Shattered Worlds Challenge: A Tale of Two Reapers

Well, I hope I’ve made up for my fail last week by zipping through two Shattered World stories this week. I read Mistress Grim by Jane Redd, and A Reaper Made by Liz Long back to back.

It was really interesting reading them one after the other, because they were both stories featuring a female grim reaper, but each took the theme in completely different directions.

Mistress Grim chose high fantasy and created a supernatural, medieval world with a sword-wielding prince for a hero, while A Reaper Made was a very slick contemporary fantasy with a reaper who used to be human getting a glimpse of the dark depths of the supernatural world. Mistress Grim concentrated on the romance between the two central characters, while A Reaper Made was much more focused on friendships (the secondary characters were an absolute delight), although there were some hints of romance (love does make the world go round, right?).

I can’t believe how far through Shattered Worlds I’ve got in what feels like no time at all – there are only a few more weeks left, so check back next week to see how I’ve got on with my next read from the collection.

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A bumper book week

Well, I have been a reading machine this week with three books comfortably under my belt and a fourth nearly done!

First up was Rhoda Baxter’s Girl in Trouble. I know Rhoda IRL, and I absolutely love it when I’m properly able to rave about a friend’s book. Girl in Trouble isn’t my usual genre, but I have no problem reading something different if it’s good – and Girl in Trouble is an absolute smasher, a convincing romance with real emotional depth. I zipped through the novel in the space of 8 hours, it’s that good!

After that, I went back to my young adult TBR pile. CJ Archer’s The Medium caught my eye when it was in some promotion newsletter a while back, and it turned out to be a fabulous find. Set in Victorian-era London it’s slightly steampunk, largely supernatural and an utter delight.

Then a friend recommended Donna Augustine’s A Step into the Dark. This was a lesson in why you should give a book more than two paragraphs of a chance. If I’d just stumbled across it I know I’d have tossed it aside (metaphorically; it’s not really wise to throw your Kindle around). But because someone whose opinion I value (I’m looking at you, Kelly St Clare) said it was worth reading I gave it a bit longer, and I was pleased I did. More supernatural shenanigans abounded and Ollie, our heroine, was an absolute delight. I’m definitely going to read more of her adventures.

I am aware that none of this week’s reads feature in Shattered Worlds. I have strayed from my challenge, readers, I’m sorry to say. I wish I could tell you I’m most of the way through a Shattered Worlds book right now, but I’m not (I’m closing in on the end of the also-excellent Infernal Magic by CN Crawford – clearly I’m having a supernatural splurge this week). But I promise, once that’s done, I will get back on the straight and narrow next week, come what may!

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Girl in Trouble blog splash

Something a bit different today, readers. A good friend of mine, Rhoda Baxter, has a new book out, Girl in Trouble. As well as being a friend, she’s also a fabulous writer and I jumped at the chance to be part of her blog splash.

For the splash, Rhoda asked me to blog on an allied topic. Her hero and heroine, Walter and Olivia, face changes they think are bad, but end up being positive. So, my topic is:

A blessing in disguise

Eight years ago I walked away from a well-paid, corporate career – and it turns out to have been one of the best decisions I ever made.

At the time I was newly-divorced, newly moved halfway across the country, and had a four-year-old child to look after. I’d been a bit battered by life the previous couple of years, and looking back I think this was me reasserting control. Throwing away financial security (I had a redundancy payment, but nothing to go to) might have seemed mad, but I knew I was miserable and needed to make a radical change in my life.

I didn’t dislike my job. I thoroughly enjoyed it, actually, but it was all-consuming. I was always in a rush. First was the travelling required (commuting into London for meetings – oh, joy!), and the long hours (my PC was regularly on at 10pm) which meant I didn’t get much time with Offspring. I also had almost no time or energy left for my writing. So, when work started casting about for people to push out the door, I jumped and started a new phase in my life.

There commenced a year of financial stress. I would have made things easier for myself if I’d thought matters through a little more thoroughly. I didn’t get a new job quickly, and ended up having to sell my house and move somewhere smaller (and selling a house is never a good thing to do under pressure). But alongside the job hunting and other stresses, I relaxed into being mum, and (most importantly for me) I found time to write.

