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 fiction, FYI, Uncategorized

Love Romance. Want a Soulmate Divination.

Yep, June’s shaping up to be full of love and romance, especially for me as I’m holding a stall this Sunday, 4 June 2017, at the Africa Online Book Fair on Facebook.

I’m talking books (mostly romance), playing some games, and giving away 2 free complete Relationship/Soulmate Divinations to 2 lucky people.

This divination also worked a treat for my #writerstarot when I got the whole plot for the sequels to two of my stories. I’ll be sharing those audio readings at the fair too. My stall is up from 1pm-2pm GMT+2 (unless it’s daylight savings over at GMT, then it’s GMT+1).

So, say hi to me and all the other wonderful writers too. It’s all free, no tickets needed, from 2-4 June 2017. Catch you there!

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

Posted in fiction, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, Uncategorized

Harcourt’s Mountain by Elaine Dodge

Book Review: Harcourt’s Mountain
Author: Elaine Dodge
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Format: novel

I won this eBook in a contest.

In brief:

Harcourt’s Mountain reads like a good frontier mini-series complete with a damaged mountain man; a sensible, sweet heroine; and a supporting cast of colourful characters with generous hearts or dastardly intentions.

The Whole story:

I was surprised to win this eBook. I was even more surprised to find myself thoroughly savouring and enjoying it; surprised because while I often enjoy historical fiction and romance fiction, I don’t often enjoy them together – unless it’s a Judith Merkle Riley or M.M. Kaye. So bravo to Elaine Dodge for this greatly satisfying novel.

Harcourt’s Mountain is set during the gold rush in British Columbia when brides could be bought at auctions, mountains could be won in poker games, and sailors could be press-ganged into sailing around the horn of South America.
Luke Harcourt, ex-navy and now apple-tree grower, buys Hope Booker at a bride auction. Unlike most brides, Hope can’t remember how or why she was on the bride-ship, and only knows that she doesn’t belong there. Unlike most buyers, Luke only buys Hope’s freedom out of pity and to save her life. Time eventually sees the thorny and kind-hearted Luke fall madly for the gentle, spirited Hope. Yet just when it seems their happiness is set to stay, their love is tested in a most arduous way.

What I loved about this story:

The setting is so rich. It was easy for me to dive right into the story again as I read it through my lunchtimes. Dodge’s exploration of the harsh frontier life, especially of the ‘brides’ and their fates was, at times, shocking. But, at the same time, it was these very details and observations which elevates this story, in my opinion.
Hope and Luke make a sweet couple who earn each other’s trust and love in believable ways.

And the supporting characters are all stars! From the Lees with their care of their friends to Mr Samson and his livery, from Adam and his clan to (my favourite) Wolf, the wolf-dog; they all bring a depth to the story and make Harcourt’s Mountain a place you’d want to visit.
The villains are varied, too, with predictable and satisfying motivations.

And Elaine Dodge does great research which makes for great scenes in her story – the mark of a good historical novel.

What I thought could be better:

There are some plot twists which seem a little too contrived. In particular, I thought Hope’s ex-fiance turning up in Silver Birch, of all places, was just a little bit of a stretch. Fortunately, this didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

British Columbia, during the gold rush, was dangerous place for a lady. The Nlaka’pamux have/had a fishing festival, and the wealth of a mountain isn’t always in its minerals or timber.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended to: lovers of:  the movie Gunless, historical frontier stories, and Dr Quinn.

Website       Goodreads       Smashwords   

Posted in fiction, FYI

When Three Million’s A Crowd…

Second Chances are important to me, especially as the people I’m giving them to don’t often realise it. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to slap someone with a wet fish and yell at them, “This is your second chance, you great galumph!”
Fortunately, I can make things a lot easier (and less fishy) for my characters…though sadly, not for me:-)

You see, in my latest story, Vivian and Munro aren’t as good at tip-toeing around issues like me, and as for subtlety…

Truth be told, not many of the characters in Three Million’s A Crowd do have subtlety, after all, most of the story does happen during the filming of a reality TV show similar to the Amazing Race. Which once again raised a very important question for me as a writer (and possibly for most contestants of similar shows) namely: how do you address sensitive and vital issues with the evil-eyed lenses of TV cameras daring you to make a fool of yourself?

Seriously, how would you? And can you think of anything more scary?

Would you:

Avoid that talk all together?
Wait until the cameraman is on a break?
Break the camera or the cameraman…? (OK, that’s mean. Like really mean!)
Duck away from the cameras and have that little talk?

Or is there something I’m missing here? Something I’ve been getting wrong all my life and would have saved me some metaphorical fish? Is there a way to subtly address the vital matter at hand without revealing to an audience of strangers some very private matters? I mean, do you want John and Jane Doe (with their last breaths) telling you what you should have said to win back your beloved in this week’s episode?

My solution as a logical person?
Don’t address vital do or die matters while on a popular reality TV show.

My solution as a writer?
Let the characters lead the way. Let the characters have their say.
Far from subtle…but less messy and much more lucrative for Viv and Munro:-D

Three Million’s A Crowd is a novella available only in the Second Chances – A Love Anthology. You can read an excerpt here, and the first part of the first chapter here.

Posted in fiction, FYI, Recycled Book Reading Challenge, Uncategorized

Recycled Book Review: He Huffed and He Puffed

Here’s my long delayed review. What can I say, when I’m late, I’m really late!

He huffed and He Puffed Barbara Paul cover

He Huffed and He Puffed by Barbara Paul

Mliae over at LifeExperimentblog has a challenge for us bookish and environmentally concerned ones: the Recycled Book Review Challenge. Each month, you are challenged to reach to the highest (or lowest levels) of your bookshelf, withdraw a book long forgotten or beloved, one that was bought from a secondhand/charity shop, dust it loving off, and read and review the book for us. Pingback to LifeExperimentblog and see which other books surfaced this month.

I was looking for a short quick read, one I could lay aside at a moment’s notice. I picked wrong. I found this story quite engrossing and finished reading the book within two days instead of the estimated week.

Barbara Paul – an author I haven’t come across again since I bought this book back in the ‘90’s – has written a solid suspense novel just perfect for a long trip or a cold weekend, especially if you’re going through an ‘80s phase.
I, in all probability, bought this book for its cover; a wolf and a violin, how could I have resisted…

He huffed and He Puffed detaill cover

So what’s it about:

A whodunnit set firmly in the 1980’s with a Sunday afternoon movie cast of characters.

Despicable millionaire, AJ Strode (the wolf), acquires and plunders companies and people’s lives with impunity until he decides to acquire House of Glass.
To get his paws on the controlling stock, Strode has to persuade one of three other stockholders to sell him their holdings.
This proves a greater challenge when he realizes that each of the three are unwilling to sell, especially to him. Even more distressing, all three have just as questionable ethics as Strode, all three have probably murdered before, and all three have never been caught letting their masks slip.

Strode unwisely decides to play a nasty game. He collects evidence to blackmail all three, then invites them to his home for a weekend, allowing only one the option to sell to him and so prevent their crime from coming to light.

Naturally he ends up very dead, leaving us with three solid suspects for the police.

What I like about it:

It was very difficult to like any of the characters in this story, yet I could not stop reading it. I found it well written. I really wanted to see all of the characters reveal themselves and get their comeuppance. And, of course, to see who the killer was, and how they might have gotten away with it.

So, in short, I thought He Huffed and He Puffed has a great suspense whodunnit plot with slightly stereotypical characters who work well in this story because I don’t really care about them…Don’t ask me how, but it works!

Strange fact:

Technology has advanced quite a lot since this book was written and some scenes may not work so well if you don’t take that into account. So, as a writer, it’s made me a little more aware of how to portray technology in suspense/crime stories.

PS. See who else has been recycling reads over here.

Posted in fiction, FYI, Pinime, quotes, Uncategorized

PiniMe: Integrity

Alan Dean Foster quote gender good writing attract

The one and only Alan Dean Foster — writer, educator, adventurer and creator of many of your favourite sci-fi and fantasy worlds —  is the guest of this week’s interview for my sci-fi/fantasy feature over at InBetweener.

You can read my interview with Alan Dean Foster here.

I chose this quote to share with you because:

So many writers are writing to someone else’s prescription, when all they have to do is write what the story demands. That way lies integrity. That way  makes you good enough, if only to your own worst critic — yourself.

How do you define integrity in your art and writing?