stops at nothing to get whatever she wants.
When Chloe declines her advances, the spurned tycoon swears drastic action. With the cunning Neville, Chloe’s boss, manipulating the situation to his own ends, and Hope’s small army of corporate schills in the shadows, Chloe finds her life in danger...

...and only one man can protect her. 
Terry Flynn, Loser, Jailbird, Hooligan. 
Fifty year old crackhead.

~ This novel is dedicated to Mrs. Patricia Barry, who lived life to the max and never took much notice of authority in all its forms. 

Just like the characters herein. 

          (Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals Paperback cover)

My Review 

Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals left me speechless, numb, shocked. Just about blew my mind. Kind of a quirky one sided love story. Mixed with a perfect combination of sex and violence.

The guy writes like no other. He takes you to the scene and  delivers. I was in the thick of it all and the hair on my arms stood towards the sky. Mark Barry has a way of telling you a chilling story that is not only original but intoxicating. I couldn't get enough. Most books lose some of their flair as the story progresses but not the case with this powerful story. The ending of this book gave me goosebumps, righteously so. Gripping, satisfying, realistic, and dynamic. Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals has big guns all the way through. 

The author's use of language is brilliant. Hand picked gems that caught me by surprise. The rich plot line kept me guessing as I read as though I was running out of time, needing to know where this story would lead me. Savoring the eloquent lines as they rushed past me. I am in awe.

Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals is hardcore and plays out like a Hollywood gangster film. Can see this on the big screen like Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Stellar scenes and realistic in your face dialog.

Quote ~

"There's serious money here. I can smell it, and it temporarily makes my guts turn over. The whole place stinks of cash, of decisions, of self-interest, of colossal hypocrisy and narcissism. I'll never get my hands on a tiny percentage of what these people are worth. I have always hated the rich for precisely the reasons they love themselves. If I had been a little bit luckier, it could have been me, but I doubt it. Too much integrity. Never met anyone rich who had integrity."

Now let's get down to some chit chat. I do have some questions for you Mark!

(BP) First off I need to ask you since you write all over the spectrum, what inspired you to write Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals? And what is it about?

(MB) I have always wanted to read a book with this title. There are two on Amazon (without ampersands) but both are YA, which is of limited interest to me. So I thought I would write one myself. I also like crime books and crime films and Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals is most definitely a crime book. I also wanted to continue with themes I started in Carla and in Ultra Violence and then to combine the two. They are my biggest selling books and I felt that this year, I needed to kick on a bit after the relatively slow performance of The Night Porter and the withdrawal from sale of The Ritual (which was painful, as that took some writing). So I went back to themes my readers seemed to enjoy and therefore created a completely new world.

(BP) Good for you. It’s so hard to know what readers will be drawn to. Does any of this story come from real life? As a "faction" writer, of course I need to know this.

(MB) Oh yes, I’ve encountered many of the people you see in this book and I know the tales, but the story is complete fiction. I once worked with an ex-gangster who was trying his best to go straight and (after a rocky beginning, where he kept threatening to have me killed because I was going out with a girl he once went out with, a story which obliquely features in Once Upon A Time In the City Of Criminals we became friends. I taught him spreadsheets and he taught me about the world of small time gangsterdom in Nottingham. There are no black suits and spectacular cars (too ostentatious), and their houses are often small and equally modest, (again, visibility, but also because of the amount spent on bling, drink and drugs). However there are beautiful women (who all love a bad boy), and there are big wads of ready cash lying about in drawers. And there is violence. He once told me about a man who was sleeping with the daughter of a big Nottingham “businessman”  My friend was asked, along with two others, to “have a quiet natter” with him, a conversation which ended in tears in a local wood. I have, of course, completely denuded that story, but you can work it out for yourself. The two villains at the centre of Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals are generally deadbeat ex – football hooligans, who may or not have featured in Ultra-Violence and Violent Disorder, my two most successful books. Not for them sharp suits and Italian jewellery. But they do wear tracksuits. I also try something new about the rich and the middle class, which I won’t spoil, but it will definitely raise eyebrows.

(BP) I love it! What do you believe to be your best work thus far and why?

(MB) I like this book, Brenda. I know I am supposed to say that to stimulate sales, ha ha, but you know well how difficult selling one book is, never mind six thousand (which is what my football novel Ultra Violence sold, in total), so I don’t care about all that. It really is a book I am comfortable with. I think I am getting better and sharper as a fiction writer and the topic is an exciting one which should attract readers. It has elements of thriller I experimented with in The Ritual and which I enjoyed. I like this book. Ignoring S & V, I like Carla, and there are people out there who like Hollywood Shakedown, which sells in, like, microscopic quantities, an unfairly treated victim of the massive book glut pro writers are dealing with at the moment (though it is a long book, which don’t sell any more). The Night Porter gets a lot of love and that was my best before this. I look at that at times and think, gee, where did that writing come from! We’ll see what the punters think, Brenda. The market is always the best judge, isn’t it.

(BP) Yes, I would say so. I am so pleased you are putting it out there. There are so many mediocre books coming out on the market these days. Honestly, Mark, how did you get to be such a brilliant writer? Was it a natural gift or have you had tons of schooling?

(MB) That’s really kind of you to offer, Brenda. I’ll let that compliment rest on my tongue for a second. Ah! Thank you. That was lovely. Seriously, I don’t feel like that about my work – always think I can improve it. My schooling was interrupted by serious bullying – as this sample chapter from  my Green Wizard blog will demonstrate. Not by any one person, but by gangs of them, so my education was all about survival. I wasn’t unique either. Everyone got it. I basically learned English (outside the basics), primarily from British and US comics, and pulp fiction (like E Howard, King, Herbert, the Chopper books, New English Library horror anthologies etc). As I have said before in other interviews, I was offered remedial English class at University because I hadn’t a clue how to write technical English. So I learned and learned fast. I must have had natural ability, but I still look at people I know (like the horse racing writer Alan Potts, who is technically gifted and has flawless grammar), with envy. Had I been educated properly, instead of being scared to death for three years, I would have been a much better writer than I am now. However, I probably wouldn’t have the imagination I developed while hiding in toilets from psychopathic kids, or in my bedroom reading. So it’s a bit of a tradeoff. Also, you can have the spark educated out of you, in English. You can be gifted and some boring lecturer would mark you down for being innovative. My good friend Phil Conquest, who writes the Motel Literastein blog, had a bit of this at school and he can write as well as anyone I have ever met, with a raw energy the establishment and the 101 blogs kick out of you with hobnailed boots on.

(BP) No one should ever underestimate your work and certainly not you. I stand by my conclusion.  Sheer brilliance! ;-)
What makes you proud to be Mark Barry?

(MB) Some of the books I have written are pretty decent for the time capsule, and being a father to my son, Matt, who is a terrific lad. I’ve not been a bad dad. I also think my author interview blog, The Wizard’s Cauldron is something worth bragging about. We met there, Bren! 115 interviews so far…and loads of fun.

The Brilliant Books project you featured on your blog last year is something Phil and me are terrifically proud of too. That came from nowhere and could take us places. I love the idea of kids reading. It breaks my heart to hear of those five year olds who, when presented with a book at school for the first time, have no idea what it is. What sort of parenting is that? Or the parent who, when shown a shiny new book by her son at the gates of his school, promptly turned him round and ordered him to “take that f’in thing back in there where it belongs.” I’d pass down a prison sentence to that woman, but I know that’s extreme. 

I am also immensely proud to be a Notts County supporter and therefore, I am proud of my Dad for taking me there back in 1970.

(BP) Your work is so inspiring  and commendable, my friend. Hats off to you and everyone involved in The Brilliant Books project. You are doing great things!
 Would you ever consider writing a memoir? Or are you too private for that?

(MB) No, because it would offend too many people and I have few enough friends as it is. I think you were incredibly brave to write your stuff in so much detail. Thanks to meeting a woman like the character played by Eva Green in “Sin City 2”, I had a horror period of quite breathtaking loss between 1997 – 2003 which, paradoxically, would make terrific reading for fans of Faction and our anthology “Reality Bites”. Writing about it would bring back so many bad memories for me and many other people. I shall stick to fiction and let that one ride.

(BP) Ha ha. Okay. It’s a shame for your readers but I get your point. 
How about a good generic question. What is your favorite book and why?

(MB) Money by Martin Amis. Possibly the best book ever written. Once I have Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals off the ground, and have caught up with my reviewing commitments, I shall settle down to read it one more time. It will be the last book I ever read.

(BP) What is #Mrword planning on doing next?

(MB) Developing Brilliant Books, primarily. As for writing, I will be back next March with my annual book. There are several options in my head but you will be the first to know as usual, Brenda. Oh, and hopefully, we’ll get LA Punk Rocker off the ground!!! Cannot wait for that!

                                              (Shameless plug ) 

Our terrific friend Mary Ann Bernal taught me about the one book a year thing. With the glut of writers and writing out there, I think people should voluntarily restrain themselves to one novel a year. I know people argue that some writers have their own specific audience who have the capacity for more, but I am not sure that is true, I am inundated with books to read from a wide variety of my network and I want it to be a pleasure. Increasingly, its becoming a chore – with some bloody good books too. If authors restrained themselves to one a year, then we’ve all got space and time to breathe, haven’t we.

(BP) Yes, and we have to breathe every now and again. It’s been my pleasure to chat with you. It’s never ever dull. Wishing you all the best with this fabulous new release, Once Upon a Time in the City of Criminals. Excited to see how people respond. I believe it will knock their socks off.

Mark Barry is the author of many works of fiction including the cult football hooligan novel, Ultra-Violence, the seriously-reviewed, dark and harrowing romance, Carla, and the feel-good thriller, Hollywood Shakedown.
He lives in the UK and has one son, Matthew, who, so far, shows no sign of following in his father's literary footsteps - though he does fanatically support Notts County (which is a much more important trait).
Mark is also the proprietor of Green Wizard Publishing, a company dedicated to publishing cutting-edge, innovative, and accessible fiction firmly based in reality.
The majority of his books are set in either Southwell ("Wheatley Fields") or Nottingham ("The City"). It is a proud boast that local people who have read his novels can follow the trail of the quirky characters they encounter inside the jacket covers.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

From the Abyss III by John Emil Augustine


From the Abyss III

 A string of struggles, along with an equal share of triumphs, have been part of John Augustine’s story ever since he realized he was in an abusive marriage at the age of 24. In book three, at the age of 32, John struggles with the demons of two relationships, with finding a new career, and with keeping his rapidly growing family intact. Rather than the strong but imperfect man of books one and two, readers will see a whole new side of John as his trials continue to mount. Circumstances will change drastically, and John will be faced with his toughest challenges yet. What happens when John ends up on the very fringes of society will change your mind about everything and everyone you thought you knew in the first two books of this increasingly thrilling and psychologically complex series.

My Review

"Lightning strikes me 
When you smile and it seems 
You understand me..." 

From The Abyss III is filled with real life moments. John Emil Augustine puts it all out there and does it with grace and humanity. There is something empowering in everything that he does whether it is his writing, his music or his teachings. He has great compassion for people who have experienced abuse on any level and is very sensitive to others. His message is inspiring and motivating.

I would read anything by John Emil Augustine. He is an extremely talented author who writes with his heart on his sleeve. There is passion in his stories that are raw and captivating.

Most people will relate to From The Abyss on some level. What makes it even more intriguing is how much he opens up and shows us his vulnerable side which we don't get to see very often from a male's point of view. You don't have to experience abuse in the same way he does to appreciate the content though it is fun to be a fly on the wall and look into his most private happenings. In some ways I think he looks back at his life and thinks of himself by the mistakes that he has made but I don't see it that way. I believe the road that he has taken to get to where he is now is a road well traveled. It seems he has learned from his bad experiences, abuse and hard times. As a reader I see his growth. It has me reflecting back at my own life. It's so comforting to know that it's okay to be less than perfect. We all are flawed and embracing the past takes us to a much better place.

This guy has a story to tell and he shares it with great dignity yet he reminds us as readers that none of us are alone and there is always hope.

Quote ~

The backseat was hard plastic. The cage on the window between the back seat and the front kept me from killing my driver, I guessed. I had been in the back of a squad car once. I had gotten a talking-to from a cop when I first started driving because I had zipped across three lanes too quickly on the freeway. That time I’d been let off with a lecture. Today there was no lecture. I was taken straight downtown. A tow truck showed up for the Blazer just as we were pulling away. 

The first book, From The Abyss is a great place to start!

24-year-old John Augustine is looking for a lasting, loving relationship and finds one hidden where he least expects it. Knowing that no relationship is perfect, he walks in with eyes wide open but is unable to see the future swirling with hell and heartache. Amidst the struggles of a new marriage, John begins to realize his wife is far different than the woman he thought he married. Her mental illness soon drags the new family past the point of no return. As a man, John struggles to be strong and tackle their problems single-handedly, though the marital foundation is eroding before his eyes. But once his wife files for divorce, he finds himself in a free-fall.

                                            My review 
It's really refreshing to read a memoir this honest from a male's point of view. In this story his sex doesn't matter because you see HIM in all his rawness, insecurities and sufferings. It doesn't take long to get absorbed into this story.  It also doesn't take long to have the feeling that you know this guy. This guy could be your friend. He is familiar and you can't help being drawn to him. There are so many moments that I feel so emotional about as he is spilling his guts out on a silver platter. He does not seem to concern himself to how this makes him look to the world, he is just telling his story as he knows to be true. I have to admire his honesty and courage. What he has done here takes bravery. He just seems to be on a noble mission to share his side of the story in hopes it will touch someone or help them get out of the bad situation they may find themselves. This is a human tale told with such candidness that I am in awe of his character. There is no ego just one man setting the record straight. Recording a life that could have sunk or swam and it looks to me that he has sailed across the rocky seas and got himself further away from the abyss to a better life.

"Sometimes, I think I would like to go back and fix what I did; take the off-ramp. But you just never get to do that. Not really. Maybe you wouldn't want to. Because those signs keep showing up until you understand what is written. If not then, it would have hit me at another time. I saw the sign but didn't realize what it meant. And in fairness to me, there was no way I could have known. You can only really, truly see the future when it's in the past."

A great read whether you have been in a good relationship or a sick one. If you have lived long enough, there are things in this poignant memoir that you might just be able to relate to.
The story comes from a dark place but is told with optimism for the future. Are you searching for your own silver lining? There is without a doubt a better life around the corner. You just have to stay open to all and any possibilities.

When there is love in your heart, there is HOPE!

John Augustine, having plummeted into an emotional abyss following an abusive marriage, finds himself picking up the pieces and moving on. However, with a four year old son, John changes strategy and takes his dating online. Though he has reservations, he ends up finding the perfect girl who also has a four-year-old son...and who is willing to travel. During their courtship, John makes other life changes as well, quitting touring to buy a house and begin a Master's program. Unfortunately, time and money become thin, and John takes on a second job and a few loans while his new wife moves in and looks for work. Meanwhile, John's ex-wife hatches a smear campaign against his new family and gives John an ultimatum: his son or his new family. John begins to buckle under the mounting pressure, while his wife ends up feeling alienated and lonely in a strange new town. A complicated life will come crashing down on John, and he will be forced to decide between what is important, and who and what he can forever live without. His children will learn what kind of dad John really is, and his family will be forever redefined when John makes the most difficult choices of his life. Will his choices knock him back down, or will John emerge from the abyss? 

My Review

From The Abyss II opens up and grabs you right back to where we left off. There is something soothing about John even in the middle of chaos. He is soft spoken (maybe it's more like soft hearted) but what pulls me in the most is his sheer honestly. He comes across as real as a snowy day on Christmas. He knows how to serve up a story, offering one small slice at a time. I like how easy it feels to get into his head and understand his plight. He is a man of circumstance but he doesn't fold. He is a survivor here to tell his story in multi-color techno theater. His story comes to life and you are there with him each step of the way. It would be difficult not to feel compassion towards this person who has been dealt some hard blows. I mean, life gets tough for most of us but it takes a special kind of person who is willing to put it all out there like dirty laundry for all to see. He does this with dignity and grace with the hopes that his life lessons, his story will help others. This seems like a Nobel gesture but I am certain as helpful as this story is to others, he is getting some kind of satisfaction on the other end. There is a therapy by sharing your private life in such a explosive revealing manner. I can only applaud this talented person because I do think people can relate to this character and relate to some of the hardships that he has had to endure. This story is told in a beautiful eloquent way. The simplicity is what really draws me in. Nothing fancy, no car races, murders or wild sex. It’s just life, perfectly imperfect and the message is loud and clear. Actually there are many positive messages but you will have to search for them yourself. What I find most appealing is what is not said on these pages. It's what's between the lines that have the most meaning. There is so much depth but so much that is up for your own interpretation and that is what makes this story even more appealing, wildly compelling and insightful. At the same time there is plenty of food for thought.
 This is a great addition to the first tittle and I think both men and women will really relate to “From The Abyss” on some level. I already can't wait for the next installment!

"It was at that moment as my emotions hung briefly in limbo that I realized something important. You don't ever know what you are getting. No one can predict the future. No one can predict his or her behavior. Standing there watching as Kim quickly bounced away, I realized that every relationship decision, no matter how informed, is a huge gamble. The girl I met on the Internet was no safer or dangerous than the girl I had been set up with by my good friend. We in the relationship have the power to make it what it is, but the power has to be shared equally. That's the gamble....”

John Emil Augustine grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and toured in his twenties and early thirties with local and national acts; writing, arranging, and performing with notable jazz, blues, gospel, reggae, post funk, prog rock, and folk groups. John has also been a landscaper, mail carrier, English professor, and forklift operator. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and four boys.


From the Abyss
From the Abyss III

Friday, March 6, 2015

LA Punk Rocker ~ The History

To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It's freedom.
Patti Smith

The first real punk band I had ever heard of was The Sex Pistols even though they were pretty much over by the time I discovered them. By the end of 1978, the Sex Pistols had broken up, and Sid Vicious was found dead from a heroin overdose in New York on February 1, 1979.

There were many bands inspired by the Sex Pistols and thus the London scene began. It was around the mid seventies that The Buzzcocks, The Slits, The Damned, The Jam, Siouxsie and the Banshees, X-Ray Spex, and the Clash.

American bands that stand out in my mind from the early eighties are The Dead Kennedys, The Germs, Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, Fear and Social distortion. Darby Crash of the Germs would commit suicide on December 8, 1980.

 The early eighties were about alternative music. New wave became trendy and not long after, punk music started fading away.

Punk rock is a rock genre that was launched in the 70s in the UK, the US and Australia. This genre is more garage rock than anything else. The music has the quality of being fast paced and edgy and their lyrics are mostly about about anti-establishment.
Punk is more than just music. Design and fashion were just as important. This may have started as a rebellion but blossomed into something so much more.
New York was the first place Punk rock was played by bands like Ramones, Heartbreakers, Blondie and Johnny Thunders who played at CBGB. In London it started out later.
In England punk exploded because of the high unemployment rates and poor economy. The youth were angry and rebellious. There opinions mattered.

In the late 70s punk was a fully fledged music class. Punk music has since grown and become huge. It spread into art, culture and fashion. It has given rise to generations of musicians and introduced a culture of its own. If anything, punk is more a lifestyle and a philosophy.
In the punk scene authenticity was important. “Poseur” is a term used to describe anyone that lacked the basic understanding and principles that went along with the music genre.

In the '80s, alternative music and '80s pop became the next wave of music. New wave became the craze, and punk was a bit less influential for the time being.

Punk bands thrived still but on a smaller scale.
While hardcore moved along a bit with Henry Rollins joining Black Flag in 1981 and the appearance of the Vandals in 1982, punk was definitely turning around. The Clash and Black Flag both broke up in 1986. Things were changing.