… author of Escape From Furnace, The Fury, The Inventors, and the brand new Devil's Engine series

Weekly Catchup – 20th May!

More like a monthly catchup this one, but never mind! I’ve been on a small tour to mark the publication of The Fury, which has been fun! A big shout-out to Mansfield Library, Brunts School, The Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival, Warwick School, King Edward VII Grammar School, Battersea Park School, Ixworth Middle School, the Grampian Children’s Book Awards, Torry Academy and Oldmachar Academy! I had an amazing time, and a huge thanks to everyone who helped organise it! Here’s a picture of me in King Edward VII Grammar School, in the same room where Shakespeare was taught when he was a kid!!

Shakespeare's Old School!

It was also wonderful heading back up to the Grampians, although sadly I wasn’t up for the award this year, I was just co-hosting along with the ever-awesome Barry Hutchison, the delightful Cathy MacPhail, and the lovely Caroline Clough. It was a brilliant day, and congratulations to Malorie Blackman for winning! I love visiting Aberdeen, not least because it gives me a chance to pop in and say hi to my uncle, cousin and family who live up there. Plus it’s an excuse to drink unlimited amounts of Irn Bru, quite possibly the most amazing drink in the world! (No haggis this time, though, which is a shame!)

I’m sure I took some photos, I’ll post them if I find them!

In other news, I received a nice package of Brazilian Lockdowns this week, which is totally awesome!! I didn’t even realise it was out in Brazil yet, so it was a nice surprise to get these. It’s called Encarcerados: Fuga de Furnace! They’ve used the US cover, which is cool. I’ll be giving away a copy of this at some point over on the Facebook Furnace page, so make sure you’ve Liked it! I’m REALLY hoping that I’ll be able to work out a trip to Brazil at some point…

Encarcerados!!!!

That’s about it for now! I’m furiously (haha, see what I did there) trying to get The Fury 2 finished before the end of the week, which means at least 4,000 words a day every day next week. Wish me luck!!

Book Review: Relentless

RelentlessRelentless by Dean Koontz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

THERE ARE SPOILERS APLENTY IN THIS REVIEW!!

I have to start this review by saying that I love Dean Koontz. He was one of my favourite authors growing up, and one of the people who made me long to be a writer. I would devour his thrillers, dreaming of the day I could write a book full of such terror and excitement, and I still think his early stuff is fantastic.

I hadn’t read a Koontz book in a while, and downloaded this on my phone to read while I was on a long train journey, looking for something fast and, well, relentless, to keep me occupied. And at first that’s exactly what this book was. The story follows an author called Cubby Greenwich who falls foul of a famously acerbic reviewer called Shearman Waxx. Knowing he should just let the criticism go, Cubby instead confronts Waxx (after a fashion) in a restaurant bathroom, only for the reviewer to utter a single, foreboding word: “Doom.”

What follows is, for the most part, a wonderfully written thriller. Waxx, it turns out, is a complete nutter, and he begins tormenting Cubby and his wife and child (the threat made even more sinister by the fact that we soon discover Waxx has done this before, to other writers, with horrific consequences). It starts off small, but rapidly escalates into full-on Cape Fear-style persecution. It’s gripping stuff, and truly relentless – I honestly struggled to put the book down and almost missed my stop. It becomes clear that Waxx is not working alone, but has a powerful, shadowy organisation behind him, and midway through the book reaches a wonderful pivot point, one of my favourite parts in any thriller, when Cubby decides enough is enough and decides to turn the tables on Waxx. Relentless suddenly becomes a fantastic revenge story, and the pace picks up even further.

If Koontz had found a decent way to end it then this would have been a five-star thriller, no doubt. Instead, though, he seems to have handed the book over to a small child to conclude. Seriously, it’s that bad. At various points through the story Koontz mentions that Cubby’s six-year-old son, Milo, is a genius, and the kid does spend quite a bit of the book making strange gadgets from everyday objects like salt and pepper shakers. There are also repeated mentions of their dog, Lassie, mysteriously finding her way into very small, enclosed spaces. I wasn’t quite sure where Koontz was going with all this, and to be honest I’m not sure he did either. But when we get to the last couple of chapters – SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! – we discover that Milo has worked out how to build a machine (like I say, from a salt shaker and other bits and bobs) that can rewind time, and a side effect of this is that the dog can teleport.

Yes, you read that right. It completely ruined the book for me, because up until that point it was utterly grounded in reality. It reminded me of when I was a kid and couldn’t think of a way to end my story, so suddenly the main character would turn into a dinosaur and eat the bad guys, or discover he has laser jets in his eyes. These strange twists literally save the day for Cubby and co. I’m not quite sure how Koontz got this past his editor (probably just because he’s Koontz), but I’m fairly sure if a new, unpublished writer submitted a novel with an ending like this it would be laughed right back into its self-addressed envelope.

So… I was really disappointed with this, mainly because it started so well. I felt cheated by the laziness of the finale. Consider Relentless a five-star book right up until the end, but the last couple of chapters are little other than a farce.

I still love Dean Koontz, though 🙂

View all my reviews

My Blog Tour!

Well it’s been a whirlwind trip around cyberspace: two weeks, ten stops, and 20,000 words! In case you missed them, here they are!

The first stop saw me on the legend-that-is Darren Shan’s blog talking about Never Giving Up! I was his first ever guest blogger, yay!!

Next I was over at Trapped By Monsters talking about my favourite undead being – the zombie!

Hot on the heels of that I was interviewed by the lovely Bookbabblers!

My fourth destination was on one of my all-time favourite blogs, Book Zone (For Boys), chatting about the real magic of horror!

Halfway through now, and I was at Books4Teens describing a typical (haha, as if!) day in the life of an author!

On the home stretch, and I stopped by the awesome Barry Hutchison’s blog for a chat (an actual, live conversation!) about The Fury, writing and other bits and bobs!

Next up I visited Mostly Reading YA for a furious conversation about anger!!

I was over with the lovely Book Smugglers for stop eight, discussing musical influences!

With home in sight, I stopped by another of my favourite blogs, Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books, to chat about how writing a novel can totally change your personality!

And the last, but certainly not least, destination was the wonderfully named Death Books and Tea blog for an interview!

I just want to say a HUGE thanks to all the blogs that let me stop by to say hi, and another HUGE thanks to those of you who read my posts! It’s been fun (and furious)!!!!

😀