Monday, January 28, 2013

JD's Review of 'Divorce Hotel' by B.R. Snow

John Germaine, the owner of the ‘Divorce Hotel’ has a problem: his ex-wife Margaret is bleeding him dry …

Peopled with wonderfully oddball individuals, B.R. Snow’s gently humorous novel weaves a delicious spell over its reader. Snow artfully marshals different narrative threads around witty dialogue to create characters and situations you genuinely care about. I was hooked with the charm of the writing after the first few pages, and worked my way through the book in two sessions. It is stuffed full of comic invention and absolutely unputdownable!

Moreover, ‘Divorce Hotel’ bubbles with an inherent optimism about humanity. The ultimate resolution of the characters’ various issues leaves you with a warm afterglow – and with the thought that perhaps this world is not such a bad old place after all.

Read it. You will almost certainly be the happier for it.

You can learn more about B.R. Snow on  his website or connect with him on Twitter @BernSnow

'Divorce Hotel' is available for purchase as a paperback or as an ebook for Kindle from all the worldwide Amazon sites

Friday, January 25, 2013

Talk to the Hat: George Angus

JD  My guest in the Dubai Dungeon today is George Angus, writer and general troublemaker. Welcome, George.

GA (Muffled noise)

JD  What? Oh, apologies. Digby remove the gag from Mr Angus please.

GA  Where the hell am I? Sheesh, get this thing away from me.

JD  That’s not terribly polite, Mr Angus. Digby, back to your corner.

GA  Why am I strapped to a chair?

JD  OK, let’s just explain the rules quickly because I get fed up having to repeat myself. You have been spirited away to Dubai where you get strapped into an electric chair for my amusement. I ask you questions and if your answers are boring or unacceptable I do this ...

(Sounds of electricity arcing)

GA  Ah, crap! That really hurts!

JD  I only do this with writers by the way, and I understand you loosely fit within that definition, so let’s get started shall we? Tell us a bit about yourself, George.

GA  Now? Like this?

JD  Starting to get bored ...

GA  OK, OK. Just leave my fingers alone. They are my tools and I'm allergic to bamboo. Agreed? Good. Well, I was never one who grew up with visions of being a writer. In school, I never understood the need to learn the nuances of English. I figured if I could read, speak and write then what the hell were subjects and predicates to me? The only class I ever failed in my school career was Basic Paragraphs.
I fell into the writing gig. I wrote a piece on a medical device for my employer's newsletter. The response was unbelievable. Requests for reprints, offers to write for other companies, you name it. Before I knew it I was being published in the trade magazines and I was contributing to textbooks and winning literary competitions – well, honourable mentions anyway.
Many moons later I decided to call myself a freelance writer and I started a blog. was born and has been an active blog about all things writing for over four years now. Which I daresay is quite a bit longer than you've been doing this torture thing, judging by the conditions of your dungeon.

JD  You hungry?

GA  What?

JD  I’m neglecting my duties as a host. Digby bring Mr Angus some food and feed him. He’s a little tied up right now.

GA  (Looking) I’m not eating that.

JD  Why?

GA  Whatever it is, it’s got tentacles in it.

JD  Digby, what is that stuff?

DIGBY  Uhmnf giu friiina.

GA  What did he say?

JD  I have no idea. Let’s skip the gastronomy.

DIGBY  Sshhy cllu bvoola ...

JD   Shut up, Digby. Shuffle off now, there’s a good ... thing.

(Digby wanders off dispiritedly)

JD  Now George, I want to talk about your book ‘The Short Book of Short Shorts’. That’s the one where you appear on the cover wearing a dress.

GA  That’s not a dress, it’s a kilt.

JD  Keep telling yourself that, my friend. Now this book is a collection of flash fiction pieces, right? I guess the flashing bit is quite easy to do in a dress?

GA  Kilt.

JD  Whatever.

GA  Hey, my parole officer says I'm allowed to wear that kilt – just not within 200 yards of any schools.
But back to ‘The Short Book of Short Shorts’. Yep, it's a collection of a dozen or so flash fiction stories. Defined as stories under a thousand words, flash fiction is a challenge to write but can be extremely satisfying for both the writer and the reader. The stories in this book are varied in their nature but lean towards the horror genre. With that said, there's historical fiction and other treats as well. It's a book that can be digested in a single sitting, unlike that tripe Digby just brought over.

JD  Enough on that already. I’m guessing you’re proud of your Scottish heritage.

GA  Absolutely.

JD  Yeah, yeah. All that ‘Braveheart’ stuff. You’d probably be quite happy covered in woad, I expect.

GA  I would.

(JD nods to Digby who tips a bucketload of blue goo over George)

JD  Next up is your book ‘Talkeetna Trouble’. (Sighs deeply) This is a right con, this one, isn’t it?

GA  I don’t know what you mean. It’s a piece of experimental writing. I decided to put out a raw and uncut draft of this short novel to see what readers made of it. So far as I know, that’s a literary first.

JD  That’s a rubbish explanation. You’ve got Scottish ancestry and it’s a well-known fact that all Scotsmen are misers. You’re just trying to save money on an editor by making us readers do the damn work.

GA  There are several editor/proofreader types that would agree with you and are actively courting me on Twitter. At this point, I could get all blustery, puff out my chest and claim to be most indignant with your insinuation. But, like all things, there is a kernel of truth in what you say. Not the miserly portion, mind you but the thought of the work necessary to craft ‘Talkeetna Trouble’ into a true, viable novel causes me to lock up. Not to say that at some point I won't complete this task.
As much as anything, I felt sorry for the manuscript. Sitting there, so lonely. So left out. I decided, “Screw it. Let's try a little experiment and see what folks think about a writer's work in its most raw form.”

JD  Yeah, right.

GA  You don’t sound convinced.

JD  Listen, George, just because it’s a damn good book doesn’t mean that you’re not a tight-fisted so-and-so.

GA  Was that a compliment?

JD  It’s as close as you’re going to get to one. Now then, any last words before I press the button?

GA  Last words? What do you mean?

JD  I promised the Guild of Indie Editors that you wouldn’t leave the dungeon alive. If other writers follow what you’ve done with ‘Talkeetna Trouble’, those editors will all be out of business.

GA  Well, you know what they say – Those who can write, do. Those who can't, edit. I would ask you to spare me any more of this torture except I'm afraid I'm growing rather fond of it. It will be good fodder for my newest project, ‘50 Shades of Kilted’.

JD  Goodbye George.

(Extended sounds of electricity arcing)

JD  Digby, remove the body.

GA  I’m still alive.

JD  (Sighs) They just don’t make electric chairs like they used to.

You can find out more about George Angus and his books by clicking on the links below:


Twitter     @GeorgeAngus

Amazon    Author Page     

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

JD's Review of 'Vengeance Wears Black' by Seumas Gallacher

If you like your thrillers peppered with gunfire and explosions, and with a lot of bad guys getting blown away, ‘Vengeance Wears Black’ is for you.

The action ranges across Europe as private security firm ISP – composed of ex-SAS officers and other soldiers of fortune – wages war on Chinese and Albanian drug and prostitution rings. The bangs and screams can be heard from London to Istanbul and a whole host of other places in between.
Seumas Gallacher knows how to spin a good yarn, and he takes us through ISP’s battle plans and hit-and-run skirmishes as the violent chess-game rages across the continent, with the advantage shifting back and forth between the various protagonists.
Bent lawyers, sadistic Eastern European hoodlums, inscrutable Chinese Triads (including a one-eyed Asian version of Norman Bates’ mother), hookers, drug dealers, and one Hong Kong hottie – all keep the story tearing along. Gallacher’s descriptions of army-style planning and weaponry and of places and characters are sufficiently drawn to help you understand what is happening, while not so detailed as to slow down the action – of which there is a lot!
Hollywood take note: it would make a great ‘shoot-em-up’ movie.
Cry havoc and bring on the next one! 

Note that from 24-28 January 2013 'Vengeance Wears Black' will be available as a FREE download from Amazon US UK 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Talk to the Hat: Jade Kerrion

NOTE FOR OUR REGULAR READERS: Digby is excused today’s interview duties as he is having his quarterly de-lousing session upstairs with Mrs Macready.

JD:  Today we’re very pleased to have Jade Kerrion, award-winning science fiction author, in our Dubai dungeon. Welcome, Jade.

JK: Thanks, John.

JD: You must be a wee bit jet-lagged, missy. You’ve been over half the planet recently, right? But this is only stopover in the Middle East?

JK: Yes. I’m in the middle of a 70-week blog tour, which has taken me as far afield as Sweden. It’s been exhausting, but fun. The adrenalin buzz gets me through.

JD: What do you think of Dubai? Lots of buildings here that wouldn’t look out of place in a science fiction novel.

JK: I’ve only just got off the plane, so I haven’t had much of a chance to look around yet.

JD: Well, you look pretty good on all this travelling, I must say. Feel free to slip off your shoes and relax. In fact, take off whatever you like. I can always switch off the video feed if you’re feeling shy.

JK: Ha. Not a chance.

JD: Can’t blame a guy for trying. And if I may be so bold, what’s a drop-dead gorgeous chick like you doing messing around in science fiction anyway? I thought that was for adolescent boys and overweight, middle-aged men who live in their mother’s basement.

JK: Ah, but I grew up on science fiction. My first crush was on Luke Skywalker. I was only three. Yes, girls do mature faster than guys; it’s a fact. 

JD: Ever been to a Star Trek Convention or dressed up like a Klingon? Anything like that?

JK: Klingon, no. Well, for one, in the endless Star Wars versus Star Trek debate, I’m a Star Wars kind of gal - not that I’ve ever dressed up as Princess Leia from the scene from Jabba’s Palace. There are no pictures, and you can’t prove anything.

JD: OK, Jade. Let’s cut to the chase. You can only be here for one of two reasons. Either you’ve flown all the way to Dubai to seduce me, or you’re plugging a book. Which is it?

JK: The book.

JD: You don’t have to answer so fast. Think about it for a while.

JK: The book.

JD: Your husband need never know.

JK: Still the book.

JD: Damn. My British accent isn’t doing anything for you?

JK: Apart from giving me a slight feeling of nausea, no.

JD: In that case let’s move on to your writing. Your first novel, ‘Perfection Unleashed’, was a great success, winning a whole gaggle of awards. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a rattling good action story set on a dystopian Earth populated by humans, clones, mutants and in-vitros. It’s packed with diverse characters, multiple story-lines, and it has some serious points to make about genetic engineering and intolerance towards people who are ‘different’. When I reviewed it my headline was ‘Frankenstein Meets Richard Dawkins, With Guns’. What were you thinking about when you wrote it?

JK: I loved your headline, by the way. I wished I’d thought of it. Anyway, I was really just thinking that it would be nice to do something with my undergraduate degree, which is in Biology and Philosophy. The moral, biological, and societal issues raised in ‘Perfection Unleashed’ played nicely into my areas of supposed expertise. More importantly, I thought it would be important to write a book that would address the concepts of perfection and humanity without once mentioning an android, or worse, a vampire.

JD: The book reads a bit like a movie script. Was that a deliberate ploy on your part?

JK: No, I think it’s just a natural by-product of my writing process. I write the movie I see in my head. Sometimes, I’ve been known to act out scenes too. The actual process of writing stalls unless the scene in my head is fully played out. It’s probably no surprise that the process of translation from mental movie to words on a page retails a bit of that movie-like feel.

JD: By the way, I noticed a couple of references in the book to Singapore. Was that a nod to your family history or a dangling hook for future books?

JK: It is a bit of both. I’ve lived in Singapore for a few years and know the area well enough to write credibly about it. More importantly, though, Singapore is the kind of pragmatic, centrally-controlled country that would take to genetic screening and the genetic revolution like a duck to water. Singaporeans can be quite obsessive about ‘getting ahead’ and what better way is there to get ahead than to start in the womb, or rather, the test tube? The fourth novel in the series, which will be released in 2013, will take place in Singapore.

JD: Now at the end of ‘Perfection Unleashed’ you left a number of issues unresolved for some of your main characters. I’m trying to steer away from spoiler territory here, but we need to move onto the plugging part of this interview.

JK: And not before time.

JD: You know you’re quite witty for a girl?

JK: Do you know you’re close to getting a slap?

JD: How close? OK, I’m zipping it. Even though I find the slapping image strangely appealing. Meantime, tell us about the sequel, or should I say TWO sequels that have just hit the ether.

JK: Let me tell you about the sequels by telling you about the novel covers, which are rife with symbolism. 
In ‘Perfect Betrayal’, the spotlight focuses on Danyael Sabre. Danyael, an alpha empath, is rare and coveted, and Galahad’s escape provides an impetus for powerful men and women to seize Danyael for their opposing ends. ‘Perfect Betrayal‘is the flashiest cover in the Double Helix series and features curved and concentric rows of dominos arranged in a yin-yang pattern. The yin-yang symbolizes the interdependence of seemingly contrary forces, and the cover emphasizes the duality of the forces at play; light, dark; male, female; fire, ice. Two hands - one male, the other female (representing the two contenders for Danyael’s empathic power) - are poised to push at the dominos from either end. The dominos will fall; the question is, will Danyael?
In ‘Perfect Weapon’, the cover shifts from the abstract to the concrete. Weapons abound; first and most obviously, the sniper rifle and person behind the scope of the sniper rifle. Too large to miss are the inhuman forms of the genetically altered super soldiers clustered in front of the Capitol. The scope of the sniper rifle, however, is focused on a lone and seemingly harmless cripple, Danyael Sabre. Who is the perfect weapon; the remorseless mercenary Zara Itani whose finger tightens on the trigger; the super soldiers that are genetically bred for war, or Danyael Sabre, the alpha empath who can, with a touch, heal or kill?

JD: And these books are available, where? And in which formats?

JK: All three books in the series are available in paperback and multiple e-book formats on all major online retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, etc. My website, has links to all the retail sites. ‘Perfection Unleashed’ is on sale for $0.99 for the duration of my tour, through March 1st.

JD: Jade, it’s been a real pleasure. Thanks for dropping in. Perhaps if you’ve got some time I could show you round the city? Maybe have a little private dinner somewhere afterwards. What do you think?

JK: I think given the option I’d rather be torn to pieces by some failed genetic experiment.

JD: Fair enough. 

Synopsis of ‘Perfection Unleashed’:

His genetic code sourced from the best that humanity offers, Galahad embodies the pinnacle of perfection. When Zara Itani, a mercenary whose abrasive arrogance exceeds her beauty, frees him from his laboratory prison, she offers him the chance to claim everything that had ever been denied him, beginning with his humanity. 

Perfection cannot be unleashed without repercussions, and Galahad’s freedom shatters Danyael Sabre’s life. 

An alpha empath, Danyael is rare and coveted, even among the alpha mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution. He wields the power to heal or kill with a touch, but craves only privacy and solitude - both impossible dreams for the man who was used as Galahad’s physical template. 

Galahad and Danyael, two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, and the other to escape it. 

The award-winning ‘Double Helix’ series, consisting of Perfection Unleashed, Perfect Betrayal, and Perfect Weapon, will challenge your notions of perfection and humanity, and lead you in a celebration of courage and compassion. Science fiction, urban fantasy, and action-adventure readers will enjoy this thrilling roller-coaster ride as it twists and turns through a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution. 

Author Bio: 

Jade Kerrion, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning 'Double Helix' series which draws rave reviews for its originality and vision, and is described as ‘a breakout piece of science fiction’. 

Now for all the internet links and techie stuff that you Sci-Fi weirdos love ...

Social Media Links:

Perfection Unleashed:
Amazon UK:

Perfect Betrayal:
Amazon UK:

Perfect Weapon:
Amazon UK:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Talk to the Hat: Diane Strong

JD  My guest today on GALERICULATE is Diane Strong, author of 'The Running Suspense Series'. Diane, welcome. You look puzzled.

DS  I am.

JD  Pray tell me why, o succulent little blonde.

DS  I was expecting to be interviewed in a dungeon in Dubai and strapped to a chair like Travis Luedke, Charles Wells and Billy Ray Chitwood were. Yet here we are drinking champagne in an expensive penthouse overlooking the River Thames in London.

JD  Ah well, there’s a big difference between you and the other three.

DS  What’s that?

JD  I wasn’t trying to get them into bed.

DS  And you think the champagne will work?

JD  No, I think the Rohypnol in the champagne will work.

DS  You would actually have had a better chance with leather gear in the dungeon.

JD  Really? Hmn. Well I keep some leather gear in that cupboard over there if it would make you feel more comfortable.

DS  What makes you think it will fit me?

JD  I stock every size from bulimic to Mama Cass. You just never know who’s going to drop by.

DS (Looking) These are all black leather catsuits.

JD  Call me old-fashioned. You can change through there. I’ll just stop the tape.

DS  No, it’s OK. I’ll change here.

JD  Really? HERE?

DS  Yes. Let’s talk while I’m changing.

(Long silence)

DS  Perhaps we should start with your asking me something? You might want to know that you’re drooling, by the way.

JD  What? Oh, sorry. Right, OK. Let me just consult my notes. Ah, yes … You’re quite a brainy bird, aren’t you? As well as being … fit.

DS  Yes, I have a few degrees.  My psychology degree comes in useful when I play mind games.  Is this outfit too tight?  Am I spilling out in the back?  (Bending over) I was originally going to get a PhD in Vet Science, I was really into biomedical research.  I changed my mind mid-way through my program after seeing that all the PhD’s did was sit in offices writing grant proposals.  So I stopped at a Master’s degree. I’m a creative writer.  Scientific writing makes me want to barf.  Though I loved the research side of what I did, I’m much happier at home with my kids and writing.  Are these fishnets part of the outfit?  Shoot, I’m gonna have to take it off again.  Do YOU have any qualifications?

JD  I’ve got a diploma in woodwork. Also a 100m breast-stroke certificate. Speaking of which, you’re also a bit of a fitness nut. Sorry, would you mind leaning forward a bit before you comment on that?

DS  Like this?  Yes, I love to run and bike and swim and hike.  They all fuel my creative mind and feed my thirst for the outdoors.  I’m also a little competitive, since I’m not doing ground-breaking research, at least I can get a little ribbon now and then that says I’m half-way fast for my age.

JD  So you like getting sweaty? 

DS  In the right circumstances, yes. I guess YOU don’t exercise?

JD  Only my imagination.

DS  Hmn. I suspect Stephen Hawking might beat you in a 100-yard sprint.  You really should you know, maybe I can help you get started.

JD  I’ve already started, don’t worry. Moving on. I’ve read three of your books, as you know – ‘Newspaper Bundle’, ‘The Run’ and ‘Falcon Point’. And I’m currently reading ‘The Other Way’ (which I thought from the title might have some girl-on-girl action but no sign of that yet). I enjoy your writing very much, as you also know. Your ‘Running Suspense Series' is KIND OF about running, although it’s really about the things that happen to runners and their families, isn’t it?

DS  Yeah, ‘The Running Suspense Series’ is a collection of short stories, all about 10,000 words/43 pages long.  They are stand-alone stories that can be read in any order.  The reason I call it ‘The Running Suspense Series’ is because the protagonist in every story is a runner.  If I could change anything it would be to call it a collection instead of a series.  It isn’t a series in the traditional sense.  
And no, they are not stories about running, I never claim that but many people assume that.  If you are a runner, you may relate to the main character but you don’t need to be a runner to appreciate their story.  Am I babbling?  My boobs are really not that big but they sure don’t fit into this outfit. 

JD  Stop, I’m trying to concentrate here. You also homeschool your children, I understand. How do you find the time for that? Or do you just lock them in the basement with a TV and a bowl of grits while you go out running with your friends?

DS  Grits?  Who the hell eats grits?  More like organic, raw veggies.  And we don’t really have a television, I mean, we can watch movies but not all that other mind-numbing crap.  
I’m a control freak, that’s why I homeschool my kids.  I don’t think the government does a very good job of anything so I prefer not to let them school my kids either.  (I don’t judge people who send their kids to public school though, different strokes, I understand.) 
Yeah, ya know, I don’t really feel it’s appropriate to talk about my kids right now, at least not while wearing a tight leather cat suit. 

JD  Fair comment. Coming back to your writing for a moment. You’ve just got a new book out in ‘The Running Suspense Series’ … Book Five, right?

DS  Ah, yes.  Finally.  My latest release is finally out.  It is the fifth in the series.  Reservoir Run   Alison lies unconscious in a hospital bed after a long-distance training run leaves her half-dead at the bottom of a deep ravine. While Rick is a faithful husband, Alison gave him many reasons to attempt to kill her. The question of who tried to kill Alison hangs in the air while Rick waits impatiently for her to awake and assure her he’s innocent.
This last story took me a little longer because I learned so much while revising.  I actually went back and revised all of my other stories at the same time.  I feel like they are all so much better now, especially this last one.  I’m excited to see what the readers think of it.

JD  And this is available where exactly?
DS  It’s available on Amazon.  I may make it available at other locals later but Amazon is my big seller so I plan to stick with it.  Here’s the link (again): Reservoir Run 

JD  OK, now we’ve done the advertisements and the Rohypnol is obviously not working. You want to get something to eat?

DS  Sure.  Absolutely, I ran long this morning and need some calories.  And can I get a beer? I’m not much of a champagne drinker. 

JD  You northerners sure like your beer.  Sorry we don’t have any road-kill for you here in London, but there are lots of restaurants that serve many other sorts of murdered animal species. I’ll get my butler Digby to bring the car round.

DS  You know, just because I rescue injured animals from the road doesn’t mean I eat them.  Although I do hate to see perfectly good meat go to waste.  Digby’s here with you in London? 

JD  Well, I couldn’t leave him in Dubai. He’d eat the walls. Let’s go.

DS  Shouldn’t I change first?  And let’s walk.  It’s great exercise.

JD  No better not, London is a Weirdo City, we’ll take the car. You’ll fit right in though. Worst case is they’ll think you’re a hooker – but we might get discount that way.

DS  Oh I just love coupons!  Race you to the lift?

JD  Now you’re just being silly.

DS No, silly is the lengths that I will go to in order to sell a few books.  I feel a little slutty.

JD  Don’t worry about it. If this sells books we’ll all be wearing catsuits. Even Billy Ray Chitwood. Now there’s a thought to ruin your appetite.

You can find out more about Diane Strong and her writing from the links below:

For a FREE copy of Book #1 in 'The Running Suspense Series' ('The Run') click HERE (

Amazon Author Page


Twitter or @DianeIStrong

JD's Review of 'Blessed and Betrayed' by Sandy Appleyard

‘Blessed and Betrayed’ is a story about a woman trying to come to terms with an hitherto-unexplained family hostility while searching for meaning and satisfaction in her own life.

Victoria Williams is a nurse in a cancer unit, struggling with romantic and work relationship issues. She finds herself a square peg in a round hole, at odds with some of her peers and unable to come to terms with the recent death of her beloved childhood nanny. She finds solace with her (somewhat dissolute) friend Tabitha and her sister Carmen, but her dealings with her own mother – a cold and businesslike individual – remain a source of frustration.

Her resignation from her job at the hospital becomes a catalyst for change, leading to an unlikely romance and the eventual emptying of skeletons from the family closet.

This is a heart-warming and well-paced novel. I found some of the switches from first person to third person narrative a little jarring at times and I guessed fairly early on where the story was headed, but none of this spoiled my enjoyment of the narrative.

If you like a good cry and a satisfying resolution to a tale, ‘Blessed and Betrayed’ is a book for you.

'Blessed and Betrayed' is available at and

You can find out more about author Sandy Appleyard by going to her website or by following her on Twitter