‘Sex, Violence, Mars: The Ballad of Left and Right’ by Walrus – Review

Sex, Violence, Mars is back and just as entertaining as the first encounter…

The Walrus collective are back yet again tell a short but entertaining tale of Sex, Violence, Mars and much more. This time around we see ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ in this kind of buddy story as they try their best to navigate the dangerous but always interesting Mars of the future. Of course there’s a range of themes here and they are all aligned with the title.

Armed with atmosphere suits and a stack of cash they soon realise the desired tender on the planet is ‘electro’ leaving them with a struggle to pay for pretty much anything and that includes the dilemma to charge their suits. While they try to survive on the fringes of Mars and it’s complex society, they find others enduring their own struggle, or perhaps just looking to earn a fast buck from two desperados down on their luck.

“You’re never gonna get that money back unless you do exactly what I want. And now you’re in the hole to me for charge and supplies…”

Their journey takes them on an adventure of action and chasing along with some revelations as we find out more about this planet. Sometimes its them doing the chasing and vice-versa as they target the aptly named ‘Death Corp’ and their mysterious but powerful leader ‘Keiser’. Every so often the lore and backstory of this rich universe is mentioned giving this short but entertaining read depth and range.

Just like the previous encounter the style is delivered with heavy detail on description and chapters/sections move with pace. Our two main protagonists carry a fun chemistry with one another as they do their best to survive, swindle and try not to be swindled themselves. Just how does this link up with the first book? Well, you’ll find out and importantly so, its left open for yet more shenanigans on Mars.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘The Man and The Crow’ by Rebecca Crunden – Review

A short sharp enjoyable tale of magic and the unexpected

Having just read this book in one sitting I found myself enthralled by page 4 where the story unexpectedly flips and takes the reader on a journey of folklore, witchcraft and murder.

With darker tones and a magical theme that merge together well, Rebecca Crunden delivers a well-written tale that might only be twenty four pages long, but it represents hundreds of years of history and lore for the title character. Throughout, the addictive writing style carries a humour that is both fun and perfect for the genre while the imagination is also given plenty of room to work alongside that history and lore suggested here – as the ending promises, that’s the start of the next story!

For anyone looking to be whisked away only for a short time but through some imaginative literature, this is the one for you.

‘Screaming would have been the sensible thing to do; it also proved impossible. Screaming would mean she’d be able to unlock her jaw and at the moment it felt like her jaw had rusted shut…’

5 Stars

‘They Lie Here’ by N.S. Ford – Review

Thrilling and unputdownable with unique themes…

N.S. Ford has masterfully merged the genres of thriller and mystery with the themes of obsession, secrets and music to deliver a layered story I could not put down. There were twists, revelations and even after, there were more unexpected moments in this original and addictive read.

In my first two sittings of reading this I’d already reached the 50% mark and by then I was just as obsessed as main character ‘Kat Green’ who is on a mission to find missing 80’s musician ‘Roskoe Darke’. His band, the aptly named ‘Scorpio Hearts’ have a kind of cult following and through some unique flashbacks/snippets we learn of their history along with the backstory that all has a sinister feel. ‘Kat’ is clever, obsessed and willing to go to extreme lengths for her investigation, even if she does refer to herself in third person often, there’s reasoning behind it and that also reflects the whole story which is cleverly plotted.

During the earlier stages, there is a lot of build as everything is laid out and then the revelations begin. Just like N.S. Ford’s last release, the well-executed twists are becoming a theme or even sub-genre of the author’s work and its definitely something that will keep me coming back. Music is also a key theme that runs throughout the story which serves as a study of how fans and those in the industry are effected by success while also merging with the mystery/thriller elements which makes for a unique unpredictable reading experience.

5 Stars

‘Love’s Ragged Claws’ by Gary Gautier – Review

A short read with plenty of literary depth…

It has been fifty years since ‘Gabriel’ last confessed and so when he does there comes a story of confession through literary depth. For a short read, Gary Gautier packs in so much to construct a tale of reflection, feeling and memories.

I’ll admit, I’m not sure if I did grasp everything within the layers of this book as there is plenty of metaphoric or even symbolic moments interwoven with stylistic description, sentences and the overall flow. For only fifty or so pages, I’m definitely urged to maybe go back a few times a read it just to capture everything which is just one of the unique values this book has.

Like many great reading experiences, our individual interpretation and the relationship it has with what the author has laid out makes it and here they work very well together. The reader’s imagination is given room to breathe while also being taken along the path by the author .With some heavier themes and emotion mixed with lighter funnier moments, the journey this book took me on was interesting from the get go. The existential and moral dilemma ‘Gabriel’ explores through his relationships gives this shorter read a great amount of depth with some great writing.

‘Moral knowledge is easy. Moral action is hard.’

4 Stars

‘Of Swans and Stars; Finding my own North Star, one poem at a time’ by E.M. McConnell – Review

A uniquely emotive and descriptive collection of poetry…

E.M. McConnell delivers a fantastic array of poetry that touches on so many subjects and across the four parts there is something that will resonate with anyone who takes on these words.

From the subject of being hopeful to even myth and magic which made for a great way to finish the collection, McConnel’s brand of poetry is strong, brave and consistent throughout. In particular ‘O, My Muse’ spoke to me along with ‘Music’ where the description really shines from the very start.

‘The beat skips and slithers down the cord Dodging errant quavers with amusing grace…’

This collection took me on a unique journey of language, rhyme and magic encapsulated by a British charm. There’s modern references and a power in these words along with the occasional mention of dragons all framed by an excellent looking cover and brilliant formatting.

For anyone looking to take on immersive poetry, I’d highly recommend this one!

5 Stars

“Darke Awakening” by Lee Hall

A huge thank you to fellow author Ellen Khodakivska for this wonderful review of Darke Awakening….

Ellen Khodakivska

If you want to ’embrace the true darkness’ and have a ride on a ‘ghost horse’ through crowded night creatures, this book is what you need.

“Most people in this world have some good in them. especially when someone needs a little help”, Lee Hall, “Darke Awakening”

The Plot:  Blake Malone comes back to Darke Heath to confront the evil that starts awakening. ‘The sleepy town, surrounded by pines’ hides more and more dark and dangerous secrets. Those that are supposed to be buried appear to be alive and perilous more than ever. The life paths of Blake Malone and Twister are destined to cross, and together with the rest of the crew, they have to be pretty innovative to gain victory over the night creatures. The demons, shadows, vampires, and many other night creatures can’t wait to break into a fight, the outcome of which is sometimes impossible to…

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‘The Watchmaker: A clock can talk’ by Ellen Khodakivska – Review

An enchanting tale of life, destiny and time…

Ellen Khodakivska tells a unique and enchanting story that follows five generations of watch makers who reside in Campobasso Italy. Their lives much like all of ours is ruled by time and how we manage it – there are a lot of fantastic messages and even some great symbolism throughout that really captures the concept of time. Even though there are many wonderful characters, it feels as if time is a character itself in this wonderful story.

Written with a style that reads like a sophisticated fairy tale, there’s a certain charm this book contains throughout as we meet the different generations of the ‘Donelli’ family and follow their lives. From heart warming moments to some that are sombre or even tragic, all of it is defined by the power of time and as watchmakers, they all follow the footsteps of their previous generation but that is after being told that there may be darkness if certain chains are broken.

On the fringes and always watching are the ‘Gift’ and the ‘Curse’ who are seemingly playing a game against one another and the pawns are those who have the initials ‘DD’. Told with heart and plenty of emotion this original tale has something for everyone and how you see time, may differ from others but the wise message within is universal.

‘Time always shares its wisdom with you if you are a good listener; Time can become your merciless enemy if you neglect it; Time can be your best friend if you manage it smartly; If you respect time, it respects you back…’

5 Stars

Exclusive Excerpt: ‘Soul of Light and Thunder’ by Arianne Nicks

Fellow author Arianne Nicks shares an exclusive promotional excerpt of her novel ‘Soul of Light and Thunder’

I should have done as I was told, but I was curious and kept my eyes open.

In the next moment, I wished I had listened. Kane was looking straight through me, frowning. His gorgeous smile disappeared, and his grip was stronger and steadier. His countenance was almost scary. Around us, huge white light circles were growing and spinning faster and faster. I got dizzy and felt like I was the one reeling. I knew what was happening—relocation spell. How did I not think of that? The dizziness got my mind all foggy, and I lost track of my surroundings. I was seeing multiple faces of Kane, all of them unclear and glimmering. Mercifully, in a few seconds, the circles disappeared. When I got my senses and balance back, I saw the landscape changed. The darkness of the night was gone, and so was the dense forest in Chicago and the shadow of my house.

A slow, warm wind ruffled my long hair from behind my shoulders. It brought a fresh, flowery smell, like a dewy garden in the early morning. Maybe because it was an early morning here, with a hidden, shy sun. We were surrounded by the most splendid and majestic trees I have ever seen in my life. Absolutely huge and thick trunks, with bright yellow leaves forming immense, round crowns, almost competing with the sun. I felt my mouth opening in awe of them. If I had to put an image to the word magic, this would be it. Ironic, wasn’t it?

“Ginkgo trees,” Kane said, smiling. His frown was gone, and he was himself again.

I unwrapped my arms from around him. He let me go but grabbed my hand.

“We’re here,” he added.

“We’re…where?”

“We’re in Japan. Come, my father is waiting for us.”

Oh, there. Yes, that’s where we were going. My thoughts were functioning again, so I could think about what happened. I didn’t know they could relocate with another person, especially with a commoner. It appeared to have taken more focus and more time to cast this on two people; I remembered the other ones disappearing almost instantly. That, or Kane tried to take it easy on me so I didn’t pass out. Still, the reeling sensation was more intense than I was prepared for.

This is an exclusive excerpt of ‘Soul of Light and Thunder’ by Arianne Nicks. You can find more information here.

“Cemetery House” by Lee Hall

Happy Halloween

To celebrate today’s spooky date I am sharing a recent and wonderful review of Cemetery House by Ellen Khodakivska which is a read perfect for the season…

Ellen Khodakivska

If you want to find yourself in the middle of shadows, monsters and foreseers, fire and dictionaries of dreams, creepy creatures, and a rain of ash, this one is what you are looking for.

“In this life you can either love or die; or you can just live…” Lee Hall, “Cemetery House”

The Plot: After an epic survival in “Open Evening,” Luke Hartford opens a new chapter of his life. It appears that “survival is just a beginning,” and pure evil keeps spreading its tentacles to get it done. Together with a new crew led by a man named Twister, they go to their hometown to face creepy creatures hiding in the shadows. “Cemetery House” meets them with mortal danger, demons of the past, and lots of riddles needed to be resolved to survive and see a sunrise again. The only way to get out of the hell is to…

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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.