Posted in book review, FYI, TBR, Uncategorized

TBR Love October-November 2020 Part One

It’s the time of the year to show your TBR some love and find a new fave author or two! I’ve found four new authors I now really enjoy and you’ll find their books scattered throughout the TBR posts.

To help you find your new fave reads and authors, I’ve joined with a few fantasy and science-fiction writers in three Prolific giveaways. Bet you’ll find something that tickles your fancy in these collections. All of us authors would appreciate reviews on our eBooks if you could spare the time and enjoyed the read.

And if you’re wondering what my own little freebie for fantasy-lovers is, it’s my newest short story collection!

Read on to find the first two giveaways in time for your Halloween weekend. There’s another giveaway in November, so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

Enjoy!

Giveaways!

You Should See Me In A Crown

The Prolific Works team is proud to present the You Should See Me In A Crown Group Giveaway! This giveaway has all types of fantasy and paranormal books. Claim as many as you’d like and enjoy your new reads!


Trick-Or-Read

Happy Halloween! This Trick-Or-Read Group Giveaway is hosted by the Prolific Works team and has books from all genres, so there’s something here for everyone. You can claim as many as you’d like and enjoy your new reads!


Little Known,
Highly Recommended

Novel

The Identity Thief (YA Fantasy)
Alex Bryant

Despite its at time horrific and other triggers, this story gripped and amused me throughout in much the same manner as Lemony Snickets and Ben Aaronovitch’s work. Set in London in a world where magic is real yet mostly illusion, and drawing from ancient Greek philosophies and theatre, an intricate plot twists and turns around a traumatised boy, a girl whose mother is a magic crimes investigator and an unempathetic mimic who uses grimoires to cause havoc. The pace was perfect, the humour well placed, and the plot twists and turns in an unpredictable. Peppered with social issues and acute observations of tweens and school drama, it makes for a satisfying read for more than YA readers, in my opinion.

Novella

Lou’s Tattoos-A Comedy Of Errors(Crime/humour)
Iris Chacon

If you’re a regular TBR Love reader, who’ll know I loved Iris Chacon’s Finding Miranda. Once again, Chacon delivers quirky, fun characters, understated action and a strongly evoked settings. The story takes us back to the 90’s when tattoos weren’t as common, photography was expensive and involved rolls of 35mm and various ASAs, and annoying fellow passengers on flights were the same. Aspiring photographer and renowned tattoo artist, Lou, gets the chance of the lifetime when her photography break places her next to Galen, renowned nobody-knows-my-face photographer, on a flight he didn’t want to be on. And so the comedy of errors intensifies. It’s a quick, fun, read!

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, TBR, Uncategorized

The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers

For virtual librarians:
Ebook recommendations from my mum
for your older relatives and readers

My mum’s always surprising me. Just the other day, she mentioned she loves reading on her new tablet (her 70th Birthday gift from my Wee Bruv and Kleinsus) and that she now much prefers eBooks to print.

In fact, since the lockdown and mum’s inability to access print from the libraries every week or two, she’s been reading three to four books plus a novella or two every week—yep! Much more than I currently read. So, I thought I’d share some of my mum’s most recommended reads with you in case you’ve also become someone’s virtual librarian. Scroll further for the highly recommended if you’re in a rush as I thought I’d tell you a bit more about my mum and her reading habits first. Or, if you prefer: The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers.

NB: This post contains some affiliate links that keep us eBooks.

First: the technical stuff

Mum’s on android, so I downloaded Lithium from the GooglePlay store for her. She’s had no complaints. I’ve set the background to the one that looks like parchment or a standard paperback page, kept the font as standard black and made the font slightly larger than usual. She uses the grid view with the recently opened showing first. Sometimes, she forgets to scroll down when looking for a new book to read, but that’s okay.
She began reading eBooks on her phone a few years ago, but between the battery drain and having to hold the powerbank while she read sometimes, it wasn’t ideal. Enter Wee Bruv and Kleinsus with the tablet for her birthday. Mum’s in love with her tablet and the fact that she doesn’t need to recharge it so often even though she reads for at least four hours on most days. Also, she can read during loadshedding and not disturb Dad as much, too. Her tablet has Lithium with the same settings and what excited her a lot was the larger page area. We also set the screen brightness to about 40-45% so she doesn’t burn out her retinas and avoids eye-strain. Plus, this saves the battery, too.

Next: where mum gets her books

Short answer, me! This is where I turn into the virtual librarian. To be fair, I’ve had practice since years ago when I used to finish work early on Friday and rush over to our local library to grab an armful of books in 30mins or less. It’s kind of like the same process, only this time it’s all digital and I have one or two steps more.

I usually download books from Smashwords and some other sites that offer free and introductory reads (like Prolific), and sometimes I buy an eBook from an author we enjoyed, as long as it’s available for download as an epub. This isn’t ideal, but mum talks to more readers of her age who are more likely to seek out the print and library versions of the authors she recommends, and once mum loves a book, she loves a book. Besides, we can’t afford to buy all the books we’d like to read.
Mum doesn’t read online so that’s another reason to download the books. Truth be told, mum gets overwhelmed and bored by scrolling through the endless covers and blurbs, sorting through the menus and submenus to find her genres and braving the other hazards of finding books that appeal to her in an online store or library. I don’t mind digging for gems for mum as it’s research and often good reading for me, too! Once I’ve downloaded and run a virus-scan (you can never be too careful), I transfer the eBooks to mum’s device.

Mum’s genres

Mystery, crime, adventure, thriller, romantic suspense and family drama. Sometimes she’ll read a horror (not very often), has long since passed the erotic romance phase, and likes a good humorous story especially if it involves pets and quirky characters. We’re talking about someone who grew up reading Agatha Christie and the classics, got stuck in historical dramas in the ’70s, spent the ’80s and ’90s reading Jackie Collins and Virginia Andrews, fought us for Terry Pratchetts and Alan Dean Fosters while reading Jack Reacher novels and Dick Francis from the word go. Mum’s always moved with the times as long as the stories are good. Now she’s bingeing on eBooks. She doesn’t usually read badly formatted or poorly written books, deleting them quickly. I’ve gotta say I’m really proud of mum’s reading habits 😀

Mum’s recommendations
for 2020

Highly Recommended

Author: Wes Snowden
Mum’s most recent bingeing has been the very enjoyable Wes Snowden. We just ‘discovered’ him this year, and she’s already talking to Big Sis (a big Dick Francis fan) about this author. I’ve read one of his books so far and got so engrossed in it that I stayed up half the night to complete the story.
I believe Wes Snowden’s books are also available in print, so you may want to ask your librarian for them.
One Last Move: This is the story I’ve read, the one that had me up half the night. The characters are warm and quirky, yet relatable. The main character is honest and his predicament not one you often find in a print. This is a gentle suspense with a hint of thriller and romance. All in all, an excellent read by mum’s and my standards.
Other books by Snowden mum’s read:
Snowfall In Venice: a novella
White Swan Wishes: Mum enjoyed this one immensely. She loved the humour. When I have a day or two to spare, I’ll read this next.

Author: Camilla Monk
The Spotless Series: I got the box-set for my birthday after thoroughly enjoying Spotless (the first book) as freebie and vowed to read the rest as soon as I could afford it. Mum and I read the series almost simultaneously, so not much work got done over those few days. We had convos around: Which book are you on now? When does March come in again? Did you reach that bit where Island finds out about the bad guy?
Spotless the series has all the elements mum loves: mystery, adventure, action, romance, quirky characters, humour…
Mum’s itching to read Book 5 as much as I am. Maybe for Christmas…

Author: Cecilia Peartree
Death At The Happiness Club: This one mum recommends to senior citizens looking for an enjoyable mystery. It’s part of a series so I’ll keep an eye out for more.

Author: Lizzy Lewis
Cake And Calamity: An easy mystery read that’s worth the time, says mum.

Author: Peggy Webb
The Rules Of Engagement: Another book recommended by mum to other seniors. I believe it’s a romance mystery.

Author: Iris Chacon
Finding Miranda: I read this first and told mum she should read it next. She did. It wasn’t her usual reading, but the quirky, characters and unusual plot and general humor also won her over. I highly recommend this, and mum would recommend it to those who enjoy Carl Hiaasen with less sweary words.

Graham Wilson
This Aussie author was the first that mum read on her screen—one who got her bingeing his thriller/crime series. I haven’t read his stories yet, but they pretty much have mum glued to her screen. She tried recommending him to one of her senior friends who’s still stuck on print and was sad she couldn’t share another good author with a fellow reader of taste.

Recommended

Eric Douglas
Cayman Cowboys: Mum particularly enjoyed the setting and the scuba-diving adventure aspects. I did try reading this and found it a little too slow at the beginning for me, so some patience required in getting to the heart of the story for this one, perhaps.

Sally Berneathy
Death By Chocolate:Mum and I both enjoyed the twists and turns in this mystery. Perfect for a long-weekend or Sunday read.

Connie Shelton
Sweet Masterpiece: Another solid mystery/crime/foodie story that had both of us hooked. An added bonus for me was the focus on art.

And that’s all we have for you, folks! Happy reading to you and the senior members in your family!

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, TBR

TBR Love: September 2019

Just the one review, and some very exciting news about Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores!

Some Very Exciting News!

Want access to positive and thought-provoking speculative fiction? Not to mention exclusive tarot reads no-one else gets…and a free personal reading for that particular question that’s been bugging you.
I have your solution from $2 a month! 😀

Little Known, Highly Recommended

Spotelss by Camilla Monk from Smashwords.com

Spotless (Series #1) (romance, suspense, humor, action)
Camilla MonkA woman named Island (I know, I know) is kidnapped by a hitman with a serious (and I mean serious!) OCD problem. They’re both strangely weird people, who form a strange, but satisfying bond under various intense and upsetting circumstances involving interesting locations, bullets, blood, and various psychos.

Imagine the movie series The Transporter meets Meg Cabot’s romances meets some really great characterisation and plotting…without holes, or its slip showing at embarrassing places, or resorting to predictability or illogical plot-contortions just to keep one cinematic scene intact… I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s fun. It’s brilliant. It’s not for those who love plots-by-numbers types. I can’t wait to read the next one! But I have to. Because work.

Quest for the wholly pale 0 calories
Posted in book review, fiction, FYI, TBR

Freebies, a Sale, and 1 Very Highly Recommended

Here we are in mid-season (Summer/Winter) 2019! There are freebies for your vacations, holidays or those longer-than-usual waits for your cuppa or joe with tourists inundating your usual hangout.

With Quest For The Wholly Pale almost ready to hit your favourite bookstores, I’ve had less than usual time to read for pleasure, so just one extremely highly recommended book by Silke Stein for you. If you read nothing else on the beach this month, I suggest you read this amazing book. But first, about those freebies…

Give-aways

featured image Summer of Love giveaway
A large selection just for you. Books are changing over this long-running give-away so, so visit it more than once.

Love in all it’s forms. E-books and short stories of all lengths. Perfect for the beach or that long journey!
Summer of Love
30th May, 2019 to 1st September, 2019


Romance and Women’s Fiction for all folks.

I Do Romance Group Giveaway
16th June, 2019 to 15th July, 2019
With only 2 weeks left in this give-away grab your romance quick!

featured image Clean Science Fiction Reads
PG-13 rated eBooks to safely recommend to friends, family and maybe even your students*!
Clean Science Fiction Reads
15th June, 2019 to 31st July, 2019
From dystopian to comedic, mystery to epic, find your next science-fiction writer here.
*Ensure each book is suitable for your students by evaluating it first.

Star-crossed, destined, at crossed purposes, those misunderstandings are sure to draw your attention.

Star-Crossed: Mix-Matched Parings of Colleagues, Family, Friends, Lovers or Others – All Genres
1st July, 2019 to 31st July, 2019
Misfit meets social butterfly, rich girl and poor (or is he) guy, frenemies and your work nemesis. They’re all pairing off in unexpected ways.

Smashwords
Summer/Winter Sale
is on!

1 July-31 July 2019
Books from 25%-100% off!
There’s something to expand everyone’s TBR!
https://www.smashwords.com/shelves/promos/1/any/any

Little Known, Highly Recommended

Foam On The Crest of Waves (mystery, family drama)
Silke Stein
This wonderfully written story kept me enthralled, unable to figure out the mystery till almost the very end. Told from different viewpoints, the slow unfolding of the mystery touches on more than just the family tragedy, small town life, coming of age, and environmental issues. It also beautifully evokes the wonders of nature, art, and second chances. Never truly predictable, this story was a joy to read.
I downloaded this story in a ProlificWorks giveaway.

Hope to have more great recommends for you next month, and more on Quest, too!
Meanwhile, have a great summer/winter!

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI

Book Review: Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn + Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth

Author: S Shane Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Format: novella+novel
Series: Anki Legacies: Rob Rogers Hollow Earth Urban Myth Series

I received Advance Reader copies from my writing pal. I took the highly unusual decision to review both books simultaneously because, as far as I can tell, the one is a parallel universe telling of one part of the main story.

In brief:

Cover for Rob Rogers Fights A unicorn by S Shane ThomasRob Rogers Fights A Unicorn is a fun, short romp of a very pulpy nature. To me, it seemed like an X-Files episode (one of those strange, humorous episodes, with a bit of cryptozoology) mashed up with a less likely early episode of Grimm. We have the travelling salesman, the alien overlord (maybe, maybe not), the super-secret terrifying conspiracy group, and a Scully twin (I think). While not everyone’s cup of tea, it will tickle many funny-bones.

Cover for Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth by S Shane ThomasRob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth expands the fun, and tells the whole story of Rob’s gourmet runs: the reason for them, who exactly Shen is, who Agent Fuchs is, and how Pokemon Go can totally set you up for a tumble and hike through Hollow Earth. However, I found the beginning a little confusing at first, as the story did not pick up from the end of Book 0 (Fights A Unicorn), but overlaps some aspects of that memorable night in Book 0. Still, once my parallel universe reasoning came into play, I found it a very enjoyable story.

The Whole story:

Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn is a great introduction to the Rob Rogers series, and a way to get to know Rob’s backstory if you’ve already read A Paleolithic Fable, as I have done. It covers the first meeting of Shen and Rob, and introduces us to Agent Fuchs and her modus operandi. It also tells an unlikely equine love story.

Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth endeared me to Rob. He’s such a good family man, and opinionated, but in a nice, guy-next door way. It was interesting to see Thomas’ take on how such a normal (non-superhero) guy deals with some very strange and dangerous situations. It beautifully illustrates the old saying: ‘Be careful what you wish for.’
For the most part, I enjoyed the humour, and the interaction between the characters. I also loved the callbacks to
A Paleolithic Fable with a Yuwa and his tribe.
I must also confess that while I was slow in reading the first few chapters, the further I got into it, the more and more engrossed I got. Considering I was reading chapters between long-haul flights, and then spent precious catching-up-to-writing time reading this story is a testament to my interest in seeing if the evil guys were going to get their just profiteroles, and how Rob would survive his first UFO flight.

What I loved about this story:

Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: I loved the whole warped X-Files episode feel to it, and I must admit, I didn’t see the equine twist coming. The modern, mundane setting is familiar and the supernatural elements fit in seamlessly. I confess to having a soft spot for Shen and his snarkiness too.

Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: The food and regional delicacies! I also enjoyed Thomas’ characterization, in particular Rob’s internal conflict. I also enjoyed Shen’s greater depth, and surprising ‘dudeness’. The action was well written and believable, too. Rob is often out of his depth, and there’s no sudden unbelievable spin to make up for his human limitations, which makes him very easy to relate to.

What I thought could be better:

Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: At times, it can read like a guys-own story, which I thought distracted from the main action going on, but it fits in the old-timey pulpy-feel very well, I thought. I also thought the beginning was a little too long and would have preferred the action to arrive sooner.

Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: Again, I thought the action took too long to begin. Also, if you’ve read Fights A Unicorn first, the overlap in the first few chapters seems contrary and confusing, and it took me a while to adjust.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: Unicorns, and tartan shirts, are not to be messed with. Too much alcohol leads to wild chases through forests (okay, maybe sometimes).

Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: Where to find those regional delicacies, of course! And, as a non-Pokemon player, Pokemon speak.

Rating: 4/5

I Recommend to: Old-timey Pulp Fiction magazine aficionados, DC/Marvel lovers seeking a new universe, foodies with a taste for the fantastic, X-Files and the lighter side of Grimm fans.

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI

Book Review: The Seeing Place

Book cover for The Seeing Place by Aziza Eden WalkerBook Review: The Seeing Place
Author:
Aziza Eden Walker
Genre:
Adult Romance
Format:
novel

I won this eBook in a contest.

In brief:

The Seeing Place is a truly satisfying South African romance. Boy from the township meets savvy older woman with some issues and a secret she thinks will hold him back. Best of all, this modern romance is true to its setting and its people. All in all, Aziza Eden Walker gives us a quick read packing all you’d want from a modern romance, including some great supporting characters and dialogue.

The Whole story:

Thuli Poni, producer and casting director, in dire need of transport and a cool drink, stumbles into a cafe. Sparks fly with handsome Andile, the waiter, who is intrigued by her as much as she is by him. He agrees to whisk Thuli to her meeting. And though both think they’ll never run into each other again, naturally they do–that very evening at the auditions to Thuli’s newest project.
A romance develops, but soon runs into difficulties as they realise just how different their worlds and financial situations are.
Andile may be a prince, but does Thuli need a king? Whether they manage the realities of their whirlwind romance remains the million rand question.

What I loved about this story:

Thuli is so, so sassy. You can’t help but root for her. And Andile is so, so sweet! You can’t help but root for him. The setting, Cape Town—both sides of tracks–is strong and charming but realistic. I particularly loved Walker’s description of Table Mountain in the evening, having once seen the sight myself, which made this story more real for me.

I also liked that the problems facing Thuli and Andile are so relatable and, in my opinion, relatively unexplored in this genre at present (2017). In particular, the complications to a relationship when the woman earns more than her man. Added to this is the age/lifestyle differences faced by Thuli and Andile and the unspoken boundaries individuals need to navigate (even within themselves) in order to move their relationship through to the next level.

What I thought could be better:

I would have liked to have gotten to know more about Thuli by the end of the story. Though we begin with her, and soon switch to Andile’s POV regularly, towards the second half of the story, we have mostly Andile’s POV. While this maintained Thuli’s mystery to Andile, I would have liked to have been in on the secret, too.

I also thought the eBook format could be better. Breaks seem to be missing from some paragraphs or scenes so that the change in POV sometimes confused me. A simple scene break would have been very welcome then.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

I learned it’s been too long since I last visited Cape Town!
I also learned I probably know more about certain South African soapies than I should 😀
But mostly I learned a little bit more about the behind-the-scenes of a professional theatre production and about the lives of actors/drama students when they aren’t on stage.

Rating: 5/5

I Recommend to: fans of How Stella Got Her Groove Back’, lovers of soapies, readers looking for a good, honest romance.

Posted in book review

Book Review: Monkeyboy by S Shane Thomas

Title: Monkeyboy
Author: S Shane Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: novel
Series: LARC1 Anki Legacies

I received a free Advanced Reader Copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed.

In brief:

Monkeyboy is the first in the LARC1 series which is written for tweens and young adults. Despite not reading much YA at present, I found this adventure a fun read. With the usual adult characters relegated to the background, it was interesting to see the kids explore Nibiru and deal with the Anki technology with rather more insight than expected. As usual, Thomas’ universe and humour drew me in. Read my review on Thomas’ Distant Origins here.

The Whole story:

Han was born a regular Liberty monkey on Nibiru. Swallowing an Anki stone has turned him into a boy with some amazing powers and a keen interest in the martial arts. But there’s much he doesn’t remember about his life before becoming the adoptive son of Pringar, the Anki mayor of the LARC1 colony. When his strange origins catch up with him, it’s up to Han and his equally gifted best friends Wisp, Cray and Sita to save Nibiru and the solar system from a tyranny.

What I loved about this story:

In Monkeyboy, the kids are kids with universal attitudes and behavior, though very mature at times. Their reactions are familiar if you’ve been around earthlings of the same age. The plot themes are relevant to both young and adult readers. Thomas manages to capture the enthusiasm, energy and creativity of adolescents who are beginning to grapple with the larger implications and consequences of actions from and around them. I think most kids would love to be a part of this gang of four. I know I would have at that age!

What I thought could be better:

There are times when things get a little too heavy for me during the fight scenes and some of the themes are a little on the dark side. So, for the younger sensitive readers (and parents) you might want to discuss some scenes with them, especially those with the Rakshasa.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

Yep, I’m definitely a fan of Thomas’ Anki Legacies! I got to learn a little bit more about martial arts too. And was reminded once again that some of our greatest philosophies can come out of the mouths of children.

Rating: 5/5

I Recommend to: Kids and adults tiring of the DC world and seeking something new, Kung-Fu Panda fans and Naruto fans.

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI

Book Review: Distant Origins — LARC1: Not so distant Archeology, Mythology and Colonization

Book Review: Distant Origins
Author: S Shane Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: novel

I received a review copy.

In brief:

S Shane Thomas introduces us to the main themes, technologies and characters of his LARC universe in this action-packed and, at times, too fast-paced story. Distant Origins, the first book of the LARC1 series, begins with a human colony and ends with multi-species co-existing and planning for the future. For the most part, I was once again left in awe at Thomas’ imagination, plot twists and his weaving of ancient history, deities, and historic figures into a whirlwind of action.

 

The Whole story:

xdistantoriginscover-jpg-pagespeed-ic-qxvu0qam45LARC1 is the first human colony to leave Earth in the near future, utilising technology gained from the spaceship Atlantis. Two suitable planets are discovered for colonisation: Haran, home to the Pneuma feudal civilisation, and Nibiru which is apparently free of sentient life. The colony settles on Niburu after an abortive contact attempt with the king of Haran, taking two Pneuma children with them.

On Nibiru, the colonists soon discover remains of advanced technology proving the gifted descendants of Pneuma, and that the Anki had built the Atlantis and influenced human history significantly. As the colony settles in, other species abducted by the Anki are found, and technological breakthroughs advance the colonies resources at an astonishing rate. At the same time, the relics of the Anki’s security system are activated, so threatening the existence of humans in that solar system.

Our heroes and heroines find themselved fighting not just for civilization and higher values, but for their lives and loves too.

What I loved about this story:

I was never bored with this action-packed story. The main characters’ open-mindedness and acceptance of all species and cultures (along with their teamwork) was a mental and emotional balm after going through my social media feeds. The technology (especially the LARC1 colony ship with its design and the way it was adapted to serve the colony even on landfall) really intrigued me.

Having read A Palaeolithic Fable first, it was great to get to know more about Bobby, Nabu and the origins of the shugarra. Having Pringar, a non-human narrator, also worked well for me.

What I thought could be better:

While Distant Origins is a fun read, there was much that I thought could be better. I was disappointed that some plot threads were dealt with so quickly and contained the odd inconsistency. I wanted the story to slow down at times so I could digest all the new developments and characters. I honestly wanted this book to be longer, or a series, so I could enjoy the developing plot points and characters more.

And on a technical note, I’d prefer having Pringar’s POV differentiated from others, at least visually.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

I learned that I’m seriously into the LARC universe and Thomas’ stories now. I was reminded of some mythology I’d forgotten. And that I might actually enjoy reading epic sci-fi again.

Rating: 4/5

I Recommend to: lovers of ‘80s/90’s Saturday morning sci-fi and manga, quest-addicted gamers, classic sci-fi and fantasy readers