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.

Posted in Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in My books, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hooray for holiday reading!

Oh my goodness, I thought I might slacken off when I didn’t have my Alphabet Reading Challenge to keep my nose in a book. I’m delighted to say that hasn’t happened at all!

Rachel E Carter's Black Mage series

Start with the prequel and I bet you won’t want to stop.

Since blogging last I’ve had a lovely week off, taking a holiday by the seaside. I also caught up on some of the books I wanted to read “just because” rather than because they start with the necessary letter of the alphabet to fit my challenge.

Try the preview

I got through the whole of Rachel E Carter’s Black Mage series (terrific – the list of imaginary worlds in which I want to take a holiday grows exponentially!). I read an out of left field 5* book that just happened to catch my eye in a Facebook group I’m a member of. Ember Burning was unsettling in the best way – creative, eerie and populated by fabulous characters.

Cover of Cortney Pearson's The Perilous In-BetweenAnd finally, I read a book by a fellow author in the Shattered Worlds collection. I decided to start with Cortney Pearson’s The Perilous In-Between to check out her take on steampunk, and it’s glorious – delightfully fantastical and beautifully written.

I’m now back to work and writing hard on my clockwork war series – book two is about to go to my proof-readers, and I’m on the home straight to complete the writing of book three. While I’m doing that, my reading is research for what I’m going to write next (ideas are coalescing, but I’m not certain which story I’m going to pick just yet). I’ll keep you posted!

He could be my book boyfriend any day!

If you’ll excuse me a plug, Shattered Worlds is out now and today is the last day to get it at launch-day-bargain price of .99. Next week it will be going up to the regular price of $2.99, so if you’re dithering, dither no longer and grab a copy!

Amazon
Nook
iBooks

Posted in My books, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Reading Alphabet Challenge – sum up

I had terrific fun with my alphabet challenge. It made me look beyond the books and authors I always choose, with the result that I’ve found some absolute treasures that I’ll be looking out for more from.

Rachel E Carter's Black Mage series

Start with the prequel and I bet you won’t want to stop.

Having to (mostly) stick to a particular letter of the alphabet provided some structure and there was a lot less dithering over what I was going to read next, which probably gave me more time to actually read. Although to counter that, there were a couple of letters where I spent far too much time trying to find something that fit the alphabet criteria but also seemed bearable to read. I admit to being fussy, but I was also surprised by how incredibly difficult it is to browse Amazon if you don’t know what book or author you’re looking for.

One book/review a week felt like a hectic schedule at times, but I managed it pretty much consistently (even if there were a couple of weeks where I needed to cheat mildly). I do read a lot and this challenge demonstrated that a book a week is more than do-able for me.

Cover of David Kudler's Risuko

Click to start reading

I will definitely be back with another challenge, although I’m not sure what. Shout out if you have a suggestion, otherwise I’ll think something up for myself in a week or two. Until then, though, I’m going to have fun reading more from some of the new writers I’ve discovered. Rachel E Carter and Rhonda Sermon are priorities (I’m halfway through First Year already), but I also want to find out what happens next in the Clearwater world created by Madeline Freeman, I hope David Kudler will be releasing a follow-up to Risuko soon, and I just saw on Facebook the other day that there’s a new Kitty Peck novel available.

Cover of Rhonda Sermon's The Midnight Society

Click for the preview (bet you’ll love it)

Maybe that’s the best result of my alphabet reading challenge – it’s reminded me what terrific writing talent is out there and what wonderful worlds are waiting for me to step into them. Now, please excuse me, I have reading to get on with…

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Z is for … Zoikes, fetch an editor!

I have reached the end of my Alphabet Challenge! Whoop whoop, crack out the champagne!

I’d love to be able to gush over my final, Z book, but that’s unfortunately not possible. There were very slim pickings for the final letter of the alphabet. It took about three searches to find something suitable on Amazon, and having plumped for Z (The Abilities Series) by Lizzy Gomez (I mean: look at all those Zs!) I was determined to get to the end of it. Maybe I shouldn’t have bothered, but as a writer it’s sometimes useful to articulate what exactly is the matter with books I don’t like.

I was, frankly, amazed when I reached the acknowledgements to read that Z had been professionally edited. I can’t imagine what it must have been like before that. The best I can say is that it read like a book I was reading for a friend prior to revisions and editing. It was a complete story with a beginning, middle and end, and on a sentence level it was okay (so I’m guessing the editor was hired for a copy edit, not the content edit it so dearly needed). It was so flawed I would highly recommend a competent, professional content/structural edit and a re-issue.

For example (and I’ll cut this down or I’ll be here forever):

  • This was pitched as a fantasy. It started in the contemporary world and took far too long to introduce any fantasy elements.
  • Toby was lovely, but he was also a complete cliché. Many of the characters were flimsy, only there because the plot required it, and lacked any real depth or motivations.
  • When we finally got there, the fantasy world was completely unrealistic. If you say it approximates the 14th century, you’re going to have to make it somewhat like the 14th century. Just having long dresses and knights won’t cut it if people speak in 21st century slang, drink tea, eat sandwiches and feed sugar lumps to their horses.
  • While we’re on the subject of slang – the heroine spoke entirely in modern slang and swearing, neither of which made her an appealing character. There was an f-bomb probably once every two pages.
  • There were far too many exclamation marks!!!! All the way through!!!!
  • The heroine knew everything and could do everything and everyone else was wrong/stupid/both.
  • And much of the novel was just plain weird. (Spoiler alert): someone tries to kill our heroine (frankly, I’d have been relieved if they’d managed it and the story had ended there, but still…), she fights him off by using her magical powers to fix some unspecified “darkness” she finds when she pokes around inside his head? soul? not sure. After this he’s immediately cured of his murderous tendencies, and the heroine knows she’s safe with him and everyone who doubts the fact is an idiot – and to round off the scene, the would-be killer’s sister doesn’t ask any questions about what’s just happened, but simply says: hey, thanks.

Pah. Get a content/structural editor, writers. You are giving independent authors a bad name by not doing so – and more to the point, you are doing a disservice to your STORY. This could have been a good story, but its potential was entirely wasted. I think the author probably doesn’t care as she’s merrily gone on to write a sequel, and that would be fine if she were writing for herself/her mom/her children. But to expect other people to pay money for this? That’s an entirely different matter. I expect professionalism as an absolute basic, and I didn’t find it in the pages of Z.

And that crabby snipe ends my Alphabet Reading Challenge. It’s been a fun 26 weeks. Check back next week to see what has risen to the top of my TBR pile now that I don’t have a thing to read!

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments