Tag Archives: fantasy

Meet the Author – D Hart St Martin

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I haven’t done many interviews lately, but I’m excited about this one! May I introduce you to D Hart St Martin, a wonderful, magical writer from the US, who has kept me transfixed for many years with her Lisen of Solsta series. She’s also written a paranormal romance called ‘Soul Doubt’ which will keep you guessing until the very end.

Welcome Hart! Lovely to have you with us. Let’s start with an easy one…

How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?

I mostly pants my way through. I used to put every scene on 4 x 6 inch cards. That way I could play with them. But the more I write, the more I enjoy the challenge of letting it come as it comes. That is not to say that I don’t make notes. I make copious notes, and I’ve finally learned how to organize the “clutter” of them in a notebook (along with diagrams of various settings for individual scenes or chapters). My notebook is my little bible.

I love my notebooks! Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

I get up in the morning, and after giving a nod to social media on my phone, I sit down at my kitchen table with my computer and attack the assignment for the day. I have my water and often an apple with me, and I work for a couple of hours. My cat, Calypso, often reminds me to pet her by rubbing against my leg and chirping at me. Of course, I must obey.

Our feline friends love to help, don’t they? So, aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

I watch way too much television.

I’m a political junkie (one of the reasons I watch so much television).

I have a sister who’s a much better writer than I am.

I’m a tree hugger.

I’m a lousy housekeeper.

I’m going to add no 6, you’re always way too hard on yourself…and who needs housework? Too many better things to do, IMHO. Another question, if you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you

want with you?

My computer, my cat (if one can dare to call her an “item”), a deck of cards since I’m assuming a cell phone would be out of the question, some way to listen to music (maybe I’d take that cell phone after all), and a way to charge the computer.

And on said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

The Lord of the Rings, Dune, the Harry Potter books (I’m counting series as one book), Octavia Butler’s two Earthseed books. And my own Lisen of Solsta series because I keep promising myself to pick it up and read it as a reader, not its creator.

 

Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?­

J.K. Rowling. I’d love to ask her questions about how and when certain aspects of Harry Potter’s story became clear to her.

 

Tell us about your current writing projects?

I am in the middle of rewrite of book 1 in a new YA fantasy series. The book is called Into the Forsaken Forest. Fifteen-year-old Mari Spencer (her name rhymes with “sorry” and she’s an apology in motion) lives in a rural town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Her mother is a first-class narcissist who can see no good in Mari. One day Mari sneaks into a mysterious forest of sequoias where she meets a woman who transports her to a different world. I’m exploring my own psyche in this one, giving Mari both my attributes and my flaws as honestly as I can. It’s a huge risk, but if I succeed in resolving some of her issues, I’ll be satisfied.

Sounds exciting, you must keep us posted as it develops. Tell us about your books and where we can find you and them.

 My web site is a good place to start. https://dhartstmartin.com  Links to all my books on Amazon as well as descriptions of them are there.

To learn about my Lisen of Solsta series of 6 books, go to https://dhartstmartin.com/lisen-of-solsta/

I also have a paranormal romance called Soul Doubt which you can discover here https://dhartstmartin.com/soul-doubt/

Thanks so much, Hart. I look forward to reading more of our books very soon.

 

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Zoe Murphy – author and poet

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I met the fabulous Zoe Murphy at the first Llandysul Book Fair, organised by Cheryl Beer of Parlour Press Publishing. A new poetry anthology was being released during the day, and we, authors and public, were treated to poets reading their work.  As another Welsh writer I didn’t know well, I invited her to have a chat, and tell us more about herself…

1 How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as

you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?

I am a complete Pantser. I always have a rough idea of plot and characters, but I very much make it up as I go along which isn’t always productive if I’m honest. The book I am writing now has evolved and changed in so many ways and that’s because I am interested in too many things! But, I have finally set my cap with what I am doing, and I’ve adopted a more methodical approach by planning my characterisation and chapters. While I like to feel like I’m free when writing, I have had to concede and have some kind of organised chaos.

2 Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

 I think I am quite eclectic when it comes to my writing time and rituals and I don’t have a set ritual really. However, one thing I always do, is listen to music. I have specific playlists which get me in the zone and are almost a soundtrack to my book. Music has been my saviour and it really helps and inspires my writing process.

 

3 Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

  1. I am also a performance poet and I was part of a TV programme called ‘Ugly Lovely: Poet on the Estate’ in 2014. Poetry wasn’t a great love of mine but it is now.
  2. I used to be a Street Dance teacher and absolutely love Hip Hop and 90’s R ‘n’ B.
  3. 80’s movies particularly Brat Pack films- Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Teen Witch!
  4. I avidly watch trashy reality TV such as TOWIE, Love Island…(guilty pleasure.)
  5. Gin (especially ones that have flavours or pretty colours.)

 

4 If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you

want with you?

  1. Pen
  2. Paper
  3. Picture of my children
  4. Mascara
  5. Kindle

5 On said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

 

This is a hard one!

  1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden- I could read this book over and over and over. Evocative and rich in detail. Beautiful story.
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- The fact that the majority of the book is from a female perspective and it was a bit of a different approach to the dystopian genre.
  3. Lucky by Jackie Collins- Pure escapism.
  4. The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson- This introduced a really cool magical power and an original take on fantasy fiction. Could read it over and over.
  5. My Grimoire

 

6 Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?­

 

Anjelica Houston- Incredible actress and I’d like to ask about her Dad too as he has directed some of my favourite films.

 

7 Your current writing projects?

 

I am currently on the second book of a fantasy series I am writing set in Wales and involving witches and Welsh/Norse mythology. The first in the series is called Promise: Unearthed and I am to launch the first two instalments in February 2019.

I am also writing a Creative Education book as I am a lecturer and I have a passion for creative teaching techniques and would like to provide some inspiration for fellow teachers.

 

8 Other published work and links….

 

https://zoetryweb.wordpress.com/ My blog

 

https://www.facebook.com/ZoeMAuthor/ FB page for links and news

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1404242866503911/ Poets on the Hill FB page.

 

Promise Novels:

 

Promise Unearthed

Seven

Released Feb 2019

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to come and share, Zoe. It’s been lovely having you.

For more author interviews, book reviews, writerly musings, dance, plant based recipes and magic, visit again. Bright blessings xx

Book Review – Pushing Madness by Hart St Martin

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I’ve been reading this series for the past three years, following Lisen and her family, eagerly anticipating the next book. Here’s my review of the final book…

A fitting finale

This is the final book in the Lisen of Solsta series, and what a finale!

Once again, Lisen and Korin are separated, duty coming before their personal relationship, as they endeavour to prevent Garla and Thristas going to war. Sixteen years previously, a young, naive eighteen year old Lisen fought her first battle in these lands and she now prepares for another, though she hopes she can prevent it from ever happening.

The lives and fortunes of the main characters over the past sixteen years are recalled, tying up loose ends for the reader, while the story moves on to its ending. There’s suspense right from the beginning, though I have to confess to skipping a little in my eagerness to reach the climax of the story of the House of Ilazer.

The final chapters resonate with magic, power and courage. No spoilers, but a memorable and visually dramatic conclusion is a fitting finale for this enjoyable series.

 

The Lisen of Solsta series is imaginative, exciting fantasy fiction. Here’s my review from 2015, of the first book Fractured, to give you a taster…

From a Californian beach, Lisen Holt is transported to a different world, one she knows but does not yet remember. In the haven of Solsta, with the help of Hermit Eloise, the facts of her birth and childhood are drizzled into her consciousness. Her Destiny is laid before her, requiring her acceptance and this is the underlying theme running through Fractured. This is the beginning of Lisen’s journey from carefree Californian teenager, living with Mom and Dad to talented hermit and necropath and the heir to the throne of Garla.

I really enjoyed this book! Once into her writing, St Martin writes a great story. In a very short time I cared about Lisen and was interested to see how the story would unfold. With the story beginning from Lisen’s point of view, I was caught out and had to back track a couple of times when the point of view changed, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment and read easily from then on.

I loved the characters of Ariel and Lorain and can’t wait to find out how their relationship progresses! There are instances when the same story is told twice from two different points of view which, for my taste, was not necessary and one would have sufficed. I started to skim a bit where Lisen visited the same thoughts, as I was eager for the story to continue so maybe there was a little too much repetition of similar ideas.

This book is about a real young women, faced with a real situation. I felt for her as she battled with weapons training on the journey to Halorin and loved Jozan for supporting her. Her reticence using gifts she has not thoroughly explored is genuine as is her determination to help others, not considering the cost to herself. The final scenes of the book are testament to the mental and physical pressures she has been under as she attempts to come to terms with a new, strange life.

I have no hesitation awarding 4* and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

 

You can find both books via the author’s pages here https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.-Hart-St.-Martin/e/B0099S9GWW/ref

and https://www.amazon.com/D.-Hart-St.-Martin/e/B0099S9GWW/ref

 

To pop back for more reviews, interviews, writerly musings, dance, plant based recipes and magic. Bright blessings xx

 

 

 

 

My review of Sweetpea’s Thief by J Cassidy

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Sweet-Pea's Thief

I downloaded this book on a whim just before I went on holiday and it gave me happy reading all week.

This Young Adult fantasy book begins with Sweetpea telling her life story while playing poker for tiny spheres of time with an old man who knows he is dying. The book reverts from retrospect to the present, describing the mirror world Sweetpea found herself in, the men who ‘save’ her and the part played by the Tin Men in that world.

I had three tiny niggles: I would have liked more info on Sweetpea’s character. I felt more sympathy and empathy towards Brin as I felt I knew him better and cared about him more. There were times when the plot was tricky to follow and I had to skip back a few pages to check I hadn’t missed anything and sometimes, the point of view changes left me spinning.

But overall, I loved the concept of this book. It’s an interesting, captivating fantasy tale, populated by fascinating characters. Adding a further parallel world to the mix was inspired and I read on, intrigued to find out how it would all fit together.

A perfect little book for a holiday read.

Short story: Scratching the surface

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As soon as I saw the theme for this submission, the idea for a story came to me. I didn’t manage to finish it by the deadline but here it is for you to read and enjoy.

Scratching the surface

John2 and Matthew9 checked the control panels, acknowledging their accord with a time honoured thumbs up. John2 pressed the ascent button and the small metal craft rose slowly through the cold, dark water. Matthew9 turned on the forward lights, illuminating the ring of identical craft, rising towards the surface.

Inside his glass helmet, John2 sweated, his greying dreadlocks prickling his neck. A few months left, that was all he had, until one final year on supervisory, equipment check and personnel before returning to his family. He chuckled at Matthew9’s eager face, pressed to his helmet, watching the light beams of forty nine mining craft. And they weren’t the only team. Three identical details rose with them at five mile intervals and each drill point had three craft, rising and falling, never stopping like determined spiders on a home spun thread.

Matthew9 pointed as he switched on the top beam of the craft, locating the tunnelling entrance, twenty metres above them. John2 flicked to manual control and edged their nose into the gaping mouth. The path of the ice tunnel zigzagged, forward fifty metres then vertical for fifty, until they reached the orange marker buoy. John2 plunged the drill into the ice. Green lights rose on the dashboard and he applied power to the thrusters and the drill bit began its work. The time clock was started and John2 sat back in his worn, patched chair, feeling the rhythm of the engine through his body.

Rock chunks in the ice were their enemy. At best, they could return to base with a damaged drill bit, while worst scenarios involving the drill being ripped away, allowing the weight and pressure of the ocean to consume them, were the real worry. In the thirty years since Galaxy Sea Base began operating, almost a thousand personnel had lost their lives to the water. Safety had improved. Sea Base Metals Inc were synthesising knew craft with stronger hulls and more durable bits but still people died. The world may have had one hundred years to build a world beneath the ocean but in John2’s opinion, they hadn’t thought about the little things. Even with freezing temperatures, sending the world into chaos, he remembered the history he had learned at school, of the millions of ordinary people who were commanded to sacrifice themselves by so few.

But John2 knew his job. This was his second ten year work placement on the drills and, with any luck, his last. Blinking sweat from his pale blue eyes, he remembered Sarah’s words as she held him, almost nine years ago.
“You’re nearly there, John. Galaxy played a statement over the base. One more year, that’s all so you make damn sure to keep your eyes open. They’re sending unmanned craft to break the surface.”
She’d been so sure, his Sarah. Images of his wife, nursing their children and lying naked beside him in bed brought a familiar lump to his throat. Weekly five minute links were no time to tell her how he felt about her, no time to extract from the emotional chaos in his head, the appropriate words of solace for Sarah. For seven years he’d been with her, first bringing his son into a synthetically aired underwater world and two years later, his twin daughters. And then his work was called in a second time. Sarah’s tears wetted his cheeks every night. Sarah was right. This was the final detail.

