To any authors/publishers/ tour companies that are looking for the reviews that I signed up for please know this is very hard to do. I will be stopping reviews temporarily. My husband passed away February 1st and my new normal is a bit scary right now and I am unable to concentrate on a book to do justice to the book and authors. I will still do spotlight posts if you wish it is just the reviews at this time. I apologize for this, but it isn't fair to you if I signed up to do a review and haven't been able to because I can't concentrate on any books. Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time. I appreciate all of you. Kathleen Kelly April 2nd 2024

25 February 2021

Last Star Standing By Spaulding Taylor Book Tour and Interview!


Last Star Standing

By Spaulding Taylor

Genre: Soft Science Fiction/Speculative/Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic

About the Book

A post-apocalyptic Earth under alien rule. A lone wolf assassin with a chip on his shoulder. Can he find his way through a maze of deceit to victory?


 Aiden has always felt like an outsider. After the rebel operative is captured and imprisoned by the world’s galactic overlords, he awaits execution. Then a mole working for the occupying regime alerts him to a plot that could destroy the entire resistance... Engineering a daring escape, Aiden’s growing feud with the new rebel leader leaves him out in the cold – and smouldering with resentment. Faced with deceit and betrayals on every side, he recruits a group of overlooked outcasts and stakes everything on one last mission.


Can the restless, reckless Aiden take a stand long enough to save humanity from enslavement?

About the Author

Alice McVeigh was born in South Korea, of American diplomatic parents, and lived in Asia until she was 13, when the family returned to Washington D.C. She then fell in love with the cello, winning the Beethoven Society of Washington cello competition, and reaching the finals of the National Music Teachers Association Young Soloists national competition. After achieving a B.Mus. with distinction at the internationally acclaimed Jacobs School of Music, she came to London to study with Jacqueline du Pré and William Pleeth. Since then she has performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique all over Europe, America and Asia.

Her first two contemporary novels – While the Music Lasts and Ghost Music – were published by Orion Publishing/Hachette in the late 90s, and her first play (Beating Time) put on at the Lewisham Theatre. (The film rights to her first book were also sold, to Channel 4, but Mozart in the Jungle got there first!)  As well as performing, Alice has ghosted or edited over 200 books. She has also scribbled a witty guide to the orchestral profession: All Risks Musical, cartoons by Noel Ford. Her most recent novel, Last Star Standing, will be published by Unbound Publishing under her pen name, Spaulding Taylor, on February 21st, 2021.

Alice is married to Professor Simon McVeigh, and lives in London. They have one daughter, who just graduated from the University of Oxford, and a second home, by the sea in Crete. Apart from fiction, Alice’s greatest enthusiasms involve playing chamber music, dachshunds and tennis. (She is a powerful but notably inaccurate tennis player, with the distinction of being ladies’ singles runner-up four years in succession at the - very - local Farnborough Tennis Club.) 










I caught hold of something, something which must have blended into its

background so perfectly that I hadn’t even spotted it. Something

alive, nestling under the co-pilot’s seat.


I couldn’t believe it. A live gromeline. Trembling, possibly with

fury, and trying in vain to squeeze back. Grabbing my trophy – I

could feel its hot little heart throbbing like an injury against my

palm – I hopped out of the plane so fast that my wound protested.




Bully raised one eyebrow. Two would have been overkill.

‘Bully, you are not going to believe this. I found a gromeline!’

The gromeline – only about fifteen centimetres – bit my finger,

hard, even though I could have easily crushed its entire body with

my fist – and probably would have, were I a real tester.


Feisty little gromeline. I flicked it lightly with my sausage-

sized finger. When it protested, I growled, ‘Cheese it, munchkin,’

though I could feel it struggling obstreperously against my palm.


Bully was intrigued.

‘Is it genuine?’


‘Of course it’s genuine. It just fucking bit me.’


Bully probably considered this no proof. But they’re rarer than

clean air these days and his fascination was obvious. (Gromelines come

from the farthest galaxy so far discovered, can speak any tongue

and own enviable mental powers. They are also brave to the point

of stupidity and ludicrously small. This one was mouse-coloured

– they can be spectacular – with tiny red eyes. Few humans have

ever seen one.)


‘What on Earth was Ho Chi doing with a gromeline?’


It was a reasonable question. A mission was no place for such

a valuable alien. Could have been bounced to pieces, even during

that feather-silk landing. I leaned down. ‘Did you stowaway on

Ho Chi’s blinguard?’ I asked, but it just slit its eyes, pursed its lips

and glared at me.


Bully trotted to his backpack and removed a small bag.

‘Shove it in here. Not even a gromeline could tunnel out of that.

Once we’ve had something to eat, we can find out what it knows.’


With some difficulty we succeeded in loosing the little creature

inside, where it immediately started gnawing on a corner.


‘You sure it can’t just chew itself out?’ I asked.


‘Not unless it’s got a small but serviceable nuclear device.'

And now for the Interview with the author!

What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?

Disorganization. I get on a high doing the actual writing, write my plot into a corner and have to wriggle my way out again. I hate feeling tied down to an outline and – probably for that reason – it doesn’t work for me!

When and where do you do your writing?

I used to combine writing and ghostwriting with being an orchestra cellist – THEN it was very hard. But with the lockdown, every rehearsal and every concert disappeared – quite literally - overnight! Depressing as this was as a cellist, it means that all my energy has gone straight into my books. Have written TWO – and I’m not generally a quick writer, either! Instead, I believe that you shouldn’t write a book until the NOT writing of it becomes almost physically painful to you.

What have you learned about promoting your books?

I always tell my clients that I am not enough!! – They can hire the most gifted cover artist, the cleverest editor and the soundest proofreader in the world, and they’ll still be sad if their book only sells twenty copies. And promoting is getting harder. There are so many people writing, and fewer people with the emotional and intellectual space to read. It’s the hardest part of the business – not that writing is simple, but it’s simpler than pushing books!! 

I really hadn’t realized that science fiction is a hard sell, either. The book came to me while meditating and I fought it, simply because I didn’t know enough about the genre, but the narrator just wouldn’t leave me alone. It wasn’t until I’d finished it when I learned that half the agents in the world won’t even CONSIDER science fiction!!! – It’s becoming like poetry. Again, it’s probably supply and demand. Everyone is so fed-up with the world that they long to create a different one!  But makes it very, very hard to be heard. 

What are you most proud of as a writer?

Well, I was twice published by Orion, when I was young, and was very proud of reviews including these: 

The Sunday Times: 'Characters rise and fall to McVeigh’s superbly controlled conductor's baton. The orchestra becomes a universe in microcosm; all human life is here…McVeigh succeeds in harmonising a supremely comic tone with much darker notes.' (review of While the Music Lasts)


The Sunday Telegraph: 'McVeigh is a professional cellist and is thus able to describe with wry authority the extraordinary life of a London orchestra. This is a very enjoyable novel, and not quite as light as it pretends to be.' (review of While the Music Lasts)

Publisher's Weekly: 'McVeigh's captivating, witty debut offers uncanny insights into music, love, and the human heart. Her portrayal sings with lyrical intensity and eloquent feeling.' (McVeigh's While the Music Lasts)



The Good Book Guide (now Lovereading): 'The author is a professional cellist and a highly intelligent novelist. In the hothouse atmosphere of a group welded together but battered by individual stresses, relationships blossom and painfully disintegrate. Almost as enraptured by the sensuous sound of words as by music itself, McVeigh spins her sentences across the page, carrying the reader with them.' (McVeigh's While the Music Lasts

Now I’m with the humbler Unbound, but it still makes it all worthwhile to get these:

“This is original worldbuilding with dramatic flair, with style that brings the story to life… Taylor's narrative spurs readers to understand and accept the juxtaposition of inner desire and the outer reality that serves both to obstruct and to shape humanity. RECOMMENDED.” The US Review of Books

"A dauntless soldier’s epic tale of rebellion, escape, and redemption, Last Star Standing is a dazzling and chilling vision of the future...The writing has a sharp, post-apocalyptic edge with plenty of dark humor. Memorable characters leap off the page, the action is visceral and exciting, and Taylor’s unleashed imagination makes this dystopian novel a deeply addictive read." (SPR review, Feb. 2021)


 “Aiden is a fiery protagonist, making this outlandishly creative novel a pleasure to read. Last Star Standing is refreshingly unpredictable, while holding to classic form.” (Independent Review of Books, Feb. 2021)

If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?

I’m a Jane Austen freak so… an easy choice.  But I’d prob. be too overawed to say anything!!!

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