L’excuse de Berthold Gambrel

Okay, okay; I know I’m really trying your patience at this point. Once again, I have failed to deliver the weekly book review. But I have an excuse! In addition to the three I mentioned last time, I have subsequently acquired another book to beta read!

Also, I have been writing reviews. Really, I have! But, the trouble is, they all have to be posted later in the year, to coincide with book release dates or certain Autumnal holidays. 🙂

All right, so if I have no book review to post, do I have anything useful to contribute? Well, not exactly. But I have a request that may prove fruitful.

Earlier this week, Kevin Brennan posted about the depressing lack of reviews for his books. I think it’s something almost all of us indie authors can relate to. Kevin is a fantastic writer, and to see his works languishing like this is disheartening. (If you want advice on where to start, I recommend his road trip comedy-drama Fascination.)

Nor is Kevin’s an isolated case. There are many wonderful indie writers whose books go un-reviewed.

I realize we’re all pressed for time these days. I mean, here I am, not posting a review when I should be. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” and this week anyway, I am part of the problem.

However, you don’t have to be part of the problem. So, tell me about what you’re reading or have recently read in the comments below. I am agog to learn! I therefore yield the floor to you, loyal reader.


  1. OK, here are two of my most recent reads: 1. Surviving Sanctuary by P.J. O’Brien. A really long (like almost 500K words) book set in a fictional country with some interesting customs. It’s a sort of mystery, but mostly a kind of ethnography, and really interesting. 2. All Shapes and Disguises by Lee-Anne Stack, a Victoria BC indie author. This is a lighthearted mystery/adventure/romance set in northern Ontario. Lots of fun, food, and camaraderie mixed with a whodunit.

  2. In the fiction world:
    1. She Who Comes Forth by Audrey. The first book in the Francis Leighton series, which in turn has its roots in Audrey’s Herbert West series. Set in the early 1960s, Francis is in Egypt hoping to forge a career in archelogy but is drawn into the era of Ancient Egypt which still lives. I do like Francis, she’s witty, independent and bold. The book captures the heat and glare of the land, and the underlying feel of ancient menace. Still on tip-toes of anticipation as I near the end.
    2. Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson. This is one of three books by Hewson which turn Shakespeare plays into novels redolent with explanations of motivations, events off stage and events after the plays. Macbeth and Hamlet were the previous, the latter only on audio. Just started on Juliet& Romeo interested to see where this goes

    1. I love both of Audrey’s Egypt books. Glad you are enjoying it.

      Hmm, these Hewson books sound interesting. I’m might look up the Macbeth one. (I never liked Romeo & Juliet to begin with. :D)

      1. I am. Audrey’s has made this aspect of the Lovecraftian world her own, with a special take which is lighter, articulate and above all witty.

        Hewson with the aid of a literature Professor A. J. Hartley has crafted a most entertaining read with many a ‘Of course. That’s why’ moments.

  3. Working on the complete Lovecraft. It’s getting somewhat repetitive at this point, so I may put it down a bit to read someting else before starting the next novellette in the tome.

    1. Oh, wow, I’m looking forward to your review of that. Lovecraft is really hit-or-miss for me. So many of his stories I find kind of… well, I won’t mince words, pointless and stupid.

      But once in a while, one of them really grabbed me, and that’s why I would keep going back for more.

  4. I just finished reading a biography on Frederick Douglass that was excellent (a much more complex character than I realized). Next up is probably gonna be George W. Bush’s autobiography.

      1. That’s what led me to pick this one up! It was really interesting to learn more about him. One shocking and disappointing thing I learned is that he was actually fairly racist against Native Americans.

  5. I’ve just finished reading two baseball books. Crazy ’08 was about the 1908 baseball season. The Summer of Beer and Whiskey was about the 1883 baseball season. Both were fascinating reads because of how much the game has both changed and not changed in all of the years since.

    I’m now reading Volume 2 of Shelby Foote’s classic Civil War history.

    1. Ah, Shelby Foote! So biased, but you couldn’t deny the man knew how to make history a fascinating yarn instead of mere dry facts.

  6. Great week to ask this question, Berthold, since due to my rather lackadaisical approach to writing at the moment, I had the band-with to read this week. First off I took my usual summer time virtual vacation to Cape Cod with its host of engaging eccentric characters by rereading Joseph C Lincoln’s 1922 humorous melodrama novel, Fair Harbor. Next up was a trip across the pond to England for another tale with engaging eccentric characters in John Hadfield’s 1959 humorous novel Love on a Branch Line. The BBC mini-series based on this novel can be found on YouTube as “Eccentric British Comedy.” And finally I downloaded from the library Guy Guvriel Kay’s China themed fantasy River of Stars. (I may have read this one before, since I like China flavored fantasy. We’ll see if it becomes familiar or not.) Summer time and the livin’s easy.

  7. I’m stuck on Peter Rimmer’s Brigandshaw Chronicles. I read the box set of books 1-3, and tried to read something else, but nothing would do but go back to book 4 of 10. I wrote a review of book one on my blog.

  8. This is such a good idea for a post!

    This week and next week I’m reviewing (or have reviewed) Becky Chambers Monk and Robot duology.

    After that, I’m going back to reviewing Indie books like I do 90% of the time.

    For the first three weeks of August, I’ll be reviewing these self-published stories:

    Aegan and the Sunken City by D.G. Redd

    A Terrifying Fact About Ants – Science Fiction Short Story by Adam Leon

    Horror Anthology – Wicked Pond Collection by Jeffrey Legendre

    I can’t remember if you and I have talked about this, but Long and Short Reviews is a great site that does mostly indie reviews. They’re always open to new submissions of books as well as new reviewers joining their team: https://www.longandshortreviews.com/

    1. Ooh, these sound cool. And thanks for the link to Long and Short Reviews. 🙂

  9. I’ve been taking a break from my normal fare of scifi and more scifi by reading just about all the books in the Nightshade series. The series is written by A.J. Scudiere and combines a deep dive into all sorts of scientific explorations with the idea that werewolves, witches and other paranormals exist, and many of them work for the FBI.

    I know it sounds bizarre, but the author weaves the two threads in so beautifully that you just leave disbelief at the door when you start reading. Along with a great concept and interesting ‘cases’, the evolution of the main characters is riveting in its own right.

    Hah! I see what you did there, Berthold. You clever thing, you. 😀 😀

      1. It really is good. I’ve read about 8 of the books now, and the combination of over-arching character development, science, plus FBI procedural with extras is totally addictive!

  10. What the hecking?? How did I miss this?!

    Goodness me, you certainly are in great demand! How exciting to be one of the first to read FOUR books 😊

    I’m working my through Christopher Tolkien’s ‘History of Middle-earth’, and I’m in awe at how meticulous he was in sorting through his father’s notes etc to give us fascinating insight into how ‘The Lord of the Rings’ gradually evolved into the published version.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?