The Best Books I have read this year – 2020

It’s hard to believe that we’ve got to this point but we have. For all the words you could use to describe the dumpster fire that is and was 2020 I am going to use the word grateful.

Grateful for the authors who have provided me with not only an escape through their wonderful works but grateful to them for providing a vital centre pillar of content for this blog – reviews. Some of these creators have become friends and important connections in the world of online authoring for me. This post is dedicated them and the best books I have read this year.

While the criteria of ‘best books’ is derived mainly from my own personal taste it is also influenced by how many views the review got on here along with my admiration for the author. These works are an extension of some wonderful personalities who make up an incredible community. So let’s dive in…

‘Nocturnal Farm’ by Villimey Mist

A flawless and fresh vampire tale full of mystery and unexpected twists…Quote from my review

For all that the vampire genre has been through over the years let’s just say it’s incredibly difficult to find originality – I should know I’ve written a couple of vamp tales myself… but the ‘Nocturnal’ series stands out to me and Villimey Mist does an awesome job at continuing a gripping story with a refreshing take on vampires. I reckon soon enough there will be a third book out so now is the perfect time to jump on the ‘Nocturnal’ rollercoaster of gore…

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

A unique mind opening insight into breaking the shells that govern our existence…Quote from my review

Here at the Hall of Information we review all types of books and this mind opening breezy self help book is the most read review of 2020 and it’s also a book the resonated with me. It focuses on breaking down the barriers in our mind like ego and ambition to give a better outlook on life. It’s worth a read trust me!

‘Nightjar’ by Paul Jameson

Pure immersive and original literature that reads much like a classic… – Quote from my review

‘Nightjar’ caught me completely off guard and before I knew it I was whisked away into the ‘Feudal Future’ through classic and uniquely stylistic description and writing. The style and story is so unique I felt compelled to reach out to author Paul Jameson some time after for a Hall of Information interview and we delved deeper into the mind and creativity of a truly awesome story teller. This book is very much a contender for my favourite of the year.

‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza

A brave expression of feeling through poetry that is both thought provoking and inspiring… – Quote from my review

Those in the WordPress Bloggersphere will know the author/poet of this collection as the awesome Stoner on a Rollercoaster and this book really stood out to me. To be able to share verses of the subjects seen within the pages of this collection is incredibly brave, creative and generous.

‘Scarred by Damien Linnane

A brutal tale of justice blinded by revenge… Quote from my review

Australian author Damien Linnane reached out for a review of his awesome revenge thriller and since then I have found out he wrote this tale while in prison – this makes for an interesting and unique personal story. We’ve spoken regularly via email about publishing and book marketing and these days you can catch him on various podcasts relaying his unique journey.

‘The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley’ by Nina Romano

A ballad of love, life and destiny in the West – Quote from my review

I’ll happily admit that I still haven’t read another romance since this one back in April but for good reason because ‘The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley’ was incredible. The epic love story between two souls is something I was really immersed in and it also made for a wonderful lockdown distraction. The Western genre is something I hold close to my heart and this one I highly recommend! Nina Romano combines well researched history with some gripping story telling.

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

A thought provokingly original novella that will leave you wanting more… Quote from my review

Combining real science with imaginative fiction all wrapped up into a novella length story is not an easy feat and Colin Yeoman succeeds with this thought provoking read that is seemingly just the beginning. The question is did man originate on Mars? And how exactly did we find ourselves on Earth? Of course this story just browses that subject which is well worth pursuing – those who like high end space sci fi especially. You can also read my review of the sequel here.

‘American Blasphemer’ by By John Gillen

A masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life… -Quote from my review

Talk about raw, emotional and candid but there are many more words I would use to describe this journey of honesty. This literary novel doesn’t hold back in what could even be the anti-bible. American Blasphemer served as my first Reedsy Discovery Review and ushered in a new era of access to higher profile authors and books. The fact Reedsy approached me is credit to the authors who provided me with books to review so I could get noticed.

‘How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal’ By S.D. McKinley

An entirely unique and original page-turning journey of variety on the open road…  – Quote from my review

This book wins the award for the most unique and ‘out there’ read of 2020 but in a fun and interesting way. S.D.McKinley has fused the buddy road trip story with elements of the paranormal and a hint of high octane. You can expect a boat load of different things all flawlessly put together in a well told story, that’s why it got 5 stars from me.

‘Moon-Sitting’ by E.M. Harding

An original and well-paced character driven sci-fi with a difference… -Quote from my review

‘Moon-Sitting’ is a cleverly written story that starts in one place and opens into a world of something much more. It stands as a book that caught me entirely off guard through the twists and revelations that become apparent. It’s books like this that give science fiction and novellas a collective positive voice. Even after six months and many books later I haven’t read anything like this one since – the world building is something that stood out especially in this one.

‘Mark of a Demon’ by Despoina Kemeridou

A modern feel-good fable of forbidden love and a hint of darkness… – Quote from my review

Despoina Kemeridou’s writing has a unique fairy tale style vibe and it is very much present in her second novel but this time there’s a more of an adult feel. Demonic forces and bargaining are at the forefront of a breezy immersive read. Despoina was also kind enough to be the first ever Hall of Information Interviewee and for that we were ever so thankful. We are looking forward to seeing what’s next from this awesome author.

‘The Player Without Luck’ by Kristina Gallo

A thrilling page turning story that will keep you immersed from the start… – Quote from my review

The works of Kristina Gallo are always guaranteed to be entertaining and considering English isn’t her first language it’s incredible how much she has achieved in publishing. As a supporter of fellow authors you’ll find her across the many social media platforms reviewing books and being a positive part of the writing community. ‘The Player Without Luck’ stood out for me with the multiple themes such as mystery, crime and deception. Here’s a recent Hall of Information interview Kristina took part in.

‘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… – Quote from my review

The ‘Silent Betrayal’ is a thrilling journey that Momus Najmi tells with an eloquent writing style. The story sees the son of a multi millionaire businessman lift the lid on a sketchy past and fortune he is set to inherit. My review stands as one of the most viewed posts of the year on here which is impressive but justified because this one is a great read and somewhat of a gem that deserves way more recognition!

‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott

One giant leap into the future of humankind via the cosmos through the vessel of science that makes for a fascinating read! – quote from my review

You should know by now that here at the Hall of Information we love a good space sci fi and ‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott is a pure visionary look into the future of humankind through some wonderful real science merged with fiction. This is one you shouldn’t miss and was another wonderful Reedsy Discovery find!

‘Deceit of the Soul: Saving the World from COVID-19: Before the Pandemic’ By Henry Cox

A thrilling and interesting page turner that looks to seek out the truth… – Quote from my review

When any major world event happens there’s always someone looking to capture the imagination and after Henry Cox reached out for a review of this book I realised that’s exactly what he did. We have all been affected by the whole covid thing and ‘Deceit of the Soul’ goes into the origins of something still very relevant now. This one is definitely worth a look.

‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’ by Marc Cavella

An entertaining gem of a read celebrating the glory days of pro wrestling with a modern voice… – Quote from my review

Some of you may know that for years I have been a fan of American pro wrestling and so after Marc Cavella reached out for a review for his short but punchy book I felt very much obliged. It captures the very essence of the ‘business’ in what is an entertaining read. Set in the much adored territorial glory days of wrestling Marc does a great job in bringing history to life with sight and sounds of a bygone era. You can read a recent Hall of Information Interview with the Marc here.

‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ by Nina Munteanu

A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart – Quote from my review

I’m being 100% serious when I say ‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. For what it stands for is truly a statement towards our own damning of this beautiful planet and our most precious resource – water. Canadian Author Nina Munteanu has put together a masterful look at where we could possibly end up if we don’t act. This one was another Reedsy Discovery find and thus totally justified my joining of the platform well and truly!

