Dead Man’s Hammer by Christina Engela – Review

Suspense, drama and modern issues all of which are tackled in a fun but important way…

dead mans hammer

As the Quantum series unfolds, it grows more and more impressive. Dead Man’s Hammer is proof that Christina Engela can build an established world and insert so many genres into it along with retaining a unique style of writing that not only tributes her influences but has a way of confiding in readers. We are back on the quirky planet of ‘Deanna’ home of the rather ominous sounding ‘Obsidian crows’ and more specifically ‘Atro city’ a place this time around we get to know a bit better while referencing the previous stories of the ‘Quantum series’.

Someone is targeting my favourite characters; an assassin enigmatically named ‘Villainessa Tittel’ who is after one person in particular and series regular; Cindy Mei Winter. ‘Villainessa’ proves to be quite a force in her field of work and does everything in her power to draw in ‘Mei’ whom share an interesting history. It is in this history where readers will find the true message and meaning of the story. While ‘Mei’ has moved forward in life she must face what is essentially a demon of her past and a life before she became ‘Cindy’ and it’s trying to torment her. This is a massive nod to modern issues that many people face in the transgender community and in life as a whole, sometimes it isn’t about who you were, but what you are now and what you truly feel. This concept is galvanised by another character ‘Danielle Grauffis’ who is in a process of transition in her young life compared to ‘Mei’. 

Of course other returning regulars such as ‘Beck the Badfella’ – who we get a name origins story from and special branch ‘Fred’ the arborian make appearances along with an extended appearance from ‘Sheriff Peggy Ann Muller’ who makes quite a team with ‘Mei’ and this is where a crime mystery element of the story truly shines.

Suspense, drama and even tragedy are ways that I would describe the journey this story represents not to mention that crime mystery theme along with some more important issues that these books are not afraid to tackle; as much as this sounds heavy, it’s a fun read. Throughout Engela’s writing style naturally flows and is fun to read. Revenge is a dish best served cold, you could even say as cold as ‘Winter’ but that’s only something ‘I heard through the grape vine…’ 

5 Stars

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The Good Kill: A Killian Lebon Novel by Kurt Brindley – Review

An enthralling, gripping tale of epic proportions taking the reader on a ride full of twists, turns and action…

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Kurt Brindley has constructed an intricate  story that immediately immerses readers into the brutal world of organised crime,  drug and sex trafficking and a gangster underworld all of which is centered around main character Killian Lebon. This warrior and former navy seal embarks on a journey in search of answers and revenge while also dealing with a huge level of trauma. He’s a character that for all of his flaws and even dark moments you cannot help but admire and get behind.

The story unfolds gradually via a gripping and very readable style with the emphasis on Brindley’s descriptive full sentences (proper sentences, how I have longed for thee…)  with a series of stories and characters that all eventually find themselves linked later on. There are a wealth of three dimensional realistic characters with many who have their own flaws much like Killian such as ‘RJ’ with her own traumatic history or ‘Toni’ who is trying to do right even though her surroundings are wrong.

As a reader you definitely get value for money as The Good Kill is long read but it needs to be for the type of story it is and takes some time to get through although not once did I feel as if the story dragged and for a read of this caliber that is indeed an incredible feat.

It’s modern Jason Bourne meets Taken but it feels fresher with a grittier story that is brutal, dark and sometimes violent and always entertaining. There’s revenge and redemption as well as a series of revelations that appear in many different pinnacle moments during the story which is split into 4 parts all of which culminate dramatically.

The Good Kill represents independently published books in the finest possible way.

5 Stars – Great read,  Reviews left on Amazon UK and Goodreads 

The Four Before Me by E. H. Night – Review

‘While some monsters are born, others are created..’

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Upon picking up this book I was instantly immersed into the words and descriptive style E.H Night brings to what is a chilling and mystery shrouded story. By the 8th chapter I’ll admit I couldn’t put it down. 

The Four Before Me leans a little towards cliche but it works in an original way that keeps readers guessing throughout. It’s the late 80’s and Alice our main character; moves to small town ‘Wintersburg’ in search of a new start from the big city and to perhaps be closer to her now deceased Grandmother’s roots. Soon after her arrival she learns that four women are currently missing and that’s when the chilling coincidences begin. I say coincidence but that’s only if you believe in such things and for Alice this starts to play on her mind which in turn becomes psychological – the true strength of this story. She cannot help but think of the many similarities she and the missing women have, in particular ‘Sarah’ who was in fact the previous tenant in Alice’s new place.

