Graham Downs


Graham Downs is a South African author of short stories, flash fiction, and novelettes, in a variety of genres. Memoirs of a Guardian Angel is his longest work to date.

He currently lives in Alberton, Gauteng, with his wife and their dog, Becky. He spends a good portion of his free time reading and, as with his writing, he reads books in a huge range of genres and lengths. He’s also passionate about South African authors—particularly independently published ones.

Graham's publishing journey began in 2012, with his first book, A Petition to Magic, which is a fantasy short story about a wizard who refuses to perform magic, and a queen who insists that he do just that. He freely admits that back then, just like John Snow, he knew nothing (now, he knows perhaps a trifle more than nothing).

Since those fateful first steps, he's never looked back, publishing five more books in almost as many genres, as well as getting a story included in the charity anthology, I Am Not Frazzle! (And Other Stories For Grown-ups).

His latest work, Memoirs of a Guardian Angel, was launched on 6 April 2018.

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Alberton, Guateng, in South Africa, in the 1980s and 1990s. The year I turned six, I went to Alberton Primary School, where my mom was a teacher, and I ended up in her Grade 1 class. From a very early age, she instilled in me a love of reading and speaking, and so by the end of my first year of schooling, I was reading a year ahead of other kids my age. Throughout Primary School I participated in various reading competitions, and graduated to public speaking and debating in High School. I believe that this helped to foster a strong and vivid imagination, and I've always yearned to tell the stories that were in my head because of it.
When did you first start writing?
When I was eleven, I think, I was very into game books, and my favourites were the Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever. I wrote a short game book on the family's first ever computer, about a secret agent. All I remember from it is a scene where the main character had to follow a trail of cigarette butts ("stompies", I called them in the story) to find someone. I would love to read it again, but unfortunately we never knew about backups back then, and the only place it now exists is in my hazy memory.

I was also a romantic at heart, and throughout High School I wrote letters. They were really bad, really soppy letters, to girls I liked, people I didn't like, my parents, and myself. I also used to blog on my little Bulletin Board System, before it was called blogging, and even wrote a couple of articles for a friend of mine's electronic Christian magazine, back in the day.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Graham Downs online


Kingdom of Virdura
Stories taking place in the fantasy world of the Kingdom of Virdura.
A Petition to Magic
Price: $1.79 USD.
Tales From Virdura
Price: $1.09 USD.


Memoirs of a Guardian Angel
Price: $4.59 USD. Words: 29,610. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: April 6, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Do you believe in Guardian Angels? Have you thanked your Guardian Angel today? I never did... now I wish I had. Now I understand the hard work and difficult situations they face every day. That car that veered off course, the knife that slipped or even the close call when you nearly tumbled from a tree. It wasn't good luck that saved you, it was me. My name is Adam and I'm a guardian angel.
Tales From Virdura
Series: Kingdom of Virdura. Price: $1.09 USD. Words: 9,350. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: June 1, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Anthologies » Flash fiction
Explore Virdura, a world full of fantasy, drama, and magic This collection of flash fiction stories will take you deeper into the world of A Petition to Magic, and the lives of the characters who inhabit it. You'll find out more about old characters and meet new ones. You'll read prequels and origin stories, and you'll read original stories taking place in new locales within the Kingdom
Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction
Price: $1.09 USD. Words: 5,680. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: April 9, 2015 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Anthologies » Flash fiction
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
Demons, witches, extra-sensory perception, possessed animals, and an ever-loving God. There is much that exists, or is claimed to exist, in the world today, that we are yet to understand.
Billy's Zombie
Price: Free! Words: 3,040. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: October 30, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
(4.00 from 1 review)
Every download of Billy's Zombie comes with a free book! Make sure you read it to the end for details. Young Billy MacIntyre has always been a weird kid, always taking every little slight to heart. One day, he decides that he's had enough of the relentless mocking and bullying at school and around town. He decides to exact his revenge on all those simpletons who have done him wrong. And he doe
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,210. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: June 16, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Social Issues, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Family
(3.50 from 2 reviews)
Thirteen year old James Clarke is always being picked on in school. He hates sports, and he particularly hates Stingers, a schoolyard game in which children throw tennis balls at each other. The other kids always seem to throw the ball harder, when it's at him. One day, James' mom phones the school to try and put a stop to the bullying, but it only gets worse.
Heritage of Deceit
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,460. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: December 1, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
While surfing the Internet at work, Lloyd believes he's found a relic from an old genocide. If he's right, the artefact would be worth a ton of money, and it will give lots of people closure when they find out what really happened to their families.
A Petition to Magic
Series: Kingdom of Virdura. Price: $1.79 USD. Words: 5,770. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: December 23, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
(4.00 from 8 reviews)
Queen Celeste rose to the throne of Virdura a month ago, after the sudden death of her mother. Desperate to prove herself, she agrees to hear the case of a simple farmer who claims a neighbour stole his cow. To help her in this task, she orders her chief advisor, the royal wizard Solon, to cast a spell and divine the truth for her. Solon, however, is keeping a terrible secret.

