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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

PUBLISHED Lair of Dreams (A Diviners Novel 02) by Libba Bray

Lair of Dreams (A Diviners Novel 02) by Libba Bray
is now published.


You can order a copy of this book from Amazon (International)
You can find out more about the author on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and her website


Book Blurb
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people's secrets, she's become a media darling. It seems like everyone's in love New York City's latest It Girl - their 'Sweetheart Seer'.

But while Evie is enjoying the high life, her fellow Diviners Henry DuBois and Ling Chan will fight to keep their powers secret.

A malevolent force is at large, infecting people's dreams and claiming victims in their sleep. At the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans of nightmare proportions . . .

As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?


You can find the review here

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Available Darkness (Season 1, Episode 4) by Sean Platt and David Wright

Title: Available Darkness  (Episode 4)
Author: Sean Platt and David Wright
Series: Available Darkness (Season 1)
Publisher: Collective Inkwell
Read Type: Author request
Stars: Star Star StarImage from the Silk icon theme by Mark James *'''Source:''' http://www.famfamfam.com/lab/icons/silk/ photo HalfStar_zps439ec261.png

This book can be purchased from Amazon (International) as a full series of 6.
To find out more about the authors please visit Facebook and their Website.
Individually, you can find Sean on Facebook, Twitter and Amazon
Individually, you can find David on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Amazon




Season Blurb
From the writers of the post-apocalyptic smash hit serial, Yesterday's Gone, and Z 2134, comes Available Darkness, a new breed of vampire serial thriller.

The Darkness Has Awoken

FBI Special Agent Caleb Baldwin is on the hunt for a serial killer who has left a trail of burned bodies. One of those victims — his wife. As he gets closer to finding the killer, he falls deeper into an elaborate conspiracy.

A man wakes buried alive with no memory of who or what he is. In his pocket, a note: “Avoid the sunlight and don’t touch anybody.” Now he is being hunted by the FBI while trying to remember his monstrous past. He must control the darkness within before it consumes him and the child whose life he must protect.

11-year-old Abigail was dying slowly each day as the prisoner of a sick man. Until she is saved by the most unlikely of heroes — a vampire with a deadly touch. He is her only hope, and she may hold the key to unlocking the memories of his hidden past.

Past, present, fate, and future are on a collision course as the hours of AVAILABLE DARKNESS are ticking away and a force greater than anything the world has ever seen threatens humanity.

Available Darkness is an epic serialized journey that reinvents vampire mythology with a fast paced, character-driven thriller that blends action, mystery, fantasy, and horror in an addictive, tragically romantic story.


Author Bios
Sean Platt

Sean loves writing books, even more than reading them. He is co-founder of Collective Inkwell and Realm & Sands imprints, writes for children under the name Guy Incognito, and has more than his share of nose.

Together with co-authors David Wright and Johnny B. Truant, Sean has written the series Yesterdays Gone, WhiteSpace, ForNevermore, Available Darkness, Dark Crossings, Unicorn Western, The Beam, Namaste, Robot Proletariat, Cursed, Greens, Space Shuttle, and Everyone Gets Divorced. He also co-wrote the how-to indie book, Write. Publish. Repeat.




David W. Wright
David W. Wright is the co-author of the number 1 sci-fi and horror series, Yesterday's Gone, as well as six other series.

David is also a cartoonist who is working on a children's book.

David blogs about writing and stuff he likes at his personal blog, and about his books at Collective Inkwell.

He lives on the east coast with his wife, seven-year old son, and the world's most poopingest cat.











Review
Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: Some
Sexual content: Some

The authors gave out a free copy of season one of this serial in their newsletter as an apology for messing up details in the previous letter. I decided to read and review this. Despite having the entire first series, 6 episodes, at once in front of me, I will stick to no more than one a week the same as they are initially released in America.

You can find links to all of my review of the series at the Available Darkness Archive


This episode steps back 12 years into John's past, a seemingly normal human one with a human partner. And yet there is something darker hinting from the corners, dreams and midnight painting sessions that seem to be connected to real events. Is John somehow killing in his sleep? Is his partner telepathic or psychic to feel the urge to paint the missing woman?

This episode had a very different theme and pace, allowing us to see John living and loving with very few cares. He seems like a different man, not weighed down by acts he has committed or restrictions of his species. It was bittersweet to read what he had here, compared to what we know will be in his future.

