One of the best books I’ve read this year.

The Swordsman’s Lament by G. M. White is genuinely brilliant. When I had to turn the audiobook off after my commute to work I was looking forward to getting back on the road, and back in the story.

Belasko is a great new hero. This series deserves to blow up. I hope it does. The story is a simple but compelling one. A good man accused of a murder he didn’t commit escapes from the dungeons to clear his name.

The writing is excellent and G. M. White is an exceptional storyteller.

There is an equality to the storytelling too. Strong female characters. Female guards, they/them pronouns, ambiguous sexual orientation. It’s not at the forefront of the story, but it’s there in the subtle world building.

The nobility / underclass devide is tackled with an edge as sharp as Belesko’s rapier.

The Swordsman’s Lament, “the older I get the better I was”, is put to the test and Belasko prevails.

There is nothing to not like about the book. Just read it already, it’s great.

I believe it was the narrator’s first foray into reading audiobooks and I hope he reads more. He sounded very much like Tom Hiddleston. It was like having Loki read you a book, and who wouldn’t want that?

His Name Was Shane

I’ve been going back and reading the classics of the western genre. The cornerstones of gunslinging pulp.

(The following contains spoilers. So if you just want my reaction, I loved it. I recommend you read it).

Shane by Jack Schaefer was first published in three parts in Argosy magazine in 1946. Pulp to the core. It came out as a novel in 1949 and has never been out of print. Literature with a capital W.

It’s a small book that takes its time. A slow burn. Told from the viewpoint of a boy, Bob Starrett, who watches this mythic rider come into town. The man on the horse stops at his farm house and asks for water for him and his horse. His name is Shane. The boy becomes infatuated with him. His father, Joe Starrett, offers the stranger a bed for the night and he ends up staying for much longer.

They spend time on the land. Shane helps Joe remove a tree stump. It takes a long time and Schaefer keeps with it. Showing each swing of the axe.

Shane doesn’t talk about his past and much speculation is made of him.

Soon that past, or knowledge of who he is, catches up to him. A man flees town upon merely setting eyes on Shane.

Bob and his parents are being run out of town by a rancher who needs their land back. They are homesteaders who staked their land on Luke Fletcher’s ranch. Land Fletcher had never claimed himself.

Shane stands up and defends his new home.

At first I wasn’t sure about the book. You’re spending time with these characters without a lot happening. But the writing won me over. There is something about the farm and the people that pulls you in. I liked spending time with Shane, and Bob, and Joe.

It rewards you for your patience with a great final act.

I would read it again. If you love westerns and haven’t read this one yet it’s well worth it.

Becoming Superman Book Review

Has anybody read Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski? Or even heard of Straczynski for that matter. I hadn’t until I came across a book on Screenwriting he wrote in a charity shop a few months ago. It was old and battered, published in the late 90s.

I started reading the screenwriting book but had to stop. There was something different about this book. Something that made it stand out tonally from other books I had read on screenwriting. So I googled him and lo and behold his autobiography (Becoming Superman) was released at the beginning of September last month. I immediately downloaded the audiobook.It is one of the best books I have read in years. And I want to recommend it to you. It is a masterclass in autobiographical writing and the best book about how a writer became a writer I’ve ever read. I was blown away by it.

If you haven’t heard of him you might have heard of some of the things he’s written. Here’s a list of some of the highlights.

The Real Ghostbusters

The Twilight Zone
Babylon 5 (he singlehandedly wrote 92 of the 110 episodes)
Murder She Wrote
Sense 8 (new to Netflix)

The Amazing Spider-Man
Fantastic Four
And many others

Three novels including Demon Night

World War Z
Godzilla vs King Kong (coming next year)
And so much more.

The point is, this guy knows his shit. But the reason I want everyone to read it is his personal story. The way he tells his own life story is a masterclass in suspense and intrigue and great prose all by itself. His life growing up was horrendous.

I won’t spoil things here because every revelation and dark turn is worth discovering for yourself. But I think it’s safe to say if he hadn’t become a writer he would have become a serial killer. His history is full of murdered pets, a family of criminals and psychopaths, nazis and a terrible family secret, incest, violence, and madness.

The book is hilarious in parts and incredibly dark in others.

I read this as an audiobook and as audiobooks go it is perfect. The narration is outstanding. At the beginning of the book there is a short and funny conversation between Straczynski and the narrator explaining why Straczynski isn’t allowed to narrate his own book. You know from the moment you press play that you are in for a treat.

I will be ordering a hardback so I can read it again just as soon as I get paid.

There is a worry that I’ve hyped this book up far too much and it couldn’t possibly live up to expectation. But it can, and then some.

I very rarely feel the urge to read a book twice but I’m eager to start again from page one already.

Audiobook Review of Grandfather’s House by Jon Athan

Unbelievable Violence and Perversion.

This is a short and sick listen. If you are willing to suspend your disbelief to get beyond the few illogical plot flaws (a kid becoming so hungry he eats rotten chicken after being in solitary confinement for only a few hours) there is a lot to enjoy with this story. It is entertainingly written. The opening scene in the classroom is brilliant and the protagonist and his grandfather are well drawn characters.

The only thing I would change about the actual writing of the book is that characters are far too often “awed” by things. But that’s a small issue really (especially considering the graphic content of the book).

It is violent to the extreme and sexual in a way that is so far removed from erotica it is utterly repulsive. I’m going to leave two words here that may or may not have any relation to the “erotic” element of this sory: grandmother’s bottom.

There we are. Read at your peral.

FREE audiobook comedy! (UK codes for Audible)

Rude, charming, funny, and offensive. Tripping the Night Fantastic is a dark comedy about a writer, Charlie Devon, who attempts to solve a murder while under the influence of a new hallucinogenic drug called Merlin. Struggling with reality and suspecting he might be a character in a novel, Charlie trips and hallucinates his way to the solution of this unique murder mystery.

Hello wonderful readers of audiobooks. I have UK codes to hand out for two of my novellas. They are short reads (each is about four and a half hours long) and have had many previous readers snorting and laughing away on their commutes to work. Reviews have been great so far but I desire more. The more reviews an audiobook has the more visible Audible’s mysterious algorithms make it for potential readers to find.

So, the two books. The first is Tripping the Night Fantastic, described above, and the second is The Accidental Scoundrel; a P. G. Wodehouse style comedy about a whisky heist.

If you would like a code for one or both of the books let me know in the comments and leave your email address so I can send you the code. If you aren’t comfortable sharing your email address here please come and find me on social media @AndyChapWriter (It’s the same on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and PM me.

Unfortunately I do only have UK codes available. All of my US codes have been used up.

Feel free to check out the books first on Audible at the following links –

Tripping the Night Fantastic

The Accidental Scoundrel

– Andy

The Rats by James Herbert – REVIEW

This book surprised me. I was expecting some schlock. Some B-movie pulp horror. A first attempt at fiction by an author who would become one of England’s best selling horror novelists. But actually, it was brilliant.

It has a few intentional false starts so you’re not sure for a while if the person you’re following on that page is going to die in the next. Or if he, or she, will go on to be the main protagonist of the story. At first the book is a series of vignettes of rat killings. But you don’t just get a violent attack. You really get to know every character before they are ripped to shreds.

It starts with a story involving a gay salesman struggling with his love for another man. You think he’s going to be the main character and then he wakes up to find he’s being eaten alive by a swarm of rats the size of a small dogs.

The depth James Herbert gets from his characters is impressive for such a small book. He wants you to feel something for them before their eyes are graphically chewed out.

There are lots of things about this book I want to spoil for you, but I won’t. The ending was absurd and brilliant. I absolutely recommend it.