Recent Reedsy Discovery Reads Issue 1…

It’s been 4 months since I joined book review platform Reedsy Discovery and my experience so far has been mostly good. Not only have I read some pretty cool books but I’ve also connected with some awesome authors. Let’s take a look at what I’ve read recently…

American Blasphemer by John Gillen is a potential read of the year for me and what a way to arrive on a new book reviewing platform. This contemporary/literary fiction story reads like an autobiography and its a dysfunctional one at that. If you’re okay with profanity, swearing and sexual stuff that’s turned all the way up to the extreme you’ll probably enjoy this one although it’s about way more than that trust me. It’s a series of encounters that make up an anti bible of sorts told through the eyes of someone trying to make their way through life in modern America. Like my review said it’s “a masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life… 

Rites of Passage by Chad Lehrmann is “a twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret… and it’s my second Reedsy Discovery Review. Although I am a sucker for small town horror this one did have quite a few tropes usually seen in the genre along with it being the typical ‘chosen one’ story. Saying that this book did enough to hold my attention, it’s well paced and the pages fly by. Full review here.

Senescence by Denver Scott is another potential read of the year and was also my first 5 star Reedsy Review because it’s an incredible deep dive into our potential future. Science fiction and non fiction merge in what is a plethora of all things cosmos and wider science that looks at the many aspects of humankind. Just what will our future look like? Find out with this highly readable and accessible book that boldly goes where not a lot of books have been before – seriously check it out. My full review is here….

The Dreamophile’s Diary by Shazrina is both unique and surreal which is exactly what dreams can be like – the very essence of that weirdness is captured quite well in this series of short stories all based on, you guessed it, dreams. “Life is strange indeed, sometimes what you most desire becomes futile for you the very next moment…” You can read my full review here….

Noxious by Bruce Knapp is a book for those who love their horror with variety. From witchcraft to possessions and everything else that could possibly be enveloped by the shadows of the macabre this one is a page turner. Of course Bruce Knapp is no stranger to the Hall of Information as last year we reviewed the short stories that make up his Night Audit series and now he’s back with another series all based around the town of Blackwater. Watch this shadowy and dark space! Full review here….

And so that wraps up Issue 1 of what I hope will be a quarterly exploration of Reedsy Discovery Reads. If you’re on the platform come and say hi. Until next time, peace out!

‘Big Noise’ by J.P. Biddlecome – Review

A tale that walks the fine line between survival and madness through solitude…

Young author J.P. Biddlecome tells a story through the eyes of sole character and teen ‘Mark Poe’ in what reads like a diary style account of exploration. It pulls you in quickly and then comes the realisation that he’s lost. ‘Mark’ has been turned around in the Oregon forest and so survival along with trying to keep things together becomes the priority.

The setting is wonderfully described and literally feels as if its closing in. This is written by someone who knows the setting well and so combining that with the urgency to survive comes the real story. From the need to build a fire to quickly diminishing food rations, staying warm and even Coyotes, our narrator faces many different challenges that all centre around survival and in the end he see’s it as a sort of game.

This solitary feeling coupled with a slow burn madness ‘Mark’ experiences makes for a readable and mostly enjoyable read. There are some moments where the narration style comes across as repetitive; ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’ and similar phrases do appear often and this is something that could have been executed with a little more variety. Being able to show a reader as opposed to telling them is limited in this setting because of the solitary feeling but still it kept my attention throughout and made for an interesting read. For those who enjoy a shorter reads about survival in a wonderfully described setting will find this book well worth a look.

3 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

Book 6 – ‘Darke Awakening’ – Pre-order launch/Full Cover Reveal

“Between chaos and the unknown, you’ll find a perfect storm…”

Well what a year it’s been, through the struggle and uncertainty all the way to the apocalyptic vibes 2020 has seemingly spat our way and still I’m standing exactly where I wanted to stand when this year began (only now I’m washing my hands every two seconds and wearing a mask)!

