Ko-Fi!

elle turpittYep, I have finally started a Ko-Fi. I’m doing quite a lot at the moment, including this blog, beta-reading through Fiverr, and editing for/contributing to Dead Head Reviews. I’m also hoping to join the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, as well as perhaps taking a course or two through them to increase my editing skills, hopefully this year.

Thing is, as many people will be aware, in different ways these sort of things all take money. Although I work full-time, I’m not financially secure. I’m currently working on getting out of my overdraft, and the funds from things like Fiverr are contributing a little towards that, but money also needs to go towards maintaining this site. I also can’t take on as much work through Fiverr as I’d like – again, working full-time, and I need some downtime for myself, too.

Anyway! The point being, I know I’m not going to make a whole lot from having a Ko-Fi, but right now I am glad it’s set up and available just in case. So if you do like the random words I somehow string together on my blog, if you enjoy the stuff I do for Dead Head Reviews, please consider visiting my Ko-Fi page. Or sharing it, if you wouldn’t mind.

And of course, if you’re a writer yourself and would like to see what I do through that gig, please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss it more.

If there are specific reasons you currently wouldn’t donate – if there are ways you think I could improve – please let me know that, too. I write this blog not just myself but for the lovely people who follow me, too, so if there are ways to make that better I’m always opening to listening.

Ko-Fi

 

 

Happy Writing – Jenny Alexander [Books]

happy writingI’m a big fan of most (writing) books. I enjoy reading them, I enjoy taking notes on them, and I enjoy glancing back over those notes. A lot of times, these books spark off new ideas, or help me find a way forward on a particularly tricky aspect I’ve come up against. They’ve given me tips not just on writing, but editing too. I think, in many ways, studying these sort of books has definitely helped me become a better writer, and if I think it’s beneficial, I often recommend some to other writers when I give feedback through my beta-reading service.

Maybe it’s because I’ve read so many, or because I’ve been writing for so long, but I didn’t really feel this book added much to the whole conversation.

I definitely think this is a good book to consider if you are starting out with writing, or haven’t really spent much time ‘studying’ the craft as such. There are good tips here, and the glimpses into the writer’s own personal journey are interesting to a point, but overall, I didn’t really come out of this feeling like I’d learnt anything new.

The tips in this book are mainly geared towards helping writers get over the things that might block them, giving advice for what to do when one feels stuck at various stages of a project. The tips are good and interesting, but again, they’re very much ones I’ve read/heard before, and I found myself sort of skimming over most of them.

The best parts about this book were, for me, the extracts from writers about their own struggles, including Alexander’s. They added a really nice touch the whole thing, and it definitely helps to remember that no matter what stage of the ladder you’re on, every writer faces similar struggles.

I recommend this if you’re stuck with your writing, if you haven’t really read much about the craft before, or are considering delving into the world of writing and wondering if you should take that leap.

January 2020 Wrap Up [Books]

January 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

This wasn’t something I did month by month last year, mainly because I was only reading a few books a month. But I managed to start the year by reading nine books in one month, so I thought a wrap up would be a good idea! And I know this is fairly late, but hopefully I can get ones up earlier throughout the year.

Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow – Carlos Colon

received_2714049208646313I read this as part of a blog tour, hence why the review isn’t yet up. But it is a book I definitely enjoyed, with interesting takes on the vampire mythos. The story is told in two strands – the MC’s past, entwined with his present, as he tries to avoid the attention of the authorities after a few too many murders. It’s a good book, and I can’t wait for you to see the blog tour in May!

Yuri – Steve Stred

yuriMy Review

Yuri is a short, tightly packed read. It was really enjoyable, had me absolutely gripped, and is definitely worth checking out. Stred creates a really interesting world here, and I’m really looking forward to checking out more by this author.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance – Tomi Adeyemi

COV&V_JKT_Trade_032819.indd

My Review

I was really looking forward to this, after having thoroughly enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone. I maybe didn’t enjoy this installment as much as the first, but I still liked it and am now eagerly awaiting the third book in the series.

Slay My Love – Lee Colgin

slay my love

My Review

This book reminded me of my love for paranormal romance, and for vampires. And the vampires presented here are fairly different from those in Sangre, so it was great to get the different genres and different views of them. I’ve always loved vampires, and I absolutely devoured Slay My Love.

Devil’s Creek – Todd Keisling

devil's creek

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

This is a fantastic release from publisher Silver Shamrock, and if you’re not paying attention to them yet you really should be. They are seriously putting out some amazing horror into the world, and I’m always thrilled to get one of their releases. Devil’s Creek was no exception, an intriguing, gripping story based around a cult and the children of cult leader Jacob Masters. Keep an eye out for this one.

Will Haunt You – Brian Kirk

will haunt you

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

I was kind of in two minds about this, but in the end it was an enjoyable book to read, and fairly twisted. If you like books that are a little off the rails, definitely worth checking this one out. And keep an eye out on Dead Head for my review, too!

The Roo – Alan Baxter

the roo

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

Tell me what’s not to love about a demented kangaroo terrorising an Australian outback town? Baxter did an absolutely fantastic job with this, and just look at that cover! It’s a really engrossing novella, hard to put down, and if you like any sort of creature features, I cannot recommend this one enough.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken – Brigid Kemmerer

a heart so

My Review

This was another book I was really looking forward to, having absolutely loved A Curse So Dark and LonelyAgain however, it didn’t quite live up to the first book in the series. Grey and his new love interest just weren’t as gripping as Harper and Rhen, and I think I preferred the more limited view of Grey we got in the first book. But Kemmerer’s writing is absolutely fantastic all the same, and I’ll still be reading the third book when it comes out.

Magic Unleashed – Devri Walls

venators

This is another blog tour book, so keep an eye out for the blog tour with some amazing bloggers coming in March. This book was really enjoyable, combining so many different elements I thoroughly love. I’m really excited for the review to come out, and hopefully a few more people will pick this up on the back of the blog tour!

So there we have it, the wrap up for January 2020. Any books you read in the first month of this year you really enjoyed? Any of these you’ve picked up and liked? And yeah, hopefully I can get the February wrap up out much quicker!

Follow Him: Craig Stewart – Blackthorn Blog Tour

BLACKTHORN BOOK TOURS PRESENTS (1) (2).pngFirstly, thank you very much to Blackthorn for inviting me onto this book tour, and providing a free ebook of Follow Him. Today is my stop on the tour, and you should definitely check out the other bloggers to see what they’ve said about this novel, too.

Blurb

True love doesn’t die – it devours. Just outside the sleepy town of Dreury, a mysterious cult known as The Shared Heart has planted its stakes. Its followers are numerous. More join every day. Those who are lost and suffering seem to be drawn to it; a home for the broken. When Jacob finds himself in need of such a home, he abandons his dead name and gives himself over to the will of The Great Collector. However, love refuses to let Jacob go so easily; his ex-fiancé, Nina, kidnaps him in the hopes that he can be deprogrammed. As she attempts to return Jacob to the life they once had, a terrible fear creeps in: what if there isn’t enough of her Jacob left? When The Great Collector learns of his missing follower, the true nature of The Shared Heart is unleashed. Nina discovers what Jacob already knows: that hidden behind the warm songs and soaring bonfires is a terrifying and ancient secret; one that lives and breathes and hungers. And it’s coming for them.

Review

Follow Him is a dark, twisted novel with the sort of imagery that would be hard to shake off in a hurry. It’s told through different perspectives, mainly focusing on Jacob and Nina, a young couple, who have very contrasting views about The Shared Heart. After a slight breakdown of their relationship, Jacob seeks comfort in the cult and falls completely for what he’s told. Nina, desperate to locate her missing boyfriend, tracks him down, kidnaps him and takes him back home, where she discovers just how far she’s willing to go to keep him from the clutches of The Great Collector and The First.

And the beauty – and horror – in this book lies in discovery. In the discovery of what, exactly, The Great Collector has been doing to the cult members. In finding out why Jacob really left, and the slow revelations scattered throughout the book.

The gore is really amped up towards the end, as the Harvest approaches and the plans of The Shared Heart start to be revealed. This is not a novel for the faint of heart, with uncomfortable moments scattered throughout the book, and scenes that might just turn a reader’s stomach.

Characters

I don’t always have a section dedicated to characters in a review, but I wanted to have one here, because I feel it’s important. The two main characters of the novel are Jacob and Nina, and both conceal things from the reader and those around them. Nothing that feels forced when revealed, but information that deepens our understanding of both of them.

For Nina, we begin to understand her desperation in getting her boyfriend back, her close relationship with her brother, her fears about what is and isn’t out there, and it all combines to form a strong woman who may not always act in the best way, but who definitely has us, as readers, rooting for her, as she’s lured towards The Shared Heart but constantly pushes herself away from the cliffedge.

Jacob, on the other hand…

I started off rooting for Jacob, not necessarily wanting him to achieve what he wanted, but wanting to see him, in some way, succeed, anyway. That changed – Jacob is not the hero of the story, and by the mid-way point, I was almost wishing for his death. He’s just not a good guy, at all, as much as he pretends otherwise. He’s selfish, and cruel, even before he joined The Shared Heart.

But the way these two characters are put together, then apart, then opposite each other, it works really well, and carried me throughout the novel.

All in all, Follow Him is a twisted, creepy, gory novel, with plenty of tense and stomach-twisting moments, with a fantastic ending. Definitely gets a recommendation from me.

follow him

Author

Craig Stewart is a Canadian author and filmmaker who learned how to count from the rhyme, “One, two Freddy’s coming for you.” He’s a creator and connoisseur of everything horror; never afraid to delve into the dark. His first novel, Worship Me, received the New Apple Literary Award of Excellence for horror in 2018. He has also written and directed several short films that have enjoyed screenings across North America. He currently wanders dark hallways in Toronto, Canada.

Find out more about Blackthorn Book Tours 

A Heart So Fierce and Broken – Brigid Kemmerer [Book Review]

a heart soThe curse is broken. Harper has remained in Emberfall with her brother Jake and his boyfriend, Noah, and with Rhen. With no sign of Grey, rumours of another heir threatening to break the kingdom apart, added to the fact people believe the alliance with ‘Disi’ is a scam, something must be done.

Grey has killed the enchantress Lilith and returned to Emberfall, but with a secret he is unable to share with Rhen, he goes into hiding, taking on the name ‘Hawk’ and working at a tournament ground, staying as hidden as he possibly can.

Look, I’m going to be honest. I was completely and utterly revved up for this book. I don’t often pre-order books, but I did for this one, cause damn was I keen on returning to Emberfall.

Unfortunately, this is one of those sequels that makes you wish the original was a standalone.

I gave this 4*s on Goodreads because Kemmerer’s writing is, in all fairness, fantastic – it’s vivid and beautiful. And the last third of the book had me hooked, but before that…

Well it took a while to get into this one.

The book starts with Harper, then shifts into two POVs which take over for the novel – Grey and Lia Mara, the eldest daughter of Karis Luran but not the heir, that honour going to her sister, instead. And that’s where I felt like the book let me down first. Karis Luran enters Emberfall with her daughters, keen to marry off her heir to Rhen and forge an alliance with Emberfall.

For a lot of the book, I found Lia Mara to be overly whiny and woe-is-me. She’s not helpless, at all, but every other sentence was about how her sister is stronger and how her sister is going to be queen and how she doesn’t match up to her sister and mother. I think a lot of her, especially in earlier chapters, felt forced, too. Like there were moments that felt less relevant to the plot, and there only so we could have some slight reason to like her.

She had some strong moments, but these were overshadowed by the really annoying ones. And then there is Grey. Although I didn’t fully buy into the idea of a love triangle in A Curse So Dark and Lonely, it was evident here, and felt like there was going to be a bit of a build up between Harper and Grey. But nope, we’re quickly whisked away from Harper almost as soon as we get a tiny glimpse of her.

The romance between Grey and Lia Mara, again, felt a little forced. Grey remains one of my favourite characters, but so much of this book was him – and yep, again – whining. Following motions and never really doing much of anything until he was backed into a corner. I liked the way he did react to certain situations, as it’s clear he’s still very much a guardsman, and once more, a lot of the issues I found in the first half disappeared in the second.

Regarding Rhen and Harper now. In A Curse, I absolutely loved the three characters who formed the focus on the book. Harper was a strong, powerful woman who did not put up with anything untoward from either Grey or Rhen. Rhen was troubled and tortured and desperate to do anything to save his kingdom, and throughout the novel it really felt like he grew as a character.

We get none of that growth in this book, none of Harper’s fierceness. Every time we see her, she’s running to greet one of the men in her life or blushing under Grey’s praise. She basically lets Rhen torture people, she sits back while his kingdom is falling to pieces around him because he’s too stubborn to do really consider any option except kill. There are moments near the start of the book where Grey could have actually spoken to Rhen, but they all decide that nope, dying is the best option so let’s just get this over with!

Okay! Things I liked, because I did like a few things. I liked the relationship between Lia Mara and her sister. I liked the additional characters we meet in this novel, and the way the discord among the populace is shown. We also get to see more magic here, used in much better ways, and it works well.

This book isn’t as good as A Curse So Dark and Lonely, which felt more natural in terms of plot progression, character development and the choices made by the characters. Instead, we have two intelligent characters who go around in circles seeming to make life more difficult for themselves, making it feel like everything they do is in service to the plot rather than the world around them. The writing remains beautiful, and Kemmerer clearly has a way with words, but unfortunately the two main characters we follow in this book have less of an impact than both Harper and Rhen, two characters thrust aside for the sequel, whose presence could have made this book that much stronger.