Happy New Year!

Thanks to everyone who has supported Indie Bookworm during 2012.

All the best for 2013.

Cathy

Happy Christmas

Many thanks to everyone who has been stopping by to read my blog.

Also many thanks to the wonderful writers who have offered their work via the Kindle at little or no charge. I wish you all every success in 2013.

Especial thanks to the authors who so kindly contributed an interview to the blog - really appreciated.

And finally, many thanks to those readers who have supported our independent writing and e-publishing project this year http://www.spurwing.blogspot.com

Best wishes for a very Happy Christmas.

Review | Death of the Author | Matt Rubinstein


The blurb on the Amazon book-page tells you everything you need to know about Death of the Author by Matt Rubinstein.

  • serial killers
  • thriller
  • literary theory
  • writers' festival
  • gruesome
  • homage
  • rumours
  • prey
  • darkness
  • pastiche
  • gore
  • dark humour
  • metadiscourse

If you enjoy reading gory, detailed murder thrillers this book has got the lot. As the blurb explains Death of the Author interweaves a search for a serial killer with chapters from each of the books written by the authors who fall victim to "The Reader".

Rachel Stern is a talented Multiple Homicide Writer and it's her search for "The Reader" accompanied by Police Investigator Caitlin Archer which is at the core of the book. The novel is set in Adelaide which appears to have a propensity for multiple homicides and it is at the Adelaide fiction festival for writers in the genre where the murders take place.

I thought the plot was clever and I really liked the juxtaposition of the main story with the cutaways to the featured novelists. Much as I enjoyed reading this novel for the plot and story-line, the writing style made it a particularly good read. The style is clear and crisp, full of variety and sharp descriptive passages. It's not a quick and easy read but it's well worth investing the time to read it.

I've only one negative comment to make and that's that the links for the Table of Contents don't seem to work: which is a pity because when I started reading it I needed to go back a couple of times to check things out and had to flick through the whole book to get where I wanted to be. Oh! Just like a tree-book.

Overall Death of the Author is a very well written, highly readable serial killer thriller with much more than a literary "twist". Highly recommended.

Link to the author's page on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com with details of the book.

December 14th Update

Through the wonders of tweeting, the author let me know that the Table of Contents issue had been sorted out in future downloads. Viva kindle!

How to Get Started on Twitter Your Five-Day Twitter Action Plan | Andrew Knowles


Usually I write comments and reviews about fiction ebooks but I do download non-fiction from time to time. How to Get Started on Twitter Your Five-Day Twitter Action Plan by Andrew Knowles is too good not to mention.

I've looked at Twitter on several occasions and could make no sense of it whatsoever. Everything I was reading about book promotion was telling me that Twitter was the bees' knees. But I just didn't get it. And then I saw as a free download on the Kindle Your Five-Day Twitter Action Plan. Well that looked like there was nothing to loose so I downloaded it and had a quick look through. It seemed to take a sensible approach so I decided to put it into action. It took me six days actually but if you check out my link https://twitter.com/spurwing_ you'll see that this book works.

Yes, the book really does do what it says it will. If, like me, you haven't got a clue with Twitter this book will make it happen for you. I totally 100% recommend this book. If you or your granny or anyone else you know wants to get started with Twitter and are motivated to try, if you follow the Five-Day programme I'm sure you will be able to do it. My motivation was for book promotional purposes but in fact it is really good fun and I look forward to the time I spend checking things out on the Twitter web-site. You have to be careful as you can find yourself spending too much time on it. I really recommend Your Five-Day Twitter Action Plan by Andrew Knowles if you want to get started on Twitter. And if you do decide to get tweeting, please follow me @spurwing_  (don't miss out the underscore  _ though).

Link to Your Five-Day Twitter Action Plan amazon bookpage

Review | Eclectic: Ten Very Different Tales | Jonathan Hill

I downloaded Eclectic as a freebie some time ago. I was looking on a Kindle free listing site this morning and saw that this title was on offer for free again today. I remembered that I'd already downloaded it and as I haven't read any short stories for a while thought I would give Eclectic a go. 

In the forward to Eclectic, author Jonathan Hill says: "At times you may laugh or cry, or be moved, shocked, surprised or stimulated to think. Mostly, though, I hope you enjoy the variety in this collection". I thought the first part of this was a bit on the ambitious side. However, from what I'd read of the book-page sample I thought it was likely I would enjoy reading it and I did. What surprised me was that the remainder of the author's intentions came about too.

Made me laugh:
Modern Art
Meet Maureen on a visit to a popular exhibition of Modern Art. Or maybe not. Laugh aloud.
The Ornithologist
You could really imagine this happening - very funny.
Doctor, Doctor
This is the poem in the collection - hahaha.
Almost made me cry:
Thomas Turner's Talk
I hope the hint of kindness at the end marks a turning point for Thomas but I don't think it will. So real - the best story in the collection I thought.
Shocked:
The Last Laugh
Not what I was expecting at the end at all and it made me read the whole story all over again.
Surprised:
Black and White
A neat twist at the end.
Stimulated to think:
Till Death Us Do Part
Sensitive and poignant and leaves you wondering what you would be like in the same circumstances.
Game Over
I could see the ending coming and when it did it left me wondering if it was right or just a stereotype….and I'm still wondering.

This is a collection of short stories (and a poem) that lives up to its title. Most are well written and demonstrate an ability by the author to construct a neat and well rounded little tale. I didn't like The Hotel and House Full so much. The Hotel because it wasn't as sharp and precise in the writing as the others in the collection; House Full because there wasn't enough in the story to explain the ending. But the other 8 stories in the collection are really good.

Jonathan Hill says that this is his first book and it was published in June this year. It is certainly a good start to his writing career. There is another book about Maureen the star of Modern Art published a few weeks ago. I've just downloaded Maureen Goes to Venice and if it's only half as funny as her trip to the Art Exhibition it should be hilarious.

Review | Playing for Keeps | Kate Perry

I downloaded Playing for Keeps by Kate Perry as a freebie but it seems to be free all the time so I'm not sure if it's an indie published title or not. Anyway, I've read it so I might as well write some comments on it even if it's not indie-published. Playing for Keeps is very quick, easy reading romantic fiction. On the whole it's very predictable but the main character, Grace Connor, is sufficiently interesting to keep you with the story. The other characters are well developed too and this contributes to making the novel a pleasant and enjoyable read.

Grace has two sisters that she's been taking care of since the unfortunate early demise of their mother. Dad is an ex-marine and he needs looking after too so Grace doesn't have a great deal of time for herself. She then gets lumbered with planning a wedding for one of the sisters and the demands on Grace stack up even more. There is however an emerging love interest for Grace with some sexy scenes and relationship challenges.

There are a few quirky characters and a rather risqué hen-night which are amusing but I found the hints at using the "F" word with for example "effing" very irritating. I wish the author had either used the actual language the particular character would have used or left it out altogether.