Some of you would have seen over the weekend my lack of ability to contain my excitement pride in being able to share my latest book cover. Darke Awakening is not just my 6th book but a personal journey and a symbol of how important carrying on has been this year. It’s also been mighty rewarding as many different folks have connected or continue to connect with this here blog. Through all of my endeavours in 2020 the book has been a beacon of hope that has carried me to here and hopefully beyond because now it’s up to my readers and you, kind follower.

Those who have supported me from the beginning, those who have captured and seen my vision over the years and quite frankly for me, that is who this book is for. It won’t be selling thousands of copies on release but the people that matter to me will be buying it. The individuals I have convinced one at a time to believe in my work and those who have made a believer out of me, that is who this is for. And for one very important demographic of folks who only exist in words…

What you’re probably here for…

Well I’ve done the introductory preamble bit and laid it on as thick but smooth as possible. Let’s take a look at the cover of Darke Awakening in full, front and reverse:

It’s darker compared to the first one and murkier because there’s a theme of uncertainty. Just what is in the deep woods? What everyone thought they knew will get blown wide open. Plus it snows quite a bit later on in the book. There’s some new faces and even some unexpected arrivals all of which looks to tell a story of darkness and awakening.

A huge shout out to Design for Writers who put together this fantastic cover!

Darke Awakening carries on straight from Darke Blood but then later begins to cross over with both Open Evening and Cemetery House. You kinda need to read all three books in the series that precede it to appreciate the whole thing – hence why 15 people max will buy it. The good thing is I’ve got ya, all three of those books in the Order of the Following Series are currently discounted to 99 cents. One of which will be free this weekend but I’m not here to sell those….

The sales part….

Those who have been watching closely will know right now Darke Awakening is currently available for Pre order! Yes you can go right now and pre order the damn thing! This is of course only for the E version, Amazon aren’t brave enough to trust indies with paperback pre order things. I’ve said pre order a lot.

If you click on the rather shiny banner I put together below, it will take you to the Amazon US page.

Folks in the UK can click here.

Everyone else, just copy and paste this into your regional Amazon:

B08HX1B49G

Final fun part…

This cool little comparison feature might be one of the only good things to come out of the new WordPress editor. As you can see all of the wonder and brightness of stars is gone as we go further into the dark – they both are really cool covers!

Closing statement/ a thank you

As always my efforts on here are made better by you. Thanks for reading and thanks for the constant support. You guys gives me hope and belief. To those who have already pre ordered the book, you are amazing, and to everyone, help an author out and go grab a pre order, let me know if you do grab a copy and let me know what you think of the cover!

Rock and roll man. Peace out!

‘Lords of Mars’ by Colin Yeoman – Review

Gripping high end space fiction about the politics of humanity, civilisation and revolution…

Lords of Mars is a story that embodies the many aspects of human politics from power, revolution, deception, change and no matter what civilisation we create, these things will always exist wherever we go. Perhaps the greatest threat to our own civilisation and history is ourselves as a species. These themes and concepts are then combined with the question of where we originated from and how we actually got here on this planet.

While the first book in this Custodian Library Archives series merely considers the question, Colin Yeoman uses this story to answer it and there is a lot more going on throughout this fantastic well paced read. This book could even be enjoyed on a stand alone level simply for it’s originality.

We are taken way back to when humans were leaving the near fallen civilisations of Mars; although some feel as if they were abandoning their fellow man but there is a new planet on the horizon. This is a polarising subject that creates opposing factions who feel like their history and people are being left behind. The preservation of this history is being contended here.

Much of the story takes place during the crossing between the two planets on board the ‘Spero’ where a multitude of characters are either for or against the new frontier. We meet ‘Cal’ who looks to lead a revolution in securing the ‘Remnants’ history and survival, that is after he encounters a stowaway who might know a little too much about the future. Of course there are other physical struggles like adjusting to the gravity of space travel and then the new world. ‘Centrifugal Gravity’ is just one of the many cool concepts this book is full of.

The pace quickens in the final chapters with action, deception and page turning thrills that highlight the early days of when we first arrived to the new world all of which is left open for more. Readers of science fiction will enjoy the original world building and thought provoking nature of what is a great read.

5 Stars – Thoroughly enjoyable and great escapism!

The stories that inspire us – Half-Life

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Growing up in the 90’s means that I’ve been witness to some incredible technological advances throughout my life. Video games in particular literally leaped from 16 bit all the way to 64 in a matter of years, but that’s just talking about numbers. The experience of a story is what resonates through us all and one particular story that I first discovered all the way back in 1999 still resonates through me. I’m talking about Half-Life and yes I am one of the people who played it quite soon after release at 10 years old.

TOP 30 BEST Video Games of the 90s (BEST RETRO GAMES) | Chaos - YouTube

Back then parents didn’t really take much note of game ratings and I’m not sure there even was anything strict to really regulate them at the time. Summer holidays consisted of being out all day and then watching the likes of South Park at night or the late movie which again probably had an age rating, there wasn’t a snowflake in sight and well most of my generation turned out okay…

And then this game came along that was included in one of my friends brand new Dell PC’s. It carried an air of mystery as neither of us had heard about it back then and so we went in to Half-Life totally and completely blind. By that year, ’99, the concept of a first person shooter game was relatively fresh from the birth of the genre earlier that decade with Wolfenstein paving the way to Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Alien Trilogy and even Goldeneye for the N64. all of which, deserve a nod. Neither of us knew then what we were getting into.

Lifetime fans such as myself sometimes forget that Half-Life is a first person shooter game because the story is so rich and immersive from the very start – something rare for the era and so after installing this game we began.

Games slowly immerse you these days through a sometimes cinematic sequence where very little is required to do other than get a feel for the environment or what is to come. You have the makers of Half-Life to thank for that as early on, in fact for the first half hour of the game and after what appears to be a calm and very visual but solitary train ride commute, you are Gordon Freeman, theoretical physicist who is late for an experiment.

Half-Life 1 Train Ride - YouTube

This clever but immersive way of starting the game heightens the sense of weight for a situation which is about to unfold. You are late for work and rushing around – something many of us can relate to. You are introduced to other scientists who also work at this extensive Black Mesa Research Facility. The sense of mystery is overloaded while you are unaware of a sinister build up to this experiment which subsequently goes wrong and then the real game begins…

The experiment gone wrong results in something called a resonance cascade and as you the player are in the test chamber when it unfolds. You see just a snippet of what has been unleashed. Another world full of primitive creatures has began to merge with the one of Black Mesa and Freeman must now fight his way through a heavily damaged work environment to look for answers and try and clean things up.

It’s part Stephen King part alien blasting shooter because eventually Freeman comes across allies and enemies who are human as a cover up attempt begins. The army is brought in and so this trifecta of scientists, aliens and soldiers collide, yet you remain silent throughout the unique set up. There are no cut scenes, no level finishes, no speaking from the most iconic game character in modern times, he is the silent crusader working his way through the puzzling hazards of a huge science facility sometimes armed to the teeth and then just with a crowbar. Of course watching the whole thing is a thin man holding a briefcase who appears every so often, a presence now known as G-man. All of these concepts were unique and were never done until Half-Life. Apart from those now iconic loading screens this game just runs from start to finish.

Half-Life on Steam

As a 10 year old kid, this game had a resounding effect on me. That first play through is something I will always treasure and now in modern times and as a person who works in a huge science facility with radiation hazards, cutting edge technology and of course plenty of scientists; I can’t help but think that Half -Life inspired that journey in some senses.

My debut novel carries similar traits that you’ll find in Half-Life, especially the concept of soldiers arriving after everything falls to shit. This game and its setting, story and concept was something that had never been seen before and dare I say it, has ever been successfully emulated. The story stands the test of time and was expanded upon for the subsequent sequels but this one, stands above them all.

Have you played Half-Life?

‘Deceit of the Soul: Saving the World from COVID-19: Before the Pandemic’ By Henry Cox – Review

A thrilling and interesting page turner that looks to seek out the truth…

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Henry Cox has used the concept of the global coronavirus pandemic to explore it’s potential origins while also telling a thrilling story. Upon the surface it would appear exploitative but from quite early on in the book its obvious to see that isn’t the case, in fact the pandemic seems to lurk on the fringes and in the background while we meet those who appear to have involvement in it’s origins.

The story focuses on two characters and their links to the interior workings of China’s secretive operations. It’s both detailed and informed. We see how the potential beginnings of the virus play out along with the effects it has on these individuals and where it could lead. This moves toward the deeper exploration that highlights how the people’s republic deals with the outbreak paired with the public relations cover up and who it intends to put the blame on – all of this is seen through the eyes of these two character’s who’s journey’s are separate, polarizing and similar all at once. Above all the execution of this story is where you’ll find the real strength with mystery, thrills and deception throughout the journey.

Even though this is a work of fiction, it’s delivered in a way that will provoke thought towards everything that is suggested, in particular the sinister surveillance culture where everyone is either watching or feeding information to a higher power or the theoretical mapping of the implications this virus will have. Has this pandemic been manufactured intentionally to assert world economic dominance? Is ‘bat soup’ really where this outbreak came from.

“…modern war is fought with our surrogate allies, artificial intelligence, social media modification, tariffs and sanctions…”

With an ultra modern subject matter and the feel of a spy/espionage thriller that carries a highly political venom, readers will find this story to be about a lot more that just the beginnings of an outbreak with a real moral conflict at the very center of it all.

4 Stars – A surprising read that hooked me from the very start. Thank you to the author for providing a copy in exchange for a review left on both Amazon and Goodreads. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Weekly Ramble #79

The decision to carry on through whatever this year has thrown me is shaping up to be the best thing I’ve ever done in both authoring and blogging. 

During March and even April, things weren’t easy for any of us, and that’s still the case now. There’s uncertainty, anxiety and a boat load of crap that’s the resultant of these times. I’ve been extremely fortunate in being able to have a choice to carry on. Not only has this become my best coping strategy for what is happening, it’s started to yield rewarding results. 

There’s a story in everyone’s individual journey and mine is no different to anyone working their way through life, trying to figure things out. Considering the continuous ‘successful’ numbers this blog has experienced along with actual book sales, I’ve turned around recently and realized that road behind me is full of detailed lessons in how I got to today.

Combined with the interactions I’ve had recently with fellow peers in this writing community, this journey seems to be getting better and better. Without realizing; my quest to discover new books and authors has earned me a word I would never imagine anyone using to describe me or my efforts; respect. 

This has become a real pinnacle moment or even an epiphany, because when I first started out and all the way to now, its confirmation that this journey has been worthwhile and perhaps that’s worth more than anything else. While I began this journey of writing books and trying to get them read – it’s the everything else that happened which became the true moral of it all. 

I’ve always written books for me; first and foremost. But now, I know I write this blog for you. These two philosophy’s go hand in hand. Over the many years, I’ve learned a hell of a lot. And now I have the numbers, figures, sales, follows or whatever you want to measure that with, to prove it all works.

The light bulb moment appeared last week when of course like usual an idle writers mind is a dangerous thing. Now I am over 10,000 words into a guide book of all the lesson’s I’ve learned over the years to get to here. It’s part biography and part self help guide with a hope it isn’t too self indulgent. It won’t be for everyone. And already I’ve poured out part of my story which is full of struggle and triumph. As I said there’s a story in everyone’s individual journey and if I can relay mine in a way that helps just one other person, I would have succeeded.

It’s still in the very early stages, but you can expect this guide book to authoring and blogging in the social media age to arrive next year. 5 books in 4 years, soon to be 6 in 5 is definitely more than enough in terms of credentials and a blog where the numbers quadrupled in the space of a year. The whole premise of this guide will be if I can do this, so can you. And you can!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hall of Information Interviews: Blair Leftly – Feed the Crime

The venture of discovering unique voices extends into the important world of book blogging for this Hall of Information Interview. Blair Leftly from Feed the Crime is a prolific blogger who has contributed so much to the writing community through her passion for reading and reviewing. Her efforts have guided many readers and helped many authors including myself. It’s incredibly important that bloggers who work so hard get the coverage they deserve. 

