Throne of Lies, by Sara Secora: A Review

On long-haul flights, I occasionally watch animated films, usually from Disney/Pixar, enjoying their satisfying simplicity; they’re a pleasurable, escapist way to pass a couple of hours. Throne of Lies, from new author Sara Secora, falls squarely into this category. If you’re a fan of Disney’s princess films, you’ll like this book.

Princess Amethysta Serelle of Northwind is the heir to the throne….but she doesn’t want to be. Betrothed to a man she dislikes, bored and irritated by the restrictions on her life, and puzzled by the odd and frightening things that happen when strong emotion grips her, she attempts to escape the expectations of her parents. Her journey of self-discovery is both aided and frustrated by her newest personal guard, the disturbingly handsome commoner, Soren.

Throne of Lies is a charming fairy-tale incorporating many of the aspects of classic, Disneyfied fairy-tale, but with a modern twist. Fingers are pricked on thorns, apples are eaten, shoes are tried on…but these are all peripheral to the story, background reminders of the genre. Nor is it the cautionary fairy-tale of the Brothers Grimm: there is nothing terribly dark here, although one scene does not flinch from the realities of what can happen to a young girl alone. But not all apparent monsters are what they seem, either.

The ARC I read had the usual number of production errors, which is to be expected from a pre-publication version. There were also a few grammatical errors, odd changes of tense within sentences, and non-traditional uses of words that affected flow and comprehension. The story, I felt, was a bit slow to get going; there are some early scenes that are too detailed or drawn out without substantially adding to either the world-building or the plot; this might discourage some readers.

I would have recommended this book for readers eleven and up, but two scenes in the book suggest that thirteen and up is a better age recommendation. My personal rating is 3 1/2 stars; this will be 4 stars on Goodreads and Amazon.

ChiSeries, Covers, and Cash

This past Tuesday, I had the honour of reading at the ChiSeries here in Guelph. Some background; the ChiSeries (The Chiaroscuro Reading Series) is a national Canadian reading series put on in a number of cities, promoting genre writing. I was reading along with two award winning and/or major award nominee writers of science fiction and fantasy: A.M. Dellamonica and Kelly Robson.

Spinnings Final Cover
Available on Amazon

It is a little intimidating for an indie writer to be reading alongside two established names in genre fiction…and it’s even more so to be reading last. But it seemed to go ok….the applause for my reading (I read an abridged version of my short story In an Absent Dream, currently published in my e-chapbook Spinnings), was hearty and I think genuine, and Kelly had some kind words for me. It’s allergy season, so I was concerned my voice wouldn’t hold out, but it did, although I think it was a bit scratchy by the end.

Family members and writing group members came along to support me, which was truly appreciated. I’d also got the proof version of the paperback of Empire’s Daughter that day, so I brought it along, mostly for reactions to the cover (positive, I’m happy to say!) I’ll be posting the cover soon, once I have an actual launch date. I’m still working on finding all the errors and correcting the proof.

And I’m actually (and unusually) getting paid – an honorarium – for the reading, thanks to various levels of government that support the ChiSeries. My (and yours, if you’re Canadian) tax dollars, supporting genre writers. How very nice.

Spinnings is out today!



ED & S

With all pre-publication reviews on Goodreads rating Spinnings: Brief Fantasies in Prose and Verse at 5 stars, don’t miss its publication date offer:  buy it for the lowest price Amazon lets me offer (other than free) and download Book 1 of the Empire’s Legacy series, Empire’s Daughter, for free between March 25th and March 30th!

Links are here:


Empire’s Daughter 















Of That Day and Hour, by Anthony O’Brien: A Promotion

“‘Of That Day and Hour’; a page-turning psychological thriller. Of that day and hour cover

Jefferson Davies is a lecturer at Harvard University. His life takes on an unexpected, dark and chilling twist after receiving a phone call from an ex-student and lover.

Eve works as a psychiatrist at a maximum security prison. Her patient is Casey Lee Jones. A convicted killer. His defense for the murder of two police officers is his ‘knowing’: his precognition. He knows the future, moments, hours, days, weeks or years before it happens. It was kill or be killed. He will only cooperate if Jeff’s involved, yet the men have never met.

Jeff flies out to Colorado, convinced he’s dealing with a psychopath. Scientifically he dismisses the phenomenon of precognition. Through a series of mysterious incidents, he begins to have serious doubts, even questioning his own sanity. Seeking the truth opens a Pandora’s Box, and what’s been started cannot be undone.

A fast moving, chilling, psychological thriller that will keep you guessing right to the end.”

This isn’t a review: it’s a promotion for a fellow indie writer. I was the editor of this edition of the book (previously titled Bad Man & Mad Men), so I can’t ethically review it.   Of That Day and Hour is available from Amazon in e-book or paperback format. link link



Free Book!

On March 25th my new ‘mini-book’ Spinnings goes on sale at Amazon.  FSpinnings Final Coveror the first five days of its publication, you can also download my novel Empire’s Daughter from Amazon for free. This is a limited-time offer…so spread the word and take advantage!

You will have to pay for Spinnings…but it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


Which cover?

Currently I am using two covers for Empire’s Daughter…one is the professionally-done cover that I use on the commercial (paid) version of the novel, and one is my own work that I use for the Wattpad version (for copyright reasons).  I’d like to ask you…which do you prefer?  It will let me know whether or not to buy a cover for Empire’s Hostage when it comes out.  Here are my two covers – with the peregrine falcon theme – and the professional cover of Empire’s Hostage.  Please let me know what you think!

Empire's Daughter cover500x700edpperegrine

Falcon Boy and Bewilder Bird vs Dr Don’t Know in a Battle for all the Life of all the Planets, by Barnaby Taylor

At the beginning of the regenerated Doctor Who series, in the first Christopher Eccleston/Billie Piper episode, Rose, a wheelie-bin swallows Mickey. And then spits him out again….or is it him? As part of the plot, it was a hint – no, a statement – that we as viewers had entered a world of the absurd, where the rules of normal life were left behind. Within the first few pages of Falcon Boy and Bewilder Bird vs Dr Don’t Know in a Battle for all the Life of all the Planets, by Barnaby Taylor, I realized I was in another absurd world, missing the rules of normal life, where just about anything could happen.

Falcon Boy (A Fairly Hopeless Hero) is the series title – this book is the first in the series and currently the only one published. The story defies categorization. At one level, it’s a children’s book about a super-hero of sorts who really isn’t very good at what he does. On another, it’s very adult, the writer having a wry eye for the ridiculousness of life. Things happen just because the author – who is often present in the story as a commentator – decide they should. Characters seem familiar…but like the Mickey that emerged from the wheelie-bin, they aren’t necessarily what they seem. They also have lives of their own…several of them have Twitter accounts!

I haven’t laughed so much reading a book in some time. Falcon Boy isn’t going to be to all readers’ taste, though, and if you haven’t a clue what I’m getting at with the Doctor Who parallels, then it might not be for you. But if you know where to look for a tattoo to identify a dead bishop, understand that the Frog & Peach is in Yorkshire for the parking, or believe that Rocky & Bullwinkle is a cartoon for adults, you may want to read it, or at least read it to your kids. You can download it for free from Amazon.

This is an independent review, not sought by the author nor written for any benefit. The opinions stated here are mine alone.

Update on Empire’s Hostage

I’m about a third of the way through the next book in the Empire’s Legacy series. It’s going a bit more slowly than I hoped but that’s my own fault; I signed up for an on-line university course that’s taking quite a bit of my time, but then again I find I’m more creative and focused when my time to work on Empire’s Hostage is limited.  It’s a balance.  My goal is to finish the first draft by the spring!

Book Review Policies

I’ll post this on the book review page on my website as well.

For everyone who has asked (and those who might wish to) I review published or pre-publication work from indie authors.  My preference is for young-adult fantasy/dystopia/sci-fi but will consider other work.  I do accept e-books (actually, I prefer them).

My practice is to share the review with the author before I post to anywhere except my website.  As well as my website, I post reviews to the following sites:  Goodreads, Amazon in the UK, Canada, and the US, and Kobo and Smashwords – but don’t unless the author requests it.

My contact details are marianlthorpe at