‘Blachart’ by Christina Engela

Enjoyable action-packed original space sci-fi... – Quote from my review

South African Author Christina Engela was the very first person to reach out to this site for a book review and served as an important turning point for this blog. Since then her work has probably been one of the most featured here and for good reason – she writes great books! Even though it has been a while I eventually got to the next book in the space sci fi Galaxii Series ‘Blachart’ and was not disappointed by this futuristic action packed tale of space pirates. Highly recommended!

‘Biosphere: Hazard’ by B.W. Cole

Breezy, thrilling and gripping science fiction set in a visionary world… – Quote from my review

Keeping with the space sci-fi theme ‘Biosphere: Hazard’ was a book I discovered after Distant Shore Publishing reached out for a review. It turns out they publish some awesome stuff in the form of short stories and this novella which draws influence from the likes of Alien and Bladerunner. If you like atmospheric reads then this one is for you, and me!

And so that wraps up the best books I have read this year (2020). All mentioned will feature on my Indie Book reviews page for the next 12 months!

Thank you for reading and a shout out to every author who has provided me with a book this year. Even those not mentioned, you’ve shaped this blog to bigger and better heights which is all propped up by reviewing and embracing books!

See you in the next one!

Hall of Information Interviews: Kristina Gallo

Exploring unique voices in writing can extend across different languages from many places all over the world. For this Hall of Information Interview we speak with an author and blogger who faced the challenge of learning English and succeeded. Her ambition to express feeling through writing has made for some great stories and it’s even been an opportunity to help others. Kristina Gallo has taken the time to share her story so join us as we dive in to the words…

Q1. Let’s start with talking about Language. English is not your native language but that hasn’t stopped you from writing some great books which is impressive. Please tell us your story and how you learned English? Where did your writing journey begin?

“I have been learning English in elementary school and in high school. English is the main foreign language in Croatian schools. We have basic education 12 years and after this we choose the university. I learned English in my University too. But, the real challenge happened when I started to write a blog in English language. I wanted to express my feelings in the internet, to my foreign friends to understand me. I started blog Rebellious rules by Kristina Gallo, that is still active. Four years later, I decide to collect this blog articles in self-help book, because I had reactions of people, they motivated me to write a book. In the year 2018 I hired an American editor. I wanted to write and publish in Amazon, and I start collaboration with editor. So, now I have nine books and book number 10 is on the way.”

9 Books with 10 on the way, that’s impressive!

Q2. All of your fictional books carry many different messages and lessons. Are these inspired by real experiences and people? Can you share more about your books?

“Yes, inspiration is based on real events and people. I passed through bullying and some traumas. My country was in the war during 90’s. Also I had some painful relationships. Some books are based on real events but names are changed and circumstances are modified.”

Some of the best books out there contain some element of truth that’s modified slightly.

Q3. You’ve also written some self-help books, what subjects are they about?

“One book is about breakups, these are problems that many women are dealing with. How to forget an ex boyfriend and find a new one, how to get out from the toxic relationships. Another book is how to survive in the society if you are rebellious person. Also I wrote a book about dangers in the virtual world. The last book had advice about seducing in a satirical way. I wanted to make a parody to magazines like Cosmopolitan, because they share advice about good looking and nice clothes, like this is enough to find a boyfriend. I focused on inside qualities and how to use logic instead of makeup.”

They sound both fun and insightful. Of course many magazines these days set unrealistic expectations.

Q4. What writing project(s) are you currently working on?

“I am working on mystery suspense thriller. It should be released in December.”

Sounds good, you can expect a review sometime after the release!

Q5. Your highly active across many social media platforms and support many different authors.

How important is the writing community to you?

“The writing community is very important to me. I could not get readers without my friends, I get a lot of useful information and reviews. I am grateful for their support.”

Q6. Do you have any interests outside of writing?

“I am working my job in the office , I love movies and football. I am big fan of nature and swimming.”

Q7. Tea, coffee, beer or wine?

Coffee and beer.”

Excellent choices!

Q8. Can you name three films or television shows that have inspired you?

“Basic instinct”

“Parasite”

“John Wick (all parts)”

Great films, Basic Instinct is a classic and everyone loves some Keanu!

Q9. Back to books. Do you have a short list of must-read books that you would recommend?

“Yes I have.”

Jitters – Ken Stark

The Novice Ghost hunter – Martin J. Best

Broken – Donna Siggers

The ghost beside me – Lee Hall

Best kept secret – Elsa Joseph

The Drain – Victor Villestone”

These are some truly excellent choices and recommendations, of course thank you for mentioning mine…

Q10. And finally, a question I like to ask at the end of every interview.

If there was any advice you could give to someone with dreams of becoming a writer, what would you say?

I would recommend every person who wish to become a writer to use their free time for reading books at first. Then, such person should connect to other writers and learn from them. After that, every future writer should hire an editor.

I would also recommend everyone to tie their ego and accept critics. I made progress in my writing because of my reviews that motivated me what to fix and what to avoid.

Great advice and coming from an author with a unique voice we would like to thank you Kristina Gallo for sharing an insight into your world of words.

You can find Kristina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Her blog can be found here and of course her many books are available now via Amazon.

Check out a recent review of ‘The Player Without Luck’ which can be found here.

Yet again readers old and new, I would like to thank you for joining me in this exploration of discovery that is Hall of Information Interviews. See you in the next one!

Hall of Information Interviews: Blair Leftly – Feed the Crime

The venture of discovering unique voices extends into the important world of book blogging for this Hall of Information Interview. Blair Leftly from Feed the Crime is a prolific blogger who has contributed so much to the writing community through her passion for reading and reviewing. Her efforts have guided many readers and helped many authors including myself. It’s incredibly important that bloggers who work so hard get the coverage they deserve. 

Feed the crime

Feed the crime

Feed the Crime Instagram

Q1. Let us jump right in and talk about reading. You dedicate an impressive amount of time to books. Have you always been an avid reader? And how many books do you read on average a month?

“For as long as I can remember I’ve always read, in school we used to have silent reading time which now looking back I seemed to be the only one who looked forward to it. My reading has taken a nose dive these last few months, I used to read at least 10 books a month where as I’m struggling to even read 1 book a week at the minute. I think I put too much pressure on myself to read a large amount each month and it’s taken it’s toll. I need to remember that it doesn’t matter how much I read each month just as long as I’m enjoying what I do read.”

1 book a week is still an incredible feat!

Q2. Of course you review these reads via your Feed the Crime blog. Please tell us more about your blogging efforts?

“I’m not afraid to admit that sometimes I find it hard to pull inspiration for enough blog posts to post each week so that is why I do take part in book memes such as Top 5 Saturday and Down The TBR Hole, they are the posts I love reading each week so it makes sense for me to take part in them. I’ve not been blogging as much the last few weeks, there’s so much going on in the world right now, I work my ass off in the lab and I’m moving house on the 25th. I love my blog and I never want it to feel like a chore, so if I don’t have enough time for everything right now then I’m ok with that, after all we’re only human.”

Top 5 saturday

Q3. In recent times, you’ve branched out to read other genres as opposed to crime fiction. What other genres do you enjoy?

“Until last year I had only ever read crime fiction hence the name, however the blogging world showed me all these amazing books that have never even been on my radar before and it was so exciting! I found out that I love fantasy, sci-fi and I’d never read a vampire novel until your book Darke Blood which completely took me by surprise. My two favourite books of the year so far are actually fantasy which I never would have expected!” 

Thank you for mentioning ‘DB’, of course the unexpected can bring wonderful things especially when it comes to reading.

Q4. Feed the Crime is very close to an incredible 1000 followers. What does it take to achieve such an impressive following?

“I didn’t actually get involved with the blogging community that much for the first year as I was too nervous and felt that I would never be able to fit in. I finished the first year with less than 50 followers. I think I started gaining followers more consistently from the beginning of 2019 as that’s when I was posting 3/4 times a week, as well as participating in weekly book memes and blog tours, I was starting to put my blog out there.
I still can’t believe the number of followers, I used to go on all the blogs with 1000+ followers and just think there’s no way I will ever get there and now it’s so close to happening.”

That is quite incredible and goes to show that consistent content and participation work in building a following!

Q5. Where did blogging begin for Blair?

“I first started my blog in September 2017 not long after I started having seizures, I had to leave my job as I worked in a children’s play centre and I had 2 fits in front of children. When it was diagnosed as epilepsy I had to surrender my driving license and sell my car, so I was in a really low place with too much time in my head. My friend suggested that I find somewhere to review all the books that I’d been reading and after some research that’s how Feed The Crime happened.”

Q6. Moving away from books and blogging, do you have any interests outside of being an awesome blogger? You’ve mentioned WWE once or twice; something I used to follow religiously and more casually these days. Do you have a favourite WWE performer?

“I don’t have very many interests outside of books and blogging to be honest. Me and my partner have been to see WWE live here in Liverpool twice and it was an amazing experience, we were stood at the ramp so we were able to see each performer up close, it’s something I will never forget. In terms of favourite performer, that’s like asking me to pick my favourite book I can’t just have one haha!”

“Female I would say Becky Lynch, I loved her old steampunk style and lass kicker attitude. Male I have two, Roman Reigns and Goldberg they are just legends no doubt about it.”

Excellent choices. I will have to agree with you on Becky Lynch, she is the lass kicker!

Q7. Tea, coffee, beer or wine?

“Hmmm this is a tough one it definitely depends where I am, at home I drink gallons of tea, if I’m catching up with friends or writing blogs in coffee shops then I normally drink a Caramel Macchiato. Of course after a stressful day or week at work then a cold beer is just what the doctor ordered!”

Q8. Back to books. Do you have a short list of must read books that everyone should experience?

“The books that I think are must reads won’t be to everyone’s taste, so I’ve picked 4 different genres.”

– “The Joona Linna series by Lars Kepler (This my favourite translated series that I would love to see more people read)”

– “You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke (This had me hooked and I was stood up shouting by the end)”

– “The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (He is my favourite non-fiction author, If you love Louis Theroux documentaries then you need to read his books)”

– “The Teleporter by Lee Hall (Of course I had to include this book as I had so much fun reading it, it’s hard for a book to make me laugh but this did it!)”

Featured Image -- 4193

Its an honor to be a part of this list. thank you.

Q9. What are you currently reading/plan to read next?

“I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Written in Blood by Chris Carter which is number 11 in the Robert Hunter series. The series as a whole is addictive but extremely gruesome and not for the faint-hearted!”

Q10.  And finally, in one sentence, what advice would you give to someone just starting their blogging journey?

“Don’t ever feel alone, embrace the book community, find blogs that interest you and comment on them, you can make so many friendships that way, also don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Wonderful advice and a unique insight into reading and book blogging from Blair of Feed the Crime. Thank for sharing and for the continual support of the writing and blogging community.

I highly recommend you follow the awesome Feed the Crime Blog. 

You can also catch Blair on the Tweet machine  and Instagram

Readers old and new, I appreciate you taking the time to read this Hall of Information Interview, hopefully see you in the next one!

Weekly Ramble #78

The truth is, even though I’ve written recently about reverting to zero, that whole deal has summoned some wonderful people. It’s actually been very touching to hear from so many who approached me after that post, which started out as just a vent about the lamenting struggle it is to be noticed in this world as an author. We all have those moments that get us down. The whole taking a wider look around and realising this might be not as great as first perceived. 

I suppose we are all a work in progress. And even though since that reverting to zero post, my sales have been one more than zero, I’ve realised I have something worth way more than that – the support of some decent people from all over this rock which now seems a little smaller. That support is way more valuable than anything else on this journey, trust me, it means so damn much to have people swoop in and offer their words and kindness – you know who you are and for what it’s worth, you’ve improved my stance and mental health on the subject.

I’m fine, and I will be fine. This whole process of writing books is a build me up and tear me down type of deal – that may sound deep but it is. I pour absolutely everything into my writing, every essence of me are in those words, every emotion I have will go into creating something from that number, zero. Even though all of us who create have aspirations of what that work will do, it’s what you don’t expect to happen that gives out the true pleasure and satisfaction.

I will take the support of those who have supported me and do support me over anything else. They have offered me something I never thought I would find, let alone look for.

Being genuine in this world is probably the best thing you can give someone. Thank you – from a writer who isn’t afraid to go forward because of that.

 

Joining Reedsy Discovery…

So it seems my book reviewing efforts have been noticed. Last month Reedsy Discovery reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in joining their platform. After some consideration I’ve taken the plunge in what I hope to be new sights and new heights for the Hall of Information.

Reviewing Independently published books for me carries an abundance of rewards from discovering great stories to connecting with fellow authors who also struggle to get their words seen by the world. Along the way I’ve connected with some wonderful people from all over the world who not only appreciate my reviewing efforts but in return have supported me and stuck around to check out my blogging. Some have even taken strides towards buying my books and so the circle of  life books is complete…

A New Concept in Book Discoverability: Reedsy Discovery Book ...

Reedsy Discovery is a reviewing platform that champions new and indie published books but just at a higher level than I am doing right now. The truth is I am still a small island and can only reach so many wordsmiths who are in need of support. The platform provides a greater reach and provides reviewers with a free copy in exchange for a review within a certain time frame. Looking at the site and how it works is a step up from my usual take my time endeavours and so I consider this a massive move in the world of book reviewing. The good thing is I am still able to support indies who have submitted to the site and so the blogging efforts on here shall continue! Reedsy have a certain submission standard and so you can expect me to be reviewing indie books of a the highest quality.

The reviews I do with Reedsy will first premiere on their platform via my profile and then arrive here and the usual places after. You can check out my profile here  and of course if you are on Reedsy let’s connect!

What does this mean for authors who have reached out to me and their stuff that I have on my tbr? 

I’m still committed to reviewing and reading indie books from all over and not just specifically Reedsy so this blog and it’s efforts won’t be going far. The hope is for it’s reach to increase!

For all those who have helped the Hall of Information get noticed like this, I salute you!

 

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.

52845169. sx318 sy475

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.

43986341. sy475

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.

38106336. sx318

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.

50984710. sx318 sy475

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???

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #52

Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all things we should talk about way more. Even in this modern age where we appear to be more connected than ever before, we still face these issues on a pandemic scale. You would think the concept of social media would help to battle such issues but from my experiences it can foster depression and possibly make it worse. Perhaps the original intention of social media – if it ever was good, has been overlooked and overshadowed.

2010 – you’ve got to get a Facebook profile picture..

2019 – you’ve got to get off Facebook…

It’s strange how time can turn things around, or in this sense nearly a decade .The same generation (folks like me) who knew a life before being internet reliant and then embracing it is now choosing to come away. Perhaps the old saying too much of anything is bad for you turned out to be pretty accurate.

The reason I link mental health and social media together is because last year these two subjects culminated in what I recall as a particularly dark time for me personally. I know many people who have been on their own mental health journeys; many of them blog or post about it (the good guys!), and well I’ve been quite vague until now because it is still fresh and context along with timing has urged me to share it only now – plus compared to last year right now I am probably in one of the best places I’ve been for a long while, as I said it’s funny how time can turn things around.

Off the heels of my 4th book release and the 2nd one of last year which didn’t go particularly smoothly and subsequently didn’t turn out how I envisioned. I’ve only learned all of my ‘book stuff’ by doing/ trial and error and well the release of Cemetery House was indeed just another day at the learning factory – sequels are a specialist thing in indie publishing, and while I did put the whole thing on a pedestal with a long running social media campaign and a whole bunch of expectation, let’s just say in my head I didn’t exactly get a hole in one. By this time I had already drafted the Darke Blood sequel and immediately I pulled the plug on releasing that this year – it wasn’t ready and neither was I.

post

There was also a bunch of other stuff going on at the time; that whole year had been building up towards me moving into my own place with my more than better half. Moving places is naturally stressful even if it went quite well – there is more paperwork than any book I’ve ever written… So by the end of November and with my mind trying to crawl towards a better place I took the huge dive into deleting the Facebook app off my phone – for those who know I was always on Facebook; that’s my secret captain… I even decided to go dark across all platforms probably apart from this place. This may have been the best health decision I have ever made in my entire life –  arguably probably better than no carb Thursday or no meat Monday… Immediately my mind and focus turned towards other things, of course the move was coming but very quickly and after being burned by book 4’s ‘debacle’ I wanted to write again!

For those who have read my books will know they are about more than genre and even the main plot. In everything I have created there is an underlying message within. I took on a new writing project and with my crusade against staying off social media I went a further step creatively and decided to hand write my next project. My vision was to take away page counts, word counts, windows updates and the temptation of logging on to Life Invader as well as finding my writing routes. This was just Lee, his pen, some paper and words. At this time I was still healing and so I got writing and subconsciously put together a story that reflected how I was feeling in a sense.

That recollection of feelings reflected via a story ended up becoming a book called ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ which is due for release this December. Because it was handwritten and had a sole focus on just telling a story it turned out to be quite short but it could arguably be my most powerful and important project. And so we go back to the start of this entry… Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all things we should talk about way more, you’ll find these subjects in my next book and they are talked about. That is something we need to do so much more. There are some creators I know that also talk about self care – this is just as important, finding away to get through stuff is a vital part of talking about it!

Now I’m not just using this as an opportunity to sell some books, this has never been about that, it’s an opportunity to use my writing for something more than just telling stories. 

By the end of December last year I had mostly recovered and dove into Indie Book Reviews which has probably been a lifeline for me. Connecting with other authors and bloggers who face what I face gives me a great sense of not being alone in the huge overpopulated world of social media. Even now I am weary of Facebook, it’s #4 or #5 on my platforms for author stuff, this place  is numero uno followed closely by the tweet machine.

For what is my 52nd ramble post – a year of rambles, although I started this series little over a year ago – I would like to take this opportunity to everyone who reads this and say thank you! This blog and your support has given my writing a new lease of life and very soon ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ will be my redemption, whether or not it is a success actually doesn’t matter, it’s the journey of creation that truly matters. 

ghost beside me fb

 

Real Neat Blog Award Nomination!

The Hall of information blog has been nominated for the Real Neat Blog Award by Jaycee Lynch of the Thinking Moon Blog!

real neat

In what appears to be my most important year for writing and blogging things just get better and better. It’s an honour that a blogger as renowned as Jaycee would think of an operation like this and so a huge thank you to an awesome fellow blogger and important member of the writing community.

thinking moon

Seeing as one of the only things I am good at is manners I shall take this opportunity to tell y’all a bit more about the blogger who nominated the Hall of information. The Thinking Moon Blog is a plethora of adventure into the written word. From sustainability, to interviews, music and various immersive writings, it’s the pinnacle of what a successful blog should be. Plus we’re both huge fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so it’s safe to say we’re cultured individuals with aligned tastes. Jaycee has been a huge supporter of my work and is one of the helpful few who have allowed me to reach the many.

So what does the Real Neat Blog Award nomination mean? Well there’s some rules which are:

  • Display the Award Logo. 
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  • Answer the questions from the blog who nominated you.
  • Nominate 7-10 bloggers.
  • Ask them seven questions.

Ah right, I think I got this… so here are the questions provided by Thinking Moon that I shall try my best to answer in a fun, witty but clever way…

1. If you won a Grammy for any genre of music, what would it be? 

It would most probably be for a musical album, no joke. If I were ever to enter the music industry it would have something to do with my writing getting me there. I’ve always played around with the thought of converting one of my sci-fi stories into a full on musical. Just imagine being in the cinema watching some epic inner city battle between robots and humans; then they break into song!

2. Who is your favourite villain(s) from any universe?

There is a stack of awesome bad guys out there but so many of them are missing that final piece of a nearly complete puzzle – believable motive. In the comic book universes especially; a big bad will normally show already being bad and it just feels one dimensional.

I don’t have a specific bad guy that I am fond of but my favourite in terms of journey, motive and all around reasons for being bad is Harvey ‘Two Face’ Dent from the Dark Knight. Here we see a man who is good and wholesome, but the world his character interacts with has turned him into the villain he becomes in the latter stages of the film. He is a creation of the environment around him and actually sees sense in aligning himself with the anarchy of the Joker. This also moves us to a pretty awesome segway into question 3…

3. What was your all-time favourite Halloween costume or cosplay you’ve done? Pictures please! 

I was literally asked the other day by someone; do you remember Heath Ledger’s Joker from the Dark Knight?

joker yeah

Way back when, before the aging process set in, I looked a lot like Heath Ledger (apparently… I didn’t just go around saying this to everyone) but you got to admit; that picture above, I can confirm is me at the London New Years Day parade, does look a bit like Heath’s joker.

nor con

4. What’s the weirdest trend you’ve ever partaken in? 

In the age of the internets there have been a huge amount of flavour of the week fads or trends and in all honesty I don’t usually get myself caught up in such things, I live under a rock most of the time, but even I couldn’t resist the urge to play Flappy bird…

Now considering I am a bit of technophobe/ can’t be bothered to keep up type of person, this game had me hooked!

5. What Movie/ Play/ Game soundtrack is your favourite?

If I want to be consistent with question 1 then I’m going with a musical soundtrack. The Greatest Showman is possibly one of the best modern musicals for a very long time. Nearly every song is catchy and meaningful, plus for Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron reasons.

showman.PNG

An honorable mention must also go to my top Nightshift listen ‘Once more, with feeling’ the album taken from Buffy’s famous groundbreaking musical episode!

once more

6. What was the best thing, before sliced bread?

Although sliced wholemeal does appear frequently in my diet I will have to say the best thing before they decided to sell sliced bread would have to be books! I wasn’t around when they first decided to slice bread but I know for a fact they were slicing pulp into pages way before! Although I am kind of obligated to say books (being an author and all) I have to show my support for the literary industry as a whole…

7. What is your favourite inspirational quote? 

Back to the Future is my all time favourite film and the series isn’t far behind. No matter how many times you go back or forward in time to change things and no matter how much time you think you don’t have; “your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one!”

Nomination time

Fellow bloggers I would like to nominate and acknowldge for the Real Neat Blogger Award are: 

  1. Debjani – Debjani’s Thoughts
  2. Blair – Feed the Crime
  3. Bookshelf Q Battler – Bookshelf Battle
  4. Irene – Irene Pylypec.com
  5. Christina Engela – The Crow Bar
  6. Sifar – sunilmdabral
  7. Michaeljordahl

Questions for the nominees

  1. From all the books you have read, name one you would have loved to have written and why?
  2. What was the subject of your very first blog post?
  3. Do you believe in ghosts? If so, have you had any paranormal experiences?
  4. Do you have a go to music album or vocal artist you have always listened to?
  5. In a few sentences how would you define blogging?
  6. Have you ever had a hero you’ve looked up to?
  7. Are you a believer in luck? Tell me about your luckiest moment in life?

Thanks for reading and of course thank you to Thinking Moon for thinking of me with the nomination. Rock and roll man!