Monday, 26 December 2016

Review for "Comrades We" by A. Louise Olson

Comrades We

Comrades We” by A. Louise Olson is a fantasy drama about a groups of young friends and their abilities. In the world of this book, Olson has melded fantasy, magic and human dramas together to tell the story of 7 young people growing up and discovering their place in the world while shouldering great responsibility and learning about relationships. The Kingdom of Yaidanain is the primary location of this story, an empire that seems to be on the brink of something no one can understand, but they find an ally in the newly appointed Greatmage, who must also learn about his new power and what lies before him. His friends are always at his side however, and ready to support him and each other as they begin a quest that spans this series.

We learn a lot about this world, about the provinces, the languages and customs of the various kingdoms, as well as about the main characters. As these young strangers are introduced they all become fast friends and find themselves responsible for much more than their studies at the Academy of Yaidanain. It is clear this was designed as an introduction to the rest of the series, laying the foundation for what the reader needs to know to understand adventures in future books.

This book was great; it was fun and enjoyable, without too much complexity to it. But as I find often with some independently published books I found it way too short. Now normally my complaint is because there is so much left unsaid, so much more that could have been created and because I love the book and the story I want more, however in this case it was less about my enjoyment and more about solid story structure. We learn about the kingdom of Yaidanain, and that there are other kingdoms, but we have very little understanding of how they interact, or don’t interact with each other. We meet characters so briefly and are expected to form strong attachments to them. In the same vein we witness the deaths of characters we barely know and are supposed to be emotional about this. At 170 pages this felt exactly like a roller coaster; you are initially plunged off the edge into a deep drop and encounter many twists and turns, and then just as you feel like you are getting to grips with the ride it’s over and you have to get off. While I could see the bones of a great series in this book, it would have read much better if Olson had taken more time with it and eased the reader into the world more slowly. To put it into perspective in 170 pages we are taken through approximately 4 or 5 years of the lives of the main characters, where they study and build relationships with others, and sometimes end relationships. Imagine if the Harry Potter series of books was condensed into 170 pages, how much would you feel like you were riding in the Indy 500? With so little writing space I have to wonder how much Olson felt restricted in her writing, felt that details about the environments or descriptions of people had to be cut in order to cram in all the plot points of this book.

That being said I am impressed that Olsons’ writing style clearly didn’t suffer because of the short length. She has some impressive writing chops and it was a delight to experience them. The way she organically takes the reader on a tour of the Academy buildings when a new student enters the mix, rather than try to stuff it into the beginning when we first encounter the building was a smooth as a professional. The nature of the relationship between humans and gods was intriguing and the brief glimpses of this left me sufficiently intrigued to learn more.

Olson has the bones of an excellent and far reaching series on her hands, and with some patience and care could be on the verge of an enduring world. My only advice to her would be to take things slowly, don’t pigeonhole yourself or feel like you have to restrict yourself to a particular number of books or a particular length of book. You are the master of this world and this story is yours, you have so many options and so much you can create that the sky is the limit here. You have the talent behind you now all you have to do is show the world what you can really do!

For more about the author click here
To buy the book from Amazon click here

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Cover Reveal for Enden by David Kummer


Displaying ENDENB1COVER.jpg

They have grown strong in the shadows, the kingdom of Oldon. The land is void of hope and of strength against them. The human kingdoms grow corrupt everyday, so that the lines between good and evil are slurred.

One young man from a small village in the valley could change all of that. He fights with the passion of a warrior and the luck of a magician. And when the barbarians force him out of his home, the journey begins.

Trained by a knight, shadowed with secrets, and against the kingdom he once called home, Jonathan is an outcast, a rebel. But more than anything, he is a leader.

Enden is a world filled with wars, famine, sieges, torture, and death. But the greatest battle of all is to survive. Only one thing is certain. Something is rising, in the distance near the edge of the world where forgotten secrets brew. Something has risen. And it is coming.It is coming.

Enden comes out January 1st, buy it here

Friday, 16 December 2016

Teaser for "Enden" by David Kummer

Enden by David Kummer

The Siege of Moslow
Moslow, Ormdel, In The Far West

With a roar, he swept his axe low, cutting off the legs of his opponent. The screaming
soldier tumbled off the wall, falling into the crowd of troops below. Lord Dargu raised his axe
again, staring at the large and barbaric man directly ahead of him.

It was the main point of a long war, a strategic point on the Saic River. Oldon was
crushing down on the small, nation of Ormdel. The city was their final hope. If they lost the city,
their homelands would be open to pillaging and death. The majestic, towering city of Moslow
rose up from the plains, standing against the dark forces. Now, it was covered in soldiers like
ants, as war raged inside it and on the walls. Ormdel’s final hope.

Men screamed as they surged forward on the walls of Moslow. They raised their swords
and swung, cutting through skin and sinew. Blood poured like a waterfall over the side of the
stone walls, staining every inch of the glorious city. The soldiers glinted in early sunlight as
metal beating against metal sent clangs and crashes up from the battle.

Lord Dargu, dwarf king of Ormdel, charged forwards, leading the battle on the wall. They
were trying to retake the city and win a losing battle. He led the rush of soldiers, crushing
against the enemy. They were forcing them back, inch by inch, as they took back their walls.

The Oldon soldier ahead of him was waving a heavy sword with both hands, squaring up
against the king of Ormdel.

