Undertaker: Last Ride – Review

To seek out closure in any aspect of life is a truly rare thing. For any performer to willingly let go of the spotlight and a sold out audience is something rarer. In professional wrestling many have never been able to close the door on their own terms and to be able to do that, to end a legacy and tenure on one’s own terms is something that doesn’t get seen very often. 

For those who know me will know that the pageantry and mystique of professional wrestling has had a place in my heart since before the years I ever aspired to pen any book, or write any blog but still to me wrestling is story telling. When it’s good, it’s awesome and of course many will laud the bad’s of an industry that once upon a time I aspired to get into. We’ve all heard of the premature deaths, or various scandals of new and old, most of us have even done a few laps on the whole ‘fake’ contemplation racetrack. The truth is wrestling is a performance; something I always dreamed of doing.

WWE The Last Ride: Who Should Be The Undertaker's Final Opponent?

Of course I itched my performing scratch big time by swapping out the ambition of stepping between those ropes to treading the boards and taking in the spotlight via theatre instead, and even though my ten years as a performer don’t compare anywhere near to most who have any type of career in pro wrestling, I can fully relate to the addictive nature of what performing is. For me and quite fortunately I had always been eyeing up a way off the stage, to have my day and be done, then to find a way to escape the pressure of learning lines, wearing goofy costumes, dealing with performers who don’t take things as seriously and of course risking my own mental health to stand up in front of strangers. That escape came in the form of script writing and so I haven’t fully turned away from performing but taken a diagonal turn towards new challenges. But most importantly my escape from performing was both peaceful and final. It was the ‘Star Wars’ ending, it was closure.

The Undertaker is a name that sits in the very upper echelons in the realms of pro wrestling. It’s a character that has never really been broken or had any type of backstage lid lifted upon it. There hasn’t been any ‘shoot’ type interviews over the many years by the man behind the ‘gimmick’ Mark Calaway who has operated, since 1990 mind, when the likes of Hulk Hogan headed match cards. Luckily for me I managed to see the Undertaker way back in 2009 when at a Smackdown taping in London where he faced off with the Big Show and yes his entrance is as awesome as it looks, even from the nose bleed seats…

Quite recently the WWE network has premiered 5 special and ever so candid documentary style interviews with the Undertaker in the form of a series called ‘Last Ride’. Each episode follows the Undertaker who, without many realising this really is his final ride and crowning piece to a thirty year career. It goes into depth about the feelings of a man who has gone round and round in his time in the squared circle.

Much of the theme focuses on family. The Undertaker has kids and a wife, Michelle McCool – a name fans of the female wrestling movement will know and you can see the strain it is putting on her concerns for a man who might not know he is at the end of his career. During these 5 episodes we get a roller coaster ride as it covers his final years and matches with have been rare occasions of recent, from his initial ‘retirement’ moment against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania to the few special exhibition matches that didn’t go too well; Bill Goldberg comes to mind. There is even some in depth look at the ‘streak’ where the Undertaker went 21 years without a loss at Wrestlemania – something that should have never been broken in my mind. In a sense it just goes round and round on a somewhat damning repeat for the Undertaker who is either looking for redemption in one match or finality in another. This vicious cycle is something he must break to find some finality.

10 Things We Learned From WWE's Undertaker: The Last Ride (Final ...
Without giving much away because even on this blog spoilers matter, the whole docu-series is well worth watching, even for the casual fan of wrestling, like me I don’t tune in much these days. You’ll see wrestling in a different light and through the eyes of a man who has been there the longest. ‘Taker’s interactions with others backstage is seen for the first time along with his emotional journey of seeking closure, it really is gripping. Those with their ear on the Twitter verse ground will know the Undertaker has used this show to laud his perhaps final retirement, and whether or not he is going to stay away from the spotlight and squared circle, this show has been the vessel for a great ending of a great career in performance, sports entertainment and the culture of wrestling. For the Undertaker it has been closure.

 

 

Best books I’ve read this year… so far Part 2…

Because one measly blog post isn’t enough to cover the great books I’ve been immersed in during the first part of 2020 – year of the shit storm. And let’s face it, I love a sequel, I can’t help but leave the door open and in this sense it’s for the greater good of books so here we go, let’s dive in to some part 2 of best books….

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley by Nina Romano

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Westerns have always captivated my imagination. From the likes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood to the modern television epic ‘Westworld’ and even the final part of my all time favourite film trilogy Back to the Future Part 3. I’m a connoisseur of modern country music and have even dabbled in possibly the greatest video game story ever told which also happens to be a western; Red Dead Redemption 2.

With that in mind, it was only a matter of time until the right book came along and The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is just that. Authentic history meets romance that spans over some years during a time in America where the modern world is still emerging. Nina Romano has constructed an epic tale of love that delves into Native American culture complete with the sights and smells. The love between the main protagonists is perceived as destiny and that’s how I saw it anyway. To quote my reviewIt’s both poetic and sometimes poignant while even being brutal in parts, of course the old world was back then and you cannot fault the factual elements that are intertwined with the fiction…’

‘The Quest For The Sun God’s Tomb : The Willie Abrams Saga’ by C.J Evans

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Continuing with the historic fiction theme we’re going a few years ahead to a post WW1 world where a pair of american veterans are living out their retirement in Cuba (booze was banned back home). While it seems to be the ideal life, the sun, the sand and the daiquiris, history soon catches up with Willie Abrams. It’s part treasure hunt come rescue mission with a little dusting of Indiana Jones – if he went to middle america on a mission to find an artefact and use it to bargain for an old flames release. And quoting my review; The Quest For The Sun God’s Tomb is an easy to read tale of action and adventure guaranteed to keep readers interested all the way to the end! This one will definitely whisk you away for a while!’

‘Scarred’ by Damien Linnane

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We’re going down the crime vigilante rabbit hole now with ‘Scarred’ by Australian author Damien Linnane who has put together a unique and sometimes violent tale that will question your judgement of justice. There’s a conflict in the story that runs throughout – that being whether or not the actions of the MC are right and wrong. To quote my review‘there are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice…’ 

American Blasphemer: A Novel by John Matthew Gillen

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This story captivated me like not many books do and I’m afraid that’s all I can say because ‘American Blashpemer’ is the first book I have read and reviewed for Reedsy Discovery and because it was an ARC, the review will be coming very soon, but trust me you don’t want to miss it!

Life Signs by Christina Engela

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The sci fi stories of Christina Engela appear quite frequently on my shelves, they are both fun and in good supply. Like the many of her books I have reviewed in the past ‘Life Signs’ deserves a shout out as well as the wider Panic! Horror in Space series. This one is a trio of stories that tie into the wider world of space, horror and even some comedy. To quote my review: ‘From poignant to quirky and fun, these stories pretty much cover everything that Engela is known for with a writing style and depth that will draw you in…’

‘Mr Mercedes’ by Stephen King

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Okay it may not be an indie book but sometimes we all need a break to switch things up. I bet Superman even has cheat days, not that I am comparing myself… plus I had this in paperback on my to read shelf for quite a while. Now I know, it’s Stephen King and if you tune into his twitter, we can probably describe his tweets as ‘interesting’ at best, he’s not quite at the J,K Rowling level yet but he’s on his way, the less said about that, the better….

Mr Mercedes is outside of the usual genre we all know and ‘love’ King for but he still manages to retain the depravity and the places he’s willing to go in order to tell a good crime story. That being retired detective who has let himself go is taunted by the criminal he never caught. It’s very readable, has a few gasp type moments and overall worth a look. You can check out my full review here

And so that wraps up another Best Books blog post. Of course there are still some other books which didn’t get a mention, so look out for them! Peace out, thanks for reading, stay safe… 

 

The Paris Rescue: The Willie Abrams Saga by C.J. Evans – Review

Action, adventure and history; a combination that makes for a good read and sequel…

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The story of Willie Abrams continues and this time he must face the place that haunts his war time past, peacetime France. We’re taken specifically to the city of Paris on a rescue mission first planted in the previous outing. This time around Abrams is accompanied by long time friend Banesfield and of course old flame Julie who’s father they are looking to save. They carry a dynamic and likeable chemistry that fits well into the the genre which has action, deception and twists.

From the Eiffel tower to the catacombs below this adventure spans the city where the trio team up with someone they first thought were adversaries making for a unique scenario where Julie wants her father returned safe. It becomes a sort of cat and mouse chase that is capped off with an action packed shoot out.

The Paris Rescue is a fun immersive read with a satisfying feel good resolve while also nodding to a potential sequel.

4 Stars 

Weekly Ramble #72

I’ve been watching the news less and writing more. Sometimes you just have to play the adult card and choose to not have certain things in your life, the news is one of them… 

We are 8 or so weeks into this whole deal. A deal where are all home more often and can appreciate our own patch alongside those we share it with. There are some who haven’t stopped working (from home or out there) and those who are on vacation right now (me, most of the time). Technology allows us to see relatives, friends and colleagues easily through a screen. In this big wide world of connectivity, none of us are truly alone anymore.

While I struggle more than ever to blog or at least find subjects to blog about – I’ve taken a break from indie reads right now . I’m still here, trying to be active in the arena and trying to contribute. Last week I ran a giveaway over on Facebook, where my page nearly has 500 likes, only it seems to be the most difficult thing in the world to achieve right now…

The numbers don’t lie and people are still coming to the Hall of information for just that; information. Whether it’s my post about a scammer book reviewer or the many many indie book rec’s you find here, to even my weekly ramblings, writer, blogger or reader, you’ll find something here. And so for as long as those numbers trickle in, so will these words, no matter what is happening out there – right now the sun is shining, guess I better grab my shades…

 

 

 

 

 

All Dressed Up (Clown Conspiracy Book 4): A Short Thriller by Mallory Kelly – Review

A satisfying concluding chapter to the chilling and thrilling Clown Conspiracy series…

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Every book of the Clown Conspiracy series acts as an episodic puzzle piece when put together tells a wider story. In this final episode readers will be left mostly satisfied with an ending that is perfect for the genre and the story as a whole – you’ll be wanting more but also you’ll be assured that it’s over (for now).

Of course Agent’s Shirley and Carter are the centrepiece that are trying to put this puzzle together from ‘Dead End’ to the ‘Back Pew’ and all the way to this story that focuses on a carnival themed wedding. You can imagine what follows and the chase culminates this time.

Sharing what happens would be giving spoilers as this book and series is worth the short time it takes to finish and arguably does everything better that a longer book would do. There’s some great use of description sided with the chilling creepiness that comes with clowns and takes readers on a journey.

5 Stars – A great series of short books that pull together for one wider story… 

Awesome Short Recommended Reads…

When it comes to reading, it’s not always about length…

Shorter books frequent on my shelf and there’s nothing that beats the feeling of getting to the end of another read. Not only does it give you the satisfaction of having achieved something, but reading apparently makes you smarter, so the more books you read…

Either way here’s a bunch of shorter reads I recommend…. and guess what, they are all Indie books!

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‘The Seller of Sins’ by Kristina Gallo

Genre: Romance

Page Count: 84

The Seller of Sins’ by Kristina Gallo didn’t feel like a shorter read. It carries a depth and style that will make you think you are reading something much longer and detailed.

To quote my review: ‘this tale carries a deeper moral story about love and what really matters and we realize this at the end…’

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‘Fated to Meet You’ by Despoina Kemeridou

Genre: Fairy tale/ Romance 

Page Count: 49

‘Fated to Meet You’ by Despoina Kemeridou is a feel good story that begins like a YA novel which quickly spins into a fairy tale. It’s a page turner which I managed to finish in just over an hour. Here’s what I said in my review from last year:

‘You’ll find there’s a lot more to the story other than happy every after including a curse and even prophecy in what is a short but fun read…’

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‘Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening!’ by DRTao

Genre: New Age (Self-help)

Page Count: 65

‘Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening!’ by DRTao is a break the mold mind opening book designed to get you thinking. It’s unique and looks at how to overcome our ‘phenotypes’ (ego, ambition) in order to be more productive.

‘Well written and structured this is a book that may provide readers with insight to some answers you never thought could be out there!’

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‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza

Genre: Poetry

Page Count: 70

‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza is a personal collection of poetry that is deep and incredibly brave to present to the world. You may know the author as awesome blogger ‘Stoner on a Roller Coaster’and I urge you to check this one out!

Recent review quote:

‘For anyone who is a fan of immersive poetry and for those looking to take on a read that is different but also very honest, I recommend this book. It tells a story while also being inspiring.’

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‘Dead End (Clown Conspiracy Book 1): A Short Thriller’ by Mallory Kelly

Genre: Horror

Page Count: 48

‘Dead End (Clown Conspiracy Book 1) by Mallory Kelly is the first of 4 chilling shorts that read like episodes of a crime horror TV show. Two agents are in pursuit of a killer clown which then turns out to be two clowns which then becomes a whole conspiracy.  I’ve been diving into the series every so often this year and I highly recommend the series..

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Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1) by Colin Yeoman

Genre: Science Fiction/Space Exploration

Page Count:  68

‘Memories of Mars’ by Colin Yeoman took me by complete surprise. For what started out as one story going one place became the rabbit hole of perhaps our existence. This one got me, and managed to do it in 68 pages. To quote my very recent review:

‘Colin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original.’

 

And so that brings us to the end of some awesome short book rec’s. Have you got a short book that you would recommend?

Thanks for reading!

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‘Dust’ Panic! Horror in Space: Book 3 by Christina Engela – Review

Dust! The final frontier for one unfortunate crew anyway…

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Captain Stuart Flane is back and is called in again to investigate yet more strangeness in what is becoming a fun and mysterious version of X-Files in Space. And by X-Files, I don’t mean government secrets and the truth being ‘out there’, as much as these stories are ‘out there’, like most of Engela’s works, this book like the others in the series represent the better episodes of the X-Files or even the Twilight Zone in places. And by that I mean the good stand alone episodes that make you think and keep you interested until the end.

While Captain Flane has seen it all in terms of the strange and macabre. He’s even been chased by superiors with golf implements and lived to tell the tale. This latest mission will leave you guessing all the way until the final stages. An unmanned ship arrives with zero trace of a crew apart from an abundance of dust being left in their absence. It’s well written, fun and all around a good read to take one away from the mundane of life if only for a while.

4 Stars – another fun read from Christina Engela whom I must thank for the copy in exchange for a review. 

 

 

Indie April Book Recommendations

Blog Post 401 and no that isn’t an error code…

This entry is dedicated to the reads I took on this April, or if you are an active member of the Tweet machine writing community it’s known as #indieapril

Those that know me will know every month is Indie April. I’ve said no matter what is happening outside our windows, the Hall of Information will keep going and so here we go…

The first read I took on in April was part of the Clown Conspiracy series which is a series of short reads that see’s two Agents in pursuit of a killer clown which soon becomes killer clowns; hence the conspiracy part.

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The Back Pew’ is the third entry in the series by author Mallory Kelly who never fails to deliver in what is a chilling race against time to stop these clowns. Just where will they strike next? Her descriptive style aligned with those chills makes for a great read and before you know it, it’s the end of another tale. You can read my review here and of course click on the cover for the book link…

Next up we have a debut novel by fellow British author Julia Cowan.

‘Cells’ is a story that will leave you questioning the morality of whether or not there can be any true justice? Can criminals really can be corrected?

The answers to those questions are presented by way of an experiment which aligns with vigilante justice that carries a dark edge. For anyone who enjoys thrillers with a slice of crime and mystery; this one is for you. I enjoyed it and the multiple switching of back and forth in time to bring together a story of intrigue was unique and clever.

To quote my review ‘from police corruption, blackmail and even a complicated love triangle this story ticks many of the boxes that fans of crime thrillers will enjoy…’

What came next is a true gem of a read about life, love and destiny in the American west.

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The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley by Nina Romano was a book that I could not put down. Described as a ballad in my review – it really is and see’s two star-crossed lovers who are meant to be, but their plans and journeys think otherwise, hence the destiny part. There’s drama, mystery and some very well researched history of the time where the modern world was just emerging. Love stories and romance don’t frequently appear on my list here at the Hall but this one, I highly recommend and in these trying days where we all need an escape, put your money on love!

I normally struggle to get into another full length book after reading one so I chose to take on something on the shorter side and this is probably the most unique in this post. 

Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1) by Colin Yeoman is something completely different and original when it comes to science fiction, you could even argue it’s a type of fiction that clings to real science and theory while also doing the fictional part very well.

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For what starts like a potentially typical space fiction book becomes a rabbit hole of mystery and theory along with some deception.

To quote my recent review Colin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original…’

 

And so we are at my final and most recent read of April 2020. Again British crime is a theme as I took on ‘A Dish Best Served Cold: An ‘Archer’ Novel’ by Steve Lumsden after connecting with him on the tweet machine, and I was not disappointed.

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To quote my still warm reviewPresented Over six parts A dish Best Served Cold is a revenge and criminal underworld story that see’s implications from the past shape the present day and the characters in it…’

Before I realised I was already 50% through this book which is written in a style where you’ll be turning pages quickly.

And so that wraps up another month of awesome indie books! A thank you to the authors for their excellent work and thanks to all for reading. 

Do you have any recent book recommendations???

 

 

 

 

A Dish Best Served Cold: An ‘Archer’ Novel by Steve Lumsden – Review

Page turning British crime that keeps readers immersed…

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Steve Lumsden tells a unique crime story in a unique way. Presented Over six parts A dish Best Served Cold is a revenge and criminal underworld story that see’s implications from the past shape the present day and the characters in it.

At the beginning we don’t quite know what ‘Archer’ is doing or what his motives are other than disrupting a crime syndicate but he’s a man on a mission and gets things done. His mystique and intrigue carries the opening parts of the book while it intertwines with the opposing forces he is messing with. Just who ‘Archer’ is and what his connection is to the people he faces is what this story is all about. His journey eventually becomes apparent but you’ll be guessing for a while.

Scenes and pages fly by with a writing style that doesn’t keep readers in one place for long, its different in that sense and works. While the story unfolds it’s told through multiple characters that are all moving towards a satisfying resolve that contains a few twists – some expected and some not so much. There are some characters who may appear to be of the bad persuasion but are actually a force of good.

From drug dealings to sordid affairs there’s a subtle level of grit that makes for an easy to read British crime story…

4 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon UK and Goodreads

Weekly Ramble #69

From every shit-uation there are positives and good eventual outcomes. People have a lot more time now. The hustle and bustle of life’s busyness has slowed down and even I can feel people are taking their time to do things they didn’t before.

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These are the best sales I’ve ever had outside of Book promo

Book reviews are up. Book sales are up. And social media engagement is up. I’m even writing new stuff. I’ve always tried to justify my place in the arena with both books and a presence and it’s times of struggle like this that people look for reads and people who are carrying on in the face of adversity.

Writers and artists are needed even more so and while the social media socialite types who produce nothing are being starved out of attention, people are looking to genuine content creators and it gets no more genuine than a book or a blog.

We’ll look back on this time as one of invisible pressure and hardship. But take those away and you’ll find it was a period where we all had time to read that book, watch that show or paint that wall. 

All of a sudden this will be over and we’ll be back in the arms of friends, family and even co workers. We’ll forget what it truly means to be isolated and away from groups. We’re a herd species, until recently anyway.  The rat race will resume and it will all be forgotten. Humans have a fickle way of carrying on. Whether it comes from a vaccine or even medication, we’ll beat it, we’re too resilient not to I salute all of those carrying on in the face of this adversity – by carrying on I mean, writing a few words a day, speaking to friends over skype, cooking that meal, staying busy; we’ll get through, we always do!