The Log House: Book Review

An unusual, and grippingly dystopian tale of horror. Baylea Hart takes the brave step of making her protagonist Penny somewhat less than sympathetic. This in no way detracts from The Log House’s grip on the reader from first page to last.

The post-disaster world is subtly, and  at the same time, very vividly delineated. Penny’s quest to return to the log house is full of tension and this reader was on the edge of his metaphorical seat until the final line. The slow reveal of the true horrors in Baylea’s all too realistic dystopia is beautifully done.

Another fine book, published by Unbound, available on Amazon and in all good bookshops.

What is Unbound?

Unbound has accepted my proposal for a sequel to Gibbous House, called No Good Deed. This means I’m on the crowd-funding roller coaster again; begging e-mails, attempts at humorous and engaging posts on Facebook and Twitter, even wandering about in local towns in a sandwich board. (OK I didn’t mean that one, but I’m not ruling it out, you understand).

Last time, every person I contacted wanted to know how it worked. Some saw it as paying for a book in advance (a long way in advance) and to some extent that’s true. But it’s not the whole story.

The whole story is in this magazine article here. I know, who has time to read all of that, right? So, I’ll try and break it down, based on what Unbound writers and potential pledgers said to me last time.

“Unbound is publishing books that no one else will.”

That looks like a negative thing, doesn’t it? It isn’t, here’s why.

Publishing is traditionally risk averse (in much the same way as cinema and television are). They like to publish what they know, who they know – and that means best-selling authors, or other high-profile people using a decent ghost writer. Otherwise, they’ll look for slightly different versions of what they already sell. “If you liked (insert best seller here) you’ll love (insert book of similar kind here).  Unbound do not do this. Anyone, you, me (!), can pitch to Unbound, you don’t need an agent, you don’t even need a manuscript ready to go, but it’s probably better if you’ve got 3/4 of one. (The manuscript, not the agent). I’m not sure of the rejection rate, but it’s harder to convince them than you might think. The crowd-funding campaign is a further gauge of whether a book is sale-able – or not.

“You are not pre-ordering a book, you are pledging”.

This sounds bad too, hey? It isn’t. No book – say if the writer doesn’t finish it, or if the production costs aren’t raised in the campaign – and you get your money back (or you could pledge for something else).

“These books are expensive”.

Two things.
a) Books on Amazon and in Tesco’s are un-sustainably (for the author, and perhaps even for publishers in the long term) cheap. I won’t bore you with the maths, but an author can earn pennies from a book costing the best part of a tenner.
b) Your Unbound book will have your name in the back (or maybe even the front) as a patron, someone who made the book happen. I’ve bought a few myself and it feels good to part of creating something that wouldn’t exist without that contribution, trust me.

“It takes so long.”

It does, but no longer than in traditional publishing. It’s just that the process with – say – the latest Hilary Mantel is completely invisible to you. It’s the same process though. Manuscript to publisher, structural edit, cover-design, copy-edit, proof reading. Not all of which happens every time with a self-published book, by the way.

Anyway, if you got this far, how about supporting No Good Deed? We can get a great book into the public’s hands together .

15 Minutes by Erinna Mettler

No apologies for reviewing yet another Unbound author’s book. 
Hats off to Erinna Mettler for producing a pyrotechnic display of short-story writing. If you want to know how it’s done buy this collection. Erinna’s ability to produce note perfect “voices” across a range of class and and the transatlantic divide make her a kind of Rory Bremner of the short fiction world.
There were so many little gems in this book, which I decided to read again before posting this review. The 15 minutes of fame thread is unobtrusively present throughout the 20 or so stories, but what they all have in common is a humanity and a certain optimism, often found in unlikely places. I reckon that’s something we all need in these times.
It is, of course, invidious to pick favourites, and mine, no doubt, will be different to yours. Stand-outs for me were Sourdough, The Typewriter, You Run and The First Punk in Pontefract, but every single story justified its place in this collection. Read it, it’s good.

(Video) No Good Deed : Gibbous House Sequel

Gibbous House’s sequel “No Good Deed” is due to start its crowd-funding campaign shortly. Gibbous House was published by Unbound on Jan 17th 2017.
Fans of Moffat’s florid voice will be on familiar ground although our “hero” himself isn’t. Having been in the Americas for over a decade, he decides to chance his arm over the Mason-Dixon line… The year is 1861, what could possibly go wrong?

The birds comments are not entirely flattering, but then I’m used to unfriendly tweets.

Check out Gibbous House on Unbound here.

Book Review: Blind Side by Jennie Ensor

Another Unbound-published book which keeps up their high standard across a wide range of genres: Jennie Ensor’s Blind Side is a fine thriller with a touch of romance. The book provides an authentic snapshot of London during the febrile atmosphere surrounding the terrorist attacks of 2005. Gripping is perhaps the best word to describe the book’s hold on me; not least because in my head I was doing the equivalent of shouting “he’s behind you” at various points along the way. This is not to say I found Georgie less than believable, vulnerable, yes.

The author’s characters were all believable; all flawed to some extent and the protagonist and her lover’s impulsive behaviour were credibly drawn. PTSD was depicted very tastefully and with a good deal of understanding of the condition.

It’s difficult to review this kind of book without resorting to spoilers. I really was on the edge of my seat at times, however. The ending was, for me, deeply satisfying, although it may not be to all tastes.

A really good read. Thoroughly recommended.

Buy Blind Side here.