The Best Books I Have Read in 2021

As the year draws to a close I have saved the best until last. Although I appreciate every author and their wonderful works that got me through 2021 this post is dedicated to the books that stood out to me.

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen

Having read this memoir all the way back in February it has remained with me since for being a brave, candid and incredibly well written account by Danielle Larsen. Mental health and escaping abuse are the central themes while also being subjects that might not be talked about as much as they should – this book isn’t afraid to go there with the path it carves in order to get that point across. Its ultimately inspiring and gives hope even to those who seemingly have so much stacked against them.

Quote from my review:no matter how many chips are down you can always come back, there’s always hope and survival is probably the greatest gift we have.

‘Nocturnal Salvation’ by Villimey Mist 

Part 3 of the ‘Nocturnal’ vampire series is both the concluding pay off and a display of how far Villimey Mist has come as an author. Her craft unfolds throughout the series and much like the story peaks in this one. If you are looking for a modern and sometimes gory take on vampires, then this book and wider series is for you.

Quote from my review: ‘There are dramatic turns and even shocking moments that’ll keep those pages turning before a resolve that is both satisfying and even a little emotional.’

‘Josef The Writer’s Cat’ by Ellen Khodakivska

This story comes from a unique perspective and that being a writer’s cat. Its a brilliantly executed tale of one cat’s journey and how he see’s the world while also being a reminder of how important animals and pets are in the family. Ellen Khodakivska delivers a book that will appeal to many different ages and especially those who write.

Quote from my review: ‘We do sometimes take things for granted in life and this story reminds us that pets are such an instrumental part of it while they also have a life too.’

‘Life of Maggot’ by Paul Jameson

Paul Jameson delivers another masterful vision of literature through a unique style that favours deep description and classic style language. This book is very much laid out like lyrics from a song in what is a story about the end of time and told through the eyes of ‘Maggot’ as chaos unfolds. This is escapism in its finest possible form.

Quote from my review: ‘No matter what bad is happening there is always hope and ultimately there is some light to be found somewhere.’

‘Born in Stockport – Grew up in the Royal Navy: Book One’ by Maurice Perkins

Charming, funny and full of variety, Maurice Perkins or Moz as he is known tells a wonderful life story of childhood antics and then joining the navy. In between there are some great moments that bring a lot of enjoyment to an awesome candid memoir.

Quote from my review: ‘From a youth spent being a ‘scallywag’ getting into all kinds of trouble to finding success in the Royal Navy – his journey is both inspiring and full of lessons that are valuable for anyone…’

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon

Dan McKeon delivers an awesome tale of one teen assassin that has always followed orders and fulfilled her mission no matter what name she is given and then events make her think about the morality of everything she stands for. What follows is a coming of age morality check journey that is both enjoyable and easy to read.

Quote from my review: ‘You can give a person all the assassin training in the world and try to engineer out all human elements but they are still human.’

‘Sleeping Beauty and The Cursed Code’ by Emma Jean

Emma Jean has combined two concepts that I have a lot of time and passion for, that being STEM and Fairy Tales. All Fairy Tales have a deeper important message and this one carries that while also encouraging younger readers to take an interest in STEM subjects. Sleeping Beauty is brought into the 21st century and this adaptation excellent.

Quote from my review: ‘With some fun moments along the way and plenty of awesome tech, magic, original concepts and a good old fashioned good versus evil story this one is guaranteed to bring enjoyment to younger and older readers.’

‘Everything, Except You’ by Emma Jordan

It can be hard to find a really good slow burning romance and while that’s just my taste in love stories Emma Jordan hits all the right notes in this one. With a little drama and plenty of feel-good vibes along with a little cosiness, I really enjoyed this tale.

Quote from my review: ‘A well-executed story about two people and their lives that are made better for finding each other and the way in which they discover a love for each other…’

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford

With dark tones and missing person vibes, N.S. Ford tells a tale that takes readers down the rabbit hole of the unexpected as three friends try to decipher a mystery that consumes their lives. The journey is eventful and culminates after a multi-layered puzzle for a plot that pulled me in all the way to an unpredictable perhaps even haunting ending.

