Review of Venetia by Simon Barnes

Happy Tuesday all! At least it isn’t Monday any more, right? And there’s an even better reason to like Tuesday now, because I bring you…..another review of an awesome novel! Today I’m reviewing Venetia by Simon Barnes….

 

A chilling supernatural thriller played out amongst the evocatively conjured canals and alleyways of Venice, as spirits centuries old are re-awakened by the discovery of a mirror at an archaeological dig. And the archaeologists’ seven-year-old daughter is what these spirits need… 

Grab your copy of Venetia here at Amazon US, and here at Amazon UK!

 

Good Points

I loved the start of the story, I was hooked in immediately. The author left me just enough titbits to wonder straight away what on Earth could be going on! I loved that the story flitted between two timelines as well, the prologue set in 1508, and the present day set in 2011. The writing was fluid and clever, weaving in the supernatural elements of the story so cunningly, you never knew it was there until it jumped up on you. The descriptions were vivid and crisp, but not overly poetic. The characters were well-described and rounded out, and the main characters were very believable. And on top of all this, the supernatural elements were blended in perfectly, not gory or too fast, but enough that you got a little chill as you were reading.

 

Bad Points

The only minor bad point I would bring up , would be that the prologue started off a little choppy. It eased out further into the novel, and it wasn’t enough to put me off reading, but at the same time it disrupted the early reading flow a little.

 

Overall

This was an excellent supernatural thriller with elements of archaeology and religion giving it a dramatic feel.  It was a great read, and I couldn’t put it down until I had finished the last page! I loved that throughout the whole book I was questioning everything and everyone, trying to work out what was going on with every twist and turn. There were scandals and horrors as more and more of the story was revealed, and I couldn’t wait to turn every page to find out what else would happen. I loved this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read about the supernatural, but also wants an exciting thriller with twists and turns that will you gasp in shock at time.

 

I give this novel…….5/5 stars! 

Advertisements

Review of The Wizard Murders by Sean McDevitt

Morning all! Yes, it’s that dreaded word again; Monday. But today I bring you another review, this time of The Wizard Murders by Sean McDevitt! Enjoy.

The year is 1981. The small California town of Beaumont is rocked by a series of seemingly random -and increasingly violent- murders. An aging detective tries to capture the elusive killer- but with so few clues, can anyone stop the killing? (NOTE: this edition has been revised and updated since its initial March 2012 release.)

“Sean McDevitt certainly has great potential to write very intriguing and involved thrillers and mysteries…I would definitely pick up the next write by McDevitt and gladly read it.” -Tenya Sharp Ingalls, O. Scarlett! Reviews

 

You can grab your copy here from Amazon US and Amazon UK!

 

Good Points

I found this to be an interesting and unusual plot to choose. Detective Andy Pitt has to unravel the crimes, being able to only follow a series of clues after receiving calling cards in the form of dark blue  wizard paintings.  I felt that the beginning of the book was a good start, as it launched straight in, while setting up the characters at the same time. Some of the characters, namely the secretary, were well filled-out and believable; whereas others were not. The original idea of the storyline was very cool, and an interesting idea that no-one else has thought of, so I have to give the author a lot of credit for that. I also liked that the author really made the landscape come to life, it was very well-described, and let the reader had a peek into what the town looked like.

 

Bad Points

The main character seemed a little flat, and it would have been nice to see him a little more multi-dimensional. Also, the book was written in present tense, and yet a lot of the book was in italics for the character’s thoughts. This made it seem a little awkward, and it perhaps would have been better if it had been written in first person. Some of the writing seemed a little too clunky, and didn’t flow as well as it should have in places.

 

Overall

This was an interesting idea for a story from this author, and I did like the storyline. The characters were great, but could have done with a little more plumping out. It also might have been nice to see the book in first-person narrative, in order that it could flow better with the thoughts of the main protagonist. Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable read, that could do with a little bit of polishing up.

I give this book……3/5 stars!

Review of Few Are Angels by Inger Iversen

Happy Thursday people! I hope the weather is better where you are where I am, we’re in the middle of a humid heat wave, so I’m typing slower than usual. But-I have the perfect thing to cool you down again, a review of Few Are Angels by Inger Iverson! You can grab your copy here at Amazon US, or here at Amazon UK. You can find Inger Iversen here  on Goodreads and on her website.

 

After a fatal hit and run accident, Ella Monroe fears that she’s lost more than her beloved parents. Horrifying visions of a past life and a disturbing voice in her head have psychiatric professionals convinced that she’s lost her sanity as well. But when Kale–a dark and handsome stranger with a mysterious past–reveals the true meaning of her visions and the tremendous power she wields through them, Ella must come to terms with the devastating truths of her own past, while eluding an ancient Dark Prince who seeks to control not only her future, but all of mankind’s, by means of abilities that Ella is only beginning to understand.

Enter the shrouded world of an age old battle between an ancient race known as the Immortals and their bitter enemy Laurent, the so-called Dark Prince, who commands an army of half-breed vampires known as Chorý. Both sides have been desperately searching for the prophesied emergence of the Arc, a clairvoyant with unparalleled power to recall the past and a soothsayer with clear vision into the future.

The Council of Immortals has sworn to protect the Arc, whom they have identified as young Ella Monroe, a college freshman from Virginia living quietly and unaware of her powers or her past. But a renegade Chorý has other plans for the protection of a girl he has loved through the ages. Can Kale convince Ella of who she is, what she is destined to become, and what he once meant to her? Is he truly the best protector to shield the world from the devastating misuse of her powers that Laurent is bent on controlling? Or will the forbidden love they share and Kale’s cursed condition as a retched and hated Chorý be used against them both?

This paranormal romance told from the heroine’s perspective builds in intensity and intrigue to a finale you won’t see coming. Heart pounding action mixed with heartwarming friendships and heartbreaking romance will leave you breathless and begging for more.

