‘Husband for Rent’ by Kristina Gallo – Review

A tale full of twisting suspense about those on the fringes of society…

Kristina Gallo delivers a thriller full of page turning intrigue with shades of a sinister soap opera. It’s gritty and raw and we are introduced to civil servant ‘Viktorija’ who finds herself linked to some less than desirable characters while being on the receiving end of abusive threats. After all she is the deciding factor on whether or not migrants to her native Zagreb are given asylum, a status many would do anything for. ‘Jamal’ just happens to be one of those successful candidates and although he is a husband, father and provider, he is also unfaithful but of course like many of Gallo’s stories this is the just the tip of the iceberg. An affair between these two characters paves the way for murderous implications while we meet a host of characters all on the fringes of an underworld ruled by deception and crime. We meet the trodden down wife, the determined law woman and even a disgruntled ex lover all of which could be behind a pair of murders.

“The underground world was cruel. One day you could be an attractive woman with expensive clothes and powerful men were around you. The next day, the forensic team could be examining your corpse…”

Just who is carrying out these murders and who is behind the threats? The guessing game will keep your interest until the dramatic end by way of twists and turns that make for an immersive experience. I’ll admit it only took a few sessions to finish reading this book as it gripped me about halfway through.

4 Stars – another good addition to Kristina Gallo’s growing backlist of thrillers.

‘The Word of the Rock God’ by Brooklynn Dean – Review

An intimately descriptive fable that merges rock and roll with a powerful message…

Using an encapsulating and immersive writing style Brooklyn Dean places you on stage between your favourite musicians – that’s how it feels anyway. Its intimate and needs to be in order to capture every facial expression, every deep thought and every moment that makes up this parable or even biblical tale of the prophet who faces temptation. On the surface it could be perceived as good versus evil but beneath that is a story full of depth and meaning.

‘Max’ is content with the life he leads as a typically free spirited creative. While his bandmates ‘Phillip’ and ‘Craig’ are partying, he would rather be writing new material over coffee while feeding from the energy of performing. He’s an artist who stands for purity even relaying his message to younger people not to dive in and that it’s okay to wait for certain things in life. Not only is he placed between his two bandmates on stage but figuratively as well – ‘Phillip’ stands as a sometimes sassy but always likeable guardian of sorts, he’s an old friend or even a shoulder to cry on while ‘Craig’ is lesser so but still makes up the band on Max’s other shoulder and this is where the genius of interpretation and symbolism begins. In fact that deep symbolism is all around us.   

While we see the band and their smaller venue touring life captured night after night ‘Max’ encounters two different women who turn out to be so much more. One of them persists with temptation of the many vices our main character has avoided and they start to weigh upon him. Gradually she weaves her way beneath the surface of his consciousness and all of sudden things that never mattered to him start to take over the things that do. The positive message of purity Max carries becomes muddied and almost corrupt where once the art mattered now it seemingly doesn’t.

Like all great stories The Word of the Rock God gives the reader opportunity to interpret the symbolism of it in our own way. It’s what isn’t there that makes you think and leaves a lasting impression after. Even the ending, although satisfying is decided by those who take on these words. From the simple concept of a demon trying to tempt a prophet to the belief of your own art and even the responsibility of being in a position to deliver a message to your audience positively. Sometimes we can lose ourselves or even fall off the path while trying to be someone else so desperately, perhaps being yourself is all that matters. All of this is wrapped up with the rock and roll lifestyle of a performer who lives for his art and it’s delivered through an original unique reading experience. Highly recommended to anyone looking for something a little different.

5 Stars – Rock and roll man! Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for a review.

‘Civil Blood: The Vampire Rights Case That Changed a Nation’ by Chris Hepler – Review

An alternative but realistic take on vampires with sharp political and biological edges…

Those who know the vampire genre will also know the usual tropes that come with it. This book doesn’t have any of that. Chris Hepler has brought the concept of vampirism into a brand new light and territory that see’s it as a type of pathogen in a believable reactive world. This is of course something very relevant today and the depth of this story is found in it’s characters along with the exploration of biological and political impacts vampirism comes to have.

“…human beings are now at risk from a plague. It is crueler than cancer, crueler than AIDS, a disease that makes its victims into villains.”

There are very few books where every scene feels meticulously constructed like this one and while it is a longer read it’s clear the author has thought of everything in a story with a gritty spy thriller/espionage feel. We get to see a future that’s realistic and there are some cool gadgets that help a group of agent/spy types try to trace and put a stop to this spreading vampiric infection. All it’s going to take is for the right or wrong person with connections to ‘catch’ it and well there’s the story – but it’s way more than that.

Giving any more away would be pulling the rug under from readers who will find it original, gripping and overall engrossing, for anyone who’s interested in a political thriller with a vampire edge – something rarely seen before in literature I recommend this one highly.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon

My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2020

It’s December, a time to look back and reflect on what has been a good year for the Hall of Information. There have been some true highlights that have defined the era of quarantine with nothing but good memories of blogging. We thank you kind follower for joining us so for those who might have missed some of the best performing posts this year here’s a countdown style rundown…

Numero 5

‘6 Years of Blogging – Here’s what I learned…’

We don’t need much of an excuse these days to put out a blog post but back in July we celebrated 6 years of doing just that. During those years I’ve learned a thing or two and fashioned such lessons into this post which then served as the basis for a self help guide book I have set for release next year. 26 other awesome bloggers like this post which is near personal best territory…

Numero 4

500 Followers Special – Awesome bloggers who deserve recognition!

It’s hard to believe that all the way back in April this celebratory post dropped and it focuses on the bloggers who have helped this Hall of Information grow into what it is today. Things have moved pretty fast in recent times and now we are on our way to 700 followers so I can imagine there will be one of these posts again in the near future. I highly recommend you follow all the bloggers mentioned…

Numero 3

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

Yes, a book review made it on this list which for me is the dream scenario because reviewing books is what we do here. If one person buys a book based on my recommendation then this would have all been worth it. This self help book I picked up all the way back in early February serves as a unique insight into breaking the so called shells that govern our existence. Well worth a look!

Numero 2

Book Promotion Results September 2020 Pt1

Supporting and helping fellow authors is the best way to support the industry you are in and if you support that industry it will support you, trust me. In recent times these book promotion posts have helped many authors navigate the murky waters of trying to sell books they have also got an awesome amount of views. If you have something people need, they will flock to it.

Numero uno

Book Promotion Results – July 2020

As you can see there’s a theme to the top end of this countdown and the most viewed post of 2020 is more book promotion results in the form of a guide which has hopefully helped others. We pride ourselves on helping others and it has paid off by bringing new traffic to this site and new books to read. Long may it continue!

That wraps up a fun but hopefully very useful list for fellow authors and bloggers. Tomorrow – the best books I have read this year. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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

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

There is so much information in this clear and concise guide which is designed to help anyone who is published via Amazon reach readers through the concept of shared interests using keywords – while this may sound technical and it might be but Dale L. Roberts explains this concept flawlessly and easily. Not once did I have to re-read anything although I will be going back many times to use this guide as a reference point to improve my own book marketing efforts. While reading it I have already implemented some of the valuable advice given.

The guide begins with Dale relaying a conversation he had with a few old friends who share the same interests and this serves as an example throughout in how we can find an audience that can relate to our books to eventually drive sales. That ideal reader is out there and we just need to build a bridge to them through keywords. Of course we get a plethora of information on keywords like what they are, why they are important and how best to use them. It’s upfront about the fact keywords aren’t all that sell books but they are indeed important.

The world of selling books on Amazon can be daunting especially if you don’t know much about it but this guide has given me a lot more than I used to know and there are even some other valuable outside the box tips that opened my eyes. From search engine algorithms to the relevancy of key words alongside many more useful articles linked throughout and at the end of what I consider an essential read for all authors.

5 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

Review: Darke Awakening by Lee Hall — SDMcKinley.com – indie author / blogger

A tip of the cap to fellow author and blogger S.D McKinley for this wonderful review of ‘Darke Awakening’.

Be sure to head on over to his blog and give it a follow!

I read the first book in this series titled Open Evening and I can tell you that this writer ( Hall ) has evolved. Toward the beginning of the book, with the rocks and the lake, it reminded me of lofty, floaty feelings I got when reading Storm Constantine’s The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence […]

Review: Darke Awakening by Lee Hall — SDMcKinley.com – indie author / blogger

‘The Ghost of Whitmore Manor’ by Sarah Jayne Harry – Review

A breezy paranormal romance with a young adult edge…

For a short book Sarah Jayne Harry has managed to deliver a satisfying story with a range of themes with an easy to read writing style. There’s a young adult vibe from the very start as ‘Charlotte’; a paranormal sceptic is dared to spend the night in an abandoned manor house. It’s spooky and descriptive from sight to smell and we even get a harrowing backstory of the place – some elements of this book do go to dark places and this is mentioned beforehand but only for a short while and it’s not exploitative but necessary for plot and eventual resolve. On this night our main character and narrator comes across ‘Lewis’ a ghost which she befriends. This friendship in turn becomes something more.

We also see ‘Charlotte’s’ home life where her over protective and abusive Father casts a shadow over everything while the pressure of succeeding in school is ever present. There are other characters in this story, even if they are smaller parts they contribute to the wider picture. Soon this picture culminates with a choice or suggestion that ‘Lewis’ makes and an ending perfect for the genre. I would have liked to of seen perhaps a little more between ‘Lewis’ and ‘Charlotte’ but for a short read which most will complete in one sitting, it makes for a perfect spooky season experience.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon

‘Awake’ by Andrew Palmer – Review

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

In the not too far future ‘Edward Morrison’ is a computer programming prodigy with a million dollar corporation behind him. His main objective in life is to create and complete a ‘dream machine’ prototype that looks to replicate REM sleep conditions while also providing a virtual reality that cannot be distinguished from the real world. And what exactly is real and just a dream? Well that’s the partial genius readers face in this story as the lines become blurred capturing the surreal element of what our dreams can be.

While Edward is determined and engrossed in the work he also carries a complex childhood trauma that plagues his nightmares throughout the story, hence the connection between him and the dream concept. He’s a reclusive type and initially helped only by ‘Athena’ who eventually serves as something with too much control and power which becomes a threat – like the technology in this story, it’s created with the best intentions but humans have a tendency to foster the worst outcomes. Control seems to be the metaphor that holds everything together here.

In the latter stages there were a few moments that felt a little hard to follow as the concept of what was a dream and what wasn’t played out. While readers will need to pay close attention at this point it also heightened the psychological sense of what was going through the MC’s mind. The writing style is descriptive and easy to follow with chapters that are well paced.

The concept of connection through the unconscious as mentioned by Andrew Palmer in the acknowledgment brings a twist and satisfying resolve via the estranged ‘Cura’ who serves as an important character throughout. Dreams and the human mind make for a fascinating subject which is put beside the perhaps danger of technology making this story an interesting and imaginative read.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Blachart’ by Christina Engela – Review

Enjoyable action-packed original space sci-fi

Christina Engela delivers with this action packed tale that introduces the Galaxii series; an expansive world of Imperial space fleets, distant planets, space pirates and beyond. Utilizing her unique, fun and strong narration style we meet ‘Mykl d’Angelo’ who serves firstly as a mystery man seemingly marooned alone in space until the authorities take him in and learn he is trustworthy. His brutal back story becomes apparent and as a reader you naturally side with him. Whether it be for his quick witted one liner’s or ability to deal with most situations and seemingly get out of them; the Imperial space fleet soon employ d’Angelo. He even reconnects with an old flame in the form of ‘Ripley Jones’ who vouches for him.

The real threat in Engela’s deep space Galaxii universe and much like many of her other books are the Corsairs – a mystery group of pirate types who appear to ravage any civilisation they can. Soon enough d’Angelo’s rescuing ship comes across another vessel manned by them and so the action, drama and deception begins. In order to fully intercept the Corsair world, they must align with an unexpected ally.

While this tale is wholly original there are some fun references throughout from old school weaponry, pirate slang terms and even a hilarious fast food reference. From shootouts to car chases this book has everything fans of sci fi action could want. It’s imaginative, highly readable and fun much like many of Christina Engela’s works which I highly recommend!

5 Stars – A cracking read. Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you to the author for providing a copy to review.

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

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 off time after this world has healed itself from us.

We are then taken back to how we got there and the years much closer to our present through the eyes of a Canadian woman who relays her years from childhood to retirement. From the inspiration and spirit of her mother all the way to her daughter growing up in a world of water rationing and stricter controls. This tale of motherhood is just part of a rich story all told through these diary entries which all begin with some wonderful definitions that relate to the ecology of water and the nature of our wider planet – there is information everywhere and all of it points towards us failing to preserve our most precious resource. It began to open my eyes and also pierce my heart that we seem to be wasting and slowly destroying this planet’s eco systems that all provide us with life. The politics behind water are particularly on point in relating to today’s leaders and corporations but it’s not just empty statements or finger pointing to bad leaders. This book stands up and in the face of those who do not care for our ecological future, for that it’s one of the most important books of a generation.

“it will slip through their fingers. That’s what water does…”

There always seems to be a big time corporation pulling the strings for control and that’s the same in this situation which as the diary moves forward in time so does the struggle. From mass droughts to the technological advances of weather control to even punishing those who collect rain water, this future is both a potential reality and also quite scary. History is being erased or adjusted to suit the less informed society who are ignorant to the struggle. It also maintains this story of a mother concerned for her daughter, a parental tale much like what is going on in the world and future, sometimes you have to just let the next generation go. Perhaps we are too busy trying to save ourselves when really we should be focused on the place we live.

“We’re turning into migrants, condemned to wander the earth in search of a nirvana that doesn’t exist, all because we didn’t treasure the nirvana we had…”

Nina Munteanu has put together a story about the pitfalls of humanity while also being wonderfully informative and inspirational towards highlighting the importance of preserving our water and wider planet. It’s beautifully original, modern and even patriotic in some senses which tells me the author proudly cares immensely about a story where there is so much more underneath the shimmering surface.

5 Stars – Exceptional, relevant and important. This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery