Interview with Nikko Lee

DSCN1105bInterview with Nikko Lee, author of Wolf Creek
I’m going/not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but fromyour other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Of my previous publications, Boson’s Mate is probably my favorite as a writer. It’s a gay steampunk erotica published in Valves and Vixens (2014). I loved creating a futuristic steampunk world where spacecrafts run on quantum coal and solar sails. The whole economy is based of a substance that is incredibly dangerous to mine and process resulting is an underclass of the society crippled by amputations and reliant on cogs and gears to function. Throw in a part man, part machine captain who rose from the ranks of miner and a playboy on the run from his title and I fell in love with the world and the characters.

I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels?51CauS-CV4L

I agree. Some books leave me wanting more and others just leave me scratching my head about the sequel bait. I make every effort for my novels to be stand-alone even though I’m always thinking in terms of series. After spending, months and even years with these characters, I want their existences to be meaningful and rich. Sometimes that takes more than one book. I wrote Wolf Creek as a stand-alone novel, but I already have the sequel outlined. I can’t wait to see my characters face new challenges and grow. After all, they have to earn their happy ends.

There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?

Currently, I’m working on a thriller with a BDSM flavor. Safe Word is about a dominant psychologist who must team-up with an uptight detective to find a killer targeting his BDSM community before he becomes the prime suspect.

Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!

I’ve been writing stories since I was in elementary school. I still have my seventh grade English journals were I wrote one of my first adventure story. My first novel proper was written on an old word processor that I no longer own and was obsolete by the time I finished my undergraduate education. I can still remember some of the plot threads involving a drug company using a small village in Quebec to test a new drug under the guise of a vaccination program. Since then I’ve written several novels that never saw the light of publishing and never will. I may use various characters from them, but my writing has evolved so much since I wrote those draft that I would need to completely re-write the novels if I wanted to consider publishing them. I recently returned to one of those trunked novels that inspired Josh’s character in Wolf Creek. After several months of re-writes, I discovered it was salvageable. Spar is an gay erotica involving two martial artists discovering their greatest fight is within themselves. It will be published by Torquere Press next October.

Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?

I have an office space carved out in my kitchen with a desk and computer. It’s functional but cluttered. Really all I need to write is a computer or laptop, internet access (for distractions, I mean research) and a cup of chai.

What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?

I started out as a complete pantser and have slowly evolved into a plotter. Initially, I lived my stories with my characters as I wrote them. Then I started daydreaming scenes or chapters before writing them. It works for short stories. However, novels tend to get complicated and have various interviewing plots that are best kept track of on paper. Wolf Creek marked a change in my writing process. I knew I wanted to write the story for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) when writers from around the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. With so little time, I needed to know where the story was going. So I wrote my first complete outline. Usually I will hand write the outline, type the first draft, re-write the outline and character sketches to identify and fill in gaps, and update the manuscript electronically. Once I have the novel completed, I alternate between print and digital edits as I need to change my perspectives. Reading out loud to writing groups or even myself is a great way to check to errors and odd sentences. Lastly, I find some willing victims – I mean beta readers – who graciously read my would-be novel and let me know whether they enjoyed it or not. Then the submission game begins.

How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?

Usually the first few times through, I’ll know how close it is to being finished by how many gaps in logic are present. Then it is a matter of faith. If I’m lucky, I can usually find a handful of beta readers to review my work. Their reactions help me gauge how ready it is to be submitted. Something can always be improved upon, but I want other people to be able to read my stories. So at some point you just need to let go and let the work stand on its own two feet. It’s not always easy to do. You only get one opportunity to catch the eye of an agent or publisher.

Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.

I always aim for my stories to appear in both formats. Ebooks allow for greater accessibility and they are cheaper. But there’s nothing like physically holding a book with my name on it. The reality of publishing in this day and age is that you are lucky to get something published regardless of the format. I read both myself. When I want a more leisurely experience, I prefer paperback. When I want to consume a story like a ravenous animal, I prefer digital because I almost always have my smartphone with me and can read anywhere/anytime.

Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?

When you are writing a novel, simply finishing it feels like the hardest task. Really, it’s getting the word out that you have even published a novel or story that is the hardest part. Social media is a great tool to reach a lot of people. Unfortunately, most of the time it feels like shouting in the wind. I maintain a blog at nikkolee.com about writing, science and hiking that serves to attract readers and allows people to get to know what I’m about and interested in. I have Twitter (nikkolee88) and Facebook (Nikko-Lee-160950667286913) profiles that I really should post on more. My publisher was great about allowing me to use their Twitter account to draw in interest and arranging blog tours. I also relied on blog guest posts and interviews to reach a wider audience. Sometimes it feels a little overwhelming and exhausting with all the possible social media types and sites out there. But if people don’t know about your novel they won’t find it among the thousands published every week. Basically, I try everything I can think of to reach as many people as I can. My goal is to let people know about Wolf Creek whether they read it or not – I really hope they will read it, of course.

You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?

I wish someone would have asked me why I didn’t have my main male characters end up in a sexual relationship by the end of it. I was tempted. I really was. Josh deserves to find that special someone who will love and cherish him. But first he needed to love learn to love himself. When I reached the end of the novel, I realized that Gavin wasn’t the right man for Josh. Their bond is something more akin to brotherhood. Although in the next novel when Josh does meet someone he becomes intimate with it will cause friction between him and Gavin. They will both need to come to terms with their own feelings. Like I said, I want my characters to earn their happy endings. These characters have a lot more growing to do before they get a chance to settle down.

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Interview with Glen Hierlmeier

6035175An Interview with Glen Hierlmeier

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

My favorite book is not a novel at all. We Had to Live: We Had No Choice, is a story based on the life of my family beginning with the immigration of my fourth great grandfather, Thomas Sewell, to the USA from England as an indentured servant. I tried to write the book more as a novel, telling the family story in a way to make it more inviting and readable. It was also my intention to use the writing of the book as a warm-up, so to speak, for further writing. As it turned out, an experience in World War II first related to me by my eldest brother, who has since passed away, during the writing of the family book, provided the nugget that stimulated the writing of my first novel, Honor & Innocence: Against the Tides of War. I immensely enjoyed the process of researching and writing my first novel, but I believe the first book and the intense and personal look into the family ancestry will forever be my favorite.

I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels?

Lazlo’s Revenge is indeed a sequel, or a prequel in another sense, in that the book covers a longer time period that encompasses the first book. One of my objectives in writing each book was to leave significant questions for the reader at the end of the story. In fact, the idea for the second book was stimulated by many readers’ desire to hear more about some of the characters. In Lazlo’s Revenge I go into greater depth and scope with some of the most loved characters. These characters have taken on a life of their own and I am constantly asked about them by those wanting more. There is a scene that occurs in both books, but it is told through different participants, so each sees it a bit differently.

There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?Front Cover

I suspect from early reviews and comments that readers will want to know more about Max, the narrator whose experiences unearth the story. Max, Maxine Roberta Fischer, is a retired war correspondent who seeks to learn about the lives of her parents and other significant people in her family history by tracing their steps through Europe from the years before WWI through the end of WWII in search of answers to the causes of war. After a lifetime as a war correspondent all over the world, she remains perplexed about why wars continue to occur. I am contemplating a series of shorter novels relating Max’s personal experiences covering wars around the world for forty years. The working titles would be Max Fischer in (fill-in country of combat).

Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!

My first novel was published, but only after I nursed it for about six months, and undertook not fewer than five substantial edits. I wanted to get it published and move on with what I had learned in the writing and in the publishing processes. Rather than hold on to it longer, I wanted to birth it and move on to another book, hopefully wiser for the experience. Now that the second novel is in publication, I am marketing the first novel as well since they relate to many of the same characters.

Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?

My entire home is my writing space. I like to move around with my mood. The oversized dining room table allows me to lay many things out, and serves as my command post.  I use a computer room separate from the command post, and also often use a reading area in my master bedroom for reading, research, and note taking. Sometimes I take a ride in my car to think over a passage, develop a character, or just clear my head.

What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?

I record my research notes, key words, and phrases on note cards. I do not write an outline. Once I have the story well in mind I write the first chapter and let each chapter take me where it leads me.

I create best with an ink pen in my hand. The first several drafts, and often more, are written out in cursive with a pen selected from a collection of about thirty fine writing instruments, depending on my mood. Once I feel I am close to what I want, I then type it into the computer at which time I fill in a lot of detail I usually don’t get into when I am creating with my pen in hand.

After I have gone over a chapter several times and have it where I think I am happy with it, I read it out loud to my wife, who teaches literature and writing, and isn’t reluctant to be critical. Reading it to her allows us to confirm the flow of the writing and that the detail or emotion is being effectively conveyed. She also asks good questions that help flesh out or clarify the writing.

How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?

The characters and the plot must resolve themselves. I always let the story speak for itself until the epilogue, where I try to wrap up loose ends.

Do you have a preference for e-book or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.

I prefer to have a book in my hand and feel the pages. I always provide all three formats.

Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?

I think it is unfortunate, but marketing through social sites is imperative. I let my PR team handle most of that.

You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?

Why would readers enjoy your book?

Lazlo’s Revenge is a modern day odyssey, which – like ancient Greek tragedies – takes the reader on a winding adventure across land and sea while focusing on the moral, spiritual, and personal meanings underlying the story. The agony and devastation that engulfed all of Europe and much of the world for over three decades in the first half of the twentieth century are brought to life as history, pathos, and intrigue are woven together with the human spirit. Through an improbable web of personal relationships and dire circumstances, the plot unfolds with the shifting tides of politics and war, challenging our moral compass and exposing our proclivity to nationalism, prejudice, hatred, greed, and war. This is a story with great relevance in today’s world that needs to be heard in hopes of preventing history from repeating itself.

About Lazlo’s Revenge

Glen Hierlmeier’s latest historical romance novel, Lazlo’s Revenge, is the story of one woman’s adventure throughout Europe to uncover her parents’ pasts.  Stories of romance, war, and traumas both physical and emotional are unearthed as she traces their footsteps back to the major sites of World Wars I and II.  Lazlo’s Revenge is due for release in June 2016 from Xlibris publishing.

Lazlo’s Revenge follows Maxine “Max” Fischer, a writer and Swiss war correspondent, whose parents (Hank and Roberta Fischer, the main characters from Hierlmeier’s previous book, Honor and Innocence) lived through the tragedies of the Great World Wars.

In Lazlo’s Revenge, Max sets out on an adventure throughout Europe to uncover her parents’ pasts and see the very places where they survived on their odyssey to escape danger and death. Stories of romance, war, and traumas are unearthed as she traces their footsteps back to the major sites of World Wars I and II.

During her journey, Max becomes fascinated by the people who influenced her parents’ lives. She follows the life and times of Lazlo Floznik, the man who saved her parents and helped them escape catastrophe in Europe by seeking out refuge beyond the reach of the security forces that sought to imprison them.  The years leading up to World War I, the time between the wars, and the experiences of World War II reveal their secrets as Max explores her family roots, in this deeply emotional story tied together by Lazlo’s intense story of love, and that of his father, Miklos, before him.

Praise:

Any reader who enjoys historical fiction, romance, war stories, and stories with action and adventure, should definitely give Lazlo’s Revenge a read. I am pleased to be able to recommend this book to any such reader. I am also looking forward to reading more from the promising author, Glen Hierlmeier, as soon as I possibly can!” – 4 Stars, Reviewed by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite

About Glen

]Glen Hierlmeier is a graduate of the United Sates Air Force Academy, and has an MBA from The University of Wisconsin. He served in the U.S. Air Force, where he helped develop the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and the F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft, and gained a deep interest in world affairs and warfare.

He subsequently completed a career as a banker and real estate executive, serving as President and CEO of various companies for over thirty years before retiring in 2009.

Glen enjoys writing historical fiction and has published three other books including Thoughts From Yesterday: Moments to Remember, We Had to Live: We Had No Choice…, and Honor and Innocence: Against the Tides of War, the prequel to Lazlo’s Revenge.

Readers can connect with Glen Hierlmeier on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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Interview with Caitlin Lynagh

Caitlin-Lynagh-150x150An Interview with Caitlin Lynagh, author of Anomaly
I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other stories in the works, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Anomaly (The Soul Prophecies) is my first novel so by default it is currently my favourite. However, writing the story for Anomaly drew on many personal experiences so I think it will always reserve a special place amongst my future works.

I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels?

Endings are so important! Anomaly is a standalone novel but will also hopefully be part of a series too. I am aiming to write all of my future works as standalone novels, unless I embark on an epic fantasy, but even then I will be spending a lot of time making sure and hoping that my endings leave readers satisfied.anomaly_cover-194x300

There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even have a working title?

I have dozens of novels in the pipeline thanks to my overactive imagination. Currently, I’m working on a prequel to Anomaly that will be part of the The Soul Prophecies series but will also be a standalone novel. There is no working title as of yet, but the story will focus on the Sophia Leto’s backstory, a mysterious yet prominent character from Anomaly.

Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!

Yes I still have a copy of the first novel I wrote, it is a fantasy novel about vampires, angels and mages, currently called ‘The Heartstone of Alena’. I haven’t published this novel but I am currently in the process of revisiting it and posting it up on Wattpad. Anomaly itself started off as a completely different story to the one I eventually ended up with. It took me three years to write it and I axed drafts completely and rewrote the entire story several times. My editor was amazed at how easily I could drop a 70,000 word draft and just start again, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist at times and I wanted Anomaly to be as good as it could possibly be.

Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?

My writing space is currently my bedroom, which always seems to be messy. I have notebooks, bits of paper and books all over the place, it’s not ideal but I make it work. One day I hope to have a dedicated writing study, until then it’s writing more novels for me!

What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it?

My writing process is sporadic to say the least, I don’t really stick to a set formula or plan. I write when I feel like it and fortunately that means I am able to write most days. Usually, my initial ideas come from daydreaming. I will often imagine scenes between characters in my head and let them play out as naturally as possible like my own personal movie theatre. I used to do this a lot as a kid as it used to help me to get to sleep. After that I try to come up with a basic outline and an ending for my novel before I start writing. I try and write something every day but I don’t give myself strict deadlines.

Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?

Not at all, I use both digital and traditional methods. My outline and endings tend to be hand written notes in notepads and on post-it notes. As I’m writing my novel I tend to jump back and forth between a notebook and my laptop, I will often write chapters or passages in my notebook first and then type them up as I go along. I find that sometimes my imagination just seems to flow better when I’m writing my story down by hand first.

How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?

This is a hard question and I’m not really sure how to answer it. With Anomaly I didn’t have an ending in mind initially, and it took a really long time to come up with an ending that I was happy with. Eventually I just kept writing and rewriting until I was happy with what I had written. I do have an ending in mind for my current work-in-progress so I’m pretty confident I will know when to step away this time. I think with any novel or short story, you never really know if you are completely finished or not, you just have to write until you are happy with your story and let your readers be the judge, if it’s a really great story then your readers are always going to want more.

Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.

Ebooks are fantastic because you can download and read books within seconds, plus they tend to be cheaper than paperbacks. However, when I read I do prefer paperbacks. I read a lot of books and sometimes my eyes feel strained staring at my kindle/iPhone screen for hours on end, paperbacks are much easier on the eyes. On saying that, I still buy and download lots of ebooks.

Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?

Social media is huge but I’m not a social media buff and it can be very time consuming. I’m lucky because I have a close friend who is into online marketing who has been helping me promote myself as an Author and my novel. I have pretty much every social media outlet going, it takes a while to set them up and to gain your initial likes and followers, but after that it’s not too difficult to maintain them. I mainly focus on Twitter, Facebook, my website and my WordPress blog Thebookigloo, but I also have Tumblr, Pinterest and Deviantart which gives my novel Anomaly, more of a visual element.

You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?

This is my third interview to date and as of yet I’ve not been asked anything that I wish I hadn’t been. However, I’m often asked about the science in my novel Anomaly, there has been a lot of interest in my ideas, particularly my descriptions of two timelines holding every cosmological possibility. It has generated discussions online and a blog post. The science is physics based but it is theoretical and mainly focussed on thought experiments as opposed to complicated facts and equations. Even though I did a lot of research, I still find the physics aspects complicated. My current work-in-progress will also build on the science ideas behind Anomaly.

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Interview with JM Peace

An Interview with JM Peace, author of The Twisted Knot

4I’m going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

This is only my second published novel. So I have no choice at this stage but to say my first is my favourite. Though I do have high hopes for my third!

I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels?

It never occurred to me to write a sequel until a publisher asked me where the storyline was going for the second book. My first book was self-contained and each plot line was resolved. For the sequel, I used some of the characters and a location from the first, and used these to bind the two novels together rather than continuing a particular storyline. As a reader as well as a writer, I like loose ends tied off.

There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?3793-twisted-knot_cover

I am working on number three in the series. It involves a death in custody at Angel’s Crossing Police Station. Although the manuscript is developing quickly, it is still only called ‘#3’. A title has not yet presented itself.

Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!

I wrote my first full-length novel when I was in Grade 12. It was so long ago, I wrote it on a typewriter. I believe the manuscript is still lurking in the darkest corner of my most bottom drawer. And – that’s where it belongs. I have edited both my first and second novels very heavily in response to advice from editors and trusted readers. I don’t have a problem with heavy editing. As I am still new to this business, I feel it’s wise to listen to the professionals.

Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?

No dedicated writing space for me, although I wish there was. I work at the family computer which is in a nook across from the kitchen and close enough to the TV to get distracted if something interesting comes on. There’s no door I can shut myself behind and with two kids running around, I do find it hard to focus. I try to make the most of the times when the story spirits me away and everyday life disappears.

What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?

I’m a terrible planner. Notes for my first book consisted of some scribbles on a single page. It was all in my head. I attempted to be more professional with my second manuscript. I got a notebook and bought Scrivener but I still find I’m just kind of making it up as I go along.

How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?

Due to my particular circumstances, the story is often ‘finished’ when I have run out of time. It is important to me to meet my deadlines. I think this is why I’m happy to do lots of editing.

Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.

I prefer paperback. I’m generally hopeless with technology and although I have an ebook reader, I rarely use it. I know where I stand with a paperback in my hands. And there is nothing quite like holding a book with your own name embossed on the cover.

Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?

I try to blog regularly and post to Facebook a fair bit. I’m on Twitter, but it confuses me slightly. The social media thing can be time-consuming and I find I use it as a distraction when I should be writing. ‘This is work’ I tell myself whilst scrolling through my FB author page…

You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?

The question I wish someone would ask me – ‘Would you like a million dollars to give up your day-job and become a full-time author?’

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Review: Hollie Overton – Baby doll

Baby doll
Hollie Overton

Lily was stolen away from her life at age 16. 2 years later, she gave birth to a baby girl in captivity and named her in honour of the biggest thing she missed – the sky. Now her captor has left the door open, and she is free – to flee, but not necessarily safe yet.

26889278Here the multiple perspectives worked quite well, but not flawlessly. I could have done without some in favour of some more from Lily’s captor. I imagine that he would have been the hardest character to write, as he needed to be realistic and yet creepily absent at the same time. He reminded me of Breaking Butterflies.

The abuse scenes aren’t that bad, per se, but still will be triggering for someone who may have been in an abusive relationship. The manipulative lying, the barren comments, all of it is horrifying with the knowledge that in real life, people do this, and not all of them are caught.

I’m feeling a bit weak in my heart at the moment, so I didn’t want anything too scary. I haven’t read ‘Fear is the Rider’ yet because I’ve been terrified of it! This was fine, even though I worried that there wouldn’t be a ‘happy ending’. I think the ending was more realistic than anything else. I wish you luck Abby and Lily, getting your lives back.

Oh my goodness. This was haunting. I couldn’t put it down. I HAD to keep reading. For that reason, I’ll forgive some other ills and give it 4 stars.

4star

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Review: Danielle Rollins – Burning

Burning
Danielle Rollins

Angela has served her time in Brunesfield Correctional Facility and is due for release in three months. When a new girl arrives and strange things start happening, Angela’s release might be in question unless she does exactly what the new Director wants her to do.

27280428This novel is basically built on the idea that monsters are more interesting than heroes. Isn’t that true? Monsters always get to have more fun! I’m not sure that’s exactly true for the entirety of the novel, but true feelings come out towards the end.

You’re going to want to pick up this novel for its very attractive cover which hints at the story to come, and then keep reading because its really fantastic and the plot keeps turning over quickly. There isn’t a moment to get bored or doubt yourself. You just have to keep reading!

The characters in this were neatly filled out, but at the same time I could have known more about them. I was interested in the crimes committed by each of Angela’s friends, and Angela herself, and I felt like I never got full answers.

I want to see a sequel for this. At the same time, I was perfectly happy with the very surprising ending! I now couldn’t picture it ending any other way. 5 stars from me. Go pick it up right now!

5star
Bloomsbury | July 2016 | AU$17.99 | Paperback

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Review: JM Peace – The Twisted Knot

The Twisted Knot
JM Peace

Sammi is on desk duty, unable to face going into the field after her abduction by a killer two years ago. When she is faced by a mob of people demanding that a pedophile is caught by police, she finds the courage to start active work again on a case which is as twisted as any you will have read about.

9781743538678It’s nice to see a crime novel where I can follow where some of the places are (ie. Australian). To think that crime used to be one of the genres that I turned down to review as a matter of course! I was selling them short by only imagining old-time detective novels.

I wasn’t sure why we were constantly reminded of Sammi making sure her gun didn’t catch on anything. Was it because the author wanted us to see this as something important to her as a plot device? Sammi developed nicely as a character, and I was certainly kept enthralled and up past my bed time.

Pedophiles are some of the most disgusting people on the planet, and I can’t think of a biological imperative for why it might be ok. Consenting adults people, consenting adults only. There is likely a psychological issue, as there was in this novel, and you can do more reading about it if you are interested. Remember that not all pedophiles act on their desires, just like some gay people never admit that they are gay.

I didn’t realise there was a ‘first book’, where Sammi is the one who is being investigated. This novel was a true stand alone though. In the back, it suggests other novels like itself, which I also enjoyed.

Ooh, this one was good. I really enjoyed this crime novel that wasn’t a thriller! I could stay up late to read its satisfying conclusion, but not be too scared to sleep. I’m giving this one 4 stars.

4star

Pan Macmillan | 28th June 2016 | $29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Sophie Hardcastle – Breathing Under Water

Breathing Under Water
Sophie Hardcastle

The twinship Grace and Ben share means that they have always had each other, yet Grace stands in the shadow of her brother’s glory – both on the surf and away from the beach. Grace’s life will be tipped on its head, and there will be more things to think about than simply kissing the cute boy who has returned to her life.

30151298This book greeted me on my front doorstep, and I responded by reading it straight away despite my current efforts to catch up on reading novels again. Boy was it worth it.

What I loved about this novel was that it didn’t give away all the plot in the blurb. Things still had to happen! In fact, having thought about what this author had written about previously (her experiences with Bipolar I in her memoir Running like China) I completely misled myself!

You would think that I would have hated the prose of the novel, particularly the way it led in in quite a poetic way. But instead, I found myself skimming over the top, buoyed by the characters’ personalities and beach scenes. And I don’t even like the beach, and usually Australian novels are just not that fantastic from my perspective (Tim Winton comes to mind)!

The poignancy of Grace and Jake falling apart and the way other people react when big things change are tangible for the reader. It does include sex and drug scenes, gritty and painful and not in a good light. I loved the way Harley behaved believably and so much more sensibly than many other boys in other novels. Hardcastle pushed boundaries and got away with it.

This novel is one I think I’m going to read again and again. I held my breath while I was reading it, and I couldn’t put it down. 5 stars from me. Go and buy yourself a copy, and prepare to hold back tears. I can’t wait to read another of this author’s novels when they come.

5star

Quercus Children’s Books / Hachette | June 2016 | AU$26.99 | Paperback

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Review: Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski – Dormia

Dormia
Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

Alfonso is Dormian. Not that he knows what that means yet. All he knows is that while he is apparently sleeping, he can do fantabulous feats – which his Pappy refers to as ‘tomfoolery’. When an uncle and a blind man turn up, it turns out that Alfonso might have more than he bargained for with his beautiful plant.

5877213This is action driven. Alfonso hardly seems to get a rest between being attacked by plants and swords. Hehe, while I’m talking about it, every time I write Alfonso, I find it pretty funny. It reminds me of Houdini perhaps? Anyway, there’s no chances to get bored, and the storyline trots along – right until you get tipped on your head!

Some nice little riddles here that were logical enough for a reader to follow along with, even if I didn’t get the riddle in the fancy woods either. I’m not exactly sure why that’s a Dormian thing though,

This concluded very nicely, but also left room for a sequel. Low and behold, when I looked on GoodReads, it turned out that this is the first book in a trilogy. My chances of getting my hands on copies of the later books are slim though.

Ah yes! Humour! Deaths! This is what I was hoping The Crystal Run would give me, yet it failed to deliver. I’m giving this one 4 stars – I picked it up for 50c when my library was selling old books and it was well worth it.

4star

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Review: Kasper Beaumont – Elven Jewel

Elven Jewel
Kasper Beaumont

The halflings live a life of peace until their lives are endangered by cruel invaders. What starts off as a quest to warn the protectors, becomes a quest to rescue the Elven Jewel and save Reloria.

21769082I put off reading this novel because the cover didn’t fill me with confidence (I have included the updated image here). Lo and behold, setting off into it I remained nervous. By about half-way through, I was already committed, even if I didn’t feel particularly pushed to finish it.

You know, despite pretty much knowing what was going to happen, and the rather stilted storytelling, I enjoyed it. This is basically a remake of Lord of the Rings, for a younger set of readers. To an extent, I was confused as to why there was a lot made of the growing romance between two of the characters when the rest of the novel felt quite childish. But combine that with some of the somewhat graphic violence, and it became an early teenage novel where I would expect more character depth.

While Fendi (who I considered the main character) apparently is developing a silver tongue, I really didn’t see that role of him developing, despite the other characters commenting on it. I wanted to see more! Saying ‘no’ to killing someone does not make you a negotiator. Equally, you’ve got to do a bit more explaining to the new allies about the dangers.

Some of the names of things, I wasn’t sure that although they were deliberate choices, they could have been less, obvious? The author went to the trouble of renaming his characters depending on what their race was, I felt like it would have been better to also rename all the animals rather than leaving some as recognisable.

This novel has now gone through a complete renovation (sorry, it’s called editing when you aren’t updating a house!), which I haven’t actually read. I would expect that with that editing, it could be a candidate for 4 stars for the right audience. As it stands, 3 stars.

3star

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