The Sawyer Shepherd Chronicles: Rites of Passage by Chad Lehrmann – Review

A twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret…

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It doesn’t take long for the action to get going in what is a multi genre tale that sits within the fringes of supernatural thriller. ‘Sawyer Shepherd’ takes the lead in this book’s best feature; an ensemble of characters that have depth. He carries the typical mysterious past well even though he just happens to roll into town at the right time – but stories with prophecy and the like justify that to an extent because for me this book worked as an escape.

The setting comes as a strong second and is delivered with a unique style of writing that runs throughout. There is however a lot of cliche moments that some will probably roll their eyes at, but saying that, tropes are there for a reason, because they work and for all the moments that appear to be typical of the genre, most of the time they tick all the right boxes. Saying that I particularity enjoyed the original take on big business developers and how they fit into the threat element of the story and their perception of power.

The dialogue at some points I found to be perhaps a little tongue in cheek along with a romance that felt pushed which then suddenly back tracked. Fans of character driven narratives about ancient evil, secret demon fighting societies and unpredictable action will find plenty to get their ‘claws’ into. There are even some fitting tributes to some of the authors influences which made for a nice touch.

The book breezes by with decent pacing and a few revelations along the way including a double twist in the final stages. Although it was enjoyable, and a wider story is hinted throughout, I’m not sure the ending carried enough weight to interest readers in a potential sequel. Either way new stories about perhaps older tropes deserve to be recognised.

3 Stars – This review premiered via Reedsy Discovery

 

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!

Stranger Things: A review: More like Better things

So many of us know that one day the post-apocalyptic survivors will consist of Trump, Google and Netflix.

Right now I’m happy with the latter surviving especially if they keep providing decent original series like Stranger Things. An eight part mystery horror set in 80’s small town America. The cliché boxes are literally being ticked as the first few minutes of the show play out, what I can say is that on this occasion, cliché is your friend.

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We don’t do spoilers here at the Hall of information, but we do our best to persuade you, valuable reader, to go out there and watch the shit I watch. Then we can converse over a few vodkas one lunch time about such things. Yes, my lunchtimes are wild.

So the Duffer brothers have done their absolute best to bring you all a show which from the very beginning pays homage to Stephen King and John Carpenter style story telling . This is also completed by the postmodern synthy type music that plays as we see the red neon writing that reads this show’s title. There are numerous 80’s greats that this show tributes, something which JJ Abrams tried to do with super 8 but just missed the mark.

Some of these tributes include the goonies with a great group of leading kids whose characters contribute to believable situations in an unbelievable situation. When they are not on their bikes they are forever referencing geek stuff such as dungeons and dragons, Star Wars and x men stuff.. An escaped mystery girl with telekinetic powers even mirrors Carrie in some senses.

The first billed actress Winona Ryder plays an older single mum struggling to meet ends when her youngest of two sons mysteriously goes missing. Although she does over play it sometimes, her performance is mostly positive.

The town’s nearby department of energy are more than just a power station and so the premise of mystery along with this kid going missing quickly ensues.

We see the town’s rugged and somewhat over the hill police chief, very well depicted by David Harbour bring a performance of a man whose witnessed great loss but will do anything to find this missing kid. His solo scenes are something which can only be described as a joy to watch, all the more reason to get behind him. His chemistry with Winona Ryder make two brilliant leads along with some of the older kids. All of them with one goal. To find out what happened to this missing boy and what is going on in their town.

Even just as a look back at a time of such rich pop culture makes Stranger Things probably the hottest show on Netflix right now. The music, clothes, cars and look are all something an immense amount of effort has gone into.

We’ve all seen orange is the new black, now its time for horror to rule for a while.

The pacing, atmosphere and characterization are well achieved by the writer/director brothers who have brought an instant cult classic which I urge you all to watch. Yes you may cower behind the sofa but you’ll be better for it.

It really is about time that we stopped relying on House, Buffy and breaking bad to re watch for viewing pleasure. There is new stuff and its good.

