All Author Blog Blitz!


Today is the blog blitz, organised by author Y. Correa, mod of the Indie Author Support Group on Goodreads – you can find out more about the group and Y here. For our piece on the blitz we’re featuring young adult writer Stacey T. Hunt as our guest! Tony is a guesting at this blog, whilst Mel is appearing at author Stephanie Hurt’s blog.

Stacey Hunt Stacey T. Hunt is a life-long Canadian whose love of sci-fi and fantasy, videogames, reading, and techno music played heavily on her writing of the smash hit young adult books: The Cascade Adventures Saga.

The ProphecyThe Prophecy
In this thrilling new adventure, a deadly group of terrorists known as The Predatorials rise under the command of their leader, Zorgoth, who has a deadly goal and an enigmatic apprentice by the name of Zorren whom he is enrolling in King Casimir’s School, of which students who attend have a chance to become the next ruler of Planet Cascade. The world hangs in the balance as a torn Cascada must choose who to save — her best friend, Meldon, from falling into the darkness and joining the shadowy divison of the Predatorials, or Zorren, after he won her heart. He’s the mysterious new guy with a dark power and devious ties to Zorgoth.

Just Finished…Underneath by Michael Cargill

To accompany Thursday’s interview with author Michael Cargill, here’s our review of his fantastic new novel Underneath. If you’d like to get your hands on a free copy, simply pop a comment on this post or Thursday’s interview and we’ll select up to ten lucky people to  get Smashwords download codes for your preferred e-book format.



Look at the person sitting just across from you. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a loved one, a friend, or a complete stranger.
Now look at their face. Are they happy? Are they sad? Or are they angry? Can you even tell?
How well do you actually know the people closest to you?
Have you ever seen the real person that lies just underneath what you see…?


Sounds creepy? Well, it should because the main character we follow throughout the book – Hugh – is a scary chap!

Underneath is a relatively short book – more a novella I’d say at circa 50k words – and flits between two worlds: Hugh-land and Copsville. Hugh’s world is an interesting one, as you see a lot of his life from his own confused and skewed perspective: one minute he’s happily shopping and buying garlic, the next he’s freaking out at the automated till and then forgotten where he is or why he’s there. His psycholigical switches and memory lapses quickly show the reader that Hugh is not firing on all cylinders, but as the story progresses, very scarily he also seems to be very aware of his own flaws and a-human responses (particularly in his relationship with a certain young lady).

Very early in the book I started to get an American Psycho feel, with a nice British twist – and it certainly gave you this as things developed. One of my favourite things about Michael’s writing is his ability to ‘be real’ – he gets right into the heads of his characters, making their responses and thoughts very realistic – from the mundane to the outright terrifying, he seems to be able to ‘get people’ when he writes about them.

This style continues in the sections of the book revolving around Claire and Robert – ‘Copsville’ for me. The introduction of these other characters is nicely done in a ‘sliding doors’ type moment and there are several more of these tying the plot together as the story progresses. I think Robert is my favourite character in the book: he is the bacon sandwich king! Again he and Claire are very ‘real’ and I believed in their personal motivations, thoughts and actions as they are presented in the story. The banter and interplay between them feels genuine and – even on mundane subjects – the dialogue works well, all centred in the work-world they inhabit.

Overall Thoughts: 4* I really like Michael’s writing style; it’s clear, concise, often funny and I enjoy the realisim of his characters. As an extended piece – I’ve previously read his short stories – it works well and follows similar themes and ideas to his previous work. I enjoyed Underneath and it works as a thriller, but have to say I think I prefer something with a slightly more supernatural twist, like Borger the Bunny when Michael’s writing. (See my review for Shades of Grey, also my Michael Cargill here). Definitely recommend for a fast-paced, character-driven read with quirky British bits to smile at 🙂


This review was originally posted at Mel Cusick-Jones’ author blog on 18th June 2012.

Just Finished…Shades of Grey by Michael Cargill

To accompany today’s feature on author Michael Cargill, here’s our review of his fantastic short story collection Shades of Grey – make sure you’re entered in the massive event giveaway for your chance to win this and over thirty other books by our featured authors!


I’ve not read a short story collection for a long while so, as it turns out Shades of Grey, was a perfect choice – because it is fantastic!

I read quite a lot and I have to say that it has been a long time since I found myself so ‘transported’ by a book – to the point that the descriptions and world built in the story feel so alive and real that I feel I could turn my head and actually see what the character is looking at – but that was a regular sensation when I was reading this.

So…what about the stories themselves?

Shades of Grey – Thrust into the tortured mind of an intelligence officer undergoing interrogation the story propels you through this flawed character’s disturbing life and memories in a interesting stream of consciousness style. I liked the erratic jumps through time, which felt right for the character and situation he’s in. The frequent f*%$ language also fitted with the situation. It’s a bit of a roller-coaster ride and reminded me a little of books I’ve read in this genre (Ian Flemming, Robert Ludlum). What is done particularly well is the dissection of the main character’s mind – it felt very realistic and vivid.

There and Back Again – Where Shades of Grey takes you deep inside someone’s mind, There and Back Again takes you into the world of war. Although you again get inside the minds of the main characters, for me it was the landscape and horrors of being a normal human being walking through a world torn apart by war that stood out. The difficulties of trying to get your mind to reconcile the brutality of what you see and do with your rational mind are nicely drawn out and explored in this short story.

Down the Rabbit Hole – I actually think this was my favourite of the three stories – there’s a slightly King-ish vibe to the story: the uneasiness of normal life being pushed slightly out of kilter – and I loved Tom! The depiction of a child’s acceptance of the unusual, the painful and interesting was perfectly delivered and I really wanted to step into this story – aside from the fact it creeped me out! – and put my arm around Tom to keep him safe.

My Overall Thoughts: The writing style is great – I liked the immediacy, the vivid reality created in the minds of the characters we meet in these short stories. Each is quite different in the content of the story and the perspective it’s written from, but at the same time there is a clear voice of the author.

One of the things Michael Cargill does very well is crawl into the ‘heads’ of the characters, places and objects he depicts: whether it’s the convoluted inner workings of a tortured, disturbed intelligence officer; the war-torn landscape of WWII France; or the playtime friend of a lonely little boy; his ability to bring the various aspects of a story to life was spot-on for me and I would heartily recommend this collection to people who like a rollicking good read – you’ll race through the stories and enjoy every minute.


This review was originally posted at Mel Cusick-Jones’ author blog on 26th April 2012.