Tag Archives: Reviews

Chin up lass!

There is a popular trope that being happy is just a state of mind. It’s a little more complicated than that, I suspect but I think there is something in the idea that trying to cultivate a positivity of outlook can help. For me it’s definitely about noticing things. Noticing the smell of hyacinths from the flower bed beside our back door. Noticing the way the birds start to sing way, way more loudly from January on. Noticing how even in December, the bulbs are starting to break through. If I wasn’t lucky enough to spot these signs of hope and spring, naturally, I suspect I would be a much less happy person. But once you’ve noticed this stuff once, maybe you look harder for it the next time? Who knows.

This week, has been … interesting. Really tough at times. Not helped by a dash of sleep deprivation; they resurfaced a bit of our street … at night and, apparently, with the help of the Mysterons.

They also foolishly parked their rollers etc outside my house where I could eyebomb the living smeck out of them so there’s an upside to everything but …  after a couple of noisy nights mental energy was low by about Tuesday and by Wednesday I was running on fumes – no not my farts, I’m trying to say there wasn’t much fizz in the tank – and there was even less after I had to sort out a bit of a ‘situation’ at Mum and Dad’s. Suffice to say, I should be driving to Hexham right now to celebrate the 50th Birthdays of two lovely friends from school. And I’m not.

In my defence, it’s a five hour trip each way and after my uncle’s death, the night works and a furore (now sorted) that blew up around my parents this week, I decided that if I was being realistic, there were not enough spoons/fuel in the tank – my tank, not the car’s – to do 600 miles in bank holiday traffic. I cancelled. I feel bad about cancelling but sitting here right now, I know I’ve done the right thing.

Meanwhile alongside these it has been a week of small and unusual things. Lovely things that have lifted my spirits. Rare stuff. It’s strange how these things happen sometimes, often when the rest of your world is at its worst. Little mini-boosts that filter through to you, as if the world is trying to tell you, in it’s own small way, that despite feeling that you haven’t measured up, it’s alright.

First, an account from a friend of someone waxing lyrical about my intelligence – as in that she thought I had some – left me with a nice warm feeling. The Scottish man who served me at the market today who asked if I’d be having those strawberries and without thinking I said, ‘Aye.’ The moment in church when a lady visiting, who had the misfortune to sit near me, tapped me on the shoulder at the end of the service and thanked me for my singing. I’ve discussed my singing before, an attribute about which I was teased a great deal at school – so much singing, so little of it in tune. But recently people have been saying how nice my voice is. I’m not sure if something’s happened to my voice, if the people in church are tone deaf or if I’ve always had a decent voice and the girls at school were just jealous. Whatever it is that’s happened there, I suddenly feel I can sing. I’ll take that and be happy!

This last fortnight, after the death of my uncle, I felt very low, about Dad as well as about him. Strangely, I’ve been seeing butterflies and rainbows everywhere. Butterflies, obviously, because it’s spring. Rainbows; I had a memorable journey back from Sussex to Suffolk this week; two and a half hours over waterlogged roads in bright sunlight. Lots of spray, car got a Sussex respray and was covered in white chalky puddle water stains, visibility was terrible, lights on but blue sky above and rainbows dancing around me everywhere pretty much the whole way home. That was a hell of a thing.

This is hardly a phenomenon, either, after all, it’s typical April weather really, showers then sun but it’s not something I’ve witnessed in quite such abundance before and it’s different to the norm so it makes for a change. Some ditzy article I read somewhere, which I can’t find now, of course, talked about about how butterflies are messengers from your guardian angel to let you know s/he’s listening, while rainbows are messages of reassurance from the cosmos. Butterflies are wonderful, they’re always going to cheer me up and as for the rainbows, well, when something is able to make a British motorway look beautiful then, dubious theories on cosmic reassurance aside, it’s still uplifting.

Then after a fair time with no reviews one from ‘An Amazon User’ for Few Are Chosen popped up this week. I always think that makes it sound like some kind of drug.

‘Hello, I’m MTM and I’m a recovering Amazon User.’ [applause] ‘Yeh, it’s tough but I’ve been clean several months now.’

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the review. Actually, they left it two weeks ago but I only found it this week. It reminded me of something my brother in-law said. He thought there were two interesting, and slightly amazing, phenomena about the reviews of my books. The first thing he pointed out was that if you look at most reviews on Amazon, generally across the site, while some are superb far more are less than articulate. He felt a surprisingly high number of reviews for my books were witty and amusing, as if the reviewers loved the jokes in the books and are joining in. If that’s true, it’s a lovely thing for them to feel and I’m delighted it’s happened. The second thing he thought was intriguing is the fact that even the one-liners are reasonably well spelled and punctuated, suggesting a level of intelligence in the readers reviewing my books that is way above average.

Mwahhahahrgh! So there we have it. Congratulations to anyone who has read my books, then. Clearly you are very smart and arbiters of good taste! Phnark! It is a cheering thought though, because it makes me feel that I am reaching my intended audience; eccentric people like me. And if the people who feel moved to write reviews of my books want to join in with the jokes then maybe there is the possibility that the small beginnings of a community of … I dunno … K’Barthan-heads? Is forming. Maybe, or maybe not but it feels like a little seed of hope.

And I needed all those small things this week. You see, one of the hardest bits about the death of my uncle was the way it made me feel about about Dad. Sometimes, when I think he’s suffering or unhappy, I wish Dad wasn’t around, not because I want him dead but because it’s hard to see him suffer, it’s difficult not to see his disability as Dad going under and dragging Mum down with him. It’s horrible to think either of them is unhappy. Other times, when he seems cheerful, I see, with crystal clarity, that he is a man with a disability and I am being incredibly able-ist and condescending. At least it makes for a new topic to beat myself up over.

In a minor miracle this week, something in me was able to let a lot of that baggage go. Dad is, mostly, happy and enjoying life, as is Mum. That’s really all I can hope for. No doubt the worry will return but for now, I’m OK with the situation again, things are on an even keel. The house I grew up in is still a place of laughter and compassion. The rest is kismet, right?

Perhaps that’s all you need to do to be happy; look for the small gifts, be kind to yourself and be kind to others.

Who knows? I leave you with the review, because it was lovely. Thank you and Godspeed ‘Amazon User’.

Don’t Giggle Out Loud
You know when you are sitting in an airport and the guy next to you starts giggling at the book he is reading? And it’s so annoying because you can’t quite see the title? This is the book. The anti hero, The Pan, is terrific, his search to find the Chosen One before the ultimate baddy Lord Vernon gets his evil hands on her, The Swamp Thing, all go to make a refreshingly funny and well laid out plot. Oh and did I mention the car chase? or the lovely old man, or the drink that hits the spot, especially of the evil one’s soldiers? But that would spoil the story for you. Go read it yourself. It only has five stars as Amazon is tight with them.

 

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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.

IMG_2137

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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