Weekly Ramble #86

Reviewing 41 books in just over 10 months is up there with 2020’s finest moments for me. These days book reviews are the anchor of premier content for this blog and they make the whole thing seemingly tick. Not only do they provide content that an audience likes but with book reviews comes a plethora of opportunity.

Although I’ve said writing more books is probably the best advice I can give for marketing, first of all you have to convince people to invest in you before they’ll invest in any of those books and so comes that opportunity. Reviewing books by fellow authors will get you more personal investment than any marketing trick or tip out there. It proves you want to contribute to the industry and be a part of it. You’ll be seen in a trustworthy light, and with trust comes loyalty. This will take time and all good things do.

Let’s face it, if your an author you know the struggle to get reviews, if your a blogger you know the struggle to get reads, I know it too and so I set out to fight back by helping others as I would wish to be helped – that’s all this is and the road to being taken as a genuine and respected figure in blogging and authoring is paved by giving back. The best forms of engagement rely on being genuine, honest and giving without expectation. I’ll say that word again trust. Commenting on another blogger’s post will sometimes make their day and most of us know how much a good review can help an author’s general mood.

And what do I expect in return – well here’s the wonderful thing, I actually expect nothing back because reviewing and helping authors is done out of mutual feeling so if I get anything out of it, that’s a bonus. This whole deal is a state if mind and importantly above all I’m reading wonderful books – something I have loved doing most of my life. If you can fashion a passion into a worthwhile cause then you are a better person for it. There have even been better outcomes than selling books or getting reviews because now I regularly connect with authors through email, twitter and this blog. Some just want to talk while others run ideas by me, not that I know much but I’m happy to help.

To all the authors I have connected with through reviews and social media endeavours, you were the one’s who got me interested in your work and pushed me to this achievement so thank you. Where do we go from here? Well the year isn’t out yet so you can expect this Hall of Information blog to do what it always does, to review more books!

Biosphere: Hazard by B.W. Cole – Review

Breezy, thrilling and gripping science fiction set in a visionary world…

For a novella less than 100 pages long B.W. Cole sure makes every word count with unique world building and a story that’ll keep readers turning pages until the very end.

Set in a future of space settlements and uber control; from colour coded uniforms that reflect status to droids who seemingly run the show, there’s a familiar cinematic sense this wider and visionary setting brings which throws together two characters; ‘Sola’ and ‘Kit’ who find themselves far removed from where they started. Both of them have to deal with the implications of their past which now effect their present; that is while being residents of a remote moon with a potentially horrific secret. It’s psychological and feels a little claustrophobic like there is no escape which heightens the tension that eventually presents itself.

“As she swiped the torch along the walls, she went cold. Claw marks tore at the walls. Some so deep they pierced the metal…”

Just how they got these characters got there and what lurks beneath? Will they ever get out of there? You’ll find all of that out in what is a breezy atmospheric read that merges description and an ensemble cast of characters very well especially for a shorter read.

5 Stars – Very enjoyable. Thank you to Distant Shore Publishing for reaching out and for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review via Goodreads and Amazon.

This book will be released on Friday and is currently available for pre order here.

Spooky Season Book Recommendations

It’s the season of spooky and what better way to celebrate the nights drawing in and those leaves falling than to read a Hallow-tastic book. Here at the Hall of Information we love a thrilling and chilling reading experience so here’s a run down of some recommendations perfect for the season…

‘In space, not all things were certain… not even death’

Space and horror, simultaneously they are right up my alley and back in 2018 Christina Engela made history by being the first ever author to approach the Hall of Information for a book review. Of course we obliged and the journey of discovery began.

Imagine ‘Alien’ and ‘Event Horizon’ combined with Engela’s immersive writing style and you have the tale of the I.S.S. Mordrake; a ship seemingly stranded and damaged beyond repair in the furthest reaches of space and then it begins… They run into another ship that appears abandoned and just floating there. What unfolds is a tale of mystery and suspense. Check out my full review here and this book is part of the wider ‘Galaxii’ series which I plan on reading more of soon!

‘While some monsters are born, others are created..’

Who doesn’t love a slasher story this time of year? And branding this book only that would most probably be an insult because ‘the Four Before Me’ is so much more. Author E.H. Night blends nostalgia of the 80’s with a twisting initially slow burning story that becomes unputdownable. I even said in my review that this one reads like an early Stephen King with all the sights, sounds and senses captured that make for a chilling read!

Chilling, immersive and full of tension. Everything you want from a crime thriller…

Clowns and horror go hand in hand and Mallory Kelly has put together a chilling tale of shorts that I spent the first half of this year slowly delving into. Each book follows a separate story while the wider plot follows a pair of investigators trying to chase down a murderous clown which is part of this network or shall we say conspiracy. It’s part X-Files meets the irrational fear of clowns and these stories make for perfect Halloween reading. You can read my review of book 1 ‘Dead End’ here.

An enjoyable yet sinister tale of the macabre that’ll keep you turning pages…

Bruce Knapp has managed to pack in the many pillars of horror into one book with Noxious which I found through my Reedsy Discovery endeavors. Having enjoyed his ‘Night Audit’ series of shorts I jumped at the opportunity to take on a book about one town with a dark cloud hanging over it. From gruesome murder, witchcraft, possessions to even something monstrous lurking in the local river this one has it all and will certainly itch that horrific Halloween scratch. Check out my review here

An entirely unique and original page-turning journey of variety on the open road…

It probably doesn’t get any more unique or out there than ‘How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal’ which is a fun road trip story full of variety. Like many awesome authors I’ve become friends with S.D. McKinley reached out to the Hall of Information for a review and I was not disappointed. The supernatural element makes for some great spooky season reading and there’s even zombies! Here’s my review.

And so that wraps up my spooky season book recomendations but some of you probably know by now that I love a sequel so you can expect a part 2 quite soon.

Do you have any spooky season book rec’s? Send them my way via the comments!

Building 51 By Jennifer L. Place – Review

Hello friends and a happy Saturday to you all. Today’s Saturday Re-blog is a chilling book review that I would highly recommend for this spooky season. You can expect a full post highlighting some more reads perfect for Halloween this coming week!

Lee's Hall of information

Urban exploration horror filled with tension and some truth…

51

Building 51 follows the events of seven friends as they embark on an exploration excursion. Their destination the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane; a real place with a real history that can be described as harrowing to say the least.

Exploration of abandoned places is a specialist niche in the genre of horror and one which I very much enjoy. Films such as ‘Grave encounters’ and ‘House on Haunted Hill’ come to mind but in terms of books, Building 51 is the benchmark and makes for a roller coaster tension filled read.

Fusing elements of real history and the paranormal make this story and the characters in it feel like something is lurking and watching them. Something is and this gradually becomes apparent manifesting itself in a range of unique and creepy ways.

The overall flow of the book…

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Weekly Writing Inspiration #13

It’s that time again to share memes with a hope you find something partially inspirational…

I laughed way more than I should have at this, but it’s true 2020 has been a year…

We’re just one wrong word away from the occult… may dog have mercy on us all

Ha, I take pride in stealing this…

There aren’t many shows like ‘the Boys’ which I urge you to check out, and this is also sound advice…

Truthfully I closed the door with my PS3 by playing GTA V and opened my PS4 door with it also, perhaps I won’t be doing it with the PS5...

Yep and we shall finish with this on the horizon… Thanks for tuning in folks, see you in the next one!

Weekly Ramble #85

Nothing beats the thrill of a story unfolding as you write it. As much as planning can be fulfilling, there’s a certain organic creativity that comes with seeing a tale come to life in front of your own imagination.

Even with this current novella I’ve got back into, after starting it late last year I don’t actually know where it’s going in some respect which to me is thrilling. It also shows that sometimes we’re not consciously in control because the ideas that follow suite appear from the deep imagination. They are normally led by character and setting, something that’s always established early in my works so maybe there is some truth to stories writing themselves.

My reasons for delving back into this one may become apparent eventually but recently I’ve learned as a writer and a blogger to go where the demand is. If there is a need and want for something then sit your ass on that pony of opportunity as it walks by. Plus it’s also good to get into an already established project.

This is supposed to be ‘off season’ but things have changed this year and so I’ve loaded up and got out there again into the voyage of book writing. Currently I’m gonna need five life times until I might actually be done with everything and that’s purpose above all, without it we’re nothing. Truthfully, this has been a year of social media stuff for me and I’m actually happier without that right now and just writing is where I want to be – it’s what I do all this for anyway. In terms of that novella, watch this space.

This year I pledged to review one book more than 2019’s grand total of 40, without realising because my head is either in a book or a writing project I am about to achieve that goal of 41 indie books reviewed! This has been a foundation and pillar to near enough all of my success. Maybe we’ll get to near 50 by the year’s end, either way achieving that before the end of November is huge!

Spooky Season Movie Recommendations 2

What’s better than one post about spooky season movie recommendations? Two posts about spooky season movie recommendations and because the moment I published part one I realised some worthy contenders were left off that list… so let’s dive in…

Final Destination

I regret forgetting to include this film in part 1 and arguably Final Destination has one of the most original premises there is in horror. In Final Destination there is no murderer running around yielding a knife or wearing a mask, there’s no ancient curse or ghostly apparitions. The killer in Final Destination is real. That killer isn’t a character but the inevitability of death and the plan it has for you. Just what happens if somehow you skip that plan? Well that’s what this film is about in all of it’s early 2000’s glory but even today this one holds up quite well. I’ll happily admit the premonition part of Final Destination shaped my work – the MC dreams his death and so therefore avoids it – this inspired my own story telling as the MC from my debut novel ‘Open Evening’ experiences a similar vision.

Final Destination and the tone it captures is something that has a place in my heart. Yes it’s a little absurd but the concept is both terrifying and wholly original. Those early 2000’s horror flicks make for some great viewing, trust me and this one is perfect for spooky season.

Scary Movie

Okay now before you leave I know that Scary Movie is predominantly a comedy but it’s a genius comedy that still holds up rather well-ish today. Those Wayans brothers know how to make a comedy and consider the film a spoof/ meshing of ‘Scream’, ‘I know what you did last summer’ and the plethora of other teen thrillers of the time. The cast is stellar with many familiar faces and some moving onto bigger better heights thereafter (Anna Farris) so if you want something that’ll make you laugh out loud then try Scary Movie – they don’t make them like this any more. Plus even though it’s mainly comedy there are some spooky bits also…

Zodiac

This film ‘effed my shizzle’ up and by that I mean why the hell hadn’t I discovered it beforehand? Well apparently this one released in the mid 2000’s and seemingly passed everyone by. Why? I do not know but the film which is a factual re-telling of how they ‘caught’ the Zodiac killer (google it) is incredibly intricate, chilling and gripping. It focuses on the investigation and one man who moves up from newspaper cartoonist to full on book writer as he deciphers the Zodiac killer’s coding to pretty much solve the case. It’s quite a long watch but well worth it! And did I mention it’s kind of chilling also!

Devil’s Pass

Now some of you may know I love a conspiracy theory, preferably the unsolved one’s and Devil’s Pass is a kind of found footage film that starts off rather well – probably why I’ve included it. Back in the early 1950’s a group nine people skiing out in the remote Russian mountains go missing and their remains are found in rather harrowing circumstances – that’s the true story part. This film does an incredible job of documenting what is now known as the ‘Dylatov Pass’ and those making the film decide to take a trip to the incident site through unpredictable cold weather to find out what happens. I mean would you bother? Predictably things start to go ‘wrong’ and well the film then unfolds. The truth is, I thought the ending to this film was dog shit, but the first three quarters pulled me in and so therefore it’s worth a look. If not just google Dylatov Pass Incident and thank me later.

It Chapter 1 (2017)

Although some will argue this film isn’t a full on horror and more of an extended version of the Goonies and partially I would agree it still makes for some incredible spooky season viewing. I love IT part 1 because of the story it tells between the ‘Loser’s club’ – a group of kids who aren’t popular and don’t have a lot going for them but they find each other. Of course there’s a demon clown running around killing kids also not to mention the wonderful photography and setting of Maine – Stephen King really does know what he’s doing! Although the running time is longer, it has nothing on the book so go check it out. Fun fact: I saw this film 3 times in the cinema. That’ll tell you how good I think it is

The Mummy

Brendan Fraser is probably a name you haven’t heard of or for at least a very long time and I believe this film might be his best one. The truth is I saw this when I was 10 years old in the cinema and it’s rated in the UK at 12. Somehow I got in with my parents and brother, not only did this film partially terrify me but it also captivated me with gripping action, wonderful characters and a pretty well rounded story. The Mummy strikes the balance between thrilling and chilling with an ancient curse, gun toting action, archaeology adventure and Rachel Weisz. It has a cinematic charm paired with a wonderful musical score that I still listen to today – yeah I have a thing about film music… Trust me this one is perfect for Spooky season!

Well thanks for joining me for another Spooky Season Movie Recommendation post. You know at the very end of the month on Halloween you can expect to see my paranormal romance available for Free!

Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press Review: Are billionaires destroying free speech?

Netflix has a funny way of slipping in and out of one’s life. I can go for weeks not watching new content and all of a sudden a hidden gem appears from near enough nowhere. It’s worth mentioning the content of this review is not new, but the message is important.

I am going to talk about one particular docu- feature called Nobody Speak: Trials of the free press. It’s no secret that I have been and still am to some degree a wrestling fan. The Hulk Hogan sex tape scandal broke a few years back and yes they are words that should never be put together, but hey it happened.

gawker

hogan

The background…

The outcome of such a high profile case wasn’t about the money it seems. Hogan was rewarded (140m) but how he came about getting it came as a big surprise. In fact the Hogan Gawker case is the tip of a somewhat potential totalitarian iceberg that threatens freedom of speech and traditional journalism.

Gawker was, and I stress the word was, an online news blog with a gossip/satirical edge to much of their coverage. Celebrities were called out and even reported in a bitchy light. Headlines sometimes had an ultra-honest message with the website having a core value of saying things how they saw it.

Some years before Hulk Hogan in the light of his marriage break up found himself being filmed by his apparent best friend at the time. The footage showed acts of a sexual nature towards this best friend’s wife. Later on there was even footage of him saying some racial and offensive things. Gawker was approached by someone with the footage and of course they jumped at the opportunity to publish this heavily edited version albeit heavily damaging. Now this is where it gets really interesting.

Secret Benefactor…

It turns out after Hogan sued Gawker the film revealed that he was in fact backed by a silicon valley billionaire. What is even more interesting is during the latter stages of the court case Hogan dropped a particular charge. This charge involved any damages that would be paid to Hogan being done so through Gawker’s own insurance. This meant any damages would have to instead come direct from Gawker – this would in turn liquidate the firm. So it became apparent Hogan wasn’t just looking for compensation he was trying to bury Gawker; and he did!

theil

Trump and Thiel 

Peter Thiel; billionaire supporter to Donald Trump, Paypal founder and beneficiary to Facebook early on turned out to be financially backing Hogan’s law efforts and hence comes the main theme of this blog post.

A billionaire essentially funded the destruction of a major media news outlet. Of course this is subject to opinion but Peter Thiel had once been personally attacked by Gawker in a particular article that outed him as ‘gay’. He essentially funded the bankruptcy of a news blog for revenge and even went on to say the Hogan Gawker win was “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.” 

The argument..

Hogan v Gawker only took up a portion of this hour and half documentary that instead lifted the lid on how close we are to billionaires controlling the press. The days of traditional investigative journalism are dying, and yes even if it was ‘wrong’ to publish a sex tape of a former wrestler it is still freedom of speech and having a media company like Gawker stamped out of existence all because of a billionaires grudge, well that’s a dangerous path.

Trump Factor

At the moment we have a billionaire in the White House and a man who hates the media with a passion. The documentary touched on this subject showing footage of Trump directing audience members at various rallies to yell abuse/attack the media and press! Of course he pretty much established the concept of fake news and has a somewhat fixation of allowing the media to be sued. One of his ambitions is to make this easier whilst in office.

First amendment…

The right to journalism and freedom of speech in America is governed by the first amendment. After consulting google this is what I found:

‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.’

The truth

So my conclusion after watching this insightful and eye opening film is that freedom of speech and the truth is being stamped out by people with enough money to do so! Does this mean journalists will stop covering people who they are afraid of being sued by? Is this what the word has become? I thought democracy was based upon freedom of opinion and speech? To me this is just bullying from people who think they have more power!

In the past journalists have journeyed for the truth and found it. Can the truth just be bought and sold by billionaires? That’s the true message this film is giving us. Of course this is all the more prevalent today especially with a global pandemic and Presidential election campaign in full swing.

Have you watched Nobody speak? What do you think? Is the destruction of Gawker damaging to the future of free speech?

Announcing Book 7: Blog Post #501

Over the weekend the Hall of Information passed it’s 500th blog post with an important but brief talk about mental health. It’s been one hell of a ride to reach that many posts and it’s a celebration worth noting while being aligned with such an important cause. We are now crossing that mark with a special announcement.

Those who’ve tuned in across my other social media platforms will know on Friday I shared the news of my 7th Book and so this is the official announcement post!

2021 will see the release of my first foray into non-fiction with a guide book that relays many of my experiences from nearly seven years in the social media blogging/authoring game.

I’m no life coach or guru in anything in particular but over the years my efforts have gathered some success through trial, error and hard work, all of which has been inspired by the power of good people following me. The many experiences I’ve had in authoring and blogging in the social media age have now been fashioned into a manual that can hopefully help others. Having always been accepted and helped by the writing community I consider this book a way of giving back to those who essentially made me.

My credentials are statistics that speak leaps and bounds more than I ever could and so earlier this year I felt compelled to use them as fuel. These days you can fit this blog’s views for all of 2016 into just an average month and just last month (September) I sold more books in that time than I normally do in the space of a year. We’ve grown and grown since the early days and there are a plethora of folks I have to thank for backing and sticking with me. Some I do intend to name in this project which will focus on many elements of being and author and blogger from basics of social media, marketing your work and yourself along with some never before shared stuff.

This ‘success’ I’ve had comes from years of work and I have found the best way to convince anyone to invest in me, is to be genuine. You’ll find that in my next book and so I hope those in the authoring and blogging game, and those at any level joins me with Consistent Creative Content: A guide to authoring and blogging in the social media age. Coming in the first half of 2021.

Head on over to the tweet machine and give this pinned tweet some RT love

Thank you all for following me on this journey of the first 500 blog posts, here’s to many more. Peace out, stay safe, rock and roll man!

A brief talk about mental health…

In a year where everything has appeared to weigh even more heavily than usual on our minds it’s critically important to talk about the subject of mental health.

Social media and the rise of it has also coincided with the apparent upward trend of those suffering with depression and anxiety. Perhaps this is linked with the constant need for instant gratification or likes for the overall fight towards being noticed. As a modern author I am a regular player on the social media scene and sometimes it takes its toll mentally. Whether it be from a bad interaction or a lack of ‘likes’, many times have I been pushed to the point of deleting apps and going dark for a while – that’s my coping mechanism sometimes and it can be referred to self-care which is the practise of preserving and protecting your own mental health in any way you see fit. Sometimes with social media and anything else that might cause some level of mental health trigger it’s best to take a step back.

While I’ve given social media a somewhat bad light initially, and yes it has many potential toxic and depression causing drawbacks it is also a truly wonderful tool for communication. Social media might be the modern wonder of humanity when it comes to reaching others and so with that in mind never before have we be in such a wonderful position to talk about mental health, not only to normalise it but help bring others out of the dark and stigma that its’s okay to not be okay.

From depression and anxiety caused from real world issues outside of the internet such as work, family, friends or just trying to navigate yourself through this world in which we live, all the way to that social media or virtual world triggered depression, I stand beside anyone who is not feeling okay mentally and I implore you to do the same.

Today is World Mental Health Day and while I cannot be with many of my friends and family right now, I’m still thinking of them.

We can be so much more than we are.