Thank you so much to S. C. Skillman for this wonderful 5 star review of my latest poetry, flash fiction and photography book Do What You Love which is currently on preorder on Amazon.
Releases 25th November.
I have read this author’s work before: young adult novels, poetry and flash fiction, and I love her imaginative handling of the magical, the phantasmagorical and surreal. This short book is no exception to the quality of MJ Mallon’s output. I found her exploration of her past life captivating.
We may consider that the inclusion of often very personal material in a compilation of this sort would make it difficult for the outside reader to find a way in. This is not true at all of MJ Mallon’s poetry and prose: in many places, I related so much to what she writes, especially about a daughter ‘flying the nest’ to a faraway country. I particularly loved the device MJ Mallon uses to draw all this together: she presents it as a conversation with Atropos, one of the three Fates in Greek mythology: the Morai.
Atropos presides over the past. I thought this worked extremely well as a central metaphor. It had me googling the three Fates, and reading all about them: Clotho, who spins the threads of life, guardian of the present; Lachesis, who measures the length of life with her measuring rod, and is guardian of the future: and Atropos, who is the guardian of fate and destiny, and who chooses the manner of death by snipping the threads of an individual’s life.
MJ Mallon has had a fascinating and varied life experience: born in Singapore, she spent her childhood in Hong Kong and her teens in Edinburgh. She now lives in Cambridge. Every culture she has lived in, I believe, has influenced her imagination, her interests and her approach as a writer. In this book, we find a compilation of words and images which draw us in: poignant, sensitive, delicate, playful, as she opens up for us her past and present relationships, the places she has loved and spent time in, and her thoughts and feelings about it all.
Thrilled to support Diana in her blog tour for The Necromancer’s Daughter which I loved!
From Diana: Today I thought I’d share a snippet from Chapter 9 when Aster’s life takes a terrible turn:
In silence but for her heart’s pounding, Aster poured the tea and handed a wobbling cup to each man. As she knelt on the mat at her father’s knee, she stared at her pale hands. Her hair tumbled over her shoulders in a wild white froth. When she was a little thing, her father had called her his snow fairy, but in truth, she was nothing so delicate or whimsical. In contrast to the sunny complexions of Verdane, she was as ashen as death.
The king waited for her compliance, but how could she agree? Desperation marred his reasoning. She knew nothing about ruling, nothing about courtly manners or intrigue, or the tenets that underlay the Red Order’s intolerant faith. The kingdom’s powerful would trample her into the ground and seal her grave.
A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.
Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.
While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.
Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.
A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.
What a beautifully written fantasy book. Stunning prose, engaging characters and a simple but effective plot weave a rich tale of the love of a daughter for her father, and the concerns and morality of awakening the dead.
I loved it from start to finish. There is conflict, uncertainty and excitement, heartfelt scenes, and tender moments in this story.
Aster is a lovely character who the reader can’t help but warm to. The love interest between her and Joreh isn’t overstated, neither does it dominate the plot, instead their relationship gently grows as the story unfolds. I also love her father, Barus.
I was so glad how the story conclusion held such a complete awareness and understanding of love and life in such a sweet fulfilling way. I better say no more for fear of spoiling it for you!
I was also interested to read the inspiration behind the story – a retelling of the story of Kwan-yin from Chinese mythology. And the dragons… they were larger than life! And boy did they like their apples!
A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.
In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.
Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
Thank you to Book Influencer N.N. Light for this review for Golden Healer, Book 2 in The Curse of Time series
The author is a magician with words. She crafts scenes of sublime fantasy that are clear and easily pictured in the mind of the reader. The gift of description is also present. The scenes are very easy to understand, and the reader is swept into the story.
There is a real ‘arryesque feel to these stories. If you were a fan of the original wizard and his gang then you will be drawn to Amelina and her crew. Ryder is the ultimate character. The author was so able to capture the inner feelings of this character. It wasn’t more than a few pages when I loathed the existence of that waste of air.
