Thursday, 17 September 2020

Flash Fiction at

My latest short story – a flash fiction piece called “The Last Library” is now live in Issue 52 of I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

“The Relic” is Published.

 The Relic, my latest short story, is now in print.

My contributor’s copy of BFS Horizons #11 landed on my doormat on Friday. A lovely volume with beautiful cover art, packed full of poetry and prose. I’ve dipped into it a couple of times already and thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read and I’m looking forward to working my way through the rest of it in the weeks to come.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Review: Darling there are Wolves in the Woods by L.V. Russell

(This is the third of three reviews for books I purchased during IndieApril.)

The woods are dark and wicked, and perhaps some things would be better off staying lost…Teya Jenkins is ten years old when her sister is taken. Niven is never found, because no one knows where to look. No one but Teya that is, who heard the whispers of the trees and saw the beautiful creatures that dwelled in the shadows. It is only after another tragedy, years later, that Teya finally dares to enter the forest that haunts her dreams, determined to bring home her sister and mend the fractured remains of her family. But someone lingers in the shadows, tempting her away with veiled promises of the thing she’s always longed for….to belong somewhere. Tangled up in the lives of the creatures that stole her sister, Teya risks everything to bring Niven home. In a world of extraordinary monsters, Teya finds herself fighting for not only her life, and for her sister, but also for her heart.

From the first page I knew I was in for and emotional ride. We are thrown into a family stricken by grief. Teya’s mother sets places at the dinner table for both Teya’s missing sister and absent father and the tension between mother and daughter is palpable. 

We all know that the Fey are not kind, and Teya is vulnerable, desperate to be loved. Another tragedy drives her back to the woods where her sister disappeared, and into their world, at once both fascinating and sinister.

Here she meets Laphaniel, one of the fey, and, like all fey he is both cruel yet fascinating. A relationship starts to form between them, but it is an uncomfortable relationship, for Laphaniel is her captor. He’s a fascinating character, a dark character, but at the same time strangely compelling, and the dynamic between them is both intriguing yet sinister. But all the time Teya just wants to find her missing sister.

This is a superb book. Beautifully and evocatively written with complex and compelling characters. It is the first in a series and as such there are plenty of loose ends left hanging, and loads of unanswered questions.

I hope I don’t have to wait too long for the next one.

LV Russell/goodreads

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Review: Terrestrial Magic by Marina Ermakova

(This is the second of three reviews for books I purchased during IndieApril.)

Most sensible people avoid fire-breathing carnivores that prey on humans. But Jordan has built a career out of studying such legendary animals, creatures thought mythological until their re-emergence in the world three decades ago. She and researchers like her believe that knowledge is the key to reclaiming the land they'd lost back then, when humanity retreated into designated safety zones.

But when the humans moved out, the legends moved in.

They were the descendants of mythical heroes, inheriting the powers of their ancestors, and they weren't afraid of the monsters. Jordan never expected to run into a legend, but when a field expedition turns into a trap for her team, she realizes that one deliberately tried to kill her. It's a diplomatic nightmare the Roman authorities might happily sweep under the rug. But if Jordan doesn't figure out who attacked her and why, they could try again. Yet even if she does solve the mystery, what could one stubborn scientist possibly do to stop a powerful legend?

I really wanted to love this book. It has so much going for it. To start with, the setting. It’s so refreshing to come across a book of this type set somewhere other than America and in this case – Italy – a country I know well.

The concept is also amazing. The idea of the Boom and appearance of legendary animals and people in our world is unique and intriguing. I couldn’t wait to see where the author went with this!

Sadly this is a book which, for me, fails to deliver on its promise. The Italian setting feels superficial. The plot drifts. The action set pieces are well written and the story romps along at a pace, but the suspense is never quite there. The main character, Jordan, has difficulty connecting with her emotions and although this is an interesting aspect of her character it also makes her hard to relate to.

However this is merely one reader’s subjective opinion. Perhaps I was expecting too much. The writing is good and the author has gone to a great deal of trouble on the production side – a great cover and error free text.

As I’ve mentioned the action scenes are well written and pacey. The concept is very clever and interesting. I hope the author will work on the aspects of story structure and plotting and I look forward to seeing how she develops as a writer and reading more of her work in years to come.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Review: The Girl from A Thousand Fathoms by David Gullen

(This is the first of three reviews for books I purchased during IndieApril.)