 

Good Points

The first thing that struck me with this was the writing itself. From the very first page, it flowed smoothly and was relaxed in how beautifully descriptive it was. The characters were enticing, and their ‘voices’ both inner and outer rang very true for who they were, with a very defined ‘voice’ for each of them. I thought the world within the story (and the story itself) was an interesting and original idea, although the unfolding of the world was a little complicated. I thought it was pretty cool that this story also mixed together a few sub-genres within the paranormal genre, as I love stories that do this. I also loved that there was a small quote at the beginning of each chapter-it made it a little more fun, but also gave some hint towards the book within. The emotion in this YA novel was well-written and could make it tug at your heartstrings, and have you weeping into a box of Kleenex the next. On top of all this, the ending…….wow!

 

Bad Points

One of the points I would like to make is that the setting up of the universe within the book was a little complicated-almost too much. There were plenty of little sub-plots leading up to the main plotline, and most of them I really liked, but some of them were not really needed, and it would have been nice to have them cleaned up from the story line. Also, I felt the romance was a little fast, as after just two days Ella felt she had serious feelings for the guy, and I’m not a big fan of insta-love.

 

Overall

I thought this was a great read. It was fresh and different from many similar stories, and I thought the author had come up with a fresh and original concept. The characters were strong and vivid, and I can’t wait to see more of them. Despite the romance seeming a little rushed, it was well-written and sweet. I became immersed quickly in the world of Ella and Kale, and thought that it was a wonderful novel, from an author to watch out for! Now I just need to wait for the next one to come out! 😀

 

I give this novel……4/5 stars!

Interview and Review with Annalise Hulse

Happy Tuesday everyone! Yet another wonderful author interview for you all to enjoy today, with the lovely Annalise Hulse! I’ve also got a review of her novel, Gifted. Read on!

Annalise Hulse lives on the small island of Jersey with her husband, her son, a scruffy hairball of a dog and a mildly psychotic cat. She is the author of “Gifted”, the first instalment of the paranormal suspense quadrilogy “The Evangeline Devine Series” which is available on Amazon.com

“Twin”, the second instalment of the series, is scheduled for release in Autumn 2012.

When she is not busy at her day job or writing, Annalise likes spending time with her family and friends, watching movies (the scarier the better), drinking red wine, eating stinky cheese on digestive biscuits, watching her son play football, reading (especially Stephen King) and laughing as much as possible.

 

Hello Annalise, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog.

Hi Miranda – thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here too.

As everyone knows in my interviews-random question first! If you could be any character from any book, who would you be and why?

I think I’d have to be Matilda Wormwood from Roald Dahl’s book “Matilda”. She’s clever and brave, loves books and has magical powers! Plus, now I’m 38 I’d love to go back to being a kid again. I’d quite like to be Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games too – just so that I could be totally kick-ass and look good wearing a lycra jumpsuit!!

I think I’d like to be for that reason alone! Your novel, Gifted, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Gifted is the first instalment of The Evangeline Devine Series, a YA supernatural suspense quadrilogy (with a bit of romance too!) that focuses on 17 year old Evangeline – Evie to her friends – and the strange events that unfold when she develops the ability to communicate with the dead after she nearly drowns. At first she just wants to be rid of her new “gift”, but when someone close to her dies, she is forced to accept it and use it in her quest to find the truth…….

Gifted is actually only the start of a much bigger story which develops over the series, but I don’t want to say too much and give the game away!

Hmm……intriguing! So what inspired this novel?

I’m a huge fan of the supernatural genre and I’d say that about 80% of what I read is in that area – I’m a diehard Stephen King fan! So I really wanted to write something in that genre too because it’s what interests me most and it’s what I’m familiar with. And it just so happens that Jersey, where I live and where the series is based, is the witchcraft capital of the British Isles. We may only be small (45 square miles) but we have a very dark history – druid burial grounds, witch trials, ghostly black dogs that roam the cliffs at night – you name it, we got it! (we’re also really friendly and have great beaches too – so don’t be put off if you were ever planning on visiting!) I used to make my Mum and Nan tell me the stories over and over when I was a kid, so they were a big influence behind “Gifted”. The Tombolenes are based on real Jersey legend and the story of Esther is also loosely based on real events that my Nan witnessed during the Nazi occupation of the island during World War II. The stories I’ve been told about local witchcraft are a feature as the series progresses too.

What books do you read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

Like I said before, my preference tends to be for the supernatural genre, although I tend to read books that are perhaps a bit darker than the Evangeline Devine series, with more of a horror element. That said, I’ll give any book a try that looks intriguing – I’ve been on a big YA dystopian bender recently and I’m loving it! The only books that I probably would avoid are Mills & Boon type romances or anything that was overtly religious.

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember what inspired you?

I started writing when I was really young, probably 7 or 8 and it was because of my Mum really. As a former school teacher, in the school holidays she’d always nag me to do something constructive rather than just lolling about watching cartoons all day and so I’d write stories – typical 8 year old girl stuff – discovering I was actually a princess or finding magic slippers. Then I went through a big black eyeliner and tie dye leggings phase in my teens and wrote lots of terribly serious, angst-ridden poetry heavily influenced by The Cure and Pearl Jam – really cringe-worthy stuff about the heartbreak of lost love (the geek that I’d been dating for approximately two weeks and who had dandruff and rode a motorbike that sounded like a hairdryer) and the general torment of being a misunderstood 15 year old (you realise how great it was once you hit 30!). It was all very bad, though I’m sure I thought I was the next Sylvia Plath at the time. My writing got kind of patchy after that, because I got distracted by general life stuff like taking professional exams, getting married, having my son. I’d do odd bits here and there, but it’s only been in the last eighteen months that I’ve really come back to it seriously. I needed a project I really felt strongly about to get me back into it and when I came up with the idea for the Evangeline Devine series, it was my husband that suggested I stop talking about it and actually do it.

Where can we find your novels?

