Jonathan Gould

Scrawling

Scrawling
Published: January 30, 2014
Neville Lansdowne drowned in a sea of words.  Of course, he didn't really drown. You can't actually drown in a sea of words. But you can sink a long way down into its depths, and that's exactly what happened to Neville. Deep down in an undersea world constructed entirely out of words, Neville meets some peculiar new companion and soon finds himself in the middle of another strange and wholly unexpected adventure.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

March 27, 2014

I’ve always liked Jonathan Gould’s books. He has a unique quirky kind of style that is both humorous and insightful. This is the best of the Neville books so far. It’s magical realism in that the whole thing is an extended metaphor. Neville is drowning in a sea of words. He is buffeted by words, swamped by words and hit by torrents of words.

He meets word fish, snarks and carps and groupers, amongst others. Their words have an effect on him and on their surroundings. Why is the carp so dingy compared to the other word fish? Because he’s made out of words that belittle and carp on the negative. Colourful words create coral in this language metaphor. Wispy words wave like fern fronds and so on.
But as time goes on, Neville discovers that he too is turning into words. He meets a wermaid who tells him that the word world is taking over the real world. She doesn’t see that as a problem until Neville points out that words only have meaning because they relate to something real in the real world, and the word world us getting very fuzzy. Then she decides to help him save the word world in order to save both worlds.

This is a short work, easily read in one sitting and enjoyable for all ages. It’s a simple story, but sleek and well paced, and it builds to a dramatic conclusion. I heartily recommend it.

Scribbling

Scribbling
Published: October 24, 2012
Neville Lansdowne pushed the world out of shape. He didn't mean to do it. He didn't even realise he had done it. If you had asked him, he would have said that, as far as he could tell, the world was the wrong shape to begin with. In a world that is totally the wrong shape, Neville meets a new bunch of eccentric characters, and embarks on another strange and wholly unexpected adventure.

Doodling

Doodling
Published: January 24, 2011
Neville Lansdowne fell off the world. Actually he did not so much fall off as let go. The world had been moving so quickly lately and Neville was finding it almost impossible to keep up.   Doodling is an engaging comic fantasy which relates the events that befall Neville after he finds himself abandoned by the world and adrift in the middle of an asteroid field. Douglas Adams meets Lewis Carroll (with just a touch of Gulliver's Travels) as Neville wanders through his new home, meeting a variety of eccentric characters and experiencing some most unexpected adventures.

Magnus Opum

Magnus Opum
An epic tale of swords and baked goods. Magnus Mandalora never planned to go out into the big, wide world. He thought he’d live out his life in his homely little village, happily cooking and eating pflugberry pies. But fate had other ideas. Before he knows it, Magnus has embarked on an incredible adventure. He discovers a world full of marvels and wonder, surprises and delights. But it’s also a world of perils and danger. As Magnus finds himself right in the middle of a long-running war between the fair and noble Cherines and the vile and despicable Glurgs, he faces challenges beyond anything he could have imagined.  

Awesome Indies' Review

Humorous fantasy with heart

Magnus Opum is a delightful read in Jonathan Gould’s unique style, a book that shows this writers extraordinary talent in even greater depths than his other works Flidderbugs or Doodling. Imagine a mix of Tolkien and Dr Seuss and you have Magnus Opum, a humorous epic fantasy that highlights the absurdity of cultural assumptions. Perfect for all ages, I urge everyone to read it.

Populated with bizarre animals like the borse, who has two legs shorter than the others, making them perfect for hilly terrain but highly unstable on the flat, and the Blerchherch, “a ravenous giant with a hunger of the flesh of all other creatures”, who lives in the dingy dungy Drunglegum valley, the books names alone provide plenty of giggles. I had fun trying to say words like Pharsheesh, Pergle-brots, Parghwum, and the rather tricky Hargh Gryghrgr out loud.

Magnus is a little Kertoob in a big world and with more courage than he knows. His main companion Shaindor is a beautiful Cherine, but he also befriends Klugrok one of the race of ugly Glurgs. These two races are mortal enemies, and as Magnus discovers, the only reason behind their conflict is cultural differences and misunderstanding. To the Cherines, anything ugly must be evil, and to the Glurgs anything that prides itself on its beauty is evil. And indeed, we do see the ugly side of the beautiful Cherine race. So, in true Dr Seuss style, there is an important message for adults and children alike.

I put this book squarely in the zany-and-out-of-the-box category (except that Jonathon has made his own box), and because it’s 2012 and the author isn’t waiting for traditional publishers to go through the incredibly time consuming process of making up their minds, we can buy it for next to nothing for our electronic readers. I give it 5 stars and urge you to buy it immediately.

Only in an Indie published book will you find something so highly creative and different. Long live Indie publishing. May it take its rightful place as a respected part of the publishing industry. This is where you’ll find alternative reading fare, the artistic ground breakers and even new subgenres.

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways
This superbly written short story anthology showcases talented Awesome Indie authors from around the globe. Though from a variety of genres, the stories are all entertaining, contemporary and thought-provoking.   Indulge your taste for good fiction with this short story anthology by authors with bold new voices. Though from diverse genres, the stories share a contemporary and contemplative feel that will linger long after the reader has read the last one. Awesome Allshorts showcases talented authors from around the globe, many whose novels have received multiple honors, including Awesome Indies approved status. Stories selected by Tahlia Newland, Dixiane Hallaj and Richard Bunning.

Reviewed by Bill Kirton

First, a disclaimer. This volume contains a flash fiction story of mine but the review relates to the other 26 contributions. It’s entirely objective. If it weren’t, I’d be undermining my credibility as a reviewer.

The enigmatic subtitle of the collection, Last Days, Lost Ways, hints at disjunction, reflection, scenes in which a variety of voices recount departures, frustrations, lost or decaying loves. In fact, as you read from story to story, the variation in styles and subjects, the movement from striking characters to bleak or funny situations, the range of emotions provoked – all combine to make this a rich experience.

The authors all know how to grab the reader and draw him/her very quickly into the specifics of their settings and the mysteries of the characters and their obsessions. The mood swings from anxious to loving, sinister to funny, despairing to whimsical, futuristic to domestic, romantic to dystopian. Some stories are firmly set in an apparently mundane everyday world, but one unpicked by a character’s reactions to its pressures and interpretations of its moments. Others move straight into the paranormal or historical. But all touch on aspects of life, fears, relationships which will have echoes in readers’ own experience.

The anthology exemplifies the flexibility and continuing relevance of a form which is nowadays enjoying an overdue revival.

Reviewed by Amy Spahn

Full disclosure: One of my short stories appears in this anthology. This review is about the others.

I did not expect these stories to move me as deeply as they did. Short works often struggle to pack a significant punch in their diminished wordcount, but the pieces contained in this collection rise to the occasion. Some had me on the edge of my seat in suspense. Some brought tears to my eyes with their emotional depth. And some utilized unique writing styles so artfully that they should be studied in literature classes.

Like with any anthology, not everything in this book will appeal to every reader. But the breadth and depth of the writing styles, storylines, and people explored make it deserving of a spot on any avid reader’s shelf.

Reviewed by

Ignite

 

This is a collection of stories subtitled Last Days and Lost Ways. I received an Advanced Review Copy. It is not the final version. I don’t know if the stories will appear in this order but I found I didn’t really get on with most of those in the first half. The second half of the book picked up for me, but if I hadn’t been reading to review, I might easily have lost interest and abandoned it.

The writing was good. It was the definition of ‘story’ which didn’t click with me in some cases. To me, and I suspect, to many readers, a short story is a complete tale. Some of these read as, or maybe even were, excerpts from some longer work and I didn’t like that. I wanted closure.

The stories I liked best were Pearls, Home late, The Creator, Recipe for a Dinner Party, Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin; for the Devil to Show and A Matter of Trust. I enjoyed these stories and the feeling of having savoured a complete experience with them.

Reviewed by

Justin Spahn

As the husband of one of the authors in this anthology, I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. So, here it is!

I’ve read a few short story anthologies, and this one is definitely the most interesting. The collection is richly diverse in terms of subject matter, national origin and setting, narrative tone, length, and literary style. As I read, I found myself jumping from fantasy to vignette to full plots inspired by true events, and the transition somehow is fluid and seamless rather than jarring or distracting. Awesome Indies has managed to build an enjoyable whole out of various and disparate components!

Among my favorites in the lineup were ‘Clearing the Shed’, ‘Quarantine’, ‘I, Zombie’, ‘Chasing Dreams in the Time Left Over’, ‘Traffic’, ‘Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin’ for the Devil to Show’, ‘Home Late’, ‘A Matter of Trust’, ‘Pearls’, and what is likely the stylistic jewel of this collection, ‘Recipe for a Dinner Party’.

This anthology asked me interesting questions, presented me with some of my greatest fears in life, introduced me to new ideas not common in conventionally published shorts, and fed an interest in diverse snippets of literature that I didn’t even know I had.

To sum it up best, I’ll paraphrase one of the author’s descriptions regarding the virtues of the short stories collected in this anthology: The short form gives authors the opportunity to write in ways that couldn’t be sustained for an entire novel.

I recommend reading these shorts–open yourself up to unique experiences from authors all around the world who love writing so much that they publish themselves.

Reviewed by

Sandra Padgett

This collection of wonderful stories covers a variety of themes. From satire to thriller to contemporary life and much more. Each story gets your attention and keeps it from start to finish. They are thought provoking, with characters, dialogue and themes that are believable, but sometimes out in the twilight zone, which is what I like. I will be looking for more works by the various authors and follow them in the future. I received this free from Simon Townley for an honest review. Outstanding! Recommend to any and all.

Reviewed by

Annie Evett

Both emerging and established writers from Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand present a peek into the spectacular moments everyday life holds, but with a twist.

The collection opens with a bang with a story by Tahlia Newland. Intriguing to the last paragraph, I was surprised to find it was an excerpt from her newest project. It sits perfectly as a short story and a wonderful teaser into what looks to be an exciting premise.

Each story has an incredible depth and texture to them, that, although is specific to its own style, melds beautifully as a collection. The human condition is explored where the reader is challenged to reassess their perspectives on stereotypes and events. Post apocalyptic tales sit comfortably with personalised stories like fragmented memories; separate, but with a golden thread holding them together. Heart-wrenching, whimsical, tear-jerking and lighthearted there is a story to suit all moods and readers tastes.

It is difficult to chose a favourite story, with a wrestling loving gran meeting her idol, to emotional trials of marriages breaking apart or forming, futuristic zombies and maids from a gentler time.

Authors are recognised in their own right with multiple honours and prizes and although the anthology is an eclectic mixture of genre, reading one after the other only highlights the complexity and intrigue each story brings.

A great book to stash into someones Christmas stocking for some fireside holiday reading, Awesome Allshorts is set to be a winner in your readers life.