Tim Wassiter, P.I. isn’t a cynical old-school detective with a bottle in the desk, he’s the new-age version with chickens, tea – and a little bit of magic. His ex-partner scoffs, the old lady down the road just wants him to find her missing cat, but Tim knows that magic works. He’s seen the proof and he’s learning to use it to solve crimes.

Money’s tight but now he has his first real case. But what sounds like easy money isn’t as simple as it seems. The mysterious woman who hired him has dangerous friends and they're rapidly losing patience. Tim needs to discover what’s really going on, and fast. Soon there’s an even more mysterious woman, a series of increasingly strange events, and a great many more cats.

As things get more violent, more bewildering and more utterly weird, Tim discovers that this case goes far deeper than he could ever have imagined. Everything is connected, even the past and the future, and everyone is looking for a girl who almost certainly does not exist.

And magic isn’t just real, it’s probably going to get him killed.

What’s not to love about this book! It has to be the most quirky, unusual and entertaining read I’ve had in a long time.

As you can probably guess from the title there is a strong maritime theme running through this book – from mermaids to sea monsters and a good bit of ships and oceanography thrown into the mix (Oh and this author is spot on with his oceanography).

But most of the action takes place in Brighton, which is brought vividly to life. The sense of place is excellent. I could almost smell the sea and sense the vibe of Brighton’s daily life.

We meet an intriguing cast of characters who, at first glance, seen so widely separated in geography and time that surely there is no way they can all be connected – but rest assured that all the threads pull together into a very satisfying conclusion.

I found this book a really cheerful read. Yes some bad and some scary things happen but there is a certain lightness of touch in the writing and I found myself smiling on numerous occasions.

Escapism? Absolutely! And what more could you ask for with all the craziness going on in the world.

This book is an absolute delight and I strongly recommend it.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Supporting Indie April

This month is Indie April during which we do our bit to support self-published authors, so I put out a call on twitter asking people to recommend their books and had an amazing response – almost 100 replies to my tweet, and nearly as many book links.

Obviously I can’t read all of them so I had to whittle them down and I’m going to share my process for doing this with you.

First off I specifically asked for UK Amazon kindle links. A large number of authors sent me US Amazon links or links to other sales platforms which are really no good to me so I’m afraid these books didn’t get a look in. However, that still left me with a long list of 40 books. A significant number to choose from.

Some authors included a pitch with their link, which was useful, but I still followed the links for those who hadn’t. My next step was to check them out on Amazon to see if they looked interesting. This was where personal taste comes in. I asked for Sci-Fi, thrillers and fantasy as these are the genres I enjoy most, but also anything else that people thought I might enjoy, and I received an interesting assortment, ranging from children’s books to romance to memoir.

My next stage in filtering through these was to look at them on Amazon to see if the book’s premise was of interest to me. Obviously this was subjective and I skipped over books that other people may love simply because they weren’t by cup of tea. A couple of things worth noting though that did put me off a few.

Firstly, shoddy covers. Most authors had put a fair bit of effort into their covers and some were simply gorgeous, but a few were really cheap and shoddy looking. If you can’t be bothered to make an effort with your cover why would I think you’ve made an effort with your writing?

Secondly the blurb – This does need to be gripping and to the point, giving the reader a clear indication of the book’s premise. Far too many were waffly and unclear. This is your sales pitch. Don’t waste it. I ended up with a shortlist of 12.

Next, I used the ‘look inside facility’. This is where the writing starts to matter. You may have a killer concept but if it’s poorly executed I’m going to pass. Fortunately this wasn’t too much of an issue so my selection was rather more subjective. I now have two amazing looking books lined up on my kindle to read and I’ll be posting reviews of them in due course.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Sale to Neo-opsis

The Canadian SF magazine Neo-opsis has been on my submission radar ever since I started writing and submitting SF short stories and every so often, when I have something I think they may like, I send it their way.

Well I’m delighted to say that my latest offering, ‘The Forgotten City’, has been accepted for publication in a future issue. The contract is signed and sent back and I look forward to sharing this story with you all.