Recommended Reads: The Bone Wall by D. Wallace Peach

the-bone-wall-ebook

The Bone Wall is a great example of the importance of a book’s cover. I’ve been following D Wallace Peach’s blog for a while and while her books sounded intriguing, there was always another books I’d rather read more. Then she decided to have new covers created for her books (you can read the full story here) and The Bone Wall went from intriguing to must read (yes, I really am that shallow).

The Description

Blue light ripples and crackles as the shield walls fracture. The remnants of a doomed civilization stand vigil outside, intent on plunder and slaves, desirous of untainted blood to strengthen their broken lives. With the poisons, came deformities and powers, enhanced senses and the ability to manipulate waves of energy—lightbenders and fire-wielders.

For those who thrived for generations within the walls, the broken world looms, strange and deadly, slowly dying. While the righteous pray for salvation, Rimma prepares for battle, fueled by rage and blinded by vengeance. Her twin, Angel, bound to her by unbreakable magic, seeks light in the darkness, hope in the future, and love in a broken world.

D. Wallace Peach’s fourth novel combines elements of fantasy and science-fiction into a character-driven adventure. The Bone Wall foretells of a dystopian world where a poisoned planet no longer sustains its inhabitants. Who survives when there isn’t enough for all? Who decides?

The Bone Wall begins three hundred years in a post-apocalyptic future. Precisely controlled communities with forgotten histories thrive beneath protective energy fields…until those fields begin to fail. What happens when the facades crumble and the past’s dark truth is unearthed?

Twins Rimma and Angel share this first person tale of a life unraveling and mending. Both are strong female protagonists who chose opposing paths when thrust in the broken and perilous world. The simplistic lines dividing good and evil blur, and beg the question: Can one survive without the other? What is the secret of their lives that even they can’t comprehend?

If grimdark tales of spiraling destruction and redemption crowd your bookshelf, this fantasy adventure desires a place among them.

The Bone Wall contains scenes which some readers might find triggering.

 

The Review

The Bone Wall is a great book, packed full of ideas played out in a unique fantasy setting. Twin sisters Rimma and Angel live in Heaven, an island of order shielded from the broken world around them by God’s will. Or at least, that’s what they were told. But when the shield fails the twins begin a harsh journey where they discover everything they’ve ever known was a lie, about the world and themselves.

In The Bone Wall, D. Wallace Peach has created a riveting story about fractured people in a fractured world. And what a brutal world it is, with different groups fighting amongst themselves to control what meagre resources remain just to survive. At first the story appears to be a simple case of good versus evil, but it soon morphs into something much more complex as the motivations behind each faction are revealed. This twisting of initial expectations is one of the reasons I loved this book. It is excellent fantasy world-building.

We view this all through the eyes of Angel and Rimma, twin sisters less mirror images of each other and more yin and yang, bound by love but very different in character as they become moulded by the world and their experiences within it. The two both fight against and complement each other as their polar personalities help them both flounder and survive as they are thrown from one set of circumstances to another. And then there is the central enigma of the two, how come to most people only one of them is visible at a time?

It’s safe to say this is not a children’s story. The world Wallace Peach has created is tough, almost Darwinian in nature and the author doesn’t flinch from describing it in vivid, often graphic detail. The Bone Wall is to The Hobbit what Lord of the Flies is to Swiss Family Robinson, but in my view the book is all the better for it. It is also a very cleverly written, with many layers of meaning, especially around the central theme of the bone wall itself.

My only complaint is that there were times when the descriptive language was a little too evocative, bordering on flowery. It didn’t put me off the story but I felt it at odds to the stripped down, brutal world portrayed. This is, however, just a matter of personal taste.

Overall D. Wallace Peach should be applauded for creating a great story in a unique world with compelling characters. If you like your fantasy with grit and are looking for something a little different, I highly recommend The Bone Wall.

 

To buy The Bone Wall from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Bone Wall from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: The Heretic by Lucas Bale

 The Heretic

The Description

Earth is gone.

Centuries have passed since life ended on the blue planet. Humanity’s survivors are now dispersed among distant colonies, thousands of light years from the barren, frozen rock that was once their home.

At a time when power means everything, the ultimate power, the imperium, rests with the Consulate Magistratus. In return for its protection, citizens must concede their rights absolutely. The Magistratus controls interstellar travel, access to technology, even procreation. Every citizen is implanted with a device to monitor their location, health and emotions. Freedom, religion and self-determination are anachronisms. Humanity’s true history survives only in whispers of a secret archive.

Yet there are those who preach a new religion and who want to be free.

In the cold of a winter’s night, a small village is the subject of a brutal attack. A fourteen-year-old boy, Jordi, sees armed men approaching and manages to wake his family. He and a handful of survivors flee into the frozen, snow-covered forest to wait for the preacher who told them their way of life was based on lies.

Shepherd, a freighter-tramp and smuggler, is commissioned to deliver illicit medical supplies to a hostile border planet near the Wall. He is dragged into a fight he does not believe in and a desperate struggle to protect his ship, his way of life and the lives of the persecuted few who seek only freedom.

A revolution is coming…

The Heretic is the bestselling first book in a longer tale spanning four volumes. The award-winning Beyond the Wall series is gripping, epic space opera, written as hard science-fiction. It is the story of humanity’s future and the discovery of the truth of its past.

The Review

If you’re a fan of Firefly and have been itching to get your hands on something similar, you’d do well to read The Heretic by Lucas Bale.

The story starts with a raid on a small village of exiles on a planet close to The Wall, the boundary between the civilised galaxy and the rest of the universe. It’s not clear why the village was attacked but there are hints it has something to do with them following the teachings of a heretic preacher. When Shepherd, a sometimes smuggler arrives at the planet withe supplies for the village just attacked, he finds himself caught up in something much bigger than it first appears.

This story is tight, well-written, with a group of characters that are relatable without falling into standard tropes or clichés. What works especially well is the feel to the book. It’s a great combination of hard science fiction and the lawlessness of a western, and it’s no surprise that Bale acknowledges Firefly as a major influence.

The story is short for a novel but this length suits the story perfectly, allowing it to barrel along at a good pace. I highly recommend this book.

To buy The Heretic from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Heretic from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

My spoiler free thoughts on Star Wars The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force Awakens

When I’m really looking forward to seeing a film I try my best to avoid any mention of it before going to see it. I don’t want to know If people enjoyed it, didn’t enjoy it, and I certainly don’t want to know any plot details. In this post I won’t mention any plot points or give anything away, however I will mention how it made me feel. If this is too much for you, please stop reading now and come back once you’ve seen the film.

I mean it, this is your very last chance.

Good, then let me begin with some context.

I was six years old when I first saw Star Wars in early 1978. It wasn’t the first film I’d seen at the cinema but it was the one that left the greatest impression. My father, having just worked a long shift in the local paint factory, took me and my older sister to our local cinema. My memories of the occasion are a little vague having been blurred by repeated viewings but the main thing I remember is the sheer fun and adrenaline rush of it all. It was all my childhood adventures thrown up onto the big screen but much cooler than what my imagination could conjure up. It was big, brash and exciting. I really wanted to be Luke Skywalker. He was young, handsome, got to fly X-wing fighters and fought with a lightsaber. What was not to like?

My father, meanwhile, slept through the whole thing.

For months afterwards all I did was play Star Wars, and although I didn’t know it at the time, a life-long love affair with Star Wars was born. Star Wars had a major impact on my life in other ways, too. I first became close to my best friend (who became my best man) because he had an X-wing fighter and Tie-fighter toys.

As I got older my I came to appreciate the whole trilogy. My allegiance changed to Han Solo, wishing I could be as cool as him with his rebellious streak and his witty one-liners, and I found myself preferring the darker, more nuanced, Empire Strike Back over both Star Wars and Return of the Jedi. There were some parts of the later prequels I enjoyed but generally they were a disappointment. They were plodding, poe-faced, and took themselves far too seriously. Story and emotion were replaced by CGI special effects and set piece battles; snappy dialogue replaced by long, dull exposition. The films were interesting from a completist’s perspective, but somewhere along the way George Lucas had mislaid his creation’s heart and soul.

With Star Wars – The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams has delivered a film that is fun, funny and exhilarating, and made this middle-aged man feel like a six-year-old again.

From the moment the classic Star Wars text slowly made its way up the screen until the final credits (the one piece of information I will give away is that you don’t need to stay until the credits finish rolling, there’s no sneak clip at the end), I was enthralled.  I laughed, giggled, even let out the odd squee – something a middle-aged man shouldn’t do when attending a cinema on his own – as this unashamedly nostalgic ride progressed. This was the Star Wars movie I’d been waiting for for over thirty years.

It isn’t a perfect piece of film-making – neither were the original trilogy. It is gloriously bonkers in places, breaks many storytelling rules, and there are some parts that won’t hold up well to too much scrutiny, but it does perfectly capture the essence of what made that original trilogy so successful. Finally the moribund prequels are consigned to history. Star Wars – The Force Awakens brings back everything I loved about the original film. It has heart, it has soul, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a cinema for a long time.

The force is strong with this one.

So what do you think? Have you seen Star Wars – The Force Awakens? Did you enjoy it? Are you looking forward to seeing it or are you really not bothered? I’d love to hear from you.

Please keep things spoiler free and respect those that have yet to see the film. I will be moderating the comments more than usual.

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

Recommended Reads: Forbidden Alliance by Katrina Mountfort

Forbidden Alliance

Disclaimer: I’ve got to know Katrina Mountfort through social media and she has written some very lovely reviews of my books. This has had no influence on my review but as a reader you I feel this is something of which you need to be aware.

The Description

The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. In Forbidden Alliance, the second book of the trilogy, more than sixteen years have passed since Caia and Mac, now renamed Cathy and Michael, fled their oppressive lives, although the plight of those who remain in the Citidomes is never far from their minds.
Cathy and Michael now have three children and Citidome life is a distant memory. But for Cathy, village life is no longer idyllic. While Michael is famed as the leader of the Alliance of Outside Communities, she is left holding the baby. When a chance arises for her to fulfil her potential, will she make the right choices? Michael, however, is too preoccupied to notice Cathy’s personal struggles. Heightened security in the Citidomes has resulted in fewer escapees, a shortage of young farmers and a depleted gene pool in the village. While Michael unveils his most audacious plan yet to liberate rebels from the Citidomes, will his devotion to the cause cost him the love of his wife and daughter? And will his plan endanger his life, as well as those of his allies?
Forbidden Alliance is also the story of Cathy and Michael’s sixteen year-old daughter Joy. Fiercely intelligent but with limited career options, she fights against the future her father has planned for her: marriage to village boy Matt. Forbidden from seeing Harry, the nomadic canal-dwelling boy she has loved since childhood, she finds friendship from an unexpected source: BodyPerfect ex-citizen Ryan, whose perfect Citidome looks are less than perfect in the outside world. And her illusions about life in the Citidomes are about to be shattered.
In addition to the issues explored in Future Perfect, the first book of the trilogy, Forbidden Alliance poses additional questions, including those of leadership, family loyalties and whether it is possible to justify the sacrifice of human lives for the greater good.

 

The Review

Forbidden Alliance is the second book of the blueprint trilogy and takes place sixteen years after the events of Future Perfect (you can read my review of Future Perfect here). In it we find out what has happened to Cathy and Michael since they escaped the dystopian paradise of the Citidome into what has turned out to be a far tougher life outside.

While the storyline from Future Perfect is continued, this is very much a coming-of-age tale, predominantly from the perspective of Joy. Through her eyes we see the strain her parents have lived under, trying to balance the survival of the outside communities when faced with an ageing population and low birth rates, alongside the desire to rescue more people from the Citidomes. At the same time, Joy is encountering the turbulent world of love and relationships for the first time, and when that love is at odds with the needs of her family and community, it sets off a chain of events that will change them all forever.

Forbidden Alliance is a really interesting step change from the more straight-forward escape story of Future Perfect. Setting the book sixteen years in the future has allowed Mountfort to introduce more depth to what was already an excellent story. Her handling of the impact external pressure have had on Cathy and Michael’s relationship, and the claustrophobic pressure of living in quite an insular community, is excellently done.

I found myself personally less involved in the love triangle at the heart of Joy’s story but this is more to do with what interests me rather than any fault with the writing, which captures all the earnestness and heartache of young love to the full. I’m sure the target demographic of this YA novel will lap this storyline up.

Overall this is an excellent middle book to the trilogy, bringing in new storylines, adding depth and setting things up nicely for the third and final part. If you are a fan of YA dystopian novels, you really should give this series a try. Recommended.

To buy Forbidden Alliance from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Forbidden Alliance from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf by Nick Bryan

The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf

The Description

“If we get 400 followers, John Hobson will solve that nasty wolf-murder case for free! Fight the thing himself if he has to! #HobsonVsWolf!”

Angelina Choi was only trying to drum up some Twitter followers and make a good impression on her first day interning at John Hobson’s one-man detective agency.

But the campaign went viral and now they have a murder to solve, no money coming in, and an unwilling Hobson faced with battling some enormous beast.

With both follower and body counts rising, can they crack the case without offending everyone or being eaten by a huge dog?

The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is the first case starring Hobson & Choi, a bickering, mismatched detective duo for 21st century London. This book collects the debut storyline of the hit darkly comic crime web serial, extensively rewritten and improved for this definitive edition.

 

The Review

This is a book I shouldn’t have liked. I bought it due to the great cover (it’s designed by DesignforWriters who also created the covers for my books and I saw the book on their Facebook page) and because the premise sounded interesting. However, after the first few pages I realised it was, while not exactly a cozy mystery, something along those lines, and I usually don’t get along with this type of story.

But something strange happened. I read the book in two days, really enjoyed it and I’m not sure why.

The tone of the writing is YA but the subject matter (and the swearing) is a lot more adult, there were times when Choi came out with things that didn’t ring true for a girl of her age, and the suspects had a distinct lack of empathy for the victims that bordered on the pathological, yet it was engagingly written, funny in places and I enjoyed the world Nick Bryan created.

If you’re looking for an easy murder mystery with a modern twist and a unique pairing, I recommend this book.

To buy The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: Malus Domestica by S. A. Hunt

Malus Domestica

S. A. Hunt is an indie author who, while being on the cusp of becoming the ‘next big thing’, still manages to keep his feet firmly on the ground and is happy to support his fellow indie authors. I’ve been meaning to read one of his books for a while as I’ve a soft spot for horror stories, and eventually settled on his latest, Malus Domestica. However, I was a bit worried. I enjoy Steven King’s work enormously and was a big fan of Clive Barker in my twenties from his earliest Books of Blood through The Great and Secret Show, Imajica, Weaveworld and Everville to Coldheart Canyon. Could Malus Domestica live up to being billed in the same company?

The Description

From the award-winning author of the Outlaw King series comes another harrowing adventure in the grand tradition of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Charlaine Harris.

Robin Martine has come a long way.

She’s not your usual college-age girl. More often than not, Robin’s washing a load of gory clothes at the laundromat, or down at the lake throwing hatchets at pumpkins. She lives in an old van, collects swords, and dyes her mohawk blue.

Also, she kills witches for a living on YouTube.

You see, Robin’s life was turned upside down by those hideous banshees from Hell. She spent high-school in a psych ward, drugged out of her head for telling the cops her mother Annie was murdered with magic. Magic from a witch named Marilyn Cutty.

After a 3-year warpath across America, she’s come home to end Cutty for good.

But she’ll have to battle hog-monsters, a city full of raving maniacs, and a killer henchman called the “Serpent” if she wants to end the coven’s reign over the town of Blackfield once and for all.

The Review

You have to have some balls to put your work in the same company as Stephen King and Clive Barker (sorry, I’ve not read any Charlaine Harris), either that, or unswerving confidence in your own talent. My guess with S. A. Hunt it’s a bit of both, and in Malus Domestica I can see why. This is an excellent book, with a strong, character-led storyline that’s as unsettling as a childhood nightmare yet twice as entertaining.

A young woman, Robin Martine returns to her hometown, Blackfield, for the first time in years, finally ready to confront her past. At the same time a father and son, Leon and Wayne, move into Robin’s old home, hoping to start life anew after the death of Wayne’s mother. After a simple walk home from his first day at school goes horribly wrong, Wayne survives due to the kindness of their elderly neighbour, Marilyn Cutty. But Cutty isn’t what she seems, as Robin Martine already knows, because Cutty killed her mother years before, with magic.

In Malus Domestica, Hunt has written a story right up there with the best horror authors. From the slow drip of fear during the opening scene as two Mormons realise they should never have agreed to a meal, through to the book’s bloody denouement, Hunt creates a modern take on an old tale with a cracking female lead.

Robin Martine is a great character, both vulnerable and as hard as teak, lost and alone in the world. but driven by the need to revenge her mother. At Blackfield she is supported by equally compelling characters, her old friend Joel and ex-army vet, Kenway, who slowly provides a balancing compassion to Robin’s relentlessness, plus a whole host more.

I loved the atmosphere Hunt built through the story, gradually pulling back the veneer of normality to show us a community ruled by powers rooted in blood and fear, all the while avoiding the many horror cliches but still sprinkling enough weirdness throughout to make the premise unique. The first half of the book really did have the feeling of a Stephen King novel but by the end it was very much in Clive Barker territory, yet uniquely S. A. Hunt. And it’s funny, too.

While the story gradually darkens as it progresses, there were some wonderful carefree moments as well, especially early on as Wayne makes friends at school and agrees to go out on an adventure. It takes real skill to be able to write both light and dark convincingly, and Hunt handles this well.

The book itself wasn’t perfect, there was a little too much explaining how the powers worked for my liking, and while I enjoyed the Avengers style action with the Order of the Dog Star, I felt their sudden appearance was too convenient and needed a little more foreshadowing. That said, these are minor points and didn’t take away any of the shine from what is an excellent book. For once, the comparisons were well deserved. I don’t think it will be long before authors are selling their books “in the tradition of S. A. Hunt.” Highly recommended.

To buy Malus Domestica from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Malus Domestica from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Top 10 Books on Writing and Publishing

The best artist always looks to improve their craft, whether they are just starting out or have many years of experience. And for those of us who self-publish, we not only have to continually improve our craft, we also have to stay ahead of the game on how to publish and market our work. The good news is that there’s lots of advice out there. The bad news is that there’s lots of advice out there. Finding out what works for you can be difficult. I’ve read many books over the past few years, some were incredibly helpful, others less so.

The problem is that writing is a very individual task. Advice that works for one person will be useless for another. However, despite that I thought I’d share the books that have helped me the most, both with my writing and to help publish and market my books. I hope you find them as useful as I have.

 

Writing

You will notice I’ve not recommended On Writing by Stephen King. This isn’t because it isn’t useful (it is), but because everybody recommends it so if you haven’t read it by now, it’s unlikely you ever will!

Emotion ThesaurusEmotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman

This is an excellent book that helps a writer go from telling to showing. It lists a series of emotions and then lists examples of how it manifests physically, internally, the mental responses it provokes, cues to long-term exposure to the emotion and cues that somebody is suppression the emotion.

I found this incredibly useful when starting out and also after having written for a while and catching myself using the same phrasings on multiple occasions.

To buy The Emotion Thesaurus from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Emotion Thesaurus from Amazon.com click here

 

 

Self-editing for fiction writersSelf-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

This is a great, how-to guide on the steps to go through to edit your own work, whether to get it into shape before passing it on to an editor, or to go on to publish. It helped provided much needed structure when editing my first book and I still follow its principles today.

To buy Self-Editing for Fiction Writers from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Self-Editing for Fiction Writers from Amazon.com click here

 

 

 

2kto10k2,000 to 10,000 by Rachel Aaron

Want to speed up your productivity? This book gives no-nonsense, concise and practical advice on how to improve your daily word count, with the added bonus of also going through the whole writing process to boot. I read it in an afternoon and it was probably the best afternoon’s read I’ve ever had.

To buy 2,000 to 10,000 from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy 2,000 to 10,000 from Amazon.com click here

 

 

 

How not to write a novelHow not to write a novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark

This is a very funny guide to the many mistakes a writer can make when writing a novel. The book is split into sections on plot, character, style, perspective and voice, world building and selling your novel, with excellent made-up examples to demonstrate the points made. While reading this book can be occasionally painful (as in, “my God I do that”) it is always helpful and never patronising.

To buy How not to write a novel from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy How not to write a novel from Amazon.com click here

 

 

 

bird by birdBird by Bird by Anne Lamott

While this book gives good advice, its real strength lies in the very successful Lamont’s openness about her insecurities and fears about her own writing (even now), and the struggles she underwent before becoming successful. By the end you’ll be reassured that the doubts you have about your writing abilities are completely natural.

To buy Bird by Bird from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Bird by Bird from Amazon.com click here

 

 

 

Publishing

Digital2Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

In this newly revised book, Gaughran rakes you through the nuts and bolts of how to self-publish with clear instruction that anybody could follow. It then moves on to how to market your book, and ends with a series of stories from self-published authors who started with nothing and went on to become a success. Then, if that wasn’t enough, come a series of appendices including checklists leading up to and post-publishing, how to set up mailing lists, advice on how to create paperback books and specific support for authors of short stories. If you are serious about self-publishing, you should own this book.

To buy Let’s Get Digital from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Let’s Get Digital from Amazon.com click here

 

 

Lets get visibleLet’s Get Visible by David Gaughran

The follow up to Let’s Get Digital, in this book Gaughran provides clear, concise advice about how to give your book the best chance to be seen through knowledge of Amazon’s search and ranking systems. I used this book extensively when setting up my novels on Amazon and it helped me both understand how Amazon rankings worked as well as made sure I avoided any pitfalls that could have had my books disappear into the black hole of oblivion.

To buy Let’s Get Visible from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Let’s Get Visible from Amazon.com click here

 

 

 

cover-write-publish-repeat-finalWrite, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant

This book was an eye-opener. The good news is that it provides a great guide on the best (but not guaranteed) way to build a self-publishing career. The bad news is that there are no short cuts and no magic beans. It’s all down to working hard, treating writing as a job and producing lots of high quality content.

To buy Write, Publish, Repeat from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Write, Publish, Repeat from Amazon.com click here

 

 

 

10 step plan10 Step Plan to Promote Your Book: Online Book Marketing on Any Budget by Scott Hughes

This book is a quick and easy guide to book promotion. The steps are clearly described and achievable – although step 1 is by far the hardest one of all. The only step I would query is around guest blogs, only because from my experience and the feedback of many other authors, it doesn’t deliver the results that other activities do for the same amount of work. However, this is just one small gripe. There is a little bit of self- (or should I say website) promotion in the book but I have no problem with that considering it was free. Overall, a good simple guide, especially useful for those starting on the self-publishing path.

To buy 10 Step Plan to Promote Your Book from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy 10 Step Plan to Promote Your Book from Amazon.com click here

 

 

your first 1000 copiesYour first 1000 copies by Tim Grahl

This book is all about marketing your book and gives a step-by-step guide to establishing a connection system which will help you sell your first 1000 books. The steps are straightforward but as with many other books I’ve read, a lot of it is down to hard work. However, for the serious self-publisher, this book is a must.

To buy Your first 1000 copies from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Your first 1000 copies from Amazon.com click here

 

 

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

Recommended Reads: Ratcatcher by Tim Stevens

Ratcatcher

This book was recommended to me by Kate from the Roughseasinthemed blog. As she is very discerning about the books she recommends (ahem), I didn’t think twice before downloading it, which goes to show that personal recommendations are always the best way to promote a book.

The Description

Purkiss’s job is straightforward. Track down agents of the intelligence services who are taking kickbacks, committing crimes, or otherwise abusing their positions. And bring them to justice.

Straightforward doesn’t mean easy…

After a renegade British former spymaster, Fallon, is sighted in the Baltic city of Tallinn on the eve of a historic summit meeting between the Russian and Estonian presidents, Purkiss is despatched to investigate, and uncovers a conspiracy that threatens to tear Europe, and the world, apart.

But Purkiss has personal reasons for going after Fallon. Four years ago, Fallon was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Purkiss’s fiancée, a murder Purkiss himself witnessed.

Now, in an atmosphere of treachery and sudden violence, as the countdown begins to a potentially catastrophic conflict between Russia and the West, Purkiss must keep his desire for revenge under control for the sake of the world’s – and his own – survival.

 

The Review

Sent to Tallinn to hunt the man who killed his fiancée, John Purkiss finds himself ensnared in a post-Soviet terrorist plot which if successful, could start another world war. But what can one man do? Quite a lot it turns out, if the man’s name is Purkiss.

As spy thrillers go, Ratcatcher is less Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and follows very much in the tradition of James Bond. It is pure entertainment from the start and the main character, Purkiss,  is an unabashed alpha male fantasy figure. When faced with an easy or hard option, Purkiss will always take the one with most danger, and while the gadgets may be very much based in the real world, the action is pure fantasy. However Stevens while some suspension of disbelief is required, Stevens manages to introduce enough realism for each situation to maintain its plausibility.

The only criticisms I have with the book is that Stevens uses passive voice a lot (a particular bugbear of mine) and I found some of the fight scenes overly descriptive, but none of this takes away from the overall fun you’ll have reading this book. If you’ve read every Bond and are looking for a modern replacement, Ratcatcher is the book for you. Highly recommended.

 

 

To buy Ratcatcher from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Ratcatcher from Amazon.com click here

 

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: My Father and Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard

My father and other liars final for kindle 6 July

I recently interviewed Geoff Le Pard about the writing of his new book, My Father and Other Liars (you can read part 1 of the interview here, and part 2 here). At the time of the interview I was reading the novel, so I didn’t give an opinion on whether I liked it or not. However, I’ve now finished it and needless to say I enjoyed it very much. Here’s my review.

Disclaimer: I know Geoff Le Pard, first through blogging and over time he’s become a friend I’ve met on a number of occasions. This hasn’t affected my review in any way (and he’d be horrified if it had) but I like to be open about these type of things.

The Description

When British freelancer Maurice Oldham saves American scientist Lori-Ann Beaumont from a pack of journalists at a pro-life conference in San Francisco, neither expects to see the other again. But six months on, Lori-Ann is on Maurice’s doorstep, bruised, penniless and desperate to find her boyfriend, Peterson, who has gone missing in England.

Maurice soon realises nothing is as it seems with Lori-Ann. Why is she chasing Peterson; why has her father, Pastor of the Church of Science and Development sent people to bring her home; what is behind the Federal Agency who is investigating Lori-Ann’s workplace in connection with its use of human embryos; and what happened in Nicaragua a quarter of a century ago that is echoing down the years? For Maurice and Lori-Ann the answers lie somewhere in their Fathers’ pasts.

Finding those answers will take Lori-Ann and Maurice from England via America to Nicaragua; in so doing they will have to confront some uncomfortable truths about their Fathers and learn some surprising things about themselves.

The Review

My Father and Other Liars is a thoughtful, thought-provoking novel about the impact parents (fathers in this case) have on the lives of their children, set to the backdrop of tele-evangelism and the medical ethics of cutting-edge genetic research. When Maurice Oldham attends a Pro-life rally looking for a story to prove himself to his absentee father, he soon becomes entangled in a ruthless power-play involving politics, science and religion stretching between the USA, Nicaragua and the UK, with the beguiling Pastor’s daughter Lori-Ann Beaumont at the centre.

As a federal investigation threatens the very existence of the church, and with people being killed to keep their silence, will Maurice be able to get to the truth of the dark secret at the heart of the Church of  Science and Development, or is he being manipulated by Lori-Ann to find her own truth about what happened in Nicaragua 25 years before?

On the surface this is a fast paced, twisty-turns mystery novel with relatable protagonists set in a very believable world of political and religious intrigue, however underpinning it all are the questions around how religion fits into the modern world, the grey ethical  areas at the boundaries of scientific advance, as well as the more human tale of how children’s lives are impacted upon and shaped by the actions of their parents.

One of my fears in starting this novel was that this subject matter could easily lead to a one-dimensional portrayal depending on the author’s personal opinions, yet Le Pard manages to pull together the these themes with great sensitivity, without resorting to melodrama or cliché. It’s a testament to how well Le Pard did this that towards the end of the novel I found myself relating to characters whose own opinions I strongly disagree with, because I could understand their motivations for their actions and beliefs.

There were certain parts of the story I felt were overly complex and for me the jury’s out regarding the second ending, but overall I felt this was a well-written, thought-provoking  mystery with real depth. Recommended.

 

To buy My Father and Other Liars from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy My Father and Other Liars from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: The Pennsylvania Omnibus by Michael Bunker

 Pennsylvania Omnibus

The Description

Young Amishman Jedidiah Troyer is now a traveler. He’s signed up for an emigration program that is colonizing the planet of New Pennsylvania. He just wants to start a farm and homestead on affordable land in a new Amish community. Space pioneering isn’t as easy as it sounds when you’re “plain.” Jedidiah and his new friend Dawn arrive on New Pennsylvania in the middle of a rebel uprising, and TRACE, the resistance group that is rising up against TRANSPORT, has taken on the mission of getting Jed from the City to the Amish Zone. Being a stranger in the old world doesn’t even compare to being a stranger in a new world… a world that is at war and where nothing is what it seems.

The Review

This is a book I kept bumping into on Amazon and I was intrigued by the premise, an Amish science-fiction novel had to be worth a look. I wasn’t wrong.

Jedidiah Troyer is leaving home to set up a new life on another planet, New Pennsylvania. But stepping out from the comfort of a life and community he knows so well becomes the least of his challenges as he finds himself accused of breaking the law before his journey even begins.

I really enjoyed the Pennsylvania Omnibus on a number of levels. The story is well written and I was continually left bamboozled as Bunker skilfully revealed each plot twist, especially in the opening third of the book. There are twists and turns galore and even when you think you have a grip of what is going on, Bunker is happy to pull the rug from under your feet once again.

However, the thing I liked most about the book was the culture clash of viewing a futuristic world through the eyes of somebody who has lived in a culture virtually unchanged in centuries. This juxtaposition of a world view based in the earth and a simple life meeting the challenges of a hi-tech virtual world is fascinating and gives the novel unique flavour.

There are occasions where the book is let down by its original episodic structure, with cliffhangers at the end of a chapter only to be quickly resolved on the next page, but overall this is an excellent book and one I highly recommend.

 

To buy The Pennsylvania Omnibus from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Pennsylvania Omnibus from Amazon.com click here

 

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.