Feed the crime

Feed the crime

Feed the Crime Instagram

Q1. Let us jump right in and talk about reading. You dedicate an impressive amount of time to books. Have you always been an avid reader? And how many books do you read on average a month?

“For as long as I can remember I’ve always read, in school we used to have silent reading time which now looking back I seemed to be the only one who looked forward to it. My reading has taken a nose dive these last few months, I used to read at least 10 books a month where as I’m struggling to even read 1 book a week at the minute. I think I put too much pressure on myself to read a large amount each month and it’s taken it’s toll. I need to remember that it doesn’t matter how much I read each month just as long as I’m enjoying what I do read.”

1 book a week is still an incredible feat!

Q2. Of course you review these reads via your Feed the Crime blog. Please tell us more about your blogging efforts?

“I’m not afraid to admit that sometimes I find it hard to pull inspiration for enough blog posts to post each week so that is why I do take part in book memes such as Top 5 Saturday and Down The TBR Hole, they are the posts I love reading each week so it makes sense for me to take part in them. I’ve not been blogging as much the last few weeks, there’s so much going on in the world right now, I work my ass off in the lab and I’m moving house on the 25th. I love my blog and I never want it to feel like a chore, so if I don’t have enough time for everything right now then I’m ok with that, after all we’re only human.”

Top 5 saturday

Q3. In recent times, you’ve branched out to read other genres as opposed to crime fiction. What other genres do you enjoy?

“Until last year I had only ever read crime fiction hence the name, however the blogging world showed me all these amazing books that have never even been on my radar before and it was so exciting! I found out that I love fantasy, sci-fi and I’d never read a vampire novel until your book Darke Blood which completely took me by surprise. My two favourite books of the year so far are actually fantasy which I never would have expected!” 

Thank you for mentioning ‘DB’, of course the unexpected can bring wonderful things especially when it comes to reading.

Q4. Feed the Crime is very close to an incredible 1000 followers. What does it take to achieve such an impressive following?

“I didn’t actually get involved with the blogging community that much for the first year as I was too nervous and felt that I would never be able to fit in. I finished the first year with less than 50 followers. I think I started gaining followers more consistently from the beginning of 2019 as that’s when I was posting 3/4 times a week, as well as participating in weekly book memes and blog tours, I was starting to put my blog out there.
I still can’t believe the number of followers, I used to go on all the blogs with 1000+ followers and just think there’s no way I will ever get there and now it’s so close to happening.”

That is quite incredible and goes to show that consistent content and participation work in building a following!

Q5. Where did blogging begin for Blair?

“I first started my blog in September 2017 not long after I started having seizures, I had to leave my job as I worked in a children’s play centre and I had 2 fits in front of children. When it was diagnosed as epilepsy I had to surrender my driving license and sell my car, so I was in a really low place with too much time in my head. My friend suggested that I find somewhere to review all the books that I’d been reading and after some research that’s how Feed The Crime happened.”

Q6. Moving away from books and blogging, do you have any interests outside of being an awesome blogger? You’ve mentioned WWE once or twice; something I used to follow religiously and more casually these days. Do you have a favourite WWE performer?

“I don’t have very many interests outside of books and blogging to be honest. Me and my partner have been to see WWE live here in Liverpool twice and it was an amazing experience, we were stood at the ramp so we were able to see each performer up close, it’s something I will never forget. In terms of favourite performer, that’s like asking me to pick my favourite book I can’t just have one haha!”

Becky Lynch - WWE 2K19 - Roster

“Female I would say Becky Lynch, I loved her old steampunk style and lass kicker attitude. Male I have two, Roman Reigns and Goldberg they are just legends no doubt about it.”

WATCH: When Roman Reigns had the Most Awkward Contract Signing ...

Excellent choices. I will have to agree with you on Becky Lynch, she is the lass kicker!

Q7. Tea, coffee, beer or wine?

“Hmmm this is a tough one it definitely depends where I am, at home I drink gallons of tea, if I’m catching up with friends or writing blogs in coffee shops then I normally drink a Caramel Macchiato. Of course after a stressful day or week at work then a cold beer is just what the doctor ordered!”

tea

Q8. Back to books. Do you have a short list of must read books that everyone should experience?

“The books that I think are must reads won’t be to everyone’s taste, so I’ve picked 4 different genres.”

– “The Joona Linna series by Lars Kepler (This my favourite translated series that I would love to see more people read)”

Lars Kepler

– “You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke (This had me hooked and I was stood up shouting by the end)”

You let me in

– “The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (He is my favourite non-fiction author, If you love Louis Theroux documentaries then you need to read his books)”

the psychopath test

– “The Teleporter by Lee Hall (Of course I had to include this book as I had so much fun reading it, it’s hard for a book to make me laugh but this did it!)”

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Its an honor to be a part of this list. thank you.

Q9. What are you currently reading/plan to read next?

“I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Written in Blood by Chris Carter which is number 11 in the Robert Hunter series. The series as a whole is addictive but extremely gruesome and not for the faint-hearted!”

written in blood

Q10.  And finally, in one sentence, what advice would you give to someone just starting their blogging journey?

“Don’t ever feel alone, embrace the book community, find blogs that interest you and comment on them, you can make so many friendships that way, also don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

 

Wonderful advice and a unique insight into reading and book blogging from Blair of Feed the Crime. Thank for sharing and for the continual support of the writing and blogging community.

I highly recommend you follow the awesome Feed the Crime Blog. 

You can also catch Blair on the Tweet machine  and Instagram

Readers old and new, I appreciate you taking the time to read this Hall of Information Interview, hopefully see you in the next one!

-| Underrated Books That I Recommend… Top 5 Saturday |- — Feed The Crime

A shout out and thank you to awesome book blogger Blair from Feed the Crime for mentioning The Teleporter alongside some fantastic reads! 

You can find out more about Blair and her blogging efforts this week as I am happy to announce she is the third Hall of Information Interviewee! Watch this space folks. Make sure you check out the post below and give Feed the Crime a follow! 

Top 5 Saturday is hosted by Mandy over at Devouring Books, today’s theme is Recommended Reads but I missed last weeks topic Underrated Books/Hidden Gems which I really wanted to take part in so I’ve decided to mash them together! The Upcoming Top 5 Saturday Schedule Is: 25/7/20 — #OwnVoices Books 1/8/20 — Enemies to Lovers […]

via -| Underrated Books That I Recommend… Top 5 Saturday |- — Feed The Crime

‘The Silent Betrayal’ by Momus Najmi – Review

Original, eloquently written and thrilling. A tale of deception that reads like a spy thriller but carries a much deeper meaning… 

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Momus Najmi has written a thrilling story with an original and eloquent narration style where main character ‘Johann Blakemore’ candidly confides in the reader on a journey to lift the lid on his rich father’s sinister past. This high society world is introduced with a stylish combination of pessimism and humour through the eyes of a character that knows something isn’t right. Just how did his father earn such a wealth? 

Even being in line to the throne of big business and lots of money doesn’t particularity interest ‘Johann’ and especially if the source of it may have a sinister origin, neither does the prospect of being arranged to marry, even if he’s indifferent about it – a conflict he must face time and time again throughout the journey of twists and discovery. Just who is on ‘Johann’s’ side? That is something even he will have to think twice about in a book that reads like a spy thriller and then eventually becomes a spy thriller and it’s a fun thought provoking one at that.

The author has put in much effort to explore so many moral subjects throughout but in light doses. From politics, business, charity, freedom of choice, greed, wealth to even our wider purpose in life there are some thought provoking moments while the story gradually builds towards a satisfying finish. We see unexpected twists, turns and eventually answers in the form of surprising revelations for our main character. 

From this beginning I could tell this book was unique gem of a read and not once did it feel like a chore to turn the pages, quickly I might add. This is definitely a read I would recommend for anyone looking to take on something original, thrilling and thought provoking. 

5 Stars –  A cracking read that kept me interested all the way through. Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon.