Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Colorblind - A Book Review

'Colorblind' by Reed Farrel Coleman 
Published by No Exit Press 2019

I just want to start this by saying I'm not criticising - I'm reviewing. As a hardly published author I take my hat off to those who are established 'real' writers, and as ever want to express my condolences to the estate of Robert B Parker and appreciation and gratitude for the great man's work. This blog post is merely for the sake of analysis and writing practice for myself to understand what works and what doesn't, in my own work and others' in the hope of becoming a better writer.

I've just finished reading Robert B Parker's 'Colorblind' written by Reed Farrel Coleman, which is an interesting case because Robert B Parker is one of my all time favourite authors in the person of private detective Spenser, who inspired me to work on my Old Mice Killer series with Jake Jones. I won't lie to you, it was his name in huge letters on the front cover which attracted me to this book in the library, but after Robert B Parker's sad demise in 2010 his characters and worlds threatened to be no more, until his estate passed his baton on to other writers to carry on the flame.

In principle I've been both for and against this in the past. On one hand I think it's great that Parker's characters live on, but on the other hand it seems inauthentic. The cover itself, as with Clive Cussler's recent pair up novels where he works with other authors, is designed to - as with me - lure in readers using Parker's name in huge font at the top, and the real author's name (who I confess I'd never heard of until now) in small letters at the bottom. It seems like false advertising on one level. But from a publishing standpoint I understand they have books to sell, and from the estate's standpoint they want to honour the great writer's memory.

Even before, I hadn't read much of the Jesse Stone series, but I was that much a fan of Parker's strong male lead characters, sense of humour and turn of phrase that I thought I'd give it a bash. So it was with a dip of disappointment when I realised it wasn't actually he who had written the story. Nevertheless, I started the novel (283 pages), and sure enough I could see signs of Parker's handiwork in the strong male lead with steel will and moral fibre, who took it upon himself to shelter the weak and lost, but not much humour. I don't know if the original Jesse Stone had much of a sense of humour in the past, but perhaps it was due to being a recovering (bereaving?) alcoholic at this stage in his life maybe there was less to be cheerful about. I don't know. I'll have to dig further back to find out.

The story is definitely a slow burner - or perhaps I should say, has a long fuse. Well written, with an involving mix of characters all with their own issues and directions. But Jesse doesn't seem to do much but keep his ears open and stay off the drink (although myself trying to abstain from various addictions over the years I know how hard this can be) for most of the book. And then all of a sudden – Boom – on page 261 (the 92% mark) all of the groundwork that Reed Farrel Coleman has built pays off and blows the top of your head off. And you're left thinking, Holy sh-cow, how did he do that? The rug has been pulled out from under you and you're flying slow motion in mid air with the book in one hand, a cup of early morning tea in the other and lines of amazement creasing your forehead, thinking, what the hell?

Anyway. The book was a rewarding read. If you're familiar with the characters from earlier novels (which I wasn't, so perhaps that was why a lot of them were hard to remember 2D names for me – hooks with nothing to hang on) then I think Reed Farrel Coleman does an admirable (and brave) job of carrying the torch, as after all Robert B Parker is a hard act to follow and a writer worth devoting some study and time to.

I'm going to give this book four stars out of five. I think it's a solid work that delivers on all promises. Coleman does an admiral job - one that I certainly couldn't do and would immediately shy away from. But I still feel cheated by the cover. I know we shouldn't judge books by their covers, but we do. Anyone who's tried to self publish knows a book's cover is important. You get one chance to make a visual impression, and your cover is it. I think the climax is rewarding enough to make all the waiting around worth it, but the waiting around is another reason why it's 4 stars and not 5. As I said, I know staying off the one thing you want in all the world is hard going, and Coleman captures that well, but the first 90% of the book needs more rewards, more meat. More character development. More Easter eggs. More humour. More flashes of the old Robert B Parker. It was nice to see Vinnie Morris pop up again, but that wasn't enough. Personally I would have appreciated about 50 pages' worth of Robert B Parkerisms sprinkled throughout the book. Food, humour, romance, geography, history, baseball trivia (Al Dente). You know what I mean? That kind of stuff. It's great when the bus finally comes, but it helps to have someone interesting to share the bus stop until that happens. That said, I was inspired to stand and write a long and involving blog post about this novel in my pyjamas five minutes after the last page, which doesn't happen often, so something's clicked.

This is how, in my mind, the cover should have looked, and would probably fit in with the high moral standard of Robert B Parker's lead characters.

