urban fantasy

Review Time: So I Might Be A Vampire by Rodney V. Smith

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A few years ago, I was browsing through the hot lists on Wattpad, desperately looking for something in the vampire section that stood out from the crowd and sadly drowning under the weight of so many ‘My Vampire Prince’ or ‘My Abductor is Harry Styles and is also a Vampire’ books (trust me, they exist!). I was about to give up completely when – ta da! *spotlight dazzle* I came across a book that caught my eye.

Vampire humour? Really?

I’d never read any funny vampire books before and what’s more, the protagonist, Bob, was apparently the worst vampire ever. Instantly, I wanted to read this one. I swear, in most vampire books I read, the vampires themselves are the most perfect, beautiful A-list vampires ever. They all have great hair, faces (and bodies) worthy of the fashion catwalks, and they’ll get any admiring sycophant into bed quicker than you can say ‘I love Edward Cullen’s pretty hairdo.’

That’s great if you love that kind of vampire and I’m not even going to pretend I haven’t read those kind of books before, but in all honesty, I was tired of A-list vamps and I was tired of the same old plot being regurgitated time and time again. I wanted something different and So I Might Be A Vampire by Rodney V Smith seemed like a refreshing break from the norm.

I was immediately hooked on the writer’s style, loved the in-your-face sass and humour and couldn’t get enough of Bob, the afore mentioned worst vampire ever.

Fast forward a few years and the author has re-vamped (I’m so sorry, I have no excuses for the bad pun-work here) his first book in the Chasing The Sun series and I’m so happy to see the new version out in the marketplace, in all its edited glory.

Thankfully, Bob is still a pretty shit vampire, but that’s what I love about him so much. Where is the vampire manual that says once you get transformed, you’re suddenly going to look like Edward, with the charisma of Lestat, and the kick-ass fighting skills of Blade?

Nowhere. Because the manual DOESN’T EXIST.

Forget previously learned tropes when it comes to vampire fiction. Forget what you think the vampire world is like and definitely forget what you think happens to you when you become one. In Bob’s world, everything is different. Everything is …well …normal. And by normal, I mean, yep, you’ve got to get a job (or at least try and hold down the shitty one you already have), nope you can’t fly nor transform into a bat, and yes, those A-list vamps you hate so much are probably going to try and beat the crap out of you at every available opportunity.

Intrigued? You should be, because this book is not only turning modern-day vampire myth on its pretty little head, but it’s also sticking its middle finger firmly up at what you think you know about our fang-toothed friends.

Bob, a low-pay grade junkie, fully admits that his life is a mess. His ex-girlfriend has a restraining order against him, she’s now dating a guy call Chad (yes, Chad) and he’s been transformed into a vampire by a friend who’s now disappeared and he’s got no one to teach him the ropes. Without a mentor, Bob is blagging the vampire life the best way he can – which, unfortunately for Bob – isn’t turning out so well for him. With the help of best friend Claude (a firm fan favourite), Bob has to try and figure out how he fits into a world that doesn’t want him as a member – he’s the loser vamp, bottom rung of the ladder addict, and the one nobody wants to be seen undead with (yeah, yeah, I know, I couldn’t help myself). But figuring out how to survive in his new life isn’t going to be easy, when you have vamp mob boss Harry on your back, psycho Beatrice turning up when you least expect it and drug-dealers gunning for your head.

Smith takes us on ride after ride of Bob’s seriously screwed-up fangster train, and Bob screws up pretty much everything, but for me, that’s what makes Bob more perfect than all those other celebrity vamps out there. There’s a genuine touch of realness about Bob – he could be you, he could be me – and who’s to say that we would fair any better than he does if we were in his shoes. What I love about this book is that there’s zero sugar-coating. Obviously, I totally get that some readers want the sugar, that’s why ‘My Vampire Abductor is in a Boy Band’ is so freaking popular, but I would urge anyone looking for something fresher than a ten-day old corpse, to check out So I Might Be A Vampire. And if you just happen to wake up one night and realise that YOU might be a vamp and need a manual on what it’s really like, this is the book you’re going to need!

With mishap, adventure and a trail of blood around every corner, So I Might Be A Vampire is fun, brutally real, and it’s a ride on the fangster train I didn’t ever want to end. Thank goodness there’s a sequel!

Five blood-drenched stars for this seriously funny, cool as f*ck, vamp-fest!

Buy it here today!

 

 

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Wattpad

The Open Novella Contest – Interviews

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I was honoured recently to be asked to take part in an interview with the @CoffeeCommunity profile on Wattpad, all in aid of the fantastic Open Novella Contest – a multi-genre contest to write a 20k novella. The contest has been a huge hit so far, with hundreds of entries and is being featured by multiple profiles across the site, with a chance to win big prizes, including signed books, e-books and the chance to have your story critiqued/polished by experts. The @CoffeeCommunity profile have been reaching out to various Wattpad Stars, Ambassadors, Watty Award Winners and emerging talent, to ask them about their writing process, editing, inspiration and top tips and I was thrilled to be included in the list of some amazing, inspiring Wattpadders.

Hi, Lindsey, thank you for taking the time to get involved with the Open Novella Contest on Wattpad. It’s great to hear from authors like yourself and get to know a little bit about what motivates you to write longer works of fiction.

LC: You’re very welcome! Thank you so much for asking me to join in on the fun and good luck to everyone participating in the contest!

So, to begin, tell us a little bit about yourself as an author on Wattpad. For anyone who hasn’t met you before, how would you describe your fiction?

LC: I’ve been writing on Wattpad now for about five years. My short story The Fan was Featured about three years ago, which is when it pretty much blew up for me and I really started to get noticed, and not long after that I was asked to join the Wattpad Partnership Program (now known as Wattpad Stars) which enabled my work to be paired with brands such as Universal Pictures and the A&E TV network in the States. Somehow along the way I’ve managed to achieve almost 7 million reads across my combined works, including over 2 million alone for my #1 Featured novel, Playing Dead. I’m probably best known for my urban fantasy novels and have two series’s on Wattpad, the very amateur Dark Sanctuary, and the hopefully less amateur The Whitechapel Chronicles, plus I’ve recently started a new UF standalone Hedoschism. I would describe my fiction as dark fantasy with a disturbing edge. My first love was horror fiction, so if you’re looking for a sizzling urban fantasy read, don’t be too surprised if I throw a few unsettling and gut-churning moments your way! I love to take fantasy elements and entrench them into a real setting, whether that be vampires living in the underbelly of modern-day London or spider-eating Grandma’s picking victims at county fairs in the Deep South. 

Writing for sustained periods is a hurdle that every writer, beginner or experienced, faces from time to time. What powers you through those longer bursts of creativity and keeps you focused?

LC: Goodness, great question and I wish I had some secret formula to reveal to all those budding writers out there, but the truth is I am the WORST procrastinator, particularly when writing novels, which can be mammoth projects to undertake. Writing a novel or indeed, a series, can be a hugely daunting thing, especially when you’re desperate for it to take off like a firework, rather than fizzle away like a damp squib, and the tendency to lose focus is something that still haunts me with every project. It’s easier to give up than it is to keep writing. One thing I have discovered recently and would advise to anyone who, like me, has the uncontrollable urge to give up and procrastinate instead, is this: TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Hide it in your underwear drawer. Let the battery run down to zero. Throw it into an oubliette. Okay, maybe don’t do that, but, if you’re a big social media fan or get distracted by the internet, ditch the damn phone. Phones are a serious risk to creativity, social media is the path to Hell and Hell is a place where people post pictures of their dogs wearing Halloween costumes, where ordinary citizens become raving lunatics and where Trump hangs out when he’s not at the golf course. Seriously. Turn off the phone and just write. I did this recently and was shocked at how much I wrote in just a few hours. For me, it’s definitely going to be the way forward to boosting my creativity and productivity.

What top tips would you advise for getting a novella or a longer piece of fiction off the starting line? What kind of story developments motivate you to see it through to the end?

LC: Now, this is an interesting question because five years ago, I would have just said wing it, sit down and start writing and see where it takes you. I did that with my first series, Dark Sanctuary, but to be fair, I think the disastrous consequences of that is evident in the story itself. These days, things are a little different. Every writer is unique, so I’m kind of loath to tell anyone to do this or do that, but I don’t write anything now without at least some semblance of a plan. For me, getting a novella or novel off the starting line, is all about being able to see the finish line in the distance and know exactly where I’m heading. I start by plotting my first and last chapters and then it’s about how to arc the story through from start to finish. Sounds easy when I say it like that, and of course, it’s not easy at all and things will always change as I’m writing, but I find that having a plan is invaluable, as is fleshing out your characters before you start. You can’t write a novel if you don’t know who your characters are. What do they look like? How do they move/walk/gesture? How do they speak (a good tip here is to ensure they all sound different so that if you removed dialogue tags, would your reader know who was talking – try it, it works, honest!)? What’s their back story (you don’t have to tell your readers this straight away, but it’s important that YOU know)? Get your characters and plot bedded down and you’re ready to don your running shoes and get off that starting line like the Mo Farah of the literary world. 

How much do you edit on the fly? Or do you prefer to edit after you’ve finished the initial draft?

LC: Oh, I edit ALL THE DAMN TIME. I can’t actually move on to writing the next chapter without re-reading and editing the previous one. I haven’t quite decided whether it’s actually a failing of mine that I do this, or whether it’s a good thing to strive for perfection, but it doesn’t seem to be a habit I’ll ever be able to break. I must admit, however, that sometimes I think it cripples me a little in that I struggle to just sit down and keep writing, because I’m too focused on editing a previous chapter. Trust me when I say that every Wattpad chapter I upload has been through a gruelling journey of at least five-ten edits before I post, which is probably why it takes me so bloody long to write a book!

Personally, what kind of novella — be it any style, theme, or genre — would you like to see emerge from the Open Novella Contest?

LC: I’m going to forgo the whole question of theme or genre, because to be fair, I am obviously a big fan of anything paranormal/fantasy/horror, but to me, that’s not the most important thing here and these days, I’m discovering I’ll read just about anything as long as the writing is good. What I would like to see are brave writers. Writers who, no matter what genre they chose, are brave enough to buck trends and not strive for the popularity route, writers who dare to be individuals. Wattpad is a place where trend and popularity is key and I see many wannabe writers falling into the trap of chasing popularity by churning out clone fiction of what they think is popular, I also see well-established writers switching genres or writing particular themes, because they want to chase the reads and capture a certain audience. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be popular and gain reads, but if you’re going to do it, do it by being yourself. Be daring with your novel, be willing to push boundaries, challenge your readers. I want to see brave fiction by brave writers!

Lastly, because we’re always curious… What was your first ever experience with the power of the written language?

LC: Okay, this is probably going to sound weird, particularly as I don’t even remember the name of the poet or the poem itself, but I remember reading a poem in the school library when I was a kid that has NEVER left me to this day. The poem was about a boy who hated the moths that came into his bedroom at night, and I vividly recall the part where the moth forced its way into his mouth, which yeah, is a pretty damn freaky poem to be hanging around in a school library, and absolutely contributed to my life-long fear of moths and my life-long love of horror. I’ve never forgotten that poem. I’ve never forgotten how petrified I was, but how utterly fascinated I was by it at the same time. To me, that’s the ultimate power of the written language – poetry or fiction that pulls you in, captivates you and stays with you for your whole life.

It’s been great hearing from you, Lindsey, and thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge in storytelling.

Best wishes in your future endeavours from the Open Novella Team.

Find the interview here plus interviews with other wonderful Wattpadders.

Music Monday

Music Monday: Magnificent (She Says) by Elbow

I haven’t done a Music Monday post in FOREVER, but this song has me hooked and I figured it was a good opportunity to start posting about my favourite ear-worms again.

I’m addicted to anything Elbow/Guy Garvey, but there’s just something so beautiful about Magnificent (She Says), a track from the Little Fictions album, that it seems permanently in residence on my daily commute to work.

The Monday morning grind is bloody hard enough as it is, so what better way than to start the day with something completely freaking gorgeous?

Enjoy!

 

horror

Review: The Garrison Project by David J. Thirteen

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I had the pleasure of reading the first draft of this story when it was first posted on Wattpad, having already discovered David’s work a couple of years before.

David J. Thirteen isn’t your typical Wattpad writer, with his Dean Koontz vibes and nail-biting edge-of-your-seat storylines, he brings a maturity and brilliance that I believe, he really doesn’t get enough credit for. I’m constantly captivated and surprised by his work, because he has a real gift for twists and an unpredictability which is often very rare these days when it comes to paranormal/horror story-telling.

The Garrison Project is definitely no exception to the rule, particularly considering haunted house/demon possession has been done many times before, but David makes you feel like you’re reading it for the first time, bringing something fresh and beautifully sinister to the story. I’m so glad to see this story published because it really does deserve a wider audience and hopefully one that appreciates just how good a writer he is.

A disturbing, haunting read that I know will keep me awake in the dark for many nights to come!

Five stars!

New Adult

REVIEW: DIRTY LYRICS BY LANA SKY

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I have to I admit that this isn’t my usual kind of read, I’m more of a paranormal/horror kind of girl, but having read Drain Me also by Lana Sky and loving her writing style, I was very intrigued to check out Dirty Lyrics too.

In short, I was hooked VERY quickly and not just because of the hot scenes (and trust me, they’re positively SCORCHING) but because it’s about time we had a heroine who isn’t your archetypal female MC.

Abby Newman is unashamedly sexy, feisty and can give anyone a run for their money in the confidence stakes. She knows exactly what she wants and how she’s going to get it – that is until country star Jason Daniels walks into her life and turns everything upside down. Usually taking the upper hand in all her relationships, music publicist Abby is knocked for six by the complex, brooding Jason who seems determined to persuade her to represent him.

I loved Abby and Jason and I also loved how this didn’t turn into one of those predictable romances, it was complicated and gritty and completely addictive and yeah it has those naughty scenes, but don’t be mistaken in thinking this is like every other ‘erotica’ out there. There’s a damn good concrete plot, intriguing three-dimensional characters and the writing is impeccable as I’ve come to expect from Lana Sky.

A thoroughly addictive five-star read – I can’t wait for the sequel!

paranormal romance

REVIEW: DATING THE UNDEAD BY JULIET LYONS

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Vampires in fiction have been given short-shrift in the post-Twilight years and perhaps in some cases, rightly so, but vampire PNR is still a favourite genre of mine, if the authors can do something slightly different and not wander down the path of well-trodden tropes.

Dating the Undead definitely brings us something new – it’s vampires for the Tinder generation, in a world where we know vampires exists and if the mood takes us, we can even hook up with one through dating website V-Dating.com.

Appropriately named Silver Harris, experiences her first kiss (and first bite) on New Year’s Eve with a mysterious Irish vamp and decides that V-Dating might just be the thing for her and who can blame her, because I think most women would definitely swipe right for male MC Logan Byrne!

As female MC’s go, Silver has a bucket full of sass, is unashamedly open about what she’s looking for in a man, and has the right amount of feistiness without becoming irritating – in short, she’s the heroine for the modern age. Logan is the cocky heart-throb who discovers WAY more than he was looking for, is more vulnerable than he lets on, and who knows he’s met his match with the sassy Silver.

A chance meeting on New Year’s Eve sets the ball in motion for what at first seems to be nothing but a few steamy encounters (okay, more than a few!) but soon transpires into something deeper (pardon the pun) and Silver and Logan discover they are connected in ways neither could have imagined.

Dating the Undead is a fun, hotter than hell read, with characters that I found instantly likeable. It has just the right amount of sauciness, a boat-load of action, and a sprinkle of romance that thankfully doesn’t make you want to up-chuck because of its saccharine sweetness. I enjoyed this immensely and whizzed through it in a day, not wanting to put it down.

If you’re looking for a vamp read that’s not heavy on the angst, and that might leave you needing a cold shower, this one is definitely for you. Highly recommended!

 

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Review: Haven by Lindsay J. Pryor

Writing a spin-off to a popular series can often seem like a no-brainer for authors.

You’ve created something that your readers just can’t get enough of, and of course, your fanbase doesn’t ever want the series to end, but for some authors, you just can’t squeeze any more juice from the lemon and in some cases, probably shouldn’t even try. It takes a certain kind of world-building to be able to pull it off successfully. And you need to be brave enough to sometimes move away from characters that have become well-loved and to whom your readers have become attached to the point where you have to pry them off with a crowbar.

Fortunately for Lindsay J. Pryor fans, Lindsay is both a brave writer and a proficient world-builder, so they have nothing to worry about with her new release from Piatkus Fiction, Haven, the spin-off from the highly successful Blackthorn series.

With the Blackthorn series, we found a world that already seemed mammoth, despite being mostly set in just one of the districts that Lindsay has created – Blackthorn, the dark and dangerous district of the Third Species and any other low-life creature forced to reside there (for those newbies amongst you, the vamps, lycans and cons). But Blackthorn really is just one part of something much bigger, and if you’re already a LJP fan, and have checked out the ‘About Blackthorn’ section on her website, you might already have an understanding in just how huge this world is and how many possibilities there are to create spin-offs and new adventures to appease older readers and hopefully generate new ones. I remember reading Lindsay’s posts about Blackthorn and at the time, thinking how there was so much more I wanted her to write about, so many more tales I wanted to read, and this is why I’m so happy to see Lindsay investigate the Lowtown district with Haven.

For me, a successful spin-off should be able to stand in its own right and that’s just what Haven does. You can read Blackthorn first, of course (and you should read it anyway because it’s all kinds of awesome), but the first thing you should know about Haven, is that if you’re new to LJP, then you’re not going to have to read an 8 book series before you start on the Lowtown book. Yes, there’s a few references to Blackthorn, but you’re not suddenly going to find yourself in a world without a handy travel guide and spend forever wandering around, trying to work out what the Hell is going on.

Let’s meet Ember and Nate. Ember, a waitress in a cafe, is on the brink of gaining citizenship to the district of Midtown, having been through a gruelling and lengthy process to escape the gritty and brutal confines of Lowtown where she’s lived her whole life. She’s crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s and finally, she’s been given approval to cross the border, pending her final medical. Nate is a vampire, and has been dropping by the cafe for months. A man of very few words, he keeps himself to himself, but his elusiveness and air of danger has sparked some interest in Ember, even though she knows she has to stay away from him. Any involvement with the Third Species could have her application torn up before the ink is dry on the stamp of approval.

Her determination to gain a new life for herself seems certain to succeed, that is until she discovers Nate has moved into the apartment across the hall from hers and she finds him close to death in the stairwell of the apartment block. Helping him could risk her application, and Ember has to make a quick decision whether to be compassionate and save him or be selfish and leave him to die.

When sinister forces set to rip Ember’s world apart and threaten the business and lives of her friends, she finds herself on a mission to help them and the only person who she can turn to is her mysterious neighbour, Nate. But is Nate all he appears to be?

With danger lurking around every corner, and time running out, Ember must fight the demons of her past and her feelings for Nate, if she is to make it to Midtown and start a new life for herself, but it seems as if others have a different path for her.

As with all Lindsay’s female characters, Ember is something to be admired. She’s everything we want to see in a female MC – feisty, independent, compassionate but flawed – and I genuinely wanted to see her succeed. I was rooting for her from page one, right through to the end, even if I didn’t always agree with her decisions. As a reader, I think that’s important. I don’t want to see a perfect heroine getting it right all the time and turning into the Mary Poppins of urban dystopian fiction. I want someone real. Someone that I can identify with. Someone that I want to see win. I definitely found that in Ember, she’s vulnerable at times, but has the capability of great strength, and a protective side to her when it comes to those she loves.

Nate isn’t always likeable, particularly to start with. He’s aloof, cold at times, detached, but that is something I like in my male MC’s; one, because it means we root for our heroine more, and two, because again, I have no desire to see Mary Poppins and Bert chim-chiminey-ing across the rooftops of Lowtown, sprinkling magic over the houses and dancing up a jig. I like to feel a little bit torn when it comes to the male MC’s. I want to see tension. I want to see a bit of angst. I want to see two people battling against each other, because let’s face it, it makes the coupling all the more sweeter 😉

I absolutely loved these two. I’m not sure if these characters will pop up again in Lowtown or not, I’m sure we’ll meet new characters along the way, but the important part for me was my connection with them both and that is something LJP always gets spot on. Characters that we love, characters that drive us crazy and make us shout at the pages while reading (yeah, I did that), characters that make us want to keep reading and lament the fact we have to put down the book to go back to our lives/jobs etc (yeah, I did that too). I talk a lot about Lindsay’s skill for world-building, and I hope if you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll just take that as a given now, but we should never forget the power of the characters she creates. The fans all have their favourites (HELLO, JASK!) but there’s something to be said for an author who can change your mind with each book and have you start bumping up new characters to the top of your list, particularly with a spin-off series.

The villains of the book, the powerful and brutal Hordas clan, are a disturbing bunch, seeking out businesses to claim as their own, while crushing, manipulating and abusing anyone who dares get in their way. They’re on a mission to rule Lowtown and their icy ambition left me cold in all sorts of good ways, because let’s face it, we all LOVE to hate a good villain, right? I definitely had all the bad feels when reading their scenes, but again, that’s important, because we shouldn’t feel comfortable when confronted with the bad guys and while I loved Ember and Nate, I hated the Hordas clan in equal measure.

The plot went places I never saw coming and as always, I was left with nothing but admiration for how well Lindsay weaves her web, to the point where we’re never quite sure what path the story will take. The pacing was fast and relentless, the tension was electrifying throughout, the hot scenes were, well, sizzling (as always) and there was mystery and intrigue on every page. It’s been a while since a book got me so hooked that I spent my time in between reading thinking about what might happen next and each time I returned to it, I lapped it up and hoped it would never end. It did, of course and yes, I may have cried a little (although this was mostly due to plot, damn you LJP!).

As always, I’m now left wanting more and counting down the days to a new Lindsay J. Pryor release. This author never disappoints. I love that she never shies away from dark content. I love that she keeps us guessing throughout.

Gritty, relentless and hot as Hell, with new favourite characters to adore and darkness and danger lurking at every turn, Haven is without doubt my PNR top read of the year so far.

If you haven’t yet checked out any LJP books, now is definitely the time to start!

Five stars for this breath-taking, brutal, dark fantasy tale!

Buy Links

iBooks

Waterstones

Amazon UK

KOBO

Amazon US (for eBook)

Amazon US (for paperback)

Amazon ANZ

Barnes and Noble 

Amazon.ca

Indigo 

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