The Relic Spell By Jimena I. Novaro – Review

Hello friends. Today’s re blog is a book review for a wonderful urban fantasy that will see the next instalment arrive quite soon.

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A gripping tale of magic and sorcery with an important message…

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From the very start of this story I found myself immersed into an original and intricately crafted world of sorcery that is both full of action and intrigue. Jimena Novaro has written a book that also captures and reflects on modern times with a distinct rich and poor divide in the setting of ‘Port Monica’.

We are introduced to main character and hero ‘Orion Tamura’ who is perhaps the only powerful sorcerer left in town. By day he’s a regular school kid from a not so privileged family that includes two younger siblings and a mother to look out for. By night he is joined by best friend ‘Max’ and together they fight demons – there are a host of creative, fun and chilling creatures they face off throughout the story. On the surface their relationship appears to be…

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‘The Word of the Rock God’ by Brooklynn Dean – Review

An intimately descriptive fable that merges rock and roll with a powerful message…

Using an encapsulating and immersive writing style Brooklyn Dean places you on stage between your favourite musicians – that’s how it feels anyway. Its intimate and needs to be in order to capture every facial expression, every deep thought and every moment that makes up this parable or even biblical tale of the prophet who faces temptation. On the surface it could be perceived as good versus evil but beneath that is a story full of depth and meaning.

‘Max’ is content with the life he leads as a typically free spirited creative. While his bandmates ‘Phillip’ and ‘Craig’ are partying, he would rather be writing new material over coffee while feeding from the energy of performing. He’s an artist who stands for purity even relaying his message to younger people not to dive in and that it’s okay to wait for certain things in life. Not only is he placed between his two bandmates on stage but figuratively as well – ‘Phillip’ stands as a sometimes sassy but always likeable guardian of sorts, he’s an old friend or even a shoulder to cry on while ‘Craig’ is lesser so but still makes up the band on Max’s other shoulder and this is where the genius of interpretation and symbolism begins. In fact that deep symbolism is all around us.   

While we see the band and their smaller venue touring life captured night after night ‘Max’ encounters two different women who turn out to be so much more. One of them persists with temptation of the many vices our main character has avoided and they start to weigh upon him. Gradually she weaves her way beneath the surface of his consciousness and all of sudden things that never mattered to him start to take over the things that do. The positive message of purity Max carries becomes muddied and almost corrupt where once the art mattered now it seemingly doesn’t.

Like all great stories The Word of the Rock God gives the reader opportunity to interpret the symbolism of it in our own way. It’s what isn’t there that makes you think and leaves a lasting impression after. Even the ending, although satisfying is decided by those who take on these words. From the simple concept of a demon trying to tempt a prophet to the belief of your own art and even the responsibility of being in a position to deliver a message to your audience positively. Sometimes we can lose ourselves or even fall off the path while trying to be someone else so desperately, perhaps being yourself is all that matters. All of this is wrapped up with the rock and roll lifestyle of a performer who lives for his art and it’s delivered through an original unique reading experience. Highly recommended to anyone looking for something a little different.

5 Stars – Rock and roll man! Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for a review.

How I landed a deal with Bookbub!

Looking back at how I somehow landed a featured deal with prestigious book promo site Bookbub – you never know if you don’t try…

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As an author you probably don’t have to go far from the Google to find out what Bookbub is. For those not in the know, Bookbub is referred to as the ‘holy grail’ of book promotion sites and even more so for readers because it’s probably the most prestigious book connector site out there. And what’s even better is that they near enough guran-damn-tee returns on their investments…

From very early in my indie author career I tried and tried to land a promotion deal with them. Those lucky enough to land a deal report of a good amount of sales and even returns on the investment of a Bookbub ‘featured deal’ promo. Just looking at some of the ‘requirements’ for acceptance is pretty damn intimidating, with some even boasting you need 50 plus reviews, but…

Its all about looking the part and persistence…

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None of my books have anywhere…

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‘Civil Blood: The Vampire Rights Case That Changed a Nation’ by Chris Hepler – Review

An alternative but realistic take on vampires with sharp political and biological edges…

Those who know the vampire genre will also know the usual tropes that come with it. This book doesn’t have any of that. Chris Hepler has brought the concept of vampirism into a brand new light and territory that see’s it as a type of pathogen in a believable reactive world. This is of course something very relevant today and the depth of this story is found in it’s characters along with the exploration of biological and political impacts vampirism comes to have.

“…human beings are now at risk from a plague. It is crueler than cancer, crueler than AIDS, a disease that makes its victims into villains.”

There are very few books where every scene feels meticulously constructed like this one and while it is a longer read it’s clear the author has thought of everything in a story with a gritty spy thriller/espionage feel. We get to see a future that’s realistic and there are some cool gadgets that help a group of agent/spy types try to trace and put a stop to this spreading vampiric infection. All it’s going to take is for the right or wrong person with connections to ‘catch’ it and well there’s the story – but it’s way more than that.

Giving any more away would be pulling the rug under from readers who will find it original, gripping and overall engrossing, for anyone who’s interested in a political thriller with a vampire edge – something rarely seen before in literature I recommend this one highly.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon

The Best Books I have read this year – 2020

It’s hard to believe that we’ve got to this point but we have. For all the words you could use to describe the dumpster fire that is and was 2020 I am going to use the word grateful.

Grateful for the authors who have provided me with not only an escape through their wonderful works but grateful to them for providing a vital centre pillar of content for this blog – reviews. Some of these creators have become friends and important connections in the world of online authoring for me. This post is dedicated them and the best books I have read this year.

While the criteria of ‘best books’ is derived mainly from my own personal taste it is also influenced by how many views the review got on here along with my admiration for the author. These works are an extension of some wonderful personalities who make up an incredible community. So let’s dive in…

‘Nocturnal Farm’ by Villimey Mist

A flawless and fresh vampire tale full of mystery and unexpected twists…Quote from my review

For all that the vampire genre has been through over the years let’s just say it’s incredibly difficult to find originality – I should know I’ve written a couple of vamp tales myself… but the ‘Nocturnal’ series stands out to me and Villimey Mist does an awesome job at continuing a gripping story with a refreshing take on vampires. I reckon soon enough there will be a third book out so now is the perfect time to jump on the ‘Nocturnal’ rollercoaster of gore…

‘Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening!’ by DRTao

A unique mind opening insight into breaking the shells that govern our existence…Quote from my review

Here at the Hall of Information we review all types of books and this mind opening breezy self help book is the most read review of 2020 and it’s also a book the resonated with me. It focuses on breaking down the barriers in our mind like ego and ambition to give a better outlook on life. It’s worth a read trust me!

‘Nightjar’ by Paul Jameson

Pure immersive and original literature that reads much like a classic… – Quote from my review

‘Nightjar’ caught me completely off guard and before I knew it I was whisked away into the ‘Feudal Future’ through classic and uniquely stylistic description and writing. The style and story is so unique I felt compelled to reach out to author Paul Jameson some time after for a Hall of Information interview and we delved deeper into the mind and creativity of a truly awesome story teller. This book is very much a contender for my favourite of the year.

‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza

A brave expression of feeling through poetry that is both thought provoking and inspiring… – Quote from my review

Those in the WordPress Bloggersphere will know the author/poet of this collection as the awesome Stoner on a Rollercoaster and this book really stood out to me. To be able to share verses of the subjects seen within the pages of this collection is incredibly brave, creative and generous.

‘Scarred by Damien Linnane

A brutal tale of justice blinded by revenge… Quote from my review

Australian author Damien Linnane reached out for a review of his awesome revenge thriller and since then I have found out he wrote this tale while in prison – this makes for an interesting and unique personal story. We’ve spoken regularly via email about publishing and book marketing and these days you can catch him on various podcasts relaying his unique journey.

