Saving the world is easy: all Eden has to do is die.
Seventeen-year-old Eden East’s life is perfect… until her soul is bound to her worst nightmare. Then her parents are brutally murdered, and everyone’s a suspect, including her best friend.
As her world spirals out of control, a charismatic Siren, from a past she can’t remember, returns offering help, hope, and a heap of distractions.
Eden must put aside her grief to solve the mystery of her parents’ murder. In a race against time, can she break the binding to her enemy before he destroys her and her world?
Three lives. Two murdered parents. One deadly choice.
Keepers is the debut YA fantasy novel of Sacha de Black. I enjoyed the premise of the novel – a society that does its utmost to achieve a sense of balance – and found it to be an unusual and highly imaginative idea.
It’s a YA novel with stacks of opportunity to deliver emotional feelings, (the main protagonist Eden East is young and has to cope with a lot.) I won’t divulge too much here for fear of spoiling the novel.
One of Black’s great strengths is her ability to write physical attraction between two individuals so well! Wow, loved those parts! I’d say that Trey was one of my favourite characters in the book. I can imagine him as a very worthy candidate for the title ‘book boyfriend!’ And I really enjoyed Victor too! There is a love triangle of sorts as Eden is bound to Shifter Victor Dark and can’t bare to be, but Victor wants Eden like mad.
There were parts of the story where the author’s ability to write engaging prose, and dialogue took flight and her writing made me go wow, this is amazing. I see great potential in Black’s writing.
What I didn’t like:
A minor point (it may just be me!) There’s a glossary of terms in the front matter which took me out of the story a bit to begin with. I would have liked these terms added individually as short postscripts at the bottom of each relevant page.
This is a confident debut, with interesting world building and potential for further conflict and interest in book two. Definitely a recommendation.
My paperback release blog tour continues this week with a fabulous tour organised by Jennifer Marston. Please do support the tour and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win a cash prize by visiting the blogs mentioned above in the Tour Schedule. Today, Sunday 22nd April is the last day to enter!!!!
“This is a book brimming with supernatural happenings, a mysterious cottage and a family problem that needs solving. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a good mystery as it will reel you in”
Welcome To Kyrosmagica! So lovely to see you Esme.
MJ: Tell us about your life Esme.
Esme: I’ve had two lives, and both are hard to understand. In my past life I appeared to be free but never experienced freedom. I felt trapped in my body and my mind didn’t feel that it fitted, like a puzzle piece trying to correspond to the wrong shape. My mind rebelled; I self-harmed. Now that I am a prisoner in the mirrors of Amelina’s house, I can’t self-harm. I can’t do anything. I’m a victim of a curse but I’m not the only victim.
MJ: Why did you self-harm?
Esme: Everyone expected me to be perfect. I couldn’t cope. The pressure kept building up and up. It was my way of dealing. My personal punch bag.
MJ: That makes me so sad. I wish I could help you.
Esme: I know you do. You feel my pain and wrote about it in your novel.
MJ: I tried to do it justice; I hope in some small way I succeeded.
Esme: You did. But can we talk about something else? This is making me anxious.
MJ: Of course, is it okay to talk about the curse? Or is that off-limits?
Esme: No, that’s okay.
MJ: Who else was a victim?
Esme: Amelina’s dad.
MJ: What about the rest of the family?
Esme: They’re trapped too but they’re not prisoners. Hey, wait a minute. They are prisoners in a way… sometimes you don’t have to be a prisoner to feel like one.
MJ: It must be a really sad story…
Esme: Yes it is, but it’s also much more. There’s light and laughter, darkness and shadows. Many magical threads tangle this story together, like many loves, and yet there are no real lovers.
MJ: It’s no romance then?
Esme: Read the beginning and you might think it’s a romance but read the end and you’ll know it’s not.
MJ: It sounds puzzling…
Esme: Yeah, it’s meant to be. Each chapter starts with a numbered puzzle piece instead of a chapter heading. Then there’s an awesome Tanka poem teaser.
This is my favourite from Puzzle Piece 12:
Think you know someone,
No, you don’t know anyone,
We’re all cheerleaders,
Carrying our false pompoms,
The mirror captures our truth.
MJ: A teaser… interesting… Are you a poetry fan?
Esme: Hey! All artistic and tortured souls love poetry.
MJ: I love poetry!
Esme: Oh! Ha Ha… That means you’re a deep thinker.
MJ: I am. Talking about deep thinking… If you had a twin, what would you say to her?
Esme: I have a twin, inside me. It’s like there are two people in my brain. One’s happy, one’s sad, a yin and yang twin…
MJ: I wish I could make you whole and happy. Perhaps I might write your freedom…
Esme: Could you? Pleeease. But make sure that you write my freedom beyond the prison of my mind. Don’t send me to the land where shadows live.
MJ:Sigh. I wish I could promise that, but I haven’t finished book two yet and I have no idea what will happen in book three!
Esme: You authors have a wicked sense of power…
MJ: Yes, it is true dear Esme. You are without a doubt the most challenging character in my book and that is why I love you so…
Esme: Ahhhhh, thank you!
I hope you will love Esme as much as I do. She might make you sad but there is a young person like her out there somewhere. Self-harm is a growing problem in our young people. Let’s not bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. Speak out about mental health issues, fight to take away the stigma. Help someone you know who is suffering, it’s the little things that mean so much.
Please feel free to comment and share.
The illustrations of the Creature and Esme will appear in black and white in the paperback book due to be launched April 2018.
I’ve now entered the AuthorsDB First line contest as well as the cover contest.
I figured nothing ventured nothing gained.
I entered the first three lines of my prologue:
Most people would call our existence strange, but this is more than that, this deserves a headline. We’re not spectacular enough to feature on the national or international news, but we warranted a column in the local newspaper headed by seven not so lucky words: Missing Father Returns After Weird Aging Phenomenon. I’m glad that our short-lived fame died and the paparazzi, (what a joke,) got bored with us.
Thank you so much to Beaton for featuring me on his lovely blog home: becoming the muse. Touched by his lovely sense of humour and kind words: ‘I must confess to being super curious and cant wait to read this…. its like being regular curious but I wear a cape.’ Beaton, you’re like a breath of fresh humorous air! xxx
As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.
“You know what they are, don’t you?”
A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but their unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences. And no one can explain why the ravens are gathering.
Ravens Gathering twists and turns as the truth is gradually exposed in a gripping thriller with a supernatural edge to it.
This is a very ambitious first novel, and on the whole Graeme Cumming does a fantastic job, creating a novel which is both highly imaginative, and unusual in many respects. The dialogue is believable, as is the detail in the various innocuous, homely settings: the pub, the farms, and this close knit English village.
Ravens Gathering does a shape shift through several different genres, embracing fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, police procedural, thriller, and horror.
The main character Martin Gates returns to this community, his home after a long time abroad. Martin’s reappearance is not welcomed with open arms by his family, in fact they appear to view his reappearance as something to avoid rather than embrace. To begin with Martin is a difficult character to engage with. His character is somewhat obtuse, but there are reasons for this, which become apparent as we read the book and realise why he is the way he is. We do get a sense of his outrage about being so unloved and uncared for by his family, and yet to begin with we have no idea why this the case. We can only speculate, but there’s no way that our speculations will be correct.
Equally, Tanya, and Ian aren’t particularly appealing either, and neither are Martin’s family. The further we get into the book it seems more and more likely that everyone in Ravens Gathering are flawed in some unique and individual way. The key words that initially come to mind are: selfish, shady, desperate for sexual diversions, or damaged in some way.
The story unfolds slowly with a considerable amount of detail, making events more real. Shocking and disturbing revelations in the latter part of the novel don’t come as a complete surprise given the underlying sense of a community where something is terribly amiss. Nevertheless I had no idea of what was coming, and the shock factor of what did surprised, and appalled me in equal measure. This is a novel where you can’t help but go WTF!!!!!
The characters for the most part are not particularly lovable which initially distances the reader from them but that’s not meant as a criticism, in fact under the circumstances having read the story one realises why this is the case.
The bad guy is about as horrible, wicked, and debauched a villain as you can get.
This is a very complicated story that remains in your psyche for some time afterwards. It winds its way stretching the believability of the fantastical elements to the max, edging the story to its conclusion.
My recommendation: Definitely an author to watch out for, a well written, confident debut. Read if you like mysterious thrillers with a fantastical, but deeply shocking element.
DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in in exchange for a review.
When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened.
Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it.
Snippet from the book:
Silas’ spirit had inhabited the rusting weathervane for many years. From his perch on the school roof he watched the townsfolk of Blackfin through his empty eye socket as they buzzed through their lives beneath him, no more significant than the grains of sand piling up against the shoreline, clinging to the struts of Blackfin pier.
Doesn’t that just grab your attention? It certainly did for me!
Do I judge a book by its cover? I have a tendency to do this to a certain degree as I think that well executed covers tend to give you a sense of the book. This one fitted the bill, I just loved this cover so much! It is so beautiful, and mysterious. Did the cover match the book? Yes in my opinion on the whole it did, Blackfin Sky had a lot to offer and was definitely mysterious.
I was so excited about this book, that cover just had me trembling with anticipation but did it live up to my exalted expectations? Yes and No. I liked this a lot, but somehow it didn’t quite reach the ecstatic heights of loving it that I hoped it would. I think this was in part due to my not quite engaging enough with some of the characters in the novel, apart from the main protagonist, Sky, the others just didn’t seem to have enough depth to them. And the baddie with the amber skull, he just needed more baddie factor, I just didn’t really get him. At times Blackfin Sky seemed a bit confusing, and possibly a little too far off the believable line, (I do realise this sounds odd with regard to a fantasy story but even so the emotions sometimes seemed a bit dampened, particularly when Sky turns up after being dead, I just could have done with more feels. I know that Blackfin is meant to be a strange community but even so…..)
I think Kat Ellis tried to cram in a heck of a lot into this novel, (very ambitious,) which is something I like to do too, ah, makes me think possibly it is better to keep things a bit more simple? Maybe. Somehow it didn’t quite pack the four star/five star punch I’d hope it would, perhaps some of the plot threads could have been simplified…. to allow more time for secondary character development.
On the positive side it read extremely well, Kat Ellis can definitely write – no doubt about that, and it has a very imaginative fantasy setting, full marks for imagination Kat. I love the circus aspect, the Blood House, and the idea of pathfinders too. Yes, there are definitely aspects of this debut novel that really appeal to me, I think with a few tweaks it could easily have been a perfect read.
So would I recommend it ? Yes, I would. This is Kat Ellis’s debut novel, I do think she has great potential and amazing promise, so my recommendation would be to read this author and keep an eye out for her, I reckon her next novel might just pack that knockout punch.
By the way don’t forget to vote for your favourite debut author, Kat Ellis is one of the authors you can nominate for First Book Award, vote for your favourite, voting closes at 5pm on Friday 16th October: www.edbookfest.co.uk
3.75 stars. Just short of 4, as I say with a few tweaks it could easily have been a 4 star read.
DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review.
Sometimes we need to give ourselves a little pick me up, a reminder to Do What We Love, even if that particular thing that we love seems difficult to achieve. Just recently I have been querying agents, and been getting some knock backs. This is all part of becoming a writer, in fact it’s almost like I’ve completed my first test in an initiation ceremony, up until this point I wasn’t a fully fledged member of the writing society. Once you suffer rejections you join the club. So, instead of being disappointed maybe I should view this as a positive rather than a negative step? I’ve joined the Esteemed Authors Never Give Up Club, yippee, it’s got a certain ring to it, even the likes of J.K. Rowling can claim to be a member.
“J.K Rowling was famously rejected by a mighty 12 publishers before Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was accepted by Bloomsbury – and even then only at the insistence of the chairman’s eight-year-old daughter.”
So, whatever your dream may be, remember to always Do What You Love. Somehow if you follow that simple rule I’m sure you will never go wrong. So, whether you like to sing, dance, act, write, read, draw, paint, cook, eat, travel, photograph, laugh, blog!!!! Ok, that last one crept in there without my noticing. JUST DO IT!
Whatever it is you love to do, keep on going…..
If you need a bit of encouragement right now feel free to share the sentiments of this blog post, give yourself a pat on the back, why not? My only request is that you confess any setbacks you are currently experiencing, but remember if you really love what you do, don’t ever, ever, give up!
This blog post was inspired in part by a discussion I had on Facebook about the difficulties of getting published. The FB chat I had was with Virginia Bergin author of the YA, science fiction, dystopia, The Rain, (the Rain#1) andThe Storm, (The Rain #2.)
This is Virginia’s inspiring reply: “It’s a tough old business! I’d been doing my own writing (alongside all kinds of other jobs) for about 20 years before The Rain happened. It was pretty much the first novel I’d written, and certainly the first YA novel. I thought it would get rejected. For sure! I think we have to love what we do so much that we do just keep going . . . and I suppose we learn more with everything we write. That definitely happened with me; I had a LOT of practice! Keep going . . . Best wishes! Vx”
Virginia is so right, we never stop learning, so that means we have enormous potential to keep on improving. There is an abundance of hope on the horizon, though a few rain and storm clouds are brewing too!
I’d like to highlight an article that Virginia Bergin suggested to me that might be of interest to female writers who are new to the industry, who may feel that they don’t quite fit the typical writer’s profile, may feel a bit lost, or isolated, and would benefit from a writing mentoring service:
“WoMentoring aims to offer help to female writers who would otherwise not have access to support. Although it’s a project set up to redress a gender imbalance in publishing, my personal hope is that it will act on other imbalances too – race, class, household income, cultural tradition, schooling – because there must be some overlap in the perceived lack of opportunity there.”
“Cambridge Writers is an organisation of both published and unpublished writers in Cambridge (U.K.) and nearby towns and villages. It has been in existence for about 60 years. Currently it has about 80 members.”
It just struck me today that I have been a member of Cambridge Writers since June 2012. How time flies. I am so very glad that I joined and would like to encourage other budding writers to join a writer’s group.
There are so many benefits of joining a Writer’s group. First of all, you meet like-minded people of varying ages from many diverse walks of life. I have found the Children’s Writing group, to be a wonderful source of support and advice. Whether you need someone to give you constructive criticism of your work, advise you on finding an agent, or explain how to structure a picture book, there are members who are happy to do what they can to help. We are lucky to have writers within the group who have either become published since joining the group, or who have come ready-made!
Several new members have joined this year, one of whom, Isabel Thomas, is an experienced children’s non-fiction writer who has now started writing fiction. Alex Mellanby published the second book in the Tregarthur series, Tregarthur’s Revenge, in June. This followed excellent reviews for the first book, Tregarthur’s Promise. Lesley Hale has self-published the following books: Witness, (Matthew Reed, Tudor Adventures #1), An Act of Treason, (Matthew Reed, Tudor Adventures #2) and A Wry Smirk at The Dark Side (four short stories on supernatural themes.) Ruth Hatfield’s first book in her trilogy was published in November by Hot Key Press (UK) and Henry Holt (US). The Book of Storms was officially launched in the UK at Heffers in Cambridge. The sequel to The Book of Storms, The Colour of Darkness, is coming out in November, again published by Hot Key, Books.
Cambridge Writers comprises these diverse groups that meet on a monthly basis in member’s houses: Short Prose, Long Prose, Travel writing, Children’s Writing, Poetry, and a Commercial Editing Group for those amongst us who have already published or self-published novels. So there are masses of ways to get involved.
As well as these monthly sessions Cambridge Writers holds meetings on the first Tuesday of the month in which we invite authors to come talk to us, share their wisdom, and on the 5th of May there is to be a Writer’s resources evening. So what are you waiting for, check out the local writing groups in your area, and if you live in Cambridge, England, here’s the links to find out more: http://www.cambridgewriters.net/.
