REVIEW: Conversations in the Abyss

Conversations in the Abyss is a follow up novel to The Cult of Me by Michael Brookes. I’ve not actually read the first book, and I don’t really think it matters all that much if you haven’t as this works pretty well as a standalone story. There are a couple of different styles of writing in here, and switching from first person narrative to third person works well for the most part of the story. Personally, I preferred the third person view of the Friar over the more metaphysical prose from inside the head of The Deathless Man. It’s an interesting take on the struggle between Good and Evil and demons and angels. I expect there will be a third part along in due course, making this a trilogy, so some of you will want to start with The Cult of Me. Overall, though this isn’t my usual sort of read, I found it engaging and well-written. If you love stories about angels and God and demons and exorcising monks, do give this a try.

Hugh Howey

I mentioned this American author on KUF forum today and straight away several people said they had never heard of him. This isn’t completely surprising as, whilst he has gained popularity over the last few months in America, his name is only now just starting to get mentioned over on this side of the pond.

Hugh is a self-published author. He has several titles out such as Molly Fyde and I, Zombie, but it was his dystopian sci-fi “Wool” series that has been his most successful series to date. It started out as a short story, but after many positive reviews and plenty of “word of mouth” exposure, he was motivated to continue the series.

Late last year, he entered into discussions regarding a “traditional” publishing deal, and in that process turned down one or two “seven-figure deals” on the basis the terms were not favourable enough, not just for him, but for Indies in general. Eventually, he struck a deal with Simon & Schuster where he kept control of the eBook rights. You can read more about the deal here on his blog.

Not only has he a publishing deal, the rights to the movie film have been picked up by Ridley Scott (yes, the real one) and according to this article is already in production. The same article touts Hugh as this year’s E L James; the latest “Indie author done good” story. He has just spent the last week here in the UK promoting Wool to all and sundry (including a spot on Simon Mayo’s show). So expect to hear many more mentions of this guy over the coming months.

Have I read Wool yet? In a word, no. I am trying to though. I have the sample and have read the first bit, but due to life getting in the way I haven’t been able to “get into it”. What I have read so far is very well written, and I hope I will be motivated enough to read through the rest of it in the coming months. The trouble is, I am not much of a sci-fi reader. I like to see my sci-fi on screen, rather than on the page (digital or otherwise). Don’t let my struggle with it put you off. I know it’s a good book (and yes, I know it’s a bit pricey over here in the UK at £5.39), but if you are a fan of sci-fi, then I doubt you will be disappointed with this one.

On Amazon (US) it has 3821 reviews at the time of writing this. 3212 of these are the full 5 stars(!) and only thirty 1 star reviews. That in itself is reason enough to take a look at this book.

REVIEW: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Ok, so first thing is, this isn’t an Indie book. Haha, no shit, Sherlock! In preparation for my forthcoming London Town project, I have been trying to find other novels that fit, or nearly fit, into a similar genre. Having seen both Stardust and Coraline, and seen a few YouTube interviews with Neil Gaiman, I thought I would try this one. It was actually recommended to me by a colleague at work (think Victor Meldrew in both appearance and demeanour and you’ll be quite close).

Neverwhere was originally created as a BBC television series and then rewritten into a novel. It tells the story of Richard Mayhew, a man with a not-very-likeable fiancée, but otherwise living a very normal life until one night, he comes to the rescue of a young girl named Door. That fateful intervention leads him to London Below – a world of lost souls who have fallen through the cracks of city life. There are rats and rat-speakers, an angel called Islington, and a wonderful pair of villains called Croup and Vandemar.

You are drawn into this underworld along with Richard without even realising it. The story is expertly told and the characters are so real they will stay with you long after you finish reading. Make a visit to the real Earl’s Court, talk about birds with Old Bailey, a man who prefers life on a roof than living in the sewers of London. Oh, and if you happen to meet the Marquis de Carabas, make sure he owes you a favour and not the other way round.

Seriously, I can’t praise this book enough. It is brilliant in every single way, and since finishing it, I can’t help but think back over their story and hope that one day I will meet them again.

Five stars

REVIEW: The Ice Marathon

The Ice Marathon

This is not my first review of a work by Rosen Trevithick, and I doubt it will be my last either. Having read Seesaw and Pompomberry House, I looked forward to reading The Ice Marathon and I will say right now that I wasn’t disappointed!

Firstly, I have to say that her writing is improving a lot- not that it was in any way bad to begin with, because Rosen is definitely a rising talent amongst Indie authors. The Ice Marathon is definitely her best work yet. The story is involving, the plot well paced and the main character was not only believable, but relatable too. There is a sex scene near the beginning, and not everyone will find that to their liking, but each to their own. And the way the story deals with mental illness is thought-provoking and very well written. You can see the mania creep up on the main character before she even realises it herself.

The only disappointment anyone will find with this novella is that there will all too quickly come a point when you have read the last word and realise that you now have to wait until the author releases her next story. I hope I don’t have to wait too long.

If you haven’t yet discovered Rosen Trevithick, then I think it is high time you did. Give this a go and before you know it you will have read every word she has written. I promise.

Five stars!

REVIEW: This Thirtysomething Life

This Thirtysomething Life by Jon Rance

Firstly, I just want to say that this is one of those ebooks that gives hope to the rest of us poor Indie authors. Last month, after a successful free promotion on Amazon, Jon Rance was offered a two book deal by a proper publisher after they discovered this book floating around in the top 100 Bestseller’s List. Congratulations, Jon!

Now for my review…

The Thirtysomething life is a story told in the form of a diary. It’s not Bridget Jones, nor even is it Adrian Mole, but it’s not far off. Occasionally funny, a bit sad somewhere (possibly- no spoilers here!) and even a little bit annoying at times. This book has everything you could want from a story about an average 30+ bloke who’s coming to terms with impending fatherhood

Yes, there are a few oopsies in there (31st July disappearing completely being the most stand-out one) but that doesn’t detract from what is, overall, a very enjoyable read.

I recommend this book to women and men alike, as all will identify with at least some of the story, be it through someone you know, or who you are yourself.

I give this eBook 4 wonderful little stars and with my personal recommendation that you buy a copy of this right now.

 

Amazon reviews

Now, anyone in the Indie Author world will know that recently there has been a bit of a furore regarding the removal of reviews on Amazon in recent weeks. Indeed some of these removals have been warranted, with the likes of so-called “sock-puppet” reviews and malicious 1-star and other paid for reviews all some being removed. Great, lovely, wonderful.

Unfortunately, a lot of reviews written by other authors (such as myself, not that any of my reviews have been removed to my knowledge) have been deleted also. We are readers too! We want to leave honest feedback for the books we love and hate the same as everyone else. For this reason (and the fact I have been mega busy writing other things) I haven’t posted any reviews recently, though I have kept on reading.

Today, I discovered though Kindleboards that Amazon have released a new updated FAQ sheet regarding their reviews.

The crux of it is that Amazon do want to encourage us to leave reviews, but with a few caveats. I won’t repeat them here, follow the link to read the full details.

So, now that that’s cleared up I will start writing my reviews again. I have a couple lined up and would imagine I will post the next one tomorrow.

REVIEW: Friend Request

Friend Request by David Wailing explores a concept that interests me a lot- how far technology will integrate into our lives and those we share our lives with. Set 10 years from now, the author sees us all wearing visors (I want one, when are they in the shops? huh? huh?) that provide a digital overlay of data relating to what is going on around us, and our lives are all run for us by computer programs called “autos” that live in our uber smartphones.

I really enjoyed the story and I like the ideas and images conjured up of what we can expect from technology in the not too distant future. I did, however, struggle a little with much of the story being written in present tense as opposed to the traditional past tense. I understand that this is perhaps to give the reader a sense of the future happening now, but for much of the story I found my brain rewriting the prose into past tense as that is what I am used to. Technically, the use of present tense is all correct and there are no slippages and therefore is well written. It is only personal preference that I would have liked to have seen the whole story written in past tense.

Overall, this is a great little story and I would like to read more by this author. The premise is great, and there is plenty more that can be done with this 2022 world. I think reality won’t be too far off the mark when we catch up with this fictional world.

I gave this 4 great little futuristic stars. Smile

REVIEW: Pompomberry House

Pompomberry House by Rosen Trevithick is a novel that I found both very enjoyable and very annoying at the same time. The style of writing is very smooth and easy to read, something that is a big plus for me. The story itself works very well and the narrative flows smoothly from start to finish. Rosen weaves a tale that is full of twists and turns, one that keeps you guessing right up until the final few chapters. However, I did find the constant “seagull” motif that repeats itself throughout the novel, particularly the first half, very irritating. That said, there was nothing in this novel that should put anyone off from reading it.

Many of the main characters are meant to be really dislikeable but I also found that I didn’t like the main protagonist, Dee, either. Don’t get me wrong, she is a well-developed, flawed and believable character, but if I knew her in real life I would not like her much.

Technically speaking, I enjoyed the writing style very much, although I would have liked to have seen some of the longer dialogues broken up a little more as occasionally I found myself having to re-read conversations to follow who said what.

Overall, this is a very good novel from a very good author. I hope she continues to produce high quality work such as this.

REVIEW: Dead on Demand

I picked up this title during a “free copy” promo, and overall I did enjoy this title.

Reading a little of the background of the book shows that it was written (and published) within 90 days, which is no easy task. Unfortunately, this fast pace does make itself evident in the book. There are numerous typographical errors, for example “should” obviously should have been “shoulder” and I am still trying to work out where “Convent Garden” is in London. The author(s) also has an extreme aversion for capitalised proper nouns throughout the book. A lot of the time, this is just a mild annoyance, but on occasions it can cause confusion to the reader (especially perhaps non UK readers who might not know things like The Evening Standard).

If indeed, the novel was finished well within the 90 day timeframe, perhaps it would have been well worth taking another week to do some additional polishing. One character is referred to living in Tower Hamlets (north of the Thames) but a few pages later this changes to Brixton (south of the Thames) and even has a new name.

The authors go to great lengths to allow the reader to draw their own pictures of what characters look like, which is commendable, and indirectly referenced in the text itself, but sometimes this is quite hard on the reader as pertinent character detail is added several chapters later when it would have been gratefully received upon the character’s first introduction. On one occasion, I had to wait several chapters to be told who one character was in relation to the protagonist.

There is plenty to like about this book, if you can forgive it’s unpolished state. It moves along at a decent pace, and is well thought out from start to finish, if a little heavy on the tv clichés at times. The characters are relateable and engaging and the plot is strong enough to keep me interested through to the end.

If the two authors wrote a second novel of equal calibre and improved on the technical side of the writing, then I would definitely want to read it.

Had this been properly copy edited it would be worthy of 4 stars.

*EXTRA* I understand that some of the errors (such as weird name switching) have been fixed on a re-release, but there are still plenty left.