‘The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley’ by Nina Romano

A ballad of love, life and destiny in the West – Quote from my review

I’ll happily admit that I still haven’t read another romance since this one back in April but for good reason because ‘The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley’ was incredible. The epic love story between two souls is something I was really immersed in and it also made for a wonderful lockdown distraction. The Western genre is something I hold close to my heart and this one I highly recommend! Nina Romano combines well researched history with some gripping story telling.

‘Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1)’ by Colin Yeoman

A thought provokingly original novella that will leave you wanting more… Quote from my review

Combining real science with imaginative fiction all wrapped up into a novella length story is not an easy feat and Colin Yeoman succeeds with this thought provoking read that is seemingly just the beginning. The question is did man originate on Mars? And how exactly did we find ourselves on Earth? Of course this story just browses that subject which is well worth pursuing – those who like high end space sci fi especially. You can also read my review of the sequel here.

‘American Blasphemer’ by By John Gillen

A masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life… -Quote from my review

Talk about raw, emotional and candid but there are many more words I would use to describe this journey of honesty. This literary novel doesn’t hold back in what could even be the anti-bible. American Blasphemer served as my first Reedsy Discovery Review and ushered in a new era of access to higher profile authors and books. The fact Reedsy approached me is credit to the authors who provided me with books to review so I could get noticed.

‘How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal’ By S.D. McKinley

An entirely unique and original page-turning journey of variety on the open road…  – Quote from my review

This book wins the award for the most unique and ‘out there’ read of 2020 but in a fun and interesting way. S.D.McKinley has fused the buddy road trip story with elements of the paranormal and a hint of high octane. You can expect a boat load of different things all flawlessly put together in a well told story, that’s why it got 5 stars from me.

‘Moon-Sitting’ by E.M. Harding

An original and well-paced character driven sci-fi with a difference… -Quote from my review

‘Moon-Sitting’ is a cleverly written story that starts in one place and opens into a world of something much more. It stands as a book that caught me entirely off guard through the twists and revelations that become apparent. It’s books like this that give science fiction and novellas a collective positive voice. Even after six months and many books later I haven’t read anything like this one since – the world building is something that stood out especially in this one.

‘Mark of a Demon’ by Despoina Kemeridou

A modern feel-good fable of forbidden love and a hint of darkness… – Quote from my review

Despoina Kemeridou’s writing has a unique fairy tale style vibe and it is very much present in her second novel but this time there’s a more of an adult feel. Demonic forces and bargaining are at the forefront of a breezy immersive read. Despoina was also kind enough to be the first ever Hall of Information Interviewee and for that we were ever so thankful. We are looking forward to seeing what’s next from this awesome author.

‘The Player Without Luck’ by Kristina Gallo

A thrilling page turning story that will keep you immersed from the start… – Quote from my review

The works of Kristina Gallo are always guaranteed to be entertaining and considering English isn’t her first language it’s incredible how much she has achieved in publishing. As a supporter of fellow authors you’ll find her across the many social media platforms reviewing books and being a positive part of the writing community. ‘The Player Without Luck’ stood out for me with the multiple themes such as mystery, crime and deception. Here’s a recent Hall of Information interview Kristina took part in.

‘The Silent Betrayal’ by Momus Najmi

Original, eloquently written and thrilling. A tale of deception that reads like a spy thriller but carries a much deeper meaning… – Quote from my review

The ‘Silent Betrayal’ is a thrilling journey that Momus Najmi tells with an eloquent writing style. The story sees the son of a multi millionaire businessman lift the lid on a sketchy past and fortune he is set to inherit. My review stands as one of the most viewed posts of the year on here which is impressive but justified because this one is a great read and somewhat of a gem that deserves way more recognition!

‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott

One giant leap into the future of humankind via the cosmos through the vessel of science that makes for a fascinating read! – quote from my review

You should know by now that here at the Hall of Information we love a good space sci fi and ‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott is a pure visionary look into the future of humankind through some wonderful real science merged with fiction. This is one you shouldn’t miss and was another wonderful Reedsy Discovery find!

