Tuesday, 23 October 2018

New Release: Cold as the Clay by Stephen Osborne

Title: Cold as the Clay
Language: English
Published: 23rd October, 2018
Length: 61,150 words (approx.)
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-284-9
eBook: 978-1-78645-285-6
ASIN: B07J47JCKB
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Horror, Paranormal, Supernatural
Series: The Duncan Andrews Thrillers (Goodreads series link)
URL: https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/coldastheclay

Blurb:
Private detective Duncan Andrews is used to dealing with things strange and bizarre. Luckily, he's got friends to back him up, including Gina, a witch, Robbie, his boyfriend, and Daisy, their zombie bulldog. A new case brings Duncan face-to-face with a demon named Asmodeus. If that wasn't enough, one of the original Gorgons wants revenge against Duncan for killing her sister. Duncan and his team must pull out all the stops if they're going to get through this alive.

Editor's Review:
So, if you've read any of my editor's reviews before, you'll know that horror is not my thing. Supernatural/paranormal...yes, I can go with some of that, as long as it's not too scary. I'm a complete wuss when it comes to scary stuff.

Also, I've not read the first five books in Stephen Osborne's Duncan Andrews Thrillers series.

But you know what? None of that matters, because Stephen's storytelling is pure brilliance. There are plenty of subtly placed background details in Cold as the Clay to give new readers the context of this instalment, and it stands entirely on its own.

That said, now I've read Cold as the Clay, I recommend you do as I will be doing and read the first five books (published by Dreamspinner). Of course, reading them in the wrong order might spoil some elements of the over-arching plot lines, but it won't ruin your enjoyment.

Cold as the Clay isn't really horror (it's a thriller, Deb, the clue's in the series title...). True, there are events in this novel that would make for some corking (gruesome) scenes in a movie, and there are a fair few of (what I these days know are called) 'jump scares', which is so clever - no scary music or lighting tricks, just building up the suspense with words and characters' observations.

And the characters... Obviously, by book six, the author knows the characters intimately, resulting in natural interactions, believable dialogue and touching little nuances. Duncan can be quite serious, but is adept at well-timed sarcasm (which I love). Robbie, I get the feeling, can be quite a handful. Gina is all of the awesome. I need Gina in my life. But my favourite character of all is Daisy - Duncan's zombie bulldog. She's loving and fierce and typical of her kind, undead or otherwise. Her dinnertimes are, um, grim, but even a zombie dog's gotta eat, right?

So that's the dream team - our supernatural crime-busting quartet. Then there are the baddies: a demon (Asmodeus, mind you), a Gorgon and her sidekick Anton. He reminds me of the time I had a sliver of apple skin stuck between my teeth for an entire day. He's a bit more pernicious than that, but you get the idea: he's a nuisance.

As always, it's impossible to do justice to a story in a review that is necessarily sketchy so as not to spoil anything, but take a look at that blurb and tell me this isn't a perfect read for the season.

Cold as the Clay is book six in The Duncan Andrews Thrillers series (and there may well be a seventh instalment on the way, squeeee). Available from Beaten Track and all the usual places.

Purchase Links:
Beaten Track Shop:: Ebook EditionPaperback Edition

Other Vendors:
Amazon [Kindle]Smashwords • Barnes and NobleKoboiBooks

About the Author:
Stephen Osborne lives in northern Illinois with a border terrier mix named Miss Christine Daae. He enjoys Broadway musicals, board games, and British television, especially Doctor Who. He recently wrote a Doctor Who audio adventure for subscribers to Big Finish Productions Doctor Who range called The Smallest Battle.

Social Media
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephen.osborne2
Twitter: @southbendghosts
Instagram: osborne5894

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Recent Release: The Death of Poetry by Ian D. Hall

Title: The Death of Poetry
Language: English
Published: 31st August, 2018
Cover: Artwork by Cyrano Denn; Design: Roe Horvat
Length: 70,000 words (approx.)
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-211-5
eBook: 978-1-78645-212-2
ASIN: B07GCRBJS1
Category: Fiction
Genre: Crime, Thrillers and Mystery, Literary
URL: https://beatentrackpublishing.com/thedeathofpoetry

Blurb:
Set on Malta and written partly as a homage to the beat generation writers, The Death of Poetry is a taut psychological exploration of relationships and situations that entwine the characters we observe through the narration.

Opening with a seemingly unsuspicious death at a facility for 'the unhinged', our island detective at first feels it is just a circumstantial accident; after all, many inside are damaged and alone, having dealt with their addictions and afflictions. It is when a fresh victim appears, most definitely murdered, that he begins to unravel the fragile links and faint memories of those he now must confront from his own past - one he may not have wanted to remember for himself.

Editor's Review:
I may well be the only publisher who asks authors to NOT send a synopsis. I don't mean the short synopsis that forms part of the back-cover blurb - what Amazon, Smashwords and other vendors call the 'description'. I'm talking about the full precis of the story, spoilers, conclusion and all.

I'm not suggesting authors should ditch the synopsis entirely. If you're submitting your work to an agent/big publisher, they'll likely require a synopsis, and writing one can be a helpful part of the self-editing process, i.e. before your work is seen by anyone else. It can give you a sense of how the plot hangs together and may even highlight holes and discrepancies.

Synopses do nothing for me. In my experience, most authors can put together an impressive pitch for their story. It's what we've been told is crucial to securing that great publishing deal with advances and all that jazz. But it gives no indication of how the author tells their story.

I want to experience the story as the reader will. Does it grip me from the start? Do I want to read on? Does the prose transport me to another place? Of course, I'm in the privileged position of publishing for the love of books, not for money. If I love a book, I want to publish it, and there is nothing that can kill my enjoyment of a good book faster than spoilers, which a full synopsis necessarily contains.

And so to Ian D. Hall's debut novel, The Death of Poetry. A full synopsis (Ian might have sent me one, I don't recall because I didn't read it) would have laid out all the connections that unfold as this novel progresses, and what we'd get is a neat, linear investigation beginning with a death in a psychiatric hospital and ending with the detective solving the case, which would have been nothing like a real police investigation, and also not at all how it works in The Death of Poetry. The connections are intricate, fragile, overlaying each other, breaking apart, weaving together.

Is it obvious who the killer is? I have no idea. This is a novel that is less about actions than intentions, and these are revealed to the reader as they are to the detective, but, like the individual strokes of a painter's brush, we only have the vaguest notion of what the finished picture looks like. Standing back to admire that picture...I was truly wowed. Ian D. Hall is a clever, clever author, and I'm hopeful he'll take his hand to mystery-writing again, although in truth, he had me hooked from 'partly as a homage to the beat generation writers'.

The Death of Poetry is a murder mystery novel by Ian D. Hall, available in ebook and paperback editions from Beaten Track and the usual places.

Purchase Links:
Beaten Track: eBookPaperback
Amazon: KindlePaperback
Barnes and Noble • Kobo • iBooks

About the Author:
Having been found on a 'Co-op' shelf in Stirchley, Birmingham by a Cornish woman and a man of dubious footballing taste, Ian grew up in neighbouring Selly Park and Bicester in Oxfordshire. After travelling far and wide, he now considers Liverpool to be his home.

Ian was educated at Moor Green School, Bicester Senior School, and the University of Liverpool, where he gained a 2:1 (BA Hons) in English Literature.

He now reviews and publishes daily on the music, theatre and culture within Merseyside.

Website: www.liverpoolsoundandvision.co.uk

Thursday, 11 October 2018

New Release: Buried Desires 3 by Neptune Flowers, Ofelia Gränd and Amy Spector

Author: Neptune Flowers, Ofelia Gränd, Amy Spector
Language: English
Published: 10th October, 2018
Cover Design(s): Amy Spector
Length: 70,000 words (approx.)
ISBN: eBook: 978-1-78645-277-1
Paperback: 978-1-78645-280-1
ASIN: B07HXPKGKB
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Horror, Romance and Relationships, Short Stories, Adult, Paranormal
Series: Buried Desires
URL: http://beatentrackpublishing.com/burieddesires3

Blurb:
Buried Desires 3 - A Horror Anthology

More tales of love, death and love after death.

Buried Desires is back. And now there's even more to love. From the ghostly to the grotesque, this time around Buried Desires 3 brings you three tales from horror authors, both old and new, offering up a perfect collection of romance and the macabre.

The Reluctant Ghost Whisperer (Barrow and Sparrow #1) by Neptune Flowers
All you need is love, or so they say!

Owning a building company means long hours, lonely days and too much physical labour.

When Adam Barrow employs a fit, capable guy, life begins to look up. His business thrives from the extra muscle, and so does Adam. Being around chatty Johnny really helps the time fly past. Adam is shy and inexperienced in ways of the heart, but very soon his awkwardness eases and he finds himself flirting and having fun.

Johnny Sparrow has a mysterious past and seems to have a knack of stirring up inexplicable presences. From the day he arrives on a motorbike, weird things begin to happen, like strange noises and creepy mists. Even motorbike Angus has a personality!

All you need is love, but can Adam find the strength to confront the ghostly goings-on? Can Johnny find a use for the egg whisk, and can Angus really carry them both to safety?

A story of paranormal divas, supernatural aromas and head-over-heels romance.

Barrow and Sparrow book one.

The Snowflake by Ofelia Gränd
Nothing inspires art like love.

Theophile Lekas has spent the last seventeen years trying to build a name for himself as an ice sculptor. Ice is his world, but he lives for Dylan Mincer.

But loving from afar isn't enough, and if Theo wants to win Dylan's heart, he'll need to sweep him off his feet. And what better way to do it than with a sculpture that will leave Dylan breathless and the world in no doubt of Theo's genius?

After an argument leads to murder, Theo is hit with true inspiration. And he has the perfect block to begin his project. For Dylan, Theo will create his masterpiece. And it will be as unique as a snowflake.

Great art requires the perfect muse.

Pretty Plastic (Cold Fingers #3) by Amy Spector
Christopher Minnick is still not a zombie.

Three months after his run-in with the vampire Marcus Grâsson, Christopher's ankle has healed but his life is anything but perfect. There are people watching the house. Flora's worried about the scarecrow. And after an unexpected tragedy strikes, Christopher will need to figure out how to deal with the loss without tearing a rift between his brother and himself.

When Victor accepts a job with Pretty, a prestigious private hospital, to work alongside the handsome Austen Poole, Christopher ends up with one more thing to worry about. While it might seem like a dream job, there's something not quite right in paradise, and when Vic starts acting strangely, Christopher will stop at nothing to get his man back.


When striving for perfection, you sometimes need to get your hands a little dirty.

Editor's Review
When Amy and Ofelia emailed to tell me they wanted to put out a third Buried Desires, they did so apologetically, as if I wouldn't want to publish it. As if! True, horror is not my thing, although I have discovered that, as an editor, the scarier/more gruesome aspects pass me by, for which I'm very glad. Were it not for this, I may never have had the chance to read these stories, and it is 'reading' for the most part rather than 'editing'. Amy and Ofelia make my job very easy indeed.

Better still, for Buried Desires 3, Neptune Flowers joined the roster, and my word, these three stories are corkers.

The Reluctant Ghost Whisperer - Neptune Flowers
This is a lovely romance featuring builders. That's not really important to the ghostly theme, but it did have me wondering when I was parked in the middle of a building site the other day...what's behind the hard hats and hi-viz jackets? Anyway... On Adam and Johnny's first job together, things get a bit spooky - cold spots, oppressive feelings, that sort of thing, but it's only the start of both their blossoming romance and their mission, should they choose to accept it. Because ghosts have problems too, and who better to call than a builder with an egg whisk and a sentient motorbike?

The Snowflake - Ofelia Gränd
This is, probably, a stand-alone story about an ice sculptor, and it occurred to me, the first time Theo is...erm, struck by inspiration, shall we say, that the line between gifted genius and crazed bloodythirsty psychopath is really, really fragile. Seeing events unfold through Theo's eyes, I kept thinking...I can see why he's done that, his heart's in the right place and then having to remind myself he's actually batsh*t crazy. But my favourite part of this is the ending, which was absolutely not what I expected. Also, Cat.

Pretty Plastic - Amy Spector
So this is Cold Fingers 3, and it's as darkly funny as the first two instalments. Christopher Minnick's sense of humour is dry as ashes and dust, but he's not dead. Kinda. He's not a zombie, at any rate. In this, as in the previous stories, he finds himself mingling with other not-dead folks - mostly those with whom he's personally acquainted - and there's a great 1960s classic horror vibe that results in me reading Cold Fingers in Technicolor. It's much fun, and scary, of course. I really admire the way the author combines suspense and humour and hope she's far from done with this series.

It's tricky for me to say more without spoiling the stories, so I'll leave it at saying this is a great read for Halloween or, indeed, any other time of year from three incredibly talented authors whose stories I will never, ever tire of reading.

Buried Desires 3 is available as an ebook and paperback from Beaten Track Publishing and the usual places.

Purchase Links:
Beaten Track: eBookPaperback
Amazon: eBookPaperback

Stories also available separately as eBooks - please visit the links below for more details:
The Reluctant Ghost Whisperer - Neptune Flowers
The Snowflake - Ofelia Gränd
Pretty Plastic - Amy Spector