Monthly Archives: April 2015

POEM – What If God?


I wrote this a long time ago, after watching a BBC programme about Mandlebrot sequences. Now, sadly, I think the message is even more relevant…

What if God especially loves numbers?
The clean, cool certitude of wrong and right
that comes of sums… No encumbering
maybes that clutter the messiness of words.

What if God’s chosen few are the likes of
Pascal and Euclid who unlock
ancient questions with mathematical skill
so achingly sharp – they lift
the hair on the nape of your neck?

What if the secrets of everlasting Life
are bound in sequenced equations
with the complex beauty of Mandlebrot?

And if I – figure-fettered and innumerate –
can count on being loved by God,
Then why should any religious quarrel
matter more than the smallest speck
Of nothing?


St George’s Day special offer


Although this was a few days ago – when I was on holiday – I notice that it is STILL on offer. As AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES is a great book I heartily recommend, I’m reblogging Viv’s offer…

Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking

Well, St George is the patron saint of England, even though he probably didn’t slay any dragons (endangered species!) and was certainly not English. However, for some reason he’s our patron saint and I’m very English and so are my books.

So, in light of that, Away With The Fairies (contains no dragons or saints, as such) is on a special countdown offer starting from today and will be 99p (or thereabouts) in the UK for three days before rising to a mere £1.99 for another three days before returning to its original and very reasonable price. It would be vastly appreciated if you pass this on to any friends, family and social media network as the greater the reach, the better the book will do. Thank you.

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Review of The Dragon Keeper – Book 1 of the Rain Wilds Chronicles by Robin Hobb


This post appeared when only a passing fly noticed any of my reviews – so I thought I’d unleash it once more upon an unsuspecting world, given Robin Hobb is one of my favourite authors and I think this is one of her best books…


The great news for Robin Hobb fans is that The Dragon Keeper is revisiting the world of the Liveship traders – one of my all-time favourite fantasy worlds…

thedragonkeeperThe Tangle of serpents fought their way up the Rain Wild river, guided by the great blue dragon Tintaglia. Many died along the way. With its acid waters and noxious airs, it is a hard place for anyone to survive. People are changed by the Rain Wilds, subtly or otherwise. One such is Thymara. Born with black claws and other abnormalities, she should have been exposed at birth. But her father saved her and her mother has never forgiven him. Like everyone else, Thymara is fascinated by the dragons’ return. It is as if they symbolise the return of hope to their war-torn world. Leftrin, captain of the Liveship Tarman, also has an interest in the hatching, as does Bingtown newlywed, Alise Finbok, who has made it her life’s work to study all there is to know of dragons.

But the creatures who emerge from the cocoons are a travesty of the powerful, shining dragons of old. Stunted and deformed, they cannot fly. Some do not even have wings; others seem witless and bestial. Soon they are seen as a danger and a burden; something must be done. Far upriver, so far it is shown on no map, lies the legendary Elderling city of Kelsingra – or so the dragons believe. In their dreams, they see visions of their lives there and long to return. But they cannot get there on their own; a band of dragon keepers, hunters and chroniclers must attend them. To be a dragon keeper is a dangerous job; their charges are vicious and unpredictable, and there are many unknown perils. Not only are they not expected to return – no one wants them back…

I was delighted when I realised that this book would pick up the adventures of the tangle of serpents as I’d found the whole storyline surrounding them and the liveships a really satisfying tale. So I started The Dragon Keeper with high expectations – and it did not disappoint.

The characters in Hobb’s stories are always strong and in this story we have several protagonists, all in third person viewpoint. The two that stand out for me are Alise and Thymara – but the whole cast are entertaining and once more, Hobbs gradually unwraps her plot with the deft skill we’ve all come to expect. Her world building is pitch perfect as the inhospitable Rain Wilds take its toll on man and beast alike – in contrast to the stifling confines of Bingtown’s society.

The main theme of rejection – one of Hobb’s recurring issues in her work – winds throughout the storyline. The party accompanying the dragons are all unacceptable in one way or another and each one of them has been shaped by being an outcast. As the journey gets under way, their differences in attitudes are thrown into sharp relief – and promise to create yet more narrative tension in the second book in the series, due out next year. This is Hobb at the top of her game – and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

POEM – Strandlined


Tight-knit knots in my neck uncurl
at the shingled-muttering surf-roar.
Crimped kinks in my mind unfurl
at the tingled-fluttering wind-soar.

Nose pricks at the clean, reaming stenches
of brine-braided weed, stone, broken shells.
Eyes flick over the gleaming, keen trenches
of charging crests, spray, cone-caught swells.

My soul sings with the ceaseless rocking,
diamond-sharp, sparks of sun-slit light.
My heart springs with wildness, shocking
water-weighted fury, anger-frothed fight.

But in the night-wells of a fear-fouled dream
while seized in the roiling hold of a wave,
I am squeezed in the coils of a liquid grave
as gurgling water floods my scream.

Stormy seas @ L'ton (2)

Review of Touch by Claire North


I’ve been a major fan of this author during her incarnation as Kate Griffin – see my review of The Glass God here. But I was blown away last year by her first Claire North book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which is on the literary end of the fantasy genre and is simply remarkable – see my review here. Would I find Touch as impressive?

TouchHe tried to take my life. Instead, I took his. It was a long time ago. I remember it was dark, and I didn’t see my killer until it was too late. As I died, my hand touched his. That’s when the first switch took place. Suddenly, I was looking through the eyes of my killer, and I was watching myself die. Now switching is easy. I can jump from body to body, have any life, be anyone. Some people touch lives. Others take them. I do both.

So there you have it. The premise is that there are a few individuals out there who can inhabit a body with a simple touch, skin on skin. And we’re right alongside Kepler as he comes under a sudden, shocking attack. The book takes us on a tension-filled adventure as he struggles to discover exactly who is stalking him and why. It would be an intriguing page-turner if it was a straight thriller. But, this being North, it also becomes far more than that.

She takes us inside the mind of Kepler in the first person viewpoint. We learn the origins of his current existence and throughout the book, we also learn of how and when he jumped. And details of his career as an estate agent. No… he wasn’t busy selling houses – he was checking out suitable hosts for the scattered community of others like him. They mostly wanted people who were young, healthy and rich – or those down on their luck willing to agree to donate a slice of their life to come out the other end drug-free with a lump sum in their bank account…

These insights intersperse the main narrative – a roller-coaster chase in which Kepler is both pursued and pursuer as he tried to unravel exactly who is behind the attack on him. I can’t say too much more without straying into spoiler territory, which in a classy thriller of this calibre would be little short of wicked – suffice to say that after you’ve read it, a certain catchphrase will send a shiver up your spine. By any measure, this book is worth reading – both as a slice of escapist adventure and as an examination on the human condition. So once more, North has nailed it. This prolific and multi-talented author has already racked up an impressive back catalogue and is still only in her 20’s.
She is an outstanding talent, who goes on getting better with every book. I can’t wait to see what she will next produce.

Review of Ghost Ship – A New Liaden novel by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller


If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of this long-running space opera series, then this isn’t the best place to dive in, as Ghost Ship is well into the story arc of young pilot Theo Waitley. The beginning of this part of the series is Fledgling – see my review here, and the next slice of the adventure is Saltation – see my review here.

ghostshipTheo Waitley’s not a kid anymore. She now wears a First Class pilot’s jacket, has a job offer from Korval, carries multiple weapons, and may wear a Tree-and-Dragon pin, if she dares. Everyone she meets thinks she’s dangerous, and most of them approve…

As the back cover blurb then continues in spoiler mode, I’m leaving it at that. But what this smart, enjoyable space opera manages to do is give a real slice of the gaps opening up in humanity when the diaspora are now scattered across planets. Theo is more conscious of this than most as she has a Liaden, ex-pilot for a father and a high-ranking academic mother from the risk-averse planet of Delgado, where she was brought up and in constant trouble for her clumsy, apparently reckless behaviour. She has negotiated her tricky upbringing, and successfully trained as a pilot.

Now she is confronted with making her own way in the world, but rapidly is sucked into the machinations of her father’s family whose sudden banishment from one planet and resettlement on another also impacts on her. Though she has other concerns… like the fact that an Old Technology fully sentient warship has imprinted her has part of its crew and is stalking her.

Lee and Miller plunge you into the heart of the story with the minimum of exposition and allow their characters to do the talking for them – it’s a far harder trick than they make it look. Witness all the promising science fiction tales silted up with pages and pages of description. You won’t be getting that with Lee and Miller.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty going on to keep the little grey cells ticking over though. While there is a fair amount of humour in the tussles between Theo and Bechimo, the sentient ship, Theo is also scaldingly conscious she is dealing with a scarily dangerous entity capable of creating havoc. Apart from anything else, this ghost ship appears to have mastered the knack of moving outside the recognised routes and jump waypoints…

Any grizzles? Nope. I’m really enjoying this series and think it should be far better known than it is. Anyone who enjoys Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series is likely to find the Liaden Universe world an engrossing read. Baen have now thoughtfully released the earlier novels in omnibus editions – and once I’ve completed Theo Waitley’s journey to date, I’m going to hunt these down. This world is addictive.

The Alien Invasion Story


So… what is your favourite alien invasion story? Or the one you wish you’d seen, but haven’t? I started thinking about this one… and found it difficult to stop, so decided to reblog it to you folks, too. Enjoy:)


What alien invasion/abduction story has the most unique or interesting plot? What differentiates it from other stories about alien invasions/abductions? What is a unique twist in an alien invasion/abduction story that you have never seen but would like to?

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#Read #Authors – #Copyright #Infringement #Notification…

#Read #Authors – #Copyright #Infringement #Notification…

This excellent article points out the dangers of using the sites popping up all over the place offering books for free. If you’re a reader or a writer – you need to read this…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog


I have been hearing from a LOT recently that more SCAM BOOK SITES are appearing online in ever increasing numbers…

What can YOU do about it?

If you are an author and YOUR book(s) are being offered without your permission – issue DMCA Notices (SEE BELOW FIRST)


It may be tempting to get books FOR FREE or at greatly reduced prices but…

They may be a click farm looking for your email

and you will be infected with a virus.




If they are on Facebook – Use Facebook’s reporting form to remove their link source from Facebook’s server.

My attorney warns me not to click on them, but to send a form letter to their server.

You can find out their server here:

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FICTION FRIDAY – An extract from Running Out of Space – Book 1 of The Sunblinded trilogy


This is an extract from Chapter 2 of Running Out of Space, which I’m planning to self publish this August, along with the other two books in the trilogy, Dying for Space and Breathing Space.

“Right,” said Wynn, in a strained whisper. “We got another couple of intersections to go and a vent shaft before arriving at the ladders leading down to Service Level and the lifts. We’re definitely being followed. If they’re planning on making some kind’ve move, I reckon they’ll be waiting for us somewhere before we reach the shaft – Milla’s lot don’t like using them.”
Donice clearly wasn’t convinced. “Thought you said that the lifts was wired, compadre.”
“They are. On Basement Level. We’re going to be using the lifts on Service Level, where Station Security is far too interested to let the likes of Norby get creative.”
“How come you know so much about these tunnel rats, hombre?”
“They let me snag here for a while. In return for a cut of my earnings,” Wynn’s voice was even and if he was angered at Donice’s attitude, he didn’t show it.
“And you’re gonna walk away. Just like that?” She wasn’t cutting him any slack.
Wynn shrugged. “You heard Milla. Norby’s out for my blood, anyhow. I was already figuring to move on sometime soon. Before he zilched me.”
“Says you.” Donice rolled her eyes. “Unlike some around here – I’m not-ˮ
I heard the slight scuffle in the same instant that Wynn moved. He yanked Donice behind him. Just a nanosec before a thin, long-handled knife sprouted from his shoulder. As he stared at it, blinking in shock, I shoved him out of the way, fumbling in my pocket. My hand closed around the smooth metal cylinder, pulling it out. As I aimed it, arming the thing, my fingers felt like sausages.
Please – let it activate first time… I won’t get a second chance.
Someone, somewhere, heard my desperate plea. Not a minute too soon. The air between us shimmered. And the next knife bounced off the mobile force field and crashed onto the floor.
Tow-Headed Teener appeared from one of the intersections and ran at us, swinging a heavy chain, evidently heading for Wynn.
“Don’t!” The word fell out of my mouth, as I realised what was going to happen.
But he wasn’t listening – and apparently hadn’t understood what the force field would do. The chain hit first, before ricocheting in a snaking arc just as the boy thudded into it so fast that to this day, I couldn’t tell you if it was the chain or the force field that caused the damage. But he crashed to the floor, cursing and thrashing in evident agony, his left leg twisted at an impossible angle with a red puddle pooling under it.
I was about to flick the force field off to help him, when Wynn gasped, “No! Leave it. That’s Kester – so Norby won’t be far away.”
As if on cue, Norby appeared. He scowled at the boy lying on the ground, who called out, “Uncle… please! I’m bleedin’ somethin’ fierce. It’s my knee…”
Norby kicked him. Hard. “You always was a useless pile of piss an’ offal! Now look what you done to yerself!” He drew a Pacifier and shot the boy at point blank range.
Efra screamed, while Donice cursed. As for me – I said nada. Too busy staring in disbelief at what was going down right in front of me. This isn’t happening! It’s some nightmare. And I’ll wake up, soon. Please…
“Look what you girlies went an’ done! Killed poor ol’ Kester while he was lyin’ on his back with a busted leg,” Norby yelled. “The others ain’t gonna stand for that. You’ll get Basement Level justice for sure. An’ all cos yer wouldn’t let me take you’s back up to your daddies.” He flashed his rotten-toothed grin, adding, “Be seeing yer.”
And with that he dodged back into the side corridor.