October Rain by Dylan J. Morgan

Book Description

The human race teeters on the brink of extinction in a solar system choking under the glare of a dying sun. An assassin for the Martian Interstellar Correction Agency, Steele has one more assignment to complete before a big payoff and the chance of a new life: a job that will reveal the true horrors of mankind’s futile existence and threaten the very people who make his life worth living.

As mankind draws its final breath, what would you do to save your family?

Buy here: 

mybook.to/OctoberRain

Add to your To Be Read list here: 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15717018-october-rain


My Review

5/5 stars
I read a kindle version kindly sent to me by the author – thank you Dylan!

October Rain is a novella written entirely in the first person perspective, from the point of view of bounty hunter Steele, who works for the government’s Interstellar Correction Agency on Mars. This allows us to be right there with him experiencing first hand his tension and fear as the action escalates. 

The story is set far in the future on colonized Mars, in the main city of Olympus.

Steele was born on Mars’ moon, Titan in a farming community. He only ever experienced Earth through the city’s Museum of Human History.

This novella contains plenty of thrilling action, gunfights, chases, a fight with a mutant monster in the bowels of Mars’ ice mine, creepy human laboratory experiments and some very unexpected twists and turns to the tale!

Steele, his wife Kari and child Shauna are due to leave Mars that evening to start a new life on Titan, reuniting with Steele’s parents. However, he has to perform one more assignment and hunt down three more people before his work is done and they can finally leave together.

Mars is becoming emptier as people flee the inhospitable planet – a mass emigration is in progress. Water appears to have been the main problem with colonizing Mars. Ice lies beneath the surface and mines have been developed which are manned by male and female prisoners convicted for any and all crimes on the planet. These mines have not yielded enough ice however and at the time of the novella, the mine area has been abandoned for more than two years. 

“The mines of Olympia were the city’s biggest embarrassment despite the project’s success in bringing water to the city. In the past, Olympia contained no prisons. A criminal could expect his cell to be a darkened tunnel beneath the city, and the duration of his purgatory to be spent excavating ice. Now, with changing times and mass emigration in progress, the usual sentence was swift execution—judging by the stories I’d heard, a far better option than the mines.”

The volcanic rain is acidic and since the atmosphere is not conducive to human survival, the people had been living under domes with solar paneling on top of them, providing their energy. 

Steele is an interesting character. He kills easily, and justifies those killings to himself:

“I’m a bounty hunter who exterminates criminals and those whose misdeeds have made their lives worthless. I’m not a saint, but I rid this city of its sinners.”

However, he realises this career would be unacceptable to his wife, so his family don’t know what he actually does for a living. He clearly adores his family and wants nothing more than to keep them safe and make a healthier new life for them on Titan, since Olympia is now full of drug dealers and thieves – the dregs of society are all that have been left behind. 

The author has thoroughly thought out his location and the narrative is peppered with interesting descriptive titbits of information:

“Martian money contained a crimson hue, the same shade as the dust that coated this planet’s inhospitable landscape. Arranged in neat rows, the bundles were tied together by black ribbons. A quick search told me each note was worth a hundred phobi; the currency named after Mars’s closest orbiting moon. There had to be about eight thousand notes stuffed into the briefcase, more than I could hope to earn during a six hundred and eighty-seven day Martian year.”

Steele locates and dispatches two of his final three targets and then continues his search for his final mark, Pierce, who he finds deep beneath the surface of the planet in the bowels of the ice mine in a horrific government lab, where he has been experimenting on fellow humans. In order to locate Pierce in the mine, Steele had to get past a group of less-than-human creatures and then take on a mutant monster.

“Some people claimed these creatures were former convicts who’d gotten lost in the maze of excavations beneath the city; others said they were simply left behind when the mining operation ceased. Whatever they were, they’d once been human, but generations of a harsh existence had turned them into animals.”

There is a very exciting twist at this point, which I am not going to spoil and the rest of the novella develops into an even faster paced, tense and thrilling race against time for Steele to reach his family in time to save them from certain peril.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novella and my only complaint is that it was not a full length novel. I would love to see Steele somehow escape from his final predicament and I want to know what happens to his family…

Recommended for fans of SciFi, thrillers and post apocalyptic fiction.


About the Author

Now living and working in Norway, Dylan J. Morgan was born in New Zealand and raised in the United Kingdom. He writes during those rare quiet moments amid a hectic family life: after dark, with limited sustenance, and when his creative essence is plagued the most by tormented visions.

He is the multi-genre author of eleven books, all available exclusively to Amazon. Focusing on Horror, Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia, and sometimes a hint of Science-Fiction, his books cater for those readers who enjoy a dark, terrifying journey into worlds where a happy ending is seldom seen.

If you’re searching for that light at the end of the tunnel then stop looking—you won’t find it here.


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Dreaming Your Dream by Starwing

Book Description

This illustrated novel tells the tale of a dystopian future where, following a war that nearly devastated humanity, the survivors partnered with Artificial Intelligence to create a brighter future. The people enjoy a virtual utopia every night by using interactive dream technology, but their computer-generated dreams are the only source of entertainment available. The AI determined that the root cause of all harmful human behaviours was uncontrolled emotions, but balanced, harmonious emotions are an integral aspect of wellness. It concluded that the only way to reliably achieve that was to eliminate emotion while a person was awake, then provide a safe way to experience the complete range of human emotions while engaged in dreaming. The story follows a man who struggles to hide the fact that he can still feel a low level of emotions during the day. He must keep his secret emotions and his mind strictly controlled-through the use of meditation-but he continues to make that harder and harder to accomplish when his life is on the line.

Science Fiction / Dystopian

Includes 50 Film Noir inspired illustrations by Melinda Maria Lack.


My Review

4/5 stars
I read a digital version of this book kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, thank you very much!

In her post apocalyptic, illustrated novel, Dreaming Your Dream, author Starwing paints a bleak picture of the dystopian future on Earth after “The Rage War”:

After the final war, the buildings remained abandoned and everything fell into disrepair. Wooden materials were weakened or burned during the war, concrete and mortar were damaged by environmental effects, and metal continued to slowly rust away. Finally, a moderately strong earthquake delivered the conclusive blow that resulted in partial or complete cave-ins to most of the buildings—especially the newer constructions.

Everyone must now wear gas masks outdoors due to the lack of atmospheric oxygen, and all buildings must be entered via an airlock. Everyone’s lives are run by an AI in their homes named Celeste. She turns on lights, boils water and is hooked up to their DreamSoft dream selector device, constantly monitoring everything they say, do and even dream.

Since the war, most people have had their emotions inhibited and only experience feelings in dreams. Anyone displaying emotions is declared mentally ill and the mentally ill are ‘removed’ from society and euthanized in ‘sleep pods’.

The novel is entirely written from the point of view of the main character, John, a very likeable 34 year old single male, who lives the life of a loner in City 9, one of many newly built cities surrounded by the ruins of the war. He is one of the few who are able to experience emotions when not dreaming and has to be very careful not to give himself away during his daily life, working as an electronics repairer. 

One day, while walking among the ruins outside the city he saves 16 year old Kira from being raped by their mutual drug dealer. Kira is also able to feel emotions and they use the drug “soap” to enhance their feelings. John and Kira develop a cautious friendship after running into each other again on the bus.

There is a wealth of imaginative dream sequences in this book, which give the feeling of stories within a story. Sometimes these dream sequences foreshadow events which happen soon afterwards and sometimes they give us insight into John’s character and behaviour. The author has obviously done a lot of research into dream psychology and spirituality, including shamanism and it is clear from her writing that these are subjects close to her heart.

John always chooses random dreams from his DreamSoft device for fear of discovery that he is an emotional person if were to show a preference for a particular type of dream. One night in a random dream he goes to investigate some ruins and comes face to face with a Ruiner – criminals or insane people cast out of the city by taking away their citizen identifying number. They have no way to get indoors so are forced into the ruins and become scavengers and even cannibals to survive. These are childhood stories used to scare kids away from the ruins. This dream is different to the others however, as his AI, Celeste tells him the nightmare had been a mental health check. This worries him that it will be discovered that he is emotional and he will be removed. 

Soon after this dream he learns from a news report that a girl matching Kira’s description has been removed. He rushes to her building and eventually finds her guardian who explains that the Ministry of Mental Health and Welfare came for her while she was sleeping. Her Guardian clearly doesn’t care, as he has no emotion. In this stark, unemotional world children are separated from their parents at birth and given to uncaring guardians instead. Kira’s removal deeply affects John, since she was the first friend he ever dared to make.

Shortly thereafter, a new colleague for John appears at his work. He is called Alex and is also emotional, and they start to become friends. One day when John has a headache he mentions to Alex that his AI prescribed medication for him the previous day, which they both find peculiar. This acts as a catalyst for them to start to realize just how much influence their AIs have over their lives.
Alex tells John he has a neighbour, Ryan, who is an expert hacker and John wonders if Ryan could access the Ministry records to find out who authorised Kira’s removal. 

Ryan makes a shocking discovery that an AI made the decision to remove Kira and that other Ministeries are controlled by AI. In fact every government agency is now controlled at the top by AI – there is no longer a human government. Ryan and his friend Marko have formed an underground rebellion against the AI government and Alex and John agree to help them. Ryan wants them to find ways to take back control from the government, and tells them that small rebellion groups have formed in every city, aiming to put back a human in charge over the necessary AI systems.

“There should always be human beings involved in decisions regarding the lives and deaths of any of us.”

On Celebration Day, a holiday celebrating the partnership between humans and AI, John hears that resource management and mining operations have begun on Mars to prepare for colonization. This will be the first colonization of another planet, however, life on Mars will mean underground living which does not appeal to John.

Through hacking, Ryan locates the death facility in City 9 and they plan to hack into the sleep pods to stop them from functioning. It seems that the sleep pods don’t always kill people, sometimes people go into stasis, or “the long sleep” instead. They also discover that all of these AIs are actually one and the same: Celeste.

Is Celeste maliciously trying to eradicate the population by putting hidden messages into their dreams and inciting riots, or is she trying to improve humanity in her own misguided yet well-meaning way? Will the resistance be able to take back control of humanity from Celeste? You’ll need to read Dreaming Your Dream to find out!

The 50 illustrations of artist Melinda Maria Lack play a large part in setting the dystopian tone of this novel with their stark black and white tones and the almost constant presence of dehumanizing gas masks.
Www.melindamariadigitalart.com


Add Dreaming Your Dream to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/56300088-dreaming-your-dream

Buy Dreaming Your Dream here:

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08N6V2X9S/

www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08N6V2X9S/


About The Author

Starwing is an author living in Finland, who was born and raised in Canada. Her debut novel, Dreaming Your Dream is dystopian science fiction and is the first book in the Machine Dreaming series. In addition to writing, Starwing also manages an indie record label and is a team member of the industrial rock band, The Fair Attempts. Dreaming Your Dream has a companion album called Dream Engine.


Contact Starwing here:

Website: http://www.starwingdigital.com/starwing/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StarwingDigital

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/starwing_digital/


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First Lines Friday – 12th February 2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by @Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, just follow the rules below:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

I stood there and wept.

I wept not because I had lost so much privilege, my lands, my sigil, and my rank. I was once the Second Prince and thus second in line to the throne of the greatest kingdom the world had ever seen. I was Second Prince and born with all the advantages accorded to one of my noble birth. But I was Second Prince no more, and no longer able to claim that lofty title. Yet it was not for having lost the position of Second Prince that I wept. Losing my inheritance was lamentable, but that loss could have been sadder, as I could have lost my head with my rank. Certainly, that would have saddened me. Still, all that loss was not why I wept.

I wept because no one lived that might cut off my head anymore. I wept, crushed by the enormity of it all. I wept, for none of it was supposed to happen.


And the book is…

Those were the first words from the prologue of P.L. Stuart’s new release: A Drowned Kingdom. It is the first book in the series: The Drowned Kingdom Saga.

A Drowned Kingdom by P.L. Stuart

Once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world, Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people into an uncertain future far across the Shimmering Sea from their ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves. With his Single God binding his knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, they will have to carve out a new kingdom on this mysterious continent―a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements―and unite the continent under godly rule.

With a troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun means to be that ruler, and conquer all. But with kingdoms fated on the edge of spears, alliances and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await him at every turn. Othrun will be forced to confront the truths of all he believes in on his journey to become a king, and a legend.

When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place. So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the man who would rule it all. 

Add to your Goodreads To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/56493306-a-drowned-kingdom

Buy here:

www.amazon.com/Drowned-Kingdom-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B08VS15WTR/

www.amazon.co.uk/Drowned-Kingdom-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B08VS15WTR/


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Indie Spotlight – Alyson Sheldrake

Today I am welcoming indie author and professional artist Alyson Sheldrake to my blog for this week’s Indie Spotlight. You can see some of her amazingly vibrant paintings inspired by her life in beautiful Portugal at the end of this post – but first let’s find out more about Alyson.

Alyson Sheldrake was born in Birmingham,
UK in 1968. She has always loved art and painting, although she found little time for such pleasures, working full time after graduation. She joined the Devon and Cornwall Police in 1992 and served for thirteen years, before leaving to work in the field of education. She became the Director of Education for the Church of England in Devon in 2008.

Once her husband Dave retired from the Police, their long-held dream of living in the sun could become a reality. Alyson handed in her notice, and with her dusty easel and set of acrylic paints packed and ready to move, they started their new adventure living in the beautiful Algarve in Portugal in 2011.

Alyson is the author of the award-winning and popular Algarve Blog, and has also been a keynote speaker for several years at the annual ‘Live and Invest in Portugal’ international conference. She is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Algarve magazine.

She is now an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. Being able to bring their much-loved hobbies and interests to life has been a wonderful bonus to their new life in the Algarve.

Her first book ‘Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal’ was full of useful advice, enjoyable adventures and hilarious accounts of their Algarve life in the sun. The sequel, ‘Living the Quieter Algarve Dream’ continues their story.

She is now busy writing her third book, which will be a compilation of expat stories about the people who have made the Algarve their home.

Alyson’s Media Links

Website: www.alysonsheldrake.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AlysonSheldrakeAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlysonSheldrake
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alysonsheldrake/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20182981.Alyson_Sheldrake
Algarve Blog: https://algarveblog.net/
Newsletter Sign-up: https://www.alysonsheldrake.com/news/


Hi Alyson, welcome to my blog. Your paintings are amazing – so bright and cheerful. You clearly love Portugal and are a very accomplished creative person.

What made you decide to publish your books independently?

I had started a blog when we moved to live here in the Algarve, initially just to keep friends informed of what we were doing. It soon grew into an award-winning blog with over 100,000 views a year. I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing our articles, all liberally sprinkled with my husband Dave’s photography.

Many of our personal stories didn’t seem to fit the blog format, so I put them all to one side, and then eventually realised that I had a lot of material sat on my computer. People kept saying to me, “you should write a book”, so I sat down one day and started writing. It wasn’t long before I had written almost 80,000 words, and ‘Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal’ was ready to launch.

At that point I realised I had a viable book sat on my computer, but no clue how to format or produce it properly. I did lots of research and realised that looking for an agent or book deal from a publisher was an unrealistic prospect for an unknown writer with a single memoir to sell.

I had recently read a series of memoirs by Victoria Twead, about her life in Spain, and at the back of her book she mentioned her publishing company, Ant Press. I contacted her and was instantly drawn to her straightforward and sensible approach to publishing. I worked with her to produce my book professionally, and I was delighted with the result. 

Ant Press then talked me through the entire process of self-publishing on Amazon, and I went with the KDP Select option. I am so glad that I did that; I have been staggered at how successful my first book has been. Without their help, I am sure the whole process would have been far more painful and daunting.

Congratulations on having such a successful blog! Taking the step from writing a successful travel blog to writing a book, which you could only hope would be as successful, must have been both a daunting and exciting one.

What are the benefits of being an indie author?

Pressing that ‘upload’ button on Amazon and seeing my book for sale was so exciting. The first time I held the book in my hands and flicked through the pages and thought ‘I did this all by myself’ was a wonderful moment. The upside to being an indie author is the total control you have over every single element of the writing, publishing, and marketing process.

I have heard many traditionally published authors complain that their publisher doesn’t do much for them except take a hefty share of the profits. Unless you are a famous name, that is always going to be the case. You still have to do your own promotion and marketing however you publish. This way, as an indie author, I get to keep all the royalties and can choose how and where I promote my book.

I have a healthy mailing list and send out a regular monthly newsletter and I love hearing from my readers. It makes everything more personal, and I still get a thrill every time I read another review or post about my work. Writing and self-publishing is a deeply satisfying process.

That’s wonderful, but there must be another side to the coin. What challenges do indie authors face?

You are on your own as a brand-new indie author – there is no one there to support you and you must cover all the costs yourself. I was happy to pay for my book to be professionally formatted, and I have a great team of beta readers now. I design my book covers and incorporate my art and Dave’s photography into my work. Being married to a professional photographer and having the entire Adobe editing suite of programmes at my disposal is a perk of the job. I have completed an online editing and proof-reading course to improve my writing and have discovered ProWritingAid. I would love to pay for a professional editor in the future to lift my work up to another level.

Hiring a professional Editor is a great idea and is bound to be beneficial. It is always difficult to proofread and edit your own work, no matter how good you are at it.
What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?

Write the very best book that you can, join lots of online support groups for writers, learn as much as you can about the processes of writing and marketing and then be brave and launch your book out there into the world. And then – write another book!

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help and advice, too. I have found the indie author community to be extremely supportive – especially fellow memoir and travel writers.

You will need to embrace social media – make it your friend, don’t be frightened of it. Network, share, be supportive, and don’t overdo the brazen marketing. Being subtle and connected is much better than continually forcing people to see adverts for your latest book! 

I also joined a zoom-based support group for writers. We meet each weekday for 90 minutes and all go off and write independently, then meet up for the last five minutes of the session to recap. On Fridays we read and critique each other’swork. We are all memoir writers at differing stages of writing and publishing, and I have found the accountability of the group extremely helpful. Writing can be a lonely profession, so finding fellow writers for support and encouragement can be really useful.5) what have you learned from being an indie author?

That being brave and believing in yourself and your work is priceless. No-one else can do that for you. When we first moved out here to the Algarve to live, I set out to fulfil one of my dreams, that of becoming a professional artist. My husband, Dave, had held a camera in his hands since he was a young boy. We both knew what creative fields we wanted to explore, although neither of us had ever worked for ourselves before or had any idea what we were doing! We just knew what we loved, and we figured the rest out as we went along. Our first joint exhibition in a hotel was a scary moment. They gave us a fabulous room to use and loads of support – but said that we couldn’t hang anything on the walls! We improvised, Dave created a set of table-top A-frame easels, and we were all set.

We did all our own marketing and promotion and made some fabulous media contacts. I will never forget our first morning opening up, wondering if anyone would come, if they would like our work, if anyone would buy anything. Within half-an-hour, we had both sold our first pieces, and we were away. Almost ten years later, I consider myself an established artist, having sold well over 200 paintings, and completed 100 commissions for clients around the world.

Lots of the skills I learnt from my art career have translated over into my writing. Having good media contacts and an established presence on social media, combined with a strong newsletter, meant that I was confident I could promote my books both locally and wider. The next step for me is working out how to reach a broader market.

Those are useful skills to be able to draw on, and some great advice there as well.
Well, we have reached the final question.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in 2021?

I am busy with my third book, which is a compilation of expat stories about other people who have also made the Algarve their home. Having published two memoirs about our life here, I have met so many other people that also have a story to tell. It has been fascinating bringing their stories to life, and I cannot wait to publish this book.

I have actually plotted the year ahead on my calendar and have four books in total I am hoping to self-publish. Now that I have been bitten by the writing and self-publishing bug, there is no stopping me!

That’s fantastic, Alyson. Good luck with those projects and thank you very much for joining me here on my blog!


Living the Dream in the Algarve, Portugal

Could you leave everything behind and start a new life in the sun?

Have you ever been on holiday abroad and wondered what it would be like to live there?

Alyson and Dave Sheldrake did. They fell in love with a little fishing village in the Algarve, Portugal, and were determined to realise their dream of living abroad. They bought a house there, ended their jobs, packed up everything they owned and moved to the Algarve to start a new life.

Follow them as they battle with Portuguese bureaucracy, set up their own businesses, adopt a rescue dog and learn to adapt to a slower pace of life. Laugh with them as Alyson propositions a builder, they try to master the Portuguese language, and successfully navigate the ‘expat’ world.

Part guidebook, mostly memoir; this is a refreshingly honest and often hilarious account of life abroad.

Buy here:

Image result for amazon logo

 
https://bit.ly/2UXMzmU

Add to your To Be Read List here:

Image result for goodreads logo

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52940532-living-the-dream


Living the Quieter Algarve Dream

Have you ever longed for a quieter life?

Ever wanted to escape the crowds, walk on deserted beaches, and experience all that a different country has to offer?

Alyson and Dave Sheldrake moved to the western Algarve, far away from the tourists, to live in a rural market town. Surrounded by chickens, rabbits, beautiful beaches, and crazy locals, they settled down to enjoy a more peaceful existence.

Their plans didn’t include battling with Portuguese bureaucracy, a life-altering diagnosis, and Kat the dog being rushed to the vets. Brexit, a pandemic, and a house that needed updating ensured that life was anything but tranquil for this creative couple.

In this part guidebook, mostly memoir, find out why the Algarve is a favourite destination for so many, and why this couple have made it their home.

This honest and often hilarious story is the continuation of their Algarve Adventures. It can stand alone as a book for you to enjoy, and is also the follow-up to Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal.

Buy here:

Image result for amazon logo


https://bit.ly/3k4RXio

Add to your To Be Read list here:

Image result for goodreads logo

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55857153-living-the-quieter-algarve-dream


Why the Algarve?

What makes a person move abroad to start a new life?

And why do so many people choose the Algarve in Portugal as their dream destination?

In this brand-new compilation of stories you can read about a whole range of different people that have made the Algarve their home.

Read about the people who moved to live in the Algarve in the early 1970s, before tourism was even an idea.

Find out more about the people who packed up everything they owned to follow their dreams of a new life in the sun.

Funny stories, heartfelt journeys, and real-life modern adventures are all covered in this new and fascinating anthology, curated by a long-term resident.

Visit my website or sign up to my newsletter for more information about the release of my next book ‘Why The Algarve?’. Coming April 2021

https://www.alysonsheldrake.com/books/


Alyson’s Paintings

I have been working as a full-time artist for nine years, and my work is displayed in private homes across the world.

I paint in acrylics and have a modern and vibrant style that can transform your living space or office. I am also available for private commissions.

I invite you to enjoy viewing a selection of my modern and vibrant acrylic paintings. My paintings are displayed in private collections and homes around the world, and it gives me a real thrill each time a client or new customer contacts me to tell me of the pleasure that one of my paintings brings to them.

Beach Life by Alyson Sheldrake

Hidden Algarve by Alyson Sheldrake

Praça Luis de Camōes – Lagos by Alyson Sheldrake

Girls on the Beach by Alyson Sheldrake

I paint a range of themes across my own self-titled ‘New Wave’ modern style; through to bright and bold flowers, and I also love to paint the old doors and windows of the Algarve.

Edge of the Sea by Alyson Sheldrake

My work is for sale when available; but you can also commission me to design and produce a unique and modern acrylic painting suitable for your own home, office or business space; or as a gift. I also paint Pet Portraits. Please contact me if you wish to commission a painting or click here for more information.


Who’s next on Indie Spotlight?

Next week on Indie Spotlight, come and meet Starwing. Starwing is an author living in Finland, who was born and raised in Canada. Her debut novel, “Dreaming Your Dream” is dystopian science-fiction and is the first book in the “Machine Dreaming” series.

In addition to writing, Starwing also manages an indie record label and is a team member of the industrial rock band, The Fair Attempts. “Dreaming Your Dream” has a companion album called, “Dream Engine” by The Fair Attempts.


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Book Blitz – The Kingdom of Jior series by Wendy L. Anderson

Great news Fantasy lovers! The Kingdom of Jior series by Wendy L. Anderson is now available as a digital box set! See details below and enter the giveaway for a chance to win the box set for yourself!

Kingdom of Jior Box Set

Publication Date: February 10th, 2021

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Experience adventure, fantasy, and magic in this collection of novels combining all the five books of the Kingdom of Jior epic fantasy series.
Discover a race neither human nor demon. The Ny-Failen are from the Heavens. Led by King Forlorn Icefall of Jior, these beautiful shape changing creatures live, love and battle to survive in the world of the humankind.

Available on Amazon


About the Author

Wendy L. Anderson is a Colorado native and mother of two boys. She has an English Degree from Regis University and writes books, short stories and poetry. Wendy is a devout reader of the classics, fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction. She has decided it is time to write down the fantasies from her own mind. Writing about everything from fantastical worlds to the stuff of her dreams she takes her stories along interesting paths while portraying characters and worlds she sees in her mind’s eye. Her goal is to deviate from common themes, write in original directions and transport her reader to the worlds of her creation.

Wendy L. Anderson | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


Giveaway

Click here for a chance to win a digital copy of the boxset: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f230/?

Good Luck!

Book Blitz Organized By R&R Book Tours


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WWW Wednesdays – 10th February 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Taking on a World of Words, where you just answer three questions:

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What am I currently reading:

I’m taking part in two readalong groups at the moment. One is the Cosmere Challenge, which is hosted on Discord by @BenedictCOYS. This month we are reading Mistborn Bk 1: The Final Empire.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

This is the story of a heist set in a Fantasy world where certain people are able to wield magic by swallowing certain metals and then using physics to control the metals – they can push against metals in the landscape, push themselves up off the ground by dropping a coin and pushing against it, soothe and influence people’s emotions and lots of other abilities.

The main characters are all engaging and so far likeable. I’m really enjoying this book.

Come and join our Discord group if you like!


Dragonlance Chronicles – Dragons of Winter Night by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman

I am also in a group reading the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy. This month we are reading the second book – Dragons of Winter Night.

These are really fun epic fantasy stories with likeable characters and plenty of adventures. And yes…dragons! I am happy to be meeting these characters again and going on another adventure with them!


What did I recently finish reading?

This week I finished two books:

October Rain by Dylan J. Morgan

The author sent me a Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review. I gave it 5/5 stars. Read my full review here.

The story is set far in the future on colonized Mars, in the main city of Olympus.

Steele, the main character, is a bounty hunter who was born on Mars’ moon, Titan in a farming community. He only ever experienced Earth through the city’s Museum of Human History.

This novella contains plenty of thrilling action, gunfights, chases, a fight with a mutant monster in the bowels of Mars’ ice mine, creepy human laboratory experiments and some very unexpected twists and turns to the tale!


The Sum of our Sorrows by Lisette Brodey.

The author sent me a Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review. I gave it 4/5 stars.

This book is an emotional roller coaster ride. It begins at the funeral of a mother of three, who died in a horrific car crash while her middle child, Charlotte, watched and continues relentlessly as her family tries to deal with the emotional and psychological  fallout caused by this tragedy. The second half of the book evolves into a love story and its quite a relief from the tragedies that have plagued this poor family.

Read my full review here.


What Will I Read Next?

Well – you’ve guessed it. The third book in the Cosmere Challenge and the third book in the Dragonlance Chronicles.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your reading this week!


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First Lines Friday – 5th February 2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by @Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, just follow the rules below:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Here are the first lines of the book I am currently reading

Lily Sheppard twisted her torso as she sat in her mother’s floral armchair, her back now facing the assemblage of darkly dressed people in the living room. The furniture had been rearranged to accommodate the guests … and absolutely nothing was as she knew it.

She fixed her stare on a large raindrop that slid down the side window, following it with her eyes until it had ceased to exist. The drop, she contended, had the mere lifespan of a few seconds. Now, it was indistinguishable from the pool of water it merged with on the base of the sill.

“Lills?”

Her trance broken, Lily turned to look at the blonde woman in the black dress not too dissimilar from her own. “Sorry, Hannah. I was off in my own world.”


And the book is…

The Sum of Our Sorrows by Lisette Brodey

In an idyllic suburb in Northern California, tragedy strikes the Sheppard family when Abby, the mother of three daughters and wife to Dalton, is killed in a car accident. Charlotte, the middle daughter, is in the car with her mother and survives without physical injury but remains deeply scarred on the inside.

Dalton tells Lily, his eldest daughter, that she must sacrifice long-awaited college plans and put her life on hold to take care of her sisters. Lily is torn between her devotion to family and an increasing need to find her place in the world — but how can she leave, knowing her family may crumble? Will her presence eventually cause more problems than it resolves?

The Sum of our Sorrows reveals how the aftermath of a family tragedy can precipitate sorrows never imagined. It is a tale of grief, hope, healing, coming-of-age, friendship, and survival. It is also a love story of two broken souls living through pain in search of better days and the renewal of one’s spirit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write characters as I hear them speak to me. Some of these stories contain non-gratuitous expletives and sexual references. This book also contains some situations that may be triggering to some readers. If this is not to your liking, please don’t read this book. Thank you.

Buy here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/SUM-OUR-SORROWS-Lisette-Brodey-ebook/dp/B08LZJY29Y

US: www.amazon.com/SUM-OUR-SORROWS-Lisette-Brodey-ebook/dp/B08LZJY29Y

Add to goodreads here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55852381-the-sum-of-our-sorrows


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The Sum of our Sorrows by Lisette Brodey

Book Description

In an idyllic suburb in Northern California, tragedy strikes the Sheppard family when Abby, the mother of three daughters and wife to Dalton, is killed in a car accident. Charlotte, the middle daughter, is in the car with her mother and survives without physical injury but remains deeply scarred on the inside.

Dalton tells Lily, his eldest daughter, that she must sacrifice long-awaited college plans and put her life on hold to take care of her sisters. Lily is torn between her devotion to family and an increasing need to find her place in the world — but how can she leave, knowing her family may crumble? Will her presence eventually cause more problems than it resolves? 

The Sum of our Sorrows reveals how the aftermath of a family tragedy can precipitate sorrows never imagined. It is a tale of grief, hope, healing, coming-of-age, friendship, and survival. It is also a love story of two broken souls living through pain in search of better days and the renewal of one’s spirit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write characters as I hear them speak to me. Some of these stories contain non-gratuitous expletives and sexual references. This book also contains some situations that may be triggering to some readers. If this is not to your liking, please don’t read this book. Thank you.


My Review

4/5 stars
I received a Kindle version of this book from the author in return for an honest review, and am reviewing it on behalf of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team – thank you Rosie and Lisette.

This book is an emotional roller coaster ride. It begins at the funeral of a mother of three, who died in a horrific car crash while her middle child, Charlotte, watched and continues relentlessly as her family tries to deal with the emotional and psychological  fallout caused by this tragedy.

Lily, the eldest daughter and main character of this book, has her life turned upside down almost immediately by her stern, unlikeable father announcing that she must take over both running the household and raising her two younger sisters, while forgoing her job at the diner with her friends and also her place at design school in LA in the Fall. Try as I might to forgive the widowed father’s stern demeanor and cold manner towards his girls I found him completely unlikeable and the way he disregarded his grieving eldest child’s needs unforgivable.

I enjoyed the adorable sisterly dynamic between the three girls, particularly the close bond between Lily and her youngest sister Willow. The antagonism between the middle child, Charlotte and her replacement caregiver, Lily was frustrating and I kept yelling at my Kindle that the whole family needed grief counseling!!

The youngest daughter, Willow does seem to be written much older than twelve. I have a twelve year old son and most communication consists of grunts and declarations of hunger!!

I also think most nineteen year olds are much more self-centered than poor put-upon, modern day Cinderella, Lily. However mild mannered she might be I think she would have railed against her father’s decisions much more and something would have given sooner than it actually did. Lily is also far too insightful for her years. There is a conversation after a party, where she talks like she has so much life and relationship experience to draw from.

Charlotte’s nightmare helps Lily understand exactly how traumatized Charlotte is:

Charlotte opened her eyes, her tear-streaked face and look of absolute terror hitting Lily in a way she hadn’t allowed herself to fully grasp before. In that moment, Lily was there in the car during the tragic moment that changed her family’s lives forever. She saw her mother’s light go out in as little time as it took to scream her name.

Lisette Brodey

None of the characters in this book have an easy ride, there is so much pain and suffering, whether caused by events in the story or in the characters’ pasts. Dak, who Lily becomes reacquainted with in Malibu, has some insight into how to keep going when consumed by tragedy:

And then I thought about the waves … they drew me here too. Look at how they break … but see how they gather their strength and form again … only to keep breaking … over and over again? This is exactly what life makes us do if we want to keep going. We have to learn how to break.

Dak Falaman via Lisette Brodey

The second half of the book moves away from the tragic events of the first and we meet a larger than life waitress called Bonnie, short for Bonstance Constance Universe. She is quite a character. Her turn of phrase is unique and hysterical. 

The story also develops into a love story at this point and I found myself relieved for Lily that she was finally catching a break!

There are themes in this story which could act as triggers for certain readers. That is all I am prepared to say without “spoiling” anything! 

I enjoyed The Sum of our Sorrows and read it fairly quickly. I did feel that all the loose ends got tied together a bit too nicely in a bow at the end – but I was willing to suspend my disbelief in light of all the separate tragedies these poor people had suffered!

Buy Here:

www.amazon.com/SUM-OUR-SORROWS-Lisette-Brodey-ebook/dp/B08LZJY29Y/

www.amazon.co.uk/SUM-OUR-SORROWS-Lisette-Brodey-ebook/dp/B08LZJY29Y/

Add to your To Be Read list here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55852381-the-sum-of-our-sorrows


About the Author

Lisette was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. She spent ten years in New York City, and now resides in Los Angeles.

She’s a multi-genre author of nine novels and one short story collection: Crooked Moon (General/Literary Fiction); Squalor, New Mexico (Coming-of-Age/Literary Fiction); Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! (Women’s Fiction/romantic comedy), The Desert Series: Mystical High; Desert Star; and Drawn Apart (YA paranormal/magical realism), Barrie Hill Reunion (Literary Fiction); Hotel Obscure: A Collection of Short Stories (Literary Fiction), Love, Look Away (Women’s Fiction/romantic comedy), and The Sum of our Sorrows (Contemporary Fiction.)

In addition to her nine novels and one short story collection, two more of Lisette’s short stories are published in an anthology: Triptychs (Book 3, The Mind’s Eye Series).


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Cover Reveal! The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald – February 4th 2021

Today in conjunction with Storytellers on Tour I am bringing you the cover of The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald. Thank you to Justine and Timy for letting me join the cover reveal party!


Here, without further ado, is the cover…

Cover Art + Design by Jessica Moon and Chad Moon (Shadow Spark Publishing)

It’s spooky-looking to say the least! I think you’ll agree that it fits rather nicely with the covers of the previous two books in the trilogy:

Book Information

The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald
Series: The Maer Cycle (#3)
Published: March 4, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Cover Art + Design by Jessica Moon and Chad Moon (Shadow Spark Publishing)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56818527-the-place-below


Book Blurb

It’s been twenty-five years since the Battle for the Archive. Peace reigns over the Silver Hills, and humans and Maer are preparing to sign their first trade agreement. Even warring tribes of the Free Maer have set aside old quarrels.

Sasha is a young scholar of mixed Maer and human parentage, traveling throughout the Maer lands collecting stories of the Ka-lar, the buried Forever Kings. She finds a reference in the Archive to a Ka-lar named Kuun, a scholar in life, who was laid down in an ancient brightstone mine, beneath a mountain said to be the home of the fabled Skin Maer. The lure of the tale is too strong to resist. Joined by some old friends, Sasha sets out to uncover secrets that have lain buried for over a thousand years.

In The Place Below, the Maer Cycle comes to a close as the darkest mysteries of the Maer are at last brought into the light.


About the Author

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy author living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, taking photographs of nature, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music. The Maer Cycle is his debut trilogy, with Hollow Road and The Archive on several book bloggers’ best-of lists for 2020, and The Place Below coming March 4 2021. His upcoming duology, The Weirdwater Confluence, will be published in October 2021 and January 2022. All books published by Shadow Spark Publishing. 

Find out more about Dan and his books at www.danfitzwrites.com, or look him up on Twitter or Instagram, under the name danfitzwrites. 

Author Links

Website: http://www.danfitzwrites.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/danfitzwrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danfitzwrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/danfitzwrites


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