Blood Ties: Language In The Blood (Book 2) – Book Review

angelaimageAnother book from the members of the Indie Author Support and Discussion Fb group, this time a humorous book from the vampire genre by group inadmoorepicmember Angela Lockwood. This will be the second book of Angela’s books I’ve read and reviewed, the first being an anthology of short stories that she co-authored with Elspeth Morrison. Apart from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this is the first vampire book I’ve read since then. This particular book is actually book 2 of a series, but one that that stands equally well as a stand-alone book. In addition to her own books, Angela Lockwood has had one of her short stories featured in the highly acclaimed Indie Author charity anthology You’re Not Alone.

Angela Lockwood-van der Klauw was born in the Netherlands. She learned her trade as There she met and later married her husband Adam. Angela ran her own jeweller’s shop in Edinburgh for ten years before she and her husband moved to the south of France in 2011. Angela prefers the climate there, but often thinks about the town she left behind and its people.

Angela started writing in the spring of 2013, a very wet spring during which she found herself climbing the walls, frustrated that she couldn’t go out and have her usual long walks along the seafront. Seeing his wife’s frustration, Adam suggested ‘Why don’t you write a book?’ Angela thought about it for a few days, then switched on her laptop and started writing. She published her first book ‘Language in the Blood’ in August 2013.

Further links to Angela Lockwood’s writing can be found at:

Angela Lockwood’s Amazon Author page:

Blog: http://languageintheblood.blogspot.fr

Website: http://www.cruftslover.adzl.com

Fb: https://www.facebook.com/CruftsloverAkaCameronBlair

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Blood Ties: Language In The Blood (Book 2)

By Angela Lockwood

(Available from Amazon Kindle)

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AngelaBook2This is one of those books that gets off to a flying start, really drawing you in from the very first page. Our principal character, a Scottish vampire by the name or Cameron, finds himself in the unlikely scenario of having to explain his existence and circumstances to the French police authorities. Right from the start the book begins to live up to the author’s claim of ‘comedy with bite…’ The central character Cameron Blair has lived for over a century, living off the blood of both humans and animals to survive, much as you might expect of a vampire – but that’s as about as far as any similarity to the traditional image of the evil blood sucking stereotype goes. What the author has done here is provide the reader with a humorous and satirical exploration of just what else it takes for a vampire to survive through the ages, i.e. earning a living, interacting with humans, sex and romance, and a host of other circumstances and practicalities you wouldn’t normally associate with a vampire; although committing a host of crimes over the course of a century our vampire here also displays some remarkably human tendencies and virtues, some to his advantage, and others to his detriment such as loyalty to a human friend which is what leads to the situation he finds himself at the beginning of the book.

Although this is the second of the two books the author has written in this vampire series, it reads just as well as a stand-alone book, and not once did I find myself confused at not having read the first book (yet). I also liked the first person point of view, which I must say is not a style of writing I often like in a full length novel but one which works extremely well in this instance, giving the reader a thorough insight into Cameron’s mind and rather skewed sense of logic and morality; since there is no jumping from one character or location to another the story flows in a mostly linear and easy to follow fashion. Cameron’s ‘inner narrative’ provides just as comprehensive a view of the wider picture as might be achieved had the author chosen to write in the third person, and the way Cameron deals with people is the perfective vehicle for the author’s humour here – referring to his blood sucking activities as breakfast and feeding, the reference to blood that’s been processed to prevent clotting not tasting as good as fresh blood, his dislike of cat’s blood, and fear of getting rabies when he once drank from a fox are just a few examples of when you just can’t help but laugh. In many ways, Cameron is like a vampire version of E.W. Hornung’s gentleman cat burglar Raffles, sharing the latter’s charm and debonair persona, and yet like the former, doing what he has to do to survive and get by, with possibly just a bit of the amoral serial killer Dexter thrown in the mix.

A very funny and entertaining take on the more traditional vampire genre, and just as the author describes it as comedy with bite, I’d say definitely a huge helping of humour with the horror in this one… great book.

 

Angela Lockwood’s works: click on thumbnails for Amazon links

 

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Bells On Her Toes – Book Review

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This is the first murder mystery novel I’ve read in a long time, so many thanks to Diana J. Febry for reintroducing me to this neglected genre for me. Reading Diana’s novel, Bells On Her Toes, reminded me just how important a good plot is, and how giving the reader something to think about is to the reader’s enjoyement. Diana J. Febry is the author of five novels, and in her own words, her mysteries combine eccentric rural characters, village politics and as many teists and turns as a country lane. As well as being an author, she is an active book reviewer and contributor to several online writing groups.

