Tag Archives: JA Andrews

Free Reading Challenge: The book I bought this week

Okay, so my free reading challenge is nearing its end. You would think the finish line being in sight would make me better able to stick to only reading free books.

And I could stick to my rules if I wanted to. But this week I’ve bought a book that fits into none of my exclusion criteria for a very good reason.

Being a writer, I know a lot of other writers. I’d never heard of a writer named Brandon Barr, until writer friend JA Andrews mentioned him.

Cover of Brandon Barr's Her Dangerous Visions
Click to read the preview and buy.

Brandon writes fantasy, and it’s the first of his Song of the Worlds series I’ve just bought, Her Dangerous Visions. The book sounds good (and I dare you to read the preview without increasing your heartrate!), but that’s not a good enough reason to buy a book during my free reading purdah. Brandon’s personal story is.

2016 has a reputation for being a pretty sh*t year for many reasons, but on a personal level, I reckon Brandon wins the prize. After treatment for leukemia including a bone marrow transplant he got the news that his cancer has returned. He’s facing Christmas in hospital being blitzed with everything medical science has available, which is not the holiday he’d envisioned spending with his wife and their three young children.

Buying one of his books was a small way for me to show solidarity with a fellow writer and a fellow parent and I’ll be thinking of Brandon and hoping his treatment is going even better than it’s rational to expect while I read Her Dangerous Visions over the festive season.

Want to support Brandon? Check out his books and buy whatever takes your fancy – if you’re not into fantasy novels yourself remember, books make great Christmas gifts!

My free reading challenge: independent writers oozing with talent

This week has been more reading, reading, reading to slim down my TBR pile. Most of the books I’ve read in the past couple of weeks have been independently published because it turns out independent publishers are mostly the people I know and thus their books are the ones I get to hear about.

All my friends are virtual

Megan Crewe's A Mortal Song was an absolute stunner - click for my review.
Megan Crewe’s A Mortal Song was an absolute stunner – click for my review.

A lot of my online time is spent in a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to authors who have all taken on the challenge of self-publishing and the purpose of the groups is to share experience of what works (and doesn’t) and keep morale up when things go wrong.

A lot of what I’ve read recently has been written by people in these groups because I’ve heard about what they’re up to and been interested to read their books. Maybe it’s also because they are all eager for reviews and happy to provide review copies which fits perfectly with my current free reading challenge. And it occurred to me as I was reading what an enormous amount of talent there is out there.

Oozing with talent

There is a lot of grumbling about standards in publishing (I know I’ve been guilty of it myself – don’t get me started on publishing houses that appear to have opted out of the requirement for proof-reading a book before publication), but I think a part of that is just because the pool of books is now so big that if you’re looking at the wrong part of it, all you can see is wall-to-wall typos and cliches.

Cover of JA Andrews A Threat of Shadows
An absolutely glorious, vivid and lively fantasy everyone should know about. Click for the preview.

But as I scheduled yet another 5* review on the Paisley Piranha site yesterday I realised how much excellence is also out there. I’m a very fussy reader (if it doesn’t look like it from my reviews, that’s because I only select books I’m pretty sure from the preview I’m going to love, and if I don’t have anything good to write about a book I won’t review it), and I’ve been constantly both impressed and delighted by both the nuts-and-bolts quality and the imaginative verve of what I’ve read recently.

My conclusion this week: don’t grumble that standards are slipping – find the authors whose standards haven’t. I promise you, there are plenty out there!