Coming Soon!

When this popped up on my Facebook feed it was a pleasant surprise.  Regularly reviewed author Jess Harpley (AKA J.D. Astra) is part of a forthcoming anthology from Shadow Alley Press. Of which more details available soon. Check out the publishers if it takes your fancy!  At a later date will also see book two of the Earth’s Peril series, I reviewed book one, Sway’s Demise here if anybody needs a refresher.


Dark Fey: Standing In Shadows – Cynthia Morgan

FeymanjiIf you haven’t read Dark Fey: The Reviled then this synopsis for book two is going to contain a shedload of spoilers that you may want to avoid, however the review itself won’t divulge any plot information that will ruin your reading pleasure.

Gairynzvl escaped captivity among the DemonFey who had abducted him as a child through a daring act of treason and was rescued by Light Loving Fey. Now, he wants to return into the dark realm of The Reviled to attempt a rescue of the innocent childfey trapped there.
It will take more than one Fey to breach the borders of The Uunglarda and to slip past the legions of Dark Fey who abide there. It will take magic and strength, courage and military strategy and it will shake the foundations of everything The Fey of The Light have accepted as truth for thousands of years, but Gairynzvl knows the secret ways in and out of the dark realm; he is able to open portals and through his gifts of telepathic empathy and he can find the childfey standing, waiting, in the shadows.
Slipping into the darkness through darkness is easy. Escaping out again with terrified childfey is another matter. If they are captured his band of liberators will pray for death long before it comes and their success could spark full scale war, unleashing the barbaric hatred and viciousness of The Reviled upon the peace-loving Fey of The Light.
Can Gairynzvl convince the Fey of the Light to allow him to return to the Uunglarda, the realm of The Reviled? Who will join him to aid the Innocent childfey trapped in the realm of shadows and fear? And Will the Fey of the Light risk a savage war in order to rescue them?

The cover photo is great, there is no denying that and were I to see it in a bookshop my interest would be piqued.  More of this type of cover I say, rather than those dreary copy cat covers that seem to be so prevalent on the shelves these days.  As well as looking nice, it also sets the scene for a darker and more foreboding sequel.

Like the first book, this is a fantasy steeped in the natural, of the polar opposites of light and dark and the overlapping of the two and whilst the plot took, for me a little while to get going – the characters even get time for a ball game – once it gets going though, it moves along at a pleasing pace. It is an interesting mix, the plot feeling both urgent yet also fairly relaxed at times, giving the book a more ethereal feel. Continue reading “Dark Fey: Standing In Shadows – Cynthia Morgan”

Tales From Outer Suburbia – Shaun Tan

Talesfromoutersuburbia...BOOMYou thought you knew suburbia.

An exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says…

These are the odd, magical details of everyday suburban life that might forever goo unnoticed were they not finally brought to light by Shaun Tan, author and illustrator of award-winning bestseller The Arrival

Outer Suburbia.  it’s closer than you think.

After reading the magnificent The Arrival, I hungered for more of Tan’s work, this was the only one available in the comic book shop Page 45, at the time and I couldn’t be happier about that now.

My initial disappointment at the mere 96 pages – for I liked quantity with quality in my youthful years – soon changed to outright curiosity as I flicked through to the pencil drawings on the inside cover, a skeleton playing the banjo and singing the blues, an astronaut interviewing a French dog and other sorts of other outlandish things which I later noted are not repeated on the back pages which features more refreshingly strange images.

Little touches like that reassured me that this wouldn’t be just another brief anthology but something special, a group of short stories tinged with whimsy and mystery and I wasn’t wrong.  Inside I discovered clever and lighthearted stories, that have at their core messages, some obvious a few hidden a little deeper but always as thought-provoking as you allow them to be.

Some of my favourite stories include a look at what happens to the lost poems we write on scraps of paper, an expedition to see what lies beyond the edge of a street map, an ‘invasion’ of enigmatic stick figures in the suburbs and a typical and logical reaction of the populace to the threat of war. Continue reading “Tales From Outer Suburbia – Shaun Tan”

When the Bubble Bursts


Chemical reactions create perfect bubbles.
The reality of a dream encased in each…
of a thousand worlds soaring through air and liquid.
Unique abstractions encapsulated in fleeting moments…

before dissipating into the ether.

Where the bubbles burst,
the oneiric wonders gravitate towards the inventive imaginations of the thoughtful.
The creative,
a natural home for chimeras of the most astonishing kind.

Somewhere there is one such place I know…

A Dreamscape,
containing infinite mysteries, more than one imagination can envision.
A region not yet fully grasped,
of epeiric seas and mountains, looming over spectacular vistas of forest and ruins,
where I am equally at home yet conversely a foreigner in that land.
Perpetually reinvented over time, I long to be there evermore,

To find my way to a place where I can become saturated in that world and lose myself forever.


Dark Fey: The Reviled – Cynthia Morgan

MorganIn the mystical realm of Jyndari, a relationship between two unsuspecting, yet kindred souls who are separated by far more than social stigma, blossoms in secrecy that could shatter both their worlds. Ayla, a Light loving, Guardian of Childfey hides more than a few secrets; secrets that isolate her and set her apart. Secrets that bring her to the attention of one who comes in shadow and silence; one who watches, waiting for the ideal moment to step from the darkness, reveal the truth about himself and alter the course of her life forever.

Book reviews can present a challenge, especially when you know said author, in this case I think a few of you are aware of  Cynthia Morgan’s prolific blog Booknvolume. For those of you who are, you won’t be surprised to find a delicately woven tale of fantasy in this tome.

Being a short read, I was curious at how the tale would set up a wider world in later books, perhaps being more of a prologue to a larger story of depth. At the beginning, I felt that the book was perhaps more geared towards female readers but after the thirty pages I really started to get into the style of writing.

The interplay between the light and shadow worlds is nicely done and the darker aspects do feel more pronounced when opposed with the lucent realisation of the setting, which makes for a more brooding slant on the tale.  The story moves along at a fast pace, placing mystery and set pieces side by side with the Interplay between the main characters combining for a story that even when it dwells feels like it is moving at a good pace.  Continue reading “Dark Fey: The Reviled – Cynthia Morgan”

The Discworld series – Terry Pratchett (Part 2)

on the disc, the Gods are not so much worshipped as blamed.

Now settled into the series and established, the Discworld books continue in the same vein with their unique brand of humour and satire, there is more of a focus on established characters with a lot of the action being based around Ankh-Morpork, the biggest city and a nice nod to olden times London.  Of particular note from books eleven to twenty-four would be sharp satire on organised religion, The Phantom of the Opera, a nice cliché wink towards Australia( Four Ecks) and a jaunty Christmas tale where Death – complete with beard – has to take over as the Hogfather (our Santa) has gone missing.

Found on
Found on

These books all made me laugh a lot, there was comedy in abundance and I looked to each new tale with eagerness, yet from book twenty-five onwards the humour seemed to change and had been changing for a while on reflection, it was becoming more observational based comedy which was fine and did raise a smile still but there a lot less were less laugh out loud bits.  The series has evolved like the characters and Discworld itself, the places outside Ankh-Morpork were marginalised which makes sense from a realism point of view as that is where the books are heading.  I do miss the more fantastical elements but the drive towards modern times is inevitable even in fantasy, the bringing in of newspapers, banks and trains, does allow for more parody on the everyday things that we are familiar with.

“You’re dead,” he said.
Keli waited. She couldn’t think of any suitable reply. “I’m not” lacked a certain style, while “Is it serious?” seemed somehow too frivolous.

With the latest book Raising in Steam, it was rare I even raised a smile but that doesn’t detract from the actual writing, I still enjoyed the book, I think Pratchett has moved his creation from a whimsical place of magic to one somewhat more grounded in reality and although a lot of readers hanker for the old style hilarious books, it’s a comfortable world, it’s grown up and we readers have grown up with it.  When a world gets to real we wish for the more fantastical elements to be brought back into it and this is just another facet of the Discworld to mirror our own despite is differences. Continue reading “The Discworld series – Terry Pratchett (Part 2)”

The Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett (Part 1)

The Discworld has been a constant companion throughout the last 18 years of my life, I started the series when it was already twenty-five books old and like with any long series I quickly became complacent, expecting a book to come out every year or so.  Since Pratchett was sadly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I have come to regret my past ways of buying four or five books at a time and rushing through them like a hungry man at a buffet.


Having just finished the fortieth novel in the series Raising Steam, I have come to re-appreciate and savour my time on that world, all the more as the number of new stories that I will get to experience for the first time will now be a lot fewer.  It is the way with a large continuation of books though, especially when one arrives when a body of work is already established, I think a good resolution for this year will be to savour each book as if it is the last an author will write irrespective of their back catalogues.

He could swagger while asleep. Greebo could, in fact, commit sexual harassment simply by sitting very quietly in the next room.

Anyway what is the Discworld?  It is a place of satire and parody, situated as this flat world (ringed with by The Circumfence to prevent things falling off) is, atop four elephants that stand on the back of a giant turtle that wanders through the universe.  It is populated by a diverse range of characters including, an ape librarian, inept wizards, barbarian pensioners, Gods, a talking dog, Death and a camel who happens to be the best mathematician the world has ever seen, although nobody knows it. Continue reading “The Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett (Part 1)”