Showing posts with label YA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label YA. Show all posts

Friday, 12 February 2016

Update from Author John Hennessy / Dark Winter III news / Kobo Books, and New Books from me

Hello everyone.

After a great start to 2016 in terms of my writing goals and hitting them day after day, I hit a bit of bad luck, hard times, call them what you will. In short, it affected my writing and yet as I am writer, I know it won't be a permanent thing.

It could be life's way of saying slow down and focus on some other things. Perhaps. But it's like anything one is into, one has to do it, otherwise, the Cranky Monster will appear. Everyone knows who the Cranky Monster is; it just happens to be different depending on who you are and what you like to do. For most authors, they will feel very cranky if they don't get some writing done.

A lack of writing does not infer a lack of writing focus. In my case, I was finalising tweaks to the concluding segment of the Dark Winter trilogy. There's always mini-errors and omissions that one will find. Over the course of a 110,000 word novel, you bet there are.

Will it be a happy or violently bloody end for Romilly Winter?

However, my process involves viewing it in Word, as a PDF, printing off the entire thing from my own printer, sending it to beta readers, before viewing a proof edition. Even then, I am not finished.

But I am close. The book is available on Kindle via pre-order, with its official release being 21st February 2016. Once I had decided to move the date from October 2015, I felt I could deliver the final edition that I wanted to do. The end will please some, annoy others, but as JK Rowling herself said about the closure of her Harry Potter series, as the author of the work, she was happy. I am too with my own series. And now it is over to the good readers out there to tell the world what they think.

I've already had one review on Good Reads (thank you J Kahele) and I hope more of you will read the book (and the series, because the final book is not a standalone) and up until 21st February, both Dark Winter (I): The Wicca Circle and Dark Winter (II): Crescent Moon can be bought on Amazon for 99c/p each. This changes after 21st February - they will never be 99c/p again.

Kobo. Oh yes, I love Amazon who do help authors a lot to get their name out there, but I am branching out to other platforms too, and on Kobo you can already get Murderous Little Darlings on there, Amazon, iBooks and Nook.

But I will be adding The Ghost of Normandy Road (Haunted Minds I) to the platform in the next day or so, so Kobo users can get it there. But if you can't wait, look it up on Amazon for now.

With Dark Winter III done and basically dusted, fans of my works can look forward to the fifth vampire tale - Reunion of the Blood - which I hope to release end of April. I realise it is nearly a full year since book four - Dream the Crow's Dream came out, but you know I have been busy writing all new works.

March will see the paperback edition of my non-fiction How to Write, Keep Writing and Keep Motivated: Tips for Aspiring Authors book coming out. Kindle version here

So the wait is nearly over for that one.

Currently Writing:-

i) A dystopian tale to thrill and chill you. Anyone who knows me knows how highly I rate George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four, so expect something that I admit was inspired by this work, but will have my own unique take on the genre.

ii) A tale about a writer who plans to quit his successful career to spend the remainder of his years with his wife. Things don't quite work out as planned.....

I am excited about both, but made more progress on the latter. So it is likely that will come out first.

See you next time.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Book Review: The Heir (The Selection, #4) by Keira Cass


Synopsis: Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

Review:  The Heir is easily the best book in The Selection series, and I was surprised as anyone that after the events in The One, that the author would be penning further adventures in Illea. In full disclosure I must state that I found America 'Mer' Singer from the earlier books a so-so MC. Then along comes her daughter Eadlyn in book four and she is totally different. She's brattish, arrogant and spoilt. You might think this is a recipe for disaster especially when her father Maxon proposes a new Selection take place.

The Heir sees the Selection all grown up.

Here is where the author has got it right - in book one it was lacking a dystopian feel, and by the time of The One it seemed to have dropped the pretence that it was ever a dystopian series. The Heir works better in the understanding of the ruling monarchy and its subjects - Maxon only proposes a new round because it keeps the masses distracted.

Isn't that what all governments want for their people? Distraction, control, with the media (state or otherwise) filling the airwaves with bad news.

And it gets worse for Eadlyn, because some of the guys in the Selection do not want to be there at all. There's no fawning over each other with Eadlyn and Kile unlike the protracted Maxon-Mer-Aspen mess.

The Heir sees the Selection all grown up. It's an entertaining read that fans of the first trilogy may deem unnecessary, but I think Eadlyn is by far the most interesting character, and the story is all the more readable for the focus on her.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Book Review: The Elite (The Selection, #2) by Keira Cass


Synopsis (by the author): The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.

Review: I'm not often swayed by a cover. It's usually more about the story. The Selection was one of several books I picked up at the same time. I was in a heavy YA reading phase, and wanted more dystopian, more zombie related stuff.

Of the latter, The Selection has none. The former - well the jury was completely out on The Selection. I didn't feel like it was a dystopian world. There were the odd mentions about how the world of Ilea was ruled, but the clear definition was lacking for me.

The Selection is more a romance than a dystopian book. I have the feeling that HarperTeen knew how to market the book, so with the success of The Hunger Games, mentioning a dystopian world, however lightly, ticked a box. There's a strong possibility the author Keira Cass fully meant to explore this darker side of Ilea in later books, and while I will admit that The Elite begins to develop that side, it is still not developed enough in my view. But this is my own personal wish for the story. If the author wished to go another direction with this, that is her right.

Let's start with what I liked. With fewer girls left in the Selection, we get to know them in more depth. Whilst Celeste is perhaps the best known of the girls after Mer, I was pleased to read more about Kriss and Marlee because I liked them from the first book. 

Maxon did a 180 for me near the end of The Selection. I could not help but call him a paper hat (tw*t) for acting the way he did. This time, he seems to understand the weight of responsibility that being King might actually mean and I liked this development for the character. He needs to be more than eye candy for the girls in my view, and again, the author succeeds.

The story overall is better, and though it ends abruptly, just like book one, the announcement that The One was already slated for release, just made sense. It doesn't get away from my belief that the story is a little too stretched out. But as a second book, it works.

Here's what was less certain. Aspen as a guard, in the palace, no less. He dumps Mer in book one, and it's never clear to me why he did that. I know why I have ended relationships with girls in the past. Aspen's actions are at odds with his behaviour. There is something of the night about him. He is too creepy for me, and as a plot device. seems to have been inserted to make the choice for Maxon and America not so plain sailing.

It's not a love triangle. Maxon also does dark things - going into the different girls rooms and one would have to be dense to know that he was playing them, and Mer, for that matter. I was pretty uncomfortable with that. 

Of course, if we are to take the dystopian world at face value, then this behaviour by the prince should not surprise or shock us. Despots do this. Can Maxon rule absolutely in the future? The rebels, such as they are, seem pretty useless, so I believe Maxon and the monarchy are safe to treat Ilea as their personal plaything.

As the book draws to its close, we are no clearer to understanding Mer. For a main character, I think she is poorly conceived. Celeste and Marlee are far better drawn, and the book is better for it.

Ultimately, The Elite works well as a second book of three. I know The Heir is upon us, but I believed that Keira Cass intended only three books for this story. It looks like it could run and run. Would I be persuaded to read The One? Yes, even though The Elite doesn't offer any real surprises. It's good, solid YA fun. I think unlike The Selection, it doesn't pretend to be anything else.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Book Review: Jordan's Brains (A Zombie Evolution) by J Cornell Michel

Jordan's Brains: A Zombie Evolution

Jordan's Brains has been on my read list for too long, far too long, but like most things we apply patience to, they turn out to be well worth the wait. I hadn't read a zombie tale in about a year, and the trend seemed to be all very samey. Fortunately, the author has stayed away from the old zombie cliches, whilst giving us some rip roaring funny moments, that quite honestly, I never expected.

J Cornell Michel has a real talent for surprise. There are many twists and turns in this story, and like I have said (without giving anything away which would spoil it) this is a fun zombie read with a heart - one which may be handed to you.

It's also rather scary in parts, with 'Resident Evil' type jumps thrown in aplenty. That doesn't mean we really get used to them - the author weaves quite a bit of suspense into the tale and again, if you can see it coming, you're better than me.

Whilst the story itself is good - and the sheer number of reviews on here have covered that already in depth, for me, the real star was the dialogue. It was funny on many occasions, always interesting, and always going somewhere.

"Do you remember anything about being a zombie?"

"Yeah, but I don't want to talk about it."

You could take that as funny, or poignant, but the book is choc-full of dialogue like this.

"If somebody wants cigarettes during the zombie apocalypse, then I should be the one to help."

With more zombie action than you can possibly take a spade to, I recommend you give this book a try. I loved it. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is the best zombie-themed book I have ever read. Pop culture references that seem so forced in some other books I have read are brilliantly placed in this one. I saw Night of the Living Dead on tv - that was enough to scare me. I can't imagine seeing it on a big screen cinema!

I'm off to find a blue t-shirt with 'This is What A Zombie Looks Like". Then I think I'll re-read this book. In short, if anyone recommends this book or indeed this author to you, get it and read it quick. I absolutely loved it.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Three Tales of Vampires: Cover Reveal and Book News!


This is not a new book, but a collection of the first three books in my vampire series. It contains three stories:-

  • Murderous Little Darlings
  • The Blood and the Raven
  • Innocent While She Sleeps
I've created this version for some of you who like collection type stories and it works out cheaper to buy this collection than all three books separately. But sometimes I will do a deal on the books via Amazon KDP. This collection, however, is not part of that, because I would like to promote it on other platforms like iBooks and

This is the Amazon page for the book

You can add it on GoodReads here

Friday, 16 January 2015

Book Review: Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell


Synopsis: We're waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind...Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there's her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn't be there. The girl that died.


Oh boy. Doesn't that cover creep you out? Does the synopsis grab you? For the first third of this book, I was utterly enthralled by this book, which explains its urban legend of the horrid Frozen Charlotte dolls expertly and with great clarity.

Sophie is our heroine, and she spends time at an old house along with her cousins. Prior to this, we learn in the first few chapters of Sophie's encounter with a phone-app enabled ouija board, the use of which has some terrible consequences.

Well, of course horrible things happen. Have you ever known a ouija board not fail to deliver? I had one in the house that I grew up in. How it got there, I don't know. I must ask my mum some time about that. If I had to guess, I'd say my Nan put it there!

Anyway, Sophie ends up at the house with her distant family members, and sure enough, things start to happen.

Most chilling for me was Lilias, who had such a fear of bones, she wants to take a knife to her skin so she can cut the skeleton out. If you got that image, perhaps you can understand the power of author Alex Bells writing. It is good - very good!

I'd advise you look up the legend of Frozen Charlotte for yourself. It is in this where the book's power resonates, and any mention of them in the book sent chills up, down and across my spine.

The book perhaps suffers a little in its length, if only a chapter or two shorter I think it may have been just that little bit tighter. I for one would not want to stay in a house where such freaky things are happening - the piano is a case in point - you'll know when you read it!

As always, well written books like this have a great baddie - and in this book, it is not so obvious who it is.

Let me just say, as horrid as they are, the Frozen Charlotte dolls are not the worst thing in the book. It's a human - and what this person does is horrific and unforgettable.

Frozen Charlotte has the right balance of horror and suspense for a YA level story. I enjoyed it immensely, Thoroughly recommended.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Book Review #31: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins


Mockingjay had some serious living up to do. After The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire, the issue for Suzanne Collins was how to reel readers in for a third time. The possibility of another Hunger Games taking place seemed implausible, and so we are taken on a street level tour of District 13 in this book.

The rebellion appears to be in full swing, but the Capitol have a weapon in the form of Peeta. They use him in the same way that Katniss, for a large part of this book, seems to be used.

Christopher Nolan, director of the Dark Knight trilogy, at first did not want to do a third film in the series. That film, which became The Dark Knight Rises, would have almost certainly featured Heath Ledger's Joker. Given the actor's death, revisions to the script had to be made. 

The general consensus is that 'Rises' is the weakest of the three movies. But I see the series as one whole, and if you look at it in those terms, it's very enjoyable indeed. You have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Mockingjay has this too, and the ending to Catching Fire just made your pulse race harder than anything that was in the first book. Yes, it was that good, in my view. Surely after that, the only way is down? Christopher Nolan didn't want to do the third Batman film because 'how often does the third story beat out the previous ones?'

And he is right. It's so difficult to get the third story in the series right. Mockingjay also seems to have 
polarised many readers, but most seem to think this is a fitting end to the series. Here's my take on it, given I read the book nearly two years ago now, and with the new film coming out, I just had to reacquaint myself with the story.

I had previously rated Mockingjay 4 stars out of 5 on GoodReads. Would this rating stand up?

I recall that my experience mirrored many others. Book 1, read as fast as I could (in my case, 1.5 days - I even wanted to reschedule teaching lessons in order to finish the book!), Catching Fire, best part of a week, Mockingjay....nearly three months.

Was I 'Gamed out' by this point? Had I tired of Panem's situation? No, it wasn't that. The pace of Book 1 and 2 was frenetic, to put it mildly. Book 3, in contrast, was slow, plodding, and yes...a bit depressing. I wanted to know where the spirited Katniss had gone. 

She became one of my favourite heroines in book form, but Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal on the big screen elevated Katniss to something else. That's why I think the film will still be good. Is it really Suzanne Collin's fault that some readers feel let down by the pace of this final book? Most say 'I was expecting something mind blowing'? And of course, that is fair enough.

Another comment was that the publisher pushed Miss Collins to write this third book, one she never intended to write. The whole evolution of Katniss from plucky fighter who replaced her sister in the 74th Games to this inward looking girl, who cannot seem to choose between Peeta and Gale, really irked me.

I know she is young, and she has seen many horrors, but Peeta, though kind to her, was more of the Games's invention - they were star crossed lovers because that's what kept them alive. I never really bought the relationship, and I felt - always - that Gale was closer to her. 

In the latter part of Mockingjay, Katniss still seems very confused, and it's not something I was comfortable with. Maybe it is how the author saw the character growing, but I felt it was a step back. I wanted Katniss not necessarily to be the symbol of the rebellion...after all, anyone could be the Mockingjay, really - it was more that I wanted her to have a happy ending, and I am not sure Suzanne Collins gave us that.

Many of you will have read the series, but on speaking to many people I know, not so many have, so I'll leave the spoilers out.

Ultimately Mockingjay is a case of some missed chances. There's dramatic points parachuted in needlessly, whereas in the first two books, the drama was truly engrossing. These points were introduced in order to make the reader feel some emotion, but I felt a huge disconnect here.

There is one genuine shock I did not see coming, and for those who will just watch the movie, it will be a real high point of the series. 

Catching Fire - the movie, was almost certainly better than the first film. Somehow, I don't think Mockingjay will pull it off. But it will be an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

My rating holds for now.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cover Reveal Day! Dark Winter: Crescent Moon

Cover reveal time!

Well everyone, here it is. The second story in the Dark Winter trilogy is subtitled 'Crescent Moon' and you'll notice that significant things happen throughout the story, but especially when a crescent moon turns up. You need to remember these points as they link to the final part of the story (due 2015)

For those of you who haven't read Book One: The Wicca Circle...get stuck in - I think it's on silly-O-price on Amazon at the moment.

If you like witches, demons, ghosts, serial killers, straight-up horror shocks as well as psychological horror, this is the book you simply have to get. I'm not going to say it's scary, I will let readers be the judge of that. If it scares you in the day as well as the night, I consider my job done! Funnybones are easy to find, but what about your scarebone? It's there in your body...I promise you that!

Continuation, not sequel

The book follows the events of Book One very closely, though the time period of the majority of the book is eighteen months after The Wicca Circle ended. If your favourite character or characters survived Book One, what do you expect from Book Two? Anyway, I hope you'll like it and give an indie your support :)

Please add to your GoodReads pile. I know, I know. You have so many to-read already. But I wouldn't ask unless I thought this was worth your time!

Recommended for...

YA, but don't expect it to be too light. Don't let the pretty girl on the cover fool you. It's paranormal, but not overdone on the romance. There's a story to tell, we need to advance the tale, not hold it back. It's quite adult in parts too. So if one website rates The Wicca Circle as 15 rated, this is certainly 15 and up. Might be even an 18 in some parts. I think it's for everyone except the very youngest of readers.


Final edits for the proof are in the mix now, so expect an announcement for a giveaway soon.

Happy reading!!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Book Review #6: Waterfall by Lisa T Bergren

You can't beat a great fantasy, and this series has all the makings of one. Our heroine, Gabi, is a real firebrand and yet you don't get the sense of the epicness of the story until you are some pages in.

When the story opens, we learn that Gabi's father was a much respected archeologist had died, but her mother continued with his work regardless, bringing both Gabi and her sister Lia along for the ride.

I like that the story starts with its base in Italy, a country I had the good fortune to visit in 2010. I loved the energy from the outset, with 5:00am starts being the norm for the two sisters to go out on digs with their mother.

As I was reading, I couldn't help but think of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. That's no bad thing. I spent many enjoyable hours watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, and playing Tomb Raider for hours on end.

The great descriptions Miss Bergren uses dropped me straight over the shoulder of the trio when at an important site, and there's loads of those in a super old country like Italy.

So I felt immediately drawn in.

There is a huge MacGuffin at the start of the story and it's so big, I couldn't let on here, you'll just have to read it.

But suffice to say that Gabi's first encounter with Italy's past comes to face her, head on, literally.

We find ourselves back in time with Gabi seeing and experiencing at first hand how the ruins used to look, before they were actually ruins.

At this point I wondered where the story was going.

That's when I was happiest. This YA aimed book doesn't foist some hack handed dystopian world on you. Whilst that's no bad thing, there's been rather too much of it in YA for a while, so this acted like a breath of fresh air with its detailed historical perspective on things.

This is where the book is at its strongest, so I forgive certain things like that Gabi fights with much apparent ease. She is skilled in fencing, but that wouldn't necessarily translate to being a great swordfighter, much like practising Tai Chi forms wouldn't make you a super skilled martial artist that was ready for battle.

That wouldn't be so plausible, and yet, the story is told which such style and verve, it just carries you along.

I'm being picky of course. James Bond has had many situations where he could have been killed, but you buy it because it is 007 ! So whilst Waterfall has its flaws, I think it is leading to a much bigger story with scope I cannot yet imagine, and it is that which will make me read others in the Rivers of Time series.

Fun, fearless, cool, and different. My favourite fantasy book of 2013.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Release Date for 'Dark Winter'

Okay. So the draft has been completed. And then re-drafted. Then re-drafted several times more. The script has been through editorial, some friends have had snippets of the script, and well, friends, we are all but there.

So I have a date for its release - 9th October on Kindle (and other devices) and printed version to be available soon after that.

I prefer the 'hard copy' version of books but can see some merit in e-books. Whichever one you happen to be, I hope you'll try this book and see something different in it.

It's my first 'official' novel, so I don't know how it will be received. Sometimes, you just have to go for it and  see what happens.
Nervous? You bet. But it won't have been the first time, and sure as hell won't be the last.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

It is not a zombie book either. 

No. Not really. And that's why, having bought this back in January 2013 it has taken me nearly six months to complete it.

I didn't buy this on Kindle. I bought the paperback version. I still can't make out who it is on the front cover.

But these details aren't that important. What is important, however, is a good story, with good characters, and for the first hundred pages or so, I was waiting for something definitive to happen.

I didn't like the f-word on practically every page. It made the characters more unlikable, but I stuck with it because the premise of the children stuck in the school was good. Not original - but who cares, so long as it is told well.

This, is where Miss Summers raises the story above an average yarn. The in-fighting reminded me of Lord of the Flies - a good book which was spoiled by having it rammed down our throats at school.

I have never read that story again, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't give this book a second read, because I doubted I could complete it the first time around.

Nothing seemed to be happening, but - (see spoilers below) when it really got going, it was unputdownable. I have read the remaining 220 pages this afternoon.

This is Not a Test is not so much about zombies - though their inclusion is well written and satisfyingly executed. What it is about is surviving - day by day, down to second by second.

In some cases that reflects the struggles of many people today, who battle every single moment in order to survive.

Replace zombies with bills at the door, and you will know what I mean.

Sloane is without doubt the best written character in the book. I couldn't feel much for the others until much later. Miss Summers doesn't give you it all in the first chapter...instead she lets us peel away the layers - much like the zombies rotting skin, to reveal their true feelings, true angst, and the 'what the hell do I do now?' that they feel at every turn of the page.

I'm not a prude. I don't mind profanity - and yes, I would use it myself in this situation! Just a little less would be good.

So. It gets four stars for an amazingly gripping 220 pages. The first 100 failed to take off for me, but I still love this book.

It's got zombies in it, but what it mainly has is an emotional impact rarely experienced in YA novels. That hit me harder than any of the zombies going on the attack.

A solid, super read.

Well done Courtney Summers :)


Thank Heavens for Mr Baxter then! When he arrives, around page 120 or so, things really kick off.

The back story of Lily and Sloane is so emotional - it's brilliantly well done, and you would have to be made of stone - or just 'cold' like the zombies themselves, not to feel something for the girls and their awful father (putting it mildly).

Friday, 15 February 2013

Book Review #2: The Selection by Keira Cass

Book Review:The Selection by Keira Cass
Good, but lacking **something**.

Okay, so the premise of The Selection is very good. The cover is brilliantly enticing, and yet, within the first few pages, the dystopian world is 'ropey', to say the least. It may sound harsh, but calling your principal character 'America' and one of the others, 'Aspen', seems bizarre to me.

The author's name is Keira, and that's a beautiful name, befitting a princess. So would it have been a bad idea to maybe call America, Keira? This is a small gripe. The story, such as it is, moves along reasonably well, and in that sense, I think Keira Cass writes in a quite engaging manner.

I like the Cinderella premise, i.e. poor, but beautiful and refined girl makes good - but the story ends with sequel-itis in mind, so you wonder what is the point of the book, in and of itself...because it is not the complete story.

Prince Maxon seems at first a bit wooden and stuffy, but I suppose even if you are heir to the throne of Illea and you have 35 girls fawning after would be. He develops better than any other character, for me, and then, just a few chapters before the end, he puts his crown firmly back on his head and lashes out at America...I lost all the likeability that had been built up for him.

The story could easily be four stars, but it could be two stars as well.

I give it three stars out of five because it does have potential, but has a lot of filler chapters where the intention must have been to spread it out to two or three books, which is a shame. If it is one story, then tell it like one, because stretching it out affects what could have been a truly great read.

As it is, it is just another in a long line of YA dystopian novels. There's no vampires, trolls, zombies...just the cast system of Illea and thirty five girls that make up The Selection. The love triangle seems...very strange, because to have one, America would have to love Aspen and Maxon, and for the Prince to be in love with America.

It is not clear how America or Maxon really feel. Even Aspen seems to have a bit of the caveman about him. Maybe that is the design of the main characters. I kind of feel that the dystopian world will be explored more in The Elite. I just don't know if I can stretch to that one to find out.

Nonetheless, a good try from Keira Cass.