Fans of the first book will simply love this book. This book carries on the craftily created story and takes it along an energetic ride to the end. Fans of this series will simply not be able to wait until they get their hands on the much-anticipated third book.
Golden Healer is the second book in The Curse of Time series and continues this unique fantasy story with its unusual and intriguing storyline. Book one ended with a happy environment after Amelina’s father was finally restored to his family at the correct age and Esme disappeared from the mirror, presumably to a better place. Book two starts with small but obvious indications that all is not as it seems and the issues involving both Amelina’s father and Esme are not adequately resolved.
The beginning is a bit slower moving as the author skillfully unwinds the reader’s beliefs that all is well and hammers cracks into the happy environment. The stage is set beautifully with fascinating and intricate scenes and dreams spun like a spiderweb from the author’s pen. Amelina’s first dream travel in this book has catastrophic results as while she is away from her body her bloodstone is stolen and this accelerates the cracks in her home environment.
This book is not an easy read and you have to concentrate as you read in the same way you would while reading a classic novel. It is worth the effort as the descriptions and concepts are outstanding and beautifully depicted.
There are a few stand out scenes for me in this book, as follows: the grasshopper in the meadow, the clowns in the café, and Aunt Karissa’s chocolates. For me, these were unbelievably imaginative and full of mystery.
Aunt Karissa features plays a small role in this book, introducing some welcome lightness and humour as Ryder’s darkness and power continue to grow. The reader learns a bit more about Ryder and his origins and homeland.
Another memorable feature of this book is that each chapter or puzzle piece starts with a tanka poem that hints at what is to follow in the chapter. The author is also an excellent poet and the poems were a lovely addition.
A few memorable quotes from this book:
“The grasshopper monster propelled time forward in a steady, slow, rocking motion, as if he was devouring our lives in seconds, minutes and hours as we gazed upon him.”
“Hello my beautiful reflection. You came! You always come when I need you the most. I have been so anxious listening to the troubles of this family which has become my family. What have you been doing? I see sweet flowers covering the red cuts on your left wrist.”
“”She opened the wrapper with trembling fingers. Inside, there was a small, round milk chocolate. It grew in her palm. the chocolate split into two halves, one half dark, and the other half white. In the centre, a dividing line moved form side to side as if whipping up the chocolate angrily.”
In conclusion, I would like to add that when I was a girl of 10 years old, I discovered the books written by Eva Ibottson. Every book of hers I read was a complete delight to me with its amazing fantasy creatures and gorgeous depictions of the lives of hags in dribbles and wizards in towers surrounded by mist. Throughout my adult life, I have search for an adult author who can invoke the same magical worlds and belief in magical creatures that I discovered in Miss Ibottson’s stories, and in this series by M.J. Mallon, I do believe I finally found an adult equivalent.
This author is an artful storyteller, she has a light touch and a wonderful expressive language. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland with all its fabulous, often dark, larger than life fantasy.
Amongst all the mayhem and mystery, Amelina must use the magic crystals to save them all from the Shadow Sorcerer. To do so she must face her fears and trust the advice from Merlin, Leanne and my favourite character (dead, worm filled) Erutace.
This is a delightful tale from start to end. YA fantasy fans who like slightly dark fantasy will love it. How much time will the Grasshopper steal, and can Esme me be set free from behind the mirror?
Note: some of the storyline touches on suicide, self-harming and anorexia. All carefully woven into a positive message of accepting who you are, not being afraid and embracing your true self.
I’m delighted to announce that there is a new review for Mr. Sagittarius from fellow author S C Skillman. Many thanks Sheila!
And I have had a request from the following prestigious libraries for copies of Mr. Sagittarius and Lockdown Innit Poems About Absurdity!
A legal deposit record for these books are to be held at the British Library, National Library of Scotland, The Bodleian Library Oxford University, National Library of Wales, Cambridge University Library, and the Library of Trinity College Dublin.
This is an exquisite collection of poetry, prose and photos reflecting upon the joy, comfort and peace that is to be found in the natural world and in a beautiful garden. This author’s playful, lyrical style conveys an atmosphere and message which is at once magical, poignant and compassionate. Her central theme is that of ‘transformation’. I loved the Old Man of the Snow; the Bubble Monster; and the Rainbow Shell. As with her novels, I find that this author handles fanciful ideas with elegance and grace. Highly recommended.
It is my great pleasure to share in the excitement of the release tour for Richard Dee’s We Are Saul. I can heartily recommend Richard’s latest novel to you. His writing is ace. So, if you haven’t read it yet… grab a copy!
Release date: 1st June.
When Saul is paralysed in an accident, he thinks it’s the end of his life. In fact, it’s just the beginning.
While trying to come to terms with his injuries, the mysterious Dr Tendral offers him a way to make a difference. All he has to do is join his project. There are no other details until he agrees, he’s either in or out. What choice does he have? Agreeing is just the beginning. Saul undergoes drastic surgery, only then is the full depth of the project revealed. Or is it? As time goes on and he learns more about Tendral’s scheme, Saul’s new life becomes increasingly difficult. In the end, he has to abandon everything as he learns the truth.
This is science fiction, but the author writes with such clarity that you find yourself believing that this too, like so many of the futeristic imaginings of the past, might well be feasible at some point in the coming centuries, if not decades.
Sally Cronin – Goodreads
We Are Saul makes for a sci-fi novel with a difference. There’s modern technology, robots, and something more, but the story offers hope for what could be. But it also offers a cautionary tale of what just might await us in our future. Not everything is as it seems, and very rarely does something life-changing come without a catch. And this is something Richard Dee sets up in this novel really well. I found myself hooked from the first page to the last.
I’m Saul and I’m paralysed. Thanks to a drunk driver my life stopped when I was twenty-five. When I woke up, the last thing I remembered was walking along the pavement on a glorious spring day, following the metronomic motion of a young lady in front of me. One moment, my mind was fixed on speeding up and getting acquainted with the rest of her, next thing, there was a loud noise behind me coupled with a scream. Before I could turn, I felt an impact, a burst of pain and it all went dark.
I opened my eyes to see a man’s face, complete with thick glasses and stubble, staring at me, very close. I blinked, tried to turn my head, failed. It felt like something was holding my neck still. I could move my eyes, that was about it. Flat on my back, my field of vision was limited. There was a lot of noise, machines bleeped and clicked, there was the hiss of compressed air.
“Where am I?” I said, my voice sounded faint and weak, like it was coming from miles away.
“You’re in a hospital. Intensive Care, actually,” answered the man, moving back a little. “I’m Mr McGee, a consultant neurosurgeon on the staff. Do you know who you are?”
“I’m Saul,” I said. “Why can’t I move?”
His eyes narrowed. “Saul, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you.”
I had sort of gathered that my situation wasn’t brilliant. “Go on then, tell me the worst.” I tried to sound brave, inside I was more than a little frightened. Beside his head, I could just make out a screen. It showed multicoloured flickering lines, a row of numbers. That was me, my life was reduced to mathematics.
“You’ve had emergency surgery to stabilise your injuries,” he said. “Do you remember what happened to you?”
“It’s all a bit hazy, I was walking down the road, there was a noise behind me.” I stopped, that was it. “How long ago was that?”
He looked at me. “This might be a shock: three weeks.”
“Three weeks!” My voice was definitely getting stronger.
“I’m afraid so. What you heard was a lorry mounting the pavement and taking out everything in its path. Six dead but not you, the good news is, you’ll live.”
His face was blank, what wasn’t he telling me? Perhaps I had broken bones, internal damage. I was being kept still while I healed. I tried to move my arms, legs. It felt like they worked but I couldn’t see the sheet moving, had no idea if anything was happening.
The bed suddenly moved, the motion felt strange, as if my head was being tugged by some dead weight attached to it, that I couldn’t see or sense. I felt nauseous. Somewhere below me, I heard a machine start up with a rattle.
“What’s going on? I think I’m going to be sick.” I must have sounded panicked.
“It’s what we call the Low Air Loss and Alternating Pressure Air Mattresses,” he said. “Technical name for a special bed. It stops you getting bed sores from lying in one position, as well as that, it helps takes moisture away from your body if you sweat.”
Although it all sounded interesting, I couldn’t concentrate on his words. I was too busy thinking about the time I had lost. There were things I needed to do. There was clearly more, it was time to find out. “I’ll take your word for it. Tell me the bad news then.”
“Sorry,” he said, “I got distracted. You were thrown thirty feet in the accident. As well as a broken leg and arm, the impact also broke your neck. I’m afraid that it’s damaged your spine.”
“Oh, OK.” It didn’t register. “How long till I’m up and about?”
He shook his head. “I don’t think you understand what I’m telling you.”
Then it hit me, bones mended, spines did not. Panic set in. “What do you mean?” I shouted. “That I’m paralysed? That I’ll always be like this?”
“I’m afraid so,” he said. “We can’t fix you with the medical technology we have at the moment. In time, who knows? Your breathing and bowel function appears to be unimpaired, but your arms and legs don’t work. It’s called quadriplegia. Worst case, we can keep you alive and with care and expert attention, your life can carry on.”
I realised that it was all just ‘doctor speak’ for aren’t we amazing, look at what we can do. McGee probably felt really clever that he was able to prolong my suddenly useless life. There could be a paper in it, recognition of his skill from other doctors. My attitude to medical miracles was different. I looked at the quality of the lives that had been saved, the cost to those who had to do the caring. Just because medicine had advanced enough to make it possible. And from my position of good health, I had often wondered about the benefits of so-called miracle surgery.
I always thought that just because you could, it didn’t mean that you should. Now I was on the receiving end of the same ability to play God and cheat nature. Despair washed over me, my life had been full of adventure, extremes. I wasn’t used to spending time inside, with nothing to do. Immobility might not kill me but boredom would. Why hadn’t the lorry done a proper job, wiped me out in an unknowing flash; it felt like an additional cruelty to leave me like this.
About Richard Dee
I’m Richard Dee and I’m from Brixham in Devon.
I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, a reluctant amateur detective.
I spent forty years in shipping, firstly at sea, then in Port Control and as a Thames River Pilot, with adventures to match anything you could imagine. When I retired, I just moved them out into space, changed some of the names and wrote them down.
When I’m not writing, I bake bread and biscuits, cook delicious meals and walk the Devon coast.
My first novel, Freefall, was published in 2013, my eighteenth, We Are Saul, will be published in June 2022
I also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history stories. I’m currently working on more prequels, sequels, and a few new projects.
I’m an active member of Exeter Authors Association, attending events and giving talks on World-building for speculative fiction.
You can keep up with me at https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/ where you’ll find free short stories, regular features on writing, book reviews and guest appearances from other great authors.
There’s also an offer for a FREE novella, when you join my subscriber’s newsletter.
I’ve had the pleasure of beta reading an advance copy of We Are Saul by Richard Dee. Every time I read a new story from Richard Dee I am always struck by his ability to create wonderful new story lines, worlds and characters. He is one of my favourite indie authors. Hats off to him!
And We Are Saul was a thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish. What a fabulous concept for a story. I absolutely loved how this explored fascinating medical technological advancement in the form of robotic ‘humans.’ The main protagonist Saul has a terrible accident leaving him paralysed but is given the chance to live fully again by becoming an ARP – a robotic enhanced version of himself – using cutting edge technology.
