Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Guest: Seumas Gallacher

My Guest this week started his writing life as an Indie then signed with a traditional publisher, something many independent authors dream about. Yet the story doesn't end there. Ladies and Gentlemen...


Seumas Gallacher


BACK TO SELF-PUBLISHING...
NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN...


…yeez put yer self-publishin’ bloke in… yeez put yer self-publishin’ bloke out… in, out, in, out, shake it all about…

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…in the past two or three weeks, several fellow authors have been in touch asking why I’ve reverted to full metal jacket self-publishing… during 2015,  Crooked Cat Publishing and I shared the delight/burden of bringing my Jack Calder crime thriller titles to the marketplace… now we’ve agreed to an amicable parting of the ways, and close writing pals are interested in how that decision was reached… ‘quite simply and painlessly’ is the correct answer… but let’s backtrack a wee bit… and a closer look at why, with 80,000+ downloads up to until a year ago, this ol’ Scots Jurassic author should have joined up with a publishing house in the first place… for six years, many of yeez will have been following my journey on the solo trail… developing my market base… ‘building the platform’… honing my marketing and promotional nous… connecting with so many great pals in the quill-
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scraper universe… and LUVVIN IT!... however, as so many of yeez Lads and Lassies of Blog Land will have experienced yerselves, there are only, sadly, 24 hours in every day… and I could have embraced two or three times that had they been available… I reckoned that the download history up until then would have justified at least a glimpse from the elusive large publishing moguls… nada, nil, zilch, nix, none… the opportunity arose to partner up with Stephanie and Laurence Patterson… the prospect of eBooks linked to follow-on print copy production was attractive (and still is!)… and, importantly, getting my WURK into a broader range of distribution outlets than my then only channel, the Great God Amazon Kindle… the aforementioned promotional weight would be shared, (and only ‘shared’—I fully understood upfront that regardless of whether yeez are self-published or ‘housed’, an author must still do the lion’s share of the marketing stuff)…

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…at this point, let me say I met with Steph and Laurence over dinner in Edinburgh, and they are splendid hosts and good people… so why part company?... what happened?...

…it’s more a case of what didn’t happen… the avenues to markets was indeed widened, and my books did become available through the likes of Smashwords and others… but resultant sales were a fraction of my expectations, even on, and I s’pose , especially on Amazon… the over-all total sales across all my titles actually dropped… blame?... no blame… just a realisation of a business truism… selling books in the modern publishing environment is a matter of focus… literature has become more commoditised than ever before… forget the red herring argument of Print versus eBooks… both are formidable forces and both streams will remain gigantic markets… concentrated product flows in the form of more books per day coming to the ‘online shops’ as well as the continued supplies from the print publishers make it increasingly difficult to be ‘heard above the noise’… consider then the good Crooked Cat folks… they have contracts with almost a hundred authors, some with multiple titles… and with the best will in the world, it is impossible for any house to give as much focus (there’s
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that WURD ‘focus’ again) to an individual writer as that writer should be capable of applying himself/herself… many of my Cat pals will be happy with that status, and not everyone wants to be anything more than an author… and correctly so… chacun a son gout… not so Master Gallacher… and here we come to the real, fundamental reason for the separation… I yielded that in-depth involvement in every part of my ‘business of writing’ which drove me for the initial stages of my embryonic novelist career… simple things like not seeing the day to day sales figures online from Amazon… these necessarily switched to the publisher… I missed not so much the addiction to tracking these hypnotic figures, (which is an issue, despite my protestations to the contrary!) but more pertinently, lacking the knowledge of which titles were flagging versus the others, so that I could divert promotional activity toward the hind markers… prior to Crooked Cat, I utilised a cover artist friend in the Philippines and was comfortable with that… this changed to a cooperative process with the publisher… no problem in that in itself, but I missed working alongside my pal on that creative side… the re-launching of the first three books and subsequent de novo launching of the fourth fell into the publisher’s schedule… although they accommodated these in early course, it still didn’t feel the same as when I could launch any time I was ready… not quite typing ‘The End’ and ten minutes later a new masterpiece appearing on Amazon Kindle, but yeez get the picture… I’ve been involved in commercial and financial management all my working life and it all boils down to my personal need and choice for as much control of my own business destiny… so, in summary, let me not discourage anyone from approaching and staying with Crooked Cat PublishingSteph, Laurence and I are on good terms and will hopefully stay that way for a long time… the many friends acquired in their stable will also be permanent pals, as long as they continue to be able to translate my Glasgow version of English… and oh, there’s no earthly reason not to buy my books!… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!...


Bio:
SEUMAS GALLACHER escaped from the world of finance seven years ago, after a career spanning three continents and five decades.

As the self-professed 'oldest computer Jurassic on the planet’, his headlong immersion into the dizzy world of eBook publishing opened his eyes, mind, and pleasure to the joys of self-publishing. As a former businessman, he rapidly understood the concept of a writer's need to 'build the platform', and from a standing start began to develop a social networking outreach, which now tops 25,000 direct contacts.

His 'Jack Calder' crime thriller series, THE VIOLIN MAN'S LEGACYVENGEANCE WEARS BLACK and SAVAGE PAYBACK have blown his mind with more than 80,000 e-link downloads to date. His fourth, KILLER CITY was launched in August 2015.

He started a humorous, informative, self-publishers blog three years ago, never having heard of a 'blog' prior to that, was voted 'Blogger of the Year 2013' and now has a loyal blog following on his networks. He says the novels contain his 'Author's Voice', while the blog carries his 'Author's Brand'. And he's LUVVIN IT!


When not penning his humorous blog or writing nail-biting, action thrillers, Seumas can be found here:

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/seumasgallacher
Email: seumasgallacher@yahoo.com


Thank you Seumas for showing us that the boundaries that appear to exist between Traditional Publishing and the Indie route are not as insurmountable as some would have us believe. Best wishes for your novels and looking forward to Jack Calder number 5.

Eric @ www.ericjgates.com 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Guest: Brandt Legg

One of the most exciting aspects of being an avid reader is discovering an author who's work is original and though-provoking. Last year I made such a discovery and since have read all nine of his books. Today he's a Guest and he's going to give you some useful advice about marketing novels. Ladies and Gentlemen...



Brandt Legg

How I found my first half a million readers


There is plenty of advice on how to write a great book. Many gifted writers have shared their wisdom on that topic on this site, so instead, I want to focus on how to sell the great book you’ve written.

I’d wanted to be a writer for more than twenty years before my first book was published. It had been a dream that kept me going through some dark times. I’d dropped out of high school as a young self-made millionaire, but while sitting penniless in a federal prison cell at age twenty-five, I knew I had even more to write about.
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There were many times when I doubted my dream would ever come true. Finally in 2010, I made the time to write a priority and, in 2012, finished 'Outview', my first novel, a metaphysical fantasy thriller. Then began the arduous job of researching the publishing business and searching for agents. I got lucky when Mike Sager, a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist for Esquire, signed me to his new indie press.

My dream wasn’t just to be a writer, but to earn my living from it. So clearly, just publishing books wouldn’t be enough, they’d have to sell. With my background in business and marketing, I decided to study the indie authors who seemed to be successful. They were putting out lots of books and writing in series. So my first step was to focus on getting a few more books out. 'Outview' was published in January 2013 and by the end of the year, I finished the other two books in the trilogy, 'Outin' and 'Outmove'.

Once I had three books out, I could really start marketing. Yet at the same time I needed to write my next series. As most writers know, both are full time jobs. I also have a young son, and numerous other obligations, so I needed to prioritize. That meant I wouldn’t have a blog or be very active on social media – the time needed to write posts could be better spent writing books.

I modified an old business mantra into my own, “Early to bed, early to rise, write like hell and advertise.” I tried every book-marketing site I could find, but mostly just got sales spikes that quickly faded. Then, after realizing that most of the biggest selling indies were giving away books, I tried perma-free. Deciding to give away 'Outview' was tough, I’d spent years on it. But it changed everything! Tens of thousands of people downloaded it, and many of them purchased the next two books in the series. Suddenly, I was selling books every day. That’s when I adopted another mantra, “Getting readers is more important than making sales.”

I followed the strategy for my next series and now half a million copies of my books have been sold or downloaded. Dream achieved, I’m a full time writer, supporting my family solely from my book sales.

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 Although my books are available on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble nook, Kobo and Google Play, Amazon is where 85% of my sales come from — a company I love, and I silently thank them every day for the opportunity to expose my books to their massive worldwide customer base. It went so well that I chose to publish my second and third series myself.

Along the way, I discovered a few other important strategies. First, build a mailing list. Once you have a reader, hold on to them. I’m lucky that almost every day I hear from a happy reader. Always answer fan mail. When 'The Last Librarian', book one of my newest series, The Justar Journal, a dystopian thriller, was released in November 2015 it immediately became a bestseller because I sent an email to my entire list, telling them it was available.

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After noticing that sales of my first series, The Inner Movement, didn’t really take off until the third book, 'Outmove', was published, I decided to wait and release the three books in my next series, The Cosega Sequence, a techno-thriller, all at the same time. It makes a big difference and creates a sales whirlwind.

All those sales lead to higher rankings, more notice, more readers and other benefits. An agent approached me wanting to represent my audio book rights for the Cosega Sequence. She obtained a great offer with a nice advance from Tantor Media, part of the largest independent publisher of unabridged audiobooks. The film rights of 'Cosega Search' have been optioned. And television producers and a major Hollywood studio have expressed interest in my 'Inner Movement' series. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t given away enough books to build a reader base. There are millions of books out there, you can write the best story in the world, but if no one can find it, no one will read it. Readers are more important than sales.

So for any newly published writer reading this, or for established ones whose books aren’t selling, here’s a recap of what worked for me:

1. Get a great cover.
2. Write a series (and release the whole series at the same time).
3. Give the first one away for free (when it can’t be free, never price the first one for more than $0.99).
4. Advertise (and never stop).
5. Build a mailing list (there are great articles and online courses on how to do this).
6. Keep putting out more books.
7. READERS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN SALES.

Good Luck! And Eric, thanks for having me.

Bio:
Best selling author, Brandt Legg is a former child prodigy who turned a hobby into a multi-million dollar empire. At eight, Legg's father died suddenly, plunging his family into poverty. Two years later, while suffering from crippling migraines, he started in business. National media dubbed him the "Teen Tycoon," but by the time he reached his twenties, the high-flying Legg became ensnarled in the financial whirlwind of the junk bond eighties, lost his entire fortune . . . and ended up serving time in federal prison for financial improprieties. Legg emerged, chastened and wiser, one year later and began anew in retail and real estate. In the more than two decades since, his life adventures have led him through magazine publishing, a newspaper column, photography, FM radio, CD production and concert promotion. His books have excited hundreds of thousands of readers around the world. For more information, or to contact Brandt, visit BrandtLegg.com, he loves to hear from readers and always responds!

When Brandt isn't writing his fast-paced complex tales he can also be found here:


Thank you, Brandt, for these great insights into successfully marketing novels. This is an issue all authors have with their work and your advice is worth its weight in gold. I strongly urge readers to check out Brandt Legg's novels; you'll quickly become hooked, just as I was, and want to read them all.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

7 Superb Scribes you Must Read this year

I have been privileged to host many Guests on this blog in the last few months and the time has come to remind you about some of the excellent posts you might have missed. Please check out these authors whose books YOU should be reading this year (click on the blue post title for their articles):




Fleur Ferris

















Seumas Gallacher













Claire Smith
















Stefania Mattana







Jaye Rothman








Nathan A Goodman











Fiona Quinn
















and then there was one other:


Your's truly

Plenty more Guests lined up,
with outstanding articles
for readers and writers alike.

So become a member (on the right)
to receive the posts automatically,
or check back often.

See you soon.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reading Recommendations for the NEW YEAR



As I mentioned last week this holiday period I thought I'd bring you something different. The New Year is upon us and there's a great way to acknowledge friends and family's support over the last twelve months while thanking them for future endeavours: gift them an outstanding novel that will let loose their imagination as they immerse themselves in the author's tale. 

To help you with this task I'm going to recommend several 5 STAR stand-alone books I have had the pleasure of reading in recent months. In all cases I'll reproduce the review I wrote (an excellent practice more readers should adopt - it's the writer's lifeblood!) and a link to book's page on Amazon.

I apologize in advance to the authors of many others I've had to leave out through space considerations. In many cases these authors have written multiple novels so click on the author's name to go to their Amazon Author page (where such exist). So, in no particular order (well, ladies first as always), here are my recommendations:

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Thrillers are my genre and my own tend to feature larger than life events, yet that isn't an essential ingredient for a great thrilling read as Ulla Håkanson proved in her debut novel:

"Ulla Håkanson’s ‘The Price of Silence’ is an intimate thriller full of credible characters and nail-biting situations set against the backdrop of Vancouver and the British Columbian wilderness. I say ‘intimate’ because the author’s skill in constructing this tale lies in how believable it is. It is populated by people you feel you could meet on the street any day; people who have unwillingly been thrown into dire circumstances and reach into their very souls to find the means to survive. Håkanson takes the reader on that journey of transition, of personal strife, with an aplomb that belies this being her debut novel. Her descriptions of the rugged Canadian wild, of the small townships north of Vancouver, and of the city itself, immerse the reader not just in the places but in the tribulations her protagonist faces as her comfortable life is radically changed by forces far greater than she has ever faced. We experience her evolution as the trials she overcomes allow her to mature as a person. A great read and highly recommended!"

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Most readers count themselves lucky to find a particular author whose writing they love. But something special happens when TWO of your favourites, John Dolan and Fiona Quinn, excellent scribes in their own right, get together and co-author a novel:

"‘Chaos is Come Again’, the new thriller from John Dolan and Fiona Quinn, is a superb character-driven novel. And what characters! On one side of the Atlantic we have Avery, a literary agent tasked with coaxing polemic author Travis Bishop into completing his sequel novel. In turn, and thanks to the electronic magic of social media, she is connected to Sean in London. He’s a guy trying to reorder his life working in a coffee shop and managing his Dad’s apartment block. Then there are the tenants, especially Teagan, a dysfunctional young lady with her own, very clear agenda and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her personal goals, aided unwillingly by her brother Clive. Then we have Goose, one of Sean’s work companions, who’s an obsessive conspiracy nut, hell-bent on discovering the identity of the Angel, a serial killer stalking a specific area on the UK’s capital city, and he gets closer than he wants. Although these are the prime movers and shakers of the Dolan/Quinn universe, they are not the only splendidly crafted characters to grace the pages of this intriguing novel. There are some oddball secondary characters helping move the tale along too, creating an ensemble with overtones of Richard Hooker’s ‘MASH’ at times in the way each creation was a gem in its own right.

But great characters alone don’t make for a great novel. The multiple story lines reflect a modern love story, a bloody crime thriller, and quite a bit of sideswiping at social-media and the publishing industry. Each would make an exemplary novel on its own, but here Dolan/Quinn have woven their multiple characters and divergent story lines into a heady mix that will keep the reader guessing the outcome from the start. Even then there are surprises in store. The subtle ending will have you stopping to think. Yes, you won’t just close the book with a sigh as you say goodbye to this collection of memorable personas; you’ll be rerunning what you learn at the end through your mind and smiling at the adept way the authors have crafted this story.

An excellent read for lovers of so many genres. John Dolan and Fiona Quinn take you on a journey of mystery and intrigue that will entertain and amuse, thrill and challenge the reader to solve the mystery. It’s one of THOSE books you wish would keep going… Highly recommended!"



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Ocassionally you come across novels that stay with you long after you've read them. Such is the case with my next recommendation, a gritty down-to-earth crime thriller from Andy Laker. Don't miss it!


"‘Time to Think’, the debut novel of ex-policeman Andy Laker, is a gritty British procedural crime thriller with an interesting twist. As I read the novel I found myself thinking it had a number of parallels with that other popular British crime procedural, this time on TV, the series ‘Luther’. Both take place in that grey area where none of the characters are black or white, good or bad. The writer captures this ambiguity with realistic precision, and so well, I was imagining many different possible outcomes to the story particularly as it neared its end. 

Of note is Laker’s mastery of descriptive narrative which is especially evident in the scenes in the prison where, with clever prose and superb sensory-laden depictions, he stirs-up emotionally charged memories that transport the reader to the scene almost as a hidden participant. I say ‘emotionally charged memories’, and no you don’t have to have been ‘nicked’ to appreciate this, because the author tailors his prose to elicit the response he seeks in his readers using familiar, everyday experiences, transposing them to the scenes he creates. Brilliantly done!

The tale itself is a superb fast-paced crime thriller with a violent undertone that speaks of the effect on the life of a wrongly accused man through two tight tales that constantly intermingle as they race to a satisfying finale. Lots of promise in the characters Laker had created and I hope that we will read more of them in forthcoming novels by this crime and mystery author."

Amazon Link


Sometimes it's the subject matter that makes a book grab your attention. When that's coupled with an author, Mark Fine, whose craftmanship is outstanding, well...

"Many years ago I found myself literally immersed, in every sensorial possibility, in a book set in Africa. Long before Hollywood placed its sugar-coated paws on Karen Blixen’s ‘Out of Africa’, I encountered the novel on the sparsely populated shelves of the house I was staying at in Nairobi. A couple of days later, fate took me to the ‘farm in Africa’ she spoke about and an indelible memory was born; reading about the life and tribulations of this intriguing character whilst sitting outside her house in the Kenyan hills. I thought that instant of my life would never be repeated, despite incessant travelling over the years. I was wrong.

Mark Fine’s ‘The Zebra Affaire’ sparked a similar sentiment. It should be noted I have never visited South Africa, yet his prose took me there, placing me on the streets of Jo’burg as though I had known it all my life. Yet the magic of Fine’s novel did not end there. Not content with transporting me in space to that distant land, he also successfully sought to send me back through time, to the cruel, unreasoning days of Apartheid. 

This book told two tales. First, the bitter-sweet song of love between the white Afrikaner, Elsa, and the Malawian, Stanwell Marunda. The story encouraged hope, in a period when everything was stacked against a mixed relationship, and its telling reflected many parables of the times in which the characters’ lived, the mid 1970’s. The second story, far harsher because it was reality, consisted in the notes inserted in the narrative by the author. Here he gave depth to the fictional tale, painting its backdrop with unerring clarity and perceptiveness, whilst providing the anchors those of us who had only experienced the events back then through news footage from the comfort of faraway shores. This combination must have been a difficult choice for the author in what is in essence a novel, yet it totally works. The incidents in the life of Elsa and Stanwell led support to the readers’ understanding of the real events, and vice versa. 

For me, this book sits proudly alongside Blixen’s autobiographical tales; a worthy recounting of a time and place rife with lessons for all. If I could, I would give it six stars!"

Amazon Link

Not every thriller has to be serious to get the job done. Alan Hardy had me in tears of laughter as his characters sought to solve the murder mysteries he presented:

"Writing a great mystery story full of red herrings and unexpected twists is a hard task. 

Writing a humorous book that will have you chortling constantly is even more difficult. 

Author Alan Hardy in his ‘The Case of the Tattooed Buttocks’ novel has taken on both challenges with admirable success. Not only is this a fast-paced intricate crime thriller, dotted with gruesome murders in a country house, in the most pure style of Agatha Christie, but his comedic approach will have you laughing constantly. 

Hardy’s writing style is reminiscent of the great British mystery writers and adds a comfortable layer of familiarity to his prose. But without an outstanding Poirot or Miss Marple, the tale could fall flat. Not to worry: Inspector, sorry, ex-Inspector Cullot definitely stands there alongside Holmes and the irascible Belgian, as he leads his investigative team through an ever more complex puzzle until all is revealed in a classic climax. His protagonists are superb characterisations: Cullot, a mixture of brilliant mind and perverse addiction, a wonderful Holmes parallel; Sergeant Watkins, the ever faithful number two, with a few obsessions of his own; and the bumbling Constable Blunt, someone who you’ll remember for all the wrong reasons a long time after reading the book. 

A most definite recommendation for all lovers of Mystery Crime novels and those who just enjoy a good laugh. 

(the above review found on a mahogany table in a study…)" 

[you'll understand the reference when you read the book]. Note: I'm pleased to report Alan has now written a sequel to the above. Check out his Amazon Author page for details.

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Another hard-nosed crime thriller, this time from the versatile (actor, author and aka 'The Greatest Poet Alive')  James Gordon:

"James Gordon’s ‘The Warmest Winter’ is an intricate murder mystery where no one is exactly who they seem to be. As befitting all great crime thrillers, there are more unexpected twists than in a barrel full of red herrings. These serve to maintain reader interest and create the marvellous atmosphere of constant tension present throughout. Yet what drives this novel forward are two masterful traits the author brings to the narrative. The first is the powerful prose that sets the tone in each scene and lends an enviable solidity to the events the writer conjures up. The second, a far more difficult proposition, is the courage to tell this complex tale in the first person. We, the readers, find out what has happened at the same time as the protagonist, and are equally led up false trails with him until the surprising climax is revealed. Our involvement with the protagonist though is not one of an ephemeral observer. Author Gordon places us in his skin, allows us to experience his own troubles as his marriage crumbles and his future prospects appear to disintegrate too. It makes the eyes through which we witness the mystery unravel a very human perspective which serves to colour our own appreciation of the trials and tribulations other characters experience.

If you are looking for a robust murder mystery with a down-to-earth flavour, this is the one for you. Highly recommended! One of my best reads this year!"

Amazon Link


Leaving thrillers aside for the moment, a recent read of one of Owen Jones' cozy Welsh tales got my neurons flowing: 

"Owen Jones’ ‘A Night in Annwn’ is a lyrical mixture of a cozy tale with the intriguing and challenging subject of life after death. Jones’ tackles the story with delicacy and creates a sense of hope within the reader whatever their own beliefs about the subject may be. Unlike other books, usually non-fiction, which treat the concept of life after death in an almost clinical fashion, often citing case histories etc, the use of fiction to relate the simple life led by the protagonist, and how that changes after his experience, is very effective. Jones’ explanations of how matters ‘work’ in Annwn (the Welsh concept for the afterlife) is one which will provoke interest and discussion long after the reader has finished the book." 




My very BEST WISHES to all my friends, readers, fellow writers, and anyone else who happened to pop by, for 2016
May this year bring us all Peace and Harmony.

Eric @ www.ericjgates.com


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Recommended Reading for Christmas



This holiday period I thought I'd bring you something different. It's the time of giving and there's nothing like a book for allowing someone you care for the opportunity to let their imagination soar as they traverse the tale crafted by the author. 

This week I'm going to recommend several 5 STAR book SERIES I have had the pleasure of reading in recent months. In all cases I'll reproduce the review I wrote (an excellent practice more readers should adopt - it's the writer's lifeblood!) and a link to book's page on Amazon.

I've chosen six series and apologize in advance to the authors of many others I've had to leave out through space considerations. Please note that often the review reproduced is not for the first book in the series, yet that's where you should start - click on the author's name to go to their Amazon Author page. So, in no particular order (well, ladies first as always), here are my recommendations:

Amazon Link
Judith Lucci's Nawlin's characters move to Virginia for this one, in a crackin' suspense thriller which I reviewed thus:

"The fourth book in the Alex Destephano series, ‘Toxic New Year’ by Judith Lucci has a difficult task to follow the high standard of the author’s previous medical thrillers yet takes that challenge and surpasses the goal with ease. It balances solid, fast-paced intrigue with a character-based story centred round her hospital lawyer protagonist. From the initial pages the reader is steadfastly drawn into the tale as we follow the events leading up to a deadly terrorist bombing. Fans of the author’s previous works will encounter new facets of familiar characters as the events unfold. Even the life of the protagonist is shaken to its core as she encounters her past and makes a series of decisions that take her into uncharted waters.

As usual, Lucci does a superb job of placing the reader in the New Orleans and Virginian society in which her heroine moves. With flowing descriptions and insightful dialogue she relates the hours before the attack, creating a convincing canvas against which the placid life of the New Year celebrations and marriage of two of her characters unfolds, only to bring this crashing down as harsh reality intrudes.

We are also introduced to three new characters, each with interesting backstories to reveal: Digger Stilgrove and his wife Mary each have important supporting roles in the first half of the novel. Stilgrove’s intriguing past is hinted at and I hope we get to meet him again in another novel. The third character, Jacob Stark, had to be the hardest to write, however, and a huge gamble by the author. An ex-CIA man turned co-author of the terrorist attack who, by an interesting turn of events, re-enters Alex Destephano’s life to add even more uncertainty to her future. Stark is a character you have to hate on a basic visceral level for his despicable acts at the beginning of the book, yet we are allowed to see, and even sympathise with, his reasoning. Truly a fine portrait of moral ambiguity by Lucci, one which helps to elevate this series to new heights.

A superlative follow-on for the Alex Destephano series. Highly recommended!"

Amazon Link

Fiona Quinn's Lexi Sobado series exploded on to my reading horizons this year and blew me away. Here's what I said about the latest book in the series:

"Earlier this year I read ‘Weakest Lynx’ by Fiona Quinn, the first novel in a new and original series which cleverly married tough Special Ops missions with a young woman with extraordinary (literally) abilities. The series promised much and I quickly devoured the next two books. They were exceptional, taking the characters and this cross-genre mix to even higher levels. A difficult act to follow, yet Quinn has not disappointed her fans with ‘Cuff Lynx’, the fourth book in the series. In fact, she’s taken everything to a new plateau, and given readers a degree of closure with the ongoing story arc to boot.

The threats this time are off the scale; not just the insidious machinations of the covert organization behind the events of the previous three novels, but a new ‘weapon’ that challenges protagonist Lexi’s own special abilities. The pace rattles along, the tension is everywhere, your emotions will be put to the test. Quinn’s no compromise writing style propels the reader into a frenzy of action and complex plotting. Spyder is back too and we get to see much more of Lexi’s enigmatic mentor. Several twists are introduced that give an entirely new perspective to Lexi’s background.

This series has exceeded all my expectations and this fourth volume is the cherry on top. Don’t miss it! If you haven’t already, start at book 1 and read them all. A 5 Star bombshell!"

Amazon Link

Sci-fi writer Ronel Van Tonder has created a series which will be listed amongst the classics of the genre in a few years. Awesome!

"In the preceding two novels of the ‘Corrupted SUN Script’ trilogy, author Ronel Van Tonder created a dystopian future world, split into factions that she provided the depth and substance necessary to support the complex tale of intrigue and deceit in which the distinct protagonists moved. And move they did, carrying the reader through myriad adventures both inside the domed structures managed by SUN and the wilder, visceral groups living in underground dwellings outside the ‘protection’ of SUN’s artificial intelligence system. The premise that treads through the third and final volume of the series is the conflict resulting from the clash of these different societies and their particular agendas as well as the collision course embarked upon by various dome dwellers.

Van Tonder has ramped up the tension and pace of this last volume to a degree that will have the reader flipping pages well into the night as the distinct storylines race toward the inevitable apocalyptic conclusion that offers both resolution and a small degree of hope and optimism. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way too to keep the reader on their toes and a major surprise as a further ‘antagonist’, replete with their own objectives, is revealed, adding a further element of suspense to this awesome read.

The author’s writing will draw you into the world she has fashioned and have you walking in the boots of the different protagonists and antagonists throughout the book’s pages; such is her power of the written word. You will feel the dry wind of the savannah, the cool air of the domes; you will smell the dirt of the underground dwellings, the blood spilt as the final battle arrives; you will taste the oil from the bakkies and bland food dispensed by the WeEats. Immersion in this futuristic world, via the magic of Van Tonder’s prose, is guaranteed. Remember the name; she’ll be mentioned with the greats of Sci-Fi in the coming years. Don’t miss this outstanding tour-de-force; a Sci-Fi epic to rival Dune or the Foundation series."


Amazon Link
Another discovery this year. Brandt Legg's three trilogies accompanied me throughout 2015 and I'm pleased to announce Brandt will be my first Guset on this blog in 2016, so don't miss it.

"With the pace of a high-speed train, Brandt Legg’s latest trilogy, ‘The Justar Journal’ raced to its climatic finale in book three, ‘The List Keepers’. Fortunately at the controls author Legg guides the tale to a satisfactory conclusion after leaving the reader wondering if the devastation, double-crossing and twists and turns that filled the preceding pages would leave anyone alive in the last chapter. Suspenseful doesn’t describe the emotional drive of the narrative as we follow the distinct protagonists on their respective journeys, each fraught with imminent disaster and death.

As I mentioned in my review of a prior novel in the series, I found myself supporting not just the obvious protagonists but characters who had clearly been antagonists throughout as Legg threw spin after spin into the tale. Yet at no point did the solid storyline, replete with some very serious themes and warnings, suffer in the slightest, such is the mastery Brandt Legg exercises in his creations. The characters, as always, even the ‘Bad Guys’, were cleverly crafted to remain believable despite their incredible escapes from mortal danger. This trilogy has to be the author’s best yet.

I would make one observation to anyone unfamiliar with Legg’s work: read both the ‘Inner Movement’ and ‘Cosega Sequence’ trilogies first. Your overall enjoyment and wonder at the epic tale woven in these nine books will be further enhanced once you reach this final volume of ‘The Justar Journal’. Here is a true master of modern fiction at work."

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That Man hisself, Scottish author Seumas Gallacher's latest volume in his Jack Calder thriller series pits his hero against corrupt cops and deadly drug lords:

"‘Killer City’, the fourth book in writer Seumas Gallacher’s Jack Calder series, scores a bullseye in the crime thriller genre. In it he pits the might of International Security Partners against corrupt cops and deadly crime lords in the North of England and Tajikistan. The tale is a solid page-turner, with plenty of intrigue, betrayals and bodies to satisfy the most exigent of his fans.

As usual, the pace in Gallacher’s tale is superb as it moves us from Manchester to London then to Spain and Eastern Europe. The writing is taut and straight to the point, reminding me of the earlier Lee Child novels, wasting no time plunging the reader into the plot. The characters, for the most part, will be familiar to followers of this series, and there are several convincingly-crafted villains to make the storyline more interesting.

In my opinion, Gallacher’s Jack Calder novels have come of age with this one; it’s easily the best of the four books published so far. Looking forward to reading the next. Highly recommended for lovers of compelling crime thrillers."


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And last, but by no means least, John Dolan's latest incursion into the life of his off-beat Private Investigator. This time we discover his backstory:

"‘A Poison Tree’ is billed as the third book of the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series yet, in a sense, it’s also both the fourth and the second. That may sound odd to any reader who’s not read John Dolan’s previous works, so I’ll explain my reasoning. The author’s first tale, a short humorous romp featuring Jim Fosse and an interchange of communication over an expense claim that ends in a highly unexpected fashion, introduces the reader to a strong character whose presence is a driving force in this novel. Fosse possesses the despicable intelligence of the psychopath and is a master puppeteer who manipulates people and situations at whim. Here his spider web lands the protagonist, David Braddock in his third outing, in an almost untenable position. So in that sense the Fosse-centric book becomes part of the series, making this the fourth.

Then there’s the foundation stone that cements Braddock’s current existence in Thailand, which is the essence of this novel. It’s almost as if the author had a need to explain the why’s and how’s of his protagonist’s Asian sojourn through this peek into his backstory, before continuing with the chronicle of Braddock’s life in future novels. Chronologically, this novel takes place before Braddock leaves the UK for Samui Island and the more exotic adventures related in the ‘Everyone Burns’ and ‘Hungry Ghosts’ novels. That would make this book the second in the series.

Irrelevant mathematics aside, author John Dolan’s tale of infidelity and frustration is an intricate interweaving of relationships that seems to become more complicated with every new chapter as the reader discover matters are never quite what they seem. As usual with Dolan’s work, the characters are exceptionally solid, realistic and well-drawn and the scene-setting provides a credible backdrop for the events that unfold. The author expertly manages the reader’s emotional reaction through exemplary prose, so be prepared to laugh a few times, grin a lot more, and feel the contrasting emotion of deep sadness as some secrets are revealed and others kept.

Overall this novel is far more than an explanation of David Braddock’s presence in Thailand; it adds further dimension to the already complex character that Dolan had birthed and sets the stage for future episodes in the protagonist’s life. I have only one request of the author: please bring back Jim Fosse in a future tale: he’s a modern Moriarty, the villain whose deeds we love to hate whilst simultaneously admiring his cunning guile. 

Despite this book being the second, third or fourth in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone with ease. I would thoroughly recommend it to all lovers of exceptional fiction. Looking forward to the next from this author."


I'll be back next week with some more recommendations; next time it will be stand-alone novels I recommend as New Year reads. 


In the meantime, keep reading, and my very best wishes for the Holiday season to you all.