Tag Archives: Fantasy

History’s Most Shocking Serial Killer Brought to Life: The Affliction Series by Romina Nicolaides

Bathory's secret1609, Hungary. Powerful Countess Erzsébet Báthory has been searching for an illiterate book binder to collate her journals. Why illiterate? So that no one will discover her extraordinary, violent past. Kati, a local peasant, has just the skills she requires. The girl is keen to live in the castle with the Countess, until the horrors of her employer’s habits begin to be revealed. 

Horror isn’t always my thing, but Nicolaides’ novels are something totally different. They transcend the genre with their gritty action and gorgeous historical detail. They’re macabre and evocative, and there’s book binding, which I’m very into at the moment.

Chillingly, the title character is based on the real Erzsébet Báthory  (click the link to read about her deeds) – reputedly history’s most prolific female serial killer. Her legend has long been embellished with vampiric overtones, and Nicolaides seamlessly blends fact and fiction compellingly (she has an academic background in history). If you’re tired of sparkly teenage vampires, this is the ideal antidote.
Vampire edificeThrough the ‘Afflicted’ characters (those who survive on blood), there is an exploration of morality, mortality and what it means to be human.

The second novel focuses on Kati. I don’t want to give too much away to those of you who haven’t read the first one yet, but suffice it to say, dramatic events happen, there’s violence, travel, peril, love, and a secret society or two: all the ingredients for a page turner.

I’m excited about the next in the series too.

If you’d like to try them out, the links to purchase can be found here. They’re astoundingly cheap so I highly recommend you give them a go.

Please share to help give this awesome indie series the exposure it deserves.

 

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What I Read on My Holiday

I’ve been away for a little while, holidaying here:DSCN0170

When I wasn’t promenading around the coast, I was sitting in a window seat, overlooking the sea, reading books, and relaxing like a sloth on a bank holiday. I generally like to read humour when I’m on vacation to sustain my good mood. Here’s what I read:

  • Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend is a witty, often silly sequel to The Queen and I. It imagines an inept republic wherein the Queen and her family are exiled to a rundown council estate. In this installment the opposition wants to reinstate the monarchy, but will the British public go for a royal family where Camilla is Queen? Another claimant to the throne also appears, Graham the board game enthusiast, putting a nerdy spanner in the proverbial works. Delightfully, Townsend also gives character and subplot to the royals’ beloved corgis and the local dogs, planning an uprising of their own. It’s proper fun holiday read.
  • A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French was unique in that I could take or leave the plot, but the characters were pure excellence. Chapters are told in turn by Dora, a facebook-obsessed, OMG-Mum-you’re-so-embarassing kind of teenager; Oscar, her younger brother, who emulates Oscar Wilde in everything from his speech to his cravat; Mo, their mother, a child psychologist who fails to apply the theory to her own kids, and is having a bit of a mid-life moment; and once, powerfully, Husband, who had been a background character for most of the novel. Oscar is undoubtedly my favourite. French has a fabulous talent for voice and comic timing.
  • Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant by Veronica Roth I started reading the first as it’s the book the young ‘uns chose for the library teen book club. It’s not that they need me to talk much (I’m just the moderator/biscuit provider) but I prefer to have read it so I can nod along and ask the occasional discussion point. I think it’s an excellent YA book club choice as there’s plenty to talk about: Society has been divided based on personality types – so there’s psychology, politics, nature vs nurture, government control, family or group allegiance and all sorts of themes. By the end of the first I needed to know what happened next, hence the other two. Has anyone seen the film? Worth a watch?

What do you think of my holiday reads? What do you read on holiday? Comments warmly welcomed.

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A Clockwork Everything: Has Steampunk Gone Mainstream?

steam

Read the full version here.

Indulge me for a moment, my dear fellows, for of late I have been editing steampunk fiction. This is an undeniable pleasure as I revel in Dickensian English expression, and I have a penchant for flying machines and sky pirates.

Steampunk came to be in the glorious decade of the 1980s with an esoteric community of Victoriana-inspired science and fantasy fanaticists. It is oft characterised by a blending of Victorian styles and methods of invention with modern or fantastical science: steam-powered or clockwork everything. Steampunk has grown from a small cosplaying subculture into a popular literary genre and its imagery is pervading mainstream media.

e9f01Take Doctor Who: The new title sequence is filled with cogs and Victorian London is regularly visited, including encounters with automatons. The Orient Express episode certainly puts it high on steam credentials, but some purists argue it’s all steam and not enough punk.

Also on the telly, there was an episode of Castle wherein Nathan Fillion (who should be in all things always) wore the Dr. Grimmelore Superior Replacement Arm – and looked fabulous, as he would in anything.

nathan

Most people would agree that the film Wild, Wild West is steampunk. Most people would also agree it’s terrible, but that’s beside the point. It’s set in the correct time period and features mad scientists, extraordinary adventures and rather impressive clockwork nemeses. But which film managed to get steampunk added to the dictionary? To find out, click here.

The full version of this article was written for and appears on the Momentum Books blog. To continue reading click here,

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Free on Amazon: The Origami Dragon and Other Tales and Wish by C.H. Aalberry

It’s no secret that I enjoy the writing of C. H Aalberry. You can read my review of his YA fantasy novel Wish here.  Now is a brilliant time to download Wish or his wonderful book of short stories The Origami Dragon and Other Tales – they are currently absolutely free on Kindle! Origami

WishThe Origami Dragon is really rather special- darker than Wish in some ways, the intelligent mix of compelling characterisation, fantasy and science fiction is original and engaging. From tiny elephants to inter-stellar travel, the collection has surprising twists and charming moments. The author has a gift for intriguing anti-heroes and bringing the dark and fantastical to life. There’s also a clever intertwining intertextuality throughout.

Get yourself some quality, entertaining literature while it’s free! Also,  look out for stunning use of spelling, grammar and punctuation in both. Come for the plot, stay for the syntax!

Read another review of Wish from the estimable Adam P Reviews. His overview is simply excellent!

Read C. H Aalberry’s advice for writers struggling with writer’s block.

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Wish by C.H Aalberry

WishC. H. Aalberry beautifully conjures magical lands and thrilling encounters in his debut YA fantasy novel, ‘Wish’. Shards of the shattered WishStone have granted unpredictable powers to a cast of lovely and credible characters. Dak the Warrior is a fearsome giant with swirling red tattoos, two sharp axes and an unexpectedly generous nature. He travels with Lae, who is magical, sarcastic and well-read, and their charmingly anthropomorphised scruffy dog. Their adventure to save the world from war and the necromancer and to find the secrets of the WishStone is gripping and heart-warming in equal measure. Every character that they meet is distinct and well-written.

The author is very witty and uses humour cleverly in his characterisation. Dak, for example, speaks simply, for the most part, but occasionally surprises with excellently-timed moments of wisdom. Aventur, a narcissistic shiny-haired time-travelling bard, is given some very funny lines and maxims we can all live by: ‘Fortune favours the brave of heart and clean of hair!’

I don’t often review books that I’ve edited, but I think this one is particularly special. The plot is imaginative and unpredictable, the settings are vividly drawn and the characters feel very genuine. Also, it is very cheap ($0.99) so if you like the sound of it, take a punt! Buy it on Smashwords here or on Amazon Kindle for just £0.77.   

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