The show can either be seen as a stand alone or with plenty of stories left open. If a season two is on the cards, it has my vote.

Write with your head, not the heart

Over the past few months I have come to some realisation on how I perceive myself in writing. From what started off as a pre teenage dream now stands as something dead serious, to me anyway.

On my way to adulthood I learned quickly from the working world about having an important thing called work ethic. Without tooting my own horn too much I have taken such ethic and applied it to everything I deem as a success. My philosophy in life and my ultimate key to success has only really consisted of three things:

  1. Turn up on time
  2. Be nice
  3. Work hard and be useful

The above rules work together as much as they do in a formulaic way. If you feel useless in a new job at least you turn up on time and be nice. If you can’t work hard because of some arbitrary consequence then just be nice and turn up. Everyone has no excuse for rules 1 and 2, to me they are the most important.

In writing it’s hard to find success even if you apply my rules because unfortunately there is always something else denying you. All you can do sometimes if continue onwards and work towards an eventual goal you may not even see on the horizon.

This stuff I talk about here is good and all but what is my point?

Writing is indeed something very personal. Here you are pouring all emotional strength into a story and yet people are rejecting you left right and center. Much of the time we get lost in our own creativity to even think that if we want genuine success as writers it needs to be treated like a job.

Slowly everyday that is my realisation. Take away all the heartfelt stuff, emotional connection with characters and  you can still let the creativity flow. Last year I made a critical decision to let go of my first written stories.

There were many reasons but above all if I want success as a writer I need to take away the emotion and write a story with appeal across the board. Don’t get me wrong that isn’t the key all writing success because all of this is figurative but I was penning a story that meant so much to me. Perhaps it just wasn’t right for me anymore or a readership.

To all those writing a fantasy time travel pirate series for example. You may have had this in you for years and it means so much, the story very much runs in parallel to your own life. For sure go ahead and write it if that’s what it means to you. If you want to find publication not only does this piratey masterpiece need to be good enough for a literary agent to like it but also have appeal to a massive group.

Making things complicated from the start will leave you disappointed and there isn’t an agent in the world who will take on your stuff if it has zero appeal to a mainstream audience. You also need to be somebody these days. By mainstream I mean all types of folk. Adding several sub genres to a title is just narrowing down potential readers each time. My suggestion and this is all yet to be proven so take what I say with a pinch of salt, keep it to one simple and single genre.

Why do you think Justin Beiber (through gritted teeth) is such a success? Two reasons: The stuff he makes is one genre and his target audience are a large number of people. He didn’t know he would be a success to begin with but he made it easier by making stuff that appeals. How do we do the same as writers?

Treat this thing like a job and research what is hot at the moment. If you are a writer and call yourself one you have to be prepared to do parts of the job you don’t like. Much like the real world of work. Put the pirate fantasy time travel story away for a while (but don’t forget it) and pen a simple romance story or something of the young adult persuasion. Two genres that are massively popular across many ages. Widen the range of people your writing will appeal to and grow a readership. The pirate story will come later when people buy the book because who’s written it and not what it’s about.

That good people is where I currently stand. My close to heart story and pick of destiny book series the Thorn legacy is currently on hold. A futuristic science fiction action thriller is too genre heavy right now for it to actually weigh in as a success. That doesn’t mean it’s gone because some day it will return. Right now my focus is on writing simple stories with mass appeal that I can get out myself and actually build a following.

Before August I was writing this series which had a zero following and readership. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t really want to do. But if you are what you say you are (a writer) then that’s what you got to do. The story you are destined to tell comes after the story you have to tell.

My first book Open Evening comes out this year. It’s recognised as young adult in genre. I have absolutely zero expectation as to how well it will do because I don’t know. For me that is the thrill of publishing. Not knowing and being surprised by what can happen. I’m very sure soon I will officially announce the publication date and begin a countdown.

So my advice right now is write with your head. Not your heart.

Introducing my new book!

Without anymore introduction I give you my newest venture. Firstly you are reading an account of the narrator. Then below is a slight blurby type preview, just writing this has got me all kinds of excited. it has taken many years for me to pluck up any courage to begin writing this project. Hope you like how it sounds.

“Most of the time you don’t get to choose where you are placed in the social eco system that is high school. For me I spend most days with my head down and even that’s a struggle. We all know being a teenager is hard, but when you’re thrown together with a thousand plus kids. All going through the same stuff but at different stages, consider that hell. I guess people deal with it in different ways.

Not that I’m saying my story is any different up until that point. But that’s where it gets interesting. The real horror in my story isn’t the struggle to fit in or having to endure the crap that goes with being a high school student. What if the horror of high school was something completely unexpected?

You see that’s where my story really differs. Yeah we have all seen the high school horror or slasher. It’s been done so many times the whole genre is just cliché. We all know the rules. But my story changes that. From a distance you will see the usual signs that lead to the ordinary ‘popcorn thriller’

This is all because I account these events being very much aware of the genre.”

 

Luke Harper has a vision in the form of a dream. Or is it a nightmare? The lights go out and he got the girl but then things go south pretty fast. The school he goes to is preparing to open its doors for their annual open evening.

A mysterious man arrives in town. The local sheriff department want to speak to him.

Teachers acting strange. Something in this whole town is really off.

The lights then go out.

“If I can see you, they can see you.”

Luke and an unlikely team must fight for their lives as they try to survive.

 

Open Evening

 

 

Coming soon.

 

Annabelle: one creepy looking fu**ing doll!

Seeing as the leafs are turning and the darkness of winter is approaching, that means one thing! Halloween and horror movies. We in the UK don’t treat Halloween as big as the US but that doesn’t stop us from getting their movies. So the next few weeks shall be dedicated to all things horror, including an account of my up and coming trip to to UK theme park Alton Towers and their seasonal scare fest!

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The current state of Horror Films

In this age we are exposed to more gruesome and more ‘real’ style horror flicks, Notably the Saw series and of course the many ‘Blair witch’ style found footage films. But for some reason so many films of this genre fail to pack the final punch in their presentation. It gets to the last half hour and there’s nothing more to show, the creature/ghost/murderer/thing has been revealed and the ideas are wearing thin. There are no more shock moments or the shocks are so over the top they seem desperate.

A struggle is apparent in the world of telling scary stories and the cinema is the perfect setting for such things. It’s dark and theres an unavoidable screen in front of you, plus your surrounded by complete strangers. Cinemas can be eerie sometimes, playing into the hands of the genre. But the films themselves do lack in somewhat scary quality. Now I like a good scare, makes the heart beat faster, gives you a cold sweat and all that but these days that’s a rare thing.

Creepy Doll 

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Told ya it was creepy

This past weekend I went to see a new release about a possessed doll. Now many of you will think about that small red haired thing running around with a knife. But I am talking about Anabelle, a doll that comes to be possessed and causes all kinds of hell for the viewer and owner. To me this film simply delivered in all tick boxes available for the genre. It was jumpy, dark, not too gruesome and somewhat original. Creepy is a massive understatement in terms of this doll, they certainly designed this thing well. And they used it well, there are many instances when the camera is focused on the vacant yet transfixed eyes of the doll Annabelle with the viewer expecting them to move at any moment.

We have seen on many occasions an unbalance in a film whereas the killer is way to scary for the film or the concept is just too cool for the environment. But in this film they got it all right, the balance from a small cast worked wonderfully well with scary possessive concepts that coincided with the all-important matter that this could be a true story.

 

If you like your horror good and somewhat original then go and see Annabelle. Especially if you have seen the conjuring, they are kind of related in sideways kind of way.

Having purchased a ticket and being sat in the cinema I had no choice but to be exposed to some up and coming trailers and Halloween is looking good this year, with Ghostbusters being re released and Alien/Aliens in some cinemas.The Pyramid with Jay from the inbetweeners is looking good and that’s what we want to see, some choice in our modern scare films!

 

Next week I look at the potential of another Harry Potter book, stay tuned!