I love books. I have had a relationship with books for as long as I can remember. I love turning pages, holding a book in my arms, er, hands, and smelling the unique scent of that particular book. I love old books and new stories. So as a writer I am a reader first.
I began reading (my mother's James Hadley Chase novels) before I was six, and have never stopped. I usually read five or six books a week, unless they are huge: eg "Lord of the Rings" in one volume, or "Winter's Tale" (Mark Helprin).
I used manual typewriters for years. My favourite was an Olivetti Lettera 32 portable which I inherited from my mother, and which was my mainstay for about 20 years, after she had used it for a similar period. Yes, they are rather more durable than computers!
I am an unabashed romantic. I buy flowers for my wife whenever the notion takes me, and I write her a poem at least once a year. I adore soppy romantic scenes in movies (as in the willow pool in "The Little Mermaid" and the balloon launch in "Tangled"). You may notice that I also love most animated movies!
I have sailed, as a radio officer on cargo ships, the Atlantic from Cape Town to North America, and the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Australia and Asia. I remember cyclone Gabrielle, ca. 1982, where we came so close to capsizing near Mauritius that I found myself almost hanging from a hatchway, looking down through a porthole toward the surface of the sea.
My favourite genre is SF and Fantasy, although I also read a lot of crime thrillers and may try my hand at a murder mystery one day. However, I will read practically anything. I am least fond of Horror and supernatural books of that ilk.
Less interesting information:
I am South African, born in Cape Town in 1958. I am married (1991, and still married, to Chantelle). We have four cats, which we inherited from the bush next door.
I prefer my books to be freely available to readers, so I follow a liberal policy on distribution.
A Rock of Offense
on April 22, 2014
I really enjoyed this, although feeling that the story was perhaps *too* short. A very good concept, well executed. Well written. Will be looking for more from this author.
on April 22, 2014
Brilliant! The writing style brings to mind Michael Coney, or perhaps John Crowley. This fragment of a strange world hints at the answers to so many questions the reader wants satisfied, and Joha's situation engages the reader's sympathy. Very, very moreish.
on April 22, 2014
This is great. Contemporary fantasy horror thriller, maybe not what you would expect from the cover. But a really, really good short story. Highly recommended.
on April 23, 2014
This is a great little story with, in my interpretation, a real twist in the tail (pardon the pun!), although I think Meranda has deliberately written the ending in a slightly ambiguous way. I was captivated by the story and the characters, particularly the protagonist. Very highly recommended.
on May 09, 2014
Freaking brilliant. What a great concept, and what a great first person view from the young mind in the cockpit. But *where* is the rest of the book that (I think) this needs to become? Will Pierce write it? If so, when? How long will I have to wait? How long? You can probably tell I really, *really* liked this little fragment of a story.
on May 25, 2014
Oh MAN! What a great story! And no, I don't personally know the author. I downloaded this because it was free and it looked interesting. There are occasional little mistakes with English, such as interest that is "peaked" as opposed to "piqued", but these are drowned in the wonderful story-telling, riveting concept and masterful pacing of this must-read book. Clearly inspired by the story of Faust, this is nonetheless an original creation which I venture to suggest is superior to both Goethe's and Marlowe's work. Whether orthodox Christian theologians would find Neeley's premise tenable I doubt - but then, I don't care: the story is just too good. Do not miss this book!
on May 26, 2014
A highly original and entertaining fantasy but one which is handicapped by poor English. The author has done very well in creating a completely original world which is coherent and believable, and the two different tribes or nations which inhabit it. The book has a complex plot which is extremely well managed, and the pace and tension are very good. The story is dramatic and gripping, and character development is also quite good. For me the big problem is the English: wrong and sometimes bizarre word choices appear far too often. Rightly or wrongly, I formed the impression that the text had been run through a spell checker and then published without any editing of the spell checker's choices. However, I think it worth the read for the original and dramatic story.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for an honest, objective and non-reciprocal review.
Wrath, Prequel to Tredan's Bane
on June 07, 2014
Clearly, this is only a prequel: the story is extremely abbreviated. However, the implied story is so much present between the lines, and so intriguing, that I decided to make it five stars from my rating of 4.5. Burke writes outstandingly well. This introduction to Tredan's Bane contains one of the finest magical combat scenes I have read in some forty years of reading fantasy. Having read the prequel I am left with the impression that Lita Burke has worked out this fantasy world in depth; that she tells a story very well indeed; and that I really want to read the full story!
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book for a honest and objective, non-reciprocal review.
Ephraim's Curious Device
on June 25, 2014
This story abounds in inventive and amusing details, and unfolds cleverly. In Lita Burke's magical world *everything* works by magic, and even a wizard's careless imprecations come to life. Sir Bright and Kadmeion must solve a curious riddle, and the mystery behind the riddle, and experience adventures and incidents so stacked one upon the next that the only possible way the structure can hold together is, yes, by magic! The ending finds an unexpected but satisfying resolution, and while it satisfies I felt that it could have been just a bit less hurried. Nevertheless, this is a wonderfully told story, with engaging and unusual characterization, in an extraordinary world.
on Aug. 03, 2014
This is a really excellent tale for children with some room for adult appreciation too. Rolo's character is especially well drawn, and the story winds its very entertaining way to a most satisfying conclusion. There are solid values, but the author never allows the characters to preach at the reader. This delightful short story has been written with care and great skill. Get this story now, and let the whole family enjoy it!
Note: I received a free review copy for an honest and objective review.
The Reaper's Opus
on Nov. 19, 2014
Some time ago, several decades or perhaps a century or so, miniatures of nature were very popular as decorative pieces. Under a glass window of perhaps two or three inches across, one might see a dormouse or a hedgehog in what appeared to be its usual habitat, all artfully constructed out of natural materials. To own one of these was to possess a treasure, a little world that one could slip into a pocket. So it is with The Reaper's Opus. It is tiny - but it is a treasure, containing artfully constructed little worlds. I loved Autumn Leaves best, but there are four excellent little gems to choose from. You should not miss this.
on Dec. 07, 2014
Pocket-sized Yarns is a professionally edited and produced collection of twenty micro-stories, each 540 words or less.
Okay, I contributed. This is not about me. This is about a group of indie writers who decided to show what the best of indie can be. And they have. This is a must-read anthology for every aspiring indie writer, and everyone who has ever thought of writing off indie authors as not worth their time. And it is for everyone who dreamed about becoming a writer.
P.S. When you read it, try and pick your favourite story. Go on, try. All right, if you can't settle on just one, then pick your top five favourites. And good luck with that!
With Fingers Gray and Cold
on April 13, 2016
Hey, my first-ever one-word review, and it says it all!
The Wind Maiden
on April 17, 2016
Seriously nice original creation, good characters with a few excellent ones, good pace and very good tension which holds for the whole length of the story. Good plot with extra depth, and with just enough fuzz around the edges of the story to keep the reader wondering. Two alien races and one group of downtrodden nominal humans, and a nicely plausible unfolding of events with lots of action throughout the last two-thirds of the book - up from the first third, which 'only' has an ordinary amount of action! Excellent realization of the title Wind Maiden.
A fair number of editing flaws and misused or misspelled words costs one star. Still worth reading!
Descent into Mayhem
on May 05, 2016
Bruno Goncalves is, simply put, a find. Comparisons to Heinlein's Starship Troopers are justified. The only thing is, Goncalves may actually be better - once the little editing issues are sorted out.
Toni Miura is a farm boy who gets tired of his family telling him how to live, and making decisions about his future. So he joins the army. If you've ever been in the army, I won't need to tell you to chuckle at this point.
Toni is a great protagonist - gifted, but also flawed. He has good instincts and good aptitude, but he's not prescient and he makes mistakes. His squad mates are sketched more sparingly, but still well drawn, with the possible exception of Ian Templeton whose motives are unexplained, at least in this first book.
Partially genetically adapted human colonists on the super-earth planet Capicua have had no contact with Earth or anyone else for centuries. Now an armed expeditionary force arrives to reclaim Earth's 'territory'. The shocked colonists fight back. Toni and the other recruits picked a bad time to join the army. They're not even half-trained when Bad Things begin to happen, but they have to do the best they can with what they've got.
Goncalves is a tough writer. Characters get hurt, and they get killed. Just as in war, there are no favourites and no one has a charmed life. The reader really does not know who will die next, or how.
The book starts with a prologue describing combat action which takes place twenty years earlier. I suspect the importance of this will become clearer in Goncalves' sequel (see the Interview below!).
Capicua's boot training, and selection of Suit driver candidates, is outstanding. It reflects the standard military method, but it is expertly applied in the SF setting of Capicua. After two hundred years of peace, the armed forces are not exactly in a high state of readiness to repel invaders; nevertheless the actions of the invaders push the Capicuans into armed conflict.
The invaders from the Earth Federation are also very well drawn: real characters, with different cultural values and customs from the Capicuans. One feels a connection with the invaders as well as with the hard-pressed defenders. This is particularly so in the case of Kaiser, but also with the ruthless Lippard.
What is truly impressive is the hard SF nature of this book. Goncalves has taken the trouble, and done the research, to create an unusually real-world feel in his creation.
Fans of hard military Science Fiction, salute your new commander!
on Sep. 16, 2016
This is a good old-fashioned fantasy dungeon crawl with lots of great monsters, a good dash of mystery, and crackling chemistry between the lady Warden and the Templar knight, who do all they can to keep from falling into one another's arms. In the Deep roads, however, humans are stressed beyond what they were ever meant to bear. Very, very nice world creation, and a part one to the tale that left me eager for more, but still managed to wrap up enough at the end that I did not feel cheated. Solid first volume, I'll be looking into the others!
on March 04, 2017
Clever and well written, this novella offers good characters, fantastic scenes, some comedic moments and an understated sweet romance between the android girl and her young man. The plot is excellent, the pace medium-fast, and the setting has touches of magic realism, or perhaps H.P. Lovecraft. There is a dark harmonic, but the notes this story hits most are suspense and hope. The story also has biblical elements to it, but these are instruments rather than motivations; i.e. the author makes use of scripture, but is not driven by religion. Very strongly recommended for readers who like something a little different.
Alaskan Sailing Adventure
on March 05, 2017
DNF. Writing with two wooden legs.
To be fair, I read only two pages. You might like this better, and at least it's free.
Never Say Spy
on Sep. 22, 2018
Wonderfully warped humour, great tension, delightful lead character in Aydan Kelly. Free intro to pay series, well worth reading for itself. Not all questions are answered, but this can be a (very) good thing!
Triggers: Violence, torture, sexual assault. (Relevant to the story and not overdone).