Book Review: Black Crow Speaks @FrederickAnder2 #shortstories

In my post yesterday, I mentioned having read a third book last week but not having the time to write a proper review. Black Crow Speaks is a book I have been patiently waiting —okay, not so patiently—to release. The author shies away from promotion so I wanted to make certain I gave it the attention it deserves. I know I will be reading many of the stories in this collection over again.

First some background . . .

I started following Frederick Anderson’s blog a few years ago and was immediately enthralled by his gift of storytelling. I’ve been hoping (I even did some pestering) that he would cobble a collection of short stories together for a book. When I realized he had released Black Crow Speaks, I was ecstatic. This intelligent, literary, diverse, often bizarre, but always riveting collection of tales is not to be missed!

Let me explain the crow of the title­—Black Crow shows up at various times throughout the book to discuss everything from neighbors (blackbirds), immigrants (seagulls), family matters, homelife, kids, the wife, temptation, getting old, and social matters. Given Fred is British, I can get away with the expression “bloody brilliant.” Crow has a unique take on life.

book cover for Black Crow Speaks by Frederick Anderson shows a large black crow with book title beneathHere’s a sample from Corvid Values, my favorite crow story. Crow speaks first, followed by Fred.

He fidgets uneasily, preening a troublesome mite from his breast feathers. “S’pose. Yes and no. There’s the immigrants, see?”

He hasn’t lost his capacity to surprise: “Immigrants?”

“Yeah. You must have noticed – fousands of ‘em. Same every winter, innit? They comes flockin’ in just because they reckon there’s free food and everyfin’. They takes all the best bits and we don’t get a look in. Bleedin’ gulls!”

“Oh, the seagulls! The bad weather drives them in from the coast. The westerlys don’t trouble them so much, then? They can fly into the wind, can they?”

“Well, they work harder, don’t they? They work all the bleedin’ time, them!” He fluffs furious feathers. “They don’t even go to roost, most nights. And…and!” He squawks his emphasis; “They eat almost anyfin’. Jus’ anyfin’!”

“Surely there’s enough for all? I haven’t noticed you losing weight over the winter before.”

“Ah. Ah! But I don’t demean meself, me! You won’t catch me turnin’ over house rubbish like a – like a bleedin’ fox, for fox sake!”

“Oh, really? I seem to recall…”

“Never mind what you ‘seems to recall.’ Never mate, never! I’ve got my pride”

I treat him to one of my penetrating inquisitorial looks. “They’ve been raiding the bins at the back of the Pizzeria, haven’t they? That’s one of your favorite haunts, isn’t it?”

The crow hunches his wings and dips his head. I cannot remember seeing him so annoyed. “That place is a place for crows, gettit? Crows! Respec’able birds, mate. I got a right to that place!”


First, let me point out that no one—no one—does accents like Frederick. The ones he spins in this book are spot on. Second, the message of this story hits with a thunderclap at the end. The first time I read it, it stayed with me for days.

But the crow only makes up a few stories in this collection. As the preface says you will meet “a crow with wisdom we call could learn from, an airline pilot who qualified by correspondence course, an enthusiastic accordion player with a portal to the universe under his dining table, tales of fairies and goblins and ghosts within the machine.”

There are plenty of humans too—some who face heartbreak, others who find their lives altered in unexpected ways. Twists and surprise endings abound. Scene setting is off the charts with descriptions that are sometimes lyrical, other times gritty and raw. Every story brings something unique, but I must make special mention of Birdie, A Visitation from Mary, Goblins, Gloves, Reincarnate, Siobhan, and The Newquay Train. Wow. Just…WOW!

If you like smart, witty, and riveting fiction, don’t pass this collection by. I can’t recommend it highly enough. The great thing about short stories is you can read a few at a time or many at once. However, you read them, do read them. 5 Walloping, glittery, gargantuan stars!

PURCHASE FROM:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

You can find Frederick’s blog HERE if you’d like to give a looksee as to what else he gets up to. I’m presently enjoying a novel he has been serializing, but he’s hinted there is short fiction around the bend and Crow will return. You have no idea how happy that makes me!

Thanks for checking out this special review today. Given I’ve been badgering Frederick to publish this book, I am more than happy to help promote such a fabulous collection.

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order: The Alternative by Suzanne Burke

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Suzanne Burke to my blog with the cover reveal for her upcoming release, The Alternative. I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek at this collection, and it’s a winner! Now that the book is up for pre-order, I’ve already reserved my copy. Check out the deets and cover below, then follow the links to pre-order your own copy of The Alternative.

Take it away, Soooz . . .


Hello, and welcome to the Cover Reveal of my New Thriller Anthology

“The Alternative”

The ALTERNATIVE BANNER HEADLINE FOR COVER REVEAL BEST

The Alternative 

The Alternative
by S.Burke

Available to Pre-Order NOW.
Release Date: Monday June 18th 2018
Mystery> Thriller & Suspense > Anthology.

It is such an exciting time for an author when releasing a new book! I would be remiss in not sharing my heartfelt thanks to the marvelous people who gave of their time so readily to beta read my latest book. Their valuable insights helped me enormously when crafting “The Alternative”

At long last, I’m able to share the cover and blurb for “The Alternative” my latest Thriller Anthology. “The Alternative ” is due for release on June 18th.

It is NOW available for Pre-Order

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to everyone participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement. Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khalessi

Presenting “The Alternative” A Thriller Anthology.

“The Alternative”

THE ALTERNATIVE COVER IN HIGH RESOLUTION BEST

BLURB:

The Alternative.

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.

They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.

Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.

There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.

Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with …

These are their stories.

The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact “The Alternative.”

An excerpt from Chapter 1. Picasso.

February 1990.

The tall man stretched his arms and flexed his long artistic fingers. He stood back to gain a different perspective of his latest work of art. He’d spent a great deal of time sketching his outline and was well satisfied with the outcome. Perhaps this one would be the perfection he craved above all else.

His other efforts were upstairs in the gallery, and while they were far from his lofty imaginings, they each represented another step forward toward his ultimate goal. He knew this exhibition would prompt worldwide interest, that was a given. His reputation was on the line. That at least was something he valued.

He grunted and moved the newest piece into the workroom. The more difficult application of his talent needed to begin.

***

NEW YORK JULY 2015

Meredith keyed in her code, shouldered the door open and dropped her briefcase onto the polished boards of the entry. Working on autopilot, she flicked on the light and bent to collect the mail from the floor; throwing it onto the small bureau without bothering to check the sender. She shrugged off her coat and draped it over the arm of the sofa. Too damned weary to be bothered with any external interruptions tonight, she removed the home phone from its cradle and headed to the kitchen to fix enough coffee to sustain the long evening ahead, deliberately ignoring the well-stocked bar. She was well aware that she’d need every bit of concentration she could muster. She removed the Glock from her handbag, and out of habit, she placed it on the coffee table next to the perpetually full ashtray.

Her head was already pounding and she rubbed at her tense neck muscles until her fingers ached. Relief from the unresolved tension still hovered … just out of reach. She held her breath for a moment, stilling her impatience. If all went to plan, this thing would be finally ended. If justice existed at all, it would go well. All the years she’d worked to bring what was the only course left open to herself and the others to completion was coming. ‘Soon now’, was her daily mantra. But the darker visions still danced vividly in her mind’s eye and tormented her rare sleeping hours … it had been that way for almost twenty-five years.

The memory haunted her, dark and unforgivingly brutal. It replayed in clear and explicit detail every time she was forced to reflect on it … and its aftermath.

***

THE ALTERNATIVE IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER

“The Alternative” on AMAZON.COM

Suzanne Burke Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

My Blog

Thank you so much for joining me here today. Your support is very much appreciated.

I would be delighted to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Travelling Through Time with Quantum Wanderlust

I can’t remember the first story I read that involved time travel, but I know I was enthralled from the start. It’s a concept that’s fascinated me since I was a kid. I even used it as a major plot thread in my first novel, Weathering Rock.

So, when AIW PRESS announced they were putting together an anthology of short stories themed on time travel, I knew I had to submit something. I’m pleased that my story, Family Tree, was accepted and is one of the shorts featured in Quantum Wanderlust.

This is a great group of authors, sharing highly imaginative stories. I’m reading Quantum right now and loving every moment of zinging through different eras and dimensions. The best part? Quantum Wanderlust is free. Yep, you heard that right. You can download your copy from the book vendor of your choice by clicking HERE.

Hang on a minute. Before you gallivant off, take a peek at this excerpt from Family Tree. My tale puts a spin on time-travel, fantasy, and family ties. In the short snippet below, my MC, Kevin, encounters a strange girl in the woods behind a home he has just purchased:

EXCERPT from Family Tree:

Kevin turned at the sound of a woman’s voice. Like a ghost, she emerged from the trees, a slim auburn-haired girl dressed in a white peasant blouse and a filmy skirt. Her feet were bare, her eyes large, colored like cinnamon in the thickening twilight. She couldn’t have been more than twenty years old.

“Who are you?”

Ignoring the question, she clutched his hand. Her touch was unnaturally cold. “They took my child.”

A kidnapping? He looked about quickly, jolted to think he might have stumbled onto a crime scene. But for the girl, the woods were empty. Maybe he’d misunderstood. “Who?”

“He’s just an infant.” The girl’s voice cracked. One trembling hand flew to her lips, her eyes rounding in desperation. There was something inherently wild about her—the long copper snarl of her hair, the frenetic edge of hysteria turning every movement jerky and sharp with an edge like cut glass. The air was cold enough that Kevin felt the bite beneath his long-sleeved chambray, yet the girl—in bare feet and thin clothing—gave no indication of being chilled.

Old stone draw well in the forest“You must help. Ilairen took him from me.” She pointed to the mouth of the well. “He took him down there.”

Kevin fought the urge to recoil. She was obviously crazy, probably why she was running around in the woods dressed for a summer picnic. Should he leave her and call 911, or try to coax her back to the house? Easing his hand into his pocket he felt for his cell phone, but came up empty. He’d probably left it on the kitchen table, along with his car keys. The girl certainly didn’t seem threatening. If he kept her talking, he might be able to lead her back to the house. “Who’s Ilairen?”

Her face crumpled. “My husband.”

“Husband?” She was more messed up than he thought.

Before he could utter another word, the black maw of the well mushroomed upward, leeching into a gelatinous hole. The ground rolled and buckled, slamming him with a blast of vertigo. Reeling off balance, he plunged feet first into a fish-eyed bubble of pulsing darkness and light. The sensation of plummeting catapulted his gut into his throat. He choked for air and surrendered to the hard-knuckled punch of freefall.

~ooOOoo~

Family Tree is just one of thirteen stories each from a different author. Here’s the complete lowdown on Quantum Wanderlust:

book cover for Qauntum Wanderlust an anthology of short stories about time travel

What if you had all the time in the world?

Thirteen authors answer that question with short stories about time travel. Go back in time to right a wrong, forward to see the future. No jump is too large, no method unfeasible, no lesson beyond learning.

  • Visit the past to learn a family secret.
  • See the formation of a future dictatorship.
  • Assume responsibility for weaving the fabric of time.
  • Travel back in time to WWII.
  • Use a family heirloom to solve problems.
  • Wear an inheritance to visit ancestors.
  • Leave a dystopian future for the hope of something better.
  • Make history come true in an unexpected way.
  • Fight evil fairies to protect a chosen angel.
  • Live with the childhood memory of visitors until the day they arrive.
  • Seek medical help for a memory issue and get way more than bargained for.
  • Discover that with great power comes great responsibility.
  • Uncover the secrets of a pharaoh’s tomb and curse.

Do the characters observe or interact? Is the outcome better or worse than the original timeline? Read these stories to learn how far they go, how they get there, and what happens when they return.

The scope is virtually limitless, definitely timeless.

Download your free copy of Qauntum Wanderlust by clicking here.

If you haven’t already grabbed your copy, go forth and one-click! 😊

 

Welcome Harmony Kent with Moments #RRBC Author

Today I’m happy to welcome Story Empire author, Harmony Kent to my blog. This is her first time appearing here, so I hope you’ll give her a nice welcome as she shares the news of her upcoming release, Moments.

Banner for the book Moments by author, Harmony KentHello, everyone, Harmony Kent here. Welcome to my book release blog stop at Mae’s place. Today, I’m celebrating the upcoming release of my eighth book! Moments is a collection of short stories and poetry and brings together much of my imagination that has been scattered around for a while, lols. I’d like to take a moment to thank Mae for her support in helping me to promote my newest collection of stories. It comes out on April 14th, and the preorder links are listed at the end of the post 🙂

About the book:

Come.

Take a moment to delve into tales from the dark side, have fun with fantasy, dabble in dystopia, and court danger in a little science fiction.

These tales touch upon death, grieving, war, fresh starts, hope, courage, change, choices, and encouragement.

And then, after all that, you’ll find the poems.

From the lonely echoes of an empty house to the soaring heights of unexpected love and joy and learning to live as free as clouds and water.

For each of us, a moment encompasses a lifetime and, yet, passes in but the blink of an eye. In but a moment, everything can change. And in this very moment, life beckons in all its potentiality.

When the shadows fall, what will you do?

Excerpt:
(From ‘Twenty-Niner)

Banner for excerpt from Moments short story Twenty-NinerThe pounding in my skull wakes me. I rather wish it hadn’t. Not much, at least that I can think of, can be worse after a night of over-indulging than waking up next to a stranger.

Unable to recall his name.

Or how we met.

And—perhaps, most important of all

—why he’s dead.

That realisation snaps me out of my hung-over fog. With a groan, I roll onto my side and push myself upright. Once I have my feet on the floor, I prop my elbows on my knees and cradle my head in my hands. Please, please, please tell me that I didn’t do it again.

Is it too much to ask for a normal life? A normal relationship? A normal lifespan?

I pray, dear reader, that you’re not a Twenty-Niner. That your birthday doesn’t fall on the 29th of February. That you don’t age four times slower than everyone else. Or suck the life out of other folks to do it.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Pre-order from Amazon US or Amazon UK

Author Bio and Links:

Indie Author Harmony Kent is an award winning multi-genre author. Her publications include:

  • The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved
  • The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree / New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015
  • Elemental Earth (YA Fantasy Fiction)
  • Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015
  • Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)
  • Slices of Soul (Contemporary Poetry)
  • Interludes (Erotic Romance short stories)
  • Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers editing, proof reading, manuscript appraisal, and beta reading services.  As well as reviewing and supporting her fellow indie authors, Harmony works hard to promote and protect high standards within the indie publishing arena.  She is always on the look out for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes.

For all books available from Harmony, check out her author pages at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Book Trailer videos: Harmony’s trailers.

Website: http://harmonykent.co.uk

Twitter: @harmony_kent https://twitter.com/harmony_kent

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HarmonyKentOnline

RWISA Author Page: https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-harmony-kent/

The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack II with Lisa Burton #RRBC

Guess what, gang? I’ve got a special guest today.

Lisa Burton, robot girl extraordinaire, and the personal assistant of author C. S. Boyack has dropped by to tell us about Craig’s latest book. For those of you who may not know Lisa, she made her debut in Craig’s novel Wild Concept and has been helping him around his writer’s cabin ever since. Lisa is currently on tour for Craig with a jam-packed schedule, so I was delighted to snag one of her stops. Please welcome Lisa as she shares a bit about Craig’s latest book and how it came about.

~ooOOoo~

Thanks for having me back, Mae. It’s great to get away from the writing cabin on occasion. You asked me to talk about the appeal of short stories. I think it’s nice to get a little bit of history behind them.

Short stories were once very popular. They were published in newspapers and magazines, and publishers readily sought them out. Even bigger publishers would put out the occasional anthology or collection.

When newspapers and magazines started to fail, so did short stories. Big publishing wanted novels, and series of novels, more than short fiction. The Internet, and the age of Amazon gave them a new lease on life though.

There have been some great short stories over the course of time. Movies were made, based upon a short story. I remember a great old black and white film called The Oxbow Incident, that said it was based on a short story. And we all know the legs The Legend of Sleepy Hollow took on. The Twilight Zone was really nothing more than short fiction, made for the television screen, and those stories were pretty darned good.

Today, we’ve been trained to read things in 140 characters or less. People want shorter content that respects their time. I don’t think novels will ever die, but short form stuff seems to be gaining in popularity. People can read an entire story during a coffee break.

My author, Craig, has a new collection of short fiction out. It’s called The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II. This includes short stories and micro-fiction across a range of speculative genres. There’s a little bit of paranormal, one that passes for fantasy, and some science fiction too. There are two murder tales in there, that aren’t exactly speculative. Craig made sure this book had more stories in it, so those who expect only spec tales can consider these two as free extras.

Book cover for The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II is rustic brown with gold alchemy rings

It’s important to Craig that I tell everyone it’s only 99¢. This is to encourage people to take a chance on it. Maybe they haven’t read Craig’s work before, or they would like to check out some short stuff. At this price, they get their money’s worth if even one of the stories clicks for them.

Part of my job as spokesmodel for Craig’s books is traveling around and talking about the stories. Another part involves handing out my posters. We try to make a couple of posters for each book. With a collection, like this one, we have to pick and choose.

This one is from a short story called Career Move. It doesn’t reflect the entire story, but just gives a hint.

Drawing of sexy blond woman in heels on a pier doing a backhanded wave to a sea-serpent that has two men clutched in tentacles. Election signs are sinking in water

We thought it was funny with the big election only a few months away. Your readers should feel free to use it as a background on their PCs, laptops, or whatever.

Thanks again for the invitation. Is there any fun shopping around your neck of the woods?

~ooOOoo~

Shopping! Oh, yes. That’s a girl after my own heart. My husband tells me I consider shopping a sport, LOL.

Lisa, thanks for dropping by and sharing the background on Craig’s book. Gang, I have to tell you I was a beta reader on this collection and it’s a 5-Star gem. I snatched up a copy as soon as it was available. You can find my review on Amazon. I have my favorites (The Last Flight of the Rocket Men, Documentary, Magpies) but the star for me is Holo-Barkers, a short little mirco fic that’s sheer brilliance.

This book is a cabinet of curiosities waiting to be discovered, and at .99c it’s a steal. Go confiscate a copy now!

~ooOOoo~

Purchase The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II HERE

Author C. S. BoyackConnect with the author at the following haunts:
Blog
Twitter 

Goodreads
Facebook
Craig’s books on Amazon