Christmas Present Ideas Part Two – Books for Grown-Ups

Christmas is rapidly approaching, but if you are scratching your head over potential presents, why not try one of my novels?

In this second of a two-part series, I take a quick look at what I have written primarily for adults (and in one case, for teenagers and adults).

This year I released The Thistlewood Curse; a gripping, page-turning tale that begins as a whodunit, becomes a supernatural thriller and finally escalates into full blown horror.

THE THISTLEWOOD CURSE Cover (JPG Print version)

Here is the blurb from the back of The Thistlewood Curse:

Lawrence Crane’s powers of astral projection are put to the ultimate test when he and his lifelong friend Detective Laura Buchan investigate a mysterious death on Lundy Island.

Sensing a dark power at work, they attempt to identify a human assassin under the control of supernatural evil.

But can they escape a terrifying, centuries-old curse?

In a similar vein to the above, The Birds Began to Sing is a supernaturally tinged psychological thriller.

The Birds Began to Sing_1600x2400_Front Cover

Here is the blurb from the back of The Birds Began to Sing:

When aspiring novelist Alice Darnell enters a competition to write the ending for an unfinished manuscript by late, world famous author Sasha Hawkins, it appears she might have her big break at last.

However, upon arrival at Sasha’s former home – the sinister Blackwood House – Alice is unsettled by peculiar competition rules, mysterious dreams and inexplicable ghostly visions. She begins to question her sanity as she is drawn into a terrifying web of deceit, revenge and murder.

My most “personal” novel to date, Children of the Folded Valley, is a coming of age memoir mingled with science fiction mystery.

Folded Valley cover

Here is the blurb from the back of Children of the Folded Valley:

During a journey to visit his estranged sister, James Harper recalls his childhood in a mysterious valley cut off from the outside world, where he grew up as part of a cult called the Folded Valley Fellowship.

In this seemingly idyllic world, the charismatic Benjamin Smiley claimed to be protecting his followers from an impending nuclear apocalypse.

But the valley concealed a terrifying secret.

A secret that would change Smiley’s followers forever.

Finally, Love vs Honour represented something of a departure for me, in that it is a teenage romantic drama. But many of the themes present in my other novels – religious oppression, abuse of power and so on – are present and correct here, and this is a much darker tale than it first appears.

LvsHonour 1600 x 2400

Here is the blurb from the back of Love vs Honour:

Two Religions. Two Deceptions. One Love.

When Johnny meets and falls in love with Sabina, their bond proves stronger than a teenage holiday fling.

Fearing the disapproval of their strict Christian and Islamic families, they undertake an elaborate deception to continue seeing one another. Johnny pretends to convert to Islam whilst Sabina pretends to covert to Christianity to appease their parents.

But how long can this deception last before it unravels?

All the above books can be ordered on Kindle or as paperbacks from Amazon here.

(Note to self: I think I might use the word “terrifying” too much in blurbs…)

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Christmas Present Ideas Part One – Books for Children

Christmas is rapidly approaching, but if you are scratching your head over potential presents, why not try one of my novels?

Here, in the first of a two-part series, is a quick look at what I have written primarily for children, though I must emphasise these stories are not just for children. Amid the humour, thrills and scares are themes many adults will appreciate too – from the dangers of mollycoddling to overcoming fear, difficult parent/child relationships, murderous religious fundamentalism, sexual equality, civil rights, slavery, political corruption, the metaphysical and more…

My most recent novel, Echo and the White Howl, is a thrilling animal fiction adventure about a pack of wolves set in the wilds of Alaska.

Echo and the White Howl Cover 10 (FINAL)

Here is the blurb from the back of Echo and the White Howl:

When a wolf pack discovers humans lurking near their territory, Echo senses dark times ahead.

Despite the warnings and omens, Aatag, the pack Alpha, refuses to flee… leading to a cruel turn of events that forces Echo into exile, and a quest for revenge that will change the pack forever.

Dr Gribbles and the Beast of Blackthorn Lodge is a gripping and scary tale involving spies, monsters, haunted houses, mad scientists and lots more besides, with action and thrills to spare. It was inspired by the nightmares of my youngest son, and the book is duly dedicated to him.

DrGibbles_1600x2400_front cover

Here is the blurb from the back of Dr Gribbles and the Beast of Blackthorn Lodge:

September 1987.

Curiosity lands Tim Rawling in a world of secrets, spies and a desperate race against time.

The haunted house, the monster and the mad scientist are only the beginning of a terrifying adventure.

Uncle Flynn, my debut novel, was received very positively. A properly old-fashioned treasure hunt adventure with a big twist, this book is dedicated to my eldest son. and was largely inspired by our many excursions over Dartmoor, as well as a bit of local history.

Uncle Flynn_Cover_600px

Here is the blurb from the back of Uncle Flynn:

When timid eleven year old Max Bradley embarks on a hunt for buried treasure on Dartmoor with his mysterious Uncle Flynn, he discovers he is braver than he thought.

Together they decipher clues, find a hidden map and explore secret tunnels in their search. But with both police and rival treasure hunters on their tail, Max begins to wonder if his uncle is all he seems…

The George Hughes trilogy (comprising, in reading order, George goes to Mars, George goes to Titan and George goes to Neptune) is a thrilling, action-packed space tale set just over a hundred years in the future. Each story is a stand-alone adventure, but I recommend reading the novels in order nonetheless.

Here is the blurb from the back of George goes to Mars:

When George Hughes discovers he has inherited the planet Mars, he goes from poverty to becoming the richest boy on Earth overnight.

Accompanied by his new guardian, a mysterious secret agent and a crew of astronauts, George voyages to Mars to sell land to celebrities wanting to build interplanetary holiday homes. But sabotage, assassination attempts and the possibility of an alien threat plunge him into a deadly adventure…

Here is the blurb from the back of George goes to Titan:

The thrilling sequel to George goes to Mars…

A year on from his adventures on Mars, George Hughes faces an even deadlier peril as he travels to Titan on an urgent rescue mission. The mysterious Giles returns to help him, but assassins are once again on his tail, and a new, far greater alien menace lurks in the shadows waiting to strike.

Here is the blurb from the back of George goes to Neptune (my personal favourite of the three):

In this spectacular sequel to George goes to Mars and George goes to Titan, George Hughes faces his most dangerous adventure yet.

Following the Titanian invasion, a deadly and very personal threat forces George to undertake a voyage to a top secret Martian research base on Neptune.

On this remote outpost, he uncovers a diabolical plot. But George is too late to prevent the catastrophe.

A catastrophe that will change his life forever…

All the above books can be ordered on Kindle or as paperbacks from Amazon here.

 

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NEW RELEASE: Echo and the White Howl – out now!

My latest novel, Echo and the White Howl, is out now!

Set in the vast Alaskan wilderness, this epic story of wolves will thrill and delight. With hunts, blizzards, dangerous journeys and a mysterious, supernatural edge, Echo and the White Howl is an animal fiction adventure for all ages.

Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

When a wolf pack discovers humans lurking near their territory, Echo senses dark times ahead.

Despite the warnings and omens, Aatag, the pack Alpha, refuses to flee… leading to a cruel turn of events that forces Echo into exile, and a quest for revenge that will change the pack forever.

Echo and the White Howl is available as a download or paperback from Amazon. Order your copy here.

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Film Review – The Disaster Artist

the-disaster-artist-f72066

Any self-respecting film buff will tell you The Room (as opposed to Room – important distinction) is one of the best worst movies ever made. As an attempt at Tennessee Williams-esque chamber piece, it is astonishingly and hilarious bad; a catastrophic car-crash of a film, starring, written, produced and directed by the now infamous Tommy Wiseau.

The making of The Room is told in The Disaster Artist, focussing on the oddly touching friendship between the overbearing, delusional (and slightly mysterious) Tommy (James Franco, who also directs) and his lead actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco). Their relationship is much akin to that of Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood, Tim Burton’s much underrated masterpiece about the eponymous director, who made some of the worst films ever made. The Disaster Artist isn’t quite of the same calibre, but it’s an illuminating watch nonetheless, especially if you are a “fan” of The Room.

There is a welter of fascinating background information on the film. For example, Wiseau’s sheer hubris meant spending vast amounts of cash on an alley set, which could simply have been shot on a genuine location right next to the studio. The budget escalated to over six million, yet astonishingly, one vast cult following later, The Room has made a profit.

A fine supporting cast of well known comic actors, including Seth Rogan, Zac Effron and Alison Brie, add value to Franco’s passion project, and the film is cleverly directed, particularly in the way it recreates key moments. I should add the usual warnings for bad language (and a guffaw-inducing restaging of a notoriously inept sex scene).

Yet despite everything, The Disaster Artist feels like less a film about The Room and more an oddly moving examination of the relationship between a man entirely lacking in self-awareness, and his good natured friend who remained loyal and supportive despite everything. Their grand plans may not have turned out as they had hoped, but they have their footnote in cinema history nonetheless. After viewing this, despite the undeniable awfulness of The Room, you will feel they thoroughly deserve it.

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Wolf of the Day Summary

In the countdown to the release of my new novel Echo and the White Howl, over the past few days, I have introduced key characters with “Top Trumps” style data in a Wolf of the Day feature.

Here is a full list. Click on the names for more information.

Echo – Son of Aatag, the pack Alpha. Although brave and a keen hunter, Echo is initially uneasy with his father’s belief that he will one day be an Alpha himself. When his brother Malakai has strange visions of the White Wolf of Akna, and humans are seen on their borders, Echo believes something evil is coming from which the pack should flee.

Saphira – A brave, clever, fiercely loyal female wolf Echo encounters on his adventures, Saphira has been banished from her original pack. She proves both a voice of reason and a great fighter, but there is also much more to Saphira than meets the eye.

Aatag – The strong Alpha male who leads Echo’s pack, Aatag has obtained the respect of almost all in his care. Balancing strength with wisdom and an understanding of the balance of nature, Aatag’s rule is tough but fair. But when humans are seen to the north of his territory, Echo begins to worry his father is making the wrong decisions.

Kiana – Echo’s mother and the Alpha female in Aatag’s pack. When Echo and his siblings were cubs, Kiana told them many stories of ancient wolf legend, including the tale of Kaskae the Cunning, of the Wolf goddess Akna, and the evil of the Dark Realm.

Copper – A bit of a stickler for rules, Copper is the wolf most responsible for organising day to day operations in Aatag’s pack, including perimeter patrols and hunts. He is not overly fond of Echo or his siblings.

Silver – The stubborn, somewhat pompous, easily flattered Alpha of a pack bordering Aatag’s territory. However, he is also perceptive, tough and often underestimated by his enemies.

Imalik – Like Copper, Imalik was once a lone wolf from a distant pack before he joined Aatag. The largest, strongest, most cunning wolf in the pack, Imalik is quietly jealous of Echo and his siblings, believing they should occupy a lower place in the pack. A ferocious hunter with tracking skills that are second to none, this is one wolf you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of.

The White Wolf of Akna – A mystical being of immense power from wolf legend, supposedly only sighted during times of great turmoil, this white, blue-eyed wolf plays a small but pivotal role in Echo’s story.

Set in an Alaskan wolf pack, Echo and the White Howl is a gripping and thrilling animal fiction adventure for all ages. It is out tomorrow, available as a download or paperback from Amazon. Pre-order your copy here.

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NEW RELEASE: Echo and the White Howl – out tomorrow!

Just one day to go! My latest novel, Echo and the White Howl, is out tomorrow!

Set in the vast Alaskan wilderness, this epic story of wolves will thrill and delight. With hunts, blizzards, dangerous journeys and a mysterious, supernatural edge, Echo and the White Howl is an animal fiction adventure for all ages.

Here is the blurb from the back of the book: 

When a wolf pack discovers humans lurking near their territory, Echo senses dark times ahead.

Despite the warnings and omens, Aatag, the pack Alpha, refuses to flee… leading to a cruel turn of events that forces Echo into exile, and a quest for revenge that will change the pack forever.

Echo and the White Howl is out tomorrow, available as a download or paperback from Amazon. Click here to pre-order your copy.

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Wolf of the Day: The White Wolf of Akna

To celebrate the release of my new animal fiction adventure Echo and the White Howl, I am introducing a new character from the novel each day here on the blog, using “Top Trumps” style data.

Today’s wolf: The White Wolf of Akna

White Wolf of Akna

Strength: 10

Intelligence: 10

Hunting skill: 10

Wisdom: 10

Fear Factor: 5

Hidden Power: 10

A mystical being of immense power from wolf legend, supposedly only sighted during times of great turmoil, this white, blue-eyed wolf plays a small but pivotal role in Echo’s story.

Echo and the White Howl is out on Monday 11th December, available as a download or paperback from Amazon. You can pre-order the novel here.

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Wolf of the Day: Imalik

To celebrate the release of my new animal fiction adventure Echo and the White Howl, I am introducing a new character from the novel each day here on the blog, using “Top Trumps” style data.

Today’s wolf: Imalik

Imalik

Strength: 10

Intelligence: 9

Hunting skill: 10

Wisdom: 3

Fear Factor: 10

Hidden Power: 9

Like Copper, Imalik was once a lone wolf from a distant pack before he joined Aatag. The largest, strongest, most cunning wolf in the pack, Imalik is quietly jealous of Echo and his siblings, believing they should occupy a lower place in the pack. A ferocious hunter with tracking skills that are second to none, this is one wolf you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of.

Echo and the White Howl is out on Monday 11th December, available as a download or paperback from Amazon. You can pre-order the novel here.

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Film Review – The Florida Project

hero_Florida

Following the audacious Tangerine, Sean Baker’s new film The Florida Project is a truly outstanding celebration of childhood, set against a social realist backdrop amongst Florida’s more deprived residents.

At a budget motel near Disneyland, the film follows fearless, six year old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), a bratty yet adorable little girl whose friendships, pranks and dusk-till-dawn antics evoke an utterly plausible yet near magical wonder. These children, and Moonee’s rebellious but caring mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) run mischievous rings around curmudgeonly but kindly motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe).

Shot on colourful 35mm, frequently in magic-hour, these sequences are an absolute joy, and frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious. However, their opulent glow is contrasted with Halley’s quiet desperation at being one step away from eviction, arrest or intervention from social services. After failing as a waitress and lapdancer, she resorts to selling knock-off perfume to holiday makers and ultimately measures of a more desperate nature. These sequences recall the very best of Ken Loach, but are mercifully bereft of his political axe-grinding. It’s also worth making clear that although this is a film about children, this is not a film for children (it contains a lot of swearing and other content that puts it obviously off limits to younger eyes).

Performances are absolutely outstanding. Working from a superb, frequently improvised screenplay (by Baker and Chris Bergoch), Brooklynn Prince is a revelation, and gives the best, most naturalistic child performance I have seen in a very long time. Vinaite is also excellent, but I particularly liked Dafoe’s contribution. Perpetually irritated with Halley’s late rent and trash talk, he nonetheless looks out for her and Moonee (not to mention the other children).

Bobby’s basic decency, and indeed the empathy the audience feels towards all the lead characters, stands in stark contrast with the bureaucratic and cruel system that criminalises and victimises them. The condemnation of said system is inherent rather than preached, hence my earlier remark about the film lacking the more eye-rolling elements of Loach. The final few seconds are brilliantly ambiguous: simultaneously triumphant and desperately sad.

All things considered, The Florida Project pulls off that rarest of tricks, in that it is a film that makes you laugh, cry and think. In depicting a world on the fringes of manufactured dreams, where the children are blissfully unaware of the fragility of their existence, Baker has created a brilliantly bittersweet masterpiece. I hope it gets a lot of Oscar nominations.

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Wolf of the Day: Silver

To celebrate the release of my new animal fiction adventure Echo and the White Howl, I am introducing a new character from the novel each day here on the blog, using “Top Trumps” style data.

Today’s wolf: Silver

Silver

Strength: 8

Intelligence: 6

Hunting skill: 8

Wisdom: 6

Fear Factor: 5

Hidden Power: 6

Silver is the stubborn, somewhat pompous, easily flattered Alpha of a pack bordering Aatag’s territory. However, he is also perceptive, tough and often underestimated by his enemies.

Echo and the White Howl is out on Monday 11th December, available as a download or paperback from Amazon. You can pre-order the novel here.

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