Update Dec 2021

Hi Everyone!

AT HOME:

Alas, my planned acupuncture got cancelled for various reasons, but I struggled through travelling in pain, so got to spend Christmas with relatives, then returned home for my birthday spending a few quiet days to try to get me and life back to ‘normal’ ready for the new year.

FILM/TV:

Watched a few Christmas films and has the age old debate of whether Die Hard constitutes a Christmas movie. I lean towards no. Just because a film is set at Christmas, it does not make a Christmas movie. However, what surprises me is everyone focuses on Die Hard but not Die Hard 2. Definitely a Christmas setting there. We watched both. One of my favourite Christmas films, is the original version of The Bishop’s Wife, starring Cary Grant and David Niven. One of those we watch almost yearly.

Watched the eagerly awaited season of The Witcher. I hope Netflix carries this through to the full conclusion covering all the books, and I know the books are a series I will reread one day. Alas, we learned Netflix won’t be making another series of Cowboy Bebop. Torn about that. I can understand why it failed, yet we would have watched.

Still watching Castle. Catching up with seasons 11 and 12 of the animated Archer. And we’re watching the US version of The Office. Whereas I usually dislike American adaptations of UK shows — the sense of humour doesn’t often carry well — I have to say The Office is an exception. We enjoyed the English version, and equally like the US show. It has quite a British film and I often forget I’m watching a US series.

READING:

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V.E.Schwab

Lovely in hardback with a simple raised copper and blue design. Look under the dust jacket to see the attention put into every detail. The first quarter of this book felt a little overlong though I put that down to the tense not being one I favour, yet by the time I reached the end, the style seemed perfectly suited to tell this story. The more I read, the more I considered what life would be like without ties, without friends or family, and whether, at least sometimes, we truly need to be careful what we wish for. I believe I picked out at least one continuity error; however, despite any flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully painful dark fantasy with a romantic subtext. A book which crosses genres. Someone destined to be forgotten makes for an unforgettable character. I loved her rebelliousness most of all. I even felt some affection for the terrible ‘darkness’ which transforms her life, and wondering who would truly win the final ‘battle’. Heart wrenchingly emotive with an ending which may require tissues.

Invasive Chuck Wendig

If I graded this along with my favourite books, I might drop half a star, but basing this novel on its own merits and the genre, it’s a solid 4/5. One review on the cover claims it to be one for fans of Michael Crichton and I can understand why. Its fast pace and solid imagery makes for a book a reader can plough through. The threat feels real, as does the inevitable countdown to time running out. The march of endangerment is as inexhaustible as the unrelenting insectile invasion, though this is no B-Movie. There’s a disturbing note of truth on the evolutionary, environmental, and genetic interference scale that’s all too sadly believable. Of course, this is a stretch of the imagination, but in this type of story, that’s what the reader is looking for. An enjoyable read, though not for anyone suffering from Myrmecophobia (fear of ants).

A Simple Plan, Scott Smith

After reading The Ruins, I sought other work by this author, who appears to have written only one other fiction book. Most stories require the reader to root for the antagonist. Oddly, this book required no such investment for me. The characters are quite unpleasant, taking things that would shake many of us to the core in too casual a stride. It’s the excellent writing, and the swiftly escalating events that kept me riveted to this story. Having said that, it practically pushes those events to their limit. The reader needs to set disbelief on an extremely high shelf. With The Ruins, this was easier to do because of the supernatural circumstances, but this story is a thriller with a setting of reality making that harder. Still, I enjoyed the book to the last 100 pages where the repellant characters, particularly that of the lead, became far too irksome. I enjoyed the story, and appreciate what the writer did, but also found myself irritated even though I feel it was well worth reading. The closest person to an innocent (other than the baby and dog) is Jacob, owing to his childlike and easily led nature. Still… it’s something to create work that pulls the reader along when there isn’t a main character to cheer on. NOTE: It’s only one scene and over fast, but those who cannot abide animal cruelty possibly should avoid this; for me I struggle, though it ‘depends’ on the story. Here I felt the author made a terrible mistake, and it’s unnecessary. I get the function of the scene, but by then the reader doesn’t need to be reminded how low the character has sunk. I want to give this book 5/5, but because of a few quibbles, I must knock a star off.

