Recommended Reads: The Bone Wall by D. Wallace Peach

the-bone-wall-ebook

The Bone Wall is a great example of the importance of a book’s cover. I’ve been following D Wallace Peach’s blog for a while and while her books sounded intriguing, there was always another books I’d rather read more. Then she decided to have new covers created for her books (you can read the full story here) and The Bone Wall went from intriguing to must read (yes, I really am that shallow).

The Description

Blue light ripples and crackles as the shield walls fracture. The remnants of a doomed civilization stand vigil outside, intent on plunder and slaves, desirous of untainted blood to strengthen their broken lives. With the poisons, came deformities and powers, enhanced senses and the ability to manipulate waves of energy—lightbenders and fire-wielders.

For those who thrived for generations within the walls, the broken world looms, strange and deadly, slowly dying. While the righteous pray for salvation, Rimma prepares for battle, fueled by rage and blinded by vengeance. Her twin, Angel, bound to her by unbreakable magic, seeks light in the darkness, hope in the future, and love in a broken world.

D. Wallace Peach’s fourth novel combines elements of fantasy and science-fiction into a character-driven adventure. The Bone Wall foretells of a dystopian world where a poisoned planet no longer sustains its inhabitants. Who survives when there isn’t enough for all? Who decides?

The Bone Wall begins three hundred years in a post-apocalyptic future. Precisely controlled communities with forgotten histories thrive beneath protective energy fields…until those fields begin to fail. What happens when the facades crumble and the past’s dark truth is unearthed?

Twins Rimma and Angel share this first person tale of a life unraveling and mending. Both are strong female protagonists who chose opposing paths when thrust in the broken and perilous world. The simplistic lines dividing good and evil blur, and beg the question: Can one survive without the other? What is the secret of their lives that even they can’t comprehend?

If grimdark tales of spiraling destruction and redemption crowd your bookshelf, this fantasy adventure desires a place among them.

The Bone Wall contains scenes which some readers might find triggering.

 

The Review

The Bone Wall is a great book, packed full of ideas played out in a unique fantasy setting. Twin sisters Rimma and Angel live in Heaven, an island of order shielded from the broken world around them by God’s will. Or at least, that’s what they were told. But when the shield fails the twins begin a harsh journey where they discover everything they’ve ever known was a lie, about the world and themselves.

In The Bone Wall, D. Wallace Peach has created a riveting story about fractured people in a fractured world. And what a brutal world it is, with different groups fighting amongst themselves to control what meagre resources remain just to survive. At first the story appears to be a simple case of good versus evil, but it soon morphs into something much more complex as the motivations behind each faction are revealed. This twisting of initial expectations is one of the reasons I loved this book. It is excellent fantasy world-building.

We view this all through the eyes of Angel and Rimma, twin sisters less mirror images of each other and more yin and yang, bound by love but very different in character as they become moulded by the world and their experiences within it. The two both fight against and complement each other as their polar personalities help them both flounder and survive as they are thrown from one set of circumstances to another. And then there is the central enigma of the two, how come to most people only one of them is visible at a time?

It’s safe to say this is not a children’s story. The world Wallace Peach has created is tough, almost Darwinian in nature and the author doesn’t flinch from describing it in vivid, often graphic detail. The Bone Wall is to The Hobbit what Lord of the Flies is to Swiss Family Robinson, but in my view the book is all the better for it. It is also a very cleverly written, with many layers of meaning, especially around the central theme of the bone wall itself.

My only complaint is that there were times when the descriptive language was a little too evocative, bordering on flowery. It didn’t put me off the story but I felt it at odds to the stripped down, brutal world portrayed. This is, however, just a matter of personal taste.

Overall D. Wallace Peach should be applauded for creating a great story in a unique world with compelling characters. If you like your fantasy with grit and are looking for something a little different, I highly recommend The Bone Wall.

 

To buy The Bone Wall from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Bone Wall from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

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Recommended Reads: Forbidden Alliance by Katrina Mountfort

Forbidden Alliance

Disclaimer: I’ve got to know Katrina Mountfort through social media and she has written some very lovely reviews of my books. This has had no influence on my review but as a reader you I feel this is something of which you need to be aware.

The Description

The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. In Forbidden Alliance, the second book of the trilogy, more than sixteen years have passed since Caia and Mac, now renamed Cathy and Michael, fled their oppressive lives, although the plight of those who remain in the Citidomes is never far from their minds.
Cathy and Michael now have three children and Citidome life is a distant memory. But for Cathy, village life is no longer idyllic. While Michael is famed as the leader of the Alliance of Outside Communities, she is left holding the baby. When a chance arises for her to fulfil her potential, will she make the right choices? Michael, however, is too preoccupied to notice Cathy’s personal struggles. Heightened security in the Citidomes has resulted in fewer escapees, a shortage of young farmers and a depleted gene pool in the village. While Michael unveils his most audacious plan yet to liberate rebels from the Citidomes, will his devotion to the cause cost him the love of his wife and daughter? And will his plan endanger his life, as well as those of his allies?
Forbidden Alliance is also the story of Cathy and Michael’s sixteen year-old daughter Joy. Fiercely intelligent but with limited career options, she fights against the future her father has planned for her: marriage to village boy Matt. Forbidden from seeing Harry, the nomadic canal-dwelling boy she has loved since childhood, she finds friendship from an unexpected source: BodyPerfect ex-citizen Ryan, whose perfect Citidome looks are less than perfect in the outside world. And her illusions about life in the Citidomes are about to be shattered.
In addition to the issues explored in Future Perfect, the first book of the trilogy, Forbidden Alliance poses additional questions, including those of leadership, family loyalties and whether it is possible to justify the sacrifice of human lives for the greater good.

 

The Review

Forbidden Alliance is the second book of the blueprint trilogy and takes place sixteen years after the events of Future Perfect (you can read my review of Future Perfect here). In it we find out what has happened to Cathy and Michael since they escaped the dystopian paradise of the Citidome into what has turned out to be a far tougher life outside.

While the storyline from Future Perfect is continued, this is very much a coming-of-age tale, predominantly from the perspective of Joy. Through her eyes we see the strain her parents have lived under, trying to balance the survival of the outside communities when faced with an ageing population and low birth rates, alongside the desire to rescue more people from the Citidomes. At the same time, Joy is encountering the turbulent world of love and relationships for the first time, and when that love is at odds with the needs of her family and community, it sets off a chain of events that will change them all forever.

Forbidden Alliance is a really interesting step change from the more straight-forward escape story of Future Perfect. Setting the book sixteen years in the future has allowed Mountfort to introduce more depth to what was already an excellent story. Her handling of the impact external pressure have had on Cathy and Michael’s relationship, and the claustrophobic pressure of living in quite an insular community, is excellently done.

I found myself personally less involved in the love triangle at the heart of Joy’s story but this is more to do with what interests me rather than any fault with the writing, which captures all the earnestness and heartache of young love to the full. I’m sure the target demographic of this YA novel will lap this storyline up.

Overall this is an excellent middle book to the trilogy, bringing in new storylines, adding depth and setting things up nicely for the third and final part. If you are a fan of YA dystopian novels, you really should give this series a try. Recommended.

To buy Forbidden Alliance from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Forbidden Alliance from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf by Nick Bryan

The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf

The Description

“If we get 400 followers, John Hobson will solve that nasty wolf-murder case for free! Fight the thing himself if he has to! #HobsonVsWolf!”

Angelina Choi was only trying to drum up some Twitter followers and make a good impression on her first day interning at John Hobson’s one-man detective agency.

But the campaign went viral and now they have a murder to solve, no money coming in, and an unwilling Hobson faced with battling some enormous beast.

With both follower and body counts rising, can they crack the case without offending everyone or being eaten by a huge dog?

The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is the first case starring Hobson & Choi, a bickering, mismatched detective duo for 21st century London. This book collects the debut storyline of the hit darkly comic crime web serial, extensively rewritten and improved for this definitive edition.

 

The Review

This is a book I shouldn’t have liked. I bought it due to the great cover (it’s designed by DesignforWriters who also created the covers for my books and I saw the book on their Facebook page) and because the premise sounded interesting. However, after the first few pages I realised it was, while not exactly a cozy mystery, something along those lines, and I usually don’t get along with this type of story.

But something strange happened. I read the book in two days, really enjoyed it and I’m not sure why.

The tone of the writing is YA but the subject matter (and the swearing) is a lot more adult, there were times when Choi came out with things that didn’t ring true for a girl of her age, and the suspects had a distinct lack of empathy for the victims that bordered on the pathological, yet it was engagingly written, funny in places and I enjoyed the world Nick Bryan created.

If you’re looking for an easy murder mystery with a modern twist and a unique pairing, I recommend this book.

To buy The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: Malus Domestica by S. A. Hunt

Malus Domestica

S. A. Hunt is an indie author who, while being on the cusp of becoming the ‘next big thing’, still manages to keep his feet firmly on the ground and is happy to support his fellow indie authors. I’ve been meaning to read one of his books for a while as I’ve a soft spot for horror stories, and eventually settled on his latest, Malus Domestica. However, I was a bit worried. I enjoy Steven King’s work enormously and was a big fan of Clive Barker in my twenties from his earliest Books of Blood through The Great and Secret Show, Imajica, Weaveworld and Everville to Coldheart Canyon. Could Malus Domestica live up to being billed in the same company?

The Description

From the award-winning author of the Outlaw King series comes another harrowing adventure in the grand tradition of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Charlaine Harris.

Robin Martine has come a long way.

She’s not your usual college-age girl. More often than not, Robin’s washing a load of gory clothes at the laundromat, or down at the lake throwing hatchets at pumpkins. She lives in an old van, collects swords, and dyes her mohawk blue.

Also, she kills witches for a living on YouTube.

You see, Robin’s life was turned upside down by those hideous banshees from Hell. She spent high-school in a psych ward, drugged out of her head for telling the cops her mother Annie was murdered with magic. Magic from a witch named Marilyn Cutty.

After a 3-year warpath across America, she’s come home to end Cutty for good.

But she’ll have to battle hog-monsters, a city full of raving maniacs, and a killer henchman called the “Serpent” if she wants to end the coven’s reign over the town of Blackfield once and for all.

The Review

You have to have some balls to put your work in the same company as Stephen King and Clive Barker (sorry, I’ve not read any Charlaine Harris), either that, or unswerving confidence in your own talent. My guess with S. A. Hunt it’s a bit of both, and in Malus Domestica I can see why. This is an excellent book, with a strong, character-led storyline that’s as unsettling as a childhood nightmare yet twice as entertaining.

A young woman, Robin Martine returns to her hometown, Blackfield, for the first time in years, finally ready to confront her past. At the same time a father and son, Leon and Wayne, move into Robin’s old home, hoping to start life anew after the death of Wayne’s mother. After a simple walk home from his first day at school goes horribly wrong, Wayne survives due to the kindness of their elderly neighbour, Marilyn Cutty. But Cutty isn’t what she seems, as Robin Martine already knows, because Cutty killed her mother years before, with magic.

In Malus Domestica, Hunt has written a story right up there with the best horror authors. From the slow drip of fear during the opening scene as two Mormons realise they should never have agreed to a meal, through to the book’s bloody denouement, Hunt creates a modern take on an old tale with a cracking female lead.

Robin Martine is a great character, both vulnerable and as hard as teak, lost and alone in the world. but driven by the need to revenge her mother. At Blackfield she is supported by equally compelling characters, her old friend Joel and ex-army vet, Kenway, who slowly provides a balancing compassion to Robin’s relentlessness, plus a whole host more.

I loved the atmosphere Hunt built through the story, gradually pulling back the veneer of normality to show us a community ruled by powers rooted in blood and fear, all the while avoiding the many horror cliches but still sprinkling enough weirdness throughout to make the premise unique. The first half of the book really did have the feeling of a Stephen King novel but by the end it was very much in Clive Barker territory, yet uniquely S. A. Hunt. And it’s funny, too.

While the story gradually darkens as it progresses, there were some wonderful carefree moments as well, especially early on as Wayne makes friends at school and agrees to go out on an adventure. It takes real skill to be able to write both light and dark convincingly, and Hunt handles this well.

The book itself wasn’t perfect, there was a little too much explaining how the powers worked for my liking, and while I enjoyed the Avengers style action with the Order of the Dog Star, I felt their sudden appearance was too convenient and needed a little more foreshadowing. That said, these are minor points and didn’t take away any of the shine from what is an excellent book. For once, the comparisons were well deserved. I don’t think it will be long before authors are selling their books “in the tradition of S. A. Hunt.” Highly recommended.

To buy Malus Domestica from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Malus Domestica from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: Ratcatcher by Tim Stevens

Ratcatcher

This book was recommended to me by Kate from the Roughseasinthemed blog. As she is very discerning about the books she recommends (ahem), I didn’t think twice before downloading it, which goes to show that personal recommendations are always the best way to promote a book.

The Description

Purkiss’s job is straightforward. Track down agents of the intelligence services who are taking kickbacks, committing crimes, or otherwise abusing their positions. And bring them to justice.

Straightforward doesn’t mean easy…

After a renegade British former spymaster, Fallon, is sighted in the Baltic city of Tallinn on the eve of a historic summit meeting between the Russian and Estonian presidents, Purkiss is despatched to investigate, and uncovers a conspiracy that threatens to tear Europe, and the world, apart.

But Purkiss has personal reasons for going after Fallon. Four years ago, Fallon was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Purkiss’s fiancée, a murder Purkiss himself witnessed.

