Book Review

Full Disclosure – Camryn Garrett

Today I am reviewing a book which I found highly informative, Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. My thanks to Camryn, and to Penguin Random House UK, for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

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REVIEW:

From the second I opened this book, I knew that it was going to be an important book for all ages to read. Growing up in the 90s, I had thought that I was relatively well informed about HIV, but I found I learnt a lot from this book that I hadn’t previously considered.

Although Simone’s diagnosis was obviously a constant presence throughout the book, I loved how a lot of the focus of the story was just on how awkward it is being a teenager and discovering who you are, never mind if you are a teenager who happens to be HIV-positive.

People’s reactions to discovering Simone’s diagnosis really shocked me. I thought we were passed a lot of what happened, and it saddened me to realise that maybe we never will be.

Full Disclosure is an inspiring, heart-warming rollercoaster of emotions, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

It was only after I finished reading that I discovered that the author is just 19 years old, and that this was her debut novel. To me, this just makes the book even more astonishing in it’s skill and delicate handling of so many sensitive subjects. I think we can expect great things from Camryn, and I for one will be snapping up whatever comes next from this amazing talent.

You can find out more about Camryn and her writing on Goodreads

Meet the Author

William Osborne

I am delighted to be welcoming William Osborne to my blog today, as part of the tour for Jupiter’s Fire. Many thanks to William for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

Your author bio states that you enjoy collecting odd things. Do you have any collections you would like to share with us? What made you start collecting?

Yes of course, I collect old military helmets from the Napoleonic time up to the first world war, British and German, shako’s, and ceremonial wear, mostly cavalry, Dragoons, Hussars, Lancers, but also Picklehaubs, including Life Guard Imperial German and Life Guard English. I also have a beautiful Bearskin, (Russian Bear) Coldstream Guards. 

I collect English modern first editions fiction, Ian Fleming, Huxley, Orwell, Robert Graves, for example, authors I love basically. 

My youngest son and I love to build Lego, we have a Creator Street of fifteen buildings, accessorized by him with additional figures and planes in my office. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World to me.  

I am starting now to look at military ceremonial daggers from the Second World War, Italian and German, but good ones are very expensive.

Where do you do most of your writing?

In my office at home, when I can, but I love to write anywhere, and correcting manuscripts somewhere hot and near the beach is special. I have never had an “office” office except when my children were very young and I had to work out of the house for a few hours a day.

I love working from home so long as there is somewhere quiet and I can turn off the phone and the Internet for a few hours and put on some music quietly in the background.

Do you find that different writing routines and practices work better for novel writing than for screenwriting, and vice versa?

Not really, the way I write has me plotting both novels and screenplays quite carefully before I start and often just thinking about the story I want to tell just in my head for a quite a few weeks or months. 

I do write outline cards, even if the next scene/chapter is just a line or two and then I set to at the computer to write.  Screenplay writing is so less dependent on description and more on just scene setting with a few visual details that the camera can pick up on, whereas novel writing requires you to paint a fuller picture of the scene.

So for example, with screenwriting you can write – ‘ext. downtown street – day’ – and then the art director, location manager, property buying, director, lighting cameraman will decide what that street actually looks like. But if you were writing that in a novel, you would have to do all of those things, the shops, the cars, the weather etc. Does that help?

What works for one that doesn’t work for the other?

I refer the honourable person to the answer I already gave.

You live in a beautiful part of the UK (I enjoyed a week in Norfolk earlier this year). If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be? Or is your heart firmly in Norfolk?

I came to Norfolk to go to school here when I was 13 in 1973. It was a very different place in many ways to what it is now, though it is still beautiful, remote, unspoilt and timeless.  Back then it was the end of the line, literally. The train stopped here and unless you had a reason to be here, no one came. It seems like a different world looking back and I suppose it was.

I do love it still, I can walk for two hours from where I live with my dogs and see no-one and I love that sense of isolation and solitude with the sea in the distance, now filled with lines of wind farms.

If I could, I would spend three months of the year in Italy, probably in the south, Naples and beyond, down the Amalfi coast, the most beautiful coast in the world for me and also the most wonderful people, timeless too in a way but drenched in history from the Saracens, Etruscans, Romans, Neapolitans, French, Spanish. Watch The Leopard, the greatest film ever made about Sicily and Naples, the twin Kingdoms at the time.

More beautiful to me even than Big Sur and Monterey where I spent a year as an exchange student aged 18 and where Robert Louis Stevenson lived for a time and used the landscape to write Treasure Island and other stories. 

I love the Italians, their culture, their style, and their philosophy.  But I am happy right now where I am.

There is a saying isn’t there, wherever you go, there you are.

What have been your biggest sources of inspiration in the writing of your novels?

Many, my family, love of history, a love of story, be that books, fiction and non-fiction, or film/tv from childhood onwards.

But most of all love.  

I believe all great stories in whatever medium have human love at their heart, the yearning for it, the importance of it, the loss of it, the rejection of it, the betrayal of it, but it is the ultimate thing that gives meaning to all of our lives, rich or poor. Every great story has that at its heart. And that is how it should be.

Sorry, but you did ask.

Hope you enjoyed the answers; I thoroughly enjoyed writing them on a cold November evening, with the east wind whistling around and the dogs barking a bit for attention or maybe at the sound or smell of a pheasant or a fox at the end of the field.

Best wishes, William.

I don’t know about all of you, but just from getting to know William a little through his answers, I am certain that I want to discover more about his books. If you are tempted, here come all the details for Jupiter’s Fire.

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BLURB:

When Franco, a teenager living in the monastery at Monte Cassino in 1944 uncovers a long-lost Roman Eagle, the fabled Aquila for the Jupiter Legion, he sets in motion a desperate struggle to prevent the Nazis from using it to win the war. In a do-or-die mission, Franco and Dulcie, a teenage mountain girl, must steal the Eagle back and escape before its deadly power is unleashed. Pursued by the implacable forces of the SS they will discover not just the secrets of the Eagle but also themselves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

William Osborne – Born 1960 – educated at Greshams School, Holt, Norfolk and Robert Louis Stevenson, Pebble Beach, California,  studied law at Cambridge,(MA),  barrister at law, Member of the Middle Temple. Screenwriter and member of Writers Guild of America (West) – Author (published works, 1994, 1998, Hitler’s Angel, Winter’s Bullet, Jupiter’s Fire).  Lives in Norfolk, enjoys life, film, dog walking, cold water swimming, lego, collecting odd stuff, driving his beach buggy.

Many thanks again William, for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly.

If you would like to find out more about Jupiter’s Fire, why not head over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

Darkest Hour – Rachel Churcher

I am so happy to be welcoming Rachel Churcher back today, with book three of her Battle Ground series, Darkest Hour. If you are yet to discover this brilliant, thought-provoking series, you might want to check out my previous reviews for Battle Ground (Book 1) and  False Flag (Book 2) before you read any further, to avoid spoilers. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB: 

Bex Ellman and Ketty Smith are fighting on opposite sides in a British civil war. Bex and her friends are in hiding, but when Ketty threatens her family, Bex learns that her safety is more fragile than she thought.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence and you can purchase your copy of this fantastic book here.

Darkest Hour Cover

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say about this book apart from wow! This series just gets better and better!

Darkest Hour picks up in the aftermath of Battle Ground and False Flag, uniting the timelines of Bex and Ketty and continuing the story from both points of view. We find Bex and her friends in hiding in the north of England whilst Ketty is making her way through the ranks in London.

The Battle Ground series has never felt entirely comfortable reading, and as I continued through Darkest Hour this became more and more true. Watching our own country’s government descend into chaos, there is a lot about this series that just feels all too possible at the moment.

As I continued to find out more about each of the characters in this book, it raised so many questions in my mind about what I would do if I found myself in their situation, and the waves of emotion I felt for people on both sides of the conflict served to prove that nothing is as black and white as it first seems. There was a character I wanted to punch at times, and another I felt overwhelming sympathy for, neither of whom I would have previously expected to feel this way about. As much as I felt I should be on the side of the resistance forces, it was Ketty and Bracken’s story that really captured by attention this time round, and it is still their situation that fills my thoughts even the day after I finished reading.

Darkest Hour is an incredibly thought-provoking read, and has left me with a hole in my heart while I wait to find out what is coming next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photoRachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

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Book Review

A Rhyme of Dark Words – Jeremy Smith

I am kicking off October with a suitably spooky book in the form of A Rhyme of Dark Words, by Jeremy Smith. My thanks to Jeremy for providing me with a copy of the book to read.

BLURB:

Tilly Hart is grieving for her mother when she moves to the ancient village of Witheridge. Finding friendship and love, she also finds a place steeped in witchlore and the legend of a beast that stalks the moor. Supernatural events and a hidden diary guide her to a village lost in time, a place where magic exists and demons walk the land.

With her newfound friends and the deadline of Halloween drawing near, she sets out to prevent an ancient evil destroying all she loves.

Being both the hunter and hunted, she discovers she can control magic. But magic is an addiction that can lead to evil.

A Rhyme of Dark Words is the first book in the Tilly Hart series, and you can find out more about the series and the author on Goodreads.

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REVIEW:

I am not one for horror books, or anything overly spooky – in fact my friends will tell you that I am a big old scaredy cat! However, every October when my fellow bookworms are dusting off their favourite scary books for Halloween, I start to feel a bit left out and look for something that is more my level. As a YA book that is also described as being suitable for younger teens, A Rhyme of Dark Words seemed the perfect book for me to kick off my  Spooktober reading.

I was instantly grabbed by this book, which kicks off in 1645 in the heart of a witch hunt for the Brocken witches. I would happily have stayed with this story to discover what happened  to the sisters, and the prologue left me hoping that we would find out more as the story progressed.

Moving to the present day, we meet Tilly Hart, the newest resident of Brocken Manor, and her new found friends, Becca and Wilf. As Tilly settles into her new home, she encounters a number of strange goings on, and I will confess that early on in the book I had concerns that perhaps even this book was too much for my over-active imagination. However, after a few heart-stopping moments, things settled down and I found myself swept away by the story.

As Tilly and co uncover the secrets of the Manor, and find out what really happened during the witch hunt of 1645, I became more and more invested in what they were doing. I loved Wilf, so unendingly loyal in his devotion to Becca, and I had everything crossed for him that he would get the girl in the end.

A Rhyme of Dark Words is a well thought out novel, and the intertwining stories flow seamlessly as everything begins to fall into place.

Every now and then I will be reading a book that ends up being accompanied by an almost constant chain of messages to a friend telling them how great the book is and they simply must read it. This is one such book, and I am heading off now to investigate the rest of the series.

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Book Review

The Oath – Michael L. Lewis

Come with me on a journey back through time and out of your comfort zone today with The Oath by Michael L. Lewis. Many thanks to Michael, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

THREE JUNIORS

A BLOOD OATH

A DEADLY OUTCOME

1955. The polished veneer of a boys’ boarding school in Northern England masks a cadre of wickedness. Seniors viciously torment any junior they deem unfit. Jonathan Simon, in his first term is warned that there are three monsters in his dorm; seniors Flicker, Sleeth and Tunk, and that the code of conduct mandates no snitching.

Simon befriends two other juniors; pixie-faced Ian Gracey and witty, grossly overweight Arthur Crown. During a cross-country run, the three friends take a short cut and stumble into the cadet rifle range. Corps Sergeant Sleeth puts them through a degrading punishment using human excrement. The three juniors swear a blood oath never to allow another bully to abuse them.

Will this oath be their downfall, or will they make it through the school year? Snitching could have serious consequences but keeping silent will break their blood oath.

As Simon, Gracey and Crown try to survive this perilous journey, the constant threat of harm brings their friendship ever closer…

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Book Guild

Blackwell’s

Waterstones

WH Smith

Foyles

Book Depository

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REVIEW:

I find it difficult to put into words my feelings around The Oath. As I said at the start, it is a book that will take you so far out of your comfort zone that to say I enjoyed it seems to undermine the content of the book. The subject matter makes “enjoy” feel like the wrong word, but at the same time it was so utterly compelling that I found it increasingly hard to step away from. It was all-consuming and re-entering the real word for life’s essentials, such as food, felt quite jarring.

As I started to read this book, I was picturing scenes from Dead Poet’s Society, with the beautiful, elegant boys school set in stunning grounds, but the experiences of new arrivals, Simon, Crown, and Gracey, at the elite Blackleigh School, couldn’t have been more different to the welcome that Todd Anderson received on his arrival at Welton Academy.

The behaviour displayed by the older students towards the juniors was shocking not only in it’s brutality, but also in the code of silence that came with it, where “snitching” was considered the worst possible offence a boy could commit. Throughout the book I tried to tell myself that it was just fiction and that boarding school couldn’t possibly be this bad, but at the same time it was written with such passion that it made me wonder just how big an element of truth there was in it.

Watching how the characters develop as they deal with life at Blackleigh and the constant threat of punishment for the slightest wrongdoing was fascinating, not just from the perspective of the boys undergoing the treatment, but also from those dishing it out. The ripples from one particularly harrowing event changed one or two of the boys in ways that I never imagined were possible, whilst others proved that they were just as evil as I had suspected.

Although this is not a book for the faint hearted, it is certainly one that will stay with me for some time, and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

68Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

 

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x Paperback copies of The Oath by Michael L. Lewis (UK Only)

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*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review

A Tale of Stars & Shadows – Lisa Cassidy

Today’s review is for book one in an exciting new series, A Tale of Stars & Shadows by Lisa Cassidy. Many thanks to Lisa, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

…’Burn bright and true’…

Dumnorix princess and born warrior, Talyn Dynan was the finest fighter of her generation. With her Callanan partner at her side, she was invincible, reckless, a death-knell to their enemies. But after her partner is torn away from her, Talyn is left broken, wracked with guilt and unable to regain the confidence she once had. Could an unexpected mission to the mysterious country of Mithranar, home of the magical winged folk, be the thing that saves her?

The Shadowhawk lives a life in the shadows. Constantly hunted for his criminal exploits, yet desperate to help the human folk of Mithranar who are oppressed by their winged folk rulers, he haunts the streets of Dock City. The arrival of a foreign warrior threatens to upset the carefully balanced life he leads, but when she begins to offer a hope for the humans he’s only ever dreamed of, can he risk trusting her?

And unbeknownst to both, a mysterious foe stalks the dark corners of Dock City. One that answers to a single purpose…

Vengeance.

A Tale of Stars and Shadow Cover - eBook

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

REVIEW:

Occasionally a book grabs you from the first sentence and you just know it is going to be a good one. This is one such book. From the second I met the mysterious Shadowhawk, I fell in love and just had to know more. Normally I keep notes as I read books I am on blog tours for but I was so swept up in the story here that I completely forgot. In what is proving to be an excellent year for books, A Tale of Stars and Shadow is a contender for a place in my top ten reads.

I fear this could be a bit of a gushy review because I just adored this book. From the Robin Hood-esque Shadowhawk to the aloof, impenetrable WingGuard, I loved everything about it. The world in which the book is set is beautifully created and oozes magic and mystery, and the characters are a perfect blend of quirky, troubled surprises. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the merry band of misfits assigned to protect Prince Cuinn had something about them that put me in mind of Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork Watch.

There were lots of hints and teasers that there is still a lot to uncover about this brilliant world and it’s inhabitants. Fortunately, this book ends with the three words all bookworms love – to be continued. It made my day to read that we hadn’t seen the last of these characters and I am counting the days until I can read the next in the series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Living in Australia’s capital, I’m a self-published author who mostly sticks to novel-length fantasy but occasionally likes to break out with short stories on random things like unicorns and ninjas. When I’m not writing, you might catch me enthusiastically spectating a basketball game (#NewYorkKnick for life!), reading a tonne of books, or…who am I kidding? I spend a lot of time writing!

All four books in my debut YA fantasy series – The Mage Chronicles – are available for purchase, and I debuted a brand new series – A Tale of Stars and Shadow – in June 2019.

Whenever you buy a copy of one of my books, you”ll be helping to support One Girl. One Girl is committed to educating 1 million girls across Africa, and I’m SUPER excited to contribute to this vision. Together we’re changing the world, one girl at a time.

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Book Review

Birth of the Mortokai – D.G. Palmer

Happy publication day to D.G. Palmer and Birth of the Mortokai. Many thanks to you and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of today’s festivities and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Daniel Welsh was born different—and to Daniel, to be different means to be alone. But what if he’s wrong?

Born an albino with a photographic memory, Daniel Welsh never expected to fit in. Yet, when he is approached by Trinity—a young girl who definitely isn’t human—she reveals a whole new world where he might just belong. Ariest is a place where his features aren’t a disability or the mark of a freak, but rather a trait of powerful mages born of human-faerie unions. His father is a renowned war hero and swordsman, his mother is a human doctor, and that makes him a powerful mage that’ll tip the scales. Magic is real—and so is the threat it brings.

Trinity and her father, a battle mage, aren’t the only ones to have discovered Daniel and his gifts hidden in the human realm.

The Shade have awakened.

Enemies to the fae realm long thought dead have been lying in wait for their moment to strike. Young mages like Daniel are the perfect morsel for their starving appetites and they start their killing spree without delay with the nearest unsuspecting mage boy. Daniel cannot sit idly by while monsters take innocent lives, so he will embrace a destiny he is only just beginning to understand… even if it means losing a life that’s finally worth living.

Birth of the Mortokai is a young adult coming of age fantasy adventure novel. Trigger warning: this novel contains descriptions of albinism, a real genetic disorder that affects 1/17,000 persons worldwide per year.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Kobo

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

In Birth of the Mortokai, D.G. Palmer has created a book that flows so beautifully that the stresses and strains of the real world simply melt away as you are completely absorbed by the new world that Daniel finds himself in. Just as Daniel was able to leave behind the upsets of his Earth realm life, I found that my problems were totally forgotten for the few hours in which I was reading this book. Obviously all books act as a form of escapism, but it takes something special for me to shut out the real world as thoroughly as I did with this one.

In some ways, stepping off the train in Ariest felt like coming home, my love of fantasy and folklore meaning I was already familiar with some of the fae that Daniel meets – Selkie, Kelpie and Kitsune to name a few. As well as these familiar faces, I loved meeting fae that I hadn’t come across before, the Bellowers and the Undine (and hopefully more to come in the future because I am really hoping there is going to be a sequel to this book soon). Arriving in Ariest just in time for Beltane, I felt almost as swept away by the festivities as Daniel did – I could practically hear the music and smell the food.

The blossoming relationship between Daniel and Trinity was incredibly touching, two people who have struggled to make connections throughout their existence finally finding each other. As their little band of potential friends and comrades grew it was interesting to see subtle changes to the dynamics and their personalities.

The villains of the piece, the essence-draining Shade were suitably sinister, and the appearance of one at the Beltane festival left me with questions that I hope I won’t have to wait too long to get answers for. How have they managed to hide in Ariest since their defeat? Has someone unleashed them? Have they been coming and going through the doors in Fungal’s castle? I will be on tenterhooks until I find out!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Currently residing in London, England, D.G. Palmer writes in the Spec Fiction genre, using his imagination to create vivid worlds and captivating characters.

An avid reader and player of video games, in the past, he was part of table top roleplaying groups where he nurtured his storytelling by penning several story arcs.

Feel free to follow him on Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram. If you wish to receive updates about his latest books, event dates and other exclusive news, sign up to The World of D.G. Palmer and enter his mind. He warns it can be a mess sometimes, so make sure you wipe your feet on the way out – you never know what you might take with you.