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.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Cash in on Kindle Publishing

by Scott McElaney

A nicely written, but VERY short non-fiction book (26 pages and that’s including the long intro and “thank you for buying” at the end). 

I couldn’t work out if Scott McElhaney wrote it just to brag about his earnings or because he wanted to help other writers. He’s very upbeat and practically promises authors will sell their ebooks and make lots of money – not true (not straight away anyway).

For very new authors this little book may be helpful - it is certainly positive. It leads you to the correct places to show you how to upload an ebook. He also encourages authors getting other authors, friends and family to tag their books, and I know that a LOT of people (me included) think this is unethical, so I didn’t agree with him here.

It's short, but it's upbeat, and sometimes that's what you need to become a writer.

Blurb: Going through a self-publishing company (even a digital publishing company) will cost the author anywhere from $300 - $3000 up front. In almost every case, the author never makes up for these fees in the royalties they receive afterward. Amazon's Kindle publishing charges nothing except for a portion of the royalties.

After his many experiences with self-publishers (including to the extreme that he even won the nationwide Christian Choice Book Award in 2008 for one of his self-published novels) Scott McElhaney gave up on other forms of publishing and decided to focus his efforts on Amazon Kindle publishing. Not only did he give up on other forms of publishing, but he chose to inform others on the secrets of getting their books into the Amazon forefront and making some money. And best of all, this book is not supported or authorized or paid for by 

Scott McElhaney, bestselling author of Talking to the Moon, Mommy's Choice, Daylight in Blossom, and Saving Brooksie now shares his secrets in this short but informative book.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Amulet of Kings. The Banned Underground


by Will Macmillan-Jones

Now this book is a fine example of how subjective reviews are – I hated it and was all ready to give a scathing review but as I threw it down in disgust my adult son picked it up and thoroughly enjoyed it! He read it almost in one evening, and I could hear him chuckling from behind his bedroom door. 

The story was a backdrop to all the jokes and puns blowing through the author’s mind at the time of writing it, and as a character-loving type of reader I found this frustrating as I couldn’t get to know any of the characters.

I’m not sure even which age-group to recommend this for: teens wouldn’t understand some of the references to “old” TV shows/stars. Adults could find following the teenage main characters (if there was a main character!) a put-off.

The footnotes were also cumbersome on my Kindle, and I found it impossible to read, in fact. The book (which I also had) was better. These footnotes were jokes/observations from the author and although they fell flat with me, my son found hilarious.

I'm giving it a three, but my son (who's lent the book to his friend) would have given it a much higher mark. 

Blurb: What could be worse? Having to take a holiday in the (rainy) Lake District in the North West of England with an aunt who turns people into frogs for a hobby? Or battling the local dark lord, whose attempt at world domination starts with the nearby underground dwarf mansion and its enormous collection of used pizza boxes? Or getting involved with a jazz-loving bog troll and his dwarfish R&B band? Or is it being miles from a McDonalds? Join the teenagers and find out in this comical adventure where jazz and magic make a tongue-in-cheek laugh riot!