An Interview with Author Julia Hughes

I enjoyed reading A Raucous Time, the first in the Celtic Cousins' Adventures, and asked author Julia Hughes if she would be willing to answer a few questions about the book and her writing. I was delighted when she agreed and am very pleased to post this interview with Julia Hughes today.

Why did you write A Raucous Time?

Because I love mystery and history: King John's treasure disappeared almost a thousand years ago – this is my explanation of what might have happened. 
Considering nothing is ever truly lost:
  • either the treasure has been found …
  • or it never existed …
  • or it was hidden … and Celtic Cousin Wren is willing to bet his life that this last theory is correct.  

What kind of reader would enjoy A Raucous Time?

As one reviewer said, Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code, so hopefully, anyone who enjoys adventure and intrigue. "A Raucous Time" is the first of the Celtic Cousins' Adventures; ("A Ripple in Time" and "An Explosive Time" follows), and so is usually (river gods permitting) available to download for free from most good virtual book stores.

How did you develop your characters?

By climbing inside their minds – writing from the inside out – putting flesh on the bones, then dressing the flesh – it's no accident that Crombie's beloved leather jacket has huge pockets – he's not the kind of guy to use a briefcase – so hopefully readers realise that Detective Inspector Crombie and paperwork don't mix.

What has been the biggest influence on your career as a writer?

Professionally, the development of ebooks. It's turned the entire publishing industry on its head.

Personally, readers. When I'm writing, I'm there in the scene. I want readers to be there too. This is why books survive: why a collection of words wins hands down over full colour HD, 3D, blockbuster movies with stereo sound surround:
Hollywood's biggest budget cannot compete with a reader's imagination.

Are you working on any new writing at the moment?

Book #3 in The Griffin Riders' Chronicles is waiting for one last read through before sending to my editor. There's a new Country Lovers' Romance almost ready to join "The Bridle Path", and Detective Inspector Crombie is about to get his own series!

Between writing, I beta read for three very successful and talented indie authors, in my favourite genre: Crime/thrillers. I also co-admin the book related site, Words Unlimited, where readers can discover new titles, and book bloggers and reviewers often drop by with their recommendations too! 

My own site is at Julia Hughes.co.uk, where full details of all my titles can be found. It's been fabulous meeting you, and a delight to appear on your site, so please don't be a stranger – drop by anytime!

☺☺☺

Thankyou so much Julia for sharing your thoughts. It's been a pleasure to have you here on my blog and I shall certainly be visiting your website and Words Unlimited from now on.

Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb

You can tell by the cover of  Lizzie Lamb's Boot Camp Bride that it's going to be funny and you're not disappointed.

Charlee Montague is an aspiring reporter who is looking for a big break. As a high flying graduate, she speaks several languages including Latin and the book is peppered with references to her braininess. She's a feminist and intent on carving out a career for herself. As the romance evolves she is determined to keep her independence and her cool.

After a seemingly chance encounter with seasoned photo-journalist Rafael Ffinch. (and no that's not a typo that really is his name) Charlee is on course for a scoop.

The Boot Camp of the title is situated in the Norfolk marshes and is the destination of choice for celebrity brides preparing for the big day. I've rarely heard of anything so ridiculous (and think Charlee would agree) but this provides the back-drop for a plot which from time to time makes you snort with laughter.

I really liked Charlee. I thought she was believable and down-to-earth and I particularly enjoyed her smart, sassy dialogue. Rafael, the fake fiancé, is full of his own importance to start with but improves as the novel progresses.

There's a cast of well written cameo characters notably Charlee's friend Poppy, Poppy's father Sam and Russian model, Anastasia Markova. However the star of the subsidiary characters is Rafa's re-furbed VW camper van with the souped up Porsche engine.

Charlee's relationship with Rafa goes through a whole series of highs and lows and author Lizzie Lamb manages to create lots of romantic atmosphere as the tale unfolds. Right until the end the temporary nature of the fake engagement is sustained and the reader is kept on tenterhooks throughout.

Boot Camp Bride is a well written and very amusing romance novel which would be ideal for a holiday read or a long winter night in front of the fire.

You can find more details of Lizzie Lamb's books on her website here or at her Amazon author page here.



Another Blogs Roundup

I've had my tour around the blogs of my favourite indie authors today and found some interesting, informative and entertaining posts.

Wendy Percival, author of Blood-Tied, has published a new Esme Quentin mystery novel. The Indelible Stain is available in the Amazon Kindle Store and there are details here and on the author's website.

The closing date has passed for the September short story writing competition at The Cult of Me Blog but already there are details of a new competition for October. You can check out the details here. In addition there's an interview with author Marilyn Peake, an introduction to writer Lynne Stringer's blog and lots of samples of interesting writing.

If you've read my blog before you'll know how impressed I was by Saskia Tepe's moving account of her own and her mother's lives, described so sensitively in Surviving Brigitte's Secrets: A Holocaust Survivor. Her Daughter. Two Traumatic Journeys. Saskia Tepe's blogpost this week Memorial Archive brings the story to a close as she explains what she's done with the documents her mother saved from all those years ago.

I enjoyed reading Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor by Matt J.Pike and wrote a review of the book a couple of weeks ago. An interesting aspect of Matt Pike's ebooks are that they contribute to fund-raising to support research into Rett's Syndrome. I discovered his website and blog a few days ago which is described as "Creating sci-fi worlds while raising money to find a cure for Rett's Syndrome". As well as promo pieces about the books there's information about Rett's Syndrome and you meet the author's daughter, Abby, who has the condition. There's a lovely short story on the front page at the moment Royal Etiquette Takes Time and don't miss this post in the blog section.

I read the excellent novella Ravenfold by Kath Middleton earlier in the year and recently came across her website and blog. If you want to explore the connection between writing novels and growing tomatoes check out this entertaining and informative blogpost.

I've read several books by Bev - B.A. - Spicer including the hilarious Bunny on a Bike and I've got A Good Day for Jumping in my Kindle WTBR folder. Bev Spicer Writer is a great blog which features entertaining accounts of her life and experiences along with excerpts from her books. Don't miss her account of a night-walk in France!

And if you enjoy a walk down Memory Lane you might like to take a stroll along Fleet Street in the 1970s.

Have you signed up for a Smashwords Reader account?

I wrote a blogpost a couple of weeks ago about how to enjoy Kindle books without buying a Kindle. In addition to the Kindle Store at Amazon, did you know that you can get lots of free and low cost ebooks from Smashwords?

If you're unfamiliar with Smashwords click here for Smashwords founder and CEO Mark Coker's explanation.

If you want to read ebooks from Smashwords it's really easy to set up a free reader's account. Then you can sample and download hundreds of titles in a wide range of genres written by indie authors from around the globe.

It isn't actually necessary to get your downloads from Smashwords. You can read the free samples - often 20% of the book - and then download from your preferred ebook retailer. Smashwords samples and downloads come in a variety of formats and whatever ereader you use there'll be something suitable.

To get your free reader account go to https://www.smashwords.com/signup/login and complete the Sign Up form. Smashwords will send an activation email which includes some useful information about using the site. This is well worth reading as it explains how to sample and download the ebooks; how to read them on whichever device you prefer; and how to use the adult filter. You can also turn the book covers on and off with a button at the bottom of the screen if you wish.

Once you've got your free reader account follow any of these links to sample the books I've published for author Michael Murray:




You'll need your adult filter turned off for both Magnificent Britain and Julia's Room as both contain adult themes and a few scenes of a sexual nature. Smashwords insist that authors decide if their ebooks are suitable for readers younger than 18 years. If they're not they have to be published in the adult category. This means that adult literary fiction like Magnificent Britain and Julia's Room ("adult language and other adult situations") gets categorised with "erotica" and books containing "graphic violence"; I quote from the Smashwords email mentioned above.

If you need help with downloading an ebook from Smashwords to your ereader, there's helpful advice for all devices on the Smashwords FAQ page: 

If you've downloaded an ebook from Smashwords onto your P.C and you want to read it on a Kindle there are several ways to transfer your file but I find this is the easiest and most straightforward:
  • Connect your Kindle to your P.C. using the USB cable supplied at time of purchase.
  • Highlight the .mobi file of the ebook you got from Smashwords in your Downloads Folder.
  • Click >Move to.
  • Select Kindle in My Computer and highlight the Kindle downloads folder.
  • Double click the highlighted Kindle downloads folder.
  • Disconnect the Kindle USB cable from the computer.
  • Open the Kindle and check the ebook has transferred. If you've downloaded Magnificent Britain by Michael Murray start reading straight away!