Gifted is currently available on Amazon (US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT) in e-book format only, but it is currently being looked at by a publisher, so if anything comes of that then it should also be available in paperback. I’ll be posting updates on my blog, Twitter, Goodreads etc as and when I get any news.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Tons! I’ve got enough plot outlines planned to keep me going for about the next decade. Inspiration is never a problem – its finding the time to write it all! Twin, the second instalment in the Evangeline Devine series should be out in November time and then I’m hoping to get the final two books written and released in 2013. After that I’ll be working on finishing a novel that I already started – it’s a black comedy with a supernatural twist with the working title “Midlife”. I’m also planning on releasing a few short horror stories in between time too – but they will be quite a lot darker than what I’ve written before.

Cool, so lots to look out for then! You can find out more about Annalise Hulse on Twitter, Facebook as ‘ Annahulse Books’, and her blog. Thank you for being here, Annalise, any parting words?

I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has downloaded Gifted so far and to all the bloggers and tweeters and Goodreaders who have helped to promote it. I only released it in April and I’ve been blown away by the interest and support that it’s received. I really loved writing it and it means so much to know that people actually seem to enjoy reading my ramblings too! It makes all the mornings of rolling into work with one eye still shut because I stayed up half the night writing totally worth it.

 

What really happens when we die?
It wasn’t a question that seventeen year old Evangeline Devine – Evie to her friends – had ever thought about much. There was no reason why she should – her life on the small island of Jersey with her family and best friend Seth was untouched by tragedy, idyllic even. 
Until the day that Evie nearly dies herself. When Seth pulls her from the watery depths that nearly claim her life, Evie is no longer the carefree girl she was. For now she is the recipient of an unwelcome supernatural gift. Now the dead are all around and impossible to ignore. 
But when someone close to her dies mysteriously, Evie is forced to embrace her new power, for she may be the only one that can prove that it was no accident. Someone is getting away with murder.
With only the spirit world for guidance, Evie sets out to uncover the truth and find the vital evidence she needs to get the case re-opened.Soon she finds herself torn between her feelings for best friend Seth, who she’s begun to see in a whole new light since he saved her life, and the powerfully charismatic Piers Du Pont, who she finds herself inexplicably drawn to, even though he might just be the killer that she seeks.
As events unfold, dark secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested to their limits and Evie discovers that the path that Fate has chosen for her is more terrifying than she ever could have imagined.
Life, should she survive, will never be the same again……….

 

Good Points

I really enjoyed this book. I know I’m not the target audience, but I can see mothers and daughters alike trying to fight over who gets to read this first! One of the best points of the story was the voice of Evie. She had a very strong voice as she narrated this story, but she also sounded her age, something that is sometimes missed when adult authors write younger characters. The descriptions were very powerful, such as when Evie enters a soul’s essence, and were vivid and entertaining. It was also rich in characters, and they had me showing every emotion throughout this book, from smiling to crying! It was great to see a wise old Grandmother character as well, as she is someone who doesn’t always show up any more!

 

Bad Points

I thought it was interesting that the author did some of the chapters from other characters points of view, but I also felt it was unnecessary. Seth’s sometimes felt a little too similar to Evie’s, which may very have been the point of course. But I didn’t think it was needed, I would have preferred to have it told just from Evie’s eyes, so that we could be as she was, guessing about everyone’s motives.

 

Overall

This was a great book. I thought it was a great twist of originality on ghosts and the afterlife. I also loved Evie, who was yet another of those female characters who is strong and actually decides to do something, rather than waiting for the story to come to her! The storyline was engaging and well-flowing, although it took me a little while to get into the story further after the initial ‘incident’ at the beginning.  I would recommend this book (across all ages, I might add) to anyone who wants to read a book that seems realistic in it’s approach and descriptions, but uses a chilling genre at the same time.

I would give it………4/5 stars!

Review of Dark Dates by Tracey Sinclair

Good Monday people! Ugh, I know, Monday morning right? But cheer up, I have a new review for you! Today I am reviewing Dark Dates by Tracey Sinclair…

All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you’re a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward – especially when there’s a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life…

Witty, sharp and entertaining, Dark Dates is a heady mix of vampires, witches and werewolves – with the occasional angel thrown in – and introduces Cassandra Bick, a likeable heroine destined to join the ranks of fantasy’s feistiest females.

Good Points

The first point that made this book so enjoyable, other than the fact I love anything to do with the supernatural, was the humour. This is a book that isn’t afraid to laugh, both at itself and others. Several popular references in here, that acknowledged reading other vampires books or reading other vampire flicks were probably things the reader had done. And this isn’t  to mention that the book itself had a good string of snarky humour dotted without. This is not a book of passive heroes and heroines, the characters are sharp and dry,  and believable, for that matter. The writing flowed extremely well, and I was left reading for three hours without even realising the time had gone, I was so sucked in! (No pun intended).  I also loved the idea for the storyline, it was so original, and I’m surprised someone else hasn’t thought of the job that the main heroine has! I also thought the action scenes were written particularly well; so many writers shy away from them, but Sinclair does a great job of holding the action in tightly.

Bad Points

The only bad points were that it had the odd typo-there were a lot of ‘and’ rather than ‘an’, which occasionally made your eyes skip the sentences. This was a minor point though, and it didn’t detract from the story. I believe it may have been more of a slipped hand, rather than an actual mistake in spelling.

Overall

This was a deliciously different vampire book from the norm, and is the antithesis to novels like Twilight or the Sookie Stackhouse novels. It take a laugh at the genre and itself, all while presenting a novel that creates a darker world than our own,  with characters both good and evil, on both sides on the coin. The story was original and had me hooked from the first few sentences. The writing was vivid and flowing, written with a crisp, humourous style. I would recommend this book to anyone who longs for a vampire novel that will surprise for once, but still give an injection of romantic darkness.

I would give this novel………a firm 5/5 stars!

Image

Interview, Guest Post, and Giveaway with Christi Goddard!

Well, have I got a treat for you guys today! As part of Dark Mind Book Tours, the lovely Christi Goddard has a stop on my blog! We have not only an interview, not only a guest post, but also a giveaway of her novel, Four in the Morning, as well! Enjoy!

Christi was born in Arlington, Texas in the early seventies. Her earliest memories are of seeing Jaws and Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the theater. The first was a bit much for a pre-K kid to take, and the second has much to do with what has inspired her imagination. Her father is a bit of a nomad, and they moved a lot when she was a kid. She inherited this trait, and has lived many places and been just about everywhere in America. She hit puberty in Colorado, got married in Las Vegas, had her first child in Kansas, her second in Illinois. She returned to Texas just shy of turning thirty and has been there ever since. Books are Christi’s first love, followed closely by movies. She loves to be told stories, and for most of her literate life, she’s been a storyteller as well. Christi is in her thirties, a mother of two awesome teenage girls, and a geek on many levels. Comic books, Victorian manga, science fiction, fantasy, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, and renaissance festivals are her greatest loves. She lives in Waco, Texas (keep Waco Whacko) with her family and lovable dog, Nelly. She has a cat named Snape who is black, full of bad attitude, and thinks he runs the place. He was deftly named.

Hello Christi, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog. Your novel, Four in the Morning, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

This is always the hard part for me because I feel like anything I’ll say will spoil the many surprises that happen. In an attempt to be brief, Kathleen makes a deal with someone she despises, and that one decision is the catalyst for her life crumbling apart. People disappear and a boy winds up dead, and it’s not long before the police suspect her of foul play due to circumstances. As things start to derail for her, a magical creature shows up, and he needs her help with something. In return, he says he’s going to help her solve her problems as well.

So what inspired this novel?

I’d left a comment on another blog’s post regarding things we did in our youth. I’d said to them I used to write poetry for a boy to give to another girl as his own, and the blogger replied with, “Sounds like material for a book,” or something along those lines. It took a couple days, but eventually the story started to form in my head. Granted, what happens in my book is a far cry from what happened in my own experience.

What books do you read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

I read all kinds of books. I’m most interested in fantasies, though not often high fantasy. I’m a huge Dean Koontz fan and I love a lot of the classics like Lord of the Flies1984Watership Down, etc. I’ve developed a love for manga recently as well, which is Japanese comics.

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember what inspired you?

I’ve been a writer since I was little. I remember winning some manner of writing contest when I was in elementary school many, many years ago. The reward was meeting an author and visiting a greeting card manufacturing company. I don’t remember who the author was, but I remember the trip to Leanin Tree. For a long time after that, I wanted to be a greeting card writer.

Why do you write in the genre you’ve chosen?

Because I write what I know. I don’t know how to be an adult yet. The only stories that inspire me are stories about kids who are just trying to make it through the world and deal with things as best they can, even when the adults are sure they aren’t ready.

Where can we find your novels?

I believe the best place to get a copy is on Amazon.com since it can be ordered as an e-book or printed copy. It’s also available on other sites like Barnes&Noble and iBookstore.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I have another book coming out this winter called, Lesser Evils, and it is the first book in that series. It is very different from, Four in the Morning, and I am very excited about it. There’s all manner of magical creatures, time travel, fighting, and plot twists galore.

Two by Day, the sequel to, Four in the Morning, is slotted to be out in the first half of 2013. It’s not your typical manner of sequel in a few ways, and it introduces many new characters. I’m looking forward to the feedback on that one.

Great having you here, Christi.

Now all of you lovely people read down her guest post, along with the giveaway!

So, I love making people laugh. I’ve always been a storyteller, and I much prefer telling stories than talking about myself. So, in this compromise, I’m telling stories about myself (or family members). This time, I proudly present my youngest daughter’s most memorable embarrassing moment—for me.

We lived in a small town in rural Illinois, but this is no excuse for what happened. I am a white woman, I have many friends of color, but at the time—when my daughter was 4—her education about the varieties of the human race was limited to what she saw on television.

A habit she had for a long while was to ask people if she could go home with them. Friends that visited, people in the gas station, police officers that pulled me over for speeding—yeah, anyone was fair game, and each episode highly embarrassing. I was positive each person asked to save my child from her boring home thought that I beat her with spatulas and tied her up in the basement.

One deceptively beautiful day, I took this attention-starved child to the grocery store. Like any good mother, I let her ride in the cart to keep track of her because she LOVED it. I was minding my own business in the cereal aisle, wondering why I could never find chocolate Malt-O-Meal anymore, when my child says quite loudly to the man passing by, “Are you black?”

Yes. Yes, he was. He was also giving me a look like I was the wife of the Grand Dragon of the KKK. In my defense (and hers) our community had very few people of color, so she had never encountered someone of a different race, except on the television, as I mentioned.

I gave him an apologetic smile, and then said to my blonde-haired, blue-eyed, pale-as-clouds daughter, “Yes, honey. Don’t pester him. He’s trying to shop.”

Telling my child to be quiet was like telling Brando to put the ice cream down.

“Can I go home with you?”

Ah, yes. Her most favorite question was asked, and again the wave of awkwardness puddled around my feet. “Honey, I said to leave him alone. I’m sorry, sir.”

I tried. He gave me a dirty look. He started to walk away. My child, to really drive home the point that I deserved the Crappiest Mother of the Year Award, started to cry and said, “You scared him off. I wanted to go home with him. He’s BLACK!”

In the middle of a grocery store. Remember that, parents of lil tikes, the next time your child starts to act up in a store, a restaurant, a theater—they could start screaming things that REALLY embarrass you.

Kathleen Hayson thinks her biggest problem is her mother. The only runner up—her mouth. With a wit sharper than her mother’s perfectly manicured nails, her clever remarks create more problems than they solve.

But it’s not her clever remarks landing her knee-deep in trouble. This time, Josh Colby is to blame. Kathleen’s former childhood friend has become the school’s most stuck up jerk. Before, she’d have told him to piss off and write his own stupid letter to the town slut/minister’s daughter. Now Kathleen’s escalating problems at home force her to reevaluate how flexible her principles are. She agrees to write the controversial letter Josh has requested.

Enter Rigel, a smartass magical creature who invades her room one night, promising he has come to help. When a boy Kathleen hates turns up dead and her mother goes missing, the letter becomes a key piece of police evidence—implicating Kathleen. As she fights her way out of a web of lies, the trust she has in those closest to her shatters. In the end, she’s pushed to a terrible choice: who lives, and who else dies.

