Interview and Review with Elodie Parkes

Happy Monday all! Aw, come on, it’s not that bad! Especially as today I don’t just have a review, but I have an interview with author Elodie Parkes!

 

I live in Canterbury, United Kingdom. It’s famous for the Cathedral, Chaucer, and there is a UNESCO world heritage site, which includes the ancient ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church. There is also a ruined castle. It’s a pretty place too and the coast nearby is great.

I work in an antiques shop and write. I have two dogs that keep me fit with their need for walks.

I am an indie author now, having tried querying a few years ago to no avail. I decided the eBook was the way to go and at least reach some readers.

I read heaps myself and love movies too.

I write romance, contemporary and erotic with a twist of mystery now and then. I like to make the story unusual in some way, by a quirk in the tale.

 

Hello Elodie, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog! Your newest novel, Millie Reinvented, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Millie Re-invented is about a young woman who suddenly realizes that her husband has not really been kissing her for a couple of years.

Millie is kissed by a young man who works in the same firm as she does at their Christmas party, and the kiss is so different, and enjoyable it jolts her into the realization that she has been kissing her husband but he’s just been taking it. It’s not the only thing he’s been taking.

Millie finds herself assessing her relationship with her husband over the next months as the young man who kissed her at the party starts to pursue her.

The things Millie finds out about her husband astonish her.

She falls into a relationship with the young man, August. He is special and begins to love Millie entirely.

As Millie and August’s relationship deepens so do their love scenes.

There are some fun aspects to this erotic romance when Millie meets August’s friendship group from when they were all in university. There’s an instantly likeable group of women in this book and it’s easy to fall in love with August as a writer so I hope as a reader too. I tell his character journey with tenderness because he needs some healing as well as Millie. It’s a love story.

So what inspired this novel?

I was talking to a young woman who was in the antiques shop where I work and she was buying a little sculpture of two lovers kissing. She said she had to have it because it was so nice to look at, as her husband didn’t even kiss her anymore. I couldn’t say anything I just wrapped the item, and stored the thought until the story burst out onto my laptop.

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 read heaps of books too. Right now I’m reading, Fault Line by Robert Goddard that’s in hardcover, not a way I read many books now, usually they are Ebooks. I am also reading on kindle, a reference book, it’s about marketing.

I read an entire Science fiction series by an indie author last month, just had to read the whole series it was so good. I saw a feature on a blog and that me to it.

Lately when I read romance, which is the genre I write in, I ‘ve been reading paranormal romance just so I have something different to read from the glut of contemporary romance that is out there with basically the same plot, ‘someone meets a billionaire and they have sex’.

My books fall into the category of erotic romance because I do write the sex scenes

graphically and that’s because I want the love the characters feel showing. I write love stories.

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

I find the world harsh. There’s not enough love in it. Lots of people never find love. I write love stories with happy endings to spread a little lightness around.

What is the best part of publishing yourself?

When I was querying a few years ago it was such a cattle market. The publishers and agents holding the electric prod. You can’t have this and you can’t have that they would say and still do when I look at submission guidelines. I just wanted my stories read and I think if people found my books they would like them. So being able to put my books out there without the waiting and the general unpleasantness of the traditional publishing route is great. It’s a very fickle world too that of traditional publishing and lately I have thought of some best sellers in the romance genre how the h*** have they been published in the first place. You can become disillusioned when you see this and indie publishing gives you a chance to stay away from the incestuous and capricious traditional route.

If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, who would you be and why?

Wow that’s a question.

It’s hard to answer.

I’d like to answer it first as the female I am. In this case it would have to be Cassie from The Horoscope Writer. She’s a successful artist, very pretty, and Dominic falls in love with her in a forever kind of way. He’s a writer, adorable and hot. It would be nice to have.

If I was to be a guy in one of my stories it would have to be August from Millie Reinvented. He is great looking, healthy, sexy, intelligent, kind, and he’s in a creative job. In my next life I have to be a tall, great looking guy because it’s still their world, I believe, anyway. (Smiles)

Where can we find your novels?

On Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Millie-Reinvented-ebook/dp/B008H5IF7U

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Millie-Reinvented-ebook/dp/B008H5IF7U

http://www.amazon.com/Two-of-Them-ebook/dp/B008RBJXOI

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-of-Them-ebook/dp/B008RBJXOI

 

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

I’ve just released Two of Them, a contemporary romance with a little twist of mystery.

I am currently working on a romance, The Horoscope Writer.

It’s a love story with a tiny twist of the paranormal.

 

You can find out more about Elodie Parkes on Twitter, Facebook and her blog

http://www.facebook.com/ElodieParkes
https://twitter.com/ElodieParkes
http://elodieparkes.blogspot.co.uk/
https://plus.google.com/u/0/100127
http://www.facebook.com/elodie.parkes.1

Thank you for being here, Elodie, any parting words?

Thank you for inviting me Miranda, it’s been lovely to be here.

 

What a fantastic interview from Elodie! Now scroll down to read an excerpt from her novel, ‘Millie Reinvented’, and my review of it!

 

She turned her face up to his and he kissed her again.

Millie was lost in the sensation. Drowning in need, she clung to him, and then as he moved back from her lips she followed them as if she was starving and he was offering food.

He smiled. “I know your name is Millie but I bet you don’t know who I am”.

Millie sought his name from her memory made foggy by desire. She had been on the human resource team that had chosen him from amongst other hopefuls for the new post in the advertising agency. His name was unusual, was it Christmas, or Noel? Then she remembered it was August.

