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The Biggest Event of the Year is Almost Here!

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Just another few tiny hours, and the biggest event of the year, the one we have been impatiently waiting for, will be upon us, and I’m not talking Christmas!

Tomorrow, Tuesday 9th December is READ TUESDAY, and it’s going to be HUGE!

Read Tuesday is all about helping to improve literacy, and encouraging people, young and old, to pick up a book and read. It’s about fueling the imagination, taking a ride out of reality, meeting people and places you could never meet in your real life. It’s about escapism, fantasy, romance… in fact, whatever floats your boat, Read Tuesday has the book to suit you. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself.

Best of all, many of the authors have massively discounted their books, so if you are feeling the financial burden this Season of Giving can often dump on you, Read Tuesday can help; many of the books listed are FREE, most are reduced to crazy prices, and if you buy a print version as a gift for a loved one, you can in most cases get a Kindle copy FREE to keep for yourself.

This event only lasts ONE DAY, so don’t miss it!



Here are ways that readers can save big on Read Tuesday:

Please support the Read Tuesday Thunderclap. This will help spread awareness on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014). It’s easy to help:

  • Visit http://thndr.it/1CkO2Bg.
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.
  • (The warning message simply means that Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr need your permission to post the Thunderclap message on December 9. This is the only post that Thunderclap will make.)

Meet some of the participating authors here: http://readtuesday.com/meet-the-authors.

Read Tuesday: It’s going to be HUGE!

Give the gift of reading this holiday season.

Book Review | The Green Woman Trilogy by Jane Dougherty

I had been following author Jane Dougherty’s blog for a while before I decided to read her Green Woman Trilogy, so you would think I had a fairly good idea what to expect, right?

Wrong!

This writer exceeded all my expectations. She is a fine example of all that is wonderful about Indie publishing. In fact, I enjoyed the first book so much, I immediately downloaded the next two, and one of the accompanying novellas.

The Green Woman series starts with The Dark Citadel, and introduces us to its heroine, Deborah. She is a Givenchild, adopted when her birth mother escaped the oppressive city of Providence, and her father disappeared. Now, she is about to turn sixteen, and rebels against the marriage which the state has planned for her. Thus a series of events are set in motion as Deborah goes in search of her mother, discovering her true identity, and the destiny she can’t avoid. Read More

Book Review | Tiger in a Cage by Allie Cresswell

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Click the image to buy this book.

When I realised that the main protagonist of Allie Cresswell’s latest novel, Tiger in a Cage, was not quite the heroine I had believed her to be, I was quite taken aback; I had not seen it coming. I didn’t want to believe it. But rather than leaving me disappointed, the author had me enthralled, my interest firmly anchored in this character I wanted to despise, but couldn’t. Cresswell had managed to get me on the side of someone who, in real life, I would probably have no time for.  Read More

Book Review | PANAMA by Craig Boyack

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Click image to buy this book. You can find Craig on his website http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/

I took Craig Boyack’s Panama with me on holiday, and it proved to be a great choice for a holiday read. It bowls along at a fair old pace with plenty of action and a good helping of dialogue, all of which combine to keep the plot flowing nicely.

The two main characters, Ethan and Coop, are instantly likeable. Ethan is an ex-army cowboy working in the freight business, who is selected by President Roosevelt specifically for his unique ability to see and communicate with the dead. Ethan recruits Coop, a wannabe voodoo witch doctor, as his trusty sidekick and together they are tasked with an under-cover mission to prevent civil war from breaking out over the Panama Canal whilst also investigating some rather sinister supernatural goings on.  Read More

Book Review: Cornerstone; Raising Rook by KA Krisko

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I really enjoyed this book. It gripped me from the start and wouldn’t let me go until the last word was read.

Krisko has a unique imagination when it comes to building her fantasy worlds. This is the reason why I like her work so much. Unlike the Stolen series, though, Cornerstone; Raising Rook takes place in our own familiar world, yet the story it tells is anything but familiar. One suspects this from the very beginning, with the enormously atmospheric artwork on the cover. It builds a certain level of expectation, and Krisko does not disappoint.

You might describe Lorcas, the main protagonist, as one of life’s losers. A graduate in Wildlife Biology and Graphic Illustration, his life is a lonely one in terms of his career choice, his recently failed relationship, and his friendships. With his father dead, and a strained relationship with his mother, Lorcas, who is suffering from depression, decides to take off to his family’s abandoned summerhouse on the coast.

On the cliff above the summerhouse lies the cornerstone, the rock which his eccentric father gave him as a gift on his thirteenth birthday. Suddenly, Lorcas finds himself compelled to collect more stones, in an attempt to rebuild the castle which once stood there.

So Lorcas is drawn into a surreal adventure, in which he soon becomes part of the local community, a group known as the Fell Ken, who all share the same goal. And Lorcas discovers that he is the prophesied Lorecaster, destined for magical greatness.

Whilst all the trappings of Lorcas’s life are normal and recognisable to us, Krisko skilfully and unobtrusively immerses us in the magical, the fantastical. Gradually, the history of the castle and the Fell Ken are revealed to us as Lorcas himself learns them. And strangely, it doesn’t seem unnatural.

Most fantasy stories detail an epic battle between two opposing forces, good against evil. In this story, it becomes increasingly hazy as to which side is good, and which is evil. Whilst rooting for Lorcas, I couldn’t help feeling that some of the actions taken by his new friends are unusual, not quite acceptable. As I read on, I began to feel suspicious about the Fell Ken’s intentions, doubting which side Lorcas is on, yet couldn’t put my finger on anything definitive. I hoped I was wrong.

Whilst the story is complete and self contained, it ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger(pardon the pun, for those who have read it!), implying that there is a sequel in the offing. I sincerely hope so!

This is masterfully written, subtle, convincing, surprising. I recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, but is sick of the same-old, same-old. Krisko’s writing is fresh and original, and Cornerstone; Raising Rook is as much a tale of magical realism, as it is of fantasy.

Calling all budding junior JK Rowlings and Roddy Doyles out there! This could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for!

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Harper Collins are publishing a very special book later on in the year…and your story could be in it! Beyond the Stars is an anthology of short stories ‘of Adventure, Magic and Wonder’ written by such famous authors as John Boyne , Eoin Colfer (current newly appointed Children’s Laureate of Ireland), Roddy Doyle, Derek Landy, Judy Curtin and more, featuring illustrations by former Irish Children’s Laureate, Niamh SharkeyProfits from the book will go to Fighting Words,  a creative writing centre in Dublin for young people, established by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love.

The winning entry will be a short story, between 1500 and 5000 words written by…YOU! But only if you are aged between 8 and 16 years old. (I know, it’s a bit age-ist, I’d love to have my story featured in the same book as any of those authors, but never mind, lol!) The story must be winter-themed, imaginative and unique, and aimed at readers aged 8-10 years old.

The winning young author will get to work with editor Sarah Webb, have their story illustrated by Niamh Sharkey, have their story published with all those famous authors, and get to go to the launch party in London, along with four other short-listed entrants! Not only that, but your school will receive £250 worth of books for their school library! Not bad, hey?

Find out more HERE, inc terms and conditions. Closing date is 30th June 2014…so what are you waiting for? Oh, and GOOD LUCK!

A moving and true story

How would you cope, if you were handed a death sentence of only eighteen months to live? It doesn’t bear thinking about. And yet that is exactly what happened to Midge Rylander, for she had contracted a terminal form of cancer in the lining of her lungs called Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma, which is caused by inhaling asbestos. This book is the story of her journey through the course of her illness.

When I first started reading, I was a little apprehensive about what to expect, but I needn’t have worried. Midge plunges us straight into her world without any traces of self-pity, self-indulgence or bitterness at her fate. From the daily documentation of her pain, to the detail of her treatment and medication, and transcripts of her doctors’ appointments, Midge leads us gently alongside her as she bravely struggles to cope with living as full, independent, and normal a life as possible, for as long as possible. Read More

Book Review: Lost Boys by Allie Cresswell

One of my favourite reads from last year, Allie Cresswell’s Lost Boys took me by surprise with its lavish, lyrical language and rich narrative. This book is not a quick fix; it will take a bit of investment in terms of time and effort, as do all the best classics, but the reward is well worth it. This book is a fine example of Indie publishing at its best…download it now, and enjoy!
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lost boysIt is said that there are always two sides to every story, but in the case of Allie Creswell’s Lost Boys, there are four. Each quarter, a self-contained story in its own right, details a handful of characters living in a rather tired, semi-urban northern suburb.At first glance, these characters seem relatively unconnected, yet as events unfold, we find there are complex lines drawn between them, as fragile and convoluted as the windings of a spider’s web.

The drama of a young boy falling into a flooded river and being swept away by the torrent serves as the pivotal point and anchor around which all these characters and their stories revolve.

Are they united by this tragedy? Sadly, no, but these are real human beings scarred with all the flaws and failings of what it is to be human. Whilst some rally, others inevitably flounder.

The language is lavish. Creswell immerses herself in the rich voluptuousness of her words, whisking us along inexorably for the ride whether willing or no. I for one, I was happy to follow in her wake.

This is a style of writing considered no longer ‘in vogue’; present trends dictate that detail be bare and sparse in order to facilitate a more imaginative and interactive reader experience; let the reader fill in the gaps.

By contrast, reading this book could be likened to watching a movie; every tiny, delicious detail is laid out for us to behold in glorious, luxurious technicolour. Each character is vibrant and solid, every nuance of their appearance and behaviour meticulously recreated for us with thought, care, imagination and deliberation. Backgrounds and locations are paid just as much attention as the main stars.

This book will undoubtedly have you falling in love with language all over again; will inspire you with just what can be done by the skilful lacing together of words on a page.

The plot is subtle and weaving, surprising at times, a contributor, but never a dictator. The strength of this novel lies in its characters. You won’t love or admire them all, but you will recognise them. Mrs Fairlie is held upright only by her stubborn pride, refusing to acknowledge it as the weakness which resulted in her dysfunctional offspring. Jennifer is self-centred and self-serving. Rose is the kindly nurse who cares more for her patients than her family. Matt is the unruly teenager made delinquent by the break-up of his parents’ marriage. Skinner does a runner, unable to cope with his mother’s disappearance and father’s drunken violence.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Mr Pickering is the tyrant factory owner who re-invents himself after a heart attack, determined to make amends for past wrong-doings. Megan is the waitress turned rescuer. Guy is the journalist with a conscience. Jade puts her sister’s interests ahead of her own happiness. Each is burdened with their own personal demons, each struggling to find a way to redeem themselves.

Through these people, Cresswell tackles subjects which impact on all our lives, topics we might prefer to ignore; how money and class mark out territory; how unemployment leads to crime and degeneration; divorce, rape, lawlessness, and how the actions of adults influence the young.

The Indi author movement has had much bad press in the past. Anyone can publish a book these days and call themselves a writer. Inevitably, the standard can be less than professional. Creswell is a remarkable storyteller, and a talented wordsmith. Lost Boys is a triumph for the Indi movement, and an example of all that is good about it.

You can find this book on Goodreads, and on Amazon.

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

So you like book reviews? Here’s another one for you. This book would make an excellent Christmas present for someone you know, be they a young person, or simply young at heart. Happy Reading!

A monster callsI bought this book for my ten-year old son, then read it myself. I was first attracted to it by the powerful illustrations (Jim Kay)which are truly captivating whilst never revealing too much; I like to retain the ability to use my own imagination to picture a scene from a book, and Jim Kay still allowed me to do this.

I was then lured by the layout and style of the book; fold out matt covers, text punctuated by double page illustrations, all in moody black and white, and many border image; short chapters often broken into smaller chunks; and thought processes written in italics. Easy for a child to read. And me. I read it in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down.

Monster calls2The story, however, is anything but easy. It centres on Conor, at a most traumatic time in his young life. His mother is terminally ill, he has a difficult relationship with his estranged father, his grandmother doesn’t want him, and he is being bullied at school.

Conor’s best friend is the monster. But the monster makes him do bad things. And the monster wants something from him, something Conor is not prepared to give…

monster calls 3It is clear from the beginning that this story is not going to have a happy ending, although that doesn’t stop one hoping. The conclusion is written so beautifully, and so simply, that it’s impossible not to shed a tear.

This book highlights many issues for children without lecturing or moralising; the horror of bullying, the pain of loss, the power of communication, and the importance of friendship and helping one another.

It’s not just a good read; it’s an atmospheric and compelling literary experience. Don’t buy it on Kindle, it’s far too good for that. You need to hold it in your hands, see it and feel it. Enjoy!

Find it HERE at Amazon.

Book Review: Skallagrig by William Horwood. A story which will stay with you forever.

skallagrigAlthough I review books fairly regularly, and post them on Amazon or Goodreads, I don’t often post them here, on aliisaacstoryteller. The reason for that is that there are some fantastic book review blogs out there who do it far better than I can. However, Skallagrig is unlike any other book I have ever experienced, and I find my thoughts returning to it often, so I would like to share it with you.

NOTE: This book is no longer in print, or available in e-book format, a great shame in my opinion. I obtained my paperback copy second-hand through Amazon.

An Amazing, Emotional Read. May 14, 2013
By Ali Isaac
This book was recommended to me by a friend, as it deals with the subject of disability. This is close to my heart, as I have a daughter with a rare syndrome. I have to say, this story quite blew me away, for many, many reasons.

Although the book was written and published in the 80’s, I was surprised to find that it is not available as an E-book on Kindle. William, if you ever see this, I hope you will consider doing just that. However, I was lucky enough to get a paperback copy second-hand.

Even before you begin to read, there is something haunting, and powerful about the title, and the front cover image.This is not an easy read. The story is, at times, rambling. It is often brutal, and bleak in its descriptions of life for the disabled in years gone by, to the point where it is quite hard to take.

Part One starts in 1927 with the heart-rending story of a young boy named Arthur, who is torn from his family and institutionalised, because he has cerebral palsy. There he is mistreated and abused, but the belief that the Skallagrigg will one day come and save him sustains him as the years pass by. We then move to 1982, when we meet the main protagonist of the story, Esther, who also has CP. Understanding has come a long way since 1927, and Esther’s circumstances are very different to Arthur’s, although difficult in their own way. Finally, the narrator introduces himself, a systems analyst and computer programmer from Birmingham. How are they all linked, we begin to wonder.

Well, it’s complicated. The narrator comes across a computer game called Skallagrigg. This floors him; Skallagrigg is a word he has heard before. It is the only piece of information his father passed onto him about his ancestors. Desperate to find out what it means, he becomes obsessed with the game, and so he begins his quest to find the Skallagrigg.

Part Two is where the story really began for me, with the intriguing story of Esther’s life. The depiction of a vast intelligence locked within a body which cannot be controlled to speak or walk is touching, and compelling. Regardless of her disability, Esther manages to make friends, go to school, and excel at her studies. She is not always likeable, but she is real, convincing in her flaws, and in her incredible strength and determination. With the introduction of computer technology, Esther suddenly finds she has a voice at last, and now her spirit is soaring free, her mind unencumbered by the limits of her unwieldy body.

In Esther’s world, the legends of the Skallagrigg are never far away. Always, they centre around a boy named Arthur. As she collects these stories, she comes to realise that they must be true, and sets out to find him, for where he is, so must the Skallagrigg surely be.

Does she find Arthur? Yes, she does. Is the meaning of the Skallagrigg revealed? Yes, it is. Do we discover the connection between these three characters? Yes, we do, yet the story does not have the satisfactory, cosy, comfortable conclusion one might expect.

I will tell you no more about the plot; this is a book you need to read for yourself. It will open your eyes to the plight those with special needs face every day, and the difficulties their families must overcome. It explores relationships, not just among the disabled. It examines people’s attitudes towards special needs through the years. It debates society’s responsibilities to care for these people, and protect their rights. It’s a fictional story, but based on fact, and the writer’s own experiences with his daughter, Rachel.

There were times when I wept as I read; for all those children like Arthur who were so cruelly abused and shunned by the rest of humankind; but also because I had been through so many similar situations with my daughter, as Esther did with her father. I felt I learned a lot; this is not mindless entertainment, it is a story you have to work at, and all the more rewarding for it.

It is a story which I know will stay with me for a very long time.

You can get your copy here.

Get Your Copy – Of Words And Water Is Available Now On Smashwords

I am proud to be a part of this anthology in support of Wateraid. I hope you will download a copy, and make a donation, and sincerely hope you enjoy reading it. Ali x

Of Words and Water

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You can now go to our Smashwords page and download your copy of our Wateraid anthology, Of Words and Water, FREE of charge…but PLEASE don’t forget to go to our Just Giving page, too, and make a donation to Wateraid.

Thankyou, and hope you enjoy the stories!

from the Words and Water authors

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