Book Review: Shatter Me by Tehereh Mafi

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: 2nd October 2012
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Dystopian
SeriesShatter Me (Book #1)
Edition: Paperback
Pages:
Publisher:
Blurb:
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

REVIEW

★★★

Shatter Me by Tehereh Mafi is one the most popular YA series of recent years but despite the hype that surrounds this series, the first book failed to impress me. I enjoyed and appreciated the author’s world-making prowess, but the characterization completely ruined the book for me. The main character, Juliette, was not only annoying, but she also came off a bit as a narcissist as well. The entire time I feel that rather than showing the author was forcing the reader to feel sorry for how Juliette has been misunderstood her entire life which only made me resent her.

The romantic angle did absolutely nothing to make the book interesting, so that was another thing that disappointed me. I liked the settings and the world a lot though, so I’ll be reading the next book for these two things (and also to see what happened to Warner because, let’s face it, he was more interesting than Juliette and Adam combined.)

Anyway, here my video review for this book, hope this sums up my issues with the book!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch more videos.

You can also read this review on Goodreads
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Book Review: A Life Out There by Brian McNatt

Author: Brian McNatt
Release Date: 31st March 2019
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Series: 
Edition: E-book
Pages:
Publisher:
Blurb:
It is the mark of every true Wolf-Lord to heal from the worst of wounds in a matter of minutes, to shapeshift into any fantastical form imagined, and to burn away at deadly silver’s touch.
Princess Candida, third child of Queen Celeste of Romulus, can’t. Hers is a quiet life of shame, secluded from the wider world and treated more as servant than family. All she has to get by are the twin sibling who embodies everything she could have been, the stories of her world she fills her heart with, and the dream of a life beyond cold castle walls.
The kitsune thief changes everything. Forced to flee before Celeste’s wrath, Candida finds her way to the beautiful yet dangerous port city of Brillant. There, amidst performers, alchemists, and refugees, Candida discovers the world is everything she hoped for, everything she feared, and so much more.

REVIEW

★★★★

A Life Out There by Brian McNatt is a quick and enjoyable read with some very interesting beings (which appears to be one of the author’s strengths) and a fresh concept.

I enjoyed reading this book even more than I did the first two books by the author which only goes on to prove that the writing of the author is constantly improving and growing on me as a reader. The concept was very different from that of his earlier books and the progression of the plot was really good. The pacing was even and tension fell and rose at the right places.

This book had well-developed characterization. Candida was a good character and, thankfully, I was able to connect with her. I was able to relate to her inner conflicts and felt empathetic towards her.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all fantasy readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Past Sins (Legends of Heraldale #2) by Brian Natt

Author: Brian McNatt
Release Date: 30th June 2018
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
SeriesLegends Of Heraldale (Book #2)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 316
Publisher:
Blurb:
War rages across Heraldale. The Unicorn Empire sends its armies across the land, a blitzkrieg that every day brings the struggling gryphon nations closer to the final dreaded defeat.
In the Empire’s way stands Princess Galaxy, hippogryph.
Together with her adoptive gryphon brother Brynjar and the unicorn Owain, she has defied the iron will of Lord Mordred, evaded the might of the Imperial Army, and saved the city of Port Oil from the ravages of the rogue magical monster Spell Virus.
Now Galaxy continues her quest to bring the war to a final end, flying east to the Elderphine Forest and the secrets of her hippogryph heritage. A hidden kingdom will test her wisdom. A lonesome dragon will test her compassion. A travelling warrior will test her resolve. And a former enemy will test her ideas…to the breaking point.

REVIEW

★★★★

Past Sins by Brian McNatt is the second book in the Legends Of Heraldale series and a sequel to Legends Of Heraldale book. This book was definitely a step up from the last one, which was also an enjoyable read. The issue I had with characterization was pretty much-resolved in this book as the main and recurring characters slowly grew on me and the plot started to make more and more sense in the larger picture.

There were some very interesting new characters who made this book even more interesting. The writing, in this part, felt smoother too. Overall, it proved to be an easy book to read than the previous part and hence, I liked it better than the last world.

I’d recommend it to anyone looking to explore a fresh series by a new author.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Legends of Heraldale by Brian McNatt

Author: Brian McNatt
Release Date: 9th January 2017
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
SeriesLegends Of Heraldale (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 252
Publisher:
Blurb:
Here is the story of Galaxy the hippogryph, of Featheren Valley, who after great tragedy must go on a journey to reunite with her family and rekindle the fight against the Unicorn Empire and the dreaded Lord Mordred.

REVIEW

★★★+1/2

Legends Of Heraldale by Brian McNatt is a unique book about creatures long forgotten. The biggest selling point for me was that this book featured fantasy creatures that are very uncommon and it delivered exactly what it promised – a very uncommon plot and a fresh concept in the fantasy genre.

Though it took some time to get into the story, the plot was interesting and even gripping at many places. The settings very very unique and new and therefore pretty exciting, the characters were of a wide variety and pretty interesting in their own way. The plot progression was good and therefore the book made for a good quick read.

The writing was good, not overly impressive, but good enough as the book proved to be an easy read, especially given the hard names of some of the characters and beings which were difficult to remember at times. I think overall the book would have been much better with better editing.

My main problem in this book is with the characterization, it was okay in the sense that I was able to read the entire book, but not good enough that I was able to feel a connection to any of the main characters. The characters weren’t bad, but they just didn’t grow on me in this part. As this is a series, I am considerate of the fact that in some stories characters take time to grow on the readers. I desperately hope that I am right as I have just begun reading the second part in this series.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to hardcore fantasy readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Naji And The Mystery Of The Dig By Vahid Imani

Author: Vahid Imani
Release Date: 9th May 2014
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 198
Publisher: Stormtop Publishing
Blurb:
One summer morning, eight-year old Naji woke up to an unusual sound. Three strangers were digging in her courtyard. Naji’s sixth sense warned her: something suspicious was lurking down there. As events unfold and suspense rises, readers will enjoy the many colors of Persian culture, cuisine, folklore, history, geography, religion, language, and intrigue through Naji’s eyes and heart. No one was prepared for what the diggers discovered far below the surface of the courtyard. Not even Naji.

REVIEW

★★★

Naji And The Mystery Of The Dig by Vahid Imani is a delightful children’s book rich with cultural details and full of moral lessons. Naji was a likeable kid and therefore the story didn’t fall behind in grabbing my interest. Though the story could have been a bit shorter and therefore a much faster read.

It is a humble and honest story full of innocence and wonders and I’m sure that the kids would love it. I feel that children younger than middle-graders might also enjoy a light reading of this book.

I’d recommend this book for all children as this book has some really good aspects that the children would love and their parents would greatly appreciate.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: In The Shadow Of The Kingmakers by Vahid Imani

Author: Vahid Imani
Release Date: 9th February 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 300
Publisher: Stormtop Publishing
Blurb:
The shadows were closer than he thought …
Tehran in 1924 is the stage for a daring international showdown over the control of Persian oil fields. James Malcolm, a British operative stationed in Tehran weaves an intricate plot in hopes of installing a new loyal Persian king. A teenage boy’s accidental involvement becomes a distraction. When his plot is sabotaged, the fragile peace in Persia is threatened along with the boy’s life. Malcolm’s clandestine investigation entangles him with unwitting American diplomats, treacherous double agents, and murderous Soviet spies, all seeking to foil the oil grab of the British.

REVIEW

★★★★

In The Shadow Of The Kingmakers by Vahid Imani is an immersive historical suspense thriller that pulled me in right from the start to the very end. I really liked it because of the complexity of the plot and the ease with which it was laid by the author for the reader to read.

The writing is really good and the book is easy to follow, making it a relatively quick read. The characterization was also good and I was able to feel a connection to the protagonist, James, and was rooting for him throughout the book. The plot was the hero for me and the story felt very well fleshed out, especially the cultural details and the rich exposition.

The ending was apt and it made a lot of sense. I enjoyed this book through and through and would recommend it to all historical fiction fans and readers of mystery and thriller genre.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: We Call It Monster by Lachlan Walter

Author: Lachlan Walter
Release Date: 10th February 2019
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Monster Fiction, Apocalyptic Fiction
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 251
Publisher: Severed Press
Blurb:
One ordinary day, an enormous creature dragged itself out of the ocean and laid waste to a city. In the months and years that followed, more and more creatures appeared, until not a single country remained untouched. At first, people tried to fight them. In the end, all they could do was try and stay alive.

We Call It Monster is a story of forces beyond our control, of immense and impossible creatures that make plain how small we really are. It is the story of our fight for survival and our discovery of that which truly matters: community and compassion, love and family, hope and faith.

REVIEW

★★★★

We Call It Monster by Lachlan Walter is a well-written and beautifully presented monster story which gives a great apocalyptic high to the genre lovers like myself. I enjoyed this book immensely and though I’m not a huge monster story fan yet, I absolutely enjoyed reading it!

The hero of this book is the story itself, the monsters and the different characters play a huge part in the story progression and in giving an idea to the reader about how the world collapses and how people try to cope with the downfall of society when threatened by something that is not only something incomprehensible but also ostensibly impossible to have happened. The book consists of different stories as chapters, each with a different cast of characters suffering in varying kinds of predicament.

The best part about the book was the slow build-up and the variations in pacing and tension at the right points. It kept me engrossed int he story throughout the book, right till the very end.

If you love reading about monsters, or if you love reading books set right in the middle of the apocalypse, you can’t afford to miss reading this book!

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter by Linda Lo Scuro

Author: Linda Lo Scuro
Release Date: 22nd October 2018
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Suspense
Series: 
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 296
Publisher: Sparkling Books
Blurb:
Most victims of the mafia are the Sicilians themselves. The role of women both as perpetrators and victims has been grossly overlooked. Until now.

As the daughter of Sicilian immigrants, in her teens Maria turns her back on her origins and fully embraces the English way of life. Notwithstanding her troubled and humble childhood in London, and backed up by her intelligence, beauty and sheer determination, she triumphantly works her way up to join the upper middle-class of British society.

Maria delves deeper into her mother’s family history and a murky past unravels, drawing her more and more into a mire of vendetta.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter by Linda Lo Scuro is a very gripping book with a well-written plot and a beautiful cast of strong characters. This book was a very quick read and had a lot more to offer to its reader that one can imagine. This book is very culturally rich and it was great to get a detailed glimpse into the family of mobs and also witnessing the repercussions of belonging to such a family.

I enjoyed reading this book from start to end, mainly because the writing was good and had a very easy flow to it. The plot-progression was good and so was the pacing and tension and they all complimented and went along the story very well.

I’d recommend this book to all crime and suspense readers who enjoy reading culturally rich books.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: A Dance Of Lies (The Outlands Pentalogy #4) by Rebecca Crunden

Author: Rebecca Crunden
Release Date: 
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult
SeriesThe Outlands Pentalogy (Book #4)
Edition: E-book
Pages:
Publisher:
Blurb:
A year into the Outlands and life has only become more dangerous and complex for Kitty and her friends. Not only are the Outcasts hunting them, but Charles and Ciara are adamant about returning to the Kingdom to help, forcing everyone to take a side. To make matters worse, the leader of the Outcasts, Quen, has an unrelenting fascination with Thom and Nate that soon reaches horrific heights.

As tensions mount and the group begins to splinter, Riddle comes to Kitty with an unexpected request. A secret. One that makes them inseparable.

Kitty soon finds herself spending more and more time away from Nate and Thom, learning to fight and increasingly drawn into the ways of the Radiants. But Kitty and Riddle’s new bond doesn’t come without complications, and a decision made by the two of them threatens more than Kitty’s relationship with Nate …

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

A Dance Of Lies by Rebecca Crunden is the second last part in The Outlands Pentalogy and the sequel to A Promise Of Return. In this instalment, things progress slowly as compared to the other parts in this series till now, but nonetheless, they progress steadily giving the feeling that it is a slow build-up to something very important. And alas, the ending was a smashing hit because of such subtle build-up leading to it all throughout this book.

I enjoyed reading this book greatly even because of the slow pace followed in most of the book because the story kept taking me forward and the air of inevitable danger lent it a really good vibe. The characterization was great as usual and we got to see Kitty again along with some other major characters. The ending was mindblowing and has created a lot of excitement for the last part of this series.

Again, I’d recommend this book as well as the entire series to young-adult and dystopian readers and also to anyone looking to get into a new series by a relatively new author.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: A Promise Of Return (The Outlands Penology #3) by Rebecca Crunden

Author: Rebecca Crunden
Release Date: 
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction Fantasy
SeriesThe Outlands Pentalogy (Book #3)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 282
Publisher:
Blurb:
When Thom Anteros is arrested after breaking into the Building of Historical Records, he demands to be taken before the King. A laughable demand for anyone else, Thom’s request is granted and the King spares his life. Yet what’s to become of him is left in the hands of the one person Thom truly fears – Mickey Taenia, the King’s Hangman.
Infuriated by Thom’s refusal to reveal the whereabouts of Nate and Catherine, the Hangman sends Thom to one of the worst places in the Kingdom – the slave markets of Muntenia. It is there that Thom is bought for the Red Arena: a barbaric, gladiator-type competition where the children of convicts and other unlucky souls are forced to fight to the death.
Twenty wins is release. One loss is death.
With the help of Charles Thoreau, a fellow captive, Thom begins not only to survive, but to thrive. A master of words becomes a master of death, and Thom’s prowess in the arena frightens even him.
But death isn’t the only thing haunting Thom. As the days go by, he dreams of his brother, and the promise he cannot forget.
I will return.

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

A Promise Of Return by Rebecca Crunden is the third book in The Outlands Pentalogy and the sequel to A History Of Madness. This was an absolute page-turner. I loved how the author explored Thom’s journey in this book apart from Nate and Kitty which helped the reader in understanding him better and more intimately.

We get to see and know more about the amazing universe that the author has created and some fresh characters which hopefully would be making an entry in the next parts. I enjoyed this book even more than the first two books and I can’t wait to dig in the next one! The writing, the plot and the characterization along with the plot-progression, world-building and the pacing and tension – everything, seems to develop for the better consistently throughout this series as far as I am concerned. And I am very sure that the next two books will have a lot in store for their readers.

I’d highly recommend this book and the entire series to dystopian lovers! If you are into sci-fi fantasy and have a special love for well-written books, then you simply cannot miss this amazing series.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Traveller – Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

Author: Rob Shackleford
Release Date: 25th February 2017
Genre: Time-Travel, Historical, Science-Fiction
Series: Traveller (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 
Publisher: Book Baby
Blurb:
If you were sent 1000 years into the past, would you survive?

Traveller – Inceptio describes how the Transporter is accidentally invented and becomes public knowledge when it sends a subject 1000 years into the past.

A Special Forces team of Travellers is then selected and trained with the intent to send them to Saxon England to explore what could be a very dangerous period of history.

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers discover they need a lot more than technology to survive the trials of early Eleventh Century life.

Book Review

★★+1/2

Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford is a time-travel story set 1000 years in the past, through the machine that was invented by mistake. What follows next is an interesting tale about how our ever-so-reliable-science-and-technology can’t bail us out of dangerous situations and how power-hungry people can go to any lengths in order to get their hands on any new invention that can trip the scales in their favour.

The story was good and pretty engaging. The events were interesting and some of them even capturing. The overall world-building was good and the pacing was even. I enjoyed the book on the whole but had a couple of issues both with the plot and the writing. The author went overboard with the exposition, as a result of which I found myself skimming over a lot of pages. The beginning of the book and the base of the story felt a bit weak as it seemed too far-fetched a concept to have actually invented a time-travel machine that travels only certain years and then has the ability to come back when summoned too. I mean the concept could have been a bit more believable if the machine had at least some faults and wouldn’t have been this perfect. After all, it was a result of a mistake.

But after the first part was over, the story only got better. The research appeared to be impeccable and the story got more and more interesting, save for the exhausting bits of exposition. The plot started to feel realistic and I was able to connect with it once the first part was over.

Characterization, unfortunately, felt like another lingering problem as I had a hard time connecting with the characters. They were not badly created, but they weren’t overly impressive nor relatable. I just liked them enough to have been able to read and finish the story (which seemed to be much longer than it should have.)

Overall, I think the book needed a bit more tweaking and that a good editor would have been able to make this book much better. Still, it was an enjoyable read.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Kill Code by Clive Fleury

Author: Clive Fleury
Release Date: 5th December 2018
Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopian
SeriesThe Sunset Of Magic (Book #3)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 220
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Blurb:
WHEN THE OCEANS RISE…THE TRUTH DROWNS
It’s the year 2031. Our future. Their present. A world decimated by climate catastrophe, where the sun’s heat is deadly and the ocean rises higher every day. A world ruled by the rich, powerful, and corrupt. A world where a good man can’t survive for long.
Hogan Duran was a good man once. He was a cop, forced to resign in disgrace when he couldn’t save his partner from a bullet. Now Hogan lives on the fraying edges of society, serving cruel masters and scavenging trash dumps just to survive.
But after four years of living in poverty, Hogan finally gets a chance to get back on his feet. He’s invited to join the National Security Council, the powerful paramilitary organization responsible for protecting the rich and powerful from the more unsavory elements of society. All he needs to do is pass their deadly entrance exam, and he’ll be rewarded with wealth and opportunity beyond his wildest dreams.
But this ex-cop’s path to redemption won’t be easy. The NSC are hiding something, and as Hogan descends deeper and deeper into their world, he starts to uncover the terrible truth of how the powerful in this new world maintain their power…and just how far they will go to protect their secrets.
In a world gone wrong, can one man actually make a difference, or will he die trying?
Kill Code is the first novel in an exciting new dystopian science fiction series from the mind of the award-winning author, screenwriter, and director Clive Fleury.

REVIEW

★★★★

Kill Code by Clive Fleury is a smashing dystopian read that was equal parts engaging and unsettling.

The dystopian settings in the book felt very realistic and, to be honest, seemed like a possibility for our own future. What I really liked about this book is that instead of focusing only on the dystopic settings and the new world, something that most of the authors writing in this genre tend to do, the author focused on the National Security Council (NSC), the elite force to protect the elite class in this horrible new world. The book had some really gritty action scenes which made the plot all the more exciting.

The characterization was strong and the inner conflicts of the MC, Hogan Duran, made it even better as I was able to connect with him. The plot-progression was great and the pacing and tension well tuned. The writing was good and complimented the plot making it easy as well as quick to read.

In a sentence, I enjoyed this book from the first page to the last one and would recommend it to all dystopian readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Bort’s People (The Sunset Of Magic #3) by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 11th February 2016
Genre: Science-Fiction-Fantasy, Adventure, Quest, Magic Elementals
SeriesThe Sunset Of Magic (Book #3)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 260
Publisher: 
Blurb:

Magic, dragons, drama and adventure… did I mention the dragons? Lots of those! The wizard Zerphal, Bort and Lofti the Dunnit Sprite leap across the void between Nephus and the Harrowen homeworld, Mirt. Each have their reasons: Zerphal, an agent of the Council of Wizards, seeks to discover how his species, the warlike Harrowen, have managed to escape Mirt; Bort, on a mission of hope, to find out if any of his Trollid race, kidnapped and enslaved some some 300 years earlier, still survive; and Lofti… well… because a true friend would not allow Bort to make such a journey alone.