Now, I’m an ace with a small budget, I have a part-time job that pays the bills on my teeny terraced house, I’m mum to the best twelve-year-old I know, and I now have seven books out, with more in the pipeline. I’m still busy, but I’m content with my life in a way I never was when I was part of the rat race.

It was a tough decision at the time, but that scary step brought me so much good that I really do feel blessed.

If you’ve had a blessing in disguise, please tell me about it in the comments, I’d love to hear your experience.

Click for links

More about Girl in Trouble:

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot’s Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.

Get a copy from your preferred bookstore.

Don’t delay – it’s 99p today and tomorrow (after which its regular price is £2.99) – plus you can get your hands on a load of bonuses – a short story and recipe book – if you buy early. Grab a copy now!

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Shattered Worlds Challenge: Curse Breaker

My blog is late this week, because I only finished Curse Breaker last night (not a slow reader, I’ve been taken up with lots of non-fiction reading this week, all about marketing, social media and advertising, yawn). Curse Breaker is just as lovely as I hoped it might be: a beautifully-realised fantasy world with some fabulous characters, a kickass heroine, heartbreaking prince and page-turning abilities that reminded me of Michelle Madow.

And do you know what, I’m more than halfway through my Shattered Worlds challenge, and I am so impressed by what a fabulous group of writers I’ve joined with. I only knew a couple of my fellow contributors before getting involved in Shattered Worlds (and them only through Facebook), but everything I’ve read so far is creative and powerful and well worth reading. When people are still blowing the tune that indie-published books are in all ways sub-standard I’m proud to be a part of a group blowing that myth out of the water.

Check back next week, I’m jumping into Elizabetta Holcomb’s time slip next.

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Shattered Worlds challenge: black-eyed horrors and more boys

Death Knocks is available exclusively in Shattered Worlds. Click to grab your copy.

Well, my learn from my reading this week was to GIVE IT A CHANCE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

This week I picked Death Knocks from Shattered Worlds. It starts with two boys playing console games while they babysit one of their little sisters. I’m sorry to have to admit I’d probably have put it down right there if I was free reading because I am that impatient a reader. Fortunately, I gave it a bit more of a chance (and only a bit more – you probably get 3 pages of everyday life before the story kicks in), and I ended up glad I had.

Death Knocks is creepy as all get-out. It did a really good job of turning the everyday (a knock at the door) into something VERY unsettling. Told in alternate chapters by a male/female POV voice the characters were fabulous (I loved sidekick Marcus and his “shiitake!”), and the story rattled along, dragging me with it in the breathless way I love best. I’m so glad I stuck with it!

Next on my list is Audrey Grey’s Curse Breaker. I’ve been looking forward to this since I read an extract way back before the set even launched, so check back next week to see what I made of it.

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Shattered Worlds Challenge – a surprising Scourge

The Scourge is available only in Shattered Worlds. Click to get your copy of the collection.

This week I read A G Henley’s The Scourge. This took me by surprise in a lot of very good ways. What seemed at first to be a pre-industrial fantasy world turned out to be set in a post-apocalyptic future. There were other twists like that, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers. But in short, very little was quite as it seemed. Narrator Fennel was ideal to experience this story with us, because you really couldn’t always believe your eyes (Fennel is blind, so doesn’t have the option to trust her eyes!).

And that’s the only reading-for-pleasure I’ve managed this week. I have been busy with my own books, though: proofing the paperback of The Clockwork War, the Kindle version of An Airship from Ashes, and revising The Tinker Queen ready for editing while working on the first draft of finale The Immortality Device, so it’s all go in my house!

Paperbacks of Clockwork WarIf you’ll forgive me a bit of self-promo, I’m delighted to say that The Clockwork War is now available as a real life ink-and-paper book. If that’s what floats your boat, check it out.

I’m looking forward to next week when I should have more time for reading. Check back next week to see what I’ve picked from Shattered Worlds.

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Shattered Worlds challenge – star-crossed lovers

Grab a copy of Slayer in Shattered Worlds

I’m on a roll, readers. This week I read and reviewed Slayer by JA Armitage and JA Culican with time to spare. When a trainee dragon-slayer and a dragon shifter come face to face there are bound to be sparks. I loved this Romeo-and-Juliet story about Julianna and Ash discovering the truth about their villages’ enmity. And thankfully, while there’s plenty of lies, betrayal and fighting, no one gets poisoned in Slayer.