You can pick up your copy of Four in the Morning from Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. But just below, you can also enter to win a FREE e-book copy! (You can also win a paperback copy over at Dark Mind Book Tours!)

 

This giveaway has now ended, and the winner has been notified. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Interview and Review with Gillian Hamer

Happy Hump Day, everyone! And before anyone thinks I’ve gone a bit porno, the Americans and Australians assure me it means ‘the middle of the week’. I hope they didn’t fib to me. Anyhoo, I have another amazing author interview today, with the lovely Gillian Hamer! I’m also doing a review of her book, The Charter.

Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian’s heart has always yearned for the pull of the ocean and the wilds of North Wales.

 A company director, she has been writing as a hobby all her life, but after a creative writing course a decade ago, decided to take her writing to another level and sought representation. She has completed six full length novels, split between straight crime and her mix of paranormal thrillers. Gillian is also a regular columnist for literary magazine, Words with Jam, and in that role has been lucky enough to interview a cross section of authors from Ann Cleeves to Michael Morpurgo.
Gillian splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey where she spends far too much time dreaming of being the next Agatha Christie, and can be found walking her Jack Russell, Maysie, on deserted beaches. In her spare time she is a regular theatre goer, an avid reader and a curious traveller!
Her novel, The Charter, was launched in June 2012 under Triskele Books, an author’s collective set up by Gillian and a group of fellow writers. Her straight crime novels are represented by Shelley Powers of the Shelley Powers Literary Agency.

Hello Gillian, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog! As everyone knows in my interviews-random question first! If you could be any character from any book, who would you be and why?

Toughie. Part of me would like to be Miss Marple (or maybe a younger, sexier version that Angelina Jolie could play in the film remake!) but a character that breaks down preconceptions, is wonderfully astute and intelligent and gets to solve complex crimes. But another part of me would love to play a heroine, courted by an English gentlemen, to get a taste of what it was like to live in those times. I’m not a romantic in today’s world really but perhaps I would have been then, so I’d like a chance to be Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and go the distance with Mr Darcy!

I understand that, I always loved Poirot, but I didn’t think I’d suit the moustache very well. Your novel, The Charter, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

The Charter is a modern day murder mystery – with a twist. The twist being that the story was fashioned on the true story of the shipwreck of the Royal Charter off the coast of Anglesey in 1859. So as well as a modern day crime mixed with historical facts we also have the presence throughout the novel of one of the victims of the disaster.

So what inspired this novel?

I’ve spent a lot of time on Anglesey and know North Wales really well. It’s an area I love and it provides me with not only peace and quiet, but also tonnes of inspiration. I have a cottage there and spend as much time as I can there. The story of the Royal Charter has fascinated me since childhood. I’ve visited the churchyard that features heavily in the book umpteen times and read all of the stories of Austrailian gold being washed up on local beaches. One memory that stays with me as a child, probably around ten, I was visiting Red Wharf Bay with family and friends who lived in Holyhead, one of whom had recently taken up metal detecting as a hobby. I can remember the adrenaline rush of excitement as I kept finding coins buried in the sand, probably only pennies I can’t remember now, and becoming convinced I was finding treasure from the Royal Charter. Only later did I discover the ‘friend’ had been burying the coins for me to find!

What books do you read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

For many years all I read was crime, starting with Enid Blyton from the village library as a child, and soon devouring most, if not all, of Agatha Christie’s back catalogue. I still adore her books today. Then in my late teens, I got into horror, courtesy of Stephen King. And I read James Herbert, Dean Kootnz, Shaun Hutson. Then I had a John Grisham and Jeffrey Deaver phase. Now, I’d say my taste is much more eclectic. I’ve mixed with fellow writers for the past decade who have really opened my eyes to literary fiction and authors I’d not previously heard of let alone read. I love Sarah Waters, Philippa Gregory, Cormac McCarthy … the list is endless and I learn so much from these writers. I still have a soft spot for crime though, and there are some fantastic writers out there – I adore Colin Dexter, Ann Cleeves, Mark Billingham, Kate Atkinson. Yes, I read a lot!

Why do you write in the genre you’ve chosen?

I think one reason is because crime was my first love and also I must have the right kind of brain. I’ve always been good at solving crimes in television detective shows. I’d annoy my family by blurting out twenty minutes in that so-and-so was the murderer because what’s-his-name was his long lost brother! I can’t remember it ever having been a physical choice, it was just what I could write. I do enjoy writing paranormal too, I’ve won a few short story awards for ghost stories in the past, and I’ve been told my writing is a lot like Susan Hill which I take as a huge compliment – and she seems to be able to straddle both of these genres very successfully. I look at other genres of fiction and I can pretty much rule them all out. I couldn’t do romance or humour, neither appeals, and I haven’t the artistic skills to write literary fiction, or the patience or knowledge to venture into YA or children’s fiction.. And as for the new fad of mummy porn – well, least said the better, but it’s not for me. I think the fact that my stories are plot, rather than character, driven and the fact I write fast-paced, action-fuelled plots push me towards crime thrillers. I love the whole experience: researching, plotting, writing, rewriting, editing and I get a real buzz out of creating complex narratives with lots of twists and turns. I’ve recently completed a Forensic Science course with the Open University to improve my knowledge of pathology and scene of crimes among other things. And there’s a little bit of the horror fan left in there that enjoys coming up with the occasional gruesome scene. So, in answer to your question, I think the genre may well have chosen me as much as the other way round.

So where can we find your novels?

My ebook and paperback can both be found on Amazon, and the paperback via various independent outlets.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I have a straight crime detective series that I’m working on at the moment and my agent is working hard to get me a traditional publishing deal. In my ‘thrillers with a twist’ genre, the next book I shall launch via Triskele Books at some point next year, will be another novel set on Anglesey about a young boy, Jake, who sees past life details of a boy who lived on the island over a century and half earlier. Through what appears to be reincarnation, Jake helps North Wales police solve a series of gruesome murders.

Last question of randomness! You say you are a curious traveller, where is the most interesting place you have ever found on your travels?

