Love Machine – Neveah Hor

In the year, 2050, among the humans on the streets, there were these very few others. Others who were made in the biggest technology company, AITA (artificial intelligence and technological advancements), what humans call, the guardians. They were crossbreeds of humans and animals which had the highest Intelligent Quotient (IQ). They were created to protect all citizens with their special abilities. However, they had one enemy. The citizens called them the poachers. They are from another company, The Royal AI. This company was the second most advanced company and they wanted all the glory of AITA. To win them over, The Royal AI had to prove themselves worthy and they resolved to hunt down the guardians to kill them all off by creating their own crossbreeds. Life for the guardians was not that easy. Humans just did not understand one thing. These guardians they so often talk about did not want fame. They wanted something else…

When ambitious thirteen-year-old Neveah Hor emailed to ask if I would review her debut novel, I did take time to debate whether it would be a good idea.  In the end after Crissy encouraged it, reasoning that it was something different to read and an interesting exercise for me, I caved in and decided to give it a go.  And as the saying goes, an honest review in exchange a free book.

The story is one centred around love, heavy on the relationships from the off, it’s very much a coming of age story, with life lessons about friendship and loyalty.  There is lots of action and romance, but Love Machine didn’t grab me, which may perhaps not be surprising to anyone who has read this blog. Continue reading “Love Machine – Neveah Hor”

Hitting All the Right Buttons

The days are flying by of late, what with now working fifty hours a week, it’s been hard to get a chance to blog, (and I am aware I need to answer comments but that will be done at a later date) so it came as a bit of a surprise when Crissy told me we were nearing our six hundredth subscriber on  our YouTube channel.

When you read this we will be at that specific number and so can announce that we already have our plans to pay forward all the kindness that has come our way – especially over the past year and a half – by donating to a charity chosen by our winner.  We will also be sharing some other prizes out for other lucky entrants, see our Facebook page for that, link below.

Here is your chance to win in The Johnsons’ Road to 1,000 Subscribers! Milestone Giveaways and Raffle! Join in these 4 easy steps:

1) Subscribe to the Johnsons’ YouTube channel:

2) Like The Johnsons’ Facebook Page:

3) Share your favourite The Johnsons’ YouTube video on your Facebook timeline and story with a witty caption and tag your chosen loved one, following with #TheJohnsonsPayItForward.

4) Send the screenshots of steps 1 to 3 to the Johnsons’ Facebook page and the link of your chosen charity. Wait for the confirmation of your raffle entry.
Raffle draw will be done once we reach 1,000 subscribers.

What’s in a Novel?

Most people, left to their own devices, think not in clichés but with originality and brilliance; that most individual voices, once heard, turn out to be voices of beauty and wisdom.

Photo taken by Alfons Morales.

I think we all agree that a novel is nothing if it is not the expression of an individual voice, of a single view of experience — and how many of the good or even interesting novels, of the thousands published appear each year? Joan Didion (I Can’t Get That Monster Out of My Mind – 1964)

Heading for Halloween

This time of year – like pretty much any other time – is a good excuse to buy a book, and this Halloween I can confidently say that  My Headless Son Fred and His Head Baby Brother Headley, is the perfect book for this mini season. 

The reason I can so confidently assert my opinions is because I did some editing work on the book a while back, and enjoyed the story and the offbeat comedy that kept me entertained through multiple readings of the text.

The cover looks gorgeous, and with a chaotic family that is both grounded in the realistic, as well as the undead, its all too easy to cheer them on in their adventures, when, morally, the reader probably shouldn’t…

Filmon Trout sits in his home, shut off from the outside world. One Halloween night, he finds love in a nearby cemetery. But what Filmon doesn’t know is that his newly found love interest isn’t human.

Months later, they become parents of two unconventional but lovable boys, soon emerging as an adventure-loving family seeking to survive amid a serial killer, a corrupt CIA agent, and an evil Hollywood executive.

But the Trout family isn’t a typical little family…

From Knights to Hearts

A theme of books being published by blogger friends, of late, seems to be a homage to the medium with which we, both readers and writers alike, feel the most affinity, the humble sheet of paper.

For those of you who love poetry, I present, or remind you, of Boomie Bol , a prolific writer and long term blogger who digs deeply into all things emotional.

Her debut collection paper heart – out today – is a wide ranging assortment of poems ranging from nature, family, heartbreaks, and faith, to name but a few subjects.

A review will follow soon enough, but in the meantime, check the link above if you wish to get a feel for Boomie’s poems.

Interrogation of Author Nicholas Conley (Part One)

Nothing beats the feel of a solid, weighty book in one’s hands, and recently reviewed Knight in Paper Armor is just such a book, both hefty in your desired unit of measurement, and also in message.

Getting a much needed , and rare, bit of Vitamin D, whilst rereading selected passages of the book.

Having enjoyed the book immensely, I was interested to dig deeper into the book and the mind of author, Nick, himself, who kindly agreed to answer some questions, a taster of two are below, and the the others will follow in an upcoming post:

Knight in Paper Armor has been with you for a long time, how long has this story been formulating in your writerly mind and what were the specific inspirations?

The first inklings of the concept – and the title – came to me all the way back in 2010, actually, before my first book even saw print. It took me a long time to figure out how to write it, however. Every time I tried to draft it, it felt like I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t crack the code. Most of these drafts had very little in
common with the finished novel, but there was always one core element that remained—the idea that, basically, there’s something wrong with the world, and there’s this boy—Billy—who, through his strange powers, feels the pain of everyone out there, and wants to help.

Here’s the thing. What is this “pain of others,” exactly? As a writer, with a concept like that, you have to decide whether you’re going to be vague, for the sake of not polarizing readers, or if you’re going to be upfront, honest, and forthright about the brutality, inequalities, and unfairness of the real world. Explicit parallels felt necessary, but back then, I don’t think I had yet gained the maturity and life experience to tackle these sorts of complex, heavy subjects, yet. Writing Pale Highway, which came out in 2015, was the book that really propelled my skills and confidence forward, in that regard. Continue reading “Interrogation of Author Nicholas Conley (Part One)”

Camino Island – John Grisham

The most daring and devastating heist in literary history targets a high security vault located deep beneath Princeton University.

Valued at $25 million (though some would say priceless) the five manuscripts of F Scott Fitzgerald’s only novels are amongst the most valuable in the world. After an initial flurry of arrests, both they and the ruthless gang of thieves who took them have vanished without trace.

Now it falls to struggling writer Mercer Mann to crack a case that has thwarted the FBI’s finest minds.

I’m not a big thriller reader, but I love books about books so I bit the bullet and decided to pick up for Camino Island, even despite the wildly inaccurate Think The Da Vinci Code (the capital D always bothers me, as does the book itself) meets Sherlock Holmes, which was claim of The Sun, a paper not known for anything worthwhile.

This novel has no doubt split his loyal readers, as it has little of the legal side of things and is slowly paced for the majority of the book, but I couldn’t help but have fun reading it.  This is a beach read of the best kind, and it probably helps that I’m not a staunch Grisham fan.

Strangely there were a fair amount of things that would usually annoy me in this book, yet they didn’t: a certain event from one of the characters past being alluded to way too much, perhaps that is an idea for a future book but it didn’t need to be quite as laboured here. Grisham writing for a female character didn’t always convince, the pacing was slow in the main which was fine but perhaps thriller is the wrong term for the book, and the characters were all one dimensional with no development to speak of.  Yet with all that in mind I still enjoyed the book. Continue reading “Camino Island – John Grisham”

In Which, Bestsellers are Discussed, and Cowardly Actions Take Place

With a heavy heart I dragged my feet, which is hard to do whilst also pushing a pushchair, towards ASDA, the local supermarket.  Inevitably the usual torturous shopping trip loomed.  The routine is usually something like this; we have a list, then wander aimlessly around the store, before settling on said original items.

This time though a plan was forming in my devious mind.  It involved volunteering to take Amelia to the books, so she wasn’t bored and joining up somewhere in store later, which actually in reality meant hiding in a cowardly fashion near the books until the shopping was completed.

The books on offer were not exactly thrilling. As you would expect there were an array of bestsellers, you know the type, a book with Clive Cussler’s name emblazoned on it when the other co-author (in much smaller print) wrote most of it, yet another book about someone doing a job in Auschwitz, and some grim true crime, etc.  Admittedly I once saw a copy of To Kill a mockingbird hanging around on the bottom shelf so since then I have been keeping a keen eye out. Continue reading “In Which, Bestsellers are Discussed, and Cowardly Actions Take Place”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis

Four adventurous siblings―Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie― step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

After the Genesis heavy themes of The magician’s nephew we come to the other most recognisable bit of Christianity in this book, but it is far less heavy in its symbols this time around, and a much better introduction to  the Narnia series – as well as being a decent standalone read too.  Oozing, as it does, a lot of charm.

It was surprising to find that a lot of the things I remembered from the book didn’t happen in half as much detail as I recalled, which is probably a case of having seen the numerous adaptations of TV series and films, which inevitably form unconscious associations and attribute details as time goes on.

What keeps readers returning to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe time and again is the joy of discovery, Narnia is a world that I do love venturing into, and the book oozes a lot of magic still to this day.  The idea of going onto another world is always appealing, on the other hand the characters are very simplistically drawn, and I can’t help but feel that it is the dim memory of childhood nostalgia which keeps them beloved these days.

The climactic chapters feel all to brief, the action passes within a few scant paragraphs and this is something of a theme of the series sadly.  The reader can bulk it out within imagination – or the adaptations – but with such scant text this all comes after the initial reading and as a result doesn’t really help the book in the moment. Continue reading “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis”

Silver Screen Dreams

In the last few days, it’s been announced that Cineworld is shutting down for the foreseeable future, which is really sad news.  I worked at the Nottingham cinema for a short time in what now seems the distant past, and it was a decent job, which my coworkers made really enjoyable, and I wish them all well for the future.

Where I used to spend my days and nights. Photo taken by Arran bee, found at

There were two aspects of the job that will always be fondly remembered, and they were both on the late shift, which I preferred doing once they got going but were always a challenge to drag oneself in for.

The first, was being marooned by myself near the entrance, which was the home of two of the least comfotable screens. This had two good things going for it, the first was a chance to write down copious notes for reviews or do a crossword thanks to it being quieter there, and the second was Funstation.

Funstation is one of those guady arcade type places, with lots of games, and a favourite haunt for teenage gatherings.  It was situated just over the other side of the walkway, and from my vantage point I could observe the everchanging colours of the neon lights flickering on and off, trying to entice people to spend their money.  This always seemed oddly attractive as a meeting place, before the inevitable, yet agreeable, melancholy of closing up for the night.  It reminded me of the meetings, departings and eventual silence of a railway station, or airport. Continue reading “Silver Screen Dreams”