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Friday, 29 December 2017

Review of sing the Blues


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have to start this review saying that serious horror has never been a genre that appealed to me. So, it was a huge surprise to find this very dark material sucking me in and refusing to let go. This is not just serious horror: this is thoughtful horror. Her predators are real and terrifying; listen and you will hear their footsteps behind you.

Tina Collins has an eye for the worst of human nature, and she stuffs her characters with the basest of desires and motives; sexual desire and gratification are the essential ingredients. Her monsters' (human or not) carnal needs are things we can all relate to at some level, and are the more frightening and disgusting for it.

The writing is incredibly easy to run with; utter horror should not be this readable. Her confidence in handling the subject matter means that it evokes images straight up; after a while, it felt like I was wandering around Goya’s black paintings: scenes of despair and human futility, the big pictures quickly and beautifully rendered with deft splashes of words, and the details presented with subtlety and a master’s touch.

Somehow into all of this, she threads a tiny bit of hope, but mostly to extinguish it like a magician before your eyes. Despair is pretty much the glue that binds these short stories together, and there appears to be no real happy endings here then ... but if you are getting the impression it all sounds too bleak and nasty, only to be enjoyed by sick individuals, then you would be very, very wrong. The darkness resonates: you read it and are surprised by how digestible each little course is.

As a reader, I have felt rewarded by this book, embracing the ‘dark side’ a little and being a bit more at ease with its presence. As a writer, I feel I’ve learned something about the art of storytelling.

I will be looking out for more work from this author.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Sunday thought


The relationships between a writer and their characters are complex. For some reason, they often don't respect my plot. They dislike people they are supposed to like. They cry when I had hoped they would laugh.

And I nearly always forgive them.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Secret of all Creation

A short story offered up for anyone who is interested. This is one of my quirky horrors - no blood, no gore - but a nice little twist.


Saturday, 25 November 2017

Writing update

Hi everyone, just thought I'd let you know what I'm currently working on

Absolution
This is the 5th Novel in my Forgotten Wings series. It's been written, re-written and is currently back in latter self-editing phase. Still aiming to get it out in the New Year.

Girl at a Station
This is a sweet little girl/girl romance that I've just made available on my website. I enjoyed writing it and I plan on doing other such stories.

The secret of all creation
A short horror story will be free published on my website next week.





Out next week

Friday, 24 November 2017

How was I today?

In a good place, writing happy things (like Girl at a Station). Work (the day-job) is a bit CRAP but overall I am warm and fuzzy.



Girl at a Station

This is a new short romance I penned this week. Free for anyone to read. Gentle girl/girl and very sweet.



Sunday, 19 November 2017

Mothers, daughters and imaginary friends

Extract:

To begin with, writing requires a certain type of madness, the ability to disassociate oneself from true reality and go with the version that is inside one’s one head. We call this imagining of other worlds and non-existent people ‘fantasising’.

Writers need their imaginary worlds. Deeply into a story we don’t just imagine these places, we live there. We are, after all, trying to get our readers to rent space in our universe while they ride along on our story, and nobody likes an absentee landlord!

Likewise, we have to conjure up the people to fill our worlds. Our characters start out as ideas. We may visualise what they look like, define the circumstances of their life and have a plot which determines the evils that will befall them. However, that is only the start, and as we go about the writing process, these quickly-sketched profiles soon start to develop characteristics, nuances, and before we know it, minds of their own.

Yes, minds of their own. What a strange concept, don’t you think?


That may be the point where things get interesting because suddenly, like a parent with a reluctant teenager in tow, we discover that we are no longer in tight control; the character in our head has other ideas.

All authors are mothers! read the full article here ...

https://drive.google.com/file/d/14e0OVBipi5TfFWeWuzPuSShXUIKULA8N/view?usp=sharing

Thursday, 16 November 2017

How was I today?
















Slightly perky. Getting over my cold, managed a few bits and pieces on the website. Need to get back to doing some writing though. All pretty good right now.

Monday, 13 November 2017

New Short Story: Three




A short story (just 5 pages) written a while back but never before published.





Sunday, 20 August 2017

A review of "Forest of Ancestors" by K A Denver

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In this first book of her Guardians series, K A Denver introduces us to a world of magic, where fire bolts can be thrown and witches travel around by portals. But that’s not really what the story is about. The coven are family, their warriors a band of brothers: a whole series of relationships are built up between the characters, all of whom are brought to life by some excellent writing.

In fact, it is these characters that make this a stand-out work. Denver has invested heavily in them, and absolutely none are just making up numbers. The male bonding and buried sensitivities she allows to sneak passed the bravado and banter make her men not only believable but truly likeable - yes, even when they act just like men! (That, ladies, is great writing!) The women, both good and bad, are strong and complex, holding secrets and bearing grudges, coloured bold and dark by their histories. Even Parker the cat is thoroughly believable and comes complete with his own little back-story.

What else? Well, the overall concept of the coven and their forest is fantastic, whilst the magic-fuelled fights present us with ‘good versus evil’ set pieces that shine like Star Wars on speed. More than that, some scenes clutched at my heart but I won’t give spoilers by describing these.

I would say that it finished promptly after the all-action finale and perhaps with too little reflection of the aftermath: But then again, just right for a follow-up novel. (Soon please! And more Parker!)

My verdict? When I read this book, my belief was suspended. I believed in Eli and all his friends and enemies. I believed in magic.

So not just 5 stars. Five magic ones to wish on for more of this series.  

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

An email to the mosaic team at netobjects.mobi

Could you please help me with something...

My account has been suspended – apparently, I have to renew it but there is no option to do so on your site. You have also not explained to me what the problem is. It would be very nice to actually hear from you.

Who knows, maybe if you valued your customers we could actually sort this out? Or you could just continue to ignore me ….


Alyson

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A review of “Vampire Hunters” by Trudie Collins.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

As you can probably imagine from its title, ‘Vampire Hunters’ is always going to be straying into ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’ territory and it would be all too easy for this to be a cheap and nasty copy of that iconic series.

But no worries there!

Trudie Collins dives into the story with great confidence, introducing her characters and their training-dedicated, near-monastic lifestyle while setting up the necessary conditions for conflicts and romance. I will add that all the characters in this story are lovingly created, none more so than the rigid, authoritarian JD.

The author has created a fascinating little universe around an extended family (the vampire hunters). However, the majority of events and action happens totally within that self-enclosed bubble, with, to be honest, very little of the outside world impinging on it.  On top of that, the actual vampires are a simple background of non-entities who every so often line themselves up for disposal as if they are straight out of an old Bruce Lee flick. So, rather than a full-on vampire hunting extravaganza, this might be seen as a bit more like a very interesting family drama with lowered life expectancies.

My overall impression is that this feels like a book of two halves. The first half was a little slow and perhaps even a bit repetitive; an over-extended Rocky training montage but with swords. As it is, the deliberate way in which the characters and relationships are explored and developed is just a little too self-indulgent. 

The second half was where it all started to move together, events picked up pace and I really wanted to know what was going to happen. 

All said and done, there is fantastic clarity of environment, super detailing of characters – good characters too - and an ending which I think will satisfy most readers. But cutting it a bit shorter might have made it as sharp as the hunters’ swords.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Update on My Amazon Page with new book covers

Feeling good about this.



A review of "Operation Badger" by Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a beautifully written, warm and wonderful story in which Tabitha Ormiston-Smith has put the absurdness of life, the need for love and the wonder of the human soul all next to each other on a single slide under the microscope.

There are three main characters, Ben (the policeman), Tammy (hard working writer) and Tom (the cat). The plot is bonkers: it has to be the most madly conceived police operation of all time! You simply can’t take your girlfriend on a police undercover operation, riding through the bush on a horse-drawn caravan … bonkers but utterly brilliant! I suspect that is how she must see life in general.

I won’t say more about the plot (sorry if the above was a tiny bit of a spoiler). I will say that the author has created characters I believed in and absolutely felt for. She really had me yelling “No!” out loud at one point, desperately fearing for the very life of one of her main trio.

I am so glad I picked this book up. It isn’t what I normally read, and it won’t be for everyone I guess (what book is?), but it is an absolute peach of a story and an example of how to make life’s moments seem ten times as bright.

Tabitha must own a strange and magic lens to view the world through. Not having her particular prescription to hand, I will gladly settle for her description of what she sees through it: a peculiar place that is better than the real one.

A delightful little tale. Full marks!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A review of "The Call (The Silent War book 1)" by Elí Freysson

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Whenever I pick up a book from a new ‘untried’ author there is always the element of risk: the experiment has not always come out well. It can be a ‘hit’ but often is a ‘miss’

In this case I have to say it has been a hit– the book is well written, the characters likeable and the overall story moves along at a good pace. Elí has started this series in a traditional manner, the young heroine (Katja) dreaming of adventure becomes the student paired to an older and more experienced warrior. She must quickly learn the skills necessary to survive her ‘Call’ against the monsters and demons that threaten the world. In this respect it is safe and oft-trodden ground (think Luke Skywalker from Star Wars or any number of other ‘hero coming of age’ stories) but then there is a reason this scenario is so often used – it works, bringing the reader along as if we too are learning about the big wide world beyond our village and gaining the skills necessary to overcome the threats around us.