I enjoyed this episode, but felt it was weaker and a bit too much of a theme change, especially after the previous one was left on such high stakes. I hope to see more of the present in follow up episodes or at least some action in his past.


The 411
I was thrown by the change of pace, time, and theme of this episode. I found it hard to reconcile with what I had been reading up to this point. This I think changed my opinion more than the actual writing.

It was nice however, to see a different side to a character who was appearing to get increasingly dark. I look forward to seeing where the authors will take this

I give this episode a 3.5 but round it up to 4 stars for the sake of review sites

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Boy in the Mirror by Tom Preston

Title: The Boy in the Mirror
Author: Tom Preston
Publisher: Inpress Books
Read Type: eARC
Stars:StarStarStarStarStar


You can order a pre-release a copy of this book from Amazon (International)
The book will be released on September 17 2015


Book Blurb:
In January 2011, aged 21, Tom Preston was diagnosed with stage 4 advanced aggressive lymphoma. His chances of survival were optimistically placed at around 40%. This short, autobiographical work tells the story of the fight in the months that followed – but this is no ordinary cancer memoir.

The Boy in the Mirror is written in the second person – so the events in this book are happening to you, the reader, living through the hope, love, suffering, death and black comedy encountered by Tom during the battle to save himself.



Review
Strong language: None
Drugs: Medicinal use
Violence: None (some graphic medical scenes, emotional rather than visual)
Sexual content: None

I received a copy of this novella via NetGalley and Inpress Books in return for an unbiased review.

Please note, any quotes from this book are from a pre-release version and subject to change.


To review this book from the heart is simple. Yet, to open my reviewer’s toolbox (consisting of characterisation, description, secondary character three dimensionality, point of view, emotion etc.) this becomes very difficult. The novel is written in second person, a rarely used perspective, with terms such as “you do this, you feel that, you want this” as if the reader is in the driving seat.

Who the character is is very open to interpretation. Through the entire book I think I learned little more than  the character is a young man, who was in university the year before, with parents, a sister and grandparents. While the treatment is well dealt with in detail, these were kept fairly gender neutral. This allowed me, despite being a woman with a slightly different family setup, to really become the character while I was reading. By large I had to discard my writer’s toolbox, because I realised that this wasn’t relevant to a second person book. Had aspects such as characterisation and description being present I would have had a harder time making the character into ‘me’.

I have spent a lot of time under the care of the NHS in the last decade, whether in hospital, as an outpatient or with them in my home. For people who aren’t familiar with the U.K.’s service, in recent years you can expect to wait a long time, even multiple years for a simple operation. If you are called in quickly for treatment you know it is serious.

They give you a queue-jump. A little red ticket.
‘What service!’ your dad says, half- joking.
You manage a weak smile; the faster they see you, the worse your chances are. Results will take up to three weeks.
They call you at home three hours later.


The plot is kept relatively simple, when the young man sees the doctor at the beginning of the story he is told his course of treatment, which is then followed fairly accurately throughout the book. This allows the book to work on emotions and feelings, to cover the more minor events that happen within the life of a hospital. It also allowed me to forget more about in-depth plotting and scheming of many books. It allowed me to put myself in the character’s shoes. This was all about the feelings from fear to relief, from anger to acceptance, from agony to release. Phrases such as:
Breathe normally.
Breathe normally.
Breathe in and hold your breath.
Breathe normally.

When used within the story, with only one sentence between them, drew me in and had me concentrating on my breathing as  if I was there.

I think the story will resonate strongly with everybody, but I felt it particularly hard because I have spent long spells in hospital away from family, the same as this character. My treatment was far different to this, thankfully, but the minor details, such as the awkward greetings with other patients, waiting for your next dose of painkillers when you can’t concentrate on anything, as well as many other little moments, especially those minor losses of dignity when you can no longer do personal things for yourself.

The story really throws you into the emotions, taking the time to go through one scene of treatment, at times almost second by second. The strain, fear and uncertainty can become yours for a moment if you open yourself up. Yet, despite this it is not an overly depressing book. There are the times of strange reminiscences you have, unusual things you notice and just the day-to-day fascination of life in a hospital and how it changes your perspective on everything.

I felt visitors, whether family or friends, were dealt with especially well. There was just the right mix of awkwardness false  brightness amongst the inane chatter over generic subjects.
The mood is all stubborn optimism and good humour. Your friends seem brittle but brave all at once.

As the book ramps towards the end it becomes a real heart in your mouth experience. Will the character live or die? What is real and what is hallucinations from medication and illness? The more you put yourself into the book the more you get out of it.

It is a book to take your time with, sit somewhere quietly away from others and imagine yourself there. I would highly recommend finding the time to be alone, and spend some time that way after every reading session. You’ll get a lot more out of it.

I didn’t realise until after I finished this work that is was true life, for me this lent extra poignancy to what I had experienced.

The 411
Regardless of whether I reviewed this book from the heart or as a reviewer, the rating and my opinion wouldn’t change. It is beautifully written, draws you in and really makes you a part of the world. Even in the darkness, there were moments of light, making it thoroughly enjoyable.

It is a truly eye-opening look into the world of a cancer patient, but also into the inner workings of the mind and how simple things can change our perspective.

No matter how I look at this it is a very easy 5 stars.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Available Darkness (Season 1, Episode 3) by Sean Platt and David Wright

Title: Available Darkness  (Episode 3)
Author: Sean Platt and David Wright
Series: Available Darkness (Season 1)
Publisher: Collective Inkwell
Read Type: Author request
Stars: StarStarStarStar

This book can be purchased from Amazon (International) as a full series of 6.
To find out more about the authors please visit Facebook and their Website.
Individually, you can find Sean on Facebook, Twitter and Amazon
Individually, you can find David on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Amazon




Season Blurb
From the writers of the post-apocalyptic smash hit serial, Yesterday's Gone, and Z 2134, comes Available Darkness, a new breed of vampire serial thriller.

The Darkness Has Awoken

FBI Special Agent Caleb Baldwin is on the hunt for a serial killer who has left a trail of burned bodies. One of those victims — his wife. As he gets closer to finding the killer, he falls deeper into an elaborate conspiracy.

A man wakes buried alive with no memory of who or what he is. In his pocket, a note: “Avoid the sunlight and don’t touch anybody.” Now he is being hunted by the FBI while trying to remember his monstrous past. He must control the darkness within before it consumes him and the child whose life he must protect.

11-year-old Abigail was dying slowly each day as the prisoner of a sick man. Until she is saved by the most unlikely of heroes — a vampire with a deadly touch. He is her only hope, and she may hold the key to unlocking the memories of his hidden past.

Past, present, fate, and future are on a collision course as the hours of AVAILABLE DARKNESS are ticking away and a force greater than anything the world has ever seen threatens humanity.

Available Darkness is an epic serialized journey that reinvents vampire mythology with a fast paced, character-driven thriller that blends action, mystery, fantasy, and horror in an addictive, tragically romantic story.


Author Bios
Sean Platt

Sean loves writing books, even more than reading them. He is co-founder of Collective Inkwell and Realm & Sands imprints, writes for children under the name Guy Incognito, and has more than his share of nose.

Together with co-authors David Wright and Johnny B. Truant, Sean has written the series Yesterdays Gone, WhiteSpace, ForNevermore, Available Darkness, Dark Crossings, Unicorn Western, The Beam, Namaste, Robot Proletariat, Cursed, Greens, Space Shuttle, and Everyone Gets Divorced. He also co-wrote the how-to indie book, Write. Publish. Repeat.




David W. Wright
David W. Wright is the co-author of the number 1 sci-fi and horror series, Yesterday's Gone, as well as six other series.

David is also a cartoonist who is working on a children's book.

David blogs about writing and stuff he likes at his personal blog, and about his books at Collective Inkwell.

He lives on the east coast with his wife, seven-year old son, and the world's most poopingest cat.











Review
Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: Yes, frequent
Sexual content: One instance, graphic




 
You can find links to all of my review of the series at the Available Darkness Archive


The authors gave out a free copy of season one of this serial in their newsletter as an apology for messing up details in the previous letter. I decided to read and review this. Despite having the entire first series, 6 episodes, at once in front of me, I will stick to no more than one a week the same as they are initially released in America.


This episode had a big explosive entrance, but I felt it was let down by its writing quality. To keep the fast pace of the writing the author's often described complex emotions in one word rather than giving it the richness it deserved by using systems such as show don't tell. However, a couple of chapters in this smoothed out to the writing level I am used to from these authors using phrases such as "hair half as wild as the look in his eyes."

There has been an FBI agent appearing throughout the series I have commented on not being able to connect with him. In this episode I was very pleased to finally make a connection as his story unfolded in a rather dramatic and traumatic way for him. I now look forward to reading his chapters in future episodes, rather than considering putting the book down when I come to them.

I also liked that this episode finally switched to darker tones, showing what the vampires are and what they can do. Having seen this my thoughts about where this series could be going have seriously expanded. I feel like up til now we'd only seen the tip of the iceberg, and there's still more to discover.

For me the one thing that stuck out in this episode as a striking difference to other vampire media at the moment was how it treats children in the line of fire. Rather than suddenly turning into a super ninja with no childhood fears or reservations, Abigail is still allowed to be a scared kid, feeling alone, messing up and ultimately sometimes putting the group in more danger instead of less. I expect her to harden as the series goes on, but I hope it is gradual and for good reason.


Apparently this was the end of part one of the series (I wasn't aware it was in parts) so will be interesting to see how the second part differs



The 411
The writing threw me a bit at the beginning of the episode, however it smoothed out as the story went along. This was action packed, yet it took time to let the characters take a breath and be themselves, not be their situation.

I give this 4 stars
 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

A Fairy Tail and Out of the Bag by Xina Marie Uhl

Title: A Fairy Tail and Out of the Bag
Author: Xina Marie Uhl
Read Type: Author request
Stars:StarStarStarStarImage from the Silk icon theme by Mark James *'''Source:''' http://www.famfamfam.com/lab/icons/silk/ photo HalfStar_zps439ec261.png

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon (International)
You can find out more about the author on Facebook, Twitter and her Blog


Book Blurb:
This light-hearted short story duo is sure to make you smile, chortle, and outright laugh. A Fairy Tail follows the desperate adventures of Sir Craig as he works to rescue his beloved from a fiendish sorcerer. However, Boots, a ragged young man who has a habit of shapechanging into various creatures including a unicorn, is a rival for fair Gregoria's hand. Will Craig rescue Gregoria? Will Boots get to eat apples out of Gregoria's hand? Or will darker forces intervene to keep these lovers apart? 
Out of the Bag is a short short story, but long on imagination. Jason the cop expects a normal day on the force, but a chance encounter on a breaking and entering call changes everything.

Author Bio:
Xina Marie Uhl works as a freelance writer and part-time dog wrangler in sunny Southern California. She enjoys history, hiking, traveling, and attending sci fi conventions where she most certainly does not dress up as a zombie (except for sometimes). Currently, she is working on a series of quirky alternative history stories set in the frozen places of the earth.





Review:
Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: Some, comic
Sexual content: Negligible

I received a copy of this anthology from the author in return for an unbiased review.

This is a short anthology of two stories, but it is big on character.

A Fairy Tail
5 stars
This was a short tale that jumped straight into the action. A knight watches the Princess he failed to gain the love of in a competition, and becomes harassed once more by the shape changer who hampered his effort to get her. The language was over the top in a hilarious way, full of sarcasm and wit and had me grinning at the unfortunate pair. The plot made me laugh as it went back over the many pitfalls (sometimes literally) that happened during the competition, as well as their haphazard adventure in the present to right what they deemed wrong.
I love the twist, I didn’t see it coming at all .

 
Out of the Bag
3.5 stars
This was a very short story, almost flash fiction, which while funny left me feeling like I haven’t fully connected before the story finished. It did make me smile however, and I knew something funny was coming which didn’t disappoint.


There is also an excerpt in the book from another book called “The Cats Guide to Human Behaviour”. This read Almost as a short story of its own, telling about the pitfalls of being a Cat when your owner is rude enough to bring another human into your living space! Having seen what was done in the short excerpt, I reckon the book would also be a good laugh.

The 411
This book was a short, one sitting read. It had me grinning and laughing, an easy read for when you don’t have much time—but I wouldn’t recommend reading it while commuting unless you want people to consider you a laughing fool! For me the humour was perfect, it resonated with the kind of people I’d grown up with; slightly crazy, but great to be around!

I give this book a 4.5 stars adjusted to a 4 for reviewing sites