‘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

‘Pestilence’ by Susie Kearley – Review

A well-thought-out pacey tale of the times from a promising British author…

Pestilence is an extremely well thought out story with an accurate outlook on the events that lead to the collapse of society through a pandemic. For some and in recent times that might feel a little close to home but this book carves a new and different path while acting as a social commentary. The vessel in this scenario is the emergence of a fungus which is the resultant of a warmer climate – a reaction to how we treat this planet. Every major moment that unfolds is covered by Susie Kearley who tells this story with a unique overview style that keeps the events moving and homes in on the reactive details even if things move quickly – this pace works for the genre giving it a page turning flow.

The emergence of a wonder drug ultimately leads humanity on a downward path of addiction and excessive consumption with eventual side effects that become incurable. Its humanity not learning from the past on repeat over and over again as we see the medical system downplaying this emerging threat through lack of knowledge and then being overwhelmed. There’s a theme throughout of vicious cycles where the government or even society fails to take note of a very real threat all caused by our species.

a toxic culture of unhealthy living, a reliance on pharmaceutical drugs rather than health living, destroying the planet and allowing the pathogenic fungus to thrive…”

The story is told via a wide array of characters and from the very beginning they live their way through a well imagined and ultimately important case study about our nature. We see the elite taking from the less fortunate and with force – more social themes that ring true and echo to our reality. This world we live in is fragile and our attitudes will be probably be our undoing. A threat emerges and those who survive it perhaps leave further generations doomed to live through something similar and that’s probably the most powerful message of all.

5 Stars – A rollercoaster of a read with a powerful message. Reviews left via Amazon, Goodreads and BookBub.

‘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.

‘Deification’ by Brooklynn Dean – Review

The intimate description and deep prose will consume you long before the apocalypse…

Brooklyn Dean delivers her unique brand of intimate description and style in this apocalyptic tale which carries a depth that’ll consume you and I’m okay with that. Set in a world after the ‘sky opened’ we meet ‘Torrence’ who is on a high stakes path to collect virtues and ascend to a whole new sinister level. She’ll promise you power in return for loyalty for helping her cause which is lined with violent and ritualistic blood spilling but before we even get there this story begins with intrigue and mystery. Just what happened in this part dystopian world? Who is ‘Torrence’ really? And what is she trying to achieve? This intrigue partnered alongside the vivid description and prose is where you’ll find the true strength because sometimes it’s not what’s there, but what could be and it’ll keep you turning pages while building the world in your imagination. Stories that let the imagination breathe like this are hard to come by.

“It was as if, for her and her brethren and her violent delights, the world should have always been this way…”

While on the surface there is symbolism near enough everywhere but like all of Brooklynn Dean’s works it operates on a much deeper level with metaphors throughout that individual readers will interpret in their own way – yet another strength this book has and watch out because it will consume you. To the less applied or even those not paying proper attention it might appear to be just about the end of days but I assure you it is more than that and you’ll find it happening beneath those words. Unique and stylistic, this is a story that cannot be missed.

5 Stars – an encapsulating and immersive read about so much more than the apocalypse.

Essential Self-Help Book Rec’s for Authors

Sometimes consulting the Google isn’t enough and my top advice for anyone looking to learn a new skill or to even hone their current ability in anything is to pick up a book about it. The non-fiction market is huge and also packed with some very handy guides about the intricacies of authoring and publishing.

This is my 600th Blog post and it is dedicated to showcasing the best self-help books I’ve read over the years, from the one that inspired this blog to Amazon algorithm optimization all the way to a part memoir packed with awesome practical writing tips; these are essential self-help book recommendations for authors…

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

Okay, were starting with a relatively high bar and even for those who say they have never read anything by possibly America’s greatest storyteller (near enough everyone it seems) you’ll find something worthwhile in this book. Even though it’s relatively short for a Stephen King title this memoir takes us through his early days all the way to finding success as an author. We even hear about his near fatal accident – thank the Lord he survived! The focus is on his journey while every so often giving hints and tips throughout – some are even basic practicalities like where you should situate a writing desk! What I enjoyed the most about this book is the clear admiration King has for the craft and writing style while also mentioning other authors. For anyone at any level in writing this book is essential trust me!

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

If you want to seriously earn money in authoring then this is the guide for you. It literally shows you the calculations on how you can convert a hobby into a potential career through the right marketing channels. Recently reviewed on here and for Reedsy Discovery this book is basically an extensive extension of Reedsy’s guides and blog posts that dive into everything you need to know about selling books and where to do it. From ‘going wide’ to Amazon chart optimization all the way to having readers find you. This recent release is essential if you are serious about writing as a career.

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

There aren’t many that know the Hall of Information blog was inspired by this book which I read way back in 2014. After a hugely successful career as an indie author, Catherine Ryan Howard has sort of become the benchmark for me in terms of success. She even secured a six figure publishing deal and the wonderful thing is her career started as an indie author. ‘Self ‘Printed’ is now into it’s third edition and because of the wonderful advice within that led me here it deserves a mention! You’ll find specific guides on how to format and publish books via Amazon all the way to selling, of course this is accompanied by a fun style of delivery – just read the blurb and you’ll know. To me it’s essential and something I even go back to every so often.

