zombies acpocalypse z greg swansonWe all know that zombies are reanimated corpses, brought back to life by whatever means, but it’s a lot harder to define why they are so popular. People love reading and writing about them. Is it because of a general fascination with dead things? A terror management tactic (overcoming death by killing it in the form of zombies)? Is it Freudian – allowing our inner zombie to express itself?

It doesn’t really matter. Zombies provide us with a lot of entertainment and particularly in Apocalypse Z and Uncommon Ground, two zombie novels by indie author G. E. Swanson. These two fast-paced books follow the adventures of a group of youngsters attempting to survive after the United States has been stricken by a deadly zombie virus. The core characters are brothers Mark and Jeff, sisters Lisa and Dedee and their friend Jet, and nurses Tami and Sheryl. Others join them in the two adventures – some survive, and others don’t. In Apocalypse Z the group are trying to get to Mark and Jeff’s family’s remote cabin which has been prepared as a survival centre with weapons, food and energy supplies. The youngsters face goon squads as well as zombies, not to mention their own fears.

In Uncommon Ground the group need supplies so have to run the gauntlet of the zombies again. They pick up some more survivors and meet with the mysterious Smith. They also encounter a very different type of zombie who looks like becoming quite a force to reckon with in the future. They also learn that the government isn’t worried about killing off groups of survivors in their drastic attempts to keep zombie numbers contained. Yet another threat to cope with.

Both novels are exciting, unpredictable, full of action and the work of a very imaginative, energetic writer.

So time to here from the author. Over to Greg.

zombie uncommon ground greg swanson1. Tell us briefly about Apocalypse Z and Uncommon Ground.
Apocalypse Z and Uncommon Ground are the first two books of the series. It’s about a group of young adults that were brought together through a twist of fate shortly after an outbreak of a deadly zombie virus. Their first goal was to get to a safe place and ride it out; hoping things would go back to normal soon. When they discover that things may never be what they once were, they start work on a safe haven for the living to give humankind a chance to start over.

2. What’s the story behind the stories? Why did you write the book?
When I sat down I knew that there were scads of zombie books already out there, so I wanted to something a little different. Almost all the ones that I’ve read have adult heroes, but there were little to none with young adults/teens as the hero. Teens are smarter than what some people give them credit for, they can quickly adapt to new situations, and are willing to extend a hand to others in need. The parents were removed, making them orphans with only each other to rely on for protection and support.

3. What do you enjoy most about writing about zombies? Do you ever scare yourself?
The zombies, smash, bash, guts and gore. I have been a big zombie fan since the 1980s and can’t get enough of them. Though I haven’t scared myself with zombies, there are a few other creatures I have in mind for future books that had me looking over my shoulder at times.

4. Which of the main characters are you most like? Mark? Jeff? Lisa? Jet?
In one way or another, most of them have a tiny little sliver of me in them, but not enough to say they are like me. However, I would have to say that Mark has a few more slivers than the others.

5. Did you design your covers yourself? What was your aim in the designs?
I have a basic idea before I get with a friend of mine who is a very talented artist. I’ll select a few characters from the story to be on the cover, give him a little information on the story line, and what I had in mind. Zach is really amazing; he’ll take that, fill in any gaps and make it all come together. The cover has to reflect a little on the genre; it must be exciting and graphic.

Greg Swanson26. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
Actually, it was something that happened over time. When I was in the fourth grade I had a teacher that had us do quite a bit of writing. Once there was a contest between three classes (fourth through sixth grade) to write a poem and a short essay. I got first place for my essay and third place for the poem. This is what first inspired me, plus my mother always told me I have and over active imagination. Later in Junior High I tried finding books about writing, but they always seemed to be checked out by others. Fast forward about twenty years and the internet came along and shortly after that was news groups, some of the very first social networking. I would jot down short stories and post a couple paragraphs a day through them, but that was as far as it went. Over the next several years I checked into it a couple of times without success. Unless you had just the right connections, or the money to do it yourself, it wasn’t going to happen. I had neither. Then eBooks came along and evolved to a point where book sellers like Amazon made it possible, so I went for it.

7. What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Don’t just aspire, do it. Put your fingers to the keys and start typing. Book sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble has made it possible to get published without an agent or publishing house.

8. How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and self vs. conventional publishing?
I like printed books, but they aren’t that convenient. I would usually have several with me and it got tiresome having to lug them around. When I decided to self-publish, I went to Amazon and bought a Kindle Touch just so I could see what eBooks had evolved into. Once I saw how convenient it was to carry not just a few, but hundreds of books, I was sold. Also, it seems that everything is going mobile and people can have all their stuff on one device, music, movies, and now books. Cost is another factor. A person can get two or three eBooks books for the same price as one printed book.

I’ve only self-published, so I can’t really compare the two. All I can say is that I’ve talked to a few authors that have gone that way, and they weren’t completely happy with the results. Something else that must be kept in mind is that with self-publishing comes self marketing and promotion. I would say to try it as an independent first; if it isn’t working, check into publishers that can help you with it.

9. How do you keep sane as an indie author?
I write and have fun doing it. I’ll start typing and get so focused on the story that anything that might have been bothering me is forgotten.

10. Do you have any writing rituals?
No, I clear my mind and start typing.

11. Anything else our readers need to know about you?
I’m an adrenaline junkie of sorts and used to take things to the extreme for the rush. But I don’t bounce as well as I did twenty years ago and the healing process takes longer, so I’ve had to slow down.

12. And finally, would you secretly like to be a zombie?
I don’t think so. It would be really boring walking around all the time with nothing to do, wearing the same torn and dirty clothes every day, and the stench of rotting meat would get pretty gnarly after a week.

Visit Greg’s Facebook page here.

Buy the books here:

Apocalypse Z on Amazon.com

Uncommon Ground on Amazon.com

Today’s Books Are Cool feature is about Marcia Turner, indie author of murder mysteries. Marcia has recently published two very different books in the genre which we’ll take a quick look at first before hearing from Marcia about her books and writing.

misplaced coverMisplaced Loyalty was Marcia’s debut detective novel. Patsy Hodge won’t be second best – not in her job as a police detective or to another woman. After a relationship with a man at work who turned out to be married, she transfers to another area and finds herself working for the prickly and opinionated John Meredith. She forms an uneasy alliance with another female detective in Meredith’s team, Tanya, as they investigate what at first appeared to be suicides but are now realised to be assisted suicides – in some cases, very assisted. Patsy proves to be a very sharp investigator, which antagonises Tanya, but she’s not the only enemy Patsy makes. Surprisingly, her biggest initial enemy, her boss Meredith, proves to have another side. He’s been frankly a complete bastard to women in the past, but it’s time to change. Especially when Patsy appears to be in real danger. However, whether two such strong-willed people can make as successful a private team as they do a professional one remains to be seen.

This is a supremely successful murder mystery with rounded, convincing characters who grab your attention and an extremely clever and unpredictable plot. There’s tension, terror, intrigue, humour and romance, and this book will appeal to anyone who likes any of those elements since it’s so readable and entertaining.

Next up is Murderous Mishaps.

Muderous Mishaps CoverFive work colleagues meet up at the reasonably nice St James Hotel for a weekend of pampering and self-indulgence. There aren’t many other guests there – a few priests, an elderly couple, a much younger people and a few others, including a hotel inspector. So Suzie, Jenny, Debby, Charity and Anna should get plenty of attention from the spa staff and the dishy French barman. Hotel manager Gina Brown determinedly keeps standards the highest she can, despite the fact that this weekend she’s having to deal with Cornwall’s heaviest summer rain in decades, power failures – and a dead body. It’s enough to drive anyone to drink, and several people overindulge over the period!

The police arrive swiftly to deal with the body and with the weather meaning no one can leave the hotel, it shouldn’t be too hard to solve the crime. And there’s no shortage of perpetrators ready to own up. When DI B asks for a confession, several guilty parties jump up. So who really did commit the crime? And just how many murders were there?

There’s a lot of entertainment to be had from this lively, clever and very funny murder mystery. Marcia Turner has woven a fascinating plot and she has a lovely, natural writing style. You’re there with our fun five leading females as they tease each other, take part in the karaoke competition, and although they get the claws out on each other occasionally, they’re genuinely kind and caring. They take other guests, notably Barbara and Simon, under their wing and look out for each other. And only one of them might be a murderer…

Marcia Turner has a great eye for detail and the close-knit community she creates in this hotel draws us in. Every single one of her characters is complex and truly intriguing. No little mannerism or quirk escapes the author’s eye. The plot is ingenious, to say the least, and keeps us interested, puzzled and guessing to the very end.

marcia picAnd now, over to Marcia!

Tell us briefly about Misplaced Loyalty.

Misplaced Loyalty was my second full length novel, although the first published. The first novel I wrote was Murderous Mishaps although written under a working title of “Whodunitchiclitthing”. Once I’d completed that, I decided to see if I could write a serious whodunit. I wanted it to be a little different, so I threw a will they won’t they into the mix. It was a huge learning curve in just about every way, and eventually absorbed every spare minute of my time. Once I had finished it, I missed the development of the characters and began to plot out the next in the series, whilst editing/rewriting what eventually became Murderous Mishaps.

What’s the story behind the story? Why did you write the book?

As mentioned above, I was coming to the end of writing Murderous Mishaps, and wanted to write something less frivolous. I saw a news item on a poor man who had been badly injured and wanted to end his life. He had been an active sportsman and father, and found himself a quadriplegic, unable even to feed himself. He was brave enough not to take the option to end his life quietly, but challenged the law through the high court, wanting to be given permission to end his life legally, and on his terms. He did that to both protect his family and those that would have to help him, and to provide hope to others in a similar situation. He lost his case and his reaction was harrowing. He died a few weeks later. I began to wonder, what if? What if there was someone willing to risk helping those who saw no future, irrespective of the law? Those whose lives had become so retched, that death was the most palatable option. But what if that person started making the decision as to when the time had come?

I wanted to consider the argument from both sides. I wanted to show that there are people, who, for one reason or another, truly had reached the end of their life as they see it, and the misery it causes them waking up each day. I countered this by showing that some days they were glad that they had seen their loved ones one more time, and that giving others control over their existence could prove fatal. I wanted to question that if such an agreement had been made, at what point does the decision to end your life pass into the hands of others.

Was it an easy story to write?

Surprisingly, yes. I had the basic premise as to how the victims would die, and I knew I wanted to show that whilst these awful things were going on, life for everyone else carried on as usual. I think that’s why I introduced the will they won’t they element. Meredith & Hodge were desperately trying to find and stop the villain, whilst trying to decide whether or not to become involved with each other. I would confess though, that I didn’t decide finally ‘who did it’, until I was over half way through.

Which character are you most like? Patsy? Jasper? Meredith?

Hmm. That’s a tough question. Probably a mixture of Patsy and Meredith, weighted toward Patsy. I am quite calm and pragmatic about most things.  I don’t like to be the center of attention, I’m quite happy to be on the peripherals looking in, but more often than not get dragged in to the thick of things. When I explode, which is rare, it is of that moment and then I move on.

 

And now we’d like to hear a little bit about your latest novel Murderous Mishaps.

My “Whodunitchiclitthing” was born from a conversation with a friend. She had been asked to help someone who had ‘killed’ their partner with an odd weapon. The conversation ended with her saying, “They wouldn’t believe you if you wrote it down!”  I wasn’t working at the time, and having always enjoyed writing I thought, why not? I sketched out a story where I was able to drop in many of unusual and amusing things that had happened to my friends and colleagues over the years. I borrowed a pet irritation from here, and a mannerism from there, and my cast was born.

It’s fair to say it’s less serious than Misplaced Loyalty, even though we have a few bodies. Was it more fun to write?

Not really, as it was supposed to be farcical, and because I’d never attempted anything like it before, I found getting some of the scenes to work without overdoing it really difficult. I’d love to write stories that make people laugh, and admire writers who seem to be able to do so effortlessly. It was never supposed to be a comedy but nor was it serious, and when I decided to publish it I was concerned that readers would think I meant it to be taken seriously.

Your lady characters in Murderous Mishaps are successful, glamorous businesswoman. I get the feeling you’re one too. Who are you most like out of Anna, Jenny, Debby, Suzie and Charity?

Glamorous is not a word I would ever associate with myself. It made me laugh reading the question. However I was a Regional Director for a large corporate for many years and I was competent at my job. I suppose if I had to choose a character most like myself, it would be Anna, sensible, reliable, a tiny bit adventurous, and so not totally boring.

enid-blytonWhat’s the main appeal of crime fiction?

I like reading all types of fiction but I like to be challenged as the story develops. I grew out of Enid Blyton at about nine years of age, and started reading Agatha Christie because that was mainly what was lying about.  I like to work out what, why and how with whatever I’m reading, and when I came to writing Murderous Mishaps, it seemed natural to drop all the things I wanted to include into a whodunit.  Surprisingly, some of my favourite novels are not related to crime in anyway.

Did you design your covers yourself? What was your aim in the designs?

I found a graphic designer quite by chance, gave him a brief synopsis of the stories and he came up with various designs. With both Misplaced Loyalty and Murderous Mishaps the covers jumped out at me. With Ill Conceived the second in the Meredith & Hodge series I did give him several of my own ideas. I am not artistic in anyway shape or form, but I know what I like. The aim with Murderous Mishaps was to ensure readers knew this was not a serious read. With the other two, I wanted to catch the eye and whilst depicting perhaps a little of the story, ensure that it raised more questions than it answered.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I don’t think there was an absolute moment. I’ve always enjoyed making up stories. I would find myself in situations where on the face of it everything was normal, but someone would do or say something that wasn’t quite right. I would find myself making up dramatic reasons for it, just for my own amusement. The reality of course was far more boring. One day I simply sat down in front of the laptop and started writing fuller versions of my thoughts and exaggerations.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

To research how things work as an indie author. Join as many writers groups as you can find time to attend both on line and in person if possible, and learn by other people’s mistakes. I am not at all technical and managed to make as many mistakes with the first upload of Misplaced Loyalty, as was possible to make. I also didn’t consider how I was going to promote it to anyone other than people I already knew. So, do your homework first and be prepared. I now have the legacy of some reviews which would have been great if it wasn’t for the mistakes I made. The one thing I can say with absolute certainty it get yourself an editor!

This is your baby. You have nurtured and developed it, you have done your absolute utmost to give it a good start in the world, and then you let it down at the final hurdle by sending it out into the world without first making sure shoelaces are tied, and it trips up on the first outing. That can be corrected of course, but some damage will already have been done. It would be so much better to avoid the fall if at all possible. An editor will tie the laces for you.

And finally, anything else our readers need to know about you?

Not really, I’m just an average mum, wife, or work colleague. I happen to disappear for hours on end in front of a laptop, and I sometimes ask odd questions at inappropriate moments much to others amusement. Such as, “can you get DNA from urine?” whilst eating dinner.  Other than that I’m normal!

Thanks Marcia!

You can buy Marcia’s books here:

 

 

 

splinteredThe Splintered Circle is a thoughtful and original mystery. An elderly man, Max, has hired Raif Condor to retrieve items for him and deliver them. The items are heavy and turn out to be fragments – splinters – of stone. If Max, via Raif, can gather all the pieces then he can solve a puzzle and discover the whereabouts of something very valuable.  However, the final splinter eludes him and there are some other issues he needs to deal with as well.

We also have Fleur Fern, who is sent by a private detective trying to discover what happened to a man who has disappeared. Her investigations take her to Guernsey where, handily, she’s able to stay in her aunt’s cottage while she works.

Raif has to travel quite far and wide in his work for Max, and suddenly realises he could be at risk. He’s sure he’s being watched. Fleur makes some unexpected discoveries of a personal nature which bring her and Rair into contact. The German occupation of the Channel Islands during the Second World War emerges to have a crucial role to play in the unfolding mystery of the stone splinters.

The Splintered Circle is very much a book about places. The author has an incredibly sharp eye for detail and creates the various locations that are depicted in this novel with great authenticity and atmosphere.  Characters too are well portrayed. They’re interesting, complex, realistic people, but each one with an attractive amount of mysteriousness about them that adds to the general air of mystery in the book.

It’s well written, very carefully structured novel and the changing focus from Raif’s activities to Fleur’s investigations keeps the reader interested and on their toes. There’s tension, intrigue and touches of humour. The plot moves at a good pace and it’s original and certainly not predictable. There’s more to solve than the problem of stones and readers are kept guessing to the very end.

Ruby Stone has produced an impressive and enjoyable novel with the added interest of the modern historical elements within it. Her book is well presented in terms of editing and formatting, and has an attractive, well designed and exectuted cover that hints at the contents and inspires interest.

I look forward to reading more by this author.

pipelinePipeline by Christopher Carolli is a tense paranormal thriller, the first in a series. A pipeline is when the dead attempt to communicate with the living through technology such as television, phone or computer. This is what happens to Tracy, whose fiancé David died in a car crash six months ago. She suffers from survivor’s guilt since she was in the car too but survived. And suddenly she hears David’s voice on the television, hears his favourite song on the radio which tunes itself and gets silent phone calls from an unknown number. She needs help, but not from a psychiatrist. Her friend Marcia points her towards a group of paranormal investigators. They attempt to solve the mystery of what David is trying to tell Tracy but time may be running out.

This is an extremely exciting and well written book. You’re on the edge of your seat all the way through. Carolli has created some intriguing, complex characters for us to discover. Not just Tracy but everyone we meet has an interesting background and a persuasive reason for being involved in this paranormal investigation. It’s far from being another ghost story. This is a gritty, gripping, modern novel with an ending that is far from predictable. It’s a brilliant and thought provoking start to what looks like being an excellent series.

 

gabriela widowAbout the book: Through the intimate bond of a companion and benefactor, Gabriela reconciles the painful experiences of her youth as she is reshaped by the Widow, La Viuda. Together, day after day, night after night, La Viuda immerses Gabriela in lists, boxes, places, times, objects, photos, and stories, captivating and life-changing stories. It seems Gabriela is not just hired to cook and clean; she has been chosen to curate La Viuda’s mementos while taking care of the old woman’s failing health. “As you grow thick, I grow thin,” says the widow, portending the secret of immortality that will overtake both women.

Jack says of his novel: Gabriela and the Widow is a very personal novel not at all based on personal experience. It is a novel about two women, one dying—The Widow; the other—Gabriela, is blossoming. It is an archetypal Mother-Daughter novel working the idea that culture passes through women. It is built on the notion that our memory is fallible and that our stories have to be written down for them to be meaningful. It is a novel about the transformative power of love and respect. It is also a novel built on the idea that women share deep and universal secrets regardless of which culture they live in.

My comments: I found the book to be a gripping read. Gabriela is an amazingly resilient and resourceful character who has a miserable time as an adolescent after she loses her family. She doesn’t want much from life really – just a pair of Nike trainers and to keep busy, but even simple ideals are hard to find in a corrupt, oppressive world. It’s not an easy book to read at times in terms of the harsh content, but it’s one you can’t put down. You get so drawn to Gabriela with her freshness and uncomplicated approach to things. Jack Remick has a gift with character creation. He portrays everyone sharply, even minor characters that we only meet in passing. We know exactly what makes them tick and whether we like them or not within a sentence or two. There is plenty of action, an intriguing plot and a lot of enjoyment to be drawn from this novel.

jack remickAbout the Author: Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer and novelist. In 2012, Coffeetown Press published the first two volumes of Jack’s California Quartet series, The Deification and Valley Boy. The final two volumes will be released in 2013: The Book of Changes and Trio of Lost Souls. Blood, A Novel was published by Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, in 2011.

You can find Jack online at http://jackremick.com
Blog: http://bobandjackswritingblog.com

Twitter: @jackremick

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jack.remick

Publisher Website: http://CoffeetownPress.com

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours, which this post is a part of, visit http://worldofinknetwork.com

Buy the book here:

Ramblings in Ireland by Kerry Dwyer is really two books in one. One the one hand we have a humorous, incisive look at expat life as seen by this witty, fascinating author, but which only hints at all the experiences she has clearly had. On the other we have an enjoyable travelogue that depicts Ireland with all its outward charm and friendliness. This precisely reflects how Ramblings is used as the title to depict Dwyer’s thoughts and observations about various matters and also the physical unhurried walks that Dwyer takes on holiday. France-based, the author and her husband take their first child-free holiday for a long time and end up in Ireland when other holiday plans go awry. However, they’re as happy to be there as anywhere more exotic and the trip introduces them to a wonderful country and allows the author the chance to tap her rich imagination and share her point of view about many and various things with us.
Kerry Dwyer has a wonderful eye for detail and uses it to depict very clear mental images for the reader of everything she experiences. We can see the full Irish breakfasts on the plates in all their glory, picture husband and wife teetering on a fogbound, narrow ledge and get a good idea of what everybody they meet looks like. We get a clear feel for the friendly atmosphere they encounter everywhere. We also learn what makes this author tick – her likes and dislikes, her optimism, her enthusiasm, her love for Jinx and her husband. Just occasionally the reproduced conversations go on a little too long, but that’s a minor and easily forgivable fault given the general excellence of this unusual, quirky gem of a book.

You can buy the book here:

bluemoonThe Blue Moon Café: Where Shifters Meet to Drink by Ioana Visan is a collection of seven short paranormal stories. The short story is not an easy genre to market, especially given the proliferation of novellas these days. However, this collection works almost as a short novel, given the unifying underlying theme of shifters, and the characters who are common throughout, although the disparity in the stories’ lengths mean they don’t really equate to chapters. Werewolves – mutts – and the less common were-eagles who double up as crows are the main characters we meet, but there are humans and “smoking hot vampires” too. The Mayor is trying to keep things calm in his town with a rather volatile mix of different shifter species and has various levels of success.

There are plenty of humourous touches and lots of imagination in evidence in these quirky, tightly plotted stories. There’s romance, tension, craziness, suspense, threat. Each story in the collection has a slightly different tone, from comedy in Once in a Blue Moon, with the added moral of ‘be careful what you buy off someone in a bar’, to tension and conflict in A Mutt Problem, to definite foreboding yet optimism in The Day We Shot the Moon out of the Sky. The various characters are sparsely yet adequately portrayed. This author concentrates her writing energy where it matters most – in creating atmosphere and entertainment. The book would benefit hugely from a more original title. There is a sea of books with Blue Moon Café in the title, many of them collections of short stories, and I worry that this book could drown in them. It deserves to stand out from the crowd. Sadly, the cover doesn’t do the book full justice either and doesn’t reflect the class and quality of Ioana Visan’s writing. But this is definitely a book worth reading.

Dynasty OShea new cover 7(2)Title : Dynasty O’Shea

Author : Clarissa Cartharn

Length : 389 pages

Genre : Fantasy

Jack and Rachel O’Shea and their children are ordinary people living ordinary lives – or so it would seem. But everything changes when Jack turns up at Rachel and the kids’ home with a mysterious jewel. One of the kids accidentally creates a portal to another world, Spassenia, while messing around with the jewel, and Jack and Rachel are thrown back into a world they thought they’d never see again. While the children struggle to comprehend their newfound status as royals, their parents must battle to regain the throne of Gammalion. Through many incredible adventures through magical kingdoms complete with their own legends, peoples and fascinating creatures, the O’Shea family learn some vital lessons about themselves and become closer than ever before.

This is a promising debut novel. It includes everything you might expect from an epic fantasy – mythical creatures, incredible landscapes, bloodsoaked battles, heroic characters and even some romance. The various realms of Spassenia are richly populated with diverse and fantastical tribes and animals. Each member of the family is uniquely characterized and learns much about themselves and their family.

From the epilogue of the book, I gather we can probably look forward to a sequel, so those readers who have fallen in love with the world of Spassenia will surely be delighted to have another chance to explore that world with their favourite characters.

 

NightBuddiesStickerCover300dpiThe content of this book is spot on for a young audience. John Degraffenreidt has exciting adventures at night-time when, of course, adults think he’s in bed and asleep. Outwitting grown-ups is always appealing to kids! John’s buddy, the red crocodile Crosley, is in a bit of bother. Some imposters that look like him are causing trouble so Crosley and John need to stop them.

This book offers likeable and intriguing characters, with the larger than life, irrepressible Crosley, a crazy, imaginative plot and plenty of fun. However, it’s the presentation that’s the controversial element in this book. I love the way different typefaces are used to make each page look as lively as story it’s telling is. That’s a nice touch and it works brilliantly. Less so, in my opinion, the language. Most of the characters have their own dialects and what they say is spelt how it sounds, at least to the author’s head. As Crosley says in the introduction: “If there’s a word ya can’t understand, just say it out loud an’ then ya’ll get it. Hey, just don’t spell it that way at school or in a spellin’ test! If ya want, make a game outta findin’ all the misspelled words in the story!”

A touch of over-eagerness there to make it acceptable to spell words wrongly? Maybe. Confident readers won’t have any problems with it but kids who find reading more of a challenge may be a little perplexed. The danger with writing in a dialect is that it becomes annoying after a while. It’s a fun, well-intentioned ploy that would work perfectly with an older audience, but can be very hit and miss with younger kids.
Also, fermez la! isn’t something French kids would say anywhere near an adult! Teachers don’t tolerate it in the schoolyard either. (I live in France and have three bilingual French-English kids.) I’d have preferred to see ‘Taisez-vous’ so a bit more research there would have been good. My last minor moan is that there are rather too many very long dashes around the place too. Any mannerism used more than moderately becomes irritating.

However, pedantry aside, this is a lively, fast paced book that is fabulously illustrated by Jessica Love and makes for entertaining read.

You can buy the book here:

 

silver sphereThe Silver Sphere (The Kin Chronicles) by Michael Dadich is exciting YA fantasy. Shelby, Zach and four other youngsters are unexpectedly called to help the planet Azimuth and are transported to Meridia, one of its countries. They discover that each of them is Kin to a member of Azimuth’s Aulic Assembly all of whom have been captured by the wicked Malefic of the Nightlanders, who personifies the ancient evil Biskara. The humans – the Kin who are linked to the assembly by psychic links – inherit the special abilities of the assembly member they replace and have to lead the battle to keep Azimuth, and ultimately also Earth, out of the hands of the enemy. They need the help of the Silver Sphere to do this, an armillary sphere, an old astronomical device, that gives the co-ordinates of where to find Biskara, so it’s crucial to them. But only the Assembly members can operate it.

This is a very interesting and entertaining story. The Kin, none of them particularly special or promising to begin with, rise to the challenge they are suddenly faced with quickly and develop strengths and qualities they never knew they had. They prove to have been good choices. Azimuth is a fascinating new world for us to discover, with much that is good as well as true evil in the form of the Nightlanders. We meet witches and demons too. The story is gripping and has depth to it. Fantasy and science fiction intermingle to create a complex plot that moves at a sharp pace and grabs your attention from the very beginning. There’s more to come in this series which is already a very impressive addition to this genre.