Archive for » July, 2012 «

200th Blog: My top films and books

Seeing as I’ve managed to hit the 200th blog mark I thought I’d have a look back through my blogging history and recommend some of the best films and books that I’ve seen or read since I began blogging in Feb last year.

Films

There have been some really amazing films and Tv series out lately and quite a few last year. Here’s a recap of some of my favs. I think I’ve blogged them all already.

Hugo – This was a great film about old film making and a very cute little boy who could make clockwork things and repairs an automaton. If you’re visually artistic in any way it’s a must see and with plenty of romance and humour thrown in too the not quite so artistic will probably enjoy it too.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 – Although this wasn’t as good as the original pirates it was better than the 2nd or 3rd. It’s a good swashbuckler with a very good come back career wise for Ian McShane. Also there are rumours a fifth will follow at some point.

Fast and Furious Five – Again another film in a series which was better than many of it’s predecessors. There’s some great action sequences in this film and although not quite as much in the way of car chases it does have a slight Oceans Eleven feel to it which adds to the films greatness.

Sherlock season two – Not quite as good as the first BBC series but still very very good. Sherlock has really been captured well by Benedict Cumberbatch and the writers of this series and his modernisation works better than I’d have ever expected. On top of that I think Mark Gatis does a superb job at bringing Mycroft to life in a way the original stories often fail.

The Avengers – By far this ended up being my highlight of the last few years. This is a very well written action film with snappy dialogue and one liners which are delivered to perfection by the gorgeous cast. On top of the humour Loki has a great little monologue about what he thinks humans need and crave. Really makes you think if you let it and I really can’t wait to own this one on blu-ray. I also think my friends and I will be quoting this film for quite some time to come and I believe a sequel is in the works.

Books

I’ve increased my consumption of books this year, partially due to being ill and resting with a good book being required more often and partially due to signing up to a few review groups. Here’s the highlights for me – note: I’ve not actually blogged about all these.

Millennium’s Sanctuary – This book is a sort of Sci-fi sort of Fantasy sort of young adult book. It’s about some type of meteorological substance which activates something in people and gives them a sort of super power kind of ability and enables them to get into what’s called the ‘sanctuary’. It’s a nice easy going read and I really enjoyed the male characters journey to figure out what was going on around him.

Bactine – This is a Steampunk genre book and re-established my faith in the idea that books could have multiple planets that actually felt like planets as well as delivering up plenty of swashbuckle style fun, flying and general awesome clothing. The only downside of this book was the lack of description for the clothing but the writer was male and I doubt male readers would want that as much as I do anyway.

Reflection – In this book the main character is recapping the events of their live in a coma and they eventually wake up to find that not all of their dream is necessarily true and the person they were in love with in their comatose dream isn’t necessarily someone who even exists. The emotion in this book was amazing and I loved the general idea. Very very moving romance book.

The Complex – Another Sci-fi, this one’s set in the future after the outbreak of a virus. The ones inside the Complex are still awaiting their cures and are rehabilitated into the world outside when they are cured and this eventually happens to the main character. When she’s in her new house and being rehabilitated she soon finds things are not quite as they seems and I really didn’t see it all coming in this great read.

Game of Thrones – Although I don’t like all the gore in this book it’s still a very good plot of a medieval land full of the stuff of fantasy, and dragons, who can forget the dragons. While you probably don’t need to both watch the tv series and read the books of these I do think the books are better.

Imperfect Weapon – This was one of my real favourite books lately. It’s another futuristic sci-fi set on the giant spaceship of a race that are conquering the galaxy. Very early on it implies they’ve conquered earth and you there is little hope for most of the galaxy to not follow in the same direction. Somehow though the humans and other races manage to pull it out of the bag thanks to the enemies own secret weapon. I really really munched through this book and can’t wait for the sequel.

Of course there are many other films and books that were still worth peoples time to read and watch but the above is the ones I still easily remember now.

Reality Deconstructed: A New Release

I’ve posted about other releases from my publisher Red Feather Writing before and I’m pleased to say Andrew’s latest book Reality Deconstructed has it’s book launch very soon.

This is another great short story in the fantasy genre. A genre Andrew writes very well in.

Here’s a short blurb:

Ever got the feeling you’re wandering around in a dream? What happens when everyone in the world thinks that exact same thing? When only one person can be the true dreamer how can you prove who is real and who are the figments?

So if you enjoyed his previous ebook, which I reviewed a short while ago, and you think you might enjoy this one come check out his book launch on facebook or pick up the book on August 11th to support him in his career.

It should be a lot of fun and there might even be some extra’s and other fun stuff happening on the day to make it more exciting. If you’re curious you’ll have to head on over to the facebook page to find out what that is.

Also if you don’t have an ereader and you’re thinking that it automatically excludes you from this event please don’t think that any more. Amazon have an app you can download to your computer so you can read ebooks as well. And the best part is that it’s free. So pick up the app and then come join us.

August 11th, miss it and you’ll miss out.

Cornwall 2012

This summer I was invited to spend a week in Cornwall to see the J class regatta being held in Falmouth. I made mention that a good selection of the Mountifield family were hoping to get a moment or two on the J class yacht Velsheda.

This boat was built in the 1930’s and was one of only 6 boats in it’s class at the time. I believe at the time the J class also represented the largest single masted sailing yachts.

Velsheda’s first ever captain just happened to be a Mountifield. A Captain Alfred Mountifield. One of Alfred Mountifield’s grandsons is alive today. I call this man Grandad. His eldest son is my husband’s father. So I married the direct descendant of the first ever captain.

Not that long ago another of my Mountifield relatives found a photo of the original captain at the helm. As my uncle in law had been allowed on Velsheda before to have a quick look over while she was docked in Falmouth in a previous year he let the whole family know they were in Falmouth again this year and emailed the new captain to request the possibility of the grandson, great grandson, and great great grandson (my husband) all being allowed on board to get photos in the same position as the old one.

About the same time we were talking about this I was also working out the plot for the sequel to Sherdan’s Prophecy and had a scene I wanted to be on a boat out at sea. Being the kind of person who likes adding in little gems of family history (there’s a relative of mine in the Caribbean at the same time as With Proud Humility is set and he’s mentioned in the book) I wanted that boat to be Velsheda so my uncle in law mentioned that too.

Unfortunately the new captain didn’t take too kindly to the idea of people wanting to go on the boat he commanded and wasn’t particularly polite in his replying email. To be honest I’d have understood if he’d said he was too busy, or even said something like you can come take a few photos but you can’t sail on her, or something like that. I’d have been disappointed but I would have given him the benefit of the doubt and possibly just emailed to ask nicely if he’d answer a few questions about the boat so I could still do enough research to include it in my novel.

Despite the mildly grumpy Captain we did still get to see Velsheda race against some of the other J class yachts. Including Lionheart, the newest J class. The shot above and the few below were all taken from my camera off Pendennis point at Falmouth as they sailed out in the waters in front of us and sailed back into the mouth of the river.

As you can see from the photo above all the J class yachts are a lot bigger than the normal ones that look tiny dotted around the outside. Although it’s not the clearest of photos it gives an idea of the sheer size of these yachts. Hopefully I can still find enough info out about one of them to include it in a novel even if it can’t be Velsheda.

The rest of the holiday was spent in a very chilled out fashion, often near the coast and gazing out to sea. Something about being near the sea or at sea that I find relaxing.

Bactine: A review

Bactine was gifted to me by the author Paul Kater shortly after I interviewed him and I added it to my very long TBR pile, hoping to get around to it at some point. Well I finally did and I’m so glad I skipped it ahead of the majority of the pile.

The genre is Steampunk and had, therefore, already set the book as a likeable one in my eyes. I really am in love with all things Steampunk lately.

I must say that it took me a little while to figure out how this book was Steampunk as it starts off set in space but as soon as the man character, Daniel, was on the right planet I knew I was going to love this book and love it I did.

The plot had everything I could have wanted, pirates, action, ships, flying and cool technology. It even had a delightful little romance to finish things off with. I was even pleasantly surprised by a few of the plot twists and could perfectly imagine msot of the characters. I’d really love to have more stories set on the planet too.

And that brings me onto another good point about this book, the planet. It actually felt like a planet. There were cities and islands and forests and places that took days and days worth fo travel to get to. Ofen in sci-fi boks planets are so limited and feel like they can’t be bigger than a country but this one felt much bigger and like the hero had only really explored a tiny part of it.

I’m so glad I picked this one up as I think it’s going to be right at the top of my favourite books this year list. I really really do recommend it so here’s the buy links for it, on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 20

Sherdan stayed with Anya until very late that night. She’d been shaken by everything that had happened and didn’t want to sleep. Now that he knew she’d been having nightmares he wanted to make sure she had calmed before he left her. Even once he’d gone to his own room he left the door ajar to hear if anything disturbed her again.

Whether she slept well or not, nothing woke him until the alarm went off. He stayed with Anya at her request, working in his study rather than the command room. She sat near him and read, trying not to disturb him.

In the afternoon he had to leave her and sneak out of his facility to travel to London again. Anya asked if she could come too but he refused. He didn’t want to put her in danger yet again. He didn’t add that he wanted time to think.

Sherdan had been a lot more panicked the previous day about Anya than he’d expected and wanted to keep her safe from the British Government. She’d captured his heart even though she continued to keep him at a distance. She’d show the odd sign of affection but not allow him to do anything that would imply a romantic attachment of any kind.

He’d finally gone to the medical ward in the morning. The three from the previous batch were there along with all the new ones. He’d still not been able to see a single power in any of them and right before his eyes someone from the new batch had turned the water in their cup to ice.

Sherdan’s power should have shown him that at least a few moments before but it hadn’t. When it hadn’t worked on Anya he’d not been that concerned. She had a different enzyme, but it should have worked in the ward. It should, but it hadn’t, and he had no clue why.

There would be problems if the powers stopped working or faded over time. However, both he and Hitchin had been sure that the change wasn’t reversible, though for short periods it could be inhibited.

He had to put it from his mind, despite his worry, and focus on his next interview. The same TV channel as before were interviewing him again.

Sherdan allowed himself to be led through the same routine of make-up and preparation. He even had the exact same slot on the program.

He grinned as he thought about his announcement, especially when the security he’d brought with him informed him the police were already at the studio. They wouldn’t get to him in time, not with the rambling building he was in.

Within seconds of thinking this he was directed up onto the stage to take his place ready for the interview.

“Thank you for coming again Dr Harper.” Emma turned to him with a polite smile on her face.

“Thank you. I talked of surprises last time I was here. I actually have one I’d like to talk about.” Sherdan took control straight away.

“What would that be?”

“As of now the area of private land owned by myself and the residents in my facility is an independent country.”

“I’m sorry, Dr Harper, I don’t quite understand. How can it be an independent country?” She looked at the camera and off to her colleagues at the side, confused and obviously hoping they would feed her information via the scrolling text screen.

“Well, it’s quite simple really. Anyone who owns land who has a permanent population and a means of negotiating on a diplomatic level with other countries can declare that fixed land independent. I have done everything required on behalf of all my residents and we are now an independent country called Utopia.”

“Have you been planning this from the start?”

“Yes, close enough to the start that it might as well have been.”

“Are you still accepting applications?”

“Yes, of course. They will become applications for citizenship followed by everything else we were offering before.”

“Legally, isn’t being recognised as a country very difficult?”

“It can be, but I think we’ve satisfied all the official criteria and, with our technology, people will have trouble stopping us.”

“That brings me on to some rumours. Am I right in thinking there has been at least one attempted raid on, what is now, your country? The police are denying it. Is it true or not?”

“Yes, late yesterday evening twenty police managed to make it through our perimeters. Most via a helicopter. Our guards managed to escort them all back out again with very minimal harm. I believe there were only a few bruises and wounded egos, despite the police opening fire when unprovoked.”

“I imagine that it won’t be repeated?”

“No, anyone caught trespassing, unless they’re military and the country of origin negotiates for their return, will be prosecuted by our courts for breaking the law as would any other country in the world.”

“Thank you Dr Harper.”

Sherdan smiled as he took a different route out of the studio and bypassed all the police waiting for him to try and arrest him yet again.

He had help from some of the TV personnel with his escape route. Many people thought he was a hero, especially with how the police were treating him. The authorities were chasing their tails as far as he was concerned.

He hurried his driver to get him back to his new country as soon as he could. He needed to monitor the reaction to his announcement and could only do so from his home or compound. There were a number of possible outcomes; the most violent being if the UK tried to send the army to invade. If they did so before he got back he’d be very angry.

Ten minutes later his phone rang. Graham greeted him from the other end.

“Sherdan, sir, the army are assembling at each one of our barriers. At the moment they seem to be waiting. The prime minister of the UK has phoned. He wants to speak to you.”

“Tell him I will speak to him as soon as I get back. Let me know if the military make a move and warn all the residents to stay inside and prepare their shelters until we know what response we’ll get.”

“Yes sir.”

“Oh and don’t let anything happen to Miss Price. Have her shown where the spare bunker is in my house.”

“Of course sir, anything else?”

“I’ll be back as soon as I can be.” Sherdan hung up and ran his fingers through his hair. He then encouraged his chauffeur to drive faster and to head straight to the safe house with the tunnel.

He drummed his fingers on the armrest while he waited. He needed to do something. Flipping open his laptop he connected it to the internet via his phone and requested more information with email. Within minutes he’d received a reply.

The army are still waiting. They’ve not said anything to the guards. I’ve had the security equipped with the larger guns from the armoury and they are manning each barrier to show we mean business. We are waiting on your return, Nathan.

Sherdan sighed and sat back. It appeared that the Prime minister did want to speak to him before taking any serious actions. It only made him feel a little better, however. He wanted to be back.

Half an hour from Bristol his phone rang again.

“Sir, we’ve found out that the police are checking every car coming into Bristol to try and find you.”

“Tell Scott to get the train ready.”

“Already done Sir. It’s the only way in, currently.”

Sherdan informed his driver to head to a small yard off the track in Saltford, a little village off the edge of Bristol. He smiled to himself. The police were always a few steps behind.

When the car pulled into the deserted yard there wasn’t any sign of the train yet. He got out of the car and let it head to Bristol without him. The train pulled up less than five minutes later. Sherdan hopped straight into the drivers cabin and shook hands with the driver.

“We are sorry for the delay to this train, there was a signal fault but we should be in Bristol Temple Meads in less than ten minutes,” Scott said to his passengers. He then handed Sherdan a uniform and a fake pass to look like an employee. Another car would pick him up outside the station and take him into his country.

He shook Scott’s hand again when they arrived and slipped him a cheque for two thousand pounds.

“Cash it quickly. If it doesn’t work let me know.”

Scott nodded and they went their separate ways. Sherdan moved with the people through the station in a similar manner to Anya over a month before.

His heart rate increased when he used his employee pass to get through the barriers, but only moments later he sank into the back seat of the new car. Nathan had the driver’s seat.

“Home as quick as you can without drawing attention to us.” Nathan nodded and drove through the quieter than normal streets of Bristol. Sherdan sighed as he walked into his house, less than twenty minutes later.

“What’s going on?” Anya demanded as soon as she saw him. He kissed her full on the lips, taking her by surprise, and then grabbed her hand.

“Come with me.” He led her down the tunnel to the command bunker in a very similar manner to the night before. He explained about the army along the way. She’d watched the news report so she already knew why they were there.

“Does this mean I’m a citizen as well?” she asked. He smiled.

“Not really, more of a refugee. We’re not officially recognised as a country yet either.”

“How long will it take?”

“It depends what the UK does and if the UN decides to recognise us as a country.”

Sherdan asked Anya to stay in his safe room again before entering the main command area.

Everyone was already at their stations and monitoring the perimeter and skies. Sherdan went up to Graham and got him to pass on any information that he didn’t already have.

The screens on the end wall all featured similar pictures. His guards patrolled every entrance into the country and the British army sat less than thirty metres away, stopping anyone coming in or out. They had guns and dogs, as well as armoured vehicles at the major exits.

The soldiers just sat and waited. They stopped anyone coming too close but other then that they simply made their presence known. Sherdan told the guards not to engage them in conversation and then focused on his residents.

The commander had done an announcement requesting them all to stay indoors, except in an emergency. He had also asked them to prepare their bomb shelters, just in case. As far as Sherdan was aware they had all obeyed.

Sherdan’s final order of business was returning the phone call from the prime minister. He’d left a number for Sherdan to phone back on.

He picked up the nearby headset and put in the numbers. There was an audible click after only a single ring.

“This is number ten downing street, who’s calling?”

“This is Dr Sherdan Harper. The Prime Minister called me almost two…”

“Wait just a moment doctor.” Sherdan was put on hold. He sighed as he waited. This conversation wasn’t going to be easy.

“Dr Harper. You made it back safely.” The PM, Mark Jones, broke the silence.

“Yes, I did. Despite some futile attempts to stop me.”

“I received your letter and watched your interview on TV. Very impressive. I must confess that I didn’t really believe the letter until I saw you on the news and had a report from the police.”

“I am always very serious when it involves the well being of my citizens.”

“I understand. It’s their well being I’m concerned for as well.”

“Did the police report you were given have much detail concerning the recent arrest attempt?” Sherdan asked.

“No, it was only meant to give me an overview.”

“I would highly recommend you make sure you have the full report of that before you make any decisions about me and the other people here.”

“Why don’t you tell me yourself?”

“I’m afraid that would take too long.”

“Well, I would like to request that you stop this fight for independence and allow me to consult with your residents on what they really wish for.”

“I won’t stop. If it helps ease your mind I can forward the document I have signed by every one of my citizens as I offered to do in my letter?”

“Forgive me if I don’t take your word for it. I have the British army surrounding the area you have blocked off. I again suggest that you stop this fight for independence and allow me to consult with your residents. I will request the army assist me if necessary.”

“Before you do I strongly suggest you dig deeper into what happened with the failed police raid. I’m very determined and force will not dissuade me.”

“Dr Harper, I’m warning you.”

“I can forward some of the camera footage if you wish? In fact, to prevent you risking the lives of all those troops, I think it best to do so. I have your personal email address.” Sherdan began tapping away at the computer in front of him.

“How on earth do you have that?”

“That’s not important. I’ve sent you some of our footage of the police raid. I’d also like to add that, as a country, I will consider it an act of war if you send troops into my land.”

There was silence for a while. The prime minister was obviously watching the video.

“Thank you for sending this over Dr Harper. I will continue this conversation with you tomorrow if that’s convenient?”

“Of course. It’s always convenient for me to help the world see Utopia as a new, valid country.” There was only a click in reply to this final statement. For now there would be a stalemate but Sherdan had the upper hand. The Prime Minister hadn’t even been properly informed. Knowing your enemy was one of the first rules of warfare and so far everyone kept underestimating Sherdan. They were making it easy on him.

There was an excited buzz in the command bunker after the phone call. They had only heard Sherdan’s side of the conversation but it had been enough for them to work out that Mr Jones hadn’t got what he wanted.

They all waited for another ten minutes, watching the perimeter cameras to see if the army did anything. They didn’t.

“Sherdan, we’ve just had a message from one of the conservative MPs,” Graham called across the room. “Mark Jones has called an emergency cabinet meeting.”

“Good, tell me the second they decide on something. Send the MP some money.” Sherdan tapped away on the computer some more, scrolling through a few more cameras. He didn’t think anything else would happen that evening and called for silence in the room before pressing the intercom button for every house in Utopia.

“Thank you for your patience in this trying time. We now feel that it is safe for you all to move as you wish again. We would recommend caution but I have spoken to Mark Jones concerning the presence of his army and for now he is assessing things. We’ll know more tomorrow. We do not expect to be attacked or raided at this time. Thank you again for your patience.”

There was applause from the room as he turned the intercom back off. He gave out a few last instructions on when and why to disturb him through the night and handed the reigns back to his security commander.

Hugo: A Review

At first I was a little puzzled by this film. I’d only vaguely heard it existed and knew absolutely nothing about it. The opening shot is amazing and made me think of the new Tin Tin film and I soon sat back to enjoy the mildly bizarre but awesome plot that followed.

And awesome it was. Maybe because I have a love for technology combined with creativity but I loved the automatons they had and the dialogue was wonderful.

I really can’t say a bad thing about this film. I thought the actors all did amazingly and it was brilliant to see Christopher Lee in a nice role and all of the side characters were perfect too. The plot was fairly linear but it didn’t seem to matter. The film was pure art and it didn’t need anything else at all.

I watched it with a big group of people and I think it helped set the atmosphere as we all laughed together and there is always something extra helpful about a room where everyone is finding it easy to laugh.

It’s definitely one I’ll be picking up for myself.

How to survive 6 years of marriage

Ok, so this isn’t really a serious how-to post today but it is my 6th wedding anniversary. Whoop!

I often wonder how on earth I managed to persuade a very clever, charming and, in my opinion, handsome man to ask me to marry him, let alone keep him for this long. (I also don’t feel old enough to have been married that long but that’s not today’s point).

Believe it or not, I’m like most creatives, emotionally unstable and seriously high maintenance. He puts up with a lot of that with a smile on his face and doesn’t seem to complain.

Of course things are never perfect, we argue and bicker occasionally and have had low points in our relationship. On top of that I’m sure we’re not totally sorted in how we relate to each other but we have more fun than sadness and we’re nice to each other more than angry. Here’s a few ways I think we’ve managed it.

Firstly, compromise. I know this is one you’ve probably all heard but after having been in a couple of relationships where at least one of us was totally selfish all the time I can say it works better to put the other first and compromise on the differences where both parties are passionate about it. Often it’s actually the little things too, like where to go to eat. Sometimes I really want something, other times I let my husband have the curry he wants even though I don’t (I’d hope you know you’re agreed on the big things like kids and where to live before you marry).

Secondly, respect. This was a huge one for me. I knew I needed a guy who I thought of as smarter than me or I wouldn’t respect him enough in his own right. I’ve got a pretty forcefull and argumentative personality at times and having someone who can reason well, and with sense, often stops me from doing things that are maybe a little dumb and also stops there being any chance of me squashing his personality with mine. He’s secure and I can respect him for being him.

Thirdly, focusing on the positive, not the negative. I actually think this is a principle that works in everything but generally I try to focus on the good aspects of my husband. There are things he does to annoy me, and they can be often, but he’s amazing in other ways. As I said before he puts up with all my many emotional reactions to things. He doesn’t get frustrated when I decide I want to watch the new season of x-factor, the voice, or BGT and then randomly decide I don’t part way through, because it makes me feel sad I can’t sing as well. He’s amazing at fixing my computer problems for me and while I’m in a very financially unstable career he’s happily paying all the bills and putting a roof over my head (me giving up my job was pretty much his idea, he said he’d rather have me happy and even now he says the same thing when I get insecure and think I should be in a ‘real’ job).

Fourthly, knowing love is not how I feel but how I act. This was something I worked out in my late teens, looking at all the marriages and divources in the family around me as well as the reasons people gave for not staying with other people. Loving someone isn’t about how you feel on any given day. There are always going to be days when you don’t feel like being lovely and nice to them and they eat your chocolate, or complain too much because you’ve eaten theirs. But 6 years ago today I made a vow, that whatever things were like, bad or good, sickness or health, rich or poor, whatever the weather, that I would stand by the man who took my hand that day.

Fifthly, spending time together regularly. What is, in my opinion, the most important thing to do. You can’t show someone you love them or keep going in the same life direction if you stop spending time together and let yourselves grow separately. We try to keep at least one night a week to sit down with each other and I can’t count the number of times one of us has said to the other, ‘let’s go do this so we can talk and I can get your opinion.’ We make sure there’s time to tell each other all those little thoughts we’ve had about things and see if we’re on the same page and if there’s going to be some bigger event in our lives we try to make sure we do it together so we can share the experience, especially if it’s going to grow us as people. Growing together is always better than growing apart and over the years people can change a lot. It’s a constant process of getting to know each other and sharing what’s going on inside and that requires time and effort.

Finally, recognising God needs to be in there. I don’t normally mention God here on my blog as I don’t like to be preachy but I really do put it down as being the biggest sole reason I still have a stable marriage. On both sides of my family, through a large number of generations, there are second and third mariages and people still in relationships they are unhappy with, yet somehow I’ve managed to last 6 years and I can still say I’m happily married. In fact more often than not I still look out my husband and feel that warm, fuzzy feeling of being in love, like I used to when we were first together. I put most of that down to the prayer, time spent learning what love is really like when done God’s way and the times we’ve seen God do wonderful things together, on our combined faith and journey.

Things haven’t always been sweetness, roses and puppy dogs in my relationship but for the most part it’s been amazing and even when it’s not been everything I want, it’s still been a lot better than I ever thought I’d manage.

Game of Thrones (book): A Review

I recently reviewed the first series which encompasses everything in the first book as well.

I really have to say that the book was better. There was a little less of the pointless sex and more of the back story and I understand the whole world a heck of a lot better. The gore was about the same but I could gloss over those parts fairly easily, much the same way I covered my eyes occasionally while watching the tv series.

Now normally you expect books to be better than the film adaptations but other than the sex and the easy to gloss over gore there wasn’t too many differences and I actually have a little more respect for the TV series thanks to reading the book. The book is great and the series isn’t far off it.

There were a few points where I got a little bored but I think that was only because I knew what was happening, thanks to watching and reading so close together. I even believe I did both at the same time at a few points, though usually different parts.

The only downside is the frankly ridiculous price of the ebooks. The first in the series is a not too bad price of £3.99 which for a 280,000 word book is acceptable and even the one after is only £1 more but some of the ebooks in the series are over £12 and for something that’s not made of paper and has no manufacturing costs so I still haven’t decided if I’ll be reading any more of them. There are so many good indie books out there these days for a fraction of the cost that I’m just not sure it’s worth it.

Book launch results

As many of you are probably aware, yesterday I celebrated the release of my new book Chains of Freedom.

I’ve posted about it recently but you can check out my book page by clicking on the cover on the right if you want to find out more about it.

The launch went better than I expected and I shot up the charts pretty quickly and stayed there for most of the day and part of the next. Here’s a screenie of my best position:

Considering that the historical fiction top 100 is actually very hard to get into due to the number of very popular historical fiction authors with a large number of books (I think there were 8 Bernard cornwell books in the top 100 and a similar number of Ken Follet ones) which doesn’t tend to leave much space for newer authors trying to work their way up.

I also managed to achieve two great 5 star reviews from readers as you can see in the screenie as well. I couldn’t really have asked for a better start to the books journey.

Now that the book launch is done the price has been raised to it’s normal price and it now sits at $2.99/£1.99 so hopefully sales will continue at a reasonable rate at what’s still a fairly cheap price but a bit less of an impulse purchase.

So thank you everyone who helped promote and bought the book so far.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 19

Travelling to the theatre impressed Anya. The police were still at every barrier so they had to be driven via Sherdan’s emergency tunnel. She’d been awed by the secret entrance set up and likened it to the bat cave.

She was also ecstatic over the tickets he’d acquired. They had the best box to themselves. Sherdan had never enjoyed spending money as much as this. It wasn’t entirely Anya’s reaction, some of the fun was taking time away from his work for a few hours and forgetting about it. He’d been busy almost every minute of every day ever since Hitchin had first told him the prophecy.

When the production finished Anya, turned to Sherdan with a very large grin on her face.

“Can we go get dinner?”

Not a single part of him could refuse. He nodded as she slipped her hand into his. When they had settled back into his car he asked the chauffeur to take them to Bath to the same sea food restaurant he often went to. When they arrived he ordered for her and treated her to lobster and champagne.

Over two hours later he requested the bill. He handed his card over to the waitress without thinking.

“Oh, Dr Harper? Dr Sherdan Harper? Aren’t you the one blocking off the land in Bristol?” the waitress exclaimed. Sherdan swore under his breath.

“Please keep your voice down, ma’am,” Anya asked, but it was too late. Other people had heard and were turning to look at him and his companion. He finished paying as fast as the waitress would allow, grabbed Anya’s arm and walked for the nearby car.

They had both just climbed inside when several police cars pulled up outside the restaurant. They watched as armed police poured out of the vehicles.

“That was close. I’m sorry.” Anya turned to Sherdan.

“It’s okay. I think we should go back now.”

She nodded her agreement as they were driven right past the police cars pulled up on one side of the road.

Sherdan didn’t feel easy until they were safely back in his house. It was already in the news online that he’d been seen with a woman in Bath. Thankfully there hadn’t been anything but a description of Anya. She’d be in a lot of danger if they had identified her.

They both agreed that, although it was a fun Sunday, they’d be better off not repeating it. Sherdan had Nathan keep an eye on the news to make sure nothing else was found out about Anya. Despite her objections he spent the rest of the evening working.

The next few days followed in a haze of work. Sherdan hardly saw Anya and completely forgot about Hitchin’s request for her to have more tests done. He also forgot about seeing the newest batch and figuring out their new talents. He had far too much work to do in preparation for the future.

Tuesday evening broke the monotony. The police had patrolled the perimeter for many days and in doing so had found a few particular spots where the emitters hadn’t quite closed off the area. They’d also figured out that it was only around the perimeter and of a set height.

Several helicopters flew over and air-dropped a raid squad right into the centre of the facility at the same time as two squads came in at both of the weak points they’d found.

Sherdan mobilised the entire security team in seconds. He’d expected something eventually and rushed over to the command bunker using his private tunnel. The entire area was advised to stay indoors and, within five minutes, only the security team and police were moving in the entire area.

With help from the many cameras, Graham soon had the police located and he fed the information to the guards. They split into four teams. Two headed towards each squad that had broken the perimeter and the other two teams came at the central raid squad from both sides.

By the time Sherdan was in the command room the first security group had informed the police to the south that they were trespassing. The police had all taken cover and pulled out their guns. The guards knew not to fire on the intruders unless absolutely necessary but they kept to cover and aimed their guns back anyway.

A few minutes later the guards reached the police on the north east edge of the site as well. The same thing happened. The guards informed the raid squad that they were trespassing and everyone took cover.

Sherdan authorised each guard team to sneak forward to gain the upper hand and disarm the police. This happened without any issues in the north east.

The guards snuck around until all the police had been cornered. The police soon put their guns down when they realised they were out manoeuvred and out manned. Sherdan sat down to wait. His men were well trained and the response to the inevitable police reactions had been a long time in planning.

He watched on the cameras as every gun, and all spare ammunition, was confiscated by his security. They then escorted the squad back the way they had come and placed another emitter to block the gap in the perimeter.

While this was happening the two teams in the middle, very near Sherdan’s house, were still trying to circle the largest police squad and the guards to the south were trying to disarm the police they’d backed into a corner.

There was one younger police officer to the south who, despite having three guns pointed at him, refused to stand down and put his own weapon on the floor. In his panic he fired.

The bullet left the gun as it normally would but it slowed dramatically once it reached three feet away from the man it was aimed at. It fell to the ground less than 6 inches from him. The officer shot a few more but the same thing happened.

After that the whole squad surrendered. If their bullets were useless they weren’t going to risk their lives any further, also as Sherdan expected. The squad was treated to the same routine as the first. Sherdan smiled; this was easy work so far.

Everyone in the command bunker then focused on the final squad and sent the two successful security teams to help the others. The police had moved in the direction of Sherdan’s house, in a very wary manner. Without the cameras the guards would have found them very difficult to track.

With everything running so smoothly, Sherdan felt no concern. He could sit back and watch needing only to add the odd few instructions in the ear of his commander.

With orders fed to them from the eyes in the command room the twenty strong team of guards soon formed a closed perimeter around the eight policemen, although the police were still unaware of any pursuit. The officers crept along the street towards the target house, using the cars and corners of the houses as cover.

Right behind the police came the security, following the example of how to sneak set before them, but doing it that little bit better. In front of both parties, more guards snuck closer; not as fast as the following guards but equally as confident. Their faces were grim but their movements sure.

For the first time Sherdan interjected. He ordered a few security guards to enter his house through the back garden and ensure the police didn’t get near Anya, nor see her there. He didn’t want anything to happen to her.

Sherdan briefly wondered if inviting the mayor into his home had been a bad idea but he put the thought from his head. Dwelling on past choices did no good. He would deal with whatever consequences as they arose.

He watched as the police came within a few hundred metres of his front lawn. The security guards following were another three hundred metres behind that and closing. The guards in front were now slower and they concentrated on staying out of sight and closing the gaps between them in their approach to the target house.

Everyone in the command bunker agreed that the best place to flank the squad was his front lawn as the police came up to the building itself. The home was set back from the road and the houses either side, so the guards could be out of sight for longer and appear from more directions at once.

“Anya, are you anywhere near a radio?” Sherdan asked into the nearby microphone. He was contemplating asking again, or sending a guard to find her, when the same frequency crackled into life.

“Sherdan, is that you?”

“Anya, you’re in danger.”

“What kind of danger?”

“There are men with firearms advancing on the house. I have extra security in the front of the building but there may be wild fire.”

“I’m in your study currently.”

“Move towards the front of the house but turn left instead of right and walk to the end of the hallway.”

“But it’s a dead end.”

“No it’s not.” Sherdan got up from his seat in the command room and went through to his rest room so he wasn’t overheard.

“Where do I go now Sherdan?” she asked, when there was a delay in instructions.

“You have a mirror in front of you?”

“At the end of the corridor?”

“Yes, that’s the one. On the the back, left hand side of the frame, there is a button, push it.”

“Okay, found it. What does that light mean?

“It’s an eye scanner, look into it. I added your retinal pattern a week ago.”

“Already done. Do I just follow this wherever it leads?”

“Yes, and please hurry.” Sherdan opened his end of the tunnel and took the steps down two at a time. He rushed along until he could see her up ahead. She had done as she was told and jogged along. She looked pale and was out of breath. He took her hand and walked back towards the compound with her.

“What’s happened?” she asked in between gasps for air.

“There is a raid squad. They have guns and have already shot at one of my guards.”

“What are they after?”

“Me.”

“Thank you for letting me know.”

“I know you could have disappeared had they reached you but I didn’t want to risk you getting hurt.”

She squeezed his hand and smiled. She still didn’t look happy. He’d worried her and it would take her a while to recover.

Even though she was already tired he marched her along to the compound, requesting an update as he did.

“They’ve not engaged yet,” the radio informed him. He didn’t let go of her until they were in his safe room at the command centre.

“Stay here please. This might not be pretty and you’ll be safe here.” She nodded and sat down in the nearby chair, still clutching the walkie-talkie in one hand.

Sherdan flicked his attention to the camera screens on the far wall as soon as he was back in the command room. The front man in the police squad was only a few feet away from the garden and the guards were all still undetected. No one spoke as everyone watched the monitors.

When the first officer reached the front door all the guards behind rushed forwards, their hand-guns aimed at the police squad. The security guards around the sides of the house followed quickly but the police panicked. Before the security inside could show themselves and completely surround the police they fired their weapons.

“Keep calm men,” Graham called into the microphone. They managed to keep their heads and didn’t return the fire. Instead they walked slowly towards the officers.

When their ammo had run out the police all stopped. Their mouths hung open and their gun hands dropped to their sides. No one was harmed.

The security kept advancing, telling the police to surrender and allow themselves to be escorted off the premises. The other two teams of guards soon joined them to assist.

At first, the police seemed happy to cooperate. All but two had their hands tied and were being moved off when one of the final two officers elbowed the nearest guard and followed it with a punch to the face. The police officer didn’t achieve anything else as he was tackled to the ground by another three guards. They were all marched off the enclosed site.

Sherdan didn’t leave the command room or inform the residents that everything was dealt with while the men were still on his land. He waited until they’d been shoved past a road barrier and the emitter blocking the path was reactivated. As with the other two squads, all their weaponry and ammo had been kept.

“That should send a good message. Well done security. You performed perfectly.” Sherdan handed the microphone back to the security commander and told him to finish everything off. He went back to Anya in the adjacent room.

She stood up as he entered, her face full of concern.

“It’s okay. One of our security may have a broken nose but considering that an hour ago twenty police were here with loaded guns I think it went very well.”

“Will they try again?”

“Possibly. Keep this radio with you in case and come here straight away if it does.” She nodded. They went back to the house the same way they’d both come. “Oh and please don’t mention this tunnel to anyone. Very few people know it exists, not even Hitchin does. Only you or I can use it.”

“My lips are sealed.”