Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Super Spud Trilogy



Michael Diack

The things that go on in the world that we, as humans, are not even aware of! Super Spuds live in rubbish dumps all over the world fighting wars with discarded lolly sticks, water bottle bombs, lusting over one another, marvelling over other flavours, which, by the way, signifies a Super Spud's personality.

The trilogy was contained all in one book; not quite separate stories so can’t be read out of sequence, but it was such a strange book--I wasn’t sure if I'd enjoy it, to be honest, and it did take me a while to relax and get into the story. I think the author explained too much in the beginning, which took me from Mt Hiba (a fictional ‘city’ in which the main Super Spuds lived) and back into my human world, but once all that needed explaining was over, I did start enjoying The Super Spud.

Basically, these ‘super spud’ crisp packets, once discarded at the rubbish tip, developed internal organs (the actual crisps) and sprouted arms and legs. Their life span is short because once their packets are punctured they die, and fighting seems to be their sport so many crisps die. And that was my problem. I couldn’t become attached to a character because so many died and so many new characters were brought in, but then, this isn't a book with rules. The characters, or crisps, were all unique, and the generals (steak crisps) with their eagerness to become heroes, even if it meant death, were hilarious at trying to get the upper hand of other generals and dying for their cause. 

So suspend belief, enjoy the comedy, and general silliness, and this book will delight you. It’s quirky, weird and on Mt Hiba lives garlic flavoured crisps discarded by their fellow, other flavoured, crisps for being ‘stinky’.

Genetic engineering has accomplished many things, one of which has been to create the Super Spud! 

The humble potato elevated to new heights, creating the most flavoursome crisps ever known to humankind! But that's not all - A magical transformation occurs to all Super Spud crisps not eaten before their use-by date. They take on a life of their own. And so long as they remain undetected by humans, they enjoy life in their own Super Spud cities, take part in major Super Spud sporting events and even start the odd Super Spud war or two. 

Join Colin, Cougar, Hannibal Vector, Generals Rock, Jock and Strap and all the others in their rollicking adventures. You'll never look at a packet of crisps in the same way again! 

Fun, quirky and totally original, Michael Diack's début is strictly for those who are still big kids at heart.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Secondhand Sight

Rocky Leonard


I 'met' Rocky Leonard through BK's VBT where I hosted Rocky on my blog and his book attracted me straight away (I wasn't obliged to buy it, or offer a review). 

The lead character Dan Harper is a likeable, ordinary guy with a pregnant wife. He begins getting visions of murders before they happen, and as he unravels them, he realises they match up to actual murders. This is where the character becomes even more likeable and real because you can taste his worry and indecision. He isn't a super hero he's just the guy next door. The author doesn't 'big him up' but keeps him slightly flawed all the way through--that's why I liked Secondhand Sight so much.

At first, Dan Harper panics because he thinks the visions are something he's done while asleep, then the police think he's a suspect, then he's visited by a ghost of one of the murdered and well, it's a very intense horror thriller which kept me turning the pages.

The book evolves slowly (a little too slowly, in some parts) but that makes the climax all the more exciting, especially as you HAVE to keep reading to find out how Dan and the killer are going to meet. 

It's very well written and researched. Indie writing at its best!

Dan Harper is just an ordinary guy, having an ordinary day…until he ruins his tie during lunch. When he visits a thrift store near his office for an inexpensive replacement, merely touching a secondhand tie triggers a flood of gruesome images only he can see. Are they hallucinations, or suppressed memories?

Dan desperately wants these visions to be nothing more than a product of his imagination, but soon enough, he discovers real crime scenes and murder victims. Dan can no longer ignore the unseen powers forcing him to confront the demons of his past. Dark forces prod him to seek the identity of the faceless murderer haunting his dreams.

Dan’s worst fear is the suspicion he’ll eventually confront the face of this brutal killer in last place he wants to look – the mirror.

This suspense thriller is a mix of police procedural with a paranormal twist.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Murder Me

John Meany

I bought this book on the prowess of its powerful blurb. I thought I was buying a thriller/romance, and that Ashley’s horrific kidnapping would linger more than the first few chapters. It didn’t. The essence of the book began and ended almost straight away, and the rest of the book focused on Ashley coping with the aftermath of her rape.

I wasn't sure what genre I was reading, neither did I think the author knew, hence the 'romance novel' in brackets after the title on Amazon. It started out like a thriller, then I had a notion it may be a paranormal when main character, Ashley, started seeing ghosts. But then it went back to 'romance', and I use that word loosely!

We all know rape is a disgusting crime, and wouldn’t want to know all the details in a romance, but I wasn’t sure if Ashley had been raped. The scene changed to the attacker buckling his belt, all well and fine, but ALL the main scenes were cut or glossed over.

This was the romance scene: (main character had just thrown herself at the hero of the story, Troy.) Then it cuts to:

“I want you so bad too.”
“Oooh. Oooohhh. Uuuhhh!!!!!”
Smooch! Smooch!
Excited breathing.
Groping hands.
The bed being ravaged.
Champagne spilled.
The mattress bouncing up and down.

I kid you not!

The author also had the POV of EVERY character, which weakened the foundations of the story. It was very childishly written. There were lots of things that didn’t ring true, especially the amount of prescription drugs Ashley was able to get hold of/take. Just what type of doctor would leave morphine laying around in his bathroom? Sheesh!

I didn't like this at all.

Pregnant artist Ashley Ferguson thinks it is another ordinary night leaving her part-time job at the BVX pharmacy. It is not. 

Two drunk, evil strangers abduct the twenty-three year old, on the way to her car. One of them slugs Ashley in the face, hard, which renders her unconscious, the other snatches her designer handbag. 

The unknown assailants then carry Ashley to the dark field behind the shopping center. When she regains consciousness, Ashley finds herself in a terrifying life or death struggle. 

“My baby!” she pleads. “Please. This will be my first child. If something were to happen-”
“Are you deaf?” one of her attackers snaps. “We told you we don’t want to hear about your kid. If you’re looking for sympathy you’re not gonna get it. So hush!” 

Monday, 29 October 2012


Brea Brown


Libby Foster is a bit of a daydreamer, as the title of the book suggests. She prefers to lose herself to her mind than rather deal with real life, because real life hasn't been kind to her so far - or that's the message I got, anyway. She isn't moody or self-pitying though, although she is a little sharp-tongued with her peers, which has some brilliant one-liners!

The love interest of the Libby is an English man called Jude Weatherington, and who Libby begins to fantasise about immediately, because in reality Jude isn't all that... or is he?

It was interesting to unlock Libby's secrets to see why she prefers the daydreams to truth, and why she is so mistrusting of happiness.

I loved that Jude Weatherington was such a `real' Englishman without being royal-family-posh as a lot of American authors seem to portray most English people. The little nuances and slang brought him alive for me, and I absolutely believed in his character.

I shall read more of Brea Brown.

Libby Foster prefers her fantasy life to her real life... until she starts to get the two confused, thanks to the new enigmatic architect at her workplace. While she tries to figure out the difference between fact and fiction of her own making, she discovers there's a whole real world out there waiting for her to live it.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Rejection a novel

Meagan Bridges


Ooh a chick lit novel! My favourite genre. I received this book as a freebie, which was lucky because for an ebook and an unknown author I thought it was much too expensive at £3.86, and that's a shame because it was very well written and extremely funny in parts, as well as having a genuinely interesting characters and a story with a beginning, middle and end.

The main character, Maggie McKenzie has just been dumped by her boyfriend (hence the title, although the 'a novel' bit struck me as a bit strange) and is obviously distraught, although, in the crazy world of Maggie's it's not overly tearful or fingernail-gnawing sad. It's fun and light, not too memorable, but entertaining and could easily stand alongside Sophie Kinsella without worry. I liked Maggie McKenzie and was keen for her to come up trumps. This book is well worth the read.

Maggie McKenzie battles overwhelming rejection, raccoon attacks and personal space invading coworkers with only random facts and a growing sense of adventure.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Indian Rose

Emma Daniels

Emma Daniels has a warmth to her writing, which I liked a lot. The opening drew me in and kept me in. I did find a lot of typos in the book, but the story was exciting and real, which kept me reading.

I loved the hero, but the herione I couldn't take to. She seemed to take a dislike to Patrick without reason (OK, so she thought he was responsible for half drowning her and taking her back to the past), but even when he revealed his shocking past she STILL seemed to hate him. I had a feeling that the author wanted to create a tension between the characters, which unfortunately, for me, she failed.

Sometimes, Patrick did come across a little 'camp' and I found him as a rough 'n' ready sea-faring captain of the The Indian Rose a little hard to believe. I wanted him to 'man up'! But all in all Emma Daniels knows her history, and I liked that Patrick was offended when Jessica called him a 'pirate'.

For readers of chick lit or modern romance, I think you'll enjoy The Indian Rose.


The Ship that traveled through time

Having recently lost her beloved father to cancer, the last thing Jessica Hart needs is to come across a confused and injured stranger on the beach near her home. Not only does Patrick O’Hara believe its 1778, he’s also under the impression Jessica is a boy.

Patrick talks Jessica into taking out her family’s yacht, and she soon realizes she’s made a big mistake when a storm sweeps them both overboard and into the path of The Indian Rose. 

Rescued by his own crew, Patrick knows they have returned to the past, but Jessica is convinced The Indian Rose is just an authentic reconstruction complete with crazy sailors willing to go along with their insane captain’s desire to live in the past. 

So begin Jessica Hart’s adventures into the past. Not only is she now trapped in 1778, but she is also falling for the enigmatic and handsome Patrick O'Hara, whose lonely seafaring life has kept him from experiencing any kind of emotion for a woman, until now.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Hoodie and the Humpback

Faye Meredith


This was the most strangest book I think I've ever read! The prologue opened like a children's book, but the main story was most definitely adult.

The main character Tanya was a troubled teen who drank, smoked, swore and stole without a care in the world. Society owed her (or so she thought) and I didn't like her. She was the dregs that society wanted to forget--but then something profound happened to make her question her existence and I began to like her.

This book is very gritty, and sometimes disturbing. I thought the dialogue was a little stilted at times and there were minor typos, which stuck out a bit too much for me to be able to ignore.


People cross the road when they see Tanya coming. A fact she's immensely proud of; being feared is essential for survival on her London estate. But when her friend Lena gets picked to join a gang and she doesn't, Tanya's life changes. She wanders home in the early hours, nursing the world's worst hangover and sees the bizarre sight of a whale swimming up the Thames. Apart from dangerous dogs on studded leads, Tanya's never seen a wild animal before. She gets obssessed with the whale and blags her way onto the muddy bank where it's stuck. Before long she's volunteering to drench it in buckets of water. Meanwhile, Lena's new lifestyle puts her in terrible danger and Tanya has to decide whether to save the whale or her friend.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Ecelectic: Ten Very Different Tales

Jonathan Hill

Like it says on the tin (or book cover) ten very different tales. Some of them were a twist in the tale, others were just fragments of a character’s life.

I didn’t read every story because not every story could hold my attention. I found the lengthy paragraphs unwelcoming on the eye, but one tale really had me giggling: The Ornithologist. It wasn’t a horror tale, but one of observance. Its dry humour appealed to me, and made me understand that Jonathan Hill is clearly an author who has a strong sense of how the human psyche works.

I could imagine him writing a chilling thriller in the near future!


ECLECTIC: Ten Very Different Tales

From humour to horror, drama to pathos, this book of short stories will move and surprise you.

Starting with a relationship spanning an entire lifetime in just several pages and ending with a boy's struggles both at home and school, via stories including a woman's disastrous brush with modern art, a teenager's deadly obsession with video games, a man's ghostly encounter and even a humorous poem, this five-star book of eclectic tales has something for everyone.

Enjoy the variety!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Curse of Fin Milton

Vivian Mayne


The concept of the book is excellent: have you ever wondered what's happening inside your head when you fall in love? Why you can’t eat or sleep? Or why you can’t stop thinking of this one person? 

Then suddenly after loving this person for weeks, months, years, the person, overnight, acts as if you don't exist. He/she can't see you. Doesn't even have any memory of you. 

Then you find out you're a victim of a magical spell. A hex that rears its head every few years making that person, who you love desperately, forget everything about you only to re-remembers you years later. She/he is determined never to forget you this time - can't even believe she/he can forget you. But she/he does... and it begins all over again.

This is the theory for The Curse of Fin Milton: fantasy, magic and romance, and one that I was very excited to begin to read. But the multi points of view and many characters made it difficult to follow at times, hence me awarding it only three out of five. As this book is going to be the first of a series I wonder if readers would benefit from having a family tree at the beginning? I know the author does have a FB page dedicated to the story, but not every reader has a Facebook account.

Anyway, the premise of The Curse of Fin Milton is two families at war with the other, and the feud goes back years. Main character, Fin Milton, is in love with a woman who can only remember him every so often. He's determined to break the spell, and has to delve deep into his family's history. 

It's a packed book, and probably not for light-reading. The fantasy element means you have to keep an open mind, but I like how Vivian Mayne makes it all seem believable - even 'astral planing'. I'd not heard of that term before reading this book. It's a state of consciousness where a person's consciousness can travel anywhere in the world while his/her physical body is safely asleep. (I looked it up and apparently it CAN happen. I will remain sceptical though).

The characters in The Curse of Fin Milton are all fleshed out, and present as real people, and the scenery (especially Cornwall) is vivid, so I congratulate Vivian Mayne on that.

Set in modern day London and Cornwall, England, this enchanting ghost story follows the quest of a young man who carries a curse that condemns him to a life without the woman he cares for most in the world. His quest to lift the curse threatens the lives of all those he cares for.

The couple first meet as children, but were predestined to suffer a supernatural romance as a consequence of a curse cast in days gone by. Aided by a beautiful and dangerous ally who herself has mystic gifts he has to ward off paranormal forces as he seeks to unshackle the restraints of the curse. The two lovers are constantly at the mercy of a ruthless family whose interests would be threatened if the the curse were lifted.

Saturday, 9 June 2012



Sandra Madera

Laura Carter's mother died in childbirth to her, and her father could never forgive Laura for that. Or so Laura (and the reader) is led to believe. Instead, she begins to uncover a horrific family secret and the very reason her father appeared to hate her so. When her father dies, Laura and her sister are left in the care of their uncle Raymond Reynolds and are shipped off to England.

The opening was strong and hooked me in, but I soon became a bored with the characters and all their "because it's expected of me" culture. Then it took a bizarre and somewhat exciting turn, and I was up until the early hours reading - but it took almost half way through to get to the interesting part. I'm glad I stuck with it though. Vampire stories are becoming something of a cliché lately but Restraint was different simply because it was written very much in the historical genre. I also wasn't expecting the vampires to be so scary and evil.

Suitable for 16 plus Restraint contained no swearing or "rude scenes", but the suggestion of something more was evident in the scenes with Laura and Bryan Froster. I sensed an attraction between them even though Laura detested and was frightened of him. 

Restraint is part of a series, and although this story ended with all ends tied it left the reader wanting to know more about the characters, especially Laura and Elias (love interest? Maybe it'll be revealed in the next instalment?). I felt there was a lot more to the story than the author was willing to reveal, and I wonder how the saga will pan out? 

The most annoying, but small, thing that irked me about Restraint was that the main characters, Laura and Linda, had such similar names that I had to keep flipping back to see who was who. It was even more annoying than the typos I found (although they didn't detract from the story) were too many for me not to notice. It was a shame because otherwise Restraint was very well written.


After the abrupt death of her father, Laura Carter and her sister, Linda, are shipped off to England by an uncle they barely know. They are taken to a large house in Annesley to begin a life of service. When Laura becomes a governess to a young boy named Marcus, she begins to experience strange things in the night... horrible things.

Creatures in the night. Bite marks on her body. 

Laura is about to discover a secret that has existed in her family for generations... Something wants to possess her. It wants her blood, but it didn't expect her to resist and lose all restraint.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

My Pet Zombie



Wesley Barber

I was going on a short journey and I wanted something short and sweet to tide me over and I fancied a Zombie story. This was short, tongue-in-cheek, very British but really not bad at all. I don't know what I was expecting, but nothing good that's for sure.

It had a simple process: teenager Luke has a pet zombie kept in a rabbit hutch in his wardrobe, and he creeps out at night killing animals so he can take them back to feed his pet. 

The short isn't for the squeamish or animal lovers, so if offended by cats being stabbed in the neck by a screwdriver don't download!

My Pet Zombie is well written, and it has all the acquired bits: beginning, middle and an end - and what an end! It's a story with a twist, so it wouldn't be fair if I revealed it here.

I "bought" it because it was free, but I wouldn't pay almost £2 for a short-story, so my only criticism on this is that for a short story it's much too expensive.

A feral blast-beat of a short story, in which a teenager struggles to balance the pressures of having a girlfriend, dealing with over-anxious parents, getting schoolwork done on time and the additional burden of keeping a ravenous undead creature of the night in his closet.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Tell a Thousand Lies

Rasana Atreya

Three sisters, Pullamma, Lata and Malli have been brought up by their grandmother. The grandmother wants to find them a husband, but only two of the girls are "pretty". Pullamma is too dark to be considered attractive in 1980 India.

That’s the theme in essence. We don’t have anything to do with Malli (although her wedding brings us Kondal Rao and he’s is going to be Pullamma’s nightmare), Malli is married off from the start and we only begin to get to know Lata towards the end of the book. It’s Pullamma’s story and her that we life we get to know, but she’s a girl very much of her time and heritage. All she wants is a husband and a family. Unlike her twin, Lata, she isn’t interested in education.

In the beginning I did wonder if the book had too much "info dump" because there was a lot telling about how people from that culture lived, but before I realised I was hooked on Pullamma's story and found myself keen to finish. There were a few flashbacks that became a jumble at times, and I did wonder if the story was too "big" for the author, but overall I think Rasana Atreya did a very good job indeed. It was easy reading, and opened my eyes to how "free" Western culture is and how much it's taken for granted.

Pullamma, as a character, was delightful, although I found her too naive at times, especially as she openly trusted people even when, one after the other, they took advantage of her. Her husband was a character I couldn't warm to at all! I hoped Pullamma would dump him by the end of the story for being such a wuss and a pushover, but no, she "loved him".

Tell a Thousand Lies is a story I’m going to remember (for all the right reasons), I do think there was a lot packed into it, maybe too much? It wasn’t so much as a roller coaster read, but a long, fast straight ride until you arrive with a bump the end. There was no break, no respite from the misery dumped on poor Pullamma, or if there was, it was in very short supply of a line or two of prose. I was quite out of breath towards the end!

In short it is a powerful book, and very much worth a read.

In a land where skin colour can determine one's destiny, fraternal twins PULLAMMA and LATA are about to embark on a journey that will tear their lives apart. Dark skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife. 

With three girls in her family, the sixteen year old is aware there isn't enough dowry to secure suitable husbands for them all. But a girl can hope. She's well versed in cooking, pickle making, cow washing -- you name it. She's also obliged her old-fashioned grandmother by not doing well in school. Fair skinned and pretty, her twin sister Lata would rather study medicine than get married. 

Unable to grasp the depth of Lata's desire, the twins' Grandmother formalizes a wedding alliance for the girl. Distraught, Lata rebels, with devastating consequences. As Pullamma helps ready the house for her older sister Malli's bride viewing, she prays for a positive outcome to the event. 

What happens next is so inconceivable that it will shape Pullamma's future in ways she couldn't have foreseen. TELL A THOUSAND LIES is a sometimes wry, sometimes sad, but ultimately realistic look at how superstition and the colour of a girl's skin rules India's hinterlands.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Patrick Fox


The cover didn’t grab me, I must admit. It looked too much like a man’s western, which didn’t appeal to my chick lit, light-hearted romance type of read.  But the blurb sounded interesting, so I downloaded the sample – and was immediately hooked!

It had all the elements of a chick lit novel – fun, light-hearted with a little bit of exaggerated realism. The only difference is that the protagonist is male; but it could easily hold its own alongside any Matt Dunn's novels.

Ben Rider was unhappily married (only he didn’t know it at the time), and when his wife died it shocked me, and I almost stopped reading. So glad I didn’t! The death was sensitively done, but there was no lingering over it and soon the story moved on with the same humour and warmth that was there from the beginning. On the eve of her death Ben’s imaginary friend reappears – Trinity. He has come to lead Ben into all sorts of scrapes all in the name of “his destiny”.

Trinity is a cowboy (hence the cover) with three other personalities, which are hilarious in their own right. Love the cowardly pirate!

Ben’s dry narration throughout the novel is a lot of fun, and has many laugh-out-loud moments. He meets Bonnie through his work, and when he discovers she has an imaginary friend all of her own and one that he can see, well, I didn’t think the book could get any funnier.

Trinity is well-written and I can fully recommend it. A well-deserved 5 out of 5 from me.

When Ben Rider finds his childhood imaginary friend, Trinity, in his kitchen, he knows something isn't right. Trinity hasn't changed a bit. He still has three personas: cowboy, pirate, and private eye. He still smells of chocolate, and he still has a habit of massaging his earlobe.

Ben is trying to keep his video game development business alive and finalise a deal with an American games publisher, while keeping his disintegrating marriage together. Now, with the reappearance of his imaginary friend, he has his sanity to worry about too.

Trinity claims he has come back to help Ben sort out his life and guide him to his destiny. But over the days that follow, Ben's life goes haywire, and it looks like he might meet his destiny sooner than he thinks. Thanks to Trinity, Ben will have a restaurant collapse on top of him, be seduced and later shot at by a Welsh femme fatale, meet someone else's imaginary friend, and lose both a wife and an ex-wife. But will he find his destiny, or is Trinity's real reason for returning, something else entirely?

Monday, 30 April 2012

Kimi's Secret

John Hudspith

The length of the book worried me a little. It’s directed towards children so I wondered if the 446 pages would be off-putting, but then I got thinking about Narnia, Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland – all classics and all long books, so that thought was soon squashed.

Kimi had an imaginary friend from years ago called Bentley, and he turns up out of the blue on the eve of her eleventh birthday. But it turns out he wasn't imaginary, and he has to take her to a magical world called Heart and he has to take her NOW.

Kimi’s Secret doesn’t hang about, and I was soon thrust into Heart on an enchanting, and sometimes frightening journey where Famoose, Balancers, Adepts and Tuplas all exist alongside murderous crows, police monkeys and aliens. The marvellous array of strange creatures didn't once seem out of place, they were all well-defined characters. I had a particular fondness for Stella, Kimi’s seventeen year old mentor, a zany (human) character, and Babbage whom I can’t even begin to describe! He is the main key in the plot, and probably has a story all of his own (maybe in the sequel?).

The story didn't flag, although I'd have loved a bit more time with Kimi before she was sent to Heart; but this book is directed at kids, and they want FAST and NOW, which Kimi's Secret certainly is.

The one thing I didn't approve of was the language. For some "bloody" "crap" and "shit" aren't too bad, but this book is directed at ten and above and I wouldn't be keen to know my children were reading such language, but then I'm from the era which remembers Enid Blyton with great fondness. The "swearing" could probably be measured in two lines in the entire book, so maybe not too much to worry about, and Bentley, one of the main characters, disapproved too so that could go some way towards redeeming it.

Kimi's Secret was written in conjunction with a school, Portree Primary, and in an interview I had with the author John Hudspith he told me the children were delighted that the book didn't condescend and spoke with "real" language. So maybe I need to get with the times!

John Hudspith has a story to tell with Kimi's Secret and I think he succeeded very well. It has all the elements that a fantasy/sci-fi story needs: time travel, strange creatures, space  ships, a new world. But one thing that stood out for me was the fact that Kimi has nice parents, and got on well with them. I liked that. Too many books and TV aimed show adults and the pre-teen at one another's throat. 

Kimi's Secret doesn’t exactly end with a HEA, there is a To Be Continued but you know Kimi is going to come up trumps even when it’s all stacked against her. The book starts off with a bang, becomes steady, but then takes off at a furious speed that makes you NEED to turn the page. 

For children (and grownups) who loved Alice in Wonderland you'll love Kimi's Secret. It's just as bonkers, as fast and as enchanting (I just didn't like the "swearing"). 

Blurb of Kimi's Secret

Wanna hear something really scary?

When death comes knocking on your door there is really only one place to hide. Dragged screaming to the paranormal world of Heart, where ghosts are real, big cats prowl, aliens are greylians, monkeys rule, trolls troll, fairies are vermin, the Adepts always know best, magic is mojo and roasted dodo is the dish of the day; Kimi Nichols is handed a secret that must never be revealed. To do so would mean the end of mankind. 

WARNING: contains imploding toads, gravity-defying clowns, liquefied brains, a sadistic dentist and a deformed taxidermist; great dollops of blood and bogies, half a million crows, and a giant with OCD.

Gothic horror meets supernatural sci-fi; Kimi’s Secret will leave you gagging, breathless and sleeping with the light on. Suitable for grinning little monsters aged 10 to 100.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence

Roz Morris

This is a cracking how-to novel for newbie (but serious) and experienced writers alike. It's a novel to dip into, or read in one sitting but certainly one to keep for encouragement and inspiration.

At almost 200 pages it isn't too short or too long either. The intro is a bit long, and I did have to skip a few pages to get to the "start", but I felt nurtured by the author as she explained structure, plot, procrastination, characterisation, finding ideas etc and all in a non-patronising, girl-next door kinda way. In short I felt I had a friend.

Nail Your Novel also discusses your book's development, the synopsis, writer's block and so much more as well as the above. There were a few things that Roz Morris talks about that I know I should do, but don't, like use a notebook for ideas, a planner for character development but I think I will put that into practice and see if it helps with my own story writing.

I know what this book HAS inspired me to do and that's to look up Roz Morris's website and bookmark it! 

Are you writing a novel? Do you want to make sure you finish? Will you get lost and fizzle out? Will you spend more time reading about how to write than actually getting the words down?

Most books on novel-writing will make you read hundreds of pages about character arcs, inciting incidents, heroes’ journeys. It’s great to know that – but while you’re reading about it you’re not writing your book. 

And what these books don’t tell you is how to use this learning and get the job done.

Nail Your Novel is a writing buddy – and mentor - in a book. 

In 10 easy steps it will tell you:
*how to shape your big idea and make a novel out of it
*how to do your research and how to use it
*how to organise your time. 
*how to plot and build characters
*when you’re going to hit problems and what to do about them
*how to write on the days you don’t feel inspired
*how to reread what you’ve written and polish it. 

Along the way, Thumbnail Notes give tutorials about storytelling and storycraft – strictly when you need them. The author has written nearly a dozen novels that have made it into print – and this is how she did it. 

You don’t even need to read the whole book before you get started. You read a section, then do as it says. And, once you’re finally satisfied, Nail Your Novel will tell you how to sell it to publishers and agents.

You’ve dreamed of writing a novel. Don’t procrastinate with another theory book. Don’t launch in, get stuck and throw your hard work in a drawer. Nail your novel. 

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Jason Deas

Birdsongs focuses on Benny James, a failed FBI agent, who has developed his own business as an investigator. 

He lives in a houseboat, which is different, but I was disappointed that he didn't seem to spend much time there. We heard about it, but that's more or less about it. 

As a murder/mystery book Birdsongs has it all: a murder (or two), a grouchy failed FBI agent, love interest, and several characters that made you wonder if they were the baddies or not.

In the first half of the book I felt Benny James was a caricature of every crime book the author had read until news anchor Rachael Martin arrived on the scene, and then I saw more character development and some very good scenes between them. Indeed, the book heated up until I was turning the pages quite fast.

The secondary character Red, was my overall favourite. Jason Deas did a fantastic job bringing out the sympathetic and menacing characteristics that made up this person. Secondary characters do have a habit of trying to take over, but I think Deas managed to control this one very well.

Over all, Birdsongs had likeable characters, plot and visualization but I think the author needs time to grow before he writes anything else. He certainly has potential, and will be an author to watch out for in his chosen genre of crime.

Birdsongs is a fast-paced mystery centered on former FBI agent, Benny James. 

Fired from the FBI for inadvertently sleeping with the perp in a murder case, he tries to disappear to a houseboat and retirement. Not having what it takes to relax, Benny starts a service offering discreet investigations. That is until a body is found crucified near his marina.

The local police department requests Benny’s help and he knows if he can catch the killer, redemption is his. The Chief gives Benny and the department ten days to solve the crimes before he promises to request the help of the FBI. 

As the case grows, grabbing national attention, and the murders continue, the media soon fills the normally quiet town. Media goddess, Rachael Martin arrives and adds spice to an already flavorful mix. A few newcomers straggle in as well. An ex-convict fresh out of prison from a thirty year murder rap slinks in unnoticed with revenge on his mind. 

Days later, a Greyhound bus delivers a strange young man raised by deaf-mute parents from deep within the Ozark Mountains. An old newspaper clipping and a dark secret pulls him to town. Whatever is going on has something strange to do with birds. 

At each murder site, dead birds are displayed in disturbing ways—the killer arranging them as an artist might. All the strange occurrences and unexplained visitors to this quiet town press Benny James to his max as he vehemently struggles to solve the most important case of his life.

Monday, 19 March 2012



Katie Stewart.

Genre: Fantasy
I love paranormal type novels, and even though this was a fantasy and something I normally avoid I thought I'd give it a go. The main reason I don't like fantasy is because of all the strange made up names, and there were a few of them in Treespeaker, and quite a lot in the beginning. It took me a while to sort the main characters from the minor.

The Treespeaker opened fast and furious as the tribe's shaman, Jakan the "treespeaker", saw a vision of a hellish future for his tribe called Arrakesh. At first he is unable to understand the foretelling but when a stranger (Beldror) arrives he realises his visions will come true if doesn't act. Beldror's charm wins over all but Jakan, and it is Jakan who is ousted from the tribe instead of Beldror. After the explosive start it did make the rest of the book seem less exciting, but please don't confuse that with boring. The plot was delicately woven, and although I think a few more things could have happened to spice it up I realised that maybe there is a niche for gentle fantasy?

I identified Treespeaker (at first) similar to Avatar in the way that it was set in a strange land with even stranger creatures and mind (physic) abilities. But Treespeaker was much less action than I'd expect from a fantasy (and indeed Avatar), it had more of a subtle plot, and seemed to focus primarily on problems that could be found in the modern day.

Overall,  I quite liked Treespeaker. Its plot didn't exite, or have me fast turning the pages until the end but I was pleased to finish and know the outcome. I enjoyed meeting all the character's that Treespeaker introduced me to.


A Treespeaker is one with his forest, moving with its spirit, inseparably bound to it.

Terrifying visions warn Jakan that a visitor to his tribe is not who he claims to be. As the villagers fall under the spell of the stranger’s mind-bending sorcery, Jakan grows desperate to be rid of him. Events take a sinister turn when he accuses the stranger of sacrilege — and it is Jakan, not the outsider, who is expelled from the forest.
Join Jakan on his perilous journey across a blighted land as he searches for the secret that will save his people — and himself. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Cellar Door

by Paul Fenton

The first thing that struck me about The Cellar were the words in the blurb: WARNING: This book contains strong language. Not too much, but it's there. As soon as I read it I thought - juvenile. I began reading expecting no storyline, bad writing and swearing just for the sake of it. There was neither. It was very well written, very funny and also very dark. It was very slow to build,  and half way through the book I began to wonder if there was an actual climax. In the end I gave up expecting one and settled to enjoy the Zak and Sara's banter and chaotic world.   

The Cellar Door had *real* characters with flaws (an awful lot!). The narrator, Zak, was a nice enough bloke who was plodding through life with his eccentric wife Sara when the modern world struck (credit crunch) and they both lost their jobs. Then they found a hidden door in the cellar and beyond that many relics from the 1940s. 

If you are upset by bad language then I don't think this book will shock you (there are a few c-words, but the book was so funny they became acceptable!), if, however, you frown on illegal drugs being banded around (and sold) like sweets maybe this book isn't for you. 

Paul Fenton built a controversial storyline around a young couple who clearly loved one another, and I enjoyed how he sewed their relationship into the story. Sara, who (according to Zak the narrator) murdered chinchillas at the start of the story, was someone who took me almost to the end of the book to warm to, and it made me wonder why she'd fall for someone as "sensible" as Zak. But Zak, became the almost-hero, and he alone made this story with his wittiness and dry humour.

Actually, I think I fell in love a little bit with Zak.

Blurb: Zak and Sara discover a hidden room adjoining the cellar of their house. The room contains a large supply of opium resin, four crates of World War Two machine pistols, and a decapitated corpse in a bath-tub. They've both recently lost their jobs and are struggling to pay their bills, so they attempt to profit from their discovery ... just until the economy picks up again, of course.

They're not the only ones interested in what else is under the floor of the house, though.

WARNING: This book contains strong language. Not too much, but it's there.