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Deborah Jay (UK)

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Don't Fear the Reaper: Why Every Author Needs an Editor
Don't Fear the Reaper: Why Every Author Needs an Editor
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent advice for the new author, 24 Mar. 2015
As an traditionally published author who has gone through the editing process without the option of choosing my own editor (the publishing house assigns an editor without consultation) I could easily identify with this title.
This is an excellent book for the first-time author, with all the information you need about editing and choosing your own editor (lucky things) collected into one place, instead of having to ferret it out from the internet, piece by piece. Even being far from new as an author, I still gained one new piece of information (about a feature of Scrivener), so it was worth the read.
The book is just the right length, and has an interesting list of further reading provided at the back.
For me, there was too much repetition in the material, but I guess that's for emphasis for the newbie who is trying to take so much in at one sitting. I was also not enamoured of the frequent adverts for the author's services.
Highly recommended for the new author, but make your own mind up about where you will find your editing services.
This book was provided free in return for an honest review.


Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead (The Toad Witch Mysteries Book 1)
Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead (The Toad Witch Mysteries Book 1)
Price: £2.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I was expecting, but enjoyed it anyway, 9 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have to say, I felt a bit misled by the cover of this book, which suggests a light, humorous read.
Well it isn’t. Not in my opinion. That’s not to say it wasn’t a fine read, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Mara is having the month from hell. She’s lost her job, is being evicted from her apartment because she’s practicing witchcraft, and her tarot cards give her nothing but death, sorrow and destruction. She even dreams the ghastly death of a woman who turns out to be her Aunt Tillie. Mara’s pretty sure she’s responsible for the fatal accident that kills Tillie, and Tillie’s inclined to agree.
When all Mara’s problems seem to be answered by her unexpected inheritance, she discovers that running in the opposite direction might actually have been the smarter idea.
Yes, this is lightweight chick-lit, but for me, too grim for most of the book to be funny. The outstanding character is Mara’s best friend, Gus, who reminds me strongly of Lafayette from True Blood, although this gay witch is in perfect control of his powers, and revels in them. He is outrageous, has the best lines, and is a staunch friend to the damsel in distress.
The character I felt was least used, leaving me somewhat disappointed, was Grundleshanks, the toad. I kept expecting him to DO something, other than excrete hallucinogenic slime onto his skin. Ah well…
So in summary, this is a well written book, with great dialogue. The plot is a little slow to get going, although the interaction between the lead characters carries you along. I was just expecting more humour than I got, based on the cartoonish cover.
Perhaps my British sense of humour is letting me down. If you like a light paranormal read, you might find it funnier than me.
I enjoyed it enough that I will read the next one, so recommended if comic(?) horror is your type of genre.


Fireworks at Midnight: A Witch's Night Out (A Witch's Night Out series Book 3)
Fireworks at Midnight: A Witch's Night Out (A Witch's Night Out series Book 3)
Price: £2.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and hot, 25 Feb. 2015
This is the third entry in the ‘Witch’s Night Out’ series, and the formula is familiar (get it? Witch – Familiar? Okay, groan already).
The great thing is that this familiarity in no way dampens the enjoyment to be had from each of these feisty novellas. The writing is excellent, and the characters are clearly portrayed and individual. What I’m really loving is the way that each instalment further develops the world, building on what’s been established in previous ones, like ripples expanding in water.
This story revolves around Dulcina Gato, who has appeared as an ‘off stage’ character in the first two books. The wrinkle this time is that ‘Sweets’, as she’s known, has the power of precognition. It’s on a really short time scale, so if she’s to alter the events she foresees, she has to act swiftly, while simultaneously making sure no one realises what she’s doing, if she’s to stay off the Council’s radar.
So it’s unfortunate that the brother of her house mate and business partner just happens to be a Council Enforcement warlock. And that Sweets has had the hots for him forever.
Cue another clueless couple gifted a one night stand from the mysterious Madame Eve, and the New Year’s Eve firework display is as spectacular inside Mikal Knight’s car as out.
Have to say I did raise an eyebrow at the naming of our hero, and wondered if his car might enter the conversation at some point, but perhaps it was too busy averting its sensors from events unfolding within...


Cursed by Fire: Book one in a Paranormal / Dark Fantasy series by Danielle Annett (Blood & Magic 1)
Cursed by Fire: Book one in a Paranormal / Dark Fantasy series by Danielle Annett (Blood & Magic 1)
Price: £2.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great start to a new series, 10 Feb. 2015
I’ll start with a warning – this book ends on a cliffhanger – not a ‘heroine is about to die’ style cliffhanger, but this volume offers no resolutions to any of the plot strands.
Before I purchase a book, I make a point of checking the reviews for this information, because I find this type of ‘ending’ seriously annoying. Unfortunately, when I signed up for this review tour there were none available.
So if, like me, you don’t do cliffhangers, then pass. If you don’t mind them, and you’re an urban fantasy fan, then read on, because you’ll likely enjoy this one. In my attempt to be fair to the author and the many good components in this book, I’ve rated it on the assumption that you are in the ‘don’t mind cliffhangers’ group.
The setting is comfortingly familiar – paranormals have recently been ‘outed’ and the various races are having to learn to integrate into an evolving society. The usual suspects are in evidence: vampires, shifters, magic users, plus a wickedly cool harpy. And then there are the humans; some more human than others. Ari is essentially human, but she’s also a psyker – a human with psychic powers, in her case, pyrokinesis – a power over which she has uncertain control.
After a tough time growing up on the streets, she’s working as a private investigator. Her latest case – that of a missing boy – has gone horribly wrong. He’s dead, and in a pretty gruesome manner, apparently at the fangs of a vampire. But all is not as it seems, and as she tries to track down his killer, things become ever more complicated.
I absolutely loved the underlying concept here – that humans are the most dangerous of all creatures; it’s so horribly true.
Ari is a strong character with depth and a clear voice. Those around her are equally well crafted. The dialogue is great, and often witty, which lifts the sometimes grim subject matter.
There are some wonderful turns of phrase, though it felt to me that the book was one edit short of polished, with a few small story inconsistencies, a fair number of word repetitions, and some redundancies. I could pretty well predict that if Ari was going to change clothes, she would inevitably ‘throw’ something on.
The layers upon layers of intrigue that build up as the story progresses are tantalizing with promise, which probably added to my frustration when I realised that none of it was going to be resolved in this novel.
Oh, and I hated the unnecessary epilogue – just spoiled the whole mystery of where the next book might be going. I would remove it.
So recommended for those who don’t mind being left hanging in the breeze until the next one is out, but not if you want any form of wrap up to satisfy you.
I received a copy of this novel in return for an unbiased review. All thoughts are my own.


Broken Dolls
Broken Dolls
by BR Kingsolver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Paranormal Thriller, 24 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Broken Dolls (Paperback)
Broken Dolls is a paranormal thriller set in the world of the Telepathic Clans series, but is a standalone story, so you don’t need to have read the Succubus books to understand what’s going on.
To be frank, I started reading the first book, The Succubus Gift, and put it down after 3 chapters of dialogue info dump. It was well written dialogue, but too much info without action for me.
Having now read Broken Dolls, I am going to go back and plough on through until I get to the plot, because I really, really enjoyed reading this one.
Rhi is a private investigator, based in London, UK, using her psychic talents to expedite her work – and she’s good at it. Snarky, confident and dismissive of her physical beauty, she is a wonderful, strong and independent female lead.
When a family friend asks her to investigate the disappearance of a young girl – who also happens to be a succubus – she travels to Ireland, and is quickly plunged into the murky world of human trafficking. Or to be more precise in this case, trafficking in girls with the succubus gene.
Her search leads her into the dark underbelly of politics, and also into the crossfire of Clan warfare. There are hot men, hot girls, action, telepathic manipulation and psychic powers a-plenty. Fast paced and written in a smooth, easy-to-read style, my only real disappointment was the lack of description of the wonderful locations – if I hadn’t visited most of them at one time or another, I would have struggled to visualise them, and that’s how I like to ‘see’ the action in a book; as if watching a film.
The plot has all the twists and turns you’d want from a thriller, and yet the characters are fleshed out and develop through the course of the book; a pleasing balance.
I did struggle a little to keep track of all the names, there are so many characters, clans, relatives, hangers-on etc., but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment; I found myself reading on regardless. It was a little the same with all the Gifts – if only I’d found the glossary at the end of the book sooner!
Probably my only doubt about this book was that I was uncomfortable with the casualness of all concerned about wiping people’s minds and memories, and re-programming them. Whilst it is a convenient tool when you have a criminal, or someone who is morally challenged, I was discomforted by the way no one questioned the ethics of doing such a thing – what makes it right for one segment of society to do this, and consider it wrong for another? You could argue that the baddies were doing it for selfish gain, and at the physical expense of their victims, and the good guys were doing it for the good of society, but I’m still not convinced that makes a valid argument.
On the upside, good on the author for highlighting such a repugnant trade and posting a link at the end of the book to where the reader can help out in the real world.
So on balance, a very solid four and a half stars, and I will certainly be reading the rest.
Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for review purposes, and all opinions are my own.


Sapphire (The Shielded Realms Book 1)
Sapphire (The Shielded Realms Book 1)
Price: £3.07

3.0 out of 5 stars Vividly imaginative YA fantasy, 12 Jan. 2015
Three and a half stars for me.
Shawna appears to be a normal sixteen year old schoolgirl – until the monsters come for her. Escaping with the help of a unicorn trinket that suddenly transforms into the real thing, she finds herself in a truly weird place, meeting truly weird creatures.
When she realises that she’s not been committed to the funny farm, and that it’s all horribly real – including the red-eyed beasts that are after her – she sets out on a quest that apparently prophecy has ordained for her. Or has it?
Griffith has a huge imagination, and the visually descriptive powers to place the reader right there inside the action along with her characters. Those characters are varied and truly individual, with distinctive voices and traits, like the fairy who can’t help herself from turning things pink.
There is some wonderful use of descriptive language, though at times it teeters on being over-done, with a few too many adjectives. The story rattles along at a great pace, although I did have certain issues with the plot construction. Everything was explained in the end, but long before I got there, I struggled with the reasons behind this ‘quest’ to find the various realms. They found each in turn, entered it, left it, and carried on. What was the point? And I couldn’t see why Shawna wasn’t asking that question. Yes, the explanation was there at the end, but it nagged at me all the way through, which I found distracting.
On an editorial level, although this tale is told primarily from Shawna’s viewpoint, there are a number of ‘head hopping’ leaps into the viewpoints of minor characters, and several into omniscient, when we are told what Shawna ‘did not see’.
There are also quite a few instances when ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘him’, ‘her’, ‘he’ and ‘she’ are unqualified, so it’s not clear who is being referred to.
Overall, whilst there was very much I liked, I found it a slightly uneasy mix of cutesy fairy-tale characters with some truly gruesome events. The final sacrifice was heart-rending, and the whole thing wrapped up quite neatly, I just feel it needed another editing pass to transform it into the spell-binding tale it could become.


Breaking the Nexus (The Mythrian Realm Book 1)
Breaking the Nexus (The Mythrian Realm Book 1)
Price: £2.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced, imaginative and hot., 15 Dec. 2014
The Mythrian realm and the world of humankind are kept separate by the Nexus, patrolled by Sentinels such as Sha Phoenix.
When Sha falls through a magical Gateway, she lands in a back alley in Denver, in the thick of a crime scene. As soon as Detective Connor Flynn arrives, things quickly heat up, both in terms of attraction and action, as other creatures arrive through the damaged Gateway to play havoc in the human world. A banshee, for instance, is not something your everyday cop knows how to deal with.
This was one of those books that started out a bit hard work to get through the opening chapter, but from then on captivated and sped along at breakneck speed.
I notice in the author’s notes that this began life as a NaNoRiMo story, and I think a hint of that still lingers, despite obviously having come a long way from the raw first draft.
It was really only chapter 1 that I found a struggle - predominantly dialogue with a few info dumps dropped in, but no sense of place at all; no description of anything in the character’s environment, just one single bald mention that they are in a forest, and a two mentions of a clearing. There is description of the characters, and some fun banter, but that’s it. The Gateway is talked about, but I have no idea what it is, what it looks like, or even if it can be seen.
Once we hit chapter 2, we are suddenly in a familiar environment, though not familiar to Sha. There were a couple of small procedural issues, and an annoying tendency for Sha to gripe about her bad headaches without seeming to suffer any symptoms (in the first half of the book), but without question it turns into a great fun story, and I was quite willing to go along with the speed of things, even the romance and sex, when there was clearly some magical concept underlying their ‘can’t keep their hands off each other’ attraction.
The dialogue is witty, the sex hot, the characters very individual, and the plot interesting enough to keep me engaged, but I will finish with a warning – whilst the US story has a wrap up, there is also a big cliff hanger to the ending. I will read the next one, because I liked the characters and their interactions, but I’m not in favour of this style of episodic book – with the already short length, it felt like reading half a novel.


Flirting With Fire: A Witch's Night Out (A Witch's Night Out series Book 1)
Flirting With Fire: A Witch's Night Out (A Witch's Night Out series Book 1)
Price: £2.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Sparks fly in this hot novella, 11 Dec. 2014
Leo inherits a house from his great-aunt and along with it, guardianship of a high-maintenance black cat.
Catalina Gato is forced by her magical contract to remain in feline form around her new master until he gives her permission to do otherwise. Unfortunately, as he’s utterly clueless about the existence of magic, that’s not about to happen. Cat does have one day off a year, and she sets off to make the most of it.
So far, so good – a fun set-up and quality writing to tell the tale.
For me, despite the shortness of the book, the first quarter was a touch slow, mostly chunks of information, nicely presented, but a bit too much, and I found the details of Cat’s contract unnecessarily convoluted to fit the plot requirements. Leo’s argument with his best mate was also over-long.
However, once I passed the 40% mark, when Leo and Cat meet for the first time in human form, it took off with a rush. From then on in it gets hotter and hotter, bursting into flames (literally) in an elevator stuck between floors. The sex is awesomely hot, making it well worth working through the first section.
In summary, if hot sex is your desire, this novella is for you. Description, dialogue and characters are all terrific, so my 4 and a half stars are due to the pacing of the beginning.


Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter's Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt
Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter's Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt
Price: £2.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling and emotional - a can't put downer, 25 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was my first time, reading a memoir. I am mostly a fiction reader, and occasionally I dip into the biography of a famous name that interests me, but memoir? Not something I’d considered trying.
I decided to read this particular memoir after meeting the author online, chatting on our respective blogs and by email. The other draw was that it promised some insight into a narcissistic personality (the author’s mother), and I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of personality disorders - a pretty useful trait for me as an author, as it gives me lots of scope for developing my characters.
So with this in mind, I opened up Conflicted Hearts and was instantly drawn into the tale. All too often, we quote Mark Twain’s idiom, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’, and here that indeed holds true. I was enthralled by the story of this woman who was only truly interested in herself, and in being admired by others, and the toll this took on her husband and children. The total inability to recognise that anything about her way of life was wrong, or to acknowledge the lifelong negative influence it would have on her offspring, was staggering, all the more so considering that this was not fiction.
This memoir is, of course, told from the perspective of one of those children, and chronicles the author’s journey from her difficult childhood through the relative emancipation of leaving home and exploring her own life, to the later responsibilities of the mature adult.
Kaye’s writing style is fluid and exceedingly readable, expressing the story in a series of vignettes of her life, sometimes emotionally raw and at other times charming and funny. I’d like to thank her for her honesty, and for sharing what has clearly been a difficult journey with such an outlook of hope and positivity, albeit at times somewhat strained.
Memoirs? If they are as absorbing and enlightening as this one, I may read a few more.


Henge (Le Fay Series Book 1)
Henge (Le Fay Series Book 1)
Price: £2.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Original and captivating, 17 Nov. 2014
Henge is one of the most original YA novels I've read in a long time - an updated take on the Arthurian legend in a skewed modern setting. All the usual suspects are there: alongside the viewpoint character, Morgan Le Fay, we find Merlin, Guinevere, Lancelot, Mordred, Vivian, Uther, etc., etc. But in this reality, Knights carry guns, students have cars and mobile phones, Camelot rules the UK and magic is strictly licensed.
Morgan's mother, Morgause, was executed for illegal use of magic, but before this happened, she took Morgan to the Henge where the child had a vision that confirmed she would be Arthur's Maven. So, despite her father's attempts to keep her away from Camelot, Morgan pursues her goal by joining Arthur's Round, the elite set of student magic-users from whom Arthur's closest advisor will be chosen.
Before I say more, I'm going to start at the end which, for me, prompted an explosion of annoyance.
Whilst the main story arc - that of Morgan striving to become Maven - was wrapped up, this book is in no way a stand alone, and for me, I consider cliff-hanger endings to be a total cheat. Having said that, this story is so original and compelling that I definitely want to find out what happens, so I am reluctantly forced to admit, job well done by the author.
My other bugbear - I really find the use of present tense a turn off, but this one was so well done I was willing to go a long with it.
The writing was really excellent: great dialogue, description, action, pacing, incredible twists and turns that keep you guessing and questioning right along with Morgan. The world building is unique and believable, and whilst most of the story takes place in a familiar school-like setting, this is in no way a Harry Potter rip off.
I do feel that the cover suggests this book is aimed at a younger audience than it is - I would say with the traumatic scenes, the politics and some rather more adult themes, this is definitely YA, not middle grade as the cover tends to imply.
Probably the strongest part of the novel, aside from the imaginative setting, is Morgan herself. She is a masterful creation, with intense drive, a fantastic depth of character, and filled with ultimately believable conflicting emotions resulting from her troubled history.
So at the end, I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who doesn't care that they will need to buy the next book to find out what happens.
I received this book in return for an honest review, which in no way influenced my opinions.


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