Now, in an atmosphere of treachery and sudden violence, as the countdown begins to a potentially catastrophic conflict between Russia and the West, Purkiss must keep his desire for revenge under control for the sake of the world’s – and his own – survival.

 

The Review

Sent to Tallinn to hunt the man who killed his fiancée, John Purkiss finds himself ensnared in a post-Soviet terrorist plot which if successful, could start another world war. But what can one man do? Quite a lot it turns out, if the man’s name is Purkiss.

As spy thrillers go, Ratcatcher is less Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and follows very much in the tradition of James Bond. It is pure entertainment from the start and the main character, Purkiss,  is an unabashed alpha male fantasy figure. When faced with an easy or hard option, Purkiss will always take the one with most danger, and while the gadgets may be very much based in the real world, the action is pure fantasy. However Stevens while some suspension of disbelief is required, Stevens manages to introduce enough realism for each situation to maintain its plausibility.

The only criticisms I have with the book is that Stevens uses passive voice a lot (a particular bugbear of mine) and I found some of the fight scenes overly descriptive, but none of this takes away from the overall fun you’ll have reading this book. If you’ve read every Bond and are looking for a modern replacement, Ratcatcher is the book for you. Highly recommended.

 

 

To buy Ratcatcher from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Ratcatcher from Amazon.com click here

 

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: The Pennsylvania Omnibus by Michael Bunker

 Pennsylvania Omnibus

The Description

Young Amishman Jedidiah Troyer is now a traveler. He’s signed up for an emigration program that is colonizing the planet of New Pennsylvania. He just wants to start a farm and homestead on affordable land in a new Amish community. Space pioneering isn’t as easy as it sounds when you’re “plain.” Jedidiah and his new friend Dawn arrive on New Pennsylvania in the middle of a rebel uprising, and TRACE, the resistance group that is rising up against TRANSPORT, has taken on the mission of getting Jed from the City to the Amish Zone. Being a stranger in the old world doesn’t even compare to being a stranger in a new world… a world that is at war and where nothing is what it seems.

The Review

This is a book I kept bumping into on Amazon and I was intrigued by the premise, an Amish science-fiction novel had to be worth a look. I wasn’t wrong.

Jedidiah Troyer is leaving home to set up a new life on another planet, New Pennsylvania. But stepping out from the comfort of a life and community he knows so well becomes the least of his challenges as he finds himself accused of breaking the law before his journey even begins.

I really enjoyed the Pennsylvania Omnibus on a number of levels. The story is well written and I was continually left bamboozled as Bunker skilfully revealed each plot twist, especially in the opening third of the book. There are twists and turns galore and even when you think you have a grip of what is going on, Bunker is happy to pull the rug from under your feet once again.

However, the thing I liked most about the book was the culture clash of viewing a futuristic world through the eyes of somebody who has lived in a culture virtually unchanged in centuries. This juxtaposition of a world view based in the earth and a simple life meeting the challenges of a hi-tech virtual world is fascinating and gives the novel unique flavour.

There are occasions where the book is let down by its original episodic structure, with cliffhangers at the end of a chapter only to be quickly resolved on the next page, but overall this is an excellent book and one I highly recommend.

 

To buy The Pennsylvania Omnibus from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Pennsylvania Omnibus from Amazon.com click here

 

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: Downstream series by Nick Jones

Downstream

The Description

Meet Joseph Bridgeman, a reclusive insomniac with a weakness for ‘The Beatles’ on vinyl and a constant headache. When his annoying accountant suggests hypnotherapy might help him sleep, Joseph accidentally discovers he can time-travel and things get a little complicated.

With the help of Vinny, a local record shop owner, Mark, his old school friend, and Alexia Finch, his hypno-time-travel guru, Joe sets out to change the course of his life. He needs to get back to 1992, the year his world fell apart, the year that Amy, his sister, went missing. The only problem (apart from his clothes disappearing) is that the further back he goes the less time he gets to stay there.
Can Joe master his new-found gift before time catches up with him?

The Review

Joseph Bridgeman has the gift of being able to read the minds of those to whom he’s formed a relationship, but the gift is both a blessing and a curse, causing him to experience their past memories as if they are his own. Troubled by insomnia and with his life a mess, Bridgeman is persuaded to seek help from a hypnotherapist, but rather than cure him of his gift, she somehow opens up a new one, the ability to travel back in time. The question is, can Bridgeman use this gift to help solve the central mystery of his life, to find out what happened to his sister who went missing when he was a child?