Quote from my review: ‘The darker moments carry impact and overall there is some real power in this story that continually goes to unexpected places and even strange places.’

‘Deceit of the Earth – Heavy Metal’ by Henry Cox

Having enjoyed the first ‘Deceit’ book by Henry Cox I was intrigued to see where he would go next and with this story I was immersed into the world of rare earth metals and how they dictate the future of our technology while also being a bargaining chip in military politics. This thoughtful story takes readers back in time and fuses fact to fiction flawlessly. If you like Crichton or Dan Brown then you’ll enjoy this one.

Quote from my review: ‘From military aircraft to world geography, the delivery of his knowledge and imagination merging makes everything believable and the final verdict may even be out of this world.’  

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz

Kelsey Kupitz tells a page-turning easy-to-read story about a past trauma that finds itself returning for ‘Astrid’ who has struggled with it for most of her adult life. Now she must face that past and what follows are chilling mysterious tones with a little dose of the unexpected.

Quote from my review: ‘Atmosphere, originality and intrigue take the reader to the depths of the unexpected with some great twists at the end because ‘everyone has a secret’.’

Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden

Futuristic world building combined with societal concepts that echo our own reality are two things that are right up my alley and so when I saw Rebecca Crunden had made this free to download I jumped at the opportunity. You may know Rebecca and the awesome support she shows authors via her Indie Book Spotlight account on Twitter and I really enjoyed this thrilling spy type story that takes readers across worlds.

Quote from my review: ‘There are plenty of messages and themes throughout with many pointing towards revolution and the nature of humanity.’

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz – Review

An easy-to-read mystery full of intrigue, atmosphere and chills…

I managed to read this in just a few sittings as Kelsey Kupitz delivers an easy-to-read story filled with imagination, atmosphere and originality. There’s a chilling mystery that drives a creepy but unexpected series of events from the past all the way to the present that keeps pages turning.

We meet ‘Astrid’ who spends her days haunted by what unfolded fifteen years ago when her friend ‘Peter’ went missing in a forest and now someone else has befallen to a similar fate. Even after escaping her home town, having a career and time going by, ‘Astrid’ struggles with alcohol and leaves the reader wanting to know what happened. This mystery drives the story which becomes a two in one kind of deal as we slowly find out and its very much unexpected. That is also whilst she is approached by a private detective looking to solve the more recent missing person case. Those events from the past collide with the present in a cleverly executed story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Atmosphere, originality and intrigue take the reader to the depths of the unexpected with some great twists at the end because ‘everyone has a secret’.

5 Stars

Perfect Reads For Spooky Season 2

We’re back again with more perfect reads for spooky season. From slashers to clowns to ghostly things to strange small towns. Here are some indie books that I think are perfect for spooky season.

‘The Four Before Me’ by E.H. Night

the 4

Like last time we shall start with a slasher that has a unique voice and chilling story full of twists. It’s a little more than a slasher and really feels like an early Stephen King novel. A new lady in town realizes she has a lot of similarities to four others who have gone missing. Thrills, chills and spills ensue. Full Review here.

‘Dead End (Clown Conspiracy Book 1): A Short Thriller’ by Mallory Kelly

dead end

‘Dead End’ certainly doesn’t hold back with the creepiness when it comes to clowns and the wider conspiracy that unfolds in a short read following two detectives as they try to hunt down a killer. The writing style plays with the reader’s imagination perfectly in what is the first of a great series. Full Review Here.

‘The Ghost of Whitmore Manor’ by Sarah Jayne Harry

We’re sticking with the shorter read formula here with a breezy paranormal romance that carries a slight adult edge. A para-sceptic is dared to spend the night in an abandoned manor house which then turns into a friendship story that becomes a little more. Perfect for spooky season. Full Review here.

‘Building 51’ by Jenifer L. Place

51

An urban exploration horror based on a real place? Sign me up because this chilling story was both terrifying and awesome. The whole abandoned asylum horror sub-genre is one of my favorites and this one has a kind of found footage feel. Defintley worth a look for spooky season chills. Full Review here.

‘Darke Blood: You’ve never known true darkness’ by Lee Hall

There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness of those trees.”

And if you’re looking for your shadow filled mystery intertwined vampire fix then look no further than ‘Darke Blood’. A new guy arrives in town, he soon finds out what lurks within those shadows then he aligns with some forces for good and together they must save the day. There’s action, twists, turns and a whole load of spooky season atmosphere.

‘Raven Woman’s Tavern’ by Laura Koerber

After seeing the title of this book and then reading the first line of the blurb, I was hooked and I also wasn’t disappointed in this atmospheric, slightly dystopian small town tale. There’s some elements of darkness and good use of metaphor about life and survival while also being perfect for spooky season.

That wraps things up for part 2 of Perfect Reads for Spooky Season. Have you read any of the above? Thanks for stopping by and feel free to drop any recommendations below!

‘The Stairs’- a paranormal account

The events relayed in this account are true.

Image by Jody Davis from Pixabay

There are unexplained moments that happen in our lives. Some remain that way forever in the back of our minds and on the fringes of belief. For the majority, these ‘events’ are far and few between but then again there are some exceptions. My second paranormal experience was just that; an exception to the rule. It also happened to take place in the vicinity of where my previous one happened. I don’t believe in coincidence when it comes to the paranormal simply because of this…   

In the summer of 2017 I joined my significant other, her family and friends on what had become the annual two week trip to the south of France. For those who read my previous account  you’ll know the setting; a picturesque converted farm sitting on the hills of beautiful countryside. It’s remote and peaceful. The weather hot nearly everyday although this year the presence of bugs was way reduced due to a late frost.

Our particular digs like the other years a ‘gite’ which could hold up to 12 and on this trip 10 of us were about to become 12 at the midway point of the holiday when my S.O’s sister and her other half would be joining us. Their room sat opposite ours and my S.O’s in the right hand wing of the place. We had a bathroom between us and little stretch of narrow corridor which then flowed out to the main staircase. This staircase was fashioned out of dark red varnished wood and the steps were separately slotted into the wall. Like I mentioned previously when someone would climb these steps it’s would be difficult to miss with the distinctive wooden ‘drumming’ and vibrations which resonated against the wall whenever they were stepped upon.

On the night before our new arrivals were due I had already gone to bed when I had the rather strong urge to pee. I eventually gave in to those urges and decided to get up, I put the bedside lamp on and made my way to the door which I unlocked and headed out into the dark corridor. At this time the whole place was dead quiet, everyone was in bed by now and so it was dark but the little light from behind me showed the way and so I went into the bathroom, before I walked in I noticed the open bedroom door in front of me where our new arrivals would be staying the next night. The room sat in the shadows and in my grogginess I shuffled into the bathroom and closed the door.

Being half asleep I took the decision to sit on the toilet and during so I heard the distinctive sound of footsteps drumming up the stairs. Was someone up at this hour? The steps pattered on wood as they continued from what I presumed was the ground until they reached our level. I had the distinct feeling someone was rushing into our wing of the gite and flowing past the door I was behind and into the vacant bedroom. What followed was a loud echoing slamming which sounded like what could have been a heavy door closing.

I finished my business and headed out into the corridor. Immediately I put the light on to see nobody in sight. I walked to the stairs to see nobody around. My inspection of the situation pointed towards nobody I knew being around at the same time. That slamming sound, so distinct and even harrowing, I am swaying towards belief that it was something not of this mortal coil.

Some encounters remain unexplained…

Rambling Review: Lee Hall’s Open Evening

A huge thank you to Megan for reviewing my debut novel ‘Open Evening’ which turns 5 in a matter of days!

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Lee Hall’s Open Evening (The Order of the Following Series)

“Hell I know Spike is the best looking and Xander has all the best lines,” I said. A smile began to emerge from Josie’s face.

That is the best thing I’ve read in a while. Lee Hall has a way with words, keeping it a fast paced, action driven horror story, and yet keeping it light hearted with the pop-culture references. Nods to using Buffy as comic relief in Open Evening.

