Saturday, 29 October 2016

Ye OldE-Book Shoppe 3

Let Me Be Your Fantasy…..No okay, maybe not; I understand.

The fantasy genre is like Marmite; you either love or hate it. I break this company slogan; I can take Marmite or leave it without fuss. Blows their whole advertising campaign out of the water huh? Well, fantasy is the same, when its written well it absorbs me, pulls me into its unique world but often, geeks write fan fiction or else a poor pastiche of the classics; pass the pipe-weed Ent, I’m off to Gondor.

While the others offer original worlds, Kyrathaba Rising is Tolkienesque but in an ingenious and unusual way. Principally though, it’s a dystopian sci-fi crime thriller; taking a while to lift off but when it does the layers pile higher. Sheltering from a hostile alien race in an underground compound, a commune face invasion or else, the protagonists plan to save the human race by entering a virtual reality world whereby they can access a new life.

Anyone intelligent enough to program such an intense alternative world, the author theorises, stands to reason they’d be a geek and every geek loves a bit of “Lord of the Rings.” Therefore the world they enter is inspired by Middle-Earth with preprogramed representations of the many creatures from Tolkien’s world.

It’s obvious its author, William Bryan Miller, is as massively influenced by Tolkien as the programmers in his book, and while he’s not afraid to show it, he’s found a unique angle and reason in which to use it.

Others take to fantasy in a more direct way and provided it is carved out with creativity and originality then I cannot get enough. The next two books I think are similar in that, the protagonists both come from our world and find themselves delving into their respective other-worlds. The first is the world of the Never, shaped by the astounding CJ Rutherford.

Now, both Mr Rutherford and Cecily Magnon use the hook of a free prequel to suck you into his realm, its fair game and a great way for you taste their offerings before devoting yourself to the series. I guarantee now though, if you stick your little toe in either waters, you’ll want to dive right in.
How do they do this? Through a website called Smashwords, a wonderful cyber-bookshop where, if you want to avoid the one which sounds like a rainforest for your own reasons, you need look no further. Check it out and support the authors on there.

Back to Never though, defined as YA in genre, (young adult) but I pretend I’m young enough, it’s the duty of us big kids. It’s a world full of dragons and other archetypical creatures but the way it has been presented is engaging. Rutherford knows how to weave a fascinating story; the prequel starts in the fantasy world and leaves you hanging. Then book one plonks you back on Earth, in Ireland, where a couple of girls in university begin to analysis the dreams that haunt them, suspecting they’re becoming real.

Unlike Tolkien we are not expected to just be plonked in the middle of Never without a map; Colin is crafting his universe before us, opening our mind and pouring in the rich narrative and creative descriptions with ease. The multi-universe theory comes into play and the adventure unfolds; nothing particularly original in this but, and this is a big but, it’s charm is within the courageous wordplay, the real life conversations and situations that make this something very special. It reads beautifully, it does not confuse and it implements all we need to know to enter his world confident that we are no stranger.

It reminded me of Cecily Magnon’s amazing series, “The Order of the Anakim,” with its perfect mixture of rich portrayals and everyday conversation pieces and this, coupled with the modern scientific theory that melds our world to that of the Never this book keeps you beyond entertained and when it is over, dripping for more. And there is more, after you’ve downloaded the FREE prelude, Origins of the Never, there’s three novels; Souls of the Never, Worlds of the Never and War of the Never.

 Prelude to a storm

“The Order of the Anakim” also has three books after the FREE, Prelude to a Storm; Gathering Storm, Dark Skies and Tempest Dawn. The similarities are endless, it’s also YA but enjoyable for an old fart like me!

Two young and rather naïve American Girls venture across the Mexican border. Life is a breeze for them, not taking heed of warnings they find themselves biting off more than they can chew in a rundown café. There is something in the mist of the mood, something not quite right but it would seem they are in good hands when a strong willed young Greek man assists them with the undesirable cautions of his boss Rosa, owner of the café. With their suspicions they’ve found something unworldly and demonic they leave under the protection of their saviour.

Intrigued by the whole incident one of the girls returns and in turn the protector seems to become obsessed by her, locating her in San Francisco. However her relevance in all this is far from circumstantial as she is about to discover her role in a world of ancient magik.

Cecily tackles this fantastical unwinding narrative with certain ease, the words flow through you as if they are magic themselves; there is no mistaking the environment that you are imaging, it sucks you in and tosses you right into the eye of the action. With beauty and precision the wording is expressive, it is funny when it wants to be fun, scary when it needs to scare you; basically it’s astonishingly realistic.

Prelude to a Storm is literally as moreish as melting chocolate and the only thing you will want to do after reading it is liquefy into the series.

With the fuller books greater depth and narrative sustain the quality; they deliver this in abundance. At times the descriptions gave us rather a lot to digest, building up into a world that has the potential to remain exciting through a whole series and thus, Gathering Storm takes some time to develop. 

However there is a reality through the dialogue and such a wonderful expression in the writing that it never bores you. Then, when Cecily does take you off for the action it is truly breath-taking and exhilarating either dramatic in its fantastical battles with demons or else in the magnificently crafted erotic interactions. If this was a movie, your popcorn would be all over the floor of the cinema and you wouldn’t have even noticed.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Return to Slapam Down

Having been busy enjoying writing, among other things (other disgusting things) my regular column and articles for Index;Wiltshire, It's been a while since I released a new book, sorry but that's about to change my friends.

If you've not read A Chip off the Old Block, what are you waiting for, a sequel, Christmas, or the country to come to its senses? It's FREE on Smashwords here.

You need to read this, your life may depend on it and what is more, the sequel really is coming faster than a fast thing being fast; you have been warned.

Now I’m not one to blow my own trumpet but this is officially certified the funniest thing you might read this week in accordance with the board of the funniest things you might read this week cooperation of Slough, Berkshire; if an elaborate tale of knob jokes is up your street.

So for your reading displeasure I humbly present the first chapter in a desperate attempt to lure you in, and if by some miracle it works, well, my work is done. Enjoy!


Big mouthed bigot, Jeremy Clerkscum, famous TV presenter and all-round knob-jockey, flicked through the menu and smiled. “Amazing, they do not have a single dish here that hasn’t had…. an animal callously butchered.”

It was obvious his signature presenting routine, of pausing midsentence, deepening his voice before continuing, was no gimmick for television; he really was stupid enough to think using it all the time gave him an air of superiority.

A shallow looking drip in a suit far too expensive for him looked nervously at Clerkscum from the other side of the table and advocated, “Oh, surely they have at least one vegetarian option available?” He took a quick scan of his own menu, using it as shield to shy behind when he observed, “I did not realise that you are a….ermmm…vegetarian Mr Clerkscum?”

The TV presenter was a gigantic man, twice the size of his dinner colleague, maybe even three, and he spat out some saliva when he barked. “I think all veggies should be hung, drawn and quartered at birth!”

“Oh,” the drip cowered.

“Along with any Jesus-creeping, work-shunning, left wing driblets that support the NHS, the BBC and, god forbid, them….them fucking tree-hugging, pikey hunt saboteurs; slay the fox I say, slaughter the stag now!” Jeremey raised his volume with every word until he bellowed in an insane giggle. He noticed a group of men staring at him, gathered at a table just two down from his own. “Isn’t that so Prime Minister?” he asked them.

One man nodded his approval, “Here, here, Mr Clerkscum; see you at the hunt what-what!”
“So,” his nerdy chum dared to peek over his menu, “this restaurant meets with your, ermm, satisfaction then?” His teeth chattered with the fear of Jeremey’s response.

Clerkscum took his time to answer, when he did he projected it with his trademark deep booming voice and the random little pause he did for effect, “This restaurant is the best restaurant…….in the world.”

“Oh good, I’m so glad. Now about your, ermm, about your contract with the BBC in connection with the comments you made on the Cbeebies show Out and About, you know, ermm, yes, the ones concerning, ermm, immigrant disabled children, Rottweilers, chainsaws and ermm, ethnic, ermmm, cleansing?”

Clerkscum downed his pint of Henri Jayer Richebourg Grand Cru in one and let out a ground-shaking burp. “What about it?”

“Well, in….in….ermm…in light of, of ermm, recent complaints…..” stammered the chaperone.

“Complaints?” Clerkscum bellowed, forcing his dinner partner to grip the table cloth in fear of being blown back in his chair. “For the love of Thatcher, what can you say on the BBC these days if you can’t give a sly little joke about some towel-headed disabled kids meeting their maker, huh?”

“Well…….” The nerd slithered snake-like down his seat until only the topper most of his hair was visible over the table-top.

“Fuck this,” he bellowed. Clerkscum stood and took half of the cutlery with him, “I’ve gotta take a piss.” The nerd quivered as the plates and glasses crashed to the floor.

