‘Pestilence’ by Susie Kearley – Review

A well-thought-out pacey tale of the times from a promising British author…

Pestilence is an extremely well thought out story with an accurate outlook on the events that lead to the collapse of society through a pandemic. For some and in recent times that might feel a little close to home but this book carves a new and different path while acting as a social commentary. The vessel in this scenario is the emergence of a fungus which is the resultant of a warmer climate – a reaction to how we treat this planet. Every major moment that unfolds is covered by Susie Kearley who tells this story with a unique overview style that keeps the events moving and homes in on the reactive details even if things move quickly – this pace works for the genre giving it a page turning flow.

The emergence of a wonder drug ultimately leads humanity on a downward path of addiction and excessive consumption with eventual side effects that become incurable. Its humanity not learning from the past on repeat over and over again as we see the medical system downplaying this emerging threat through lack of knowledge and then being overwhelmed. There’s a theme throughout of vicious cycles where the government or even society fails to take note of a very real threat all caused by our species.

a toxic culture of unhealthy living, a reliance on pharmaceutical drugs rather than health living, destroying the planet and allowing the pathogenic fungus to thrive…”

The story is told via a wide array of characters and from the very beginning they live their way through a well imagined and ultimately important case study about our nature. We see the elite taking from the less fortunate and with force – more social themes that ring true and echo to our reality. This world we live in is fragile and our attitudes will be probably be our undoing. A threat emerges and those who survive it perhaps leave further generations doomed to live through something similar and that’s probably the most powerful message of all.

5 Stars – A rollercoaster of a read with a powerful message. Reviews left via Amazon, Goodreads and BookBub.

‘Deification’ by Brooklynn Dean – Review

The intimate description and deep prose will consume you long before the apocalypse…

Brooklyn Dean delivers her unique brand of intimate description and style in this apocalyptic tale which carries a depth that’ll consume you and I’m okay with that. Set in a world after the ‘sky opened’ we meet ‘Torrence’ who is on a high stakes path to collect virtues and ascend to a whole new sinister level. She’ll promise you power in return for loyalty for helping her cause which is lined with violent and ritualistic blood spilling but before we even get there this story begins with intrigue and mystery. Just what happened in this part dystopian world? Who is ‘Torrence’ really? And what is she trying to achieve? This intrigue partnered alongside the vivid description and prose is where you’ll find the true strength because sometimes it’s not what’s there, but what could be and it’ll keep you turning pages while building the world in your imagination. Stories that let the imagination breathe like this are hard to come by.

“It was as if, for her and her brethren and her violent delights, the world should have always been this way…”

While on the surface there is symbolism near enough everywhere but like all of Brooklynn Dean’s works it operates on a much deeper level with metaphors throughout that individual readers will interpret in their own way – yet another strength this book has and watch out because it will consume you. To the less applied or even those not paying proper attention it might appear to be just about the end of days but I assure you it is more than that and you’ll find it happening beneath those words. Unique and stylistic, this is a story that cannot be missed.

5 Stars – an encapsulating and immersive read about so much more than the apocalypse.

Essential Self-Help Book Rec’s for Authors

Sometimes consulting the Google isn’t enough and my top advice for anyone looking to learn a new skill or to even hone their current ability in anything is to pick up a book about it. The non-fiction market is huge and also packed with some very handy guides about the intricacies of authoring and publishing.

This is my 600th Blog post and it is dedicated to showcasing the best self-help books I’ve read over the years, from the one that inspired this blog to Amazon algorithm optimization all the way to a part memoir packed with awesome practical writing tips; these are essential self-help book recommendations for authors…

‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ – Stephen King

Okay, were starting with a relatively high bar and even for those who say they have never read anything by possibly America’s greatest storyteller (near enough everyone it seems) you’ll find something worthwhile in this book. Even though it’s relatively short for a Stephen King title this memoir takes us through his early days all the way to finding success as an author. We even hear about his near fatal accident – thank the Lord he survived! The focus is on his journey while every so often giving hints and tips throughout – some are even basic practicalities like where you should situate a writing desk! What I enjoyed the most about this book is the clear admiration King has for the craft and writing style while also mentioning other authors. For anyone at any level in writing this book is essential trust me!

‘How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market’ by Ricardo Fayet

If you want to seriously earn money in authoring then this is the guide for you. It literally shows you the calculations on how you can convert a hobby into a potential career through the right marketing channels. Recently reviewed on here and for Reedsy Discovery this book is basically an extensive extension of Reedsy’s guides and blog posts that dive into everything you need to know about selling books and where to do it. From ‘going wide’ to Amazon chart optimization all the way to having readers find you. This recent release is essential if you are serious about writing as a career.

‘Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing’ By Catherine Ryan Howard

There aren’t many that know the Hall of Information blog was inspired by this book which I read way back in 2014. After a hugely successful career as an indie author, Catherine Ryan Howard has sort of become the benchmark for me in terms of success. She even secured a six figure publishing deal and the wonderful thing is her career started as an indie author. ‘Self ‘Printed’ is now into it’s third edition and because of the wonderful advice within that led me here it deserves a mention! You’ll find specific guides on how to format and publish books via Amazon all the way to selling, of course this is accompanied by a fun style of delivery – just read the blurb and you’ll know. To me it’s essential and something I even go back to every so often.

‘Amazon Keywords for Books: How to Use Keywords for Better Discovery on Amazon’ by Dale L. Roberts

Another Reedsy Discovery find and it’s an incredible eye opening resource for those published via Amazon – most reading this are and this book homes in on the power of Amazon’s search bar/key word optimization. This is just the tip of a big iceberg that deep dives into how the world’s biggest book retailer functions. The easy to understand writing style explains Amazon and that finding readers is just like having a conversation with an old friend you’ve got a lot in common with – trust me, Dale explains it way better… My verdict after reading this one is that I’m not using Amazon correctly and the knowledge I gained was essential and applied straight away! Here’s my review.

The wonderful thing about the writing industry is that no matter what level you are there will always be someone looking to support you. All of the authors above do just that and so if you are in doubt, you are never far away from a fellow scholar looking to share some much needed clarity and advice.

And so that wraps up my essential list of self-help books for Authors. If you’re looking for some further reading and a few more author resources then check out my own section dedicated to such. Let me know in the comments if you have any self-help book rec’s for authors.

Pre-order now!

It might be a tad indulgent to include my own title in this post but I also have a self help book for authors and bloggers and you can now pre-order it for a discounted price.

‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ by Nina Munteanu – Review

Hello friends, today I am re-blogging a review of an epic book that was probably the most important read of 2020 for me. Enjoy!

Lee's Hall of information

A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart.

This captivating book doesn’t hold back in presenting readers with the potentially damning path humanity is going to take and how we might lose our most important resource; water. You’ll find the subject of water flowing everywhere in a story that is sometimes heart wrenching but also wonderfully informing, it’s metaphoric, symbolic and even a character.

Everything that surrounds the subject of water or limnology as it’s technically defined has been woven into a wonderfully researched plethora of information and fiction. Fact and fiction merge flawlessly in this story that takes readers on a dramatic and eye opening voyage. Just what will this planet be like after our footprint has done all the damage it can do? Well that’s how this story starts in what appears to be a far…

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Weekly Writing Inspiration #31

We’re back after what feels like an absence from the memes and inspiration. It’s March somehow also. Let’s dive in…

Yep, my thoughts exactly…

Anyone else?

Just as well cats can’t review their owners on Goodreads otherwise that’ll be 1 stars all around…

Palpitation City – population me…

All the time…

A pioneer

Happy Gilmore will forever be my favourite Sandler film…

The wait has been unbearable…

Actual Author Inspiration Moment of the Week

Thank you to fellow author T.R. Hamby for leaving this wonderful review of Open Evening. It has been quite a while since that book saw any love.

And that wraps things up. Peace out, thanks for stopping by…

🚢𝓑𝓸𝓸𝓴 𝓡𝓮𝓿𝓲𝓮𝔀⚓️“Talented Found”by P.W. Browning⚓️

Introducing author and book reviewer Ellen Khodakivska who reviews YA Fantasy novel ‘Talented Found’ by P.W Browning…

Ellen Khodakivska

___

🚢Genre: YA fantasy novel

Pages: 270

Language: English

Publisher: ebook

Release date: 2020

⚓️Reading this book was as if I was invited to a feast under the sea. Suddenly, a vigorous dispute breaks out among the sea residents. Their emotions go high, and a disagreement turns into a fight. The only way to escape is to catch an anchor of the merchant vessel that passes by. But there a controversial surprise waits for me there.

🚢The Plot: In this splendid YA fantasy novel, a reader follows 16 y.o. Shaylin. She is fearless and smart, kind, and helpful. She lives on board of merchant vessel run by Captain Trell since her early childhood and considers the crew to be her family. She enjoys her work onboard, despite the fact it is pretty dangerous for such a young girl. Meanwhile, she involuntarily gets…

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Weekly Ramble #99

Things are shaping up rather well for Book #7. It’s edited and pretty much ready for BETA reader eyes. Only then will I really know if we’ve got something good. Perhaps that’s always been the thrill for me, putting out a book and not knowing how it will be received.

Fashioning everything I have learned in both authoring and blogging has been something I’ve had to re-visit a number of times since August because the learning curves are still emerging from this journey that’s continual. Figuring this whole deal out from scratch has given me a bunch of stuff to write about with hopes just an ounce of it will be effectively passed on to someone who needs it. In this world of authoring and blogging online there is no better feeling than helping others and then seeing them succeed. I’ve said before a victory for one author is a victory for all.

Reviews are still coming in for The Teleporter which seems to still be selling even at a higher price. Perhaps soon I should do another promo run just to capitalise on the exposure it continues to have. The only thing is now, that book has a huge amount of reviews compared to everything else. I should get promoting them. New eyes seem to be on this blog and near enough every effort I have online, it’s kind of strange…

Hall of Information Interviews: Brooklynn Dean

The exploration of unique voices in storytelling is back for another Hall of Information Interview. On this occasion we are joined by author Brooklynn Dean who has mastered depth and symbolism in her unique books. From magical realism to rock and roll, you’ll find a lot more in her words than just a story.

Q1.  Let’s talk about your unique writing style. Most stories have nowhere near as much depth or inner meaning as ‘The Word of the Rock God’. Part of that depth is a moral story which centres around the themes of good versus evil, temptation and even purity. This is merged with the life of a touring rock band. What influenced you to find and write this story?  

“Wow, I feel very complimented by this question! Thank you for saying so.”


Honestly, I’ve always been interested in Christianity generally and Catholicism specifically as a theological topic of study. I find the lore of the Bible so interesting— the spiritual rules/regulations, the various creatures, the way angels are meant to interact or not interact with humans, angels mutating into demons when they disobey, etc. so when I write magical realism, divine creatures are always my go-to.” 


One night I was driving home from a concert, listening to Palaye Royale, and their song “How Do You Do?” shuffled on. The first line “good morning, how do you do? I’ve been up all night looking for you.” struck me, and I began visualizing a scene in which a stranger might sit down before a person and say these words. Who would this stranger be? Why would she have been searching out this person.

Having just seen a show, I imagined that person as a rock star. I couldn’t see the stranger who had been stalking him as just a regular old fan of his band, though, and my interests in mythology and Christianity quickly crafted this woman into a demonic figure. But then, why would a demon want him? Well, for his platform, of course, and to use to corrupt as many souls as possible, but why him? What’s so special about his platform? I won’t say here because I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the concepts of morality and good and evil have simply always been intriguing to me. And I love shy, sweet innocent men. I don’t think they get enough credit in media; often they’re relegated to being the butt of a joke or a sidekick, and that doesn’t fly with me.


Given that my stalker-character was demonic, it just seemed to me that Max’s innocence should’ve stemmed from his faith.
I really don’t feel like I create the characters as much as I discover them. They exist somewhere separate from me, even though that place is inside my mind, and I feel like I sit down with them and let them tell me their stories.

“One thing that seemed as important to Max as it is to me is the concept of fate and destiny. I imagine we all have a certainty destiny laid out for us, but I vehemently believe that our free will allows us to step outside of what’s been written in the stars for us if we decide to. It was important for me to express that in the text.”

I very much believe that also, we all have the ability to change the stars. It’s very interesting to see how you constructed the story, it kind of makes even more sense now. For anyone who hasn’t read ‘The Word of the Rock God’ I highly recommend it – here’s my recent review.

Q2. Are there similar themes in your other works? Please tell us more about them?    

“A theme I touch on in The Word of the Rock God that I really delve into in Amethyst, 2288, and in my brand new work, Deification, is celebrity and idolization. In Rock God, Max wonders why people are his fans— do they dig into the messages of his songs and lyrics and admire him for what he’s saying, or do they simply see him as a modern deity? Do they admire him because he’s elevated above them on a stage? Does what he say matters or is it simply that he’s got a microphone in which to say it? I think we live in a society that raises us to believe we aren’t good enough (mostly for monetary gain by the major corporations of the world), and when you couple this almost-brainwashing insecurity with the loss of God (or any other deity) it creates a hole that can only be filled with the admiration of another person.”

“I think we enjoy loving each other and praising each other and feeling camaraderie— humans are social animals!— but if we feel inferior while praising someone else, we start to see them as superior to us. Celebrities have very much become modern gods, in my opinion. That’s why Amethyst’s tagline “you’re not god, but your my god” exists as it does. Our main character is extremely pessimistic and nihilistic, so when she sees someone creative and beautiful, she can’t believe he’s human. She immediately puts him on a pedestal instead of focusing on her own creative energy and becoming the god of her own life herself.”

In 2288, this idea of hero-worship is extended to a dystopian state wherein creatives are classified as Elite and everyone is simply The Citizenship.”

These stories sound awesome. Most books have nowhere near that much depth (including mine)…

Q3. Tell us about your newest release ‘Deification’?  

“Deification is most certainly an exploration of Christian creatures. As I’ve said, angels and demons and the anti-Christ are all such intriguing concepts to me. I love the idea of a great End of Days where these creatures mingle with humans on earth, where earth as we know it, is gone.”

“But my main character stemmed from a reading of A Clockwork Orange where I paused to ask myself why isn’t the evil gang leader-murderer ever a woman? Just as I enjoy giving shy guys a spotlight, I very much enjoy giving bold, unsympathetic, selfish women a place to exist too. So Torrence stepped forth from my subconscious and said, “Hey, I’ve got a tale for you. Here’s my life story.””

“I almost always find myself relating to the male character in movies which feature both male and female leads, so I try to write men and women the way I’d relate to them. It’s not the traditional view of gender norms, but I’m writing for the people who don’t see themselves in those traditional roles.” 

OUT NOW!

Q4. I’ve seen on social media you mention reading the work of Anne Rice, do you have any book recommendations from authors you follow and what genres you enjoy?  

“I absolutely adore Anne Rice, yes. Since so much of my answers feature idolization and worship, I’ll be the first to admit that she is my god. No doubt about it.”

“I absolutely would recommend your work, Lee, and have done so to quite a few people! I also enjoy the work of Jeremy Megargee and Gillian Dowell, two fellow indie writers whose works deserve attention.”

Genre-wise, literary fiction is my go-to. I love purple prose, flowery language, sentences that last for paragraphs (shocker considering the length of my answers, huh?) I think everyone should sit down with a book that explores the inner-workings of the characters minds as much as it does the action of the plot. Reading a stranger’s work can become very personal when you realize how deeply the two of you can connect over whatever innately human emotion or thought or concern a fictional character is going through.

Thank you for mentioning my work and of course recommending it. Much like you I’m all about proper sentences and the characters!

Q5. Moving away from writing and books briefly, what other interests do you have?  

“Music is extremely important to me. You’ve read Rock God so I’m sure you might’ve imagined that already. I love how deeply connected, much in the way of books and writing, music and lyrics can make you feel to people you’ve never met before. I can’t tell you how many dear friends I’ve made at concerts— oh, hey, we both like Ice Nine Kills and you drove 3 hours to be here and I drove 2 and a half, and we know nothing else about each other but for the next hour we are going to drink and sing and laugh and enjoy our shared experience here. That’s beautiful. I think because of concerts, music offers a connection other art forms aren’t necessarily able to.”

“Outside of music, I love comic cons. I’m a total nerd. Give me conventions, give me horror movies, give me cosplay. I love it all.”

“And of course, I’m obsessed with cats.” 

Beautiful indeed. Nothing beats live entertainment and the energy of a crowd.

Q6. Tea, coffee, beer or wine?

“Tough choice as I love three of the four. We can definitely get rid of beer. Reluctantly I’ll give up tea. I do love wine, but I’m not sure I’d survive without coffee. If I have to choose between the two, I’ll take the coffee. But this question is evil. Haha.”

Q7. Are you a morning person or a night owl?  

“Absolute night owl! I hate mornings.” 

Q8.   You have quite an impressive social media following. What’s your strategy when it comes to social media and does it play a part in selling books?

“I can’t say I have any real strategy. I’ll post or tweet something I think is hilarious or artistic and see a much smaller response than something I was hesitant to post at all will get. I think a big thing for me is my ability to talk to anyone as if they’re my best friend. I know a lot of writers and readers are introverted, so me saying GO TALK TO EVERYONE isn’t exactly helpful. But I really think “be yourself” is an overused cliche for a reason. When you’re fully accepting of who you are and what you like and what you think, it’s very easy for other people who enjoy those same things to find you. I’m not sure if it plays into my book sales. I have friends who buy everything I’ve ever created, and I’ve become friends with people because they’ve read my books and reached out to let me know. I like to think I’m logical and intelligent, but truly I just kind of float through life on gut feelings and meditation, and it works out pretty well for me! I know some people probably cringe at the aloofness of that ramble. I’m kind of a hippy that way.”

Excellent advice and outlook. I’m kind of just winging it on social media…

You can catch Brooklynn over on the Tweet machine here…

Q9. What projects are you currently working on and what can we expect to see next from Brooklynn Dean?  

“I’m revisiting an old manuscript I wrote back in 2016-2017ish. It features my trademark shy guy and assertive woman pairing. It’s paranormal. A thriller of sorts, I suppose, though I’d like to try my hand at something romantic.”

Sounds awesome, looking forward to it!

Q10. Finally, a question that I ask all interviewees. If there is one sentence of advice you would give someone with dreams of becoming a writer, what would you say?  

Writing is an art form and you know your story better than anyone, so don’t let people force their own “rules” on you.” 

 

Great advice! Thank you Brooklynn Dean for taking the time to share an insight into your unique world of story telling.

Brooklynn’s next book ‘Deification’ is out now and available here. You can also find her backlist via Amazon here.

‘Snag’ by Dylan Burroughs – Review

A well-paced horror that puts story first and the finer details perhaps second…

If you are looking for a slow building horror that keeps you engaged all the way through then this is the book for you. It’s ‘Predator’ meets ‘The Thing’ with a dusting of ‘Alien’ as newly released former prisoner ‘Jay’ finds himself taking a job as a logger to start again. After connecting with an old friend he heads out to the forest and mountainous surroundings where he encounters others on their own journey of working to start again. The trees and forest setting slowly closes in and then someone goes missing. That is while something stalks them, what exactly, you’ll have to read it to find out.

“It was quiet here. Not the pleasant kind of quiet in the forest where you can appreciate the the silence of the world. This was the oppressive, pressurised silence that bore down and made them yearn for any sound beyond their own breath and boots…”

Although the story is well paced there are just a few critiques I have that mainly relate to basic spelling errors and sometimes hard to understand abbreviated dialogue that I found myself having to read twice. Other than some over description in places Dylan Burroughs delivers a likeable creepy horror with a sense that something is watching in those trees. If that description was kept tighter this would have been perfect, perhaps something to aim for next time. The characters are three dimensional and react to the world they are in while the story progresses with a slow build that eventually culminates. These men will have to band together to fight the unknown. Our lead character Jay has a history which he looks to escape from and do good by with some old fashioned redemption. There are some good concepts here but some of the finer details just let it down a little.

3 Stars – A missed opportunity with a good concept let down by the editing…

‘Moojag and the Auticode Secret’ by N.E. McMorran – Review

Colourful and imaginative with a positive message about being different…

I don’t think I’ve read a book quite like this one. ‘Moojag and the Auitcode Secret’ is a uniquely colourful blend of fantasy world meets the real subject of neurodivergence and represents it with a positive message about being different and that it’s okay to be just that. The style in which N.E. McMorran tells this story fits nicely between that of Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl while it is targeted to a younger audience but those with more adult eyes will enjoy this one too.

The story comes first as we are introduced to this near future ‘Real World’ and three friends who quickly meets a mysterious character known as ‘Moojag’. Together they embark on an epic journey of discovery while realising there is a coming threat to the land in which they live. This quest takes them below ground to a place known as ‘Gajoomdoom’ – there are some new creative words here which is all part of the fun and the sweet colourful immersion. Throughout we gradually learn a subtle but important message, that being a positive definition of those who are neurodivergent. This makes for a wonderful lesson to readers about the awareness of autism and that some of us can be little different.

The pages seem to fly by and there even some great illustrations as these friends must find a way to rescue an important group who are held captive in this underground and sometimes sinister world. From football matches to castles and everything in between; it’s fun, uniquely random, highly imaginative and carries not just an important message, but a brave one about acceptance. Those who are able to combine immersive story telling with a message like this story has deserves every ounce of credit for the work they have done.

5 Stars – an unexpected but wonderful read that celebrates being different!