Tag Archives: fantasy

Alana Woods’ book reviews: VAMPIRE ADDICTIONS by Thea Atkinson

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VAMPIRE ADDICTIONS book 1

Vampire addictions 355KB

I can go a long time between stories about vampires. I can also go a long time between stories with confronting sex.

But when I do read them I want them to be good, so I’m pleased I fell off the wagon and picked them up.

This is one such book. And to top off my luck it’s full of vampires AND sex. AND it’s told with a needle-point wit.

Told in the first person it’s the story of Jade, a young woman drawn into the world of vampires. Because we’re taken into her mind and heart we’re sucked (no pun intended) very quickly into the vortex of her fears and desires.

The pace never slackens; it’s top gear all the way. And dare I say I’m liking her choice of vampire mate!

VAMPIRE ADDICTIONS book 2

vampire addictions book 2

This is book 2 in a series. I haven’t investigated to see how many there are in the series but right now, after finishing the second, I’m inclined to say that I’m happy to keep reading them.

Book 1 introduced us to Jade, a young woman recovering from a relationship that gave her trust and commitment issues. That’s not to say she’s steering clear of men completely—she’s just not going to give her love to any of them. That includes Magnus, a vampire she can’t get enough of physically.

Book 1 dripped sex. It was a good read, but book 2 is better. Why? First because there’s less sex—I’m not a huge fan of erotic literature. But overwhelmingly it’s because it gives us an increasingly complex storyline and characters. It also ramps up the action. The pace is as fast as the vampires are on their feet, and that’s apparently very fast!

The story is told in the first person from Jade’s point of view and this allows us to get right into her head, and into her heart. She’s a character worth following as she digs herself ever deeper into the murky underworld of vampires, witches and demons and, so far, is still alive!

Vampire addictions book 1 on Amazon

Vampire addictions book 2 on Amazon

Take this link to my interview with THEA ATKINSON

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Alana Woods’ book reviews: Sky City: the rise of an orphan by RD Hale

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Sky city

SKY CITY is a coming-of-age story about 16 year old Arturo Basilides, a street-smart orphan with a sassy mouth and engaging personality living at the bottom level of society in a savagely-ruled post-apocalyptic world that has a lot of similarities to Earth. The story is told in first person point of view by Arturo, who lives with his sister and friends he considers to be family in a disused warehouse on the outer fringes of society in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s an unqualified attention-grabber!

By the book’s end it’s obvious Arturo’s been a pretty gutsy kid from the moment he entered the world. Set against a background of controlling overlords, gangsterish rebels and the uncaring upper-crust of society Arturo must find a way to keep his family safe while coming to terms with the important role he seems destined to play in the rebel movement. There is the added complication of his overwhelming but probably unrequited love for one of his inner circle.

I wonder if the author is planning more for Arturo, given there were several questions left unresolved. Or perhaps he has deliberately left some things for the reader to surmise.

I enjoyed this book immensely. The story and characters are nicely developed. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions, which are sharp to the point of drawing blood. And let’s not forget the completely natural dialogue—a talent beyond many authors but one that RD Hale has nailed.

Hale is an author to watch. He has a crystalline quality to his storytelling, the descriptions are sharp and the characterisation is subtle yet powerful.

It’s not often I read a book that requires my absolute undivided attention. This is one of them. The author’s voice is compelling, and exactly right for the telling of this cyberpunk saga.

SKY CITY on Amazon

Take this link to my interview with RD HALE

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Alana Woods interviews RD HALE, author of Sky City: the rise of an orphan

SKY CITY: THE RISE OF AN ORPHAN. RD Hale’s debut novel. I’ve just finished reading this 492 page epic. Lots of labels have been attached to it by others: cyberpunk, biopunk, dystopian, sci-fi, manga, young adult, as well as a touch of fantasy. I agree with all of them, but add another one: coming of age.

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There’s not much you can find out about RD on the internet, perhaps because he’s a private kind of person and likes to keep to himself, or perhaps he prefers to let his writing and characters talk for him. Whatever the reason, I aim to tease something from him today to make the day for his growing number of fans.

Ricky in countryside

Alana: G’day RD, am I allowed to know what the R in RD stands for, or do you use the initials to maintain a certain mystique?

RD: The initials help to maintain a mystique and create the impression I’m smarter than I actually am! However, my friends call me Ricky (among other things!)

Alana: How about I help maintain the mystique and stick with RD then.  Your bio says little is known about you other than tidbits, rumours and hearsay. I’m going to do my best to squeeze a bit of detail from you today because, let’s face it, you’ve got a lot of fans out there in book land. I think they’d like an inside peek. Your bio says you’re married and have one young child. I take it that’s fact, yes? As to your age, I’m hazarding a guess that you’re still wrinkle-free.

RD: I’m rapidly starting to accumulate grey hairs thanks in no part to my son, but I’m doing pretty well on the wrinkle side. However, I’m sure my second child will help contribute towards those when he/she arrives.

Ricky & baby son

Alana: Oh, does that mean another baby is on the way? Are congratulations in order?

RD: The second boy is due in early April and already I am having sleepless nights!

Alana: There’s nothing like a new baby! You’ll look back on it as totally worth it. As you’re going for a second I guess you already know that though. Where in the UK do you call home?

RD: A lively place called Newcastle upon Tyne where beer is known as ‘breakfast’ and religion is called ‘football’.

Newcastle upon Tyne pics: Angel of the North, fireworks over the city, Tynemouth Priory.

Alana: Sounds like a tough place! Is it where you want to be, or is there somewhere you’d rather be if money were no object? Does the grittiness of SKY CITY stem from there or do I have completely the wrong impression of your home town?

RD: Medio city is a (greatly exaggerated) representation of the council estate where I grew up. Sky City represents the sights and sounds that were out of reach to a jobless, disenfranchised youth.

My home town has its qualities, but unemployment has been a problem for many. And then there is the perma-grey sky which only adds to the misery! I understand your part of the world is lit by a golden disc called “the sun”. We’ve never seen it!

Alana: Yes, we’re blessed here in Australia. It’s the best place on the planet. I was born in the UK but wouldn’t live anywhere else but here.

RD: Maybe one day we’ll get to move somewhere warm and cheerful like Australia.

Alana: You’d be very welcome. Let’s talk about your writing. It sounds as though the genre you write in is the one that’s always appealed to you. Is that right, and why?

RD: I’ve always liked sci-fi for many reasons, not least because once interstellar travel is invented I plan to become a space pirate! I spent my childhood preparing for this role by playing videogames, and now I fill the waiting time by writing books!

Sci-fi is a great tool for self-expression because you have more creative freedom than in other genres. The aspect that most appeals is the world building. With SKY CITY I wanted to create a microcosm of the world in which we live, where the problems are amplified so we can take a closer look at poverty, inequality and indoctrination. My aim was to give a voice to the voiceless and to challenge pre-conceived ideas.

Sky city

Alana: I’d say you’ve well and truly succeeded in that. And Arturo Basilides, SKY CITY’s young hero you’ve built that world around; what brought about his creation? He’s an immensely charismatic character.

RD: He’s a combination of many factors; he has some of my traits but I was conscious about making him fit into his awful world. He had to be highly intelligent and physically adept for the rebellion to take an interest in him, but he also had to be reckless. He could not have emerged from his childhood untainted so he is a very flawed protagonist. I wanted to get away from the heroic stereotype and create a character who was complex and unpredictable.

Alana: You originally published the book as a series of six smaller books but have now removed them from sale. What’s the thinking behind that?

RD: The book was originally serialised on Wattpad and I wanted readers to experience the instalments as they were initially intended, but their removal from Amazon was ultimately a commercial decision. It was confusing my readership as Amazon kept listing the complete edition as part of the series. I didn’t want people to mistakenly purchase twice in the belief they were buying the latest instalment. Plus the complete edition has a reasonable price so there’s no need to break it up.

Alana: I commented in my review of SKY CITY that there are several aspects of the story that were unfinished. I speculated that more is to come of Arturo. Am I right? And if so, do you have a release date in mind? Perhaps you might also like to whet our appetite for where you will be taking Arturo and his mates in it.

RD: I have a couple of spin-offs in the works starring other characters which are available on Wattpad. Both are in their early stages so everything, including the titles may change.

The Formation of the Rebellion stars Leo Jardine and is a prequel explaining how the rebellion came to be. It’s intended to be hard sci-fi—darker and more complex than The Rise of an Orphan with a similar feel to Gibson’s Neuromancer.

The Sister of a Rebel Soldier stars Emmi Basilides and continues on from events at the end of The Rise of an Orphan. It’s intended to be a more accessible addition to the series. The rebellion really gets under way in this one and you’ll discover what the more interesting characters are capable of.

Alana: And Arturo?

RD: I haven’t started the next part of Arturo’s story just yet, but it’s definitely coming. I’ll likely serialise it on Wattpad and then release six instalments as one book on Amazon as I did with The Rise of an Orphan. I expect Arturo’s saga will become a trilogy at the very least.

Alana: What about after SKY CITY is completed, do you have any other stories in mind and are they in the same genre?

RD: I would love to write in another genre, maybe fantasy but I can’t see myself doing this for a long time!

Alana: RD, thank you so much for talking with me today. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know the writer behind the book.

RD: Thank you, Alana.

RD Hale’s blog
RD Hale on    FaceBook   |   Twitter
SKY CITY: THE RISE OF AN ORPHAN on Amazon (this is a global link)

Take this link to my review of SKY CITY: THE RISE OF AN ORPHAN

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Alana Woods interviews Jason Matthews, author of THE LITTLE UNIVERSE

My guest this week needs no introduction, to the indie author community at least. He’s considered close to being a superstar by the many he has helped towards publishing with his self-help books. But he’s also a novelist with two huge-in-scope works of fiction to his credit.

Jason Matthews


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Alana: Jason Matthews, welcome, it’s a real pleasure to have you here today. Before we talk about your many activities and books could we find out a little about you. You live in California; have you always lived there?

Jason: Thank you, Alana, for the very kind reception. I was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Unfortunately my parents divorced when I was a baby, and my mother, sister and I moved around quite a bit. We also lived in Massachusetts and Ohio while spending summers with Dad in Colorado and Oregon. I returned to North Carolina for college and then moved permanently to California in 1991. I love this state.

Alana: You are also one of that rare breed, a full-time author who actually makes your living by writing—when did you reach that point?

Jason: I used to be a house painting contractor and just didn’t have the time or energy to follow through on a dream of writing my first novel. It took several years and probably never would have been written without taking substantial time off from painting. When I started selling my third book I broke free from painting and focused entirely on writing and marketing. The money wasn’t consistent and I used up all of my savings, but eventually things got better.

As you know it’s very difficult to earn a living on one or two books. I now have five titles selling as ebooks and paperbacks, but I also sell a video course, work as an author consultant and even do speaking engagements. It takes those other sources of income to pay the bills, and still there are times when it feels like just scraping by.

Alana: Well, let’s first talk about the publishing self-help books because they’re how many hundreds, if not thousands, of authors have first discovered you. There are three, I believe. What subjects do they address?

Jason: The titles are indicators of what they’re about.

HOW TO MAKE, MARKET AND SELL EBOOKS—ALL FOR FREE is an overview and training program for authors wanting to self-publish, and it specialises in using free methods when possible or recommending inexpensive alternatives, like with cover design for example.

Two important chapters within that book were about making blogs and websites, but there wasn’t enough time to go into thorough detail so I wrote HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN FREE WEBSITE: AND YOUR FREE BLOG TOO where those subjects could be properly covered, and also the book would appeal to people who were not authors.

Alana: And the third?

Jason: A very important chapter in that book was about SEO (search engine optimisation), but again the subject was so large it really needed its own book, so I also wrote GET ON GOOGLE FRONT PAGE.

Alana: You’re active on so many fronts. I know you have a Facebook group because that’s how I first found you over a year ago, and you also host a weekly Google+ hangout about publishing that you post to YouTube—would you tell us about those, but also all the other ways you’re active publishing-wise.

Jason: The Facebook group came about as an example from the self-publishing book. I give examples of doing things I recommend, so for Facebook I created a group page and a fan page. Three and a half years later the fan page is a total dud but the group page has over 1800 members.

Google Plus is super because it has such a dynamic platform with features like hangouts. What’s really nice is that I only use it for writing associates and not for friends or family. I do an Indie Authors show on Google Plus that becomes YouTube videos, and I’ve even had the pleasure of interviewing Alana Woods for an episode on essential writing tips, which was a great show that is still helping others.

Alana: A plug!   Thank you.

Jason: My pleasure.

Alana: What you’re describing here is building a platform, isn’t it.

Jason: Yes. I work to build an author platform consistently over time. My blogs are very important, and I post regularly. Also YouTube is fantastic. If I can think of something that will make a good video, I always try it. Forums for writers and readers are good too, but there’s only so much time so it’s primarily Goodreads. Lately I’ve been doing more speaking events, and it’s really exciting to work with a live audience.

Alana: What are the types of groups you speak to? Are they primarily writing based?

Jason: Primarily, yes. I’ve spoken and made presentations about the self-publishing experience at a few paid writing conferences, so hopefully that will continue to grow. The focus is usually an outline of what it takes to sell books and the things writers often do to become successful. I’ve also presented to smaller, less formal gatherings like book signings or release events. I’ve talked to classrooms at schools and presented at libraries, where an interesting mix of people show up. I’ve done many radio interviews and also consult individual authors who want help with projects.

Alana: Let’s talk about your novels now. I’m familiar with two, JIM’S LIFE and THE LITTLE UNIVERSE—I’ve read and reviewed both. They deal with such big issues I’m going to wimp out and ask you to tell us what they are.

Jason: THE LITTLE UNIVERSE began as a way to think about our place in the universe, other planets, other intelligent life and how we might all be evolving together. Obviously these are big subjects with profound, even unanswerable, questions. The book is really about creating a project that displays those things in a way we might be able to learn from it, and of course I’ve taken some liberties with what I believe we might find if we had a universe and all its mysteries at our fingertips.

Alana: It kept me interested! And JIM’S LIFE, which, I didn’t realise when I read it, is the sequel to THE LITTLE UNIVERSE—not that I think it’s necessary to read them in order. But I think JIM’S LIFE is my favourite of the two.

Jason: That’s great to hear, Alana, because many readers have told me the opposite, and I like them both for different reasons. JIM’S LIFE is about a teenage boy who suffers a life-changing accident. The trauma affects his brain function and vision in a way that gives him the ability to see the light fields with living things, like the auras and chakras of people. In time he learns to work with the light fields and becomes a healer, even considered a miracle healer. What complicates things is the accident he endured was a result of running from a crime. So he is on trial for a crime as the world realises his unique healing abilities, which brings the philosophical and spiritual nature of the story to the forefront.

Alana: You present such a conundrum for the reader to come to grips with! It’s terrific.

Jason: Thank you.

Alana: You also have other works to your credit. I’m unfamiliar with them so could you give us a rundown?

Jason: Presently I just have some short stories on Amazon, and I’ve written a screenplay called Minor Extremes that is collecting dust on my shelf. It’s about a young man’s effort to bring the sport of extreme skiing from obscurity to the limelight and the lengths he’ll go to make his dream a reality.

Alana: I hesitate to ask the next question because you sound as though it might be difficult to fit anything else in to your schedule, but I’m going to anyway. Are you working on another book or project? If you are can you tell us about it, or is it too early to be revealing ideas, themes and plot points?

Jason: Yes, it’s important to create new content, and I’ve made the mistake of only marketing existing titles for far too long. I’m working on the third novel of the series …

Alana: Sorry to interrupt but, GREAT. I can’t wait to see where you take things.

Jason: That’s perfectly okay … and I have a nice critique group reading along the way. That is so helpful for edits and suggestions, wish I did more with critique groups before! This story is about two girls, sisters with different mothers, who are born with a cellular mutation that enables them to have special abilities and powers. They are viewed by the world as the next stage for humankind. How they use their powers is up to them, and the conflicts arise from the public pressures, their own internal struggles and with each other.

Alana: These are all subjects you’re obviously intensely interested in. Would you tell us how that interest arose and how you continue to pursue them.

Jason: As a kid I was always fascinated by the universe and our own human evolution. How did we get to where we are and where might society be heading in the future? When one spends time contemplating these things, subjects like science, religion, spirituality, environment, relationships and more come into the picture. I think my novels touch on all of those subjects, hopefully in a fun way leaving room for interpretation and without coming across as one way of thinking or as preachy.

Alana: Definitely not preachy, but I have to say they opened up my mind to so much more than I’ve previously thought about. Jason, thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure to find out more about the man as well as the author.

Jason: Thank you so much. What a pleasure it is getting to know and working with authors all over the world, like you, Alana

Take this link to my review of THE LITTLE UNIVERSE

Jason’s links
Amazon   |   Google+
THE LITTLE UNIVERSE website   |   EBOOKSUCCESS4FREE website

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