Friday, 31 July 2015

The Vanished Knight release day

Today, I'm excited to help Misha Gericke celebrate as she releases not one, but two books! Her debut novel, The Vanished Knight, has been relaunched along with Part 2 of the series, The Heir's Choice. I wish Misha all the best with this fantastic series. I was privileged to receive an ARC of The Vanished Knight, and below is the blurb and my review.


The entity living inside Callan’s soul orphaned her at age eleven. By the time she’s sixteen, it’s ensured her being shunted from one foster family to another. 

Her thirteenth foster assignment should be routine. Except... it's not. A psycho in medieval armor kidnaps her and she ends up in a magical world. There, she accidentally discovers a secret her parents had kept until the day they died. 

Both actually came from this magical world, but left before Callan was born. To cover their tracks, they’d lied about everything. Even who they really were. 

Driven to find out where she comes from, Callan’s trapped in a race for life and death. Walking away isn’t an option, but if she stays too long, the entity will find its next victim. 

In this world where secrets are sacrosanct and grudges are remembered, finding the truth will be near impossible. Especially when Callan has her own homicidal little secret to deal with. 

One with a taste for destroying her life.

My review:

The Vanished Knight is an epic fantasy tale that invites the reader to slip into another world, one of castles and power struggles. Callan is an admirable heroine, who has been shunted between foster homes her whole life thanks to a mysterious darkness that lies within her. So I was rooting for her to find some answers in this world she knows nothing about, but which might hold the key to her past. She's strong and capable, but with a very vulnerable side too. I felt bad for her, as she can never stay in one place very long for fear of hurting those around her.

Every character in this book felt just as well developed as Callan - and even the less likeable ones, like Darrion and James, were intriguing to spend time with. Gerrick slowly builds up a picture of a complex and developed society, but it never feels obtrusive or like an information overload. With a few well-placed details, she creates a world that feels tangible, real and dangerous. Along with Callan's quest to find herself, the other key point of the plot is the quest to find the titular vanished knight, who is the heir to Nordaine's kingdom. These two strands kept the action moving forward, and I can't wait to find out more in Book 2, which Gerrick was considerate enough to release on the same day. Speaking of action, there are a good few exciting fight scenes thrown in, but the author doesn't go overboard on gory details.

All in all, an engaging and fast-paced novel which I highly recommend.

Purchase links for The Vanished Knight:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / B&N / Kobo / iTunes / Add to Goodreads

The Heir's Choice:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / B&N / Kobo / iTunes / Add to Goodreads

Congrats, Misha! I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Gig Review - Manic Street Preachers play The Holy Bible in Edinburgh

So, my wife and I got tickets to see Welsh rock act Manic Street Preachers on the second leg of their UK tour to promote the 20th anniversary of their seminal album The Holy Bible. What a gig!

The Holy Bible is a raw, bruising, nihilistic, yet somehow completely life-affirming work and to see it played live was an incredible experience. You can find out more details about the album on its Wikipedia page or if you're pushed for time, I also wrote a short piece about it for the 2012 A-Z Challenge.

The Manics in 1994 (l-r): Sean Moore, Nicky Wire,
James Dean Bradfield, Richey Edwards
The gig, on 30th May in Edinburgh's plush Usher Hall, was something special indeed. The band had recreated some of the look of the original 1994 tour for the album, including military-type outfits and camouflage netting on stage. This is a confrontational album which attacks many political and societal targets. The atmosphere was intense and the Manics proved that despite mellowing somewhat in the years since the album (and the 1995 disappearance of troubled rhythm guitarist and principal lyricist for the Holy Bible, Richey Edwards), they can still launch a blistering live assault when the occasion demands. The hardcore faithful were singing along with every word and singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield was happy to let them take over on lead vocals when he had to take a breath.

When I heard about this tour, I wasn't sure if the band could pull off such a feat as performing this album with the energy it demanded but I needn't have worried. The crowd were in the palm of the band's hand - we had a great view of both from our position up in the gallery - and despite the frenetic pace of most of the hour's set, with crowdsurfers aplenty, there were a couple of occasions when the audience stood completely still and you could have heard a pin drop. These were during the gut wrenching outro to "4st 7lb", a song told from the perspective of a teenage anorexic hovering on the verge of death, when the song completely slows down and a repeating chord structure accompanies lines of awful acceptance such as "Such beautiful dignity in self-abuse"; and again during the entire harrowing six minutes of "The Intense Humming of Evil", which tackles the horrors of the Holocaust - and those who would deny it - head on. This song had not been played since 1994, and on record it has a uniquely unsettling power which was only amplified live. In one of the greatest sequencing tricks, we were then plucked from the lowest point and thrown back into the triumphant melee of "PCP", a fiery punk anthem which closes the album by questioning political correctness and the control of our lives by governments.

After a ten-minute break, the band came back on to run through a spirited hits set featuring some of their most popular songs such as "Motorcycle Emptiness", "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next", "You Stole the Sun From My Heart", and "You Love Us". This was where they got to loosen up after the exertion of playing the Holy Bible and they pulled off some of their trademark stage moves including James's spins and bassist Nicky's scissor kicks. Despite the fairly predictable nature of the set, they still pulled out a couple of surprises, including the first ever live showing of the rifftastic "Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll", which closed their 1992 debut album Generation Terrorists. The night finished on a stirring rendition of "A Design For Life", the working-class anthem which relaunched them following the loss of their childhood friend, Richey.

I didn't get any pictures or video from the night, so here's a photo of the band in their 1994 uniforms, and below, the video for "Faster", the blistering lead single from The Holy Bible.

Have you been to any good concerts recently?

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Change of Mind Giveaway Winners, and what I've been up to

Well, hello. I didn't mean to go AWOL for quite so long. I'll get to my reasons in just a minute, but first things first, it's high time to announce the winners of my blog tour giveaway. Roll those drums...

The winners are:

Vanessa Morgan who wins an e-copy of A Change of Mind and Other Stories

T.B. Markinson who wins a £10 Amazon gift card

Congrats, guys! I'll be in touch shortly about how to redeem your prizes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first blog tour and felt quite humbled by everyone's thoughts and comments. In addition to my lovely tour hosts, my book has also seen features on Mina Burrows' and Medeia Sharif's blogs and I'm very grateful to have had some great reviews.

The big news, we've moved house... which is huge news, as we had never been settled at our previous address where we had been for 1.5 years. This feels so much more relaxed and peaceful. Now, with the move out of the way, I will be buckling down and getting on with Part 3 of my trilogy, which was my big plan for this year. It's July, so um... slightly overdue, but I'm still hopeful of getting a first draft done before the year is out. I'm also aiming for more regular blog posts and to get back to Write 1 Sub 1.

Hope everyone's having a good summer! Ours is wet, but we're enjoying whatever splashes of sunshine come our way.