Reed Farrel Coleman
The New Jesse Stone Mystery


Based on The Characters and World
Created by Robert B Parker

Have a look at Robert B Parker's Wikipedia page. I thoroughly recommend investing time, money and effort reading his original works and I intend to go back and fill in the holes as soon as possible. Reed Farrel Coleman's pretty good too and I think I'll pick up more of his work in the future also.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019


They'll soon become a thing of the past. Why bother using them anyway? It's all on the internet, right? Who wants to get up, put their shoes and jacket on, walk all the way down the street in the cold, rain and dark to go into a building whose soul purpose is to lavish stories of wonder and life-long experience on you for free? A place that's quiet, peaceful, thought-provoking, and staffed by friendly people whose job is to help you find the book or information you want. Why bother? It's all on the internet. Sure, your view is kind of obstructed by myriad ads for things you don't want or need, slowed down by lag, and the occasional eye strain headache, but it's there, isn't it? Sure you might forget to actually look for the thing you were looking for while distracted by a picture of a cat on a treadmill or Boris Johnson on a unicycle. Or you might just occasionally think, 'ach, I'll just jump on the old facebook or youtube to entertain myself first' and before you know it it's 5am and you're dehydrated and thinking, "what the hell just happened to the last 12 hours?" Who wants to have to actually hold a lump of paper mulch and turn the pages - what an effort! Much easier to scroll. Apart from the repetitive strain injury of course. And then you have to find a bookmark, and remember when the book's to go back. Who wants that hassle? If something's free it's worthless, right? If something's free it's worthless.
Clementinum in Prague, Czech Republic
Libraries should be protected and expanded, not shrunk or suffer reduction in opening hours. In this day and age of spiritual and creative desertification it's imperative that we ensure that the last bastions of hope, adventure, knowledge, discovery, peace & quiet, wisdom, self expression and thought are preserved. If everything becomes digitised it'll become characterless ones and zeros. Humanity will take another step towards the electronic abyss and drown itself in a River Styx of Google ads for six packs and Nikes. Libraries are universes within universes. Words are thoughts.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Notes From The Multiverse

I'm very pleased to announce that not one but two of the short stories I wrote while voluntarily exiled to Japan are planned to be published along with a host of other great pieces from some excellent writers in the third West Lothian Writers anthology, "Notes From The Multiverse".

Mine are One Last Tale and Multiversal.

One Last Tale (2007) is a short story born (as many surely are) from the frustrations of not knowing what to write. It's set in the distant future when all the good stories have already been told (several times) and there really is nothing new under the sun. It begins with a publisher lamenting to an old friend that he has nothing truly original to publish any more. He refuses to hire the services of professional time-traveling heavies whose job is to go into the future and bring back original stories from authors not yet born, as they've been doing for centuries. But his friend has a surprise in store.

With all the sequels, prequels, remakes and origin movies around these days it's beginning to feel like this story is becoming a little prophetic.
Illustration © Miyuki Young 2018 

My wife, Miyuki Young, has drawn a scene from One Last Tale and hopefully this illustration will also find a place in the anthology.

Multiversal (2007) , as I've mentioned before on this blog, is about what happens when Bob reads in a science magazine that the multiverse theory has actually been agreed to be true by many notable and respected scientists. This is very loosely based on truth as it is inspired by what I actually felt and wanted to do upon reading the exact same article. But because I couldn't do it (or wasn't brave enough) I instead explored the possible chaotic and amusing ramifications of what might happen if I did, and made it into a short story.

I'm especially excited and honoured for Multiversal to be spearheading the theme of the anthology, and am very grateful to be picked up.

The book, expected to be about £5 or £6, will contain roughly two dozen pieces - short stories, poems and novel excerpts - and will no doubt be a very readable variety of genres, styles and imaginings from active writers in the West Lothian area.

Out soon!

© Chris Young 2018

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The 23 To Neptune

Well, a huge thank you must go to the nice people of the West Lothian Writers Group who purchased all five of my copies of the first edition of The Old Mice Killer last night! I didn't expect to be sold out and am looking forward to ordering some more to bring along next time.

Also very chuffed to find out the proposed name for the WLW anthology this year will have something to do with Multiversality, as one of the stories I entered for it before Christmas was a short SF comedy I penned in 2007 back while living in Japan actually called 'Multiversal.' This is a good sign that it's been accepted for inclusion, but then again could turn out to be a total bummer if not!

It's about what happens when a guy called Bob reads in a science magazine that the multiverse theory has actually been agreed to be true by many notable and respected scientists. This is very loosely based on truth as it is inspired by what I actually felt and wanted to do upon reading the exact same article. But because I couldn't do it I instead explored the possible chaotic and amusing ramifications of what might happen if I did, and made it into a short story.

Looking forward to seeing it in print and whether anyone else submitted similarly themed stories and how they will relate with each other. 

Watch this space!

