‘SKINNER: Thirty-five years. Four killers. One city’ by Nathan Jones – Review

Immersive near future sci-fi meets the macabre…

Dayne Mitchell has a fascination for the macabre and the wider subject of serial killers who have plagued the British city of Bristol for many years. As a sufferer of bipolar he almost looks to the dark subject of killing as a coping mechanism to get through life in a near future world that is intriguing and imaginative – these two words are what I would use to describe a story that takes readers to dark and sometimes graphic violent places.

There are a wealth of modern subjects and heavy themes in this book that are executed very well by Nathan Jones who merges near future science fiction to thrilling murder mystery with a lot of depth. The vessel being Dayne who endures a journey of discovery, twists and then horrifying revelations as his research into Bristol’s murderous past eventually comes to him. Fans of darker crime drama will certainly appreciate this one along with those looking to learn about the geography and history of a great city.

5 Stars

‘Powerless’ by Vicky Ball – Review

A well-written twisting thriller with darker themes…

Vicky Ball delivers a twisting tale that carries a plethora of darker themes while being executed in a page-turning style that hops back and forth in time with dual P.OV’s. Ball does everything to tell this story and succeeds. As readers we are shown just enough to suggest what is happening beneath the surface of a story that tackles the themes of naivety, coercion, trauma, addiction and of course danger that is a lot closer than first realised.

When ‘Beth’ returns home after several years after disappearing it brings up all kinds of questions and contention that places her younger sister ‘Abby’ on a twisting path of realisation. There is a lot to unpack and it happens gradually while the twists appear unexpectedly. Perhaps this a cautionary tale for those who are younger to not be so trusting to those who clearly want something – a powerful message aimed at readers of a certain younger age who will get something from this book. What we are shown is just enough without glorifying or even exploiting the many issues the reader and characters face. The concept of ‘Businessmen’ simply casts a long enough shadow to suggest what is really happening and the message being about trust.

With a story that goes full circle, Powerless is a thrilling and twisting tale that will take readers on a dramatic and sometimes unexpected ride.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

Overview: SHAKEN NO MORE by Jacqui Morrison

To thrive in the present, one must overcome the past.

Tragedy is nothing new to playwright and performer, Meredith Golden. She’s endured the violence of an alcoholic husband, the tragic death of her parents, and abuse from her uncle. To say she is a fighter is an understatement. She is a survivor. But tragedy leaves scars. When Meredith meets Paul, it seems that the past is finally behind her, but when her ex-husband begins stalking her and making new threats, old wounds are torn open. She realizes that peace comes with a high price and ’til death do us part may be a curse that can’t be undone. As her world spirals out of control, Meredith vows to be Shaken No More.

REVIEW:

Her Best Book So Far
I received an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of the book in exchange for an honest review. Shaken No More by Jacqui Morrison is a romantic suspense novel and it’s women’s fiction set in New York City in the 2010s, with flashbacks to the 80s and 90s. This is Morrison’s fifth novel, following Kaitlin Wolfe Crown Attorney, The Vigilante, Escape The Castle, and Terri’s Journey – The Colour of Rain. Shaken No More may be her best book so far.
This is the story of Meredith Golden, a performer and playwright, who has to overcome staggering real-life challenges. The novel title cleverly alludes to James Bond’s catch-phrase “shaken, not stirred” and there are more cocktails in this story than a 007 movie. There’s drugs, detectives, doctors, divorce, and violence, in this story. There’s also therapy, meditation, qigong, and healing. Will Meredith thrive? Can she survive? That’s the mystery.
The romance is with Paul, after Greg reveals he has problems. Some of the story is told from Meredith’s point of view and some of it is told from Paul’s, but most of it is a third person narrative that will keep you reading and cheering for Morrison’s main character until the final page.
This novel has 76 chapters in 267 pages and that format gives the narrative lots of momentum. Morrison describes everything so the reader can see it as clearly as in a movie. The novel would make a good movie about the scars left by tragedies and how one woman battles back, in the big city, and move on to the next stage and the next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jacqui Morrison has a B.A.A. from Ryerson University in Toronto, and two graduate certificates. One from Humber College School for Writers, Toronto, in 2017. And a certificate in Adult Education from Seneca College, also in Toronto. She has been writing professionally since 2000.

Jacqui won the 2009 IPPY for best regional fiction for Central and Eastern Canada for her first novel Kaitlyn Wolfe, Crown Attorney. In 2013, her second novel The Vigilante came out. Escape the Castle was released in 2018. She has also been published in four anthologies, including the Best of the Muskoka Novel Marathon 2000 – 2010. SHAKEN NO MORE is her first romantic suspense novel.

Indie Book Rec’s : Thrillers

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 the Thriller genre so here are some books I highly recommend:

‘The Silent Betrayal’ by Momus Najmi 

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

Full Review

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‘The Player Without Luck’ by Kristina Gallo

A thrilling page turning story that will keep you immersed from the start….’ 

Full Review

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‘Fee Simple Conditional (Arcadia Chronicles Book 1)’ by H.C. Helfand 

A gem of a read about life, love and land…’ 

Full Review

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford 

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

Full Review

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon

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

Full Review

‘Awake’ by Andrew Palmer

An original techno-psychological thriller that captures the essence and surrealism of dreams with a sinister edge…

Full Review

‘Scarred’ by Damien Linnane

A brutal tale of justice blinded by revenge…

Full Review

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‘The Good Kill: A Killian Lebon Novel’ by Kurt Brindley

An enthralling, gripping tale of epic proportions taking the reader on a ride full of twists, turns and action…

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!

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.’

‘Body In The Waves’ by Kristina Gallo – Review

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

Natalija has a dark and secretive past that comes back to haunt her in a twisted and somewhat unexpected way. Being a victim of a graphic attack some years previous her trauma is resurrected as the one who inflicted it upon her returns and he is back for more.

“Ask him what he did ten years ago on the beach, how he spent his vacation…”

A game of cat and mouse along with discovery ensues as old wounds are opened with a story that has no limits. It’s brutal and violent in places – not for someone who would possibly be triggered by such but still I found myself gripped and turning pages. Kristina Gallo has succeeded in telling an original, dark and sometimes triggering tale that will take readers down the rabbit hole of the unexpected. These are themes that are uncomfortable and in your face but the execution here is what makes the story vivid, dramatic and page-turning.

Will there be justice for those who have committed such violent and brutal acts? You’ll have to read it and decide for yourself.

4 Stars

Star Child by D.K. Johnson – Review

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

D.K. Johnson has combined all the interesting and cool elements of space and ufology to deliver an original and satisfying tale that’ll make you believe. ‘Daniel James’ embarks on a journey from debunking the existence of extra-terrestrial life to belief as he witnesses an event that sets him on the path towards truth and revelations.

Being an astronomer and a man of rational science ‘Daniel’ has always viewed space and the wider cosmos with an objective logic, that is until one fateful night he finds himself in Joshua Tree National Park, injured and alone. Eventually he stumbles upon the company of two friendly strangers on a UFO pilgrimage.

“As he resigned himself to spending the night with his new companions, Daniel reluctantly settled in, rationalizing he might as well be the voice of reason for these strange men and their weird beliefs…”

After that night and following a mind blowing life-changing event, Daniel isn’t the same. His mind seems altered, his spirit is seemingly awakened and aware of what could actually be all around but just on a different plain or frequency. A weird kind of snapping sound seems to catch his attention every so often and his senses are seemingly improved. Something is trying to reach him and all of this eventually becomes a kind of enlightenment as Daniel sees things for what they really are.

Of course with these revelations comes the thought-provoking and ultimately revealing element of the government being involved and as they appear on the radar, the rabbit hole of the situation becomes apparent. Are we really alone? Are their forces in the shadows of government operating alongside these alien forces. Just what is the history with all of this? The answers and eventual twists make for some original and entertaining reading along with a well executed narration style full of rich description.

For anyone who is lightly interested in space or ufology will enjoy this one, I certainly did!

4 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

Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden – Review

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

Rebecca Crunden introduces readers to a futuristic world not too dissimilar to our own time where there’s pollution, a rich to poor divide and a government that stokes the fire of such only now its on a grander scale. Straight away we find this out as the scene is set in this rich setting and the stakes are introduced via ‘Ames’ who is on a rescue mission of sorts. A mission and journey that will take him across planets while being chased all for the purpose of finding his missing brother.

On his tail are the various agents of the Democratic Plantery Alliance which are anything but their namesake and even though our main character is seemingly wanted he still does his best to do the right thing. He meets ‘Violet’ and intervenes in her situation which in turn forges a bond and an unlikely ally in a situation full of uncertainty. They band together and eventually arrive on the distant planet of ‘Kilnin’ in search of answers.

Pages turn quickly in this action and drama packed chase/find story without chapter breaks hence I read it in just a couple of sittings. The world-building is on point and the wider universe is something with a lot of potential especially as the ending brings promise of that. There are plenty of messages and themes throughout with many pointing towards revolution and the nature of humanity.

“Eventually even those who avoided the world were drawn into its madness…”

5 Stars

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads 5

It feels like a while since I did one of these and the indie book review train just keeps on rolling all the way to 43 reviews for this year. From jet-setting thrillers to romance all the way to mystery thrillers full of twists, here’s what I have been reading and reviewing recently.

‘Everything, Except You’ by Emma Jordan

A feel-good cosy romance story about two passionate souls…

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford

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

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘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 Here

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz 

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

5 Stars

Full Review Here

‘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 Here

‘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 Here