Giving the Gifts of BOOKS

Seeing as November is flying past its time to consider the ‘C’ word and some potential book shaped gift ideas brought to you by Megan….

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As usual we need some music to set the mood:

All I want for Christmas is…BOOKS. That works right? 

With the Holiday Season right around the corner here is a list of book recommendations for your gift giving. Books are universal and beloved by many so why not give them as gifts. Growing up I can recall many holidays and birthdays where books were given.

Giving the Gifts of BOOKS  

Dark White

By Neil Christiansen

A modern noir thriller. Gavin Gayle is a myth, a Chicago urban legend. The man that takes care of things when the justice system fails. The shocking truth is, he’s real. Sent to prison unjustly, he is secretly released in order to exact revenge on the unjust by a corrupt State’s Attorney. His life is a secret that she controls. When Gavin’s ex-girlfriend is accused of the murder of a Justice Department lawyer looking…

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Weekly Ramble #128

Constantly chasing higher numbers on social media can be draining. Especially when you think you’ve figured out the answers, they go ahead and change the questions. Who are they? The platforms and their algorithms which to me are kind of like a gym membership – costly enough for you to return most weeks but also designed to cast the illusion that you are making progress but actually you are in the same place.

How do I cope with the constant mind fu** that this can all be? Quite simply, I take it one day at a time and honestly, I enjoy the challenge and the connections I make with others. Seeing faces or those behind the handles return everyday to face the same grind as me provides comfort because social media can be a lonely places sometimes, it can feel like you are drifting in space but there are good folks out there and together we make it bearable.

I’m doing my best to up my Twitter game because 20,000 follows is on the near horizon but it just feels like things have slowed on the platform and as someone who is experienced with it I know the problem probably sits with me. The times are moving on from the pandemic ‘everyone is always online’ era and a time where I managed to seize the opportunity. In the past 16 months I made the best of this blog, my author career and wider social media presence but now I’m going to need to adapt to this newer emerging world. But people will always take what you are offering, whether it be content or just your presence, remember that constantly chasing numbers can be a psychological minefield but on social media you get results near enough instantly. So for now I’ll keep chasing because bigger better things are coming.

‘Fear and Fury’ by Jamie Jackson – Review

An unconventional and enjoyable superhero tale told with buckets of unique personality…

There are heroes and there are villains and then there’s’ Meg’ who tries her best to survive between the fringes of those forces and life in general. Her job is not so great and her outlook on life leans towards just wanting to be left alone. We find this out through an unconventional and sometimes comedic fourth-wall-breaking narration style that has literally buckets of personality and snark. Of course this flavor and comedy in general is a challenge to get right especially in this day and age where some readers refuse to receive it but me, I very much enjoyed that element which was executed very well by Jamie Jackson while only being part of a complex story because ‘Meg’ has a unique super power with a darker edge.

That power is rather a hot commodity to some, we see all around Superman type ‘Greg’ persistently trying to recruit our main character while on the other side of proceedings a sinister collector of powers known as ‘Red Eye’ is also pursuing her. In between being told to ‘shut up’ by ‘Meg’ we see her trying to juggle options she is constantly caught between and her deadly power is always whispering. Her control over those voices can sometimes have consequences that not even she is able to control.

‘I told the whispers to watch over me. And they agreed, because they wanted more blood…’

Its easy to read and full of some wonderful description along with great dialogue which I sometimes felt was broken up by narration that confides in the reader pulling me out for only a moment or two – my only real critique because everything else left me wanting to turn pages, know more about this world and where this story could possibly go.

4 Stars – A different take on the tired superhero genre and done rather well.

A Bitter Drink Release!

Book Release Alert!

Fellow blogger and author Azalea Forrest has a new fantasy adventure book out called ‘A Bitter Drink’.

More information below….

A Forrest Writes

It’s finally here! A Bitter Drink is officially out in the world. 😊 If you’re a fan of fantasy with familiar themes but with unique twists, and the biggest focus on the characters themselves, you’re gonna wanna read this! I’ve been waiting a long time, and working extensively, to get A Bitter Drink into the hands of readers, and I am so thrilled to finally be at the dawn of its release. I am so humbled and awed by my fans, friends, and readers. Thank you for helping make this possible!

A Bitter Drink is now available in ebook and paperback formats, with hardcover to come soon!

So, what’s A Bitter Drink about?

A Bitter Drink is a high fantasy/adventure novel featuring Rowan Moss, a hedonistic lush as the acting ambassador for his people: the Dahlsia.

A relatively new race, these plantfolk reside to the southeast of the Liacris continent…

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Not What I Was Expecting- Prologue

Introducing fellow author and blogger Eleanor who presents some new descriptive fiction.

Eleanor DeSouza -The Life Of A Weirdo

As I look out of my window I see red. I shouldn’t see red. A deep, dark threatening red has replaced the sky, with spasms of light splayed across it. Fear has coiled its fingers around my insides and is tightening its grip. My lips are jittering, trying to form words. Sentences. I’m left with nothing. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the glimmering bunting from my eleventh birthday party only a few weeks ago. Flashing memories of village halls, stomping feet and my first phone. The only movement my body exudes is from the rigid inhale and exhale of breath. This is complemented by my shaking my ribcage and frozen eyes. Wrenching me from my cryogenic-like state is a smash of glass and a guttural cry. I bolt out of my bedroom and down the stairs, trainers landing with a muted thud at the end. I…

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Awesome Recommended Indie Reads 5

It feels like a while since I did one of these and the indie book review train just keeps on rolling all the way to 43 reviews for this year. From jet-setting thrillers to romance all the way to mystery thrillers full of twists, here’s what I have been reading and reviewing recently.

‘Everything, Except You’ by Emma Jordan

A feel-good cosy romance story about two passionate souls…

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford

Cleverly plotted British mystery thriller with darker psychological tones and twists…

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘Deceit of the Earth – Heavy Metal’ by Henry Cox

A thrilling jet-setting tale of deception stretching further than anyone can imagine…

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz 

An easy-to-read mystery full of intrigue, atmosphere and chills…

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘Stars Never Die: A Movie To Die For’ by Walrus

‘Quick, fun and easy to read race against time story with murder mystery vibes…’

3 Stars

Full Review Here

‘Beginner’s Luck’ by M.J. Furtek

‘A breezy action-packed and unpredictable page-turning spy thriller that could go anywhere next…’

4 Stars

Full Review Here

3 Discounted Books – Today Only!

Lee Hall’s US Amazon Page Link

Lee Hall’s UK Amazon Page Link

The Ghost Beside Me – Paranormal Romance

Regular Price $/£2.99

Today’s Price $/£0.99

In recent times ‘Ghost’ has been doing most of my authory heavy lifting and is becoming an author’s favourite. Just 60 pages long, this powerful but short romance captures everything about love in the moment.

Recent Reviews:

The Teleporter – Super Hero Comedy

Regular Price $/£2.99

Today’s Price $/£0.99

KABLAMO! 2021’s most successful Lee Hall title has far surpassed my expectations this year with over 10,000 people downloading it in a single day and the 140 new ratings/reviews. Not all of them were favourable and that’s plenty of reason alone to check it out. And if you didn’t like it, the book is only a few hundred pages anyway…

Recent Review:

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age – Self-help guide.

Regular Price $3.99/£2.99

Today’s Price $/£0.99

Best Value

Considering the usual price, for 99 cents or pence you’ll get the best value for money in a guide that tells you everything I have learned to be successful in this author/blogger game and how you can too! With 20 ratings in the first year of release CCC is becoming my most successful title.

Recent Review:

Lee Hall’s US Amazon Page Link

Lee Hall’s UK Amazon Page Link

Question of the Hour Presents: Author Howard Hachey

Fellow blogger and author Megan shares an excellent interview with Howard Hachey.

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What a trip. A little Orwellian, a little horrific, but a trip worth taking. Howard Hachey has a unique talent for making you thing while grossing you out. ‘Soupy’ is a word that will never have any other context except how it was used in this collection. Highly recommend to any one that enjoys The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents…Oddities in deed.(In) Valid Circumstances

It’s time for another author interview, I will say that this is one of the most honest, open, refreshing and truthful interviews I have ever had the pleasure of doing. My appreciation to Howard Hachey for his candor.

With out further adieu here is Author Howard Hachey.

What do you write?

So far, I’ve written two horror novels (The Doll Man Duology), a scifi/horror/abstract anthology ((In)Valid Circumstances), and am currently working on a fictional memoir (

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‘The Rusted Hook’ by J.E Clarkson

The buzzer cut into my consciousness for the tenth time that day. I ignored it again as I had the previous nine times. 

“We’ll be back again later. We know you’re in there. You can’t keep us out forever,” a man’s voice yelled up towards the window.

“Oh yes, I can, you bastards,” I thought, and continued to sit on the floor and out of sight. I heard the letterbox clatter and the dull thud of something heavy hitting the hallway floor. I was curious but gave it five minutes before I sneaked downstairs to see what it was. 

I knelt onto the hallway carpet and looked at the thick booklet that had been posted through the letterbox.

“NOTICE OF INTENTION TO ENTER & SEARCH YOUR PREMISES – REMOVAL NOTICE.

Due to your failure to pay an outstanding Magistrates Court Fine a Bailiff, under the instructions of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has attended your premises today with the intention of levying distress and removing your goods.

The Magistrates Distress Warrant empowers the Bailiff from Lawson & Associates, by virtue of Schedule 4A of the Domestic Violence, Crime, and Victims Act 2004, to enter your premises by force should you wilfully refuse to pay the outstanding fine and costs.

To prevent the removal of your goods and the expensive additional removal costs you must make immediate payment to the Bailiff. Failure to do so will result in the Bailiff re-attending your premises with Locksmiths and the Police to remove your goods even in your absence.

No further notice will be issued.”

I slammed the booklet down onto the floor and held my head in my hands. What the hell was I going to do now? Ever since I’d settled into the centre of the city, I’d had nothing but trouble.  I’d thought that it was just because it was so bloody expensive to live there. But something about it was weird. I’d got into debt before and yet it had taken a very long time before any of the companies had taken any action. I’d only been here a few months and missed a couple of payments and nothing major as far as I’d seen but almost straight away these thugs had been sniffing around and trying to gain access to the flat. It was happening at all times of day and night too. 

Gingerly, I held open the letterbox flap to see if I could recognise my tormentors for the next time they came to visit. I could just about see across to the opposite side of the road and noticed a couple of men standing there. One of them was a tallish, wiry figure. He was wearing square-rimmed glasses that glinted slightly in the sunlight. He leaned nonchalantly against the lamppost next to him and looked straight towards the flat. He didn’t seem like he had much intention of moving. I crawled on my hands and knees towards the small chest of drawers where I kept a few odds and ends and pulled open the top drawer. I immediately found what I was looking for, a small pair of binoculars that my adoptive dad had given me. I put the binocular string around my neck and crawled back towards the letterbox. Just before I reached it, the brass flap flew open. Instinctively, I flattened to the ground and willed that the bailiff wouldn’t notice me there. My breath caught in my throat and I willed myself not to panic. I could see from my position a pair of bespectacled, beady eyes, looking right back into mine.

“So, there you are,” the man hissed through the letterbox, “if you’ll just let us in and pay what you owe, then all of this unpleasantness will just go away.”

I noticed that when he spoke, one of his teeth also gleamed in the light. I found it almost as disconcerting as what he had to say.

“I haven’t got it,” I spat, “and I can’t understand how I can owe so much? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Well, maybe you aren’t quite as good with money as you think you are,” the man replied.

The letterbox flap clattered shut, I heard footsteps walking away from the door, and then everything went silent for a few moments and I thought that the bailiff had maybe given up for the day and disappeared. Gradually, I pulled myself up onto my haunches and opened the letterbox flap once more. That pair of beady eyes were staring back at me. I sprang backward away from the door as if I’d been burnt and crawled away as quickly as I could.

The flap opened one last time.

“We’ll be back,” the man yelled through the hole, “and next time we won’t take no for an answer.”

—————————————————————————————————————————

“Sorry that I couldn’t come round to yours,” I said, looking at Ellen sadly, “my shout as soon as I can sort all of this out.”

“Don’t you stress about it,” Ellen replied, “it’s the least I can do when you’re having to worry about the demon bailiffs from hell.” She reached over and poured some cheap wine into a plastic cup, “at least the gits don’t hang around at night.”

“They do, but just not tonight, for some reason. I just don’t get it,” I said and shook my head slightly. “There’s something weird about all of this. Firstly there was all of that stuff with the bank…”

“Yeah, but they’re going to sort that out for you though,” Ellen replied.

“Ellen, it’s been three months now and there’s no sign of that money,” I replied between mouthfuls of fried rice.

“You know how long these things take. It’s like waiting for Christmas,” she replied.

I looked at her and nodded but I wasn’t convinced. It wasn’t the first time that I’d ever had any fraudulent activity on my account but it was the first time that it had ever happened multiple times by different fraudsters. At first, I thought that maybe I’d accidentally clicked onto a phishing link in a junk email but that just didn’t ring true. In the background, I heard a distant ping. I set down my plate and grabbed my bag. Taking out my phone, I noticed that it was blinking with a new notification. It was yet another from the bank. There’d been a further unauthorised withdrawal and for fifty quid this time. As  I tried to log in, my fingers hardly worked at all. They didn’t feel part of my hands anymore and it took several attempts before I could successfully gain access to it again.
“Here we go again,” I said and ran my fingers through my hair in frustration.

“Who is it this time?” Ellen asked.

“It’s just a nonsense combination of letters and numbers, 5T3LL4. The cheeky sods have even added a transfer fee because the withdrawal wasn’t in pounds,” I replied. “I’m beginning to feel like someone’s got it in for me.”

Ellen looked me straight in the eye.

“Oh come on now, I know you’ve had a bit of a run of bad luck but now you’re starting to sound paranoid,” she said, taking a large gulp of wine from the cup.

“A run of bad luck?” I laughed bitterly, “can you honestly say you’ve ever known anyone else who’s had this happen to them? This level of fraud, I mean, so often and by so many different people?”

Ellen looked thoughtful for a moment and didn’t answer immediately.

“No, I can’t honestly say that I have,” she replied and looked uncomfortable. “But what you’re suggesting sounds like something out of a book. I mean, that sort of thing doesn’t happen in real life does it? And even if it does, why on earth would they pick you?”

I looked back at Ellen and then down at my bank statement again. 

“I don’t know, Ellen. I really don’t know.”

—————————————————————————————————————————

I hadn’t slept at all and when the sunlight broke through the curtains the next morning, I felt as if I’d been awake for a week. Ellen had already gone and left a hastily scrawled note on the drawers in the hallway,

“Stop stressing. See you later.”

I straightened up and looked at my pasty reflection in the mirror.

“Easy for you to say,” I replied and was about to turn away to leave when I noticed a leaflet on the doormat. I was sure that I hadn’t seen it the day before and was about to throw it away when I noticed that it was a flier for a recruitment agency. I picked it up and looked over it. It was certainly eye-catching as it featured a red background and black lettering.

“S.T. Ella Recruitment. Specialists in city recruiting. Wide range of employment opportunities available. Extremely competitive rates. Enroll @ www.st.ella.bs.com.” I thought that I had already signed up with all of the local employment agencies and so I was surprised to find out that there was another. I wondered if it was recently opened or I’d just missed it as a result of my recent difficulties? Either way, it sounded like it was worth a shot. I was willing to try anything to keep Lawson and associates from breaking down my door and it seemed like I was running out of time.

————————————————————————————————————————— 

The S.T. Ella Recruitment website wasn’t very subtle, it employed the self-same colour scheme as the flier had, a deep red background with black writing. There was only one small difference, the website featured a photo of a black swan in the centre of the page. I wondered what the significance of the picture was, but then batted my curiosity away as it was likely to be some kind of corporate branding and because of the situation I was in, I didn’t have time to question further. I merely registered with the website as quickly as I could, uploaded a CV, and hoped that I would at least have a couple of hours before the bailiffs started to ring the buzzer again. I had only just sat down when I heard my phone ping once again. Expecting it to be yet another fraud notification from the bank, I almost didn’t check it but when I did, I saw that it was an email forwarded by S.T. Ella Recruitment. Puzzled, I looked at the time on the phone display. It was only ten minutes since I’d uploaded my CV. It surely couldn’t have been an offer already? And yet, it was.

It was an offer to work as a cleaner for a city-centre office, Nemo and Co. When I read through the email so much of it was strange. The CV that I had uploaded made no mention of having any cleaning experience. It was far more suited to working in an admin role, but when I saw how much money was being offered, I began to feel persuaded. A small part of me felt slightly wary of what was being offered as it seemed too good to be true, but a larger part of me didn’t give a shit. Hiding from the bailiffs was starting to get very old and I wanted to get things sorted out with them and the bank as quickly as I possibly could. The sort of money that Nemo and Co. were offering meant that even if the security issues with the bank weren’t immediately sorted, I would have enough to open another account and sort out what I owed the bailiffs. And all within a couple of weeks. I sent off a quick email of acceptance to the recruiters and hoped that I hadn’t just agreed to another kind of scam. I placed the phone back into my bag and went into the kitchen to make a coffee hoping that it would enable me to at least function at a basic level for the rest of the morning while I divided my time between tidying up and hiding from the bailiffs for the rest of the day.

When I reappeared in the lounge again, I noticed the phone’s blue light blinking. I picked it up and saw that there were three notifications, one from the recruiters, one from the bank, and one from Nemo and Co. Not wanting to open anything from the bank, I resolved to check that notification last. I began with the message from the recruiters.

“Congratulations, your application to work for Nemo and Co. has been accepted. The company will contact you in due course.” 

Once I had read this, I was fairly certain what the Nemo and Co. message would be about. I was right that it was the job offer, but the terms of employment were bizarre, as was the insistence on secrecy. How many secrets would I be a party to as a cleaner anyway? Yet the weirdness of the offer was far less of a problem than anything else that was happening in my life and so I decided to just forget about it and take the money. 

At that moment, the buzzer to the flat sounded and instinctively shot to the floor. There was silence for a few moments and then I heard the same voice who had shouted through the letterbox the day before.

“You don’t need to come to the door. Your account has been settled. We won’t be visiting you again.”

I wondered if I was hearing things or if it was even a kind of trick to encourage me to open the door, but when I looked out of the window, I could see the bespectacled man crossing over the road and opening the driver’s side door to a waiting people carrier. Before he got in, he turned to look up at the window and I thought I heard him shout,

“Check your bank,”  then he nodded and drove away.

Out of curiosity, I did just that and was astonished to find that not only had every fraudulent payment had been repaid, but they had also been erased from the accounts altogether. It was as if they’d never existed.


This is a prologue of the dystopian Nemo & Co series by J.E. Clarkson. You can find more information about the series here and you can find J.E. Clarkson on Twitter.

‘Beginner’s Luck’ by M.J. Furtek – Review

A breezy action-packed and unpredictable page-turning spy thriller that could go anywhere next…

After assassin and super killing machine ‘Hildur’ is befallen to a somewhat freak accident the circumstances after place her in danger and ultimately onto a journey of trying to escape a net closing in around her. Danger and deception are following and around near enough every corner there are challenges and mystery.

M.J. Furtek does a great job of keeping the reader on the edge while only really revealing information as the characters find it out. There’s a heap of mystery and intrigue here, intrigue to know who exactly is leading the chase and it keeps you turning pages albeit quickly. Based in Iceland there are some nice descriptive visuals paired with a remote Island feel which is perfect for a chase story accompanied by some clever spy-esque sequences – perhaps a perfect combination. This could easily be Jason Bourne with the whole mystery element along with the tones that are on point while being paired with that European landscape/feel.

With short but breezy chapters and a modern writing style that hooks you in from the very start, this is a spy chase thriller that will guarantee to entertain, immerse and leave readers wanting more by the end – I know I did.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery