‘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

‘Pearl Fields and the Oregon Meltdown’ by Drew Faraday – Review

A unique and immersive vision of survival and life during apocalyptic times…

Pearl Fields and the Oregon Meltdown is a unique reading experience that plays out much like the transcript of a confession, life story and vision of one woman’s survival during the ‘Meltdown’. The wonderful thing is, its all three of those and more because the immersive conversational style adopted by Drew Faraday pulled me in from the very start and it isn’t one I’ve seen that frequently in fiction. Onthe surface it might appear as just ramblings but like all great books its what lies within those words that make it. Stories of childhood, love, struggle and life in apocalyptic times make up the experience that pulled me in from the start.

The ‘M’ virus and its fallout is where the majority of this story is set but we only get snippets of that from ‘Pearl’ and the focus is more on her many experiences during and then after. Its almost as if she is in the room telling you about the various trials and tribulations of her life and she’s a fun character to be around. Perhaps a little hardened by that life and her well fleshed out presence really puts you in the passenger seat of her ride. From her wealth of back stories to the various fun names she uses such as ‘Camp All She Wrote’ and even naming a suicide vest ‘Severance Package’ are just a few of humorous references peppered with a hint of darkness and there is a lot of emotion at the heart of this one.

‘I wouldn’t have gone through hell on earth on my own for nearly four years only to be pent-up in this rank jail cell pouring my heart out to a damn gizmo in hopes of not taking the long drop…’

Its part post-apocalyptic and part confessional-survival with ounces of humour and the question is, will this confession help her find acquittal? The answer is something I perhaps would have liked to have seen a little more from but that’s a minor critique at best.

Very enjoyable and original.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘The Perfect Athlete’ by Olivier Doleuze – Review

The Perfect overview and resource for the fit and healthy conscious…

Tenured Jockey Olivier Doleuze lays out a hugely beneficial resource/overview style guide for anyone looking to improve their nutrition and fitness that is packed with information.

This easy-to-read book is delivered with an approachable chatty style that partners well with the sheer amount of definitions, explanations and what is essentially a blue print for modern sport/nutrition and more. Early on it is stated that this book is for “Athletes and aspiring fitness enthusiasts’ but everyone or anyone who wants to be more conscious of their health through exercise and diet this is a must-read, it really will open your mind and awareness.

Structured much like how the ideal workout it begins with the warm up – definitions of the basics are laid out like nutrition, metabolism, calories, fuel and so much more. Although this is a lot of information, its written with a light style that isn’t too heavy to take in and makes for a memorable start to the work out/ reading experience. The chapters that follow, cover everything in detail but again not too heavily, many guides do suffer from adding ‘fluff’ but this one is lean and in good shape, trust me.

I was drawn to this book to learn and to find more insight into how my own diet relates to my fitness and now my mind is very much open especially with the very meaningful and motivational statement about weight only really being a number.

This book exactly what I needed to refresh my fitness journey because I think many of us sometimes get lost along the path when it does relate to weight expectations, nutrition and fitness. I’ll happily admit a lot of this stuff I didn’t even know until I picked up this guide which I shall be using in the future for reference.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery.

‘Fallout’ by Pat Griffith – Review

An imaginative and highly original tale about first contact with corporeal beings from another world some of which are already here….

Pat Griffith takes readers on an original and unexpected journey that begins in one place and then takes a direction I did not see coming. A group of high school aged friends spend an evening camped out in the woods for some stargazing and experience something none of them could have possibly expected. And then there’s first contact as the real story kicks in.

The light around them dimmed, eliminating the shadows. The sun grew cold and the wind blew harder. As they looked up, gravitating toward each other, there was a mutual, unspoken question between them: What in the world was that?’

The pace suddenly quickens as its apparent this fallen meteorite contains life that has a unique invisible ability to spilt and take over a human mind. This life even has a conscience and thought process even if it does find the human anatomy seemingly foreign. After hitching a ride on their nearest hosts the chase begins as the authorities are informed – the FBI who usually turn up to these things are on the case and then comes the realisation that some of these beings were already here, hiding amongst us. The focus is on the human mind and how it can be altered or even intercepted to the point where they (the humans) are no longer in control.

Through the vessel of some wonderful description and heaps of originality we are taken on this ride of chase and hide adventure as these beings intercept and try to run. There are even those in authority who have succumbed to the effects of them. What they want is never really known but does it matter? Perhaps not because like all life, that’s probably what they want, to live. There are brief shades of Invasion of the Body Snatchers but with a less horror-esque tone and more of a focus on that corporeal life that silently takes on a human host.

For anyone looking to read an original sci-fi adventure about life from another planet that intercepts life on this one, this is definitely one for you!

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Lazy Creativity: The Art of Owning Your Creativity’ by Kyle Bernier – Review

A detailed, modern and refreshing take on creativity that covers so many applications for success!

I had so much fun reading this detailed guide that not only lays out so many ways in which you can explore creativity, but it also normalises and embraces laziness to the point where it can even help with that creativity.

Kyle Bernier delivers his outlook through several easy to digest chapters that work together as an intricate guide whilst using an approachable style littered with light humour and a relatable tone. It is also written in a way that anyone can follow and for that makes it must read. There is plenty to digest and take in but it never feels overwhelming even if I did read it all in just a few sittings, now I am equipped to be the best lazy creative I can possibly be. Bernier identifies so many applications and types of creativity such as quiet, ugly, big, small – this guy really knows his stuff and as an artist and academic he has the knowledge to back it up.

“Everything we need to be successful creative people is inside us…”

Most of us have incredibly busy lives and so finding time to pursue creativity tends to fall further and further down the priority list but this guide opens your eyes in so many ways to find time, even if it is just a short amount to pursue that creativity which to many like me, cannot function without. There are heaps of positivity here not just for being creative, but for everything that surrounds it.

For anyone creative or those looking to be more creative in a plethora of different ways, you’ll have a lot of fun reading this awesome guide which carries a great vibe throughout and will lay out everything you need to equip yourself to embrace laziness and become the best possible creative!

5 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘The Bad Part of Time’ By Joshua Ingle – Review

A thought provoking time travel caper exploring the themes of life, age and politics…

Just what would you do if given the opportunity to meet your younger self? A younger self who is determined to change the culture of an ageist world through angry activism. That’s exactly what this intriguing and wonderfully original book explores as we meet ‘Variel’ who has lived life knowing eventually she is going to face her younger self and that day has arrived.

“…there was no stopping the inevitable, so she swallowed her dread, observed her morning routine, and accepted today was going to be a very bad day…”

Based in a future where time travel is possible and is a type of tourist or even business activity, ‘Variel’ faces her younger self ‘V’ and their journey begins. The dialogue between them is well executed much like where this story takes you. Social themes of ageism, privilege and politics are centre stage here as ‘V’ is angrily determined to change society for the better and for the young. ‘Variel’ does her best to guide her younger self through the vacuum of youthful rebellion and the morality of the world. Their back and forth interactions act as a metaphor for what is happening in that wider world and being angry is okay but fixing things is perhaps better.

“Stop Blaming. Start Fixing.”

Youth and age clash constantly in a story that carries intricate and meaningful messages throughout where you are viewed as the sledgehammer, the bomb or the paintbrush which serves as great symbolism for the world and life. A great read.

5 Stars – This review first premiered on Reedsy Discovery

‘Beginner’s Luck’ by M.J. Furtek – Review

A breezy action-packed and unpredictable page-turning spy thriller that could go anywhere next…

After assassin and super killing machine ‘Hildur’ is befallen to a somewhat freak accident the circumstances after place her in danger and ultimately onto a journey of trying to escape a net closing in around her. Danger and deception are following and around near enough every corner there are challenges and mystery.

M.J. Furtek does a great job of keeping the reader on the edge while only really revealing information as the characters find it out. There’s a heap of mystery and intrigue here, intrigue to know who exactly is leading the chase and it keeps you turning pages albeit quickly. Based in Iceland there are some nice descriptive visuals paired with a remote Island feel which is perfect for a chase story accompanied by some clever spy-esque sequences – perhaps a perfect combination. This could easily be Jason Bourne with the whole mystery element along with the tones that are on point while being paired with that European landscape/feel.

With short but breezy chapters and a modern writing style that hooks you in from the very start, this is a spy chase thriller that will guarantee to entertain, immerse and leave readers wanting more by the end – I know I did.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Stars Never Die: A Movie To Die For’ by Walrus – Review

Quick, fun and easy to read race against time story with murder mystery vibes…

This is my second Walrus experience and yet again I found it to be an easy-to- read enjoyable take on the film industry with a few unexpected original spins.

The story starts out with a symbolic and cinematic murder which then unfolds into a mystery/high stakes situation where it is believed ‘Stars Never Die’ is a movie that seemingly carries a curse as bad things seem to unfold around it. ‘Jessica’ who is part inventor and part investigator must race against time to stop this film premiering and of course solving a murder with some deep rooted family history. She soon realises someone is following her and so the chase is on.