‘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 homes in 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. The easy to understand writing style explains Amazon and that finding readers is just like having a conversation with an old friend you’ve got a lot in common with – trust me, Dale explains it way better… My verdict after reading this one is that I’m not using Amazon correctly and the knowledge I gained was essential and applied straight away! Here’s my review.

The wonderful thing about the writing industry is that no matter what level you are there will always be someone looking to support you. All of the authors above do just that and so if you are in doubt, you are never far away from a fellow scholar looking to share some much needed clarity and advice.

And so that wraps up my essential list of self-help books for Authors. If you’re looking for some further reading and a few more author resources then check out my own section dedicated to such. Let me know in the comments if you have any self-help book rec’s for authors.

Coming Soon

It might be a tad indulgent to include my own title in this post but I also have a self help book for authors and bloggers coming this May.

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

Hello friends, today I am re-blogging a review of an epic book that was probably the most important read of 2020 for me. Enjoy!

Lee's Hall of information

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

This captivating book doesn’t hold back in presenting readers with the potentially damning path humanity is going to take and how we might lose our most important resource; water. You’ll find the subject of water flowing everywhere in a story that is sometimes heart wrenching but also wonderfully informing, it’s metaphoric, symbolic and even a character.

Everything that surrounds the subject of water or limnology as it’s technically defined has been woven into a wonderfully researched plethora of information and fiction. Fact and fiction merge flawlessly in this story that takes readers on a dramatic and eye opening voyage. Just what will this planet be like after our footprint has done all the damage it can do? Well that’s how this story starts in what appears to be a far…

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‘Judd’ by J.D Toombs and Erika Schulze – Review

A ‘high school for heroes’ tale about the power of accepting who you are paired with some unique world building…

Welcome to Aries High, a school for those with unique powers but in this world they are known as Fragments. The only problem is our main character and narrator Samael Judd doesn’t appear to have any powers… That is without mentioning the many pressures he faces for someone his age from stepping out of his older brother’s shadow to even making the basketball team and while he does his best to hide a lack of powers he’s also concealing his sexuality. If both are revealed the repercussions could be disastrous, at least to him anyway. There are only a few he can fully trust and confide in – perhaps the most realistic thing about the social politics of high school, something this story captures well.

There are some unique and interesting concepts in this world of Fragment’s and that world building is something I want to see more of. Terminology and abilities like ‘technomancy’ and ‘magnekenisis’ sound cool and these concepts are only really touched upon as most of the story focuses on Judd’s journey and his high school life which is most probably just the beginning. The symbolism paired with the struggle to accept one’s self is what you’ll find at the centre of this tale and it’s bravely executed. From fighting bullies to borrowing a new girl’s magical dragon to pretend you have powers – as I said cool concepts, there are even some awesome references to video games and music.

On a few occasions there were moments where scenes felt crowded with quite a number of characters present so it was a little difficult to follow and transitions between scenes did occur rather abruptly but overall Judd is a unique story full of drama that captures coming of age, explores social issues and celebrates diversity.

4 Stars – Reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you to the Author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. Judd is released today – grab yourself a copy here!

🚢𝓑𝓸𝓸𝓴 𝓡𝓮𝓿𝓲𝓮𝔀⚓️“Talented Found”by P.W. Browning⚓️

Introducing author and book reviewer Ellen Khodakivska who reviews YA Fantasy novel ‘Talented Found’ by P.W Browning…

Ellen Khodakivska

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🚢Genre: YA fantasy novel

Pages: 270

Language: English

Publisher: ebook

Release date: 2020

⚓️Reading this book was as if I was invited to a feast under the sea. Suddenly, a vigorous dispute breaks out among the sea residents. Their emotions go high, and a disagreement turns into a fight. The only way to escape is to catch an anchor of the merchant vessel that passes by. But there a controversial surprise waits for me there.

🚢The Plot: In this splendid YA fantasy novel, a reader follows 16 y.o. Shaylin. She is fearless and smart, kind, and helpful. She lives on board of merchant vessel run by Captain Trell since her early childhood and considers the crew to be her family. She enjoys her work onboard, despite the fact it is pretty dangerous for such a young girl. Meanwhile, she involuntarily gets…

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Book Review: The Teleporter

A shout-out and thank you to fellow author Dave Williams for this awesome review of ‘The Teleporter’.
Make sure you head on over to his blog and show it some love!

Dave Williams

cover for The Teleporter

The Teleporter by Lee Hall

This is an entertaining superhero story about Kurt Wiseman, who’s bumbling through life. He loves booze so much, having a hangover on a Tuesday morning is not out of the ordinary for him.

Kurt once wrote a graphic novel — One Night in New York — and that seems to be the extent of his ambition beyond drinking at his buddy Douglas’s bar. Kurt could write another graphic novel, but hasn’t made the effort. And he makes minimum effort at his job.

But when an accident happens at his place of employment, Kurt’s life is changed forever. The kind of change along the lines of Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider and Dr. Bruce Banner shot with a gamma ray. These changes dramatically transform their lives.

Kurt’s new power to teleport cracks the cycle of lazing around at his job during the day…

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‘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