‘The Caverns’ by Olen Crowe – Review

In The Caverns an ancient evil lurks…

In the small rural town of Linston an ancient evil lurks and suddenly awakens with a whole bunch of mystery. When The Caverns; a tourist hotspot and only real economic attraction of the place begins to swallow people it soon becomes both a problem and a media circus.

What is the evil? Although deadly it has no real physical manifestation and gets into the heads of everyone in town including a group of friends who just happen to be there for a curious visit to the Linston Caverns on a road trip of sorts. There’s a good mix of cliché fun and conflict here as the town drunk lays down fair warning whilst the money driven people in charge of the attraction push to keep it open no matter how many lives are taken. Locals don’t appreciate anyone from the outside with a prying nature that may damage the towns reputation and combined with the harrowing events a perfect storm ensues. There’s a wide group of characters, some a just bit-part throwaways subjected to the evils of what lies below and others that carry the story.

For those who enjoy mystery horror with a hint of humour and the unexpected, you’ll definitely find it here.

4 Stars

‘The View From Here’ by Leon Stevens – Review

An exploration themed sci-fi novella not of this world…

Leon Stevens combines a unique mix of adventure, exploration and sci-fi in this intriguing novella that see’s a pair of hikers find their way into another world. At the heart of the story is a problem-solving theme that runs alongside adventure.

From figuring out how high a cliff is to deciphering alien language and maps, this world they explore becomes more intriguing as the story unfolds. The premise is original and full of mystery throughout where most chapters finish with a moment where readers will want to keep reading. A seemingly deserted place creates intrigue and even a sense of eerie atmosphere that kept me interested throughout. I would have liked to have seen a little more from both characters in terms of character depth but their chemistry together works well to tell their tale of exploration and fun.

4 Stars

‘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

‘The Tolworth Beacon’ by Huw Langridge – Review

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

There’s a lot going on in the life of ‘Chris Powell’. His marriage is strained and there’s an important royal visitor coming to the shop he manages in just a few days time. After a strange attempted burglary at a neighbour’s place the intrigue unfolds in what is a mystery filled ride where I found myself quickly turning pages.

After he mysteriously receives a radio frequency number, Powell realises he is on the path of deception and tension as he has to decipher what it means while finding out what is really going on. Is someone watching him from afar or is he paranoid? Questions arise as tension builds and eventually a very real threat emerges. For those who are interested in the subject of number stations and even code breaking will enjoy this interesting novel with a range of themes and heaps of atmosphere.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon

‘A Twist in the Rift’ by Meg Radiant – Review

Original page-turning sci-fi with unlimited portals of potential…

A Twist in the Rift is an original and imaginative story about ‘Lyricia’ who has the uncanny ability to see and travel through ‘Rifts’ which are portals to other worlds. She grows up knowing this and it isn’t until adult age that she acts upon it and so the rabbit hole of possibility unfolds. The scope and imagination of author Meg Radiant is executed well with a page-turning style that leaves readers wanting more while there is a plethora of characters, cool concepts, terminology and worlds to be explored here. Above all this book is an adventure.

There were just a few points where there seemed to be more showing as opposed to telling in the writing but for the nature of this page-turning novella it works. For anyone looking to read some original sci-fi with new worlds and concepts, this one has portals of potential.

4 Stars

Excerpt of SPINDRIFTS by A-M Mawhiney

Introducing author A-M Mawhiney who shares an exclusive excerpt of her dystopian sci-fi novel SPINDRIFTS…

Suddenly Fania gasped loudly and yelled, “I know where he is. He’s by the rapids. Poppy, come on. Gram, bring your kit and follow us.” She flew out the door with Kaib following fast behind her.
“What was in that tea you gave her?” Hope asked, watching them go.
Alicia was exhausted and unable to face another bout of Hope’s ire, so she merely shrugged her shoulder and stared at her daughter, gesturing with a sweeping motion of her hands for Hope to follow Kaib and Fania.
Kaib could hardly keep up with Fan she was running so fast. She can really run, he thought as he started to fall behind. He was just able to keep her in sight. When Fania got to the rapids he saw her stop suddenly, and she turned to Kaib and signaled for him to stop and remain quiet. Fania’s gestures showed she was fearful of what she saw. As he crept up, he saw why. Ollie was on the rock shelf overlooking the rapids, his back turned to the water, too near the edge for him to be safe. Kaib was terrified Ollie could back off the ledge into the rapids. Kaib followed Ollie’s frightened gaze to see what held the boy’s attention.
“It’s Mkwaa, a bear, Poppy,” Fania whispered quietly, pointing to a large sow reared up onto her hind legs, the bear and boy both frozen in place, staring at each other.
One minute Fania was beside Kaib, and in a nano-second she was between Ollie and the bear. Kaib had taught Fania to be tall and make lots of noise in a bear encounter, but he gasped in alarm when Fania did the opposite, crouching down several feet in front of the bear.
“Fan,” he started, but she motioned for silence, pointing behind her at Ollie and then to Kaib, telling him to get Ollie while she murmured to the bear softly. At first he could not make out what she was saying, until she switched to Anishinaabemowin and spoke at length, saying she wasn’t going to hurt the bear and she wanted to be friends. She asked the bear to let Ollie go with Kaib. Her calm voice seemed to soothe the animal. At that point Fania was sitting on the ground, and the bear suddenly came down on all fours and sat on her rump several metres away, mimicking Fan. Almost like a tea party, she thought, slightly hysterically before catching her breath to settle herself.
The moment was surreal. Mkwaa looked over at Kaib, grunted, and turned her head to look at Ollie, as if to say “get on with it then. Get the boy cub to a safe place.” Kaib motioned for Ollie to approach him slowly, as he inched toward the boy. Once he was close enough, Kaib grabbed Ollie gently and swung him down off the ledge.
A few moments later, Hope arrived to find Kaib holding Ollie in his arms, and Fania, of all things, sitting and chatting with a bear. Kaib passed Ollie to Hope, and once she’d checked him carefully and found no signs of injury, she sat with Ollie at the side of the trail. She gave him water and some warm soup while she glanced back at Fania over her shoulder, her heart in her throat, terrified to clear the tic lodged there in case it distracted Fania. Or the bear. She was paralyzed with fear that the animal would charge Fania. She could see Kaib was readying himself to intervene and that added to her worry, but she turned back to focus on the patient in front of her, steadying her hands so the soup didn’t spill, cooing softly at Ollie who had started to shiver. She knew she had to get Ollie to a warm place. It was time for him to be with his parents.
“We’ll go home now, Ollie. Can you walk with me?”
“Oh,” he wailed, bursting into tears. “I’m in so much trouble. My parents will be terribly mad at me.”
“Oh no, they will be happy to see you safe, you’re not to worry about them being angry. They’ve been beside themselves ever since they realized you were gone,” Hope reassured him quietly, as she put her supplies back into her kit. Standing up and taking hold of Ollie’s hand, she indicated with hand motions to Kaib she was leaving. With great reluctance, she glanced back at her partner and granddaughter one last time before taking the first difficult steps away from where they remained in danger.
Kaib whispered, trying to get Fania’s attention. “Ollie’s safe now. It’s time for you to step back and move slowly closer to me.” The bear looked over at Kaib as he spoke, grunted, and turned back to Fania.
“Oh no, Poppy. I can’t move yet. Mkwaa has some kind of problem we’re trying to figure out. I’m not sure what she is trying to tell me, but she’s upset about something.” The bear suddenly reared up, and Kaib started forward to grab Fania, terrified the bear was starting to attack, but she slowly turned and waddled off into the bush.
“Come along, Fan, it’s safe now, let’s go,” Kaib urged.
“I can’t leave yet.” After a few moments of silence, punctuated by Kaib’s panicked gasps, the bear returned, carrying a young cub in her mouth. She put her cub down near Fania, but far away enough that Kaib could see Fania was safe—at least for the moment. The bear huffed at Kaib as if she could understand what he was thinking, and backed up to give Fania room to approach her cub.
Kaib noticed the cub had fishing line wrapped around its snout.
“There’s a fishhook in its mouth, Poppy,” Fania said quietly, as she gently picked up the cub and put in on her lap while the poor creature moaned in pain. He couldn’t open his mouth because of the fishing line. Fania gently pulled the hook out while she crooned to the cub. Once the line was untied, Fania put the cub back on the ground, stood slowly, and stepped back a few paces. The cub rushed back to his mother who stood and regarded Fania intently for a few moments, crashed to the ground on all fours, and herded her cub back into the bush, stopping once to look back at Fania before disappearing from view.
Kaib quickly climbed up onto the ledge and urged Fania to sit with him, overlooking the rapids. The water level was low with the rocks showing though in places. As Kaib looked far below, at the churning water, he felt so relieved that Ollie hadn’t fallen. He’d never have survived such a plunge.
Kaib put his arm around Fania, who had started to shake. She leaned in for his warmth and comfort. “This is so strange. I felt calm and safe the whole time I was with the bear and her cub, but now I feel scared with what could have happened.”
“You were very good in such a difficult situation. It is natural to have a reaction right after such an intense experience. I’d worry if you didn’t.” He held her for several minutes, until she breathed deeply and stood up.
“Let’s go home, Poppy. All of a sudden I feel exhausted.”

This is an excluisve excerpt from A-M Mawhiney’s debut book, Spindrifts, published through Friesen Press, November 2021 which you can find here.

Indie Book Rec’s : Space Sci-Fi

In celebration of #indieApril over on Twitter and because there are some wonderful indie books out there, I’ve put together a series of posts recommending some awesome works I have read over the years.

This post is dedicated to one of my favourite genres, Space Sci-fi and here are some books I highly recommend!

‘Escaping First Contact’ by T.S. Beier

Original and imaginative space sci-fi full of depth and immersion…’

Full Review

Dust & Lightning’ by Rebecca Crunden

Page-turning sci-fi action with a revolutionary theme…

Full Review

‘Moon-Sitting’ by E.M. Harding

An original and well-paced character driven sci-fi with a difference…

Full Review

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‘Lords of Mars’ by Colin Yeoman

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

Full Review

‘Demonspawn’ by Christina Engela

In space, not all things were certain… not even death’

Full Review

Black Sunrise’ by Christina Engela 

A fun and enjoyable quirky multi-character story that carries an important message…

Full Review

Quantum Series #1 - Black Sunrise 2019 - front

Sex, Violence, Mars’ by Walrus

A short but fun sci-fi story with great world building, action and some laughs…

Full Review

Kau D’varza: A story in the ChaosNova Universe’ by David Noë

Engaging and immersive high end sci-fi that follows multiple characters along with their antics of journeying through space

Full Review

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Thanks for stopping by and be sure to use #indieApril over on Twitter to show your support for indie authors and their awesome works!

‘Escaping First Contact’ by T.S. Beier – Review

Original and imaginative space sci-fi full of depth and immersion

Set in a detailed future of cultivated space filled with different species and cultures, T.S. Beier has built a world of depth and originality. These species, some alien and some more familiar to us collide as a diverse group find themselves trapped on a ship, it soon becomes apparent, that even though they might have differences, they will need to work together to survive and escape.

It is within those differences where the story contains power along with plenty of messages about understanding and cohesion while also being fun. Readers will get a lot of information throughout as the point of view changes which establishes a universe with plenty of depth. From the usage of new inventive language to describe certain species to the dialogue interactions – there’s a strange but fun sexual curiosity undertone between some providing a good balance of humour as these characters try to understand each other and navigate their way through a death trap environment and a ship they aptly name ‘Misery’. The whole chemistry between everyone is the real strength in this story.

“Get your weird xenophilia fantasies out of here, Rip!”

And this ship ‘Misery’ is an organic kind of Rubik’s cube full of mystery where threat and challenge lurks around every corner. Our heroes are placed in various scenarios as their journey progresses and just who is behind everything? You’ll have to read it to find out.

They’re playing with us. The only reason you’re all alive is that they want you to be…”

Anyone who enjoys space sci-fi with plenty of detail and originality along with a message about different cultures working together will certainly enjoy this one!

