Friday, 2 August 2019

Haunted Words! #FreeFictionFriday Exclusive Free Short Story

A piles of books

Haunted Words! #FreeFictionFriday Exclusive Free Short Story

It's Friday and we're now in August, which means it's Free Fiction Friday.

This month's story is a short about a haunted book.

Haunted Words 

by Sophie Duncan

Haunted Words Sophie Duncan background a pile of books and flowersWhen a bibliophile finds a book of awful love poetry, she has no way of knowing where Wilbur's purple rhymes will lead her.

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Sunday, 10 March 2019

Review: Fire Devil - Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper #11

Fire Devil (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #11)Fire Devil by J.L. Bryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is the second of a pair, and I will say upfront, this killed much of the enjoyment for me. I gave the first book in this pair, The Monster Museum, a 1 star review, because the split just left it without a substantial story, but you can read that review separately. I am not being as caustic about this book, but my rating is low compared to most of the Ellie Jordan books, and here's why - it was too 'big'.

I don't mean in length, I mean in scope - like Terminal, which is #4 in the series, I felt the widening of the geography and the sheer number of ghosts detracted from the story - not to mention, it's finishing off the story that I think should have been in The Monster Museum. There's a whole mini story in the middle about a haunted hotel that could have been a book on its own, and it was the bit I enjoyed the most, and I loved the outcome of that bit. The actual climax of the main story I found overly large and therefore a bit anti-climatic, and I thought it was missing bits.

This book is the culmination of the long running arc featuring Anton Clay, and, as an aside here, I will mention the bits of the story that were written from Anton Clay's POV - I skipped every single one of them and it didn't matter a jot to the story - they were totally unnecessary and interrupted the flow of the plot, which has always been from Ellie's exclusive POV before. Okay, back to the finale - given how long we've been waiting for this showdown between Ellie and Clay, I knew it would be bigger than the 'villainous ghost of the book' encounter, but I was also expecting the climax to pick up other references from throughout the other books. Some it did, some it didn't, and the big one I think that was left out was Ellie's ability to skip out of her body, which seems to have just been dropped in the last few books - was it too useful? I can see why it was left out, because so much was thrown in that the climax was overstuffed anyway, but it's a talent I found interesting, so I was a bit disappointed when it didn't get used. For the climax itself, the use of an entire town full of ghosts had the same effect as in Terminal, it spread out the threat and it was just a distraction. Greta and Clay were the only two ghosts who made much impact, even Amil from Monster House was just a sidekick with a few mentions, diminishing his threat in my head - his ring was more important than him in the end. I did enjoy how Clay and Ellie faced off though - that was a well written bit of drama.

So, in summary, this is not my favourite book of the Ellie Jordan series, in fact it's my second worst, just coming in better than The Monster Museum, but unlike that book, I did not want to throw my kindle across the room after 'finishing' it, and I used quotes, because The Monster Museum didn't finish. It was an adequate conclusion to the Anton Clay arc, and I want to read more Ellie Jordan books, where I hope to be raising my review scores back up to 4's and 5's again.

View all my reviews

Friday, 4 January 2019

Newsletter Exclusive - Free Fiction Friday - Two Free Stories for the New Year


Free Fiction Friday


Happy New Year everyone! To wish all our Newsletter subscribers the best this year, and to thank you all for sticking with us, we have 2 stories instead of 1 this month: a fantasy story of a young girl taking her first steps into magic and a contemporary fantasy m/m short about a young man, his dragon, and his best friend. You can find both of these for Free Fiction Friday over at Wittegen Press.

These stories are exclusively for subscribers of our newsletter, but anyone can join and it's really easy.

It is completely free to become a member and all you need is a valid email address. Fill in the form at the bottom of this page and you’re done. Don't worry if you join after the 1st Friday, the password for the month will be included in the welcome email after you subscribe.

What we WILL DO for our subscribers:

  • Send you an email on the 1st Friday of the month to remind you about the short story and give you the password for the month as soon as the story goes live.
  • Send you information about new books, competitions and events, so you don’t miss anything.
  • Give you two Free eBooks just for joining.

What we WON’T DO to our subscribers:

  • Spam you with loads of random advertising.
  • Reveal your email address to anyone else.

This Month's Short Stories

The Wand
by Sophie Duncan
Genre: fantasy
Length: ~3.5K wds

Description:
Aelwin is a Maker, like her mother before her: she knows this in her heart, but will the fae Match her to her calling? When a hostile Shadow Coat arrives to perform the New Year Matching Ceremony for her and her friends, disaster threatens. 
Only Aelwin can stop it, but she doesn’t know how.



Mark of the Dragon
by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: contemporary fantasy, m/m, adult
Length: ~3.5K wds

Description:
Luke has always known he has a destiny, after all he has the manifestation of a dragon on his skin that moves around as it pleases and a book in his head that explains all about it. However even dragons can't help with relationships, or can they?


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Thursday, 6 September 2018

Book Review: The Monster Museum by J.L. Bryan (Ellie Jordan 10) - well, that was disappointing

The Monster Museum (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #10)The Monster Museum by J.L. Bryan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have been known to rave about Ellie Jordan novels, frankly I love them, and I had this one on pre-order. Unfortunately, I found this one disappointing and frustrating, let me tell you why.

I love Ellie Jordan novels because they are exciting and mysterious spook hunts with a side of personal tension for the main characters, each adventure has a beginning and an end, and then there may or may not be a background arc that continues into the next book or two. Well, in this one, I was left with an impression that it's more personal angst for Ellie with a tiny side of ghosts.

Each story focuses on a haunted location, with Ellie and friends solving the mystery of who the ghost is and how to get rid of them and the important bit - they solve the problem, that's the satisfying ending. Well, in this book, that gets lost in two things:
- Ellie obsessing about her attraction to two men - now Ellie has a tendency to brood about relationships, but this goes way beyond that and just gets frustrating, it doesn't really have a point, or take the plot anywhere and doesn't get handled realistically at the end
- so that brings me to the second thing, the end, which is swamped by a huge drama mostly unrelated to the haunted location that diminishes the build up and mystery to a point where I thought it was all rather pathetically handled, undervaluing the trauma and drama of the haunted location and its inhabitants .

This felt like a good story (The Monster Museum piece) sacrificed to the 'background' arc, which took control (not very originally IMO - spotted it from the moment it was hinted at and just hoped throughout the book we weren't going in that repetitive direction, but we did) and left a cliffhanger that really got me annoyed (I don't like cliffhangers at the best of times, but when it undermines any satisfaction in the solution to the mystery at the heart of the title of the book, I get stompy).

Please, please, please, make the next book better, I don't want to stop reading what is one of my favourite series ever.

View all my reviews

Friday, 3 August 2018


Free Fiction Friday


Happy August everyone, we hope you are not sweltering too much in the Summer heat. We have some contemporary fantasy for you this month for Free Fiction Friday over at Wittegen Press. This month's exclusive short story is an exciting tale of magic and self discovery, as ever, free to our wonderful subscribers.

These stories are exclusively for subscribers of our newsletter, but anyone can join and it's really easy.

It is completely free to become a member and all you need is a valid email address. Fill in the form at the bottom of this page and you’re done. Don't worry if you join after the 1st Friday, the password for the month will be included in the welcome email after you subscribe.

What we WILL DO for our subscribers:

  • Send you an email on the 1st Friday of the month to remind you about the short story and give you the password for the month as soon as the story goes live.
  • Send you information about new books, competitions and events, so you don’t miss anything.
  • Give you two Free eBooks just for joining.

What we WON’T DO to our subscribers:

  • Spam you with loads of random advertising.
  • Reveal your email adress to anyone else.

This Month's Short Story

Sistiri: Awakenings
by Sophie Duncan
Genre: contemporary fantasy, magical realism
Length: ~8.5K wds

Description:
‘Skin as white as ice, heart as black as coal.’

That’s how Sky understood Mountain Elves, blood enemies of Hearthfae, and, a nerd that she was, allergic to magic, the last thing she expected was to end up tutoring the first diplomatic exchange student at the Interpeoples College for Magical Sciences. 

Freya Bloodstone is powerful, scary and determined, and she is about to awaken depths in Sky that she never knew she had.

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Saturday, 28 July 2018

Blanket Box - Movie Magic!



So my sis, Tasha, kicked me off on this blanket box talking about movies, favourite ones, dreadful ones, funny ones. This is where Tasha's is. If you fancy joining in, the questions are at the bottom of Tasha's post. So, I've never done one of these before, but here we go with my answers :)...
  • Your favorite movie of all time
The Lost Boys - has to be. It's the movie that made me fall in love with vampires, and it opened up my imagination - it's one of those movies that got me writing.
  • A movie you watch to pick you up when you feel sad
I have a few of these, but I'll pick one - Chocolat (and definitely the movie not the book, the book leaves a bad taste in my mouth) - this movie has a wonderful surreal quality, and it is all about opening up to possibilities, defying convention and enjoying life. Even Le Comte finds his way and I love it, it always leaves me smiling.
  • A movie that makes you feel invincible
I like movies about misfits, people who make the most of their weirdness and this one's a really trashy eighties movies, but I think it's great - Misfits of Science (it became a TV series as well, but I don't recommend that one as much).
  • Which genre of film is your favorite?
Ghost stories are my favourite genre, I love the tingle down my spine when a candle flame flickers, or a book on a table moves just an inch. I collect ghost stories, both written and cinematic, I have loads of them, good, bad and indifferent.
  • A movie that scares you
I'll mention a movie that scared me in all its forms (book, play, TV movie and cinematic release) The Woman In Black - it has tingly scares, jump scares, isolation tension - everything I find good in a spooky movie.
  • A movie that makes you cry
Now there's a few of these, and more as I get older - picking just one - The Green Mile - so many great performances, so many memorable moments, so many that make me cry about the injustice and sadness of it all, but one that makes me cry with joy is when John Coffey saves Melinda Moores, the governor's wife, the transformation gets me every time.
  • What movie is guaranteed to make you laugh?
Watching movies alone I don't laugh a lot, but when I'm in company, one that is absolutely on the nose for giggles and full on guffaws is Despicable Me 2, even more so than Despicable Me. And the funniest thing is seeing my Dad crying with laughter when the minions are doing their thing :).
  • Your first R-rated movie
This is the same as my sis, since we saw it together, Evil Dead. It scared me witless then.
  • The first movie you remember seeing in theaters
The Fox and the Hound - Cranbrook Cinema.
  • The most boring movie you've ever seen
Now there have been loads of these, especially as I've grown pickier in my taste, but one that is considered a classic that I actually fell asleep in was Psycho. 
  • What movie have you seen that you will never watch again?
Now this is an odd one and I know other people adored this movie, and I love Thor and Thor 2, but not even my penchant for Tom Hiddleston movies could save Thor 3: Ragnarok - I just found the whole tone wrong, characters acting for laughs, not in line with their previous movie personas, plot launching all over the place and not really hanging together, and all of it detracting from Hela, who could have been a wonderful villain all by herself, no Jeff Goldblum (whom I love in other movies) required.
  • Your favorite documentary film
Most of the documentaries I watch tend to be hour long things, but if I add both episodes together, I hope David Attenborough's First Life fits into this category. The origins of life in an engaging format.
  • What movie did you love the most when you were a kid?
Return of the Jedi, my sis and I rented this from a good old fashioned video store one Christmas and we watched it over and over and over again. Luke fighting for his father, Leia discovering a little of her own talents, Han coming out of the carbonite and yes, I even adore the ewoks.
  • One story you want desperately to see as a movie (can be a book, videogame, comic, etc.)
The Champions - this is a 1960's tv series about secret agents (two brits and a yank) who get super powers when their plane crashes into Shangrila in the mountains. It sounds corny, it is, but the series pushes all of my buttons and I watch it over and again. There was talk of it being optioned for a movie a couple of years ago and Guillermo del Toro was linked to it, so I had high hopes, but things have been silent since then.
  • What movie do you always recommend to friends?
The Lost Boys - 'nuff said
  • A movie series you love to marathon
Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. They're easy to watch, brilliant romps and the nostalgia is heavy with these ones :)
  • Favorite superhero movie
I'm not going to reference any of the MCU movies, which is tempting, but I'm going back in time for this one. This movie is camp, it's somewhat racy, very, very silly, and it has a rock-out soundtrack -  I can watch it again and again - Flash Gordon (1980) with Sam J Jones and Max Von Sydow.
  • Favorite movie based on a book
This one's a repeat - The Woman in Black.
  • Favorite animated movie
Frozen - because it broke some moulds.
  • Free space: Mention any movie you love that you haven't talked about already!
Now this is a list that just jumped into my head, so they're a bit random ;P

Who Framed Roger Rabbit - I think the story stands the test of time and there aren't many animated characters that scare me, but the bad guy reveal at the end (and I won't say any more), that's creepy.

Grosse Pointe Blank - read Tasha's blanket box for reasons on this one.

Dead Man's Folly - Peter Ustinov as Poirot - I do like a good detective movie and this one's a guilty pleasure.

Tron - what's not to love about Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges battling an evil computer-overlord with 1982 tech.

Jurassic Park - the original, the classic.

The Awakening - obscure British 2011 horror, but I really like the premise and it's a well told story.

Wonder Woman - at last a decent DC superhero movie, and with great female characters.

Monsters Inc - oh Sully, oh Mike, oh Boo :)

The Princess Bride - inconceivable!! 

Aliens (Alien may be the classic, but I prefer film number 2)

Fright Night (1980's, not remake)

Two that go hand in hand in my mind - The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth - puppets, fantasy adventure, and David Bowie :)

And finally a mixed bag of 80's classics - Breakfast Club, Mannequin, Bladerunner, Pretty in Pink, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Dreamscape.

I'll stop now....but there are bound to be movies I've missed, and I could go on, and on, and on.....

So, if you want to join in, head on over to Tasha's blog for an easy-copy set of questions.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Ghostly Inspirations Z is for Zapped #AtoZChallenge 2018


Welcome to my offering for The A to Z Blogging Challenge 2018
My theme this year is Ghostly Inspirations
a collection of spirits that have been prompted by my encounters with places and times. Some are spooky, some more about atmosphere. I'll be describing each inspiration and the phantom that came to my mind, and then I will share a drabble, which I hope will entertain. :)



Disclaimer: The places and experienced I have used for my inspiration are real, but my ghosts and drabbles are complete fiction, linked to nothing and no-one, alive or dead. When writing about my inspirations, I may have changed names and obfuscated specific details to 'protect the innocent' :).

~

Z is for Zapped




Inspiration:
So, we’re at the final A to Z post - wow. Well, my inspiration today comes from a holiday I spent in Scotland with my sis and friends. We were staying in a cabin near Loch Ness, and it was midge season. One of the things that gets used against such pests is the blue light zappy machine (that’s a technical definition), you know the thing that looks like a bar heater that makes a snapping sound with a flash of blue light when an insect lands on it.

Well, that got me thinking about electricity and how deadly it can be to things bigger than a midge.

Ghost:
It was pelting it down with rain the night that Rory met his end. The weather was not unusual for Fort William at that time of year and Rory, handyman and night manager at White Gate Cabins, was taking advantage of the the offseason by having his own party in the empty holiday lets.  Loud music, friends and a cornucopia of mind altering substances meant that when the power went out due to the wind, Rory acted quickly to assuage the disappointment in his companions. He was the handyman, he knew how to refix the power line to their chosen cabin and he headed outside with a head torch to fix things.


However, being drunk and high meant that Rory was not at his fix-it best. He died in an arc of electricity. Still, Rory doesn’t see why death should stop his partying.

~

Party!

Jen shrieked her laughter as she tripped up the step to the cabin.

“Shhh,” Glen shushed, but was giggling as well as he fumbled for the lock, dropping the cans of beer in his other hand as he did.

The couple stumbled into their holiday let, missing the light switch. The room lit up anyway, a bright bluish light blinding Jen. Blinking away the brilliance and shock, Jen focused on the sofa and a crackling figure slumped there.

“Party!” it yelled.

Jen blinked again at the lopsidedly grinning thing. See-through, it was see-through. Sobering quickly, Jen screamed, turned and ran.


~

Other paranormal and spooky stories by Sophie Duncan.


~




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