Tag Archives: Reviews

This week, I have been mostly reading books!

Over the last month or two I’ve been trying to find some books in my genre – humorous science fiction fantasy – and give them a read, mainly with a view to having something of a similar ilk to my own books to share with my mailing list. If I’m just giving readers the heads up about one or two books, as opposed to a group author promo or a group giveaway, I like to make sure I’ve read and enjoyed them, myself. So, with apologies to any of you reading who receive my newsletter, as well, here is a bit about the latest couple I’ve read.

These two books are polar opposites; about as diverse as you can get, although I enjoyed both of them, each on its own merits. And strangely, if you like my books, they do tie in with different aspects of my approach; the first, with the humour and the second with my obsession about the idea of grey; of life – and politics – being more complicated than the nice, simplified, sound-bite, black-and-white politicians and the media would have us think.

Bearly Awake.

First up, if you enjoy things paranormal and you are looking for a nice, light, easy bit of escapism, I have just the thing for you. Bearly Awake, is a romantic comedy by D. R. Perry. The story follows two main characters: Bobby, a bear shape shifter, who suddenly feels a very strong urge to hibernate just as he is supposed to be cramming for a crucial end of term exam. And Lynn, pointy-brained human who has a habit of alienating people with her excessive sarcasm.

Will Bobby stay awake and pass or sleep, and be thrown out of college? Only Lynn can help him. Both are at the Providence Paranormal College; the best-of-the-best and only one of it’s kind, but Lynn feels that her inability to bear fools gladly has made her as unpopular there as at home, so she has put in for a transfer to a university nearer to where she’s from. Then Lynn’s tutor gives her the task of being Bobby’s study buddy to get him through the exam. Things are complicated further by the fact that even though Lynn thinks he’s way out of her league, Bobby pretty much sets his cap at her. Can Bobby persuade Lynn to stay? Can Lynn keep Bobby awake so he can get through his exam?

Now, I confess that, as someone who is a bit leery about paranormal books and (usually) pathologically avoids reading any books with shape shifters (or vampires in case they’re sparkly) I approached this one with some trepidation. However, I really enjoyed it. This book takes the idea of our normal, humdrum world and tweaks it a little into something different and a lot more interesting. I do enjoy that. Likewise, it takes a standard trope – the shifter romance – and gives that a bit of a twist into something different, too.

It’s engagingly written, I enjoyed the characters and its gentle comedic style. You also get a feeling of relish coming through in some parts where the author has clearly enjoyed writing it and I like that in a book, too. I also enjoyed the sweet romance aspect, when I didn’t expect to. The story zips along pretty fast. In some instances, I had to back track because I’d missed the point where something was mentioned in passing. That can make it feel slightly rushed in a way. That said I was perfectly able to pick up everything required so it’s no biggie and I’d much rather that than have loads of background info holding up the plot.

This was a shorter length novel – about 40k I think. Having read the book, two things have stuck with me: first, the characters intrigued me enough to keep me thinking about them afterwards, and I will probably purchase the next in the series at some point because I like their company. I also spotted the nascent beginnings of a mystery that needed solved and I want to see how they go about it. Second, there were some fun and different ideas which stayed with me, I really liked the special, invite-only library for creatures who can’t go out in daylight, for example.

The juxtaposition of beings at this college, human, shifter, vampire, etc was fun and well imagined. I hadn’t realised how much scope for humour there is in what shapeshifters might turn into, for example, and how it might affect their personalities. All in all it was a diverting and fun introduction to the Providence Paranormal College series. It is what it is, light, frothy fluff, but if, like me, you like a bit of escapist whimsy, you’ll enjoy it.

If you would like to give Bearly Awake a go, you can download it for free until 1st May, 2017, if you sign up to D. R. Perry’s newsletter. To do that, click here:

http://dl.bookfunnel.com/jjqfu5iw0u

Shifting Reality

And now for something completely different: A few weeks ago, also in my quest for books to share with my newsletter, I decided to check out one of Patty Jansen’s books. I realised I had one that I’d downloaded last year, when it was perma free, and so it was that I read Shifting Reality, which is the first book in the ISF Allion Series; one of three. Here’s the overall series blurb:

They were taken from the poorest slums in the world to work in space stations. They were promised free food and accommodation. They didn’t know that they, or their children and grandchildren, would never see their home again.

Seventy years on, this is the story of Melati, from New Jakarta Station at Epsilon Eridani.

Once again, this book steps aside from the usual. Our main protagonist is Indonesian, part of a group of migrant labourers who ended up on a space station so far from Earth that they will never be able to return home. What I loved about this book is that you get so immersed in another culture, and a completely different one to that which you might expect. Some of the stuff about food made me hungry, the plot is clever and intriguing, the political situation seems incredibly realistic, in a good way. We’re not talking gritty, well, we are but not in an everyone must die horribly and all the characters are loathsome miserable bastards kind of way. It’s gritty in that life on the station is hard and Melati our heroine, is stuck between her own community and that of the officers and staff running the station – who live in a different part of it, in far more comfortable circumstances – while Melati’s family, and her people, are living in on the lower decks in a slum.

The basic premise is untangling a mystery, and as Melati tries to solve it, her efforts bring politics closer to herself and her family than she’d like, and of course, it also brings her into conflict with her family and challenges her loyalty to her employer, the International Space Force. Things get fraught. As Melati gets closer to the truth there are murders. People she loves suffer and she has to somehow walk the line between two polarised social groups to solve the mystery against a background of rising political tension. But above all, as much as it is a mystery, and sci-fi, this story is about the complicated nature of existence: being who you are, trying to fit in, trying to change your life or advance your fortunes without losing sight of your roots and your soul, attempting to look after your family and do what’s best for them when they’re buggered if they’re going to let you. It’s about the hard reality of attempting to stay in the neutral ground between two groups of people, both of whom you care for, when neither of them much cares for one another, without compromising what you believe is right. In short, though set in space, in the future, it’s about the daily business of living life on Earth right now. I loved the whole complicated mess of Melati’s life, and the way she tried to make sense of it. I’ll definitely be reading the others.

If you think you like the sound of this, you can grab Shifting Reality for £1.99 from all major retailers. More information can be found here:

http://pattyjansen.com/2012/11/20/shifting-reality/

And you can find out more about the series – ISF Allion World – here:

http://pattyjansen.com/category/isf-allion-world/

If you’re looking for an even bigger bargain, I’ve just picked up the first book in Patty Jansen’s Ambassador Series; Seeing Red, for the knock down price of 99p/99c etc. It’s on promotion to celebrate the release of the latest Ambassador instalment – book six, I think. I haven’t read it yet, but I mention it here because if you think you like the sound of Patty Jansen’s style and don’t mind where you start, you could save £1/$1 starting with the Ambassador Series first.

Information about Seeing Red, Ambassador 1, is here:

http://pattyjansen.com/pages/ambassador-1-display/

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A year end Christmas round up thank you thingy!

It’s the end of the year and before I enter the disconnected twilight zone that is trying to use any wi-fi connection with a first gen apple mini (I knew there was a reason why I’m not a first adopter) I thought I would do my version of round up for this year. It does feel a bit like navel gazing but then, blogging often can be. It certainly is the way I do it. Sorry about that. I hope that either you read my posts and think, ah yes, the navel lint of her life is the same as mine, I am not alone, or conversely that I find ways to describe the navel lint of my life that are so weird it seems interesting. Yeh… Moving on.

Before the close up examination of navel lint begins. There’s been a nice little whoop of reviews at the end of this year so I thought I’d share.

First up, Kate, over at roughseasinthemed has reviewed Few Are Chosen… extensively. You can have a look at what she wrote here. Kate wins a special award for being the first reader to use my scary artwork and for openly liking Lord Vernon. She is based in Gibraltar and writes a varied and interesting blog and there’s always lots of chat in the comments. Definitely worth a visit.

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Very much not rough seas in Shoreham-by-Sea

Next we have Jemima Pett – thank you Jemima for not only writing a lovely review of Few but also for turning up to a book signing I did in her home county of Norfolk. That was awesome! She, too writes a lovely blog! She has lots of giveaways, short stories and fun stuff. Please do pop over and say hello.

There is a definite need to get a page sorted for reviews but in its absence I would like to thank not only these two individuals but also the other lovely folk who have taken the time and effort to review my books. Honourable mention goes to Richard Bunning who has managed to post a review on pretty much every nationality of Amazon I’m privvy to AND Awesome Indies. Above and beyond the call of duty that so a big thank you to him, too.

What else…? Well, I guess two big things happened in the authorly arena this year.

  1. The K’Barthan Trilogy morphed into a Series and then stopped. Yep it’s done. Although there’s at least one more K’Barthan book in me maybe even two – the first of them will be the book after the book after next.
  2. After years of failing dismally at Nano they finally managed one that didn’t include a week of Mumzilladom in half term. This time I won. I have a finished 55,000 novella, or a novel I need to add 30,000 words to. Once it’s rested and I’ve read it again I’ll know if it’s worth bothering to flesh out – there’s definitely a whole strain of political intrigue I could put in and a couple of layers of subtlety. Or I could just leave it as a totally frivolous romp. Or I could, maybe, write it up as a screen play.
  3. With four books out, I took the plunge and made Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Series: Part 1 perma free. An amazing thing happened. People started buying my books. Don’t get excited, we’re talking about 18 books a month but trust me, that’s about 17 more than my previous monthly totals.
  4. With a finished series, I’ve attempted to do more author events. OK, I did two author events, no wait, three. But they were great fun and more importantly, they earned me cash. I hope to build on that next year.

Hmm. I see I must work on my definition of “two”.

“Right Baldrick. Let’s try again shall we? This is called ‘adding’…”

So if there’s anything I can tell you about 2015 it’s that I’ll be quite busy. I hope to finish the NanoNovel next term and have it edited over Easter and ready to publish for summer. We shall see if I achieve this. There’s a shorter novel for youngsters, I’m thinking 6 to 10 year olds, which is provisionally titled Boldrort the Gargoyle Wrangler, although it might be called Tommy and the Giant, I’m not quite sure yet.

And there’s… a thing… which would be awesome… but I can’t talk about. Unless it happens.

So all that’s really left is to say two things.

First: Thanks.

It’s a very solitary job, being an author. You put your heart and soul into books that you hope people will love and you send them out into the ether. You do what you can to make them perfect and try to make them visible to readers without breaking the bank or behaving like a photocopier salesman. But the best way, by far, to sell books is if other people do it for you.

Therefore, there are no real words to explain how grateful I am to everyone who reads my stuff, enjoys it and then goes on to big it up and enthuse about it and encourage me and… um… ting. I am genuinely humbled by the way people have gone out of their way to help me and to introduce my drivel to new victims er hem, I mean readers. I love you and want to have your babies in a very much about big love and not about wanting to get it on with you kind of way.

Thank you.

Also to those of my fellow authors who support me thank you, too. I owe countless reviews on books I’ve read and countless reads of books I’ve downloaded by authors who have been unstintingly supportive of me in the face of bugger all coming back from this direction. I am very, very aware of this. I will read those books and I will review them but it will take a long, long time. Or I will try to find other ways to help and encourage you, the way you do me.

So the main points again: Reviews, yippee! Thank you, happy Christmas and New Year, and sorry – where applicable.

If I don’t get to blog again before it comes, I wish you a fantastic Christmas and New Year. I wish you the best of health and happiness for 2015. I hope you find your rainbow’s end and your pot of ‘gold’ next year – whatever that may be. I hope I do.

SussexDowns (7)

I leave you with a picture because every blog post should have a picture. But instead of something Christmasy I thought that, in these dark mid winter days, I’d put in some pictures of sunlight and summer and blue sky.

This is Sussex. Where I’m from. A small part of me is always there.

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Oh alright. I guess I’m not THAT much of a Scrooge. ONE Christmasy one then. Happy Christmas!* OK?

* Because yes, in my religion, that’s how you wish someone peace and happiness round about this time of year. I’m assuming that most people are grown up enough to be able to take the spirit of my greeting in the way it is meant. Because what I’m saying is, ‘have a happy and fulfilling religious, or commercial, festival of your choice over the next few days.’ I’m not going to wish you some half baked happy holidays bollocks that is so non specific that it’s hard to tell what holiday I’m actually referring to (for example, until last week, I thought ‘happy holidays’ was a special greeting for Americans pertaining to the mystical and incomprehensible to outsiders – like Guy Fawks Night – holiday of Thanksgiving). I have to say that when someone in Hounslow wished me, a white middle class bird, happy Diwali I was really touched. Maybe I’m just odd though.

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Author Interiew

Bit of a re-blog this one. Joo’s Book Reviews (and interviews) blog has very kindly interviewed me and you can find out what we talked about, my feet get a mention… and the telly. If you want to have a look it’s here.

You can also find Joo’s review of Few Are Chosen, here.

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Awesome Indies award Seal of Approval to Few Are Chosen

Few Are Chosen is not only Awesome Indie listed now, it’s Awesome Indie Seal of Approved… so to speak. I quote…

“Books awarded the Awesome Indies Seal of Approval have been triple checked for quality. The standard of prose required for the seal is higher than that for inclusion on the site, therefore placement on the Awesome Indies list does not guarantee award of the seal.

The seal appears on book covers as a pure gold version of the above. The actual seal is only available from the site administrator. The black and gold version is used for display on websites.”