Diana J. Febry was born near Bristol and educated at Oxford Brookes University. She continues to live near Bristol with her husband and two teenage children. When not writing she spends her time roaming the countryside with her dog and horses.

Further links to Diana J. Febry’s writing can be found at:

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www.twitter.com/mariamallon1

Diana J Febry’s Fb Author page:

Diana J Febry’s Amazon Author page:

www.wings-press.com

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Bells On Her toes

By Diana J. Febry

(Available from Amazon as an eBook)

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DJF5Set against the murky backdrop of the world of race horse training, Diana J Febry has produced a real murder mystery and detective whodunit (and why), filled with twists and turns and lots of deliciously deceptive red herrings to keep the reader guessing and trying to fathom who the murderer is. Given the setting, it inevitably gives rise to comparison with Dick Francis, but having read both I would say this book owes more to the influence of say a modern day Agatha Christie – I could easily picture this book as one of those very English murder mysteries dramas although this is definitely more Morse than Frost. With her background and knowledge, Diana J Febry has used the horse racing and training world to give the story a character and feel all of its own but without immersing the reader too deeply in it; likewise with the investigative and police procedural elements, she has concentrated on telling a story rather than trying to impress the reader with her knowledge of the former.

The story starts off predictably enough with the discovery of dead body (with a gunshot wound) in the barn of a country estate, but others are soon to follow. As the Detective duo DCI Peter Hatherall and DC Fiona Williams start their investigations we are introduced to a wide and esoteric cast of characters. With each new character new theories arise regarding the initial murder, some more probable than others and some wildly speculative, though if I had but one small criticism in this area it would be that I think some of the theories and speculation alluded to by the locals was just a tad too off the mark and slightly out of sync with the overall feel of the story, taking it slightly into the realms of a thriller at times.

Due to the plot driven nature of murder mystery stories, I don’t want to allude to too many specific elements of the plot for fear of spoiling it any way, but what I can say is that this is a well-crafted literary jigsaw encompassing lost and past love, possibe offiicial shady goings on involving the environment, and official cover ups to name but a few, all inviting the reader to reach premature conclusions as the author sends the reader in several different directions with the different lines of enquiry.

Given the number of characters I was impressed with how well they were developed and how that development was incorporated into the overall story. The subplots were cleverly weaved into the wider story to give them relevance rather than being used simply to add extra pages. The dialogue between the two lead detectives and the rest of the characters was realistic, driving the story forward when necessary while at other times giving the reader time to pause and speculate as to which way the story is going, which for me is one of the enjoyments of reading this type of book. I also liked the fact that the relationship between the two detectives wasn’t without its problems, and I enjoyed watching how it developed with just the merest hint at a possible romance. Although this is the first of this author’s books I’ve read, I know from reading the blurbs of her other novels that this isn’t the last we’re destined to see of DCI Peter Hatherall and DI Fiona Williams I’m pleased to say. I would rate this in the region of 4.5 to 4.7, and since that’s way closer to 5 than 4, it gets a five star rating from me.

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Diana J. Febry’s current titles: Click on thumbnails for Amazon links

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Book Review – Salby Damned


IanpicIan D Moore, as well being a fellow author, blogger, and book reviewer, is also someone I consider a real friend too, not that that last fact has any bearing on the following book review I might add. Ian D Moore first came to my attention when he joined my Fb Indie Author Support & Discussion group. Since then he has proved to be one of the most active and helpful members there, offering help and advice whenever he can, and numerous honest and constructive reviews of member’s books.

As well as this debut novel, Ian was also the instrumental force in bringing together a multitude of Indie Authors from around the world when he called on the group for submissions for his highly acclaimed anthology ‘You’re Not Alone’ in IanDmoore1aid of the Macmillan cancer charity, of which I feel honoured to have had one of my own short stories included in; although deserving of it, I won’t go into too much detail regarding the Macmillan anthology since a blog post and review of this last venture will be forthcoming here on my blog in the very near future.

Prior to embarking on what I’m sure will be a highly successful and rewarding writing career, Ian D Moore previously served as a soldier and engineer in the British army, and currently works as a self-employed truck driver. Ian D Moore is a UK based author and family man, and someone I greatly admire and respect both as a writer and as a person.

Further links to Ian’s writing can be found at:

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https://www.facebook.com/salbydamned

www.twitter.com/ianstories

www.iandmoore.com

https://iandmooreauthor.wordpress.com/

Ian D Moore’s Amazon Author page:

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Salby Damned  

By Ian D Moore

(Available from Amazon in both eBook & Paperback format)

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IanDmoore2Although a fan of the film and televised Zombie efforts this is the first time I’ve actually read anything in the genre, having previously being sceptical as to whether it would transfer well to the written word.

Whilst I’ve always had to totally suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the Zombie genre in the past, with Salby Damned I was presented with a chillingly realistic and believable scenario that had me hooked right from the start. This isn’t the story of a world-wide fantastical epidemic but a more likely and localised disaster borne out of the merging of two highly topical issues, namely biological warfare and the more recent and controversial gas shale fracking.

The book cover put me in mind of the TV series The Walking Dead, but whereas that concentrated on the individual survival of a specific and isolated group of people, Salby Damned, although it largely concentrates on a few individuals, it also deals with how the authorities tackle the problem of a zombie like plague, and how inevitably the military would play a large part in that. The author pays great attention to military detail, creating a very real and authentic feel to how a military base would house and protect survivors; I don’t just mean in terms of military accuracy, I would expect that from the author given his background, but by the way in which he conveys his expertise to the written word. As anyone who has even a rudimentary knowledge of the British military will know, it is filled with innumerable acronyms that can be very confusing to civilians, but the author explains and accounts for them very simply in the narrative without resorting to all sorts of contrived dialogue. My only concern here is that there might have been a tad too much emphasis on the military detail for those with no knowledge or real interest in that side of things, but for me personally it worked very well. Speaking of the military, it was refreshing that the central hero as it were was a just a regular ex-soldier rather than ex-special forces as it made him more believable as a character – far too often, unless being ex special forces is central to the story, such characters are made to appear almost super-human in their abilities, whereas here, Nathan’s vulnerability and frailties are just as evident as his strengths.

If I had to categorise this book, I’d say it was more a thriller than Science fiction or horror, though there are indeed elements of the latter. The story itself unsurprisingly concerns an apparent accident that results in a zombie like plague, and then, Nathan an ex-soldier and a beautiful doctor, and the part they play in the search for a cure. Amid the subplots, we have courage and heroism, political and industrial intrigue, a touch of romance, and action wise, plenty of deadly encounters with the undead victims of the plague. In fact some of the subplots were a real bonus to this story, and definitely added to the overall enjoyment rather than simply being there to flesh out the page numbers. What was also refreshing about this book though is that unlike the film and TV ventures, it didn’t rely at all on sensational blood and gore for its impact.

If I had but one small criticism to make, apart from the ‘possible’ over-emphasis of the military and weaponry detail, it would be the lack of any anger and resentment towards those responsible for creating the circumstances in which the plague occurred, but apart from that the story was clever and well written, with a good balance of superficial though very credible science to add authenticity to the wider story. I was also extremely impressed with the way the author concluded the story, i.e. in not leaving lots of annoying loose ends that demand a sequel just for its own sake, but nonetheless surprising the reader with a few unexpected twists that leave the door open to one. If I had to give an exact rating for this debut novel I would say 4.7 to 4.8, but since I don’t I can quite happily give it a five. Would I read a sequel? Absolutely yes!

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Children’s Book Review – The Mouse Who Howled At The Moon

sarahHindmarshSarah Hindmarsh is another author I discovered via one of my Fb author groups, as well as knowing her from the world of blogging and by reputation among the Indie Author community. This is the first book of Sarah’s I’ve read and reviewed, mainly due to it being a children’s book, and my reading of such books is dependent on the presence of my young grandson. I might add that he also plays a large part in the eventual review, again depending very much on his reactions and how much he enjoyed it.

Having now read “The Mouse Who Howled at the Moon,” it comes as no surprise to me that this was shortlisted for the SpaSpa Independent Book Awards 2014. Her short stories have also started to achieve recognition with the first of her successful pieces being published in the Loughborough University Press literary journal The Purple Breakfast Review in July 2015. Further publications are imminent.

As well as being an author, Sarah Hindmarsh is also a blogger and book reviewer herself, details of which can be found below.

Further links to Sarah’s writing can be found at:

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Sarah’s blog: www.creatingwithkohla.com

www.twitter.com/creating_kohla

https://www.facebook.com/creatingwithkohla

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The Mouse Who Howled At The Moon 

By Sarah Hindmarsh

(Available from Amazon in both eBook & paperback format)

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Sarah1This is a charming and delightful short story for young children, filled with lots of wonderful sounding animal characters – Harvey the grasshopper mouse, Felix the Owl, and a wise old squirrel. The language is simple and appropriate to the younger reader, and easily improvised if needs be if being read by a parent or grandparent.

As well as engaging entertainment value, the author has also managed to weave into the story several educational and social themes but without detracting from the enjoyment value. Being a short story it’s difficult to say too much without giving too much away. What I can say is that it centres on being different and the problems that can bring, while at the same time showing the reader there’s nothing wrong with being different, and that we all have something special about us. I would imagine many a young child will secretly find some reassurance in the underlying morality of this tale, subtly dealing as it does with issues such as bullying, feeling different from your friends, being brave even when you’re just a little bit scared, and caring for your friends, but again, always in a gentle and nice way. Another thing I enjoyed about this book is that it inevitably arouses the curiosity of the young reader or listener, prompting questions about the animal characters, questions which I’m happy to say are answered and elaborated on at the end of the book – although this is a story, a lot of it is based on real animal behaviour so even I at my advanced grandad time of life learnt something new when I read this with my five year old grandson.

My grandson’s verdict – he loved all the different animals and what they got up to, and was full of smiles and grins at the beautifully drawn illustrations that accompany the story.

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 Further titles by Sarah Hindmarsh: click on thumbnails for Amazon links

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Book Review – Amie: An African Adventure

LucindaEClarkeI’ve had this book on my kindle for quite some time now, but what with one thing and another I only recently got round to actually reading it. I really shouldn’t have left it so long as it turned out to be a truly beautiful and enjoyable read. Lucinda E. Clarke’s writing is another discovery via Fb and other social media, along with some wonderful reviews and recommendations from fellow writers and bloggers. As well as Amie: An African Adventure, Lucinda E. Clarke has written three more books, links to which are provided following my review. But first, a little about the author herself…

Born in Dublin, dragged up in the Cotswolds, matured and finished off in Liverpool. Her family were not wildly enthusiastic about following her grandfather into Fleet Street (unfeminine, unreliable and dangerous), so she was packed off to dockland Liverpool to get teaching qualifications (safe, respectable and pensionable).

Lucinda returned south extremely good at self-defence. She married and went crofting in Scotland, a disaster so she says, and bred dogs among other things, less of a disaster. She moved to Kenya with her 3 week old daughter, was abandoned in the bush, then on to Libya, surviving riots, public hangings, an imprisoned husband and eventual deportation. She moved to Botswana – still teaching – and opened and ran a horse riding school with a ‘How to…’ book in hand.

She immigrated to South Africa and taught for four years, but since 1984, she wrote freelance full time, for major corporations, UNESCO, UNICEF and the SABC for both radio and television. Moving into television production in 1986, she has received over 20 awards, specializing in the fields of education, documentaries, municipal and government.

She has also worked on radio in both Libya and South Africa, had a newspaper column, and was commissioned to write two educational text books. In 1996 she set up her own video production company, and retired to Spain in 2008. Well that was the plan…

 

Further links to Lucinda E. Clarke’s writing can be found at:

https://lucindaeclarke.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/LucindaEClarke

http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com/

Lucinda E. Clarke’s Amazon Author page:

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Amie: An African Adventure 

By Lucinda E. Clarke

(Available from Amazon in eBook format)

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Amie1My biggest regret about this book is that it had to end at some point, as all books do. It tells the story of young couple’s move to Africa for the husband’s career, particularly that of the wife, Amie. It starts off sedately enough, detailing their preparations and Amie’s initial fears and nervousness about leaving behind everyone she knows and loves and her way of life back in England, charmingly detailing many of the fears any of us might have at such a prospect. After their arrival in Africa, things seem to be working out for Amie as she adapts to and begins to enjoy a very different way of life. Now although I say it starts ‘sedately,’ right from the start the author has already hooked the reader with a harrowing and well-placed preface of things to come, and the reader knows that this is to be no ordinary foreign posting, that danger and adventure are sure to follow their initial settling in.

As the story develops, the author introduces the reader to the real Africa and its way of life for the majority. Yes, Amie lives the comparatively comfortable and indeed luxurious life of an ex patriot, shielded from much of the hardship, but she sees it all around her, and against advice goes out of her way to help as best she can. Within the story, with some truly beautiful writing and turns of phrase, the author  manages to convey a real sense of being in Amie’s shoes, providing the reader a glimpse and real insight into the everyday life and comings and goings of the native population, of the poverty and corruption, and of course the dangers. We also learn though not to judge the culture and ways of the African people in relation to European ways of doing things. Amid the vivid descriptions of Africa, the ex-patriot community, and the local culture, the reader experiences the growing unrest of a volatile society, the dilemmas Amie has to face and deal with, and the sudden and explosive upheaval of an entire country. How she copes with everything around her is a story in itself, and perfectly complements the story of her African adventure.

Quite apart from the story itself, which was thrilling to say the least, I also admired and enjoyed the way Amie adapted and grew as a person, watching her confidence and self-reliance grow a little more every day. We see the transformation of someone initially afraid of travelling much beyond her home town and who probably thought that a package holiday to Spain was the extent of travelling abroad, into a resourceful and determined young woman more than capable of surviving the dangers of wildest Africa. What I would also say here though is that, while there is an element of memoir to the writing, this is still mainly an action and adventure filled tale, and one that won’t disappoint those who like to see the adrenalin flowing in their reading, combining an imaginative and descriptive narrative with just the right degree and tone of dialogue to drive the story forward. If I had but one tiny criticism it would be the cover, which if I’m honest, didn’t quite grab me or in my opinion, reflect or do justice to the story within. Other than that, I’m delighted to say the author is currently writing a much anticipated sequel to this wonderful book.

Further titles by Lucinda E. Clarke: click on thumbnails for Amazon links

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A Cherished Memory & a picture from the past …

This blog post was born out of an idea by Damyanti to host the Cherished Blogfest, an opportunity to discover and CHERISHED1
connect with many of our fellow bloggers. I was happy to agree to co-hosting the project, along with Dan Antion, Peter Nena, and Sharukh Bamboat. The remit was to write a 500 word post about some cherished object or possession we each had. It was hard trying to decide just what to choose, as I’m sure it was for most of us, but in the end I chose something that had a family significance rather than exclusively personal to me.

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We all have things we cherish, be it a car we’ve put our heart and soul into restoring and preserving, a piece of jewellery we may have been given by a loved one long, long ago, or perhaps even a keepsake or photo we carry around in our wallet or purse that brings a smile and a happy memory every time we see it. My cherished object though is a drawing – not a valuable piece of art or some daring exploration of pushing the artistic boundaries, but a simple small crayon drawn picture that my son brought home from school over twenty five years ago. It’s of me, my late wife, our son Liam, and of all things, some alien monsters he’d seen in a picture book. It has pride of place just beneath one of my treasured photographs, and is rarely removed from its spot except for the odd dusting or in this instance, to be photographed for my Cherished Blogfest post.

Why does this particular drawing hold such a place in my heart and memories? Well, I think any parent will have half an idea already. I mean, what parent doesn’t possess some treasured item of their children’s childhood, but for me, whenever I glance at this picture it brings back a memory of the day and circumstances when I first saw it. I’d just moved into a new and freshly decorated flat. The front-room was wall-papered but with a waist high white area along the bottom. But to Liam, that shiny white painted area represented an enormous canvas for him to practice his drawing skills on. When I returned home from work I could his see his colourful efforts reaching all the way along from the living room door, stretching behind the sofa that was a foot or so away from the wall, right as far as the glass patio doors. Needless to say I wasn’t amused…

BLOGPIC1“Oh he didn’t mean, he was just playing,” Liam’s grandma said when she saw the less than happy look on my face. “He didn’t know it was naughty to draw on the walls, I’ll have a quiet word later.”

“Didn’t know? So why is he peeking out from behind the sofa with that cheeky grin on his face?” I replied, unconvinced by her defence of the little lad’s artistry, turning my head back in Liam’s direction whose little smiling face was still half peering out from his hiding place. His gran ignored my question, choosing instead to change the subject:

“Oh before I forget, he brought a drawing home for you, it’s on the kitchen table.”

Liam’s smile had grown even bigger and he was nodding his head at the mention of his drawing. I don’t why but my initial anger just disappeared. It was probably the first bit of real mischief and naughtiness he’d gotten into since the death of his mum a year earlier, and for some reason I couldn’t help but give a silent chuckle. Liam still remembered her. My son’s picture was a welcome and timely reminder that life goes on…

Book Review – The Third Servant

mikeBI rarely use such reviewing clichés as blew me away, but such words would not have been out of place in the following review. Michael Billington is another member from my Fb Indie Author Support & Discussion group, and the author of several highly acclaimed books, of which details and links appear following my review of The Third Servant.

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The quality of the author’s writing comes as no surprise given his extensive journalistic background, having investigated and reported on stories from all around the world, and indeed the quality of his own prolific book reviews.

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Michael Billington spent nearly a half century as a reporter covering stories around the world and across the United States including Operation Desert Storm, the Rwandan Civil War, hurricanes Hugo, Andrew, Katrina and Rita as well as the Love Canal environmental disaster and the 9/11 airline crash near Shanksville, Pa. During his career he earned more than 40 awards including the Brotherhood Medal of the National Conference of Christians and Jews for an undercover investigation of white-power extremists and the Southern Journalism Award for Investigative Reporting for a series he co-authored exposing police abuses of Florida’s Contraband Forfeiture Act. He also received several awards for a lengthy series on infant mortality in Delaware. An Army veteran who spent two tours in Vietnam, his awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. In addition, he was twice decorated by the Vietnamese government. Given his background, it’s not surprising that he writes in a wide variety of genres from Steampunk to mystery and even historical fiction.

A percentage of the author’s royalties are regularly donated to the Home Of The Brave Veteran’s charity in Delaware in the US, details of which can be found at their website below:

http://homeofthebravefdn.org/

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Further links to Michael Billington and his writing can be found at:

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Michael Billington’s Amazon Author page:

www.twitter/com.Billington_Book

Michael Billington’s Goodread Blog:

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The Third Servant  

By Michael Billington

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 (Available in eBook & paperback from Amazon)

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thirdsevantThis is a story based on and then reinterpreted and expanded from a simple parable taken from the book of Matthew in the New Testament of the bible. Without going into the meaning of the parable, this is a clever idea for a story, speculating on what might have happened to a servant following his dismissal having displeased his Master, much like what might have happened to Heathcliff in the missing years whilst he was away from Wuthering Heights. The principal character, the servant Ezra, does not immediately engender the reader’s sympathy, and would appear to deserve all his initial misfortunes, having made no effort to increase his Master’s wealth when given the opportunity, and his less than honourable actions flowing his dismissal from his Master’s house. What follows is a series of adventures that takes Ezra across much of the known world of the time: from his Judean homeland as far as India and Afghanistan, and then back through the Roman Empire on his return, where the story comes full circle. Interwoven in this series of adventures we meet a wide and varied cast of esoteric characters ranging from reformed warriors, female gladiators, foreign emperors and kings, and the highest of Roman nobility along with poor to name but a few. Several of these adventures highlight the harshness and apparent barbarity of the times but what also shines through are the many moments of justice, kindness, nobility, honour and courage that were also prevalent, giving much of the book a heart-warming and feel-good factor to it. Another aspect I enjoyed as much as the story itself was not just watching the story unfold as it were, but also watching the growth and maturing of Ezra as a man as he seeks to discover what purpose God has decreed for him; but this isn’t just the story of a man with some god given mission and path to follow – Ezra might well indeed have some greater purpose to his life but he is no empty vassel for it, often having to rely on his judgement and courage to fulfil any such plan.

Throughout the book the author demonstrates a good knowledge and understanding of the period in which the story takes place, namely during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius and in and around the years surrounding the death of Jesus, with just the right balance of intelligent speculative poetic license to drive the story forward. The narrative and dialogue have a certain biblical formality to them that pays homage to the original text of the parable but nonetheless works very well, giving the story added authenticity and a real sense of the time in which events take place, but not so much so that the reader feels they’re reading an historical account or history of the times. It’s hard to pin down this book into any one genre, combining as it does, action, adventure, political intrigue, religion, and a host of elements, but what I can say, it is one of the most well written and highly original ideas for a story I’ve read in a very long time, and one that engrossed me from start to finish.

Further titles by Michael Billington: Click on thumbnails for Amazon links:

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Larry Flynn – Book Review

 

maxblogpicLarry Flynn by Max Power is another title that came to my attention via facebook, twitter, and the growing number of positive reviews it has quickly accumulated. Having already enjoyed and reviewed Darkly Wood by Max Power I had no hesitation in adding this new one to my reading list.

Max Power has written several books including Darkly Wood, Bad Blood, and Little Big Boy. Originally from Dublin he currently resides in Maynooth in Kildare Ireland with his family, and following the huge success of Darkly Wood, is currently working on its sequel.

As well as being an author, Max Power is a prolific book reviewer, blogger, and regular contributor to a number of Indie Author Support Fb groups, Goodreads, and other assorted social media, and is fast establishing himself as major name in Indie publishing.

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Further information on Max Power and links to his writing can be found at:

http://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com/

Max Power’s Amazon Author page:

www.facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

www.twitter.com/maxpowerbooks1

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Larry Flynn

By Max Power

(Available in eBook and paperback from Amazon)

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Larry Flynn isn’t your usual doddering old fella but one harbouring a hidden past filled with tragedy, drama, and secrets of epic proportions. He certainly isn’t a nice old man; in fact he comes across as a thoroughly dislikeable and heartless bitter old man without a single redeeming virtue to his name – whether this is due to circumstances, the fact that he’s slowly dying and knows it or simply his nature is for the reader to discover and decide for themselves, but what they will also discover along the way is a cleverly constructed story that starts off in a sedate but intriguing way, hinting at a horrific progression.

Quite early on the author makes it clear that Larry Flynn has a hidden and sinister agenda, and one in which a pretty young girl plays a major part, giving rise to all sorts of gory speculation, but as anyone who has read any of Max Power’s books before will know, it’s never wise to jump to any obvious conclusions. Set in Dublin, much of the narrative and dialogue pays homage to the locality, utilising some of the local dialect to give a real feel for the characters and place, but keeping the balance just right so as not to distract or confuse any readers not familiar with the Irish accent or terminology. The dialogue is authentic, switching effortlessly between the characters to give each their own distinctive voice, bringing each of them to life with every word, thought and action. There are some lengthy narratives at times, but expertly interwoven into the dialogue and action sequences, providing the framework for the unfolding story.

In its simplest terms, this is a story of one old man’s obsessional need for revenge, and he’s prepared to go to any lengths to get it. When a young girl provides the opportunity for Larry to put his plans into action, things quickly escalate beyond his control, que the arrival of host of other characters he hadn’t allowed for: a ruthless Dublin crime boss, some nasty associates of the crime boss even more objectionable than Larry Flynn himself, a couple of equally ruthless US security special forces, and the US ambassador. What emerges is a story spanning the past seventy years; a conspiracy involving the Catholic Church, a soldier who knows too much, a shady high ranking Nazi, the smuggling of a Nazi fortune, and the Fuhrer himself – these may sound like the typical ingredients of a thriller but without giving too much away, those elements really are just the surface of this intriguing story of political ambition, murder, rape, kidnap, and a determination to safeguard a terrible secret. Another fine piece of writing from Max Power.

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Further titles by Max Power: click on thumbnails for Amazon links –

littlebigboy darklywood badblood

Goin Postal – Book Review

rhodapicAnother prolific book reviewer and facebook group activist in her own right, it gives me great pleasure to present my first review of one of her books, Goin Postal & The Creek by Rhoda D’Etorre…

Rhoda D’Ettore was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, into a family of 5 siblings–which has provided her with plenty of comical material. She began working at the United States Postal Service at 25 years old, and over the past 15 years has accumulated many humorous stories about situations that the public never gets to know about. Her first eBook, “Goin’ Postal: True Stories of a U.S. Postal Worker” was so popular that readers requested it in paperback. Recently, she published the humorous “Goin’ Postal” in paperback along with another story entitled, “The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive”. Combining these two into one book may seem strange, as one is humorous and the other is a heart wrenching historical fiction, however, doing so proves to the reader Rhoda D’Ettore’s versatility. 

Rhoda D’Ettore received her degree in Human & Social Services while working at USPS, has travelled extensively, and loves history. Over the years she has volunteered for several community service organizations, including fostering abused and neglected dogs for a Dalmatian rescue.

Further links to Rhoda D’Etorre’s wring can be found at:

Rhoda D’Etorre’s Amazon Author page:

https://bobandval.wordpress.com/

http://www.rhodadettore.com/

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Goin Postal & The Creek

Rhoda D’Ettore

(Available as an eBook, paperback, and as an audio book from Amazon)

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RhodapostalI first decided to read this book out of curiosity of the cover and the two different titles listed there, probably not the best of reasons I know but what a little gem it turned out to be. Here you get two very different stories for the price of one, the first being a series of side splitting snapshots and anecdotes of the author’s time working in the US postal service, and in the second story, The Creek, the reader is treated to a delightful family and local history of stories from in and around a creek in New Jersey dating back to the American civil war to the present.

In Goin Postal, the author takes us through the trials and tribulations of being a temporary and then permanent worker in the postal service; it’s not so much a story in the conventional sense but more a collection of memories and hilarious anecdotes loosely linked via an amazing array of characters in the form of her fellow workers. Her colleagues are every bit as varied and funny as the anecdotes themselves, ranging from traumatised Vietnam war veterans, a mad forklift driver chasing the white devils, a big hearted bisexual supervisor, and a Russian history buff, not to mention Aunt Gertrude and a bigoted Nigerian. Despite the racial and cultural diversity reflecting the huge melting part of immigrants that made America the country it is today, for the most part they all get along as one giant though often somewhat dysfunctional family. The author’s time with the postal service starts with the time consuming FBI checks for her employment, but once passing them she finds herself immersed in a truly mad and chaotic workplace, filled with its very own sub cultures including betting on who will be the next person to go on a shooting spree, or ‘goin postal’ as it might be called, dodgy dvd and arms sales, and a host of other ‘have to be there’ to be believed scenarios. The characters and language are as colourful as you can imagine, reflecting the working class diversity and backgrounds of the postal workers. The day to day humdrum of the work is punctuated with numerous pranks and hilarity, not to mention the bizarre situations that arise from the many strange things people try to send through the post, a severed head being among them, but despite the seeming madness of the workplace, in the true tradition of the Pony Express, underpinning the chaos is the workers’ determination that the post will go out no matter what, even amid the security and horror of 9/11. The writing is sharp and witty, and in a style that perfectly complements of the comedy of what the author is describing, and for anyone who has worked in a menial shift environment will certainly be able to identify with much of the humour, and probably recognise similar characters from their own work places.

In The Creek the writing and subject matter takes a surprisingly more poignant direction; the reader initially encounters what at first impression comes across as a truly heart-warming and delightful tale of love and romance set against the backdrop of the civil war, only to have that perception completely turned its head. The reader is then transported through a succession of stories carrying on from the first, taking the reader through the depression of the 30s, prohibition, two world wars, and the civil rights struggle, to almost the present day, covering love and romance, murder, bigotry, the Black Panther movement, and even ghostly apparitions. Although the stories through the decades take very different turns, they retain the creek as a sort of anchor connecting them all, and eventually conclude in such a way as to tie them all together really well. As I’ve said, the writing and content in the Creek is somewhat different, but still retains an entertaining story telling style throughout. Goin Postal and the Creek might seem like an odd combination at first but they subtly complement one another; whereas as in the former in its portrayal of the incredible diversity the author has presented a snapshot of American society as a whole, so too in the latter, she has presented the reader with an entertaining portrayal of how America has evolved to what it is today.

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 More titles from Rhoda D’Ettore: click on thumbnails for Amazon links:

Rhoda1 rhoda2 rhoda3

Interview with Sylva Fae – contributor to charity anthology “You’re Not Alone”

echoesofthepen:

Christoph Fischer’s superb interview with Sylva Fae, one of the contributors to the Indie Author Anthology ‘You’re Not Alone,’ in aid of the cancer charity Macmillan Nurses…

Originally posted on writerchristophfischer:

Youre Not Alone 3d inamge (1)Today I’m welcoming Sylva Fae whom I’ve met through our work for “You’re Not Alone”, an anthology in aid of MacMillan Cancer Care. This interview is part of a series of blog posts to introduce my colleagues in this endeavour. The anthology is available for pre-order and will be released on July 11. Twenty-seven writers from around the world, including myself have entered an assortment of short stories for your pleasure, show your support by liking the new page on Facebook and expressing an interest in buying the book.

You’ll find the book on your Amazon for per-order via these links: http://smarturl.it/YoureNotAloneAnthhttp://bookshow.me/B00Y5RCOOE

You’ll find the Facebook page here: 

https://www.facebook.com/yourenotalone2015

And here is the fund, in loving memory of Pamela Mary Winton

https://macmillan.tributefunds.com/pamela-mary-winto

IMG_20141216_220836Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

I am a mum of three small girls and loving it. I love being outdoors in the…

View original 1,501 more words

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