Our Review of House Without Windows by Stevie Turner #RomanticSuspense @StevieTurner6

 

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Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now. Amidst her grief she often looks back and thinks about her fiancé Liam. She lies awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off, and prays that Liam is still out there somewhere searching for her.

 

 

 

Our Review

This is an incredibly sad yet powerful, well written story.

One that will shred your nerves and try repeatedly to break your heart.

Most of us couldn’t begin to imagine what happens to Beth, or how she  manages to cope with it all and remain sane.

I don’t think I would have, for simply reading this story has left scars on my emotions. You keep telling yourself it is fiction and didn’t really happen, but we know only too well that it does. This story is probably far too close to the truth than is comfortable. The characters and their suffering are devastatingly real, made all the more so because we know situations like this have happened to people just like Beth and her daughter.

This story reminds us that this world can be cruel and disturbing, but that we can somehow survive and rise above the despair, if we can keep love in our hearts…


 

Biography

Stevie Turner is a British author of suspense, women’s fiction family dramas, and darkly humorous novels. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and ‘A House Without Windows’ gained the attention of a New York media production company in December 2017. Some of Stevie’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, and Italian.

Stevie can be contacted at the following email address: stevie@stevie-turner-author.co.uk
You can find her blog at the following link: http://www.steviet3.wordpress.com
You can sign up to her newsletter here: https://www.facebook.com/StevieTurnerAuthor/app/100265896690345/

 

Our Review of Prelude by Widdershins

 

Shamans come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, from all the continents of the Earth. We’ve been around since the human race realized there was more to existence than just the physical, and we’ll be around long after the last star has died, when the Wheel turns to renew All.

Becoming a Shaman is not for the faint-of-heart or the timid-of Spirit. It is not an easy Path, nor should it be. The responsibilities are great and require harsh testing before one is judged capable of shouldering them.

There are many Pathways to becoming a Shaman, and I came to understand mine through my Earth-based, Goddess Spirituality, She who is the First Mother of Us All, in all Her forms.

‘Prelude’  is the story of my very first steps along that Path. It is part memoir, part Shamanic adventure, and part guidebook, with a dash of dire warning on the side.

From the moment I came across a giant statue of Bast, I knew my life would never be the same. There were times I froze, bled, burned, raged, and cried.  My life, my past, the shadows, and the shining moments, all the things I believed defined me, were challenged, until nothing but a truth, my Truth, remained.

Join me as I confront my monsters, discover my true Name, and come to understand that the Physical world I grew up with was just a tiny corner of a much vaster Cosmos.

Our Review

I have always been one to muddle through life, never quite knowing what or why anything happens.

I always knew there should be more to this life than just drifting from moment to moment. I didn’t understand what it could be, or where to look for the answers, Or what to do with whatever I found was a complete and utter mystery to me.

From the first page of Prelude, this part memoir, part shamanic adventure written by Widdershins, I knew I had found something.

Could it be the path to my own enlightenment?

In the beginning, I doubted it, for I had been searching most of my life for some meaning, some reason for all those years of questions. But something called out to me and made me read on. Gradually, I discovered a guide to show me the way to understand what I had always sensed, but never found on my own.

This beautifully written and emotional book showed me how to reach my own truth, and will be a valuable reference for the rest of my life…

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Our Review for Voyage of the Lanternfish by C S Boyack #Action&Adventure @coldhandboyack

 

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An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan.
He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him. But first, they need guns and munitions to outfit the ship properly. Deception and trickery will only get them so far. Eventually, they’re going to have to engage the enemy.
James’ goals aren’t necessarily the same as his crew. It’s a delicate balancing act to collect enough loot to keep his crew happy, while guiding them back to rescue the girl.
Voyage of the Lanternfish is filled with adventure, magic, and monsters. Lots of monsters. Hoist the colors and come along for the ride.

Our Review

The Voyage of the Lanternfish is altogether a far more complicated and serious work than the author’s previous stories. Kidnapping and talk of starting a war had me thinking I had picked up the wrong book.

The solid sense of humour, wonderful storyline and intriguing characters kept me turning the pages and I almost read it all in one sitting.

This story has everything.

Adventure, magic, romance and an incredible cast of some of the strangest creatures I have ever read about. I couldn’t decide which character I like the most, as they all bring something special to the story.

I have read most of C S Boyack’s books and enjoyed them all, but I will remember The Voyage of the Lanternfish for some time.

If you like magical fantasy with a strong sense of realism, this brilliant book is for you…

 

 

Our Review for The Beauty Thief: by Rachael Ritchey ~ #ScienceFiction & Fantasy @RachaelRitchey

 

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Magic is long dead in Twelve Realms, a peaceful kingdom where the dark arts were once as normal as the seasons. At least this is what most believed until the life of a princess becomes the obsession of a man who defies time by stealing the one thing that sustains his life: true beauty.

Princess Caityn is more than a pretty face. Her beauty runs soul deep, and because of this, her life is priceless to the thief. On the eve of her wedding to the high prince, Caityn is attacked by his powerful dark magic, leaving her a wretched hag with a soul so empty even she barely recognizes herself.

But it’s not too late. Her betrothed and a group of loyal knights might be able to save her from a living death, but it will take more than a kiss to rescue this princess. Love means sacrifice.

What will those who profess to love Caityn be willing to sacrifice to save her life? Time is not on their side. Doubt is a strong enemy, and the thief knows exactly how to use it to his advantage.

 

Our Review

It was the amazing cover, created by Rachael herself, that compelled me to read The Beauty Thief, a modern, yet classical fairy-tale with a nasty twist.

This is the authors first novel and intelligently written. It soon grabbed me by the back of my neck as the tension develops.

Although it has a typical beginning for a fairy tale, a handsome prince and princess, the story builds into a fascinating yet disturbingly dark world.

Such is the quality of the writing and the spell cast by the characters, I knew I was in for one hell of a ride. All of the characters come alive with complex emotions, wit, and charm, especially Caityn, the main character. She handles her sad fate with such dignity.

This story ends with a great cliff-hanger, reminding us that there will be more to come.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Beauty Thief and look forward to the next book in the series.

About the Author

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Rachael Ritchey is a writer and book designer for indie authors. She mainly writes YA fantasy fiction, but you can find her dabbling in sci-fi and contemporary genres too. She has a passion for beautiful books, so book cover and interior designing are high on her list of enjoyable hobbies. When she’s not writing, working on design, spending time with her four kids and husband, home-schooling her youngest, reading a book, or watching movies, Rachael can be found enjoying one of the many beautiful lakes of the Inland Northwest or hiking in the woods of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

 

Biography

Rachael Ritchey was born and raised in Northern Idaho with a short, seven-year stint in scenic SE Alaska. Inspiration from the picturesque places she grew up has played a huge part in her imagining of the fantasy world she created.

The Beauty Thief is the first book in her YA series called Chronicles of the Twelve Realms. While she considers the book’s fantasy because of some of the elements of the stories, they read more like historical fiction. Book two is on its way to completion. She also has a middle-grade book started that she hopes to find time to finish, too!

Rachael is an everyday wife and mother who writes books she would want to read; she writes stories she’s proud to share with her kids and you. While her goal is to entertain, she also wants to use her writing to inspire courage and compassion.

Being an author, sharing her stories, is about more than selling books. If you want to contact Rachael, you can find her at
http://www.rachaelritchey.com
on Twitter: @RachaelRitchey
on Facebook: WritingRaci
or Goodreads: Rachael Ritchey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Angel on Her Shoulder by Dan Alatorre @savvystories # Fantasy/sciencefiction

 

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A series of unexplainable tragedies surround a family and their young daughter as they seek to determine whether they are possessed, paranoid or collectively going insane. Meanwhile, forgotten clues from the father’s past may indicate forces are at work in ways more ominous than any of them could have imagined.

 

 

 

Our Review:

I chose to read and review this supernatural thriller with a twist by Dan Alatorre because I am a great fan of his work. The last book of his that I read, ‘Poggibonsi’ nearly had me splitting my sides, I laughed so much. There is always such a strong human element to his writing, which adds to the magic.

From the brilliant opening chapter, I knew this book would be good. The unusual chapter arrangement threw me at first, but I soon realised how well it gradually ramped up the tension.

Parts of the story were traumatic, enforcing the deep and dark theme of this book, despite being about a happy family unit. The main characters, Doug, Mallory and their daughter Sophie are portrayed so well, you feel you have known them all for years, and makes what happens to them all the more terrifying and exciting to read.

The supernatural element was handled well, really down to earth stuff that will raise the hair on the back of your neck time and again.

Near the end of the book was another shocking chapter, and then the unbelievably terrifying footage of being caught in a storm. So well depicted, I felt soaked to the skin and scared to death as the lightning rent the air.

Not many books have me cheering at the end, but this one did, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good thriller!

 

About the Author:

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages.
From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry – or hang onto the edge of your seat – has been enjoyed by audiences around the world.
And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time.
“That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.”
Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe.
His unique writing style can make you chuckle or shed tears—sometimes on the same page (or steam up the room if it’s one of his romances). Regardless of genre, his novels always contain unexpected twists and turns, and his endearing nonfiction stories will stay in your heart forever.
25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew, co-authored by Dan, has been a valuable tool for upcoming writers (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping new authors is evident in his wildly popular blog “Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR.”
Dan’s success is widespread and varied. In addition to being a bestselling author, he has achieved President’s Circle with two different Fortune 500 companies. You can find him blogging away almost every day on http://www.DanAlatorre.com or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week, Writers Off Task With Friends.

Dan resides in the Tampa, Florida area with his wife and daughter.

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Our Review for Don’t Touch by Barb Taub #ScienceFiction/Fantasy @barbtaub

 

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Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it.
Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.
Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

 

Our Review

Lette wakes up on her thirteenth birthday and inherits a terrible problem.

A problem she neither wants nor needs.

Despite the seriousness of her plight, I was impressed by her sense of humour and the way she gets to grip with her often distressing problem.

Don’t Touch is, without doubt, a fascinating, delightful read. Extremely well written, I read it in one sitting. I followed Lette eagerly as she sought a solution, surprised by her ingenuity. Such an unusual story had me laughing at times, sad at others and I loved the romantic entanglements too.

I must confess, I loved George, the cat! Such a character, he tried his best to put a normal slant on Lette’s far from normal life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Don’t Touch and can heartily recommend it.

 

Excerpt

“I was having a terrific dream that Rag was carrying me into my bedroom. The bed dipped as he lay down next to me, and I could smell cinnamon and lemon. More, I wanted more, so I scooted closer and stuck my nose into his neck. I felt his hands move down my back and realized… Not a dream.

My eyes flew open, and my head shot up.“Ow!”

He was holding his hands over his bleeding nose and yelling and laughing at the same time.

“Raguel?” I asked cautiously. When he nodded, I ran for a wet washcloth. The bleeding had stopped by the time I got back, but he eyed me warily.

“Are you still mad at me, Lette?”

“I was asleep, you stupid ex-angel.”

 “Um… Is this one of those boundary things?”

I gently wiped the blood from his face. “That depends.”

He took the cloth and wiped his hands. “On what?”

 I sat down on the bed and said in the most serious voice I’d ever used with him, “On why you left. And why you came back.”

He sat next to me and took both of my gloved hands. “I left because I saw what you were willing to go through to save Stefan. And then I heard you tell him you loved him. There were so many times I wanted to call you and argue like we used to but I kept remembering you telling Stefan you loved him.”

I started to protest but he put a finger over my mouth and continued. “Oh, and there might have been some cellphone smashing. I couldn’t stand the thought of riding on the Metro, so when a friend in France needed my help for several weeks I went without a phone or laptop. I only came back because Stefan sent a message through Poppy. He said that you were just friends. And that I was a shit for making you cry.”

“I don’t cry.”

He wiped the tears from my cheeks. “I know. And I am a shit. But that’s not the amazing part.” He kissed me, and in about a nanosecond I completely forgot what we were talking about. I might have also forgotten my name. I’m pretty sure I moaned a complaint when he pulled back to continue talking. It wasn’t fair. How come he could still talk?”

 

Biography

In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them consulting with her occasional co-author/daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

 

Best Review

Georgia Rose

5.0 out of 5 stars

Perceptive and witty, I can’t begin to tell you how entertaining this book is…

Until now I had viewed the Null City books from a bit of a distance thinking that I don’t really do fantasy, let along urban fantasy – whatever that may mean – and I’m certainly not YA so these can’t be for me. Right? Wrong…how wrong could I be? I was hooked from the moment I read this:-

‘Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it.’

Lette (short for Roulette, fabulous name!) is our heroine here and she has a pretty tough time from the moment she hits 13 and inherits the family ‘gift’ where whatever she touches each day changes form. Some days this is great, diamond rings and opals appear alongside cup cakes for example, on other days life becomes precarious when her touch causes things to levitate or explode. Lette learns to cope. She wears vinyl gloves all the time to protect others and isolates herself to live alone. Stefan arrives in her life one day encouraging her to come with him to Null City where they can live a normal life. Stefan, you see, has his own family legacy he is trying to escape from and for a brief time Lette is able to experience the blossoming of a romance. The ‘cure’ of Null City doesn’t go to plan for Lette and she has to move on making another contact with Rag, an ex-angel with boundary issues, along the way.

I can’t begin to tell you how entertaining this book is. I’ve loved Taub’s writing on her blog for a while now, it’s perceptive and witty and this book is no different. A strong, beautiful heroine (who doesn’t see herself as that) with a superpower that is both humorous and heart-breaking, an original story, handsome hero’s with their own tragic pasts, a hopeful but ultimately doomed romance and plenty of action…oh and there’s an evil cat, George, …what more could you want in a book!

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal; January 2019

 

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As I am still battling germs and feel like a wreck, I will not be running out our resolutions just yet. Although I am struggling to do the daily necessities, never mind anything more adventurous, my eyes keep drifting to that corner of my desk where my WIP lives and I feel really guilty. I shouldn’t before you all say so because it was hardly my fault that last year was a bit like wading through manure. I was being polite there, did you notice?

I tried, but it was a no-go zone from start to finish. They say not to blame yourself when life gets in the way, but it’s hard not to when you are usually better at dodging the bullets and fielding trouble away. I think the only productive thing I did all year was write nearly 60.000 words of PayBack, my WIP.

Anita has been doing well with her poetry, and recently won Poet of the Week with her Double Nonet poem “Broken Ground” for Colleen’s Poetry CHALLENGE

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Some of our trying must have registered somewhere, as the stats on our blog show a remarkable improvement. I don’t understand how or why, which is a shame, for we could do more of whatever it was.

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My brain is on notice to pull itself together and to prepare for battle, as this year is going to be special and I already have a list of possibilities that I want to explore, learn and implement.

Smashwords, Amazon or D2Digital?

Years ago, we had all of our books on Smashwords. We had to opt out of Amazon’s exclusivity to do it, but at the time, we thought having all of our eggs in one basket was a little silly.

Actually managing to put our books on Smashwords was an art in itself and almost impossible, or at least it was for me but I was a newbie back then and didn’t know my arse from my elbow!

Just lately, I have noticed that Smashwords has been promoting themselves quite a lot, probably because Amazon is reported to be losing popularity.

I started wondering if we should go back there. After all, because we are also on D2Digital now, we have already lost the advantage Amazon offers.

I would love to know how many authors are starting to spread their nets further afield, and what they think about it.

 

#Throwback Thursday: Something in the Air by Ben Starling…

 

 

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What if it’s true that you can never really go home? Returning from a soul-crushing war, Daniel Dragan is determined to put the past behind him.

But with his beloved uncle dead and the town’s economy in a slump, there may not be much to keep him in San Prospero, California.

That is, till he is startled by veterinarian Willow Dixon at the embankment overlooking their hometown and its new factory. A desperately needed job offer there may offer Daniel the chance he needs – but all is not as it seems at the factory and Willow, determined to save the inhabitants of her animal sanctuary, wants the factory’s operations stopped. Sometimes the road home is not what we expect. And not the one we left behind…

This novella was gifted to me by the author, Ben Starling, when I showed an interest. I loved the cover and was in the mood for a romantic mystery.
The main characters Daniel and Willow were charming and very real, and the way the author handled the romantic scenes was really impressive! There were strong messages about how man’s greed can threaten our planet, something I know is close to the authors heart.
I must confess to being a little confused by the mysterious hair dryer, and must have missed something there.
I am not a huge fan of short stories, as they are never quite long enough for me somehow. This story could have been so much longer, as I for one, wanted to know if disaster would be avoided and that Willow really would be okay. I get the feeling this story or its theme may continue somewhere else along the way, and I shall be looking forward to it!

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Biography
Ben Starling is passionate about environmental conservation and sport, both central themes in his work. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades.

He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively until about five years ago. He is 6’3″and 185 lbs.

Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an M Phil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.

http://ben-starling.com
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/b0167GZ4YC

#Throwback Thursday: Poggibonsi by DanAlatorre@savvystories

#Throwback Thursday, such a brilliant way to revisit your favourites!

Poggibonsi, an Italian misadventure…

 

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When family man Mike Torino lands a project in Italy, home of naked art, Valentino, and taxi-crashing yoga pants, he brings along his wife, hoping to rekindle their marriage. But romance gets derailed by head colds, constant bickering, and assaults from ankle-breaking cobblestone streets. Their daughter develops a gelato addiction. Mike’s Italian partner has a coronary.

And as for amore . . . Mattie tells Mike to handle things himself—and storms back to America.
Mike is trapped. Leaving Italy will blow a promotion; staying might cost him his wife and family.
While reeling from Mattie’s frantic departure, a replacement liaison is assigned—a top-notch, beautiful young
Italian woman who is instantly smitten with Mike and determined to reveal the passions of her homeland—whether he wants to see them or not! Normally immune, Mike is tempted—but is headstrong, voluptuous Julietta worth the risk?

 

Our Review

I have always loved the idea of Italy, and intend to go there one of these days, so this romantic comedy really appealed to me, and from the very first page, I was laughing.

The writing style, wit and humour sparkles like champagne, and although you can guess what the protagonist Mike Torrino will get up to, the effervescent way he stumbles through life is hilarious.

This story is all about relationships and love, all the different kinds of love, including a hilarious depiction of extra-marital sex. But Poggibonsi is a beautifully written romance too. It has the classic ‘lost everything’ scenario, but the emotions are real. The cast of characters could be people you have known for years, and I laughed a lot and cried in equal measure but cannot remember when I have enjoyed a book so much.

The scene in the restaurant between Mattie (the wife) and Sam, the woman Mike works with, literally brought the house down and was promptly outdone by Mike’s conversation with the priest.

Poggibonsi, (yes, it really is a place in Italy, a small Tuscan hamlet in Chianti) should be made into a film, it would break box office records!

 

About the Author

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages.

From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry – or hang onto the edge of your seat – has been enjoyed by audiences around the world.

 

 

#Interview with the Author: Bad Moon by Anita Dawes #HorrorFamily

 

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Spotlight on the writing of Bad Moon

or

(An informal interview with Anita Dawes)

 

Today I have dragged Anita away from her writing desk and forced her to sit and talk to me about my favourite book (and I suspect, hers too)

Good morning Anita, make yourself comfortable and tell us how you came to write Bad Moon?

Hello Jaye, this is all a bit strange for me, I haven’t done anything like this before, so I am trusting that you are right and it might just be interesting and productive.

I began to write when I couldn’t stand all the voices in my head. They would not let me rest until I told their story, and once I started, I couldn’t stop!

I just love the minds of the people of small-town America, their philosophy and their way of thinking.

What decided the plot of Bad Moon, was it just your imagination or did something trigger it?

I was in a bad place at that time in my life and I think escaping into another world, even one that was not sweetness and light, helped me a lot. There was a song that caught my interest, from Credence Clearwater Revival, about a ‘Bad Moon Rising’. You could say that that was my inspiration right there.  I think song lyrics are very emotive, you can usually come up with a good story to go with them. My book turned out to be the usual story of good and evil; you cannot get away from it, not in nature or human beings. Maybe knowing that what I was writing was not real, helped me in real life. It is possible.

 Is Annie a biographical character? Did you see yourself in her at all?

  No, I don’t think so. She turned out to be stronger than I could ever be.

 She seems a lot like you, somehow.

Does she? It was not intentional. My mother was the inspiration for the creation of Annie’s mother, and Annie’s father reminds me of one of my stepfathers. A long-suffering doormat. All of Annie’s relatives remind me of crows at a funeral.

But in the book, Annie’s father seems like a nice chap?

Yes, but he is weak, unable to control his wife or her relatives.

 Why did the title lose the word ‘rising’? And where did the idea for Pa’s grotesque carvings come from? They do sound fascinating…

 I had to change the title because there were just too many books out there with the same title. The idea for the carvings came from my imagination really, although I loved the film ‘The Guardian’ with Jenny Agutter. There was an interesting tree in the storyline that could have sparked something.

I always love the macabre side, like the ‘Tooth Fairy’ in The Silence of The Lambs. Making things out of human skin is fascinatingly disgusting, but people have been doing it for centuries.

Despite all her good intentions, Annie has an incestuous relationship with her brother Nathan, before she falls in love with Josh. Did the thought of writing about incest bother you?

No, there is more of that going on than most of us realise. I believe it can be a natural occurrence, as the love you feel for someone – brother or no – can become so strong and overwhelming. It is possible to love more than one person too, we do it all the time.

Your next book ‘Simple’ is very similar to ‘Bad Moon’. Is that what you intended?

Yes, because I feel it is a part of who I am, and I love writing them.

You have not written another story like these two, will you?

Maybe, but it has yet to be proved to me that people are interested in reading them, although I cannot rule it out as I may not be able to stop myself!

 Well, that wasn’t too grueling, was it?

If anyone has any questions or comments, we would be pleased to hear from you!


Brilliant Review on Amazon!

OlgaNM
Bad Moon is narrated in the first person by Annie, a young girl who lives happily with her family: mother (Ruby), father (Jed), and older brother (Nathan). She adores her father, although her mother’s behaviour is far from exemplary (she regularly invites other men to her home and that results in incidents with her husband, who takes it out on the men and seem remarkably tolerant of his wife’s behaviour). At first, Annie is worried that she might end up becoming a woman like her mother when she grows up and thinks it is all due to her mother’s family (her father says that her mother was born under a ‘bad moon’ and she comes from ‘the Hills’ where people seem to have their own morality and rules of behaviour). The inhabitants of the Hills seem to be a directly related to those of The Hills Have Eyes or the banjo players in Deliverance. What Annie doesn’t know is that things are worse than she ever could imagine. She has lived all her life in a world of lies and secrets. She is convinced she must learn the truth to avoid history repeating itself and is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that. The costs are high indeed.
Annie does not have much formal schooling (she decides to leave school when she realises things aren’t as they should) but she is extremely articulate, and some of the descriptions of the landscape surrounding her home, of her experiences and dreams, her mystical feelings on visiting the caves previously inhabited by a Native-American tribe, and her reflections are beautiful and lyrical. We might disagree with some of her decisions but it is difficult not to admire her determination. She never tries to be liked or makes excuses for her own behaviour (she might blame others at times, but despite not being a believer or having much in the way of role models, she does question her actions and tries to make things better), and she is neither all good nor all bad. It’s a testimony to the skill of the author that although Annie’s head is not a pleasant place to be in, we can’t help but wish she’ll succeed and live to see another day.
With themes including incest, rape, infanticide, murder, cannibalism, paedophilia and plenty of violence, this is not a gentle novel or an easy read. There is sex and violence, although these are not graphically rendered, but anybody with a modicum of imagination will be left with many powerful images difficult to forget. The strong intuition of the main character, the roles of fate, blood and family history and the communities portrayed turn this book into a tragedy where instead of kings and gods we have as protagonists a family in the outskirts of society and outside of history. (The historical period of the story and the outside society are not described in detail and this adds to the sense of claustrophobia an entrapment.)
If Annie is a heroine, a tragic hero or an anti-hero is open to interpretation and I haven’t decided yet. I’m not sure I’d like to meet her in real life, but I know I’d like to read more about her.