Tuesday 29 May 2018

The Birthday Surprise (A Flash Fiction Story)

“It’s my fortieth,” said Melissa, more than a little irritation in her voice, “have a drink.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Oh, all right then. I’m going to the kitchen. Does anybody want anything?”

Around the small coffee table in Mellissa’s lounge, the guests raised their glasses and half-full beer bottles one at a time. It seemed everyone but her was sorted. Jane harrumphed. “All right. But when I get back, we’ll sing Happy Birthday.”

Melissa sighed. “If you must. But I’m forty, not four. We’ll have to wait for Mike to get back first, though.” She thumbed towards the bathroom door and raised her voice for effect. “I wonder what’s taking so long in there.”

There was no response from within the bathroom, as Jane left for the kitchen.

The party continued their merry banter. Simon was telling what he believed was a hilarious story about Mike’s bachelors' the day before, as everyone else laughed politely between sips of their drinks.

A scream emanated from the kitchen.

The party shot up from their seats, knocking drinks all over the coffee table in the process. Simon reached the kitchen first, in time to witness Jane standing in front of the open fridge. She was slack-jawed, shaking, and snow white.

“Jane?” said Simon. “What’s wrong?”

She didn’t respond, but lifted a shaky hand and pointed. The group huddled around.

There, on a shelf above the margarine, was a human head. The eyes were open in a permanent stare, the mouth was twisted in an expression of agony, and blood dripped from the neck onto the shelf below.

The face was unmistakable: Mike.

Melissa sank to her haunches on the kitchen floor. Her mouth shook, and she sobbed. Jane fell to the ground beside her, and the two women bawled hysterically on each others’ shoulders.

Simon ran back to the lounge and banged on the bathroom door.

“Mike! Mike! This isn’t funny!” he screamed, pounding the door furiously. “Come out of there right now.”

When no response was forthcoming, he instinctively grabbed the door handle, pulled it down, and shouldered the door. It sprang open, causing him to almost lose his footing as he spilled into the room.

It was empty.

Mike was nowhere to be found. The window above the toilet was open, and a chilly wind blew the curtains into the room. Outside was pitch dark, and all was silent except for the muffled sounds of crying and “Why?” emanating from the distant kitchen.

Simon made his way back to the kitchen, where the girls were still huddled on the floor. The fridge was still open, and Mike’s face was still stuck in its rictus stare. By this time, the blood had begun to drip out of the fridge and was pooling on the floor.

Simon steeled himself and tiptoed to the open fridge. Sticking out a tentative finger, he gingerly touched the head’s cheek.

It didn’t feel like human flesh. The texture was rubbery, almost like silicone.

The back door to the kitchen flew open.


Mike stood in the open doorway, laughing like a crazy person. “You should have seen the looks on your faces,” he said, between gasps for air. “My word, you don’t understand how difficult it was climbing out of that bathroom window, coming around the back, getting this creeky door open. Happy birthday, Melissa!”

Saturday 26 May 2018

The Traveler by Fredric Shernoff (Book Review)

Like a lot of people, I find time travel to be a fascinating concept, and I've read and seen plenty of material about it.

This is one of the better ones. It's about a guy who figures out he can travel to the past. At first, he wants to "just look", but then he gets an idea into his head that if he just made this minor tweak, or that one, he can change his life for the better.

On some level, it's quite predictable, because you just know that the things he tries to change are going to have disastrous consequences, and you might have a decent idea of what those consequences will be. But then it's really satisfying to read the specifics of all those terrible things and realise you were right. Or sometimes, it's even worse than you anticipated!

This story is well thought out, but it's not too scientific, so if you're not a fan of hard sci-fi (I'm not), don't worry: you won't get bogged down in technical details. Just accept that he can travel through time because that's the way it is.

To me, that was one of the best parts. The story doesn't get bogged down by trying to explain how things work from a technical standpoint. It just is, and the science gets out of the way so you can sit back and enjoy the story.

My Review: 4 / 5 Stars

About the Book

When your alter-ego comes out of time to hunt you.
Dan Wells is a normal guy with a dysfunctional marriage and a job he hates. Like many others, he spends much time thinking about the past and what he could have done differently. When he discovers his ability to time travel, Dan wins a chance to revisit his past and alter his life’s development. But a fatal mistake triggers a murderous chain reaction that threatens to ruin his life forever.

Click here to find out where you can buy this book.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

New Privacy Policy

With all this talk of the GDPR lately, and most big companies updating their privacy policies, I decided it was high time I overhauled mine.

Please click here to read my new privacy policy, and pay particular attention to the sections concerning what happens when you visit my blog or website.

I hope I've given you enough information about what data I have about you, and what I do with it, for you to be able to make an informed decision about whether you're willing to keep interacting with me on this blog and other platforms, but if anything's unclear, or you think I've left anything out, please feel free to send me an e-mail and ask away!

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Memoirs of a Guardian Angel: Official Trailer

It's been a long time since I put together a book trailer.

I decided that I'd try my hand at it again.

So here you go, everyone: I present to you, the official trailer for Memoirs of a Guardian Angel! Please watch it below on YouTube, and let me know what you think in the comments below.

If you're interested in buying the book, click here to see the official page on my website.

Friday 11 May 2018

Dark Whispers by Joanne Macgregor: Book Review

Wow. That's about all I can say, so soon after reading this book.

Okay, I'm kidding. I can probably manage a bit more.

This story was perfect. The pacing was incredible, and it had so much depth. The characters were beautifully written, real people, not cardboard cutouts, and every emotion, from joy to intense pain, came through.

The range of emotions *I* went through while reading this was also truly spectacular. I felt disgust, shame, pity, happiness, and sadness. Sometimes several at the same time.

It's not often that I gush over a book like this, and it's CERTAINLY not often I write a five-star review; a quick glance at my "read" shelf on Goodreads will be enough to tell you that. But in this case, I can say with absolute confidence, if you enjoy crime stories, medical stories, or psychological stories, Dark Whispers is truly a must read!

(My rating: 5 / 5 stars)

About the Book

Between the anaesthesia and the awakening, are the dark whispers…

When a patient in hypnosis describes an experience of mental torture and physical mutilation at the hands of a doctor, psychologist Megan Wright decides to investigate. Determined to find out the truth and stop the abuse, but bound to silence by the ethics of confidentiality, Megan will need to confront the dark mind of a dangerously disturbed man in a deadly battle of wits and wills.

This clever and gripping psychological thriller, with its unexpected twists and unnerving climax will appeal to fans of Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Paula Hawkins (Girl on the Train), Sophie Hannah and Nicci French.

Click here to pick up a copy of this book from your favourite retailer.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Are You Feeling Lucky? Memoirs of a Guardian Angel Paperback Now Available

The long-awaited paperback edition of Memoirs of a Guardian Angel is now live, and you can get 50% off the price for the next six weeks or so.

Click here, or on the cover image below, to buy it from Lulu:

I haven't proofed it yet, so one of two things will happen: if it's right, you'll have gotten a fantastic deal. If it isn't, and I have to upload a new version, you'll have gotten yourself a very limited edition collectors' item! ;-)

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the blurb:

Do you believe in Guardian Angels?

Have you thanked your Guardian Angel today?

I never did... now I wish I had.

Now I understand the hard work and difficult situations they face every day. That car that veered off course, the knife that slipped or even the close call when you nearly tumbled from a tree. 

It wasn't good luck that saved you, it was me.

My name is Adam and I'm a guardian angel. 

I loved this book - fantastic premise and great execution. - Christine Bernard, author of the paranormal thriller, Will

I woke up super early one morning to finish it so I wouldn’t be tempted to read it at work. Well done. - Angelique Pacheco

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Discworld Day 2018: We Had a Blast!

And now for something completely different. My wife and I went to Discworld Day this past Saturday. It was so much fun--more fun than I thought it would be, to be honest--and what a fantastic way to honour the late Sir Terry Pratchett!

There were plenty of people in costume... but just as many who weren't. What was really nice, for me, was that there was no judgement either way. Everyone was just there to have a good time.

And look who we spotted, sauntering around the grounds on his mighty steed. Yep, the one and only anthropomorphic personification of Death himself.

And here, the famous Octavo.

We finished off the afternoon under the Sapient Pearwood Tree, listening to "Sir Terry" himself reading some of our old favourites. What a privilege.

If you've never been to something like this (we hadn't), I can highly recommend it. It's not nearly as "geeky" as you've been led to believe, and it's a great day out.

There's a Medieval Fayre at the same venue in September, and I feel pretty sure we'll be attending. We're well and truly hooked, now!

If you'd like to see more photos from the event, you can check the full album out on my Facebook Page.

LifeGames Corporation by Michael Smorenburg (Book Review)

When I first skimmed the first few lines of this book's blurb on Amazon, I knew it would be a book I'd enjoy.

It seemed like a real fast-paced techno-thriller about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.

Well, it is that. Kind of. But it's so much more. The angles about hypnosis and the inner workings of the human psyche were totally unexpected, but thoroughly satisfying.

Pacing-wise, it wasn't as fast as I would've expected, but it wasn't lacking either. It was, at times, meandering and brooding, and the writing was quite literary. A nice change, I thought.

I also really enjoyed all the South Africanisms--this isn't an author who likes to pretend he's an American. As a native of this beautiful country, it made me feel at home.

And now for the not-so-good news: I think the editing let this book down. Not the usual typos, missing words, or errant punctuation that I often see, but misspellings of homophones. "Break" instead of "brake", or "loose" instead of "lose"... stuff like that. It makes you think that this book was originally dictated and transcribed by computer software.

Then there was a minor plot inconsistency, but it was at an important stage in the book, which made me remember. A character picks up a fully-loaded revolver, and later relays, "There's one in the chamber."

Erm. It's a revolver.

Nonetheless, this was a fantastic, engrossing story, and I highly recommend it to anyone who's a fan of science fiction, thrillers, or medical stories (since the medical facts in it seem quite well researched).

My Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

About the Book

Da Vinci Code—meets Paranormal Activity—meets The Matrix.

Ad-agency boss Catherine Kaplan is a danger junkie. Bold and brave, she’s cornered the juiciest prize in the global arena, a LifeGames Corporation contract. But now it’s time to pay the price—a dare to cross the forbidden line. There’s a deal sweetener of course—give a little… and enjoy some intriguing secrets.

Click here to find out where you can pick up a copy.