When you Walked Back into my Life by Hilary Boyd

A moving story about a woman who, having suffered a nervous breakdown after the love of her life left her suddenly and without a word, has started to piece together a quiet existence, unable to countenance building a new life without the man she loved. When her lost lover walks back in to her life as suddenly as he had left it, she is angry and afraid to trust him again but eventually gives in to the love that had always remained and they try to pick up the lifImagee they had before.

However, conflict soon emerges between the life that her lover has envisaged for them and the new life she has built for herself and which she is not so sure she wants to give up.

This is as much a story about a woman’s journey towards strength and independence as it is a love story and it is one that is told with style.

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The Runner and the Saint by Dave Duncan

This is a book that grew on me the further into it I got. The author demonstrates a fluid, intelligent writing style and I considered it to be very well written.Image
It is very much a plot driven story with only brief descriptions of the characters and their surroundings, rather than paragraphs devoted to a single mountain. This isn’t literary fiction; the focus is on the action. Neverthless, the main character is likeable and believable and there are some hints towards the end of the story of character/life developments in later books. However, at 118 pages, it is quite short and I think that there was room for developing some of the relationships and allowing the reader to get to know some of the lesser characters. The plot itself is well constructed and, although slow to start, carries itself through to a plausible and satisfying conclusion, albeit one that leaves the way open for a sequel.
At times, I found myself having to delve deep into my memory to recall the meaning of some of the specifically Scottish tribal terms used or the historical/social significance of piece of the text and I think, without a basic understanding of Scottish history and tribal traditions a reader might find some parts difficult to understand and enjoy, particularly with regard to the meaning of some of the ancient titles and social positions. There is a very brief explanation at the end of the book (which I think would be more useful at the beginning) but I think that a few in text notes would be more helpful.
Apart from that, my only other criticism is regarding the front cover, which seems too modern for the story and would ordinarily have put me off.

Guest Post by Jay Wilburn

Today, I am very happy to introduce author Jay Wilburn to talk about his current Indiegogo project.

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My name is Jay Wilburn. I am a teacher and a writer. I am not new at either pursuit. I’ve spent about sixteen years in the classroom between grades fourth through eighth in each of the academic subjects. I was also a stay at home dad for the first year of my first son’s life. I worked nights busing tables to pay for that adventure. A lot has happened in education from when I was a first year started teaching some seventeen years ago.

I started writing when I was a kid. I started publishing a few years ago. I have a few stories under my belt in various anthologies and with various publishers. I write columns for a couple different groups too.

I want to accomplish something different from I have created in the past.

I am attempting my first indiegogo campaign. I’ve set the bar high on the goal because I want to make the most out of my current work. I want to begin to create a community of readers and fellow writers around the work and its promotion.

The novel connected to the project is The Great Interruption. It follows the life of a young girl through different time periods in her life as she grows up through a significant world event. Everyone she knows seems to mysteriously vanish leaving her alone in the world to fend for herself for half of her life. Then, she has to deal with jarring return of all these people into the world they abandoned just as mysteriously and destructively as they left. The main character must try to unravel the mystery of what happened even as she struggles with her own place and identity in a world she does not understand.

I want the supernatural adventures of the girl’s growing up in The Great Interruption to parallel the jarring act of growing up in the natural world. As we all separate physically and symbolically from our families, we must decide what of them we want to carry with us and what we feel we must abandon on our own journeys. As we return to the places and people we left behind so long ago, we face new challenges. As the world seems to have become shockingly different during our own interrupted lives, the people and places we abandoned or that abandoned us seem to have in some ways stayed unnaturally preserved in a state that no longer serves us. We are left again to decide what to keep and what we feel we must abandon from our pasts sitting right in front of us again.

At the moment, I’m also researching disappearances in our real world. The numbers are shocking. The increases over the last few decades are shocking. I’m also researching the history of solitary confinement and the effects on the human mind and body. Even though our heroine in The Great Interruption seems to have the whole world at her disposal, she is experiencing a great solitary confinement as a result of the great interruption and its strange rapture.

In the future, I’m looking at a much larger project related to the Dark and Bookish initiative I’m setting up now. The success of this current indiegogo project will give me the skills I need to set up a future event that will serve struggling authors, small presses, and independent bookstores. This future project will involve a tour and a documentary.

For now, consider supporting and sharing the project The Great Interruption. For small donations, you can be connected with this novel, its promotion, and its author. The perks include sneak peeks, a copy of the finished work, and possibly ongoing copies of my future works as an author. Take a moment to look and to contribute. Take a moment to pass this on to others as well.

Your support is greatly appreciated.

http://www.indiegogo.com/JayWilburn

Review of October Rain by Dylan J. Morgan

An Unexpected Ending

Set in the (hopefully) distant future Imagewhen Earth has long since disappeared into the sun and what is left of its inhabitants have colonised the remaining planets of the solar system.  The main character, having been born and grown up on Titan, is now living and working in the rapidly disintegrating settlement of Olympia on Mars. Working for the Government, his job is to dispose of the City’s undesirables.

This is an easy story to read in a single sitting. It moves on quickly and the style of writing is quite captivating. There is a good balance between action and description with neither seeming to be lacking. I had to re-read parts of it to work out how this was achieved and I think the main reason is that all of the description is very carefully chosen to heighten the tension.

There were a couple of places where I felt that the elements of the plot were a little overstated (i.e. the reader is told after having already worked it out for themselves) but they are so minor that I don’t think they detract from the entertainment value at all.

The story didn’t end as I had wanted it to but it was certainly quite powerful nevertheless.

I liked it. A good way to spend an evening.

Roachkiller by R Narvaez

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A dark collection of short stories.

The characters in each of these short stories are almost tangible. Like real people, all of them are flawed in some way, even the good ones. Conversely, in the same way that in real life nobody is all bad, even the ‘bad’ characters have a trace of good. These elements of personality are trickled to us in such a subtle way that our reaction to them is shaped almost without our awareness. You will probably neither love nor loathe any of the characters but you will certainly feel something about them because they seem so real.

As far as the narrative is concerned, each story is written in the distinctive voice of one (or, in the last story, two) of the characters. Narvaez seems to completely step into these characters so that the narrative seems authentic and the style of each one different. Each story has a different and interesting premise and many of them cause the reader to question their own assumptions about the black and white distinction between good and bad. There are a couple of great twist endings as well.

On the whole this collection is well worth reading. I’ll certainly be watching out for any more titles from Narvaez.

R Narvaez is a talented writer and one to watch out for.

Review of House of Shadows by Walter Spence

This is an interesting and unusual vampire story. The approach is very different from the traditional gothic horror but at the same time also far removed from the misunderstood and loveable creatures that we have grown used to in the past few years. ‘The Breed’ that Walter Spence introduces us to is something akin to a mysterious race. As the story unfolds and we learn about their traditions and history, we may not grow to like them but we do grow to understand them.

The story is written in the first person and, whilst I know that many readers prefer the third person, I think that is was a good choice in this instance. The gradual and seamless change in narrative tone shows the development of the main character, Eugene Evans, from child to adulthood is gradual and seamless and is only obvious by re-reading earlier chapters and comparing the difference. In fact, I thought that character development generally was very good.

I have only two criticisms. The first is that the ending felt a little rushed and I would have preferred the pace to have slowed down just a little. The second is that, although there were some very good similes, too many of them were in the first few pages of the book. However, the writing style overall is very good and neither of these criticisms are major problems so I would only remove one star for both of them taken together.

Extinction Point by Paul Antony Jones

I thought I’d post a few of my reviews of books by other indie authors.  Starting off with Extinction Point by Paul Antony Jones.

ImageThis is an interesting take on the ‘end of the world as we know it’ type of novel, not least of all because the main character, and sole survivor of the ‘red rain’, is a young woman. 

Emily Baxter is working as a journalist in New York when a strange, blood-like rain begins to sweep across the globe.  It becomes apparent that the rain is more than it seems as, in its wake, whole nations of people succumb to a terrible virus that attacks suddenly, violently and fatally.  When the virus reaches New York, Emily waits for her own inevitable demise but when it doesn’t come she realises that she is probably the only survivor in the whole city, if not the world.  Extinction Point tracks Emily’s progress as she tries to adjust to living in a world devoid of life and then her struggle for survival and escape as a new world begins to emerge from the destruction of the old.

The character of Emily is easy to like with a dry humour and unswerving practicality.  She strikes a good balance between femininity and toughness, giving us a sense of an ordinary woman who finds herself having to toughen up to survive.  Although there are no other characters for most of the story.  Paul Jones gives us enough little glimpses into the characters of the minor players in the build up to the red rain to make us truly sorry for their fate.

The action is well written and the moments of tension really do have you on the edge of your seat.  My one little grumble is that there is a lot of unnecessary narrative.  Unless you know Manhattan, the detailed routes that Emily takes on her journeys through the city are fairly meaningless.  Paul Jones shows himself throughout to be a competent writer with a knack for building suspense.

On the whole, a darned good read, although slightly annoying to only find out at the end that it is just the first in a series of books so we don’t really get a proper resolution.  However, the second in the series is a work in progress and you can check for updates on Paul’s website where there is even a mailing list so that you can find out as soon as it’s released.