As someone that consumed a lot of media growing up, everything from Saturday Morning Cartoons to Sitcoms to Night Time Dramas. The 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s were some of the best in T.V. pop-culture. In my personal experience. I did warn you that this is a rambling review.

Before I dive in, get yourself a beverage. I recommend water, because even though it’s now September it’s still…

View original post 436 more words

‘Home’ by Thomas Overlook – Review

Unique and intriguing. A page-turning tale that’ll take readers down the rabbit hole of what’s there and what isn’t…

Its quite difficult to pin point what this story is really about and how deep it goes, but for the majority I was addicted and kept reading to see where it went. To me, that’s a job done well and driven by that immersive intrigue, Thomas Overlook tells the story of a young couple who decide to start again away from the hustle and bustle of city life with their infant child. Then events start to turn strange.

There’s a multitude of different themes and things going on here, some are more obvious and on the surface while others go deeper. Much of the book is taken up by the inner workings of ‘Joel’ and ‘Aubrey’ or their memories but we are only shown and told so much to the point where everything seems to have a kind of surreal feel – this is a complex but imaginative set up for a book because the events that do happen gradually unfold while we find out only limited information about these two characters. The concept of what’s on the surface and what’s beneath starts to blend and uniquely the organisation which ‘Joel’ works for is deliberately omitted, something some readers may frown upon but an original concept and there is a heap of originality here. ‘Aubrey’ seems to have this kind of lustful subconsciousness while also perhaps hiding something. These characters aren’t fully revealed to the reader which only increases that intrigue.

Soon after moving into their new and remote house weird things begin to unfold. Is this an elaborate prankster or perhaps even a haunting? this is after ‘Joel’ may have unleashed something or at least stirred it. What ‘it’ is, we never really get an answer but it points towards something that lurks beneath the surface literally and psychologically. Is what ‘Joel’ appears to be seeing actually there or not? Could we actually be in the company of something that has always been there but is only awakened if disturbed? Rational thought begins to blend with the irrational as he tries to investigate what really is going on. Has ‘Joel’ really unleashed something that feels like its hunting him and his family?

“He was terrified but not mortally. It was a queer feeling, deep fear tinged with a silken sadness…”

Cause and effect comes into play here as these events put a strain on the couple. This has all the makings to suggest there is another lifeform amongst us but that is only really suggested – that’s what this book made me feel anyway and I am intrigued to see where it goes as this appears to only be part 1 of a wider series. You might not get any answers this time but the reading experience was entertaining overall and full of enough mysterious intrigue to at least entertain more of this immersive deep writing style and story. For those looking to have a lighter reading escape or even those who don’t enjoy deep thought this might not be the one for you, but those who enjoy complex stories that are open to wider interpretation then this is the one for you. It’s definitely one of the most unique reads I have come across in recent times.

4 Stars – An encapsulating and page turning read. This review first premiered on Reedsy Discovery.

Free and Discounted Books – Today Only!

For the first time ever all 7 of my books are being price promoted simultaneously to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Open Evening being published.

Without my debut novel nothing else would have followed and seeing as I have a plethora of books, they are all discounted except for Open Evening which is FREE to download today only!

Some thoughts, details and links are below. As always thank you for the continued support of your local neighbourhood indie author!

It’s kind of scary how time flies when your busy and trying to get the world to read your words and somehow it has been 5 years since my publishing journey began. Those who have been around a while will know in 2015 I basically started again with a project based partly on a bad dream and mostly on my own high school days of struggle. Add a little creature feature horror, scratch that, a lot of creature feature horror and somehow Open Evening was born. Originally taken from six sides of lined paper full of scratchy writing after my fourteen year old self tried to recollect the events of that bad dream, I somehow fashioned it years later, into a fully fledged book that probably means the most in all of my works.

Before Open Evening released in 2016. I kind of got caught up in the whole querying thing with sub-par science fiction that wasn’t ready and in truth I wasn’t ready so starting again paved the way to where I am now. Someday you might see that science fiction which has grown with me and I have a huge amount of books to offer the world but until then enjoy the ones I have available.

Some of the books on my shelf may be different in comparison but for today they are all the same price.

The Ghost Beside Me is a paranormal romance about an introvert who struggles with loneliness until something not of this mortal world tries to reach out. Based partly on my own paranormal experiences and a ghost story my late Grandfather told me its a short but powerful read. Perfect for the coming spooky season of Halloween and beyond.

The Teleporter, many of you will already know and this book has become my most successful title this year. With over 160 Amazon ratings in six months I think I can class it as a hit. Kurt Wiseman is a mid-twenties slouch who is suddenly thrown into his own super hero tale and has to make a choice in order to save the day. Full of comedic wit and fourth wall breaking fun, it is bound to make you laugh at some point.

Consistent Creative Content is basically the culmination of my journey as an author, blogger and social media personality. Part-memoir part-guide, this book is designed to show you what I’ve done to find success that I am happy with and how you can do that too. Follow my words.

Of course Open Evening is just the start of a wider series known as the Order of the Following. Every other book in that series is discounted for today!

Click on the banners for the links!

‘Evil Eye: A Slasher Story’ by April A. Taylor – Review

An unpredictable fast-paced slasher with plenty of twists and tension as the storm unfolds…

The looming threat of worsening weather combined with a killer on the loose makes for some fun and thrilling reading in a story that could easily be an evening spent at the cinema or at home via Netflix. Here we see a diverse group stranded and united by their will to survive a double whammy of hurricane and deranged killer.

From the very start there’s pace to a story that unfolds just like the hurricane that engulfs those left behind on an island. Soon enough they realise someone is hunting them down and so the real slasher story begins but it’s more than that. Each character has their own complexities and we see things from each of their unique perspectives which then interact with one another – most of the time in these stories it’s easy to pick out who will be taken down first but there’s an unpredictability here making it all the more enjoyable and page turning.

While we are used to our masked but faceless killers being without any dialogue the author carves an original path with her version of evil walking because for some of it he is also talking. As he slowly stalks his prey and throughout it feels as if there is no escape with the hurricane situation heightening that terror. And in this particular situation there is nowhere to run. To some that’s uncomfortable, but to me that’s the perfect storm of horror quite literally.

Although titled as a slasher I’ll happily admit it’s a lot more than that with some nods to modern issues in society and the wider world. Much of the time there’s seems to be a lack of ideas with the ending but for this one, there were a few final twists that capped of a fun read. So come for the slashing but stay for everything else this story is about, you’ll be pleasantly surprised while also being on edge.

4 Stars – This review first premiered on Reedsy Discovery

Last Outlaw: A Western Sci-Fi Horror – Read Part 1 for Free

The once reputable profession of being an outlaw is dying with the times. I ain’t the type to use words of the finer persuasion but I know what’s what in this world and these times are getting harder by the day. Folks like me have got to work to survive. That’s all this is, taking from the lesser man or woman to live. Some call it crime, but I call it opportunity and there are all types of people who are struggling to fit in with this now civilised society including me.

First I watch, and if that opportunity comes then I take. Only after half a shot of whisky is it apparent to see the saloon I was sitting in weren’t anywhere near the normal standards. The people around me, all of them seemed on edge. I’ve been a newcomer in a thousand small towns but this one had something sinister hiding in plain sight, I could feel it…

Read the rest of Part 1 for Free via Patreon here.

Patrons will be able to read the rest as it releases each week.

‘Last Outlaw’ a Sci-Fi Western by Lee Hall – Coming Soon

The year is 1902 and aging gunslinger John Arthur is doing his best to survive times becoming more civilised by the day. That is whilst trying to guide his adoptive daughter Bethany ‘The Blade’ Mason to adulthood. After a troubling vision; Arthur must put it to the back of his mind as an opportunity appears in the form of three stagecoaches worth of gold. This life-changing haul just happens to be sitting in the bank of the small strange town known as Haddington but something monstrous lurks beneath the surface. Heist soon turns to horror forcing outlaw and law to align in order to survive the unexpected.

Last Outlaw: The ‘Haddington Haul’ will premiere on Tuesday the 17th of August via Patreon.

Part One will be FREE to read.

You can read more about Lee Hall’s Patreon here