As the story unfolds we meet a cast of three dimensional characters all of which serve purpose and depth to the story such as likable law enforcement officer ‘Blake Darrow’ and neighbor ‘Tiffany’ which Alice befriends. Of course there are the less savory characters such as ‘Benji’ or the town renowned ‘Wonderbread Will’. Can they be trusted when so many people are missing in this small town?

There were some instances that my mind was blown by the amount of twists and turns this story had. With elements of crime, mystery, suspense and even some chilling horror you could compare this book with the early works of Stephen King although the voice in this story is fresh and new. Whether it’s the sights or smells, emotions or feelings, this book captures everything including a little nostalgia.

5 Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Audit by C.P Aiden – Review

Enjoyable, clever and original

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C.P Aiden has put together a story that on the surface appears to be about the trials of auditing and finance but in fact it’s about everything else that comes with the territory. This book is so well written and concise you could argue it’s use as a teaching aid for the profession and I mean that in the highest regard even though I am layman to all things finance I found myself able to follow and enjoy everything that was happening.

It reads and flows like a series of case studies that follow a team as they journey in putting together a financial audit for a company (Widget Maker) with some fun and sometimes absurd moments. The characters are stripped down to their job titles as names; an original concept that pays off and even makes it easier to follow. – of course this choice may be to protect anyone they are based upon giving the book a sense of possible reality.

The ‘everything else’ concept of this story is probably what makes it such an enjoyable read from discussing lunch drinks policies to office sleeping arrangements or being given the gift of finishing early at 7:30pm with a $25 dinner allowance for two . This is without mentioning ‘the fortuitous leak in the audit cave’ after someone eats day old sushi or even finding out how much others earn. All of these goings on convey the pressure and treatment the employees face when putting together an audit.

The Good Audit is a unique account (no pun intended) written in an original accessible way that I guarantee any reader will enjoy.

5 Stars – it really is as good as C.P Aiden says on twitter! 

 

The Time Saving Agency by Christina Engela – Review

A highly enjoyable time travel caper…

Quantum Series #2 - The Time Saving Agency 2019 - Front

Only two months previous were the citizens of Deanna dealing with the threat of an alien attack but now another threat of perhaps greater proportions emerges from the fabric of time, quite literally.

Christina Engela has created a story that follows not only a similar concept of the previous entry into the Quantum series but one that fuses those ideas with something completely different and original. Written in a way that sometimes tributes Terry Pratchett, yet again readers will find this story quirky and clever with a style that confides in the reader.

Familiar faces Gary Beck the ‘badfella’ and Cindy Mei Winter return as their story together continues and while that is happening the main story arc begins to unfold from an unexpected place; the fabric of time where there are Time Agents and Time Terrorists. What ensues is a cat and mouse time travel story seeing ‘Agent Scrooby’ trying to track down the evil genius and escaped terrorist known as Brad Xyl who has dastardly universe destroying aspirations. Scrooby enlists the help of Bounty hunter Gary Beck and together they set out to to put Brad Xyl’s plans to a halt.

Although Cindy Mei Winter takes more of a cameo role along with ‘Fred the Arborian’, in this story Cindy’s journey and life as a trans-woman is briefly touched upon giving an important and positive modern spotlight on the subject.

Overall the Time Saving Agency is a fun read which see’s the ‘Quantum Series’ taken on an unexpected journey of time travel while also continuing the journey of it’s characters seen in the previous book in the series. The narrative is delivered with a sophisticated level of humor and sometimes sarcastic wit that never allows for a dull moment.

4 Stars 

Dirty Lawyers (A Night Audit Series Book 5) by Bruce Knapp – Review

Fun gross out comedy…

Dirty Lawyers is the gross out comedy of the ‘Night Audit’ Series. Here we see Zach move into a new place while also finally pursuing his schooling. There’s a hint of 90’s nostalgia in this story and paired with new room mate Jake they host a party in their new apartment which ends with mixing drinks, truth or dare and then an embarrassing attempt in courting the impossibly out of reach Ashley for Zach; all of which is slightly cringe worthy but also fun.

Back at the hotel a group of Lawyers have taken up residency in true ‘animal house’ form making Zach’s hangover ten times worse as these ‘lawyers’ appear to take over. This of course results in more cringe and laugh moments which all ends with an even funnier twist.

4 Stars 

The Phantom (A Night Audit Series Book 4) by Bruce Knapp – Review

Strange happenings in the Stay Over-Nite hotel

Picking up right where Part 3 ended we see the resolve of a cliffhanger that centers around main character Zach. After this incident he eventually makes his way back to work at night where things start to get a little strange.

This story was a fun, quick to read departure from the previous comedic accounts of Zach and shows that author Bruce Knapp can also do serious, creepy and psychological thrills very well. Elevators opening by themselves and the printer churning out ‘help me’ messages seem to be plaguing Zach; that is while guests appear to be checking in and then completely disappearing or even a rooster being reported running around on the third floor.  A lot can happen in one hotel overnight and some of it may be inside the mind while other events have an eventual explanation which forms into an unexpected twist at the closing of this story.

Overall I enjoyed this story like the previous ones and it felt a little different with even a ‘twilight zone’ style tone that was complimented by the resolve.

4 Stars 

Guys’ Night Out (A Night Audit Series Book 3) by Bruce Knapp – Review

A hilarious account of one drunken night out…

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We all think we have good ideas and they seem even better when you add alcohol. In this story we see Zach away from the workplace and out on the town with Randy and Jake. That is without letting on to their colleague Wade who appears to be somewhat of a drip so inviting him is out of the question. What ensues is the typical ‘guys night’ that the title suggests, from chugging beers to a friend going missing to even getting thrown out of one place.

Eventually all roads for Zach lead back to the hotel he works at and Wade. What follows is the drunken idea of initiating him with hilarious results which at the very end of the book have dangerous consequences leaving this story finishing on a cliffhanger.

5 stars 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Squatter in London by Irene Pylypec – Review

An enjoyable well written memoir about a young lady who embarks on a travelling adventure…

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I found myself completely immersed in what is a diary style account of Irene Pylypec’s travels from Canada to the U.K in the 70’s. Although she spends some of her time travelling around the country her residence in London is the focus as she lives a free spirited life of squatting while experiencing everything there is to experience of the times.

In this account she befriends many colourful characters who are in the same situation; young and trying to figure out life in a multi cultural capital. The whole essence of her experiences, the sights, the sounds, the tastes and the people are captured perfectly in what is a fantastic story of highs and lows for a young person trying to survive and figure out life.

Having lived and worked in London during my youth I was reminded by this story of what it is like and the city even back then was a lively place full of people from near enough everywhere; this is also very well documented and includes Irene befriending the Irish contingent during a very testing time for their country. The story pretty much touches on everything that happened during the era such as politics, films, culture and especially the housing crisis which is why there were so many squatters.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was the intertwining of history to real life experiences all of which is delivered in a personal and thoroughly readable story. It’s a fun roller coaster of a journey about people, places and life experience that also serves as a great advert for travelling and meeting people.

 

5 Stars 

 

Kau D’varza: A story in the ChaosNova universe by David Noë – ARC Review

Engaging and immersive high end sci-fi that follows multiple characters along with their antics of journeying through space…

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In the ChaosNova universe the depths of space can be filled with near enough unlimited scope for mystery, deception, risks and reward as this book focuses on ‘Kau D’varza’ a space station where something is always happening. 

Elise Rivera; a relative newcomer to the station in search of a new life soon becomes entangled first of all into some trouble before the realisation comes that she can be of great use. After an early conversation with station’s arch commissioner Elise rides her luck in some senses towards becoming an External Investigations Specialist where she finds herself rubbing shoulders with other specialists of ‘Kau D’varza’ whether that be to help with traitorous engineers or even assisting on bigger space missions. Her journey is intertwined with other specialist’s as they all go about their duty in keeping the station safe; from incoming unknown ships, the threat of ‘Reclaimers’ or the scourge of space; pirates. 

We see these other stories which display the multitude of believable and likable folks such as the eventual romance of specialist Kaska Stone and Specialist Joseph Raffa which added to the many depths this story contains. I enjoyed the realistic approach and even somewhat clunky-ness of Raffa while he tried to do his best to court Stone; even if Ikarus did intervene to begin with.

The reading experience overall feels like a fly on the wall documentary in some places; which is a compliment to the very well constructed and detailed universe this story resides in. In the latter stages of what is a long but immersive read I particularly enjoyed the space battle which carried notes of the space adventures all sci-fi fans will know of along with cutting it’s own unique path. Pockets of action or deceptive investigation for the station specialists will keep any reader immersed in what is an original and highly detailed entry to the science fiction world.

5 Stars

I would like to take this opportunity to thank David Noë for providing an advanced copy of the book. I shall place my reviews in the usual places – Goodreads and Amazon. 

Kau D’varza is out now!