“It’s August isn’t it. You’ve been with us a couple of weeks and you are running that new dog food campaign”.

He smiled again and it put enticing little crinkles by the sides of his dark blue eyes. Millie licked her bottom lip. She wanted to kiss his eyelids.

“So you do know who I am. I’m impressed”, he said softly, and he didn’t mean just about her remembering his name.

Millie smiled and looked longingly at his lips. August knew she wanted to kiss him and emotion flooded his eyes. It was amusement, desire, and kindness all at once. Millie hoped he would kiss her and not that she would have to show her need by pulling his head to hers.

Elodie Parkes Copyright 2012, All rights reserved

 

Millie suddenly realizes that her husband has not really been kissing her for a couple of years.

She is kissed by a young man who works in the same firm as she does at their Christmas party, and the kiss is so different, and enjoyable it jolts her into the realization that she has been kissing her husband but he’s just been taking it.

It’s not the only thing he’s been taking.

Millie finds herself assessing her relationship with her husband over the next months as the young man who kissed her at the party starts to pursue her.

The things Millie finds out about her husband astonish her.

She falls into a relationship with the young man, August. He is special and begins to love Millie entirely.

As Millie and August’s relationship deepens so do their love scenes.

This is an erotic romance with explicit love/ sex scenes and is suitable for 18 +years only. There is no bad or vulgar language.

 

Good Points

Okay, first of all, I want to say that Ms Parkes is true to her word. In a world where love is not always found,  she writes a beautiful love story.  But it isn’t too thick on the romance like some romance novels can be, and the female protagonist, Millie, is not the ‘slappable’ type. She is a normal woman, and very relatable. I did wonder if I  would feel a bit strange about reading this story, as it does involve (in my eyes) a woman cheating on her husband. But first of all, her husband is not all that he seems, and you find yourself rooting for her, and even shedding a few tears. The story flows so well that you will be not be able to stop reading, and you are compelled to read onto the next page. On top of all this, the steamy scenes were hot. 😉

 

Bad Points

There were a couple of occasions where I felt it had been a little rushed, but it didn’t mean any information was left out, so it was still fine to read. I just would have liked to have seen a little more  drama and length put into these parts.

 

Overall

I felt this was a fantastic first offering from Elodie Parkes, and I can’t wait to read her next one! The story was beautiful, and the writing was crisp and well-written. I urge anyone looking for a new romance novel with some steamy scenes to pick this one up, and devour it in one sitting.

I give this novel…….5/5 Stars!

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Review of A Matter of Degree by Beckie Henderson

Happy Friday everyone! I’m sure we’re all already doing the countdown to the weekend, but just wait a little longer! Now get settled with your coffee or tea, and something nibbly, and read on to see my review for A Matter of Degree…..

 

Like a bit of romance? Like a bit of mystery? Then “A Matter of Degree” is for you!

When Katherine Valletta starts her new job at Deerhampton University, it’s clear that this is no normal workplace. Why has someone left an anonymous letter on her desk? Who is the arrogant woman who almost runs her down in that flashy sports car? And, most importantly, what is the story behind the handsome man whose arms she falls into on her way home?

As Katherine attempts to unravel these puzzles, her confidence and her self-knowledge grow, along with her relationships. She builds an unlikely friendship with Diana Woolf, Deerhampton’s tough new Professor of History. Fred Morris, the Admissions Tutor with a penchant for gaudy ties and knitted tank tops, seems like a useful ally. While in the midst of all the mayhem, Maddie Rose is a voice of reason, supporting her colleague Katherine all the way.

And in the background hovers sultry Biology Lecturer Chris Burberry. The more Katherine sees him, the more she likes him. But what does he want? What’s in his past? In fact, what does Katherine really know about him at all?

This witty, light-hearted novel is a great holiday read. Written in bite-sized chunks, it is also ideal for devouring on the move—while travelling to work, or when waiting for your kids to finish their swimming/piano/karate lessons, for example…

 

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

 

Good Points

Chick-lit romance is not normally my genre of choice when reading, but this one sounding so interesting, I thought I would give it a go. I found the writing flowed really well, and overall it was light and witty. The characters were vivid, and the dialogue between them was believable and fun. I especially liked Katherine, the main protagonist. In most romance novels, I end up wanting to slap the heroine at some point, but Katherine was amusing and sharp, and you could empathise easily with her. There is also an added mystery to this novel, which helped to move it along with something other than just the romance, which I found refreshing. I was kept guessing about ‘whodunnit’ the whole way until it was all revealed later on. I also loved the University setting, I thought it was beautifully described.

 

Bad Points

Although it was enjoyable it was such a light read, I personally would have preferred a little more ‘weight’ to the story. But that is just a personal preference, and I understand that people who read this genre regularly would probably like this.  I also would have liked it to be a little longer, I thought parts of the mystery could have been built up more if this was the case.

 

Overall

I thought this was a perfect book for light reading, for example if you were on holiday or just chilling in the garden for the day. I did enjoy it, and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading contemporary women’s fiction, but want the added twist of another genre mixed in. The writing was very good, and I can’t wait to see what else this author comes out with!

I give this novel……4/5 Stars!

Interview, Review, and Giveaway with Jana Oliver and Foretold!

Happy Humpday all! I am delighted to bring you a VERY exciting author interview and review today, as part of Dark Mind Book Tours…..with none other than Jana Oliver! 

Jana Oliver loves to tell stories for both adults and teens. Her young adult Demon Trappers Series (St. Martin’s Griffin) is set in a dystopian 2018 Atlanta populated by Hellspawn, Deaders and scheming necromancers. The award-winning series is published internationally with editions in eight countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France and Poland. Jana’s foray into time travel and alternate history resulted in the multi-award winning Time Rovers Series (Dragon Moon Press). The series won twelve awards, including the Daphne du Maurier for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense, the Prism Award for Time Travel and ForeWord Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for Fiction.

Your newest novel, Foretold, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Foretold is the fourth and final novel in the Demon Trappers Series. The two main characters, seventeen-year-old Riley Blackthorne and twenty-two-year old Denver Beck, are demon trappers and have been through so many adventures fighting Hellspawn while trying to keep the city of Atlanta safe. This is their last big adventure where they must finally deal with the feelings they have for each other while facing the forces of Hell one last time.

 So what inspired this novel?

In the past we’ve had hints as to Denver Beck’s tragic past and in this book we’re finally going to his hometown near Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia. Where that might sound like a good time, it’s a dangerous trip into his past where we’ll meet some old enemies eager to settle the score.

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

I read across the genres, but for the most part I’m an urban fantasy junkie so that means I’m enjoying authors such as Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Kevin Hearne, etc. I’m also a dedicated mystery reader so I often indulge in English murder mysteries.

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

I wrote a few stories when I was younger and then in 1998 someone flipped a switch in my head and I HAD to write. Since I was always making up stories, I figured I’d put them on paper and see what happened.

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

I don’t really think of genre until I’m done with the story. I might plan ahead to have a young adult hero or heroine, but after that the story just comes out however it wants. It’s after the fact that I figure what genre it might be.

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

Being indie is not a ticket to fame and fortune. I’ve been published by traditional publishing houses and self-published. On the one hand you have professionals editing your book, handling the production, promotion and marketing. If you’re indie you do all that yourself and if you skimp on any one of those parts you’ll hate yourself down the line. However, you will learn the business inside and out, because you are, in essence, the publisher.

Also, building your “name brand” takes time. I’ve been working at it for eleven years. It’s the rare indie author who suddenly hits the big time. I recommend that writers weigh the pros and cons of traditional vs. indie and then choose what’s best for them. That choice might change down the line, but go into it with your eyes wide open.

What is the best part of publishing yourself?

You do have complete control over the book. And on the flip side, that can be a big negative because you’re responsible for everything and if something goes wrong, it’s all on your head. 😉

If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, who would you be and why?

Lady Torin – she’s a necromancer who is fond of single malt Scotch and doesn’t take much guff from anyone.

Where can we find your novels?

They are available in local bookshops and at the online retailers.

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

I’m currently working on a couple of book proposals for standalone novels, which I hope to write in the coming year. Both are young adult. I can’t give you details just yet, but both will have my usual action/adventure with a wee bit of romance as well.

You can find out more about Jana Oliver on Twitter (@crazyauthorgirl), Facebook, Goodreads, and her UK Demon Trappers’ website/blog and at her Jana Oliver website. Thank you for being here, Jana, any parting words?

Thank you for having me by!

 

Foretold

Stand by as Riley Blackthorne prepares to kick some serious demon butt for the last time in this thrilling, dramatic and sexy conclusion to THE DEMON TRAPPERS series. Riley’s always known that Denver Beck had a chequered history, but she’s not prepared for what it actually means to be in love with a guy with this many dark secrets. Now that he’s finally admitted to himself that he’s in love with her too, there’s no more hiding the truth about his past. And as it turns out, fending off a demon apocalypse is nothing compared to what’s to come. . .

Where to purchase Foretold:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

Book Depository

Good Points

Now I would like to start by saying I have never read any of Jana Oliver’s previous books in this series, but the first few pages got me hooked-now I have to read the others.  The first thing that gripped me was the main characters. They were strong, well-defined and interesting. I wanted to know more about them immediately, and the dialogue between them was realistic and flowing. I know that some people can hate it when a Scottish character speaks too much ‘stereotypical Scottish’. I disagree, I have lived in Scotland, and some people do use these kind of words a lot! I love it personally when characters have accents written in, it really helps me to hear their voice. The writing was crisp and vivid, and the action scenes (in my humble opinion, one of the hardest things to write) were fantastic, and built the drama up. I loved the overall idea behind the storyline (in this book, and presumably the others, of ‘demon-trapping’), and thought it was original and well-written.

Bad Points

That I need to read the rest! Although that is really a bad point to me. 🙂

While I thought that the main characters were vivid and interesting, some of the secondary characters felt a bit lacking. At time they seemed almost as though they had been put in some of the situations purely for the benefit of Riley, and it would have been nice to see a little more of them doing their own thing-but perhaps this has happened more in previous books? I also felt a little squeamish as the loved-up couple began talking more about their future together further towards the end of the book in such deep terms. The main character, Riley, is quite young, and I’m not sure I would have had that kind of conversation at that age.

Overall

This was a great book that I truly enjoyed reading. I will have to go back and read the rest of the series now, in order to know how it ended where it did! This book was wonderfully written, and kept me bouncing along from page to page. I wouldn’t say it was an amazing book, because of the issues I raised above, but it was definitely a great book I would happily read again.

I give this novel….4/5 Stars!

Now for the giveaway! The part you’ve all been waiting for. Jana Oliver is kindly offering the choice of 1 copy of any of her Demon-Trappers series, in either ebook form or printed copy! (one choice only, please state this) The giveaway will be open until 29th August. There will also be a huge giveaway over at Dark Mind Book Tours, so don’t forget to check it out!

The giveaway has now ended-thank you to all who entered, the winner will be announced shortly!

Interview and Review with Brad Shreffler

Good Afternoon everyone! Grab your lunch, settle into your chair, and enjoy! Because today we have not just another awesome author interview, but also a review with author Brad Shreffler! Enjoy everyone!

 

He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2008 with a degree in business administration, which is obviously working out real well for him since he is a teacher.

He and his wife, Amanda, are high school sweet hearts who got married in 2007.  In May of 2012, they welcomed their first child, a son named Zack, into the world (pictured on right).

As a teacher, he is always looking for a way to challenge and engage his students.  Well known in his school for expecting and encouraging excessive amounts of reading from his students, he decided to give them a new challenge in 2011.  In November of 2011, he challenged his students to do NaNoWriMo, an online challenge to write a 50,000 word or greater novel in one month.  He offered them 20% of their final grade for the quarter in extra credit. In addition, in order to encourage them further to complete the project, he took the challenge himself.

While none of his students completed the challenge, Brad did, and Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames was born.  He also looks forward to completing the sequel to this novel in November of this year.

For more information on NaNoWriMo, or to signup for the 2012 challenge, go here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

 

Hello Brad, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog. Your novel, Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Well, it is about a 15 year old boy, Jack, who has a pretty good life.  His parents are pretty cool, he is pretty popular, does well in school, and is even pretty good in sports.  His only problem is that once a month, his parents force him to go with his family to the Flea Market.  Usually, these trips are pretty uneventful, but this time he buys a pair of bookends that are really intriguing, and passes out the second he touches them.  Eventually, he realizes he has released an ancient evil and a powerful ally, Pharia.

So what inspired this novel?

I am a 7th Grade Language Arts teacher, and last year I challenged my students (for an insane amount of extra credit) to complete NaNoWriMo, an online challenge to complete a 50,000 word novel in one month.  In order to encourage them, I took the challenge myself, and this is what I came up with.

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

I read fiction almost exclusively, but my tastes range from fantasy to sci-fi.  My favourite books of all time are Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher.  I also love the work of Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), Terry Brooks (The Sword of Shannara), and pretty much anything in the Star Wars universe, especially after Episode VI.  I would say that all of these have some level of influence on my own writing, so it makes sense I would write fiction myself.

What is the best part of publishing yourself?

Wow, that’s a good question.  Self-publishing is kind of a double edged sword to me.  It is nice to not have to worry about an editor or publicist trying to change my work, but at the same time, I don’t have an editor or publicist helping me promote and improve my work!  Overall though, I would say that the control that you are afforded through self-publishing is really nice.  The final product is totally your baby, the good and the bad.

If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, who would you be and why?

That’s an easy one: Bucan, my villain.  I had so much fun writing this character because I just got to throw out my conscience and be pure evil.  It would be exciting to have all his power and no conscience for a day.  Not sure what that says about me as a person though…

Where can we find your novels?

My novel is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle, and on BarnesAndNoble.com.  Just search for “Jack Wrimo.”

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

This November I will be writing the sequel to Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames for NaNoWriMo 2012.  After that, I’m not sure.  I feel like delving into the world of zombies since I am training for a zombie 5K and am a little obsessed with the undead.  We shall see.

You can find out more about Brad Shreffler on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and his blog. Thank you for being here, Brad, any parting words?

Thank you for having me here, it’s been fun.  Also, make sure you check out my website, where I am running a contest where you have a chance to become a character in my next book.

 

Now scroll down to see my review of his book!

 

“Ori are a race of beings that are bonded with a natural force present on this planet. When our mother, Earthra, creates a new example of her power, she also creates an Ori to govern that power. I am the Ori of Flame.”

A 15 year old boy, named Jack Wrimo, is an average kid in every sense of the word. He has never been the fastest kid, or the smartest kid, but never the least of them either. That all changes when his family takes a trip to a flea market, and what he finds there changes his life forever.

Jack, along with his ally Pharia, must learn how to control new powers, fight a mysterious evil being, and save his best friend Matt in this exciting adventure.

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

 

 

 

Good Points

First I would like to say that I loved the reason the author had for writing this book. It was incredibly creative, and what a fantastic way for a book to be born! This is a book intended for young adults, and Brad Shreffler has made his main character Jack as exciting as possible, and not just ‘average’. Having said this, he is also relatable, which obviously is a good thing if you’re trying to get teenagers to read! The pace of the story was fairly good, although I felt the first two thirds of the book went at an easier pace than the last third. The characters were very unique, and I thought they were well-described and vivid, although it might have been nice to know a little more about the villain of the piece.  I also thought that although this was a great read for teenagers, it had that slight edge to it, where it went to some dark places, making it more interesting for young adult readers.

 

Bad Points

There was the odd grammatical error, but nothing too bad, and certainly not so much as to stop the reader continuing. I thought, as I mentioned above, that it might be nice if the villain had maybe more of a back story, as he seemed a little flat compared to the other characters. I also felt it tailed of towards the end, losing the pace of the beginning of the book.

 

Overall

I thought this was a great début novel from this author. The story overall is fantastic, the actual writing could do with a little tightening up, and condensing of some chapters. I enjoyed reading it, and thought it would definitely be a great read I would allow any teenager to get into. Although it stayed on a true and tested path, it also had lots of unexpected twists and dives that you never saw coming.

I would give this novel……….4/5 Stars!

Review of Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet by Candy Korman

Howdy folks! It’s officially Thursday, the best day of the week as you realise it’s almost the weekend! But don’t pack up just yet; I have another cool review for you today-Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet by Candy Korman.

 

Willie should be spending the month of July on her honeymoon in Italy, but she is pet sitting for an old mutt and a pontificating parrot in an apartment on Tompkins Square in New York instead. Life has thrown her a curve ball and she regains her equilibrium after she comes to the radical conclusion that the nice looking man next door is …. a vampire!

 

Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet is a comic take on the vampire hunting mythology begun in the classic Dracula. Like Dracula, an epistolary novel, Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet is told in diary entries, emails, voice mails, and the rest of 21st Century communications.

 

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

 

 

 

Good Points

I loved this story-I thought it was very clever, how the author kept you reading until the last page to find out if she was going to be correct about her suspicions. The author also promised me a ‘journey through New York’, and she wasn’t wrong. You delve into the inner workings of a small portion of the city, filled with interesting characters, tango lessons, blood donations and countless cafés and glasses of wine. The descriptions were vivid and alive, really bringing to story itself to life. The main character was as interesting as the rest of the story, as we begin to delve into her mind and how confused it starts to become. You find yourself questioning along with her-is it real? What if that’s true? What to do now? The writing flows very well, and moves at a comfortable pace. I also thought it was great how the author had included several hints towards Edger Allen Poe, Bram Stoker himself, and Oscar Wilde and his Dorian Gray.

 

Bad Points

I thought that the story dragged a little in parts, and although I understand this because of the ending, it would have been nice to have  a little more action in parts. Conversely, the ending was almost too fast. There was a little fact that was found out (that could still have been taken by the main character as a cover up) near the end, and it seemed to race since that. It was almost as though it just needed wrapping up, and no more needed to be said in the story, where I would have liked a little more explained about things; perhaps the story taken in a different route.

 

Overall

I thought this was a really interesting story. It was a different take on the countless ‘Dracula’ inspired stories out there, and was very original. I was hooked from the first page, and couldn’t put it down until I found out—ah! Well, you’ll have to read it to find out yourself, won’t you? The descriptions of the city were amazing, and definitely allowed the reader to escape into a different place, and a different mind-set. I would recommend this story to anyone looking for a quick read that is tinged with hints from a classic book.

I give this story…..4/5 Stars!

Review of Robyn’s Egg by Mark Souza

Happy Hump day all! halfway there, nearly at the weekend. But in the meantime, I have yet another great review for you, this time of Robyn’s Egg by Mark Souza, a futuristic dystopian thriller….

In a dismal future driven by corporations, where most citizens are human billboards focused on status and entertainment, Moyer and Robyn Winfield struggle to attain a baby. Moyer doubts he will make a good father. His wife Robyn, however, is frantic for a child, and Moyer wonders how long his marriage will survive without one. In an age when babies must be cloned and purchased, the high cost almost makes the point moot.

When his wife learns their friends negotiated the price of their baby, she sends Moyer to Hogan-Perko, a corporation with a monopoly on human cloning, to negotiate for their child, and Moyer finds himself face to face with Viktor Perko – The Father of Mankind. The cost for their baby – all of their savings and the promise of a favor. Moyer agrees and is soon asked to spy on Perko’s enemies.

You can grab your copy from Amazon US, and Amazon UK.

 

 

 

Good Points

This book kept me hooked from the first few words. Dystopian novels are fast becoming one of my favourite genres, because of the freedom of imagination they offer. And the author does not disappoint in doing just that with this one. The world is set up over the first few paragraphs, and the tension is felt almost immediately; the unease of this new world settling into your bones. You feel for the main character straight away, and all the characters are believable and crisp. There is also a good balance of description and dialogue, with neither taking centre stage. I also liked how the storyline of this future society ran so closely with our own, bringing in moral issues both spoken about and spoken of less. The writing flowed very well, and was smooth and polished. The twists and turns of the story were fantastic as well, sending the characters on a roller-coaster of events and stomach-flipping falls.

Bad Points

While I enjoyed the story, I felt that it almost wasn’t quite original enough. It would have been nice to see some differences from other dystopian worlds I have read about, rather than lots of the things we have come to expect. I also felt that as the story drew towards it’s conclusion, there was just a little bit too much going on at once to really take in what was happening. It would have been better to take a few things away  and leave it cleaner.

Overall

I thought this was a great read, and another to add to my rapidly increasing selection of dystopian novels. The author has weaved a clever tale with a moral issue at it’s heart, and brought up many of the issues we deal with today. I couldn’t put this book down from the moment I picked it up, and I would recommend this to anyone who loves dystopian futuristic novels, but wants the added twist of an exciting thriller.

I give this novel……4/5 Stars!

Interview and Review with David Menon

Good morning people! I have a treat for you today! Not only do we have a review, I also have another fabulous author interview! Today we have David Menon, author of Fall From Grace, here with us at the blog.

I’m 51 years old, I was born in Derby but I’ve lived all over England including Berkshire, Manchester, and Blackpool. I now live in Paris with my partner John who is a retired diplomat. My mother was English and my father was Indian, my favourite food after French cuisine is curry.
I worked as cabin crew for British Airways for 24 years and for the last 12 of those I was the onboard manager flying on 747 and 777 aircraft around the world and being responsible for a cabin crew of up to 16. One of my ‘claims to fame’ is that I once made a cheese sandwich for the actress Julia Roberts on a flight to Los Angeles, and I once mistook Matt Damon for Leonardo diCaprio.
I’ve always been politically motivated and I joined the Labour party back in 1986. I stood for election twice, once to the European parliament, and once to the Westminster parliament, but although I remain active, mainly in the northwest region, I don’t intend to stand for office again. I left BA in 2009 under a scheme of voluntary redundancy so that I could finally set out to achieve my lifelong ambition to become a writer of crime fiction.    
I love my fictional Manchester DCI, Sara Hoyland. She likes wine, men, and sex, she has an interesting backstory but she isn’t some terribly emotionally injured adulterous drunk that a lot of detectives in crime fiction are. She likes to get the job done and she won’t stop until she feels the truthful result has been achieved. She would have no time for sending the wrong suspect to prison and won’t give in to pressure until she feels the job has been done and the right culprit apprehended. If they were to make a TV series of the books, I’d love Katherine Kelly, who played ‘Becky’ in Coronation Street, to play her.

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

Random question first as always in my interviews! You used to work as cabin crew for BA for 24 years before you became a writer; I bet you met some interesting people there! Do you have any stories for us nosy people?

I do have lots of stories from the 24 years but I’m kind of afraid of being sued! All I will say is that a very famous British TV actor who plays very ‘smooth’ types was once arguing with me at the boarding door because he couldn’t be upgraded to First Class, even though he had no entitlement to First and his justification for ‘needing’ to be upgraded was that he’d spent all day interviewing Sharon Stone. Puh-lease! Actually, a lot of people, not celebrities just regular passengers, try it on with regard to upgrading but I have to say that airline staff, both on the ground and in the air, have heard it all before and at the end of the day, you wouldn’t go into Tesco, pick up a can of baked beans and expect it to be upgraded at the check out to a bottle of scotch just because you fancied a drink! Other than that, there was the white lady who refused to sit in the middle of a group of black people on a flight from Toronto, just because they were black. So I upgraded the black people and left the lady in economy. She was furious because of course she’d wanted the upgrade but I wasn’t going to pander to her disgusting racism. i felt very happy going home that morning. I never experienced any technical emergencies in 24 years but I and my crew did get surrounded by an angry mob of people in a West African country who threatened to take us all hostage if we didn’t allow them on the flight to London. The flights had been overbooked all week and I did understand their point of view but it was probably the scariest moment. I had to negotiate to get us away which wasn’t easy either. But we were okay in the end, thankfully, and they all did get away over the following couple of days.

Wow! Lots of stories then-but we won’t press you for any more, I promise. We don’t need the police back after the other author incident! *wink* So your newest novel, Fall From Grace, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Yes, it’s the first in a series to feature my fictional Manchester DCI, Sara Hoyland. In it she has to investigate the extradition case of a Derbyshire man who’s been revealed as a Nazi war criminal and has been given sanctuary by a woman of similar age who’s the richest titled lady in the land, a fervent Nazi supporter and the owner of Gatley Hall. But the more Sara and her team investigate the more they uncover about the activities of this couple during world war 2 that led to a potentially innocent man going to the gallows for murder in 1940. There is also a connection between the titled lady and a social worker in Salford who’s coming to terms with the loss of his beloved dying father and the fact that he hasn’t heard from his soldier lover Jake, out on a tour of duty in Afghanistan, for weeks. Young girls are also going missing from a local estate and once Sara cracks the link between it all it’s a race to stop any murders happening today as a consequence of what happened ovber 70 years ago’.

So what inspired this novel?

I’ve known for a long time that the British aristocracy, going right up to the then Queen herself, were wanting the British government to make an appeasement agreement with Hitler that would’ve protected the British empire which was the source of their wealth. I was also fascinated by the idea of what would’ve happened if Rudolf Hess had succeeded in negotiating with the British and by a documentary I saw in which some British aristocrats, now very old, still were unapologetic about their fondness for Hitler. I wanted to see how I could match all of that with a contemporary crime story to introduce Sara Hoyland and the story just grew from there.

A very interesting subject to write about. And an important point in history, it’s a great idea you have had to write about it. What books do you normally read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

I read mostly crime fiction because it’s the genre that genuinely excites me the most.

And why do you write in the genre you’ve chosen?

Because the crime fiction genre is best for reflecting everything to do with society. Everything to do with gender, sexuality, rich, poor, privilged, disadvantaged, it can all be covered. I’m interested in ordinary people pushed into extraordinary situations and seeing what they do. I’m also interested in writing for those people out there for whom life never quite works out because of the malicious actions of others.

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

Keep writing, keep at it, keep believing in yourself and your talent. Don’t be put off by anyone or anything. Becoming an indie author means you’ve got control of your work, so put it out there and see what happens.

If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, who would you be and why?

Well I’ve got a character in my book ‘Gypsy’ who is engaged to his fiance until he finally breaks it off because he’s gay. Thirty years later he’s back on friendly terms with her until she finds out that he’s having an affair with her 24-year old son! There’s a small world for you.

I can see that ending only one place-trouble! 🙂 And where can we find your novels?

David’s novels can be found at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords, and Waterstones.

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

Well the second in the DCI Hoyland series, ‘Beautiful Child’, is out now as an ebook and will be out as a paperback in the autumn. The inspiration for this came from the forced migration of children from childrens homes in England to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. Sara has to investigate a series of apparently random murders arouind Manchester that are linked to a Catholic church in Salford where there used to be a childrens home where many were sent from. There’s also a prisoner in HMP Manchester who’s nearing the end of a life sentence for murder and is being given counselling before his release. He has a strong Australian accent so at first Sara doesn’t think he could have anything to do with the murders. But then she starts to think otherwise and when the wife of one of her officers is caught up in it and murdered, she knows she has to crack this one and soon.
I’m also writing the third in the series called ‘Outside the Rain’ which starts off with a terrorist bombing of Manchester’s Piccadilly station when Sara is there with her sister-in-law who ends up being killed in the attack. All the fingers are pointed at a group of Islamic terrorists but Sara isn’t so sure and becomes convinced that British intelligence is hiding something from both her and the public. But if she is going to expose the truth she’s going to have to risk her career for the sake of it.
You can also expect a novel from me in the autumn called ‘Storms’ which is a sort of follow up to my previous novel ‘Gypsy’ and is set in the Derbyshire Peak district. This is a dark tale of the long term effects of child sexual abuse and when one man gets his revenge on his former abuser.
I’ve also got a collection of short stories coming out called ‘Kind of Woman’ which all have a kind of Roald Dahl ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ type ending.
Sara Hoyland will also be back in at least three more stories that i’m planning for her, I’ve got anothere detective series in the planning stages set in Blackpool, and I’ve got a story that is set entirely in Australia which I’m excited about but I don’t want to give too much away at the minute.

Lots to keep you busy for us readers then. And final random question! We all love James Bond, and you say that you think that Daniel Craig is by far the best Bond since Sean Connery, but…..if you could choose anyone else to play Bond, who would it be, and why?

Well if it was today, I’d say Clive Owen because he’s ‘got it’ where Bond is concerned but I’d rather Daniel Craig did at least three more and then they gave it to an actor called Danny Miller who until recently played the part of ‘Aaron’, the troubled teenager on ‘Emmerdale’. He’d be a perfect Bond because he can do mean really well but he also has flashes of emotion and humour which are all important for the Bond role. Even if he didn’t get the Bond role I do think Danny is going somewhere.

You can find out more about David Menon on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Thank you for being here, David, any parting words?

My parting words – ‘Please buy my books and then tell me what you think!

 

And now scroll down for my review of David’s novel, Fall From Grace….

 

Paul Foster is a social worker trying to make a difference. But what links him to an aristocratic Nazi sympathiser accused of harbouring a war criminal? And what has happened to his soldier boyfriend Jake over in Afghanistan? In this, the first DCI Sara Hoyland mystery, the intrepid detective with a murky past enters a long-forgotten world of political intrigue. Long-held grudges and several families’ secrets re-surface to further muddy the waters.

Grab your copy from the links above!

 

 

 

 

Good Points

I thought this was one of the best detective thrillers I’d ever read. There, I said it. It was written with a crisp, flowing style, where not a single word was out of place. The characters were strong and leapt from the page; however, this was a description-driven story, and the characters still shone through. Which moves us onto the descriptions, which were vivid and well-thought out, everything that you needed to see in that one passage. I also loved the basis for the story, I thought it was a great (almost forgotten) part of history to add the the book, and it definitely gave it even more of a touch of realism. The other important point of this book is that it encompassed several of humanities’ social problems, weaving it into the crime story with ease. The twists and turns in this book were amazing, each one leading you to a conclusion that three minutes later was swept away altogether.

 

Bad Points

The amount of twist and turns-and this isn’t really a bad point, but I had to put something. 🙂 I personally love lots of twists and turns, I do it in my own books, but I can see some (very few!) people getting confused by the different sub-plots happening at once.

 

Overall

This is a fantastic start to what I hope will continue to be a great detective series. The writing was perfect, the storyline original and great to follow, the characters were engaging…..everything you want from a good novel and more. I would recommend this novel to anyone who wants a new crime thriller with a twist of something different in it. I thought this book was superb, and I cannot wait to see what else David Menon has up his sleeve.

I give this novel……5/5 Stars!

Review of Sea Change by Paul Fox

Good moooorning everyone! Had your coffee yet? Your toast? Well what are you doing, go and grab it now! And then come back here, settle into your chair, and enjoy today’s book review. Today I’m reviewing Sea-Change by Paul Fox, a fantasy novella.

 

A young bride-to-be, betrayed by her fiancé, escapes her captors and makes use of ancestral lore to change her dismal fate and seek revenge.  By invoking the ancient powers, she becomes, in fact, the son her father never had.  But she has only two weeks, until the time of the new moon, to get back to her home country and confront her betrayer before the spell ends and she becomes a woman again.

 

You can grab your copy here at Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Lulu.

 

Good Points

I loved the descriptions in the novella, especially those of the little world that had been created for it. They were very vivid, and full of rich discoveries on every page. I also liked the use of accents and ‘old’ language in the book; so many authors are afraid to use them for fear of using them to much-or indeed at all. But Mr Fox has done a wonderful job of including them here. The story was interesting, and very original, and it was fantastic to read, the imagination firing throughout the book. The dialogue between the characters drove the story, and was realistic and you could hear the voices ringing through the pages.

 

Bad Points

Although I understand this is a novella, and so a lot shorter than a novel, I still felt it was a little rushed in parts. There were several actions scenes, namely the first few pages, and where Selena jumps from the boat, where I thought it would have been nice to have more tension; in order to create some drama. I also found the naming of the character a little  odd to keep up with. Without giving away any spoilers, I thought it was hard to keep up with one name when the character had changed in a certain way, and then it was a different name again later on.

 

Overall

I thought this was a very original idea, and very imaginative. It was a great story about revenge and the moral compass of this, creating a novella that kept me gripped until the end. I did really enjoy this story, but I felt that the points mentioned above were quite significant, as it made me ‘come out’ of the story a little when it lost drama. I really felt this would have been a great novel instead, if it had been fleshed out more and added to. Overall, it was a great read, and I would recommend it to fans of fantasy for a quick read.

I give this novella……3.5 Stars!

Review of The Amelia Academy: Standards by Paul Mundane

Happy Weekend all! I hope you’re all having a good one, and that you Saturday is as sunny as mine is today! I bring you this weekend’s review, of The Amelia Academy: Standards by Paul Mundane!

Chris Stand was once Kid Standard, sidekick to the most powerful superhuman on the planet. Chris left it all behind him a decade ago, and had happily slumped into obscurity since then. Chris finds himself dragged again into the world of flights and tights, when an ex-villain offers him a teaching position at The Amelia Academy: a school for metahuman youth.

Old friends and enemies rise from Chris’ past. The line between hero and villain quickly blurs. Soon, Chris finds himself defending the academy from a plot to destroy the fledgling school before it can open its doors.

You can grab your copy here from Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Smashwords.

Good Points

I was sucked in from the first few pages, intrigued by the main character of Chris. From the first page, you got the feeling of bitterness and resentment towards his previous occupation. The story was very well-written, nothing skipping or being missed out in the excitement of the story-line. As you all know, I love character-driven books, and this one had more interesting characters than I knew what to do with! I loved that the characters were all so varied, and you could do so much with so many of them being superheroes or villains…but even the characters that weren’t were still engaging. I also thought it was good that a story like this could have been so cheesy, but instead the author has wrote this book in a very tongue-in-cheek style, with a hint of satire, which occasionally had me giggling. The storyline also had a good sense of grounding, this certainly wasn’t the usual ‘good guys always win’ attitude you normally would expect with a story like this.

Bad Points

There were a few typos and grammar mistakes within the book. Certainly not enough to stop me reading, but they were there so need a mention in the requirements of honesty. There were also a couple of points where the dialogue points between  characters were not always that clear, and it would have been good to see this made perfect. I also wished the book was longer! Although in fairness, that is not really a bad point. 🙂

Overall

I thought this was a clever take on a story that otherwise could have just been another fun story about superheroes and villains, but the author turned it into something funny and satirical instead, with a great storyline to boot. It kept me glued from the first page, and although it’s not my usual genre, I definitely enjoyed reading it! I cannot wait to see what this talented author comes up with in his next books in the series.

I give it……4/5 stars!

Review of The Pram by Betty Woodcock

Happy Friday! I’m floating on air today because of a certain ‘site’ reason, but on top of this, we have another great review! Today I am reviewing The Pram by Betty Woodcock!

 

When Carrie buys a secondhand pram for her eagerly awaited grandchild, she doesn’t realise it is a trap, or expect to be terrorized by her own aborted baby seeking vengeance . . . 
And so her nightmare begins . . .
She struggles to hide her revulsion of her scary grandchild, and her fear increases tenfold when it talks to her in her head. Then she begins to see ghosts and is convinced she is losing her mind, and tells no one of her escalating bizarre experiences. When the vindictive blasts of pain in her head coincide with her long-ago lover unexpectedly coming back into her life, she can’t resist asking his advice on how to deal with the weird baby; unfortunately this adds further complications to her problems. 
She has to keep him and the malevolent baby apart, because neither know that he is the father. 

To grab your copy, please visit here for Amazon US, or here for Amazon UK!

 

Good Points

This was such a clever ghost story. Not enough people do ghost stories now, I think because they are worried they will not be able to do an original twist on ghosts-whereas Betty Woodcock has done it.  The blurb didn’t do this book justice, as the chilling twists and turns kept me riveted from the start. Her descriptions were vivid, and believable, as the author did not rush anything, and yet kept the pace bubbling at a steady rate. My heart ached for the main character, and the daughter’s character truly annoyed me, as she was so selfish! But this all points to the author’s talent for creating great characters. The more thrilling aspects of the novel made me shiver and even glance over my shoulder a few times, they were so well written. I think what made this book better, is that Carrie’s outer life seemed so normal, and it was such a contrast to the events unfolding around her-and indeed, inside her mind! This is a very well-crafted novel that flowed so well you didn’t even see events sneaking up on you. On a more sombre note, I also thought the author’s note to her son was very touching.

 

Bad Points

This was another of those wonderful books with no bad points I could see. However, I do think that cover does not do the story justice, and it might be nice to see something that really made it ‘pop’. This did not of course, pull me away from the story.

 

Overall

A fantastic read, and a ghost story to grab now! This novel was a chilling read through the mind and past fears of a woman, and it dipped into moral issues as well as personal issues for the characters, all blended together to create something altogether fearful and deliciously addictive all at once.  Once you pick this book up, you will not want to put it down! Definitely a writer to watch.

I give this novel……5/5 stars!