Two circuits of the time clock completed, they plugged into the feeding station, switching on their comms as they relaxed.
“So you volunteered for this caper?”
“’Course man!” Matthew9 laughed, his big black face crinkling with delight. “I knows the score, man. My brother on the inside, he tells me ‘Get your ass on a drilling detail and start life on land with a million!’ We’re nearly there! I’m gonna be rich!”
John2 smiled and nodded. Twenty nine years of being told they were nearly there made him do that. The company were always promising a million to the craft that cleared the final stretch to the surface.
A tremor ran through his seat. Focussed on his dashboard, he checked the instruments for discrepancies in the settings. Thrusters were on full but forward motion had stopped. Heat sensors on the bit were high but not critical. Was it rock or something else stopping them proceeding?
“We got problems?”
“Not sure.”
“We drilling rock?”
“Could be but there’s no debris being thrown back. Look.”
Matthew9 turned the craft’s side lights up, illuminating the trail of slush sluicing past their rear.
“If there was rock in it, you’d hear it and feel it as it went by, don’t worry.”
“I’m cool if you are, man.”
John2 smiled. “I’m cool.”

The third circuit of the time clock was almost complete and the bit had sped up as it carved its way through the dark matter. Ice continued to flush past the craft and yet John2 knew with a certainty that alarmed him that he was no longer drilling through frozen water.
The pointer on the time clock showed one more circuit before descent and John2 was glad. His gauges showed him the temperature outside the craft was getting colder, even though the drill bit was heating up. Taking the bit speed down a few notches sent the craft juddering so he gave up on that idea to cool the bit and resigned himself to studying his dashboard.
Twice Matthew9 boosted power to the lighting but a dark, eerie gloom fell on the cabin. John2 typed into the crafts log his actions in the second circuit and the readings from his dashboard until the vessel began to shake and he turned back to his dials. Before his gloved hand reached a single switch, the drill stopped and the lights went out. Through the hatches they saw nothing in the inky blackness.
“What happened?”
“I don’t know, Matt. We’ve no thrusters, yet we’re maintaining position. Try the comms to MC14.”
“No response. I’ll try a general.”
John2 unbuckled himself from his seat, feeling his way to the back of the craft. From a metal cupboard at head height he brought out two torches.
“They’re not responding, John. What the fuck’s going on?”
John2 switched on one of the torches, clipping it to the control panel, illuminating the water around the drill but he couldn’t see if the bit was embedded in the ice or they were floating free.
He turned to Matthew9 and spoke, ignoring the tears streaming down the big man’s face. “I’m going to check the boards, find out if there’s a loose connection to our thrusters but I need you to get on the emergency band and contact base.”
Matthew9 tried to nod but crumpled in his seat.
“I need you, Matt, do you hear me? I need you to contact base. You can do it. Assemble our co-ordinates and set it on repeat, okay?”

John2 grabbed the other torch and stumbled out of the cabin into the power room. He strapped the torch to a hand rail before working through the circuit boards systematically.
Nineteen years, scratching the surface. As his work brain checked for faults, he allowed his mind to wander and he knew. With the birth of hope came a future and that was what Galaxy Sea Base fed the populace. Hope for a future on land, beneath a warm benevolent sun. If one had hope, giving up ten years of your life for the future of mankind was a much easier task to adhere to. John2 sighed as he prised off another panel, inspecting the tubes and wires beneath the light from the torch. He remembered life upon the earth and the climate was untrustworthy. He had always kept to himself his biggest fear, that they would break through the surface to find an ecological disaster and a planet that no human being could live on. No one else need bear the weight of his personal horror.
He continued checking the panels as he thought back to the years before the freeze and how he, sixteen years old, bright, fit and naïve had been granted a place on the base, without his parents. It had been a lottery, of course, and though his parents had not been eligible for entry, they had insisted he take part. As he’d boarded the coach to the port, the news reported increased meteor strikes, unprecedented volcanic activity and rain pounded the windows so the last time he saw his parents, they were a murky blur through the glass. None of the panels showed any fault so he hauled himself back into the cabin.
“I sent our co-ordinates, John. Do you think they’ll find us?”
“Maybe but the next crew will be along to take our place, won’t they? If nothing else, we can attach a tow and they can get us back before they start their shift.”
Matthew9 nodded. His eyes were red and his broad bottom lip trembled but he tried a smile. “So, what we gonna do now?”
“I think we should try and find out what stopped the drill. We’ve enough juice to operate the grabber on manual.”

Matthew9 shone the torch towards the bit as the arm unfolded itself from the mining craft and stretched towards the nose. Once at full extension, John2 closed the grip and brought the hand round to the dumping hatch above them. With the torch clipped back on the dashboard, Matthew9 opened the hatch with the manual wheel and John2 released the grip as Matthew9 turned the wheel the other way.
“You reckon we got it?” Sweat dripped into Matthew9’s eyes as he turned the final rotations.
John2 checked the dashboard. “Dumping hatch box is still showing below freezing. We could be in luck.”
Half the final time circuit had been completed by the time the box was moved from the dumping hatch to the analysis compartment and as the computer tested their haul, John2 and Matthew9 examined the contents on magnified visual on the main screen.
“There’s rock.”
“Very little more than usual. No, I’m interested in the ice. There’s great chunks, look, with rock fragments still attached.”
“What does it mean, John? Are we near the surface?”
John2 stared at the printout, spewed from the computer.
“John?”
John2 laughed and then shook his head at the bewildered boy, wide eyed with fear in front of him. “It’s okay, Matt. I know what this is.”
“You do?”
“You know any earth geology?”
Matthew9 shook his head.
“Do you know what diamonds are?”
“No, man. What you on about?”
But the laughter had John2 in its grasp and great belly laughs escaped from him as he hugged his sides. He was rich! They were rich! If they weren’t floating powerless beneath miles of ice, he’d be a happy man.
John2 wiped his eyes and grinned. “Diamonds are rare minerals, found deep in the earth. They’re not created from coal, as you might imagine.”
“What’s coal?”
“Never mind but know that on earth diamonds were rare, valuable, often made into jewellery or used to decorate a royal crown and we’ve hit an enormous one, somehow, below the sea.”
“You mean, we’re rich?”
“It wouldn’t be us, Matt. It would be the company but what use are diamonds to us, in a world below the sea?”
“They’d be rarer still? Worth more?”
“Not if every craft on our detail has hit diamond. Don’t you see? This must be the biggest diamond ever dreamed of but with the market forces of demand and supply, assuming this diamond could be mined, its worth nothing.”
“Hard enough to stop our drill and worthless?”
“Its discovery will undoubtedly be useful to someone, but it will hold up progress to the surface.”

As the final quarter of the time circuit ticked by John2 updated his report, entering the findings of diamond in the ice. He glanced at the air reserve gauge before focusing his torch beam towards the nose. They were drifting, away from the ice, away from the tunnel entrance and without power, there was nothing he could do about it. Away from their rise point, it was unlikely another craft could locate them.

John2 sat shivering, Matthew9’s sobs echoing in his helmet. Like so many before him, John2 had given so much of his life to the company but while they drifted in darkness below the ice, he wondered at his own naivety. Diamond would be discovered in the water, probably from a zenolith, brought up from the earth’s mantel by a volcanic explosion but he doubted the benefits of such a find would reach the ordinary people on Galaxy Sea Base.
They breathed the last of the air in the craft. Matthew9 was unconscious and John2’s eyes began to close. His final thoughts were of his wife and children and a massive drill bit made of diamond, breaking through the ice into a world of sunshine, trees and new wonders. He smiled his knowing grin as, doubtless, this world too would be organised by those with money and power, to the detriment of the masses.

 

Sharing my story

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I’d expected to be boosted when summer arrived this year but both the weather and the reality were a let down. A gale still blew through the top of my old farmhouse and my novels and novellas weren’t being bought for holiday reading. On top of that, as I now teach dance in a studio on Lampeter University campus, I’m surrounded by students and they were excitedly signing up for new courses.

I’ll admit to a grumpy tearful few days before I had a word with myself and decided to embark on a year of learning that would be appropriate to my homelife and financial situation.

DSC_1420

I was already revisiting short story writing with a writing group The Cwrtnewydd Scribblers, in the next village but needed a boost, a challenge for myself to explore different writing styles and genres. I mentioned this to one of my dancing ladies who had just signed up for an MA in creative writing (having already published her own short stories) and she introduced me to Duotrope. For £3 per month, they provide access to online and paper magazines requesting short stories as well as writing competitions. I decided to invest in myself and dedicate two days each week to writing, editing and submitting short stories.

Some magazines pay a little but most don’t and this bothered me at first. Would my stories be appreciated if they were given for free? What does that say about me as a writer if monetary gain is not important? It means that the reason I write, is to share my stories. Yes, I do want my work to have value and worth but if I share and readers enjoy my stories, that makes me happy. I hope that readers who enjoy a short story will look for more of my work.

My plan was to have ten short stories ‘out there’ at any one time. I started with stories already written and wasted a lot of time with ‘searches’ as they were not genre specific enough so I began writing for requested submissions. Duotrope send a weekly email with useful listings and this is what I work from.

It took two months to achieve my ten story goal and in days I was back to eight so I don’t worry about it any more. Some days I write three stories, other days just one. It doesn’t matter. Every story I write is honing my skills.

I’ve explored horror and fantasy these past months and love the stories produced. A few weeks ago, I attended an afternoon writing workshop about the role of myth, legends and fairy tales in story and began exploring new angles and new ideas in my own writing. As a writer of magical realism, stories about real people, real magic, gods and goddesses, I revisited stories I loved as a child as well as reading legends and myths I was not familiar with.

This week, I had my first short story accepted for publication. I’m looking forward to sharing many more.

Reading Indie

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As I approach my 100th book review, I thought it was a good time to look back and reflect on the Indie books I’ve read and offer comments on changes to the publishing industry over the past two years.

Wales to 20th Nov 2014 078Since my children bought me my Kindle for a big birthday two years ago, I’ve explored more diverse genres than in my whole reading life before then. Access to books online has enabled me to explore, seek out new writers and find new stories to enjoy. I’ve discovered things about my reading preferences that I didn’t know as well as confirming that some genres just don’t rock my boat! I decided to review every book I read to give readers the confidence to look outside their regular list of authors and give support to other Indie writers like myself.

I’ve never thought of myself as prudish but some of the erotica I’ve read crosses the boundaries for me and reads like blatant porn. I’ve discovered two writers whose cheeky, sexy stories I really enjoy, Kameron Brook and Lelani Black.

Brook’s Naughty Delights…’It’s a short read but I loved it!
Set in a cake shop of sexy delights run by Elizabeth and Felicia, iced boobs and chocolate covered balls are some of the delicacies to make you smile while the first date between Elizabeth and Donovan explores the feelings of love and lust they feel. Communication breaks down but, after sharing their feelings with their best friends, Elizabeth and Donovan talk and…you’ll have to buy the book and read for yourself!
Very very sexy:-)’

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=naughty%20delights

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Naughty-Delights-Kameron-Brook-ebook/dp/B00DELSA9K/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

Black’s Doctor, Doctor…’This book begins in a direct, punchy style, intriguing the reader to want to read further. It’s cheeky and sexy and easy to read and its island setting is beautifully described by the author.
Audrina, our heroine, is attractive, young and sassy but also practical, hard working and entrepreneurial. She loves her family and they come first in her world. The alpha male hero, Dr Love, is cool, sexy and an experienced lover so, when Audrina takes her mother’s place, working as his housekeeper while her mother looks after grandma, there is bound to be fireworks! Ms Black sprinkles the book with colourful characters and lush descriptions of the setting and I loved the books visual nature.

With its graphic descriptions of love making, this book is definitely for over 18s but though explicit, it’s very much about consensual pleasure between two adults and I loved it!

For an easy going read to leave you warm and smiling, look no further!’

http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Island-Moonlight-Collection-Book-ebook/dp/B00AUHR13C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194943&sr=1-1&keywords=doctor%2C+doctor+lelani+black

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Doctor-Island-Moonlight-Collection-Book-ebook/dp/B00AUHR13C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194878&sr=1-1&keywords=doctor%2C+doctor+lelani+black

 

I also tried my first lesbian erotic novel…and loved it! The Dark Cully’s Mistress by Shiralyn J Lee

‘This story is told in the first person by Annie Smith, a prostitute living in Covent Garden during the reign of Queen Victoria. Her life changes when she falls in the street and is rescued by Mr Rotherham. This was my first encounter with lesbian erotica and I really enjoyed it.
It took me a few pages to get into the first person narrative but once enveloped in the social workings of London in the mid 1800s, the story intrigued me, kept me devouring every word until the end.
There are a few editing hiccups and the swap to Rose’s story two thirds of the way through was a little ‘clunky’ but the story held my attention and the erotic scenes were captivating.
My favourite stories are those I can ‘see’, evoking vivid scenes between the characters and this book did that for me. As a straight woman I was surprised how much I enjoyed it so, why not step away from your usual preferred genre and give lesbian erotica a go!’

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Cullys-Mistress-Shiralyn-Lee/dp/150317638X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194242&sr=1-1&keywords=the+dark+cully%27s+mistress

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Dark-Cullys-Mistress-Shiralyn-ebook/dp/B00BEWGJGM/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

I rediscovered my love of historical fiction. I read about Vikings, Anglo Saxons and Tudors and more recent history around the time of WWII. I also read books with a historical setting but more focussed on the story of the characters. Hard to pick a favourite here so books by Judith Arnopp, Mary Ann Bernal, C.S. Burough and Christoph Fischer come very close to the top but my favourite is Paula Lofting’s Sons of the Wolf.

‘The story of Wulfhere is a cracking one…even better for me, the story is set at one of my favourite times in history. Ms Lofting has taken for her main character a real thegn from the Doomsday Book, Wulhere and created a family and domestic life for him.
There are battles, loyalties, oaths and fines to pay by the men privy to the royal court, balanced out by much drinking and brawling and rewarding of bravery and loyalty. The women’s role may at first be seen to be a domestic one but they too aspire to power and status, just as the men.
Those not part of the royal circle are also chronicled as Ms Lofting weaves her tapestry of words on which her characters play out.
I loved every word from Freyda’s emerging from an infatuated teenager into a woman who knows her own strengths to Alfgyva’s simple life and devotion to her one true love, from Harold’s common sense and loyalty to his king and his men to ten year old Tovi’s struggles to make sense and find comfort and reassurance in a violent, adult world.
Loved it, loved it, loved it! Most enjoyable book I’ve read this year…can’t wait for ‘The Wolf Banner’!’

http://www.amazon.com/Sons-Wolf-Paula-Lofting/dp/1781320276/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194414&sr=1-1&keywords=sons+of+the+wolf+paula+lofting

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sons-Wolf-Paula-Lofting/dp/1781320276/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

Young Adult Fiction provided interesting reading and two books stood out for me. The first was Torn by Christine Hughes. ‘She’d known Ethan and Lucas all her life, her father having taken them into his home when their own father died but how well did Samantha English REALLY know them? How well did she know her own father?
As the story of ‘Torn’ unfolds, life changing revelations rock Sam’s life as she struggles to cope with the feelings and angst of a teenager as well as the powerful emotions coursing through her body as she approaches her 18th birthday. The reader is introduced to a hierarchy of angels assigned roles by the divine to help, or sometimes hinder, the humans on earth.
‘Torn’ is a well written, well researched story following Sam’s journey as she accepts the adult role in life decided for her. It’s a story of love, betrayal, hope and pain and highlights the fine line between good and evil.
Once begun, this book is tough to put down! Though billed as YA, I found it a really enjoyable read and so give it my 5* rating…I loved it, would recommend it and I will definitely read it again. As this was Ms Hughes’ debut novel, watch out for the next one!’

http://www.amazon.com/Torn-Christine-Hughes-ebook/dp/B00EEO0T8G/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194545&sr=1-1&keywords=torn+christine+hughes

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Torn-Christine-Hughes/dp/1937329518/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

And the second Lake Caerwych by J Conrad ‘Cerena starts at Bridget’s school and immediately, the girls feel a connection and soon seal an exclusive friendship. On a trip to Louisianna, Bridget buys a Celtic pendant, framed with delicate twists of ivy and the first step on an adventure to Wales begins.

Pacey, funny, full of ideas, this book is well written and a wonderfully engaging read.

http://www.amazon.com/Lake-Caerwych-Travel-Fantasy-Copper-ebook/dp/B0055HRF24/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424195065&sr=1-1&keywords=lake+caerwych

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lake%20caerwych&sprefix=lake+caer%2Cdigital-text

 

I tried stories about vampires, shapeshifters and werewolves but most weren’t for me but I stuck with the fantasy genre and found Helen Daly and Pulse. ‘Thank you Helen Daly! Having recently completed my first week in a tent on a Welsh hillside with my partner and three cats, this book kept me going as the rain hammered down and the wind blew.
Ms Daly grabs the reader’s attention immediately by introducing the main character Esa, feisty, determined and intent on her own survival. With her contact and sympathy for Rootu, the spinner, a friendship is born.
As the story of the changes to this world and the other become apparent since the Pulse, a world the reader recognises becomes the backdrop to growing tension and the possibility of a fight between the two realms becomes a reality. The story is fast moving and exciting…I devoured the whole book in six sittings!
There are a few editing errors and a couple of times I had to read back a few sentences to confirm who said what but this is mere pickiness on my part as it didn’t distract from the story or characters as I was compelled to read on. Forget which genre you usually prefer! This is a cracking story and well worth the read as it’s well written and beautifully balanced. There are moments my heart beat fast during the battles, described concisely and graphically and other times I smiled as Esa stood up to those around her and questioned their motives. Other times, I was drawn in to the description of the second realm, elves, pixies and spinners living and working together and mischievous Rootu, always there to add excitement and fun.

So I say again, ‘Thank you Helen Daly’ for a great story that kept my mind off the Welsh rain battering my tent!’

http://www.amazon.com/Pulse-H-J-Daly/dp/0988847612/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194099&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=pulse+helen+daly

 

I read my first ghost story and loved it! Lydia North aka Kim Scott weaves a fabulous story in Waiting for Harvey ‘While a hurricane force storm threatens the east coast of America, Erik decides he needs a break from City life to finish his much awaited third novel. He contacts his older brother John and asks if he will drive him to the cabin in the woods in Maine.

The joy of this book is you really don’t know what is going to happen next. It’s so beautifully crafted that, even when I had an idea that ‘such’ would happen, I still had no idea of the final outcome!

North is a true story weaver, spinning the tale of Erik’s childhood, growing up and through the twists and turn of Harvey’s life. I loved this book. Well written, well researched and easy to read, my perfect book at the end of a long day. My favourite story of 2014.’

http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Harvey-Spirits-Maine-1/dp/1499534949/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424193618&sr=1-1&keywords=waiting+for+harvey

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Waiting-Harvey-Spirits-Maine-Book-ebook/dp/B00KAGI30S/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

Romance has never been a favourite of mine but I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed historical romance. Tarah Scott’s To Tame a Highland Earl had me hooked from the first line. ‘I enjoyed this book from the first line “If ever a woman deserved to be shot, it was Miss Crenshaw” until the very end. There are well rounded characters in this beautifully crafted story and it’s pacey, sexy and well written.
Against a backdrop of Scottish/English loathing at the beginning of the 19th century, where challenges were issued and duels fought as a means to uphold honour, Erroll, handsome cad and womaniser and Eve, sensible eldest daughter, yet determined to marry for love, are thrown together and forced to extricate themselves from a complicated tangle of kidnapping, well meaning parents and scheming paramours.

Really enjoyed this story so it’s a 5* read from me.’

http://www.amazon.com/Tame-Highland-MacLean-Highander-Novel/dp/1499168586/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424193488&sr=1-1&keywords=to+tame+a+highland+earl

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tame-Highland-MacLean-Highlander-Novel-ebook/dp/B00KBSYU52/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

….as did Amber Dane’s Gem of Gravane ‘ I really enjoyed this book!

Dark, swarthy Aric Claydon arrives at the Gravane estate to claim his prize from William; the estates of Gravane, Egway and Gent and Danielle, the lady of the Gravane manor, as his bride. Tall, strong and curvaceous, dark haired Danielle awaits her suitor in fear but also in hope that he will rid her of the humiliation and abuse she has suffered from her cousin Thomas and his sister, enabling her and her new husband to run and manage the whole estate once more.
I loved the story and the conflict between Aric and Danielle as each copes with trying to maintain their former position in a Saxon household, turned upside down by the arrival of a Norman lord. There’s blood and gore and plenty of sexual tension as battles are fought to protect the lands of Gravane in the name of King William.

Real page turner…give it a go!’

http://www.amazon.com/Gem-Gravane-Northern-Knights-1/dp/1481135856/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424193790&sr=1-1&keywords=gem+of+gravane

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gem-Gravane-Northern-Knights-Book-ebook/dp/B008GF4DNG/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

And finally, if you’re looking for a good read with well crafted real characters, look no further than the books of Jan Ruth. I read Wild Water and The Long and the Short of it, one a novel, the other a collection of short stories, and I could not put these books down. For all this author’s books, visit her Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jan-Ruth/e/B006F1NXZM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

http://www.amazon.com/Jan-Ruth/e/B006F1NXZM/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

Since launching my first novel Destiny of Angels – First book in the Lilith Trilogy in June 2012, the publishing world has been swamped by new books both on kindle and in paperback. My diverse reading has allowed me to sample a wide range of books and genres and the one thing that seems to make the Indie books stand out, not in a good way, is the lack of editing. Some books feel like reading a first draft often littered with spelling mistakes and with words left in or left out. I will be the first to hold my hands up to struggling with ‘point of view’ and some grammar errors myself but every book I write is edited, edited and edited again. Often the editing takes longer than the writing but the book I finally publish needs to be the best I can make it.

You may ask, why not pay for editing? I paid for the first chapters of Destiny to be edited and, since then, have had two editors tell me that the editing is incorrect and both wanted to change it in different ways. Who do I believe? This poses a real dilemma for Indie authors as added costs have to be met by us so, with the help of alpha and beta readers as well as articles on grammar and punctuation I have gathered over the years, I aim to produce a book edited to the best of my ability.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my look back over Indie books and will try out a new genre or author for yourself and remember….please leave a review. We want to be the best we can be and your reviews help us know what you, our readers, want.

To find out more about my books, please use the buttons above or visit my author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1424195981&sr=1-2-ent

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1424195993&sr=1-2-ent