Sunday 30 March 2014

How Can We Protect Our Precious Books?


Before the dawn of the Kindle and other e-book readers, there were paper books. Thankfully, there still are paper books, and whilst my old Kindle packed up a while ago, I am getting myself a replacement.

I'm terribly proctective of my books. Often they will come back in a very different state to the one in which they were lent. Which begs the question - why would I lend my books out?

Well, as many of you will know, it's about sharing. You've read the book, so you want another's opinion on it.

The two latest victims of my lending out are Emma by Jane Austen, and The Hunger Games (1) by Suzanne Collins. Even my first edition copy of Carrie by Stephen King was mysteriously borrowed, even though my lady claims to not like horror, citing that my little story gave her 'two nightmares' (result!!).

Given that Carrie is much more scary and gory than my own paranormal horror, I was wondering why she borrowed it :D

The Emma cover is a bit of a special edition again, I hope that comes back okay.

However, I have to go back to 1981 to tell you a real horror story. Back then, we didn't have central heating in our home, and water pipes would often freeze. My 'older folks' solution? A rather bizarre attempt to keep the pipes from unfreezing by placing a lit candle in the bath.

Now before you say 'well why didn't you say something' it was because I was very young, and being the youngest of my family meant I definetely would not be listened to.

Well. The room caught fire, and my bedroom, which was situated above the bathroom, got the brunt of the fire and smoke as well.

No-one was hurt, so that's all good....but my very early editions of the three Lord of the Rings books had been under my bed at the time. If I had put them in my bookshelf they might have survived. Alas, they were ruined.


How can we protect our books?

1. Buy our loved ones a Kindle (could do, but expensive)
2. Never lend them out to anyone ever again (that would work but you can have book conversations except with yourself then)
3. Announce that you have 'given up reading' (I don't believe anyone will believe that in my family)
4. Announce that book lending to family members has been outlawed by the government (I can see that working on some members, not others)
5. Lock them away safely. And don't ever put candles in baths. (yes and yes).

Before I go, what's happened to Emma, Carrie, and The Hunger Games?


  • Carrie has been returned, albeit with the cover slightly curved (grrr)
  • Emma is **somewhere** (I'm sure the urban dictionary - or the police -  can explain this)
  • The Hunger Games is lost....because my mum won't 'fess up, claiming it was returned to me because (gulp) 'It's too heavy a read, I couldn't get into it.' I will have to buy a new copy.

"You didn't lose my book? Oke.Ay."

I avoided getting into 'well I'm not talking to you Mum, because you don't care about Katniss. You think you have problems? What about the poor folks in District 12?'

I avoided it for two reasons.

1. Mum is heavily biased....she's read my Dark Winter book twice now, and thinks it's brilliant (thanks Mum but you really are biased)

2. It's Mother's Day here in the UK.

So happy Mother's Day, to all mothers out there.

I'll be keeping my other books under lock and key for now.

Happy reading!

Monday 24 March 2014

One Month To Go: Stormling - Book One

Kayla Andaris, from Stormling (Book One)

"So what exactly are you?"
"I am a woman."
"That. You. Are. So what do you do for fun?"
"I hunt, and I kill on sight."
"Do you kill everything on sight?" 
"Only the idiots that ask stupid questions."

Hello friends. I've been a bit erratic with my blog posts this year, but you'll forgive me I hope, as I have been writing heavily for Dark Winter 2 and editing the book that titles this post - Stormling.

Stormling is a good old fashioned epic fantasy adventure that I originally drafted in 2012, which seems a long time ago now. I started writing the book in 2011 following the publication of my martial arts book. Nothing like continuity of genres, is there?

Still, Stormling went through several title changes, successive re-drafts, before arriving at the one that is likely to be viewed by the populace from end of April 2014.

Kinta Pel, one of Stormling's anti-heroes
"Excuse me sir, do you know the way to (gulps)....oh, never mind..."

As with any story worth its salt, it has to have original concepts to make it stand out, and a great hook to make you want to read on. I believe I've achieved this with the book, but as any writer knows, it is the readers who tell us what we have written.

Anadyr, one of the heroes in the book, and the main Stormling of the title.
"Thank the stars he's on our side."

This story ranks as the most difficult one I've attempted. When I hear some authors have written a book in less than a calendar month, I really wonder how they did it. I was going to release Dark Winter 2 straight after the first one, but I wanted to give the residents of Gorswood a rest, and anyway, I felt Romilly and her friends had been through quite enough already!

The story has been a difficult one because it straddles both the fantasy realm and also the real world. With the real world setting, the was originally the main driver for the story, but successive re-writes demanded a re-think, and basically, I was able to swap around the real world setting for the fantasy one, and I believe the story is all the better for it.

Doesn't this just go to prove that even if you know your own story like the back of your hand, you need to step back sometimes...for months even....go and do something else, and then come back to it with fresh eyes, new thoughts, and a different perspective.

Andus Rey, ruler of Caldreah Monus and our story's main bad guy.
Four wings and two swords? That's just being greedy. 

I think the fantasy world is something we all love to get lost in, right? Sometimes I love books that really 'speak' to us and hit the emotional chords. But other times, you just want something totally different, and I really enjoyed creating this world. I don't think I had any grey hairs before but I certainly do now :)

Corianna, Lady Elf and landlady of The Faeries Wings Public House
The Angelic Warrior who clipped her own wings to run a pub! 

Stormling is populated with angels, warriors, immortals, faeries, sorcerers and sorceresses....all the elements I loved in books and video games when I was growing up (I'm still growing up I think).

All the same, the cover, when it is revealed first on **someone's very fantastic blog**, will show the fantasy elements of what is to come, but have a very strong focus on the real world.

Over the course of a 100,000 word book, some memorable quotes have to come out. I've posted just a few on GoodReads to give you an idea of the book without giving any of the plot line away.

Faeries are just awesome, aren't they?

So. Keep a look out for the book. And if by some happy chance you get yourself a copy, please let me know what you think!

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Guest Interview with Author Cristiane Serruya

Hello everyone. Today's guest is the very wonderful Cristiane Serruya, author of the TRUST trilogy. I will hold my hand up and say that I have only read the first book, but the truth is, it's the best adult thriller I have read in a long time. You can read my review here

GoodReads Profile here
Amazon page here

Over to Cristiane then!


Image of Cristiane Serruya

Hello, John. Thanks for hosting me at your amazing blog. I’m so happy to be here with you today.

Why did you start writing?

I have always written. Small poems, short stories, kids’ stories. But this whole new career started in a very silly way. In April 2009, I was bed-ridden, sick - and bored. I had a such bad headache that I could even read or open the curtains. So… I decided to tell myself a story. The seed was planted. But it took me more than a year to gather the courage to put some ideas on paper. And daily life kept intruding in the way. I’m a full time  lawyer - or, yet I’m a mother of three, ooops - *grin* - two teenage girls and wife to a six foot six, very large but sweet husband.

I was very unsatisfied with the Brazilian justice system and that was affecting my own work as a lawyer.
In the beginning of 2011, a friend said I should try writing to distress. And that it would make many more people aware of the still brutal violence that was practiced against women and children (one of the main issues that I worked with, and the subject of my Law School thesis).

After practicing Law for twenty-two years, I suddenly decided to give writing a go. The next day, I started the trilogy. Then I discovered that I could speak of things that enchanted me and inequities that aggravated me in a much more creative and lighter way than my previous work.

In 4 months the whole archetype of story was ready. I slit the books in three and then published the first in November 2012, the second in April 2013 and the last one, TRUST: Pandora’s Box comes out on March 2014.

The TRUST trilogy has just been finished last year: Trust#1, A New Beginning was first published in November 2012, and a brand new edition was released in February 2014; Betrayed was published in April 2013 and the last installment, Pandora’s Box is being edited and proofread. It is coming out in March 2014.
The trilogy focuses on the lives of three characters that, on the outside, seem to have it all. They are wealthy, good-looking, intelligent and successful in their own fields. But they all have deep scars from terrible events that happened in their lives, sometimes ending with the death of a loved one. When they meet, in late 2009 and early 2010, their encounters will change their deepest certainties and alter their outlooks on life, as only love can.

I also published in June 2013, The Modern Man: A philosophical divagation about the evil banality of daily acts, an essay I wrote for Ethics in Law School. Surprisingly, it has received two awards, one of them a Gold Medal, from a contest I didn’t enter, but was chosen by the jury plus honors in Law School.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Real life is what inspires me to write. Look around you, listen to your family’s stories, your neighbors’ daily lives, read the newspapers. There are so many stories waiting to be told and not enough time to write about them.

What is your all time favourite book, and why?

Oh, dear! That’s such an unfair question… Do I really have to answer it? LOL! I’m such an avid reader. Reading is the oldest pleasure of mine, so is very difficult for me to choose my favorite books.
I think my favorite kind of reading depends on my moment. I love novels, romance, historical, paranormal, erotic stories, Old Greeks, all the classics...

It’s kind of hard to choose my favorite book, but if I had to choose five:
- 1984, by George Orwell;
- Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka;
- The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, by José Saramago;
- Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë;
- The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa.
Phew. There. Hmm… Can I continue?

Have you read books where the plot was great but the character development was poor, and vice versa? Was it enough for you to finish the book (s)?

I have a great problem in not finishing a book. It seems that it is my fault.
So, yes, I’ve read many, specially recent contemporary romances, indie published, that could have been great but needed a good editor to point the need of an extra scene or the absurd of a …
But, since I have started to write I’ve learn that I have become more exigent and I’ve learned to close a book if it’s not good at all.

What is the most disappointing book you have read?

I wouldn’t call it disappointing, but rather angering, money pilfering and a bad propaganda for men’s and women’s behavior and sex freedom. Now, can you guess? Yes, of course: 50 Shades of Grey. And I bought the whole trilogy for my kindle… Argh. Deleted, of course.

Tell us about the difficulties you had in order to get published.

All you can imagine. I’m Brazilian, English is not my mother language, although I feel quite comfortable with it. I think in centimeters, not in inches. All the measures on the indie websites are in inches.
Then I had to choose many things I had never thought of… fonts, formatting, editor, cover, God! Madness.
The first editor I had was terrible and let pass many typos and she did many mistakes as she corrected what was right, because she was not a romance reader, American or even an editor. She was an English teacher, daughter to a Britain that lives in Rio for many years now. Then I tried CreateSpace editor. And God! What a mess. After, it came conversion… Really? I’m no good with computer. And what about promotion? I don’t know how to sell myself, maybe because it’s kind of strange to be praising my own work.

What is your favourite book of the ones you have written?

Oh, John! This is not fair. You don’t ask a mother which child she loves most! All, of course. Each one has a more endearing way to my heart…

What was the first book you ever read?

I was read. My grandmother Hilda was a teacher and she loved to read to me. The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein is the one I kept asking her to read to me. It’s one of the books that still are in my bedside table… err… bookshelf table, I mean.

E-Readers are very popular now. What was the first book you read on your e-reader?

I started reading on the kindle on my first iPhone, a long time ago, so I don’t remember anymore.

Which authors inspire you to read?

You won’t believe my answer, but ALL of them.
I’m kind of obsessed with books, so I have a Kindle and the Kindle app on my iPad, iPhone and iMac besides lots of physical books. I read in traffic, in the doctor’s waiting room, everywhere, everyday, at least an hour or so. I hope I have learned something from all authors that I have read. Even from the bad ones because I can always learn from others’ mistakes.

Which authors inspire you to write?

Actually, I was inspired by none. I need no inspiration but real life.
But I wish I could have a philosophical chat with Mr. Kafka and maybe have the honor to write a book with him.

Have you read a book that really surprised you, in that it looked okay, but turned out to be much better?

Yes, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I’m used to read YA authors, and the reviews were great but the book touched me in such a beautiful way that I can only say: It is a must read.

What is your favourite book series and why?

There could be no other answer, John. Sorry… The TRUST Trilogy! I have been living with Ethan, Sophia, Alistair and Gabriela for years, chatting with them, having my life disrupted by them and loving them as if they are my real siblings. It is so organic, that many times I spent the night crying over my computer, without even seeing what I was typing, because one of them was hurting; or laughing alone in the middle of a shower because of I thought of something funny for them to say.
I’m sure my husband was jealous of Ethan and then of Alistair. And now comes Tavish Uilleam. And my poorest daughters have a love-hate relationship with Sophia and Gabriela.

Who is your favourite heroine?

Sophia Leibowitz, of course. She has personality and she doesn’t bend to difficulties in life, but she can be sweet and she loves to share and help. I can only say I admire Sophia very much.

Who is your favourite hero?

Right now it is Tavish Uilleam MacCraig. Ah… Why? You have to read the whole Trust Trilogy and then my next novel…

Do you think there are many original stories out there, or is everyone re-hashing The Hunger Games and Twilight to death?

Oh, yes, sure. There are such amazing authors around.
And although I loved The Hunger Games and think it’s very well written, it is a re-hashing of 1984. I knew it at the moment I read it. Maybe because 1984 is one of my favorite books…

What is the best debut novel you have read?

Hmm… Really? I don’t know. Not The Hunger Games, because I think it’s too much like 1984, not Twilight, and - please oh please - not that wretched 50SoG… Maybe we should go to John Grisham… ah, yes! There, you have it: A Time to Kill.

What kind of research do you do for your books?

Oh, you don’t want to know my degree of exigency with myself… I’m exacting and if I don’t know what I’m talking about I go deep into research. I don’t google things. Yes, I do online research, but my main sources are people. People around me, or professionals, or those who have experienced a certain feeling I have not experienced yet and wanted to write about; and of course: books, newspapers and magazines; maps, guides, and… oh, just everything I can put my hands on and can check them out.

How long does it take you to do a first draft?

Well, it took me four months for the “first” draft of the archetype, but the story was already formed in my mind. And then I slit the draft and focused just on the first installment. After TRUST: A New Beginning was published, the TRUST Trilogy started to change… the first draft of TRUST: Betrayed took me longer, 6 months and the first draft of TRUST: Pandora’s Box almost an year.

The story had changed completely. It was formed, I had a planning, separated by chapters, but as I laughed and cried and typed, the story took the leashes from my hands and transformed itself. The characters grew and got proud of themselves. As they learned their ways through their lives, I got to know them better and I couldn’t force them to follow what I wanted them to do before. Seems I am crazy? Maybe. It was really as if they had lives of their own. So, scenes were discarded and new were created. And the time frame I had proposed to myself burst at the seams, specially when real life intruded in it… A broken foot, an editor with a personal crisis, and so many things I was not prepared for that it made me realize this is what the TRUST Trilogy was about: real life.

So, from now on there will be only an obligation to write a good book and deliver it to the readers knowing I did a good job and I can be proud of it. Next time, for sure, I won’t publish a single chapter before the story is all done.

What is the best thing about writing for you?

Everything but… hmm… to know how my stories and my characters touched others people’s lives is the best part.

And the worst thing?

This is the easiest answer: Promoting myself or my books. I have always been shy, and I don’t know how to promote myself. At all.

Do you have a minimum number of books to read each year? 

No. But at least, I read a hundred.

How do you find time to read?

The same way I find time to eat… For me, it’s impossible to live without reading.

What's your favourite book cover?

One that hasn’t been published yet. LOL No, I’m not joking. It’s a cover that I though I would use for the Trust Trilogy but it didn’t fit my purposes. It’ll be the cover of my new romance. Can’t wait to see it online.

Do you have any special editions of books, for example, a very old, one of a kind book that may be now out of print?

Oh, yes. But that would be the first Brazilian civil code, of 1906. It was left by my great-grand-father, who was a lawyer too. It is commented by one of the greatest Brazilian jurists. I have never really used it but in a work for Law School but it’s there on my shelf, beautifully leather bounded.

E-Readers or Printed Books. What's your preference?

E-readers, but I still read on paperback and the hardcover has a unique feeling to it.

Now a difficult question! What is your favourite inspirational quote?

That’s not difficult at all. It’s by Pastor Martin Niemöller. I like it so much that even Sophia quotes it on Trust: Pandora’s Box.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
And there was no one left to speak for me.”

Other things now. 

Favourite film? Titanic.
Favourite food? Aw… Spicy, sweet, salad. Any food, but the thing with me is: little bites!
Favourite author? I don’t have.
The one book you would have on your own desert island? The TRUST Trilogy.
Favourite location? Angra dos Reis, in Rio de Janeiro. There are 365 paradisal islands to choose from.
Dream holiday destination? Hmm… Maldives Islands. I was supposed to go there for my twentieth anniversary but I had to postpone the trip.
Favourite actor? Hmm… that’s hard but… Al Pacino.
Favourite actress? That’s even harder… Meryl Streep.
Favourite drink? Red wine, no doubt.
What's the best thing about being you? Oh… Being me? I have the most wonderful husband and children.
And the worst thing? That’s supposed to be a secret, John… but I’m too friendly and goodhearted for my own sake.
What makes you happiest? My family, sharing love and friendship.

Thank you Cristiane!

Thank you, John, for the opportunity to share my work and thoughts and for helping me promote my book. Hearing from readers is very important to me. It always helps me to do a better job. So, I want to invite everybody to leave a message here or on my website I’m glad and available to comment or answer any questions.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Book Review #12: Vampire Academy (#1) by Richelle Mead


I really approached this book with a lot of trepidation. After all, whilst I thought Twilight was good, but not great, I wondered could this exceed that book, and who knows...could it reach the heights of Anne Rice's writing?

Perhaps I wanted too much. Anyone who had read Interview With the Vampire knows what a stocking great read it is (as is Lestat, and Queen of the Damned). I'll be the first to admit that I would love to write a great vampire story, but think I may fall short.

So I give Richelle Mead credit for trying.

At first, I thought it might be like 'Hogwarts with fangs'. The mere word 'academy' has me thinking about things in comic proprtions...someone I knew once had a mp3 on their phone of Commander Chakotay from Star Trek Voyager saying 'They don't teach you THAT at the academy', and then there are the various Police Academy films.

So I had to get away from all that to give VA a chance!

I loved the idea of half human teens training the would-be vampires, but as I got into the book, it wasn't clear who was the bad guy (s) and the Strigoi (the badass vampires) seemed more than one-dimensional baddies, which was great to read.

Rose and Lissa are two of the main protagonists, and I was drawn to them both (or sucked in)....especially Lissa as one of the characters I created is also called Lissa even though they are totally different.

The book is clearly aimed at YA but at this stage, I am not sure it will grab a wider audience as say (THG or HP) not because it's not good, because it is, but it lacks that special something to really spark it into greatness.

There are more books in the series and I have just started Frostbite (Vampire Academy 2) and actually, this story seems a lot more rounded. Perhaps that is the case for all second stories in the series.

Back to this one, and I understand there is a graphic novel version of this. That's great because I recently read The Dark Knight Rises graphic novel, and have to say I want to see more books go this way!

Vampire Academy is well written, with great characters and I like the danger aspect of the academy don't know if one faction of the vampires will turn on another. As there are six books I realise I am way behind, and the film only had limited release which is strange, given the fanfare of the books. All the same, a good read that may become part of an awesome series.

On Good Reads, I gave this four very strong stars. 

YA is getting better again!

Saturday 8 March 2014

Book Review #11: Trust - A New Beginning by Cristiane Serruya

Trust: A New Beginning (Trust, #1)

Isn't it great when you just come across a book and it really peaks your interest and it happens to be completely out of the blue? For me, Trust - A New Beginning by Cristiane Serruya, was just like that.

I love thrillers, and this is a smart, savvy, sexy and brutal story that really is quite gripping from the off. Now I have no problem with stories that start slow so long as they build into something meaningful. 

With this story, there's no need to worry. And whilst time is taken to describe things accurately and with almost painstaking detail, it doesn't detract from the story, or slows things up.

If anything, you need this kind of literary diversion, so that you can catch your breath. Yes, the scenes are not just hot, they're boiling, and engaging to read. 

The other scenes that are quite intense refer to the Trust of the many ways this book is about broken trust, and the aftermath of it, which leaves everyone shattered. As I approached the end of the book, I already knew there were additional books in the series.

That's great because I want a bit more back story on the main characters. Sophia is a great character whereas some of the male characters switch from protagonist to antagonist in a flash...though on further re-reads I understood why this is so.

As always, writing full reviews can spoil things. Suffice to say, Trust is one of the best thrillers I have read in a long time. Cristiane Serruya is an intelligent, exciting writer, and no doubt I will be reading more from her, and I suggest you do too.

Rating: On GoodReads I gave this five stars. Every single one was deserved!

Book Description

They are beautiful and rich. They are strong willed and successful. They have everything, but love.
Sophia is a 25-year-old Brazilian and a widow. After a tragic incident, she flees from her own country. Despite her beauty and charm, she hides from everyone and everything and remains alone, torn between the love for a dead man, the torment of living without part of her memory and the fear of moving on.
Ethan is one of the most important tycoons in the steel industry. Traumatized by an awful event in his adolescence, he searches for an elusive woman whom he could love - and who would love him - as he never has in all his 35 years... Until he finds Sophia.
Alistair is a 34-year-old powerful banker, searching only for one–night stands. Devilish and ravishing, and also guilt-ridden and angry, he has no trouble finding women who will indulge him in his desire to physically punish them to abate his own tortured soul.
In Europe, in the months after October 2009, their paths will cross and clash. Who will win the prize of love?

About the Author

Image of Cristiane Serruya

Cristiane Serruya lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with her husband and two teenage daughters. She majored in Fine Arts and Law, and has a Masters in Business Law. She is also specialized in cases of sexual abuse and violence against children and women. She has been working as a lawyer since 1991. She is widely traveled, having lived and studied in Brazil, England, France, Italy and Switzerland. After twenty-two years of practicing law, Cristiane decided to give writing a go. And - amazingly - it was just the piece that was missing in her life. Cristiane Serruya can be found online via her website ‘’.

Biography (by Cristiane Serruya)

I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with my husband and two daughters. I'm a lawyer, with a Masters in Business Law and I have great interest in cases of abuse and violation of human rights of children and women, having two thesis on the subject. I also have a BA in Fine Arts. I've always loved to read, write and listen to music. I lived and studied in England, France, Italy, Switzerland and, of course, Brazil.
After twenty-two years of practicing law, I decided to give writing a go. And - amazingly - it was just the piece that was missing in my life.
You can get in touch with me on my website:
Or like my Facebook author's page:
Or follow me on Twitter: @CrisSerruya
All my three books already published have been awarded Gold and bronze medals.