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Hello and welcome along to another Friday, it’s time to celebrate another great book from another brilliant indie publisher!  This time I am shining the light on The Dome Press and sharing a review of J.D. Fennell’s debut novel “Sleeper”.


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Book Feature:

Description:

Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it.

As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing?

Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first heard about “Sleeper” I was intrigued, tales set during the Blitz always hold a fascination for me, throw in the fact that this is a fast paced, adventure thriller and you’re on to a winner in my eyes.

From the moment I picked up this book to flick through it I was hooked, there was something about the style of writing that captured my attention and drove me to read on.  Short chapters make this a quick and thrilling read, and there is action a plenty to entertain readers.
Will Starling is an interesting character, in the first three chapters he is portrayed as someone who is trying to do the best that he can in a difficult situation, yes he is somewhat of a suspicious young man what with his connections in the beginning, but his conscience seems to hold him in check, he has a sense of morality when it comes to the greater good and protecting others.  As the plot moves on, Will becomes victim to an amnesia and struggles with the mental block in place.  Who is he?  How did he get here?  Why is there a bullet in the notebook in his blazer pocket?  As the adrenaline surges through Will when he realises he’s in danger the pace of the book turns this into a frantic page turner.  Trying to work out who is after him and why, Will faces the impossible task of finding safety and working out who he can trust.

The action crackles throughout this book, and even in the “quieter” moments of the story the still moves on at an exciting pace.  Mystery and intrigue lurk in the shadows, the setting of Blitz London makes this wonderfully intense as events taking place provide great cover for some of the goings on in this story.  The way in which the settings are described is skilfully done, the reader can conjure vivid images of the the locations mentioned in the book, and I particularly liked the descriptions of the school that Will ends up at, my imagination was happily wandering down corridors.

The characters in this are so well fleshed out, Will granted is a little enigma, his amnesia making him a potentially unreliable narrator, but nonetheless he is still very interesting, and a character that readers will feel drawn to.  Whether readers are a fan of his action packed assassin skills or feel sympathetic to his remorse towards the casualties that occur along the way, this is a well created persona that draws the audience in.

Although this book is aimed towards a Young Adult audience, I think it would be a hit with many fans of action thrillers, there is certainly enough in the plot to entertain most fans and the ending sets things up perfectly for another instalment.

My thanks to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for a copy of this book to read and review.

You can buy a copy of “Sleeper” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Author Feature:

JD Fennell Headshot

J.D. was born in Belfast at the start of the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him. A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës.

He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry.

These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I love being “in the zone” of writing a book, where, on a daily basis, I can slip from reality and into the head of someone else in another world or time. That is the gift of writing.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

My least favourite thing about being a writer is that I don’t have a magical time stopping device that would allow me the luxury of banging out all the ideas that are whirling around in my head  on or ahead of schedule.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why? 

There are so many, however, my choice is The North Water, by Ian McGuire. This book is a disturbing, fast-paced tale of an ill-fated Yorkshire whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. It is the story of Patrick Summer, an Irish ex-army doctor with a broken reputation, and the brutal and bloodthirsty, Henry Drax. The story builds to a gripping confrontation between the two men against the backdrop of a bleak Arctic landscape. Full of surprises, and wonderfully written, I absolutely wished I had written this book.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I am not one of those authors that makes a living from writing, so I have a day job, which takes up a lot of my time and headspace. Out of work, I read as much fiction as I can and always have a book to hand. I also love to cook and travel.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I only write long hand for notes and post-its. I can pretty much write anywhere, however, I normally do so in the morning, sometimes starting as early as 6 am. I work in my kitchen, sitting at the kitchen table overlooking the garden. I have no rituals as such. However if I walk in to find unwashed dishes, then I won’t be able to write until everything has been cleaned and tidied. It’s like I am shifting the clutter from my head and clearing a path for the next block of words.  Come evening time, if my brain is not fried, then I will squeeze out more words.

 

A huge thank you to J.D. Fennell for joining me today and sharing a little more about himself and his writing process, there’s always dishes to be done in this house so feel free to bring your marigolds!

For more information about this author and his fantastic book check out his website https://www.sleeperbook.com/ or follow him on Twitter @jd_fennell

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for “Sleeper”, the brilliant YA crossover thriller written by J.D. Fennell and share with you a fantastic piece written by the author on the importance of strong characters.  In “Sleeper” there is no shortage of strong characters, indeed the main character is one that instantly challenges the reader as to his motives, an enigmatic character that reader’s can’t help but want to follow as the tale draws them in.  Usually when a book arrives I will flick through it, try to gauge what sort of read it will be etc, but this book instantly grabbed my attention and before I knew it, I’d read a fair few chapters and was hooked!

Description:

51ublpo0hfl-_sx323_bo1204203200_

Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it.

As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing?

Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.

You can buy a copy of “Sleeper” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository
Goldsboro Books (signed, exclusive edition)


The importance of strong characters

If you are the kind of reader who likes pacey, gritty action thrillers then will you have certain expectations that must be met. First up you will want a story that takes you on a ride, delighting and shocking you in equal measure. You will also want a character to connect to: someone who draws you into the story and makes you feel what they feel. Remember, you are on a journey and you want to experience all it has to offer: love, fear, anger, happiness, rage, you name it. You – actually not it’s not just you, it’s we – we want it all.

Characters are the lifeblood of a novel whether they are good or bad. Not only do we want to be in a their head, we want to be in their heart and soul. Achieving this is the holy grail for any writer crafting a story.

So, characters are doers. They do not sit around, browsing Twitter for hours. Nor do they watch endless television. Off the page, these things are possibly true, however, we do not want to read about it. That would just make for a dull book. Characters are active players in the story who take control and make decisions that move the plot forward. They bring humanity to a story, and let’s be honest, without that, what do you have other than a sequence of events. It is this human element and the character’s emotions that make them real to us.

As an aside, people often ask which character is easier to write –  good guys or bad guys? For me, it is whoever is the most interesting. Let’s put this into the context of Sleeper, without giving away too many spoilers. I loved writing the Pastor. He is full of contradictions: a God-fearing man of the cloth with no moral compass. He does wicked, cruel things that he believes are right. It is a kind of extremism that make him a terrifying enemy for Will.

Will was the most fun to write. From the opening sequence I wanted readers to be unsure about his intentions. I really did not want to give too much away about him. Within the first chapter and on the dust cover of the hard back is the following passage:

“You are one of us, Will,” Frost had said. “Four years I have overseen your training and I could not be prouder. Today will be your baptism of blood. Do not fail me. Do not fail our masters.”

Masters! Will had almost baulked at that. His hands curl into fists at the thought. He had held his tongue, his expression fixed, his face a mask, a mask he had worn since this all began just over four years back. To this day it still surprises him how he has managed to hide the truth of who he is from Frost.

So what do we understand from this?

  1. We are in Will’s head, therefore it is his point of view (POV).
  2. Will is angry, but it is not a sudden surge of anger; it is a rage drawn out over four years.
  3. Will is clever. He has deceived Colonel Frost over those four years.
  4. Will has some sort of unpleasant mission to complete.

At a higher level we can figure out that Will is no wallflower. He has an ambiguity (is he good or is he bad?) and a rage that he conceals behind his mask of a face. He is also capable of doing things (“baptism of blood”) that readers don’t yet know about. As a writer, I hope this passage is a taster of what is to come. Will is your POV character; this is his story. He will take you on a journey and it may not be pleasant, so hold on tight.


A huge thank you to J.D. Fennell for joining me today and sharing this, hopefully it’s whet your appetite to check out the book.  Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews and guest posts.

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