REVIEW

★★★★

Bort’s People by Alistair Potter is the third instalment in The Sunset Of Magic series and the sequel to The Counsel Of Wizards. It is a very entertaining sci-fi-fantasy adventure that has a mix of characters from both the previous books in this series who embark on an adventurous journey, which entails serious action, mild drama and a good emotional arc.

This book is in lieu of the previous one, and therefore, I enjoyed it to no end. It had good characterization and a well-written plot that progressed with an even pace. The tension rose and fell as needed and the action scenes were both well timed and well executed.

I enjoyed reading this book as well as this series would definitely explore more books by the author. I’d recommend this book, and the rest by author Alistair Potter, to all sci-fi-fantasy readers, lovers of hardcore sci-fi and those who love adventure genre.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Author Interview: Rob Shackleford

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Rob Shackleford, author of Traveller Inceptio, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Rob Shackleford

An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher and management roles in too many places.

With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, Scuba diving, Family History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas.

Rob is father of two and lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.

 

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | LINKEDIN


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

To become a highly paid, best-selling author.

Seriously, it would be nice to make a living from being an author as I have a few stories that are ready for print. To write more and do what I love will be the ultimate life goal relating to my writing career.

Which writers inspire you?

I can’t say I have a firm favourite, though many do inspire.

Brilliant and imaginative storytellers with whom I can relate include Stephen King, J.K. Rolling (yes – I know – Harry Potter – but what can I say?, she is very clever), Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, H.G. Wells, Margaret Atwood, and many more.

Beautiful writers I admire as wordsmiths include Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Steinbeck, Tolkien, Yann Martel, and Gregory David.

There are so many others.

I aim to become a great storyteller and hope my writing skills improve as I progress.

Tell us about your book?

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it to a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.

An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when an international team of crack Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The elite researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trials of early 11th Century life.

How long did it take you to write it?

I was obsessed in making sure my data was correct; about the Saxons, the Vikings, and about modern Special Forces. In the end my head swam with so much information I ultimately began to believe in myself.

I was often banned from my local library because one obscure tome on Saxon history or another had been out for six months.

It took me about five years before the book was in a state I thought worthy of someone to read.

I then gave the book, then called ‘Traveller’, to an English editor. He metaphorically tore off my arm and beat me over the head with it. Wiping away my tears I followed his advice in most areas, reduced the draft by 50,000 words, sent it out for review and received a positive response and 5 star ratings. My head still hurts though.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Traveller Inceptio lends itself to a sequel. The tale of sending 21st Century, Special Forces trained ‘History Researchers’ back 1000 years can spread to other locations than Saxon England, so Traveller Book 2 – ‘Traveller Probo’ (to Prove) takes in missions to New Zealand and Byzantine Turkey. Traveller Book 3 – ‘Traveller Manifesto’ – details the issues that arise from missions to Mississippi USA and Jerusalem.

I have completed a couple of other books away from the Traveller stable, but I am keeping those under wraps for now.

Why Have You Chosen This Genre?

For as long as I can remember I have loved Science Fiction and History. My father is a keen genealogist so I have been fascinated by tales of our ancestors’ struggle to survive.

Traveller Inceptio is a mix of science fiction and historical fiction that examines how members of 21st Century Western society could survive the world of the 11th Century.

I was inspired one day when I sat on a beach imagining how the location would have looked 100, then 200, then 1000 years in the past. Fortunately I lived close to the beautiful beaches of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia and the exercise of imagining the location before resorts, powerlines and phone towers brought to mind a very different world.

The next step in the tale was to imagine how modern humans would survive ‘back then’. Then – how was this leap of imagination possible?

Traveller Inceptio (Latin for Beginning) examines what could happen if such an accidental discovery was not hidden from public view. How would a device that takes one back a thousand years be used? Where would one go? In a world where academic historians are not like Indiana Jones, who would be sent?

So, that is my long-winded way of saying that I didn’t really select the genre, but in a way the tale and thus the genre selected me.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I am kind of old. I really started my writing in my late 40’s. I never sat and thought, “I know! I’ll become a writer!” The story began to coalesce and, in the end, I decided to actually write. To my surprise I liked the creative process and, I hope, have learned a lot about writing and language.

Why do you write?

When I decided I had a story to tell, it was almost impossible not to write. It became a compulsion, not driven out of an arrogance that my story was to change the world, but something that, once I began, I found something I could do.

Surprisingly I have found a few stories lurking in the deep crevasses of my mind which, I hope, will be entertaining.

Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come from a mixture of real life – real people and their funny and silly ways, and the creation of an ‘if-then’ scenario. I try to keep the story as realistic as possible within those parameters and retain the reality of response of the characters involved.

Through research I have been able to understand the history and reality of some of the lives my characters could experience. Also, many amazing tales can be shared rather than experienced, thus enriching the story without having my characters having to actually engage in everything.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I am a computer writer. Word on a PC. Don’t hate me.

What are your 5 favourite books and 5 favourite authors?

In no apparent order – here are 5 books I enjoy with wonderful authors:

  1. Shantaram by Gregory David
  2. The Roman series of books by Colleen McCullough
  3. The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkein
  4. The Dune series by Frank Herbert
  5. 1984 by George Orwell

Ask me next week and I will have others, but these are a great start.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Rather than writers block, I experience writer’s fatigue. I get sick of writing, so I go for a swim in the ocean or play a game on my PlayStation. Getting smashed by ‘Red Dead Redemption’ and loved ‘Fallout 4’. A gaming legend I am not.

I also go through a book many times. Once immersed I think of issues or situations to include or discover new items in my reading or even from Social Media. I keep my eyes open for possibilities and my ears open for good stories from people I talk to daily. That inspiration then pads out the bare bones of a tale into something I hope resembles real life.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Writing can be tough, because much is about your own personal confidence and desires.

My first piece of advice is to start writing, no matter what. Too many believe they must have the whole story before writing starts, while I find the story develops as I write. It’s like painting, or weaving a rich tapestry with words. Like a journey, it starts with the courageous first step.

Second is to not worry about what everyone else thinks. Writing is like running: you have to practice to get good at it. I find the process of writing and rewriting allows me to get better. Just go for it and let your creativity shine.

Third: Never be happy with the first draft. I always go back through the story, the words, the creative writing many, many times. It might feel like an OCD thing, and that is what makes writing so personal. My format will be different to everyone else. Find your way and follow it.

Fourth – and the hardest. Be prepared to be disappointed at criticism. As my first book, ‘Traveller Inceptio’ was initially self-published, critiqued, then edited. Criticism can be very tough, but cling to what others might say are well done. Not all can be Salman Rushdie.

Fifth – have a market in mind. Writing is a creative art, but selling books is strictly a marketing endeavour. I aim to become an author that sells. That is my ultimate goal. For any writing to sell it must appeal to a market, to a slice of humanity who likes what you produce. Some popular book series come to mind that are only marketing, with no substance, yet they sell. Publishers only seek what will sell and then leave it to you to create the market for them. Gone are the days of offering a new author a million dollar contract. Yes, it’s a tough gig.

Thank you, Rob, for all the interesting answers!


About The Book

Traveller Inceptio

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it into a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.

An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when a crack international team of Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The special researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trails of early 11th Century life.

AMAZON | GOODREADS | WEBSITE

To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: The Counsel Of Wizards (The Sunset Of Magic #2) by Allistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 15th May 2014
Genre: Science-Fiction-Fantasy, Adventure, Magic-Elementals, Quest
SeriesThe Sunset Of Magic (Book #2)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 259
Publisher: 
Blurb:

Action, adventure, magic and more! Scholarly Grant Moy is sent by the dying Wizard Torven to a distant world in search of the Council of Wizards. Without another wizard to inherit Torven’s legacy, all his vast knowledge and experience will be lost. Ahead are challenges and adventures beyond Grant’s wildest imaginings.

 

REVIEW

★★★★

The Counsel Of Wizards by Allistair Potter is the sequel to The Last Trollid, being the second book in the series Sunset Of Magic. This book is more of a magical adventure than anything else and I loved it for that. After reading author Potter’s books back to back, this one, even though being as technically detailed as it is, felt like a respite from hardcore sci-fi and gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling of a really great adventure story.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot and liked the character of Grant Moy a lot. He was very relatable and I felt a connection to both, him and his quest. Some of the characters from the previous book also joined Grant on his journey and it was good to read about them in a bit lighter settings. I think this is so far my favourite book in the series (though I’ve just read two) and can’t wait to see what more do the author has in store for us in the next instalments.

If you’re an adventure and magical quest buff then you should definitely read this book.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: The Last Trollid (The Sunset Of Magic #1) by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 13th May 2014
Genre: Science-Fiction-Fantasy, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Magic-Elementals
SeriesThe Sunset Of Magic (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 272
Publisher: 
Blurb:
There’s; world jumping magic, Dragons, ruthless invaders, epic battles, unlikely heroes, bravery, sacrifice, and a steam cannon worthy of Archimedes! And yes it does have wizards, both good and very bad. Romance? Yes, a little of that too! What more do you want in an adventure story?

A disparate band: fussy spinster, Ida Fairweather; crusty old soldier, Endor Caffri; dishonest manservant, Moleskin; King’s guard, Lineth, and Last of the Trollid, Bort, engage in a desperate struggle against the Harrowen invaders.

 

REVIEW

★★★+1/2

The Last Trollid by Allistair Potter is the start to a new series The Sunset Of Magic. After having read three other books by the author, I was confident that this book is going to be a smashing read, and, thankfully, to a great extent, it was. Just like his previous books, this book had a brilliant premise and an amazingly awesome world built with a great deal of detailing. The pacing and tension were good as they both had good highs and lows and the overall progression of the plot can’t be faulted. So all in all, it was a good read.

My only problem was with the characterization, somehow, unlike in the previous instances, I was not able to feel a connection to either of the characters. I liked Bort and even Ida and Moleskin to some extent, but that was all, I just liked them enough to be able to read the book without wanting to stop, but not more than that. Still, I enjoyed the book, if for nothing than for the plot and some of the high-tension battle scenes and the ending, which was really well written.

I’d recommend this book to all science-fiction readers, especially who prefer plot over characters.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Spotlight: Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the section of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles. Today, we are featuring Rob Shackleford, author of Traveller Inceptio, for one of our features, Book Spotlight.

About The Book

Book Name: Traveller Inceptio

Author: Rob Shackleford

Publisher: Austin Macauley

Genre: Science Fiction

Page Count: 431

Release date: 28th February 2019


Synopsis

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it into a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.

An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when a crack international team of Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The special researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trails of early 11th Century life.

get the book here:

AMAZON | GOODREADS | WEBSITE


About The Author

An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher and management roles in too many places.

With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, Scuba diving, Family History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas.

Rob is father of two and lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | LINKEDIN

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Probability’s Edge by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 27th September 2018
Genre: Science-Fiction
Series: 
Edition: E-book
Pages: 269
Publisher: 
Blurb:

After crash landing on a technologically backward planet the crew of the Eagle face a tough decision: save themselves, or save the planet.

 

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

Probability’s Edge by Alistair Potter is an entertaining and quick action-packed read. It had a unique plot line,  well-developed characters, great action sequences, delicious detailing and world-building and great writing – so overall, it made for a complete package! I was sucked into the plot from the beginning and enjoyed it right till the end.

This is the second book I’m reading by author Potter and I must say that after this book, I can’t wait to read more of his amazing works. The genre lovers would greatly appreciate his works, so I recommend this book, as well as his others to all hardcore science-fiction fans.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: A History Of Madness (The Outlands Pentalogy #2) by Rebecca Crunden

Author: Rebecca Crunden
Release Date: 14th July 2017
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction-Fantasy
Series: The Outlands Pentalogy – Book #2
Edition: E-book
Pages: 258
Publisher: 
Blurb:
The four remaining fugitives are now spread across the Kingdom. And with the fate of the others unknown to him, Nate Anteros prays for a fast execution.

Yet execution does not come. After a meeting with the King which leaves Nate questioning his sanity, he’s sent to a workcamp in Argon Basin for five years of hard labour. It’s there that Nate learns what became of his friends upon their arrest.

And as his strength returns to him, and he’s plagued by dreams which are much too real to be ignored, Nate decides five years is far too long to wait …

Book Review

★★★★+1/2

A History Of Madness by Rebecca Crunden is the sequel to A Touch Of Death and the 2nd book in the Outlands Pentalogy. After reading the first book, and really liking it, I was really eager to read this one and to my pleasant surprise, this book turned out to be as good as (actually even better) than the last one. I love when a series goes from strength to strength and this series is turning out to be just that, though I’ve just read 2 books so far. Given the opportunity, I’d love to read the next part of this well-developed saga for sure.

The characterization was the highlight of this book. I loved how the author uses a different character as the main POV character for this part as it gave a fresh vibe to the series, instead of taking the story ahead with the same POV character. It was really good to know the motivations, inner conflicts, impulses and feelings of Nate as I really liked his as the main character.

The writing was good just like the last book and the world building was a true step ahead. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and would recommend this series to all dystopian readers and fantasy readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Perax Frontier by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 27th April 2017
Genre: Science-Fiction, Action, Mystery
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 214
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Perax Frontier, a place like no other! Bathed in the constant glow of the Interface connecting two Universes, the frontier townships of Praxton, and Millaki on the Atlathian side, function without any electrically based technologies. Set against this unusual background, and fighting the hierarchal restrictions of Imperial society, Sheriff Artur Perax investigates the murder of Imperial Ambassador, Madam Lintsa Kroft. And all the time still keeping order among the visitors, frustrated scientists, religious fanatics, misfits, reformed felons and plain good folks who keep the flow of trade goods moving across the Interface.

Book Review

★★★★+1/2

A well-written hardcore sci-fi mystery which will keep you engaged from the start right till the very last page. An intricately woven mystery, expertly punctuated with intense action scenes, underlined with enough drama to make you want to keep reading further, highlighted by believable characters – this book was a complete rollercoaster ride!

The ending was good and very fitting. The pacing was really good and the tension was at an all-time high. The prose was tight and easy to read and overall it was a complete package. I enjoyed it thoroughly and would recommend it to all hardcore sci-fi lovers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Box Of Tricks by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 13th May 2014
Genre: Science-Fiction, Action, Adventure
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 290
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Multiverse spanning action and adventure, with eye-popping special effects (requires reader input). To prevent catastrophe Earth needs the ultimate eco-warrior, but is mild-mannered Edinburgh taxi driver Tom Mathers up to the challenge?

Exploring questions of ethics, resource management, and caring for our planet, this hilarious, yet sobering journey through the multiverse hides deep philosophical questions beneath a veneer of joviality and witty sarcasm.

Book Review

★★★★

The Box Of Tricks by Alistair Potter is an explosive sci-fi novel that has something to offer to all of its readers. It has a great storyline that is executed well and a brilliantly created world that made reading this book a complete delight. The characterisation was excellent and I was able to feel a connection with the main characters, Tom, Caroline and Fanshawe and felt that the secondary characters were also very believable.

The writing was good and easy to read. The tightness of exposition made it a really pleasant read for me as I always appreciate brief yet informative exposition over unnecessarily lengthy one, so this book made for a really smooth and quick read. Author’s humour really shone through the prose and went a long way in making this book both entertaining as well as light as it had some emotional and moral themes that could have, otherwise, made the plot very weighty.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and waiting eagerly to get started with the next book by Mr Potter. I’d recommend this book to all sci-fi readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: A Touch Of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1) by Rebecca Crunden

Author: Rebecca Crunden
Release Date: 23rd February 2017
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction-Fantasy
Series: The Outlands Pentalogy – Book #1
Edition: E-book
Pages: 306
Publisher: 
Blurb:
A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.
A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.
Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

Book Review

★★★★

A Touch Of Death by Rebecca Crunden marks a really promising start to The Outlands Pentalogy series. This book has everything that can be expected of a good dystopian story – detailed and extensive world-building, believable characters, intriguing plotline, engaging twists and turns, even pace and oscillating tension. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and can’t wait to read the next one in this series.

The characterization is the backbone of any dystopian novel and thankfully, this book had not only believable and relatable characters but also the ones you easily fall in love with. I liked both Catherine as well as Nate and can’t wait to read more about them in the following parts.

The writing was pretty good and complemented such a tremendous plot well. The pacing was nice and even and the tension kept on increasing and decreasing in sync with the plot structure which kept me hooked throughout the book, from start to the very end. The book ended on a great note, setting high expectations for the sequel.

As I said, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all dystopian lovers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

AuthorJoe Hill
Release Date: 24th October 2017
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Dark, Short Stories
Series: 
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 448
Publisher: Gollancz
Blurb:
Four short novels from the author of THE FIREMAN and HORNS, ranging from creepy horror to powerful explorations of our modern society.
One autumnal day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails, splinters of bright crystal that tear apart anyone who isn’t safely under cover. ‘Rain’ explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as clouds of nails spread out across the country and the world. Amidst the chaos, a girl studying law enforcement takes it upon herself to resolve a series of almost trivial mysteries . . . apparently harmless puzzles that turn out to have lethal answers.
In ‘Loaded’ a mall security guard heroically stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun movement. Under the hot glare of the spotlights, though, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it…
‘Snapshot, 1988’ tells the story of an kid in Silicon Valley who finds himself threatened by The Phoenician, a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid that can steal memories…
And in ‘Aloft’ a young man takes to the skies to experience parachuting for the first time . . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapour that seems animated by a mind of its own.

REVIEW

★★★

This book turned out to be an okay read. I had a lot of expectation from this one, mostly because I had heard a lot about Joe Hill’s writing but also because he is one of the offsprings of my favourite writer. Overall, I liked the concepts of the stories, but what I did not like was the way they started to feel “lost” after a good beginning. The writing was good, no doubt, but the narration seemed to have faltered a lot as the story reached a certain point and then it went downhill from there at a fast speed.

Snapshot – 3/5 – Being a king fan, I felt this was very much like his works. I liked this story, but do feel that the ending was a slog. Hill could have totally ended the story 10-20 pages before and it would have been a great read rather than having over-stretched it.

Loaded – 1/5 – I read the first 2 pages and I left it there itself. I didn’t find the writing very appealing in this one nor did the story made any sense to me (I mean it is a short story, it has to make some sense in the first 2 pages, right?!) So… DNF

Aloft – 4/5 – A very good story. I loved the backstory more than anything else but overall, I really enjoyed this one. This book was a big relief and felt like a glass of chilled water in the desert heat as after such average stories, it was good to read something Hill is famous for – his unique imagination and style.

Rain – 3/5 – I really liked the beginning of this story and thought that this one would be my favourite one from this collection but towards the end, it started to feel like a burden and I was not sure where was it even headed to (something that I felt in the first story, Snapshot, too.)

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Audiobook Review: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Release Date: 19th May 2015
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic, Speculative Fiction
Series:
Edition: Audiobook
Length: 32 hours
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Blurb:
What would happen if the world were ending?
A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.
But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain…
Five thousand years later, their progeny — seven distinct races now three billion strong — embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown … to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

Review

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson book was too heavy for me. The narration was slow and the story progressed so slowly in the first hour that when I realized the book was 30 something hours, I stopped it right there. You really need to like the narration enough if you plan to spend another 30 hours listening to it. And that was not how I felt, so I abandoned it. I have other books that I can read and enjoy in that much time (pretty sure I can read a good number of other books in that much time.)

THIS REVIEW IS ALSO POSTED ON GOODREADS

ARC Review: Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent

Author: Minka Kent
Release Date: 9th April 2019
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 256
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Blurb:
Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.
Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.
As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.
To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.
Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Stillwater Girlsby Minka Kent is one of those few books that managed to grab my attention on NetGalley with a beautiful blurb and cover image when I was trying hard not to request any new titles at all. I was very excited to read this book and finally when I dove in expecting a mind-blowing thriller, I ended up marking it as another disappointing DNF read.

For some reason, I was not able to get past the first 8% of the book. Even though I really wanted to read this book, a couple of intolerable things led me to abandon this book even though when I almost made up my mind to simply skim over the pages in order to at least find out the mystery:

  1. Chapters full of fragmented sentences for exposition which led to overtreatment of a technique I otherwise love and use in my own works.
  2. Excessive foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is good, necessary even in thrillers for building suspense, but here it was too much.
  3. I felt forced by the author to feel sympathetic to the girls living alone. It felt like the girls themselves (or at least the POV one) were screaming at the readers to feel sorry for them and their conditions. As a result, I simply felt irritation and nothing more.
  4. focus on the unnecessary details and overall, the writing felt immature; it felt like the author wanted to go for Gillian Flynn’s writing style but ended up totally botching it up.

All in all, I think this book has a lot of potential in terms of the plot, or so the blurb has led me to believe but failed miserably.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and NetGalley

Book Review: The Curse Of Time (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon

Author: M.J. Mallon
Release Date: 2nd April 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Bloodstone (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 237
Publisher: Kyrosmagica Publishing
Blurb:
Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Curse Of Time by M.J. Mallon is an intricate fantasy novel with unique supernatural and magical elements which serves as a highly entertaining read. I had a great time reading this novel and exploring the magical world of Amelina full of magic crystals and enchanted mirrors.

The writing is good, the characterization decent and the pacing and tension in sync with the plot. The plot-progression was good and the character development was something I really appreciated in this story. The simple use of language complimented the plot and made it an enjoyable read.

The only problem I had when I started reading this book was that there were a number of themes running through the book, which at times felt a little bit confusing to me. But as I progressed further in the story, everything started to fall into place, and eventually, everything started to make more sense. So, maybe it was intentional or maybe not, either way, it wasn’t a big issue as I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it to all fantasy and supernatural readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Author Interview: Erin Rhew

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Erin Rhew, author of The Transhuman Project, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Dwayne Gill

Erin Rhew is an editor, the operations manager for a small press, and a YA fantasy and sci-fi author. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin spent years in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest before returning to her roots in the land of hushpuppies, sweet tea, and pig pickin’. She’s married to fellow author, the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) Deek Rhew, and spends her time writing side-by-side with him under the watchful eye of their patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. Erin and Deek enjoy taking long walks, drinking coffee, lifting, boxing, eating pizza, staying up late into the night talking, and adventuring together.

 you can connect with the author here
Website | Facebook | Twitter


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

Of course, everyone would love to have a bestselling novel, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream of that. But mostly, I enjoy entertaining people. If people read my book and feel like they’ve taken an amazing adventure by the end, I can’t ask for much else.

Which writers inspire you?

I love, love, love Rick Riordan. His Percy Jackson series is top-notch for me. I really like how he mixes mythology with the modern world and adds a splash of humor. I’m not nearly as funny as Rick, but I try to have a humorous character, my Percy homage if you will, in every book.

Tell us about your book?

The Transhuman Project is about two neighboring countries, each subjugated by different things. Pacifica is run by a brutal dictator, and Kadar tangled up in the fake niceities of social media shows called Life Channels. Molly Richards and her friends get sucked up in the middle of both countries, and Molly must figure out a way to stop a tyrant from turning people into robots called transhumans while smiling and waving for the Kadarian masses who’ve made her their latest obsession.

It’s about friendship, love, social media, family, and what’s really important in life.

How long did it take you to write it?

The initial draft took me about three months to write. However, what you see now is actually the sequel. I decided the real story lay not in the original but in what comes after. So, I’ve been writing, rewriting, and fussing with this story for about five years.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

I am currently working on story which places a historical figure in modern times. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to share it with readers!

When did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t know that I ever really decided to become a writer. I think I was born a writer. When I was four, I wrote my first poem (a terrible rhyme verse about cars, since my grandparents own a car dealership), and I’ve been hooked since that moment.

Why do you write?

I write because I can’t not write. Stories live in my core, and characters take up residency in my mind. They clamor to have their stories told, and I am at their mercy to oblige.

Where do your ideas come from?

I am inspired by everything around me. But mostly my ideas come from conversations I have with my husband. We’ll be like “what if this” or “have you ever thought of that,” and stories evolve.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer to use my laptop because it’s portable, and I think way faster than I can write. I’m a pretty fast typist though, so my fingers can *almost* keep up with my brain when I type.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I love a lot of books, so I’ll just name five I really dig.

  1. Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. I know it’s not technically a book (it’s a play), but the Bard is one of my biggest inspirations. I’ve played Juliet in three different renditions of the play, and I have almost the whole thing memorized.
  2. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read.
  3. 122 Rules and Birth of an American Gigolo by Deek Rhew. Yep, that’s my husband. I’m obviously biased, but let me tell you, my man has got words. I’ve worked for small presses for years now, and I can truly say I’ve never seen such an amazing mix of literary and commercial in one voice. He’s masterful.
  4. She Wants It All by Jessica Calla. One word—Dave. I love this story so much, and I definitely have a book crush on Dave. Jess creates such vivid worlds and characters that you can’t help but get swept up in them.
  5. The Bloodline Series by Richelle Mead. While I enjoyed the Vampire Academy series, I really, really loved the follow-up series. It’s a whole world of alchemists and vampires that is a new, fresh take on the genre.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

It depends. If I’m on a deadline, I sit down and force myself to write, even if what comes out is garbage. But if I’m not on a deadline, I take some time to get inspired again. I read, watch shows, and talk to people. Inevitably, it rejuvenates my spirit.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Two things: never give up on your dream and edit, edit, edit. This business is tough, so you’ll need a thick skin. You’ll have to believe in yourself and your works even if no one else does. But you wrote something, so stick with it and keep believing. Secondly, edit, edit, edit, and when you think you’re done, edit some more. Never, ever, ever turn in a first draft to anyone.

Thank you, Erin, for all the insightful and interesting answers. I personally loved your writing advice!


About The Book

The Transhuman Project

When a video of Molly Richards is taken out of context and goes viral, she’s thrust into the upper echelons of social media stardom and becomes an overnight success in a country where Life Channel ratings reign supreme. As Kadar’s fastest-rising celebrity, her life becomes a media circus, a show put on for the shallow national audience salivating for the next new thing.

But in a world where image is king, danger and death hide among the shadows. In the nearby country of Pacifica, the brutal Caezar turns his citizens into robotic weapons who infiltrate Kadar as sleeper transhumans. They walk among the populace, unaware they are pawns in the madman’s personal arsenal.

Only Molly, her friends, and an elite group of Kadarian fighters known as the Cyber Knights fully understand the transhuman threat, and only they can break the Caezar’s terrorist grip on both Pacifica and Kadar. Battling Fire Bots and humanoid agents, they seek to put a stop to the Caezar’s tyranny by unraveling the secrets buried between layers of deception.

And they have to do it all while smiling and waving for the cameras.

As Molly and her friends peer behind the glitz and glamour, they discover something more frightening and more sinister than anything they’ve encountered yet…the truth.

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If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Spotlight: Erin Rhew

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles. Today, we are featuring Erin Rhew, author of The Transhuman Project, for the Author Spotlight feature.

About The Author

Erin Rhew is an editor, the operations manager for a small press, and a YA fantasy and sci-fi author. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin spent years in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest before returning to her roots in the land of hushpuppies, sweet tea, and pig pickin’. She’s married to fellow author, the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) Deek Rhew, and spends her time writing side-by-side with him under the watchful eye of their patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. Erin and Deek enjoy taking long walks, drinking coffee, lifting, boxing, eating pizza, staying up late into the night talking, and adventuring together.

 you can connect with the author here
Website | Facebook | Twitter

About The Book

When a video of Molly Richards is taken out of context and goes viral, she’s thrust into the upper echelons of social media stardom and becomes an overnight success in a country where Life Channel ratings reign supreme. As Kadar’s fastest-rising celebrity, her life becomes a media circus, a show put on for the shallow national audience salivating for the next new thing.

But in a world where image is king, danger and death hide among the shadows. In the nearby country of Pacifica, the brutal Caezar turns his citizens into robotic weapons who infiltrate Kadar as sleeper transhumans. They walk among the populace, unaware they are pawns in the madman’s personal arsenal.

Only Molly, her friends, and an elite group of Kadarian fighters known as the Cyber Knights fully understand the transhuman threat, and only they can break the Caezar’s terrorist grip on both Pacifica and Kadar. Battling Fire Bots and humanoid agents, they seek to put a stop to the Caezar’s tyranny by unraveling the secrets buried between layers of deception.

And they have to do it all while smiling and waving for the cameras.

As Molly and her friends peer behind the glitz and glamour, they discover something more frightening and more sinister than anything they’ve encountered yet…the truth.

Amazon |Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author/book featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

ARC Review: Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown

Author: L.M. Brown
Release Date: 15th March 2019
Genre: Short Story Collection, World Fiction
Series: 
Edition: E-book
Pages: 206
Publisher: Fomite
Blurb:
The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A by-pass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later.

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown is a beautiful collection of short stories about a small town in Ireland in the early ’80s and ’90s. I had a very good time reading this book and the thing I found most impressive about this story collection is that each and every story bore a plethora of emotions that were very real and relatable. Being from a small town myself, I enjoy books that display the lives of people in small towns, the highs and the lows of living in a close-knit and ever-watching society. So I really enjoyed this book.

All the stories were related in some way or the other and so they felt more like chapters than individual stories which was another thing that I liked as this made the overall theme more interesting. The characterization was good, the writing was good and the pacing was very good. I’d say this book would make for an excellent coffee table book.

I’d recommend this book to everyone who loves exploring new cultures and distinct works fo literature.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles #2) by John A. Heldt

Author: John A. Heldt
Release Date: 30th April 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time-Travel, Sci-Fi, Relationships & Family
SeriesCarson Chronicles – Book #2
Edition: E-book
Pages: 659
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Days after barely escaping 1889 with their lives, the Carsons, siblings from the present day, resume their search for their missing parents in 1918. While Adam and his pregnant wife, Bridget, settle in Minnesota, unaware of a wildfire that will kill hundreds, Greg seeks clues in his great-grandparents’ Mexico, where he finds love, danger, and enemies. At the same time, Natalie, the ambitious journalist, follows a trail to World War I France, and teen twins Cody and Caitlin rekindle a friendship with an old Pennsylvania friend haunted by her past. In THE MEMORY TREE, the sweeping sequel to RIVER RISING, several time travelers find answers and meaning as they continue the adventure of a lifetime in the age of doughboys, silent movies, and Model T’s.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Memory Tree by John A. Heldt is a compelling sequel to River Rising, book one in the Carson Chronicles series. Just like the first part of this series, and the others I’ve read by the author, this book was equally interesting, entertaining and emotional. It had a lot to offer in terms of the rich American history, WWI and the culture of the years long gone. This book was especially good because it had a twist which I was not expecting and the element of surprise really caught me off-guard as I’ve come to understand where things are generally moving in author Heldt’s books because of having read many of them and being familiar with his style of writing. So the twist was a pleasant surprise for me.

The characterization was good and I was able to see the development of all the characters from the last book experiencing new worlds and living in times new to them. The writing was good and complimented the story well. And I’m really looking forward to reading the next part of this series.

I’d recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers and to everyone who loves reading stories on relationships and families. It is an honest-to-god feel-good story that will definitely warm your heart.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon