My Christmas Book Ketchup & Other Short Christmas Stories Is Now Available On Amazon!

 

I have put together a collection of six short stories called Ketchup & Other Short Christmas Stories which is now available on Amazon. It’s the first Christmas book I’ve written and I loved putting it together. Now it’s back to writing my next novel 🙂 …

Hope you all enjoy it. 🙂

To purchase Ketchup & Other Short Christmas Stories go to:

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Nocturnal Lessons By Olivia Helling Review!

 

Nocturnal Lessons (2015) by Olivia Helling is the first book in the Damon Snow series of books. It was a wonderful read from start to finish.

 

The story is set in Mother Dover’s brothel where protagonist Damon works. He is someone who acts very sure of himself, all macho doesn’t believe in love, doesn’t believe it exists and yet as the book progresses we see that his emotions about love begin to change slightly and he begins to be slightly more open to the prospect and shows that there is romance in his heart when he plays cupid for his friend who works as a prostitute alongside him Kendall and a client Price. He’s very interesting and there is a complexness there within him that is going to make for a very interesting series of books. And he seems to have a really good heart that he’s buried deep in order not to be hurt. Helling writes into her stories a variety of very rounded characters with their own individual personalities so while you’ll probably like all the main characters, you will probably take to one more so than the others. For me, I took very much to Kendall. I think he reminded me a lot of myself and I knew where he was coming from a lot. There’s a vulnerability to Kendall but there’s a lot of strength there too. He has come from a very difficult situation and he’s determined but also daunted by the prospect of happiness with Price. And he’s bit of an old romantic too. Price was a wonderful character too. He is a character that you get to know as each layer peels away of his story and his personality. And then there’s Byrne who is Damon’s mentor. He seems like quite a complex character. His intentions seem to make sense but his method is very complex and you aren’t always sure where he’s going with it. But hey, that’s probably a good thing as it’s a series. Rogers is also a great character. He’s sort of played a supporting role in this book but I kind of hope in books to come that he’s going to end up with Damon. There is a kind of a comfort and ease with the two of them when they are together which I think is great and I’d love to see them progressing to the next level. Be warned, I haven’t read the rest of the books yet so I’m probably barking up the wrong tree with that one! 🙂

Damon is an incubus and I’ll just touch on that fact briefly. I had to Google what it meant. I didn’t think it added much to the first book but as a series I think it will feature more most likely in future books and I think we were probably introduced to that fact for the sake of the plot of future books more than this one. I think it was interesting however though to make him an incubus and not make it a central theme because after all it’s only a part of him and there’s so much more to him than the fact he’s an incubus.

This book is an interesting story of love, learning about life and love, friendship and Damon’s search to find himself. It is interesting throughout and leaves you wanting to know what happens in the books that follow to Damon, Kendall and co. I intend to read the rest of the series in the future. This book is a must-read. Helling has a very natural writing style. Completely the kind of style I like in writing. The writer who came to mind who I would compare Helling’s writing to was Agatha Christie. Obviously the genres they write are very different but the way they put it down on paper is similar and I think that’s really cool.

 

To purchase Nocturnal Lessons by Olivia Helling go to:

 

Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter By Kent Wayne Review!

 

 

Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne (2015) is a wonderful and gripping read with excellent descriptive detail. Set in the latter part of the 21st century, humans have left Earth and are now residing on a planet called Echo. 1200 years pass and the citizens living on Echo are being suppressed by society while the authority called the Regime rules over them. A large rebel group called the Dissidents are a source of concern for the police and military. Amongst all the chaos we find the protagonist Atriya, a former enforcer, whose idealist nature is in contrast with the oppression surrounding him.

It is a very action packed novel with detailed observation by the central character. As I read, I was reminded of Tom Rob Smith’s writing. Wayne has that same attention to detail which easily paints a picture of the various locations and characters in your mind as well as making a lot of information a reader needs to know accessible and easy to follow. There’s a lot of fictional military rank structures and Wayne makes it very easy to follow even for readers like me who wouldn’t have clue about how structures of rank work. The story also has an underlying social commentary element to it. You can’t help seeing similarities to our own world with those above and below the law but done in a fictional sci-fi way. It speaks about inequality, power struggles and oppression in society and how people often turn a blind eye to it to advance even though they can see the world is in a state of decay. It also represents in parts how people get socially-conditioned to a certain way of life and can’t understand when people bring up change or progress. Wayne also wonderfully captures the inner turmoil and confusion many people feel about this resistance to change structures and attitudes through the central character and I could definitely relate to that. But my favorite character and the character I identified with the most was Verus. She’s just this ordinary woman but really gutsy and seems to go for what she wants as opposed to what she thinks society wants for her and I hope to see her more in later books of the series.

A very interesting author biography is also included with the story as are the first three chapters of book 2 in the series which looks really good.

All in all, a brilliant read which leaves the reader wanting to see how Atriya’s journey continues and the story progresses in the follow-up novels.

To purchase Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne go to:

And for more information on Kent Wayne’s work go to:

My Novel Defying Gravity Is Now Available On Amazon!

My novel Defying Gravity is now available on Amazon. Set in London, it follows the love story of Ethan and Alan (although I call them Eth and Al most of the time), two ballroom dancers who form a dance partnership and fall in love along the way.

I loved writing the characters and I learned an awful lot about the ballroom world and the history of ballroom dance while writing the book. It wasn’t something I knew a lot about prior to starting my research for Defying Gravity so that was very interesting.

To purchase Defying Gravity go to:

Thank you! 🙂

Dreams of Decay By S. Alessandro Martinez Book Review!

 

 

Dreams of Decay (2016) by S. Alessandro Martinez is a wonderful, chilling book of poetry with brilliant illustrations by Asya Yordanova, Holly Hammond and Jody Scheers which help to bring the poems to life for the reader.