Book Trailer Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor by Matt Pike


Don't miss this fantastic trailer for Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor by Matt Pike.
Links to 
an interview with Matt J. Pike 
and the author's bookpage at Amazon.

Reviews Re-visited: Blood-Tied by Wendy Percival


I reviewed Blood-Tied by Wendy Percival at the start of the year. The novel introduces family history researcher Esme Quentin in a thriller based on murder and family secrets. I'm posting my review again in case you missed it first time round because a new Esme Quentin novel (The Indelible Stain) is available for pre-order now with release date scheduled for a few days time.

Two sisters are very close until one learns that the other has a secret past. Unable to get answers from Elizabeth because she is in a coma, Esme sets out on a search for the truth aided by her best friend Lucy.

What makes Blood-Tied really enjoyable are the special circumstances in which the novel is placed. Esme is a researcher with a passion for family history and Lucy works at the County Records Office and is a professional archivist.

Anyone who has an enthusiasm for family history can't help but love this book. Meticulous detail combined with a cleverly constructed plot provides the reader with a completely fresh take on a traditional mystery tale.

Author Wendy Percival uses her knowledge of history, genealogy and research methods to give this novel a great feeling of authenticity in both the family story that is at the heart of the plot and Esme and Lucy's efforts to unravel it.

A cast of well-drawn, interesting characters lead the reader through a complex story with its roots in the past and its consequences right up to the present day. A tangle of family relationships is revealed between siblings; parents and children; grandparents and off-spring; aunts, uncles and cousins; in-laws and out-laws; husbands and wives. Add to the mix nannies, housemaids, gardeners, police officers, architects, neighbours and friends: all helping to confuse and illuminate sometimes at the same time.

Highly readable with a clear, direct, no-nonsense style; good pace; interesting and unexpected twists and turns and a very satisfying ending: Blood-Tied is a really good read and highly recommended.
Get all the details of the book on author Wendy Percival's Amazon Author page or on her website.


An Interview with Author Saskia Tepe

I finished reading Surviving Brigitte's Secrets by Saskia Tepe a couple of weeks ago and still find myself thinking about the book. It is a personal and moving story which provides fascinating insights into the life of a Holocaust survivor and the effects of that experience on the next generation. The book is written with honesty and sensitivity yet deals with such a difficult subject in a very readable and accessible manner. I asked the author if she would be willing to answer some questions for my bookblog and was delighted when she agreed. I feel honoured to share Saskia Tepe's thoughts with you to-day.

What made you decide to publish Surviving Brigitte's Secrets?

Anyone I have ever been introduced to probably initially regretted asking the question, ‘…and where are you from?’ Before I can even think about answering what is really quite a normal question, they have to listen to me telling my mother’s story. On the whole however, I think that once they get past the preamble, people have found being introduced to me fascinating, and I say that tongue in cheek. But it’s true, although everyone has heard of the Holocaust, not many people know individual stories. Moreover, they also seem to be intrigued by the fact that the war didn’t just affect my mother, it also defined me, where I was born, and how I came to live in the UK.

I hadn’t heard of “second generation survivors” before, or realised that my early life experiences would have affected me so deeply. When I initially began to write everything down, it was for personal cathartic reasons. Once it was all in a word document, I realised that we were victims of a little known piece of social history. Thousands of displaced people remained in Germany well into the 1960’s, and I was saddened at the lengths desperate people had to go to in order to make a new life. The aftermath of my mothers’ experience as a result of Nazi persecution and my own experience as a refugee arriving and settling down in a foreign country pointed out further lessons to be learned, lessons that are still apt no matter how our society changes, and I wanted to share that publicly. Since the book has been published, I feel a great deal of relief, a sense of closure, and I am very happy about that. I give talks in libraries, and my mother’s story has also been told on an online database for educational purposes.

What kind of reader would enjoy Surviving Brigitte's Secrets?

If my book were a novel, it would have many popular modern themes - racism, the reasons for keeping secrets weighed against the devastating effects discovery of those secrets can have on others, labelling, bereavement, obsession and emotional turmoil, and searching for identity and roots.

Of course, being a true account, all this might make it sound quite a harrowing read – but I can assure you it is not. Because it is also about the best of humankind - love, the strength of the mother-daughter bond, and the wondrous kindness of others. So though it is heart rending at times, it is also uplifting.

When I applied to publishers, I wrote the following:

I foresee five main groups of readers who would buy this book:

• Children of parents who lived in post-war DP/Refugee Camps in Germany – given that there were millions of people that emigrated from them to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. The DP website http://www.dpcamps.org/dpcampseurope.html shows that many émigrés never shared their experiences with their children.
• People who enjoy reading personal accounts of WW2 survival stories, and children of Mischling Jews who survived the war.
• Women or men who have suffered bereavement and had to come to terms with unanswered questions left behind once their loved ones die.
• Women or men interested in searching for their roots, perhaps because they have discovered that one of their parents turns out to be a step-parent.
• Women who enjoy reading memoirs or personal social histories.

I think that still holds true.

What was the most difficult aspect of your research for Surviving Brigitte's Secrets?

The most frustrating thing I have found is that so much information is not available to me here in the UK. My mother moved so many times through three war ravaged countries, that it would take an expert to piece together what happened to her. However, much more is becoming available on databases, and I am continuing to research my mother’s history. The box of documents she left, which helped me discover some of those secrets she had kept so carefully close to her heart, still gets looked through even now. I am constantly surprised when I find a little word here or there that sends me on another lead.

What was the most surprising thing you found out when you were researching Surviving Brigitte's Secrets?

I hate to say this, but there were things about the account my mother told me when I was thirteen, that were, to me, implausible. To me, she was simply prone to exaggeration. But I hid my disbelief, because it was not something I felt I could ask questions about. For example, when she said that she managed to escape on the way to Auschwitz… everyone knew that the Nazi transports were in closed trains; open topped trains didn’t exist did they? And then, while I was writing the book some 40 years later, and the internet was available to help with research, I found a picture of a train, used to transport prisoners between labour and concentration camps in Poland. Open topped. Just like she had said. I felt a real mix of emotions. Not just surprise, and elation, but also extremely humbled and ashamed for doubting her.

Are you working on any writing at the moment?

I blog about my continuing research and discoveries, and I might have to write a revised version of the book – some of the things I have discovered! 

Whilst trying to get my memoir published, I began writing a fictional account of my mother’s life. Now I am working on adapting that into a novella with a different heroine and a different outcome.

As I am moving to the US in the new year, and beginning life as a “snowbird” - a retiree who travels with the weather, and discovers the secret places of the States in their recreational vehicle - I also intend to write a travel blog.


Many, many thanks to Saskia Tepe for this interview and every good wish for the future. You can read Saskia's blog here and find details of Surviving Brigitte's Secrets here on the bookpage at Amazon.co.uk and here at Amazon.com.

Reviews Revisited Nihilist 5.0 by G.P.Grewal

I bought my Kindle at the start of 2012 and Nihilist 5.0 by G.P. Grewal was one of the first books I downloaded as a freebie. 

I'm re-publishing my review in case you missed it first time round.

According to the dictionary a nihilist is a person who believes human existence has no objective meaning, purpose or intrinsic value and this certainly applies to the protagonist of Nihilist 5.0 - Frank.

Frank is a miserable 34-year-old slave to his tedious day-job in Los Angeles and I presume that the 5.0 in the title refers to working five days a week. Frank's evenings and weekends are usually spent alone in his apartment except when he enters a make-believe world of heroic fantasy to which he escapes with his geeky friends while playing "Dungeons and Dragons".

What Frank yearns for is romance and a chance encounter in the real world encourages him to think he might have met someone. Is there hope for Frank? Well, you will have to read the novel for yourself to find that out.

The writing is bleak, depressed, at times depressing, yet giving a powerful insight into Frank's lonely and unhappy existence. It is definitely not a "feel-good" book and at times you get too close to some of Frank's more unappealing habits. I am still not sure about the ending. It was rather left to the reader to decide and I don't think it was a very happy one.

My only problem with the book was the "Dungeons and Dragons" stuff but I guess that any reader who enjoys that sort of thing will be ok with this aspect. As far as the "Dungeons and Dragons" writing is concerned it gets really interesting stylistically. The accounts of the fantasies are dull and pedestrian in the early part of the book but by the end they are interesting and almost poetic. As Frank's life gets worse and worse, the fantasy gets better and better. I don't know anything about "Dungeons and Dragons" and can't get my head round a group of adults meeting together to play like this but in Nihilist 5.0 it provides a vivid counterpoint to the awfulness of Frank's daily life.

Overall Nihilist 5.0 is a well written and well-presented ebook which I enjoyed reading so much that a couple of months later I downloaded Machine Wash Warm, Tumble Dry by the same author.

Although similar in tone and content to Nihilist 5.0 I think Machine Wash Warm, Tumble Dry is an even better book. The story is 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 and I recommend it highly.

G.P. Grewal is also the author of a fantastic post-apocalyptic trilogy which I've reviewed more recently. Follow this link to read the most recent of those reviews. 

You can sample and download all G.P. Grewal's books on these pages:




If you're unfamiliar with Smashwords you might find this useful: How to get a free Smashwords reader account.



Around the Blogs

In my previous Blogs Roundup post I mentioned indie author Jonathan Hill's new website and blog. His many fans know that he is an enthusiastic drabbler but does everyone know he's got a Reviews Blog where all the entries are drabbles? Well worth checking out if you want some quick reads and good reviews.

Saskia Tepe, author of Surviving Brigitte's Secrets, has posted an interesting link to an exhibition dealing with the reasons why people move willingly, or by force, from their homeland to begin a new life amongst strangers. It's on her blog at http://survivingbrigittessecrets.blogspot.co.uk/

I read Nigel Bird's novel In Loco Parentis and some of his short stories some while ago but it was only recently that I came across his blog Sea Minor - creating waves in the world of fiction. He writes interesting and insightful book reviews. I particularly enjoyed a post he wrote in mid-August: Voices Of Battle-Scarred America from The Edinburgh International Book Festival which got me looking at writing by Willy Vlautin. I've ordered Vlautin's Lean on Pete from my local public library and am looking forward to reading it.

I rarely pay more than £2.99 for an ebook with the notable exception of Travels in Elysium by William Azuski so still borrow paper books from the public library from time to time. The last one was The Valley by Richard Benson which is a wonderful book but in hardback weighs a ton and costs £20.

Author William Azuski's publisher, Iridescent Publishing, has a News section on the website which includes interesting photographs matched with segments from Travels in Elysium. It also links to an eclectic mix of quirky and unusual news stories including this extraordinary report in The Guardian asserting that readers absorb less on Kindles than they do when reading paper books.

 A sample of 50 readers was divided into two groups. One group read a story on paper and the other read the same story on a Kindle. After reading the story all the readers in the sample were tested on various aspects of the story. The outcome was that those who'd read the paper copy performed much better in the tests. What amazes me is that of the 25 readers using a Kindle only two were experienced in its use. I'm not a scientist but there's no way you could call this a fair test. Anyway, thanks for that Iridescent Publishing; it certainly got me going for a while.

Indie author Michael Brookes has written some awesome horror stories. I've read The Cult of Me and Conversations in the Abyss and have Faust 2.0 in my WTBR folder. Michael Brookes is also a prolific blogger and his Cult of Me Blog is always a good read. If you're a writer don't miss his monthly short story writing competition. The closing date for September is imminent; more details here.

And finally, if you don't know about Smashwords you might find this blogpost helpful: How to get a free Smashwords reader account.

A Raucous Time (Celtic Cousins' Adventures Book 1) by Julia Hughes

I enjoyed reading A Raucous Time by Julia Hughes. It's an adventure - mystery - thriller - historical novel with a fast paced plot, some unexpected twists and turns and several engaging characters.

The novel introduces the Celtic Cousins of the title - Rhyllann and Wren.

Teenager Wren has discovered an old diary which he thinks will provide the clue to the location of King John's long-lost treasure. A Raucous Time tells the story of Wren and cousin Rhyllann's attempts to locate the treasure despite countless obstacles that get in the way.

The historical thread in the story is fascinating and provides the context and motivation for all that follows. A Raucous Time is based on the true story of King John's Treasure which was lost in 1216 in the Norfolk area of The Wash and has never been seen since - until now!

I particularly enjoyed the characterisation of Rhyllann and Wren. They are two very different individuals but their relationship is close and this is explored throughout the book. They share an overwhelming sense of loyalty to each other and this carries them through the challenges they have to overcome as the story unfolds.

However, the star of the novel must be Detective Inspector Crombie. This character's development and the intricacies of his relationship with Rhyllann and Wren is the backbone of the book. Taciturn, down-to-earth, idiosyncratic and courageous he joins the ranks of all the good fiction detectives as he aids and obstructs the Celtic Cousins in pursuit of their goals.

The teenage protagonists of A Raucous Time would probably make this book of particular appeal to readers of that age. It is an enjoyable, light, escapist novel which would be absolutely ideal for chilly, winter evenings when you just want to get lost in a book. 

I downloaded A Raucous Time as a free book from Smashwords and it is also available in the Amazon Kindle Store. You can find details of all Julia Hughes' books on her website and on her author page at Amazon and Smashwords.

An Interview with Author Matt J. Pike

Having recently reviewed Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor by Matt J. Pike I was delighted when the author agreed to answer some questions for an interview with Indie Bookworm.

Why did you write Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor?

I have always been interested in the post-apocalyptic genre and have been drawn to write something in that space. In writing my first book, Kings of the World, I plotted the storyline and characters before I began, I also told the story in omnipotent third person. I wanted to try a completely different approach for Apocalypse, hence the journal format. I didn't really plan any of the story elements in advance either. I did a lot of research on what effects the catastrophe may have on society, community, infrastructure and weather and tried to transpose those elements into the lead character's life - how would event X impact Jack etc. The story grew out of that process.

What kind of reader would enjoy Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor?

Apart from the obvious - fans of post-apocalyptic - I think at the heart of the book is a story of survival, moral dilemmas, dealing with change/loss and finding internal strength in the face of adversity. I hope readers will find some universal themes they can relate to set against a backdrop of global crisis.

How did you develop your characters?

I wanted the lead to be an everyday type of guy, someone who had the ingenuity and wherewithal for survival within him, but no real pre-prepared skill set or plan to cope with a survival situation. I wanted him to learn on the job. I was also very inspired for this story by my Great Grandfather's WWI war diaries - he experienced some horrendous situations including being gassed, shot and hit by shrapnel - but his diary was such a humble, engaging matter-of-fact read. One minute he was talking about the harshness of war, the next he was complaining about the food again! All told with an ample dose of humour.

Why did you decide to publish Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor yourself?

A publisher actually had Apocalypse for several months before saying 'no thanks'. That was my second similar experience - and I've been very happy with the self publishing process. There's a lot to learn in terms of marketing etc, but I feel I'm starting to understand what it takes to get the word out about my work. I do know I won't bother engaging with traditional publishers again. I also donate part-proceeds of each sale to find a cure for Rett Syndrome - a neurological condition my youngest daughter, Abby, has - she cannot walk, talk or use her hands in a meaningful way. If I can develop and maintain a successful indie career I will be able to contribute more to that cause by being an indie author.

Are you working on any new writing at the moment?

I'm currently writing the sequel for Kings of the World (due out early next year) as well as developing an illustrated zombie series for younger readers (one of the lead characters has Rett Syndrome). Book 1 of the series, called Scared to Beath, yes Beath, is due out later this year. After Kings 2.0 launches I'll be penning the second Diary of a Survivor book.

Many thanks to Matt Pike for taking the time to share his thoughts about his writing. I'm unfamiliar with Rett Syndrome but found a clear explanation here on the N.H.S website.

There's a great book trailer for Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor at http://youtu.be/VHxI7a66HDA
and you can get book links at Matt Pike's Amazon Author page.

BLOGS ROUNDUP

Many of my favourite indie authors publish regular blogposts. Here are links to some of the good posts I've read recently.

