Tag Archives: New Adult

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of INDIE arc The Hidden Face – Book 1 of The Fifth Unmasking series by S.C. Flynn

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This puzzle-driven epic fantasy was offered to me by the author as I had read and reviewed his debut novel Children of the Different. Would this one impress me as much?

A face without a face – an unmasking that leaves the mask. Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire. Where and when will the Face next appear, and who will he – or she – be?

Dayraven, son of a great hero, returns to Faustia after years as a hostage of their rivals, the Magians. Those years have changed him, but Faustia has changed as well; the emperor Calvo now seems eccentric and is controlled by one of Dayraven’s old enemies. Following the brutal murder of his old teacher, Dayraven is drawn, together with a female warrior named Sunniva, into the search for an ancient secret that would change the fate of empires.

I liked both protagonists, Dayraven in particular. In common with a lot of high-born children, he has been sent to a neighbouring kingdom as surety for good behaviour and brought up in their court. But while he expected to return home within a handful of years, he has to wait a lot longer before returning home to discover all is changed – and not in a good way. Flynn’s unfussy writing style quickly drew me into the story as Dayraven finds out just who his enemies are, while he hurries to meet up with his former tutor and mentor.

And from then, the story nocks up another notch and we are whisked along with Dayraven, who begins to appreciate there is a lot more at stake than Emperor Calvo’s current mental confusion. Once he encounters Sunniva and they form a team, they begin to try to unpick the trail of clues left behind by the two guardians of these vital secrets. Together, they manage to uncover part of the mystery – but a number of formidable antagonists are in close pursuit.

I have seen this book rated as YA – do be aware that while the puzzle-solving aspect may appeal to teens, this one isn’t suitable for a younger age-group. I would not be happy to discover my thirteen-year-old granddaughter reading it as there is a fair amount of sexual content, including a rather explicit sex scene.

Other than that concern, I enjoyed this one. I particularly appreciated the depiction of the antagonists as we discover their motives and why they are trying to find out where the Fifth Unmasking will take place. This works well in powering the story forward as the reader is left in no doubt as to what will happen should the secrets fall into the wrong hands.

The storyline comes to a climactic denouement with plenty of action and drama that had the pages turning and bringing this particular slice of the adventure to a satisfactory close – though there are several major plotpoints left dangling as the story evidently will be continued in the next book. Recommended for epic fantasy fans with a taste for arcane mysteries embedded within the worldbuilding.
8/10

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Sunday Post – 29th October 2017

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

It’s been half term here, so I was able to get back to full fitness after my attack of flu without needing to snap immediately into teaching mode. On Monday we still had the grandchildren, so surprise, surprise – the weather was dreadful. We went shopping and somehow ended up in a bookshop where my dyslexic granddaughter scooped up one of the Rick Riordan offerings – because she wanted to read some of the jokey dialogue, rather than just listen to it on her Audible version. I’m so very proud of her… On Tuesday I needed to teach a Creative Writing catch-up session as I missed a couple of classes due to the flu and afterwards, the grandchildren went home. On Wednesday, we were filming parts of Tim’s script in Bognor Regis. The sun shone, the park where we filmed the two main scenes was idyllic and later we were on the pier and the beach, filming some of the shots for a couple of the songs. Once we were done, it was warm enough to grab a fish and chip supper and sit in the late afternoon sunshine and eat it – what a bonus at this time of the year.

On Thursday, my writing buddy Mhairi came over the for day and we properly caught up – we haven’t seen nearly enough of each other this summer and on Friday I spent the morning chatting with a friend at the Harbour Lights over coffee and a sticky bun, before returning to my mountain of admin in the afternoon. Yesterday, Mhairi came over and helped me change over the heading on my Twitter and Facebook pages, while today I’m hoping to get organised for this coming week’s lessons. It’s been a lovely sociable week and I hope everyone is having a superb weekend with a continuation of this amazingly mild weather – long may it continue!

This week I have read:
Nothing… no – that’s not true as I’m still working my way through Gnomon by Nick Harkaway and thoroughly enjoying it. But I haven’t finished a single book.

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 22nd October 2017

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – September Roundup

Teaser Tuesday featuring Gnomon by Nick Harkaway + Caught Reading Redheaded hosts the Running Out of Space blog tour, including an article about the worldbuilding and a review

Reblog of Running Out of Space blog tour where Alexandra from TheHufflepuffNerdette interviews me about my writing process

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky + Laura at Fuonlyknew reviews Running Out of Space on the blog tour

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia + Rose at Lovely Paranormal Books asks me to list the pros and cons of living in space as part of the blog tour for Running Out of Space

Friday Face-off – These mist covered mountains featuring Brothers in Arms – Book 5 of the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold + Steph at Earthian Hivemind interviews me about my writing life and my debut novel, Running Out of Space

Reblog of Guest Post by S.J. Higbee: Five Books That Inspired her Novel “Running Out of Space” at Sara Letourneau’s Official Website and Blog

Reblog – Here is My Interview with Sarah Jane Higbee by Fiona McVie at authorsinterviews

Review of Wolfbane – Book 4 of the Silver series by Rhiannon Held

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

14 Things You’ll Relate to If You Have an Endless To-Read Pile https://powerfulwomenreaders.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/14-things-youll-relate-to-if-you-have-an-endless-to-read-pile/ I think all passionate readers these days can identify with at least some of these problems – I know I can!

The Witch from Norwich https://ginnibites.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/28th-october-socs-the-witch-from-norwich/ Ginni is a talented, often edgy poet whose work I love. This is a seasonal offering…

Cluster https://photolicioux.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/cluster/ This photograph particularly caught my eye – but there is always plenty to choose from at this interesting site.

Seven Things You May Not Know About Punctuation https://interestingliterature.com/2017/10/27/seven-things-you-may-not-know-about-punctuation/ Another excellent, informative article from this gem of a blog.

How To Write Foreigners in Dialogues http://www.10minutenovelists.com/write-foreign-characters-dialogues/ Writing friend and fellow blogger, Joanna Maciejewska writes about an excellent article on how to denote foreigners in dialogue while avoiding a forest of apostrophes and the same old tired clichés.

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site and may you have a great week.

Sunday Post – 22nd October 2017

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Life has been slowly getting back to normal after being laid low by flu. I resumed teaching my Creative Writing classes this week – it was lovely to see my students again. Though I didn’t make my Pilates and Fitstep classes on Wednesday because I was too wiped out – I’m still running out of energy far too quickly. On Friday, I was also teaching Tim and it was great to catch up on how the filming has been going of his comedy Robin Hood script. In the afternoon, we picked up the grandchildren, who will be staying until Tuesday evening as it is half term. Yesterday morning (Saturday) we took them shopping to spend their pocket money and in the afternoon, while J and Oscar stayed at home to play Bloodbowl together, I took Frances and Tim to the climbing walls at the Out of Bounds centre in Rustington. Both of them thoroughly enjoyed themselves while Storm Brian raged outside with gale-force winds and torrential downpours. There was a magnificent double rainbow stretching across the River Arun as we drove back into Littlehampton.

This afternoon we’re going to have a family readathon – I wasn’t able to take part in the Dewey 24-hour occasion on Saturday, so thought it would be lovely to run a mini-version for all of us to have a go… Wish us luck!

This week I have read:

The Mongrel Mage – Book 19 of The Saga of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr
In the world of Recluce, powerful mages can wield two kinds of magic the white of Chaos or the black of Order. Beltur, however, has talents no one dreamed of, talents not seen in hundreds of years that blend both magics. On the run from a power hungry white mage, Beltur is taken in by Order mages who set him on the path to discover and hone his own unique gifts and in the process find a home.
I was thrilled to discover this on the Netgalley boards and immediately requested it – I love his writing and this one didn’t disappoint. I’ll be reviewing it in due course.

And that’s it… only one book. I’m currently a third of the way through a 700+ page beastie that is a dense demanding read – and I don’t want to rush it as it’s also a joy. Thank goodness it’s on the Kindle because if I was trying to hold up the physical version, I’d probably sprain something…

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 15th October 2017

Review of Empire of the Dust – Book 1 of the Psi-Tech novels by Jacey Bedford

Teaser Tuesday featuring Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring The Mongrel Mage – Book 19 of The Sage of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Reblog of Running Out of Space blog tour including Top Ten Character Names from Running Out of Space and how the author came up with them

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Austrel by Paul McAuley

Reblog of Running Out of Space blog tour including my article ‘It’s All About the Words…’

Friday Face-off – Me and My Shadow featuring A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Review of Healer’s Touch by Deb E. Howell

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Yellow https://richardankers.com/2017/10/21/yellow/ On Monday – apparently due to Ophelia causing a major disturbance – the UK was bathed in a sickly yellow light that caused the street lights to come on during the afternoon. This is Richard’s take on it…

Little Robin of Marlfield Lake https://inesemjphotography.com/2017/10/20/little-robin-of-marlfield-lake/ These lovely photos feature a cheeky little chap clearly not at his best – which makes him even more endearing…

…the most wonderful moment of my writing career… and it’s not what you may think… https://seumasgallacher.com/2017/10/20/the-most-wonderful-moment-of-my-writing-career-and-its-not-what-you-may-think/ Seumas always writes great blog articles and this is another classic.

Reading Goal Pressure http://chucklesbookcave.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/chuckles-chat-39-reading-goal-pressure.html?spref=tw This is well-written post is about an ongoing problem for many book bloggers.

Conflict of Interest https://jeanleesworld.com/2017/10/19/conflict-of-interest/ Family life is so rarely the honeyed version we see portrayed all too often in adverts – and Jean’s honest and thought-provoking article depicts a situation every working mother has had to confront at one time or another…

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site and may you have a great week.

PUBLISHED TODAY!

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RUNNING OUT OF SPACE
SUNBLINDED: 1

by S.J. Higbee

 

Elizabeth Wright has yearned to serve on the space merchant ship Shooting Star for as long as she can remember – until one rash act changes everything…

I can’t recall whose idea it was. Just that me and my shipmates were sick of wading through yet another unjust punishment detail. So we decide to take ourselves off on a short jaunt to the lower reaches of Space Station Hawking to prove that fertile English girls can also deal with danger.
The consequences of that single expedition change the lives of all four of us, as well as that of the stranger who steps in to save us down in lawless Basement Level. Now I have more excitement and danger than I can handle, while confronting lethal shipboard politics, kidnapping, betrayal. And murder.

 

And Hywela at Romance That’s Out of This World is starting my blog tour with a guest post by yours truly.

Running Out of Space is available on Amazon.com 

and Amazon UK  for an introductory offer until the end of October only!

Here is the start of the book, where it all begins to go wrong…

CHAPTER ONE

Yeah, I know – Basement Level on Space Station Hawking – what were we thinking?  But penned up on punishment duty with only the prospect of one chaperoned shopping trip had driven us to it. Though the charms of Basement Level wore thin as soon as we set off from the lift. One light in four was working – and then only in Dim mode. The corridors were half the width of the upper levels; a big problem as I’ve seen sewage tanks more wholesome than those walls. You wouldn’t want to brush against them wearing anything other than shipwear throwaways, while keeping off the walls was harder than you’d think, because we were wading ankle-deep in… stuff.

Jessica punched my arm. “Must be homely for you, Lizzy. Floor looks like your cribicle after you done tidying.”

Alisha and Sonja started sniggering.

“’Cept the smell isn’t as vile as your boots,” I replied.

Our laughter bounced around the filthy corridor, easing the mood for a couple of minutes but did nothing about the putrid smell. We struggled on a bit longer, until a grimy woman scuttled past, forcing us far too close to the walls. She didn’t even look our way, let alone thank us for making sufficient room.

Sonja and Alisha stopped.

“Let’s turn round. Unblocking the heads is more fun than this.” Sonja wrinkled her nose at the empty tunnel ahead. “Even the natives got sense enough to be someplace else.”

“We’ve gone promming around for less than a nanosec. And you wanna run back cos the scenery isn’t the same as on board?” Jessica clicked her tongue in scorn. “Starting to sound like those old nannies.”

Sonja flinched at the derision in her voice, but – being Sonja – wouldn’t lock horns with Jessica.

Breathing through my mouth, I straightened up. Jessica is right. So what if this is a dank disappointment? We didn’t come down here for the view – we came to prove we could handle ourselves when off-limits.

But Alisha grabbed Jessica’s arm. “Sonja and me reckon this is a vile place. We vote to head back. Tramping through filth is a tragic waste of shore leave.”

All argument ceased when the floor crud rustled and heaved behind us. A cat-sized rat scuttered through the litter into the gloom beyond.

I shivered. “It’s gotta get better sometime, soon. We’re snagging the next lift we see back to Trader Level.”

We continued trudging onwards for another ten minutes. Just as I was beginning to think the scuzzy corridor was leading into infinity, we turned a corner into a small plaza. With a blast of relief, I spotted the lift in the far corner and relaxed. Now we were nearly out of here, we could do the tourist bit. Truth be told, the word ‘plaza’ probably gives the space more credit than it deserves. While the lighting was brighter and the floor litter had been trodden relatively flat, the buzz that normally goes with buying and selling wasn’t here. Under the stink of rotting rubbish was the sharper stench of desperation.

I passed a trader’s eye over the ratty stalls. Everything I could see on display would’ve gone straight into our ship’s recycler. The food canisters were filthy without the benefit of even the most basic steri-scrub. And the water on sale might have shown blue on the pacs’ purity scales, but the readings must have been blixed, because that cloudy stuff wasn’t fit to pass your lips. Even the powdered water looked like sweepings off a shower-stall floor.

If we hadn’t come down here, I’d never have known this place existed. How many on Shooting Star know about it? This is what I joined the ship for. My heart was thudding with a mixture of fear and excitement. This was a hundred times better than trailing around the overpriced shops on Trader Level with a grumbling chaperone.

Though the people were a shock. There were no shades of yellow, brown, black, or white here – everyone’s skin was grime-grey. All wearing rags pockmarked with holes which only showed more scabby tatters, or dirt-scurfed flesh. I’d tried to blend us in. We were all in scut-gear with worn overalls and battered workboots. But we stuck out like a supernova on a dark night. Mostly because we were clean and well fed, while everyone here was stick-thin. Even the kids

The Cap always says we English merchanters take care of our own better than anyone else. What if he’s right? Because I couldn’t recall seeing any children in this sorry state back in New London.

Sonja gave some creds to a pathetic, sunken-cheeked toddler sitting on the trash-covered floor and in no time flat we were mobbed by a bunch of snot-nosed kids. None of us could resist their pleading, so we handed out all our shore-leave cash. Of course, one of us should’ve kept an eye out for trouble. But we didn’t. And when the children scampered away, I looked up to see we were now ringed by another group. Far more grown-up and dangerous.

***

I can’t quite believe I’m here… It’s taken such a long time to get it all ready and on top of everything else, I’m still struggling with this flu. But I can’t tell you how excited I am to see the book on Amazon – I keep clicking on it just to have a look. I’ve crossed a line – gone from ‘going to’ and ‘want to’ through to ‘done that’. I am very aware in the scheme of things, this isn’t rocking anyone’s world except mine – that the average amount an author makes with their first book is less than the price of a meal for two in a halfway decent restaurant. But this feels huge and I want to thank everyone who has helped to make it possible.

 

 

 

 

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

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Having all the depth of a pavement puddle, my attention was caught by the intriguing title and enigmatic cover to this urban fantasy – would I enjoy it?

lastcallatthenightshadeloungeCollege grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

I was a tad concerned that it would lurch into horror, but I needn’t have worried. There is nothing in this fast-paced, enjoyable paranormal adventure to keep me awake, apart from the fact that I didn’t want to put it down… The idea of using cocktails to focus and strengthen the inherent life magic running through the body is a really nifty one and Krueger uses it with deftness in this appealing story.

I enjoyed The Devil’s Water Dictionary, which is the almanac that demon-fighting bartenders use to mix up their magic elixirs, and extracts appear throughout the story. It gives recipes for a variety of cocktails, as well as potted histories of how these have been used in the past – think of the asides J.K. Rowling added about long-dead witches and wizards in the Harry Potter series. This is a more intense version. Did I skim any of these extracts? Yep, near the end, when the action was hotting up and I was keen to know what was happening to Bailey and her companions. But afterwards I flipped back to read those extracts again, because I enjoyed them.

One of the other main strengths of this story is Bailey Chen, the driven, geeky heroine who seems to have hit something of a dead end, when she is offered a job at the rundown Nightshade Lounge and stumbles upon what really goes on there. She is clever, courageous and good in a crisis, but she is also arrogant, judgemental, with poor people skills and I found her immensely appealing. She is supported by a cast of quirky characters, who are all rather eccentric and a convincing villain. I was also pleased to see that her parents turn out to be pleasant and make a real effort to try to help her do the right thing for her own happiness – in YA/New Adult books, I do get a tad fed up with authority figures being psychotically unpleasant.

In short, this is a thoroughly enjoyable romp, with plenty of action, appealing characters and a nicely original twist on the usual urban fantasy trope. If your taste runs to urban fantasy adventures that aren’t unduly gory or steamy, then consider tracking this one down – it will make an ideal summer read. The ebook arc copy of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
9/10