20 August 2015

Huge News! I wrote a book!

So I have been really quiet on here recently, and mainly it's because life has inevitably gotten in the way.

I am mid-way through getting my first home, and my job is going really well, but the biggest news is something that happened yesterday.

I self published my first book on Kindle!!

This book has been in the works for years and is a collaborative effort between myself and my sister, Stacey (who can also be seen on the contributors section of this blog). All of my friends and family know about it and always ask how it's coming along, and I decided it was finally time to publish it. Note: This is exactly what happens when I get bored of waiting for a mortgage to come through on my house. I need to control something, so that is precisely what I decided to control.

Anyway. The book can be found at this Amazon.uk address right here. It can also be found on any other Amazon site... just search 'Switch' and 'Kyra' and it will come up straight away.

The synopsis?

Two girls, worlds apart, connected by fate. When Evie tries to find a better life for herself, it has disastrous consequences for Eryn, who wakes up to find herself in a dangerous alternate reality. She finds herself caught up in a conspiracy and running for her life. Can she survive long enough to find her way home?

The book is a YA dystopian/sci-fi hybrid with a dash of psychology thrown in for good measure.

At the moment, the cover looks like this:

Please feel free to share it!

If you decide that you think this sounds as awesome as I think it does, please do read it and let me know what you think, or even better, leave a review on Amazon to let everyone know what you think!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


24 July 2015

Book Review:The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is. 

The Good
  • Delves into that intriguing idea of being able to hear other people's thoughts and turns it on it's head in its entirety. The great thing is that the author has really thought about how that would affect your daily life and how it would affect others, the world, even. I find it fascinating how this has turned out for the characters.
  • Focuses well and draws on some huge themes, making you question what you would do and say. It deals with issues of truth, trust, humanity, love and all their opposites.
  • From about a quarter way in, it turns more and more fast-paced until the end, which is tense and unexpected and brutal. I read this book in three days it was that gripping. I had such a huge book hangover. You have no idea.
  • Some great characters that were well-rounded. No-one was truly perfect; even though there were a couple that were wonderful people, they still had flaws. This was extremely purposeful, and I loved that. I loved the complete difference in all of the characters, from good to bad. We had creepy, lovely, crazy, dopey, loving, scared and angry. And a sociopath, by the sound of it. However, my favourite was Manchee the dog. I loved his simplicity and his loyalty, the way he didn't always say the right thing, the sheer fact that he could speak, his bravery and his love. Although the main characters, Todd and Viola were great, it was Manchee that stole the show for me.
  • No love story, Yes! Some books are just too soppy, and I think a love story may have been a bit too out of place here. Shame there are a few more books to go for it to take place...

The Bad
  • Slow to start, but not terribly so. Some people with less persistent reading habits may struggle.
  • The style of the writing, although lovely in that you get to see how the character thinks and feels, as if he is really telling you the story, is difficult to read at first thanks to the phonetic spelling of his words. You get used to it after a while though.
  • Part of a series! And guess what? You have some pretty major plot points left unanswered thanks to the huge rush of stuff happening in the last third of the book.
  • Warning: This book is brutal and kinda of graphic. I rate it a YA, but I wouldn't let a 14 year old read it.. maybe 15 or 16.

A good book that I would recommend to all my friends. Not a summer read perhaps. Maybe something you can read curled up in bed with a nice mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows.

Star Rating: This is well deserved of a 9/10 rating. Just a couple of points that let it down, but not much.

The Knife of Never Letting Go on Goodreads


22 July 2015

Review: Arsenic for Tea - Robin Stevens

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy's home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy's glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy's birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn't really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill—and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem—and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth... no matter the consequences.

This is the second book, so there are a lot of references to the first one that were entirely lost on me, having not read the first one. However, I feel that you don't really need to read that one. These are really stand-alone books, and I like that fact as you don't need to keep remembering things that happened previously.

Just could not get into it for the first half! I found the girls a bit annoying, and didn't like the fact that they were posh and rich at all, as it made it impossible for me to connect with them on a personal level.

As it is for people at quite a young reading level, I can understand why the characters act as they do, especially the girls, who are a little bit ridiculous at times. Thankfully, the actual plot of the story was really good. The mystery and the clues were interesting, though I did find some of the reasoning for absolving a few characters from the crime quite flimsy at times.

I really commend the writer for using words that younger readers would definitely not know, and including a glossary at the back so that they learn a few things.

It was quite impossible to know exactly who the culprit was, since we never had the full reasoning behind the murder until the very end, but I did have a feeling, perhaps because the book appeared to lead you away from certain characters and absolve them of guilt a little bit too quickly and flimsily. I had pretty much figured it out a few chapters before the girls did, but had entirely no idea how they did it. That part was actually very clever, and I again commend them for that.

I also like the way that these girls are really smart. There was no glaringly obvious point that they were missing, and there wasn't anything that they just didn't take into account. That was great, but I did wish that the reasoning and the ideas were a bit more complex. Of course, that would have made for a longer book, and possibly one that wouldn't fit for the age range the book has been written for, so it is really a personal preference on my part.

Historically, I liked some of the detail that went into this, such as the bun breaks and the servants, but there wasn't too much of that.

Arsenic For Tea on Goodreads


4 July 2015

Guest Post - Andrew Joyce on Finding Molly Lee a Voice

My name is Andrew Joyce, and I write books for a living. Kyra has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, MOLLY LEE. Because you folks tend to like female-driven fiction, Kyra thought Molly might be of interest to you.

Now you may possibly be asking yourself, What is a guy doing writing in a woman’s voice? And that’s a good question. I can only say that I did not start out to write about Molly; she just came to me one day and asked that I tell her story.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

“So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months. Then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status on Amazon twice, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,326 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 125,000. However, he was insistent, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

This is the description from MOLLY LEE:

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.

It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.

Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

As I had wondered whatever became of Huck and Tom, I also wondered what Molly did when she found Huck gone.

I know this has been a long-winded set up, but I felt I had to tell the backstory. Now I can move on and tell you how it was to write Molly from a guy’s perspective. But first a little about Molly.

Molly starts out as a naive young girl. Over time she develops into a strong, independent woman. The change is gradual. Her strengths come from the adversities she encounters along the road that is her life.

With each setback, Molly follows that first rule she set against self-pity and simply moves on to make the best of whatever life throws her way. From working as a whore to owning a saloon, from going to prison to running a ranch, Molly plays to win with the cards she’s dealt. But she always keeps her humanity. She will kill to defend herself and she has no problem killing to protect the weak and preyed upon. However, when a band of Indians (for instance) have been run off their land and have nowhere else to go, Molly allows them to live on her ranch, and in time they become extended family.

This is from a review on Amazon:

A young female in nineteenth-century rural America would have needed courage, fortitude, and firm resolve to thrive in the best of circumstances. Molly Lee possesses all of these, along with an iron will and an inherent ability to read people accurately and respond accordingly.

I reckon that about sums up Molly.

I would like to say that I wrote MOLLY LEE in one sitting and everything in it is my pure genius. But that would be a lie. I have three editors (two women and one guy). They kept me honest with regard to Molly. When I made her a little too hard, they would point out that she had to be softer or show more emotion in a particular scene.

I set out to write a book where every chapter ended with a cliffhanger. I wanted the reader to be forced to turn to the next chapter. And I pretty much accomplished that, but I also wrote a few chapters where Molly and the readers could catch their collective breath.

One last thing: Everything in MOLLY LEE is historically correct from the languages of the Indians to the descriptions of the way people dressed, spoke, and lived. I spend as much time on research as I do in writing my stories. Sometimes more.

It looks as though I’ve used up my allotted word count (self-imposed), so I reckon I’ll ride off into the sunset and rustle up a little vodka and cranberry juice (with extra lime).

It’s been a pleasure,

Andrew Joyce

Want to find out more?

Molly Lee on Amazon - Molly Lee on Goodreads - Molly Lee on Kobo

Molly Lee on B&N - Molly Lee on iTunes - Molly Lee on Smashwords

Redemption Web Page - Molly Lee Web Page

About Andrew:
Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written three books, and a collection of almost one hundred forty short stories that is comprised of his hitching adventures, written as veiled non-fiction called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS, and his latest novel, MOLLY LEE. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his dog, Danny.​

30 June 2015

Planet Urth - Jennifer and Christopher Martucci

Typical YA fare with a teenage girl and her young sister are trying to survive in a pitiless post-apocalyptic world where everyone is out to get them.

The Good:
  • Some awesomely creepy creatures involved
  • Excellent imagining of how life might actually be when you're scared out of your whits and trying to live in the wild
  • Great characterisation with Avery and her sister, June, and their relationship is wonderful
  • Interesting ideas where the families are involved, makes you think about how you and your family would react to this kind of thing
  • Nice beginning to a romance. Shame it completely clouds the Avery's judgement, as she's such a strong character

The Bad:
  • Obvious storyline that goes exactly how you thought it would
  • Slow to start
  • No complexity of plot
  • No character arc or facets in the characters
  • Avery, the protagonist, is a little bit too perfect for me. Pretty, good survival skills, excellent fighter, caring... the list goes on. She only doubts herself a little bit when it comes to her sister
  • No promise of something bigger in the next book
It's a middle of the pack story, part of a series that I may or may not pick up again, depending on if I see the second one about for a good price. While it was enjoyable, there was nothing in the book that excited me enough to pick up the next one. I could already imagine what was going to happen, or what was likely to. While there was a promise of some sort of rebellion for the MC, there was no solid evidence that it was likely to happen on a larger scale.

3/5 for fun factor and readability, but didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Planet Urth on Goodreads