And since I can’t bear to be without a book, I also grabbed Joanne Macgregor’s The Law of Tall Girls, a new release by one of my favourite authors. I don’t read many contemporary books because speculative fiction is my first love. But, oh my, when they are this good it’s a pleasure to switch genres! Curiously enough, Romeo and Juliet also featured here, with a high school play of the ill-fated lovers’ story. The Law of Tall Girls is beautifully written with real emotional punch. I loved it.

Check back next week to see what I pick next from the Shattered Worlds collection – or elsewhere!

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Shattered Worlds challenge – that sunny Caribbean sky

The Pirate Episode is available exclusively in Shattered Worlds. Grab your copy with a click.

I travelled in time and space this week, with Kristy Tate’s The Pirate Episode. It’s a time travel romance which took me to the sunny Caribbean during the American revolutionary war.

I loved it! The sense of place was gorgeous – I could feel the sun on my face. Kristy’s writing is light and deft and I vehemently wanted a happy ending for her characters. Perfect weekend reading!

Cover of Cookie O'Gorman's Ninja Girl

Click to start reading

And because I am a reading demon at the moment I snapped right to the present day and also read Cookie O’Gorman’s Ninja Girl. This is her second (as far as I know) and it was just as much a delight to read as Adorkable. It is flawed – I could see the plot twist coming a mile off (way before any of the characters did, which was a bit unlikely), but somehow that doesn’t matter when you’re reading Cookie O’Gorman!

I loved them both. Check back next week to see how I got on with Slayer. It features dragon shifters, and I really hope I like it better than Shadow Queen which has the same trope but left me cold!

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Shattered Worlds reading challenge – a book about a boy???

Well, this week’s story taught me not to be so prejudiced, frankly. There are 21 books in Shattered Worlds (minus my own) and my target is to read twelve in twelve weeks, so I need to cut them down a little.

Available in Shattered Worlds. Click to grab your copy.

I only glanced at Richard’s Story, thinking I’d have a quick look and knock it right off the list. I rarely read books with a male POV, and I really don’t like sport, so a book about a boy whose aim in life is to get a soccer scholarship (even if that gets interrupted by the apocalypse) wasn’t going to be my thing, was it?

Blimey, I shouldn’t have written this one off so quickly! I was gripped in the first page. It is about a boy, the eponymous Richard, but it’s not about football at all. Rich is a rather fabulous, perfectly ordinary teen whose plans for life are destroyed by a terrorist apocalypse. His narration was spare and emotional, heartbreaking and terrifying in places (especially given how the world is right now). I was utterly gripped.

So that’s me told!

I’ll be back next week to chat about The Pirate Episode, which is next on my list. I read a quick extract of this before publication and loved it, so that one was an easy pick.

If Facebook is your spiritual home, and you like a bit of company in your reading, the Shattered Worlds authors are holding a read-along. Check it out and jump in when you have questions or comments about the books you’ve read.

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Life is full of challenges

… And I’ve found a new one.

Having enjoyed my Alphabet Challenge tremendously, I’ve found myself a new challenge to keep me focused on my reading for the next twelve weeks.

Today marks the start of my Shattered Worlds challenge. My new book, The Clockwork War, is one of the YA novels in Shattered Worlds, which became a USA Today bestseller last week (yippee!). The collection will be exclusive to Amazon (and Kindle Unlimited) for the next ninety days, and I’ve set myself the challenge of reading and reviewing one of the books each week that it’s out.

(Please note, I’ll be reviewing here and on the Paisley Piranha blog, not on Amazon itself, because I’m a contributing author to the set and impartiality and terms and conditions, blah, blah.)

I have already read one of the other stories. I started with Cortney Pearson’s The Perilous In-Between, because that was the other steampunk story in the collection and I wanted to read her take on the genre. Check out my review on the Paisley Piranha blog, but in short: it’s deliciously glorious.

So, I’m moving on to the apocalypse. Check back next week to see what I’ve made of Rebecca Rode’s Richard’s Story.

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