The collection opens with The Book of Dead Things and Scary Stuff, a cleverly written poem and perfect opening poem which sets the tone for the rest of the collection. We move then to The Boy Who Breathed Darkness which is a brilliantly dark take on the story of Mary and Jesus with the angel now a demon and God now the devil. Glutton follows and is a wonderfully ironic poem about a woman married to a man with “an appetite like sin”. The Girl With No Face follows and is a poem about a girl who is bullied and has a great twist. The twists in a lot of the poems are very good such as in the following three poems New Mummy when the character Tim goes into a store and without giving too much away doesn’t come back out, the poem which follows Sam and the Spider which also has a great twist at the end and Are You Afraid? in which a girl makes a bet with her best friend to go into a graveyard.

 

The collection continues with The Thing from John’s Head, a dark psychological poem followed by a short well-written piece called Save Me. The Ghouls follows. It is set in an old graveyard where someone is watching the ghouls eating the body of some unfortunate and also has a great twist at the end. The next poem stuck in my head long after I read it. It’s called The Girl Who Woke Up Dead. If you are in any way claustrophobic, you will find this poem very chilling. It sent a chill up my spine. There is a great storytelling quality to this poem too. I think this poem and The Boy Who Breathed Darkness are probably my two favourite poems from the collection. It’s followed by the chilling poem The Cellar and The Thirteenth Hour, a poem about a grandfather clock which rings an unlucky thirteen times.

 

Continuing the collection is The Present which takes place at Dan’s 8th birthday party when his Mum hires a sinister clown. It is followed by another well-crafted poem called Daddy Long-Legs and No One Was There, a psychological, chilling poem. Next up is Death’s Embrace about a young boy Homer who is afraid of death so his parents bring Death over to visit their home in an effort to show Homer that death is nothing to fear. Wonderfully storytelling. The Necromancer’s Spell follows. The descriptive qualities in this poem are absolutely stunning. Flows beautifully and effortlessly. Possession Terminated is next. It has four lines per verse and the rhythm of the poem is brilliant. It’s a very well structured poem which again flows effortlessly.

 

The Viscera Queen is the penultimate poem of the collection. It has a very storytelling quality to it and follows the story of a tyrant Queen who has sharp teeth in which to eat her enemies alive and tortures her subjects. Closing the collection is The Corpse Machine about a killing machine. It brings the collection perfectly to a close.

 

Following the collection is some brief biographies where you can find out more about the author and the illustrators.

 

I very much enjoyed the entire collection. I love horror movies and anyone who does will adore this collection. They are like mini movies only on paper with the illustrations almost like a still from each mini movie. It’s not a collection of poetry for the faint-hearted but for anyone who likes their poetry a bit dark and with meaning, this is a stunningly interesting and professional collection.

 

To purchase Dreams of Decay by S. Alessandro Martinez go to:

 

And to find out more about S. Alessandro’s work go to:

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The Secret Speech By Tom Rob Smith Book Review!

 

 

The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith is the action-packed follow-up to Child 44. Based in Russia in the 1950s, it is set soon after the fall of Stalin. Three years have went by since the first book and Stalin has died. The protagonist Leo Demidov is trying to be a good father to his two daughters and a good other half to his wife Raisa. He now is at the helm of his own homicide department and is trying to put his past of torturing behind him. This makes him a very complex protagonist.

 

Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor, compiles The Secret Speech in order to distance the new regime from the violence of the former period. The speech is supposedly supposed to be secret but is leaked throughout Russia causing many of Stalin’s former henchmen to feel incredibly exposed and unsafe. It is rumoured that some senior officials have had heart attacks or committed suicide following the reveal of the speech. Demidov is a former loyal follower and servant of the regime and one of his victims who was sent to prison for seven years comes back to seek revenge.

The book has a very quick pace and is based on the time leading up to the 1956 uprising in Hungary. The process of de-Stalinization is underway and following the speech two separate entities are central in book: on one side the vory and on the other side the state’s torturers and killers. The vory start a campaign against those who helped uphold Stalin’s rule. Demidov was three years with the secret police and was responsible for sending hundreds of people to the gulags, the torture chambers and the executioner. He now has turned over a new leaf and lives with his wife Raisa and his daughters Zoya and Elena in Moscow. Raisa and Leo adopted Zoya and Elena after Leo sent their birth parents to their death. Elena is the youngest and she has settled into the family, the eldest Zoya on the other hand hasn’t. She harbours thoughts of revenge and stands over Leo while he is asleep holding a knife wishing she could kill him.

Meanwhile Fraera, the vory leader who was imprisoned by Leo seven years earlier, also has revenge on her mind towards both Leo and his family. Leo had sent her husband and her to the gulag in the past. She tells him that she “was nothing until I hated you.” She kidnaps Zoya. Zoya becomes a member of the vory going on missions with a young guy called Malysh and they fall in love.

The book has a huge theme in second chances and the follower mentality of human nature. Personally I couldn’t get past the evilness in Leo’s past and the following orders thing didn’t make me feel any different about him and I didn’t particularly like him but not every central character has to be likable in books. My favourite character was Raisa and I also liked the romance between Zoya and Malysh.

Described as “brilliant (Chicago Tribune), “remarkable” (Newsweek) and “sensational” (Entertainment Weekly) I would have to agree. A wonderfully crafted book by a very talented writer.

Read My Review Of Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer by E.R. Barr On onlinebookclub.org!

 

My review of Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer by E.R. Barr is now up on onlinebookclub.org. It was wonderful as a writer to get the chance to review another writer’s work and it was a really great read. 🙂

To read my review go to:

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=45468

Hope you all like it! 🙂

 

For more on the author go to:

http://www.erbarr.com/