But Saul begins to wonder at what cost? And what do they expect in return and are there others like him? This tale has love, heart, thoughtful observations and sci fi too! The ending was ace. Loved it and think it would make a great film. Well done Mr Dee!
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***Follow the tour via Writing To Be Read, and leave a comment at each stop to be entered in a random drawing for a chance to win a free digital copy of Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships***
Relationships are golden and each of the poems of Arthur Rosch, Elizabeth Merry, D.Avery, Robbie Cheadle, Harmony Kent, Lauren Scott, JulesPaige, Leon
Stevens, Collen M. Chesebro, Miriam Hurdle, M.J. Mallon, and Lynda McKinney Lambert pay poetic tribute to their most intense personal moments.
A young dancer’s naive dream of working in the Far East turns into a nightmare.
She finds herself in a plethora of situations which she is ill-equipped to deal with. Dancing her way across South Korea with two friends, she is propositioned by the Mafia, turned away by the British Embassy, caught in a student riot, and taken to Korean brothels.
At times both shocking and humorous, this is the story of a timid young girl finding her voice and learning to stand up for herself in a male-orientated world of alcohol, sex and seedy nightclubs.
My eldest daughter spent a year in South Korea Teaching English As a Foreign Language so I was curious to pick up this memoir of the author’s experiences. I am glad that I did. It was so funny! Lighthearted and fun. There’s a lot to recommend Fishnets with the antics of the dancers, their differing personalities, all three: Michele, Louise and Sharon are so different.
Follow their crazy madcap adventures: the motorbike episode, strip bars, dancing disco spots, unsalubrious dives, food, (and the desire to eat!) kim chi, hooker hill, and details of the national drink – soju (which is lethal.)
The poor dancers experiences are absolutely horrendous with death threats, misognistic behaviour, danger, rats (furry and not.) The hysterical male performer and his furry g string will remain in my mind forever as will Sharon’s insatiable appetite for men, Mr. Lee’s ‘no work,’ the Korean’s love letter to Michelle and the threat of starvatian to boot!
And poor Louise and Sharon’s extra curvy figures being referred to in derogatory terms as the: ‘Travelling elephant Show.’
A sinister town that’s not on any map, mysterious black vans and missing people, a book that can kill you, a vengeful mother, an account of life after death, and your worst nightmares come true. This is a strange and dark collection of poems, short stories and musings on a variety of gritty subjects, such as revenge, body image, fear, death, life, motherhood, nature and writing.
This is an interesting collection of unusual tales and poems some of which will stay in my thoughts for a long time!
Many were relatable to me personally – the poem – We Write – and – The Writer Woman – A Cautionary Tale exploring the addictive side of writing obsession which is oh so understandable to us writing types!
Three of my horror favourites – the tale of so-called friends in Child’s Eye, Dylan’s Dream, and the weird, grotesque and not so simple purchase of a shed in The Shed!
The unwelcome attitude to strangers in small towns is portrayed and executed with a creepy ending in Black Hare Valley. There are some character style, reflective and human interest poems like Stan, Dark Little Girl, All These Thoughts of Dying, A Woman of a Certain Age and Crushed By A Number which I really was impressed by.
And poignant tales about death, risk, darkness, fear and confusion… 7 minutes,Moonlit Shadow,Driving The Bends, The Black Van and Slug which will creep you out especially if you are scared of slugs!
Another favourite was The Rubbish Man about people who dump their rubbish. The working world, difficulties, and challenges of life are explored in poems such as Monday Morning, Fine Wine, and Tired. And the darker thoughts of the pandemic and worst case scenario in tales such as Outside. Those who love the forest, (I do!) will be drawn into The Forest.
I loved the poem called The Universe which brings a sense of hope in difficult times.
A collection which you would benefit from reading more than once to gain more insight. Excellent tales and poetry. Highly recommended.
Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children, and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing, and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love.
Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 6 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. A Song For Bill Robinson is the first in her YA trilogy.