Monday, December 15, 2014

Feline Up For Some Literature?

First of all, many thanks to M.J. Schiller for the opportunity to guest on this wonderful blog today.

Negative Reviews With a Difference

Mrs B and I have been indie authors and bloggers since 2011 and in that time we have seen a lot in the book world. The unwanted negative reviews are something that all authors have to face at some stage and it’s never easy when you get your first one. Some authors have gone to the lengths of challenging bad feedback, but most accept it and move on with their next project. Personally, I’ve always valued constructive criticism, even more so than the highest praise. I don’t believe a writer can ever stop improving and who better than readers to highlight the areas where they feel you could strengthen your skills.

One thing that indie authors will not have to face are the reviews of one individual, someone I know personally but wish I didn’t. He has four legs, a tail, a desire for world domination and if he takes a disliking to a book he isn’t afraid to let anyone know about it. This far from humble critic goes by the name of Charlie and was the fourth cat myself and Mrs B adopted. It was a choice made by both of us, one of us eagerly, the other under duress, but both of us have come to regret it.

Charlie has made many plans for world domination but none came to fruition until tales of his genius (according to him) made their way into Man vs Cat, which first appeared in 2012. In that book I tried to warn everyone of just how dangerous Charlie is but no one believed me. I was either laughed at or given the names of a selection of therapists that might be able to help with my issues. I’d like to say I had the last laugh but the truth is I have wept knowing I was right.

Putting his military operations on hold, Charlie went ahead and wrote his first book. He channelled his hatred of literature, excluding Animal Farm, into a collection of book reviews. 25 popular works have spent time in Charlie’s company and wished they’d had a weekend in a hotel with Norman Bates instead. Charlie named this absurd collection - The Bleaklisted Books. Charlie, of course, means “blacklisted” but he likes to do things his way.

The Bleaklisted Books are negative reviews with a difference. In each entry Charlie takes a work of literature, spoils the plot by summarising it and then explains why he feels the need to bleaklist it. Now, you may be thinking this sounds like any other badly written review but you would be wrong. Not content with dismissing a great book, Charlie feels the need to offer up an alternative plot and it’s here that The Bleaklisted Books showcases just what a load of nonsense it really is. If you dare to pick up Charlie’s work then I will warn you that no novel is sacred in this demented feline’s mind, not in this collection and not in the next selection - More Bleaklisted Books - due next year.

As with Man vs Cat, I am trying to warn people to not be taken in by Charlie’s ramblings but already readers are embracing his perspective and looking at me as if I am strange. All that is left for me to say is, if you’ve ever had a bad review then take a few moments to read one of Charlie’s alternative takes on a great work of literature. I guarantee you’ll be grateful that your book didn’t find its way onto Charlie’s bleaklist.

Blurb ~

My mini-irons,

I urge you to embrace the goose-spell of Animal Farm and you will find sanctuary when our difficult war is over. I will add, of course, that given that conquering the world means a long, long, long, long, long war, I will permit you to read another book every now and again.

Just remember which books are bleak-listed; e.g. Barry Potterer, 100 Years of Silly Tudor, Prude and Perjury, The Hungary Olympic Games, The Chronicles of Nerdia and Of Mike and Ben.

In the meantime, here is a list of books I have vetted and will reconsider for approval if the appro… apprap… proper changes are made. Read this manyule carefully mini-irons.

Your Cat-tain

Charlie Brown 

Excerpt ~

What happens?

Some spy is told to carry out an assignment in East Germany to uncover a double agent but he falls for someone prior to this and love ultimately messes the operation up.

Reason for bleaklisting?

Proper spies don’t fall in love. Wimps they are!

What should have happened?

Eric is sent on an exclusive mission into East Germany to assassinate a double agent. Before setting off he is approached by an air stewardess named Fiz who fancies him but he turns her down. She does warn him that it’s cold in East Germany and gives him some cough syrup.

Suspicious of the bottle labelled poison with a skull on it, Eric tosses the syrup and completes his mission. When he returns home to England he has a runny nose and is coughing a lot. Fiz realises he has seen through the poison expertly disguised as cough syrup and she runs away. She is shot and killed by a traffic warden who believes her car is parked on double yellow lines. Eric ends the novel by nipping to the pharmacy for some genuine cough syrup.

Special instruction

Make available at MI5, MI6, CIA, B&Q and M&S and rename The Spy Who Came Home with a Cold.

* * *

Mr B compares the stories

Dear me, Charlie, I thought you’d like John le CarrĂ©’s 1963 Cold War Novel. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold does deal with Communist East Germany where Alec Leamas is sent, under the pretence that he is defecting, and with the intention of locating Mundt, suspected of being a double agent. Alec has a romance with Liz which ultimately throws a spanner in the works. There isn’t anything about cough syrup thankfully and as with Charlie’s other efforts, this one is likely to disappear into the ether. My apologies to Mr le CarrĂ© for this despicable alternative to his story.

About Donna ~ 

Donna is a longtime book lover and sometime book reviewer and has devoured books from an early age. She writes short (or long) stories as and when inspiration hits and is married to fantasy author David M. Brown (Fezariu’s Epiphany, A World Apart). She was also co-contributor to David’s book, Man vs Cat, a humorous look at life with six rambunctious rescue cats.

Donna has lived in many different areas of the UK over the last 30-something years but has remained in Yorkshire for the past decade. She ardently disputes the misnomer that ‘It’s grim up north’. You can find Donna on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, or visit her and her husband’s shared blog: B-Lines and Felines.

About David ~

David Brown could be considered a fantasy fanatic, especially since he has spent the last 10 years developing a 47,000-year history for his fictional world of Elenchera. When converting his obsession into literary form, David commits himself to a rigorous writing and editing process before his work can meet his approval. Combined with the critical eye of his wife and a BA Hons in History and English, David’s dedication leads him to his goal of inspiring readers through heartfelt stories and characters.

Although David is inspired primarily by fantasy fiction, he also finds his muse in the form of anime, world cinema, history, and biographies. His own books, Fezariu’s Epiphany and A World Apart, combine aspects from worlds both old and new into compelling tales of a world not soon forgotten., David himself certainly does not lack a spirit of adventure; in fact, he left his job in 2007 in order to spend a month travelling. Second only to meeting and marrying his wife, David counts this as one of the most amazing experiences of his life.

You can find Donna at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube | Tumblr |Instagram | LinkedIn | Amazon

You can find David at:


Buy Links: Amazon


  1. Welcome, Donna and David! As a cat lover and someone who is into the classics it is a pleasure to have you on my blog.

  2. Many thanks for having us and the cats on your blog today. I hope Charlie doesn't frighten your readers too much :)