‘The Caverns’ by Olen Crowe – Review

In The Caverns an ancient evil lurks…

In the small rural town of Linston an ancient evil lurks and suddenly awakens with a whole bunch of mystery. When The Caverns; a tourist hotspot and only real economic attraction of the place begins to swallow people it soon becomes both a problem and a media circus.

What is the evil? Although deadly it has no real physical manifestation and gets into the heads of everyone in town including a group of friends who just happen to be there for a curious visit to the Linston Caverns on a road trip of sorts. There’s a good mix of cliché fun and conflict here as the town drunk lays down fair warning whilst the money driven people in charge of the attraction push to keep it open no matter how many lives are taken. Locals don’t appreciate anyone from the outside with a prying nature that may damage the towns reputation and combined with the harrowing events a perfect storm ensues. There’s a wide group of characters, some a just bit-part throwaways subjected to the evils of what lies below and others that carry the story.

For those who enjoy mystery horror with a hint of humour and the unexpected, you’ll definitely find it here.

4 Stars

Guest Book Review: ‘Cascade: The Sleep of Reason’ by Rachel A. Rosen

Review by Rohan O’Duill

A generation has passed since climate change brought about the Cascade that transformed the world, smashing the tectonic plates of the political landscape and infesting the wilderness with demons and shriekgrass.

“Jonah knew that holding power always meant drowning, that every second in office meant fighting for oxygen, with one’s enemies baying like hunting dogs on the shore. Ian, with the treacherous sea in his fisherman’s blood, must have been used to drowning.”

The character complexity in Rachel A. Rosen’s debut novel Cascade is fascinating. Ian moved from a working-class fisherman’s family into being a campaigner and protestor. When he developed magical powers and the ability to see into the future, he aligned himself with the new hope in politics. But it turns out that predicting the future doesn’t mean anything in a political system that is just not fit for purpose to deal with the climate crisis. It’s a chilling observation of the struggles in today’s corridors of power. But despite the weightiness of the messaging in this climate-disaster fantasy, there is a whole lot of laugh-out-loud moments and action that keep this 400 page novel careening along.

“You go lookin’ for terrorists, you see every daft kid dreamin’ of his 72 virgins and every chinless loner prick with a case of blueballs that he blames on his ex-girlfriend.”

Ian Mallory is Malcolm Tucker with heart, and the abuse that he dishes out to confuse and divert attention from his actions is priceless. His apprentice, Sujay, is not far behind with the cutting observations, although these start out mostly in her own head before circumstances force her into the open.

What starts out as a political thriller with magic, quickly evolves into a quick-witted action-filled fantasy that explores climate change, activism, corruption, racial profiling, brutality and the chaos inflicted on the world through popular politics. This is all held together superbly through Rachel’s beautiful writing style and storytelling ability.

This is a guest book review by Rohan O’Duill who you can find on Twitter.

‘The View From Here’ by Leon Stevens – Review

An exploration themed sci-fi novella not of this world…

Leon Stevens combines a unique mix of adventure, exploration and sci-fi in this intriguing novella that see’s a pair of hikers find their way into another world. At the heart of the story is a problem-solving theme that runs alongside adventure.

From figuring out how high a cliff is to deciphering alien language and maps, this world they explore becomes more intriguing as the story unfolds. The premise is original and full of mystery throughout where most chapters finish with a moment where readers will want to keep reading. A seemingly deserted place creates intrigue and even a sense of eerie atmosphere that kept me interested throughout. I would have liked to have seen a little more from both characters in terms of character depth but their chemistry together works well to tell their tale of exploration and fun.

4 Stars

‘Witch in the Lighthouse’ by Azalea Forrest – Review

A quaint and fun magical tale…

This was my first Azalea Forrest reading experience and an enjoyable one at that. ‘Witch in the Lighthouse’ is a quaint and fun magical tale that follows ‘Magnolia’ as she inherits a Lighthouse from her recently passed away uncle in a town that isn’t so welcoming of her kind.

Having had previous negative encounters with those of the magical persuasion Maggie faces the task of convincing the small seaside town of Lightview that she is there to help. Whilst some make her feel welcome, others are stubborn to the thought of a witch in their town even if this world of practical magic can help them in so many different ways. Just what did happen in the past and even to her uncle? The intrigue intertwines with the moving plot here keeping readers interested throughout.

Eventually the story unfolds as does the history of Magnolia’s family and what follows is an epic meeting of forces that carries an original and deeper meaning of responsibility of power and much more. Magical forces in this world can be used for both good and bad which is explored well here. The characters, setting and story were very well executed and I’d be more than happy to read another title by Forrest.

5 Stars

‘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!

‘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

‘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

‘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!

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads 7

I’ve been reading and reviewing indie books again so its time to take a look at some recent titles that I thought were awesome…

‘Powerless’ by Vicky Ball

A well-written twisting thriller with darker themes…

Full Review

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

A detailed, modern and refreshing take on creativity that covers so many applications for success!

Full Review

‘An English Teacher in Mexico: Memories of a Midlife Career Change’ by Irene Pylypec

A fun and insightful well-written account of adventure and culture…

Full Review

Join Lee Hall on Patreon

Those who do join my Patreon will get regular shout-outs on my Twitter for you and your work in front of my near 30,000 followers. Plus you’ll get exclusive access to my growing series of Twitter Coaching Sessions, future guides and fiction.

‘SKINNER: Thirty-five years. Four killers. One city’ by Nathan Jones 

Immersive near future sci-fi meets the macabre…

Full Review

‘The Tolworth Beacon’ by Huw Langridge

Intriguing British mystery with tension, atmosphere and code-breaking vibes…

Full Review

‘Recovering Alice’ by Catherine Morrison

A gripping uplifting tale of romance and relapse…

Full Review

And so that wraps up another edition of Awesome Recommended Indie Reads! Thanks for stopping by!