Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My Top Five Reads of 2013

The year is only a few hours away from being over so I thought I would share the five books that I have enjoyed reading the most this year. Reading wise my habits changed a bit this year, mostly because of purchasing a Kindle, I now find myself reading more books by indie authors than traditionally published ones.

And a wonderful world of reading it is too, there are so many talented authors out there and is this post I will be highlighting the ones that really stood out. Note that this list is books that I have read this year, they may have been published earlier.

Let's start with my favourite read of the year:


The Scream of Angels by David Haynes

David Haynes makes the list twice and in fairness with his Macabre Collection he could have made it three times! I write horror (of a sort) and I like to think I'm pretty good at it, but this author is incredible.

There's a few reasons why I hold this author in such esteem, the first is the quality of the writing, it is well crafted and conveys the story with real skill. The second is the story, in this one we have the gruesome theatre in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. He writes in a style that is reminiscent of the penny dreadfuls from the same era which really evokes the period when you are reading.

The third reason is the purity of the horror. This (and his others, although he writes more than just horror stories) is unashamed horror, dark, brutal and very bloody. It doesn't pull its punches, but it does so in a sinister fashoin (like all great horror), but it's not afraid

The Scream of Angels is available from Amazon


Beyond 100 Drabbles by Jonathan Hill and Kath Middleton

I love drabbles, both as an author and as a reader and this book is one of the big reasons that enjoyment of the 100 word story form continues.

Jonathan Hill is a past master of writing drabbles, he does so with a sometimes humorous and often chilling wit. Kath Middleton is a relative newcomer to the scene but has already made quite a splash.

If you want to find out why then just give this book a read and I'm sure you'll become a fan of drabbles too.


Beyond 100 Drabbles is available from Amazon


Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi

I like a good ghost story and this is a marvellous one, not only did keep me guessing until the end (and it's not often I'm surprised when reading a book!) it's also a fantastic read.

The quality of the writing really sets this book apart, the author has an incredible turn of phrase that makes it a joy to read.

Floating Staircase is available from Amazon


The Boy Who Kissed The Sky by David Haynes

David Haynes is a remarkable author, I have enjoyed all of his books so far, in particular his Victorian era horrors, however this is a very different story.

It's the tale of a boy who once flew and then follows his dream in a quest to fly again. The journey is well told and has almost magical quality that stays with you even after you've finished reading.

The talent here is not only the quality of the writing, or the unique story, it's that the author can switch between writing the darkest horror and something this positive with equal talent.

The Boy Who Kissed The Sky is available from Amazon


My Granny Writes Erotica by Rosen Trevithick

Like many of the authors on this list Rosen Trevithick possesses a multitude of talents, her children's books (The Smelly Trolls series) are all excellent reads, I've also read some of her wonderful and moving short stories. She also writes humour very well and that is most evident in her tale 'My Granny Writes Erotica' which was the funniest book I've read in a long time.

The premise is a simple one Betty needs to make money and quickly, she's a writer (or at least wants to be) and discovers that erotica sells well. The answer seems obvious, but writing an erotic novel isn't very easy if you don't know much about sex, especially the more unusual flavours.

What follows is a hilarious story and I can't wait for the sequel due out in a few weeks.

So those were my top five reads for the year, what were yours?

Film Review - Elysium

This is a fun sci-fi watch, it's set in 2154 and the world is polluted and over populated, but for the more fortunate there is the Elysium space station which is a technological utopia. People on Earth are constantly trying to gain access to the orbital, but are dealt with harshly (although why the station has no defences of its own seems a bit odd).

Max (Matt Damon) is an ex-con who is poisoned in an industrial accident and his only chance is to be healed in a med bay only available on Elysium.He teams up with a resistance movement to gain access to the station. Meanwhile up on the station a plot is unfolding and Max finds himself caught in the middle and hunted by one of her agents (who is a pretty nasty bad guy).

For me the opening shots of Elysium were the high point of the film, they look lovely and there needs to be more of this type of thing in films (check out Cargo for something similar). From that point it's a blend of action and light political intrigue (Jodie Foster does a good job as the cold minister with her own plans for the station).

It's all fairly predictable but still manages enough to be an entertaining watch. Some of the effects were pretty cool (the air burst ammunition stood out) and everyone fills there roles well. It's also well filmed with some nice shots, but I have to say that District 9 was a better so if you haven't seen that then you should watch that first, if you have then give this a go, it's a fun watch, but not great.



Neill Blomkamp writes and directs this sci-fi drama starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. It is the year 2154 and the wealthy have fled the overpopulated and largely resource-drained Earth in favour of Elysium, a luxurious space habitat located in the planet's orbit. With no poverty, no sickness and no war, the contrast between Elysium and the ravaged planet it revolves around couldn't be starker - and is tough for those left on Earth to bear. When Max De Costa (Damon) learns that he has no hope of beating the cancer that has afflicted him without breaking into Elysium, he understands the scale of the task he has undertaken. With Secretary Delacourt (Foster) charged with enforcing Elysium's strict anti-immigration policies and a team of hardened troops at her disposal, led by the ferocious Agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley), Max faces the battle of his life if he intends to bridge the cosmic gap between rich and poor.

Elysium is available from Amazon (and is a fun watch)


Conversations in the Abyss Review Roundup

A few days ago I posted some exerts from my favourite reviews for my debut novel 'The Cult of Me', today I would like to do the same for 'Conversations in the Abyss', the second book in the trilogy. Fans of the books will be pleased to hear that I'm currently half way through the first draft of 'The Last True Demon', the final book in the trilogy.

As with the first book I was overjoyed by the positive response I've received for this book, so I've copied some of my favourite parts of those reviews. I'd also like to thank everyone who has left reviews for my books, it's much appreciated!


"I found this a quick read possibly due to the conversational style but was left with probably what the best endorsement I can give, I couldn't wait to finish it to pass it on to a friend. It is one of those books that you want to share so that you can discuss it with them after they have read it. A book has to really draw me in before I would recommend it to a friend, this one did."

"This is an amazing novel which weaves together a number of strands. We meet The Deathless Man, an entity who has been imprisoned within the walls of a monastery and is visited by a good and a fallen angel. We meet a group of clerics from Rome who are chasing an ancient document, The Gospel of Lazarus and a newly discovered prophecy, and we follow the preparations made by The Antichrist for The End Times. It’s an intriguing tale and is very philosophical and metaphysical. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. "

"I loved the way this was written and I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery and theories put forward about why and how the world exists. This isn't a very long book and I read it in a day but had to take breaks to reflect on parts of it. "

"It's a good versus evil tale but every bit as unusual as the first book, featuring characters of the first novel and introducing some new ones. There's food for thought in this one as well and… room for a third instalment? I hope so and definitively look forward.
I enjoyed 'Conversations in the Abyss' and highly recommend it."

"Once I got into it I couldn’t put it down and everything else was on hold until it was finished. Bringing all the strands of the book together is really well handled and despite the huge element of fantasy it’s entirely plausible. The ending is completely unexpected but brings the book to a great conclusion even though you are left stunned because the rest of the tale, of course, is in part three which I’m looking forward to reading because I really want to know what happens next!"


The second book in 'The Third Path' trilogy.

Stealing Lazarus’s miracle gifted him immortality. Combined with his natural ability of invading and controlling people’s minds this made him one of the most dangerous people on Earth.

But the miracle came with a price. His punishment was to be imprisoned within the walls of an ancient monastery and tormented by an invisible fire that burned his body perpetually. To escape the pain he retreated deep into his own mind.

There he discovers the truth of the universe and that only he can stop the coming Apocalypse.

Tuesday Tease - South by Lance Charnes

In this week's Tuesday Tease we feature an exert from Lance Charnes' thriller novel 'South', you can also find out about the author and the purchase links after the excerpt. Enjoy!





1

SATURDAY, 25 MAY


Luis Ojeda scanned his binoculars along the rusty sixteen-foot fence to the dirt road’s visible ends. Nothing. A dead floodlight at the curve over the arroyo left a patch of twilight in the line of artificial day. The lights on either side leached all color from the night.
The patrol was late. He’d been out here face-down in the dirt for over an hour, waiting for the right time. These desert mountains turned cold after sunset, even this late in a nasty-hot May. He was prepared for it. Army field jackets and winter-weight ACU trousers like he wore now got him through January in the ‘Stan all those years ago. He could wait all night. Usually, the travelers couldn’t.
He glanced downslope over his shoulder. Five brown faces stared back at him, their eyes glowing orange in the floodlights’ glare. This run’s travelers. Each wore a backpack holding everything they could bring with them from their old life to their new one.
The young mother lay at the group’s left edge. Her dark anime eyes stared at him from under a road-weary hoodie. Her little girl—four, maybe five tops—pressed her face into her mom’s shoulder, the woman’s hand wound through her tangled black hair. Luis usually tried not to bring kids this young, but they had nobody else anymore, and when Luis looked into the girl’s eyes he saw his daughter at that age, scared, sad and trusting. So here they were.
Back to the binoculars. Dust shimmered in the floods to the west, then a whip antenna, then a tan cinder block on wheels crawled up the rise. The BRV-O’s six-cylinder diesel clattered off the rocks around them. It swung around the dogleg over the arroyo, chunked along at around fifteen, then trundled east.
It stopped.
Two men heaved out. Tan utilities, helmets with no covers, desert boots: contractors. Mierda. They strolled back the way they’d come, M4s slung across their chests, hands resting on the grips. One lit a cigarette. They stopped at the edge of the pool of dark to look up the pole.
The one not smoking leaned into the radio handset on his shoulder. Then he turned to look straight at Luis.
Luis became a rock. The guard was probably half-blind from the light; Luis doubted the guy could see him in the semi-dark, even if he knew someone was out here. Chances were the gringo was going to take a leak. Then the guard’s hand went for the tactical goggles hanging around his neck.
¡Chingado!
As the guard seated the goggles over his face, Luis went flat. As long as he didn’t move, his infrared-suppressing long johns and balaclava would defeat the goggles’ thermal vision and make him fade into the petrified sand dune under him.
The travelers didn’t have that gear. Luis peered back into the dark. All five travelers should be shielded by the ridge, but “should” didn’t mean shit if the guard caught the bright-green return of a warm human body on his scope. If he did, they’d all find out at 2900 feet per second.
The area around them hushed, letting the little sounds fade forward. The breeze rattled the creosote and pushed pebbles around. Luis could hear the contractors’ voices—an off note in the wind—the shush of rubber boot soles on gravel, his heart going crazy, his sweat plopping on the sand.
Fucking contractors. Border Patrol agents had a code, they were civilized, they had to be nice and usually were. These contractor assholes shot people for fun, the way he had in the ‘Stan before Bel reformed his sorry, angry ass. A month ago, these idiotas were probably losing hearts and minds in the Sudan with every full magazine. Now they were doing the same thing here.
A whimper. Luis cranked his head back to check the kid. She squirmed, a little dark bundle rocking against a dark background. The mom forced her daughter’s face tighter against her shoulder. Her big, terrified eyes found Luis.
Chill, he told himself. Be the rock. The travelers could smell fear. If he was calm, they’d be calm; if he stressed, they’d scatter like sheep. He tried to smile back at the mom, hard as it was to do with crosshairs on them all.
Boots scuffed gravel at his ten o’clock, then at nine. Voices mumbled a few yards off. Somewhere out there, the sound of a huge mosquito buzzed the border. Had they called in a drone? If they had, game over. Dirt lodged in Luis’ nose and mouth, ants crawled on his right hand, something sharp dug into his hip. Twenty-plus years after Afghanistan and here he was in the same shit, just with different players. Be the rock.
A laugh. Then the night exploded.
The first bursts were recon-by-fire, looking for what came bouncing out of the dark. Disciplined soldiers know to hunker down and wait it out, but the travelers weren’t soldiers, and they weren’t disciplined. Two of the men broke and ran the instant bullets sprayed off the ridge top. Luis yelled “Get down!” but it was too late. He jerked his face back into the sand at the next burst, but not before he saw a runner throw up his hands and fall face-first.
The little girl started screaming. Her mother’s eyes went all white and she tried to stuff her sleeve into the kid’s mouth, but the girl wouldn’t stop shrieking. Bullets churned the dirt in front of them.
¡Mierda! ¡Chingado! “Don’t do it!” Luis hissed to her. “Stay there!” His voice sounded like he’d huffed helium. He didn’t care if he drew fire as long as that pretty young mom with that sweet little girl kept her head down—
The woman bolted.
He screamed “No!” and before he could think, he was charging toward her. More shots. Dirt kicked up around his feet. A line of bullets tore across the woman’s back, each one marked by a splat of blood. She let out a little “Ah!” and went down hard.
A burning-hot something slammed into his back, knocked him ass-over-heels down the slope and hijo de perra, it hurt. He spit out the sand he’d eaten and rolled onto his back. A bloody hole in his chest on his right side, a weird noise when he breathed, pain when he did anything.
Luis tried to catch the breath running away from him, but it was hard and it hurt and he wanted to just lie there. Little sharp spikes of fear stabbed at him. The gunshot echoes faded away into the breeze. Those animals up there would come out to see what they’d shot. If they found him they’d arrest him, or maybe just shoot him again. Or they’d call in a gunship drone and kill anything bright green. Any way this went down, he’d never see his wife or son or home again. That thought hurt worse than being shot.
He wrenched his head to his right. The mother and her child lay roughly twenty feet away, two dark, still shapes against the sand. You cabrones, he fumed. You killed a baby.
Or had he killed her by bringing her here? Get away. Think later.
The oldest traveler—slight, late fifties, his hair mostly gone to silver—took Luis’ hand in both of his. He had dark smears on his face and upper arm. “Mister? We go.”
Go? Luis could hardly breathe. He waved toward the lights and fence. “You go. Keep heading south. Mexico’s that way, you can still make it. Go down the arroyo, through the culvert. Understand?”
The old man nodded. The floodlights glimmered in his eyes as he looked toward the two dark shapes just upslope. He’d protected and comforted them even though they weren’t blood.
“I’m sorry,” Luis said.
The old man nodded again and shook Luis’ hand hard. “As-salaam alaykum.
Alaykumu as-salaam.”
Then he was gone.
Luis managed to get two magnesium flares out of his pack. They might blind the guards long enough for him to get over the next rise and for the old Arab to make it down the arroyo to safety. Just before he popped the first flare, his eyes snagged on the mom and her daughter. So small, so dark, so still. Another bad picture to add to his collection.
This used to make sense. This used to feel worthwhile. He used to be able to tell himself it was worth the risk to stand up to the locos who’d wrecked his country and caused all this—risk to himself, to his family, to the travelers. But the camps filled and spread. It was all so futile, not worth that little girl’s death, or his own.
If you let me live, he told the sky, I’ll stop. I’m done.

2

The U.S. ranks 103rd in the 2032 Corruption Perception Index, one below Madagascar and far below all its OECD peers. Gross underfunding of government at all levels, elimination of public-sector pensions, and widespread contracting of public services to unscrupulous private firms, has led to an epidemic of corruption reminiscent of Russia under the late Vladimir Putin.
-- “Release of the 2032 CPI,” Transparency International

FRIDAY, 30 APRIL
TWO YEARS LATER
Luis opened Coast Conversions’ front office at six-thirty to give the techs time to set up for the day’s work. One of them—Tyler— already waited outside, as usual. He was one of two who lived in a former self-storage place three blocks away. “Where’s Earnes?” Luis asked.
“Angels Stadium. The free clinic.” Tyler limped through the door, stowed his pistol behind the counter, then passed into the shop and started turning on lights and compressors. Fluorescents glinted off shiny SUVs and luxury sedans at each station, waiting for their armor and ballistic glass.
Luis began to ready the front office for what he hoped would be the morning rush. A full shop and one man down. Great. Earnes could be waiting in line all day to get into that Doctors Without Borders clinic. Luis would have to ding him a day’s pay, too, something he hated to do.
That was the downside of managing this place: having to knock heads without being able to hand out rewards. The upside? Routine. Safety. Some thought “same shit, different day” was a curse. For Luis, it meant not having to cross deserts or climb mountains. Not being chased or shot at. Not having people’s lives in his hands—and fumbling them.
He leaned against the doorway, watched Tyler make his rounds through the work stations. “How’re you doing? Leg okay?”
“Okay, sir.”
Tyler left half a leg in Yemen. All five of Luis’ techs were vets; they had good work habits, and it was the only way to get guys with mechanical and metalworking skills now that most community colleges were closed and the unions were long gone. Luis made it a point to hire guys out of flops or Ryantowns. A down payment on karma? He hoped he’d never find out.
The strip lights cast shadows on Tyler’s hollow eyes and cheeks. He worked full-time and still didn’t eat enough. Like everywhere else, the pay here was shit even for Luis, and he was the manager, but Xiao, the owner, wouldn’t cough up a cent more.
The door chime’s synthetic bing-bong broke Luis out of his thoughts. He called out “Not open yet” before he looked back over his shoulder. A cop swaggered to the counter. Mierda.
The cop—Schertzer, unfortunately a monthly regular—leaned an elbow on the blue laminate countertop, chewed on his gum. “How’s it hanging, Ojeda?”
“You’re two days early,” Luis growled as he stalked to the counter.
Schertzer shrugged. “So call a fucking cop. You got it?”
It wasn’t like this steroid-square cucaracha was a real policeman, just one of the contractors the city pretended was a police force. Dark-blue utilities, black tac vest, jump boots: all Luis saw was a school-crossing guard with a gun.
 “Yeah.” Luis opened the lockbox with his key, pulled out a white envelope, and slapped it into Schertzer’s outstretched hand. La mordida, El Norte style. “Now get out.”
The cop waggled the envelope to get the feel of it. Apparently satisfied, he shoved it into the patch pocket on his right thigh. “The widows and orphans appreciate your money, Ojeda.” He smirked, then turned toward the doors and waved over his shoulder. “A-dios.” He stopped with his hand on the push bar, looked back. “By the way, a road crew’s coming through in a couple days. They’ll want their cut, too.”
“They’re finally going to pave the street?”
The cop shook his head, bottling up a laugh. “Shit, no. They’ll get their taste, you know how it goes. That’s why I’m early, make sure we get what’s coming to us. See you soon.”
Luis watched Schertzer ooze off to the right, no doubt to collect his bite from the other garages and workshops along this light-industrial strip off Newport Boulevard. He’d bled money into these pendejos for years. He’d run across people like Schertzer in Mexico and the ‘Stan, but it burned his gut to see them in this county. It was easier for the kids; they weren’t old enough to remember when cops and fire marshals and road crews weren’t all on the take.
He sighed. That was old-timer talk. “There goes the lowest bidder,” he said to himself.
#
Luis glanced up from taking a customer’s payment to catch Ray’s face outside the window. Ray raised his hand; Luis nodded to him.
The customer—a big-busted Newport Beach trophy blonde in tiny clothes—paid up and wiggled off with her bodyguard to claim her husband’s newly up-armored Range Rover. Ray turned to watch her go, then let out a long breath through pursed lips as he ambled through the front doors. He was a big, square outline against the morning sun. His thumbs hooked in the pockets of fashionably tight, white churidar slacks, their calves stacked just so over expensive new designer boots. Just like he’d stepped out of a vidboard ad, if those models had faces that looked more Aztec than conquistador. A long way from his old caballero style.
Ray gave Luis his crooked smile. “Hey, hermano. All your customers look like that?”
“Enough do.” He shook Ray’s hand, which felt like a brake drum. “Oye, compa. Long time. How’s it going?”
Ray rocked his hand side-to-side. “About normal. How’s Bel?”
Luis shrugged. “Fine. The usual.”
“Nacho hanging in?”
Nacho—Luis’ son Ignacio—was a Marine on his first deployment to Sudan. “Yeah, he’s okay. The stories he tells me, it’s like what we did in the ‘Stan.”
“Never ends, does it?” Ray’s dark dataspecs scanned the office’s lights and corners. The gray that used to be in his hair was gone now. “Have any bug problems in here lately?”
“Stopped getting it swept two years ago.” They weren’t talking about the six- or eight-legged kind. Luis used to have to worry about those things; no more, thank God. He peered closer at the corners of Ray’s nose and mouth. “Are you taking tighteners?”
“A couple months now, yeah. Like it?” Ray turned his face to let the strip lights flash off his shiny, smoother skin. “You could do with some too, hermano.”
First he’d lost his tattoos, now this. “Can’t afford them. Besides, I like looking like a grownup.”
Ray shrugged. “Look, the boss wanted me to talk to you. He’s got a job for you.”
Luis put up his hands. “Save it. I’m out, remember?”
“I know, I know. He told me to ask, so I’m asking.” Ray leaned in, laid a hand on Luis’ shoulder. “This job, it’s a special one, you know? Some good coin. Check it out.” He tapped the phone pod on his left ear.
A few moments later, the store slate peeped. Luis brought up the email, then the attached picture. A studio portrait: a dark-haired man and woman, two cute kids, nice clothes, healthy-looking. The guy could almost pass for Latino, but the woman had the sharp features of a high-caste Arab. After fifteen seconds, the picture dissolved into empty black, literally blown to bits.
“Which one?” Luis asked. “The guy or gal?”
“All four. Told you it was special.”
That was strange. Back when he was in that business, Luis moved a lot of older people and young women, since the young men were usually dead or in a camp. Still, not even the money got his interest. “No way. Besides, I thought you guys had some new kid doing that.”
“Federico? Yeah.” Ray planted his hands on the counter. “We did until he got dead a couple nights ago.” He leaned forward and dropped his volume. “The boss is pretty hot to move these people. He’ll make it worth your—”
“I said no.” Luis heard the heat in his own voice, backed off. “Even if I survive it, Bel will kill me.”
Ray smiled and straightened up. “Yeah, and probably me too right after.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Look, this puts me in a bind, you know? He asked for you specifically. Tavo trusts you. You maybe have some bargaining room here. At least say you’ll think about it.”
“Bargain? With a cartel sub-boss? Are you crazy?”
Luis noticed a gray Ford Santana parked across the street, screaming “surveillance.” Cops following Ray? Or were they after Luis because of Ray? Either way, he wasn’t going through all that again. He needed to care for his parents, help provide for his family. He’d already sacrificed enough for a lost cause.
“I’m not thinking about this. No. Do I need to spell that?”
Ray sighed, shook his head. “Tavo’s gonna be pissed.” He stuck out his hand. “Come down to the bar sometime. I never see you anymore. Salma misses you, too.”
And Luis missed them. But every time he went to visit Ray and his long-time girlfriend, Bel’s temperature dropped thirty degrees and Luis got frostbite. “Sure, compa,” he said as he shook Ray’s hand. “Soon.”

About the Author:

Lance Charnes has been an Air Force intelligence officer, information technology manager, computer-game artist, set designer, Jeopardy! contestant, and now an emergency management specialist. He’s had training in architectural rendering, terrorist incident response and maritime archaeology, but not all at the same time. Lance tweets (@lcharnes) on shipwrecks, scuba diving, archaeology and art crime.

Me links:

· Official Website: http://www.wombatgroup.com

· Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Lance.Charnes.Author

· Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lcharnes

· Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/lcharnes

Book links:

· Kindle: http://smarturl.it/south-kindle

· Amazon TPBK: http://smarturl.it/south-tpbk

· B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/south-lance-charnes/1117249949

· Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/Search?Query=9780988690356

· iTunes: http://smarturl.it/south-itunes

Books by Lance Charnes on Amazon:


Monday, 30 December 2013

Guest Author Interview - Daniel Hope

In today's guest author interview I welcome Daniel Hope, you can find out more about him and his writing below:


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Daniel Hope, and I'm just a guy who can't seem to communicate well outside the written word. I recently published a science fiction novel, called The Inevitable. Besides writing novels, I also serve as the Managing Editor of Fiction Vortex, a site for science fiction and fantasy short stories.

What first inspired you to start writing?
Books were particularly magical to me at a young age, and I wanted to duplicate that magic somehow. I tried several times, but it was only until I was older that I realized I couldn't just copy what I read. You must put something new in the story, a bit of yourself, to make it work.

And what attracted you to science fiction?
I can't quite describe why science fiction speaks so strongly to me. I love space, I love computers and other technologies, I love alien cultures, and I love great stories. Science fiction provides all of that. I can't even name a favorite sub-genre, although it was definitely space opera as a kid. Now I love just about any kind of sci-fi because I'm fascinated with the way we can look at the current human condition through technologies, characters, and settings that don't exist. Am I making any sense? Okay, just rest assured that I love sci-fi. A lot.

If you could work with any author, who would it be and why?
Tough one. I'm notoriously bad at collaboration on stories. I've destroyed friendships with a single outline. So I would hate to work with an author I adore and end up being loathed. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about that in hypothetical situations. I'm a huge fan of Douglas Adams' comedy, so it would be great to watch him work (If he were alive, of course. Or a zombie. Zombie Douglas Adams would be fantastic!). And Vernor Vinge always amazes me by combining mind-blowing ideas with interesting stories.

What future technology would you most like to see happen?
I know I'm supposed to say jetpacks, right? But I've always been leery of that answer because I'm not sure we really want jetpacks. I mean, it's either wear asbestos pants or arrive to work with singed legs every day. And people are scary enough in cars; I don't think adding an additional degree of difficulty (and 63 more ways to die) is a good idea. No, I'd prefer something much safer, like laser pistols.

What was the last book you read?
Just finished The Inimitable Jeeves. I've been reading so much sci-fi, I decided a detour was in order. I heard P.G. Wodehouse was great, so I picked up one of his books. Not perfect, but I did laugh quite a bit.

Where is your happy place?
The beach, alone. I know everybody likes the beach, but I don't need you sunbathing, flying kites, or frolicking in the waves to distract me. It's mine! All mine!

What are you working on at the moment?
My next novel, which is science fiction but completely unrelated in tone and topic to The Inevitable. I'm clearly too ambitious because I'm trying to blend a light-hearted, comedic tone with tragedy and disaster. I'll let you know how it turns out, providing that I don't go crazy in the attempt.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
The Inevitable is a story about a robot named Tuck who doesn't want to die, so he travels the galaxy looking for spare parts to fix himself with. But he's also exceedingly rare, and highly valuable to the right people. He has spent the last 150 years on the run, but now he's running out of parts. A mysterious benefactor offers him unlimited parts in exchange for some help with less-than-legal projects, which Tuck would normally refuse because he doesn't want to hurt anyone. But he's too desperate to ignore the offer. You can find it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DRIYW24/), and you can find out more about me and my writing at SpeculativeIntent.com.

Murder Drabbles - Knock at the Door

The latest in the Murder Drabbles series has been posted in today's Indie Book Bargains newsletter (visit www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk to sign up for a daily drabble and Kindle bargains).

If you'd like to read the other drabbles in this series you can do so here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/murder-drabbles.html

Knock at the Door

I felt rather pleased with myself, sure I’d given into my impulse, but I’d thought my way through it. Every morning and every evening I watched the local news, waiting for the discovery of her body. For two weeks they reported nothing and every evening I dreamed of my hands around her throat.

Pleasant visions every night but the memory faded all too quickly. The memory no longer satisfied, I wanted something new. Someone to share that last tender moment with and I already had someone special in mind.

That pleasant thought was interrupted by a knock on my door.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Tales of the Imp - The Imp's Christmas Carol


The latest drabble in the Tales of the Imp series has been posted in the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (you can sign up for the newsletter here: www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk), I've also copied it below.

If you haven't read the rest of the Tales of the Imp series then you can find them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/tales-of-imp.html

The Imp's Christmas Carol

“I am the ghost of Christmas past,” the Imp said and I remembered all too many lonely Christmas days without turkey or gifts.

He nodded, “And now your Christmas present.” My mind passed over the guilt of the murder and settled on the joy of more money and respect in the office.

“I have brought you the good life and now see your Christmas future.” He promised me everything, my book would sell millions, I would marry a lovely woman and all it would cost me is my soul, what every imp wants for Christmas.

I agreed.

Wait a minute!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Film Review - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I've had a fun day watching the Dollars trilogy and this is my favourite of the three films (although I could argue that A Few Dollars More is a better film) and in fact is one of my favourite films of all time. In scale it's more epic than the previous two, its essentially a treasure quest, $200,000 in gold lost during the American Civil War.

The film works primarily because of the three leads, Blondie (Clint) is the Good, Angel Eyes (Lee van Cleef) is the bad and Tuco (Eli Wallach) is the ugly. The three of them live up to their monikers, but more importantly the three share each others traits to differing degrees as you discover through the film.

In some ways it reminds me of Apocalypse Now (another excellent film) in the sense that at first glance it appears like a series of excellent set pieces strung together. However this film is more cohesive in how those set pieces fit together and it is during those set pieces that the characters reveal their less obvious traits.

Once again the soundtrack is excellent and fills the epic scale of the film, the title track in particular really stands out. It's quite a long film, but it's filled with goodness and it's a simple joy just watch the three leads in action. A great film that truly deserves its classic status.


Clint Eastwood ("the Man with No Name") is good, Lee Van Cleef (named Angel Eyes Sentenza here) is bad, and Eli Wallach (Tuco Benedito Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez) is ugly in the final chapter of Sergio Leone's trilogy of spaghetti Westerns (the first two were A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More). In this sweeping film, the characters form treacherous alliances in a ruthless quest for Confederate gold. Leone is sometimes underrated as a director, but the excellent resolution on this DVD should enhance appreciation of his considerable photographic talent and gorgeous widescreen compositions. Ennio Morricone's jokey score is justifiably famous. The DVD includes about a quarter-hour of footage not seen in the original release.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is available from Amazon (and is one of the finest westerns ever made!)

Film Review - For a Few Dollars More

My day of spaghetti westerns continues, it started well with A Fistful of Dollars, but quickly reaches new heights with the second film in the Dollars trilogy. For a Few Dollars More is a much better film than A Fistful of Dollars.

The main reason for that is that the characters get developed a bit more and that it doesn't take itself too seriously meaning that it's a lot of fun to watch. If you haven't seen it (and if you haven't then you really should!) the story is about two bounty hunters with quite different methods teaming up to take down an infamous bandit and his gang who take on a huge score.

The story itself isn't really anything special, there's a few threads that get twisted and pulled to provide some variety, but for the most part the pleasure comes from watching the three leads in action. The interaction between the two hunters is superb to watch and the addition of Lee Van Cleef also adds to the quality of the film compared to the first one.

As I've already mentioned it's not as straight faced as the first film, which as well as providing  some humorous scenes (the scene where the two hunters first meet is a good example), it also provides some scenes that demonstrate some of the lighter sides of the characters - something I thought was missing from the first film.

It also has the same excellent soundtrack that supports the film and combined with it's other attributes makes this one of the finest westerns ever made.



After the success of 'A Fistful of Dollars', Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name reluctantly joins forces with bounty hunter Colonel Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef) to battle psychotic bandit El Indio (Gian Maria Volonte) and his gang of outlaws. Director Sergio Leone's spaghetti western once again features Ennio Morricone's atmospheric score.
For a Few Dollars More is available from Amazon (and is a classic western)

December Short Fiction Contest Winners



It's that happy time of the month when I read all of the previous month's short fiction contest entries and pick the three winners. December's image was a little unusual in that it was a warm image, reminiscent of summer escapes to the tropics. Although I'm pleased to say that quite a few of you managed to twist some very dark tales into the bright sunshine.

In total I received 20 entries and while that's far from the highest number of entries it did have the greatest variety of stories. Even more importantly the high quality of entries I have come to expect was maintained and my task of selecting the winners was a fun but difficult one.

Before I announce the winners for December let me tell you about my Facebook group setup for readers and writers of short and flash fiction. For writers it is a great place to show off your short and flash fiction and for readers you can discover the same, you can join the group and see the latest posts here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/shortfictionreadersandwriters/

And now for the winners of December's short fiction contest:


  1. First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card goes to R M F Brown for his story 'A Nice Quiet Island'
  2. Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card goes to Bea Cannon for her story 'A Moment in Time'
  3. Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card goes to Mark Alan Trimeloni for his story 'Lonely'
I hope you enjoy reading the three winning stories as much as I did:

A Nice Quiet Island by R M F Brown


'You know, I'm really going to miss this place.'
'Why?' You've only been here a couple of hours.'
The man peered over the rim of his sunglasses, staring hard at the woman who lay on the deckchair, skin glistening with sweat and suncream as the overhead sun beat down on them.
'Are you kidding?' smiled the man. 'Look around!'
He waved his hand at the azure waters lapping the white sands, the palm trees waving in the breeze, the sound of laughter echoing out as a group of men and women chased each other along the beach. 
'If you've seen one tropical island, you've seen them all,' replied the woman, rather snootily. 
The man sat up 'But that's the point - nobody's going to see this place again, not for at least ten thousand years.'
The woman lounged back into her deckchair. 'Plenty more where this came from.' 

Sirens blared, bells rang out, people rushed to and fro, footsteps echoing loudly along concrete corridors. The man ran down the corridor, adjusting his suit, fumbling at his pockets for his safety visor and a cigarette. The click of high heels made him look up, the woman, looking glamorous in her green uniform, flashed him ruby lips and perfect white teeth. 
The man ran into the control room, a group of military men turning to face him. 
'Glad you could make it, doctor,' said one man, puffing on a cigar, his uniform gleaming with stars and medals. 
An assistant handed the doctor a clipboard. Ticking some boxes, he handed it back, and moved forward. 
'Thirty seconds to go.' Sounded a soulless voice. 
As one, the assembled men put on their safety visors and looked out of the bunker's viewing slit. 
They stood still as statues as the countdown continued, then turned, shielding their eyes from a massive burst of white light. The island was no more. 

A Moment in Time by Bea Cannon

http://pcannon16.wordpress.com/

Gerald Lansing’s job was making sure all parts were to specs.  Unable to get one piece to calibrate, he looked up the original calculations and found an error, or at least an anomaly.  He made a print-out and went to Prof. Willard, the head of the project who’d made the computations.

“Sir, there’s something I think you should take a look at,” he said pointing to the suspected problem.  “I’m not getting the specified results.  Perhaps someone has made a change?”

“What? Let me see,” said Prof. Willard.  He took the paper.

He scrutinized the figures, crumpled the page and handed it back, frowning.  “I don’t see a problem, and nothing has been changed.  Look, you’re not supposed to be going over these figures.  You’re just a technician.  This type of math is too complicated for you to properly comprehend.  Just do your job and leave the temporal calculations to those of us who’re experts.”  He stalked off.

Gerald sighed.  He’d felt he had to say something, but the professor saw him as only a pair of hands, a servant expected to do exactly as told.  He knew going to any others in the lab would do no good: they never questioned Prof. Willard.  He shrugged, tossed the balled paper into a nearby can, and went back to work trying to set the experimental temporal shifter as specified, finally getting it to more or less agree with the schematics.

The big day arrived.  Gerald’s qualms were allayed by the preliminary trials.  They had gone well.  The temporal shifter worked perfectly, first going back several minutes, then a day, and finally to the previous month.  The lab animals returned unharmed, and the head tech who’d volunteered to do the last test came back satisfied.  He’d landed exactly where he was supposed to on the desired date.

Prof. Willard entered the cubicle and settled himself at the console.  The place and time was set for an uninhabited, open plain in the western United States two hundred years ago.  He started up and watched his instruments.  When the counter stopped, he opened the door, stepping out - and realized something was wrong.

He stared at the landscape, horrified.  Rushing toward him through what appeared to be tall palm trees was a horde of different kinds of dinosaurs.  He dove back in and hit the return switch.  Nothing happened.  The vehicle shook as the animals thundered past on either side.  The sounds diminished and he reopened the door.  A very small animal, the size of a chicken scurried by.

It was hot, the sky a fiery orange.  He looked up and the air was streaked with flashes of light as the rocks kicked up by the giant meteorite strike fell back to Earth.  The destruction that helped wipe out eighty percent of all surface life sixty-five million years ago fell around him.

The last thing he saw was a palm tree silhouetted in front of a huge ball of fire coming straight at him.

Lonely by Mark Alan Trimeloni

http://www.myhorrornovel.com

Jeremy looked at the sun hiding playfully behind a palm tree.  The warmth a feeling he was not used to.  He’d spent the last month in bed crying.  His father appeared to him in the glow of the radiant orb, hovering so beautifully near the end of the day.  A sullen man with nothing but love for his only child.  The feel of warm kisses passed over Jeremy’s face.  In his hand a worn birthday card dangled.  The words on the front read, “To My Favorite 8 Year Old”.  Inside, in a broken scrawl, were the words, “I won’t be able to make your birthday this year.  I have to go home.  Love, Dad.”

Blood covered the image of a cake festooned with playful monkeys forming a number “8”.  Along the back of the card more crimson deleted two sets of footprints leading down a beach.  The caption read, “Where ever we go we have each other.”  Jeremy put his hands over his face and his dad disappeared.  He felt chills climb up his back as a hand rested on his shoulder.  A scent of aftershave filled his “smeller” as his dad used to call his nostrils before placing two fingers on either side and saying, “I got your nose.”

“Daddy you can take my nose again.  Just please don’t go away.”  Jeremy felt another hand on his shoulders.  A vision of blood trickling down from a man’s fingers to paint the carpet red entered Jeremy’s mind.  He froze remembering when he’d seen all the sticky liquid pooling around his feet.  His dad swung from the ceiling of his bedroom.  Seven clowns circled his father’s head like a halo.  A fallen angel caught on a rope around its neck.  Both wrists slashed.  The hand moved down Jeremy’s shirt and across his chest.  He barely noticed.

“Will you be taking me home with you?”  The question barely a whisper in the coming darkness.  “I’ve been waiting the past month for you, daddy.  I swear I’ll be really, really good this time.”

“Oh, I’ll be taking you home alright.”  Came a low, gravelly voice from behind.  Jeremy felt the hand move across his stomach and leaned into the touch.  “I have games we can play.”

Jeremy knew the games would be fun.  His dad always came up with the best ones.

“Why did you leave, daddy?  Was it because I was bad?”  Jeremy felt his shirt being removed.

“Yes, you were bad.”  The voice moved to within inches of his ear.  Jeremy felt his father’s lips move along the edge.  Warmth radiated from his father’s tongue.  “And you will have to be punished.  Do you agree?”

“I’ll do anything you say, daddy.”  Jeremy felt his hands being secured behind him.  The punishment was beginning.

“Just say you love me.”  Came the reply.

“I love you, daddy.”

As the sun went down behind the palms, only a birthday card remained.

Film Review - A Fistful of Dollars

I love the Dollars trilogy and have done since I was a young lad, strangely I wasn't a big western fan, but I did like the spaghetti westerns, those with Clint Eastwood especially. It's been a while since I last watched them so I've decided to spend the day watching them again. For me this is the weakest of the trilogy, but even so is still a damn fine film.

The story is a simple one, a man with no name enters a small town on the Mexican border that is run by two different gangs. He starts playing one off against the other, principally to earn money from both sides, although he does appear to have honour buried beneath his mercenary façade. Naturally there's complications along the way and it all culminates in a dramatic shootout.

The pacing is good and the action get's going quickly, the various schemes are simple but keep the plot going. It bears all the hallmarks of a decent western (a spaghetti western in particular), there's the evil gangs (two in fact), Clint is an excellent gunslinger and so is his opponent. The music is superb and really highlights the mood.

For me its weakspot is Clint's character (and the character's generally), there's no real development, there's enough to carry the story (what there is of it), but little more.It's still a fine film to watch, but does lack some of the subtleties that made the later films such classics.


Sergio Leone's spaghetti western is a remake of the Kurosawa classic 'Yojimbo' and features Clint Eastwood in his first big-screen starring role. Laconic gunslinger the Man With No Name (Eastwood) makes a financial killing by playing two feuding families off each other in a small Southwestern town.

Book Impressions - First Strike (In the End Part 1) by Edward M Wolfe

I'm not a fan of serialising books, I have no problem books following on from each other, but reading a story and having it cut short to find out what's next doesn't do it for me. If you're releasing a story it should at least have an ending, this doesn't, it basically reads like the first chapter of a longer book and provides no conclusion at all.

Which is a shame, because what is there is pretty good, it tells the story of a four people who have gone skiing and who witness a nuclear attack on nearby Denver. There's some interesting events and the characters work well, but it just ends abruptly.

The author does have talent, the writing is good, but on its own there just isn't enough here to get into. If you don't mind buying your book sin instalments then it's probably fine for you, but for me it just made me feel I'd wasted an hour reading a taster for something longer.



Shortly after four college students arrive at a cabin near Vail, Colorado where they plan to enjoy a two week vacation skiing and having fun in the snow, a nuclear explosion occurs in the city of Denver.

They do not know if Denver is the only place where this has happened or if it is safe to go home to Idaho. With the power out, they have no access to news or information. It's a few days before the beginner's lodge they have come to visit opens so very few people are in their immediate area.

Some of the survivors simply cannot face the new reality. Those who can must use their intelligence and tap into their inner resources to survive the threats they face from a nuclear attack - and from other survivors.

Drabble Classics - Beowulf


Beowulf is the latest in my Drabble Classics series where I take classic pieces of literature and recreate them in drabble form. As always the drabbles are posted first in the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk) which is a great place for a daily drabble and the latest Kindle bargains.

I first read Beowulf when I was in school, it's a good example of Saxon epic poetry and is considered one of the earliest examples of classic English Literature.

You can read the rest of the Drabble Classics series here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/drabble-classics.html

And now, let's enjoy this classic tale in drabble form:

Beowulf

Three great battles are sung of Beowulf’s life, the first in the hall of King Hroðgar where the celebrations angered Grendel who slew many warriors within.

Beowulf wrestled the fell creature and tore off the creature’s arm. This caused his second battle, now against Grendel’s mother. They fought in her lair under the lake and with a magic sword he beheaded her.

King Beowulf’s final battle was against a dragon enraged by a theft from its horde. All but loyal Wiglaf abandoned him and together they slew the dragon, but Beowulf was mortally wounded and buried with the cursed treasure.

Book Impressions - Frostwalker by Brandon R Luffman

I enjoyed reading this, i's a dark tale about a geek (Jake Marsden) who's experiencing terrible dreams about something strange in the woods behind his house. He investigates but discovers little before the ancient evil awakes and attacks his town. With a small group of survivors he has to battle this evil to save the town.

The pacing is good, the book builds with some creepy dreams and odd occurrences while building up the characters central to the unfolding events. The mark of a good read is that you don't notice how many pages you've read and this was the case with this book. The pace increases as the book progresses and soon the attack on the town begins.

The group of friends then have to fight the dark forces attacking the town, not only to survive, but to prevent the evil; from spreading.

As I said at the beginning I enjoyed reading this, the writing is excellent and slips through without any great effort and I'd finished the book almost without reading it. The author writes well, setting the scene with skill and maintaining the pace needed for a tale like this.

For me there were two down points to the book, the first was the conclusion, after the excellent build up it all ended a little easily and quickly. In fairness this isn't a big complaint, the ending is a satisfactory one.

My other issue was the evil itself, I'm a reader that enjoys learning about the dark forces as play and I would have liked to have discovered more about the entity causing the evil at the heart of the story. Again it's a minor issue, but one that along with the first marred the ending for me, but not enough not to recommend this as a decent horror read.



There’s something in the woods behind Jake Marsden’s house – and someone wants him to find it. A strange dream shatters his sleep, night after night, and a compulsion to find the dark presence in the forest wars with his logical and ordered nature. What’s a geek to do?

When his small hometown of Wynn falls under an ancient curse, Jake will find himself in a battle against creatures worse than any he’s faced in a game. Playing for keeps, it will be geek versus god in the fight to stop an evil force bent on destroying everything he holds dear.

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth – If They Live Long Enough.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tuesday Tease - Wendy Won't Go by Amanda M Lyons

In this latest Tuesday Tease we feature and exert from 'Wendy Won't Go', by Amanda Lyons:


Wendy Won’t Go
by Amanda M Lyons


Billy sipped the last of his coffee from the mug and shut down his laptop. 1,000 words wasn’t great but it also wasn’t as bad as no words at all. It hadn’t exactly been a great couple of years, and the royalties from his first few books were only going to hold out so much longer. Even if he didn’t have anything else to worry about, there was always Sara to consider. Sara with her big, blue eyes so like her mother’s.

He sat for a moment longer thinking about his daughter and all they’d been through since Wendy had passed. Then he picked up his mug with a long sigh and carried it to the kitchen to rinse it in the sink.

When he came back into his little living room and the quiet of 1 AM, he wasn’t surprised to find her there, over to the side of the bookshelf hovering close to the floor, just beyond the couch.

Wendy.

Her eyes were cold and intense in death, angry and spiteful in a way he’d never seen them when she was alive. What once had been beautiful was now a horror and a threat, one that he’d known far too well in the years since she’d died. He and Sara both.

He stood where he was, looking at her as she glared up at him. Part of her lower perspective was caused by kneeling next to the shelf, but he knew from the many times she’d walked or run through a room that death had also reduced her, made her no higher than four or four and half feet when she’d been six in life. She was like a child, trapped there on the cusp between youth and coming adulthood. Crushed and broken down into a husk, an entity with no more love for them than a snake.

Familiar tears stung his eyes, but he blinked them away, letting his anger and frustration rise in place of his grief.

“Fuck you! What right do you have to be here? Why won’t you let Sara and I be? We loved you! We still love you!”

She didn’t respond; she never does. It’s as if she used up all of her words before she died, and now all that’s left is the pain and the anger of her death. The empty lack of true life in her eyes leaves him cold. He doesn’t say anything else to her. It’s all a waste and he knows it. She frightens him as much as she makes him angry. Spite lives in every corner of her body, and he’s reached his limit on how long he can see this perversion, this nightmare of what once meant so much to him.

He walks past the bookshelf and through the doorway. He and Sara’s rooms are up above. With an effort he resists the urge to look back down the hall to see if she has followed. He refuses to treat his wife like a boogeyman no matter how much she has come to fit that mold. He can feel her eyes burning into him from somewhere back at the edge of the living room. The sensation leaves a cold trail of fear up his back as he walks the last four feet to the stairs and then up. He can hear her feet rush across the floor behind him and the rustle of fabric as she darts up the stairs after him. His pulse and his feet speed up as she grows closer, but he’s never as fast as she is.

Soon she slips up the steps under his foot, shoving him aside as she crawls on her hands and feet through his legs and up the last few stairs above. As she passes through his legs, her presence never more clear than when it’s shoving right against him, he smells the clean and medicinal smells of the operating room and the cloying stench of blood. For a moment he’s back in that room with her, listening to her grunt and keen as she works so hard at pushing Sara into the world, and then he’s back looking up at her as she slowly considers the landing and where to go from there.

His voice is a whisper, one that pleads. “Wendy?”

She looks back at him, rolling her hips so that she can turn and give him her full attention. Here in the dark, where the pale white skin of her body and the thin flat area of her hips grow more shadowed, everything about her seems long dead, all but for her eyes, flaming in sunken sockets. Fire blue and angry. She considers him for that moment and then hisses in annoyance as she charges on hands and feet across the landing, and into Sara’s room.

Fear once again rises up his spine and down into the pit of his stomach and he charges up the last few steps to chase after her, into the dark room where Sara is asleep. Her door stands open, and for what seems like the thousandth time he runs into her room to see what Wendy has done.


Author Bio:

A longtime fan of horror and fantasy Ms. Lyons writes character driven novels that while influenced by her darker interests, can also be heavily laced with fantasy, romance, history and magic. Amanda M. Lyons has lived her whole life in rural Ohio where she lives with her fiance and two children. Eyes Like Blue Fire is her first novel.Wendy Won't Go, a novelette is forthcoming from J. Ellington Ashton Press and she's currently at work on Apocrypha a short horror collection with Robert Edward Lyons II.


Amanda Lyon's Books on Amazon:


Monday, 23 December 2013

The Cult of Me Review Roundup

For a writer receiving good reviews is a wonderful thing, there's nothing better than knowing that somebody has read your book and taken the trouble to tell others about it. So over this Christmas break I'm going to indulge and celebrate some of the great reviews I've received for my books so far.

The Cult of Me was my debut novel and as a nervous virgin indie author I was astounded by the number of positive reviews I received. It's a scary thing releasing your book into the wild and hearing that people enjoyed reading it took the stress out of it.

So if you read books, especially those by indie authors, why not let them and others know that you enjoyed reading their book, they'll be happy to hear from you - I know I was!


Here are exerts from some of my favourite reviews for The Cult of Me:

"It is a real feather in Mr Brookes cap that most writers create a main character that is either a likeable sort or so bad that you can hate them. The main character in this book is ultimately self serving and cynical but even so you still hunt for indicators that he could be redeemed and just occasionally there's a glimmer of possibility, it only lasts for a moment before the author mercilessly dashes it. But, however often your hopes are dashed, you still feel that there may yet be hope."

"The Cult of Me starts off brilliantly. The first 100 pages or so comprise a fantastic horror/thriller blend that introduces readers to an unnamed but perfectly contrived villain through whose eyes and mind we see the story play out. In these pages, this character is consistent, evil, self-involved and extremely entertaining. I wish he were one of mine!"

"This book is so hard to define. It’s a dark, psychological thriller but also philosophical, metaphysical and totally unusual. Our protagonist displays mental powers from his youth and he teaches himself to use and enhance them. He believes he’s alone in these abilities and abuses them to punish or damage people he dislikes. He decides to make a ‘last stand’ in prison and deliberately kills 5 people to get there. Eventually, he finds he isn’t unique. "

"This is a meaty, lurid read but don't be fooled. The excellent writing and plotting will stay with you long after the book has reached its Apocalyptic conclusion. The anti-hero is totally unlovable, but it seems as if his strange gift enables him to get inside the readers head and mess with it, just as he messes with peoples' heads in the book, often with devastating consequences. "

"Brookes is a master storyteller as he draws us into the mind of a powerful madman and lures us to keep going with the easy build-up of suspense and action, underscored with bits of calm, morbid humor. This book took off like a missile, leaving me to wonder as to its trajectory, then suddenly veered to the left, sputtered once or twice, then honed in on its real target. Loved the ending! The creepy cover is outstanding and though the book could benefit from a little editing, overall it is a captivating read that can really tickle a reader's dark side."

"I absolutely loved this. Its a fantastic psychological thriller, quite dark and thought provoking. I could write an essay about how amazing this book is, just wow."


Thanks to everyone who has left reviews for any of my books, it's much appreciated and I hope I'll receive more in the future!

If you haven't read The Cult of Me yet then you can purchase it from the links below, or sign up to my mailing list and a receieve a free copy:


The first book in 'The Third Path' Trilogy.

For too long he dwelt apart, watched those who passed him by. With his unique abilities he entered their minds and inflicted terrible suffering upon them. They didn't even know who he was. The game has lasted for years, but now the game has become stale. On an impulse he decides to make a final and very public last stand. After surrendering himself to the police he enacts his plan to seize the prison for his final bloody act. 

There he discovers that he's not as unique as he once thought.

My Books on Goodreads