29th December 2016

Right, today I’ve knocked out 819 words. A few hundred was written during my lunch break and rest were this evening. Although I am finding it easier to write I’m still finding myself quite distracted as I am writing but I’m getting better.

Some of this evening was writing a book review for Justin R. Macumber’s Fragile, which I recommend people check out as I really enjoyed it. As I was posting the review to Goodreads I checked out how I was doing on the reading challenge for 2016 and out of a target of sixty books that I’d set myself to read at the start of the year I’ve read thirty. Now some of those were comic books and a fair few were audiobooks, but what made me laugh was the fact that Goodreads said that I still had two days to go and could read thirty books in two days…… yeah that isn’t going to happen. Even if I was a faster reader I very much doubt I could knock out thirty books in two days. My grandad was quite a voracious reader when his health allowed him to be but I doubt even he could smash through thirty books in two days.

Anyway, I do have an audiobook and a comic book that I’d like to have wrapped up by New Years Eve. The audiobook is vN by Madeline Ashby and the comic book is Day of Chaos: Endgame (Judge Dredd). I’d like to get those two wrapped up so I can go into the new year with a fully clean slate reading wise. I know the next three to four novels that I want to read and I’m looking forward to the three that I’m definitely going to delve into.

I am chuffed I’ve consumed thirty books this year, I didn’t think it was anywhere near that to be honest. Come 2017 I’ll be setting that goal of sixty again and be much more proactive in hitting that target.

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Fragile by Justin R. Macumber

Fragile is the next book following the life of Maya Gallows, a paranormal investigator and blogger, as she tries to deal with the fallout of what happened in Stillwater (book one, Still Water). But even though she’s struggling with what happened she moves onto the next case. Young girls are going missing and are being replaced by dolls in a small town, so Maya goes to investigate it with the help of her young friend Taylor.img_1065

This is a very well written, and engaging story that becomes more and more of a page turner as you get deeper into the story. There is very little, if any, fluff in Fragile. The story moves along at a healthy and natural pace. The characters are well layered and feel very real, whether it’s those who don’t get much page time like Alan or main characters like Maya and Taylor, they all have a genuineness to them.

Justin Macumber is really good at setting tones for his stories. I found in this and the first novel in the series, Stil Water, especially that he can give you (the reader) a great idea of where these stories take place without overloading the story with details about how the world looks. He gives just enough to set the imagination free, which I think helps the story move along more smoothly.

The story has some pretty chilling moments in it (obviously) but it also has heart and humour as well. Much of the humour is in the dialogue, which is very strong and adds to the character’s personalities. It is a story where I said ‘damn’ and ‘oh shit’ out loud a number of times.

A quick note on the cover by Scott Macumber, it freaks me out. In a good way though, in the way that I can’t quite take my eyes off it despite the feeling that it’s trying to eat my soul.

I’ve now read five of Justin Macumber’s books and it’s great seeing him growing as a writer. Each novel feels a little more refined, a little more stronger, and like Macumber is pushing himself harder and not letting himself get comfortable now that he’s had a few books published.

Stil Water was my favourite Justin R. Macumber novel, but Fragile has just raced passed it.

NaNoWriMo 2016: Day One

I’ve written 2045 words today. At one point this evening I wasn’t sure I’d get more than the minimum of 1667 but during my second of two sprints with my local NaNo group I managed to smash out those extra few hundred words to pass over the 2000 mark on the first day.

Breaking things down: I wrote about four hundred words first thing, then another 450-500 at lunch and the rest this evening after getting home from work and visiting my Grandad, and eating etc. I think this’ll be how my word counts across a working day will roughly go.

Now, I’m off to read a bit of Fragile by Justin R. Macumber before bed. 

A Broken Magic by Justin R. Macumber

A Broken Magic is the follow up from A Minor Magic and tells the story of Skyla. Skyla is a teen who has the ability to use magic which was forced into our world, burning much of it in the process. The first book deals with her discovering what she can do and where her ability to use magic comes from. This second book Skyla sets off on a mission to find more like her and to try and stop the damage this other worlds magic is doing to our world; but we also see things from the point of view of Cassandra, a teen who is, essentially, a type of apprentice to someone who forced this magic on our world.

What I really found interesting with this second book was how Justin Macumber opened up the universe a little. Bringing in the point of view of Cassandra gave a different element to it and one that was a polar opposite to that of Skyla from the first book.The story was pretty good and I liked the idea of the magic that didn’t belong here and the effect it has on our planet and those here that may have magical powers. 

I believe there is a third book in mind and I’m quite looking forward to seeing where Macumber takes it. I am kind of hoping we see more of the Columbia community, that seemed rather interesting. 

A quick final note, I listened to the audiobook of this one, and the book before it, A Minor Magic. The narration and the quality of the sound was fantastic. Veronica Giguere, again, did an amazing job.

What I Want To Read In 2015

I didn’t read any where near enough last year. I can think of a half a dozen books that I really wanted to read but just didn’t get around to (Wool, Pandemic, Feed, The Man in the High Castle, Soul Asylum and The Earthsea Quartet). Those are just the ones off the top of my head. Lets add in some shorter pieces by Dan Abnett (set in his Gaunt’s Ghosts series) and J.C. Hutchins novella series, The 33.
Then I’ve got novels by Justin R. Macumber, Terry Mixon, Paul E. Cooley, Armand Rosamillia, Mimi Black and Christopher Stocking. (Dan Abnett also has a full length Gaunt’s Ghosts novel out this year too, yes I’m excited!).
I’d also like to read the second Lincoln Rhyme book, The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver and the first Harry Potter book read early on this year as well.
I’d really like to get start on the fourth Dark Tower book as I finished the third recently, but as it’s taking me a while to get through this series by Stephen King I’m a little reluctant to make a start on Wizard and Glass while I’ve got so many other books that I’m itching to read. That said, if I get through enough by the mid-point of the year then I may dive into it. I was thinking about giving it a go as an audiobook but these Dark Tower books seem so complex I’m not sure I’ll absorb them as much as I would do if I read them. I am a big fan of audiobooks, but I do miss the odd thing while listening (interruptions while at work) and also, I’ve read the previous three books and I think it’ll feel weird not reading the other four.

These are all books I’ve already got, either on my bookshelf or on my Kindle app or my iBooks app.

I will be listening to a lot of audiobooks this year as well. I’ve got eight or nine in my Audible library already.

I’ve set a Goodreads target of 60 books this year. With the audiobooks, comic books and the shorter pieces I’m planning on reading I think I’ll manage that. If I’m well ahead of target early on I may increase it but I’ll see how I’m doing.

Still Water by Justin R. Macumber

Still Water is the third novel released by Justin R. Macumber and is his first foray into the horror genre. It tells the story of a young man, Kyle,  who after escaping his coal mining hometown and joining the U.S. Army he is pulled back into it some years later after receiving disturbing reports of a change in character of his parents by his younger, High School, aged sister. Also entering this little American town is a blogge, Maya,  who has been drawn to the town to investigate its strange history for her website. They come together to discover what is truly happening in this town  and how it could affect the world around them.

That’s the general gist of it, I will just say how much I hate writing plot synopsis as I never feel I give them enough oomph, but to what I thought of it:

So far this year I’ve ben lucky as I’ve had a few books which have really blown my mind away and Still Water is right up there with them. The story is solid, the characters are fascinating and not cookie cutter. The setting of Stillwater feels very authentic, and creepy all the way through the book. Speaking of creepy this one did really creep me out at times. There have not been many books where I’ve flinched as I’ve been reading them, Scott Sigler’s Infected comes to mind, but this one made me flinch on a number of occasions. It also made me laugh and I actually said at one stage ‘Ewww’

Mr. Macumber has written a very tight book here, there is next to no fat in the entire novel; everything in it has a point and there are very few words that are wasted. This is one of the things that makes it a page turner, the story doesn’t take half a book to get started. There are no chapters that felt like they took a tea break. The plot deepens with each page, but the characters don’t feel hurried because of this. I’ve seen criticism of some books that say the story never gives the reader a chance to breath, but how Mr. Macumber has paced the story allows for a slow build up of tension which is eased off in various places, but it doesn’t loose that momentum of cranking up the threat which is almost always there.

One of the strong points of the novel is the characters and their interactions. They all felt very natural and genuine, especially the dialogue between Kyle and an old friend, Dirk. We can see they’re good friends and despite time apart they pick up the laddish banter without any hurdles.

The part of this story that sticks with me the most is how I felt reading it, throughout the novel there is this sense of despair and decay; which Justin R. Macumber does really, really well. He doesn’t force it down our throats, he doesn’t spell it out in black and white, it’s just there. I’d imagine it’s easy to just throw into a story lots of blood and guts and those torture porn tropes but Still Water doesn’t have those; yes it does have gross parts and those parts I mentioned about flinching but none of them would have been half as effective without that sense of decay and despair.

Please check it out, it’s available on Amazon and other fine retailers, and if you like what you see give it a go, it’s worth it.

 

The Reading List

Although I am not setting myself targets or making any grand plans for this year one thing I am aiming a little more attention to is reading. I felt last year I didn’t make enough time to read and this is something that I need to change. one piece of advice that I’ve heard successful writers give is that to write we need to read.

I have just finished Shadows of the Realm by Dionne Lister and I have just started Embedded by Dan Abnett. Shadows of the Realm has been on my Kindle App for a couple of months and I really enjoyed it. I’ll admit that I was not sure how I would do with it as I’m not a huge fan of fantasy but if I’m honest I’ve never really tried to read a fantasy novel. I’m glad I did read Shadows of the Realm as it is not only very well written but it is also one of those stories that gets more and ore addictive as you read it. After I finished it I went straight over to Amazon and downloaded the second book in the series. I’m holding off reading it though until the third is out and I’ll read them back-to-back when the time comes.

Tracie got me Embedded for Christmas but it’s been one that I’ve wanted to read for some time. I’m only thirty or so pages into it but already I’m at the point of eagerly turning the pages to see what happens.

This year there are a lot of books I want to read. Scott Sigler has Pandemic and The Champion out, as well as a number of novellas and short stories in various anthologies. Christopher Stocking has The Rotten Apple out and Jordanna East has Blood in the Paint out soon as well. Justin Macumber will also hopefully be releasing a couple more novels this year.

Then there are the novels on my iPad and book shelve I want to read this year. Doing a quick count I can see twenty three on my shelf and twenty eight on my Kindle App. Damn that’s a lot of books, and I know I’ll buy more during the year. Of course I’m not expecting to read all of these this year, my Goodreads goal is thirty five books. That is the same as last year but I didn’t hit it… hopefully I will this year.

Here are the website links to the authors I mentioned:

http://danabnett.com/

http://scottsigler.com/

http://jordannaeast.com/

http://dionnelisterwriter.com/

http://mentalsweatshop.wordpress.com/