Graham Downs

Monthly Newsletter :: August 2018

Hi there,

My word, can you believe August is almost over? And next week is officially spring here in the Southern Hemisphere. Although it has been hot enough for the past two weeks or so in South Africa.

What have you been reading? Since my last newsletter, I've read The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro, and abandoned Fairweather by Raya Jones. I really tried to like that one, but I just couldn't get into it. After that, I read Nilsen's Hollow by Allen Caraway (not too bad), and finally Microbe by Bill Clem (not so great). All-in-all, a pretty productive month, reading-wise.

Did you know that this month is the fifth anniversary of my monthly newsletters? My first ever e-mail went out in August 2013, to a whopping six recipients! Were you one of them? For a trip down memory lane (although I do warn you, it was pretty bad), click here to see that fateful e-mail.

Financial Report: July 2018

I didn't have too bad a month last month. Here are my figures (as always, converted to South African Rands using the exchange rates as at the time of writing):

  • Income: R248.52
  • Expenses: R21.49
  • Profit: R227.03

My expenses were very low, because, although I budgeted as much on advertising as I do every month, I didn't get many clicks. So, a slow month overall.

What really saved me was my Bargain Booksy promo, which I told you about last month. In case you missed it, I blogged about my results here. In a nutshell, it wasn't as successful as I'd hoped it would be, and it's a good thing that I paid for that promo in June, or I would've shoiwn a loss for July.

In other news, the Gauteng Provincial Library Service bought an electronic copy of A Petition to Magic in July, which I'm really happy about, so if you're a member of any library in Gauteng, feel free to borrow and read it.

Featured Author: Christine Bernard

Christine Bernard is a close personal friend of mine from Cape Town, South Africa. Not only is she a writer of books, she's a blogger and illustrator, too. You may also remember me featuring her free online magazine last month, Flat White. This is one busy woman!

So far, she has published four books, all of which have received some amazing reviews. Click on one of the covers to find out where you can buy the e-books:


Can you get by for an hour without talking? A day even? What about a month? Or nine?

Rebecca Marley sets herself a nine-month challenge with only one rule: She isn’t allowed to communicate with anyone. She is to become mute. How hard could it be? Yet, what starts as a challenge, soon becomes a journey of self-discovery as Rebecca has only herself for company. Will this time be the peaceful respite she so desperately seeks? Or will she confront aspects of herself that a noisy world hides so well?

Faced with love and heartache, she soon learns to find solace in silence.

Haze (Book 2)

Not all problems can be solved with a mute button.

Everyone knows Rebecca Marley. She’s the crazy, brave and introspective woman who spent nine months without talking. Everyone loves her. She’s raw, honest and relatable. She’s also rich and famous, although I’m sure you knew that already. You’ve probably read her articles, or her book, or seen one of her many interviews. She’s also socially anxious, self-conscious and self-degrading, but she tries to keep that to herself. Her once-silent world has changed, and the noise has engulfed her. It’s also about to get noisier, as Rebecca agrees to a new challenge, perhaps even crazier than before. This story picks up from Mute, and follows Rebecca on a new journey, one which we all face today. It begs the question, ‘how do we find quiet in a deafening world?’


What would you do if you stumbled across a magic eight ball with all the answers? Would you ask it for the lottery numbers? Would you ask about the love of your life? That’s what Will Pearce did.

​But as Will starts relying more on the eight ball to provide him with the answers that he seeks, he soon realizes that his magical gift comes with a heavy price.

Will is a supernatural thriller that leaves you wondering and asking yourself - What would I have done?


Rose Madison is of sound mind, with a sharp focus and a willingness to succeed. At only twenty-three, she’s already won an award for her short story, and has been hailed as the next big thing in the literary world. She’s beautiful, funny, intelligent, and comes from a wealthy and successful family. It’s clear to all, including herself, that her future looks bright and promising.

Why then, does the perfect Rose Madison start to slowly lose her mind?

​This is a story of a young woman in her prime, clutching at the remains of sanity.

I've personally read Unravel and Will (see my reviews here and here), and thoroughly enjoyed them. If you like psychological thrillers, I can highly recommend these two.

Click here to visit Christine's website, where you can find out more about her, or sign up to her mailing list.

Are you on Periscope?

From September, I'm going to be trying something new. On the first Friday of every month, I hope to have a Periscope session, where I chat about all the books I've read in the previous month, and what I thought about them. I hope to get some great feedback and recommendations from visitors too, and start cool discussions.

If you're on Periscope, click here to follow me, so you can be notified when my first broadcast happens.

Blog Posts

Here are all the blog posts I wrote since my last newsletter. To read one in your browser, click its link:

Featured Book: The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Three stars, four stars, three stars, four stars. Eenie Meenie Minie Moe.

I loved the story. The plot. I watched the TV series a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was keen to find out if I'd enjoy the book just as much.

Well, I did. Pretty much. The problem is that the writing, while completely devoid of any technical issues that I could pick up, isn't very easy-reading. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone just discovering the joy of reading, or learning English as a second language.

Run-on sentences and fragments abound. Sentences are two or three words long. And then all of a sudden you read a monster (excuse the pun) that spans a screen and a half of your e-reader, replete with a long-winded parenthetical note which, by the time you get to the end of it, you've forgotten what came before it.

Irritating, isn't it?

So you see why I'm struggling so much to decide.

Look, del Toro is a master storyteller, there's no doubt about it. He's written a gripping book, which was turned into an amazing TV series.

I've read a few reviews that complain that there are too many characters here. I must admit, I felt that too, in the first third or so of the book. But here's a spoiler for you, which shouldn't really be a spoiler, in a book like this: most of them are dead by the end of the first half. And I think most of those characters are necessary early on, so you can really appreciate the scope of the tragedy that's unfolding before your eyes.

If, like me, you love vampires but hate zombies, well then the monsters in this book are somewhat of a hybrid between the two. I'm still not a fan of the whole zombie genre, but at least these guys have some intelligence. Some discernible motivation.

Check it out, if you're a man of more classical, long-winded writing.

My Review: 4 / 5 Stars

About the Book

A plane lands at JFK and mysteriously ‘goes dark’, stopping in the middle of the runway for no apparent reason, all lights off, all doors sealed. The pilots cannot be raised.

When the hatch above the wing finally clicks open, it soon becomes clear that everyone on board is dead – although there is no sign of any trauma or struggle. Ephraim Goodweather and his team from the Center for Disease Control must work quickly to establish the cause of this strange occurrence before panic spreads.

The first thing they discover is that four of the victims are actually still alive. But that’s the only good news. And when all two hundred corpses disappear from various morgues around the city on the same night, things very rapidly get worse. Soon Eph and a small band of helpers will find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but the whole city, against an ancient threat to humanity.

Click here to find out where you can get the e-book.

Thanks for reading this edition of my newsletter. I'll see you next month. 

Yours in Reading,

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Graham Downs

South Africa