So Now I get to display this picture on my blog. aiafinal

That’s very cheering.

Here are the links to the three reviews.

  1. Tahlia Newland (reviewed on Awesome Indies)
  2. David Morrese
  3. Kate Policani

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Awesome Indies decide The Wrong Stuff is the right stuff.

One absolutely lovely review of The Wrong Stuff, K’Barthan Trilogy: Part 2.

Frankly, I’m walking on air. OK so the editing needs to be tighter on this one. I’ve recently changed the brief I give my editor. He went through Book 1 with a fine tooth comb but we reckoned Book 2 was close enough until I finish writing all the books and he does a series-wide sweep. It is but only just, phnark. The important point is, the editing can be fixed. So here is one happy bunny! So happy that I even broke my rule about commenting on reviews – don’t usually do it any more – to say ‘thank you’.

 

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Few Are Chosen Officially Declared Awesome.

A quick post today: Awesome Indies have already been kind enough to list Few Are Chosen but here is the site’s review. I am pretty damn chuffed about this one, I must admit. So, if anyone’s interested, here it isReview: Few are Chosen by M T McGuire – fantasy.

Thanks to Tahlia Newland for taking the time to review Few Are Chosen!

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50 shades of… Mmm…

Well… shite to be honest.

McOther bought me 50 Shades of Grey in a car boot. I read it. I wanted to know what happened next – power to you E L.

I bought books 2 and 3 for Kindle and started reading. Then the repetition began to get to me. Like hearing the same note over and over again the regular occurance of certain shorthand phrases started to grate… I got 39% into book two, read the word artfully twice in the same sentence followed by a sentence containing the word ‘voice’ twice in about five words (when the second ‘voice’ could just have easily have been ‘sound’) and I thought, ‘what am I doing? These are precious minutes of my life that I won’t get back.’ So I returned the e-books and got a refund.

Yes it has something, I wanted to know what happened to the characters but when push came to shove I just couldn’t wade through the writing style to find out. I suppose what it needed was a good hard edit. And until it has one, I lack the will.

So, some examples of repetition.

  1. Dialogue tags; nobody talks, they ‘murmur’ often when I think she may mean that they mutter. The best books I’ve read only really use ‘said’ and the real masters of conversation Pratchett, for example, hardly have any dialogue tags at all. I was taught that if you repeat anything other than ‘said’ too often it starts to stand out. The dialogue in 50 shades proves that.
  2. Nobody looks stern, they set their mouth in a thin hard line, sometiems several times on the same page.
  3. Ana bites her lip so often mine is bleeding in sympathy.
  4. I know he’s rich and he’s meant to be a git but he drives Audis for heavens sake, five of them. He must be a monumental tosser!
  5. Ana’s inner goddess does a lot of panting.
  6. If she mentions his fingers she mentions that they are long, pretty much always.
  7. We are told he is hot, a lot. I’d like to be shown.
  8. He shouts things like, ‘yeh baby, come for me!’ Mwah ha hah hargh. I’d definitely get a spanking for excess levity if I was Ana because I wouldn’t be able to stop giggling. I mean, is he Austin Powers?
  9. She always spirals or disintegrates into an orgasm.
  10. His/her breath hitches several times a page.

Or to put it another way, is it well written? No.

So what gives? Why the fuss? Well I think there are two factors.

First up, this was Twilight fanfic with a big following before it crossed over. So that big bunch of peole to buy and get it noticed when it goes live was there beforehand.

Second is that powerful combination of shock value and curiosity. Does anyone remember a band called Frankie Goes to Hollywood? They released a very mediocre song called ‘Relax’ in the 1980s about er… well, giving blow jobs – phnark. It peaked at about number 20 and then started sliding down the charts until the Radio 1 DJ Mike Reid listened to the words one day and stopped it half way though saying. “I’m not sure I should be playing this.” After which point, it got banned and sold in millions.

Why? Because it was good? No. Because no-one could hear it on the radio any more so they all went out and bought it to find out what the dirty words were. It was at number 1 in the charts for weeks despite being shite. So there we are. Curiosity – a powerful marketing took if you can tap into it.

In a nutshell then, the fanfic base probably got the momentum to get it noticed and the curiosity of the rest of us probably carried it further.

It’s not a good bit of writing, and it embodies everything the anti-indie lobby whinge about in indie books.

However, looking back on it, did I care about the characters? Yes. Did I wish it was better written? Yes, because I would have loved to have been able to keep reading to find out what happened. So.. it clearly has something. It’s just a pity that what it hasn’t had, and needs, is a good hard copy edit.

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