Each chapter starts with a quote from The Art of War by Sun Tzu which I found very interesting. I'd heard of this book before but never read it and so with the wonders of Kindle downloaded it for £0.77p.

Overall I thought that Playing for Keeps was a well written example of the genre and ideal for a beach read or for a cold, wet night when you don't want to watch TV.

Interview | Dale Phillips author of A Memory of Grief

An interview with Dale Phillips author of A Memory of Grief.

I really enjoyed A Memory of Grief by Dale Phillips which I finished reading a few days ago. I was delighted when Dale agreed to do an interview for Indie Bookworm and am looking forward to reading some of his other books in the future.

Why did you write A Memory of Grief?

This story had to get out- a flawed protagonist, who struggles to be a better person, and who changes while investigating the death of a friend. A man who hates guns, but tangles with people who use them. A moral man with a shady past and a load of grief and guilt and rage that constantly threatens to make him buckle. And a great way to showcase the Maine locale, a different kind of setting for a mystery.

What kind of reader would enjoy A Memory of Grief?

Anyone who likes good amateur sleuth mysteries, especially fans of Robert B. Parker's Spenser, and John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee. But there are layers of deeper meaning throughout which reward the careful reader- I call it the thinking person's action mystery.

How did you develop your characters?

Slowly, bit by bit. Character is revealed by dialogue and action, so sometimes the characters tell me what they're going to do, and just take over. That's the fun part. Sometimes, whole characters will jump into the story, like Cassie Alexander in the sequel book, A Fall From Grace. She surprised me by showing up in the third draft, and took over the book!

How did you decide to publish A Memory of Grief?

I'd spent a great deal of time doing the whole submissions route to the New York publishing world. Even had an agent, who agreed the book was good, and sellable. And time dragged on, with no forward motion.
Then the world of publishing changed. After an immense amount of research, it seemed that there were other routes. So I was about to self-publish, and I was approached by Briona Glen, a tiny startup publisher, who asked if I'd go with them as their debut novel, to launch the company. So I agreed.

Are you working on any new writing at the moment?

Yes, when I heard about the review of A Memory of Grief here at Indie Bookworm, I was busy writing Book 3 of the series, A Shadow on the Wall. As soon as that's released, I need to finish Wendigo, my first horror novel, which will be out in the Spring.

For more details about Dale's books visit his website http://www.daletphillips.com/

Review | The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard | Robert Bryndza

I write this blog to tell any other interested readers about some of the fantastic indie published ebooks I've tried myself and enjoyed reading. There are 624,407 fiction titles available in the Kindle Store and sometimes it feels like you're overwhelmed with choice. So if you're on the same wave length as someone else and can get a recommendation of a good book then that seems to me to be a good thing.

I got onto The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard when I was communicating with A.L. Cooper, author of Twisted Knickers about her recent interview for Indie Bookworm: she recommended the novel to me. Having already enjoyed reading Twisted Knickers ( see earlier post ), I figured I would probably enjoy her recommendation too.

And this proved to be the case. What a great light-hearted, fun, entertaining novel this is. Coco Pinchard is a youngish 40 something, newly separated from her husband and starting to get back into dating. The story follows the ups and downs of her family, professional and love lives and at times it is hilarious. The people Coco knows are a real mixed bunch. Her immediate family, with the possible exception of her son, are gruesome but her friends are great. The emerging love interest is a bit too handsome but he has some serious flaws as well. Good characterisation and a lively plot makes this highly readable comedic romance fiction.

What makes it a bit different, as far as my reading experience is concerned anyway, is that it's all written in e-mails. As far as I can re-call the only other novel I've read that incorporated a substantial email element was Fifty Shades of Grey (see earlier post) and I found them to be ponderous and I skim read most of them. In this novel the email format works very well. The emails are all from Coco on her new i-phone but they are skilfully managed to ensure that they don't become predictable or tedious. Through her emails we get the details of Coco's life and come to know her family and friends. Occasionally the emails are probably longer than might get sent in real life but you're so carried away by the story-line that it doesn't matter.

The blurb for the book draws a parallel with Bridget Jones' Diary and I don't think that in this case that's an exaggerated claim. A thoroughly enjoyable read and a great recommendation: thanks very much A.L.C.

Interview | A.L. Cooper | Author of Twisted Knickers

I wrote a blog post about Twisted Knickers a few weeks ago and am delighted today to post an interview with its author A.L. Cooper. Many thanks for answering my interview questions A.L. and good luck with your future publications.

****

Why did you write Twisted Knickers?

I wrote Twisted Knickers a few years ago, when I took a year off from my teaching job. My children were young and both at school and I’d always wanted to write a book. I’d heard a funny story about a lady who made a living on sex chat lines and I thought it would make a really original, fun character. Once I started writing I lost myself in that little fantasy world and was hooked.

What kind of reader would enjoy Twisted Knickers?

When I wrote it, I really had my girlfriends in mind, so anyone like them should enjoy my story. They are a diverse bunch but all fun, intelligent, open minded ladies who have great strength and independence. They range from what I call ‘glossy’ ladies, to bookish types, to new age hippy chicks.

How did you develop your characters?

I love people and so many of my friends and family are desperate to know if any of the characters in the story are based on them. I would say that I pull out aspects of real life in everything I write. Certainly the less desirable characters have qualities I see more in the people I don’t hang out with.  Possibly, I pick out characteristics of my own too – the good bits as well as those I like less about myself.

Why did you decide to publish Twisted Knickers yourself?

When I wrote it, there was no such thing as free self-pub or Amazon. I tried a few agents but, whilst I did get some positive and encouraging feedback, it was no go for what they called the ‘mass market.’ I suspect that this had to do with the risque nature of the story and I still get this message now, despite the success of Fifty Shades.

There is still a call for authors to fit into a cast-in-stone genre heading in that big filing cabinet up there in the lofty heights of the publishing world. Even though many people are set in their ways in terms of reading tastes, I believe this is changing because of the exploding market of digital books.

Now I have mixed feelings about the idea of getting a publishing deal. My ego says ‘yes’ but my pocket doesn’t want to share with agents, publishers, marketers and big multi-stores.


Are you working on any new writing at the moment?

Yes – I am currently working on a sequel to Twisted Knickers which I hope, perhaps rather ambitiously, to launch before Christmas.
In addition to this I have started a guide for parents to help their children succeed in Primary School, as well as a short book about the benefits of being a dog owner.
My biggest project is on hold at the moment – it is a touching young adult story with plenty of food for thought.  I’m scared of it because I want this one to be absolutely beautiful.

Link to Twisted Knickers bookpage on Amazon U.K

http://jollyjotter.wordpress.com/

Review | In Loco Parentis | Nigel Bird

I downloaded In Loco Parentis as a freebie a few weeks ago because having worked in education for many years the title caught my eye.

The main character in this novel is Joe Campion, a thirty something young teacher, who has been given a class of five year olds for the new school year. The school is somewhere in North London and the pupils have a mix of social backgrounds. The school still has a smoking room which sets the novel a good few years ago and the smoking room is used by about half the staff. The teachers are a mixed bunch and there is a strongly authentic feel to the way in which Joe relates to them.

