‘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.

‘ARIA: Book 1 of the Scintillance Theory’ by Gyorgy Henyei Neto – Review

Immersive science fiction with some mystery and time travel elements…

‘Dia’ sets out to recall lost memories while trying to decipher what is real and what is dream in an immersive and partly surreal story that puts readers in the very centre of her dilemma. To begin with everything is shrouded in a level of mystery as our main character tries to put her memory together while also being unsure who to trust and that is while she recovers from the recent past. This is a future world where the ‘ARIA foundation’ seem to control and see everything and after an event known as ‘The Scintillance’ we gradually find out what happened and how ‘Dia’ was involved.

To begin with I did struggle to get into the story but it picks up and figures itself out as events unfolds and it gets better throughout. The stakes emerge and as ‘Dia’ learns about her past the twists, turns and drama emerges into an enjoyable story. Some of the concepts were original and overall I was immersed into a world that has only just been introduced as this is the first of a wider series. For those who enjoy science fiction with mystery and time travel elements, this is the one for you.

4 Stars – Thank you to the author who provided an advanced copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

‘Life of Maggot’ by Paul Jameson – Review

A masterfully written vision and song about the end of time…

Paul Jameson delivers his unique writing style to tell a story laid out much like a song about the end of time. The language and style immediately pulls you in with its classic but modern feel over the many chapters and short verses that keep the pages turning.

Pace and rhythm take centre stage in the seemingly apocalyptic world this story takes place in. We see the events from the view of ‘Maggot’ who is just a boy while chaos unfolds. Just what does the end look like? The author does a fantastic job of capturing this demise through description and visionary language that stirs the imagination by walking readers to the door but we are then given room to fill in the rest – this is story telling in its finest form and alongside that unique style makes for a stand-out reading experience.

The Monsters, their Respectable, the Commons, all drown in the storm that comes…”

While there are some darker tones there are also brighter moments because this journey is seen through the eyes of a boy who can perhaps see past that darkness. Even when there is Plague, War, Famine and Death there is still magic to be found and perhaps this is something adults forget. No matter what bad is happening there is always hope and ultimately there is some light to be found somewhere. Life of Maggot is a book I highly recommend and served as a wonderful reminder of how awesome reading can be.

5 Stars – Beautifully written and hands down one of the best books I have read in a long time.

‘Josef The Writer’s Cat’ by Ellen Khodakivska – Review

A heart-warming and fun story told from a unique perspective…

Ellen Khodakivska tells a unique story from a unique and imaginative perspective, that of a cat named ‘Josef’. We see the big wide world through his eyes and his journey to becoming a writer’s best friend is a heart-warming tale for all ages. The writing style is easy to read and a few pages in I was immersed into the very real world and life that pets have. Although they may only be around for part of our lives, to them we are their lives and that is the deeper meaning to this story which is highlighted at the very start. 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.

The sights, the sounds and smells are all captured well making the unique perspective of this story a must-read for anyone looking for originality in story telling because you’ll find it here. ‘Josef’ has a wonderful personality that resonates throughout as he interacts not just with people but with other animals too – a cool concept. I very much enjoyed this and would highly recommend this book, especially to those of the writing persuasion or to anyone who loves animals.

5 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads.