Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Review: Sunburn by Darren Dash

Title: Sunburn
Author: Darren Dash
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release date: 13th April 2015
Synopsis: When three friends go on holiday to Bulgaria, protecting themselves from sunburn is their only concern. But when they run into a beast unlike any they've ever imagined, it becomes a savage fight for survival. They will burn in the day... but the night holds even darker terrors in store.A tale of friendship, holidays, relationships, sacrifice and growth, where one painfully vulnerable young man must come of age or perish at the hands of a monster like none you will have seen before. A fast-paced, grisly, tongue-in-cheek retelling of a legend as old as time

Review: If you go down to the woods today...DON'T! Do something else, in a crowded area with a lot of people and a decent phone signal. Preferably in the shade!

The title is lovely and ambiguous, I didn't know what to expect when I started reading and so I don't want to say too much and give away the little gems that make up this book. Bulgaria seemed like an OK place to visit, there are seemingly some good historical sites...however now I've read this I'm not so sure. If you've seen any of the Hostel films, those were the sort of gritty vibes I got from this book. However unlike Hostel the terror takes on a much less human form.

This book was a grower for me but it grew a grew and I was glad for that. I guess in many ways, like the hostel films, they have a a lot of set up and then shizzle hits the fan...and then hits it again for good meausre!

Martini ( a name which really had to grow on me, even with it's explanation), Dom and Curran are very recognisable characters, and if you aren't personally like one (or in my case a little of all) of them, then you probably know someone like them. And this worked really well as they all had their places and it felt like you were the fourth man sat with them on their trip ( it also made me want to go on holiday) and so you could relate to them in different ways.

And then things started to get interesting.

I loved the monsters perspective, hearing (well reading) his voice as he hunted through the forest and then in contrast seeing him through Dominic's perspective. There was a cunning anaimalistic quality, but also an element of human nature which was nice as can be in a monster. There were just little touches that made him creepy, and he played up to the big bad monster don't mess with me role very well.

This book has Darren written all over it (and quite literally too!) An I think both old fans and new fans will enjoy it, especially if you're looking for something with a bit of horror in it....so grab a copy and let me know what you think!

Watch out for our review with the author coming soon!

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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Interview with Author Jay Stritch

Happy Sunday everyone. Hoe you're having great reading weekends! How about something for your TBR? Today we talk to the lovely Jay Stritch, author of the Eight Worlds Trilogy - The first of which, The Man of A Thousand Faces is out now, and you can check out our review here . So on with the show!

  1. Tell us a little about the inspirations behind The Man of a Thousand Faces 
I’ve always loved escapist fiction and when the idea of a set of worlds governed by star signs came into my head, it would not leave me alone. With this came characters who had been conditioned by their environment and other people’s perception of what it meant to be of a particular ‘sign’.  Once they all started to exist in my mind they decided to rail against me until I wrote their story. 

  1. Can you tell us a little about your writing process?  
It involved a lot of scrap paper, messy scrawling and poorly drawn maps which then had to be pulled together to create ‘The Eight Worlds’ in which the story takes place. Creating new worlds from scratch was the real challenge as each of the planets needed a different way of life, beliefs, government and environment, but this also gave an enormous freedom to the writing because you find yourself in a place with no set rules – literally anything can happen and that’s very exciting. 

  1. Why did you choose to personify Horoscopes? (and if you don’t mind me asking which are you – I’m a Capricorn)  
I don’t mind at all! I’m Sagittarius as is one of the lead characters Nadine, which as my sister has pointed out seems like ‘star sign favouritism’. However the very point of the book is how an individual cannot be defined by predetermined factors, but by their own choices and understanding of what is important to them.
Horoscopes seemed like the perfect device to illustrate this as they are half believed in, half dismissed, but also belong to everyone and place everyone in an unofficial and for the most part irrelevant category. They have no real bearing on your life. 
But there are so many categories that do affect people: race, gender, country etc. so ultimately I chose to set the book in a world where the category of horoscope dictates how you are viewed and how you view yourself, both to illustrate the ultimate inanity of discrimination and of course for entertainment.
  1. Did you do a lot of Research into the beliefs and history behind them? What was the most interesting thing you found out? 
Mostly that the star signs originated from Greek and Roman legends. This meant that each one was already steeped in so much mythology and the fact that the novel is set amongst the planets and both the Greeks and Romans had so many stories and ideas behind each planet was helpful to build upon when creating each world’s values, social system and rules. I think that this really compliments the fantasy genre, the ancient Greeks and Romans were some of the best story tellers and in a world where so many things were yet unanswered by science there was so much more room for fantasy. 

  1. Who were the easiest and the hardest horoscopes to personify? 
There are so many accompanying images and stories behind the Star signs and so the characters emerged from a very clear initial visual image. Then it was a case of how much of the initial idea to take. For example, for Scorpio I kept the sting and the tail and pincers but added a women’s upper body. 

  1. Who was your favourite character to write? 
I love characters who go on a journey, who have things they need to overcome, who are flawed and who have a lot to learn. In this respect I enjoyed writing Achill because his story is one of redemption. However, the most fun was probably Robin who is a hired entertainer at the King’s court, very good looking and knows it, with an arrogance and wit that can disarm anyone whether they’re royal or not. 

  1. Which planet would you like to visit and why? 

Hmmm, I’d love to take a day trip to Venus. I’m fascinated by the idea of Palace politics, tradition and the veneer of respectability which hides the secrets and intrigue which all occur behind tapestries, down secret hallways and in the crossover between nobles and servants. But having to live there would be pretty trying! 

  1. How did you come up with the ways to get inbetween worlds? 
Well the obvious means of space travel is spaceships, but I also wanted a secret network of tunnels that linked the worlds. And then it was a case of thinking that tunnels which connected through time and space could not be straight forward. For example the ‘Mortal Silk Way’, which is a spider-web structure suspended between Venus, Saturn and Neptune mirrors the idea of a Tesseract, often cited by those who write on time travel as a way of opening up another dimension which I’ve utilized to make travel between the worlds quicker. 

  1. What can we expect from book two? 
Oh, you can expect Queens who are reluctant to rule, Pirate warriors with a revenge mission, Prisoners of war with a desperation to live and the mix-ups, sacrifices and heartaches that comes with war. Book two, ‘The Queen From A Thousand Places’, brings more adventure and more conflict as war begins to break out amongst the worlds. 

  1. What are some of your favourite dystopian books? 

The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta and Graceling by Kristin Cashore


Finally if you could pick five songs to accompany the book as its soundtrack what would they be? 
This is a tricky one because the book is set amongst planets other than Earth, ideally the music would not be from here…however that is potentially problematic. So from our earthly selection I would pick: 

Holocene-Bon Iver 

Ivan Torrent - Before I Leave This World  

Mordred's Lullaby- Heather Dale 

Soul Meets Body-Death Cab for Cutie 

Ice of Phoenix Audiomachine 

And a bonus track: Bahir Al Bakir - Walk From Agadir 

The man of a Thousand Faces is out now in Print and eBook - Grab a copy and let us know what you think! 

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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Review: The Man of a Thousand Faces by Jay Stritch

Title: The Man of a Thousand Faces
Author: Jay Stritch
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: Out now!

Synopsis: Nineteen year old Achill has never left his training camp on Mars. With the revelation that his mother was exiled from the strict system after he was born he feels even more pressure to prove his loyalty and status as a fearless warrior who doesn't think before he kills. That is until he, who has never been taught of love or freedom, is sent on a secret mission for which he must travel through the other seven planets and fight for survival. As his journey unfolds he will discover unknown truths, potential love and face the strangeness of the lives and culture of those raised so differently to him. He may even uncover the timeless mystery of the man of a thousand faces. As tensions rise and the stakes are higher than ever Achill must decide who he is actually fighting for as he tries to understand both conflicts between the planets and also within himself.

Review: This book had a lot of different elements that came together to make something out of this world (can't promise that will be last space pun!) So strap yourself in and get ready for takeoff (sorry that's two).

This books starts off in a way that I love. Personification! Here we have personified the Signs of the Zodiac (hence all the Buzzfeed links!!) which I loved as I found it a fantastic way to being something I've always found fascinating alive. I'm not a superstitious person, but I do associate myself as a Capricorn (not that I really know what that means or how it changes my life) and I do like to read the horoscopes because I find the whole thing interesting (especially the history behind it). Here you had the twelve signs brought to life, each one reflecting something characteristically different of their nature. I like how they described the building of worlds, because there was a lot in this that set the characters apart from the marking of people, to the values that the worlds should have. It lays foundations for how I actually saw the worlds when you got to them. I loved that these characters had back stories and a history that was revealed in slow parts so there was a human nature to them, and I'd love to have a whole book about them!

In the same way the future is well and truly here as the planets are hospitable and full inhabited! I really liked this, because they all stood for something different and this was reflected in the vibes that they were written in and the little quirky traits that each one was associated with, like the points system on Jupiter of Venus being a center for knowledge. We also see how a planet can breakdown, and there was a lot of nice political threads that flowed under the whole narrative.

But let's move on! And to the planet Mars which as you may have guessed is the war world! Here we meet Achill, who like Mars the God is very set in his ways, determined, and has been told a lie that he'll struggle with as he sets off on his mission! He, for me at least, was one of those characters that had to be broken down, that you initially see has the big lump that you don't want to like, but then humanity is dragged out from the depths of his amour and he grows. He is in complete contrast, as coincidence would have, to Nadine, living on Jupiter and who is marked as a Sagittarius. She was a character you connected with instantly and wanted to take care of, much in a similar way to how I found Kai. They each stood out to bring things out of each other which gave the book a lot of its flow. I also liked the idea of people have specific skills/powers because of their signs.. well if they are 'marked' of course.

Mixed into this story, was the history of the man of a thousand faces set on Venus (which mentally for me was a beautiful planet!). I really liked this back story, we go to meet new characters, the vibes were completely different from me from the intensity of the present, you felt like you were in a palace, it was a little like futuristic medivalism.  One of the things I love about a book is when you want to focus on one aspect of the story in the chapters that its not in, and this was a really interchangeable feeling within this book as I kept wanting know what was happening in the past and the future at the perspective times...and then BLAM they both reach the forefront, all paths come together and we're left on somewhat of a cliffhanger to whats to come!

This was a great start to the trilogy by an author who I hadn't read before and for which I'm not very excited for whats to come in book 2! I was space/planets and was a little like 'this is out of my comfort zone' but this book wasn't what I expected, I really enjoyed it and think a lot of people will too!

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