5 Stars – original and imaginative! Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

The Best Books I Have Read in 2021

As the year draws to a close I have saved the best until last. Although I appreciate every author and their wonderful works that got me through 2021 this post is dedicated to the books that stood out to me.

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen

Having read this memoir all the way back in February it has remained with me since for being a brave, candid and incredibly well written account by Danielle Larsen. Mental health and escaping abuse are the central themes while also being subjects that might not be talked about as much as they should – this book isn’t afraid to go there with the path it carves in order to get that point across. Its ultimately inspiring and gives hope even to those who seemingly have so much stacked against them.

Quote from my review:no matter how many chips are down you can always come back, there’s always hope and survival is probably the greatest gift we have.

‘Nocturnal Salvation’ by Villimey Mist 

Part 3 of the ‘Nocturnal’ vampire series is both the concluding pay off and a display of how far Villimey Mist has come as an author. Her craft unfolds throughout the series and much like the story peaks in this one. If you are looking for a modern and sometimes gory take on vampires, then this book and wider series is for you.

Quote from my review: ‘There are dramatic turns and even shocking moments that’ll keep those pages turning before a resolve that is both satisfying and even a little emotional.’

‘Josef The Writer’s Cat’ by Ellen Khodakivska

This story comes from a unique perspective and that being a writer’s cat. Its a brilliantly executed tale of one cat’s journey and how he see’s the world while also being a reminder of how important animals and pets are in the family. Ellen Khodakivska delivers a book that will appeal to many different ages and especially those who write.

Quote from my review: ‘We do sometimes take things for granted in life and this story reminds us that pets are such an instrumental part of it while they also have a life too.’

‘Life of Maggot’ by Paul Jameson

Paul Jameson delivers another masterful vision of literature through a unique style that favours deep description and classic style language. This book is very much laid out like lyrics from a song in what is a story about the end of time and told through the eyes of ‘Maggot’ as chaos unfolds. This is escapism in its finest possible form.

Quote from my review: ‘No matter what bad is happening there is always hope and ultimately there is some light to be found somewhere.’

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

Charming, funny and full of variety, Maurice Perkins or Moz as he is known tells a wonderful life story of childhood antics and then joining the navy. In between there are some great moments that bring a lot of enjoyment to an awesome candid memoir.

Quote from my review: ‘From a youth spent being a ‘scallywag’ getting into all kinds of trouble to finding success in the Royal Navy – his journey is both inspiring and full of lessons that are valuable for anyone…’

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon

Dan McKeon delivers an awesome tale of one teen assassin that has always followed orders and fulfilled her mission no matter what name she is given and then events make her think about the morality of everything she stands for. What follows is a coming of age morality check journey that is both enjoyable and easy to read.

Quote from my review: ‘You can give a person all the assassin training in the world and try to engineer out all human elements but they are still human.’

‘Sleeping Beauty and The Cursed Code’ by Emma Jean

Emma Jean has combined two concepts that I have a lot of time and passion for, that being STEM and Fairy Tales. All Fairy Tales have a deeper important message and this one carries that while also encouraging younger readers to take an interest in STEM subjects. Sleeping Beauty is brought into the 21st century and this adaptation excellent.

Quote from my review: ‘With some fun moments along the way and plenty of awesome tech, magic, original concepts and a good old fashioned good versus evil story this one is guaranteed to bring enjoyment to younger and older readers.’

‘Everything, Except You’ by Emma Jordan

It can be hard to find a really good slow burning romance and while that’s just my taste in love stories Emma Jordan hits all the right notes in this one. With a little drama and plenty of feel-good vibes along with a little cosiness, I really enjoyed this tale.

Quote from my review: ‘A well-executed story about two people and their lives that are made better for finding each other and the way in which they discover a love for each other…’

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford

With dark tones and missing person vibes, N.S. Ford tells a tale that takes readers down the rabbit hole of the unexpected as three friends try to decipher a mystery that consumes their lives. The journey is eventful and culminates after a multi-layered puzzle for a plot that pulled me in all the way to an unpredictable perhaps even haunting ending.

Quote from my review: ‘The darker moments carry impact and overall there is some real power in this story that continually goes to unexpected places and even strange places.’

‘Deceit of the Earth – Heavy Metal’ by Henry Cox

Having enjoyed the first ‘Deceit’ book by Henry Cox I was intrigued to see where he would go next and with this story I was immersed into the world of rare earth metals and how they dictate the future of our technology while also being a bargaining chip in military politics. This thoughtful story takes readers back in time and fuses fact to fiction flawlessly. If you like Crichton or Dan Brown then you’ll enjoy this one.

Quote from my review: ‘From military aircraft to world geography, the delivery of his knowledge and imagination merging makes everything believable and the final verdict may even be out of this world.’  

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz

Kelsey Kupitz tells a page-turning easy-to-read story about a past trauma that finds itself returning for ‘Astrid’ who has struggled with it for most of her adult life. Now she must face that past and what follows are chilling mysterious tones with a little dose of the unexpected.

Quote from my review: ‘Atmosphere, originality and intrigue take the reader to the depths of the unexpected with some great twists at the end because ‘everyone has a secret’.’

Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden

Futuristic world building combined with societal concepts that echo our own reality are two things that are right up my alley and so when I saw Rebecca Crunden had made this free to download I jumped at the opportunity. You may know Rebecca and the awesome support she shows authors via her Indie Book Spotlight account on Twitter and I really enjoyed this thrilling spy type story that takes readers across worlds.

Quote from my review: ‘There are plenty of messages and themes throughout with many pointing towards revolution and the nature of humanity.’

Every Book I have read in 2021 Pt2

And we’re back for the second part of every book I have read in 2021 and this time I have 22 books to share and recommend! What a ride this year has been and made all the better for the wonderful reads you shall find below…

‘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…

4 Stars Full Review

‘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

‘Fear Farm No Trespassers’ by S.J. Krandall

‘Immersive page-turning horror stories full of thrills and chills…’

5 Stars Full Review

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

A brief but deeply descriptive brush with the dark…

4 Stars Full Review

‘A Few of My Favourite Things’ by A.J. Ross-Etheridge

Fun, honest, thought-provoking poetry guaranteed to put a smile on your face…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Sleeping Beauty and The Cursed Code’ by Emma Jean

Fairy tale and STEM combine for a fun story with an important message…

5 Stars Full Review

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

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

4 Stars Full Review

‘Home’ by Thomas Overlook 

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

4 Stars Full Review

‘The Genius’ Guide to Bad Writing’ by R.T. Slaywood and R.C. Martinez

A refreshing outlook on writing and publishing that’ll make you smile…

5,000 Stars Full Review

‘Everything, Except You’ by Emma Jordan

A feel-good cosy romance story about two passionate souls

5 Stars Full Review

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford 

Cleverly plotted British mystery thriller with darker psychological tones and twists…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Deceit of the Earth – Heavy Metal’ by Henry Cox

A thrilling jet-setting tale of deception stretching further than anyone can imagine…

5 Stars Full Review

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz

‘An easy-to-read mystery full of intrigue, atmosphere and chills…’

5 Stars Full Review

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

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

3 Stars Full Review

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

A comprehensive and valuable guide for any author looking to make a career out of their writing…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Beginner’s Luck’ by M.J. Furtek

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

4 Stars Full Review

‘Fear and Fury’ by Jamie Jackson 

An unconventional and enjoyable superhero tale told with buckets of unique personality…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Dust & Lightning’ by Rebecca Crunden

Page-turning sci-fi action with a revolutionary theme…

5 Stars Full Review

‘The Bad Part of Time’ By Joshua Ingle

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

5 Stars Full Review

Star Child by D.K. Johnson – Review

The truth is out there among the stars and so is the journey to thought-provoking enlightenment

4 Stars Full Review

‘Body In The Waves’ by Kristina Gallo

Heavy themes and issues make for a dark but thrilling tale…

4 Stars Full Review

‘No Rest For The Wicked : Detective Stories’ by Megan Hinde

A collection of intriguing short noir crime stories

4 Stars Full Review

And so that wraps up an incredible year of indie and self published books. Thanks for reading and thank you to these awesome authors for their wonderful words! You can expect another post very soon highlighting my favorite books of 2021. Stay tuned!