Review: The Evolution of Glory Loomis by Michael Bassen

glory loomisThirteen year old Glory Loomis discovers a second hand book about strange goings on in Roswell that appear to show her parents and much older brother, but under completely different names. Before she gets far into the book, strange things start happening around Glory – and to her.

The Evolution of Glory Loomis proceeds to unspool at a great pace – not unlike the pace in which Glory begins her evolution into a metasapien and resolves on ways to save the world. It’s snappy, light and fun, more cartoony than realistic with its approach, but very entertaining.

From the start, it’s clear that several people have their eye on Glory, who seems a pretty typical teen in the opening chapters. Who these people are, and whether they intend her harm or good, is revealed over time – and some characters motivations switch or become deeper as the story moves on.

The villains can be fairly Scooby-gang level, but author Michael Bassen has done a fantastic job of exploring the impact of the physical and pyschological changes on Glory. She has to cope not only with an intellectual expansion, but catching up with the emotional and philosophical sophistication that is way ahead of her teenaged experienced. Some dark things happen, and she makes some serious mistakes, though she tries from them, especially when it comes to a fellow late-blooming metasapien named Peter.

The story touches only lightly on the ethics of making the world a better place without actually asking anyone in the world about it, but it’s a likeable book that flows easily. That it left me with questions about the rightness of Glory’s actions – although they are for the greater good –  is not, I think, a bad thing.

Buy The Evolution of Glory Loomis

Read about The Evolution of Glory Loomis at Cedar Grove Publishing

Review: Ashamet, Desert Born by Terry Jackman

ashamet cover

Sometimes, you open a book and it’s just not the right time for it. That happened to me six months ago when I looked at the opening paragraphs of Chapter 1 of Ashamet, Desert Born. I saw odd names, references to non-Earth physiology, and thought, “I don’t have the mental energy for this”. I put it aside and went on to other books that I was both reading and writing.

That, dear reader, was a mistake.

Fortunately, a week ago I saw it on my ereader again, remembered that I’d offered to review it and decided to try it once more.

I’m so glad I did.

Ashamet, Desert Born is a marvellous book. It’s full of intrigue and adventure; it’s intelligent and engaging; it’s romantic and exciting!

The book is narrated by the Ashamet of the title – a prince whose father bears a holy symbol that Ash lacks, though both suspect is just the result of jiggery-pokery by the priests. Ash is happy to be a soldier, and we meet him on his wedding day. Descriptions of him and the various peoples come to his great celebration indicate they are a humanoid but not necessarily human people, but all the potential awkwardness I saw in that never eventuates, because Terry Jackman is a subtle and clever writer.

This is certainly an alien world, and its creation shows influence from Arabian Nights tales, but it unfolds as its own thing. Various cultures, social mores, rituals and practices unfold with slow grace, all from Ashamet’s perspective, so the reader is never overwhelmed with tedious infodump.

Ashamet’s world is one in which males outnumber females to a huge degree – and actually my only criticism of the book is that with females so completely elided in the story, I find myself wondering how such a biologically awkward thing has come to pass. I’d very much like to see more female characters in any follow up (and I very much want to read a follow up!).

This leaves us with a complex society in which same-gender relations are the norm. So when Ashamet receives a rare slave as a wedding gift – a male who is rather old to be a virgin, but clearly an innocent and so prized – his relationship with the unusual Keril becomes the central theme of the book, affecting as it does both Ashamet’s emotional life, as well as his social and political ones – and Keril’s too, of course.

We already know from the very first paragraph that assassins have tried to kill Ash. From there, an intricate story is woven of court politics, family relations, complex alliances, and traditional social expectations.

Ash narrates with humour and depth – a smart male, politically savvy and spiritually sceptical. The odd things that begin to occur, including a itching sensation on his arm that begins to form into a sign of heavenly blessing, alarming because he doesn’t believe in such powers.

Jackman manages to build a narrative in delicate layers that reveals a world without lecturing, that reveals Ashamet to us through his thoughts and deeds, and then weaves more and more complication into the story until we reach the action-packed denoument. Because we only know what Ashamet knows, some elements still come as revelations, because they haven’t been heavily foreshadowed by the writer.

In the end, I found Ashamet, Desert Born beautifully paced, filled with characters of depth and texture, with enough action balanced with enough thoughtfulness and a thread of tension to reveal a fully developed world. The enigmatic, innocent and  yet perceptive Keril is balanced beautifully with the wit, courage, strength and heart of Prince Ashamet. Their love story is interwoven flawlessly into the wider tale of political and religious intrigue.

Of course I wish there were more of a female perspective – but with enough mystery left at the end of the story (which is otherwise well concluded) I have hopes that a second book in this world will give us more of a look into the female experience of these fascinating cultures and people.

I will certainly be looking for more work from Terry Jackman, who writes with such intelligence, emotional depth and subtlety.

Read and interview with Terry Jackman

Buy Ashamet, Desert Born

 

Quintette of Questions: Camille Taylor

Quintette asks writers five quick questions. This week’s interview is with:

Camille Taylor

No Law1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

No Law. I did have a play around with the title, though I can’t recall the names now. I wrote it many years ago. As it’s part of a series – each with Law in the title – you wouldn’t think it’d be so hard!

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Glenn Quinn as Dmitry. I’ve loved him since the first season of Angel and Bryce Dallas Howard as Carey. She plays a great take-charge heroine.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Sweet. Sexy. Love. Action and Chemistry.

4. Who is your favourite fictional couple?

I’m going to go with an Austen couple (surprise surprise) Christopher Brandon and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. Though this is more to do with the 1995 movie than the book and the fact that I absolutely loved the way Alan Rickman portrayed Captain Brandon. *Sigh*

 5. What song always makes you cry?

Hmm, cry? Not sure if I’ve ever cried but the one song that does pull at my heart is Mad World by Michael Andrews from Donnie Darko. Something about that song gets to me.

About No Law

Carey Madigan thought she was finally putting her horrible past behind her, no longer looking behind her or jumping at shadows until her boss at the museum she works is murdered. She quickly becomes the prime suspect when the police discover that her husband, a major player in the antiquities world, had been murdered too, in Russia where she had lived years before.

She has nowhere to run when she finds herself being pursued by a faction of the Russian Mafia. She’s seen their faces and now must be silenced. Frightened, she turns to old friend, Elena Gates for help.

Dmitry Ivanov doesn’t believe Carey’s wild story at first but quickly changes his mind. Not only is he attracted to her, but his sister’s friend is beautiful and intrigues him. He offers his specialised computer services to help her uncover why her boss was murdered and to put a stop to the men responsible before it’s too late.

The stakes become high and lives are threatened. Together they uncover a trail that leads them to the discovery of the century and must fight to keep it – and themselves – safe.

About Camille Taylor

camilleCamille Taylor is an Australian author who resides in the Nation’s Capital. She loves to read, write and procrastinate on Pinterest looking at nail art, cake decorating and funnies.

Buy No Law

This year: the writing whirlwind!

And thenSome years, my writing schedule looks pretty quiet. I’m always writing up a storm, but in the way of the writing world, I am not always publishing up a storm.

This year seems a little different. Of course, numerous projects are still in waiting and may be delayed, but if all goes well it’ll look like I haven’t slept for six months while I wrote ALL THE THINGS.

As a bit of a round-up:

And Then… anthology

My story, Virgin Soil, is slated to appear late in 2016 in the two-volume And Then… anthology of Antipodean adventure stories, coming from Clan Destine Press!

Virgin Soil is set in Melbourne and the goldfields in 1851. It’s about a young man with magical powers, his equally gifted friend, a 400 year old shapeshifter who can’t remember if he began as a rat or a man because he has both memories, and a monster that requires a virgin sacrifice. Which may not mean what you think it means. Moran and Cato might look like the bad guys, but even the good guys need someone who’ll do the dirty work…

An Indiegogo project is underway for people who’d like to pre-order the anthology, which contains stories from fantastic Australian genre writers like Kerry Greenwood, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Jason Franks, Alan Baxter, and heaps more. Pop on over and pre-order the anthology as ebooks, paperbacks or hardbacks, and with extra book incentives!

Intrepid Horizons

intrepidhorizonskindlecoverA story called Death’s Door is in a science fiction anthology called Intrepid Horizons, published by UK small press, Jay Henge in April 2016.

The story is about a young woman who writes poetry about Death. Death is a bit of a fanboy and is stalking her to read it. They get to know each other and that changes how they view their own existence… If you’re interested:

The Adventure of the Colonial Boy

ACB launchThis Holmes/Watson adventure romance set in Australia in 1893 takes a homoerotic interpretation of the legendary friendship out of subtext and makes it just plain text.

In it, Watson, believing Holmes to have died at the Reichenbach Falls, received a summons to Australia. Shocked and hardly daring to believe it true, Watson sails for Melbourne. There, he and Sherlock Holmes have to confront their heretofore unexpressed attachment to each other, while at the same time in pursuit of (and pursued by) a deadly menace involving a repulsive red leech.

Reviews have been great so far, and I’ve spoken about it on the radio and in a couple of interviews. It’s from UK publisher Improbable Press, and I’m already doing more work with them. (There’s a big list of where to get the book in paperback or ebook on this page.)

The rest of the year

As I said, it’s all in flux to a degree, but on the cards for publication later this year are a Secret Agents, Secret Lives story, and another for the Talbott and Burns Mysteries. I’ve just submitted a short queermance story to one publisher with a positive reception, so if that comes off, it’ll be out towards the end of the year. Another queermance story submitted to an anthology may go ahead round that time too, so that will be cool.

A paranormal queermance novel is looking good with one publisher, and I’m co-writing a new Holmes/Watson adventure romance in a modern setting for Improbable Press, called God Save the Queen, which will be out in the latter half of 2016 all being equal.

A few more stories are in various pipelines, so we’ll see how they go. And of course I’m still writing up a storm, as usual.

Whatever happens, it’s a very big year for me already. Thank you to everyone who’s been part of my journey so far, and who continue to support me. May your library be ever full of books that give you joy.

 

Review: On the Twelfth Night by Jonathan Barnes

12th nightI reviewed the first two books of the Monstrous Little Voices series, Coral Bones by Foz Meadows and The Course of True Love by Kate Heartfield, back in January when the 5 novella series began its publishing schedule.

The series has come out as a celebration on the 400th anniversary of the Bard of Avon’s death. Each story is set in the worlds he created, borrowing characters and settings from different stories and exploring issues like identity, love, trust and fate.

The novellas have been universally brilliant.

I have just finished the final book of the series, On the Twelfth Night by Jonathan Barnes, and I’m delighted to report that it’s just as superb as the first two, and indeed the next two.

To quickly get us up to date, I reviewed 3 and 4 on Goodreads as follows:

The Unkindest Cut (#3) by Emma Newman

Newman - The Unkindest CutAnother strong segment of the Monstrous Little Voices series, bringing in plot points and elements from the preceding two. Innocence and trust come to treachery, and prophesies prove tricksy as ever.

Even in the Cannon’s Mouth (#4) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

cannons mouthThis fourth novella of five in the Monstrous Little Voices series ramps up the drama, taking a host of characters from comedy romances – Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, As You Like It and All’s Well That Ends Well – and swirling the darkness of Hecate and Macbeth into the mix. The wars touched on increasingly in the previous novellas come much closer to the surface, and events from the other stories have more weight here too.

Here we have shipwrecks, women disguised as men, powerful magicians, noble prisoners and untrustworthy companions. The language is beautifully wrought, the plot as complex as any by Shakespeare, but with a clear and satisfying resolution that leads towards the last book of the series. I can’t wait!

And lo! the last book came out, and I had to wait a little, though I didn’t like to, and here is my review of it.

On the Twelfth Night by Jonathan Barnes

I’ve not often been a fan of second person in fiction – the ‘you do this, you feel that’ format can feel a bit forced. But I have to say, Jonathan Barnes’s choice to use it here, putting you in the shoes and heart and mind of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, is inspired.

We know relatively so much about Shakespeare you see, and if you love his work, you have a kind of relationship with him. So from the start, the reader is placed in a particular juxtaposition with how Anne (and how we) feel about Shakespeare, as well as how we feel about love, marriage, life and loss.

This final story introduces us to Anne and her husband William – the man who never left Stratford, who never went to the theatre, who never wrote all those plays we loved. It also introduces us to a multiverse – where our playwright Shakespeare exists in one reality, and the realities of where all the other Shakespeares that might have been also live.

Of course, all of this is learned through Anne’s eyes as she… as you… as we see our husband leave in the company of strange yet strangely familiar men, members of a mysterous Guild, to fight some war that is nebulous. Life is filled with foreboding portents, and our son Hamnet, who has not dreamed since the illness that nearly killed him, begins to have prophetic dreams.

Barnes’s use of ‘you’ is clear yet subtle. He dictates to us our feelings and our fears, but it is done with such delicacy, such care and such sorrow, that when the battle comes to our very door, I had tears in my eyes for Anne’s/Will’s/my/our great sacrifice.

The return to third person for the final chapter – the twelfth night – is completely in keeping with the plot and the denouement of the 11th night… so when a final reminder and reference to the recent past is made, I had another strong, emotional response.

On the Twelfth Night is a fine finale to a series of excellent novellas exploring humanity, love, and redemption.  And these storeies all happen within the worlds made for us by William Shakespeare, the playwright commonly acknowledged as the man who helped us understand so much of the complexity of what it is to be human, which is the reason his plays have survived for 400 years beyond his death.

I really cannot recommend them highly enough.

Buy the stories individually

Buy the collection

Read more about Monstrous Little Voices at Abaddon Books.

Review: Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts

0117HARP_ReignBeasts1I’ve been on a Tansy Rayner Roberts jag lately, reading the entire Cafe La Femme series she writes under the name Livia Day and finally getting to the third book in her fabulous fantasy Creature Court trilogy. I have no idea why I waited so long to get to Reign of Beasts, but it was worth the wait!

I have previously waxed exceedingly lyrical about Tansy Rayner Roberts’ skills as a storyteller, particularly with her plotting. You can never tell where the story’s going to go (in an entirely good way) and each revelation unfurls a dozen possibilities with it. Like the seers seeing a multiverse of futures, it takes a while for the possibilities to be narrowed down – and even then, there’s really no predicting the outcome.

Except that it’ll be satisfying. Oh yes, it will.

Reign of Beasts continues in this magnificent trend, as we run fleet-footed in the wake of everyone’s terrible decisions and rapid beating of their fragile, mistrustful hearts, towards an ending that is epic and utterly satisfying.

This novel brings to a conclusion the beautifully and densely crafted world where humans with incredible powers, gifted to them by a nebulous energy called animor, can turn into animals – hence their name of the Creature Court. Every night they fight a little known enemy from the sky, and by day conduct themselves and their courtesi like it’s the last days of Rome. Which it sort of is, as the Creature Court of Aufleur (and the courts of other cities) are slowly losing their war. The city of Tierce has already been swallowed by the sky, and the people of the daylight don’t even remember it existed.

And now we have the tyrannical Garnet – perhaps worse than Nero ever was – who has returned with dressmaker and surprise Power and Majesty (head of the Court), Velody. They’d both been swallowed by the sky and their return throws the Creature Court into disarray. Well. More disarray than usual.

But the final battle with the sky is coming, and everyone has to work out where their loyalties lie, and it may not be in the same place as where their love resides. Distrust, betrayal, prophesies, love triangles (and pyramids – some of this is much too complex for 3D geometry) and desperation are the obstacles. Not to mention the greatest mystery of them all: why is there a sky war at all?

Reign of Beasts begins in the past, with the Creature Court oddity, Poet, telling the story of his beginnings as an orphan in a theatre show and how he came to join the Creature Court. His story is interwoven with the current troubles and machinations of the Court, until it’s very clear exactly how much he’s had to do with the mess they’re all in, and the schemes surrounding what’s to come.Power and Majesty cover

Once we’re all caught up, the story barrels on ahead at breakneck speed once more. Even the quiet parts are somehow vibrant with the waiting for what happens next?! We’re also never entirely ‘all caught up’ because Roberts continues to cleverly weave in the history of characters and cities that are utterly in tune with everything we’ve known to date, but shed fresh light on current events and coming conclusion.

And even when we finally understand the war and its cause and how it ends, nothing ends obviously. Not everyone gets a happy ending, but perhaps everyone gets a satisfying one. One that makes sense within who they are and what they need.

I could blather on for a bit, but that would be taking up time you should be spending on reading this trilogy. Go. Go now. Off you go. Read this award-winning magnificence! Shoo!

Buy Power and Majesty:

shattered cityBuy The Shattered City:

Buy Reign of Beasts

Other reading while you’re waiting for your books to download

 

Clan Destine Press’s Foolish April Sale

Clan_Destine_logoMy Australian publisher, Clan Destine Press, is having a massive book sale this month! Most of the books are in paperback as well as ebook, and there are some corkers available, all at 50% off.

There’s my vampire novel set in Melbourne, Walking Shadows, and my erotic romances, but since this isn’t all about me, let me give you some recommendations!

If you’re a fan of the Phryne Fisher TV series, the author of the book series, Kerry Greenwood, also writes fantasy and erotica. Her Delphic Women series explores Medea, Electra and Cassandra. Her brand new collection, Herotica, is full of stories about heroes and beautiful men having fabulous sex.

I cannot sinTHRIVE coverg enough of the praises of Mary Borsellino’s brilliant work. Not ever. Her Thrive is one of my favourite books ever – challenging and full of pain but also beauty, love and redemption. She’s awesome. She also writes lovely erotica.

Want more of an Aussie vampire fix? Jason Nahrung’s Vampires in a Sunburnt Country series is terrific.

Alison Goodman, of the famed Eon series and the new Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, has an Aussie SF/Crime novel with Clan Destine called A New Kind of Death.

RC DanielsThe Price of Fame is rock and roll, crime and the paranormal in St Kilda!

So if you want to try some new reading and see the amazing books Australian writers have to offer, now is a great time to fill up your shelf or you kindle with a bunch of brilliant stuff!

The Night They Met

Atlin Merrick’s The Night They Met gets to praise it deserves!

margysmusings

“Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met” is a collection of stories looking at the world’s greatest literary friendship through the eye of romance.

What if, not just content with being friends, Holmes and Watson were also a romantic pairing?  Atlin Merrick answers this question wonderfully with a number of excellent stories spanning three centuries.

There are crimes.  Oh yes, there are definitely crimes.  This is NOT Mills & Boon territory by any stretch of the imagination.

All of the stories are readable, not just by Johnlock shippers, but by Sherlock Holmes fans in general.

Atlin Merrick’s delightfully twisted sense of humour comes out to play with gorgeous lines like “…I think he clenched his arse cheeks so hard he did his prostate a mischief.”

“Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met” is the first publication from Improbable Press”, the new specialist publisher of Holmesian romance…

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Book Launched! Now what?

Thank you so much to everyone who was able to come to the launch of The Adventure of the Colonial Boy on Wednesday, and to those who sent good wishes, and to everyone who has so far bought the book or plans to do so!

Here are some pictures of the night!

What next?

For me: I’ve just finished updating both this blog site and my Narrelle M Harris site so that there’s less duplication and (I hope) all the links work correctly again.

New writing projects include some new short stories for anthologies coming up, and I’ve started co-writing a new book for Improbable Press!

I’m also working on various publicity ideas to get word out about The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, including encouraging reviews.

Which brings me to what’s next for you.

Can you help with reviews?

Once you’ve read The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, it would be incredibly helpful to me as a writer, and to Improbable Press, if you could review the book on:

Star ratings and reviews of even only a sentence or two (and it doesn’t have to be a good review, even) help so much with getting the book and the press in front of people who don’t know me/us but would be interested in the subject matter. It’s hard to be heard out there, so if you want to support the book it’s a great way to do that!

Or request The Adventure of the Colonial Boy for your library

Another way to get involved is to put in a request at your local library to get a copy. Check out your own library’s website or desk for how to do this, but usually you need:

  • Title: The Adventure of the Colonial Boy
  • Author: Narrelle M Harris
  • Publisher: Improbable Press
  • ISBN-13: 978-0993513626

Thank you again to everyone who has helped me get this far – not only for this book, but in all the writing that has brought me here. Your support has kept me going through tough times!

 

Book Launch 30 March 2016: The Adventure of the Colonial Boy

ACB launchImprobable Press and I are very pleased to announce that The Adventure of the Colonial Boy is having an official launch!

The Adventure of the Colonial Boy is a Holmes/Watson romance set in Australia in 1893. Murder! Dangerous sea voyages! Deductions! Snakes! Honour, angst, and chases! Unrequited love, requited!

DETAILS

When: Wednesday 30 March 2016.  6.30 for a 7pm start.

Where: Penny Blue Bar, Drivers Lane (off Little Bourke Street, near Elizabeth St) Melbourne VIC 3000

The Adventure of the Colonial Boy is already available as an ebook, and it comes out as a paperback on 31 March. I have a limited number of copies ahead of time, so come to the book launch and get an early copy, at the special price of AU$15.

There’ll be a wee speech, a reading, a little food, lots of good company and the fabulous service at Penny Blue (which is accessible – let us know in advance if you need a ramp for your chair!)

Because Improbable Press is a small press based in the UK and this event is being run on the scent of an oily rag that Sherlock Holmes has deduced was recently in John Watson’s vicinity, we’d like to thank Penny Blue for providing the space for the launch free of charge.

Please support Penny Blue by buying a drink or two, and support Improbable Press by buying a book!

REVIEWS

Here are some of the reviewer comments on The Adventure of the Colonial Boy so far!

I admit to being wary about whether [Harris] could really, truly pull off a romance for Holmes and Watson. I am convinced. She more than pulled it off. She nailed it. And now I’m swept headlong into a vision of Holmes and Watson, forever changed. I’ll eagerly be re-reading ACD canon with a brand new understanding. I’ve no doubt that ACD’s stories will be utterly consistent with a Holmes and Watson in love – whether pre-consummation or post.  – CoachJanette, Amazon.com

I bought the ebook because I couldn’t wait – and ended up reading it in one day.– Denise, Goodreads.

The biggest problem with this story is my inability to put the darn thing down. Needless to say it was read in one sitting. – cemm, Amazon.com

This was a romping good read, and absolute page turner that I couldn’t put down. – Sally Koetsveld, Goodreads.

Spot on capture of the time-tested Holmes and Watson chemistry: razor-sharp wit, breath-taking revelations, shared victory in defeating clever criminals, and the deepest friendship and love. – ckm, Amazon.com

I particularly loved the author’s take on the original stories and characters, the adventerous plot, and the exploration of the relationship between Holmes and Watson. – HJS, Amazon.com

 

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