The Sawyer Shepherd Chronicles: Rites of Passage by Chad Lehrmann – Review

A twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret…

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It doesn’t take long for the action to get going in what is a multi genre tale that sits within the fringes of supernatural thriller. ‘Sawyer Shepherd’ takes the lead in this book’s best feature; an ensemble of characters that have depth. He carries the typical mysterious past well even though he just happens to roll into town at the right time – but stories with prophecy and the like justify that to an extent because for me this book worked as an escape.

The setting comes as a strong second and is delivered with a unique style of writing that runs throughout. There is however a lot of cliche moments that some will probably roll their eyes at, but saying that, tropes are there for a reason, because they work and for all the moments that appear to be typical of the genre, most of the time they tick all the right boxes. Saying that I particularity enjoyed the original take on big business developers and how they fit into the threat element of the story and their perception of power.

The dialogue at some points I found to be perhaps a little tongue in cheek along with a romance that felt pushed which then suddenly back tracked. Fans of character driven narratives about ancient evil, secret demon fighting societies and unpredictable action will find plenty to get their ‘claws’ into. There are even some fitting tributes to some of the authors influences which made for a nice touch.

The book breezes by with decent pacing and a few revelations along the way including a double twist in the final stages. Although it was enjoyable, and a wider story is hinted throughout, I’m not sure the ending carried enough weight to interest readers in a potential sequel. Either way new stories about perhaps older tropes deserve to be recognised.

3 Stars – This review premiered via Reedsy Discovery

 

Best books I’ve read this year… so far Part 2…

Because one measly blog post isn’t enough to cover the great books I’ve been immersed in during the first part of 2020 – year of the shit storm. And let’s face it, I love a sequel, I can’t help but leave the door open and in this sense it’s for the greater good of books so here we go, let’s dive in to some part 2 of best books….

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley by Nina Romano

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Westerns have always captivated my imagination. From the likes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood to the modern television epic ‘Westworld’ and even the final part of my all time favourite film trilogy Back to the Future Part 3. I’m a connoisseur of modern country music and have even dabbled in possibly the greatest video game story ever told which also happens to be a western; Red Dead Redemption 2.

With that in mind, it was only a matter of time until the right book came along and The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is just that. Authentic history meets romance that spans over some years during a time in America where the modern world is still emerging. Nina Romano has constructed an epic tale of love that delves into Native American culture complete with the sights and smells. The love between the main protagonists is perceived as destiny and that’s how I saw it anyway. To quote my reviewIt’s both poetic and sometimes poignant while even being brutal in parts, of course the old world was back then and you cannot fault the factual elements that are intertwined with the fiction…’

‘The Quest For The Sun God’s Tomb : The Willie Abrams Saga’ by C.J Evans

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Continuing with the historic fiction theme we’re going a few years ahead to a post WW1 world where a pair of american veterans are living out their retirement in Cuba (booze was banned back home). While it seems to be the ideal life, the sun, the sand and the daiquiris, history soon catches up with Willie Abrams. It’s part treasure hunt come rescue mission with a little dusting of Indiana Jones – if he went to middle america on a mission to find an artefact and use it to bargain for an old flames release. And quoting my review; The Quest For The Sun God’s Tomb is an easy to read tale of action and adventure guaranteed to keep readers interested all the way to the end! This one will definitely whisk you away for a while!’

‘Scarred’ by Damien Linnane

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We’re going down the crime vigilante rabbit hole now with ‘Scarred’ by Australian author Damien Linnane who has put together a unique and sometimes violent tale that will question your judgement of justice. There’s a conflict in the story that runs throughout – that being whether or not the actions of the MC are right and wrong. To quote my review‘there are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice…’ 

American Blasphemer: A Novel by John Matthew Gillen

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This story captivated me like not many books do and I’m afraid that’s all I can say because ‘American Blashpemer’ is the first book I have read and reviewed for Reedsy Discovery and because it was an ARC, the review will be coming very soon, but trust me you don’t want to miss it!

Life Signs by Christina Engela

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The sci fi stories of Christina Engela appear quite frequently on my shelves, they are both fun and in good supply. Like the many of her books I have reviewed in the past ‘Life Signs’ deserves a shout out as well as the wider Panic! Horror in Space series. This one is a trio of stories that tie into the wider world of space, horror and even some comedy. To quote my review: ‘From poignant to quirky and fun, these stories pretty much cover everything that Engela is known for with a writing style and depth that will draw you in…’

‘Mr Mercedes’ by Stephen King

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Okay it may not be an indie book but sometimes we all need a break to switch things up. I bet Superman even has cheat days, not that I am comparing myself… plus I had this in paperback on my to read shelf for quite a while. Now I know, it’s Stephen King and if you tune into his twitter, we can probably describe his tweets as ‘interesting’ at best, he’s not quite at the J,K Rowling level yet but he’s on his way, the less said about that, the better….

Mr Mercedes is outside of the usual genre we all know and ‘love’ King for but he still manages to retain the depravity and the places he’s willing to go in order to tell a good crime story. That being retired detective who has let himself go is taunted by the criminal he never caught. It’s very readable, has a few gasp type moments and overall worth a look. You can check out my full review here

And so that wraps up another Best Books blog post. Of course there are still some other books which didn’t get a mention, so look out for them! Peace out, thanks for reading, stay safe… 

 

Best Books I’ve read this year, so far…

Whoa we’re halfway there… but I suppose with all that’s going on, living on a prayer is out the window… but books aren’t and no matter what shit storm is going down out that window, the Hall of information vowed to carry on and carry on is what we have done!

Now that we are halfway through 2020, I am also half way through my TBR list and so here’s a breakdown of some of my best reads so far…

 

‘Dead End’ (Clown Conspiracy Book 1): A Short Thriller’ by Mallory Kelly

 

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Short books don’t get nearly enough credit especially when they do everything a longer book can. This series known as the ‘Clown Conspiracy’ is like a bunch X-files episodes that all carry the same chilling clown type theme but branch out in story with individual arcs in each addition. From this first one I was hooked and went back to the series over the past six months. Give short reads a chance! Here’s my review from January

 

‘Nocturnal Farm’ by Villimey Mist

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Vampire stories are still very relevant today, even more so when they break the usual mould and take a path less travelled like Nocturnal Farm which is the sequel to Nocturnal Blood. Book one was a chase style story that introduced the universe while this one represented more of a rescue effort while uncovering more of the vampire world already introduced. The MC is a sufferer of OCD and anxiety, but it’s not glorified or exploited, it’s highlighted in a brave and original way.  The Nocturnal series is definitely the one to watch right now as more sequels are planned! My full review is here. 

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

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The Hall of Information proudly takes on books from all corners of genre. Fiction or non-fiction we’re happy to read them and this unique self help book can best be described as ‘A unique mind opening insight into breaking the shells that govern our existence…’ and that’s taken straight from my review.

Break them all can be picked up by anyone looking for a little more insight into their own mind. It’s written in that accessible way and like I said in my review It’s intelligent but easy to take in and highlights how to see things differently and perhaps not the way we usually see them.’

Nightjar by Paul Jameson

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Every now and then a true literary gem comes along and this one took me by complete surprise. So much so I had to drop mostly everything and just read it cover to cover. Nightjar can best be described as something between folklore and fantasy while being written in a classic literary style. It’s a fresh story with an oldie style and that will take you back and it’s a combination that makes this one a potential read of the year! Trust me, check it out, my review is here…

Swinging Sanity by N.F. Mirza

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And now some poetry because every reader’s list should have some on and mine is no different. ‘Swinging Sanity’ is a deep and sensory collection of poetry, by that I mean it’s  an emotion fuelled account full of feelings that covers a range of subjects. ‘From self harm, depression, anxiety, loneliness, love, individual suffering and pain to everything else that centres around our sanity, you’ll see it represented here without any reservations and with honesty – something the world needs to talk about more…’  Check out my full review here…

The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle by Donald Lee

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The Hall of Information was approached directly by Donald Lee who introduced his work and it didn’t take much to convince me to check it out. This collection of scenarios serve as parables related to the teaching of music that reflects on lessons learned. The subject matter ranges from time management, knowledge, belief, having fun, performing, forgiveness, failure and so much more (50 in total). This is a book that’ll make you think and hopefully motivate you to be better in the same sense. My full review is here…

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

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I cannot stress how good short books can be when they are good and Memories of Mars is one that caught me off guard yet again. Part science fiction and part literary ficton, this brand of ‘Fringe fiction’ faces the age old question about our origins and that of the red planet’s. To quote my reviewColin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original…’

And so that wraps up my ‘best books of 2020 so far’ but there are a stack of great reads I did not mention as I am saving them for the yearly review. Thanks for stopping by!