There are mystery and tech vibes along with some fun moments that kept me turning pages and wanting to find out what was going to happen next.

‘I’m a star. And stars never die…’

Ironically and funnily this quote is played while a strangulation and violent struggle takes place which then erupts into a much bigger brawl – just one of the fun quirks this story and writing style has. For anyone looking for an escape even just for a few hours then this one is for you.

3 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Home’ by Thomas Overlook – Review

Unique and intriguing. A page-turning tale that’ll take readers down the rabbit hole of what’s there and what isn’t…

Its quite difficult to pin point what this story is really about and how deep it goes, but for the majority I was addicted and kept reading to see where it went. To me, that’s a job done well and driven by that immersive intrigue, Thomas Overlook tells the story of a young couple who decide to start again away from the hustle and bustle of city life with their infant child. Then events start to turn strange.

There’s a multitude of different themes and things going on here, some are more obvious and on the surface while others go deeper. Much of the book is taken up by the inner workings of ‘Joel’ and ‘Aubrey’ or their memories but we are only shown and told so much to the point where everything seems to have a kind of surreal feel – this is a complex but imaginative set up for a book because the events that do happen gradually unfold while we find out only limited information about these two characters. The concept of what’s on the surface and what’s beneath starts to blend and uniquely the organisation which ‘Joel’ works for is deliberately omitted, something some readers may frown upon but an original concept and there is a heap of originality here. ‘Aubrey’ seems to have this kind of lustful subconsciousness while also perhaps hiding something. These characters aren’t fully revealed to the reader which only increases that intrigue.

Soon after moving into their new and remote house weird things begin to unfold. Is this an elaborate prankster or perhaps even a haunting? this is after ‘Joel’ may have unleashed something or at least stirred it. What ‘it’ is, we never really get an answer but it points towards something that lurks beneath the surface literally and psychologically. Is what ‘Joel’ appears to be seeing actually there or not? Could we actually be in the company of something that has always been there but is only awakened if disturbed? Rational thought begins to blend with the irrational as he tries to investigate what really is going on. Has ‘Joel’ really unleashed something that feels like its hunting him and his family?

“He was terrified but not mortally. It was a queer feeling, deep fear tinged with a silken sadness…”

Cause and effect comes into play here as these events put a strain on the couple. This has all the makings to suggest there is another lifeform amongst us but that is only really suggested – that’s what this book made me feel anyway and I am intrigued to see where it goes as this appears to only be part 1 of a wider series. You might not get any answers this time but the reading experience was entertaining overall and full of enough mysterious intrigue to at least entertain more of this immersive deep writing style and story. For those looking to have a lighter reading escape or even those who don’t enjoy deep thought this might not be the one for you, but those who enjoy complex stories that are open to wider interpretation then this is the one for you. It’s definitely one of the most unique reads I have come across in recent times.

4 Stars – An encapsulating and page turning read. This review first premiered on Reedsy Discovery.

‘Evil Eye: A Slasher Story’ by April A. Taylor – Review

An unpredictable fast-paced slasher with plenty of twists and tension as the storm unfolds…

The looming threat of worsening weather combined with a killer on the loose makes for some fun and thrilling reading in a story that could easily be an evening spent at the cinema or at home via Netflix. Here we see a diverse group stranded and united by their will to survive a double whammy of hurricane and deranged killer.

From the very start there’s pace to a story that unfolds just like the hurricane that engulfs those left behind on an island. Soon enough they realise someone is hunting them down and so the real slasher story begins but it’s more than that. Each character has their own complexities and we see things from each of their unique perspectives which then interact with one another – most of the time in these stories it’s easy to pick out who will be taken down first but there’s an unpredictability here making it all the more enjoyable and page turning.

While we are used to our masked but faceless killers being without any dialogue the author carves an original path with her version of evil walking because for some of it he is also talking. As he slowly stalks his prey and throughout it feels as if there is no escape with the hurricane situation heightening that terror. And in this particular situation there is nowhere to run. To some that’s uncomfortable, but to me that’s the perfect storm of horror quite literally.

Although titled as a slasher I’ll happily admit it’s a lot more than that with some nods to modern issues in society and the wider world. Much of the time there’s seems to be a lack of ideas with the ending but for this one, there were a few final twists that capped of a fun read. So come for the slashing but stay for everything else this story is about, you’ll be pleasantly surprised while also being on edge.

4 Stars – This review first premiered on Reedsy Discovery