What an enigma this young man is: and I say young man because a great deal of the time he seems to be much younger than his 30+ years. He is a caring and popular teacher but his personal life is a mess and as the novel progresses it just gets worse.

Although there are plot elements which are somewhat implausible, the writing is so good that you are completely taken in by the story. The writing style is spare and there are no extraneous details: just enough to move the plot on. Dialogue is realistic, crisp and effective in moving the plot on as well; and it certainly does move on. I couldn't put this book down and nearly burned the dinner because I kept on reading it while I was cooking.

At the end of the book there is a note from the author about his own experience in schools and I was pleased to read this because at times his insights into the thoughts and actions of a primary school teacher are very real. In fact I read one section out loud to my husband and said something like, "This writer must have been a teacher once, you wouldn't know how that feels otherwise."

Joe's relationships with several people are explored in the novel: his step-sister, colleagues, parents of children in the school and his friends. His friend Wolf is an amazing study in nihilism and the drug-fuelled lifestyle that he shares with Joe for much of the novel is at times an assault on the senses. Some of the scenes are very dark and the contrast between Joe's school life and his home life is stark. The two main female characters are Emma and his stepsister Jenny. Both are interesting characters and the development of Joe's relationship with each is at the core of the novel. There are some intriguing scenes where Joe visits his therapist with hints at a scarred childhood but it is rather left to the reader to fill in the gaps.

In many ways this is a depressing novel but at times it made me laugh aloud especially some of the scenes when Joe and Emma are together. Overall I really enjoyed reading In Loco Parentis and liked the author's writing style very much.

Review | The 24 Hour Jazz Café | Jamie Sinclair

I came across The 24 Hour Jazz Café on an Amazon "Meet Our Authors" thread when I was doing a free promotion for Julia's Room.

The 24 Hour Jazz Café was free at the same time so I downloaded it and its been in my Waiting To Be Read Folder ever since.

The 24 Hour Jazz Café is categorised on Amazon as crime / thriller / mystery but I think it should also be in political fiction because one of the best aspects of the book is its exploration of small town civic corruption. Don't know if any of this story is true but it certainly reads as though it is. It's interesting in the way it looks at some big issues related to power and control on a parochial scale.

Having said that, it's a very well written crime / thriller / mystery with a clear and direct style of writing that grabs your attention right from the start. It's difficult to write about crime thrillers without giving anything away but this one really works.

The plot is completely plausible including the depraved excesses of the local big-wigs. It moves along at a good pace with lots of action but also periodic moments of reflection which gives you time to catch up and keep up with the fast moving developments of the plot. There are lots of details in the scenes: local people and places, jazz music, police procedures, the seamier side of life which keep the novel interesting right the way through to the end.

The characterisation is excellent. You feel as though you are getting to know these people and you become completely drawn into their lives. The relationship between the main protagonists Mitch, Rupert and the love of their lives, the deceased Emily, is poignant and well explored.  There is a rich cast of supporting characters: for some you feel sympathy and others are downright awful - greedy, selfish, depraved and with a shocking contempt for other people and their local community.

The ending of the novel is cleverly written and works really well. Definitely a 5 star book and well worth reading. I was so impressed by this writing that I immediately downloaded another title by Jamie Sinclair (Playground Cool only £0.77p) and am looking forward to reading it in due course.

Review | Trial #1322 | Ryan Butcher

I had to take some medication recently for labyrinthitis (an imbalance in the inner ear caused by an infection) and the product details in the pills packet said that they were also prescribed for schizophrenia. I pondered for quite awhile as to how the pharmaceutical company had developed the drug for one condition and found it would deal with the other. I really hope that wherever it was trialled bore no resemblance to Trial #1322!

Trial #1322 is a medical / psychological thriller set in a hospital where drug trials take place. Three friends, Laura, Natalie and Jason, have signed up for several days participation in a drugs trial in return for a large amount of cash.

I've seen the odd television show about drugs trials both fact and fiction and wondered about the motivation of the human guinea-pigs involved in the trials. Well in Trial #1322 their motivation is quite simple and straightforward: cash. The three friends are all twenty-somethings who are short of cash for various reasons and highly motivated to tap into the £2500 on offer for taking part in the trials. This novel really raises the question, how far are you prepared to go for money? And the answer here is, a very long way indeed.

I don't want to give the plot away but the three unpleasant, selfish, central characters in this novel have few moral scruples as far as money is concerned. As the trials progress they find themselves in an increasingly disturbing situation. Be warned there is strong language and scenes of a sexual and violent nature in this novel.

The writing style in Trial #1322 is immediate and colloquial and the reader jumps around inside the heads of Laura, Natalie and Jason which could be confusing but the author manages to stay in control. Consequently the plot moves along with good pace and a strong forward drive. As the plot unfolds you get to know the characters very well and although each has some very unappealing traits you find yourself developing some sympathy for them too. The supporting characters are well imagined; at least I hope some of them are imaginary because otherwise I shall be sleeping less comfortably at night.

The novel ends with a conundrum for the reader in relation to the effects of the medication being trialled and where the hallucinations end and reality begins. There is a really neat little sting in the tail as well. An enjoyable first novel from Ryan Butcher and I shall be keeping a look out for what comes next.

Three Shorts

Fifty Shades of Red Riding Hood by R.R Hood

I got this as a freebie at the weekend as it went shooting up the Free Bestsellers Top 100. It's a short story of just 6500 words so a quick and easy read. There have been innumerable spoofs of Fifty Shades of Grey most of which I have ignored but this one caught my eye as it seemed the daftest of the lot. It purports to be a parody and in places it was very funny and takes the sex fantasy aspects of the original to ridiculous but occasionally hilarious lengths. The book ends with a serious message however which I was glad to see placed there.

Penthouse Man by Kea Noli

This is more of a novella than a short story. The book has a plot of family and business intrigue, duplicity, jealousy and greed. Two sisters disagree over the future direction of their lingerie business and they're both in love with the same man. The plot moves along quickly although you don't get a great deal of insight into what makes the protagonists tick. This is because the novella is predominantly written in dialogue. Therefore you get the pace and reality of the situation but not much depth. At times the dialogue is so real that it feels as though you are in the room when two or more of the characters are arguing with each other. This book could almost be a stage play or TV drama and I think it would work well as either. You have to work quite hard when you're reading this novella to fill in some of the details and not everyone will like reading so much dialogue. I like reading play scripts so I enjoyed reading this book.

London, The Doggy and Me by Rosen Trevithick

This is a short story of about 15000 words and is a quick and easy, light-hearted read. Steph is an aspiring actress who needs to stay in London to go to an audition and being short of cash is glad to have free board and lodgings in return for dog-sitting at the home of her mother's friend. All seems to be going well until the unfortunate demise of the dog and what happens next is both ridiculous and hilarious. Very well written with a laugh on almost every page, London, The Doggy and Me is great fun and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Review | Woodhill Wood | David Harris Wilson

I enjoyed reading Tales of Johan and I Know You Will Find Me by David Harris Wilson and as he so kindly agreed to undertake an interview for Indie Bookworm last week, I thought I would read another novel written by him.

