‘Home’ by Thomas Overlook – Review

Unique and intriguing. A page-turning tale that’ll take readers down the rabbit hole of what’s there and what isn’t…

Its quite difficult to pin point what this story is really about and how deep it goes, but for the majority I was addicted and kept reading to see where it went. To me, that’s a job done well and driven by that immersive intrigue, Thomas Overlook tells the story of a young couple who decide to start again away from the hustle and bustle of city life with their infant child. Then events start to turn strange.

There’s a multitude of different themes and things going on here, some are more obvious and on the surface while others go deeper. Much of the book is taken up by the inner workings of ‘Joel’ and ‘Aubrey’ or their memories but we are only shown and told so much to the point where everything seems to have a kind of surreal feel – this is a complex but imaginative set up for a book because the events that do happen gradually unfold while we find out only limited information about these two characters. The concept of what’s on the surface and what’s beneath starts to blend and uniquely the organisation which ‘Joel’ works for is deliberately omitted, something some readers may frown upon but an original concept and there is a heap of originality here. ‘Aubrey’ seems to have this kind of lustful subconsciousness while also perhaps hiding something. These characters aren’t fully revealed to the reader which only increases that intrigue.

Soon after moving into their new and remote house weird things begin to unfold. Is this an elaborate prankster or perhaps even a haunting? this is after ‘Joel’ may have unleashed something or at least stirred it. What ‘it’ is, we never really get an answer but it points towards something that lurks beneath the surface literally and psychologically. Is what ‘Joel’ appears to be seeing actually there or not? Could we actually be in the company of something that has always been there but is only awakened if disturbed? Rational thought begins to blend with the irrational as he tries to investigate what really is going on. Has ‘Joel’ really unleashed something that feels like its hunting him and his family?

“He was terrified but not mortally. It was a queer feeling, deep fear tinged with a silken sadness…”

Cause and effect comes into play here as these events put a strain on the couple. This has all the makings to suggest there is another lifeform amongst us but that is only really suggested – that’s what this book made me feel anyway and I am intrigued to see where it goes as this appears to only be part 1 of a wider series. You might not get any answers this time but the reading experience was entertaining overall and full of enough mysterious intrigue to at least entertain more of this immersive deep writing style and story. For those looking to have a lighter reading escape or even those who don’t enjoy deep thought this might not be the one for you, but those who enjoy complex stories that are open to wider interpretation then this is the one for you. It’s definitely one of the most unique reads I have come across in recent times.

4 Stars – An encapsulating and page turning read. This review first premiered on Reedsy Discovery.

‘Evil Eye: A Slasher Story’ by April A. Taylor – Review

An unpredictable fast-paced slasher with plenty of twists and tension as the storm unfolds…

The looming threat of worsening weather combined with a killer on the loose makes for some fun and thrilling reading in a story that could easily be an evening spent at the cinema or at home via Netflix. Here we see a diverse group stranded and united by their will to survive a double whammy of hurricane and deranged killer.

From the very start there’s pace to a story that unfolds just like the hurricane that engulfs those left behind on an island. Soon enough they realise someone is hunting them down and so the real slasher story begins but it’s more than that. Each character has their own complexities and we see things from each of their unique perspectives which then interact with one another – most of the time in these stories it’s easy to pick out who will be taken down first but there’s an unpredictability here making it all the more enjoyable and page turning.

While we are used to our masked but faceless killers being without any dialogue the author carves an original path with her version of evil walking because for some of it he is also talking. As he slowly stalks his prey and throughout it feels as if there is no escape with the hurricane situation heightening that terror. And in this particular situation there is nowhere to run. To some that’s uncomfortable, but to me that’s the perfect storm of horror quite literally.

Although titled as a slasher I’ll happily admit it’s a lot more than that with some nods to modern issues in society and the wider world. Much of the time there’s seems to be a lack of ideas with the ending but for this one, there were a few final twists that capped of a fun read. So come for the slashing but stay for everything else this story is about, you’ll be pleasantly surprised while also being on edge.

4 Stars – This review first premiered on Reedsy Discovery

A Year of Reedsy Discovery Reads

Time flies when you’re reading books and I’ve been reading a lot of them in recent times. Last year Reedsy Discovery; a platform for reviewing indie books approached me to be a reviewer. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and it that time I have discovered some gems, and so here they are…

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‘American Blasphemer’ by By John Gillen

4 Stars

A masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life…’ 

Full Review

‘The Sawyer Shepherd Chronicles: Rites of Passage’ by Chad Lehrmann

3 Stars

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

Full Review

‘The Dreamophile’s Diary’ by Shazrina

4 Stars

A descriptive collection of tales that capture the very essence of dreams from surrealism to their deeper metaphoric meaning…

Full Review

‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott

5 Stars

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

Full Review

‘Noxious’ by Bruce Knapp

4 Stars

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

Full Review

‘Fly Fearless & Fear Less: Eliminate your Fear of Flying with Knowledge!’ By Peter Brandt

4 Stars

A concise, insightful and reassuring read that’ll help you cope with the irrational fear of flying…

Full Review

‘Big Noise’ by J.P. Biddlecome

3 Stars

A tale that walks the fine line between survival and madness through solitude

Full Review

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

5 Stars

A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart...’

Full Review

‘Awake’ by Andrew Palmer

4 Stars

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

Full Review

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

5 Stars

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

Full Review

‘Deadly Odds’ by Allen Wyler

4 Stars

He’s in deep with the big fishes and the odds are hardly in his favour…

Full Review

‘Raven Woman’s Tavern’ by Laura Koerber

4 Stars

There were many things the people of Warrentown didn’t know about Raven…

Full Review

‘Sex, Violence, Mars’ by Walrus

4 Stars

A short but fun sci-fi story with great world building, action and some laughs…

Full Review

‘Operation: Palmetto’ by R.T. Breach

3 Stars

‘The chase is on for one man on a mission to prove his worth and the stakes are high…’

Full Review

‘Spook City, U.S.A.: A Shadybrook Community Patrol Novella’ by Drew Purcell

4 Stars

‘un, unconventional easy-to-read comedy that never takes itself too seriously while delivering a good story with plenty of laughs…

Full Review

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon 

5 Stars

An immersive and suspenseful teen spy thriller with some darker edges, a positive message, originality and depth…

Full Review

There are some fantastic indie books on this list that were indeed awesome discoveries. Reviewing books has become the central pillar to my blogging and authoring brand and without it I would never have connected with so many awesome creators. Some of these books made me laugh, made me think, informed and inspired while most importantly they got me through the past year. You can find me over on Reedsy Discovery here.

Thanks for reading!

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon – Review

An immersive and suspenseful teen spy thriller with some darker edges, a positive message, originality and depth…

Dan McKeon delivers an immersive and suspenseful tale of one teen assassin who has always followed orders and never questioned those giving them. When things don’t go to plan ‘Wendy’ finds herself facing a rabbit hole of questions as she deciphers what’s good and bad while coming to her own conclusion. It’s part- coming-of-age part-morality check as the ‘agency’ giving the orders begin to reveal themselves as not so reputable.

Through the multiple missions and names she takes ‘Wendy’ begins to realise even if you eliminate bad people, there will always be someone else innocent effected by it. That is without mentioning if the target even is bad in the first place.

“Even those who do bad things have people who care about them, and their loss effects them…”

There’s a certain depth to that morality where choice and accountability of one’s actions make you as a reader question everything. It’s immersive and dark sometimes – death always is but our main character keeps things light hearted and you find yourself rooting for her because she is a force for good. You can give a person all the assassin training in the world and try to engineer out all human elements but they are still human and perhaps that message is at the centre of a great story that I took my time reading.

While there are plenty of concepts that are original and they merge with others that we’ve seen before in spy thrillers; it’s always the abandoned warehouse for a meeting point but the bubble gum idea is genius and of course fun. Although there is some violence there isn’t anything too graphic so I’d recommend this book to older teens and above and to anyone who enjoys a spy thriller with a difference. Highly enjoyable.

5 Stars – This Review First Premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Spook City, U.S.A.: A Shadybrook Community Patrol Novella’ by Drew Purcell – Review

Fun, unconventional easy-to-read comedy that never takes itself too seriously while delivering a good story with plenty of laughs…

Drew Purcell steps out of conformity and bravely delivers a book that many ‘literary’ snooty types will look down on through their noses but not me because this was an awesome and fun read! Comedy in the present day is hard to find, good comedy is even rarer and while this book has all the feels of a mid 2000’s gross-out comedy it is so much more.

Welcome to Shadybrook; a Californian town that has seen better days and where there is always a mystery to be solved, from the legendary ‘Route 66 Apeman’ to the whereabouts of a Native American Relic.

‘I don’t think anyone consciously chooses to live here, but it has its way of sucking people in…’

Of course there are Scooby Doo vibes as the narration even comes from the eyes of a dog. Our two main characters ‘Mickey’ and ‘Charlie’ have resided here all their lives and decide to join citizen driven police patrol effort with a view to pick up women. Their efforts seem to succeed albeit comedically and so the makings of a crime fighting group is formed.

There are cool and fun references left, right and centre which take a jab at so many different things from tropes seen in story telling to modern entrepreneur business types and there is even a wealth of awesome music that is laid out after the story. Comedy is a hard thing to get right and Purcell succeeds most of the time by putting in as much as he can throughout – the stuff that didn’t land for me was the few references I didn’t know of but most of the time I found the book to be a fun and sometimes metaphorical look at the world with even some forth wall breaking. For some unconventional and unique fun I’d happily recommend this to anyone looking for that. This is comedy done right.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Operation: Palmetto’ by R.T. Breach – Review

The chase is on for one man on a mission to prove his worth and the stakes are high…

The chase is on after an Iranian scientist escapes to the USA and from the clutches of Israeli rivals in what is a lightly political, espionage-heavy tale about the Mossad agent dealt the mission to track this target down.

The story spends a lot of time in the head of main character Karl Gruben who has his own doubts and conflicts as he embarks on a journey and joins a group of other agents who are undercover; some are experienced where others like Karl aren’t. We see the trials and tribulations of this group as they track down their target using a wealth of tech which they test to sometimes not so great results. Some of the gadgetry used was interesting and original while others were little on the fun/humorous side; a robotic cat comes to mind here.

Every so often I did find the writing style to tell as opposed to show and after what was a fast paced introduction much of the action didn’t really unfold until much later – saying that the final quarter of the story definitely made up for that. Karl’s inner thoughts are expressed throughout and carries the story. He’s a man on a mission to prove his worth and fight for a cause. Will he succeed in his mission and will it be worthwhile in the end? These personal stakes did seem to outweigh much of the political themes putting you in the head and in the moments of this chase story. For those who enjoy an espionage tale with a few twists this is definitely the one for you.

3 Stars – this review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Sex, Violence, Mars’ by Walrus

A short but fun sci-fi story with great world building, action and some laughs…

Ginger is a care free bounty hunter on a mission to Mars where he finds himself getting into more trouble than good and his story is exactly what the title suggests. Even if this tale feels a little brief the science fiction world building stands out and the themes are captured well in this setting. Life is cheap, there’s sex and violence on the surface of this red planet and our cynical hero sees it first hand near enough everywhere.

The setting is paired with a writing style that I found to be executed very well – its a very easy read with some fun comedic elements. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and along with everything else this short book makes for a good read. For what starts out as a slowly paced introduction of this well imagined world soon picks up and is constantly moving forward much like the pages which turn; I was able to read this one in just a sitting.

Ginger is likeable and makes for a different type of hero. It would appear trouble and unpredictability follow him no matter where he goes. His final destination, we’ll have to find out next time as the story ends on a cliff-hanger.

Anyone who enjoys space sci fi with some adult themes will enjoy this one.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Raven Woman’s Tavern’ by Laura Koerber – Review

There were many things the people of Warrentown didn’t know about Raven…”

I’ll admit the first line of this book’s blurb caught my attention straight away and the reading experience that followed did not disappoint. The powerful prologue sets the scene of a remote forest setting where man came, destroyed and then left again but the constant being ‘Raven’ who is a powerful deciding figure among the trees and a place where this book finds it’s setting.

“Animals, plants and people, came and went, but Raven stayed…”

Most dystopian futures focus on cities or even the masses but Raven Woman’s Tavern homes in on the path less travelled and welcomes you to Warrentown, perhaps a forgotten corner of the world where a community of people are still trying to survive whatever happened out in that wider world. Many of them are older or just trying to get by and we meet near enough all of them along the way. It has all the feels of a Stephen King multi character piece but without the overindulgence because between them there is a real sense of community and their hub just happens to be a quaint tavern. Of course this is intentional because Raven is watching over them and protecting them with it.

The story begins to take direction as a group of young Militia turn up at the tavern looking for more than just a few drinks and their troublesome presence brings the a taste of what is going on in the wider world. After one of the group’s wallet appears to go missing they return yet again looking for trouble but instead receive a lot more. This is where things really kick up a notch because Raven starts to play with their heads and what is supposed to be a short path for them becomes a lot longer and for the sake of protecting the people of this small community. For one of them in particular this path puts everything into perspective and becomes an opportunity for Raven to recruit someone new.

Laura Koerber tells this immersive story with range and imagination. There are even a few deep metaphors about life and survival. It’s dark in places with some chills but also carries a deeper moral story about community. My only real critique would be for the ending to have a little less pace but for anyone looking to read something different with a dark fantasy edge then this is the one for you!

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery.

‘How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market’ by Ricardo Fayet – Review

A comprehensive and valuable guide for any author looking to make a career out of their writing…

Finding good marketing advice about the ins and outs of indie publishing can be quite a daunting task but Ricardo Fayet has achieved this near enough flawlessly with this easy to read guide that’ll I’ll be returning to for reference for some time.

The subject matter ranges widely over 51 chapters from the basic mindset of readers finding you to your writing niche all the way to the intricate details of advertising on different platforms and so much more. All of this works towards the message that indie authors can be successful and can make money – there are even basic formula’s that math-phobic types like me could easily understand, it’s motivational and informative at the same time. From the tactic of ‘going wide’ to staying Amazon exclusive the information is all there and it’s up to date for the modern story teller. Any budding author or even those already published will be able to take away a multitude of knowledge which is also backed up with links to the many resources that probably led to the creation of this book. While this might be perceived as one big advert for Reedsy you cannot fault it for the amount of information and the help it provides.

I particularly enjoyed the analysis of advertising books through Bookbub, Amazon and Facebook each with their strength’s and weaknesses laid out. While marketing appears to be the biggest challenge for authors this book will give you no reason to believe that anymore because it’s normally something way before that as said in the conclusion – perhaps the truest statement of the book and reality check many authors need.

Just what does it take to find success as an author in a crowded market? Reading this book for a start because to me it’s an essential tool.

5 Stars – this review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Deadly Odds’ by Allen Wyler – Review

He’s in deep with the big fishes and the odds are hardly in his favour…

Artificial Intelligence genius Arnold Gold seems to get himself in an increasing amount of trouble as his journey unfolds in a thrilling story of dramatic deception. For someone who just wants to make it with the fairer sex he sure does pay the price long after resorting to pay for such an experience which in turn leads to the barrel of a loaded gun and the rabbit hole of threat that envelops his life.

It’s part ‘True Romance’ part ‘Loser’ as our young hero has this way of tripping into a situation after an encounter with Las Vegas escort ‘Breeze’ who becomes the gateway to Gold’s deep trouble. While their time together is intimately relayed there’s always this feeling of some level of threat bubbling just under the surface. We learn that his success in the betting world is aided by the fact he’s a computer prodigy who surfs the Darknet which then in turn attracts less desirable types who want to exploit it soon piling on the pressure – eventually it seems everyone is after him, including the law. Perhaps Gold’s one and only pinnacle flaw is his uncanny inability to help himself or even refuse help – frustrating and immersive at the same time for readers and his legal counsel.

“fate had trapped him in a vise of opposing forces, slowly squeezing him to death. His only hope – at least as far as he could see was to stay on point and play the game…”

Allen Wyler has put together a strong story that I found to be both addictive and easy to read. On the fringes of crime or revenge thriller with some espionage themes it makes for a gripping read. Just how will Arnold Gold play himself out of this trouble? That’s question which will eventually be answered, the odds, deadly at best.

4 Stars – this review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery