Review: The Teleporter by Lee Hall — S.D. McKinley – thoughts from an indie author

Shout out to fellow author S.D McKinley for this awesome review of the Teleporter. Make sure you visit his blog and give it a follow!

Summary: ( Extracted from Amazon ) What if there was a power like no other? What if one drunken slouch happened to stumble where nobody has stumbled before and discovered the ability to teleport!Just when you thought there were enough super hero stories in this world, we made another one…Kurt Wiseman is your average mid-twenties […]

via Review: The Teleporter by Lee Hall — S.D. McKinley – thoughts from an indie author

Books With Unique Voices

If we don’t talk about books, then how is the world going to know they exist? 

In the past few years and even recently I’ve delved into some truly unique stories that deserve a little more than a review. And a little more than a review is simply talking about them. 

With that in mind let’s dive in and look at some books with unique voices…
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The Good Audit by C.P Aiden (cool pen name) tackles the subject matter of accounting in a funny but very accessible way where pretty much anyone can enjoy it. This book is unique because the delivery style intertwines with a sense of humor that captures every essence of the pressures, the laments and even the eating habits of those who work in accounts. Characters are simply named by their job title which is an original concept as well as a potential protective measure for any type of libel. You don’t need to know about auditing or accounts to enjoy this one!

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The Four Before Me by E.H Night is an 80’s slasher that brings a whole new dimension of intelligence to the genre. It’s unique because of that and over the years literature and cinema have churned out so many stories that follow the same slash, character makes a stupid decision, kill, repeat formula without any depth. This one breaks that mold with a twisting story of suspense and an array of realistic primary and secondary characters that make up the small town vibe where four women have previously gone missing, women who share similarities to the main character. By the end this book becomes more than a slasher trust me…

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Fated to Meet You by Despoina Kemeridou is a modern fairy tale that serves for some unique escapism much like the M.C ‘Nora’ who literally escapes to another world of Kings, Queens and Castles. It’s a quick read that brings a modern twist the the genre that might possibly be as old as time…

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Nightjar by Paul Jameson is truly unique for it’s writing style that reads much like a classic. It’s no easy feat to achieve that and keep it going for the entirety of a book which sits somewhere between fantasy and folklore. Set in a ‘Feudal Future’ two boys stray from the confines of home and embark on a unique journey and come face to face with Nightjar – just who or what that is, read the book and find out…

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American Blasphemer by John Gillen is unique literary fiction like you’ve never seen before and I say fiction but from this book you’ll get biographical vibes from the very beginning. You can probably guess what unfolds by the title and yes to some it might appear Blasphemic or even the anti bible, but to me it serves as a companion to life in the United states while everyone can relate to it. From sex and drugs to family and religion or even Bob Dylan this one is incredibly unique.

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How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal by S.D. McKinley is the reason I put this list together and it’s not only unique but fun, sometimes random but always enjoyable. To quote my very recent review  ‘Main characters LJ and Rom decide that they are done with rally car racing and decide to make a pilgrimage of sorts across country along the open road to save their close friend. The action picks up quickly and doesn’t let off the gas near enough all the way through page turning chapters where our heroes come across a multitude of ‘out there’ experiences from trashing motel rooms rock and roll style, fixing their vehicle, high speed racing to even the supernatural and everything else in between...’

Is there a unique tale you want to share with the world? 

 

Let’s talk about… Star Ratings

Book reviews. What do they really mean? Unlike most products out there, books aren’t reviewed for whether or not they function properly, books are reviewed through the opinion of a reader which is entirely different…

The word ‘subjective’ gets thrown around a lot in the literary world, Agents will cling to it when rejecting a query and many other reviewers will use it as an excuse to give good or even bad reviews of stories.

Above the sacred book review is an often overlooked factor of governance, the Star Rating which is the subject for discussion because on at least 3 platforms I know of in the book reviewing world, it differs..

Goodreads

Is Goodreads Free?

Goodreads (the Facebook of the Book world) takes their stance on the star rating system as follows…

More on caveats | lucinda sans

Now I’m pretty satisfied with most of their definitions and let’s face it, the only thing available to review on Goodreads is books so it’s pretty specifically set for them, that is until it comes down to the 2 star and below. To me 2 stars is less than OK for a book…

The truth is, I’ve never rated a book below 3 stars on any platform mainly due to the fact I just haven’t found a read like that yet; I am quite picky and know whether or not I am going to enjoy a book, so I see the star rating as a score out of 5 and anything below three isn’t a pass… (this is just my opinion folks)

Amazon

More Amazon delivery restrictions are coming | TechRadar

Amazon, arguably the most important place for authors to get reviews as it is where their work is sold exclusively from, like me. There appears to be a little difference between their rating and Goodreads, now Amazon have done the Amazon thing and I can’t find anywhere reputable throughout the Google that tells us straight up what each star in their rating system means. This could be because they don’t know, they don’t want us to know or maybe it’s a combo of both. So let us look to the 2 star review as an example:

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This ‘review’ is taken from my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’ and as you can see it’s not only a negative review but a DNF review also which is hardly in line with the Goodreads 2 star review of ‘It was OK’.

When comparing probably the two most important book reviewing platforms they contradict one another and that is without another major factor; personal preference which is what Mr Beam me up decided to do with his/her review because even if you put out guidelines, whether or not they will be followed is another thing and this reviewer didn’t then hop on over to Goodreads.

Reedsy Discovery

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You can expect my very first Reedsy Discovery review tomorrow and it’s a good one trust me! Now their rating system is strict compared to others. They feel that you don’t need to give every book a 5 star rating and of course save that for the truly exceptional reads.

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As you can see from their emoji heavy rating system that it agrees with me in principle. Anything below 3 is a ‘not for me’ but this also makes things tricky going upwards because of their stance of 5 star reviews, one has to find a truly exceptional book to use that rating.

Personal Preference

I don’ think there is one true way to rate a book using the above platforms and their own star rating systems. They differ too much, even without us realising. A four star review from Goodreads could mean something entirely different on Amazon because of the personal preference of a reader or because the guidelines aren’t particularly clear.

Personally I might have been way to generous in the past but arguably the books I’ve read had an effect on me and motivated me to rate them the way I did. The journey these authors have taken me on has led to what I thought of them and I pride myself on the support I give. The 5 star rating I give might not be for a truly exceptional once in a lifetime story but for the effort they put in to write something, to do research or even help me escape this world for just a while.

Authors view reviews as gold dust or even currency these days and it’s big business trust me. If it wasn’t for reviewing books, this very blog would be a ghost town.

What do you think of the star rating system for books? 

Best books I’ve read this year… so far Part 2…

Because one measly blog post isn’t enough to cover the great books I’ve been immersed in during the first part of 2020 – year of the shit storm. And let’s face it, I love a sequel, I can’t help but leave the door open and in this sense it’s for the greater good of books so here we go, let’s dive in to some part 2 of best books….

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley by Nina Romano

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Westerns have always captivated my imagination. From the likes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood to the modern television epic ‘Westworld’ and even the final part of my all time favourite film trilogy Back to the Future Part 3. I’m a connoisseur of modern country music and have even dabbled in possibly the greatest video game story ever told which also happens to be a western; Red Dead Redemption 2.

With that in mind, it was only a matter of time until the right book came along and The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is just that. Authentic history meets romance that spans over some years during a time in America where the modern world is still emerging. Nina Romano has constructed an epic tale of love that delves into Native American culture complete with the sights and smells. The love between the main protagonists is perceived as destiny and that’s how I saw it anyway. To quote my reviewIt’s both poetic and sometimes poignant while even being brutal in parts, of course the old world was back then and you cannot fault the factual elements that are intertwined with the fiction…’

‘The Quest For The Sun God’s Tomb : The Willie Abrams Saga’ by C.J Evans

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Continuing with the historic fiction theme we’re going a few years ahead to a post WW1 world where a pair of american veterans are living out their retirement in Cuba (booze was banned back home). While it seems to be the ideal life, the sun, the sand and the daiquiris, history soon catches up with Willie Abrams. It’s part treasure hunt come rescue mission with a little dusting of Indiana Jones – if he went to middle america on a mission to find an artefact and use it to bargain for an old flames release. And quoting my review; The Quest For The Sun God’s Tomb is an easy to read tale of action and adventure guaranteed to keep readers interested all the way to the end! This one will definitely whisk you away for a while!’

‘Scarred’ by Damien Linnane

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We’re going down the crime vigilante rabbit hole now with ‘Scarred’ by Australian author Damien Linnane who has put together a unique and sometimes violent tale that will question your judgement of justice. There’s a conflict in the story that runs throughout – that being whether or not the actions of the MC are right and wrong. To quote my review‘there are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice…’ 

American Blasphemer: A Novel by John Matthew Gillen

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This story captivated me like not many books do and I’m afraid that’s all I can say because ‘American Blashpemer’ is the first book I have read and reviewed for Reedsy Discovery and because it was an ARC, the review will be coming very soon, but trust me you don’t want to miss it!

Life Signs by Christina Engela

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The sci fi stories of Christina Engela appear quite frequently on my shelves, they are both fun and in good supply. Like the many of her books I have reviewed in the past ‘Life Signs’ deserves a shout out as well as the wider Panic! Horror in Space series. This one is a trio of stories that tie into the wider world of space, horror and even some comedy. To quote my review: ‘From poignant to quirky and fun, these stories pretty much cover everything that Engela is known for with a writing style and depth that will draw you in…’

‘Mr Mercedes’ by Stephen King

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Okay it may not be an indie book but sometimes we all need a break to switch things up. I bet Superman even has cheat days, not that I am comparing myself… plus I had this in paperback on my to read shelf for quite a while. Now I know, it’s Stephen King and if you tune into his twitter, we can probably describe his tweets as ‘interesting’ at best, he’s not quite at the J,K Rowling level yet but he’s on his way, the less said about that, the better….

Mr Mercedes is outside of the usual genre we all know and ‘love’ King for but he still manages to retain the depravity and the places he’s willing to go in order to tell a good crime story. That being retired detective who has let himself go is taunted by the criminal he never caught. It’s very readable, has a few gasp type moments and overall worth a look. You can check out my full review here

And so that wraps up another Best Books blog post. Of course there are still some other books which didn’t get a mention, so look out for them! Peace out, thanks for reading, stay safe… 

 

Indie April Book Recommendations

Blog Post 401 and no that isn’t an error code…

This entry is dedicated to the reads I took on this April, or if you are an active member of the Tweet machine writing community it’s known as #indieapril

Those that know me will know every month is Indie April. I’ve said no matter what is happening outside our windows, the Hall of Information will keep going and so here we go…

The first read I took on in April was part of the Clown Conspiracy series which is a series of short reads that see’s two Agents in pursuit of a killer clown which soon becomes killer clowns; hence the conspiracy part.

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The Back Pew’ is the third entry in the series by author Mallory Kelly who never fails to deliver in what is a chilling race against time to stop these clowns. Just where will they strike next? Her descriptive style aligned with those chills makes for a great read and before you know it, it’s the end of another tale. You can read my review here and of course click on the cover for the book link…

Next up we have a debut novel by fellow British author Julia Cowan.

‘Cells’ is a story that will leave you questioning the morality of whether or not there can be any true justice? Can criminals really can be corrected?

The answers to those questions are presented by way of an experiment which aligns with vigilante justice that carries a dark edge. For anyone who enjoys thrillers with a slice of crime and mystery; this one is for you. I enjoyed it and the multiple switching of back and forth in time to bring together a story of intrigue was unique and clever.

To quote my review ‘from police corruption, blackmail and even a complicated love triangle this story ticks many of the boxes that fans of crime thrillers will enjoy…’

What came next is a true gem of a read about life, love and destiny in the American west.

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The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley by Nina Romano was a book that I could not put down. Described as a ballad in my review – it really is and see’s two star-crossed lovers who are meant to be, but their plans and journeys think otherwise, hence the destiny part. There’s drama, mystery and some very well researched history of the time where the modern world was just emerging. Love stories and romance don’t frequently appear on my list here at the Hall but this one, I highly recommend and in these trying days where we all need an escape, put your money on love!

I normally struggle to get into another full length book after reading one so I chose to take on something on the shorter side and this is probably the most unique in this post. 

Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1) by Colin Yeoman is something completely different and original when it comes to science fiction, you could even argue it’s a type of fiction that clings to real science and theory while also doing the fictional part very well.

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For what starts like a potentially typical space fiction book becomes a rabbit hole of mystery and theory along with some deception.

To quote my recent review Colin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original…’

 

And so we are at my final and most recent read of April 2020. Again British crime is a theme as I took on ‘A Dish Best Served Cold: An ‘Archer’ Novel’ by Steve Lumsden after connecting with him on the tweet machine, and I was not disappointed.

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To quote my still warm reviewPresented Over six parts A dish Best Served Cold is a revenge and criminal underworld story that see’s implications from the past shape the present day and the characters in it…’

Before I realised I was already 50% through this book which is written in a style where you’ll be turning pages quickly.

And so that wraps up another month of awesome indie books! A thank you to the authors for their excellent work and thanks to all for reading. 

Do you have any recent book recommendations???

 

 

 

 

Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1) by Colin Yeoman – Review

A thought provokingly original novella that will leave you wanting more…

 

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There aren’t many stories that successfully combine real science with imaginative fiction which is not only clever but also thought provokingly original, Memories of Mars is both of those and so much more.

From what is a relatively slow but curious start moves towards an imaginative theory about the origins of man and the history of the red planet known as Mars. That is after main character ‘Josiah Lamples’ discovers evidence of life on the barren surface and is soon ‘let go’ by his employers. This is where the story becomes engaging and interesting with just a hint of deception, we see ‘Josiah’ come face to face with the rabbit hole of theory and that life long question of what happened to Mars?

Colin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original.

Readers of both science fiction and literary fiction will enjoy this brand of ‘Fringe Fiction’ that gives answers and leaves you wanting more..

4 Stars – A very interesting and original read. Novellas like this don’t get enough credit. Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon UK

 

 

Recent Indie Book Recommendations

These are unprecedented times… sick and tired of hearing that over and over again? Do yourself a favour and turn off the news for a while, the headlines aren’t going to change anytime soon so do something better with your time. 

Here at the Hall of information we have vowed to carry on in the face of adversity and continue our sacred vow to read and review indie books and keep this whole book train rolling down the track.

With book reviews comes book recommendations and so here are some recent reads that I urge you to check out for some awesome escapism from the crap reality this season of life has become – I’m talking worse than the final season of GOT…  Let’s go!

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The power of being positive is a powerful thing! And one way out of this shit storm is to escape through being positive or at least taking on a read that is proactive in that. Donald Lee approached the Hall for a review and we were not disappointed because his unique outlook on the self help genre is both thought provoking and valuable for learning so many of live’s lessons.

Donald is a tenured band teacher (no pun intended) and throughout his years he’s picked up a thing or two about life and how to get the most from it. Made up of short parables on very many subjects this book will bring a smile to your face! Check out my review of The Band Director’s Lessons about Life

Next up is a regular name who appears in the reviews here because Christina Engela has done it again with her immersive brand of space sci-fi.

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The Horror! Panic in Space series presents ‘Life Signs’ and my recent review headline reads ‘A trio of enjoyable sci-fi tales filled with mystery, fun and revelations…’

This is the second entry of Engela’s series which I am gradually working my way through. In these distracting times, stories like this are easy to read and are light on the mind while also being enough to whisk you away for a while. I urge you to check out these books along with her many other books which I have reviewed here in the past year (the Quantum series comes to mind…)

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Another author who recently reached out to the Hall is Damien Linnane from the land of Oz- stralia… who presented me with a recommendation in the form of ‘Scarred’ which is exactly what the title suggests. Trust me when I say this one is both good and brutal but it goes to brutal places for the sake of a great story.

To quote my very recent review:There are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice…’ 

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Right now like a lot of folks there’s a bunch of worry and pressure on our shoulders. It’s hard to get into a book but escapism and taking the mind away for a little while is important; enter the first book in the Willie Abrams Saga which is just enough to take you away while not overloading you with a complex overindulgent story. Sometimes simple stories are the best ones and this is a fine example of that. And I don’t mean to be critical when I say it’s simple because this is a rare quality found in indie books.

The Quest for the Sun God’s Tomb by CJ Evans  was a fun and easy to read book. Chapters are pacy and only five minutes or so long which means you can put it down and pick it up as much as you like. Somewhere between Indiana Jones and an original tale, this one is full of action and intrigue! Looking foward to reading more in the Saga soon!

 

So what are you reading? I know these are hard times, but staying in and finding a book to read will take away that anxiety and worry for a while, trust me!

The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle by Donald Lee – Review

An inspiring array of modern life lessons told from experience with a spiritual outlook…  

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From the opening pages its clear to see that Donald Lee is a tenured teacher and has used his many experiences to create what is a gem of a book about so much in life with music/performance teaching being the theme.

It consists of short parables that present readers with insightful lessons on many different subjects ranging from time management, knowledge, belief, having fun, performing, forgiveness, failure and so much more (50 in total) – all of which come from the authors time spent teaching band. Every parable begins with a quote from an inspirational figure and closes with a reflection that galvanizes the lesson and an overall insight on each subject. The main insight is spiritual growth and this book will help you look towards being happier, peaceful and successful in whatever you tackle.

There are a heap of self help and spiritual type books out there that cater to certain subjects but this one you’ll find has mass appeal across ages, beliefs and walks of life to provide spiritual insight on ourselves and others. It’s inclusive to anyone much like music and teaching. Everyone will find something to relate to in this book that has meaning and inspiration because we are all in the big band of life together!

‘What you seek is within you, not without you…’

5 Stars – I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you to the author for reaching out and providing a copy in exchange for a review – all thoughts are my own! Reviews left via amazon and Goodreads… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome Indie Book Rec’s

And so comes another round of Awesome Indie Book Recommendations. From self help all the way to unique literature it’s been one hell of a ride recently, so let’s get into it…

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Break Them All !!: A Modern Era Awakening’ by DRTao is a read and a gift that keeps on giving not only because it’s one of the most read reviews this site has ever had (in recent times) but it’s also entirely unique for something in the self help genre.

Quoting from that review it ‘refers to the phenotypes of our existence that seem to rule us such as ego and ambition and this is guide to breaking away from them in a positive sense…’ 

For a shorter read it’s effective with a message that will open your eyes to our own consciousness. Check it out here

 My next rec’ comes in the form of sci-fi by South African author Christina Engela with ‘Static’ which is a fusing of chilling horror and so much more. Those who have been tuning in for a while here at the Hall of Information will know that I’ve read and reviewed her stuff before; last year I took on the wonderful ‘Quantum’ series. (Book 1 review here.) 

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‘Static’ is a part the ‘Panic! Horror Space’ series and combines elements of horror with comedy which I thoroughly enjoyed. You can expect a review for the next story in the series soon!

Recent review: 

Those who are fans of classic and recent horror stories will find this to be a read in somewhat familiar territory while much of the events come unexpectedly and on the fringes of laugh out loud comedy.’

Next up could possibly be the finest example of modern literature out there and I am not exaggerating when I say that ‘Nightjar’ by Paul Jameson is just that.

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It’s rare for me to finish a full length novel in a few days but this one was so immersive I couldn’t help but turn the pages. Both Fantasy and folklore are represented in force while it’s delivered with a crafted style of writing that reads much like a classic. Just what is this book about? I urge you all to check this one out but here’s a snippet of my glowing review:

‘Set in a ‘Feudal Future’ where not many will stray from home because of superstition or perhaps because their clan elders say so; two boys ‘Cord’ and ‘Tuppance’ do just that and embark on a journey of adventure. Early in their travels meet a figure of mystery known as ‘Nightjar’. This somewhat magical character goes by many different descriptions, just who he really is will keep readers turning pages but this ‘man in motley’ carries a magical type of presence letting the imagination run wild…’

We’ve covered self help, science fiction and even folk lore so this book rec post wouldn’t be complete without some poetry and so I bring forth my final rec of this post.

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Swinging Sanity by N.F. Mirza is a ‘brave expression of feeling through poetry that is both thought provoking and inspiring.’ 

This collection is indeed both brave and full of emotion while also managing to be ever so honest. For those who don’t know the author’s blog ‘Stoner on a Rollercoaster’ I urge you to follow it and check out this incredible collection.

‘From self harm, depression, anxiety, loneliness, love, individual suffering and pain to everything else that centres around our sanity, you’ll see it represented here without any reservations…’

 

And so that wraps up my latest round of book rec’s.

What are you reading currently? 

Nocturnal Farm by Villimey Mist – Review

A flawless and fresh vampire tale full of mystery and unexpected twists…

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Although it may appear to begin rather slowly the reader is introduced to a world where main character Leia Walker is still reeling from her previous encounter six months before and it casts a shadow over her life. This slower pace works incredibly well in depicting Leia’s struggle with not only what happened in the past but to also highlight her anxiety and OCD which she is fighting everyday. She is stronger in this story and displays a realistic amount of character development. For readers who haven’t experienced the events of ‘Nocturnal Blood’ or haven’t read it for a while are reminded during this opening which gives this story it’s own stand-alone power.

Most sequels struggle to live up to the first experience while attempting to be bigger where as Nocturnal Farm carves it’s own unique and sometimes unexpected path without just throwing more vampires and action into the mix. It’s grounded and realistic for a story in this genre. There is a genuine original story where the plot is carried by a rescue mission which differs from last time with the two girls on the run concept.

Villimey Mist has found her voice in writing and delivers a story that is well structured well paced. There were portions of this book where I could have easily been reading a high end fiction story about the likes of ‘Jason Bourne’ as he explored a European city looking for answers much like Leia Walker. We get more from characters who perhaps played minor roles last time while also being introduced to some newer fresh faces. In this world of ‘Vampires’, ‘Sangues’, ‘Ghouls’ and ‘Hunters’ is a a lot of potential that is used well in this book. The journey to the ending was carried by several twists and revelations finally closing with a ‘what if’ scenario that has most probably been burning in the back of most readers minds leaving it very much open for another sequel. 

Nocturnal Farm is a book I would highly recommend!

5 Stars –  A fantastic read, thank you to the author for providing an ARC. Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads.