Wednesday 28 August 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Zachry Wheeler

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with Zachry Wheeler.

Zachry Wheeler is an award-winning science fiction novelist, screenwriter, and coffee slayer. He enjoys English football, stand-up comedy, and is known to lurk around museums and brewpubs.

What kind of books do you write?

I write on the light and dark sides of theoretical science. My dark series is about a regime of bio-plausible superhumans that drink blood and beer. My light series is about a nerdy teen that gets thrown into impossible situations with his pet cat.

Can you describe your writing why?

My “why” would be a misanthropic worldview. My dream is to live in a remote cabin in Iceland with a large stock of creature comforts. Until then, I’m that guy who stays home on a Saturday night and watches Avengers for the (insert big number) time with a big box of takeout. Thus, thinking up new worlds to write about was a natural progression.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Alas, all of my favourite sections contain massive spoilers. But, I really like the opening paragraph to Max and the Snoodlecock (Book Two of Max and the Multiverse):

Given that space wants to kill you dead any chance it gets, space stations stick out as peculiar feats of ingenuity. In simple terms, they are little more than fragile atmo-boxes floating inside a vacuum. They rely on complex systems to stay afloat, where if the tiniest thing goes wrong, death lurks outside like a hungry badger. This is why they embody the function over form methodology, where a potent desire to remain living trumps everything else. Still, one would think that somewhere along the line, space station management would take a long hard look at their homely air tank and think hmm, maybe some drapes.

Tell us about your latest project

I have just released Thursday Midnight, the sequel to Transient, which is a post-apocalyptic retelling of the vampire legend through the lens of science fiction. 

Two years after betraying humanity and fleeing the city, Jonas and Anna remain in hiding. Their plans to remake society are slowly progressing, albeit under the constant threat of death.

Victor Korovin is a NExUS agent tasked with eliminating the human scourge. After centuries in the field, his life as a feared enforcer has quieted. He lingers as an unused asset, trapped behind a desk in downtown Seattle.

His accord with Jonas brought an end to the eternal war and marked the official extinction of the human race. The world has enjoyed a lasting peace ever since. That is, until a frightening new foe rises from the ashes.

What is your favourite cake?

This might come as a stunning admission, but I don’t like cake. Never have, even as a child. Of course, when I hear “cake,” I think of those mass-produced white sponges slopped with icing, those pre-packaged tins that you find in every grocery store. Bleh! However, I do love a good brownie.

A good brownie is to die for! You can keep up to date with Zachry on his website, follow him on Facebook and Twitter and all his books are available on Amazon

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Catherine Mesick.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Sunday 25 August 2019

Raven Award Winner!

I am delighted to tell you that The Rose Thief won the 2019 Raven Award for Best Sci-fi & Fantasy book. I am so thrilled the book was nominated and that you voted for it to win - it means so much to know that readers have enjoyed Ned and Jenni's adventures - thank you so much!

The Raven Awards come from Uncaged Book Reviews and you can see all the winners listed here - congratulations to everyone! 

The Rose Thief is my first Roshaven book, a humorous fantasy with a nod to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams in its humour. The reviews for the book have been wonderful and I have now taken it wide which means you can buy The Rose Thief from your favourite retailer whether that's Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books or Amazon - wherever you buy your books, that is where The Rose Thief can be found. 

A second edition has recently been released in a new, smaller format but with no changes to the story or beloved characters. 

Here's the book blurb:

Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor's roses. But that's not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It's up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn't exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong?

If you'd like to try before you buy, you can read the first chapter on my website.

The Rose Thief has also won a 5-star Recommended Read Award from the Indies Helping Indies Book Review Project, a Golden Acorn from the Book Squirrel review blog and Best Book Cover from the Indie Golden Squirrel Awards - thanks to cover artist, Ian Bristow! ​

The Rose Thief is not the only Roshaven book available. You can read short story Ye Olde Magick Shoppe for free on my blog and the latest novella, The Interspecies Poker Tournament is available now

Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher, has a new case. A murderous moustache-wearing cult is killing off members of Roshaven's fae community. At least that's what he's been led to believe by his not-so-trusty sidekick, Jenni the sprite. She has information she's not sharing but plans to get her boss into the Interspecies Poker Tournament so he can catch the bad guy and save the day. If only Ned knew how to play!

The Interspecies Poker Tournament, Case 27 of The Roshaven Files, is a humorous fantasy novella following the adventures of Ned Spinks and Jenni, a prequel to The Rose Thief. If you loved Terry Pratchett's Discworld, you'll love Roshaven.

This novella is available to buy on Amazon in ebook and paperback. 

This isn't the first time I've won a Raven Award. I was honoured to win in Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Book in 2017 with my debut novel, The Gaia Effect, the first in a hopeful dystopian trilogy set two hundred years in the future. 

In City 42 Corporation look after you from cradle to grave. They protect you from the radiation outside the wall. They control the food, the water, the technology and most important of all, the continuation of the human race. Kira and Jed Jenkins were lucky enough to win Collection but when their friends start falling pregnant naturally, everything changes. How long has Corporation been lying to them? Is it really toxic outside the wall? As the group comes to terms with the changes in their lives they discover there is a much more powerful and ancient force at work, trying to bridge the gap between man and nature.

Read the first chapter of The Gaia Effect on my website. Ebook and paperback are available on Amazon

"A story filled with emotion, angst & hope."

"Brilliant post-apocalyptic science fantasy."

Once again, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted, everyone who has supported me on my writing adventures so far, everyone who has bought a book - read it - enjoyed it and then reviewed it. I cannot tell you how amazingly awesome you all are - thank you, thank you, thank you!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Wednesday 21 August 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Kathleen Jowitt

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with Kathleen Jowitt.

Kathleen was born in Winchester, UK, and grew up deep in the Welsh Marches and, subsequently, on the Isle of Wight. After completing her undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Exeter she moved to Guildford and found herself working for a major trade union. She now lives in Cambridge, works in London, and writes on the train.

Her first novel, Speak Its Name, was the first self-published book ever to be shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize.

What kind of books do you write?

I write books about people finding the way out of their own self-imposed limitations, and about the shortcomings of even the most idealistic institutions. I explore themes of integrity, burnout, and self-discovery.

Can you describe your writing why?

I think I have different motivations for writing different things. Conflict, frustration, challenge? It's partly to get difficult feelings out of my head, and partly to let people know that they're not alone in those feelings. Otherwise, it tends to be answering 'what if...?' questions that get stuck in my head.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

This is from my first novel, Speak Its Name, which took me eight years from first word to publication. The writing process ranged from 'utter despair' to 'joyous voyage of discovery'. The lows were low, but the highs were very high. Now I know what I'm doing things are slightly less exciting!

She remembered how Colette had told her... my ex-girlfriend... bisexual, actually... How easy it had looked, that take-it-or-leave-it honesty (not, Lydia could admit, entirely innocent of the desire to shock), that stubborn insistence on her identity. Queer Christians. We exist. Do you have a problem with that? A challenge unspoken, and, even now, not fully answered. We exist. And the clear autumn breeze lifting the hem of the curtain, and Peter singing in the garden, and her soul standing on the threshold of its self-made prison, not yet ready to step out, but knowing for the first time that there was a world outside it.

Tell us about your latest project

A Spoke In The Wheel is a story about doping, disability, sports, life in the gig economy, and when to stop pushing. It follows disgraced cyclist Ben Goddard as he tries to reinvent himself – as anything other than a cyclist – in a town where nobody knows him. Unfortunately for his plans, the first people he meets are disabled cycling fan Polly Devine and her friend Vicki Whitaker, a keen cyclist herself...

It's been shortlisted for the Selfies Award and the Exeter Novel Prize.

What is your favourite cake?

A proper moist, fruity, marzipanned Christmas cake. 

I do love a slice of Christmas cake myself - great choice!

You can connect with Kathleen on her website, follow her on Facebook and Twitter. All her books are available on Amazon

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Zachery Wheeler.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Monday 19 August 2019

Poetry Book Relaunch

I never planned to write any poetry books, it just sort of happened and I realised that I actually really enjoy writing poetry. So I published Little Book of Verse. 

Then I decided to do NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) which was awesome and challenged me to write a poem a day. So of course, I had another book of poetry to publish. 

Feeling confident about publishing my personal poetry, a book of summer poems and a spooky book of poetry quickly followed. I now had four books of poetry, which was great. And the small, select people who bought, read and reviewed them seemed to really enjoy them.

That's when I realised I had a problem. I had not thought about these books in terms of a series and so they were named incorrectly. I had not considered the covers as a collective and so they didn't fit together well. And I hadn't known that I would want to add four more books to the series.

I have learnt a lot about self-publishing in the almost three years I've been on this wild journey and it is now, in this third year that I have almost come a cropper. Books need to be reformatted. Covers need to be improved. Blurbs need to be thought about. The business of writing must be treated as a business. 

And so, without further ado, I give you the new, improved, Little Book of Verse series so far! These are not available to buy on Amazon yet. Unfortunately, I am still not that organised - but they will be uploaded within the next month and don't worry, I'll let you know when I do it.

Little Book of Verse
Book 1 in the Little Book Series
A poetry collection by Claire Buss

A collection of both humorous and sincerely heartfelt poems from award-winning author Claire Buss. Her poetry is simple yet beautiful as she touches the heart of family life and deals with difficult emotions. She offers insight into motherhood from being tired to having sore feet, having time fly and chasing those summer ghosts. This charming little book of poetry is the first in the Little Book Series.

“Claire’s poetry has both tenderness and heartache – a little book of substance.” Leo McBride, Inklings Press

Little Book of Spring
Book 2 in the Little Book Series

A poetry collection by Claire Buss

“Beautiful imagery”
“Poems to make you laugh and think”

Inspired by NaPoWriMo, this collection of thirty poems will delight readers with playful and personal poems exploring the ups and downs of motherhood with plenty of humour mixed in. Claire Buss explores life as a mum from the lighter side of life living by the seaside right through to dealing with powerful personal emotions.

Little Book of Spring is the second poetry collection in the Little Book Series.

Little Book of Summer
Book 3 in the Little Book Series
A poetry collection by Claire Buss

A scorching book of poetry from award-winning author Claire Buss. Little Book of Summer, a collection of twenty-one poems, is the third poetry collection in the Little Book series. Frothy and light verses on the joys of summertime. These easy to read, easy to enjoy poems touch on fun in the summer holidays as well as more serious issues like being homeless at the seaside and picking up your rubbish.

Little Book of Summer is the third poetry collection in the Little Book Series.

Spooky Little Book
Book 4 in the Little Book Series
A poetry collection by Claire Buss

Hubble bubble, toil and trouble
What are we putting in it this time?
Is it the potion for indigestion
Or the one to get rid of the dust

Eye of newt and toe of bat
Or rather some shrivelled old apples
And some leftover sausage
Should work just the same

Mum. Poet. Lover of cake. Claire Buss’s Spooky Little Book is a collection of Halloween-themed poetry celebrating everything spine-tingling and scary. Hide behind the sofa, watch out for the monsters under the bed and stock up on candy – you’re going to need it!

Spooky Little Book is the fourth poetry collection in the Little Book Series.
All the covers were designed by my sibling Charlie Harwood and we have four more plus a complete collection cover to reveal next year when the rest of the books are released - exciting times ahead!

In the meantime, my Facebook page - Little Book of Verse - has regular updates and poems for you to read. 

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Wednesday 14 August 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Ricardo Victoria

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with Ricardo Victoria. 

Born in the frozen landscape of Toluca, Mexico, Ricardo dreamed of being a writer. But needing a job that could pay the rent while writing, he studied Industrial Design and later obtained a PhD in Sustainable Design, while living in the United Kingdom. There, he did a few things besides burning the midnight oil to get his degree:

-Trained in archery near Nottingham

-Found Excalibur

-Discovered whether Nessie was real or not (but won’t disclose his findings)

-Worked on a comic book store to pay for his board game & toy addiction

He is back now in Toluca, living with his wife and his two dogs where he works as an academic at the local university. He has short stories featured in anthologies by Inklings Press and Rivenstone Press. In fact, he was nominated to a Sidewise Award  2016 for the short story Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon, co-written with his arch-nemesis, Brent A. Harris. He has also won a local contest for a fantasy short story during college. But hey! That one doesn’t count, does it?

What kind of books do you write?

I tend to write stories that explore personal issues of the characters –who they are, what’s their place in their world, overcome traumas, forgive themselves, find a reason to be- in a mix of action, humor and a bit of horror in settings that combine magic and science, while having the adventures I would have loved to have as a kid. Think of a more well-rounded, more complex 80’s Saturday morning cartoon.

Can you describe your writing why?

I have a couple of reasons. One, and I haven’t made it a secret, it’s that I write as a form of occupational therapy to deal with my depression and anxiety attacks. It has become a survival tool to clear my head when things get messy inside it. Another is – and I don’t say this as a form of bragging- since I was a child I have a quite hyperactive imagination and have the nagging need to tell stories about the things my mind comes with. All the time stories are coming out of my head –and by all the time I mean, even when I’m sleeping, some ideas for short stories like Kaana came as dreams-. The third one is that I have always wanted to share the worlds and I came up with and hopefully someone will like them.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

If you allow me to share two moments from my upcoming novel:

“So back to the topic, warptrains run with magick energies?” Alex asked.

“That’s the common agreement, yes. Hence the development of something as stupid as arcanotech. Using ancient knowledge to develop trains. That’s why freefolk stay away from civilization as much as possible.” Sam shook her head in disappointment.

“I can’t argue with that.” Alex rubbed his chin. “And I studied that subject in college. Anyway, so if magic acts like a radiation field, it should follow the same rules of energy conservation… But how would that explain a disintegration spell, for example?”

“Look. Magick, for all its potency, has to follow simple universal rules. Like the energy conservation law you mentioned. You can’t create neither destroy energy or matter, just change it,” Sam explained plainly.

“So, following that, there is no such thing as a disintegration spell?” Alex asked.

“No, instead, it’s actually just a teleportation spell used in a creative way.” Sam smiled. 

“You don’t teleport the whole subject at the same time to the same place… That must hurt.” Alex grimaced at the thought of having his limbs ending up half a planet away from his torso, or worse.

“It is also the number-one cause of death of many rookies working magick,” Sam added, stealing a bite from Alex’s pizza.

“Your craft sounds more complicated than I thought. It is as if a magick user is warping reality using high energies while their brain is calculating thousands of quantum states,” Alex reasoned, after a while.

“That’s why I believe that arcanotech is to magick what engineering is to quantum physics. Not even in the same league of understanding,” Sam replied with smug satisfaction.


Alex and Gaby started to walk towards the entrance of Ravenhall. Fionn tried to open the door, and this time it worked.

“A few words before you start your test, Greywolf,” Mekiri said. “Remember, the past is a lesson, not an anchor. The present is a gift, not a test. The future is an opportunity, not something to fear. All of us will arrive at our destination sooner or later. The difference lies in the path we take and with whom we choose to walk it.”

Fionn remained silent and Mekiri let him go after Gaby and Alex. This was going to suck.

Tell us about your latest project

My current project is the one that has been years in the making, my first novel: Tempest Blades. The Withered King. It’s the story of a war hero –gifted by strange powers which means he can’t grow old- who is retired after a tragedy struck him and a century later, he has to come back, not only to stop an evil from his past but also to mentor a new generation of heroes that look up to him. And given that being a mentor is possibly one of the most dangerous jobs in fiction (look at Obi-Wan for example, one day of teaching and gets killed), he has his job cut for him. That’s what you get by agreeing to help a friend.

All jest aside; this is a very personal work because it has been percolating in my head since high school at least and I finally managed to get it on paper. It’s going to be published by Artemesia Publishing under their Shadow Dragon imprint on August 20th 2019.

What is your favourite cake?

Chocolate cake. Nothing fancy, just a good chocolate cake

I couldn't resist a little bit of fancy, Ricardo! You can find Ricardo on Twitter and from time to time he posts worldbuilding and the occasional short story on his website

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Kathleen Jowitt.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Tuesday Poem - You'd think it'd be easy

You'd think it'd be easy
To get your books for sale online
But just as everything looks about fine
It all falls apart, time after time

You'd think it'd be easy
To lose weight after having babies
But those midgets will drive you crazy
And cupcake solace it a definite maybe

You'd think it'd be easy
To be a housewife these days
Cleaning five rooms in a certain way
But not when you don't get any pay

You'd think it'd be easy
To write one poem a week
Creativity would never be bleak
Or suffer a terribly dry streak

You'd think it'd be easy
To be a loving and caring wife
And not cause hubby too much strife
All we both want is an easy life

You'd think, you think
I bleed and it's ink
I see words when I dream
And new books clamour
Write me, shape me, make me
Cast me out with wild abandon
Inhale inspiration and creative nuss
Never stopping
Never breathing

You'd think it'd be easy
Being me

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Wednesday 7 August 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Mark Roman & Corben Duke

This week I am delighted to have a slice of cake with Mark Roman and Corben Duke.

What a coincidence this blog is called ‘A Slice of Cake’, for it was a humble cake that kick-started Mark Roman and Corben Duke’s writing partnership.

One Spring day, Mark was strolling down Penge High Street, tucking into a tasty Bakewell Tart, when he reached the glacĂ© cherry at the centre. Not being a fan, he plucked it off and flicked it towards the gutter. But as it bounced along the pavement, Corben, hurrying in the opposite direction, stepped on it and went into an uncontrolled slide that resulted in the splits. Not a trained gymnast, Corben ended up in hospital. Soon afterwards, their writing exchanges started – Corben emailing a compensation claim for a serious cake-related injury.

Initially emails between Roman & Duke were quite simple, along the lines of ‘It was your fault’ and ‘No it wasn’t’. After a few months, they calmed down and began discussing other subjects, such as a particularly nasty rash Mark was suffering from at the time. Anyway, the emails didn’t stop and it’s fair to say they became an addiction. Even after therapy the problem didn’t go away so they decided to focus their writing into producing a novel. They discussed a suitable genre and, if ‘Cake Fiction’ had been a legitimate literary genre, they would probably have written a book about a sad pastry chef who found love through the power of his Eccles cakes – or something similar. But, since cake fiction wasn’t fashionable, they opted for Science Fiction Comedy instead.

Can you describe your writing why?

Roman & Duke have different motives for writing. For Mark, writing is a cry for help (which has mostly gone unheeded – although he did once get a letter from a retired psychotherapist from Idaho. She told him she sensed his pain through his poetry and offered him a discount membership of her cult. Which is rather odd since Mark hasn’t written any poems).

Corben writes for one reason only: to raise enough money to open a sanctuary for orphaned baby squirrels. He dreams of owning a massive mansion house and country estate where his babies can run free, wind blowing through their cute fluffy tails as they scamper after bountiful nuts. So far, Duke has raised enough money for a small bag of peanuts, and nowhere near enough for the mansion house, or the estate. He’s hoping Roman & Duke’s next book might do the trick but needs your help. He hopes that you, dear reader, will think of those tiny squirrels all alone in the world with their sad little faces … so sad.

Tell us about your latest project

The Worst Man on Mars was born at one of Mark and Corben’s regular cake afternoons as they discussed what they might write, should they ever get around to starting. Mark, who felt it impolite to be the first to take a cake, suggested, “Try a Mars Cake Bar,” his eye on a plate of his particular favourites.

“A Mars caper?” asked Corben, his ear wax making it difficult not to mishear just about everything anyone said. “What a splendid idea. I can see it now. Britain’s first crewed mission to Mars. A heroic captain. Glamorous crew members. A base built by super-efficient robots. A historic mission. An epic story. And plenty of Battenberg cake!”

And so, they started writing. Sadly, Corben’s initial vision succumbed to the necessities of making the story of a British space mission sound realistic. Instead of a heroic captain, it got thuggish, pie-eating, reality-show winner Flint Dugdale. Instead of a glamorous crew, it got the ineffectual Willie Warner and roguish Zak Johnston, plus a group of oddball colonists. Instead of highly efficient builder robots, it got a ramshackle bunch of incompetent mechanoids who couldn’t even get the dimensions of the base right.

Still, at least the Battenberg cake made it in.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Lieutenant Willie Warner had found it a struggle to adjust to life back on Earth. Craving the celebrity highlife, he had been attracted to the reality TV circuit. Unfortunately, his first engagement on The Great British Bake Off had also been his last; Willie’s Showstopper Bake had been an exquisite, intricately-wrought brandy snap crown enrobed in dark, velvety ganache studded with fondant jewels. In a mock coronation he had proudly crowned judge Bessie Sherry on live television. Everyone had been laughing and joining in with the joke, until the heat within the baking tent caused the gooey coronet to melt and run down the side of Bessie’s face. Why Willie had decided to step forward and lick the chocolate off her cheek, no-one will ever know. But the British public did not take kindly to the Queen of Puddings being licked on screen before the 9pm watershed. And neither did judge Phil ‘Rock Cakes’ Hardman, who promptly punched Willie, sending him skimming across the top of a floured work surface.

What is your favourite cake?

Corben’s favourite cake is a lovely nutty banana and walnut cake. He likes to share cake crumbs with the baby squirrels.

Mark reckons you can’t beat a slice of Victoria sponge. He loves to suck out the fresh cream and jam from the middle, and then work on the sponge with his gums. His teeth fell out 25 years ago, ironically from eating too much cake, so nowadays he can only manage the softer varieties.

Good luck with feeding the squirrels! You can keep up to date with Mark on Twitter and Facebook, and with Corben on Twitter. The book is available to buy on Amazon.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Thursday 1 August 2019

July Book Reviews

Alice in Virtuality by Norman Turrell - 4 stars

Recap: Martin tests some AI tech called Alice. 

Review: We've got the stereotypical IT guy Martin and the gentle nature loving heroine Emma. I liked how insidiously the AI Alice begins to destroy their lives and affect their behaviour. I thought it was amusing that the hacker group behind it all were teenagers but I felt like we were shown something was wrong with the mum yet it was never explained further. I enjoyed how the AI was trapped in the end and also how it acted in the various virtual worlds. An easy read with a heartwarming life turnaround tale. Yay nature - boo computers! 

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine - 4 stars

Recap: Jess Brightwell has a plan - it involves sending Morgan back to the Tower, putting Wolfe in prison and pretending to be his twin Brendan. They'll infiltrate the Great Library and bring down the Archivist. What could go wrong?

Review: Well, lots of things go wrong leaving the group of friends to fight tooth and nail for their freedom and to save the Library. There are some heart-stopping moments and a collection of truly horrible characters you can take great pleasure in hating. Plus, there's a dragon! We know these characters well by now and we're rooting for them, we feel their highs and lows. There are moments of happiness but on the whole, it's a tale of grim survival. They haven't won yet either and it's not a foregone conclusion so I can't wait to get my hands on the next book!

Darkly Dreaming by Chloe Hammond - 3 stars

Recap: Rae and Layla try to recapture their youth & friendship while on holiday in France. Instead, they get turned into vampires!

Review: What an opener! It had me blushing and made me realise this is not my normal book pick, that said the sex scenes throughout the book were written well without massive use of cliche and included one hilarious lol moment. The key to this book though, is not it's slightly different take on vampires, but it's focus on the friendship of the two main characters. Hopping from POV and zipping back and forth through their timeline could've been muddled but it worked well and there's a great deal of sympathy generated for Rae and Layla. I think most women can relate to one or more aspect of their lives. I'd give it 3.5 if I could and I'd be tempted to read book two, now that all the masses of backstory are out of the way, it'll be interesting to see if the writing style changes.

All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka - 4 stars

Review: Japanese soldier Keiji keeps dying in battle.

Recap: I've watched Edge of Tomorrow and naturally the book is different to the film and predictably, I think I prefer the book. It's easy to grasp the concept and I like the way the iterations are written. There is such emotion in the final few scenes and the concept of the frog-like aliens and what they can do really does scare you.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson - 4 stars

Recap: Bill Bryson walks the Appalachian Trail.

Review: First of all, I enjoy reading Bill Bryson books so I know the meandering style, the shoehorned anecdotes and I expect all the facts. This book didn't disappoint. A touch of personal commentary here and there, some truly comical observations and escapades with his hiking companion plus the odd highly random segway into a different part of the story which had me head-scratching from time to time thinking I'd missed a bit! Enjoyable. Makes you want to hike even though you know you'll hate every minute. (I have my own hiking/mountaineering/jungle trekking tales)

Snap by Belinda Bauer - 5 stars

Recap: Abandoned by his father, left to look after his sisters and burgling for food, teenager Jack is trying to keep the pieces of his shattered life together in the aftermath of his mother's brutal murder.

Review: My goodness this was a page-turner and it gave me the collywobbles, so much so I couldn't fall asleep last night in case the murderer and/or burglar came a-visiting. Great characters, great twists, heart-wrenching children and an extremely satisfying ending.

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.