“For Ormdel!” the king screamed, rushing at the enemy soldier. He jumped in the air,
bringing his axe down on the man’s head. There was a disgusting, cracking sound as the
enemy’s skull imploded and brain specks flew out, smothering the axe.
“Press forward!” Lord Dargu shouted. “Drive them off our walls! Win back this city!”

Even as he struck another soldier dead, his own men swarmed around, protecting
him. With the group of friendly fighters in front of him, he relaxed for a minute. Lord Dargu
was about to thunder forwards into the battle, when he heard somebody shout his name
from behind.

“Lord!” cried the hoarse voice again.

His own soldiers were now pushing the enemy far back, so Lord Dargu turned around
and away from the battlefront. There was a small dwarf, holding his axe tightly. The man’s eyes
were exhausted and his skin sweaty, but his features gave the sense of urgency.

The king stepped forwards and clasped arms with his fellow dwarf. Lord Dargu’s long,
dark beard rose as a smile formed across his face. “It’s great joy to see you, friend,” he said with
a deep voice.

The dwarf nodded, but spoke in a hurried, jerky voice. “Yes, my lord. But look, lord! Bad
news!” He gestured out at the horizon and squeaked, curling his arms against his chest

Lord Dargu turned and peered across the fields in front of their city. The Oldon army was
routed, fleeing from Moslow. But in the far horizon there was a great cloud of dust. Storms of
men were heading over the land in their direction. It was an army too great to be numbered and
too dense to make out. Like one swift disease, it was spreading towards their homeland.

“What is this?” Lord Dargu’s shaky voice faded, even as the cheers of victory went up
from around them.

“Navarro has brought them all, lord. The king of Oldon is here, with his army.”

“We don’t stand a chance,” said Lord Dargu, wiping sweat from his forehead. Praying to
all the gods he knew, he asked for mercy on their doomed souls. “How long until they arrive?”

“Our scouts say a few hours. My lord, when they get to the city, they will burn it. We have
to leave, don’t you think?”

Lord Dargu did not answer at first. He gazed back at the remaining soldiers in the city.
They were celebrating and cheering, because they could not see the army on the horizon.
Across the walls, however, all the troops were terrified. This high up, they could also see the
Oldon soldiers, the doom that was coming to their country.

The king bowed his head. “Yes. We must leave.”

“On boats?” the dwarf asked. “We could sail to the south of our kingdom and regroup
there. If we hold out long enough, we might get help from the human nations.”

The Saic River ran alongside the city of Moslow, flowing out to the west where the
enormous Omega Sea lay. The river watered their crops and citizens. It was the sole reason
Moslow had flourished over the last many years. But this time, it could not save them.

“The river is close…” mused the king. “But no. We must retreat by foot. If we go through
the mountains, we will be quicker than them. We can stay in Wursburn in the south.”

The king focused on the steps a bit ahead that led down to the city ground. He directed
his steps towards them as the smaller dwarf tripped after, trying to keep up.

“Won’t they follow us there? They might attack Wursburn then!” The dwarf groaned,
throwing his hands up. “This is hopeless!”

“They may follow, but we can send a message to Kelormen. They share a border with
Oldon, and could help us attack,” the king said, approaching the staircase.

“The human kingdom?” the dwarf asked incredulously. “They’ll never help us, and you
know it.”

“They might.”

The dwarf sighed. “But what if they don’t?”

The king stopped when they reached the ground. “Then we are truly doomed.”

Within minutes, the order was given to flee. Every citizen would gather their families, and
then in one long line they would leave the homeland.

Evacuating the city was quick work, but at times the people fell into panic and trampled
each other. They were all pushing to get out of the back gate, which pointed south and towards
their destination. Possessions were mostly left behind, although some people brought what they
could carry in their arms. The livestock was set free to roam, all the horses brought along to load
supplies on, and any food wrangled from the city was put in pouches and bags.

The possibility of starving in the mountains was very real and very sobering. Despite this,
Lord Dargu insisted that they had to travel by foot. They had the advantage of quickness and
experience, knowing much more about the mountains than Oldon did. If they chose to travel by
boat, there was the danger of an Oldon fleet. It would be just like Navarro to set up his own
boats and then wait to kill them as they tried to escape. They would have surely been sunk. For
all these reasons, it was better to go on land.

As the herds of humans and dwarves were flooding out of the gate with soldiers
attempting to keep them in line, Lord Dargu sat quietly on his horse observing. His general,
Templeton, sat beside him, glancing around at the city. He was drinking in the homes soon to
be burned, and the walls that would crumble within a day. The whole city would be ashes, the
battlements fallen to the ground, the crops raided and gone. Moslow would fall, and Oldon
would have opened the gateway to victory.

“It’s the worst part of war,” Lord Dargu said simply. “I hate seeing your friends die, your
home burned, and all the treasure you’ve gathered burned to dust.”

“If we don’t move quicker, the army will overtake us,” said the general. He nodded
vaguely as the crowds of people. “They will slaughter us and them.”

“Fear can do many things,” said the king. “If they understand what is coming, they will
move faster and we will be fine.”

“But do they understand?”

“They will.”

Silence enveloped the two companions, as they sat in the morning sunlight. Last night’s
battle had taken its toll on both of them. Exhausted as they were -exhausted as they all were they
had to move.

