aliisaacstoryteller


It’s so hard finding a really good book these days, so when I find one which stands out from the rest, I just have to share it with you. So here it is, ‘Hinting at Shadows’ by Sarah Brentyn… your next great read!


Flash Fiction is like Marmite – you either love it, or you don’t. But that’s because it’s still a new genre, and the majority of the reading public are either unaware, or suspicious of it. I mean, really, how can you tell a complete story in just one or two hundred words?

The answer is… you can’t. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s a snapshot. A crystallized moment in time. Flash Fiction distills a story down to it’s most vital essence. The rest is told – hinted at – by implication. And as a reader, you are invited not just to passively read, but to read actively; Flash Fiction fires your imagination. So if you are one of those people who likes a linear tale told from beginning to end with a definitive character arc and every detail spelled out for you, well then Flash is probably not for you.

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I was very honoured some months ago to be asked by friend and fellow blogger, Sacha Black, to beta-read her new book, ‘13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villains’.

Well, I almost cried when I read it because I realised just how bad my villains are… and I don’t mean that in a super-bad good way, if you know what I mean!

13 Steps to Evil How to Craft Superbad Villains by Sacha Black.

Like most other authors, I had concentrated on my hero and was all loved-up with my brave, magical, flawed CK. The baddy, by comparison, now seems shallow and unconvincing.

How I wish this book had been available before I started to write my first book! Sigh. However, all is not lost… I have learned a lot, which I will be using in my future novels. And if you are a first -time author about to release your beautiful book-baby into the big bad world, go and grab yourself a copy of Sacha’s book quickly, and read it cover-to-cover (virtually, if its on Kindle) before you press that big ‘P’ button.

So, what’s it all about, and why’s it so special? Quite honestly, there isn’t a really good, comprehensive book on baddies out there. Until now.

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Book Review | Abomination by Jane Dougherty

Book Review | Abomination by Jane Dougherty www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

Book Review | Abomination by Jane Dougherty
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

So I read this book last week. It’s called Abomination and its written by author and blogger Jane Dougherty. Now, before I go any further, you need to know something; we may never have met in the flesh, but Jane and I are friends. Gasp! I know, how can that be? Even worse, we actually wrote a book together. So of course I’m going to be fawning all over her new offering, right?

Wrong. I do my best to write my reviews with integrity and honesty.

I may be an author who is friendly with other authors, but despite this fact, and in spite of what Amazon thinks, it is still possible to write a review honestly and truthfully.

Now the likelihood is, because I know the author, and we have read each others books, and even co-authored a book, there is a good chance that we might actually genuinely enjoy each other’s writing and style.

Amazon doesn’t think this is possible. So I will have to think carefully about whether I post a review there and risk getting banned. Maybe I will just be a rebel and do it anyway.

In any case, this is my blog where I can write what I like, and frequently do. So, enough waffling, I have stated my case, lets get on with the show. Or the review, at least.

Abomination is the first in a series called The Pathfinders. This book is published by Finch Books and is currently available as an Early Download at €6.08 in their online book store. It goes on general release on March 22nd 2016.

I had to laugh when I visited its book page; it comes with the following warning;

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of physical abuse, sexual slavery and violence and references to child murder.”

I can’t imagine anything which would please Jane more! It may put parents off, but every teenager in town is going to want to read it now!

Ok. It hardly sounds like a book for Young Adults, I’m sure you’re thinking, but relax; Jane knows what she’s doing. You can’t wrap young people up in cotton wool and pretend we’re living in fairyland. These are real issues going on in the world all around us, and our young people need to be made aware, not made vulnerable and ignorant by hiding the truth from them.

Having said that, whilst Jane doesn’t pull any punches, she knows where to draw the line. She is a mother of teenagers herself, and so am I. There is nothing in this book I wouldn’t want my fourteen year old son to see, and he will tell you I’m pretty strict on age limits for books, games and movies!

So what’s it about? Here’s some of the blurb;

As the end of the world begins, Carla and Tully hurtle through a wormhole five years forward in time, only to find they haven’t missed the Apocalypse after all.

“Carla and Tully are picnicking in the quad of their international high school in central Paris when the end of the world begins. They are sucked into a wormhole that spits them out five years later to find that the world is a freezing desolation but still hanging on, waiting for something even worse to finish it off. The something worse turns out to be the Burnt Man and his horsemen. Taken prisoner by the Flay Tribe to their lair in the ruins of a shopping mall, Tully is forced to become a warrior, while Carla joins the other girls as a kitchen slave and comfort woman.”

I’m not giving you any more. Go check it out and get yourselves a download whilst you’re at it, that’s your best bet.

This book reminded me of Lord of the Flies; it had that same sinister atmosphere. It’s unnerving to see how brutal our sweet, precious children can become when left to their own devices in a deadly game of survival.

But as violent and aggressive as they are, there’s someone out there who’s even more terrifying, even more savage, and who ultimately holds all the cards. Daily life brings the ever more urgent search for food as supplies dwindle; attack from mutant creatures which lurk in the shadows, always looking to feast on tender human flesh; and the ever-present danger of gang warfare with the other ‘tribes’ prowling beyond their defences.

In Tully and Carla, the author presents an alternative way forward, in which rationality, strength, determination and compassion can prevail. If they get the chance. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not perfect heroes; they’re real human beings that every reader will be able to identify with. They have their own particular character flaws, they make mistakes, but they are resourceful and learn to deal with them.

Some of the characters are pretty nasty. We’ve all met bullies like them. My only gripe with the book concerns one of them; Flo, madam and supervisor of the girls, a thoroughly vile piece of work, holds great potential as a villain, yet just as she gets going with her dastardly plan, she is killed off. Personally, I would have liked to see how the story could have developed under her influence.

This book may be for young people, but it does not come with a happy ever after. Although it stands alone as a complete story in itself, the ending makes it clear that there is more, much more to come, and I for one am tagging along for the ride down that next wormhole.

You can buy this book now on Finch Books online store.

Remember, it goes on general release on March 22nd 2016.

You can find out more about Jane on her blog, Jane Dougherty Writes.

Cover Reveal | The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack

Craigs cover

This is the cover for Craig Boyack’s new book… isn’t it fab? It just screams “Pick me up and read me!”. I love it. It has an air of mysticism and magic about it, as if Dumbledore and Gandalf may once have opened its ancient covers and learned their magic from its precious dusty parchment.

And magic it is, too. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an advance copy, and couldn’t put it down. Mind you, I have been a fan of Craig’s since I read Panama, and each book he has produced since then has got progressively better and better. I particularly enjoyed his last book, Will o’ the Wisp (you can read my review here).

But this one is just a little bit different to all that has gone before, because it contains a collection of his best short stories. How can I describe a Craig Boyack short story? Eclectic, whimsical, unexpected, magical, weird, unique and out of the ordinary. When it comes to his writing, Craig certainly thinks outside of the box.

Chock-full of an entertaining mix of twelve short stories and flash pieces, this book is a gripping read, and great value for money at 99c. Here are my faves;

It begins with Jack o’ Lantern, a Hallowe’en Flash piece with a very surprising ending. This is followed by Something in the Water, a tale with a classic ghost story feel, and which contains a thrilling aerial dog fight, btw. Bombshell Squad features the very luscious robo-girl, Lisa Burton, a character from Craig’s first book; I really loved the detail and sumptuous descriptions in this piece. My next fave was Diplomat, a dragon tale with a fantastic sting in the tail. The Soup Ladle of Destiny is a true fairytale reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm, and can be enjoyed whatever your age. 50 Gallon Drum is another flash piece with a lovely atmosphere and a stunning twist in the last sentence. A Tale of Rebirth is an upcycled version of the classic genie in the lamp story with a genius finish which I just didn’t see coming. Finally, Transference is a wacky tale in which the author makes a cameo appearance. What am I talking about? He’s the star of the show!

So I picked 8 out of 12 as my faves, but I could have listed them all. Go get your copy and decide for yourself. Its available now. You can find Craig on his blog, Entertaining Stories, and on Twitter. You can buy his books on Amazon. com and Amazon.co.uk.

Book Review | Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens

I am very pleased to be reviewing books for Children’s Books Ireland and Inis Magazine. CBI is the national children’s books organisation of Ireland. Through their many activities and events they aim to engage young people with books, foster a greater understanding of the importance of books for young people and act as a core resource for those with an interest in books for children in Ireland. 

Children’s Books Ireland publishes Inis magazine three times in the year. Each issue contains a rich array of children’s literature articles and features, as well as in depth reviews of new titles for children and teenagers. This is my first book review for them. You can see it here.

valjoe

Following the recent unexpected death of her father, Rose travels to Ypres in Belgium with her Grandpa to visit the graves of the fallen soldiers of the First World War. There, she finds herself mysteriously transported back in time, where she meets fifteen-year-old soldier, Joe.

Stevens vividly recreates the atmosphere of the war, whilst shielding younger readers from its more gruesome details. Her characters are engaging, from Grandpa with his comical and mildly annoying habits, to grieving Rose, who is struggling to come to terms with her bereavement, to the plucky and loveable character of Valentine Joe himself.

After a gentle start, the pace of the story picks up, the sights and sounds of the city of Ypres, past and present, propelling us along in the wake of our heroine, lending authenticity to her adventures.

A month before his sixteenth birthday, on the morning of his death, we find ourselves in the trench alongside Joe and Rose. Whilst Rose professes her sorrow and despair throughout the story, I didn’t really feel it, and it seems to me a missed opportunity which distinguishes a good book from a great one.

Having said that, the author does an excellent job of highlighting the shocking issue of the boy soldiers, and effectively brings the atrocities of war to life.

With its clear, simple language, its teen love theme, and its young female hero, this book is ideally aimed at girls.


I am currently reading ‘The High Hills’ by Jill Barklem, and ‘FishOut of Water’ by Natalie Whipple. My reviews must be submitted by 9th April.

Book Review | Will o’ the Wisp by CS Boyack

will of the wisp image for review

When blogger friend and author Craig Boyack put out on his blog that he was looking for ARC readers for his new book, Will o’ the Wisp, I jumped at the chance. I have read several of his books now, Panama, Arson and The Cock of the South, and enjoyed them all immensely. I was intrigued by some of the hints he had given on his blog during his writing journey, not least, how the hell was this hairy man of a certain age, who had nurtured a sourdough starter named Tituba for thirty odd years, going to get inside the head of a teenage girl?

Will o’ the Wisp is a paranormal YA novel set in mid seventies rural America and centres on a fifteen year old girl, Patty, and her slightly eccentric and dysfunctional family. I immediately sided with Patty; not only is she strong, and funny and clever, but she has to wear leg braces, which are the bane of her life. I identified with this, because my daughter wears them too.

The braces lead to exclusion and bullying in school and social life, and understandably, Patty freezes everyone out, allowing only two trusted confidantes across the barrier. On top of her emerging awareness as an adult, she shares a particularly complex relationship with her mother, which is hard to understand, or condone at times, but which adds an extra dimension of reality to the story. It is no wonder Patty seeks escapism in the stars, space and science-fiction.

However, a chance encounter with a phenomenon known as the Will o’ the Wisp leads to a frightening discovery about the fate of her own family, something only she can change.

Patty’s challenges with regard to her leg braces, her relationship with her mother, the highs and lows of her friendships and teenage life in general wind their cunning sub plots deliciously through the main thrust of the story.

In my view, this is Boyack’s best yet, his piece de resistance! All his characters are strong and well defined, but Craig has excelled in stepping into Patty’s shoes; he has produced a most convincing teen, likeable one minute, and annoying the next, a self-reliant, independent and free-thinking child of the seventies, an era which he has expertly and admirably reproduced in this story, and which is certain to bring back many memories for many readers.

Although this story is classified as YA, I recommend it to anyone who is still young at heart (or who can at least still remember how being young felt).


You can buy Will o’ the Wisp on Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk. To find out more about Craig, please drop by his excellent and entertaining blog. And finally, to learn about about the enigmatic Tituba, please go here… she has a whole section of Craig’s blog dedicated to her.

Book Review | Arson by CS Boyack

arson2

I’m giving you a good look at the cover, cos it’s awesome!


I had read a few of Craig’s books, and greatly enjoyed them all, so I decided to try Arson. I had some misgivings before I began, because it is Sci-Fi, which usually goes straight over my head… all that physics and futuristic technology stuff just boggles my mind and completely alienates me, if you’ll pardon the pun!

Also, I like to think that through our writing and blogging journeys, Craig and I have become friends, and it would hurt me to have to write a less than favourable review, or just not write anything at all; in the Indie world, reviews matter, but they have to be honest and written with integrity.

So I was a little apprehensive at the start.

I needn’t have worried though. Although set in a futuristic world, Arson is all about the characters and their story. And what characters they are!

Perry is the main protagonist, an inter-galactic fire-fighting hero who through no fault of his own, becomes injured in service, and discharged from duty. He’s the kind of man who puts his own life at risk to save a friend. For a while, he is lost… fire-fighting is in his blood, his father was a fireman, and his sister is an arson investigator.

Then his sister is gruesomely murdered, and he decides to apply for her job, with the intention of investigating her murder. At Glynnco training camp he meets the weird and wacky Dr Pennington, a female character that I just adored! This book has many good points, but Dr Pennington is by far the best, and I hope she reappears in future stories.

An action-packed beginning sets the tone and pace for this story, which has a little something for everyone; adventure, adrenaline, violence, camaraderie, boot-camp, romance, sex,  some of the sex scenes are quite humorous! Oh, and did I mention, there’s lots of fire!

As far as the science fiction goes, this is certainly an interplanetary multi-cultural futuristic world, but it’s still recognisable; they still go trick or treating at Halloween, there is still a need for religion, the characters still eat real food, and wash up their dirty dishes. They still drive cars, but outside of the inner city, they fly in a complex skyway network. The mobile phone has been replaced by the tablet, but it’s more than today’s device, it’s ID, and every function of a character’s life is contained on it.

Arson proved to be one of those books I couldn’t put down, and when I did, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. Boyack is a rare breed of author who can write successfully and convincingly in a multitude of genre’s, and never disappoints because his greatest strength lies in his development of highly believable and enjoyable characters that you grow to really care about.

The futuristic stuff is sure to satisfy Sci-Fi buffs, but the story will definitely please everyone else.

You can buy this book on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Don’t forget to also check out Craig’s blog.

Cover Reveal | Grá mo Chroí, ‘Love of my Heart’

GMCFinal Version lge

Available to pre-order on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Launches Wednesday 11th February.

It’s not slushy, it’s not dewy-eyed, it’s not bodice-ripping, but it IS Irish, it IS mythology, and it IS romantic!

Back in November, it seemed like such a good idea; Jane Dougherty and I had got to know each other via our blogs, we had similar interests, and wrote along similar themes. When she agreed to the Grá mo Chroí project, I was delighted… for about five minutes, and then the panic set in.

I don’t/ can’t write short stories. I had never written a love story in my life. And Jane was so much further along the evolutionary path of a writer than I, how could I hope to meet the standard she set? I was going to have to up my game, and quick; we had settled on love stories from Irish myth with a launch date just prior to Valentine’s Day. We had two months in which to gather our thoughts, select and write our stories, edit them, create a book cover, format and publish, and plan and implement something of a blog tour (a big and heartfelt thank you to all our lovely blogging friends who stepped up to the mark here and agreed to help us out!). And in the middle of that, we had the Christmas and New Year holidays.

It was looking like a bit of a tall order. It normally takes me at least a year to write a book (I’m very slow!). But this one came together surprisingly easily, perhaps because it was such a pleasure to have someone to share it with, perhaps because we were able to support and encourage each other, and just maybe the heroes and heroines of these tales really wanted their stories to be told.

These are not your average love stories… how could they be? They come from Irish mythology, they feature brave, fierce warriors like Fionn mac Cumhall, Cuchullain and Diarmuid; powerful Gods and Goddesses like Manannán and Cliodhna; Fairy Queens like Fand; wise and noble High Kings like Cormac mac Airt, and beautiful Princesses like Deirdre and Grainne. They are full of passion, tragedy and poetry, all the ingredients which make a love story clutch at your heart, stir your emotions and excite your senses. They are stories which should not be forgotten.

I have enjoyed working with Jane on this project immensely. You can read what Jane has to say about it here. The tales we have told may not be represented in the way you might expect, and the views of some of the characters may surprise you. These are the stories which spoke to us, and we hope you love them as much as we do.