Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair

Today I am excited to be taking part in the blog tour for the debut Sci-Fi novel, Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair. Thank you to Justine and Timy from Storytellers on Tour for having me on this exciting tour! Please click here or on the banner below to check out the other amazing reviewers taking part in this tour. There is an international giveaway towards the end of this post – be sure not to miss it!


Book Information

Author: Jonathan Nevair
Title: Goodbye to the Sun
Series: Wind Tide (#1)
Published: May 18, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQ+
Pages: 307
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Cover Design: @jhlmoon at Shadow Spark Publishing
Cover Artist: Zishan Liu dreamstime.com/liuzishan_info
Content Warnings: death of child (mentioned), death of sibling, verbal/emotional abuse, torture (mentioned), graphic death, genocide, colonialism, graphic violence, trauma


Book Description

Cover Artist: Zishan Liu dreamstime.com/liuzishan_info

Tucked away in the blue sands of Kol 2, the Motes are on the brink of cultural collapse. Razor, a bold and daring pilot, leads a last-ditch gambit against their local oppressors, the Targitians. The plan – abduct visiting Ambassador Keen Draden and use him as a bargaining chip to restore her people’s independence in the Sagittarius Arm. But when the operation unravels, Razor is forced to renegotiate terms with the arrogant diplomat. Battling furious Wind Tides and pursuit by an infamous bounty hunter, Razor and Keen find mutual assistance in a dubious freelancer with a knack for exposing cracks in people’s pride.

Light years away on Heroon a radical resistance blossoms. The alluring rainforest planet haunts Keen. All his problems started there during the Patent War, but it’s where Razor’s troubles may find a solution. The moral tide ebbs, exposing an impossible choice that links their futures together more tragically than they ever thought possible.

Goodbye to the Sun – a nonstop thrill ride across an unstable galaxy, combining moral struggle and character-driven adventure.

Praise for Goodbye to the Sun:

GOODBYE TO THE SUN is an excellent debut novel set in a unique, compelling universe filled with complex politics and relationships. The action scenes explode off the page.”  – Michael Mammay, author of the PLANETSIDE series


Book Links

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Shadow Spark Publishing

Cover Artist: Zishan Liu dreamstime.com/liuzishan_info


My Review

I hadn’t read any Sci-Fi books for many years until the start of 2021 (although I never stopped watching Sci-Fi movies and TV shows) and this is the third I have read recently that I have really enjoyed. I’m so glad I started reading the genre again!

Goodbye to the Sun is a debut novel and the first of Jonathan Nevair’s Wind Tide series. Knowing that the story was inspired by a Greek tragedy (Antigone), I was prepared for a tragic plotline and I was not disappointed! The action revolves around two emotionally damaged main characters from the beginning, with a third added in further along the journey.

It is the story of Razor’s fight for the survival of her family and the Mote race against the political machinations of a galaxy where entire planets are made into energy providers. This is the fate of Razor’s planet, KOL-2 and her children have been taken from her by the planet’s oppressors, the Targitians. Caught up in this ecological battle on KOL-2 she longs for support in her people’s fight against the Targitians. She has never been off planet until she goes to pick up Ambassador Keen Draden and take him hostage for her cause – an event which is the first in a chain which sees her traveling light years through space in the hope of finding support for her people’s cause. Their destinies become entangled when she takes him hostage in the pod at the beginning of the story. The action level of this kidnapping is dialed right up almost immediately and draws in the reader right away. Razor is full of sarcastic wit which appealed to me, yet at the same time the chapters written in her voice are poetic – full of emotion and tragedy. In fighting for her people’s cause she has also discovered she is an excellent pilot and clearly relishes this new skill:

“I soared without the pull of gravity, turning and moving at speed. And I showed the Hamuts, and Keen, what it meant to give chase to a Dune Eagle set free from terrestrial bonds.”

The book is also the story of Keen’s tragic family circumstances. Keen is something of a hasbeen and a drunk. His days as a heroic Legion soldier are long gone and along with them his muscular body and fitness. Unable to recover emotionally from the death of his sibling, Reardon, during the Patent War, he finds solace in whatever alcohol is on offer. He eventually makes a conscious decision to stop drinking and embark on some self-improvement when he realizes he will get to meet the daughter he only recently discovered he has – Reynaria, the leader of the resistance on planet Heroon:

“He was returning to a former self while slipping into the abyss of personal trauma that came with it.”

Unfortunately Keen is no longer worth as much as he thinks he is and the Targitians don’t really care that he has been kidnapped by Razor. However someone does care about his whereabouts. A relentless, sadistic bounty hunter and past torturer of Keen, named Pox, arrives on KOL-2 with an aim to reacquaint herself with Keen and his weaknesses. There is an extremely exciting, edge-of-the-seat chase sequence through the Wind Tide where Razor attempts to pilot Keen to safety while being chased by Pox.

Jati is a fun, brave and heroic non-binary character. Their lavender mohawk, playful jibes, and obvious fondness for Keen allow for some light relief from the tragic circumstances Keen and Razor find themselves in. Jati is Keen’s old war Legion comrade turned gunrunner, who is able to fill in the details for Keen about Reynaria and the Resistance on planet Heroon. They are the closest thing to a friend and a comfort that Keen has and soon become friends with Razor as well, united by their shared cause. With the addition of Jati, the action moves into space, away from KOL-2 and towards Heroon, a planet which is going to be eco-shaped into a desert for wind energy – just like KOL-2 was: 

“This isn’t a historical transformation. It’s mass murder. Of both humanity and a planet. And for what? Profit.”

The world building in Sci Fi novels needs to be extensive since we know nothing of these new planets, their inhabitants, or their political systems. As such, it can often feel a bit like an info dump, but in the case of this novel I did not feel that. The politics are fairly involved but the cause is clear:

Razor: “Most hated by me were my local oppressors, the Targitians. Those spiritual zealots used nothing more than a bogus prophecy to justify their strict control and prudent distribution of the highest, advanced form of energy known to human civilization.” 

The descriptive prose and metaphor within the worldbuilding are really well done, making it very easy to visualise the terrain:

“Deep in the desert on Kol 2, remote sand belts exist where only the Dune Eagle flies. Undulating blue hills pass in unbroken rhythm under its sharp eyes, except for the occasional shadow cast by an unmoving desert hermit. Lone and defiant against the harsh winds and hands of time, the Recluse tree’s roots grasp the planet’s inner rock fast and defy the world above ground. It appears no more than a bony skeleton under Altiron’s blazing light. But deep in the subterranean silence, its roots inhabit cracks and fissures in the dark, coveting the paltry moisture that sustains it.”

The story begins on KOL-2, a planet whose once lush, fertile surface has been ravaged by Targitian energy providers whose wind turbines have transformed the planet into a desert of blue sand. The Motes are an indigenous race on KOL-2 and have been forced underground to live in caverns and tunnels away from the Wind Tides which rage over the surface every 54 hours. 

The Motes are understandably unhappy with these circumstances, and the loss of their once lush green planet, and are at war with the Targitians.  

Ambassador Keen’s chapters are presented in third person perspective, whereas Razor’s chapters are presented in first person perspective in the form of a “personal narrative” being told from inside the Targite City Prison, looking back on the events that have already transpired with Keen. I found the alternating chapters and switch from first to third person perspective to be an interesting and engaging device, which drew me in right away.

Within the story there are strong themes of diplomacy, ethics, ecological issues on a galactic level, the tragedy of war and the loss of family members, and the importance of respecting someone’s gender. The theme of gender comes up often.  Whenever someone new is introduced, they either introduce themselves using a naming convention that includes gender, they use hand signs to confirm their gender or have an identity mark, if unable to express themselves in other ways. Using the wrong pronoun or not enquiring after someone’s gender is highly insulting:

“But for over a millennium now, since the mid-Second Span, humans had conquered a longstanding prejudice and come to understand that one’s gender self-expression (and sexuality, for that matter) was a right of all, not a privilege of the few.”

On Heroon I was right there with Keen as he experiences horror when he realizes he is back at the site of his previous torture by Pox. How could his fragile mind survive being tortured all over again?  There are a number of flashback style dream sequences in Keen’s sections (particularly while he is imprisoned) which, while a useful device to tell us what happened in the past, I found a little difficult to distinguish from the real time sequences until something/somebody woke up Keen. This led to a little confusion at times over what was happening now and what had gone before, particularly since Keen’s prison cell was the same as he was in during the Patent War. His desperation to have an opportunity to do right by his abandoned child has led him, so utterly broken, to this tragic circumstance:

“a siblingless, widowed, absent parent with nothing left but a child.”

It’s impossible not to empathise with him. It’s also impossible not to empathise with Razor and the plight of her people and Jati, the action hero of the story.

Cover Artist: Zishan Liu dreamstime.com/liuzishan_info

I am sorry to be leaving these characters who I became fond of during the story and am looking forward to the sequel, Jati’s Wager, out in August!! Highly recommend this book to all lovers of SciFi!


The International Giveaway!

Prize: A signed copy of Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair – International!

Starts: June 6th, 2021 at 12:00am EST

Ends: June 13th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST

Click here or on the banner below to enter


About the Author

Jonathan Nevair is a science fiction writer and, as Dr. Jonathan Wallis, an art historian and Professor of Art History at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. After two decades of academic teaching and publishing, he finally got up the nerve to write fiction. Jonathan grew up on Long Island, NY but now resides in southeast Pennsylvania with his wife and rambunctious mountain feist, Cricket. You can find him online at http://www.jonathannevair.com and on twitter at @JNevair


Website | Twitter | Instagram


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Pages From The Pizza Crows by Evan Witmer

Book Description

In exchange for pizza, a beautiful crow delivered stories to my windowsill. I’ve collected those stories, here, for your amusement and observation. “Bedfellows” follows the story of a boy and a girl who are attached at the hip by supernatural means. “Belligamy” tells the tale of a powerful curse forcing married men to fight one another in order to protect their brides. “Captured by Animals” details an author’s adventures spying on people in the woods to write his romance stories. “The Red Constellation” is Law & Order SVU meets Cosmic Horror. “Young Adult Series Simulator” tells the story of that date you went on at the bookstore. “F1” is about a pregnant horse. “Nine-Tenths An Ape” is the Monkey’s Paw but in reverse. “Lethe” asks, how old were you when you had your first memory? Maybe a little too old? “The Bright Idea Room” reminds you that it’s the environment that kills you in the end. Not the serial killer. “Satan’s Spies” is about a friendly group of businessmen and their obsession with strip clubs.


My Review

The author sent me a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review – thank you Evan Witmer!

Pages from the Pizza Crows is an anthology of 10 highly unusual short stories brought together by a decidedly weird and wonderful premise: a crow brought pages of the stories to the author’s window in exchange for pizza. By altering the type of pizza each time the author is able to alter the quality of writing the crow brings to him:

“The crust controls the point of view; the toppings control the theme; the sauce controls the tone; and the cheese controls the probability of passing the Bechdel test.”

Each of the stories could be described as a little off the wall, but some are definitely odder than others – more like a particularly lucid fever dream or a hallucinogen-fueled trip – but in a strangely intriguing way. This is not your average type of short story collection.

My favorite story in the collection was ‘Captured by Animals’. Told from first person perspective, this concerns a romance author, who hides in the woods near campgrounds in order to overhear conversations he can use in his writing. He misses the punchline to one such story by growling loudly enough that the people he is eavesdropping on think there’s a bear in the woods. A very unexpected twist follows, which I found highly entertaining. There is also a talking owl and bear who are experiencing existentialist crises, bored by their surroundings and dissatisfied with their lives.

There are many instances of violence and gore in these stories, reference to rape, suicide and death of family members. The collection is not for the faint-hearted.

Tales from the Pizza Crows embraces surrealism to the extreme. The author’s imagination clearly knows no bounds. If you are looking for something very different this might just be what you need.


About the Author

Tall Pennsylvania boy. I eat a lot of fake crab meat. I was a SoundCloud rapper in a previous life. Fluoxetine, HCL 40 Mg, every morning. Risperidone, 1 Mg, every night. 

Author and webmaster for http://www.oddfiction.com/ where I post many of my short stories for free. They’re all surrealist fantasy with elements of horror and comedy.

Each year I take ten stories down off my page and package them together with a strange framing device and equally unusual title. have two published short story collections so far: “Pages from the Pizza Crows” and “Digest: Ten Short Stories by Convicted & Plausible People-Eaters”.

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FictionOdd.

Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oddfictionpage


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The Wild Court: A Celtic Fae Inspired Fantasy Novel (The Coming of Áed Book 3) by E.G. Radcliff

What perils await on the other side of the veil?

It’s the seventh year of Áed’s reign. While Ronan, full of restless wanderlust, dreams of a world outside the protective walls of the palace, and Éamon, Áed’s closest friend, struggles quietly with his growing feelings for the King, the world of The Gut is at peace. Until on one cold, autumn festival night, faerie and human worlds collide. With the calm of the kingdom suddenly ablaze, Áed, Eamon, and Ronan find themselves catapulted into a realm as unfamiliar as it is dangerous, where magic is king and wild courts vie for supremacy.

As a tenuous alliance raises questions about Áed’s connection to the mysterious Bone Court, and with a manipulative queen’s missing consort holding the key to life and death, survival hinges on cunning as much as illusion.

In this otherworldly war, only one thing is certain: no one will survive unscathed.


My Review

I was kindly given a digital arc of this novel by the author in exchange for an honest review, thank you very much, E.G. Radcliff!

The Wild Court is the third book in the Coming of Áed series and I had been looking forward to reading it and reacquainting myself with Áed and his ward, Ronan and the other more minor characters from the previous two books. The story is told from the perspective of three main characters, Áed, Ronan and Éamon, with the majority being from Áed’s perspective.

At the beginning of The Wild Court, Áed has been king for seven years and has made many improvements to his realm, The Gut, which comprises both The beautiful marble White City and the slumlike Maze, where Áed grew up. He has settled into his role over the years and has become close friends with one of his advisors, Éamon, who would clearly like to be more than a friend, but is trying to keep his feelings in check. Áed has not told anyone that he is half fae over the past seven years so it is still only Ronan and Boudicca who are aware of this fact at the beginning of the story.

Ronan is now a wilful teenager who is about to be officially named Crown Prince and heir to the throne. It is a festival night, however, and he has run away to have some fun, when all Hell breaks out. The veil between the worlds being thin on festival nights, fae come rampaging through into Áed’s world, killing people and destroying buildings, creating havoc. Understandably Áed is scared for Ronan whose whereabouts are unknown and the tension mounts as he realizes the fae magic has sent everyone to sleep, apart from him, supposedly due to his fae blood. He finds he is able to wake people and shelter them using powers he didn’t know he had and that no one else can use. This exciting series of events draws the reader into the story right away.

When Aed awakens Éamon, his counselor and dear friend is confused as to why Áed is able to do this but no one else can. It seems Áed will have to let him in on his secret sooner rather than later, but Éamon is intolerant of fae and Áed does not want to lose his friendship:

“They are pretty terrifying”, Éamon said. “In a…steal-your-children, set-your-house-on-fire kind of way.” He chuckled humorlessly. “A break-your-legs way.”

In this way Radcliff expertly introduces the theme of fear of the “other”. People are predisposed to mistrust anything they do not understand and Áed naturally worries he will be shunned by both friends, and his subjects if they found out about his heritage (we learnt in the first book that his fae mother was raped by the previous human king on a festival night).

When Ronan returns to the castle with an injured sixteen year old fae named Erin we are introduced to a new bold, brash, sarcastic character who I really liked. Fae are unable to lie and she is intrigued by Áed’s relationship with Éamon, since she recognizes immediately that Áed is fae and that he and Éamon are not exactly being honest about their feelings for each other.  Erin is able to fill in some details for Áed about the fae side of the veil which is in the throes of civil war between the eight Low Courts and the High Court, which is reigned over by a despotic Queen. In this way the reader is told a lot of information about the realm of the fae in a way which feels completely natural and not at all convoluted, since we are learning from Erin at the same time as Áed does.

Áed needs to ensure the violence does not spill through the veil into his realm again and so the three of them hatch a plan to cross through the veil, with feisty Erin as their guide, meaning they will be stuck in the fae realm until the next festival night around three months later.  Intent on ending the war between the fae courts, the three of them embark on a journey which sees them navigating the complicated politics of the fae realm in a bid to locate the tyrannical Queen’s runaway consort and help end the war.

The relationships between these characters were very well written and believable and the ‘will they, won’t they’ tension between Áed and Éamon was palpable. I also loved Ronan’s stroppy teenage behaviour – not showing up for his own ceremony when he became Crown Prince and refusing to open his door to say goodbye to Áed. The antagonism between Éamon and Erin is also well done – he has no trust for fae and she dislikes him for it. Their relationship develops nicely into a teasing fondness by the end. However, Éamon’s early attitude to Erin adds fuel to Áed’s reluctance to let Éamon find out he is part fae.

The world is described in great detail with beautiful prose which makes it so easy to visualize. I have said this before about Radcliff’s prose (in previous reviews) and it continues to be fantastic in this novel too. On entering the veil to pass through to the fae realm we are told:

“The whispers split into undiscernible words, sounding like wind through dry leaves. A shudder passed over Éamon’s skin, as if the air of the cave had suddenly become real, and ahead of him, the darkness seemed to crack. Splitting light traced over it like branching tree boughs, and then it was opening around him.”

I was captivated by the world of the fae to the point that I could not put the book down. There is magic all around: in the magical glowstones used to illuminate the ceilings and walls of their dwellings; in the pollen which can be used to communicate with other fae; in the interesting and sometimes scary beasts we are introduced to. The fae themselves are also capable of many different types of magic. If you want to learn more about the magic of this world read this article written by E.G. Radcliff on that exact subject.

There is also plenty of action in the story. The group is chased by a hunting party of the Moon Court when they get through the veil and the tension is high, my heart was in my mouth waiting to find out the outcome. The conclusion to the story is also action-packed to say the least, and very satisfying.

Áed goes through plenty of emotional wrangling in this story, which is oftentimes heart-wrenching. Throughout the trilogy there has been the theme of familial rejection – Áed’s mother was raped and left him a message saying she couldn’t bear to keep him as a reminder. He has always suspected that she would never be able to accept him, if he were to meet her. 

Áed also feels guilty for Éamon’s devastating injury at the hands of the Moon Court fae. He cares deeply for Éamon, but is still emotionally involved with his dead partner, Ninian, and has to work through these feelings before he can admit how much he cares for Éamon.

Radcliff also introduces the theme of being in an abusive relationship and escaping, followed by the terror of returning, despite the knowledge that it could save thousands of lives. Each of these themes could come with a content warning, but they are approached delicately by the author and not described in gratuitous detail at all.

There are so many things I want to say about this book but I can’t because I’m trying really hard not to give away too many spoilers! Suffice to say The Wild Court is a wild, emotional and highly enjoyable ride! I really enjoyed the previous two books in the series and gave The Last Prince 5 stars, but in this final installment E.G. Radcliff turns the dial up to eleven or maybe even twelve and I want to give it 7/5 stars!! Pre-order it now – you will not be sorry!

Pre order The Wild Court here: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08BS1KGXH

Add to goodreads here: www.goodreads.com/book/show/57861030-the-wild-court

My Review of The Hidden King

My Review of The Last Prince


About the Author

E.G. Radcliff is a part-time pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread. Her fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities.

You can reach her by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on social media.

Website: https://www.egradcliff.com/


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Indie Spotlight- James Allinson

Today on my blog I would like to welcome author of satirical fantasy, James Allinson.

James Allinson is a husband and father of two.

Initially a wannabe children’s author, James soon became sick of non-swearing heroes and the crushing restraints of morality and, driven by the maverick lack of focus that has dominated his entire life, stopped writing books for kids and instead started writing childish stuff for his own amusement. Fortuitously (for the world of literature although not necessarily his bank account), this resulted in the accidental birth of a hilarious – albeit apparently, unmarketable – comedic fantasy series about a poncho-wearing, vegan dragon named George.

Ideally, James would love his books to earn him a fortune, entertain his readers, and attract the absolute least number of violent threats possible (in that order).

Contact Links:

Twitter: twitter.com/ChickpeaChron
Facebook: facebook.com/TheChickpeaChronicles
Instagram: instagram.com/thechickpeachronicles
Website: www.thechickpeachronicles.com

Hi James, welcome to my blog! What made you decide to publish your books independently?

In all honesty, there was never a choice to be had. I know my books don’t fit neatly into one of the established categories – I write comedic fantasy which is a tough sell (unless you are Terry Pratchett!) – plus I produce quick(ish) reads (40-50k) which isn’t typical in the fantasy genre. These factors – combined with the fact that I am a new author – meant a traditional publisher was never going to take a chance on my work. Now it’s up to me to show them they should be looking wider…!

What are the benefits of being an indie author?

I love having complete creative control and being accountable to only myself. There is no substitute for this. (The rest of it is a massive nuisance, I won’t deny it!)

What challenges do indie authors face?

In a nutshell, everything falls to you! I need to vet editors, proofreaders, artists, beta readers and then make judgement calls based upon whatever output they provide to me… publishing houses have entire teams dedicated to this. One of the retailers inexplicably does something strange with the book price? – it’s my problem. Website traffic / sales fall off? – it’s my problem. There’s an issue with an advertising campaign? – it’s my… you get the picture. And this is before I can get around to actually writing something funny that people want to read – but that’s the enjoyable part!

What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?

Don’t do what I did – don’t spend years writing a series without telling the world, and then release it with nobody waiting! Build your platform early. Also, maybe try ‘writing to market’, whatever that is!

I have heard that being said before. I suppose it is important to tease the prospective audience a little bit before launching the book. What have you learned from being an indie author?

That writing the books was the easy bit (seriously, I miss the days when my biggest concern was plugging a plot hole or searching for a synonym!). I guess being indie has taught me to project manage – I’m constantly ‘swapping hats’ to deal with whatever arises. From a technical perspective, I’ve become pretty good with a few of the graphics packages – and I’ve discovered more functions in Microsoft Word than I care to remember (next time I will definitely pay someone to format my paperbacks!) – so much for the romantic notion of a writer’s life!

Well, learning new skills is never a bad thing! What can we look forward to seeing from you next?

If I can drag myself away from shameless social media self-promotion, hopefully another couple of Chickpea Chronicles books will be appearing. I’ve also got an idea for a ‘serious’ fantasy adventure so I might have a go at that – although I’m not convinced I’ll be able to stop it from becoming a full-blown farce… we will see!

I like the idea of a full-blown fantasy farce!! Thank you so much for taking part in this Indie Spotlight, James! Good luck with your upcoming projects!


The Chickpea Chronicles

Fast-paced satire for fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

The Chickpea Chronicles – an adult, comedic fantasy – follow the adventures of George, a poncho-wearing, five-ton, fire-breathing, vegan dragon who is desperate to fit into woke human society. You probably shouldn’t laugh but you will…

www.thechickpeachronicles.com

Add to your To Be Read List here:

www.goodreads.com/author/list/21171571.James_Allinson


The Quest For The Holy Hummus – The Vegan Charade

Despite being a regressive and unhelpful stereotype, it was nevertheless accurate to say that dragons were aggressive, bloodthirsty brutes. Not George, though. He’s a self-professed ‘decent’ individual with a penchant for organic cookery, gardening, and making his own clothes. Oh, and he’s a vegan, you know!George’s adventure begins when he decides he wants some hummus. However, as Dragonville definitely isn’t the sort of place to find chickpea-based snacks, he sets off towards People Town to visit his favourite place in the whole world, the glorious Farmer Fred’s feel-good, local, family, fair-trade, organic wholefoods store.
Follow George as he traverses Dragonville, desperately tolerating the idiots who wander into his path – before continuing on towards lovely, civilised People Town where unfortunately our heroic, massive, fire-breathing reptile encounters further unwarranted prejudice.
Will George get his delicious dip? Will he make any new friends? Will years of suppressing his true instincts make him have a terrifying and very-public nervous breakdown? Find out!

Read my review here

The Vegan Charade

Now established in People Town, George is enjoying his new, civilised life. However, back in Dragonville trouble is brewing. 
A war has been declared! Sworn enemies, the Ogreton Ogres have heard that a huge, poncho-wearing dragon refuses to eat people and also, that it won’t let the other dragons eat them either. There can be only one explanation for this nature-defying dietary-finickiness: They have all gone soft! 
Tasked with averting the conflict, George is dragged back from his idyllic existence. His only hope is to convince the ogres that they’ve got it wrong; that dragons are still mental monsters who will happily gulp down anything put before them without making a huge fuss. But actual people-eating isn’t an option, because he’s a vegan, you know! 
Fortunately, People Town’s largest resident isn’t alone in his laborious, meat-free charade. The members of the Amateurish Amateur Dramatics Society / Production Company are waiting for their curtain call.
Will George’s thespian abilities be up to the challenge? Will he be able to find his motivation? Will all terrifying losses of self-control be strictly as per the script? Tickets available now!

Read my review here

Free on Amazon – download here!

Free audiobookdownload here!


100% Organic (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 2)

Organic or non-organic? Refined or reasonably-priced? All the rage or affordable? There’s only one way to settle this – George The-Decent Dragon enters The People Town Annual Fruit And Vegetable Growing Competition. Fast-paced, irreverent satire for Pratchett and Python fans.

With a celebrity dragon at the helm, Farmer Fred’s has become successful. Very successful. Its delicious, organic specialities are the talk of the town. But unfortunately, this new-found popularity has attracted some unwelcome attention…
A rival from Julian’s past returns and opens a non-organic greengrocer, and then challenges him to compete in the annual fruit and veg growing contest. However, treachery is in the air. There’s far more to this than who can grow the best marrow.
Unsanitary allotment holders, scheming local councillors, and illicit performance-enhancing substances – all stand between Team Farmer Fred and the trophies. Fortunately, though, they have a secret weapon!
Will George triumph and save the day? Will he emerge with his dignity intact? Will his big, beautiful pumpkins gain the appreciation they deserve? Find out!

Buy here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08W5D6BPT

US: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08W5D6BPT


An Inappropriate Burger (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 3)

In Farmer Fred’s things are unusually quiet, and that can mean only one thing – an evil fast-food business has brainwashed the population of People Town, turning them into ravenous burger zombies! Someone needs to do something, and guess who it is?!
Constantly fighting against his crippling ‘meat allergy’, George, accompanied by sidekick Julian, has to go deep undercover into the Lucky Dip Burger factory to find out what has happened to all his beloved customers. 
Addictive additives, mind-control technology, and inadvertently being culturally offensive, George must try to return the townsfolk to a well-meaning, profit-filled, roughage-rich diet.
Will George save everyone from their love of junk food? Will he end up getting turned into a vegan burger? Will his tinfoil hat stay on during his projectile vomiting? Find out!

Buy here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08W5F6Y5L

US: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08W5F6Y5L


Last Presenter Standing (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 4)

Following a spell of financial irresponsibility, George is forced to take a second job. Fortunately, the perfect opportunity has just arisen: People Town Television need a new presenter for the 2pm-at-weekdays cookery show – and they would be more than happy to sign up the town’s most famous resident!
‘Hard-hitting’ interviews with local ‘celebrity’ guests, dealing with manipulative executives, tolerating his new daytime-demographic fan base – to the surprise of even himself, George proves to be a natural.
However, the people of People Town aren’t the only ones who are watching. Nefarious non-human attention soon threatens an outcome far worse than just poor ratings. 
Blackmail! Monstrous format changes! A vending machine containing absolutely nothing which is vegan-appropriate! Can George see this one through to the credits? Tune in and find out!

Buy here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08W5CF41Q

US: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08W5CF41Q


V is For Volunteer (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 5)

In his latest bid to signal his virtue to everyone, George embarks upon some voluntary work – this time helping awful, disadvantaged youngsters with their considerable shortcomings – at Dragonville High, his former school!
Unfortunately, however, shadowy dealings have led to the school’s planned closure. Only one thing can save it – victory by the fireball team over the Ogreton Maniacs. And guess which sport-hating, poncho-wearing dragon has inexplicably been appointed the new manager?!
An ability-free ‘inclusive’ fireball technique, a squad based strictly upon diversity – they’re winners already, in the eyes of his online stalkers!
Will George’s benevolent behaviour have the desired effect? Will his progressive approach impress anyone worth impressing? Will he save the school and more importantly, secure for himself some premier-level altruistic bragging rights? Find out!

Buy here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Volunteer-Chickpea-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B08W5CVH5R/

US: www.amazon.com/Volunteer-Chickpea-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B08W5CVH5R/


An Artisan Abroad (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 6)

Following the need to close Farmer Fred’s for a week of pest-extermination, all-creature-respecting vegans George and Julian have to find a means to occupy themselves. And how better to do this than take a hard-earned holiday to Foreign Island!
Unfortunately, however, this tropical paradise isn’t all sandy beaches, stifling temperatures, and filthy hotel rooms – unwittingly, George unpacks his dragon bag directly into the centre of an ongoing neighbour dispute. 
But all is not what it seems. And soon George received a ‘royal’ invitation which changes things dramatically. Now George must find a way to force two sets of islanders to get on – because the fate of hairier one of them, not to mention his reputation as a mediator, depends upon it. Luckily, he’s got just the thing!
Will George’s plan to bring together these two vastly different cultures work? Will he be able to resolve centuries of difficulties before his return flight? Will he manage to get through the week without consuming anything derived from a goat? He’ll ruddy-well do his best!

Buy here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08YQR66ZJ

US: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08YQR66ZJ


Who’s next on Indie Spotlight?

Dorian Hart is the author of the Heroes of Spira epic fantasy series. The fifth and final book in the series will likely be out in 2022.

Dorian graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in creative writing. This led to a 20-year career as a video game designer, where he contributed to many award-winning titles including Thief, System Shock, System Shock 2, and BioShock.


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Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Today I am excited to join the Ultimate Blog Tour for Adrian Tchaikovsky’s latest Sci-Fi epic: Shards of Earth, organised by The Write Reads. This is the first book I have read by Adrian Tchaikovsky and I have been meaning to read his books so I was very grateful to be a part of this tour. Thank you to Tor Publishing, Black Crow PR and Dave from the Write Reads for organising a digital ARC of the book for me in exchange for an honest review!

Book Information

Publisher: Tor
Length: 592 Pages
Publishing: 27th May 2021


Book Description

This high-stakes space-based adventure will be perfect for those who loved Children of Time, also by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .


Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.

Praise for Adrian Tchaikovsky:

‘Brilliant science fiction’ – James McAvoy on Children of Time


‘Full of sparkling, speculative invention’ – Stephen Baxter on The Doors of Eden

Shards of Earth is the first thrilling instalment in the Final Architecture trilogy – by the Arthur C. Clarke award-winning novelist Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Buy Shards of Earth here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HLPZY6X

Add Shards of Earth to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55437088-shards-of-earth


My Review

This is the first book I have read by Adrian Tchaikovsky and it certainly lived up to the hype! Shards of Earth is book one in a new trilogy, The Final Architecture.

The universe described within this unputdownable space opera is expansive to say the least and contains many disparate alien worlds and intriguing species, multiple political factions and some surviving humans – Earth was destroyed eighty years before the start of the story. I really enjoyed getting to know all of the thoroughly imaginative alien species described.

At the beginning of the book, war has been raging throughout the universe, between the Architects, a race of vast crystalline, moon-sized, godlike beings who appear from nowhere, make delicate sculptures and artworks out of both planets and spacecraft, killing all lifeforms in the process, and then disappear again, off to devastate and beautify another ugly (to their refined sensibilities) planet elsewhere in the universe.

Certain humans have had their brains surgically enhanced in such a way that they can navigate through “unspace” while travelling faster than the speed of light, while their fellow crew members are in sleep stasis. These humans are known as “Intermediaries” or Ints, and it turns out they are able to make contact with the Architects’ brains. Idris Telemmier, an Int, was the first to make contact with an Architect’s brain and made it take notice of him to such an extent that the war ended, with the Architects withdrawing and not reappearing for forty years.

Idris is one of the main characters of the novel and is considered a war hero. It is now forty years later and somehow he has survived without ever sleeping or aging during the intervening years. He is now part of a salvage crew working out of the Vulture God vessel. These crew members have become his ‘found family’ and it is heartwarming to see how they all care and look out for each other. 

During the war, Idris became close with Solace, a Partheni warrior who is one of the other main characters of the novel. Solace is a member of the Parthenon – all female genetically engineered elite warriors with wings, who are referred to as “Angels of Infinite Fortitude”, but who another character fondly refers to as “Angels of Punching You in the Face”. The Parthenon was created as a protective force of warriors a dozen years after Earth was destroyed by an Architect. Solace is a really badass character, yet also vulnerable. She has feelings for Idris and doesn’t really understand them. She struggles with divided loyalties between her feelings for Idris and her duties as a soldier. She was one of my favourite characters in the book. 

Another favourite was Kittering, the Hannilambra, a race of extremely competitive, crablike creatures who are often covered in jewel encrusted carapaces. Kit however, as a factor (Accountant), is the crew member who negotiates all contracts and has communication screens set into his shell and limbs. When not using these screens for communication purposes he rents them out to the highest bidder for advertising space. 

Ollian ‘Olli’ Timo is the remote drone specialist, who is a female human, but born without fully functioning arms and legs, so she resides within a metal Scorpion frame armed with numerous weapons. 

Medvig is a Hiver, a group of insectoids working together within a larger framework with a humanoid mask for a face. Their role on the Vulture God is as a search and catalogue specialist.

Kris is a human lawyer retained by Idris and the final crewmember is Rollo Rostand, who is the human captain of the Vulture God and father figure to its crew.

When a Sci-Fi author is introducing their readers to a new world there is bound to be a lot of background information and world-building and at times I felt overwhelmed by all the information being conveyed, but it was often broken into smallish chunks with plenty of thrilling action sequences interspersed. There are a large number of political players in this universe to get to grips with: The Council of Human Interests – referred to as Hugh; The Parthenon, female genetically engineered warriors with their own government; The Essiel Hegemony, an alien revering religious cult; Nativists, who are against the existence of any ‘non natural born’ humans; Colonial Loyalists and Broken Harvest – a violent crime syndicate run by the clamlike gangster Essiel, known as ’The Unspeakable Aklu, the Razor and the Hook’. They are gradually introduced so as not to be too overwhelming, but it is still quite a lot to keep in mind.

The story is very original and imaginative and full of lots of exciting edge-of-the-seat action sequences and equally full of heartwarming human emotion and relationships. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to revisiting this universe and continuing reading the trilogy whenever the next installment comes out.


About the Author 

Adrian Tchaikovsky is the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, from the first volume, Empire In Black and Gold in 2008 to the final book, Seal of the Worm, in 2014, with a new series and a standalone science fiction novel scheduled for 2015. He has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and a British Fantasy Society Award. In civilian life he is a lawyer, gamer and amateur entomologist.


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Mockingston Faire (The Collectionverse #1) by Samuel Yaw Jian Fong

Book Description

Three friends — Victoria Hughes, Jack Zhang, and Ludvig Gerald — attend Mockingston Faire, an annual convention where fans meet their friends and favourite characters, buy and sell art, play games, and have a good time. Victoria wants to see Gunfighter III, her anticipated game, and reconcile with Ludvig over what she did last year; Jack wants to get as many pictures of his dearest characters and personalities; and Ludvig just wants to keep away from annoying fans and events who constantly forced him to become an amateur actor.

But the Faire itself has its own challenges. Everywhere they go, they seem to be unable to evade the malcontents of pop culture. From violent brawls between bitter fandoms, to nuisances who hound their every step, the whole Faire seems to descend into chaos.

Can these three make it through this dysfunctional festival with their friends in one piece? Or will they succumb to the surrounding rage, losing their sanity and reputation in the process?


My Review

The author approached me for a review and sent me a copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Samuel!

At 77 pages in length, Mockingston Faire is a fairly short YA novella set around an annual fan convention. Its intended audience is the 13-18 year age range, so I am way outside of that, and I have never been to a superfan convention, but decided to try and read it objectively!

There are three main characters who are attending the convention, teenagers Victoria, Ludvig and Jack and the story follows them as they get photos with their idols and interact with other teens they know from school.

The characters enjoy themselves at the convention looking at all the collectibles for sale, trying out new games they’ve been anticipating and meeting like-minded fans while collecting photos like all teens.

There are issues with other fans taking themselves and their fandoms too seriously and getting in everyone’s way at this busy event. 

I did find a few places were the tenses were mixed which I found a bit jarring. I think a professional editor could help smooth these over.

This story will resonate well with the age range it is aimed at, particularly those who like conventions and belonging to fandoms.


About the Author

Samuel Yaw Jian Fong is an amateur author and artist from Seremban, Malaysia. Due to a lot of time spent on the Internet, he enjoys making his own fictional worlds inhabited by dozens of quirky characters — would you like to check them out?

For more information about his works, check out the “Rabydosverse Wikia” and HorsesPlease’s DeviantArt page.


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Cover Reveal! Not Cool – Europe. By Train. In a Heatwave by Jules Brown

Today on my blog I am excited to be helping relaunch a book I read a couple of months ago and found very funny and entertaining! I think you’ll agree the colours on this new cover are decidedly hot and at the same time very cool! You can feel the heat haze sizzle off the cover…

Relaunch Date: June 10th 2021
Print Length: 201 pages
Buy from Amazon
Add to goodreads
Read my review


Book Description

A laugh-out-loud train journey across Europe with a travel writer who should know better.

Inspired by the budget InterRail trips of his youth, veteran travel writer Jules Brown thought he’d try and visit 9 cities in 9 countries in 9 days. Sadly, that wasn’t his only mistake.

It soon turned into a hot and steamy adventure (no, steady on, not that kind) by rail across Europe, taking in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich and Milan.

A tale of relaxing train rides to famous tourist destinations and guidebook sights? Not so much. All aboard for an offbeat travel adventure with a very funny writer seriously in danger of losing his cool.


About the Author

I took my first solo trip around Europe when I was seventeen, and I’ve been traveling and writing professionally since I published my first travel guide – to Scandinavia – in 1988. Since then I’ve eaten a puffin in Iceland, got stuck up a mountain in the Lake District, crash-landed in Iran, fallen off a husky sled in Canada, and got stranded on a Mediterranean island. Not all of those things were my fault. You can read about my traveling life in my memoir, Don’t Eat the Puffin.

I wrote Rough Guide travel books for over thirty years, but now that I no longer have to copy down bus timetables for a living I don’t really know what to do with myself. So I come up with ridiculous ideas for trips and then write about them, which is where my 9-city, 9-day, 9-country trip came from – that’s covered in Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave.

I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

You can find out more about me and my books at my publishing website, www.trustmetravel.com.

I also blog at www.julestoldme.com, sharing travel stories, travel-writing tips, videos and inspiring destinations – see you there, and happy travels.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook


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First Lines Friday – June 4th 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!

This is from the book I recently finished – a digital ARC on behalf of Rosie Amber’s book review team #RBRT. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The flames leaping out of the jet’s engines were raging wildly now, forcing the light aircraft to pitch and drop rapidly through the dark cloud cover as it dived towards the earth thirty thousand feet below.

What had started out as a promising day for Jon Galnia was rapidly going downhill now, and as he dug what nails he had left into the arms of the black leather seat, he struggled to keep down his lunch. Anything not belted up or stowed away flew about the luxurious cabin, crashing into seats, windows and everything that got in the way.

The jet dropped again, sending Jon’s stomach back into his mouth as he choked on his own fear and ducked down into his seat to avoid the whisky glass that zipped past his head to smash on the door of the cockpit, several metres away from him.


And the book is…

The Last Tiger by Anthony Lavisher

Publication date: June 7th 2021 Print Length: 278 pages

Book Description

Jon Galnia is a husband, a father, a Mafia Don, a man who believes that Fate and Destiny are two sides of the same fickle coin. Rich beyond his wildest dreams, his inherited empire expands beyond America, far beyond the streets of his bloody playground, currently far beyond the reach of the authorities desperate to pin even a traffic violation on him.

Fate is about to intervene.

Plucked from the sky by those who hate him, or perhaps by those who want what he has, Jon’s private jet crashes in central India, sabotaged by fate, though, perhaps, guided by destiny. Unbeknownst to him, Jon is about to play a daring hand in an even bigger power struggle, one that will shock the world and, perhaps more importantly, the self-centred, ruthless Don.

A tale of corruption, of adventure and heroism, The Last Tiger is a thrilling tale of one man’s quest for survival and his uncertain hand on the pages of history.

Read my review here


About the Author

Since reading The Lord of the Rings at an early age, and later, the works of his favourite author, David Gemmell, Anthony has been inspired to write his own stories.

When he is not forging tales and filling blank pages, Anthony spends his time working in his local library, reading, gaming and enjoying adventures of his own.

Anthony lives in Wales with his wife, Amy, and their cat, Mertle. He is about to release his fourth novel, ‘The Last Tiger.’


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Indie Spotlight – Jules Brown

Today on my blog I am welcoming travel writer, Jules Brown into the Indie Spotlight.

Travel writer Jules Brown was born in Takoradi in Ghana, West Africa, and grew up in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. He took his first solo trip around Europe when he was 17, and has been travelling and writing professionally for over 35 years, starting with a pioneering guidebook to Scandinavia. He continued to write guidebooks for Rough Guides for many years, and if you’ve ever been to Sweden, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the UK, USA, Hong Kong or New Zealand with a Rough Guide, he may have helped you out along the way. Unless that restaurant you went to had closed down; in that case, it wasn’t him.

These days, Jules writes independently published travel books – memoirs, guides and adventures – based on his travel-writing life and on new trips and journeys.

He still doesn’t know what he wants to do when he grows up.

Contact Jules here:

Website | Travel Club (free stuff) | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Smashwords


Hi Jules, welcome to my blog! What made you decide to publish your books independently?

When I wrote guidebooks for a living, I was published by mainstream publishers and it always struck me how long it took to get a book into the shops. Often the information was already a year out of date by the time your book was published and then later, of course, the internet basically did for mainstream guidebook publishing. Who cared what restaurant I’d been to a year earlier in Barcelona when you could just go and look at TripAdvisor or read a locally based blog and see what was hot this week?
I started writing a travel blog in 2015 and after a while it occurred to me that I had the makings of a travel memoir in the blog-posts I’d written. The eventual book – travel tales from a ex-guidebook writer – wasn’t the sort of thing that would get picked up by a publisher, but I did think it would be fun to self-publish via Amazon and, later, Smashwords. I taught myself the ropes and after that it never really occurred to me to publish my new books in any other way.
I’ve even kept up the guidebook-writing using the indie-publishing model, on the basis that I can get my books out there into people’s hands much quicker than any traditional publisher.
So the first in my Trust-Me Travel series, to Montenegro in the Balkans, came together very quickly after my trip to that beautiful country. I can also write those guides in the way I want, rather than following an established framework, so I like to think my Montenegro guide is much more relevant to the sort of traveling that people do these days.

That sounds perfect. What are the benefits of being an indie author?

For me, the main advantage is how responsive I can be. I can pretty much publish once I’ve completed the content, so for something like Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave, I could make a mad train trip around Europe, write it up and hit publish when I was ready. I also like being able to tweak the content if I need to and experiment with different covers, blurbs and other details – all that would be impossible with a traditionally published book. The feedback is pretty instant too, and I love the interaction with readers via reviews and social media.

It can’t all be good, though. What challenges do indie authors face?

The main challenge is that, of course, if you go down the self-publishing route you have to do everything yourself – decide on pricing, marketing, advertising, publicity, covers, you name it. I like that aspect of it, but it’s not for everyone as it’s very time-consuming. The content is entirely down to you too – no team of editors or proof-readers, unless you hire them – so I’d say you need to be a fairly confident writer or be prepared to pay for help and advice.
I’m lucky. I was a professional writer for thirty years before I came to indie-publishing, and I’ve worked as an editor and proof-reader too, so I don’t get put off by the mechanics of the actual writing. The challenges for me are more on the marketing side of things – having to think of my books as a product and working out how to show them to their best effect.

What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?

Just keep going! The other challenge is that you write on your own, in a little bubble most of time, with no publishing house behind you to encourage you when you flag. But really, the best advice I’ve ever had – and which I still struggle with, to be honest – is not to compare yourself with others. It’s really easy to look at indie authors in the same genre topping the charts in your category, or being everywhere on social media. You have to make your own peace with why you’re writing in the first place. So you don’t sell many books? Does that matter? Does the writing itself, or the act of self-publishing, make you happy? Yes? Great, just keep going!

What have you learned from being an indie author?

Really, two things. The importance of good covers – I’ve really learned this the hard way, as you’d be hard pushed to have worked out what my first travel memoir was about from the cover. So getting a cover designer to work on my new books has been crucial. I have to accept that I can’t do everything myself. And secondly, the importance of establishing a series, if you’re serious about trying to sell books as opposed to just writing them. Again, it wasn’t really something I had considered until I had published my first two, unrelated, books and it proved difficult to get any kind of read-through going between them. Now, everything I publish is going to be a whole lot more carefully planned!
So actually, three things! Because accepting the need for a series meant that I thought again about my titles and how they should fit together better. Accordingly, I re-launched my first travel memoir with a new title and cover, so that it better reflects what people can expect when they (hopefully) pick it up. So the same book is now called Don’t Eat the Puffin: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life and I’m much happier with that as a concept!

Yes! Covers and titles are so important! I really like these newer covers you’ve just had done and I think Don’t Eat the Puffin is a far more engaging title than its predecessor.
OK, last question…What can we look forward to seeing from you next?

You’d think not being able to travel – at all – for a year or more would have caused me problems as a travel writer, but luckily I have plenty of stories still to tell. I have a second travel memoir coming out in the summer, called Never Pack an Ice-Axe: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life, and I’ll be working on a third memoir throughout the year. Then it depends! If we can travel, I’ll be heading out from the UK by train and finding a story for my next travel adventure. If we can’t I’ll be working up a travel memoir based on my birthplace in Ghana and the trip I made back there forty years later with my parents.

Thank you very much for joining me today on my blog, Jules. I wish you good luck with all of your latest projects!


Don’t Eat the Puffin: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life

Cover Art: Chris Hudson Design

It’s the job of his dreams. Get paid to travel and write about it.
Only no one told Jules that it would mean eating seabirds, repeatedly falling off a husky sled, getting stranded on a Mediterranean island, and crash-landing in Iran.
The exotic destinations come thick and fast – Hong Kong, Hawaii, Huddersfield – as Jules navigates what it means to be a travel writer in a world with endless surprises up its sleeve.
Add in a cast of larger-than-life characters – Elvis, Captain Cook, his own travel-mad Dad and an eye for the ridiculous, and this journey with Jules is one you won’t want to miss.

Add to your goodreads To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/58175930-don-t-eat-the-puffin

Buy here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087XBY1RX

US: www.amazon.com/dp/B087XBY1RX


Never Pack an Ice-Axe: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life

Cover Art: Chris Hudson Design

Expected Publication: June 2021

Genre: Travel, Memoir

You’d think a long-time travel writer would have some great travel tips. You’d think. Jules learns about travel the hard way, whether it’s setting out on his first European hitch-hiking adventure, writing about offbeat destinations for Rough Guides, or braving the backstreets of Naples on the hunt for the world’s best pizza.
Not everything goes according to plan – what happened in Bali stays in Bali – but during a life in travel, Jules racks up enough good advice and top tips to fill a book. Just not this book.
Hit the road with Jules – from Scotland to the South Pacific – and you’re guaranteed a good laugh (and an occasional sob). As long as you don’t listen to his advice, you’ll be absolutely fine.

Pre-order Never Pack an Ice-Axe here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B095XJXZMV

US: www.amazon.com/dp/B095XJXZMV


Not Cool: Europe. By Train. In a Heatwave


A laugh-out-loud train journey across Europe with a travel writer who should know better. Inspired by the budget InterRail trips of his youth, veteran travel writer Jules Brown thought he’d try and visit 9 cities in 9 countries in 9 days. Sadly, that wasn’t his only mistake.
It soon turned into a hot and steamy adventure (no, steady on, not that kind) by rail across Europe, taking in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich and Milan.
A tale of relaxing train rides to famous tourist destinations and guidebook sights? Not so much. All aboard for an offbeat travel adventure with a very funny writer seriously in danger of losing his cool.

Read my review of Not Cool here

Add to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/55043093-not-cool

Buy Not Cool here:

US: www.amazon.com/dp/B08G5FS3X1
UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08G5FS3X1


The Travel Writer Chronicles: Travel, Meet Writer


In an exclusive free ebook, Jules recounts how he first became a travel writer. There’s also an episode or two from his early days as a Rough Guide writer, as well as some tips for anyone who fancies following in his footsteps. Or for anyone who simply loves travel and writing. He’s guessing that’s you?
Follow the link to join Jules’ Takoradi Travel Club for your free ebook and other giveaways.
https://mailchi.mp/c6c245ce944c/takoradi-travel-club-giveaway



Trust-Me Travel Guide to Montenegro: Your Next Adventure. Sorted


Jules presents a new type of guidebook: the Trust-Me Travel Guide to Montenegro, the small Balkan country with a sparkling coastline and a mountainous green heart.
“I’m more about quirky trips and one-of-a-kind adventures than plain old destinations. I like to weave word pictures and write inspiring features, rather than just list museums, hotels and restaurants. This isn’t a guidebook to the whole of Montenegro, far from it. It’s not a guidebook at all, in the traditional sense.
Instead, I’ve used my 30+ years of travel-writing expertise to describe selected trips and experiences along the coast, out on the lake and up into the mountains. I hope you’ll be inspired by the writing and trust me when I say that these trips, tours and walks are all easy to do on your own. I only include the things you need, and none of the stuff you don’t.”

Add to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/54571807-montenegro

Buy here:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08CHM4TVY

US: www.amazon.com/dp/B08CHM4TVY


Who is next on Indie Spotlight?

James Allinson is a husband and father of two.

Initially a wannabe children’s author, James soon became sick of non-swearing heroes and the crushing restraints of morality and, driven by the maverick lack of focus that has dominated his entire life, stopped writing books for kids and instead started writing childish stuff for his own amusement. Fortuitously (for the world of literature although not necessarily his bank account), this resulted in the accidental birth of a hilarious – albeit apparently, unmarketable – comedic fantasy series about a poncho-wearing, vegan dragon named George.

Ideally, James would love his books to earn him a fortune, entertain his readers, and attract the absolute least number of violent threats possible (in that order).


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Voice of War (Book 1 of Threadlight) by Zack Argyle

Book Description

The world will change forever…

While preparing for the birth of his first child, Chrys Valerian is tasked with uncovering the group responsible for a series of missing threadweavers–those able to see and manipulate threadlight. With each failure, the dark voice in his head grows louder, begging to be released.

A young girl from a secret city in the center of the Fairenwild veers off course to explore the streets of Alchea, never expecting that her journey would end in chains.

Far in the deserts to the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.

When Chrys learns who is responsible for the missing threadweavers, they come for him and his family. He must do everything in his power to protect those he loves, even if it means trusting strangers or, worse, the growing voice in his mind.

Together, these three will change the world–whether they intend to or not.

SPFBO Award Finalist for Best Fantasy Book 2020

Buy here:

US: www.amazon.com/Voice-War-Threadlight-Book-1-ebook/dp/B084F96GFZ/

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Voice-War-Threadlight-Book-1-ebook/dp/B084F96GFZ/

Add to goodreads here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/55808604-voice-of-war


My Review

I read a digital copy of this book.

Voice of War is the first of the Threadlight trilogy, which takes place in the continent of Arasin. Within the story there are three very different main city locations:

  • Alchea is a medieval style stone citadel ruled over by The Great Lord, Malachus, a beneficent leader, and his wife, the beautiful Lady Eleandra. Malachus has three High Generals, Henna, Jurius and Chrys, who is one of the main characters.
  • Zedalum is a secret treetop city within the Fairenwild forest, inhabited by the fabled and reclusive Zeda people. This is the home of teenage sapphire threadweaver Laurel. All of Zedalum’s inhabitants are named after plants and their language is interspersed with phrases which refer to winds, gales and other natural phenomena. Zedalum was my favourite location – I loved the idea of people living up high among the trees, using sturdy wooden pathways and platforms, out of sight of anyone who might have been walking through the forest below. This is somewhere I would love to be able to visit – although some of the dangerous local wildlife, such as the spiderlike treelurks, would not be welcome during my visit.
  • Cynosure is a desert hideout for anti-establishment rebels. Here we meet the final main character of this story, Alverax, who has recently been murdered when we meet him. This city is populated with miscreants and thieves and ruled over by the enormous Jelium Kirikai, a self-proclaimed King who brought to mind Jabba the Hutt, and Alabella Rune, a mysterious and ruthless woman who experiments on threadweavers, including Alverax. Jelium owns a racetrack and races the interesting reptilian species known as necrolytes – which leads to an exciting race sequence followed by some unexpected self-discovery by Alverax.  The worldbuilding in this novel is clearly something that the author has spent a lot of time thinking about. Each of the locations is described with expert care and attention to detail, and is therefore easy to visualise:

The city was a sprawling metropolis, tucked away under a sandstone mountain in the southern deserts of Silkar overlooking the Altapecean Sea. Thick, portable tents and sprawling pavilions lined the lower division’s marketplace. Towering stone buildings were spread across the upper division, their styles stolen from modern Felian and Alchean architecture.

The magic system within this novel revolves around the colour of a person’s eyes. If they have brown eyes they are known as achromats and have no magical powers. Magic users with green eyes are known as emerald threadweavers and can walk up walls and ‘pull’ objects. Sapphire threadweavers have blue eyes and are able to ‘push’ off the ground and force themselves higher using their ability to see threads of light attached to everything within their vicinity. They can then land safely by regulating the force with which they are ‘pushing’ against the ground. There are also amber threadweavers with yellow eyes who are much rarer and can create the threads which emanate from all things, and obsidian threadweavers, also very rare, whose irises are black and who can cut through the threads.

There are people called bloodthieves in the city of Alchea, who try to kidnap threadweavers to take their blood and then sell it to rich achromats looking for a temporary experience of seeing the threads. At the beginning of the story the three High Generals are trying to put a stop to the elusive bloodthieves.

The characters and their relationships are everything in this book. They are all written very believably and all of their conversations and motivations make sense and never seem to be there simply as a plot device.

Chrys, a sapphire, and his wife Iriel, an emerald, have a baby boy near the beginning of the story and the colour of his eyes sparks all manner of problems for them, culminating in their dangerous and exciting escape to the Fairenwild forest in search of safety in the hidden city of Zedalum… if they can find it. It also leads Chrys to discover that everything he knows about his history is a lie and to discover more about his real heritage and family. Here his story arc meets that of Laurel, another main character who is a stir-crazy Zeda teenager, who he has previously met and saved from the bloodthieves who had kidnapped her:

His was a city of stone, hers was the city of wind.

Laurel, like most teens, longs for adventure and independence and I can see her becoming more important to this story as it develops further in books two and three. I hope she does as she was one of my favourite characters.

The story of Alverax, the third main character, seems separate from the rest of the events at first. He awakens naked in the desert, in a pit of dead bodies. He seems to have obsidian threadweaving powers, which he did not have before he died. He has been experimented on by the amber threadweaver, Alabella Rune and somehow she has given him these mysterious powers. He is often a source of amusement for the reader, for example he has to try and make his way back into the city, naked without drawing attention to himself and again as he learns to use his powers and ends up soaring up into the sky without any idea of how he will be able to get back down. Eventually his story arc meets up with the other two in an unexpected and heart-in-the-mouth clash of power.

There are also a number of more serious themes in Voice of War:

  • The theme of family values is obviously very important to the author and can be seen throughout Chrys’s story arc. He protects his wife and child above all else and has a very close relationship with his mother.  There are other types of families in the book as well, Laurel lives with her achromatic older brother and elderly grandfather, who is likely to be taken by the next gale and not survive. Her other beloved family member is Asher, a green chromawolf who she has bonded with and who is now the alpha male in a dangerous pack of chromawolves roaming the Fairenwild. Alverax also lives with his grandfather, a kindly old man, much nicer than Alverax’s deadbeat father.
  • The theme of being able to change your destiny also comes up in this story. There is a clever wordplay in the dungeon of Endin Keep in Alchea. On the wall is written the word ‘Fortune’. While Jurius is torturing Pandan he explains to him:

It’s to remind you that the power is in your hands. With two strokes of a pen, any man can change torture into fortune.

  • The theme of addiction and dependency rears its ugly head in that the more a threadweaver uses their magic they can make themselves threadsick, as Alverax discovers to his detriment. Laurel is almost constantly threadweaving and appears to be dependent on it – like any addiction, this is not good for her long term health:

She’d been using her threadweaving a lot over the past few months, and the world was starting to feel dull without it.

  • Another theme in this story is that of mental health.  There is more to Chrys than meets the eye. When he gets angry he hears a voice in his head, known as The Apogee, urging him to let it take control of him. The last time Chrys let it take over, during a battle, it caused a killing spree including some soldiers fighting on his side. Chrys is understandably scared by this voice and has told noone, fearing for his sanity. When he eventually unburdens his worries to his wife it is a huge relief to him. Will he be able to rein in The Apogee forever though?

I really enjoyed my time with these characters and the world they inhabited – I will definitely be picking up the sequel, Stones of Light soon, as I am eager to find out what happens next to this interesting cast and find out where the story will lead to next. I would recommend the series to all lovers of character driven fantasy.


About the Author

Zack Argyle lives just outside of Seattle, WA, USA, with his wife and two children. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering and works full-time as a software engineer. He is the winner of the Indies Today Best Fantasy Award, and a finalist in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off.

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