Woodhill Wood is a strange story of adolescent confusion, serial killings and an ever present woodland landscape that seems to dominate the neighbourhood. The main character is Matt Duff who has an alter ego in the form of Gurde and an increasingly unravelling family life. This is primarily his story and it takes some getting into; at first the juxtaposition of Matt and Gurde is confusing but eventually when you get into the character, the rest of the story falls into place.

Matt / Gurde's  parents are selfish and obnoxious and some of the best writing in the book is when they are sniping at each other and rowing. Woodhill Wood feels sinister and oppressive and there is a pervading sense of unease throughout the novel in relation to it; however it is the serial killer who brings the novel to a rather abrupt conclusion leaving the reader puzzling over who exactly did what to whom and why and whether or not Matt needs some serious psychiatric help.

Overall I enjoyed reading this novel although I preferred Mr Wilson's other novels. I have already got Whole Lotta Love by this author on my Kindle waiting to be read and am looking out for his next novel when it is published as well.

Review | Fleet Air Arm Memories 1939 - 1946: Tales of the Brummagen Bastard | R.S Pyne and N.H Mills

I came across Fleet Air Arm Memories 1939 - 1946: Tales of the Brummagem Bastard when I was checking out the "Meet the Authors" threads on the Amazon discussion pages. Author R.S Pyne has taken his / her grandfather's diary, notes, correspondence, citations and other documents to create this very interesting annotated memoire of the life of a young, war-time recruit in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. 

Grandfather is Norman H. Mills whose voice comes through strongly throughout this book. His memories of his experiences in just about every campaign of WW2 are quite amazing. The details are personal and give fascinating insights into the every day life of the service personnel of the era. The annotations cover a variety of topics and purposes and contain an interesting mix of explanations and technical details with some useful references to other sources for those who want to find out more.

This is the first non-fiction book I have downloaded onto my Kindle and I shall be looking out for more of this type of memoire / reminiscence material. I am interested in this topic because I am working on a project to publish an annotated WW2 diary myself although the content is very different to the Tales of the Brummagem Bastard. I have started a blog about the project at http://www.tinned-variety.blogspot.com

If you like memoires and reading about the lives of ordinary people in an historical context, Tales of the Brummagem Bastard is well worth a look. The family archive apparently contains a lot of photographic material which isn't included but will be part of a subsequent publication. If it proves to be anything like the written material it will be fascinating.  

Interview | David Harris Wilson | Author of Tales of Johan

I really enjoyed reading Tales of Johan and wrote a review of it several weeks ago. I am delighted that author David Harris Wilson has agreed to an interview for Indie Bookworm:

Why did you write “Tales of Johan”?

“Tales of Johan” is set primarily in a remote village on the West Coast of Scotland. Inverdaig is fictitious, but based on a mix of two real villages. My parents took me to the area where the book is set every year as I was growing up, and I have continued to visit almost every year since, to work or to relax. It always struck me as a beautiful and magical place – somewhere like no other. But also a place that was beginning to lose its special identity, with the increasing growth in holiday homes, incomers that could afford to move there as a lifestyle choice, and increasing tourism driving a more money focused culture. I had already written three novels, and wondered why I had never come across one that I enjoyed set in that part of the world. I loved the early Marquez books, and wanted to see if I could tell a story, using real superstitions and folk tales, that had the same magical feel. And writing about Scotland is always fun!"

What kind of reader would enjoy “Tales of Johan”?

“I honestly think this book is for everyone and anyone. It has been read by a range of ages, from teens to elderly, of both sexes, and everyone seems to get something out of it.”

How did you develop your characters?

“I always think about the end of the book before I start, knowing the key people in the last scene and what they are thinking, and then work back to start their arc in a different place. But Johan, who sprang on to the page fully formed, and then was rather difficult to control, was an exception.”

Why did you decide to publish “Tales of Johan” yourself?

“I came very close to getting my first novel published with a major London firm. That would have been life-changing twenty years ago, but they decided my work wasn’t commercial enough. Over the following years I got many letters from publishers through my agent praising my books, but saying they were hard to categorize and therefore hard to sell. Times were always hard for publishers. So, I came to accept that fact and using Amazon was just a chance to see if others around the world actually wanted to read them.”

Are you working on any new writing at the moment?


“Of course. Next one is set in Laos on “the Plain of Jars”; a landscape scattered with thousands of mysterious huge stone urns. It is also the most bombed area of the world ever, where it is still impossible to access many areas as the ground is littered with buried shells and cluster-bombs. My characters have found themselves in the middle of that area at the moment, and are having an interesting time!"

Follow the link to David's author page on Amazon for links to Tales of Johan and all his other books.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/David-Harris-Wilson/e/B00732WH6S/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Review | Tollesbury Time Forever | Stuart Ayris

I rather missed the party with Tollesbury Time Forever as it was published at the start of the year and was hugely successful. It has 74 predominantly five star customer reviews on Amazon and I read somewhere that it was in the semi-finals of the best Amazon book of 2012 (or something like that). I downloaded the novel several weeks ago after I'd read the other two novels that Stuart Ayris has published on Amazon, both of which I thought were excellent.

Tollesbury Time Forever is an intriguing, challenging, clever and beautifully written novel. It is based on the assertion made by the author that he was a psychiatric nurse who went with the police into the house of one of his patients because the man, Simon Anthony had disappeared along with his wife and son. The walls were covered in thousands of words written in tiny handwriting and he (the author) has transcribed the words and slightly added to them to tell Simon's story. Right from the start this works and gives the opening and all that comes thereafter a strong sense of authenticity. For most of the novel we are, through the transcribed words, in Simon's head and sharing his world as he sees it. Because Simon has complicated mental health issues for which he needs medication, Simon's world is not an easy one to understand; yet at times his world is the one that seems straightforward and it is the "real" world that is too complex.

I think it is difficult to write about the sort of issues that are explored in this novel but here it is done with sensitivity and insight. The novel is easy to read but it is dealing with complex and challenging ideas. I finished reading the book several days ago and am still thinking about it - particularly the ending. I will probably read it again quite soon.

Even though it is dealing with serious matters, the novel tells a good tale and you read through it quickly because you get involved with Simon and the other characters and you want to know what is going to happen next and how the dilemmas are going to be resolved. The FRUGALITY of the trilogy's title is a big part of the novel and it is the introduction to this that is the turning point for Simon - or is it the turning point for the reader? FRUGALITY embodies an interesting, meaningful and relevant philosophy and the narrative around it's exploration is almost simplistic yet it promotes big, overarching ideas.

At times the writing style becomes musical with overtones of Beatles lyrics and allusions; sometimes it reads like nursery rhymes; at other times there is a musical rhythm in the language. In places the style is poetical and some segments really are poetry. I loved reading this book although it made me want to cry in places (but I didn't because it stops short of being soppy). Stuart Ayris has recently published a book of poems Bighugs, Love and Beer and even though I don't usually read poetry, I have downloaded it because I liked the poetry so much in this novel.

It doesn't matter if you read this novel and The Bird That Nobody Sees (the second book in the FRUGALITY trilogy) out of order. However, if you haven't read either I would read Tollesbury Time Forever first because then you get FRUGALITY explained fully rather than the potted version that is in The Bird That Nobody Sees. I thought both novels were really good and well worth reading. I am looking forward to reading the third novel in the trilogy and hope it appears soon.

Since I started writing this review, I have read the poems in Bighugs, Love and Beer. I don't usually read contemporary poetry but I enjoyed most of these because they rhyme - and I do like rhymes. Some are funny, some quirky, some romantic (ish), some child-like, some serious. There is good word-play in some and overall, I enjoyed reading the collection.  

Interview | Kristine Cayne | Author of Deadly Obsession and Deadly Addiction

I have read, enjoyed and reviewed both novels in Kristine Cayne's Deadly Vices series and I am delighted that she has agreed to an author interview for Indie Bookworm.

Why did you write Deadly Addiction?

I grew up in an area that was home to several Iroquois tribes. However, other than a field trip to one of the reserves in 7th grade, I knew very little about them. What I did know came mainly from the media and was obviously very biased.

The year 2000 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Oka Crisis. This was a time of great conflict between the Canadian government—both the military and the Quebec Provincial Police (SQ)—and the native populations around Montreal. The violent clash resulted in a long siege of two of the reserves as well as the death of an SQ corporal.

I began doing some research online about this crisis and tried to see it from both sides. The more I learned, the more I knew there was a story to be told--what if a member of one of these tribes fell in love with an SQ officer? What opposition would they face today? Modern day natives face many pressures from outside their tribes as well as from within. I also touch on these in my book.


What kind of reader would enjoy Deadly Addiction?

Deadly Addiction is first and foremost a romance. So romance readers should enjoy it. But it is also a story of intrigue and suspense. Mainstream fiction readers who enjoy a good romantic thriller and like to read about unusual characters in unique settings will enjoy Deadly Addiction.


How did you develop your characters?

The character of Rémi appears in Deadly Obsession, book one of the Deadly Vices series. He is the hero’s loyal and dependable friend. I wanted Rémi and Alyssa, the heroine, to have law enforcement in common, but widely differing approaches. Rémi is methodical, does things by the book. We see this even in Deadly Obsession. Alyssa, on the other hand, is the maverick cop. She’s impulsive and quick to judge. Neither approach is all right or all wrong, and this comes out in the story. They complement each other well.


Why did you decide to publish Deadly Addiction yourself?

I spent about six months shopping my first book, Deadly Obsession around, only to be told that movie heroes in books didn’t sell, that romantic suspense was dead or dying and that publishers were only buying the big names in that genre. At the same time, self-publishing was on the rise. After doing extensive research on it, I decided—why not? I felt my story was unique, well-written, and well edited. I hired a cover artist and a professional formatter and uploaded my books. From that point on, I stopped trying to get an agent or a publisher.


Are you working on any new writing at the moment?

Yes, I’m working on book three in the Deadly Vices series, Deadly Deception. This is Kaden’s story, and most of it will take place in Afghanistan. Yes, I do love research. LOL.

I’m also working on a very sexy new series featuring a team of rescue firefighters. A novelette that kicks off the series will be published in the Romance in the Rain anthology next month. The first book in the series, Under His Command, should be out by the end of the year.

Thankyou so much Kristine. I am sure I speak for all your fans when I say we are looking forward to reading Deadly Deception..... and Good Luck with the new series.

http://www.kristinecayne.blogspot.com

Deadly Obsession bookpage on amazon UK

Deadly Addiction bookpage on amazonUK

Review | Deadly Addiction | Kristine Cayne

I read Deadly Obsession by Kristine Cayne several months ago and enjoyed reading it. A second novel is Deadly Addiction and I thought it was even better than Deadly Obsession. The two novels are linked because peripheral characters in one become central characters in the other and vice versa.

Once again this is a romantic love story and a suspense thriller where a series of obstacles come in the way of true love; but what makes this a really interesting novel is the setting and context for the story. I will hold up my hands and say I know very little about the true history of the native peoples of North America apart from the stereotypes promoted in the films of my childhood and I know probably even less about the real life, contemporary issues affecting those peoples today. I felt that what I was reading was either the authentic experience of the author or very well researched and by the end of the novel I was much more aware of what life must be like on the "rez" and the attitudes and experiences of the inhabitants. In addition there is an interesting exploration of mixed-race, dual heritage issues which I thought was sensitively handled and developed.

The writing style is accessible and straightforward and the novel is well presented. The plot is well constructed and moves along with good pace to a dramatic and nail-biting conclusion. The characters are full and engaging and the author has made both of the protagonists into people you are concerned about and want to know how they will resolve their difficulties and how their relationship will turn out. The supporting cast is various and each is well developed too. There are some sexy, sizzling scenes in the book but the writer doesn't stray into erotica and uses the steamy aspects of the emerging relationship between the main characters to drive the plot forward.

It took me the best part of a week to read this novel because my reading time was somewhat curtailed but in normal circumstances it would have been read in a couple of sessions because this is one of those novels you can't put down. A really good read and I am definitely looking out for another novel by this author.

Review | The Amber Heart | Catherine Czerkawska

The Amber Heart is a love story in an historical setting. Maryanne and Piotro are the star-crossed lovers who are kept apart by wealth (or lack of it), social class and convention. The novel spans their entire lives and you find yourself drawn into their world, sharing their emotions, passions and frustrations.

The historical setting is Poland in the nineteenth century and there is sufficient detail, based on the author's personal researches into her own heritage, to make the story interesting and to create an unusual background without turning into a history textbook.

The writing is clear and direct and the entire book is well presented. The author has skilfully and plausibly presented the dilemmas faced by the two main characters and she has the ability to sustain this throughout this substantial novel. The supporting characters are developed well and dialogue is naturalistic and convincing. All the loose ends are competently tied up by the end of the story and there is a good sense of satisfaction as you finish the book that everything has been resolved.

An excellent holiday read or for any other time you want to loose yourself in a good book.

Review | I Know You Will Find Me | David Harris Wilson

I have already read and enjoyed Tales of Johan by David Harris Wilson and although it is a very different type of novel I have enjoyed reading I Know You Will Find Me as well. The story-line is familiar: there has been a pandemic and society is falling apart. The protagonist, biology teacher Peter, has lost track of his son and in the process of searching for him acquires a surrogate family. There are however some unexpected twists in the tale which moves along at a good pace with some tense, breath-holding moments. I liked Peter, the teacher, and his attempts to explain the pandemic and the situation, anticipate the future and explain away his actions. As a teacher he seemed real; as a survivor (like most of us I suspect) he struggles. The supportive cast are well written with sufficient detail to make the novel interesting but this is overwhelmingly Peter's story. As you read you share his confusion, his worries, his hopes and his desolation; by the end of the novel you feel you know him well and you really hope that somehow everything will turn out alright for him. I thought I Know You Will Find Me was a real page-turner and it would make a great holiday read.

