‘A Stranger From the Storm’ by William Burton McCormick – Review

Brilliant fun – a historical mystery with plenty of atmosphere

This is a very enjoyable historical tale that whisks the reader away to early 1900’s Odessa. Immediately the atmosphere drew me in as William Burton McCormick sets the scene during a storm and we meet two mischievous but very likeable twin sisters ‘Eleni’ and ‘Tasia’. A much-needed new guest arrives at their family boarding house where they suspect he may have something to do with a string of recent murders committed by someone only known as ‘The Specter’.

The behaviour of this new arrival arouses the sister’s suspicions and in a city with a known killer they begin to pry. Their results and antics which follow are both fun and chilling – their dialogue interaction with each other in particular is very well done and touches on so many elements of humour, perhaps a coping mechanism for the chilling events going on.

Of course like most mysteries the big reveal tends to make or break the story and after a few twists the ending was indeed unexpected and satisfying. With historic elements and fun witty dialogue that carries an intriguing story, this one is definitely for you if you enjoy those things – I certainly did!

5 Stars

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads #8

And so the journey of reading indie books continues. Here are some of my recent reads…

‘Sentinel: Galaxii Book 4’ by Christina Engela

Immersive and enjoyable space-sci fi…’

Full Review

‘A Still Life’ by Elliott Wink

Short and intriguing, an original sci-fi tale perfect for reading in one sitting…

Full Review

‘Dead of Winter’ by Antoinette McCormick 

‘It comes in the night…’

Full Review

Check out Lee Hall on Patreon

‘Fallout’ by Pat Griffith

An imaginative and highly original tale about first contact with corporeal beings from another world some of which are already here….

Full Review

‘Where Darkness Meets Light’ by Sabrine Elouali

Thought-provoking poetry reflecting many themes surrounding the dark and light…

Full Review

‘San Francisco Suite: A Rudy Parsons Story’ by Ethan McCaffery

Well-written detective mystery with noir tones and a metaphysical twist…

Full Review

‘Pirate Sea’ by Kyler Kuehler 

A swashbuckling and sometimes brutal tale packed with action

Full Review

And so that wraps up another edition of awesome recommended indie reads. Thanks for stopping by and remember to leave a review after your next read!

‘Pirate Sea’ by Kyler Kuehler – Review

A swashbuckling and sometimes brutal tale packed with action

Pirate Sea is a page-turning swashbuckling tale with a brutal edge that follows young ‘James Vane’ as he is captured by a band of pirates in the 1700’s. The writing style is both a befitting tribute to the famous pirate tales seen in classic literature whilst also having a modern feel.

Not long after readers are introduced to the story do we see events turn for the worst for young ‘James’ as his father’s ship is intercepted by the infamous pirate vessel known as the ‘Blood Revenge’ and helmed by Captain ‘Scar Eye’ – I enjoyed the naming here, it felt both original and familiar which hit the right tones for a pirate themed story. Soon enough those events turn brutal which is something that rings true from real history, this isn’t just the glamour of swords and sails, its gritty and violent. This is also a sign of things to come.

“He was pure pirate and reasoning with pure pirate was impossible”

A quote that sums up the journey James would have to take in this story to find any kind of redemption or escape and there is a heap of character development as he adjusts to these new pirate surroundings. It is during this journey that he discovers a history that is very close and personal and with it comes a tale I very much enjoyed.

4 Stars

‘San Francisco Suite: A Rudy Parsons Story’ by Ethan McCaffery – Review

Well-written detective mystery with noir tones and a metaphysical twist…

This is a well-written well-balanced story that follows Private Detective Rudy Parsons who takes on the case of a missing person after vivid vision. Gradually a strangeness unfolds that seems to be following Rudy as he tries to decipher what is happening whilst also tracking down this missing person in downtown San Francisco.

Just what is real and what isn’t? That vision seems to contain some truth as the events begin to unfold along with the intrigue. There’s heaps of mystery and atmosphere here and that is without mentioning the personality of Rudy who is a likeable narrator and even has a fitting catchphrase.

“My friends call me Rudy. My enemies call me Parsons…”

Having read this in just one sitting it left me wanting more and shorter reads can sometimes be lacking in any substance but not for this one as it appears to just be the tip of an iceberg very much worth exploring further. Very enjoyable.

5 Stars

‘Where Darkness Meets Light’ by Sabrine Elouali – Review

Thought-provoking poetry reflecting many themes surrounding the dark and light…

This is a rich collection of poetry that serves as a reflection of many themes that mainly surround dark and light. Some verses rhyme whilst others don’t but all of them have their own power whether it be poignant or even brief, poetry is a creative reflection of one’s inner thoughts and it can be impromptu or planned, I kind of gathered the vibes of both through the many poems by Sabrine Elouali which I enjoyed.

In particular, ‘Questions’ resonated with me and ‘Illusion’ which merely suggested some of the deeper thoughts that followed after reading them and that is the sign of any good writing, laying something out that evokes feeling, but the readers imagination is given freedom to do the rest. Having grabbed a digital copy of this collection for free, I’d say that’s more than a bargain for some great poetry.

5 Stars

Self-Help Book Rec’s

If in doubt there’s probably a self-help book out there for it and so this post is dedicated to some of the self-help books I highly recommend. From writing craft to the finer details of marketing to even changing the way we think, let us dive in.

‘Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing’ By Catherine Ryan Howard

If there was one book that paved the way for this blog’s very existence, it would be this guide by Catherine Ryan Howard who has since gone on to have massive success with her writing – I’m talking six figure publishing deal kind of success, and my journey was inspired by Self-Printed which is a guide for both authors and bloggers. The writing style is fun and its a great insight into what it takes to self publish.

‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ – Stephen King

Say what you like about probably the greatest American story-teller of a generation and seemingly it appears to be the fashion to not like him in some circles but Stephen King has put together a fantastic guide that is both craft and practical based. I’d say that anyone who is looking to get more from their writing should invest in this one, its not even that long for a King book, so win win.

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

Keeping to the theme of shorter guides, ‘Break Them All’ refers to unlocking the potential of your own mind by overcoming things such as ego and ambition in a positive sense to be a better person. Easy to read and also intelligent, this different but great guide is well worth a look.

‘Lazy Creativity: The Art of Owning Your Creativity’ by Kyle Bernier

I discovered this guide via Reedsy Discovery and ‘Lazy Creativity’ kind of normalises the fact that its okay to be lazy in your creative endeavours. Its detailed and covers many different types of creativity from the view of an artist who is also therapist. It certainly opened my eyes.

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

Another Reedsy Discovery find and it’s an incredible eye opening resource for those published via Amazon – most reading this are and this book focuses on the power of Amazon’s search bar/key word optimization. This is just the tip of a big iceberg that deep dives into how the world’s biggest book retailer functions. Highly recommended.

‘The Art & Business of Writing: A Practical Guide to the Writing Life’ by Chris Jones

Chris Jones lays out his tenured journey in the writing industry while generously passing on his wisdom in an easy-to-read guide full of resources that will either help or reassure the modern writer or both. Many other guides suffer from over informing or throwing way too much at once to the reader but here we get a fine balance between just the right amount of information and a tone that is friendly and consistent.

And so that wraps up my self-help book rec’s. Thank you for reading!

‘Fallout’ by Pat Griffith – Review

An imaginative and highly original tale about first contact with corporeal beings from another world some of which are already here….

Pat Griffith takes readers on an original and unexpected journey that begins in one place and then takes a direction I did not see coming. A group of high school aged friends spend an evening camped out in the woods for some stargazing and experience something none of them could have possibly expected. And then there’s first contact as the real story kicks in.

The light around them dimmed, eliminating the shadows. The sun grew cold and the wind blew harder. As they looked up, gravitating toward each other, there was a mutual, unspoken question between them: What in the world was that?’

The pace suddenly quickens as its apparent this fallen meteorite contains life that has a unique invisible ability to spilt and take over a human mind. This life even has a conscience and thought process even if it does find the human anatomy seemingly foreign. After hitching a ride on their nearest hosts the chase begins as the authorities are informed – the FBI who usually turn up to these things are on the case and then comes the realisation that some of these beings were already here, hiding amongst us. The focus is on the human mind and how it can be altered or even intercepted to the point where they (the humans) are no longer in control.

Through the vessel of some wonderful description and heaps of originality we are taken on this ride of chase and hide adventure as these beings intercept and try to run. There are even those in authority who have succumbed to the effects of them. What they want is never really known but does it matter? Perhaps not because like all life, that’s probably what they want, to live. There are brief shades of Invasion of the Body Snatchers but with a less horror-esque tone and more of a focus on that corporeal life that silently takes on a human host.

For anyone looking to read an original sci-fi adventure about life from another planet that intercepts life on this one, this is definitely one for you!

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Dead of Winter’ by Antoinette McCormick – Review

‘It comes in the night…’

Antoinette McCormick delivers an atmospheric and descriptive story of ‘Amara’ who is on a quest to solve her twin sister’s murder and the circumstances that have seemingly followed her since childhood. Just what exactly is this mysterious force stalking her? It seems to have always been there and the mystery keeps the reading experience intriguing.

As the events unfold, reader’s are left guessing with a writing style that can best be described as textbook horror where not too much is given away whilst leaving readers wanting to know more. In near enough every chapter something unexpected unfolds keeping everything on edge with a certain urgency. To find out what exactly happened ‘Amara’ must explore memories of her sister through a unique procedure giving the story a sci-fi futuristic edge. The ending although satisfying to me will definitely be the course of some division but like all good stories, they always are. For anyone looking for an atmospheric and thrilling tale with mystery, this is the one for you!

5 Stars

‘A Still Life’ by Elliott Wink – Review

Short and intriguing, an original sci-fi tale perfect for reading in one sitting…

I read this intriguing sci-fi novelette in just one sitting and very much enjoyed the concept. Narrator and receptionist android ‘Addie’ has worked in a hotel for many years and its a place that has seemingly passed by from near enough all human contact, in fact, there hasn’t been a guest for a long time. Is the place closed or is there something else sinister at play here?

Whilst the guests may have left years ago, the hotel staff of two continue their tasks even if it appears they have been forgotten although we are never really given any finer details and this is just one of concepts that feeds the readers imagination. We see snippets of ‘Addie’s’ past and how her near human make-up has provided an almost existential conundrum that results in questioning her very own existence. Perhaps all she wants to be is human and have a purpose, this story does a fantastic job of exploring what its like to be alone whilst not fully understanding who you are. Very enjoyable.

5 Stars

‘Sentinel: Galaxii Book 4’ by Christina Engela – Review

Immersive and enjoyable space-sci fi

Christina Engela returns with her immersive and enjoyable brand of space sci-fi in the latest instalment of the Galaxii series.

Captain ‘Sonia La Belle’ is tasked with an uphill struggle of bringing the starship I.S.S. Munray back up to better standards. With mostly disorganised personnel and the ways of a former disgraced captain leaving the ship in disarray, not to mention an old flame on the crew, this new skipper has her work cut out and then come the space pirates.

In the wake of these ‘Corsairs’ being a near enough wiped out, two particular outlaws find themselves in possession of a dooms day-esque technology that threatens not just ‘La Belle’s’ reputation but much more. A pirate resurgence begins along with a matter-of-time chase that ensues with drama and deception at the forefront of a great story delivered by way of Engela’s best writing to date. For anyone looking to for some fun space sci-fi immersion then ‘Sentinel’ is the book for you!

5 Stars – thank you to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!