Krampus the Yule Lord, Brom

Not the tale of terror I expected, but there’s still much to like about this book, not least of all the drawings by Brom, artist and author. I didn’t find the pace terribly fast, and I questioned Jesse’s patience/impatience, which seemed erratic, even though Krampus doesn’t give him much choice. In short, I would have liked the book to be a little more emotional, both in the feelings portrayed and what it invokes, but for anyone who likes the darker side of Christmas tales, this is easily deserving to be identified as classic.

Naomi’s Room, Jonathan Aycliffe

Some passages in this book feel more tell than show, no doubt because it’s written in first person, making the recollections of the protagonist’s investigation into the background of the hauntings occasionally a little tedious, but the spooky happenings were more immediate, speeding by, and kept me riveted so that I finished this book in a single day. The supernatural occurrences are unsettling as they should be, though not frightening. Still, the picture of child murder and the lonely cry of the restless dead is well portrayed, making Naomi a painfully real character. Surely a must-read for those with a liking for ghost stories, though some elements spoilt the story for me. Alas, I’m unable to say more without spoilers, and when reading a horror novel (which this is undoubtedly is), it’s hard to be selective regarding scenes of torment. What disturbs one reader another person will shrug off. What seems ‘acceptable’ is a matter of semantics. I thought this would be an excellent film.

WRITING

I plan to do a final edit and then submit a Work in Progress which until contracted I’ll call ST for now. I’ve a preliminary date for publication for March 2022.

My last publication in 2021 for pre-order was my short story, The Gift, in the Lethbridge-Stewart anthology Operation Wildcat published by Candy Jar Books.

http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/unitoperationwildcat.html

Stay happy and healthy!

Sharon x

Operation Wildcat

Super excited and so pleased. Was a bit of a secret until now. I was asked to submit a story to this anthology. It’s great to be asked to write for something. It contains my story The Gift.

Ever wondered what happened on Benton’s first official day in UNIT, or why he left to sell used cars? Ever wondered how Benton earned his sergeant stripes? Or what he got up to on his days off?

The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat & Other Stories, and The Benton Files 2, are now showing on the Candy Jar website for pre-order.

https://www.freewebstore.org/candy-jar-store/UNIT__Operation_Wildcat/p676602_21486739.aspx

https://www.freewebstore.org/candy-jar-store/UNIT__The_Benton_Files_Book_2/p676602_21486743.aspx

As Operation Wildcat is a hardback, orders will receive a free art card and a copy of The Benton Files 2. Alas, if you order The Benton Files 2 in isolation, you don’t get a free hardback with it!

Join  the Brigadier and Benton in nine short stories looking at life in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. 

How Does UNIT select new recruits? And what happens when the clean-up after an alien incursion goes wrong? In Operation Wildcat and Other Stories, you’ll find these things out – and a lot more.

Features stories by Tim Gambrell, Simon A Brett, Iain McLaughlin, Sharon Bidwell, James Middleditch, Baz Greenland, Sarah Groenewegen and Jonathan Macho.

Update August 2021

Hi Everyone!

AT HOME:

Been recovering from Covid, mostly. Read a lot, watched TV, slept and slept, and slept again. A dry cough remains, and my taste still isn’t 100%. Alas, it also set back the advances I’d made owing to acupuncture. Not sure whether I’ll have more sessions — I’ll wait until the medical services allow my acupuncturist back to work and then discuss the situation. Hate needles and, though prepared to give it another go, I won’t continue going through this if he can’t do more (there are a few ways to ‘tweak the prescription’). Our good most immediate neighbours moved out. Missing them already, though we’ve no chance yet to know what the new ones are like.

FILM/TV:

Still re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and will be for some weeks as there were several seasons. Completed Prodigal Son. Sorry to see Fox cancelled it, but such is the way with some many shows, especially those from the US. Was still worth watching what episodes there are for the excellent stories and performances. Still, it deserved one more episode or a special to finish it. Drives me crazy when these production companies show fans such little respect by cutting shows off without a proper conclusion. Have watched nothing else especially noteworthy.

READING:

The Elementals, Michael McDowell

I’m so pleased to have read this. I loved the setting and the characters, which create a unique atmosphere for this haunted house story. The heat portrayed makes you want to lie around doing nothing but melting and reading this book. There are some truly spooky scenes, though I found the buildup more sinister than the ending. Towards the end, the book feels a little rushed because of the languid though absorbing journey to get there. Indeed, I found the slower parts of the book carry the more eerie aspects, so that when the story speeds up, as a climax should, it almost diminishes the scare, leaving me feeling the novel was over too fast. Still, the curious happenings and daunting disturbances are worth spending time with.

Stolen Tongues (ebook), Felix Blackwell

This book came to attention on Reddit leading to publication, so it created something of a stir on social media recently. Like many others, curiosity led me to read it. I like the background to the story and the reasons for the author writing it (detailed in the author’s afterword), and some parts of the book have a decidedly creepy factor. However, it didn’t scare me and I felt the story went on for too long. I could often picture this being far more unsettling if filmed.

Grave Sight, Charlaine Harris

The first good thing about the book is the protagonist has a decidedly different feel to that of Charlaine Harris’s most famous leading lady. There’s no confusing Harper Connolly with Sookie Stackhouse. I immediately liked many of the characters, and Harper comes across as strong but vulnerable, an intriguing combination. The series appears to be very much mystery thriller and has a more focused and mature quality to the work. I enjoyed trying to figure out the culprit. The end is logical and entertaining, but the twists to get there more so. One of four. I’m reading on.

Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris

The second novel in the series featuring Harper Connolly, a woman with a strange talent for sensing the dead. This book features a well-rounded mystery, though this time I figured out a few lead suspects of which one was right. We also learn more about Harper and Tolliver, although I’m not sure I found the romantic aspect entirely feels right or even necessary.

An Ice Cold Grave, Charlaine Harris

The third of four Harper Connolly novels — the woman who senses the dead. This is the most brutal of these well-plotted mysteries so far, and I’m getting better at choosing likely suspects as I get more used to the series. Still undecided about the romance included here.

Grave Secret, Charlaine Harris

The last of the Harper Connolly novels, we at last learn the truth behind the question of her sister’s death, although this feels somewhat abrupt, almost as though the first 3 books were a setup of Harper’s romantic interest, before the grand reveal. Entertaining enough, I’m glad to have read them.

Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris

At first, I thought this was a fifth book in the Harper Connolly series, but it’s more of an extended spin-off because it contains Manfred, a character from those books. Extended, because there are some wild, and wacky, and supernatural inhabitants of Midnight, and it’s mostly those that keep this mystery going. There are apparently two more books and I’m so taken with the people living in Midnight, I’ll read on.

WRITING:

To the possible spammer who tried to convince me I’d spelled Fether wrong on my website so needed spelling correction, good try (and if you’re not a spammer, apologies, but this kind of thing happens too often to take that kind of remark as anything else). That was a name as part of a title of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. I’m impressed anyone would bother looking so hard, though, unless they did it with some kind of programme.

Cosmic released. Re-edited by me and added to, although at heart the same, I’m glad to see this one out again, as I like these characters.

I also worked on and subbed a short story at request. I’ll let you know about that as soon as I know anything more.

I’ve more than a bit of self-editing to do before I write more, but am understandably behind having spent time getting back to feeling well.

Stay happy and healthy!

Hi Everyone!

AT HOME:

Been recovering from Covid, mostly. Read a lot, watched TV, slept and slept, and slept again. A dry cough remains, and my taste still isn’t 100%. Alas, it also set back the advances I’d made owing to acupuncture. Not sure whether I’ll have more sessions — I’ll wait until the medical services allow my acupuncturist back to work and then discuss the situation. Hate needles and, though prepared to give it another go, I won’t continue going through this if he can’t do more (there are a few ways to ‘tweak the prescription’). Our good most immediate neighbours moved out. Missing them already, though we’ve no chance yet to know what the new ones are like.

FILM/TV:

Still re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and will be for some weeks as there were several seasons. Completed Prodigal Son. Sorry to see Fox cancelled it, but such is the way with some many shows, especially those from the US. Was still worth watching what episodes there are for the excellent stories and performances. Still, it deserved one more episode or a special to finish it. Drives me crazy when these production companies show fans such little respect by cutting shows off without a proper conclusion. Have watched nothing else especially noteworthy.

READING:

The Elementals, Michael McDowell

I’m so pleased to have read this. I loved the setting and the characters, which create a unique atmosphere for this haunted house story. The heat portrayed makes you want to lie around doing nothing but melting and reading this book. There are some truly spooky scenes, though I found the buildup more sinister than the ending. Towards the end, the book feels a little rushed because of the languid though absorbing journey to get there. Indeed, I found the slower parts of the book carry the more eerie aspects, so that when the story speeds up, as a climax should, it almost diminishes the scare, leaving me feeling the novel was over too fast. Still, the curious happenings and daunting disturbances are worth spending time with.

Stolen Tongues (ebook), Felix Blackwell

This book came to attention on Reddit leading to publication, so it created something of a stir on social media recently. Like many others, curiosity led me to read it. I like the background to the story and the reasons for the author writing it (detailed in the author’s afterword), and some parts of the book have a decidedly creepy factor. However, it didn’t scare me and I felt the story went on for too long. I could often picture this being far more unsettling if filmed.

Grave Sight, Charlaine Harris

The first good thing about the book is the protagonist has a decidedly different feel to that of Charlaine Harris’s most famous leading lady. There’s no confusing Harper Connolly with Sookie Stackhouse. I immediately liked many of the characters, and Harper comes across as strong but vulnerable, an intriguing combination. The series appears to be very much mystery thriller and has a more focused and mature quality to the work. I enjoyed trying to figure out the culprit. The end is logical and entertaining, but the twists to get there more so. One of four. I’m reading on.

Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris

The second novel in the series featuring Harper Connolly, a woman with a strange talent for sensing the dead. This book features a well-rounded mystery, though this time I figured out a few lead suspects of which one was right. We also learn more about Harper and Tolliver, although I’m not sure I found the romantic aspect entirely feels right or even necessary.

An Ice Cold Grave, Charlaine Harris

The third of four Harper Connolly novels — the woman who senses the dead. This is the most brutal of these well-plotted mysteries so far, and I’m getting better at choosing likely suspects as I get more used to the series. Still undecided about the romance included here.

Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris

The last of the Harper Connolly novels, we at last learn the truth behind the question of her sister’s death, although this feels somewhat abrupt, almost as though the first 3 books were a setup of Harper’s romantic interest, before the grand reveal. Entertaining enough, I’m glad to have read them.

Midnight Crossing, Charlaine Harris

At first, I thought this was a fifth book in the Harper Connolly series, but it’s more of an extended spin-off because it contains Manfred, a character from those books. Extended, because there are some wild, and wacky, and supernatural inhabitants of Midnight, and it’s mostly those that keep this mystery going. There are apparently two more books and I’m so taken with the people living in Midnight, I’ll read on.

WRITING:

To the possible spammer who tried to convince me I’d spelled Fether wrong on my website so needed spelling correction, good try (and if you’re not a spammer, apologies, but this kind of thing happens too often to take that kind of remark as anything else). That was a name as part of a title of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. I’m impressed anyone would bother looking so hard, though, unless they did it with some kind of programme.

Cosmic released. Re-edited by me and added to, although at heart the same, I’m glad to see this one out again, as I like these characters.

I also worked on and subbed a short story at request. I’ll let you know about that as soon as I know anything more.

I’ve more than a bit of self-editing to do before I write more, but am understandably behind having spent time getting back to feeling well.

Stay happy and healthy!

Sharon x

Covid Interruption

About this time I should prepare my monthly update, but I’m putting that off until next week, and I didn’t blog last week because despite doing all the right things when we could and going above and beyond, having food delivered, not having seen family since Christmas 2019, and living like hermits, we’ve had Covid.

Of course, the husband knew the weak spot was his work. His supervisor allowed someone coughing and sneezing to stay — he’d done 2 lateral flow tests, both of which said negative. We’ve since learned lateral flow tests are only for people not showing symptoms. It understandably upset us, especially as we were due to visit family on the 19th for a week, and now do not know when we’ll be able to.

And double-jabbed person to double-jabbed person, to the husband, to me. Would interest us to know what strain it is. He got a PCR test right away. Unfortunately, not thinking, I didn’t arrange one at the same time and by then it was too late to do so. I could have had one sent to my home, but I was too poorly by then to post it back, and Test and Trace had advised for everyone in the household to isolate (though we’re confused by this as the regulations are changing, and so many ‘rules’ don’t seem to make sense). As I didn’t have a PCR test, they won’t add it to my medical records. Trust me, I KNOW I had. What that tells me is all those daily figures of infections are ‘only’ PCR positive results. Anyone who doesn’t know they’re infected or simply doesn’t get a PCR (and you may not even qualify sometimes) isn’t registered. So those infection numbers must be way down.

As to the question of how they developed these vaccines so fast, I had it explained to me they didn’t. They tweaked an existing vaccine, and that is all they do nowadays. And as for those saying you’ll just get ‘flu’, I can reliably state this is worse than flu. It’s truly horrible. I’ve had nothing like this and never want it again. Our breathing was fine, which was the main thing.

My symptoms started with a slightly dry throat and barely there headache. Then I ended up with a metallic taste, especially icky when drinking plain water, though that’s the best thing to drink. Splitting headache, sometimes migraine level, 24/7. Painkillers took the edge off but didn’t block it. Head ‘full of cotton wool’. Sinus pain. Coughing (though intermittent. Flu-like ache all over the body, but also PAIN in large muscle groups — like thighs and biceps. Pain in joints, particularly elbows and knees. Flash pain — came and went throughout the body; I had it 3 ‘flash pains’ in my right foot during one night. It’s like it attacks any weak spot in the body — if you’ve an ache somewhere, you’ll feel it more. Loss of appetite. Nausea. Vomiting. Fever (mostly the husband; though my head was hot, I didn’t perspire). Sleeping sickness. Sleep is what we mostly did around the clock. Fatigue. Making a cup of tea called for another 2 hours of sleep. We shuffled around like a pair of geriatrics.
And yes, despite all this, I believe we did well. The worst of the illness lasted about 4 days. Once we ate, we got well, so my advice is don’t let it weaken you.

Looking ahead, I don’t know what we’re going to do. If there’s a chance of continually catching this, what might it do to you? And who wants to feel lousy several times a year? Flu… I can go 5 or 7 years without catching. This I can imagine catching 4 times a year without precautions, so how we’re all supposedly going to live with it only time will tell. For now, we’re left with an occasional dry cough and our taste has diminished about 20%. The thing I can taste the most is chocolate; just a pity it’s not permissible to live on it, eh?

Cosmic re-released

Though I’ve posted this around elsewhere, I’m a week late announcing this on my primary site because of pressing life issues and I also felt last week’s blog too important to overshadow. Originally published by Loose Id, I have re-edited this edition for greater characterisation and depth, but the story remains essentially the same.

Can three hearts break harder than two? While on a mission, the last thing the crew of the Sovereignty expects is to gain an addition crew-member, but when an unknown assailant attacks, Axel has no choice but to beam the stranger on board the spacecraft. Already in a sexual relationship with ‘Snake’, a rare species of alien, Axel certainly isn’t looking for another person to complicate his already challenging existence.

The trouble is he cannot deny his growing attraction to the newcomer, who is a striking and intelligent woman. Sela’s so intelligent she’s already worked out Snake is an alien and the two men are in a somewhat turbulent relationship. Still, Axel isn’t the only one who likes Sela. Snake likes her too, and Sela doesn’t appear to mind the idea Axel and Snake are lovers, especially after she sees them together… But can they truly battle their differences and natural distrust, while fighting a corrupt government and dealing with a zealot of a leader? One man, one woman, and one alien; two males and one female, all fighting corruption and their own desires. In a universe at war, it’s natural to keep secrets, but can too many confidences mean they’ll never find peace?

Available from all good outlets, but if possible, please consider purchasing directly from publishers (in this case, JMS Books — if in the U.S.) to support smaller publishers and authors.

There’s Plagiarism and Then There’s This…

This week I’m not writing a blog myself but draw your attention to a blog excellently written by the author Mitzi Szereto. I know Mitzi’s work, and I know how she edits. She’s not an easy editor to please, holding high standards for work she accepts. These days she’s currently focusing on her True Crime series. I can assure you she writes nothing like the trash someone has put her name to. In addition, if the perpetrator has taken someone’s name, you can bet they stole the content.

This is an important topic for writers, publishers, AND readers because you don’t want to buy a piece of rubbish you believe written by your favourite author and mark them down for substandard work, when the work isn’t theirs. My advice, though I hate to complicate already busy lives, is to check author websites, if in doubt contact the author, as now one cannot take a listing even on Amazon as assurance of a legal and genuine product. You don’t want to hand over your hard-earned money to a criminal. It’s also identity theft and a serious crime. Yes, you heard right. There’s plagiarism and then there’s THIS.

Update July 2021

Hi Everyone!

AT HOME:

Not a lot to report, unfortunately. I finished my initial acupuncture sessions, though it’s hard to tell how much they helped. I’ve seen some intermittent improvement and will probably have the odd ‘nudge’ as my acupuncturist put it to see if it makes a difference. At some point, if it doesn’t, I’ll stop, but at least I will have given it a fair go. Alas, at the moment, he’s had to stop for a short while for personal health reasons, but at least I got the initial 8 sessions in. The best thing was the side excursion to the sweetie shop on my way home.

FILM/TV:

Finished re-watching The Good Place for the second time, and oddly I’d forgotten how much a box of tissues is necessary for the finale episode.

We’ve moved on to re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, just reached the end of the first season. I remember the show got better after the first series, so it will be interesting to see if I feel the same way this time.

Watched the third season of The Rookie and though I mostly began watching because it stars Nathan Fillion, it quickly became enjoyable. That finished, we started Prodigal Son, primarily because it stars Michael Sheen, but the first episode was captivating. Hope the standard continues.

Worked through the Fear Street trilogy which has had mixed reviews, but really for the genre and style of film, we found them highly watchable with blunt but less gratuitous in your face violence than some non-horror movies. I’d like to try at least a few of the books. Of course, these are by R.L. Stine, most famous for the Goosebumps children’s books.

But what we’ve enjoyed the most are the Rurouni Kinshin films. Originally a manga series, the live-action movies certainly live up to the ‘action’. Blink and you’ll miss something. Staring Takeru Satoh in the role of Hitokiri Battosai (aka Himura Kenshin), the series contains five films: Origins (2012), Kyoto Inferno (2014), The Legend Ends (2014), The Final (2021) and The Beginning (2021). Kinshin, originally a kill-sword, fights with a reverse-blade sword, having vowed never to kill again. The actor does his own stunts.

READING:

The Last Guardian (a Jon Shannow novel), David Gemmell

At last in this book, the sometimes wandering feel of the first novel comes together into the story Gemmell wanted to tell, making more sense of the timeframe. I’d say it’s definitely necessary to read the first two books of the trilogy as a single book to understand the whole, and while there is a book three, these first two read almost like companion books, complete in themselves. I found the second volume easier to read than the first, perhaps because Shannow comes more into his own. He’s the perfect quasi-essential anti-hero because of his imperfections and culpable past.

Bloodstone (a Jon Shannow novel), David Gemmell

This last book in the trilogy clarifies the timeframe used in this trilogy and expands upon it. As I liked the second book more than the first, I liked the third book more than the second. The arcs of many beloved characters tug at the heartstrings in this one, and leave the reader with a sense of the complexities of Gemmell’s plot. Most importantly, Shannow is an unforgettable character.

The Corset, Laura Purcell

Written differently to Purcell’s first book (The Silent Companions) in first person so with a different ‘voice’, still, this drew me in immediately. How best to describe Purcell’s work? Victorian gothic thrillers with supernatural slants, perhaps. Some books only reveal how well the plot works at the conclusion, and this murder mystery connecting two women from opposite sides of society is one such novel. This tale didn’t disappoint and pulls at the heartstrings. Despite not wishing to take on new authors adding to my To Be Read Mountain, I’m sorely tempted to continue reading more work by this author.

Shadowfires, Dean Koontz

A re-read for me as part of a book clearance.

Perfectly plotted with an antagonist worthy of the Resident Evil franchise, the one flaw in this supernatural thriller of the kind Koontz is best known for is its length. I would call it well-written but also over-written. Although there’s nothing wrong with all the information, there’s too much of it. I can’t help feeling trimming a few passages of character background would make for faster pacing. It’s like Koontz including all the details an author needs to know but a reader doesn’t. This didn’t bother me too much as I’m used to reading epic fantasies, but I can imagine some readers finding it a bit of a slog. Plenty will love this, though, for it’s still a tense thriller with some wonderful characters.

The Elijah Tree, Cynthea Masson

There’s a poetic quality to this book that makes me want to love it, but I don’t. It’s too abstract, scenes flitting between the players in non-chronological order. The human stories at the depth of the book, the triangles within triangles of love and loss are as despairing as they are touching, yet the mystical beliefs of the various characters and which supposedly carry the plot didn’t gel for me. As much as I felt there’s something beautiful about the writing, the story is painfully abstract, so I found it a slog. I neither like it nor hate it.

Survivor Song, Paul Tremblay

If looking for your average apocalyptic disaster infection outbreak story, this isn’t it. Instead, I stumbled into what the first-rate stories of this genre do best — focus on the survivors, this being the tale of two women connected by the shakable bonds of genuine friendship. While I wouldn’t call this book scary, it’s more effecting than that, containing true horror of a possible reality, not your average fairy-tale monster, reflecting light on the madness of humanity and the horror we watch and read in the safety of our darkened living rooms versus true adversity. Well-paced with ingenious ‘breaks’ in the narrative (gaps on the pages) that work on the emotions. The story of ’Nats and Rams’ is unforgettable. Painfully, tearfully, sorrowful.

WRITING:

I returned the galley proof to Cosmic, and got the initial draft of something I’ll simply call ST for now ready to work on — I don’t reveal titles until books are contracted, and though I seldom change titles, with this one I have once already. I have edited Cosmic and added to it, especially to increase the emotional aspect, though the story remains essentially the same.

Stay happy and healthy!

Sharon x