To be honest, the list of places where I want to go is a lot longer than the list of places I’ve visited. I’d like to visit Marrakesh next. But I love NY, have some brilliant memories, and I also found Dubai fascinating for all sorts of reasons. Recently, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Switzerland and I adore Zurich. But as I said, I’ve a list as long as my arm of places I’ve yet to discover!

You can find out more about Gillian Hamer on Twitter, Facebook, her website, and her blog. Thank you for being here, Gillian, any parting words?

Thank you got having me today and I’d love any feedback on The Charter, please contact me via my website.

It’s been great having you here today, thank you for taking part on my blog! 🙂

Sarah Morton hopes dicovering the truth about the 1859 shipwreck of the Royal Charter will silence the demons of her past. 

But, tormented by visions and threats on her life, Sarah fears the ship may claim her as its final victim.

Set along the dramatic and dangerous Anglesey coastline, The Charter is a story of greed and forgiveness — when the treasures of the past evoke the crimes of today.

You can grab your own copy here at Amazon UK, or here at Amazon US.

Good Points

The first thing that hit me with this novel was the drama and beauty of the writer’s descriptions of the rugged Welsh coast. The descriptions were so breathtakingly beautiful I felt I was there, and could hear the waves crashing against the shore. The characters are wonderful, far more than just vivid, they have all their little flaws which make them wonderful, such as Sarah’s father who is slightly eccentric. The pace was perfect, and built up around the mystery perfectly, as the heroine of the story tries to work out the web of clues left behind for her. I also loved that this was not your usual historical thriller, as the paranormal found its way in as well! It created a wonderful melting pot of different styles, that definitely blended together to create something wonderful.

Bad Points

That it ended! If I had to point out any tiny flaws, it would have to be that…..um……nope. I couldn’t find anything wrong with this novel. The only way are not going to like this book is if you don’t like thrillers, or historical novels. And I do.

Overall

I thought it was a fantastic book, and the many clues left and twists and turns had me guessing all the way. I kept trying to second guess the plot, as everyone likes to do with mysteries, and then something else would turn up, and I would be left going, ‘What? How did that happen? Where does that fit?’. The blend of genres is not always successful in every book, but I found it to be perfect within the pages of this one. The characters were full of emotion which shone through the page, and the drama, added to the mystery, was simply amazing.  I wanted to be careful with this review not to give anything away, because I want anyone picking this book up to be as engrossed with what might happen as I was! This was an incredible book, in short, and I would highly recommend it.

I give it…..5/5 stars!

Interview and Review with Shiralyn Lee

Gooood morning everyone! Another Tuesday, and another amazing author interview! Today I have the lovely Shiralyn Lee with me, along with my review of her novel, Pink Crush! Enjoy! 😀

I began to write in 2006. After the frustration of my favourite lesbian shows ending and nothing replacing them I needed to fill the void. My wife challenged me to do something about it so I did. I began to write my own lesbian story with my first book Loving the Pink Kiss. It is mostly based on my life, apart from the immigration scam, and then I turned it into a comedy. After that I wrote Pink Crush, about a female firefighter, this one leans toward the drama section. After that I wrote several shorts and all of my work is erotic. Some stories are based on BDSM, these are explicit. I love writing about sex and when I am asked, ‘why sex’ my answer is, ‘why not!’

Hello Shiralyn, it’s a pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog!

Thank you for the chance to share my life.

As everyone knows in my interviews-random question first! Your first novel is a comedy, do you have any comedic inspiration that you use?

I use life itself, so many funny and stupid things have happened to me and my friends so I took the opportunity to induce them into my book.

Your first novel, Loving the Pink Kiss, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

This book is based on my life, apart from the immigration scam that is. Sarah has drunkenly agreed to go ahead with a marriage of convenience to a total stranger. She meets this stranger at the registry office just before she is to wed them. She is now face to face with a woman, yes that’s right a same sex marriage. Sarah had failed to take in any details. She goes ahead with the scam and then soon realises that she is falling in love with her spouse Robbie. Sarah is a very testing person and has to fight for what she wants as Robbie has a little baggage of her own that she needs to get rid of.

So what inspired this novel?

This novel came about because I grew agitated and frustrated when my favourite lesbian TV shows ended. I had withdrawal symptoms so my wife challenged me and said, “Do something about it then.” Yes that’s right I’m a lesbian if you hadn’t guessed by now. 🙂

Why do you write in the genre you’ve chosen?

Being a lesbian is the main reason but also there’s not that much out there for lesbians. We are starving for lesbian dramas and comedies.

If your book was made into a film, who would play your main characters, and why?

If Loving the Pink Kiss was turned into a film, I would choose Isla Fischer to play Sarah, she just has that same quirkiness about her, and Catherine DeBuono would be a great Robbie as I have seen her in several lesbian roles.

Where can we find your novels?

My books are on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Well a lot more lesbian stories for sure. I am currently working on a football themed story and also an explicit BDSM story that will soon be up for release. I have several other works on Amazon so check out my author page. Vampire Changeling, Pink Crush and The Submissive Scullery Maid seem to be the most popular choices.

Last question of randomness! If you could become a character from any book for a day, who would it be and why?

Well I love all of my characters good and evil but if I had to choose just one then I would choose Danny Cooper from Pink Crush. She is a female fire-fighter going through some dramatic scenarios.  I chose her because I dedicated this book to a female fire-fighter from Vancouver who was killed in a hit and run whilst she drove her motorbike on holiday in India. She was a big part of the gay community when she took part in the pride parade. Even though we never met on a personal level she has left an indent in my heart.

You can find out more about Shiralyn Lee on Twitter, Facebook and Amazon. Thank you for being here, Shiralyn, any parting words?

Please feel welcome to follow me on twitter and chat. I love to talk. Also if you purchase any of my work please leave a review on the Amazon site that you bought it from. Authors crave reviews.

