Guest Book Review: ‘Neglected Merge’ by Eve Koguce

Guest Book Review by Arianne Nicks

“Neglected Merge” is the first book in “The Neglected Merge” trilogy by Eve Koguce. This book is a fantasy utopian romance featuring Tauria, a 32-year-old woman living in what’s supposed to be a “perfect” society. After undergoing a near-apocalyptic experience, “the merge”, people have rebuilt society with no room for conflict, unpleasantness, or unhappiness. Everyone is living their best life, having the most fulfilling jobs and the best relationships.

Tauria’s world is disturbed when a “Winged One” lands in her home, one of his wings injured. The man, Doron, is part of the royal family of the Winged Ones. While he recovers in Tauria’s home, they fall in love.

The challenge they face is that of bringing their worlds together – the Wingless and the Winged Ones. Politics and love are woven into the story. To bring their societies together, Tauria gets a job that allows her to start preparations for contacting the Winged Ones. On the other side of the mountain, Doron actively pleads with his father to initiate a relationship with the Wingless. Will they succeed in creating a world where a relationship between a Winged One and a Wingless is possible?

I have enjoyed the first book in this series. The environment and the worlds created are unique, and the characters are interesting in their overpolite ways. I had issues believing in Tauria and Doron’s relationship at the beginning, as everything happens quickly and with few details. However, as the story evolves, they grew on me, and I was rooting for them in their endeavors. Doron’s love and passion for Tauria are sweet, and the contrast between this and Tauria’s more serious side is sometimes funny. I also liked how the friendship between Tauria and Byrne developed throughout the story. For the next books, I hope to find out more about Abelia (Doron’s sister) and her story.

“Neglected Merge” is definitely a distinctive read!

This is a guest review by Arianne Nicks the author of Soul of Light and Thunder. You can find more information about Arianne via her website here.

‘The View From Here’ by Leon Stevens – Review

An exploration themed sci-fi novella not of this world…

Leon Stevens combines a unique mix of adventure, exploration and sci-fi in this intriguing novella that see’s a pair of hikers find their way into another world. At the heart of the story is a problem-solving theme that runs alongside adventure.

From figuring out how high a cliff is to deciphering alien language and maps, this world they explore becomes more intriguing as the story unfolds. The premise is original and full of mystery throughout where most chapters finish with a moment where readers will want to keep reading. A seemingly deserted place creates intrigue and even a sense of eerie atmosphere that kept me interested throughout. I would have liked to have seen a little more from both characters in terms of character depth but their chemistry together works well to tell their tale of exploration and fun.

4 Stars

‘Witch in the Lighthouse’ by Azalea Forrest – Review

A quaint and fun magical tale…

This was my first Azalea Forrest reading experience and an enjoyable one at that. ‘Witch in the Lighthouse’ is a quaint and fun magical tale that follows ‘Magnolia’ as she inherits a Lighthouse from her recently passed away uncle in a town that isn’t so welcoming of her kind.

Having had previous negative encounters with those of the magical persuasion Maggie faces the task of convincing the small seaside town of Lightview that she is there to help. Whilst some make her feel welcome, others are stubborn to the thought of a witch in their town even if this world of practical magic can help them in so many different ways. Just what did happen in the past and even to her uncle? The intrigue intertwines with the moving plot here keeping readers interested throughout.

Eventually the story unfolds as does the history of Magnolia’s family and what follows is an epic meeting of forces that carries an original and deeper meaning of responsibility of power and much more. Magical forces in this world can be used for both good and bad which is explored well here. The characters, setting and story were very well executed and I’d be more than happy to read another title by Forrest.

5 Stars

‘The Tolworth Beacon’ by Huw Langridge – Review

Intriguing British mystery with tension, atmosphere and code-breaking vibes…

There’s a lot going on in the life of ‘Chris Powell’. His marriage is strained and there’s an important royal visitor coming to the shop he manages in just a few days time. After a strange attempted burglary at a neighbour’s place the intrigue unfolds in what is a mystery filled ride where I found myself quickly turning pages.

After he mysteriously receives a radio frequency number, Powell realises he is on the path of deception and tension as he has to decipher what it means while finding out what is really going on. Is someone watching him from afar or is he paranoid? Questions arise as tension builds and eventually a very real threat emerges. For those who are interested in the subject of number stations and even code breaking will enjoy this interesting novel with a range of themes and heaps of atmosphere.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon

‘SKINNER: Thirty-five years. Four killers. One city’ by Nathan Jones – Review

Immersive near future sci-fi meets the macabre…

Dayne Mitchell has a fascination for the macabre and the wider subject of serial killers who have plagued the British city of Bristol for many years. As a sufferer of bipolar he almost looks to the dark subject of killing as a coping mechanism to get through life in a near future world that is intriguing and imaginative – these two words are what I would use to describe a story that takes readers to dark and sometimes graphic violent places.

There are a wealth of modern subjects and heavy themes in this book that are executed very well by Nathan Jones who merges near future science fiction to thrilling murder mystery with a lot of depth. The vessel being Dayne who endures a journey of discovery, twists and then horrifying revelations as his research into Bristol’s murderous past eventually comes to him. Fans of darker crime drama will certainly appreciate this one along with those looking to learn about the geography and history of a great city.

5 Stars

‘Powerless’ by Vicky Ball – Review

A well-written twisting thriller with darker themes…

Vicky Ball delivers a twisting tale that carries a plethora of darker themes while being executed in a page-turning style that hops back and forth in time with dual P.OV’s. Ball does everything to tell this story and succeeds. As readers we are shown just enough to suggest what is happening beneath the surface of a story that tackles the themes of naivety, coercion, trauma, addiction and of course danger that is a lot closer than first realised.

When ‘Beth’ returns home after several years after disappearing it brings up all kinds of questions and contention that places her younger sister ‘Abby’ on a twisting path of realisation. There is a lot to unpack and it happens gradually while the twists appear unexpectedly. Perhaps this a cautionary tale for those who are younger to not be so trusting to those who clearly want something – a powerful message aimed at readers of a certain younger age who will get something from this book. What we are shown is just enough without glorifying or even exploiting the many issues the reader and characters face. The concept of ‘Businessmen’ simply casts a long enough shadow to suggest what is really happening and the message being about trust.

With a story that goes full circle, Powerless is a thrilling and twisting tale that will take readers on a dramatic and sometimes unexpected ride.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

‘The Art & Business of Writing: A Practical Guide to the Writing Life’ by Chris Jones

A valuable easy-to-read resource for the modern writer

Chris Jones lays out his tenured journey in the writing industry while generously passing on his wisdom in an easy-to-read guide full of resources that will either help or reassure the modern writer or both. Many other guides suffer from over informing or throwing way too much at once to the reader but here we get a fine balance between just the right amount of information and a tone that is friendly and consistent.

From brand building to dealing with writer’s block, from web hosting to social media with some solid advice to ‘keep it light’ in terms of conduct, there is even a section about putting together a business card – something I’d never thought of doing until now. At the very core of this guide is the wonderful message that being professional no matter how you are published is incredibly important because attitude is everything in creativity, especially when it is in the public domain – something that resonates with me.

“Your attitude, aptitude, and focus all will determine how far you go in this business”

Each section finishes with ‘take aways’ that handily summarise the information within and serve as that important conclusion to really bolster the purpose of this guide. Even after the conclusion you’ll find a plethora of resources from guide book recommendations to even podcasts and beyond. For anyone looking for some reassurance and some guidance in the art and business of writing, this book is for you.

5 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

‘Fee Simple Conditional (Arcadia Chronicles Book 1)’ by H.C. Helfand – Review

A gem of a read about life, love and land…

H.C. Helfand delivers an uplifting and wonderfully written story of ‘Abigail Fischer’ who becomes used to loss from an early age in many aspects of her life and while this may sound dreary, it is far from it.

With a style of writing can be best described as charming, pages turn quickly as the short chapters fly by capturing ‘Abby’ and her journey. She finds a job in the Land Record office joining a host of wonderful colorful characters capturing this new world filled with variety and opportunity. One particular patch of land sets her life in motion towards hope and as a reader you want ‘Abby’ to find happiness and success. In between, there’s drama and even some unexpected twists that make for an enjoyable reading experience following one woman as her life follows an interesting path of heartbreak, triumph and even destiny in what is a gem of a read about life, love and land.

Great stories like this deserve way more attention and this is a book that I would highly recommend, especially if you’re looking for something positive and uplifting.

‘Despite life’s inevitable changes, some things are simply unconditional…’

5 Stars – a wonderful read that deserves a lot more attention!

‘Fear and Fury’ by Jamie Jackson – Review

An unconventional and enjoyable superhero tale told with buckets of unique personality…

There are heroes and there are villains and then there’s’ Meg’ who tries her best to survive between the fringes of those forces and life in general. Her job is not so great and her outlook on life leans towards just wanting to be left alone. We find this out through an unconventional and sometimes comedic fourth-wall-breaking narration style that has literally buckets of personality and snark. Of course this flavor and comedy in general is a challenge to get right especially in this day and age where some readers refuse to receive it but me, I very much enjoyed that element which was executed very well by Jamie Jackson while only being part of a complex story because ‘Meg’ has a unique super power with a darker edge.

That power is rather a hot commodity to some, we see all around Superman type ‘Greg’ persistently trying to recruit our main character while on the other side of proceedings a sinister collector of powers known as ‘Red Eye’ is also pursuing her. In between being told to ‘shut up’ by ‘Meg’ we see her trying to juggle options she is constantly caught between and her deadly power is always whispering. Her control over those voices can sometimes have consequences that not even she is able to control.

‘I told the whispers to watch over me. And they agreed, because they wanted more blood…’

Its easy to read and full of some wonderful description along with great dialogue which I sometimes felt was broken up by narration that confides in the reader pulling me out for only a moment or two – my only real critique because everything else left me wanting to turn pages, know more about this world and where this story could possibly go.

4 Stars – A different take on the tired superhero genre and done rather well.

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford – Review

Cleverly plotted British mystery thriller with darker psychological tones and twists…

N.S. Ford has cleverly put together a mystery thriller that feels like a multi-layered puzzle which twists and turns as the story unfolds. We are firstly introduced to three friends who all have their own secrets while they try to deal another friend being missing – the circumstances and how it effects them slowly unfolds with a story told mainly from ‘Lauren’s’ point of view but there is some good variety here in the execution of how its delivered. We get snippets of the missing ‘Tina’ by way of her blog entries which map out potential clues and really engulf the reader into this mystery although only by so much as everyone appears to give key information at key unfolding moments adding to the layers of this puzzle. It’s modern and gritty in places while much deeper in the background something is watching – a revelation that comes much later.

These three friends all succumb to different events of misfortune and we get this sense that perhaps a greater power is controlling things from afar, as I said watching. Just what did they do and how does it effect the missing person? Who is this mysterious man seemingly following ‘Lauren’ around? Questions of course lead to revelations and answers which you’ll eventually find here with a plot that unfolds throughout.

The essence of small town England is captured well along with the underworld crime element that you could easily imagine being the next modern crime-thriller show one could binge in a weekend. 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. As the title suggests, there is a speculative twist that some will probably use as a point of contention but for how the story unfolds it makes sense and I enjoyed it. For anyone looking to read a dark psychological mystery with unpredictable elements this is definitely the read for you. Although there were dark moments there were never any dull moments and I found myself turning pages quickly.

5 Stars – An interesting end to a great read.

You can read an exclusive excerpt of ‘We Watch You’ here.