In other news I am still mulling over the plot for a prequel to The Old Mice Killer. The original story was a leap of faith in the complete darkness but now I'm trying to be serious about it I'm actually a little scared to begin another case to tell the truth. Why? I'm not very good at sequels. I know this is a prequel, but I just feel reticent about messing with something that works as a standalone (if slightly short and unmarketable) novella.

Anyway, if it does go ahead, it'll be called The Coffee Cup Killer. Again, watch this space for more info.

Regarding the title of this blog post, it's the name of the bus I took in Glasgow today from Union Street to Neptune Street to see my accountant for a damage report. I thought it might make for a good short story title. By now I'm sure you know what to do regarding the space and the watching :)

Promo Video for The Old Mice Killer

Buy The Old Mice Killer by Chris Young in paperback form here, or as an ebook here.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

First Old Mice Killer Review

"Chris , I’ve just read The Old Mice Killer! Thank you so much for the most amazing, escapist, joyride of suspense and belly laughs rolled up with cinematic imagery running throughout!
You really are a man of many talents and The Old Mice Killer harnesses them perfectly! In short ! I think it’s brilliant mate! Please send me a signed copy, payment to follow!" - Andrew Osborne

Sunday, 17 December 2017

First Two Copies Sold!

Very pleasantly surprised when two of my English students were keen to purchase a copy each of The Old Mice Killer when I was just showing the little books off to them for the chat :)

First two signed copies sold!

Quite difficult to explain in 30 seconds what the story's about - I need to work on that for future sales and marketing.

"Er, it's about a detective who acts like a dog, whose client is a woman, who, er, acts a bit like a cat, you know, but it's not a kid's story, it's a story for adults, but, there's no sex in it, I mean it's not like that ... anyway, the detective is snooping around like a dog, you know, like a hound on the trail of a scent, and the client is all, like this, you know, with her nose in the air all posh like, kind of arrogant, and wandering off for no reason, and the detective has to find his client's missing boyfriend, and they have these problems communicating, and there's a serial killer involved, you don't have to buy one ..."

Raptor Filmz Ltd, a videography company which I started up in 2012, may actually be on the verge of becoming a publisher, and is looking into buying copies of this in bulk for distribution to book stores, so watch this space :)

Now I have to go and tippex out the F word near the end for my Mum's copy.

You can order a paperback copy of The Old Mice Killer direct from Lulu here for about £7 including postage, or if you can get a hold of Chris Young or Raptor Filmz ( or text 07899 718775) he's selling signed copies for just £3.50 in the Livingston area, West Lothian, Scotland. Alternatively you can purchase the ebook here for instant download on Kindle or Ibooks for just 99p.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

First Edition Arrives

At 11:15 am this morning the doorbell went.

I skipped down the stairs like a teenage schoolgirl and opened the front door to find a bearded DPD Driver standing in the snowy cold exterior with a slim package in his hands. A warmth spreading in my stomach I signed my name upside down on his electronic doo-hickey, thanked him very much, and brought the package inside.

Without much ceremony I tore down the dotted line, dug around inside thinking, "Is it ...? Could it be ...? How will it look? Will it be too thin? Would the font be too big? Will there be any major errors?"

And I brought out this.

Not only that but there were two more inside just like it.

There have been quite a few revisions since first ordering these late in the evening of Wed 6th Dec 2017, so I wasn't sure how many improvements (ebook or paperback) behind this version was, so my heart was rattling along at quite a rate as I flicked through the 100 pages. Yes, a spelling mistake here, an old version of the story there, and the 'About the author' page wasn't there yet, but ... yes ... rather nice first edition.

The only piece of fiction I ever had published in book form was a short story in Paperclips - a little heard of collection of stories from writers in Strathclyde, 1993 when I was 18. (Showing my age there). 

The only trouble was, my story, "A Talk With Death" was a story in a story. So the full title should really have been "A Talk With Death by Mark R Cain" By Chris Young. Unfortunately, my lack of experience in publishing at the time did not make me realise that I should probably double check with the publishers that this would be made clear in the book. I thought it was. But when it arrived, I realised it wasn't. So my name appears nowhere in the publication.

Contents page

Main page

So to have this little gem in my hands (even though it's self published) some 24 years later, is sweet indeed.

Very happy with it. 

For all intents and purposes it looks like a real book. It doesn't seem small, it's professionally bound with a glossy paperback cover, it's got page numbers, bar codes, a copyright page, the title and my name on the spine, a picture of a dead mouse on the front cover. It even smells like a new book. Took eight days to arrive - ordering, printing, delivery.

Oh yeah, and it's got a great wee story inside that a lot of nice people contributed towards.

What more could you ask?

You can order a paperback copy of The Old Mice Killer here or an ebook copy here.
Amazingly one used paperback copy of Paperclips Writers from Strathclyde is for sale here!