Jonathan Hill is the author of the Maureen novellas, several collections of short stories and Fag, his debut novel, which has received considerable critical acclaim in recent weeks. His web-site is at http://www.jhillwriter.com/ and his most recent blog post links to a fascinating interview he's had at Katherine's Corner book website which he says is his most personal interview yet.   Jonathan Hill is such an interesting writer who has demonstrated great ability in each of the books he's published. Click here for Jonathan Hill's author page at Amazon.

I reviewed Aphrodite's Curse by Luciana Cavallaro a few days ago and mentioned how much I enjoyed reading her blog. Her latest classical history post is Reviled and Ostracised: The Plight of Women which explores the role of Helen of Troy in The Iliad. I love this blog: it's so well written and you learn such a lot. Click here for Luciana Cavallaro's author page at Amazon.

Terry Tyler writes "contemporary drama and romantic suspense, with the occasional bit of rock fiction thrown in" according to her author profile at Amazon. I really enjoyed reading What It Takes and her collection of short stories, Nine Lives. If you want a good laugh you should read Terry Tyler's hilarious blogpost A quick guide to Twitter bios...  which contains some good advice especially if, like me, you're still finding your way round Twitter. Click here for Terry Tyler's author page at Amazon.

If you enjoy family history and haven't yet read Blood-Tied by Wendy Percival it really is a must-read. The author writes a fascinating blog at http://familyhistorysecrets.blogspot.co.uk/ and if you want to know what a Saggar Makers Bottom Knocker is check out her most recent post BottomKnockers and Death in the Ironbridge Gorge. Click here for Wendy Percival's author page at Amazon.

I reviewed Saskia Tepe's account of her own and her Holocaust survivor mother's lives recently. I think Surviving Brigitte's Secrets is one of the most moving personal accounts I've ever read. As I explained in my review, Saskia Tepe writes a fascinating blog at http://survivingbrigittessecrets.blogspot.co.uk/where she records and documents her new investigations and discoveries about her family story. Her post this week explains about some recent information she has acquired and where it takes her in understanding her mother's life more. Research Pays Off  is a particularly poignant title in this context. Click here for Saskia Tepe's author page at Amazon.

And finally, if you're old enough to remember the fifties you might enjoy School Dinners and the Twelve O'Clock Buzzer at Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s childhood.


Reviews Revisited The Godling: A Novel of Masalay by C.K. Collins

One of the great things about indie ebooks is that they're always available unless the author decides to un-publish for some reason.

I first read The Godling: A Novel of Masalay in March 2012 but am publishing my review again in case you missed it first time round.

I got this book as free download and would say thankyou to the author for such a generous gift.

The novel is set in Masalay - a perfect tropical vacation destination - until the central character, Callie finds herself stranded in the remote and war-torn north. She is drawn to Rika and becomes pregnant meanwhile Rika goes missing. As Callie struggles to find her way out of her dilemmas, a frail librarian in the holy city of Liashe receives a mysterious letter and begins to see the importance of a new baby's birth. There are lots of details of the storyline on the amazon bookpage for this novel which apparently is the debut novel from author CK Collins.


I must confess I did not find this an easy novel to get into and in fact nearly 20% into it I almost gave up but I am so glad I stayed with it. It is a fantastic story and really well written. It is well crafted, presenting parallel stories that come together in a powerful and moving climax. The characterisation is excellent with particularly strong voices for Callie and Ephraim. The exploration of conflicting cultures is stimulating and thought provoking. Having said that, it is an accessible and very readable novel once you get into it. More details at the Amazon Kindle Store

The Tell - A Memoir by Mags Karn

The Tell isn't my usual sort of reading but one of the best things about Kindle ebooks is the ease with which you can visit countries, cultures, societies and sub-cultures that you wouldn't necessarily find in your local public library or bookstore.

The Tell is set in the U.S.A. but is pertinent to contemporary Britain with its catalogue of high-profile child abuse stories on the News. This book is a disturbing story of child abuse but set within a family context and it's not a story of parental abuse but of abuse by one sibling towards another.

I found the exploration of inter-continental adoption in The Tell as fascinating and revealing as the main focus of the account.

It's a moving and heart-breaking story of family tragedy and conflict told with a refreshing frankness but without sentimentality.

Author Mags Karn has shared her family's story because she wants to raise awareness of the controversial subject of sibling abuse and this is accomplished without sensationalising the issue.

The narrative is direct and straightforward and draws the reader into what is an increasingly disturbing and saddening account. However The Tell concludes on a note of optimism and one can only hope that the author and her family are able to build on this and look forward to the future together. 

Not an emotionally easy read but certainly worth it.

More details here on the author's Amazon page.

Surviving Brigitte's Secrets by Saskia Tepe

Surviving Brigitte's Secrets: A Holocaust Survivor. Her Daughter. Two Traumatic Journeys is a fascinating and very moving book. It is the personal account of the daughter of a Holocaust survivor as she tries to understand her mother (the Brigitte of the title) and fill in the missing details of her life.

I first encountered author Saskia Tepe on Twitter and started reading her blog which introduced some of the background to the book.

I was shocked to learn that survivors and other displaced persons had to live in camps for so many years after World War Two had ended. I'd no idea that so many years elapsed before people were able to start re-building their lives.

In the book we are taken on Saskia's life journey from childhood to maturity and we learn of the impacts the Holocaust had on the children of survivors. In addition to the usual teenage angst, Saskia's life is made so much more complicated by feelings of protectiveness towards her mother and resentment caused by Brigitte's own experiences, disclosures and secretive evasion.

The book has been written in a direct and honest style. The author deals with some difficult issues without sentimentality. She explores and shares some intimate details of her life story and the impact of the complexity of her early years on the rest of her life. 

It's hard to say Surviving Brigitte's Secrets is an enjoyable read because at times it is so poignant and starkly open about some of Brigitte's and her daughter's experiences. However, it is a fascinating book: at times humorous, occasionally surprising and always very well written. I found it compelling and a book I was still thinking about several days after I finished reading it. Highly recommended.

More details of Surviving Brigitte's Secrets here on Saskia Tepe's Blog and here on her author page at Amazon.

Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor by Matt J. Pike

Australian author Matt Pike contacted me several weeks ago to introduce his latest novel Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor. He received a Global Ebook Award for Teen Fiction in 2013 for his debut novel Kings of the World.

His new book is categorised as Teen and Young Adult as well as Sci-Fi, Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic. As a recent convert to P.A. (see previous post) I was keen to read the book as the Amazon sample was immediately engaging. However I wasn't sure about the Y.A label. I don't re-call ever being a Y.A as far as fiction is concerned. In the dim and distant past you were in the Children's Library one day and the Adult's the next. I seem to remember jumping from "Just William" and Enid Blyton to Harold Robbins and Jean Plaidy over-night.

However, I've concluded that if a novel is good it doesn't matter what age group it's been written for because good fiction is good fiction. And Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor is certainly that.

It's a first person narrative told by Jack, a teenager temporarily living alone in Adelaide when the apocalypse occurs. His diary is an explanation of what happened and his subsequent attempts to survive.

Jack is an appealing character whose hippy-ish parents have brought him up to be independent and resilient. They have gone away on holiday to some remote location and Jack's brother is away as well in London. Jack gets an early warning of the impending disaster and starts to make preparations recording regular comments in his diary as events develop.

The story is completely plausible and the explanation of the cause of the apocalypse works really well. There is a lot of practical detail as Jack prepares for survival and then attempts to implement his plans.

The writing style is youthful and contemporary and the author has used a variety of devices to make the diary feel real. This includes a number of typos which bothered me a little at first until I decided they were introduced deliberately to contribute to the tension and stress when Jack is writing some of his diary entries.

The story-line is gripping and the writing style makes this book a page-turner. The novel feels very real and in places is quite scary and emotionally disturbing. However this is well handled and resolutions to problems and challenges emerge and are developed convincingly.

A very powerful aspect of the book is its exploration of moral dilemmas. Although Jack has a strong survival instinct he is exercised by how he can survive ethically wondering, for example, if it is right to keep all your food for yourself if others are starving. 

The ending of the novel is unexpected, takes the book to a new level and leaves the reader re-assessing the situation and its likely outcome. Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor is a very good read whether you're eighteen or eighty: five stars from me!