Joining Reedsy Discovery…

So it seems my book reviewing efforts have been noticed. Last month Reedsy Discovery reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in joining their platform. After some consideration I’ve taken the plunge in what I hope to be new sights and new heights for the Hall of Information.

Reviewing Independently published books for me carries an abundance of rewards from discovering great stories to connecting with fellow authors who also struggle to get their words seen by the world. Along the way I’ve connected with some wonderful people from all over the world who not only appreciate my reviewing efforts but in return have supported me and stuck around to check out my blogging. Some have even taken strides towards buying my books and so the circle of  life books is complete…

A New Concept in Book Discoverability: Reedsy Discovery Book ...

Reedsy Discovery is a reviewing platform that champions new and indie published books but just at a higher level than I am doing right now. The truth is I am still a small island and can only reach so many wordsmiths who are in need of support. The platform provides a greater reach and provides reviewers with a free copy in exchange for a review within a certain time frame. Looking at the site and how it works is a step up from my usual take my time endeavours and so I consider this a massive move in the world of book reviewing. The good thing is I am still able to support indies who have submitted to the site and so the blogging efforts on here shall continue! Reedsy have a certain submission standard and so you can expect me to be reviewing indie books of a the highest quality.

The reviews I do with Reedsy will first premiere on their platform via my profile and then arrive here and the usual places after. You can check out my profile here  and of course if you are on Reedsy let’s connect!

What does this mean for authors who have reached out to me and their stuff that I have on my tbr? 

I’m still committed to reviewing and reading indie books from all over and not just specifically Reedsy so this blog and it’s efforts won’t be going far. The hope is for it’s reach to increase!

For all those who have helped the Hall of Information get noticed like this, I salute you!

 

The Paris Rescue: The Willie Abrams Saga by C.J. Evans – Review

Action, adventure and history; a combination that makes for a good read and sequel…

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The story of Willie Abrams continues and this time he must face the place that haunts his war time past, peacetime France. We’re taken specifically to the city of Paris on a rescue mission first planted in the previous outing. This time around Abrams is accompanied by long time friend Banesfield and of course old flame Julie who’s father they are looking to save. They carry a dynamic and likeable chemistry that fits well into the the genre which has action, deception and twists.

From the Eiffel tower to the catacombs below this adventure spans the city where the trio team up with someone they first thought were adversaries making for a unique scenario where Julie wants her father returned safe. It becomes a sort of cat and mouse chase that is capped off with an action packed shoot out.

The Paris Rescue is a fun immersive read with a satisfying feel good resolve while also nodding to a potential sequel.

4 Stars 

‘I Will Kill You in My Dream’ by Kristina Gallo – Review

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Be careful with dreams, they may come true….

Everyone who has been through the struggle of fitting in at school can relate to this short story about teens in Croatia during a time of transition for the country. Teachers from the previous political regime don’t help, parents cannot relate and the popular kids don’t help. If you’re not one of them it’s difficult. Even if you attempt to get in on the social scene it involves going to a seedy club where ‘whoever survives could make a story’ which works as a metaphor for the wider environment this story is set.

‘Helena’ like a lot of teens has potential but is otherwise engaged, for this she is berated by the school while also made to feel invisible. She’s not a bad student but perhaps she attracts bad things and then the dreams begin…

‘I will Kill You in My Dream is an engaging and satisfying short story with a supernatural edge about the struggle of being a teen.

4 Stars

‘Mr Mercedes’ by Stephen King – Review

Satisfying and suspenseful crime thriller that’ll keep you reading….

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While Stephen King might be known for stories with a paranormal edge he’s more than capable of delivering one in the realms of a modern crime thriller. Of course he keeps the depravity and absurdity close nit because that’s what he does and I might be questioning my own tastefulness here when I say I kind of enjoy where he goes sometimes; even if its on the fringes sick. This is for all intents and purposes to tell a story and that he does here.

We see the typical loner/mother issues/tech nerd killer who takes his own aspirations to more and more depraved heights while he also taunts the cop who could never catch him, a retired detective. This could have been a police procedural if the main character ‘ Bill Hodges’ hadn’t given back his badge so instead its a cat and mouse private investigator type set up that grows more and more dramatic. While he chooses not to confide in old colleagues about a still to be caught perp, he takes the taunting personally and this sets up the perfect conflict that double backs on the story.

There are secondary characters that bring possibly more dimension than the mains and they become needed by ‘Hodges’ in this world of computers, social media and technology. By the end you’re rooting for them to pull out the win. It’s dark, urban, mystery intertwined and thrilling fun written in the highest quality.

5 Stars – My first paperback read in nearly two years. Back to indie reads now…. 

All Dressed Up (Clown Conspiracy Book 4): A Short Thriller by Mallory Kelly – Review

A satisfying concluding chapter to the chilling and thrilling Clown Conspiracy series…

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Every book of the Clown Conspiracy series acts as an episodic puzzle piece when put together tells a wider story. In this final episode readers will be left mostly satisfied with an ending that is perfect for the genre and the story as a whole – you’ll be wanting more but also you’ll be assured that it’s over (for now).

Of course Agent’s Shirley and Carter are the centrepiece that are trying to put this puzzle together from ‘Dead End’ to the ‘Back Pew’ and all the way to this story that focuses on a carnival themed wedding. You can imagine what follows and the chase culminates this time.

Sharing what happens would be giving spoilers as this book and series is worth the short time it takes to finish and arguably does everything better that a longer book would do. There’s some great use of description sided with the chilling creepiness that comes with clowns and takes readers on a journey.

5 Stars – A great series of short books that pull together for one wider story… 

FREE Paperback Giveaway

Readers from the UK I have 4 signed paperback copies of ‘The Teleporter’ to give away! Seeing as we are all probably staying in for the immediate future, why not take some time to yourself and get into a good book!

Not that I am suggesting The Teleporter is good, but you have a chance of winning 1 of 4 copies right now over on Facebook. Here’s the Link

 

 

Awesome Short Recommended Reads…

When it comes to reading, it’s not always about length…

Shorter books frequent on my shelf and there’s nothing that beats the feeling of getting to the end of another read. Not only does it give you the satisfaction of having achieved something, but reading apparently makes you smarter, so the more books you read…

Either way here’s a bunch of shorter reads I recommend…. and guess what, they are all Indie books!

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‘The Seller of Sins’ by Kristina Gallo

Genre: Romance

Page Count: 84

The Seller of Sins’ by Kristina Gallo didn’t feel like a shorter read. It carries a depth and style that will make you think you are reading something much longer and detailed.

To quote my review: ‘this tale carries a deeper moral story about love and what really matters and we realize this at the end…’

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‘Fated to Meet You’ by Despoina Kemeridou

Genre: Fairy tale/ Romance 

Page Count: 49

‘Fated to Meet You’ by Despoina Kemeridou is a feel good story that begins like a YA novel which quickly spins into a fairy tale. It’s a page turner which I managed to finish in just over an hour. Here’s what I said in my review from last year:

‘You’ll find there’s a lot more to the story other than happy every after including a curse and even prophecy in what is a short but fun read…’

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

Genre: New Age (Self-help)

Page Count: 65

‘Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening!’ by DRTao is a break the mold mind opening book designed to get you thinking. It’s unique and looks at how to overcome our ‘phenotypes’ (ego, ambition) in order to be more productive.

‘Well written and structured this is a book that may provide readers with insight to some answers you never thought could be out there!’

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‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza

Genre: Poetry

Page Count: 70

‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza is a personal collection of poetry that is deep and incredibly brave to present to the world. You may know the author as awesome blogger ‘Stoner on a Roller Coaster’and I urge you to check this one out!

Recent review quote:

‘For anyone who is a fan of immersive poetry and for those looking to take on a read that is different but also very honest, I recommend this book. It tells a story while also being inspiring.’

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‘Dead End (Clown Conspiracy Book 1): A Short Thriller’ by Mallory Kelly

Genre: Horror

Page Count: 48

‘Dead End (Clown Conspiracy Book 1) by Mallory Kelly is the first of 4 chilling shorts that read like episodes of a crime horror TV show. Two agents are in pursuit of a killer clown which then turns out to be two clowns which then becomes a whole conspiracy.  I’ve been diving into the series every so often this year and I highly recommend the series..

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

Genre: Science Fiction/Space Exploration

Page Count:  68

‘Memories of Mars’ by Colin Yeoman took me by complete surprise. For what started out as one story going one place became the rabbit hole of perhaps our existence. This one got me, and managed to do it in 68 pages. To quote my very recent review:

‘Colin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original.’

 

And so that brings us to the end of some awesome short book rec’s. Have you got a short book that you would recommend?

Thanks for reading!

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