Graham Downs' tag cloud

abuse    bullying    childrens    christian    contemporary    crime    demons    fantasy    farmer    fear    flash fiction    friendship    heist    high school    horror    legal    magic    medieval    novelette    office    paranormal    preteen    queen    robbery    romance    school    short stories    telepathy    theft    thief    urban fantasy    urban fantasy angel    urban fantasy fiction    urban fantasy humour    urban fantasy male lead    wizard    workplace    ya    young adult    zombies   

Smashwords book reviews by Graham Downs

  • Ablaze on Aug. 23, 2012

    I just couldn't get into it, from the second sentence when I wondered who Tom was. I gave up. Sorry.
  • If These Walls Could Scream on Sep. 24, 2012

    Very well written, and very vivid. This is the story of a haunted house, once used for ritual sacrifice and serial killings. The story is told from the perspective of the house itself. It's very moving, and there's not a single dull or unimportant word. Short, at 2300 words, I would consider it more of a poem than a story, though, and I could just imagine it being read on a stage. Awesome!
  • Lunara: Seth and Chloe on Oct. 07, 2012

    I found this book through @FreeBookDude on Twitter. When I first read the title, I thought it would be some kind of deep space young adult romance, and I was about to discount it because of that. But I must confess, I judged a book by its cover, and it intrigued me. I like Sci-Fi, but I'd never read one written in my lifetime, and the description on Amazon looked interesting, so I picked it up. The world that Davenport has created is very well fleshed out and impressive, and the story he has imagined in this book is perfectly believable. Lunara is a mining colony on Earth's moon, under the auspices of a dual-government on man's new home, Mars - since Earth is no longer inhabitable. There's plenty of political intrigue in the story as Lunara is invaded and captured and the lead characters need to find out who is behind the invasion, and why. It's mostly the characters that let the book down, though. They're kind of bland and uninteresting, and there's not enough to differentiate them. For the most part, they all seem to speak in exactly the same way, and act in exactly the same way. They also seem to all be rather arrogant and easily embarrassed: they "smirk" often, in situations which hardly call for humour, much less arrogant, condescending humour. They're also frequently chagrined - I guess that's a common thing about over-arrogant people; they're easily humiliated. But they don't seem to take anything seriously, and often have time to have long dialogues when the story wants us to believe they could die at any moment. And then there are the characters' names: Seth and Chloe (obviously), Parker, Jan, Eammon. These are all characters I would expect to find in a typical American college soap-opera. I'm sure this was by design, of course, since I think the book is targeted at American young adults. Still, I found it difficult to take them seriously. And "Jan" was even worse! This is obviously not the author's fault (how would he know?), but where I come from, "Jan" is a man's name, and quite a common one at that! In the story, Jan is wife to Lunara's commander, Ty, and especially in the early stages of the book, I couldn't help but picturing her as a gay Afrikaner! ;-) The book also contains a noticeable amount of typo's, missing quotation marks, and grammatical errors. These get more numerous towards the end; it's almost as if the author found it difficult to contain his excitement at the prospect of finishing the book! It wasn't a bad read, though, and I enjoy the setting Davenport has created, so I'll be picking up the next instalment in the series to see if it gets any better.
  • Spiders & Demons on Dec. 28, 2012

    A story of a someone with a perpetual itch. He's stuck in his own hell, in the middle of a war between hundreds of spiders which crawl all over his body, and his own personal demon which lives in a tattoo on his back. While I can't agree with the author's interpretation of what's happening to him, I admire him for having the courage to write it down and share it with the world!
  • The Happy-Unhappy Bridegroom on Feb. 23, 2013

    A cute little story about a hen-pecked husband. The "ghost story" bit doesn't become apparent until quite late in the tale, and although its well written, the ending is a little abrupt and disappointing.
  • The Backward Approach to Ebook Success on April 13, 2013

    While reading this ebook, I had in the back of my mind the fact that I was going to give it a two-star rating. It contained some useful information, but nothing I didn't already know. I felt that the author had a bit of a chip on his shoulder while writing it, and I didn't understand the title. It got better! Basically, he is saying that you need to build your brand first, offer up some stuff for free, get people to know you, and then only consider publishing your first book for a fee. It's got some useful links to surveys and the terms and conditions of the various online ebook retailer sites, with explanations of how to interpret them. Ted Summerfield speaks candidly about his experiences with publishing and selling his ebooks, and building his brand. He sets expectations for aspiring authors looking to make their millions overnight, and offers a fine introduction into the world in which we're all still exploring. It's not a great read, but it's not terrible either. I have to say, I liked it!
  • The Court of the Spider Queen on April 21, 2013

    The Court of the Spider Queen is a sweet little adventure story. The humour is quite dry, and while it made me smile from time to time, it's not THAT funny. I did really enjoy the story, though, and I love the way the author vaults you straight into the action! I'll be looking out for the next instalment.
  • Secrets to a Great Author Biography on July 11, 2013

    This howto certainly jumps straight into it! There's no introduction to what you're about to learn, or why it's important. It's an information dump: "this is what you need to do." Period. There are very few non-obvious things to think about, but mostly it's a wall of text that culminates in an advertisement for Fireblade Publishing, and that advertisement is as long as the content leading up to it!
  • Dangerous Voices on Sep. 04, 2013

    This is a really entertaining little story about a man who is a "music mage" (makes magic with his song). He's been imprisoned for a really long time, and doesn't sing for fear of his guards killing him (a not unfounded fear). It took a couple pages to really get into the story, to figure out what was going on, but once that happened I became truly and deeply invested in his fate, and the fate of a companion that he acquires early on. The writing is awesome, and the ending is stunning. If you can spare thirty minutes or so to read it, do!
  • Five Rows Back: A Short Story on Nov. 21, 2013

    I really enjoyed this little story of a girl who suffers from (presumably) OCD. She is obsessed with, and consequently stalks, a man on a bus, and everything she does has to be in a number divisible by five. Why she's stalking the man is surprising, and the ending is very good. This is a well written book that really gave me pause and made me think.
  • Blood and Justice on Dec. 28, 2013

    A pretty good story about a Dexter (the serial killer)-type character who kills people who've committed crimes, and in his mind, deserve to die. In the beginning of the story, he inadvertently kidnaps a girl and doesn't know what to do with her. The police, with the help of a couple of private detectives, have to find the girl and solve the murders. We know exactly who did it pretty early on, although we find out the reasons why as the story progresses. The authorities are clueless, though, and it's fun to watch them try to catch up to what the reader already knows. There are a few inconsistencies in the narrative. In one chapter, a crucial character lives in apartment 2B. In another, the same character lives in 3B. In one chapter, the housekeeper is a Latino woman; in another, that same housekeeper is Asian. In the introduction to one of the chapters, the time is given as "PM", but from the first paragraph, it's clear that this is in the morning, and the author meant to say "AM". At a press conference, I couldn't make myself believe that a police detective, briefing a crowd of journalists, with his police chief listening in, would refer to the FBI as "the feds". And come to think of it, we hear that "the feds" have been brought in on the case, but we never see a fed after that, almost as though the author forgot that he'd said that. There are also missing quotation marks at times, which makes the reader wonder if a character said a particular thing out loud or just thought it, but in the next sentence, it's obvious he said it out loud. All these things are enough to yank me out of the story and put a significant dent in my suspension of disbelief. The story itself I enjoyed, however. I read the synopsis of the next one in the series. I think I might just pick it up and give it a read!
  • A World of Terror on Oct. 30, 2014

    For the most part, I enjoyed this book far better than A World of Possibility, the first book in the series of anthologies by ASMSG Authors. I found the stories to be generally well-written, the plots were good, and some of them were even quite funny. They were also all quite short, something I really like in a collection of stories. Some of the stories suffered from minor grammatical errors, inconsistent tenses, stuff like that, but not enough to detract from the stories themselves. My only serious complaint is, like the aforementioned book, the Table of Contents is non-existent. There's a beginning and a midpoint (which I know from experience is what Smashwords generates, when the formatters neglect to put a proper TOC in). This made it impossible for me to go back to individual stories that I liked, to find out who the author is, and also for me to judge how many pages/screens I had left in each story as I was reading, which is important for me when I'm planning my reading sessions. It's something that could've been put in very easily, but it's a glaring oversight that it's not there. And it really doesn't help the authors. I hope they fix it in a later edition (which are really easy to upload in today's world of e-books).
  • Matchmaker on Dec. 02, 2014

    This is quite an intriguing story, about a guy who works for a company that manufactures virtual people, for real people to fall in love with. I found the concept pretty good, and the direction that the author takes the story in, and the ending, quite surprising (although the ending was a bit abrupt, and left me wanting more). The problem with this book is that the back matter is longer than the story itself! It goes into great detail about the author, his publishing company, and his other books, which just felt like one long advert. This back-matter also had the same typo over and over again ("Get if free wherever good e-books are sold"), which tells me there was a lot of copying and pasting going on. I now know more about the author than I think I ever could have wanted, and although this particular story was good, I know enough about him to not want to read any of his other work (which is probably a good thing, as you really don't want readers who don't "fit" well with your own tastes).
  • Promoting Your Book on Facebook & Twitter Second Edition on Sep. 28, 2015

    For the first couple of pages, I was pretty "meh" about this book. The basics consist of things that most of us already know, and are implementing. I was ready to give the book two stars ("it was okay" on Goodreads). But THEN, my friends, THEN, the author committed the cardinal sin, by suggesting that the reader use *gasp* Roundteam. This is my biggest bugbear on Twitter - I have a few, but this truly is my biggest. Roundteam is a tool that lets you automatically retweet the tweets of people on your "team" (or pretty much whoever you set up). I do not, EVER, post anything I have not personally, manually, read and deemed appropriate for my followers. I do not, EVER, follow anyone who uses Roundteam, and if I catch someone using Roundteam, I unfollow them immediately because they're obviously not actually reading the content they post - so why should they expect me to? I'm not alone in my absolute, complete LOATHING of Roundteam, but another of this book's suggestions IS a popular one. It is one that I disagree with, though. Basically, it is that you should unfollow anyone who doesn't follow you back. To me, that's Facebook-thinking. And it's perfectly fine for Facebook, where you're expected to make "Friends" with people. But to me, Twitter is not like that. I follow plenty of people who don't follow me back, and I'm followed by plenty more people whom I don't follow back. On Twitter, there is no shame in this. If I follow you, it's because you posted something that I found interesting or entertaining. That's not to say that you'll find ME interesting or entertaining in return, and I don't expect you to. If you start posting things that I no longer find interesting or entertaining, and it becomes apparent that one of our interests has changed so that I don't enjoy your tweets anymore, I'll unfollow you. This book has one thing going for it - it does specifically dissuade people from using TrueTwit validation (another veritable virus app that Twitter should ban outright, just right Roundteam). Then the book goes and mentions TweetDeck, right at the end. Just one paragraph, mind - saying that it's interesting to see your Twitter stream rolling past in real time, but it's not very useful. Not very useful? I, and millions of other tweeps would disagree - it's arguably THE most non-negotiable, essential tool out there, for a social media manager. And look, it seems like I'm the very first person to rate this book on Goodreads (okay, there are two reviews ahead of mine on Smashwords). I don't know how many times the book has been downloaded, but his foolproof strategy isn't helping to get reviews, now is it?
  • Foothold: Where We Go From Here on Nov. 20, 2015

    It took me a while to get into this book. It starts slowly, and is at times quite confusing. In fact, I was quite a few chapters in before I realised the story was set in the future, and although I do remember it saying, I couldn't tell you what year it was set in. I'm still not entirely sure what caused the main event of the book. Let's just say that something happened, some kind of experiment went wrong, I think, and now the world is about to get sucked into a black hole. The protagonist and his friends find a way out, though. I'm not entirely sure how that came about either, but never mind, because I will admit that it started getting interesting from that point. I was a bit frustrated, though, because the version of the e-book that I was reading suffered some formatting issues. First, there was no linked table of contents, which I think is pretty much essential in an e-book, because it's not easy to quickly page forward and see how long you have to go in the current chapter, like you can with a print book. Then, every once in a while (about once per chapter or so), a screen would end in mid sentence, and the next screen would be starting a new paragraph. I don't know why this is, but I doubt it's my e-reader, because I haven't seen this problem before. Thankfully, I was able to deduce from the context (most of the time) what I must've missed. The ending was okay. There was some deux ex machina, but it wasn't as clichéd as I was expecting. The book in general could have done with some proof-reading and basic editing, though. Incorrectly used words, typos, and punctuation issues are fairly commonplace. Not a bad story, all-in-all. I just wish it were packaged better.
  • A Chip off the Old Block on Jan. 04, 2016

    A weird story about a man from the city who goes to the country to sort out his late grandfather's affairs. Once there, he stumbles upon some paranormal happenings. This is a comedy, and true to Darren Worrow's style, it's pretty funny. I've read a few of this author's books, and I have to say that his writing takes a bit of getting used to - he breaks a few rules, but at least he's consistent about it. My only concern is the dialogue. When the residents of the village speak, it's always written in thick dialect, meant to identify them as being a part of a certain region. Not being from that region, myself, it was sometimes difficult to follow what those people were saying. I understand what Mr Worrow was going for, and I think it works... but perhaps it would've been better to write those speeches in "regular" English, and just throw in the occasional word (Like "ewe") to remind us. Just a thought. Anyway, it's a decent book, and it made me smile. It's definitely for adults, though.
  • White Space Van Man The Prequel: Total Fickle on Jan. 22, 2016

    I'd been hearing lots about this White Space Van Man series over the past few years, but I'd never actually read any of it. I didn't even know what a white van man WAS until a few weeks ago when I looked it up on Wikipedia. Although I knew that the series was already pretty far along, I was hesitant, because I wasn't sure if I'd like it. But when I saw that the author had put up a prequel for free download, I thought "why not?" What better way to get into a series than by reading the prequel, right? I really liked this one. It's neither deep nor serious, which is a good thing because I've just come off a long, epic read, and I wanted something light. It's quick to read too, and full of humour. In fact, you might even say that it's laugh-a-minute. It's full of dry, British humour, sort of in the vein of Terry Pratchett, except that it's set in deep space in the distant future, and there's more swearing. Darren Worrow's work is really starting to grow on me. He has an interesting style of writing, that's quite unique, but I don't think I've read a recent offering from the man that hasn't made me smile. He's definitely got more than a little comic talent!
  • Mold on May 30, 2016

    I really enjoyed this little story. Not so much scary as creepy, it's very psychological. The writing is brilliant, and the pacing is just right. It definitely made me think... and I liked the open ending, too!
  • Science Fiction Shorts on Aug. 31, 2016

    Meh. This is ostensibly (according to the introduction by the author) a collection of science fiction short stories. Really, though, most of them are more flash-fiction in length. While most of them have to do with genetics in some way, there are also some stories which are of a completely different genre. It's a real hodge-podge. I didn't LOVE any of the stories, but some I liked more than others. My favourite was a detective story about someone poisoning the water, which I was enjoying until it abruptly ended with no denouement whatsoever. I was quite disappointed at that. There was one point in that story where I had to chuckle, though. Our hero's name is Dick. So far, so good, until he meets up with his old friends Tom and Harry. I mean, really? I didn't chuckle in a good way - it was clearly not intended to be humorous since it was the only funny moment in that story. Other stories have characters whose names I thought were equally unimaginative. Editing needs some work too, with typos and incorrectly used words all over the place. And then, of course, there's my biggest bugbear in an e-book: the Smashwords Edition I read had no linked Table of Contents. That's annoying at the best of times, but in a collection of stories? Unforgivable.
  • Slaybells (novella) on Oct. 23, 2016

    It wasn't bad. Not bad at all. At first, it seemed a bit clichéd. A cop's on the trail of a serial killer, and the profile of the victims seems to match the cop's daughter. When it becomes apparent that his daughter herself may be in danger, he goes off the rails and will stop at nothing to catch the killer. The story got better the further I read, and there's a really good twist at the end. But it isn't really anything special; there are a few things left unexplained, and the writing struck me as a little amateurish. Too many similes, for one - I know it's one of the first things they teach you, but when you find arbitrary comparisons (okay, some of them were good, but a lot of them didn't even make sense), it gets a bit much. Like the author's trying too hard, or something. An enjoyable story, but nothing special, like I said.
  • Fearless on Nov. 03, 2016

    I don't read a lot of YA fiction, as a rule - and I read even less romance. But I saw this book free here on Smashwords, and the description intrigued me, so I picked it up. It was actually quite an enjoyable story. Seventeen-year-old Tasmyn can read minds, and that makes it difficult for her to make any friends because she's always trying her damnedest not to accidentally hear random thoughts all the time. It's very stressful, and the constant effort means she tends to come off as reclusive to everyone around her. One day, she overhears someone thinking about a blood sacrifice, and then the plot begins. Who thought that? Who (or what) will be sacrificed? When and how will it happen? It kept me interested, entertained, and on the edge of my seat. The romance angle seems to fit the plot quite well. An older boy professes his undying love to her, and convinces her that, because of an interesting trait in HIS family's history, he knows they are destined to be together. Eventually, she comes to believe him, and the two end up fighting the evil witches together. So far so good, but there were a couple of things that I didn't like. First of all, the main plot of the story is pretty much wrapped up by around chapter forty or so (there are fifty-one chapters in total). I actually felt the book could've ended there... but THEN the real "romance" starts. And it's sickly sweet, and mushy, childish, and all the things I don't like about romance. I was actually toying with giving this book only three stars at that point, but I decided that I knew full well what I was getting myself into when I decided to read this book, and it's not the author's fault I don't like romance! The second thing I didn't really like is that at various points throughout the book, Tasmyn finds herself having to reveal her secret mind-reading abilities to certain people. So far so good, but in all those cases, the people she reveals herself to don't offer very much resistance to the idea. Some of them may act like they don't believe her at first, but within a couple of paragraphs they're all in, and they trust Tasmyn completely. It's not very believable to me - if you've never met a mind-reader before, and don't really believe they exist, it'd take more than a couple of paragraphs to convince you that you were talking to one. Finally, I felt there was one small plot point that wasn't truly resolved. Maybe it will be in the sequel, but I doubt it because the next one seems to be a completely different story. Will I be reading the next one? Probably not. There's a sample chapter of the sequel at the end of this book, and upon reading it, it looks like it jumps straight into the over-the-top, can't-live-without-you romance that the first book left off on. It makes sense, because now all the build-up has been done, and we know the two are together. The thing is, the build-up was what I liked BEST about this book.
  • The Stainless Steel Coffin on Jan. 24, 2017

    Although I'm not really sure how to categorise this story, I actually really enjoyed it! This doctor contracts a metal-working shop, to ask them to make a stainless steel coffin for his late mother's corpse. He has some pretty specific (and totally outrageous) requirements, in terms of things like exact dimensions, inlet valves, and so on. The story is all about the staff at the shop trying to accommodate him while trying to stay in budget. The technical descriptions of how they go about doing this are pretty accurate, and I thankfully understood most of them because my dad did a lot of welding and other metal work when I was a child. Honestly, I almost gave this book five stars, but I found some formatting errors in it. Oops!
  • Stumbling on the Downbeat on Feb. 02, 2017

    This isn't the kind of book I would normally read. Not to stereotype, but it probably isn't the kind of book that you'd expect most men to read. But the description intrigued me, and besides, I've been known to enjoy a good Drama at the movies from time to time. So I decided to pick it up. Overall, I rather enjoyed it. It's a bit of a "coming of age" type story - in terms of emotional maturity, not physical maturity - about a fifteen-year-old girl who joins a drum corps and goes on tour. I should tell you that I seldom read the free samples of books before I buy them. I look at the cover, the description, the ranking, and sometimes skim a couple of reviews, and that's how I make my decision. In this case, it's a good thing I don't read free samples. If I did, I'd probably never have bought this book. It starts off quite slowly, and it's a bit confusing at first trying to work out who's who. The chapters are fairly long (there are only eleven of them), and to its credit, each one ends with some earth-shattering revelation that makes me want to read more. The problem is that in between these revelations, it's all rather pedestrian, rather "ho-hum" if you will, and not a lot happens. I'll admit to "zoning out" quite a lot while I was reading. I didn't miss much when that happened, though, and had no desire to go back and re-read what I missed. I found the description of drum corps life very interesting. When I was in school, we had "Drum Majorettes" - and some schools had "Drum Majors" - so I could kind of relate to that. Only, I couldn't get used to girls being described as "Drum Majors". Maybe I'm old-school, but I still quite like the old gender specific nouns (master/mistress, actor/actress, singer/songstress, waiter/waitress [that's a big one: I HATE the word "server"], etc). On the flip side, in South Africa, there is absolutely no stereotype to male cheerleaders at school. In fact, I might possibly be tempted to say that MOST school cheerleaders are males! Anyway, tangent over, I really rooted for our heroine (oops, there's another one) Emma, and I think she grew and learned a lot during the course of the book. I loved the ending, too! In terms of the writing/editing, it was good, but there's one thing that kept distracting me and ripping me out of the story: please, please, PLEASE, "alright" is not a word! ("Awhile" is, but not in the way the author used it.)
  • Igloos in the Summer on Feb. 12, 2017

    First impression? The author is very brave. This story just has that deeply authentic feel to it: I'm sure there's more than an element of truth in here! It's billed as a romance, but it's properly a modern day tragedy, in the vein of some of Shakespeare's greatest works. The story follows our hero, Rupert. Nothing ever seems to go right for poor Rupert. He loses his best friend, everybody around him keeps dying, and he struggles with self-harm. Okay, I made that sound quite comedic... although there's some humour in this book, it's not really meant to be a funny story at all. It's meant to be a gut-wrenching, depressing journey, and it certainly succeeds in that. Even me, a big strong man, felt tears welling up in my eyes more than once. It's written in a very (VERY) contemporary British style, and there's lots of slang that I had to read a few times to figure out. That in itself is not a problem - it's actually quite charming, but overall the writing's in serious need of some copy-editing. There are lots of incorrectly used words, missing words, duplicate words, and punctuation problems. I'm not sure I'd recommend this book, as such, because it IS so depressing and out of the ordinary for modern readers, but it will definitely touch you deeply. If you've been looking for something different, and love Shakespeare's tragedies, give it a go.
  • An African Soccer Story on June 27, 2017

    This was a pretty good book. It was nice to read something I'm familiar with, and the descriptions made me feel like I was right there with our hero from the township. There are a few formatting issues with the e-book I read, but not too serious. Otherwise, the writing was very good. My issues are two-fold. First, it isn't really a "Soccer Story"; it's the internal dialogue and reminiscences of a young boy who's been chosen to join the soccer academy in the big city. But he never really gets there, which is my second issue. It ends abruptly, and not in a good way. It feels unfinished, more of a preview than a complete story, really.
  • Helens-of-Troy on Aug. 11, 2017

    You know, I really wanted to love this book. It was billed as "The Gilmore Girls meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer", so I had high hopes. I started noticing minor editing issues, missing quotation marks, apostrophes used to pluralise words, that sort of thing. This was still early, though (maybe 10% in), and they weren't too bad. The story was compelling enough for me to ignore them. "Maybe it's worth three stars, at least," I thought. Plus, I was really feeling The Gilmore Girls vibe at that point, and I LOVE The Gilmore girls. But the editing got worse. Not only the punctuation problems, I saw lots of redundancy, people "Thinking to themselves" or "Shrugging their shoulders". No. Unless you're writing about telepaths, thinking to yourself is redundant. Okay, so there are some instances of telepathy in this book, but none of them had anything to do with it - it's not like anybody was thinking to themselves as opposed to thinking to others or anything. There's lots of head-hopping too. In the same scene, sometimes in the same paragraph. To the point where at the top of the screen on my e-reader, I'm seeing the thoughts and feelings of one character, and by the time I get to the end of the screen, I'm in a completely different one's head. It actually got confusing at times. The thing is, the story got worse as well... or maybe it was just my enjoyment of it being affected by all those others issues. Either way, by the time I finished the book, it was all seeming just a little silly. Great potential, but poor editing grossly let this book down.
  • Man Alive on May 28, 2018

    This was a cool concept, for a novelette, and it kept me entertained, although it got a little silly and needlessly (almost comedically) gruesome towards the end. The final ending felt like a cop-out to me, though; the story could have easily been a couple hundred words longer. The editing also needs work, especially in terms of switching tenses in the middle of a sentence. That was a little disjarring.