Such plots are never intended to stretch the reader in themselves. In this case it does the same job as Serdra’s horse Hnut, carrying the characters forward in a very dependable fashion without ever overshadowing them, keeping them tightly knit on its back as the journey progresses. The story very much centres on the student/teacher relationship and mostly engages well. This might be because having two female leads is a little more unusual in the genre, at least in my experience. Whatever the reason, I found myself genuinely caring for the characters – yes, even Hnut the horse. That said there is still plenty of room for character development – there’s got to be more to life than slicing up monsters. As yet Katja has little of value in her young life to truly loose and the series will need some romance and more complicated relationships to fill that void.

The story is clearly influenced by computer gaming. There’s an early training period to get use to game concepts and skills. After that Katja and Serdra travel between towns, experience psychic ‘cut-scenes’’, shop for supplies, and meet monsters of increasing strength and capability. Even the rather clever ‘silent language’ is akin to the prompts used by remote players in co-operative games. But again it all works surprising well so I won’t knock it.

I also enjoyed the fight scenes. These can be incredibly hard to get right but I found myself following the technical ideas and imagination, the characters’ movements, the use of weapons…it all seemed nicely real to me. Yes, I felt that strangle hold stopping the blood getting to my brain!
So the acid test – will I be reading the next book in the series when it comes out?

Answer: YES. Elí is not yet on my very select ‘favourite author list’ but I think this work well deserves it’s above average mark. I went as high as 4 simply because I enjoyed it. I am looking forward to seeing how both the series and the author develop from this competent and solid start.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A review of "Tapasya (The Redemption of Wist Book 1)" by David Gilchrist

⭐⭐⭐⭐

There are certain ingredients that any high-fantasy needs. A grand world, an interesting premise, strange creatures and, most of all, characters that blend together and suck you right into their group so that you accompany them on their great quest. This very accomplished story gets it all right.

The Redemption of Wist isn’t all about Wist though: Gilchrist has more than a fistful of interesting personalities that trek across the desert on a quest which grows and develops as they travel. In fact, Wist himself is perhaps not yet the most fully explored and developed of the characters, but then I think he is necessarily an enigma, and I am sure we will find out more of Wist and his secrets in the next instalments!

I will tell you that I just loved the Lyrat pair; the concept of them always working as a closely bonded unit is matched by the way the author uses them to push and pull the story along, helping to keep the different parts of the plot moving without friction or effort. Amongst the others, Nikka the dwarf is beautifully portrayed and the truly scary thug-priest is drawn with loving detail.

The author keeps his plot tight and he knows what’s happening - which is a lot! But some of the set scenes are wonderful and the journey by sand-whale stirs the imagination of the soul and heart.

This is the first in series and I may be being harsh in only giving it four stars because I certainly thought about giving it the full five. At the end of the day though, it isn’t a book that is meant to stand just on its own and so it has too much left hanging for me to be that generous. It’s an excellent story and there is a better way to judge how much I liked it:  I’m going to have to read the next part.

Monday, 22 May 2017

New Covers for Book series

Just completed updating my covers for the Forgotten Wings series.

It will take about a week for them to flip over to the new versions in Amazon Kindle :(

Here are the new versions.







Saturday, 1 April 2017

Gilbert Baker dies age 65

I believe that Gilbert's Flag was everyone, straight and gay. Sapphira and other characters in my books happen to be LGBT - just normal people with dreams, being heroic and having all the magical adventures that fantasy heroes of all types can have.

The Rainbow Flag may be at half mast today but it will never come down.




Gay heroine for Dr Who. A big step forward for everyone.

Sapphira, Giulia, Catherine and all the girls in the Forgotten Wings series approve very much!

Go Bill!





Saturday, 25 March 2017

Stil tinkering with the cover design!  Think this one is better!


Monday, 20 March 2017

Sapphira's new look

With the impending launch of The Last Titan, I've given Sapphira a little make-over, at least hair-wise. In the story she has grown it longer and I've reflected this in the new cover design. You can see she's gone and coloured it differently too.

What do you think?


Sapphira 'comes out'

Sapphira has come out, not in her own universe but in ours!

I'm just getting ready to launch The Last Titan on Amazon. Although from the first book it was obvious that my lead character, Sapphira, was a 100% gay girl yet I never actually explained that in any of the promotions or descriptions of the book.

Why not?

Well, its's an Urban Fantasy and my characters are, at the end of the day, just people. (Yes, lesbians are just people!) She's noble, brave, funny and all sorts of things happen to her. And she happens to be not straight at all!

In the series, Sapphira is actually considered a celebrity lesbian (a 'celesbian') so why aren't I saying it about her in the publicity?

So, with the upcoming launch of my new book, I have done an update to my website. Just so that it is clear. Probably about time!

www.madden-brooker.com