The last post I did about Nick’s forthcoming book, Knight in Paper Armor, was as pleasant to write as it was an unexpected opportunity.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, just when I was about to announce that the posting of this blog will be a bit less frequent owing to baby Amelia taking up more time, and my ability to write amidst the chaos of an energetic or grumpy baby is lacking.

I am hoping to post once a week for a little while, as I try to complete some of the backlog and then use that to take pressure off writing in the future, as posts become more regular.  At the moment I seem unable to complete any of the three hundred and fifty drafts that are giving me a guilt complex for not finishing.

Other than posting as and when – anything beyond one a week will be a bonus – I will also endeavour to get around to visiting your blogs at least once a week too.  It’s been difficult to balance time of late, with so much to complete and the constant learning about baby related stuff.

No more rambling need be done, hopefully my presence will be properly back here sooner rather than later, and in the meantime, stay awesome and keep creating.

Knight in Paper Armor

Well, well, what do we have here?!  A new and shiny book to be released on the 15th September, from perennial blog favourite Nicholas Conley.  Long term readers may remember I reviewed his previous four books: The Cage Legacy, Clay Tongue, Intraterrestrial, and Pale Highway, so a new book is always welcome and highly anticipated in these parts.

All the details are below, to whet your appetites, and check out his blog here too.  Being a new dad like myself hearty congratulations are in order for managing to complete anything with a new baby added to the usual daily mix of life and coffee.

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

A Suitable Quote

This quote sums up so much of what it is to be a reader, and to explore and attempt to make sense of the puzzles that books give us.  To learn and better ourselves through the chronicles of accomplishments of those before us.

“She paused by the science shelves, not because she understood much science, but, rather because she did not. Whenever she opened a scientific book and saw whole paragraphs of incomprehensible words and symbols, she felt a sense of wonder at the great territories of learning that lay beyond her – the sum of so many noble and purposive attempts to make objective sense of the world.”

Morning Light Readings

Having various body parts hanging over the edge of the bed and being poked mercilessly for hours by a restless baby, not yet ready to settle in her own sleeping space, I finally gave up and shuffled wearily downstairs at 4am to read Émile Zola’s, La Bête Humaine.

Claude Monet, Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877,

Admittedly, that time of the morning is always pleasing once the mood improves enough to observe surroundings and to be in a position to appreciate the quiet, the chill that settles on bare arms, and, this morning, the fog, illuminated in the glow of the streetlamp, swirling in beguiling patterns.

There are white roses edging along our garden gate, some petals are strewn over the ground at the foot of the fence. This felt symbolic as the book I start is a tale of jealousy, passion, and murder. As the reading light illuminated the pages, I ventured to the soot covered French railways of the late 1800’s…

The unexpected joys of having a baby can prove to be a real bonus, although sleep would be satisfying one of these days.

Authors Prefer Profit or People?

On this day in 2016, as I am reliably informed by my one-time daily viewing of Facebook, I started reading An Image of the Times: An Irreverent Companion to Ben Jonson’s Four Humours and the Art of Diplomacy.  This took me down a rabbit hole of memories, and by a happy coincidence gave me a post to write today instead of trying to finish several book reviews that are on the go, not to mention the three hundred other drafts still patiently guilt tripping me.

One of the things that also comes up on my social media feeds constantly are adverts for how to sell a manuscript, which I don’t have, and how easy it is to make £££, which I believe it isn’t.  It’s all very tasteless and mercenary, although I’m never one to begrudge anyone a profit for their hard work.

Whilst casting my mind back to starting An Image of the Times (and smelling those pages!), I remembered the surprise of opening the parcel and finding four books instead of the two that Nils-Johan had originally, and kindly, offered to send.  That wasn’t the best thing however, inside An Image of the Times, was a letter typed on a thick piece of paper, this unexpected letter (currently still inside the book, which sits a continent away) encouraged me to keep reading, writing and making friends with people who love words.

Too often I see the term ‘networking’ used in the adverts, it’s such a cold term, and is off-putting which is why it is rare these days offers to review authors are accepted.  Lots of novels have been turned down, usually romance and thrillers because authors don’t take an interest in the blog or the type of person they are asking to review the book, they just want to get the book out there regardless, which is fine but find the right blogger for your book, and write a letter that’s not been copy and pasted a thousand times.

Continue reading “Authors Prefer Profit or People?”

Right Night Light

Recently I have been reacquainting myself with reading in low light. I spend an inordinate amount of time getting the illumination exactly right for my nightly reading forays. During my experiments, I have found that the best light is that which is almost too dark, but just bright enough to make out the words with a bit of concentration.

My reasoning is simple, to truly connect with the book, quite literally in hand, there needs to be complete immersion.  With less light, the world beyond the page in my peripheral vision becomes just a black abyss, and visual distractions are extinguished, except for what my imagination conjures in that murk. Add to this the near silence (Amelia permitting) and complete escapism is fully achieved.

I spent most of my 20’s engaged in doing this as I didn’t go out clubbing or whatever else was ‘hip’ back then. The plethora of books I first enjoyed in this way varied, and of the calibre which was thus: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, The Woman in Black, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous With Rama, Phaedo, The Wind in the Willows, The Stand, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Complete Hercule Poirot short stories, The Midwich Cuckoos, The castle of Crossed Destinies, The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek, The Island of the Day Before,  Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Peter Pan, and Endymion Spring.  Continue reading “Right Night Light”

Circus Bewitchery

It’s always enjoyable when, on occasion, reading a book can recall other books and times since past.  This afternoon I’ve been getting close to the finale of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I stopped my race to the conclusion specially to write this.

The sun is shining here, and this together with the carnival setting, took me back to a time in 2016, when I spent some time, with Tom and fellow blogger Morgan, in which we wandered around Boston and stared at things.

This particular time we headed out to Salem by boat, appreciating the planes coming into land as they passed over, the island where Shutter Island was filmed, and then passed into the sometimes creepy, sometimes tacky Salem.

At one point, we three sat on the park for a bit of a rest.  The sun – coincidentally the same one as today –  was shining down on us, Tom had fallen asleep in the faintly sinister way that some people have of sleeping with their eyes partially open, and I was engaged in The Book of Speculation, picked up, speculatively enough from the Barnes & Noble near the hostel. Continue reading “Circus Bewitchery”

Lists (because that’s what gets the views #shameless)

Whilst we are all appreciating our living room walls as never before, it makes sense to share what has been diverting my attention and hopefully will give you something to do as well.

Found at

Grabbing some reading time is always handy for a book blog, as well as a mixture of sci-fi, philosophy, essays, I have also been hunting through obscure books thanks to Gutenberg.  Free books, albeit read on a screen, is a treat.

From that I can segue neatly onto the proofreading. Originally conceived to assist Project Gutenberg, Distributed Proofreaders is now the main source of PG e-books.  I do my bit everyday and am bookmarking some obscure works to read once they have been through the various rounds of proofing and formatting.

For those of you with any interest in how I look or sound, I present to you a vlog in which Crissy and I ramble a bit about LDRs and such.  If anyone wishes me to do a book vlog, please let me know, and also feel free to share any ideas for said project.

Keeping with YouTube, we have been watching lots of informative documentaries too.  BBC’s Horizon has some good stuff, as do the mainly literature based documentaries that can be found. Continue reading “Lists (because that’s what gets the views #shameless)”

The Literary Discipline

Whilst wandering the dusty tomes I came across this quote in The Literary Discipline by John Eskine, published in 1923, it still holds true today and makes the writer seem ever nobler.

As civilization becomes greater in quantity,
with more discoveries of science, with
more apparatus of education, we need
more and more the poetic genius that will
dedicate this material to great ends, and
by articulating for us what we can recognize
as our best ideal, teach us to simplify
life by casting off the other less significant
interests. The solution of all this raw
material for art can only be a greater art.