Absolutely true! It’s been fantastic having you here Shiralyn 😀

This full length novel containing 79,000 words is about Danny Cooper; a female firefighter living in London, England. She meets a mystery girl and is instantly attracted to her, but unknown to Danny this girl (Izzy) is keeping a secret. She is a well known actress in her country and is undercover using Danny for research to gain insight into the lesbian world for her next movie. Danny is crushed when she discovers Izzy’s hidden agenda but through unusual circumstances soon finds a new love interest when she meets Sasha. But Danny has to be patient as Sasha has been trying to save her relationship with her girlfriend Deb’s; a girl who Danny has someone in common with.

Grab your copy here at Amazon US, and Amazon UK!

Good Points

I loved the plot in this book. It is definitely not a genre I would normally read, and I admit I was apprehensive as to what kind of story was waiting behind the pages for me. After just a few pages in, I was hooked to the story. Danny to start with seems so fed-up with her life, and the character was raw and there for all to see, which made it more compelling from the first page. The pace was perfect, and unfolded the story scene by scene. I loved the dialogue between the characters, as it was very true to life, full of the usual slang people use rather than being very perfect and stylized, which made the story more realistic. There was also the strange mystery around the Izzy that kept me flicking the pages to find out what was going on! Without giving too much away, the romance that develops is not the one you think it will be! And it was charming to see how well it developed; you could really feel the love building between the two characters, not to mention with the heated sexual tension that built up!

Bad Points

I really hate to have bad points on such a good story, but the novel could really do with some more editing. There were parts that didn’t have commas or breaks for each character, so sometimes it was hard to work out who was talking, and if they were actually talking or if they were talking in their own heads. There were a few apostrophes in the wrong places as well, one at least in a chapter heading. It was a shame, but it really is a great story that could be made better with just a little editing.

Overall

I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, and I was pleasantly surprised! The overall storyline was brilliant, with more than a few twists and turns in it, and the emotions really showed through strongly on the page, especially with the main character, Danny. I also loved Shiralyn Lee’s dedications to Cindy Kampmeinert and her wife, Janice, at the beginning were very touching. I would mark this book down on the editing, which unfortunately I can’t ignore, but I also loved the storyline, and thought overall it was a great book.

So, I would give this book…….3.5/5 stars! I would like to note it would easily be a 5 star, once the editing was taken care of.

Interview and Review with Trish Dawson

Ugh, Monday again, right? But cheer up! You can have something to keep you entertained over that first (fourth?) coffee? Another author interview! Today I have the gorgeous Trish Dawson with me, along with a review of her book, I Hope you Find Me!

Trish was born and mostly raised in San Diego, California where she lives now with her family and pets. She’s been writing short stories and poetry since high school after an obsession with Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’. After over fifteen years of crazy dreams and an overactive imagination, Trish began her first book ‘I Hope You Find Me’ in December of 2011. When Trish isn’t writing, she’s homeschooling her amazing daughter and mildly autistic son, reading whatever she can get her hands on, or enjoying the Southern California sun. As a strict Vegetarian, Trish holds a special place in her heart for animal rights and dashes into the backyard weekly to rescue lizards and mice from her mini-lab/australian shepherd/cocker spaniel mixed dog, Zoey…who is always getting into some sort of trouble.

Hello Trish, it’s a pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog.

It’s a pleasure to be here! Thank you for having me!

As everyone knows in my interviews-random question first! You say you’ve had over fifteen years of crazy dreams-can you remember any in particular?

LOL The problem isn’t remembering them…it’s forgetting them! I read my first Stephen King book ‘It’ when I was 12…the dreams started then. I guess the most influential would have been reading King’s ‘The Stand’. I’ve always been fascinated (and honestly more than a little scared of) the End Of The World. I was a lucid dreamer when I was younger, and even today I remember most of my dreams after having them…which I suppose is why I don’t sleep well.

My friends had to endure countless tales about me being a sole survivor in my dreams…and I still have those dreams, which was part of the inspiration for my first book.

Your novel, I Hope You Find Me, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Of course! ‘I Hope You Find Me’ is the first of a series I’m calling the ‘Find Me’ series. I like to say it’s an End Of The World thriller with a Paranormal twist. If you like post-apocalyptic reads you might enjoy this one. But with that said, I tried to give it a different feel – I mean how many stories are out there about the world being devastated by a natural disaster or a viral outbreak? And rather than have zombies running around…it’s the dead that don’t leave.

I won’t spoil too much of the plot, but the story begins with the main character losing her family to a global viral outbreak, and having to make a choice about what to do now that she and her doggy companion are left alone in the city of San Diego. She decides to move on, and leaves notes everywhere she goes…hoping there is someone else out there that is looking for her. There are a handful of other survivors she encounters, some drama, some romance, some surprises. But the underlying theme is that none of them are truly alone…since the dead are still watching.

I didn’t want to get too much into the scientific aspect of the story, but rather focus on the human (and canine) elements of what it would be like to experience something catastrophic like surviving a major viral outbreak, and losing everyone you ever knew.

So what inspired this novel?

I had been wanting to write a book since I was fifteen years old. I dabbled with poetry and short stories for years and even have several projects that I tried to start…but went no further than the research stage. Why? I’m not really sure…perhaps I had writer’s block for the last decade or so.

But something extraordinary happened last winter, and instead of sitting down with pen and paper and drafting out outlines, creating characters and sketching the plot…I simply had a dream. I woke up the next day and combined it with a story I had already written down in the notebook beside the bed – which is where I jot my dreams down in the morning – and I took those two dreams and combined them. I have to admit I had just finished reading ‘Dark World’ by Zak Bagans and had also been watching ’28 Days Later’ with Cillian Murphy obsessively for about two months (believe it or not, last fall was the first time I had seen that movie…yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that). So anyway, with all of that in my head, I sat down at the computer, and the only thing – the ONLY thing I had written out beforehand was a list of names for my main characters. I knew exactly how the book would start. I didn’t actually move to pen and paper till well into the fourth chapter, when I realized I needed more organization.

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember what inspired you?

I kind of answered this already but I’d like to mention one additional thing. My sophomore English teacher, Mr. Kirk, told me to never stop writing. I wish I had listened to him then, and continued the path that he opened up for me with his creative writing assignments when I was younger, but I know now that I just wasn’t ready. Hopefully wherever he is today, he would be proud that I finally ‘did’ it.

What advice would you give to others who wanted to become indie authors?

Just do it. Sit down and write. No one will ever be able to enjoy your stories if you don’t share them. It really IS that simple.

Where can we find your novels?

‘I Hope You Find Me’ is available as an eBook on Amazon as well as Smashwords. I just completed the process for making it available in print form too through CreateSpace. The print edition should be out this month.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Well! My brain never stops, seriously…I thought that since getting the first book OUT I would be able to clear my mind and take a break. Nope. My brain just filled that empty space with more ideas, which took me to my second project. ‘Dying To Forget’ is the first book of a new series called The Station. It’s more of a Young Adult book, but with some serious adult content. It’s about a high school graduate who has some unfortunate things happen to her, and she ends up dying, only to wake up and find herself in a place called ‘The Station’. It’s a fantasy for sure, since the world is created up mostly in my head…but it’s ‘different’ and I’m excited for the masses to read it. It should be this fall.

The second book of the ‘Find Me’ series (called ‘Lost & Found’) is under development, and I hope to have this available by next spring…if not sooner. I know that people really want to know what happens to Riley next.

I also have many ideas that are swimming around in my head, so after these two series are completed, I’ll be able to spend more time on them.

Last question of randomness! If you could only watch one film, or read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

WHAT?! Only one?! This is almost impossible to answer. LOL Wow. There are dozens of movies that I could watch over and over, and probably more books that I could read over and over. But my favourites change so often it’s hard to keep up. Too many things come to mind book-wise so I’ll take the easy route and pick a movie.

It has nothing to do with the genre I write either! But I have to watch when it’s on the T.V. and I have worn the DVD thin: Pride & Prejudice (with Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen). The story, the acting, the music, the cinematography. I love it all.

You can find out more about Trish Dawson on Twitter, Facebook and Amazon. Thank you for being here, Trish, any parting words?

Thank you for having me! It’s been exciting to share ‘I Hope You Find Me’ with others, and I cannot wait to continue the journey with everyone…I do hope you find me again.

I’m sure we will! It’s been fantastic having you here. 🙂

Life for Riley ends when her young children die in her arms…victims of a global viral outbreak that claims the lives of everyone she’s ever known. Left to fend for herself with only a dog as her companion, she sets out on a journey to find others, leaving notes everywhere she goes…hoping that one day someone will come looking for her. When Riley meets the handsome yet mysterious Connor on the streets of Downtown San Diego, they form a bond unlike either has experienced before. When the things that go bump in the night turn out to be more than nightmares, the trio sets off for the mountains in search of an isolated resort where they can hunker down, away from the ominous shadows of the dead city streets. The peace and tranquility of the woods isn’t enough to keep the darkness away for long though and soon Riley and Connor are forced to accept that the World and the few people left alive in it will never be the same. The shadows of their past may haunt them forever…threatening to destroy what little dreams they have left of a future unless they fight to stay in the light and never lose their hope.

You can grab your copy here at Amazon US and Amazon UK!

Good Points

Okay, my first thought is that this is a very clever book. On the surface, you might be mistaken for thinking that this is going to be heavily laced with romance, to prop up the rest of the storyline-but it just isn’t true! There was plenty of action and plenty of twists and turns keeping the story alive as it paced along. And I admit I jumped more than once at little sounds in my living room as I was reading this through, as the suspense really had the hairs on the back of my neck up. The characters were brought to life so vividly that you felt you know them, and you could feel their emotions so clearly through the page; Trish Dawson really does know how to twist your emotions in such a way as to be sucked into her book! I also loved that the book was told through Riley’s eyes, as so many books now are told in third person-it really added a new dimension to the story, and made it even more personal to her.

Bad Points

My only bad point was the format that my PDF review copy was in. As it has also been set up for print with Createspace, the pages jumped from left to right. I don’t know if the Kindle version would be the same or not, and although it was strange, it certainly didn’t distract from what is a brilliant story. And I don’t mark books down for poor formatting, as I don’t feel that’s the important part.

Overall

I thought this was an amazing idea! It was so original, and the pieces of the puzzle don’t begin to click together until the very end, and then-bang! It ended and I still wanted more. If you are looking for a story that blends together action, suspense, and perhaps a little romance with a great idea, then this is your book. It is one of my firm favourites now, and I cannot wait for the next one!

I give this book……5/5 stars!

Review of That’s My Story! by G.H.Monroe

Morning all! Just a review today. I picked this up after talking to the author on Facebook; because as you all know, I’m nosy as hell. And I like to try and work out what’s going on inside your heads. And yes, some of you worry me. But on with the review! You can pick up your copy here at Amazon US, and Amazon UK, by the way.

Good Points

There are a good mixture of stories in this collection; some are more touching, some are thoughtful, and some are downright strange. But I enjoyed most of them, they reminded me a little of Roald Dahl’s ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ series. The stories are short, but there is enough information and description for the author to get across their message, which you feel is almost the point of these stories. It is a detailed look at human life, and the decisions that people make-occasionally getting their comeuppance! I thought the descriptions and dialogue were great, both well-paced and with vivid language.

Bad Points

I thought some of the stories were almost a little too short, such as ‘Road Rage’, where you barely had time to let the story sink in before it ended. It would have been nice to see these shorter stories fleshed out a little more to drawn the reader in further. Also occasionally some of the dialogue seemed to move very fast, such as in ‘Just Coffee’, which meant I was left re-reading a few parts again to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.

Overall

I thought this was a great collection of stories, one that had several stories that made you look up and go ‘Awww’, or occasionally ‘Whoa..’ The writing flowed very well, except where the dialogue seemed a little fast, and the descriptions were vivid and realistic without being too flowery or over-thought out. I liked how each story seemed to be an interesting thought that had been developed and drawn out to become a story carrying the same thought. This collection made for very interesting reading, and would be perfect to read in short bursts a few stories at a time.

I give it…..4/5 stars!