For those following my post-apocalyptic serial Zero Hour on Kindle, Zero Hour Part 3: Revelations is now available! Thanks to everyone for their support so far, the response has been amazing. Now, back to work on part 4.
Hey everybody, I’ll be keeping this blog for reviews from now on and moving my author stuff to a separate page, but just a quick plug for my new short story Zero Hour which is now live on Amazon. It’s the first of a series of stories I hope to release over the next few months, as well as two novels. Reaction to it so far has been amazing and even Hugh Howey was kind enough to read it (as you can probably see from the cover!)
I’d just like to thank everybody including Hugh and also author Brian G. Burke for giving me some invaluable feedback and advice on launch day. This was a project I largely did myself. The cover design and formatting was a challenge but I think I got there in the end.
I’ve got some exciting projects coming up so if you’d like to keep up to date sign up for my email list here and you’ll be the first to hear, as well as getting in on some cool freebies and giveaways. No spam – I promise!
So if you’d like to give Zero Hour a try you can get it from Amazon for only 99c or 99p in the UK. If you do like it, please consider leaving a review (however short) on Amazon. Reviews are the lifeblood of indie authors and without them we just wouldn’t sell any books.
Buy Zero Hour on Amazon
Also Amazon UK & Ireland
It’s been a busy year! I reckon I’ve gotten through around 35 books this year so it’ll be hard to whittle it down to a top 10. I’ve noticed a lot of the lists about this year are very safe and samey so I’m shaking it up a bit. Also unlike most of the other lists around I’m including self-published titles, of which there have been some outstanding examples this year. Sincere thanks to all the authors and publishers who have supported me this year!
I absolutely loved this one. Highly original and thought-provoking. Jason has since bagged a publishing deal with Crown so expect this book to be everywhere next year, albeit in a revised edition.
Hugh pulled out all the stops with this tense post-apocalyptic actioner. It’s a riveting read from start to finish.
Ben’s iconic detective Henry Palace unravels the final pieces of the puzzle as asteroid Maia hurtles ever closer to earth. He really couldn’t have finished this trilogy any better.
A huge success this year, this originally self-published scifi thriller features a quick-thinking wisecracking astronaut stranded on Mars. You will never clench your buttocks more. Think of it as Gravity with a little Ferris Bueller thrown in.
This beautifully designed and innovative take on the haunted house theme transferred to retail was a blast. Think House On Haunted Hill-meets-Ikea.
This supernatural crime thriller was a gem strengthened by Beukes unique style and unflinching attitude.
My YA pick for this year, this is a no-nonsense dystopian epic which should definitely NOT be split into two movies to bore the pants off the general public.
A thoroughly enjoyable sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, expect to see a lot of this series next year as the Tim Burton movie is released (hopefully not starring Johnny Depp as Miss Peregrine)
A huge hit on Amazon this year, Fluency is a brilliant fusion of classic and modern scifi and paves the way for what should be a very entertaining series.
My middle-grade/early teen pick for this year. I’ve been raving about this one for a while but it deserves a shot. An epic fantasy tale with an Irish twist to rival anything else that’s been released in this genre this year with a lot of heart, plenty of action, humour and scares to keep 11-15 year-olds (and many adults!) interested. Looking forward to book two next year.
Jason Gurley has created an outstanding collection here, each as diverse as it is enthralling, establishing himself as a masterful short story writer. From the bleak post-apocalyptic opener Wolf Skin to the heart-wrenching finale The Dark Age, each story and character is intricately crafted and despite the dark subject matter, each story has an underlying theme of hope even in the most hopeless of circumstances. I’ve been sent several anthologies of a similar nature recently and this is by far one of the best I’ve come across.
Gurley effortlessly embellishes each paragraph with so much emotion you cannot but be affected by the subtle prose and a heartfelt empathy for his characters rarely displayed by authors these days. An engrossing, often surreal trip to the End Of The World, beautifully descriptive and consistently thought-provoking. A refreshing break from the sci-fi norm.
Buy here on Amazon
Hugh Howey’s breakout success of 2013, the stunning Wool trilogy was a game-changer not only in the sci-fi genre but in the world of publishing itself. The self-published epic delighted readers worldwide and the final part, Dust released in August brilliantly concluded a captivating piece of work that will continue to delight fans for many years to come.
But no sooner had we said goodbye to the Wooliverse than a new title, Sand was being bandied about. What was even more surprising was how quickly it had been written. By late December fans were being treated to the first instalment in this new series, with the last episode arriving in January. The new omnibus UK print edition is available from today.
Sand is yet another epic story set in the distant future in a world where the aforementioned granular substance has buried entire cities leaving people to eke out an existence in a harsh desert climate by any means possible. Aided by sand-altering technology, skilled divers can manipulate the sand with vibrations making it flow so they can dive deep underground, recovering lost artifacts (in fact just ordinary everyday objects from present day) from long lost cities selling them on for huge profit.
When Palmer, a skilled diver and his friend Hap are hired to dive by a dangerous group of pirates (yes there are pirates!) they become unwittingly involved in a huge discovery which will have dangerous repercussions for everyone, including Palmer’s family, who themselves are struggling to survive while also dealing with the disappearance of their father.
Sand has a very different feel to Wool. It’s a much grittier (sorry!) affair in many ways reversing the dynamic. We now have an open environment and a totally disorganised and essentially lawless society where characters fend for themselves, one dusty day at a time. It has a much more adult feel dealing with sexual themes and gory comeuppances and is littered with more swear words than you may be used to from this author but this fits perfectly with the world Howey has once again expertly built and while it may not be as intricate and detailed a world as that of the Silos it certainly feels much more grounded in reality for some reason. Not too much is explained about the technology, giving it an almost steampunk feel, we just know it looks cool and it works but we don’t really need to know how.
The beauty of Sand however is in the writing. There is a true emotion throughout as we see a disengaged family struggle to reunite only to risk being torn apart again by the forces working against them. The characters are subtly introduced and expertly enhanced at key points, not only building on their personalities and history but also keeping the plot flowing steadily. The vivid, contrasting imagery can shift from beauty to ugliness in an instant and back again seamlessly and there are some moments of – and I do not say this lightly- sheer brilliance in Howey’s prose and for all it’s rough and tumble, Sand has some well-placed and genuinely tender moments which at times can cleverly disarm the reader temporarily, leaving them totally unprepared for the next fiendish plot twist.
But fear not, this ain’t no sandy Seventh Heaven. Sand is a highly-charged, action-filled, thrill-a-minute, ass-kicking, jawbreaking blockbuster and makes no apologies for it. The panic and claustrophobia of the dives is portrayed perfectly and the tension is retained every single time a character dives into the unforgiving sand even if just for a moment, knowing the slightest error of judgement means instant death. This savage world leaves no prisoners and Danger brashly loiters around every dune and street corner. It’s a world where it’s much easier to look away than help and sadly this is already starting to mirror today’s society, but as our characters prove, the most exceptional of circumstances can yield the most unexpected response from some people.
If there was ever any doubt about Hugh Howey’s longevity as a writer, Sand is proof that there can be none. Consistency is hard enough for a writer to achieve, constant and sustained improvement is another thing entirely.
Now I know it’s only January, but I think I’ve already found my Book of 2014.