‘Deceit of the Soul: Saving the World from COVID-19: Before the Pandemic’ By Henry Cox

A thrilling and interesting page turner that looks to seek out the truth… – Quote from my review

When any major world event happens there’s always someone looking to capture the imagination and after Henry Cox reached out for a review of this book I realised that’s exactly what he did. We have all been affected by the whole covid thing and ‘Deceit of the Soul’ goes into the origins of something still very relevant now. This one is definitely worth a look.

‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’ by Marc Cavella

An entertaining gem of a read celebrating the glory days of pro wrestling with a modern voice… – Quote from my review

Some of you may know that for years I have been a fan of American pro wrestling and so after Marc Cavella reached out for a review for his short but punchy book I felt very much obliged. It captures the very essence of the ‘business’ in what is an entertaining read. Set in the much adored territorial glory days of wrestling Marc does a great job in bringing history to life with sight and sounds of a bygone era. You can read a recent Hall of Information Interview with the Marc here.

‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ by Nina Munteanu

A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart – Quote from my review

I’m being 100% serious when I say ‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. For what it stands for is truly a statement towards our own damning of this beautiful planet and our most precious resource – water. Canadian Author Nina Munteanu has put together a masterful look at where we could possibly end up if we don’t act. This one was another Reedsy Discovery find and thus totally justified my joining of the platform well and truly!

‘Blachart’ by Christina Engela

Enjoyable action-packed original space sci-fi... – Quote from my review

South African Author Christina Engela was the very first person to reach out to this site for a book review and served as an important turning point for this blog. Since then her work has probably been one of the most featured here and for good reason – she writes great books! Even though it has been a while I eventually got to the next book in the space sci fi Galaxii Series ‘Blachart’ and was not disappointed by this futuristic action packed tale of space pirates. Highly recommended!

‘Biosphere: Hazard’ by B.W. Cole

Breezy, thrilling and gripping science fiction set in a visionary world… – Quote from my review

Keeping with the space sci-fi theme ‘Biosphere: Hazard’ was a book I discovered after Distant Shore Publishing reached out for a review. It turns out they publish some awesome stuff in the form of short stories and this novella which draws influence from the likes of Alien and Bladerunner. If you like atmospheric reads then this one is for you, and me!

And so that wraps up the best books I have read this year (2020). All mentioned will feature on my Indie Book reviews page for the next 12 months!

Thank you for reading and a shout out to every author who has provided me with a book this year. Even those not mentioned, you’ve shaped this blog to bigger and better heights which is all propped up by reviewing and embracing books!

See you in the next one!

‘Amazon Keywords for Books: How to Use Keywords for Better Discovery on Amazon’ by Dale L. Roberts – Review

Essential reading for marketing books effectively while gaining a better understanding of Amazon key words and beyond..

There is so much information in this clear and concise guide which is designed to help anyone who is published via Amazon reach readers through the concept of shared interests using keywords – while this may sound technical and it might be but Dale L. Roberts explains this concept flawlessly and easily. Not once did I have to re-read anything although I will be going back many times to use this guide as a reference point to improve my own book marketing efforts. While reading it I have already implemented some of the valuable advice given.

The guide begins with Dale relaying a conversation he had with a few old friends who share the same interests and this serves as an example throughout in how we can find an audience that can relate to our books to eventually drive sales. That ideal reader is out there and we just need to build a bridge to them through keywords. Of course we get a plethora of information on keywords like what they are, why they are important and how best to use them. It’s upfront about the fact keywords aren’t all that sell books but they are indeed important.

The world of selling books on Amazon can be daunting especially if you don’t know much about it but this guide has given me a lot more than I used to know and there are even some other valuable outside the box tips that opened my eyes. From search engine algorithms to the relevancy of key words alongside many more useful articles linked throughout and at the end of what I consider an essential read for all authors.

5 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

Review: Darke Awakening by Lee Hall — SDMcKinley.com – indie author / blogger

A tip of the cap to fellow author and blogger S.D McKinley for this wonderful review of ‘Darke Awakening’.

Be sure to head on over to his blog and give it a follow!

I read the first book in this series titled Open Evening and I can tell you that this writer ( Hall ) has evolved. Toward the beginning of the book, with the rocks and the lake, it reminded me of lofty, floaty feelings I got when reading Storm Constantine’s The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence […]

Review: Darke Awakening by Lee Hall — SDMcKinley.com – indie author / blogger

‘The Ghost of Whitmore Manor’ by Sarah Jayne Harry – Review

A breezy paranormal romance with a young adult edge…

For a short book Sarah Jayne Harry has managed to deliver a satisfying story with a range of themes with an easy to read writing style. There’s a young adult vibe from the very start as ‘Charlotte’; a paranormal sceptic is dared to spend the night in an abandoned manor house. It’s spooky and descriptive from sight to smell and we even get a harrowing backstory of the place – some elements of this book do go to dark places and this is mentioned beforehand but only for a short while and it’s not exploitative but necessary for plot and eventual resolve. On this night our main character and narrator comes across ‘Lewis’ a ghost which she befriends. This friendship in turn becomes something more.

We also see ‘Charlotte’s’ home life where her over protective and abusive Father casts a shadow over everything while the pressure of succeeding in school is ever present. There are other characters in this story, even if they are smaller parts they contribute to the wider picture. Soon this picture culminates with a choice or suggestion that ‘Lewis’ makes and an ending perfect for the genre. I would have liked to of seen perhaps a little more between ‘Lewis’ and ‘Charlotte’ but for a short read which most will complete in one sitting, it makes for a perfect spooky season experience.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon

‘Awake’ by Andrew Palmer – Review

An original techno-psychological thriller that captures the essence and surrealism of dreams with a sinister edge…

In the not too far future ‘Edward Morrison’ is a computer programming prodigy with a million dollar corporation behind him. His main objective in life is to create and complete a ‘dream machine’ prototype that looks to replicate REM sleep conditions while also providing a virtual reality that cannot be distinguished from the real world. And what exactly is real and just a dream? Well that’s the partial genius readers face in this story as the lines become blurred capturing the surreal element of what our dreams can be.

While Edward is determined and engrossed in the work he also carries a complex childhood trauma that plagues his nightmares throughout the story, hence the connection between him and the dream concept. He’s a reclusive type and initially helped only by ‘Athena’ who eventually serves as something with too much control and power which becomes a threat – like the technology in this story, it’s created with the best intentions but humans have a tendency to foster the worst outcomes. Control seems to be the metaphor that holds everything together here.

In the latter stages there were a few moments that felt a little hard to follow as the concept of what was a dream and what wasn’t played out. While readers will need to pay close attention at this point it also heightened the psychological sense of what was going through the MC’s mind. The writing style is descriptive and easy to follow with chapters that are well paced.

The concept of connection through the unconscious as mentioned by Andrew Palmer in the acknowledgment brings a twist and satisfying resolve via the estranged ‘Cura’ who serves as an important character throughout. Dreams and the human mind make for a fascinating subject which is put beside the perhaps danger of technology making this story an interesting and imaginative read.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘The Pirate Captain – A love story’ by Jill A. Logan – Review

A feel-good swashbuckling fairy tale style romance of the seven seas…

The Pirate Captain is an easy to read short but fun tale that follows the journey of young lady ‘Avalee’ who escapes her abusive confines and empty promises made to her for an education. From the first page we get a lot of information that helps set the scene as her life transitions from that confinement to escape and the terror of being on the run to an eventual destination; that being a stowaway on an infamous Pirate’s ship.

After some quick thinking our heroine disguises herself to fit in and talks her way into joining the crew of this vessel. She changes her name and spends her days adjusting to the life of a pirate in sometimes amusing and possibly disastrous ways that almost reveal her true identity. All the time ‘Lee’s’ journey unfolds a slow burning admiration for the ship’s captain begins to form into something more.

The strength of this story is the slow build towards an eventual romance which runs the course of an enjoyable tale where the worst of situations in life bring the best possible outcomes. Nearer the end it get’s a little steamy making this one probably better suited for a more mature audience. My only real critique is that the story does tend to tell as opposed to show but for a shorter book that works.

4 Stars -Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads.