Tag: ARCS

Book Birthday Blitz Review: The Rue Stone – Janet Stock

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s review of The Rue Stone as part of the organised book birthday blitz blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. The Rue Stone is an entertaining fantasy novella, so if that sounds like something you are interested in, please stick around to read on. Before diving into the detail, I’ like to say a huge thank you to Rachel and the author of the novella, Janet Stock, for the opportunity to take part in the tour!

In addition to my review, today’s post also provides the opportunity for UK readers to enter a giveaway and win a paperback copy of the novella! Those details can be found later in the post! For now, though, let’s talk about what I loved about the book!

 

The Rue Stone – Janet Stock

Goodreads – The Rue Stone

The rue is a mysterious and rare being who is rarely seen, and Janna is amazed when one arrives at the inn where she works, looking for a room. The next morning, her life has changed, and she is left wondering whether she will ever see him again, but only time and the rue stone know the answer to that question.

 

Purchase Links –  Amazon UK      Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Whether you are a regular reader of fantasy novels or are looking to explore the genre, The Rue Stone is a perfect read regardless of audience. As a fairytale-like novella, it is really easy to pick up; there isn’t a huge commitment to a long, complex storyline to invest into. I personally read The Rue Stone in one sitting, so it’s also ideal for anyone who doesn’t have much time to set aside and read.

Even though the novella is only 80 pages, there is plenty of beautiful descriptions and folklore incorporated into the narrative. The rue are mysterious, magical beings of legend. Janna has heard the stories, but she learns the truth of them when a rue walks into the inn she works in and changes her life. There is a great deal of mystery about the rue and they have plenty of potential to be explored further.

There is an element of romance in the novella, but I liked that it didn’t overshadow the plot. Regular readers of mine will know that I’m not a big romance fan, but the budding relationship in The Rue Stone isn’t too heavy.

The amount of detail in the background of the story is well proportioned with current events. I would, however, like to see more from this world and the backstory to the rue explored further. Having read this particular story from the perspective of Janna I’m intrigued to know how different the story would be from Arval’s viewpoint. There is definitely potential in this story for further stories and I would definitely be interested in seeing Janet’s fantasy world explored in more depth.

 

Author Bio

Having written all of my life, I decided to self-publish my writing when I turned 50. I have published four books since then. Two are collections of short stories; Dark & Fluffy; Dark & Fluffy II and 500 Words, which is flash fiction. My latest book The Rue Stone is a fantasy novella.

My passion is medieval fiction, and I am working on my first novel The Little Servant – The Wait’s Son, set in the 12th century, in Lincoln, where I live.

All four books are available on Amazon.

Social Media Links –

www.janetstockwriter.wordpress.com

fb Janetstockwriter

@janetstock12

 

Giveaway to Win 5 paperback copies of The Rue Stone (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494390/

Blog Tour Review: Mindworm – David Pollard

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s review of Mindworm as part of the ongoing blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you to both Rachel and the author David Pollard for a copy of the book in exchange for today’s review.

 

Mindworm – David Pollard

Goodreads – Mindworm

The placid life of a college librarian is plunged into a desperate fight for survival when he witnesses the death of his only friend. Suddenly he is forced to confront disturbing changes in his nature and appetites and their consequences. Suspected of murder and pursued by an implacable police detective he runs – but is he running from the law or from himself?

 

Pre-Order Links: Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

The synopsis of this book caught my attention immediately. I naturally have some compulsion to draw towards other book-minded folks, as would be expected really. Not only that though, but there’s enough there to form an idea in your mind of what it’s about but also keep you guessing. In the end, Mindworm was unlike anything I expected… in a good way! It is a lot more sinister and had more of a fantasy/supernatural element than I anticipated. I love that kind of thing, so that worked well for me! If you like supernatural as well then Mindworm is the perfect novella to pick up.

At around 100 pages Mindworm is quite a short read. Even so, there is plenty of action driving the plot forward and compelling you find out what happens next. Each chapter is concise as well, so Mindworm is really easy to read as a result – I personally read it in a couple of sittings.

Given the length and plotline of the story, I think there are a good number of main and supporting characters. The story is told from the perspective of our main character the librarian, but there is a whole host of characters that flesh out the story. Equally, each character is distinctive and so there aren’t too many to make it difficult to remember who is who. How much each character is developed is really dependent on their significance in the story. Some were only quite superficial but they only had a small impact on the plot, so overall it’s proportional.

Mindworm is an enjoyable novella to pick up if you are looking for a quick, intense and sinister read. The book could definitely remain standalone, but I think there is potential to expand this into a series. It’ll be interesting to see whether this does in fact happen. I would definitely pick up any future books based on what I have read already!

 

Author Bio

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After more than forty years of paid employment David Pollard retired to glorious Hereford and immersed himself in the theatrical activities of the county. He is currently Chair of Hereford County Drama Festival.

David  sees himself as a teller of tales – he is a playwright, author of short stories and novels. He has a preference for dark and dystopian material. He is also an actor and theatrical director. Among the many authors admired by David is Robert Louis Stevenson – for his website David adopted the appellation Tuistala – Samoan for ‘Teller of Tales’ which the Samoan people called RLS.

Several of David’s plays have been published by Lazybee Scripts – one of which ‘Aspects of a Betrayal’ was shortlisted for the Kenneth Branagh prize at the Windsor Fringe Festival.

David has two works published on KDP/Amazon:

‘His Cat and Other Strange Tales’ – a collection of macabre short stories

‘The Alienation of Ludovic Weiss’ – a psychological thriller

A third book ‘Mindworm ‘ is scheduled for publication in September 2020

When not writing, directing or acting David runs a podcast platform for the streaming of radio plays and short story readings – Hand to Mouth Sound Theatre.

 

For relaxation David reads voraciously with a liking for history and thriller fiction. He also enjoys country walks of the strolling variety.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @dpollardauthor

Website: www.thetusitala.co.uk 

Blog Tour Review: Grubane – Karl Drinkwater

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour post for Grubane by Karl Drinkwater! I’m glad you could join me to hear my thoughts on this fun, entertaining sci-fi short story. You may remember that I read another Lost Tales of Solace story earlier this year. If you haven’t already checked that review out and want an introduction, you can find my review of Helene here.

As always, I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author Karl Drinkwater for the opportunity to take part in today’s blog tour. If you enjoy today’s review post be sure to check out some of the posts by other bloggers taking part in this tour as well!

 

Grubane – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Grubane

Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.

His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them.

But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance.

Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?

 

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/b/Grubane

 

My Thoughts…

Whether or not you have read any books in the Lost Solace universe, Grubane is easy to pick up and enjoy. It can be read as part of the series or as a standalone book; the narrative isn’t dependent on knowledge of events in the others. I read the first book of the Lost Tales (Helene) back in March having not read the main series. It didn’t matter in the slightest! I read Grubane with an idea of what to expect with the author’s writing style and the universe the story is set in, in general terms, but the storylines are different and are independent of one another. In addition to these shorts, have some of the main series books to read. It will be interesting to see how these all tie together later.

You might think that the narrative could come across as clinical given that the tale is told from the perspective of an AI. That isn’t the case at all! The AI’s featured in the books I have read so far are really quite special. They are highly intelligent and through human contact, they learn a lot about humans and go on to develop personalities of their own. The dynamic between Grubane and Aurikaa12 is one that emphasises the point that humans and technology can learn a lot from each other.

Through Aurikaa12 we learn a lot about the prestigious Major Grubane and there is plenty of character development. The difficult scenario he finds himself in and how he responds to such tells us a lot about him as a person. The chess component of the novel is very interesting as it proves that the Major is an excellent strategist. I also liked how the events in the book were analogised to a game of chess as well!

There is no shortage of action in Grubane and the fast-paced narrative makes this very easy to pick up and become immersed in. I read Grubane in just a couple of sittings. The narrative packs in plenty of plot twists and unexpected moments despite being just over one hundred pages long. It’s the perfect length to still be long enough to invest in the characters and storyline but also accessible and a relatively quick read. Personally, Grubane struck the perfect balance on the length to have the best of both.

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links –

Website https://karldrinkwater.uk

Twitter http://twitter.com/karldrinkwater

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/karlzdrinkwater

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorkdrinkwater/

Newsletter http://bit.ly/newsletterkd

 

Spotlight Feature Post: Justice Gone – Nicholas Lombardi Jr

Today’s blog post is a spotlight feature for a fantastic legal thriller novel that is very relevant to a lot of discussions ongoing at the moment. I actually read and reviewed this particular book back in April 2019 as part of a blog tour shortly after its publication. Since then, the book has gone on to win many awards, with its fifth and latest just recently.

To celebrate the occasion, I spoke to the author about his inspiration to write the book, how it relates to current events and what more we can expect from him. Before that though, here are the details for Justice Gone: –

 

Justice Gone – Nicholas Lombardi Jr

Goodreads – Justice Gone

WINNER OF FIVE AWARDS

  • 2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD
  • NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD 2019
  • 2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD
  • NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCY AWARD – Best Legal Thriller of 2019
  • SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2019 READERS’ FAVORITES AWARDS

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

 

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.

Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

 

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.

The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.

Crime Review 

 

An act of police brutality hurls a small town into a turmoil of rage and fear, igniting a relentless witch hunt and ending in the trial of the decade.

“When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

 

Purchase Links: –   

Amazon UK   Amazon US   Amazon India   Barnes & Noble   Book Depository   Waterstones   Kobo

 

 

Author Interview

What led you to writing this novel?

I can’t recall exactly how I came across this story: a homeless man beaten to death by police in a small town in California, but I do remember a series of YouTube videos that documented this event. There was a video recording taken from a closed circuit TV camera at the adjacent bus stop showing the beating, a silent witness to a brutal act.  What was more appalling to me than the impending assault, was the exchange of two of the police officers with the soon-to-be victim, a harrowing display of sadistic provocation. The fact that the officers were indicted and brought to trial at all was a precedent – up to that time no police officer had ever been prosecuted for excessive force in the history of Orange County, a tradition that likely imparted a sentiment of immunity on the part of the accused officers when they were partaking in their vicious act.

In addition, videos of street protests decrying such police violence illustrated the collective shock of a small town. The town was Fullerton, California; the man was Kelly Thomas. The year was 2011

This case was the seed from which my novel, Justice Gone, sprouted.

 

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How do you think it could contribute to the currently ongoing discussion?

The incident of excessive force in Justice Gone is not an isolated action, but occurs within the context of local politics and a flawed legal system, where outcomes are determined by the attitudes of people. I feel that a discussion of the violation of civil rights by law enforcement should include these elements, as they may be responsible for any sense of impunity the involved officers may have.

 

Are there any personal experiences that might have (inadvertently) made their way into the book?

Fortunately, I’ve never had an encounter with a police officer, nor was I ever trapped in the unfeeling machine of the legal system, but then again, I’ve lived most of my life outside of the United States.

 

In the current call for books by own voices, how do you feel as a white person narrating the viewpoint of an African-American person?

Well, I’ve never attempted to do that. I don’t think it would work. Justice Gone is written in a show, not tell, style of narrative. Essentially, these are the characters, this is what they do, this is what they say, and this is what happens in the story.

 

The book was published in February 2019. You must have worked on it for a while before then. Anytime during that process, did you expect the turmoil to reach the pitch it has now?

I expected the rage against abusive police actions to be sustained, and suspected that it might grow with time, but I wasn’t certain, because sometimes people forget until the next time it happens.

 

Stepping back from the book itself, what is your writing process?

Basically to relax and let my mind wander over the story – that’s the way my ideas come, usually with a glass of wine.

 

Is there anything else you want to convey to your readers?

To the few readers I have, I would like to say that we haven’t seen the last of Nat Bodine, the blind lawyer, nor the last of legal fiction that encompasses social issues. The matter of the death penalty, instances of racial discrimination, legal representation for the mentally disabled, and the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole are among a host of topics that can be explored through fiction. Although tragic, I intend to write about such inequities while infusing a note of hope in the stories.

 

About the Author

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Visit his Goodreads and Facebook pages!

Book Review: Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Today’s book review post features a book I very gratefully received from Orion Books in October last year. I took part in a promotional competition by sharing a post on Twitter about the upcoming release and I was chosen to get an early access copy of the book via Netgalley! I have to say before I go further that my review is an honest one.

I did actually start reading this at the end of that month whilst on holiday, but it has taken a while to catch up with all my reviews to get my thoughts to you all. No doubt my Netgalley rating will look a little healthier after I share this with them. I’m not a big Netgalley user, but it does come in handy for blog tours and such.

Some of you may know Stephen Chbosky for another popular book he has written – The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I haven’t read this myself, so this was my first experience of his writing. As the genres of these two books are so different, I don’t think it matters whether you have read this, or any of his other books, or not.

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

Imagine… Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.

Imagine… Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you.

Imagine… Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened.

Imagine… Something that will change everything… And having to save everyone you love.

 

My Thoughts…

When the promotional email I received for the book likened Imaginary Friend to Stephen King’s IT, I had very high expectations of the complexity and creepiness of this thriller novel. Glad to say those expectations were met entirely, but what I didn’t expect was the length of it! Granted, IT is an exceptionally long novel at 1,396 pages. Still, Imaginary Friend weighs in at just over 700 pages. Compared to other horror/thriller novels I’ve picked up, it’s EPIC! There were some sections of narrative that were stickier than others to read. Could it be shorter? Perhaps. That said though, I do think it all adds up to the overall ending, so it’s not wasteful content. It’s relevance just isn’t known at the time.

The content of the book is sinister enough, but what gave me the chills more was the protagonist subject to the horror and paranormal goings-on is a child. It made me question what was going on; could it be nothing more than Christopher’s vivid imagination, or was it real? I can’t say this novel gave me nightmares because I’m not really affected that way when it comes to horror. I know it to be fiction and so it doesn’t bother me that way. Judging from other reviews though, not everyone can say the same!

As can be expected with such an epic, there are a lot of characters that play their part in this story. Whilst Christopher and his immediate family are probably the most developed throughout, there is still plenty of time put into the ‘minor’ or ‘supporting’ characters. The detail that went into establishing each of the characters and their relations with others to build the whole dynamic of the town is astounding. I feel like I know everyone like I’ve lived amongst them myself! I absolutely had my favourites – Ambrose, special shout out to you. I invested heavily with the characters, and knowing the plot is heading towards a cataclysmic event spurs you on to find out what happens!

There may be some readers that don’t like some of the religious undercurrents towards the end of the story. I’m quite happy to put out there that I’m not religious at all, but I didn’t mind its inclusion or influence on the plot at all. I personally think it made it more interesting.

Have you read Imaginary Friend? What did you make of the book?

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Today’s blog tour post is a review of Helene by Karl Drinkwater. Helene is a really enjoyable short science-fiction story that relates to Karl’s Lost Solace series. As it happens, I haven’t read these books and I am new to this author. If you haven’t read these books don’t worry, because you don’t really need to! I actually enjoyed reading Helene as an introduction to the Lost Solace universe.

Before I get stuck in with my review in earnest, I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Karl and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour! It’s only day one of the tour, so please lookout for the other posts coming up over the coming days. You can find a list of all those taking part in the tour at the bottom of this post!

Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Helene (Lost Tales of Solace #1)

Dr Helene Vermalle is shaping the conscience of a goddess-level AI.

As a leading civilian expert in Emergent AI Socialisation, she has been invited to assist in a secret military project.

Her role? Helping ViraUHX, the most advanced AI in the universe, to pass through four theoretical development stages. But it’s not easy training a mind that surpasses her in raw intellect. And the developing AI is capable of killing her with a single tantrum.

On top of this, she must prove her loyalty to the oppressive government hovering over her shoulder. They want a weapon. She wants to instil an overriding sense of morality.

Can she teach the AI right and wrong without being categorised as disloyal?

Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.

 

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/b/Helene

 

My Thoughts…

Short stories are a great way of changing up your reading habits or trying something new. I read more short stories last year than I ever have before, and reading Helene has reminded me of why I enjoy them so much! At 72 pages, this science-fiction novel is a great way to enjoy a good story in a small space of time. I read Helene in two sittings over this weekend in coffee breaks. Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy something lighter than the several-hundred-page epics I’m known to read.

Helene has a simple, easy to read writing style, so it’s perfect to just pick up and dive into straight away. I think there is a certain stigma to science-fiction and that it’s perceived as complicated. This really wasn’t. Any science terms were explained in layman’s terms so it wasn’t an effort to understand at all. The narrative style has a relaxed flow that I found really easy to read. The chapter lengths also make this easy to pick up and put down at leisure.

What also made Helene great for me was that even in the conciseness of the story, there is plenty of background information for the reader to get to learn a little of the Lost Solace universe. It’s just enough to serve as an introduction without getting too heavy or detracting from the action of the short story in itself. It was a perfect balance. The ending of the book links in with the Lost Solace series, which I didn’t understand entirely until I read the synopsis of that book and a couple of reviews afterwards. It doesn’t detract from the book at all though – if anything, it makes you want to read on and find out how the story evolves.

Artificial Intelligence is a huge topic within the science-fiction genre. That said, the premise of teaching and socialising ViraUHX was one that I haven’t come across before and is quite unique. It also allows plenty of opportunity for humour and there are a good number of laugh-out-loud moments in this short book.

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/karlzdrinkwater/

https://twitter.com/karldrinkwater

https://www.instagram.com/authorkdrinkwater/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5766025.Karl_Drinkwater

 

Book Review: Fires of the Dead – Jed Herne

Fires of the Dead by Jed Herne is a fantasy novella I read last month – my first book of the year, in fact! That’s not the only reason it’s a first for me. It’s also the first book I have downloaded from BookSirens, a provider of ARC’s similar to Netgalley.

I’ve made more of an effort to read short stories and novellas since last year. I typically pick up reasonably long books, especially fantasy ones. I definitely want to keep up interspersing some shorter reads into my normal reading schedule. It’s nice to have a little something to break up the other books I am reading, or even something I can read and enjoy in one sitting.

Based on my experience of Fires of the Dead, I’ll definitely be trying more fantasy novellas.

 

Fires of the Dead – Jed Herne

Goodreads – Fires of the Dead

Fire can’t be tamed.

Wisp is a pyromancer: a magician who draws energy from fires to make his own flames. He’s also a criminal, one job away from retirement. And it can’t come bloody soon enough.

Leading his misfit crew, Wisp ventures into a charred and barren forest to find a relic that could change the realm forever. But they aren’t the only ones on the hunt, and the forest isn’t as barren as it seems …

A jaded gang leader longing for retirement

A bloodthirsty magician with a lust for power

A brutish fighter who’s smarter than he looks

A young thief desperate to prove herself

A cowardly navigator with secrets that won’t stay buried

Together, they must survive fights, fires, and folk tales that prove disturbingly real – if they don’t kill each other first.

A dark fantasy novella with a unique magic system, perfect for Joe Abercrombie or Brandon Sanderson fans wanting a fast-paced read.

 

My Thoughts…

A common misconception about fantasy novels is that they are all epic, thousand-page long tomes. Yes, some of them are. I’ve even read a few myself. Authors that come to mind include George R R Martin and Brandon Sanderson. Those are just two examples. Fires of the Dead proves that you don’t need to write reams of narrative to fit all the components of a classic fantasy novel into one tale.

A number of personalities shine through in the narrative, predominantly seen through the eyes of the man that recruited them all for the job, Wisp. Wisp himself is a refreshing character to read. Intent to retire on the riches the job has promised to yield, Wisp imagines it’s his last job – and about bloody time too! His brutal honesty and almost pessimist attitude add a lot of humour to the tale.

Wisp isn’t the only narrator of the tale, however, and in a couple of places, I felt his narrative voice bled through into other parts of the book not written from his perspective. Maybe there is a logical explanation for that. The characters have known each other for a while, so perhaps they have picked up each other’s speech patterns, use of slang and such. That said, the moments were few and far between, making me think it wasn’t entirely intentional. It didn’t have a huge impact on my enjoyment of the book though.

World-building, magic (in particular pyromancy), character development and an enjoyable action-packed plotline all come together in just under 200 pages. I personally loved the roguish, ramshackle nature of the band undertaking the quest to retrieve a magical relic. There’s just enough history touched upon for the reader to bond with the characters without hampering the action or clogging up the narrative with excessive detail.

Thank you to the author and BookSirens for providing me with a copy of Fires of the Dead in exchange for an honest review!

 

 

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Book Review: Ctrl+S – Andy Briggs

Good morning everyone and welcome to my stop for the blog tour of Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs! Before I get into the details, I would like to thank Alex Layt at Orion Publishing for organising the tour and sending me a review copy of the book! As always with these posts, the views expressed are my honest opinion.

I am really excited to be sharing my thoughts with you on Ctrl+S – particularly to fans of near-future science-fiction novels. If you enjoy this particular genre then you are going to love this book! Equally, I only occasionally venture into the genre and I loved it as well. Ctrl+S is due to be published in a matter of days so if you do enjoy this review, please do consider getting yourself a copy!

Before I begin with my review, please also take a moment to take a look at some of the other reviews shared as part of the tour.

Now, would you like to find out more about it?

 

Ctrl+S – Andy Briggs

Goodreads – CTRL+S

Life in the near future’s NOT ALL BAD. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire.

But ALMOST ANYTHING isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested – and lives traded – to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted.

NOW THEO’S MOTHER HAS DISAPPEARED. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he’ll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists – as well as a criminal empire that will KILL TO STOP HIM finding her . .

 

My Thoughts…

The beauty of this near-future novel is that the premise of the book centres on an improved variety of technology that already exists – SPACE. Imagine augmented reality at your fingertips whenever you want it. Or, you can “ascend” for a limited time and experience virtual reality with your friends. There’s all of the fun and none of the pain if you get hurt or die in a game. That is, until someone finds a loophole.

Those rich enough to pay for the thrill can experience the pain and terror of death without the final blow. Maybe someone wants to feel the thrill of jumping off a building without the splat at the end. Real people are kidnapped and exploited to harvest whichever raw emotion is desired. It puts a sinister twist on the technology’s motto, More real than real. Theo’s mum Ella inadvertently gets dragged into the criminal underbelly after becoming indebted to the wrong people. When she doesn’t come home one day, the dangerous truth hits home.

Theo, Clemmie, Baxter and Milton take centre stage and are supported by a wide cast of varying characters. Their similarity in age to myself (and I imagine a lot of prospective readers) makes them really relatable and easy to invest into as the story progresses. You’ll laugh because I particularly relate to Theo. I didn’t go to University, unlike a lot of my friends, and I worked in a fast food place as my first job too! It’s the little things, right?

The “technology” aspect of the novel is really easy to follow. I can confidently say I think anyone can pick it up and understand the basics. Even from there, I feel that the descriptions of the advancement to today’s version of the technology is explained really well where relevant. Breaking up the information to impart what is necessary at any given time prevents dumping a lot of information on the reader. Some might find that overwhelming but I didn’t find this at all in Ctrl+S. Overall, I found there was a great balance between the action of the novel and clarifying how everything unfamiliar worked. The chapters are nice and concise as well which helps keep the momentum.

As the group of friends find themselves in increasingly hot water having been thrown into a criminal world where anything goes, you really find yourself rooting for them as the underdogs to save Ella and countless others from their emotional exploitation. As the plot unravels our protagonists fight desperately to pick up the clues left by Ella in order to find the mastermind behind the abuse of SPACE. The genre combination of science-fiction and thriller worked really well and is a highly recommended read by me!

 

 

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Author Interview: Brian McLaughlin

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s interview post with Brian McLaughlin! If you haven’t already checked out yesterday’s book review of Thran Book 1: The Birth, here is a link so you can do so!

I want to hand over to Brian without any preamble, so, shall we get stuck in?!

 

How did you discover writing as a passion?

 

Brian – It goes back a quite a long time, but didn’t take the form of writing, per se. It started around the age of 13 when a friend introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons. By age 15 I had evolved into the dungeon master role and never really relinquished it. I had a solid group of friends and we played through high school and college which lasted almost 9 years. As a dungeon master I wasn’t writing prose, but I was creating adventures all the time which required worlds, creativity, and the art of “telling” a story: describing situations and features to the players, building tension and managing outcomes. I look back at that time as training to become a writer. Towards the end of that period I did begin writing a story, but I only managed 50 pages or so before I moved on to other things in life. However, it planted a seed. From there adult life took over and I embarked on an 18-year hiatus from D&D and anything close to writing. So that leads me to the true answer to your question. I’ve had a great career in business (mostly supply chain), but there was a brief time in 2012 where I found myself in a job that I didn’t find very challenging or rewarding. I remember consciously deciding that if I couldn’t get fulfillment from my work, then I would try to get fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment from some other activity. So, in June of 2012 I literally dusted off the old manuals and began creating the world of Thran with the intent of writing a novel and solving my fulfillment/accomplishment void.

 

Rebecca – I’ve never actually played Dungeons and Dragons. I spent my teenage years playing Dragon Quest, which is much like the format of the group in Thran. More recently than that though, I played countless hours on The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It’s essentially a single player version, but you pick your character type and traits which are similar to the characters and factions in the book too.

 

Brian –When it comes to fantasy role playing games, I think you could make an argument that Gary Gygax and TSR really pioneered the genre. Each variation that came after it embellished and tweaked the basic system. The classes and monsters were all familar. In a way it’s not much different than Thran or any work of fantasy fiction after 1970; they all were inspired by D&D.

 

 

Obviously, Thran has alot of overlaps with modern fantasy role-playing games. Are you an avid gamer? What did you play growing up?

 

Brian –Well, I think I answered this question above, but we dabbled in all sorts of role-playing games. The Middle Earth role playing game comes to mind and there were a variety of games we played sporadically but we always returned to D&D. I would still classify myself as an avid gamer as I like to play chess and other strategy-based games on the computer or an app. I even play DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online) with my adult children which works our great since we can do it from wherever we are!

Rebecca – As I mentioned above, I’ve been a gamer since a teenager really, although I have a lot less time for it now with working full-time and managing my blog in my free time. When I do get a spare hour or two, my current game of choice is Minecraft! It’s quite easy to play as there isn’t too much in the way of storyline or quests, but you can be creative and stop/start as and when.

 

Brian – I’ve dabbled with Minecraft, but world building makes a fun game and Minecraft obviously fits that niche nicely. I grew up on games like pools of radiance which is like the great-great grandmother to Baldurs gate which is a turn based game. So I’m partial to turn based games to this day. Hearthstone has been a favored past time and recently I’ve been playing Dota Underlords. Both are addicting!

 

 

The story has a split narrative between present day and historical events. Which did you enjoy writing more and why?

 

Brian –That’s like asking which of your kids you love more! 😊 Of course, I enjoyed writing both narratives, but for different reasons. If you pressed me, I will say the Anthall narrative, in book one, is more compelling for the reader because it’s a tragic story and focuses on one individual (rather than a group) and his dark journey. We feel for him, or at least I do, because of the choices he’s forced to make and his struggle with his identity. I’ll also say this: in book II I have really enjoyed writing about the “current” narrative because some of the twists and surprises I set up, but probably weren’t obvious or appreciated in book one, are starting to get revealed which draws you more deeply into that narrative. Okay, I love them both! 😊

 

Rebecca – If I had to pick a favourite, I would say I enjoyed the Anthall storyline a little more than the present day. It gives a lot of context to what’s going on… and well, I’m a sucker for all things that contribute to epic world-building.

 

Brian – I’ll be interested to see what you and other readers think of Book two. As you know, when I tell people Thran is an epic story, I’m not kidding. It’s 650 pages long, and I spend a lot of time building the characters and planting seeds. If I can get an ah-ha moment or two from readers, or even better: an “I didn’t see that coming” moment, I’ll feel really good! The world and characters are complex – they just don’t know it yet…the readers AND he characters!

 

 

There is a very extensive map of the world of Thran on your website, https://www.worldofthran.com. How far along in the narrative did this come into creation? Has it helped you with your writing?

 

Brian – Actually, the first thing I did was create the world. Before I wrote the first word, I drew the map with the detail you see today. I also created the pantheon of gods, the calendar, and how I wanted magic to work. Speaking of magic, a lot of people forego the material requirements when they play D&D (we did back in the day) because it’s a little burdensome, but for the world of Thran, I thought the material component would add a nice level of detail and also tied in with the concept of the gods granting the spells – so the material component acted like a sacrifice when required. Another aspect I determined from the start was the dialog. I didn’t want the dialog to be too “fantastical”. I felt that in order to keep the passion of the dialog relevant, I would sacrifice the “historical” aspect and go with more of a modern diction, including the curse-words which I felt strongly needed to stay current. When someone curses, it’s usually trying to convey a deeper context to the situation. It makes serious and tense situations more serious and tense while also making lighter moments even lighter. Using a “made up” or substitute curse could never convey to the modern reader the nuances of the situation and might just feel cheesy. However, in order to make the dialog feel a little different, aged so-to-speak, I used a little trick I came up with: never use contractions. The reader might not have noticed, but if the dialog was read out loud, it would become obvious. The map and all the other foundations I created up front helped me conceptualize the story.

 

 

As an author, what advice would you give to anyone looking to write a book and get published?

 

Brian – Funny you should ask! The journey for writing, editing, marketing, and publishing has been such an educational journey that I started organizing what I’ve learned and seriously considering writing another (much shorter!) book about it. My advice for writers:

  • Writing
    1. Create an environment that inspires you and limits distractions. The routine will help you establish a rhythm and promote creativity.
    2. Give yourself a word count to hit each day or each week, depending on how often you can write. Give yourself a little reward for hitting the count, and if you can blow it away – even better! There are gonna be many days when you can’t hit the count. Find the right balance – where it’s achievable, but not a gimme.
    3. Find software for writing a novel. I used Scrivener and that has been very good. It helps me keep everything organized and easy to find for reference, not to mention it can create all the file types you need for your ebook. There are other software choices out there, so just do a little research.
  • Editing
    1. Editing is a money game. It depends what you can afford. If you have the money a good editor can help you immensely, but for most Indie writers that’s not going to be an option, it wasn’t for me.
    2. If having an editor is not an option, you will almost certainly need help proof-reading and correcting grammar. I hired a professional to proofread Book I and they corrected a ton of stuff. I used a service called Reedsy, and it worked out fine.
    3. Family and friends. Let anyone who wants to read help with editing. I still find issues with Thran Book One today, so it feels like a never-ending process.
    4. It will never be perfect, so eventually you will have to publish the book!
  • Marketing – How do you get anyone to actually read your book!? That’s such a difficult task! LOL.
    1. Social media
      1. This is a great way to build a following but doesn’t translate into sales very well. It’s also time intensive. You need to post once per day, but not too much more than that, and so building a following takes time unless you have a celebrity connection.
    2. Book reviews & Bloggers
      1. Getting your book reviewed is very important. Paying for reviews is less impressive, but if you have to it’s better than nothing.
      2. Voracious Readers Only
        1. I found this to be a very good platform. It connects readers and authors and is how I am building a solid email list
      3. Amazon, Barns & Nobel, others
        1. This comes down to money. My experience is that Amazon has the cheapest advertising, essentially free if you do KDP, and best tools for promoting your book.
        2. I have been in KDP (amazon exclusive) so I have access to the promotional tools, but I am going to try without it for a bit and work other platforms in order to reach a wider audience.
  • Publishing
    1. I didn’t go down the traditional path, but it involves finding an agent and then submitting your work to a lot of publishing houses.
    2. I do know this:
      1. Cover
        1. You’ll need to hook up with an artist unless you can create a cover yourself, which I think would be rare. Today’s art world is ruled by digital art, and depending on the size of your book and the number of pages, it’s not an easy job getting the cover just right.
      2. If you decide to go the traditional route – DO NOT self-publish first. Everything I read, most publishers won’t work with manuscripts that are already published. So if you go the traditional route – find an agent and go from there.
      3. Self-publishing
        1. eBooks
          1. These are pretty straight forward, you just submit them to the site, pick a royalty program and you’re off…well, you still need a cover.
        2. Hard copies
          1. You definitely need a cover and it needs to be very exact in the dimensions of the cover which includes the spine and the back art.
          2. Actually printing books.
            1. I haven’t cracked the code yet on this. Printed copies are very expensive unless you’re willing to invest in quite a bit of inventory.
            2. Amazon is the best. They print on-demand and ship it direct, so no inventory and their printing costs are 30% lower than any other place I found searching the internet.

Rebecca – You have already covered a lot of ground in your experience and it’s invaluable to other hopeful authors out there! I really hope you do publish your advice. No doubt it will come in useful for a lot of people!

 

Brian – Amazon, like they have in so many other ways, has broken down the traditional walls to getting a book published. Which is great, but there isn’t any great manual for new writers to reference. So when someone writes a book, the feeling is like: “now what?” There are soooo many choices out there it creates an analysis paralysis. I hope I can help a few people out!

 

Thanks again to Brian for taking the time to conduct this interview! If you are interested in getting a copy of Thran Book 1: The Birth, the links to purchase are available in my review post!

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: The Lynmouth Stories – L. V. Hay

For the second time this month I’m featuring a blog tour post for a collection of short stories. A huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour!

 

The Lynmouth Stories

Purchase Linkhttp://myBook.to/LynmouthStories

 

Beautiful places hide dark secrets …

Devon’s very own crime writer L.V Hay (The Other Twin, Do No Harm) brings forth three new short stories from her dark mind and poison pen:

– For kidnapped Meg and her young son Danny, In Plain Sight, the remote headland above Lynmouth is not a haven, but hell.

– A summer of fun for Catherine in Killing Me Softly becomes a winter of discontent … and death.

– In Hell And High Water, a last minute holiday for Naomi and baby Tommy  becomes a survival situation … But that’s before the village floods.

All taking place out of season when the majority of tourists have gone home, L.V Hay uses her local knowledge to bring forth dark and claustrophic noir she has come to be known for.

Did You Know …?

Known as England’s ‘Little Switzerland’, the Devon village of Lynmouth is famous for its Victorian cliff railway, fish n’ chips and of course, RD Blackmore’s Lorna Doone.

Located on the doorstep of the dramatic Valley of The Rocks and the South West Cliff Path, the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth have inspired many writers, including 19th Century romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who honeymooned there in 1812.

PRAISE FOR L V HAY:

‘Well-written, engrossing & brilliantly unique’- Heat World

‘Prepare to be surprised by this psychological mystery’- Closer

‘Sharp, confident writing, as dark and twisty as the Brighton Lanes’- Peter James

‘Prepare to be seriously disturbed’ – Paul Finch

‘Crackles with tension’ – Karen Dionne

‘An original, fresh new voice in crime fiction’  – Cal Moriarty

‘The writing shines from every page of this twisted tale’- Ruth Dugdall

‘I couldn’t put it down’ –  Paula Daly

‘An unsettling whirlwind of a novel with a startlingly dark core’ – The Sun

‘An author with a fresh, intriguing voice and a rare mastery of the art of storytelling’ – Joel Hames

 

My Thoughts…

If you’re looking for a short crime fiction story or two to see you on your way to work, or to enjoy with a quiet cup of coffee, then The Lynmouth Stories are right up your alley! Set in the rural tourist town of Lynmouth, Devon, the location each tale is set in is about all they have in common. One thing is for sure, L. V. Hay sets such a dark and sinister atmosphere that I definitely won’t be visiting unless it’s peak tourist season…

These stories are really short; I managed to read all three in around half an hour. Even though each they aren’t all that long, there is no lack of character, plot and setting the scene. To pack in such detail into a narrative so concisely is a skill (and one I envy). I read these in-between collections of short stories with other themes. Touching base with a genre that I really enjoy reading is refreshing.

The Lynmouth Stories aren’t the only short stories I am reading this month – I’m actually making a bit more effort to read some. I tend to read longer books with complex plot lines and a whole host of characters in them. Having said that though, I’ve enjoyed The Lynmouth Stories because trying something new is fun!

Reading shorts like The Lynmouth Stories is also a great way of discovering new authors. Based on these tales, I’ve added her debut novel, The Other Twin to my TBR. The author’s approachable writing style is one that I could read for hours.

 

Author Bio –

Lucy V Hay is a script editor for film and an author of fiction and non-fiction. Publishing as LV Hay, Lucy’s debut crime novel, The Other Twin, is out now and has been featured in The Sun and Sunday Express Newspaper, plus Heatworld and Closer Magazine. Her second crime novel, Do No Harm, is an ebook bestseller. Her next title is Never Have I Ever for Hodder Books.

Social Media Links –

www.twitter.com/LucyVHayAuthor

www.facebook.com/LucyHayB2W

www.instagram.com/LucyVHayAuthor