Bold and brash Jeremey Clerkscum waddled to the door of the gents and pushed the thing off of its hinges. He forcefully stepped inside; his hands already fingered his flies. He strode over to a urinal and gave a relaxing sigh.

He causally undone his button, slid down the zip of his trousers and straddled the urinal. At ease he looked to the wall and attempted to hoist out his great length of penis, “arghh, the best penis…….in the world….” he muttered deeply to himself with a grin.

As he fumbled some more an expression of shock and confusion flushed over his sweaty face, wiping it clean of the previous smug grin. No one outside the gent’s washroom heard his monumental cry, no matter how much volume he conducted it with. The toilets in this establishment were sound-proofed better than the recording studios of Abbey Road.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Ye Old-eBook Shoppe 2

Contented upon finishing “Lord of the Rings,” I told a doughnut of a friend. They replied I was “a big girl” to have read it as they’re making a film. Peter Jackson made a fair attempt but I defer, for only those who read know the idiocy of his statement. Still authors dream their works would attract a film producer, but to see your narrative ripped apart can be disheartening. Guess you just lie back and think about the money.

Last week I mentioned the ease of movie adaption with Alexes Razevich’s astounding novel “Khe,” this can be an attraction for readers. So the couple of books I’ve picked this time contradict each other. While “Judas” is an all-action, popcorn munching Hollywood dream, I feel “Speak Swahili Dammit!” is quite the opposite, both breathtakingly brilliant but the latter book remains something to be digested in literature form.

“Judas” I discovered as a friend (Barry Renshaw) designed the cover. Yeah I know, don’t judge a book blah, blah. But when I read the synopsis I gasped, wondering why no one had thought of this simple but awesome plot before.

Judas Iscariot, yeah him, the disciple who grassed up Jesus in the bible, is paying for his crime. God has made him immortal, to walk the Earth forevermore, never to love, unable to die and so, obviously, he’s turned into an all-American action hero out to protect a forthcoming prophet! The likes of Bruce Willis or Vin Weasel would not look out of place playing Judas……if it would be snapped up by Hollywood.

Although I fear with its Christian connotations Middle-America would hail blasphemy. It’s exactly the shock-tactic its author, Roy Bright tells me he was aiming for. Expect a plague of locusts in his hometown of Burnley.

While some chapters, such as the biblical flashback sequences, are deadly serious, others have a tongue-in-cheek feel about them; both equally wonderfully written and engaging.
Its location is a movie caricature of New York, where demons choose to take the form of Japanese businessmen. Dripping with wry “Terminator” and “Die Hard” pastiches, it’s all very comic-book; Bright makes no attempt to hide this fact. Not just the gung-ho narrative but often referencing comic, manga or action hero movie media in the narrative. And in true Hollywood fashion, Roy is currently bashing out a sequel as we speak.

“Judas” may not be up everyone’s street. It’s highly addictive, chockful of fury-paced pulp fiction, aching for John Woo to direct. In contradiction, I believe the author of “Speak Swahili Dammit!” considered the possibility of movie adaption but it’s one of those things, I feel, which is best remaining as it is; a both inspiring and amusing masterpiece novel.

Quite lengthy, “Speak Swahili Dammit!” is autobiographical. Cornish author James Penhaligon’s family migrated to Tanganyika in the 1950s when he was six. This then is the story of white kid “Jimu” growing up in the African bush, being accepted by the Watu and it ends with his dawning of adolescence.

It describes life there, its history and culture in colossal detail, ventures off into gorgeous character portrayals, and amusing anecdotes of his interactions with the ingenious people, the other colonists, and a few deadly animals.

Covering the fullness of childhood; prepubescent love, friendship and general mischievousness, “Speak Swahili Dammit!” meanders through emotions cogitating through the eyes of a child.

This truly is an inspiring and witty read; a self-published stroke of genius which makes you wonder why the heck it is isn’t in every bookshop worldwide. But hey, that’s the domain of self-publishing, there’s greatness lurking down rabbit holes. You just have to take the leap… or wait for me hand more to you on a silver platter, as I did last time spotlighting Alexes Razevich.

Based on the excellence of “Khe,” I had high hopes for her second book, “Shadowline Drift.” Offering to be different Alexes again outreached my expectations. This book captivated me until the end. It’s not a turn of phrase when I say “I couldn’t put it down;” might as well have superglued it to my fingers.

When the protagonist delves into the Amazon rainforest to make a trade with a nomadic tribe for a plant which can solve the world famine problem, he gets much more than he bargained for. This believable fantasy sprints, with rich storytelling and careful research through the culture and wildlife of the rainforest and whisks into supernatural enigmas with a killer plot line.

So with three more added to our bucket list; an unspecified amount of self-published books to read before you either die or go buy another book by a big publishing house; lock in this feature for we have more to come.

I’ve put a Facebook group together called Ye OldE-book Shoppe, please join for more coverage of great books and meet the authors:

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Ye Old e-Book Shoppe

Buy a book at the supermarket? Job done, but surely you’re getting jaded with the humdrum of celebrity autobiographies, keep-fit and cook books?

Perhaps you’ve bought yourself an e-reader, you simply download books; easy innit? You download a virtual Bibliotheque of classics free but, it’s thorny hunting something different. Someplace though, there’s a wealth of aspiring authors, begging you to open a page of their humble outpourings but it’s a needle in a haystack.

There’s been an explosion of self-publishing; any Tom, Dick, Harry or Harry’s pet dog can throw a perfunctory novel together complete with more grammatical errors then a day on Twitter and a plot so weak it couldn’t interest a primate. So you avoid plunging into the depths of this ocean, without the recommendation of a billboard or Guardian reviewer you worry you’re going to waste your hard-earned pennies on some pile of uninspiring codswallop.

I feel your pain, but fear not oh fearless one; I’m here to rumble through the haystack and find you the perfect needle. The concern is those untrusting, namby-pamby customer-propelled reviews on the big book sites. There may well be twenty-eight five star reviews on the book you’re pursuing, but they all seem to be from the author’s mum.

The issue for the author is the world of self-publishing rarely peaks its head out of its own backside and so ranting to friends on social networks means preaching to the converted; plus, they have their own torrents to endorse. If an author doesn’t promote themselves ain’t nobody gonna see their stuff, shamelessly over-plug and they get accused of “spamming,” by people who will quite willingly succumb to a large poster on the wall advertising a big publisher’s book.

So here I stand, or lounge, hoping to attract a new audience to this world, longing to tug you away from Katie Price’s tenth autobiography. Tune in every week where I’ll spotlight a few self-published books that may be up your street but you didn’t hear tapping at your door. You can expect honesty, at last; I won’t call in on those which do not meet a standard of distinction.

Think of it as a bucket list; An unspecified amount of self-published books to read before you either die or go buy another book by a big publishing house… or something like that.

Maybe you haven’t given in to the technological revolution; you favour the feel and smell of a real book; I don’t blame you but you might be surprised to note many self-publishers do release books on paper too.

One trick of the eBook trade is to look out for free promotion days; this way if the author is bad you’ve lost nothing. Never think for a second though only rubbish authors run such promotions; anyone wanting to further their appeal will. You may pick a dreadful one but, you might just stumble on some greatness.

In fact, this is the way I discovered possibly my favourite self-published author…like, ever. From Orange County, Alexes Razevich attended California State University, earning a degree in creative writing. A former editor for Electronic Engineering Times, her work has appeared in Rolling Stone among others.

I downloaded her sci-fi epic, “Khe.” Within just a few short chapters Razevich creates a believable but complex alternative world which would have taken other authors a hundred pages or more to immerse the reader into its unique fantasy realm.

The adventure takes you on a journey unlike anything I could try to compare it to. If you forced a comparison out of me; I’d say like Frank Herbert, with a feminine angle. This totally original page-turner wouldn’t look out of place as an advert on the walls of a multiplex. If I was James Cameron I’d snap it up but, well, I’m not. Its narrative is easy despite the vast cultural differences between our world and that of Khe’s.

From the absorbing plot to the smaller elements, such as the species emotion spots that glow a different colour to represent their moods, this book had me hooked. I could see a thousand possibilities for other equally interesting plots using the universe Razevich calls “The Ahsenthe Cycle.” Since I read this the highly anticipated second part of the series, “Ashes and Rain” has been released and it’s burning my kindle as we speak. But there are so many other authors I need to tell you about; stay tuned.

There cannot be many better places to start out on your self-publishing expedition then Alexes Razevich. We’ll look at her other offering next week along with a couple more. So, pop to my virtual bookshop column next time when I’ll try to reduce the rambling and random tangents….. I said “try!”


I’ve put a Facebook group together called Ye OldE-book Shoppe, please join for more coverage of great books and meet the authors: