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Still Looking For A Publisher? Why?

pd bookMy dear friends, it’s Sunday, and I was going to take a break from blogging. It almost worked!

I was just ambling along in the blogosphere, and tripped over a very edifying discussion between an author and her publisher, Kensington Publishing Corp. Delilah Marvelle is setting things into perspective with great wit and finesse here. Be sure to read the post to the end. Even the comments are worth the time.

I read it again, just now, and can’t help thinking: I’ve had a lucky escape!

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2014 in Just A Thought, Let's Talk

 

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Review: Secrets Room, by Kim Faulks

Secrets RoomAmazon US

Amazon UK

Another razor-sharp, super-intuitive read from this amazing author. Secrets Room is every person’s worst nightmare, horror like you’ve never read before. Whatever unresolved issues you may have in your life, fix them, before it’s too late. Because, once in the room, it’ll be almost impossible to face your fears whilst fighting the demons.

If you want dark, you’ll get dark. If you want shocking, you’ll get that, too. If you want incredible insight into human nature, you can do no better than read Kim Faulks’ books. I consider myself an avid reader, averaging several titles a week, and I can honestly say I haven’t read a more untamed, free writing style in many a year.

I read this book as an ARC, and after all this time, it’s still vivid and fresh in my mind. I still have chills when I think of Morgan observing the strangers she’s locked in with, all of which have touched hers or each other’s lives in subtle but very real ways.

The characters are something else! Who would have thought there was so much sadness behind rich-girl Rachel, so much disturbed, unprincipled and misplaced loyalty behind Coulton. Carmen, Dee, Glib – all these characters are so real, so troubled and so afraid, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you are not them.

The ending is a surprise, and it fits the horror theme of the story perfectly. Nail-biting and impossible to tear your eyes away from the page (and for those of us who are born softies, there is an alternative ending, too). I kept wishing for Slade and Morgan’s love to be given another chance. In a way, they get that. In many others, everyone gets what they deserve.

award ellaA dark, gritty, strikingly visual read with no sugar coating, Secrets Room is a book that deserves more than the five stars I can give it.

For the second time, the only time this has happened so far, Kim Faulks receives the Life Changing Read Award from me.

Congratulations, Kim!

Please visit the Awesome Authors Gallery on my Awards page, to meet Kim Faulks and other very talented authors you would do well to read.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Equality, you say? Not if you’re an indie!

I’ve poked my head out of my writing cave for a few minutes, having finished work on my Valentine’s Day release, Not Juliet. Yes, it’s done!

Ok, back to business.

I was seeking reassurance, I suppose, that my work would compete on the same level with all the others out there, and that quality will win out, no matter the method of publication, and no matter of who gets to read and review it. Because I won’t pay for reviews. That would be silly.

And then I find this article on Indies Unlimited. Equal treatment?

Yeah, right! Isn’t it enough that traditional publishers have done everything in their power to crumble and fall off their pedestals – in my view, at least? Reviewers are doing that, too? Good names, recognized names? Is there anyone left you can trust?

Not if they ask for your money, it seems.

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2014/01/31/kirkus-reviews-a-disparity-apparent/

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Let's Talk

 

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Review: The Darkness Comes, by Bruce Blake

dark_largeUniversal link

When Shadows Fall, The Darkness Comes…

Please tell me you can see what the author is doing with this series. The names of the books, when in order, will create a coherent sentence. That is clever, and symptomatic of this author’s thinking.

It would be easy to say this is no less than I would have expected from someone as talented as Bruce Blake, but there is more to writing a book than expectation. This author is a man completely invested in his writing, so deeply involved with every story and each character that nothing short of exceptional prose will ever be printed under his name. An admirable personality.

Back to story now, and I can tell you the second installment of the Small Gods Series is advancing at the same action-packed pace as book one. We learn more about Ailyssa, the barren Mother left to fend for herself in the middle of the wilderness, blind and hopeless, by the only people she had known and trusted in her life. Her faith is still strong, but her new circumstances require that she make significant adjustments – and when is that easy? Thorn, the little grey man who dropped from the skies, also takes a more significant share of the story. Princess Danya and Prince Teryk, too, continue on their quests, and while one is making some progress in untangling the meaning of the prophecy, the other is at the mercy of the fates. Add to the cast a golem on a rampage, and you have the makings of a book you won’t be able to put down. I know I couldn’t.

Once again, I was awed at the skill and elegance with which the many strands of this story were braided together. Will the Small Gods return and therefore endanger the whole of mankind, or will the Goddess win? The original question still stands, and the adventures of the characters mentioned in the prophecy are more and more heart-stoppingly intense. The back-story intrigue is thick with deep-seated implications, showing an exceptional knack on the part of the author for observing and understanding human nature.

I wholeheartedly recommend this series. It is epic fantasy at its best. From what I can see, Bruce Blake is a prolific author, so you won’t have long to wait until the next book. Five shiny stars – and I would give it ten if I only could – for a book I cannot fault in any way. It sucked me in and allowed me to dream. Loved it.

~~~

A few excerpts to whet your appetite

~~~

This is Horace Seaman, one of my ten favourite characters – and I’m thinking of all my reading, ever (to give you an idea, that’s a good few thousand books, both classic and modern):

The fire’d done a fine job charrin’ one side o’ the pig leg to a dry, cracked bit o’ charcoal, but the other side what faced away from the flames looked worth chokin’ down. Horace wrapped his fingers ’round the knobby exposed bone end, then pulled away right quick. He weren’t no cook, so it didn’t occur to him the fire’s heat might’ve made the bone hot enough to burn him. Now he knew.

Horace shook his hand as though doin’ so might loosen up the pain. It didn’t do nothin’ to take away the burnin’, so he blew on it instead, puffin’ his cheeks out like one o’ them spiny fish when he did. Blowin’ didn’t help, neither, so he decided to resort to cursin’.

The writing style alone paints a good picture of Horace, man of the sea, who is struggling to make it on land, don’t you think?

~~~

Meet Princess Danya, a courageous young woman, who is by far more suited to the role of World Savior than her older brother.

“Why have you brought me here?” she demanded.

Her voice—too loud for the quiet room—bounced from wall to wall. The masked girl at her side laid a hand on the princess’ arm and leaned close to her ear.

“Sshh.”

Danya shot the girl an angered look, then returned her gaze to the so-called Mother of Death. The old woman’s eyes had slipped shut again, as though they weighed more than a woman of her age could manage to hold open for too long.

“A barren Mother, the seed of life.” The words floated up from the woman’s barely moving lips. “Do you understand what they speak of, princess?”

Before she thought about what she was doing, Danya responded by shaking her head. When she realized her mistake, she parted her lips, but the old woman interrupted.

“These are important words; words that may decide the fate of the world.”

The icy feeling crept across her flesh again; the princess stared at the woman’s wizened face.

“You were right in coming here.” The Mother of Death opened her cloudy eyes. “The barren Mother serves the Goddess, but she is not here. She is lost.”

Danya shook her head, unable to accept that the woman knew of her quest. Did she know about Teryk’s death, too?

“Your brother is not dead.”

~~~

And here is Bieta and her son, Stirk:

“How you going to get us water?”

“By sneaking into the tanner’s through the cellar, see if he’s got any.”

Stirk’s eyebrows met above the bridge of his nose. “You said we should never steal from old Flenge. Said it’s like biting his hand.”

“Biting the hand that feeds us,” she corrected. “But this ain’t a usual happening, Stirk. I don’t know how long it’ll be before Enin comes back. If we don’t get water, we ain’t going to be around to enjoy no gold.”

Bieta went to the open trap door in the corner and peered into the dark. Beside her, Stirk looked over her shoulder.

“You didn’t piss on the ladder, did you?” she asked.

“Naw. Careful of your step at the bottom, though. Had to shit before you woke up.”

She rolled her eye. “Get me the taper,” she said, holding out her hand.

Stirk hesitated. Bieta fixed her gaze on him.

“But it’ll be dark in here if you take it,” he said, a vague whimper hidden beneath his tone.

~~~

Through this feature, I’m hoping to have given you reason to try a new author. You’ll find a lot of entertainment in these pages, a good deal of nail-biting moments, and many chuckles, too. A very worthy read.

~~~

And here’s book one, When Shadows Fall. My review is here.

6

Amazon US   Amazon UK

 

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Book Reviews, Guest Posts

 

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New Release: The Darkness Comes, by Bruce Blake

dark_largeAmazon US   Amazon UK

universal link

When shadows fall, the darkness comes…

A disgraced Goddess Mother wanders blind and alone, praying for her agony to end. When a helpful apostle finds her, could it truly by salvation, or does worse torment lie ahead?

A sister struggles to understand a prophecy that may not be meant for her while her brother fights for his life. If the firstborn child of the rightful king dies, will it spell the end for everyone?

Darkness and shadow creep across the land in the form of a fierce clay golem animated by its sculptor’s blood. It seeks a mythical creature who’s sacrifice portends the return of ancient evil banished from the world long ago. With its return will come the fall of man.

As the game unfolds, the Small Gods watch from the sky, waiting for their time to come and their chance to rise again. They wait for the fall of shadows, the coming of the darkness.

They wait for night to descend.

~~~

I highly recommend this series, as I do all Bruce Blake’s books. Don’t miss it. This author has huge talent!

Look for the review – coming shortly

 

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2013 in Guest Posts

 

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New Release Review and Excerpt: Identity X, by Michelle Muckley.

Identity X_ebook cover
Synopsis
Ben Stone is a scientific genius.His determination is driven by a genetic disease that tears through his family and which snatched his father away years before.He will forsake anything to find the cure and save his own son from the same fate.Then that day arrives and NEMREC, a serum that can restructure and recode DNA is conceived.He feels that it might be the best day of his life, and that he has found the cure that will save his son from an unimaginable future.But when he returns to the laboratory to continue his work, he discovers that everything has disappeared, nothing left but an empty office with no trace of NEMREC. His dreams for the future are shattered.He assumes that it must have been stolen, but begins to worry when he can’t reach his wife or use his identity card.It seems that things couldn’t get any worse for Ben Stone, until he tries to leave the laboratory and only narrowly avoids being shot.He manages to escape, but finds himself as the central axis of an unthinkable conspiracy, one which hides dark and ugly secrets.He has to find a way to survive and save his family, but how is he supposed to do so when he is already dead?

~

Excerpt – part of chapter one

Sixteen eyes gazed back at him, twelve of them through heavy rimmed glasses.  They stood there silently waiting for him to speak whilst clutching their plastic cups, shuffling first left, then right.  Graham was still holding his pipette, his fingers poised and willing, trained for nothing but repetition and tedium.  Even in a moment of glory Ben could see that he was desperate to get back to his workspace.   Alan was pulling up a stool, rubbing the base of his back like a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy who had reached her daily limit.   Ami stood behind them, her open lipped smile full of reassurance, and she was staring at Ben as if they were the only people in the room.  Right now he was the centre of the world.  He was the centre of Ami’s world.  It felt good to have her approval.

Phil finished pouring the cheap champagne into his own crumpled cup before tipping the remainder of the bottle, which seemed to constitute little more than froth, into Ben’s.  He stood nonchalantly at Ben’s side ready for the celebratory cheer, the empty bottle swinging low.  As he nodded to Ben to speak, a quick come on, we’re waiting, a bizarre image of Phil crept into Ben’s mind.  He visualised a young Cambridge University student with smooth wrinkleless eyes, but behind the same thick rimmed lenses that he wore today.  The imagined face was youthful, yet was still topped with a balding scalp, only partially covered by the long hairs that had been left to grow from just above his left ear.  So ingrained was the image of the aged Phil, it was impossible to conceive a true and faithful representation of the young genius that he must surely have once been.  It was like he had always been old.

“Well, it has been a long four years,” Ben began, pausing for breath after almost every word.  It was hard to concentrate over the distracting sound of his wine as it fizzed about in his cup, and the whirring of the air conditioning rattling along above him.  His eyes were tired and gritty from the dry atmosphere.  It was seven thirty at night and he had been here for over twelve hours already today.  He had known by late morning that today would be the day.  When the first results came back, he knew it had worked.   As he gazed out from behind his own glasses to see them all waiting for him to say something momentous, all he really wanted to do was knock back his bitter and overly carbonated fizz and get out to the bar with Mark.

The truth was that he didn’t know what to say to them.   He felt an uncontrollable need to find something meaningful and poignant to say; to mark the life changing occasion with something that would never be forgotten.  He had to find something inspiring.  Something that would cause each of the scientists before him to regale their families with the story, who would in turn tell the tale to their friends, before soon enough the story would travel with the same inertia as a meteor through space.  He felt the weight of all great men before him who had stood on the same precipice of achievement, isolated in the solitary moment before the world learns what has been accomplished.  All that kept coming to his mind were the fuzzy static heavy words of Neil Armstrong as they were beamed back from the moon all those years ago.  People still spoke about that moment, even kids like Ben who were born years after the event.  It was impossible to forget the significance of that first footstep.  There was no person in the world that would forget that name, that moment, or those words.  His success today may not have the same intergalactic stretch from one celestial body to the next, and would perhaps be more quietly celebrated, but he felt the same sense of weightlessness.  This moment was the joy.  This moment was his, just before the curtains are drawn to reveal the expectant audience.  Stood there in his lab coat and shoe covers in front of a sea of tired faces, he felt as overwhelmed and excited, he imagined, as the first man to step foot on the moon.

“We have done it together.  This is our success, and it will change the world.  Raise your glasses.”  Ben held up his plastic cup, and a series of hands rose up before him, including Graham who had finally relinquished his pipette to the bench.

“Here’s to us.  And here is to NEMREC.  We did it.”  They all nodded their heads, their plastic cups in the air in muted celebration before knocking the liquid back.  He saw a couple of smiles, and several of them patted their nearest colleague on the shoulder, in a display of professional appreciation and admiration.  If he could have done so without automatically assuming an air of inflated self importance, he would have patted each of them on the back himself, and thanked them for their individual efforts.  Instead he settled on a submissive handshake with each, as the formal line of scientists disintegrated into a casual crowd.  He wanted to emphasise the joint effort today.  He knew in the whirlwind of media attention and fervent celebration that would surely ensue in the days to come that it would not be his team appearing on the television.  Nor would it be them who would be whisked away, by business class no doubt, to the next conference for genetic research that he was certain he had read was going to be a six day stint in Dubai.  It would be Ben Stone.  Revolutionary Scientist.  The one that cured genetic disease.  He rolled his self-awarded title around in his head enjoying the way it sounded and getting drunk not on the alcoholic drink, but the dizzy heights of accomplishment.  It sounded good.   Seeing that during his momentary lapse into daydream the rest of the team were either finishing up at their work benches or had already discarded their lab coats and were back in their own clothes, he took a step towards his own office.

“Don’t forget, drinks at Simpson’s tonight,” he called, as he saw a couple of them nod in enthusiasm.  Ami nodded too. “Eight thirty, I’ll be there.”  He turned and opened the door to his office, and sat down into the green leather chair.  It was always darker in here, although in theory there were the same number of lights as the main laboratory.  He knew because he had counted them last winter when one day he could barely see to read at his own desk, and he had indeed established that based on an equivalent floor space in the main laboratory, there were four recessed lights, just as there were above his desk.  The trouble in here was that there were so many papers and so many books that the light literally got sucked into the heaving mass of a lifetime of research.  Every surface had been utilised to hold some item of importance, including the uncomfortable looking couch that had on occasion formed an impromptu bed when he realised that the time to catch the last train home had passed him by.  It lined the only wall that wasn’t covered by a bookcase that stretched all the way up to the ceiling.  He had read every page of every book in here.   He had spent the majority of his life either huddled over a test tube, or with his head buried in a book.  He established his life’s path from the very first day that he learned of his family’s unfortunate trait.  It was the day that his mother had sat him down when he was fourteen and explained the basis for his father’s mood swings and how they would likely get worse, until one day when they might not be able to recognise the man they knew anymore.  Until then, Ben had been happy to play the role of a teenager.  He offered up no complaint when passing his time casually with his friends, racing his BMX around the park across the purpose built ramps to perfect his bunny hop bar spin trick.  But the day that she sat him down to talk, that changed everything.

 ~

My review:

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The synopsis accurately describes the action, and I loved the concept right from the very beginning… which was slow. So slow, in fact, that it took me days on end to pass the first 20% of the book. But then, so do some of Ruth Rendell’s books, and I still loved her. I persevered, mostly because I loved the concept. This had to get better! And it did.
Michelle Muckley did not disappoint. By 25% of the way through, the main character discovers he’s being targeted by an assassin. Imagine that! By 50%, my initial 4 star rating jumped to 5 stars, and then it fixed there for the duration. I absolutely loved the plot, the twists and turns, Ben’s gormlessness and Hannah’s determination. I even loved her father, who only featured for a couple of pages.
The author is a skilled storyteller and she has the knack of making the characters realistic. I loved them (or loved to hate them), though I would have expected Mike’s motives to be better veiled in mystery. As it was, the story allowed the reader to know more than the main character and, more than once, I found myself muttering ‘No, Ben, don’t do that!’. It worked for me. I was completely invested, and no way could I bring myself to put the book down from about 65% onwards.
A very enjoyable book, right on the point where three genres meet – mystery, action and thriller – I would wholeheartedly recommend it. I would happily gift it to some of my friends. Five shiny stars for Identity X.

~

michelleI was born in the town of Warwic in 1981. It is a small historical town in the heart of England, and I was the fifth child born into a family of boys. I developed a huge interest in the written world from a young age, and with more than a little help from Roald Dahl found quite the taste for anything gross and gory. Home now is Limassol, a city on the southern Mediterranean shores of Cyprus. Winters are spent in the mountains, summers are spent at the beach, and pretty much all hours between are sat at a computer where I am writing the next novel, or reading somebody else’s.

LINKS
 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Book Reviews, Guest Posts

 

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Review: Bad Girls, by Michael Chambers

bad girls

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Amazon US

Amazon UK

A murder mystery with a thriller element and a dash of St. Trinian charm to it, Bad Girls has proven to be a very enjoyable read.

What a treat! I honestly didn’t expect to love it quite so much. I mean, look at the cover! It doesn’t say ‘murder mystery’ or ‘thriller’ to me. I sort of expect a story about an all-girl school… and the beginning paragraphs are just that. If you read the first few pages and think you’ve made a mistake, you haven’t. Stick with it. It’s such a good read!

Our main character, Katy, joins a school-cum-asylum for badly behaved rich girls as punishment for a misdemeanour, mid-term. She’s acceptant of her fate and all’s fine – if you disregard the bullies – until her fellow students begin to drop like flies.

I loved the descriptions, the narrator’s voice is easy-reading and the dialogues are flowing naturally, but what I enjoyed most of all were the characters. I’d love to have Katy as my close friend. How is it even possible for a male author to capture the essence of spoilt teenage girls so beautifully? Hat off to Michael Chambers for this one.

It took me two sessions to read it end-to-end, and I would have probably finished it in one sitting if it weren’t for work commitments. A very satisfying ending, an enormously fun story, this books fully deserves its five shiny stars. Wholeheartedly recommend it.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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