Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Flames of Apathy: Neon Sands Book 3 Preorder

Great news! The 3rd book in the Neon Sands trilogy is now on preorder - available 6 December. Special preorder price of 0.99!


Far beneath the city’s depths burns far more than the fuel that feeds it.

What happens when equilibrium unbalances?

Will the people be ready for it?

Would they recognise it, even when it happened?

When Rylan finds new friends in old places, his passion for fairness and order is reignited. And when those new friends themselves become a target, he must make a decision: his mission or their lives?

Set within the bowels of Neon City, incessant rain shrouding an entire population with their hoods drawn up, book three of the Neon Sands trilogy burns as bright as the forges beneath the city – a ferocious final act.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Review: Among Wolves

Among Wolves Among Wolves by R.A. Hakok
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's a lot to admire in Hakok's Among Wolves (not least the Amazon ranking) - for it is a Young Adult Sci-fi Dystopia that knows how to tell a story. Specific sciency things are glossed over or stretched to points of believability, but this is small fry, for the way the story unfolds offers us sneak peeks and tidbits, while focusing on character, and when certain events are unveiled, you can forgive a little far-fetchedness.

The world has come to a stop; all that remains is a group of teens and the adults left in charge of them, buried deep within the safety of a mountain. Outside is dangerous and snow-ridden. Changes are occuring within the small community, and revelations are not far away. Supplies are in short supply, and the tension is rising. We follow Gabriel's story; he is a scavenger, who, along with Marv (one of the remaining adults) heads out to pick through the remains of the nearby small towns and buildings. Pickings are slim, as they are forced further and further.

Refreshingly, we also witness the end of days, following one of the key figures in its downfall. It gives the story a more rounded feeling than you sometimes get from these apocalyptic adventures (including my own). Reading this taught me a few things about how I could about my own stories. But that aside, I enjoyed the pacing. It took its time, with nice, full-length paragraphs and sparse dialogue. I imagine if I did this, it would be full of description, but here it's often movement. Sometimes not a lot happens, but there's always movement, and at other times reflection. There'll be no awards won for imaginative synonyms or metaphors, but that's okay. For what this is, and who it's for, it works.

I've seen some complaints about the ending, but if you're picking it up, you already know it's book one in a series. Even considering that, there's more than enough within the pages to tell a full story, with plenty of twists and turns and surprises, right up til the end.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Book Review: Mutation by Nerys Wheatley

"Despite their bravado, most of the men facing them now looked on edge, ranging from nervous to downright terrified, glancing around them as if they expected a wave of ravenous monsters to flood from the surrounding buildings at any second. It was one thing to shout and goad an empty street, but quite another to come face to face with their nightmares."

Mutation is book one in the Twenty-Five Percent series; featuring samurai swords, bromance, romance, gore, suspense, guns (in the UK!), motorbikes - and eaters (not zombies!). It's also a meaty book, coming in at nearly 400 ebook pages. From page one it's a series of encounters covering the usual humans-are-the-real-bad-guys and running-from-zombies tropes, all tuned to the max. If you're going to write this kind of story, do it well! And Nerys has.

Pinning the story to earth is Alex and Micah, an unlikely duo who begin at loggerheads (literally) before developing a believable bromance as the story unfolds, while they keep tally of who has saved each other more than the other. This central partnership is key, and the book wouldn't work half as well without this being convincing, but there's also plenty of exciting misadventure too as they narrowly avoid death time and again.

"Carrie was staring at Alex's face. "What happened to your nose?"
"Someone punched me," he said quickly, before Micah could say anything. "Big dude, fists like rocks."
Micah snorted. Alex ignored him."

The writing is solid - my only gripe being the slightly heavy handed use of the passive voice, such as "Carrie was staring at Alex's face." Personally, I'd prefer "Carrie stared at Alex's face." But this is minor in what is a well-written story.

As the plot progresses, it also begins to throw in the elements that the story would need to make it stand out from other zombie-genre titles, to make it different. We already have the Survivors (Alex) - those who were turned but then cured just before it was too late, left with 'powers' and distinguishable white irises. Gradually, more is revealed, and it's not so far-fetched (in this world) to be believable either.

If you enjoy this genre of book, you can't go wrong!

Sunday, 29 July 2018

DailyFlash: ImMEDIAte

The man has a flashback to sitting in the backseat of a car with potential in-laws, the heat of a strange country on everything from the window glass to the material upholstery to the kid's clammy hand. The kid - not his, but yes his in this as-yet unbroken timeline - goes "Mommy says you're my Daddy now." It explodes in the car, an aftermath of silence, and the potential in-laws say something, he doesn't remember what; and he says something, he doesn't remember what. It doesn't matter. There's no rewind.

In the present timeline he sees the kid's face as it is now on the screen, and the face of his own as she plays in the corner of the room. She calls out a legitimate Daddy, and he is struck by his own complacency, and remorse. She wasn't the first to call him Daddy - how could he have taken the clammy hand so lightly? Not seen through the eyes of the kid? A well opens in his heart and he falls into the darkness, staring only at the kid's gaze, hoping they were young enough to forget him easily. His punishment; that they would or already have: unaware of the Daddy roaming the earth who would never forget them.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Promo time!

This weekend, my books are on promo. The Risen, a mid-apocalypse zombie horror is free on Kindle, and Neon Sands and the follow-up, Plains of Ion, are reduced to 0.99.

Join in the fun!


Wednesday, 25 July 2018

DailyFlash: Under the city

We shuffle across the steel ramparts that link the canyon caves, in droves and bright orange bodysuits with our nutrition packs tied around our waists. The bright spotlights glare from the high eaves like daylight, casting our shadows down into a lake of darkness in black bars. From loudspeakers at the end of tall poles, we half-listen to the March of Progress - "... bring it home for the sake of your brethren, one-hundred-percent and we'll soon be one..." Ahead, the flames of the forges billow across the faces of rock and we can already feel the sweat burning on our brows.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018


Little Greg was eight years old when he developed a plan to save his parents’ lives. And it was so simple too! His heart thumped, imagining the scenario playing out. Would it go as he thought it would? Or would they laugh in his face? Once they knew he was serious they would soon clock on and change their ways. He was sure of it.

He chose a rainy day to emphasize his point, maybe with a pronounced cough or two. Outside the window, grey clouds laboured heavy across the sky, with the gentle pattering of rain striking the glass and windowsill and pouring from the gutter and into the street. The window was open a crack, and his father’s cigarette smoke feigned escape in slow-moving swirls, almost blue against the grey.

Monday, 23 July 2018

DailyFlash: Walls

Every evening at seven it begins with a rat-tat-tat on the walls as though the neighbour's relaying carpet up the stairs after a day of tearing it up. Nails thrust into stair-boards tap-tap-tap. Hammer popping heads pap-pap-pap. Knocking in my forehead knock-knock-knock, with my temple on the wall and my veins exploding. A lumber puncture in the brain, my eyes bulging with weight. The house as empty and dark as midnight, eyes lit. Can't take no more. Then come the nail-points bursting through the plaster, puffs of powder like invisible footprints stepping closer and closer to my temple, crack-crack-crack. Just keep my head here. Just keep my head here and let the nail in. Let the lumber in and release. The knocking ends, as it always does - so close.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag

To say I love Simon's art is an understatement, so this book could have been all pictures and still attained 5 stars. Behind the art however is a story: it is a roadtrip across an alternative version of USA in the 90s, one filled with a mixture of analogue and digital and a curious array of science-fiction artefacts left to rust and decay after an apparent 'event'. Or are they?

The story is told using a mixture of the art and the writing, often using the writing to delve into some character backstory and history of events – the pacing is slow and allows the world to become ingrained before we learn more about the narrator and the kind of events that have lead to this point. Indeed, there is some satisfaction in the scarcity of revelation; little nuggets we are given which we are able to mesh with revelations further on. It’s not a long read so there’s no trouble remembering important little elements, and a second read through might be worth it to pick up on anything you may have missed.

The writing itself was four out of five because of some inconsistencies over style, sometimes verging into stream of consciousness without punctuation, when really the slow, meandering style it had been using, and which was sometimes elegant, would have sufficed. It could have done with another editor too as it should have been tighter, often losing impact because of a passive voice.

Overall though, it leaves you wanting more, which is always a good sign.

Monday, 16 July 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Rusticles by Rebecca Grandsen

Rusticles was a pleasantly literary read after months and months of genre books, something to wrap my mind around and dig my teeth into. It's a series of short stories interconnected by themes and locations and just a general, overall mood of melancholy, my favourite of which is Dilapidated Flamingo, a story about a boy trying to feed a mysterious flamingo that keeps appearing in his garden. Like the other stories, character is key. There's a mystery or mysterious event occurring, but it's the emotions of the characters that are explored, with the events being catalysts for character development.

"I'm starting to think it knows I'm watching. I was at my window and it appeared from beneath, like it had been hovering around the backdoor waiting for its moment. It opened its wings right there, waving them around a little, putting on a show. Its feathers were all bent and drooping and its neck looked like someone had kicked it sideways. The flamingo proceeded to prance around the decking, its faded pinkness and rotten skinned legs making me feel sorry for it."

I don't want to talk too much about the stories, because each one is like a little gem waiting to be mined and best discovered on a one-to-one basis. What's paramount is the writing, and the confidence to take risks with it (one story has no punctuation but has a wonderful rhythm). Early on there was a vague feeling of the writing riding the cliff-edge of trying too hard, but you soon realise there is a solid understanding of how to develop a sentence or a paragraph. The writing is tight, pleasingly devoid of passive tense, and when you get a long, complicated sentence, it's followed by some shorter ones. The prose rises and falls poetically.

Check it out! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35643268-rusticles

Thursday, 12 July 2018

A Darkling Plain (The Hungry City Chronicles, #4) by Philip Reeve

I gave the first three books 4-stars (exciting but with thin characters) and half-way through A Darkling Plain was of a mind to give this 5-stars, to acknowledge the worldbuilding and story aspects that spanned all the books, even though it struggled with the same problems. (See what I did there, Philip? 'Even though it struggled' instead of 'even though it was struggling'.) The final third of the book cemented a begrudging 3-stars, it was just terrible. 

Before I even talk about the story and characters, I have to mention the writing, or perhaps that should be the editing, or its lack of editing. Throughout the series, the writing was solid enough if nothing spectacular, and rarely distracting. For a while I even thought the quality had gone up in A Darkling Plain, but like the story, it seemed to collapse in the final third. Packed with action, yet filled with passive tense - these lines should be URGENT and TAUGHT but instead were weak and lazy.

"The Stalker's robes began to burn. Lightning was crawling across her calm, bronze face..."

Friday, 22 June 2018

Plains of Ion is out! PREVIEW

Plains of Ion's release date is today - head over to grab it for the cheap 0.99 price while it's still on offer, or add it to your Kindle Unlimited list!

It's a race scarred by scorched desert and broken machinery, but if he wants answers, it is one he must win.

Beyond the sand mountain stretches the arid patchwork tundra of the ion plains, where the only township is run by ruthless matriarchs who host the bi-annual Liberty Trials. With one full circuit around the outer rim, and Kingdom City looming invitingly and forever on the inner horizon like a nightly neon bonfire, losing could mean death, but winning could be the answer to his only concern: chasing down Annora.

Plains of Ion is book two in the Neon Sands trilogy; exploring a desert matriarchal township with secrets to unearth: one reliant on the overbearing domed city to survive. Start those engines!

Friday, 15 June 2018

Plains of Ion: Neon Sands Trilogy - Good to go!

I set the preorder date for this book before completing it - a common tactic used by indie authors, particularly those with series, looking to create and continue the momentum that rapid releases can create.

I'm not sure this works for me though. The second half of Plains of Ion could have been a sprawling epic, and indeed was originally intended to be, but I stay true to my characters when writing and if I had kept my original ending, it would have ended up contrived.

Luckily this meant I didn't have to rush.

Flames of Apathy will not go on immediate pre-order, to give the freedom to explore the story and characters without the pressure of a deadline. I've created some good writing habits these past few months so while I may have needed the motivation of a deadline previously, this is not the case anymore.

I can't wait to get stuck in!


I'm giving myself a couple weeks off first. I have books to catch up on, including Kor and the Wingless Stranger by Sanna Hines and Rusticles by Rebecca Grandsen - two intriguing titles that I'm really looking forward to.

I did manage to squeeze in a little bit of reading - of course! - and finished Locked In by MJ Lau, a genre I had not ready before (YA - Gaming & Virtual Reality / Fantasy) and  you can see my 4-star review here. I also ready 1-3 of the Mortal Engines Series, with the fourth one sitting on my desk staring at me. These are incredibly well realised stories with great worlds - unfairly I probably compare them too much to the Dark Materials trilogy, and so only gave them each a 4-star rating. The fourth book looks meatier than the others, so we'll see what rating that gets. Weirdly, I'd probably give the overall series 5-stars.

Don't get me started on the Mortal Engines trailer. First, they wimped out on Het and her scar, and second, it looks like The Golden Compass all over again. It's also your usual Hollywood show-it-all trailer, sapping any sense of suspense or mystery that could have existed. The first teaser was fine - it made people question what was going on. (So see the film for answers). The latest trailer gives you those answers. (So no need to see the film.) Infuriating. 


Lastly, there's a little contest going on at the moment which may be of interest to you! Lots of Walking Dead goodies up for grabs!

Author Sylvester Barzy (who has an array of undead and zombie novels to his name) is celebrating his birthday by giving the above away (to US entries only). 

Go to the link below for your chance to win this awesome Walking Dead Gift Box with:

Walking Dead Dog Tag
Funko Walking Dead Pop Ezekiel
Foam Michonne Katana
10" McFarlane Toys Glenn Figure
Signed Copy Of Planet Dead

Share the love and tell all your Walker Friends!

Best of luck!

Friday, 27 April 2018

There is no free will

Free will is an illusion. The illusion itself is the foundation of our society, and the foundation which allows us to carry on as individuals. Society is founded upon the presupposition that we have free will, and even goes out of its way to defend that; acknowledging, for example, situations in which our actions are not under our control, be it influenced chemically through some form of intoxication, or a more general mental disorder, giving rise to leniency when laws are broken under these situations. Maybe a punishment is less severe. Maybe insanity is pleaded, leading to incarceration in a mental institution.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Latest news #amreading #amwriting #amrefreshing

The days are getting longer. As I write, the light glimmers around the edge of the office curtains, encroaching on my intimate, me-and-the-pc-monitor, private time. I like the darkness. It's a warm blanket, but more importantly, a blank sheet; a void to fill with my ideas. I can truly withdraw into my writing.

But soon, the garden, and my laptop, will be calling me. Perhaps I'll sit at the garden table with it, and write there, in the open. There can be no letting up. Neon Sands is out and doing quite well. Nice reviews. And Plains of Ion is on preorder. And it needs finishing. Luckily, the story is a great one, with characters I'm enjoying bring to life. The plains are wide and expansive. Maybe I should sit outside to write them, rather than here in my box.

When not writing, I have been attending an Arcade Fire gig (exceptional), and reading Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (so far, so intriguing, even if I do seem to have unknowingly taken one of his plot twists to use in Neon Sands. Great minds and all that, hopefully).