A time of calendars


, , , , , , , , ,

There was a slight hiccup with this post earlier, leading to it being prematurely posted… apologies for the confusion…

So, Christmas Dog (or Eddie as we call him) has finished obsessively paying attention to his pressies. There was one particular issue with a duck that had need for an urgent squeakectomy which our well trained canine surgeon was able to perform with the minimum of fluff on the floor…

Now that this clear emergency is over and done with (the patient is awaiting stitches in the dog toy infirmary) he has decided to come out and endorse a product for a worthy cause…


Here he is pictured with the LARP Lyme Disease Action charity calendar… there are several reasons Eddie thinks you should buy this which I shall outline here:

  1. It is for charity. A charity supporting Lyme’s disease which, as you know is caused by Tick bites. Because my day job is a teacher of science (particularly biomedical science) I am honour bound to give you this link so you can learn more about it. But you don’t need to know more about it to do the right thing and help the charity.
  2. It has pictures of LARP in it. In case you are not aware, this is Live Action Roleplay (though there is some controversy over the use of ‘action’, some say it should be LRP, the rest are wrong). It involves dressing in costume and playing out interactive stories in fields. I have spoken about it before (in this article in fact). It is a very cool hobby and can produce some awesome photos of cool people doing cool things and looking awesome. This is your chance to own prints of some of those photos including lovely ones by Oli Facey and Tom Garnett, among others.
  3. I took one of the photos. The March photo to be precise. One of my more patriotic LRP photos. It involves a woman doing Science! In true Steampunk fashion. With men in top hats and military uniform around her. The woman in particular is Lucy, someone familiar to this blog… You can also see the wonderful Alex Campbell, who you may remember from Vampire Month as this month’s figure.
  4. I am in one of the photos. In fact I am Mr July. I am positioned on the same page as a nasty looking tick bite. In case you get confused, I am the one in the green overalls. The sexy one is the tick bite.
  5. If you come to the Mancuinion EasterConManchester Author signing event in August, Odyssey LRP or any other event I am attending this year and if you can find me, and if no one else can help, maybe I might sign either of the photos for you (if you want, that is… or you can totally just say hi).
  6. Woof

There. 6 compelling reasons to buy this calendar. Of all of them number 6 is the most compelling, if you can understand the subtle nuances of dog language it really makes perfect sense. If you can’t understand those nuances, never mind. Just take my word for it, it is one hell of a convincing argument. Plus, isn’t the doggie cute?

You can buy your copy of the calendar here and see a preview of the photos in there below:


Worth noting as a little aside… the copy of the calendar I have is actually a rare limited edition. It is one that credits me with two of the photos rather than just one. I noticed the error after ordering my copy and before the file was edited and reuploaded…

Linky Goodness and updates


, , , , , , , , ,

Two posts in as many days? Who can live at


I am in fact a lurker on my own site site…. That is indeed irony.

that speed? No, your eyes have not betrayed you, I have indeed upgraded my usual plodding post speed for this lightening fast barrage. Yesterday,I told them so about Osgood and now today you have this post with some general updates.

Though this one is your lot for now so enjoy it while you can. Posting this much is tiring and my webgoblins are exhausted…


So, over on LM David’s blog I have been spotlighted:


Click the link to go see what has been put there…. And maybe browse some more pages on there to see what other authors you might discover…

So, what have I been doing lately other than being spotlighted and telling the internet that I told them so about Osgood?

LurkingMiscellany-lgWell, not much really. Not doing Nano this year (good luck to all who are however) due to the phenomenal amount of work I have had to deal with recently. This is also why updates on this site have been few and far between. Hopefully that will change soon and I can get back to more regular updates.

I have been keeping up with my writing, however, and managed to make progress on a couple of projects. I am hoping to send Gods of the Deep to an editor soon and have a final publishing ready version not long after that. Maybe early 2016. I’ve also had some ideas to extend a short I started writing years ago (current working title Fortune and Troy but that will change) and allowed to languish into something more novel length. This will be a SF in the same universe as Dances with Drums and Tryptych of the Gates which can be found in Lurking Miscellany.

Following on from 2015 being the year of all the public appearances (Yorkshire Cosplay Con, MancsterCon, World Book Night) I am already booked on two events for next year. One is the Manchester Authors signing event in August and the other is the EasterCon known as Mancunicon. At the latter I have also made the foolish mistake of volunteering which means I am likely to also be on panels and may even be moderating panels and doing other stuff. So those of you who missed my rambling monologues (with visual aids and statistics) at MancsterCon can catch me at Mancunicon and see what only a select audience of dedicated geeks have seen so far…

So that is everything up to date… I’ll update again soon…

Osgood – See I told you so! :)


, , , , , , ,

Can you keep a secret?

OK, I may be a little late to this party as I guess everyone is now talking about last night’s Doctor Who rather than one from a few weeks ago but hey, I am still catching up with this series after missing a lot of the early ones due to my Sky+ Box forgetting it has the capability to record stuff. Some glitch or other meant every episode was showing as ‘failed’ so I had to resort to BBC I-Player and its clunky, user unfriendly interface.*

So, having finally got round to watching the two Zygon episodes I would just like to say: I told you so. Yep, I knew Osgood would be back and I am now totally kicking myself that I had completely forgotten all about the fact that there was a ‘spare’ Osgood in the form of a friendly Zygon. But then I was somewhat lost in my rather neat fantasy series where Osgood becomes a sort of British version of Agent Coulson having been resurrected by flangy Time Lord tech rather than, as actually happened, not dying at all due to there being two of her (though I do rather enjoy the playful speculation over exactly which one died…). I’m also guessing this throws out my other (as yet unwritten) theory that she is actually Romana under a Chameleon circuit. But then I had a similar theory about Donna Noble**. I suppose I just want to see Romana come back so much that I keep theorising ways for it to happen :)

If I have one regret about that episode it is that Osgood did not accept the Doctor’s offer to travel as his companion. But I do not think we have seen the last of her…

*Still a massive improvement on those ancient days of video when you needed a PhD in computer science and an A level in Japanese to understand how to programme it to record stuff.

** She gets shot by Davros, somehow survives and emerges talking like a Time Lord… OK we know the reason for that (the whole DoctorDonna thing) but that always struck me as a rather contrived solution when a far more epic and surprising one at the time could have been her death and regeneration in a new form. The ‘new companion’ being basically the old one played by a different actor with a whole host of new issues to come to terms with….

Toxic Nursery by Carlie Martece – 5/5 Stars

Toxic Nursery Carlie Martece

A semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story exploring a fractured personality through the author’s inspired alter egos, Toxic Nursery is a dark humour parody of the main protagonist’s/Carlie’s deranged journey for inclusion and struggle with accepting herself. Her characters frequently “internalise” into the Mindscape, a protective creation of the protagonist’s imagination. They then “externalise” into the real world using the “physical vessel”. There’s angry Alicia, who is furious at how poorly she and others are treated, feminine Honeysuckle who strives for attention and acceptance, Morgana the kind mother figure and spiritualist, Estella the assertive and confident ego alter, and Serena the studious and serene. Each personality dominates or splits as the situation demands.

I read Toxic Nursery as a personal true account of the author’s past, written figuratively. The writing was captivating, flawless, and poetic; and the events flowed logically. The first hundred pages were exceptionally crafted glimpses into fragmented personality, and the dark humour had me in fits of deranged laughter. The author battles through hell to understand herself, and when some light is shed on her predicament, she must keep it together and succeed without lapsing toward self-loathing and self-destructiveness. It is an effortless read that made me flick through pages rapidly to know what would happen next. I understood and empathised with much of the protagonist’s point-of-view, and respect the author; not only for her struggle, but her bravery in reaching out with Toxic Nursery and by splashing it with hilarious comedy without reverting to sentimentalism.

Criticism: There was an abundance of adjectives, mainly in the opening chapter.

Don’t hesitate with Toxic Nursery, read it! It’s original, fresh, horrific, and inappropriate. The sentences have that rare impact and depth, and it really puts reality into perspective.

Blackfeather by James Pursaill – 4/5 Stars

Blackfeather by James Pursaill

Pure Dark Fantasy Adventure of the grim, vulgar, comical, and morally ambiguous character. Blackfeather has ugly depths, rounded off by superb characterisation. For those familiar with the genre: witch, curses, hardship, pagan gods, zealotry, and brewing vengeance.

The Red Eyed Witch’s abominable curse will be avenged by young misguided Rook, who will take leave of his village, and perhaps his senses, to hunt her; an undertaking that repeatedly appears beyond his capabilities. Rook’s grim memory of past wrongs committed to him has shaped him into a cold icy man with aggressive impulses, especially when he feels threatened.

Servant to a wealthy family, trained to become a swordsman, and learning of the whereabouts of the witch, Rook desperately requires “city skills”. Solmourne itself was an incredible feat of writing; with diverse dark characters lurking everywhere, murky canals, “clean” prostitutes, and just that extra bit of the unusual. A variety of obscene and hilarious sub-characters gave the setting personality and contrast. Superb characterisation; it’s Game of Thrones without raising characters’ hopes. Nobody pretended life was going to be much more than the dung-heap it was.

Criticism: The flashbacks of the witch’s curse were chilling, and though I thoroughly enjoyed Rook’s adventure in Solmourne, I felt as if the original quest was sometimes forgotten or sidelined. It would have been nice to have a few more battles or tests for Rook because his observations or those of other characters seemed more important. Rook grew as a character, mostly reacting rather than acting.

Overall, Blackfeather was an astounding accomplishment. The writing, setting, characterisation, and the plot will blast you into a vivid medieval world that would have been difficult to otherwise imagine. Wow!

The Krakow Klub by Philip C Elrod – 2/5 Stars

The Krakow Klub by Philip C Elrod

The Krakow Klub is a speculative science-fiction conspiracy novel that focuses on the dangers of infinite technology and wealth. The secretive super-rich elitist group, The Krakow Klub, is plotting to finalise its takeover of the United States government. But something unprecedented occurs when the President suddenly announces that he will step down, setting into motion a series of events akin to a political earthquake.

John F Scott has limitless alien technology at his disposal, and decides to use its weaponry and wealth to preserve the US constitution from socialism. He even has his own space-station operated by an unrestrained giant alien (Mylean) computer called Maxx. Unfortunately, Maxx has an unpredictable emotional module, which adds to John’s worries that Maxx will somehow misuse the immense weaponry against “earthlings”. The space-station descriptions reminded me of sci-fi films that use a similar, patient, make-them-familiar-with-surroundings technique. The Krakow Klub improves, a lot, after Chapter Nine (70%) when the Dragon Lady/Number Eleven is introduced and the reader is given a real example of Mylean technology at work on Earth. The chapters afterward contain action/battle scenes that put the battle for the US government into context, and make John panic.

Criticism: At 10%, I didn’t identify with John because I didn’t think there was much to his personality. In a nutshell: he makes plans, dislikes the way the US constitution is being eroded by socialism, and most of all he is lonely and seeks companionship; the only thing he lacks. The sub-character introductions and technological briefs were a lot to absorb and unnecessary to the plot most of the time. At 20% I was still anxious to move beyond what was academic. Circumstances were often thought by some characters then repeated in dialogue later on. Sometimes the speculative predictions would tell me what was going to happen before the scene occurred. This detracted the thunderous surprise from events.

Overall, I found The Krakow Klub to be different from expectations in that its focus was on character and not plot; a lot of new characters were introduced, but John wasn’t properly challenged. There was character building and much humour. I suppose these elements didn’t reach out to me personally, but they may appeal to others. I can imagine the book’s audience being more political-economic readers.

Reviewed by Alex James

Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean – 5/5 Stars

Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean

Shadow of a Dead Star is science-fiction cyberpunk, set in a future America called Wonderland, where over-reliance on dark technology fuels society, and sexual and materialistic fantasies are prevalent. Commercial status even determines human rights: the population of Seattle is divided between poverty-ridden Old City, the tumultuous Verge, and the dazzling New City; where lights, advertisements, and simulations overload the senses. I was fully immersed in the opening scenes and the author’s technology of the future was concise and clear. There was no room for ambiguity. After 17%, the writing breaks free from minor rigidity, and then the investigation unfolds with tension.

Federal Agent Walken is the exception, or so he believes; he’s a man of flesh who distrusts the widespread implicit faith in machines. Walken must investigate a case of Princess Dolls, little girls modified into sex toys, a practice that infuriates him. When the Princess Dolls are hijacked, Walken is ordered to investigate dubious sources to trace their location. However, he must work alongside “Civilian” Protection (CivPro) officers: who are unsympathetic and uncooperative because corporate interests masquerade behind most civil and public services. All Walken has is his instincts; and they haven’t let him down yet… I easily sympathised with Walken’s remarkable point-of-view, and liked his tough-guy persona.

Shadow of a Dead Star is a terrifying glimpse into a world where individual independence and initiative has been made obsolete: doors with no handles; administrative workers physically connected to the machines they use; and soldier helmets with view-screens instead of visors. Body “branding” is commonplace. Indeed, faith in machines is absolute to the extent that Walken sees himself alone, apart, and distinct from everybody. For readers worried about the rapid technological invasion in the information age, Shadow of a Dead Star reads like a political statement: cyberpunk realism if you like. Expect a few familiar cyberpunk elements, such as brain-riding (hacking), virtual reality, and an “underground” movement. Many of the main and sub-characters appeared typical of cyberpunk, but with relief the author fast-forwards past all pretence.

The sudden injection of first-person thriller action in the latter half kept me enthralled; it was like a first-person shooter video-game. Don’t expect an average plotline either. Just when you think it’s going to lapse into predictability, it takes a sci-fi/horror twist that is so “out-there” that I was horrified, stunned, and yet fascinated because the conclusion made perfect sense. Shadow of a Dead Star concluded but it didn’t fully end, which is something that will no doubt be cleared up in the sequel. Overall, what an experience! What was life like before this meteor-impact of a novel?

Creak by Elizabeth Morgan


, , , ,

Today we have a guest post by long time Tea Society member and Vampire Month regular, Elizabeth Morgan. She is here to present to us her latest release – erotic suspense novel Creak. I’ll leave her to tell you all about it.10723079_929879940405806_557017422_n

“What happens in Silver Creek…stays in Silver Creek.”

After spending the summer as a recluse due to a bad break-up, Nicole Saunders agrees to go to The Heat Wave Festival with her best friends, Kacey and Tyler.

Along with three other friends, they plan to take a shortcut through the small town of Silver Creek. The last thing any of them expect is to become lost and end up pulling into a motel for the night.

The Creek Motel is isolated and the last place Nicole wants to be, especially after meeting the glacial owner. But her discomfort is soon forgotten as she finally gives in to her feelings and asks Kacey and Tyler to spend the night with her.

This should be bliss, but it quickly turns into a nightmare when she discovers that one of their friends has mysteriously disappeared from her locked room in the middle of the night.

Worried, Nicole presumes the worst, but she will soon discover that isolation can be the perfect stage for those who have something to hide…and that Jayne’s disappearance is more disturbing than any of them could have guessed.

This title contains explicit language and scenes of a sexual and/or violent nature which some readers may find disturbing.

Buy Links:
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Creak-Elizabeth-Morgan-ebook/dp/B014LZJV3G/ref=sr_1_16?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1440865613&sr=1-16&keywords=Elizabeth+Morgan
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creak-Elizabeth-Morgan-ebook/dp/B014LZJV3G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1440865472&sr=1-1&keywords=Elizabeth+Morgan
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-creak-1876668-356.html
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/572894
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/creak-elizabeth-morgan/1114301340?ean=2940152122718
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/creak/id1035056199?mt=11
~ * ~

I pressed my head to the wood, mentally preparing myself for the hard stare of a nosey redhead, but when I turned round, I found an empty bed.
No reply.
I walked over to the bathroom and pushed the door open only to find the small room empty. My unease began to twist further as I looked round the room. The dishevelled covers and pillows confirmed that I wasn’t going crazy and that she had been in bed, but her case appeared to be missing. I pulled the door to the built-in wardrobe open, hoping like hell she was playing a childish prank to get back at me for my absence, but found it empty, and strangely cold.
A knock on the door caused my heart to flutter. “Who is it?”
“It’s Shauna.”
I walked over and unlocked the door, pulling it wide. “Is Jayne with you?”
Her brow furrowed. “Er, no. I actually came to see her.”
“She’s not here.”
“Well, where is she?”
“I don’t know.” Guilt stabbed at me. “I, er—I kinda couldn’t sleep so I went and had a few drinks and then crashed with Kacey and Tyler last night.”
Shauna arched a perfectly plucked eyebrow. “You guys got wasted last night? You should have told us. We were so bored.”
I shrugged. “We thought you two would want some ‘alone time’.”
She snorted. “Oh, heck, Craig’s good, but he’s not that good. Trust me. Getting wasted would have been a nice break.”
I looked round the room. “I locked the door behind me, so how did she get out?”
Unease began to rapidly turn in my stomach.
“Maybe she climbed out of the window?” Shauna walked over to the window and pulled the curtains open—a single panel of glass had been welded to the frame. “Okay, maybe not.”
My gut twisted. “Oh, God, what if something’s happened to her? What if someone broke in and—”
“Nikki, be serious. You would know if someone had broken in. The window would be smashed, or the lock on the door would have been broken.” She walked over to the bathroom doorway and glanced inside. “And your bathroom window is as small as ours is. So, no one got in.”
“What if the lock was picked? What if—”
“Are you seriously suggesting that someone picked the lock, kidnapped Jayne, and then locked the door behind them? That’s insane. Plus, ten minutes with her and they would have brought her straight back.”
I wanted to find this ridiculous. I wanted to believe that Jayne had somehow gotten out and was playing a trick on me as payback, but my gut wasn’t buying it. Something was very wrong.
“Jayne was locked inside this room. Tell me how the hell she got out?”
“I have no idea, but I’m sure there is a logical explanation.”
She looked doubtful, and the sight made me all the more sick.
“Something’s happened to her. I don’t know what, but—” The steady humming of wheels caught my attention. I turned and looked at the window, watching as Sarah’s shadow moved across the closed curtains. “I saw someone outside Kay and Ty’s window last night. I don’t know who it was. One of the other guests, or maybe the owners…and they have spare keys, don’t they? Technically, they would be the only other people able to get into this room—”
Shauna appeared in front of me. She grabbed my arms and looked me dead in the eyes. “Nikki, you’re talking crazy, and it’s starting to freak me out. I don’t know what happened, but let’s not jump to conclusions. There has to be a reasonable explanation for this.”
She let go of my arms and glanced round the room once more as if there was some corner I had forgot to check. “Just get ready and go get Tyler and Kacey.” A faint smile fluttered on her lips as she looked back at me. “Craig and I will go check at reception and ask the owners if they’ve seen her. Okay?”
I nodded. “Yeah, all right.”
“Just relax. She could have gone for a walk or something,” she stated before disappearing from sight.
Perhaps, but that still didn’t explain how she got out of a locked room.

~ * ~
About the Author:

Elizabeth Morgan is a multi-published author of urban fantasy, paranormal, erotic horror, f/f, and contemporary; all with a degree of romance, a dose of action and a hit of sarcasm, sizzle or blood, but you can be sure that no matter what the genre, Elizabeth always manages to give a unique and often humorous spin to her stories.
Like her tagline says; A pick ‘n’ mix genre author. “I’m not greedy. I just like variety.”
And that she does, so look out for more information on her upcoming releases at her website: http://www.e-morgan.com
Away from the computer, Elizabeth can be found in the garden trying hard not to kill her plants, dancing around her little cottage with the radio on while she cleans, watching movies or good television programmes – Dr Who? Atlantis? The Musketeers? Poldark? American Horror Story? Heck, yes! – Or curled up with her two cats reading a book.

Where to find Elizabeth Online:
Website: http://www.e-morgan.com
Blog: http://www.xxxxmyworldxxxx.blogspot.co.uk
Twitter: @EMorgan2010
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ElizabethMorgan
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.morgan.944
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/elizabethm2012/boards/
TSU: https://www.tsu.co/ElizabethMorgan
Zazzle: http://www.zazzle.co.uk/elizabeth_morgan
~ * ~
Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Review] Quigsnip by Sean Phillips


, , , , , , , ,

Quigsnip, subtitled The Untold Tale of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, is Sean Phillips’ attempt at a sequel to Oliver Twist. Like Tony Lee’s Dodge and Twist, Phillips uses Quiqsnip to examine characters and situations in the original book and extend their stories on. The difference is that while Lee goes many years in the future, bringing the Artful Dodger and Oliver back to London as young adults, Phillips takes us closer to the original source by beginning his tale soon after the events in the original.41vGnNxStzL__SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

I guess that the main hero of this book needs no introduction. Oliver is still the same blond haired waif that most are probably more familiar with from the film versions than the original novel. We join him as he gives over a chunk of his wealth to a charity aimed at helping orphans like himself. Fagin, Sykes and the Artful Dodger are all dead – executed for their crimes – but one member of the Fagin gang remains at large – Quigsnip – and he seeks revenge against the boy who ruined all his plans.

And who is Quigsnip? You might be forgiven for thinking that he is a creation of the author, retroactively inserted into the original story background in order to justify the tale. That is certainly what I believed when I first started reading the flashback scenes in which our villain reveals himself. However, without fear of spoilers, I can say that the author has thought of this and has provided an interesting justification for his creation based on a throw away scene in the original novel which. His suggestion is that Dickens may have intended a larger role for this character.

Quigsnip carries out his devious plan and Oliver finds himself caught in a dangerous bind that he must use all of wits and charm to defeat. There follows a reasonably fun romp through Victorian England. Oliver is deprived of his wealth, his family, his friends and his reputation and must fight to win them all back. There are many cameos by characters readers of the novel may recognise and, as an extra bonus, the entire town of Coketown from Hard Times plays an important role.

There are flaws in the plot. Quiqsnip’s plan for example, is overcomplicated and full of potential pitfalls that do not get challenged. Of course this is no different to many schemes carried out by villains in all fictional universes (including Bond) though there are some fairly major flaws. These include a reliance on hypnosis which seems to have a greater power here than it does in the real world  – forcing someone to unconsciously perform acts against their personality, something that even fictional hypnosis considers impossible. Phillips also seems to place Coketown a lot closer to London than it is largely believed Dickens intended it to be, which is the approximate location of the North West industrial town of Preston in Lancashire. This tale places it a lot closer, within 100 miles of London. Nevertheless, this is a minor issue and one which does not detract from the tale (unless you are an unforgiving pedant :) ) and does allow Oliver to walk there from London (eventually – even at only 100 miles it is still along walk).

Another issue with the book is the writing style which I think is trying to mimic the style used by Dickens. This is a laudable effort but does lead to the text sometimes seeming bloated and stilted. This issue may be due to modern readers not connecting with an essentially now very old fashioned style or perhaps Phillips not quite managing to deliver the style in an entertaining way. This is not to say the writing is bad, there are in fact areas where it is good, but rather that just as in Karaoke where it is considered a mistake to cover Elvis, it may be ill advised to try to cover Dickens.

Overall I enjoyed this book, especially the interesting essay at the end where the character of Quiqsnip is analysed. Here is revealed the author’s love of the source material. The ending to the fictional tale is also satisfying and includes some suitably Victorian melodrama. Well worth a look.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,935 other followers