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

A short sharp enjoyable tale of magic and the unexpected

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

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

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

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

5 Stars

‘They Lie Here’ by N.S. Ford – Review

Thrilling and unputdownable with unique themes…

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

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

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

5 Stars

‘Red on White’ by J.P Biddlecome – Review

‘The Wolves came, rising from the waves…’

Red on White is an intriguing tale of one young man’s battle to survive after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami hits Oregon. Soon enough chaos ensues as ‘James’ is about to head home from his farming job but the elements beg to differ. The huge wave rolls in along with the destruction taking everything in its path.

“Maybe his best friend was floating in that soup. Each face looked like a friend, a relative, a loved one…”

With this being my 2nd J.P. Biddlecome experience I can see his growth as a story teller is apparent through a story of adversity drawing some similarities to ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ alongside elements of ‘Castaway’. There’s a running metaphor throughout that compares the many days James spends trying to survive as a pack of wolves begin to circle and grow. Survival is the key word here as this candid descriptive reading experience drew me in from very start.

4 Stars Thank you to the author for reaching out and providing a copy of the book. Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

‘A Stranger From the Storm’ by William Burton McCormick – Review

Brilliant fun – a historical mystery with plenty of atmosphere

This is a very enjoyable historical tale that whisks the reader away to early 1900’s Odessa. Immediately the atmosphere drew me in as William Burton McCormick sets the scene during a storm and we meet two mischievous but very likeable twin sisters ‘Eleni’ and ‘Tasia’. A much-needed new guest arrives at their family boarding house where they suspect he may have something to do with a string of recent murders committed by someone only known as ‘The Specter’.

The behaviour of this new arrival arouses the sister’s suspicions and in a city with a known killer they begin to pry. Their results and antics which follow are both fun and chilling – their dialogue interaction with each other in particular is very well done and touches on so many elements of humour, perhaps a coping mechanism for the chilling events going on.

Of course like most mysteries the big reveal tends to make or break the story and after a few twists the ending was indeed unexpected and satisfying. With historic elements and fun witty dialogue that carries an intriguing story, this one is definitely for you if you enjoy those things – I certainly did!

5 Stars

‘Dead of Winter’ by Antoinette McCormick – Review

‘It comes in the night…’

Antoinette McCormick delivers an atmospheric and descriptive story of ‘Amara’ who is on a quest to solve her twin sister’s murder and the circumstances that have seemingly followed her since childhood. Just what exactly is this mysterious force stalking her? It seems to have always been there and the mystery keeps the reading experience intriguing.

As the events unfold, reader’s are left guessing with a writing style that can best be described as textbook horror where not too much is given away whilst leaving readers wanting to know more. In near enough every chapter something unexpected unfolds keeping everything on edge with a certain urgency. To find out what exactly happened ‘Amara’ must explore memories of her sister through a unique procedure giving the story a sci-fi futuristic edge. The ending although satisfying to me will definitely be the course of some division but like all good stories, they always are. For anyone looking for an atmospheric and thrilling tale with mystery, this is the one for you!

5 Stars

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads 7

I’ve been reading and reviewing indie books again so its time to take a look at some recent titles that I thought were awesome…

‘Powerless’ by Vicky Ball

A well-written twisting thriller with darker themes…

Full Review

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

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

Full Review

‘An English Teacher in Mexico: Memories of a Midlife Career Change’ by Irene Pylypec

A fun and insightful well-written account of adventure and culture…

Full Review

Join Lee Hall on Patreon

Those who do join my Patreon will get regular shout-outs on my Twitter for you and your work in front of my near 30,000 followers. Plus you’ll get exclusive access to my growing series of Twitter Coaching Sessions, future guides and fiction.

‘The Tolworth Beacon’ by Huw Langridge

Intriguing British mystery with tension, atmosphere and code-breaking vibes…

Full Review

‘Recovering Alice’ by Catherine Morrison

A gripping uplifting tale of romance and relapse…

Full Review

And so that wraps up another edition of Awesome Recommended Indie Reads! Thanks for stopping by!

Dealing With Bad Reviews

Let’s face it, eventually every author is going to have to swallow the medicine that is a bad review. Whether it be a low rating without an explanation to a full on dismantling of a book someone probably should have just put down. Over many years I’ve experienced every kind of review, from the ‘abandoned’ to the snarky ‘let’s try and be funnier than the book’ to even scathing borderline abuse. I have even received constructive criticism that I’ve then used to correct a typo or potential error so its not all bad and ‘bad’ may just be a stance.

Disclaimer: I will say now first and foremost that any reviewer no matter their opinion, as long as it is not abusive, is entitled to say what they feel about a book freely. This post is not an attempt to bash anyone that has left a less than favourable review for my work or anyone else’s. This post is designed to help fellow authors cope with bad reviews. I have to include this disclaimer because this subject might be perceived as ‘spicy’ and if I don’t, my Goodreads ratings will go even lower…

Its not a nice feeling when someone leaves a bad review for our work. It can straight up hurt and that’s more than okay because our books are a labour of love, time and effort. For someone to say negative things about it can feel like a personal attack and leave an author spinning for days while also questioning themselves. Feeling bad and every other emotion that comes with a bad review is totally normal. Remember that.

Ahead are hopefully some pointers and a few truths that will help any wordsmith deal with the inevitable because for every author receiving a glowing review, there will be another receiving the opposite.

1. Be Aware…

This is aimed for newer authors and has a bunch of inputs, but after publishing that book, your writing is no longer just a hobby and your presence on social media is now one of a public figure. Whether you like that or not is kind of irrelevant because being published puts you in the public domain. This means that as an author you now stand in the spotlight inside a glass house. Anyone can throw stones at you, and if you give them a reason to, they will, trust me. You see that disclaimer up there, yeah I put that in to cover my ass in case someone gets precious and decides to defend anyone who has ever left a bad review – your actions online can draw unwanted negativity sometimes, even if your intentions were good.

What do I mean by this? Social media and the internet can be a volatile place and now you have a book out there, it is vulnerable also. Because of that, its time to consider your conduct online. Me; I have a pretty comfortable seat on the fence in most of my social media endeavours and I make every effort to be inclusive, decent and supportive. This will go a long way to preventing certain stones being thrown and I would even go as far as saying some negative reviews are simply a reaction to something you may have said online. That’s why I have that comfortable seat and I tend not to react to any major news subjects or any polarising political situations – these things will always be happening and providing an escape from them works for me.

Of course there are many great causes out there that authors have every right to stand for but remember social media can be a volatile place where someone might not agree with you all the time so be mindful and be aware.

2. They are Inevitable…

While being aware and conducting yourself in a certain way are great preventative measures, bad reviews unfortunately are inevitable. If your work sells enough it will be discovered by someone who doesn’t like it. Any author who has been around a while and sold a bunch of books will tell you this. So think of it as a baptism. Your writing has done enough to at least stir a reaction, even if it is not so great and you are now part of the club!

3. Is it Worth the Time?

Time for me is valuable. I can get a lot done with my time, from social media posts, blog posts, editing to even exercise so ask yourself if the review is worth your time? Those star ratings without an explanation – there isn’t really much to digest there so why spend time thinking about it?

I’m quite selective when it comes to where I read the reviews I receive. Goodreads is a place where I only focus on the statistics and not really the content of the reviews. Amazon is way more important to me so I tend to read the reviews I get on there. Even then if the review is negative with zero constructive feedback I’ll tend to just move on.

4. Is it Constructive?

Speaking of feedback, does the review help you in any way? Anyone can claim to be an editor if they spot a simple typo or even a spelling error. Even pro published books have those. US and UK spelling does differ sometimes and some reviewers won’t be aware of that. If there is something constructive you can get from the review then to me its really a positive one in disguise – remember sometimes the truth can hurt and we are all human so mistakes happen.

5. What’s the Value?

I’m going to confide in you here while also stating that I appreciate everyone who has made the effort to review my work but I can count on just one hand the amount of reviews that shaped my future works or had any real constructive feedback and for this I consider myself lucky. This is the case with positive reviews also and while we all love a compliment, what does that actually provide us with? Speaking truthfully, there is normally zero personal value in a review – good or bad they help sell future books and sometimes they need to be looked at just that way because…

6. A Rating is a Rating…

Above all, even if the review is down right insulting, a rating is a rating and proof of readership. Someone out there in that vast busy world of constant content found your book. Good or bad if they were thoughtful enough to rate it, then somewhere deep down there was something in that book which meant something to them.

Side note: If the review is abusive or even a personal attack, you might have grounds to report it and get it taken down. I’ve done this before.

If you were to purchase my self help guide book for indie authors and bloggers you’ll find there is a whole section dedicated to reviews and dealing with them.

7. Can You Spin it?

Some years ago, one of my newly released books received a low rating that kind of came out of nowhere. I forget the name of the book blogger but I confided in my social media following and managed to spin that review into a bunch of sales and positive reviews from some friends in the writing community. As long as you are decent, it’s okay to confide in your following, they might swing in to help you.

Final Thought

It will feel better tomorrow and much like that struggle for reviews you feel sometimes, the best thing to do in order to cope is to focus your energy elsewhere. Of course its okay to vent but do it with tact and confide in others because you’ll be surprised by how many bad review stories authors have. Use this post as a reference to when the inevitable happens and of course vent below if you wish because this will always be a safe space for creatives. How do you deal with bad reviews?

Thanks for reading. This post originally premiered on Patreon where all of my guides are available to Patrons first before they make their way onto here. For information on my Patreon which aims to guide and help fellow creatives click here.

Let’s talk about… The Struggle for Reviews

And we thought selling our books to people who would actually pay money was hard. If that was the big victory then getting them to leave a review after is a whole different challenge so let’s talk about that struggle.

This post is partly inspired by a message I received over on Twitter from a fellow author struggling to get more reviews for their work. Of course, like all authors who approach me in need I did my best to provide some advice that is both practical and thought based.

I’m going to break down in detail the whole deal of that struggle to get reviews with a little overview, some story telling, some solutions and even tips on how to get more.

Initial Overview

I’ll admit now that there are no real quick fixes, like anything in writing, my advice is subjective but let’s all agree first and foremost that finding reviews is really really difficult. Over the years and through much struggle I’ve concluded that the reason why it is so difficult is because the average reader never thinks to leave a review. Back when I used to read Crichton or King novels way before being published, never once did it cross my mind that they needed my review and they probably didn’t on an individual level.

But now, we stand in a shiny new era of publishing and this new-ish social media self published indie generation have only really just emerged in the past few years (a decade at best), that is of course only a slice of the author pie as I would like to acknowledge anyone else published through traditional or smaller presses. Our struggle is the same, but only recently has it become so apparent because a lot more folks are self publishing and the spotlight from social media makes everything way more heightened.

Readers just not thinking to leave reviews is both logical and hopefully reassuring to you and that’s what this post is designed to be, an objective viewpoint to hopefully reassure and help. So, how do we deal with this struggle for reviews. We’ll get to the logical/practical soon but first comes the story which aims to reassure…

Read the rest here

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads 3

It has been a while since I put out one of these posts and there’s a few books I’ve read in that time. All indie and all recommended. As an author myself I understand the struggle that is finding reviews and the pillar that holds this place together is content driven by indie reads. Let us dive in…

‘King of the Wicked’ by T.R. Hamby

An immersive imaginative take on Angels, humanity and immortality…

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘Spook City, U.S.A.: A Shadybrook Community Patrol Novella’ by Drew Purcell

Fun, unconventional easy-to-read comedy that never takes itself too seriously while delivering a good story with plenty of laughs…

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon

An immersive and suspenseful teen spy thriller with some darker edges, a positive message, originality and depth…

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘Born in Stockport – Grew up in the Royal Navy: Book One’ by Maurice Perkins

An entertaining and gritty series of real life tales told with charm…

4 Stars

Full Review Here

‘ARIA: Book 1 of the Scintillance Theory’ by Gyorgy Henyei Neto

Immersive science fiction with some mystery and time travel elements…

4 Stars

Full Review Here

‘Nevada Noir : A Trilogy of Short Stories’ by David Arrowsmith

A brief but deeply descriptive brush with the dark…

4 Stars

Full Review Here

Thanks for stopping by and remember to leave a review next time you read a book.You can expect another one of these posts very soon!

Book Review: The Teleporter by Lee Hall

Hello everyone, today I would like to share this wonderful recent review of The Teleporter…

From Fan to Pro

The Superhero we need!

Drinking. Hangovers. Fist fights. A clingy ex. A sketchy corporate biggie. An annoying neighbor who just happens to be an investigative reporter (and where are all these reporters when I need one? Huh?) Add a posse of unlikely vigilantes and a soupcon of sudden but inevitable superpowers and you’ve got a heck of a story.

Kurt Wiseman isn’t some stale wide-eyed teen trying to romance the school hottie with his super suit. Or a scientist accidentally becoming a green rage monster. The Teleporter isn’t the sad tale of a down-on-his-luck ex-Army Ranger who is determined to help the little guy. Oh, no. If you’re looking for the same old origin story, turn away now.

Wiseman drinks too much and does as little as possible at work to get by. This guy literally falls into his destiny without a clue. He’s doesn’t have ninja moves or high…

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