I am looking forward to getting more involved in the group.
Late Blooming Authors
To conclude my Do What You Love post I’d like to focus next on several famous authors who started later in life. How encouraging!!! This is to encourage my fellow potential late bloomers. I only started writing seriously about three years ago!
Here’s my list, I’m sure there are many more, but for the purposes of this blog post, I’m sticking to these inspiring guys and gals:
Mary Alice Fontenot wrote almost thirty books in her lifetime, and her writing career began at the age of fifty-one. Fontenot’s first Clovis Crawfish book, Clovis Crawfish and his Friends was published in 1961.
Anthony Burgess never pursued writing seriously until he was thirty-nine, aware that it was not a stable income, when he published the first installment of The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy (1956’s Time for a Tiger).
Laura Ingells Wilder. As a child, Wilder lived in a little house on the prairie, no surprise there! She actually began writing around the age of forty-four, whilst she was working as a columnist, and had a pretty successful freelance career. But it wasn’t until 1931, when she published Little house in The Big Woods, that Laura Ingells Wilder really made a name for herself. She was the ripe old age of sixty-four. The when I’m 64………, Beatles song lyrics come to mind.
Helen De Whitt., DeWitt’s excellent debut novel, The Last Samurai, was published in 2000, when Helen De Whitt was forty-four years old. Apparently she attempted to finish many novels, before finally completing The Last Samurai, her 50th manuscript, in 1998.
George Eliot, Mary Anne Evans, published her first novel, Adam Bede when she was forty.
Middlemarch would not be published for fifteen years!
William S. Burroughs. Sadly, it took accidentally shooting his wife in the head to get Burroughs focused on writing. In the introduction to Queer, a novel written in 1952 but not published until 1985, he stated: “I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing.” He began writing Queer while he awaited trial. He was convicted of culpable homicide, given a two-year suspended sentence and moved to Morocco and started writing like mad. He was thirty-nine when he published his first confessional book, (Burroughs was a heroine addict.) In 1953 he published Junky, and he was forty-five when Naked Lunch was published, in 1959.
Charles Bukoski quit his day job to devote himself to writing at age forty-nine, saying, “I have one of two choices-—stay in the post office and go crazy … or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.” He did not, in fact, starve. He had finished his first novel, Post Office, at fifty-one years old, within four weeks of leaving the post office and just kept going from there, eventually publishing thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels.
Margot Finke didn’t begin serious writing until the day her youngest left for college. She writes mid-grade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. Margot said, “I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes!”
Mary Wesley published a few children’s books in her fifties, but people didn’t notice her talent until she published her first novel, “Jumping the Queue,” at seventy years old. Jumping the Queue takes place mainly in Cornwall, and follows a middle-aged woman’s struggle with guilt and self-reproach after the death of her husband and her determination to jump the queue by committing suicide. The book was turned down by several publishers, but James Hale of Macmillan saw something special in her work, and by the time of her death at ninety years old, she was widely popular.
Lee Child: At the age of forty he sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, that became the first in the Jack Reacher series. The book won the Anthony and Barry Award for best first novel.
“To anybody who is an aspiring writer,” Child said, “this is a great career because not only can you, but you should, start late.”
“I think it’s the ideal career to do later in life,” Child said. “You know, by the time you’ve experienced stuff and read stuff and seen stuff–just wait. Wait ten years, wait twenty years, wait until it’s ready to come back out. People who start writing too young, it’s essentially a hollow thing, you know, they haven’t lived enough, they haven’t experienced enough, they haven’t learned enough.”
Raymond Chandler was forty-five, when he began publishing pulp crime short stories. Six years later, he published his first novel, “The Big Sleep,” which launched his stellar successful crime writing career.
So, late-blooming writers are quite an amazing bunch. Don’t you agree? Just hope I might have a tiny smidgen of this late-blooming talent, still of plenty time!!!!!
A final quote:
“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them. ”
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