It was a dirty move by Oldon. They attacked by surprise in the middle of the night. If not
for the quick speed of Ormdel’s scouts, they would have been caught entirely off guard and
massacred. As it was, they had prepared enough to withstand the first surge of the army. When
the iron gate had finally broken, they fought their hardest and gained the victory. Now, despite it
all, they were once again retreating, once more running from a foe they could not defeat on their

“These are dark times, friend.” The king folded his arms, burdening to keep his head tall.
It would have been easier to fall forwards and lean against his horse, or even more to ride back
and fight to the death. Dying was terrible; retreating was worse.
“They are, yes. Our country is doomed, it seems.”

Lord Dargu shook his head. “Not just us. Enden as a whole is seeing dark times, more
than any in our life. Kelormen is weak, Byrum is lazy, and we are fading quickly. Unless
something changes, there will be nothing left.”

“I really like this city,” General Templeton said thoughtfully. “I like the gigantic walls, the
gleaming buildings, the way the sun sets over the plains.”

“Get your last glances then, friend. We won’t be back here. This is all we have had, and
we are leaving it behind.”

“You’re quite the dramatic type,” Templeton joked. He smiled feebly, but it was gone in
an instant.

“Am I dramatic or is this war?”

“Now isn’t the time for one of our theological discussions, my lord.”
The king sighed, wrapping a hand in the reins of his horse. “I suppose you’re right. And
it’s almost time to go, anyways.”

Their chestnut horses began a steady walk out of the city. The last of the citizens had
passed through the gate, and so they went ahead. While Templeton remained facing forward,
the king peered around with the wonder of a small child, drinking the in the hauntingly empty
sights of the city. He wondered how close the Oldon army was now.

“Do you really think there’s hope for us, Templeton?” the king asked quietly.
“I was about to ask you the same.”

A birch perched above them on the city wall. It was surrounded by its fellow clan of
poultry, until they flew off into the sky. Yet the one bird remained, standing alone defiantly on the
wall. Lord Dargu scratched his beard absentmindedly and smiled to himself.

“I never thought I would leave this place for good.”

“We will return,” the general assured him.

“No,” said Lord Dargu, “I don’t think we will. This very well could be the end, Templeton.”

“We have gone through much together, my lord.”

“No need to call me that,” the king grinned. “I am not your lord. We are friends, who find
themselves presently on the brink of death, and have fulfilled all of their lifelong dreams.”
He chuckled, but as they passed outside of the city wills, a tear rolled down the king’s
face mixing into his beard.

“Not all of them,” Templeton said.

“What haven’t we done?”

“You still haven’t beat me in a swordfight, friend.”

Lord Dargu chuckled as they passed out of the city gate and into the warm sunshine. Far
behind them in the distance, the army of Oldon was roaring.

*Enden comes out January 1st, buy it here

Monday, 12 December 2016

Review for "The Illusions of Eventide" by Sarah M. Cradit

The Illusions of Eventide” by Sarah M. Cradit

The Illusions of Eventide by Sarah M. Cradit is deep drama surrounding a Southern American family who is not entirely what they seem. Blessed (or cursed) with mystical gifts and a large estate they seem to have it all, but reluctant patriarch Nicolas is definitely not content with his lot in life, until he meets a strange woman named Mercy, and his whole life, as well as the lives of his family, change forever. Secrets are revealed that will change relationships and forge new ones and ultimately the Deschanel’s and the Empyreans will have to make some difficult choices.

This book by Sarah M. Cradit is captivating. Less fantastical and more centred around human dramas we meet the characters rather organically as they are slowly drawn into the world of Mercy, a mysterious woman on the run. Cradit does a lovely job of laying out the world her characters inhabit without giving you a history lesson in the process, difficult to do but here it works. The bonus is that if you want to learn more there are prequels and sequels aplenty.

I have to say that I don’t always read the authors notes at the beginning of their books, I have so many to read that I try and get to the meaty stuff as soon as possible, but in this case I did read it and I am so glad I did. Cradit has obviously taken a long time to build this world and the stories that populate it, and she makes sure you know where to go if you want to find more. For example, the relationship between two of the characters, Ana and Finn, are part of a prequel book in the series and give you the juicy details of events that are only alluded to in this book. Additionally, Cradit mentions that maps and genealogical documents for the characters are available as bonus material on her website, as adding them into eBook formats compromised the look of those files. Extras aside Cradit has clearly put a lot of work into this series and I think it pays off.

As I said it is rife with human drama, mostly centered around relationships, and while I love the melding of different genres I do have to say the extended exposition of some of the characters did sometimes strain my understanding of them at times. Especially in the case of the Nicolas, he would often go into long winded bouts of self-assessment about his feelings that you might think his entire persona is centered around his feelings. Occasionally some of his feelings are contradictory and the reader is left feeling confused about what THEY should be feeling as a result. In the end though this conflict within the character leads us to see him as the flawed three dimensional person the author intended, in stark contrast to the low life single minded person he tries to project himself as in the world.

Emotional exposition aside, the book is captivating, complicated and shows just how messy love can be, in all its forms. The sprinkling of fantasy elements only adds to this message, that no matter what kind of being you are emotions can be tough to translate. If you want a book that has some legs to it, then look no further than the Crimson & Clover series. 

To see more about the author click here
To buy the book through Amazon click here

Monday, 7 November 2016

Interview with author of 'Pieces like Pottery' Dan Buri

We got the chance to ask author Dan Buri a bit about his writing process, what inspires him and what advice he has for other writers out there!

-          What inspired you to start writing?
I can remember writing as far back as middle school. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing. One of the first poems I ever wrote was about my older brother and his basketball playing abilities. I still remember the opening lines and I wrote them as a kid nearly 30-years ago:
I’m Joe the King of Basketball,
I’m the king of the basketball court.
All my shots are always on target,
None of them are ever short.
I didn’t say it was any good! I don’t remember any more than that. To be honest, I’m not sure how I even remember those lines.
The point is, writing has been something I have always enjoyed doing and something I have always admired in other people. Story telling is a beautiful gift. I love learning to hone the craft.

-          What kinds of sources do you take inspiration from?
I am moved and inspired by people’s real life stories. I love reading all sorts of genres, but I find myself inspired by the human spirit. For Pieces Like Pottery, I tried to capture the essence of overcoming tragedy. Every person has trials in life. Life always presents obstacles and disappointments. I wanted to examine how individuals overcome these obstacles in a variety of characters. I toyed with the idea of each of these stories being its own novel, and I still may expand a couple of them into full length novels, but I settled in on a collection of linked short stories because it presented the opportunity to have a range of characters and display that, despite how different all our life experiences are, we are all connected as human beings. We all suffer and laugh just the same. My hope is that readers recognize that and are inspired or moved to compassion through the book.
-          Do you model characters after real people?
I think every character an author creates is based on a real person or an amalgamation of real people. I also think an author will drop a little piece of himself or herself into every character they create. It is just too difficult to not let experiences and biases seep into one’s writing. There is certainly a piece of me in each character throughout Pieces Like Pottery. This made it particularly difficult to finish the book at times. I had to tap into both a sorrowful and a hopeful part of myself for these stories, which took an emotional toll at times. That being said, I don’t create characters to represent someone in particular or to be a caricature of someone.

-          What does your writing process look like? Did it take you a while to develop?
Once upon a time I thought I needed to write in a particular time and place. I would typically write at night and need to be in the perfect mood to do so. With a very demanding job, a wife, and two children, however, I quickly found that I was not finding much time to write at all. I had to begin writing anytime I could find a free 30 minutes. I was lucky I did too.
I think young writers always wait for the moment of inspiration to strike. These moments are amazing, but they are a great luxury. The truth, in my opinion, is that writing is as much about editing and revising as it is about the writing itself. I have so many pages of my writing on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Maybe editing is a beautiful and inspiring process for some people, but for most writers I know, it is painstaking. There’s nothing inspirational about it for me.
Having very little time to write each day helped me to begin taking my writing to the next level, to learn to hone it as a craft, rather than writing simply being an inspirational hobby. I had to find time to write whenever I could, regardless of whether the circumstances were perfect.
That being said, I still love to write at night over a glass of wine or a whiskey. Nothing beats that.
-          Do you take criticism hard or do you have a thick skin? Have you ever received criticisms that you felt were unjustified or too harsh? Are you your worst critic?
I’m sure most creative types are a little sensitive to negative responses, but it also comes with the territory. I welcome all reviews, good and bad. A good book, in my mind, should have both positive and negative reviews. If every review is good, then it most likely means that the book is “just fine”—the book probably doesn’t challenge the reader at all. There are great minds that love terrible books and great books that are hated by great minds. A book isn’t for everyone and that is perfectly fine. Great books have people debating their merits. So I welcome negative feedback.
I had one reviewer call my book Pieces Like Pottery blasphemous and anti-religious. This really took me by surprise, particularly because the reviewer went so far as to call me anti-religious, rather than just my book or just characters from my book. I am a practicing Catholic myself and the book intentionally has undertones of the Sorrowful Mysteries, so the critique of it being blasphemy left me bewildered. To each his own, though, I guess. After a writer completes his work, it becomes the reader’s. I have no interest in restraining opinions on my writing, whether those opinions are positive or negative. (But like I said, it sure is nice to get positive feedback. It’s only natural.)

-          Do you have favourite characters from your own writing? What made them so special to you?
I really enjoy Mr. Smith, the teacher from Expect Dragons, (one of the stories in Pieces Like Pottery). He also pops up in a few other stories throughout the book, but those are little hidden clues for the reader to find. I think many of us have had inspirational teachers and mentors in our lives. It is so important to have these people during key moments in our development as young people. I have had some amazing teachers and mentors in my lifetime. Both of my parents are teachers, as well as my sister and my sister-in-law. Teachers give us so much of themselves and as a society, at least here in the States, we tend to give them so little back. It’s really sad. Mr. Smith is an inspirational character and I enjoy hearing his thoughts on life.

-          What would be your advice for aspiring authors?
Over the years I have been lucky enough to be offered abundant feedback and to hear excellent commentary from a few creative people that I admire greatly. There are three comments/ideas that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavors. (Each of these is summarized in my own words.)
1.      When asked about the fears and doubts that she had with her writing, Elizabeth Gilbert (best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love) said she finally had an epiphany that her “writing muse” was telling her that this isn’t her story. If she doesn’t tell it, then the muse would move on to someone else who will. Ms. Gilbert discussed how freeing this was for her. She was no longer declaring to the reader: “Listen to me. I have something to say.” Instead, she was just the voice for an idea out there in the universe. It was almost as if she had no other choice but to write. This opened her up to write every day without fear of the result.

2.      Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. He has a great quote for young creatives. In short, he encourages that your work is not going to be good when you’re first starting out. You may have an excitement for your craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but your execution is poor. The only way to improve your work, the only way to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions, is to do a lot of work. Write. Every day. Every week put yourself on a deadline to write something new. It’s going to take awhile, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.

3.      Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I once heard him speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.

So those would be my three pieces of (long-winded) advice for young writers. One, don’t worry about whether you have anything important to say. If you are inspired, say it. Two, write constantly. You won’t become a good writer unless you’re writing all the time. Three, take every writing experience and use it to hone your craft. Something is not a failure simply because the public doesn’t receive it the way you would like.

Thank you, Lilaina! I am grateful for this opportunity to spend some time with you and your readers. You have a wonderful site! If your readers have questions or comments, or they would like to share their thoughts on my recent book, please contact me. I would love to hear from them. You can reach me via email at or on twitter @DanBuri777. Thanks!

Author Bio
Dan Buri's first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life. 
Mr. Buri's non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.
Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World's Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Pieces Like Pottery Links

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Book Spotlight - "Aberrant Robber." by James Gervois

Aberrant Robber
James Gervois

Set in 1680, England is almost a lawless country, especially if you are one of the many keen to travel in the new coaches plying their trade along the highways.  Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 under Charles II, the numbers taking to robbing, mugging, rape, pick-pocketing, burglary and other crimes, reach unprecedented levels.  At the top of the order of criminals sits the highway robber, romantically portrayed as a gentleman, one who only robs the rich, who does not harm his victims, who looks after the poor.  ‘Aberrant Robber’ introduces the reader to the real villainy, the real harshness, the real corruption of the times.

Wilful, determined and resourceful, Tamar Ellerby (21 years old), the daughter of a vicar, refuses to accept her father’s choice of marriage partner, running away from home to make her own life in London.  She has always been a tom-boy, trained in the art of swordsmanship and the use of pistols - a match for most men.  Tamar enjoys the thrill of the unexpected and the excitement of holding people up, acquiring a considerable amount of money in the process.  She meets and falls in love with the son of a Lord, prepares to accept marriage, only to catch her lover in the arms of another at the same time she realises she is pregnant. 

Taking poison, Tamar almost dies but is saved by Will Hugill (aged 18) who has been banished from the Earl of Danby’s estate, falsely accused of raping the Earl’s youngest daughter.  Will was blackmailed by others to inform on a well known highwayman – Bill Nevison, doing as he was instructed with tragic consequences.  He escapes, heading for London when he meets Tamar, robbing her and later being caught by her.  Together they set off after Nevison only to be thwarted when Will is unfortunately killed.

Tall, good looking, the younger son of a local squire with a passion for gambling and women, Cornelius Clarkson (aged 28) is befriended by John Bannister (aged 35), the main handler of stolen goods in the North of England.  However, even with Bannister’s generosity, Clarkson needs an increasing amount of money to pay off his gambling debts, keeping stolen goods for himself with the result that Bannister arranges for Clarkson to be arrested, tried and sentenced to death.  Clarkson escapes the hangman’s noose, seeking vengeance against those who set him up.  He meets Tamar Ellerby at the time of Will’s death, saving her from Nevison and then using her to help him deal with Bannister.  Clarkson succeeds but not in the way he expects, Tamar being the one who obtains the bulk of Bannister’s wealth.

‘Aberrant Robber’ builds slowly, absorbing the reader into the 1680’s, the pace of the novel quickening as events unfold, gripping the reader to the end.  ‘Aberrant Robber’ is a novel aimed at the adult fiction market, appealing to both men and women of all ages. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Teaser for "Aberrant Robber" by James Gervois

Sitting in the darkened corner of the large, ornate room, Cornelius Clarkson could smell the nervousness of the man standing in front of John Bannister’s magnificent, mahogany desk. The man wiped his sleeve across his brow, rocking back and forth, his hands gripping the edge of his hat. The man never took his eyes of Bannister. Clarkson grinned, enjoying the moment, appreciating the power Bannister had over others.

He had met Bannister more than ten years ago when he was in his late teens, bored with his life on the estate and anxious to find adventure. He had quickly realized that Bannister had the capability to provide him with the excitement he craved. Bannister had been visiting his uncle, Sir Godfrey Copley, the High Sheriff of Yorkshire and Clarkson had listened to the conversation, amazed that his uncle had agreed to pay Bannister twenty pounds for every highwayman and horse thief Bannister named who was successfully prosecuted. Clarkson had determined he would find out as much as he could about this short, wiry man with distinctively large ears, dressed in simple clothes. He 4 established that Bannister was the son of a craftsman who used to work on Wentworth’s estate, that he had died in an accident and left Bannister’s mother to bring up a family of eight children in near poverty. Bannister had left home at fifteen and gone to London where, rumour had it, he had joined a band of footpads, robbing wealthy merchants and making his fortune. When he had returned to Yorkshire, he had quickly wooed and married a squire’s daughter and moved into this grand house at Conisbrough, his wife producing three healthy children.

 With an income that was totally inadequate to fund Clarkson’s lifestyle of gambling and whoring, he had started working for Bannister, gaining his trust, introducing him and his family to local dignitaries, Bannister quickly developing a liking for his role as a country squire. Clarkson made sure Bannister was always seen to be a stout upholder of the law, knowing full well that Bannister was now the largest handler of stolen property in the north of the country. Between them they had developed a network of merchants and contacts whom they could approach to sell on any and all of the goods they received.

The man in front of the desk jumped as, disdainfully, Bannister threw the jewelry across the table, the man snatching at it and placing it back into the sack he was holding. Clarkson could see Bannister staring at the man, seeing the fear in the man’s eyes, the sweat gathering on his brow. He knew Bannister always enjoyed these moments when he had a man cowering in front of him, fearful of his reputation, knowing he could decide if they lived or died.

‘Worthless. Why do you bring me such junk?’ Bannister said in his normal, quiet, measured voice, a voice that made even strong men tremble.

The man gulped. ‘Please Sir. This is all I’ve got…it must be worth something.’

Bannister stood up and walked to the window. Clarkson admired his dress, the deep red colour of the top coat, the lace cravat and cuffs, the silk stockings and fashionably pointed, heeled shoes. He saw Bannister turn round, looking at the man. ‘I’ll offer you a pound.’

‘But Sir, this stuff must be worth a lot more than that,’ the man whined.

‘Take my offer or leave,’ Bannister replied, waving his arm towards the door.

Clarkson saw Bannister’s two minders walk slowly towards the man. ‘I’ll take the pound.’

Bannister held out his hand, taking the sack from the man. He dug into his waistcoat pocket, pulled out a pound coin and passed it to the man. He smiled. ‘If you want to improve your lot I hear the Bishop of Lincoln is travelling to Durham during the next few days. Apparently, he only has a few men with him. Travelling along the Great North Road.’

The man touched his forelock. ‘Thank you Sir…thank you for the information.’ He turned and left the room, followed by the minders.

‘Do you think he will fall for it?’ Clarkson asked, getting up from the chair and walking towards Bannister.

Bannister sat down and poured two glasses of wine, passing one across the desk to Clarkson. ‘I’m sure a rogue like that will not be able to resist, especially as we know he runs with that band of ruffians in the forest near Pontefract.’

‘It would be most enjoyable to see the pompous Bishop brought down a peg or two.’ Clarkson took a sip of wine, appreciating the quality. ‘And if he does rob the Bishop, we know where to look.’

Bannister held up his glass. ‘Act quickly Cornelius and we can…acquire the booty and ensure the Sheriff’s men capture the miscreants.’

‘And you can collect the twenty pounds a head when they are sentenced.’

Bannister chuckled. ‘It also rids us of a troublemaker…I don’t trust the man.’

‘Shall we go to town?’ Clarkson knew Bannister liked visiting the hostelries and inns that were increasing in numbers as more and more travelers used Doncaster for overnight stops between Edinburgh and London. He also knew Bannister was always willing to get away from his frigid wife and spend the night with an appreciative young woman.

‘Why not!’ Bannister stood up, issuing instructions, demanding his carriage be brought to the front of the house, his overnight valise prepared. ‘We should celebrate…this stuff can wait until our return.’ Bannister looked down at the stolen jewelry on the desk.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Review for "Dwarves in Space" by S. E. Zbasnik

"Dwarves in Space" by S. E. Zbasnik

Dwarves in Space by S.E. Zbasnik is the kind of book that can suit any mood you are in. It tells the tale of the spaceship Elation-Cru and its motley crew of misfits that cobble together friendship, and the ship itself. Captained by a human who loses the battle at keeping her past life a secret, they must put aside their differences and prejudices and work together to survive the hostile galaxy.

I have to say, Zbasnik created an amazing world. She used elements of science fiction, wild west and comedy to create something totally unique. This had the right balance of humor, action and romance that can suit any taste, and it certainly suited mine. The characters are well developed, revealing just enough of their backstories to make you understand them, without giving so much away that they lose their intrigue. The plot stays fresh, making just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, but not so many that you lose your way. Very few books can keep me on the edge of my seat, but the ending of this one had me so close to the edge I fell out of my seat, rolled across the floor and straight out of the door.

The only problem I had with this book (sometimes a big one, sometimes small) was Zbasniks’ habit of trying to pack too much detail into each sentence. Don’t get me wrong, the world she created is amazing, as are the characters, and I can understand the desire to enrich the story with details, to paint the scene of each moment as vividly as possible so the reader clearly understands your vision, but sometimes less is more and I hope for her next book Zbasnik feels more comfortable in her writing. 

Despite a bit of a confused and rocky start, I loved this book and can’t recommend it more. In fact, the world and the characters are so amazing I would love to see this on the big screen, and if producers don’t jump on this its their loss. 

Displaying Taliesin.jpg
A drawing of the character Taliesin
For more about the author click here
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Friday, 5 August 2016

Movie review: When Calls the Heart

Okay, so this is obviously a first for me. I normally wouldn't have reviewed a movie but I was given the opportunity so I thought "hey, why not?"

When Calls the Heart is a Hallmark tv series, but I was given one of the movies to review. It's set in a small Canadian frontier town (I had to look up the date it's set, and it looks to be around 1910). The series is inspired by a novel series written by Janette Oke.

First of all, Hallmark movies are cheesy, but they're faithful in making you smile. When Calls the Heart is no different. Is the script profound? No. But it's sweet, and simple, and you don't regret sitting down to watch it. I definitely felt a bit out of the loop, though. I've never watched the tv series, and this movie takes place at the beginning of season 3 (the rest of When Calls the Heart Season 3 DVDs are also available). I was able to pick up enough throughout the movie, but I know I missed quite a few of the subtleties within the dialogue and even the side glances. Someone who has watched and enjoyed the tv series will definitely appreciate this movie much more than I could at this point.

One thing that kept bothering me was the landscape in the movie. Don't get me wrong: it was beautiful. But this is set in late Canada. I did more digging and found it's set in a fictional town in British Columbia. And there's no snow. Okay, I in Ontario we had a green December and part of January. But I'm a bit of a nut when it comes to being as close to historically accurate as possible. Yeah, it was in the negatives in December of 1910 (and for the next few years). They definitely either would have had snow, or would look much colder than anyone in the movie did. That bothered me the entire way through.

BUT! In general, I thought this was a sweet movie, and definitely makes me wish I had heard of this series earlier. I'm sure if I had been more involved with the characters before this I would have overlooked the lack of snow. I thought it was lovely to see a depiction of Canadian frontier life, the pride of their town, and the hardships that come with being on the frontier. It wasn't easy back then, especially if you had to leave your family to start a new way of life.

So you don't end up watching the movie the way I did, you can find When Calls the Heart series on DVD.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Book review: Two are Better - Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast by Tim & Debbie Bishop


As most of you know, I don't typically review non-fiction but something about this one stood out to me. Not only did it sound exciting and adventurous, how could I turn down a paperback copy with photos from the trip!

Tim and Debbie tell their love story in this wonderful book, showing how their faith in God allowed them to stay (mostly) patient in waiting for their spouse. It really is a great story, and it really shows how trusting in God and His promises can help you through anything. The two decide to take an extended honeymoon and cycle across the United States. That sounds daunting enough to me, and I'm in my late 20s! I absolutely love the reality the newlyweds share in their travel book/journal. They shared their fights, and their laughter, which is something often missing. There's no way a couple can go without fighting at least a little. It's all about how it's done, and in the end (as was said before) they relied on the fact that God had brought the two together and that would strengthen them as a couple. They used their own personal strengths and determination to continue going, even when the body was crying for rest. They understood that each of them were half of one person, stronger as one than two, because two truly are better.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Book Review: But Thomas Aiken is Dead by Alex McKechnie

But Thomas Aiken Is Dead - Part I

For the first time in a while, I found a book I couldn't put down...and I only got part 1 of 3! What a tease. This novel is written in the style of letters and an interrogation transcription. One is set in presumably present day. The other set in the distant future. The details and explanations given about the future were so natural and intriguing, I have to give the McKechnie credit. It was so well done and left me wanting more.

At first I didn't see how Thomas' writings had anything to do with Atia in the future, but it slowly appeared and we recognize the start of the development into Atia's present, our distant future, through the missing character of Fran. I can see how that transition intrigued Atia, as it intrigued me.

Something that stood out is how, with both Thomas and Atia, their words and discussions with their children deeply affected who they grew up to be and how they act. Thomas claimed that no one ever died. So Fern, his missing daughter, goes to see if that can be made possible. Presumably. We haven't found out yet, but we have a pretty good idea. (That's another thing! McKechnie didn't give me all the information, but I didn't feel the need for it. Of course, I want it. But I'm fine going along for the ride, and if you've read any of my other reviews, you know that's not often the case with me.) Atia went the opposite way, trying to show the benefits of ningen life, but the other half of her infant's...DNA?...leaned toward merging with all life forces. Prolonging life. 

The rest of the novel has been added to my "must read now!!" list. It was a great read, with superb writing (only a few blips here and there) and a fascinating story. There's so much more I could say about this novel, about how it made me think about humanity, our sense of community and the global village, how the fear of death and even loneliness can presumably spur technological advances and research....but I won't. Even though I only touched the surface of the themes McKechnie wrote about. I highly recommend this novel, to basically anyone who enjoys reading.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Book review: Infringement by Benjamin Westbrook


Infringement by Benjamin Westbrook follows Declan, a special agent who finds himself in the midst of corruption and a divine plan designed at the foundation of the universe.

This isn't the first time I've read a novel depicting the end times, or the beginning of the end as this seems to be. What was different (for me at least, although I'm sure other novels have this as well) was that it played off the fears of most Americans now. The fear of "big brother" and how that will lead into the end times. How the government is corrupt and bringing in the Antichrist. It felt more like reading a conspiracy theory than a novel giving its take on the end times. I admit that I likely am not the right audience for this plot, but I'm nervous that there is an audience who actually believes that the ends times begins this way. "Oh no, our debit and credit cards have a chip! It's the mark of the beast!" I've literally heard that multiple times at my church. They refuse to use those cards.

The novel also felt quite dragged out. It could have been condensed quite a bit, especially as this is the beginning of a series. I'm hoping that all of the extra scenes and back stories will be important, but unfortunately reading this novel didn't compel me to complete the series.

The characters were okay. I found the relationship between Declan and Megan forced and rushed. I get that they had a history just before the book began, but it seemed too forced, as though the author needed a romantic thread and threw that together. I did like the way Declan came to Christ, however. I felt that it was very relatable, and is usually the story of most people: grew up being taught about God, something bad happens so they fall away, but then are re-introduced to Scripture and make their way back to Him. It's not a bad story at all, while predictable it's comfortable and as I said, many people have gone through that or are in some stage of it.

Overall, the novel plays into current events which can make it relatable to most readers. Even the God aspects of it weren't pushy and I think even non-Christians may enjoy it. But if they read it I'm afraid they'll think, from Evan and his mom's example, that all Christians subscribe to conspiracy theories. It's a hard thing to do, walking that line of prophecy and conspiracy, but I have to commend Westbrook on his attempt.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Author Interview - Andrew Joyce

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Andrew Joyce, and I live on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with my dog, Danny. I left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico for a number of years. I’ve written four books, including my latest, Resolution, and a collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of my hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups (as yet unpublished).

What do you do when you're not writing?

I read books. Steinbeck, London, Baldacci, and Child are among my favorite authors.

When did your first start writing?

One morning, about six years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. It was soon published in a print magazine (remember them?). I’ve been writing ever since.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

I was not inspired to write Resolution . . . I was cajoled into writing it.

This is the backstory to Resolution:

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months, then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults in the Old West. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon—twice. And it won the Editors’ Choice Award for best Western of 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 142,000. However, he was insistent about a sequel, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a minor character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

So I started to think about what ever happened to her. After a bit of time—and 100,000 words—we find out what did happen to Molly. It is an adventure tale where Huck Finn weaves through the periphery of a story driven by a feisty female lead. Molly Lee was my second book, which achieved #2 status on Amazon.

Now I was finished with Huck Finn for good. Now I could go back to my first novel and resume the editing process.

But not quite.

It was then that Huck and Molly ganged up on me and demanded that I resolve their lives once and for all. It seems that I had left them hanging—so to speak. Hence, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure.

The three books are standalones and are not part of a series. They can be read in any order. RESOLUTION is available as an eBook and in print.

There you have it. Perhaps now Huck and Molly will leave me alone long enough so that I can get some editing done on my first novel.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

That is a very good question. It’s also a hard question to answer, but I reckon the passage below should suffice as one of my favorites. As to why, I would have to say because it defines what I was trying to convey in the novel—the struggle of my protagonist with nefarious men, nature, and wild animals to name just a few of his adversaries.
• • • • •
The alpha wonders why the two-legs have now bunched together. No matter, they will watch, they will be ready, and when the time is right, they will feed on the meat from their bones.

It is time to move closer to the two-legs, though it is not yet time for the attack. They must be cautious. He remembers—from long ago—the sticks the two-legs use to kill. His mother was killed by one. The sticks bark loudly and blood spouts from a wolf-brother or a wolf-sister, then they are no more. He will keep his family safe. They will not strike until the two-legs are struggling in the snow or separated from one another, making themselves easy for the kill.

No matter the wolves’ hunger, they will wait . . . it is their way.

The two-legs have their ways and the wolves have theirs. Before very long, they will tear at the flesh of the two-legs; their warm blood will drip from the wolves’ jaws—before very long, their hunger will have fled their wolf-bodies and they will lie in the snow with full bellies.
• • • • •
Huck went back to the fire, bringing Bright with him, and sat down on his heels. With one hand, he held onto his Winchester, the stock resting in the snow, the barrel pointing to the sky. With the other, he held onto Bright’s collar. He did not want the dog to start anything that he could not finish. He did not say anything. He was thinking. Jass stopped stirring the mush and Molly looked up from what she was doing. They looked at each other, then back at Huck.

Molly asked, “Did you change your mind about hunting?”

Slowly, Huck came out of his reverie and looked at Molly and then at Jass. Turning back to Molly, he said, “Get John fed and get ready to move out.” To Jass, he said, “Hurry up with that mush. We gotta be going.”

“What’s the matter, Huck?” asked Jass.

“We have company. There are four or five wolves up there, back on the rise, that seem to have an extraordinary interest in us. Don’t worry, we’ll be all right. We just have to keep moving, but from now on, we stay together. If they don’t follow us, we’ll be fine.”

Both Molly and Jass looked up to the rise and saw nothing. “I don’t see any wolves,” said Molly.

“Me either,” interjected Jass.

Huck hurriedly stood up and turned to where they were looking. They were right, the wolves were gone. He was about to sigh in relief when Bright growled again and he saw a dark speck moving in the snow, then another, and another. The wolves had come down off the rise and were coming their way.

“Feed John,” ordered Huck. “It may be a while before we can stop again.” He did not have to explain. Molly and Jass had also seen the wolves.
• • • • •
They move to within a hundred yards of the two-legs and spread out in a half circle. If they had been a larger family, they would have completely surrounded their prey. Now is the time to observe their weaknesses and look for opportunities to mount an attack.

The pup knows his place, but being young, he wants to show off some. He’s behind the adults, running back and forth, when all of a sudden he darts past the line the adults have set. He’ll show them what a great hunter he is. As he runs past one of the females, she turns and nips him on his right haunch. He yelps, and with a painful whine, runs back to where he should have been. It was his mother who had put an end to his foolishness. The alpha male observes the interplay between mother and pup and remembers back to when he was a pup and his mother had kept him in line in a similar manner. But that was before she was killed by the two-legs.

What is best writing advice you can give?

Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life. When one reads stuff like the passage below, one cannot help but become a better writer.
"The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man. A little gold entered into the sunlight. The bay became bluer and dimpled with shore-wind ripples. Those lonely fishermen who believe that the fish bite at high tide left their rocks and their places were taken by others, who were convinced that the fish bite at low tide.”—John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat

Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about the book?

I would like to say that I wrote Resolution in one sitting and everything in it is my pure genius. But that would be a lie. I have an editor that puts order to my chaos.

One last thing: Everything in Resolution is historically correct. I spend as much time on research as I do writing—sometimes more.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just this: Thank you for having me over. It’s been a real pleasure.

You can find Andrew Joyces' Latest novel, "Resolution; Huck Finn's Greatest Adventure." here:

and his website: