Sunday, 27 October 2013


Today I am posting a review for The Review Blog's Halloween Creepfest. Endurance is Tom Blake's first novel which he has published independently. Tom, 20,  asked me to review it to coincide with his giveaway for The Face Book event.
Author T J Blake

Endurance follows the traumatic experiences of Thomas Williams as he fights to survive an alien attack on London. For Tom, the day the attack started was a special day. He was going to propose to his girlfriend, Anna, but suddenly, as he kneels before her, she is tragically snatched from him in a devastating accident as the attack from above begins to reign down bullets and bombs on the people of London. Hardly able to believe what has happened, Tom sifts through the rubble and the ruins of the city he once lived in, trying his best to survive the alien attacks as well as an infected population on the ground who's ravaged bodies and minds are crazed with a rage they cannot contain. But as the story develops - all is not as it seems. Just who is behind the destruction of London and the world? Who are these aliens that seem to be targeting him? And is he going insane? Has he been plunged into a living nightmare or is it really just a dream - a horrible, freakish dream that he cannot discern what or who is real and what or who isn't. These are all questions that will plague the reader throughout; keeping them turning the page, eager to find out what is going to happen next. This book is aimed at a YA audience, however I am certainly far from being a young adult and I very much enjoyed it.

This book is not for the faint-hearted. The author spares no detail of the gore and devastation of maimed and polluted bodies. Here is one of the milder examples of the book.

"Continuing to jog, with a slight limp, he got closer and closer to the screams. The screams turned from an echo to a solid sound. Soon, Tom saw the screaming woman. She was crawling with one arm and no legs; her face was covered in blood and looked as if it’d been scraped along the concrete-strewn ground. Her screams rang through Tom’s ears. The sight made him queasy. He ran toward her."

I am not averse to gore - but there is a lot, so if you're not into blood, guts and more, this book may not be good for you, however that would be a shame because it has a most original plot and runs at a fast pace so there are no boring or dull bits. There are times in the book when you think, I've got a handle on the plot now and then in the next few pages, you're thwarted. The author's ability to keep you guessing is what drives this novel forward and there is no time to waste thinking about it; no resting on one's laurels, for before you know it you're running with the main character - running for your life. This young author has something that a lot of other writers don't; an ability to draw the reader in so that you are there, midst the scenery and the extras. Like a movie filmed in 3D  it hits you right in the eye, engulfs you in it's ectoplasm and transports you to another world.

Although this book is exciting, scary and horrific, it would really benefit from a professional edit and I know that Tom Blake has taken this on board. It's no mean feat to write a book at 20, edit it and publish it yourself and Tom has written a very readable book. A professional edit would be the icing on the cake for me and I hope by the time he has written the sequel, which is coming, I hope that it will be a very special cake indeed.

Generously, Tom is going to make his book free to download on the 31st of October. So pop that in your diary or mark it on your calendar. Go on what have you got to lose?

You will be able to download Endurance form this link for free on the 31st of October but if you can't wait till then, why not buy it now!!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Promise by Kevin Ashman

For the start of our Halloween Creepfest, here is a short story of revenge from beyond the grave by Kevin Ashman.  

I opened my eyes, or at least I thought I did, but if I had thought harder I would have realised they were already open, it was just that I couldn’t see anything. Not that I cared, it was the last thing on my mind. All I could remember were the beautiful memories of the wedding ceremony with Lisa, the most beautiful girl in the world.
It had been a magical few days, the best of my life. Azure Jamaican sunsets and sweet scents of sunshine fruits were flavoured with sounds of steel drums and reggae rhythms.  The time when all my hopes and dreams had come true and I had finally married the woman of my dreams, no, not just of my dreams but of my very being, my soul, my life.
All my life I had been around her, drawn in by her aura. Throughout infant school I had followed her around the playground like a needy puppy, joining enthusiastically in her childish games. Primary school was a world of wonder that we discovered together, the closest of friends, with adventures shared and futures still too distant to be contemplated. Our teen years tried hard to alter our relationship and though teenage culture demanded we sought the fellowship of our peers, we still glanced at each other across crowded dance floors, often walking home together yet saying goodbye at her garden gate before talking into the small hours on the phone.
She had a boyfriend once, encouraged almost rabidly by her friends and I hated him with a vengeance, yet even when they finished a few days later, I still shied away from asking her out, terrified of rejection, not realising that these were sentiments she also shared.
But eventually, the inevitable happened and something special developed. I still remember that starlit night, when I paused at her gate a moment too long. That awkward few seconds, that void of silence, crying out to be filled. Waiting for me to scream out as loud as I could,
Don’t you know how much I Love you? Don’t you know how much I want to take you in my arms and hold you until the stars above burn themselves out?  How I want to spend the rest of eternity alongside you, looking at you, knowing you, loving you?'
But I didn’t shout out, and neither did she, but what she did do was something else, something completely different, something infinitely better. She tiptoed up and kissed me gently on the lips.
That was the beginning of my life, the day I was really born, the point at which my existence took on meaning. Since then, I smile at the oft asked question, What is love? The answer is easy, It is lisa. She is the very essence of love and nothing in the universe exists apart from my love for her. I will live for her, die for her for she is now the sole reason I exist in this suffocating yet intoxicating entrancement.
The wedding had been everything we had dreamed of, and, having decided to wait until our wedding night to consummate the marriage, was a sensory overload of love and tenderness. We found each other at last, physically, mentally and emotionally while the world stood still, waiting for us to see it again. The moonlit walks, the starlit passion. Days filled with laughter and nights filled with wonder. This was it, the very reason I had been put on this earth by whatever entity existed up there.
That had been an age ago. Why had it stopped, what had I done so wrong to deserve this. Why did the cruel hand of fate deal such a devastating blow?
Everything had been perfect that night, the last night of our honeymoon and we had returned early to our chalet on the beach, keen to spend our last night alone before leaving this paradise.
They shouldn’t have been there, they had no right. My mind had span as it struggled to take in the situation, the shouts of the attackers and the screams of my beloved. The struggle, the noise, the flash of light…….the pain.
But it was as nothing compared to the pain that followed, the pain of seeing her dragged off by the two men to a lustful fate. The pain of trying to move, to help her, to rescue her from harm, unable to move yet conscious to what they intended What sort of husband was I who could not even protect my wife in the first weeks of our union. The world became dark and the last thing I heard was her voice calling my name, begging me to help.
How long had I lain there, summoning my will to overcome my bodies limitations. It had taken time but love conquers all, a triumph of mind over matter, love over hate. I knew that at last I would be able to do it. To rise again and seek her out and take her once more in my arms, and this time, no gun on this earth would stop me joining my love.
Gradually, as my consciousness returned, so did my strength, though how such malnourished muscles could even summon any power whatsoever was beyond me. First the movement of a finger, forcing its way past its neighbour, encouraging its fellows to join it in its task. Then my hand became free and clawed at the surrounding dankness, forcing its way upwards through the cloying blanket of hopelessness. Finally, with a flourish that mirrored the birth of a baby, my hand pushed forth to pierce the cool Caribbean night, breaking free of the shallow grave where I had lain for the last two months.
‘Don’t worry, Lisa,’ I thought as the soil fell from my empty eye sockets, ‘I’m coming to get you.’

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Why I think British History should be taught in our primary schools

The anniversary of the Battle of Hasting looms and 1066 is one of those dates that almost everyone knows of but not necessarily what happened or why it happened. Ask an English person when the Battle of Hastings took place, most will know that it took place in 1066 but who fought who and why is less known. Many children these days are not taught about this pivotal event in English history although I know from my own experience as a mum that my children, who have all gone through school now, were taught about the Anglo-Saxons in primary school only. But what did those primary school children actually learn about the Anglo Saxons? Do they retain any of that knowledge as they grow up as to who those funny Germanic people actually were – do they actually realise that they were the original ‘English’, the ancestors of today’s English. I see that the Key stage 1 curriculum has been disapplied which means that now teachers are free to design their own curriculum to suit their pupils needs. What a shame that the history of this land might be subject to the whims of teachers who may think that British history is not relevant to today's school children and many schools with large ethnic minorities. Not that I think that this is what will happen, but it is no longer a given that pupils will learn the chronological history of the land in which they live. This might sound un PC to you, but how better to create a sense of cohesiveness and a sense of belonging than by everyone, no matter what their ethnic background, learning and participating in history lessons, taking part in trips to wonderful castles and other living history exhibits that facilitate learning in an exciting, interactive and interesting way? The children of these migrant families, whatever their generation, may one day have descendants who will intermarry. The likelihood of this is quite high. Of course our history is relevant to them and to those who might also not intermarry.  As a re-enactor I want to share the  history I portray with those who live with side by side with me in this land as much as I like to learn about the culture of others I meet in my everyday life.

History is important and relevant because it helps us to learn from the past – so that we do not have to bear witness to the same scenes of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man time and time again; atrocities that have plagued humankind since man fought his way out of the primordial ooze. I know that time has shown that we don't learn completely, but small changes can make big differences and maybe now, in this century, it is time that we made a start. Children hopefully will never again be forced down coal mines or chimneys. What we have learned from the first and second world wars, stopped Nazism from holding dominion over society again. It still exists, but it doesn’t flourish like it did in the earlier half of the last century. Ethnic cleansing reared its ugly head back in the 90’s with Bosnia and Kosovo, but although slow to react, the world has shown their disapproval of such acts. Then there are still the dreadful inter-tribal wars going on in some parts of Africa, the problems in Syria, Palestine and Iraq - just a few that make me want to weep with frustration at the hopelessness of it all. But we are a work in progress and what are we if we don’t know our past? How then can we protect our future?

So if you believe that British history is important to all the children of this land then please share this post. Let’s share our different cultures together and make our future a lot brighter.