Review | 2032 | AS Anand

I read a couple of flash fiction collections by AS Anand a while ago and remembered I'd downloaded his novel 2032 and not got round to reading it. It is listed on Amazon as 2032 - An Experimental Post-Apocalyptic Novel and the contents page shows that the work is structured around a series of dates in 2032.

It reads more like a very large flash fiction collection than a conventional novel. There are some obvious links between some of the items; some other items have a more tangential link to the main theme and some of them seem disparate and isolated. I found 2032 difficult to get into and in Part I didn't recognise the author I had admired so much in the previous collections. By Part II, either I was becoming accustomed to the format or the author had taken more control of his writing because I thought the pieces were much better. There was some sharp, precise writing demonstrating imagination and originality and this continued throughout the remainder of the novel.

A dystopian novel is not usually to my taste apart from the classics - 1984 and Brave New World - but as I was interested in the writer's style I persevered with the content. The world of global domination, Sectors, insurgents and presidential excess develops intermittently through the piece and I found myself being gradually drawn into it.

I really enjoyed reading some of the more peripheral sections of which two bore an uncanny resemblance to The Guardian Book Blog on a day when the regulars have over-dosed on mutual aggrandising.

Some of the writing was even better than the pieces I'd enjoyed in the previous collections. There is a variety of writing styles of which some works better than others. The last entry is amazing - if it's real it is clever and prophetic. Overall if you want to try something different, then 2032 is well worth a look.

Review | The Bird That Nobody Sees | Stuart Ayris

I read A Cleansing of Souls by Stuart Ayris a few days ago and posted a blog about it on the same day that the author published his new novel, The Bird That Nobody Sees. I downloaded this with the intention of reading it later in the summer. No chance. I glanced at the opening pages and couldn't put it down; every spare moment has been spent reading it and quite a few things were put on hold so that I could finish it.

The blurb says it's the second book in a trilogy but I didn't register that until afterwards so it definitely will stand alone; and I am intrigued by FRUGALITY. Is this something like "If you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs and blaming it on you…" that everybody knows or is it the writer's own? If it's his, well, it's really great; if we all took it as our daily mantra and implemented it we could improve our world hugely.

From reading the other novel, I expected to be entertained, to be given something to think about and to admire the quality of the writing and I wasn't disappointed. There are some lovely descriptive passages in The Bird That Nobody Sees, some interesting word play and at times writing that is almost poetic. The dialogue is real and makes a big contribution to making the characters live. The story-line is original, well constructed and entirely plausible (Eastern Region Angel Collective??? Yes, entirely plausible).

I am not going to give anything away but when it is explained why certain characters are doing what they do, it is so heartrendingly sad and poignant that it makes a tear come into your eye; but it's not one bit sentimental. There are aspects to the story which provide a social commentary on the world we are living in but done with a deft, light touch so as not to be preachy just honest and sincere.

The setting is Chelmsford (which is in Essex in case you've never been there) and the town (or city) features in the novel as one of the characters which are all very well written. They're real and full of personality and you feel like you've met some of them before. They're engaging and you are interested in what they're doing and what they're going to do next and they drive the novel on at a fair old pace.

The author has offered a beautifully written narrative; a lively and engaging story; excellent characterisation and sensitive social commentary. If The Bird That Nobody Sees was just that it would be a very good novel. But it has something else that I wasn't expecting. Stuart Ayris can write funny: at times a quiet chuckle and sometimes a great guffaw. This is one of the most amusing and entertaining novels I've read for quite a while. The Bird That Nobody Sees is getting five stars on amazon from me and if I could give it ten I would.

Review | A Cleansing of Souls | Stuart Ayris

I noticed on the Kindle Users' Forum that Tollesbury Time Forever by Stuart Ayris had reached the semi-finals of the Amazon Book Awards for 2012 and as I hadn't read it yet thought now would be a good time. When I was downloading it I noticed A Cleansing of Souls by the same author and decided to read that first.

Apart from the opening chapter, the novel is set in 1989 and is a remarkable evocation of that era. Some scenes, for example in the Benefits Office are strongly relevant to the present day.

There are two main characters: Michael and Tom. Their lives are separate but come together briefly before separating again. Each character is complex and dealing with personal, emotional and social issues of an intense and disturbing nature. Each character is very well written and you quickly become involved in the lives of both men and concerned about them. Some aspects of their lives are similar and many are not and afterwards you are left pondering about where they overlap and what the factors that lead to their behaviours were and how things might have been different for them. Not to give the story-line away but there are some very poignant and moving scenes although unexpectedly the novel does end on an optimistic note. The cast of supporting characters are equally well drawn particularly Tom's father George and Tom's friend Sandy and her parents.

The story-line sustains your interest right through to the end although you have to give it some concentration at first to get into it. This is a thoughtful and reflective novel but there are plenty of scenes where direct action moves the story forward, ensures a good pace and offers several surprising developments.

There is some beautiful, lyrical, descriptive writing which is not over-done but creates vivid images as you read.

The lay-out of the novel is interesting using blocked paragraphs with a wider spacing between paragraphs than you usually find. The consequence of this is to slow you down as you read; you can't speed read this novel. But then why would you want to? It is a novel to savour and think about because it raises some challenging and controversial issues.

I was really impressed by the author's ability as a writer and the quality of this novel. A Cleansing of Souls deserves its many five star reviews on Amazon and really is a very good literary novel.

Kindle ebooks | VAT

There is a petition on the government's epetition web-site which concludes on August 8th to scrap VAT on ebooks. It's got over 5000 signatures but I suspect it hasn't got more because Kindle books on Amazon originate in Luxembourg and attract a lower rate (3% I think) so probably many ebook readers wouldn't think there was a case to argue. However I think that the rationale for the petition is very interesting. The petitioner contends that paper books use oil based inks and glues, consume a great deal of energy for paper production and printing, use fuel oil for distribution, over use land for warehousing and then when discarded many paper books end up in  landfill sites. The argument is that ebooks are far more environmentally friendly using a tiny fraction of the energy of a paper book for production, distribution and storage and at the end its life it is simply deleted. I wondered why an ebook didn't count as a book anyway and found out that for official purposes, a book has to have a stiffened cover different to the paper which the rest of the book is printed on. So that's that then. Here's the link to the epetition on the Downing Street web-site anyway.

Underground Book Club magazine

Edition 3 of Underground Book Club magazine has been distributed this week; more info on their FB page

https://www.facebook.com/?sk=welcome#!/UGBookClub

or web-site

http://www.undergroundbookclub.co.uk/

My review of  The Godling: A Novel of Masalay was in Edition 2 of UBC; it's a really good read and has

great extended content at the Godling web-site

Review | Sloth (The Seven Deadly Sins) | AS Anand

Sloth by AS Anand is a collection of seven flash fiction stories and is one of a series themed around The Seven Deadly Sins. I got this as a free download, read it quickly and enjoyed it so much immediately downloaded another (Pride) in the same series.

Each story is self-contained and quite different and separate from the others. A liberal blogger, a man with a curious addiction, a couple trying to re-kindle their love life are some of the characters introduced. The writing styles vary but each story is well written. Concise, precise, with the clarity of a pane of glass, AS Anand gives you the story, the thoughts, the emotions in short, intense bursts. I particularly liked "Hair of the Dog" and "The Glasshouse Liberal".

I discovered Flash Fiction a few months ago and have already read two really good collections which I wrote about previously. I think AS Anand has a good command of this way of writing too; there is nothing superfluous in his style and in a few short pages you get a well constructed and completely formulated story.

I realised that I had downloaded his full length novel 2032 - An Experimental Post-Apocalyptic Novel some while ago and never got round to reading it so I've moved it up my "waiting to be read" list and will be interested to see if the quality of the writing is sustained in a larger work.

Review | The One You Love | Paul Pilkington

I got The One You Love by Paul Pilkington as a free download and at the time of writing it's sales ranking is #6 free in the Kindle Store and the blurb says it was number one for a full month in 2011 with over one million downloads. It's got 282 customer reviews and they go on for pages and pages. Overall it gets 3.5 stars and loads of terrible one star reviews as well as plenty of good reviews too.

I wondered why so many readers loved it and probably even more seemed to loathe it. There was a clue in the blurb which said that this was a new edition which had been professionally copy-edited and scanning quickly through the one star reviews, the complaints were mostly to do with spelling and punctuation; although there appeared to be a serious plot failure too.

Well I am pleased to say that the presentation - spelling, punctuation, typos, formatting - was good enough and the plot error had vanished; what I read was a well constructed, entertaining suspense mystery with elements of romance that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Emma Holden is an aspiring actress whose fiancé vanishes just before the wedding leaving his brother battered and bloody on her bathroom floor. She has had a stalker in the past and it looks like she's got one still while her family are keeping secrets from her which Emma must unravel if she wants to see her fiancé alive again.

I found The One You Love to be a fast moving, generally plausible, page -turning novel that was easy and quick to read but one that kept my interest right up to the end.

Review | Not What She Seems | Victorine E Lieske

Not What She Seems by Victorine E Lieske is a well presented, easy to read romantic suspense novel.

Steven Ashton is quite good looking, successful and very, very rich. Emily Grant is quite good looking, unsuccessful and very, very poor. She is on the run and he spends most of the novel running after her. There are twists and turns in the plot which at times stretch credulity but author Victorine E Lieske always brings the story back down to earth and you keep turning the pages to see how it all turns out and how she is going to explain away the intricacies of the plot.

The author makes you sympathetic to the main characters and wary of those who are not acting in their interests. Emily has a child, Connor, and you really feel for him as he is dragged from one place to another as the plot unfolds and yet all the time he just remains a sweet little kid apparently unaffected by all the trauma.

No sex, drugs or rock and roll in this novel. Steven and Emily are very chaste and the early stage of their romance is nearly all verbal, hardly physical at all. There are a few additional bodies as well as the main murder victim who don't get a great deal of attention and the perpetrator rather vanishes into custody but that doesn't affect the main story so you can live with that. Overall an enjoyable read, ideal for the beach or a very wet Sunday afternoon in July.

Review | Missing Person | Jack Erikson

I downloaded Missing Person by Jack Erikson after reading a preview in one of his other books. As I anticipated it was a quick and easy read which I enjoyed reading. When a retired college professor finds a bundle of old love letters he is intrigued and tries to work out the story of yet another eternal triangle; here a woman who is involved with two men neither of whom are willing to let go with rather serious consequences. The professor discovers the truth and is faced with the dilemma of what to do about it. This time Jack Erikson offers a much more plausible ending to round off a neatly constructed (longish) short story.

Review | Perfect Crime | Jack Erikson

I got Perfect Crime by Jack Erikson as a free download; it is a quick and easy read and has a very mixed set of reviews on Amazon. I'm with those who liked the book because although there are elements of implausibility in the ending, the characterisation of the female protagonist is really interesting. She is a woman who has been cheated on by her husband and she plans the perfect crime to exact her revenge. Her background is in engineering and she brings the same clinical detachment to her revenge project as she would to any project at work. I don't know if her revenge strategy really is plausible but it worked for me and I was persuaded that she managed to implement it as intended. So long as you don't take it too seriously (and who would?) this is a good read. The author includes two samples of other titles at the end of Perfect Crime and they both seemed to be similarly easy-reading crime thrillers which looked as though they would be worth a look so I downloaded Missing Persons for the special offer price of just £0.42p.

Review | Black | Corey Cummings

This is the story of Blake and Cora May who meet by chance in a grocery store. In many ways Black by Corey Cummings is a straightforward love story where things that have happened in the past impact on what is going on in the present. The "Black" of the title is the name of the dog belonging to one of the main characters and he is as much a part of the story as any of the human animals. The story line is plausible and engaging and the characters are well imagined and real.

Two aspects of the writing make this novel really interesting. First, although otherwise well punctuated, the author has chosen to write dialogue without using inverted commas. This jumps off the opening pages and initially I thought this was typographical errors on a huge scale until I realised that apart from the missing inverted commas the writing was very well constructed and presented. (Someone recently told me that James Joyce used this trick so I suppose this author is following in the footsteps of greatness). Once I'd got over my prejudice that demands correct punctuation, I found that it didn't really matter; the writing made just as much sense as if the inverted commas had been there. The consequence is that you really focus on the dialogue.

The other interesting aspect is the way view points keep shifting; there are five main characters in this novel and the story is moved along from the differing perspectives of these characters. This works very well and all the components fit together to make a cohesive whole.

The author Corey Cummings is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin according to the author's details and the winner of prizes there and at the start of the novel he thanks everyone in the undergrad. writing programme for their support so I presume this novel is a product of his writing course. Well it certainly worked: a relatively mundane story is transformed into something lively, original and worth reading by breaking some rules and taking some risks.

Review | The Winnowing | Chris Fyles

The Winnowing by Chris Fyles is a disturbing and perplexing novel: disturbing by confronting head on some serious issues like bullying, racism and mental health; perplexing because when you reach the end of the novel you are not sure whether or not you have become part of the delusional world of the protagonist Richard Brot.

You first meet Richard Brot as an adult living a squalid alcoholic life-style and believe me author Chris Fyles has written such a vivid, detailed account of Brot's daily life that you can almost smell him. However you become intrigued by Brot and start to wonder how he ever got into such a state. The author then takes you back to Brot's school days and family life and you accompany him as he moves forward towards maturity. Brot is the narrator in this novel and he seems to want three things: a girlfriend, to be popular and to do what's right. He is particularly bothered about morality and doing the right thing but things don't always work out as he would wish.

I can't exactly say I enjoyed reading The Winnowing but it was definitely worth reading. The author writes well with a sharp incisive style and there is some good dialogue although there is some unusual formatting of some of the dialogue sections. All the characters are well drawn and create strong impressions as you read. Brot comes over like a genuine adolescent and his so called friends are equally authentic.

I am still puzzling over the title: winnowing is to sort out the wheat from the chaff or more figuratively, to sift through the evidence. And that is what I'm left trying to do - get really to the heart of what is going on in this novel. I think it is a novel that will stand up to reading again and I don't think that there is any greater compliment to a novel than that.

Underground Book Club | The Godling: A Novel of Masalay

Many congratulations to CK Collins and editor Christina Elmore (The Godling: A Novel of Masalay) for their tie-up with new venture Underground Book Club.

Underground Book Club is a free magazine for commuters in London. The magazine showcases the first 3 chapters of 3 great books for commuters to read on their journey.

I was delighted to provide a review of The Godling for Underground Book Club. It really is an amazing book; beautifully written, fascinating and original story, engaging and sympathetic characters.

You can read the Amazon sample of The Godling here http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006FDAK9W

Visit the Underground Book Club web-site here http://www.undergroundbookclub.co.uk/

Review | The Cupboard Under The Stairs | Roger Knowles

Last week this book was doing well on the Amazon bestseller lists particularly in the "Horror" category and was being discussed in an on-line forum that I visit from time to time. I read the free sample on the Amazon site and thought I would give it a go even though I don't often read horror. In fact I can only think of Stephen King, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker as authors of horror novels I've ever read unless you count Daphne Du Maurier The Birds and Don't Look Now which I think are really scary.

On balance The Cupboard Under the Stairs is just as much a psychological crime thriller as a horror story. That's not to say that there isn't some horrible, gory crime in this novel and some seriously spooky carved wooden figures; and you're left with a couple of loose ends that might have a psychological explanation but then again ….. who knows? Harry Tompkin the central character is a loner and social mis-fit but also a brilliant woodcarver. Unfortunately when his latest creation is finished, things begin to go seriously wrong. DI Jack Hogg and DS Peter Edwards are called in to sort out the mess and they are in a race against time to get the situation under control.

Author Roger Knowles has put together a well constructed murder thriller. His police detective characters are plausible and you are sympathetic to the challenges of their task; his evil protagonist is mad, bad and dangerous but incredibly sad and that is my remaining thought - how very sad. I don't want to spoil the ending but it could be that it's not sad at all - just seriously scary.

I was interested by the book cover that Roger Knowles has used for this novel. He has gone 100% against the prevailing wisdom that an artwork book cover is an essential selling point: this is just chalk board with school teacher handwriting of title and author's name. That's all there is. I belong to the generation that spent its formative years looking at the spines of books in libraries and book shops - long before the use of display tables - just the odd display board with metal holders for a handful of front facing books. Therefore I'm not particularly bothered about cover art and am far more influenced when choosing books by an intriguing or catchy title, the familiarity of the author and the blurb. So it was interesting to see that a book without cover artwork could do so well.

The author is donating part of the proceeds of the sales of this book to the UK Chronic Fatigue Syndrome charity which has a web site at http://www.chronicfatiguesyndrome.me.uk/ I enjoyed reading The Cupboard Under the Stairs which is still doing well on the Amazon bestseller ranking and at the moment is 10th in the Fiction / Thriller / Horror category.

Kindle app

I was talking to a couple of people yesterday who were interested in reading Michael's novel but they didn't have a Kindle. They had no idea that you can download a free Kindle app from amazon to use on a PC, ipad, ipod, android etc. Also they didn't know that in the Kindle store on the amazon site you can read a free sample of whatever book you're interested in before you decide to download it. So in the event that anyone reading this blog didn't know either here is the link:

The Godling | Underground Book Club

Author CK Collins (The Godling: A Novel of Masalay) has teamed up with Underground Book Club in an exciting new venture. Read all about it here:

Review | The Ganesha Keystone | Laurie Maitland

The main character in the Ganesha Keystone is Fran, a twenty something young woman with an interesting family heritage that she decides to explore while on her holiday in India. She meets Lili, an old friend of her Indian grandfather, who in re-counting her life story to Fran explains the circumstances of Fran's family history too. As Fran listens to Lili's story of love, loss and hope she starts to reflect on her own life and questions exactly what love means. I really enjoyed reading this novel which I downloaded as a freebie several weeks ago. The main characters are well developed and as the story unfolds you feel that you are really getting to know them. Not wishing in any way to spoil the story but author Laurie Maitland has created in Fran's boyfriend Simon one of the most obnoxious male characters I have met in a novel for quite a while. The juxtaposition of Lili's story, which is set mainly in the 1940's, with Fran's contemporary life of work, family, friends and Simon produces an interesting tale with plenty of variety and contrast. I thought the writing was strongest in Lili's voice where at times it was sad and emotional and at other times, feisty and direct. Never having visited India myself, I thought the travelogue writing contained some interesting descriptions and explanations about Indian history, life and culture from a tourist perspective that enhanced the novel and made Lili's story more plausible. In a few places there is a need for further proof reading and checking of punctuation but this doesn't in any way spoil the story or detract from one's enjoyment of it. The Ganesha Keystone is a light, easy to read novel that would be ideal for a holiday read whether in India or any other destination. Author Laurie Maitland has also published "Hailstones in May" which sounds like another unusual story and I am looking forward to reading it when time allows.

Review | Machine Wash Warm, Tumble Dry | GP Grewal

A few weeks ago I read Nihilist 5.0 by this author and found it made interesting reading so when I saw Machine Wash Warm, Tumble Dry available for free I didn't hesitate to download it. Although similar in tone and content to Nihilist 5.0 I thought this was a much better book: the story was more controlled, the characterisation more rounded and the writing style more focussed and precise. The novel is once again set in L.A and the protagonist is a "20-something nerd named Leonard" who has an interest in making his fantasy life a reality. However unlike Nihilist 5.0, this fantasy life doesn't overwhelm the novel and it is written about in a lively and often very funny style. The novel explores the dark and depressing side of life but Leonard is an endearing character despite his excessive need to indulge his sexual fantasies as he yearns for romance and true love. Subsidiary characters are well developed and although they are in the novel for a serious purpose, at times they are hilarious. Some of the name-calling may cause offense but what appears at times to challenge political correctness is, I think, being used to make points about society at large. The author is cynical about contemporary life and its effect on the mass of the population but this novel is less bleak than Nihilist 5.0 and might even be pointing towards a happier ending than that experienced by Frank. Overall Machine Wash Warm, Tumble Dry is well written, entertaining, provocative and relevant. I enjoyed reading this ebook and having now had two of GP Grewal's novels as freebies decided to complete the set and pay for the third one.