The Downstream series is a really enjoyable tale, with plenty of twists and turns I’ve come to expect from Nick Jones. The central concept is an interesting one which gets explored in greater depth as the episodes progress. Jones’s writing style is a pleasure to read and I devoured the first six episodes in just couple of days and couldn’t wait to the end of August for the seventh and final episode of this series.

Time-travel stories are notoriously difficult to get right. The problem comes from the premise itself, how do you add danger and suspense into a story where the protagonist can overcome any problem simply by remembering to time travel at some point in the future to come back to the present with a solution to the issue. Jones manages to overcome this by creating rules and consequences each time our character goes back in time, so even though his control improves as the   consequences, both physically and the impact on reality, become more severe.

This is the first time I’ve read a series as it’s in progress but I found the experience a real pleasure. That said, I’ve seen the whole series is now available in one volume so if paying out per episode is not your idea of fun, you can always buy the lot in one go. If you like thoughtful, fast-paced thrillers with a time-travel twist, this is the series for you. Highly recommended.

 

To get Downstream episode 1 for free from Amazon.co.uk click here

To get Downstream episode 1 for free from from Amazon.com click here

 

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: Occasional Soulmates by Kevin Brennan

occasional_soulmates_ebook_cover

The Description

When the thirty-eight-year-old San Francisco doctor meets her new patient, a handsome British expat with the unlikely name of Dylan Cakebread (and an uncanny resemblance to Jude Law), she’s convinced it’s the start of her own relationship novel. He’s an architect, no less — always a key piece of her most indulgent fantasies — and the heroine of a relationship novel always gets her fantasy man, right? Though their shaky start raises red flags that her oldest girlfriend, Jules, is quick to point out, Sarah can’t help it. She falls hard for Dylan and it appears to be a two-way street.

But maybe meeting your perfect mate in the exam room isn’t the best opening act. Sarah thinks she’s the cure for what ails him, but soon she learns the secret Dylan has been keeping from her. Now she has to choose between happiness and the illusion of it — if Dylan doesn’t take the choice out of her hands first.

It’s starting to look like this isn’t her relationship novel at all: it’s his.

The Review

Kevin Brennan wrote one of my favourite books I read last year, Yesterday Road, a warm-hearted tale of memory and discovery. With Occasional Soulmates, Brennan has put his own twist on the chick-lit genre, gently subverting the standard tropes while respecting the genre and its audience.

The book is written from the point of view of Sarah Phelan, a doctor who has almost given up on finding the perfect man when he arrives in her waiting room. Smart, handsome – a Jude Law look-a-like – and an architect to boot, Dylan Cakebread appears to be the man of her dreams, yet as their relationship develops Sarah learns that Dylan Cakebread isn’t the person she thought he was, in fact she realises she doesn’t really know him at all.

Written in the first person, Brennan effortlessly draws us into the mind of Dr Phelan. She’s smart, funny, engaging, but not without the odd neurosis or two, in fact the perfect protagonist for this type of tale. As she stumbled through the early awkwardness of a new relationship, I couldn’t help but warm to her. There were no false notes, no plot-led decisions – instead Brennan has built a credible and compelling story on character alone. And the support cast are equally as compelling, especially Phelan’s relationship with her mother and her sister.

In the portrayal of Dylan Cakebread, Brennan has managed to capture a particular type of english reserve very well indeed. There were a few missteps regarding slang, and his brother was probably the least rounded of all the book’s cast, but the mystery of who Dylan Cakebread really is played out very well and held my interest throughout.

Throughout the book, Brennan – through the narration of Sarah – often refers back to a the different stages of a relationship novel, and while I enjoyed the conceit it occasionally came across as a little too knowing. That said, it is a beautifully written book and I enjoyed it very much indeed.

If you are looking for an intelligent romance with a lot of heart, then this is the book for you. Recommended.

To buy Occasional Soulmates from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Occasional Soulmates from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: Singled Out by Julie Lawford

singledout_kindle_656x1000px

Before we go into the review I need to make a few disclaimers. I’ve got to know Julie Lawford through social media and she has written some very lovely reviews of my books. Also, she beta read my second book and I beta read an early version of Singled Out. This has had no influence on my review but as a reader you I feel this is something of which you need to be aware.

That said, as anyone who has beta read a book knows, a book at that stage is a very different beast to the final product and I had a number of issues with it at the time. This meant I approached reading the finished version of Singled Out with some trepidation. Luckily, I needn’t have worried.

The Description

‘There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

The Review

In Singled Out, Lawford allows us to join a motley crew of mature singles as they head for a holiday on the Turkish coach. But as the opening scene in the book suggests, not everybody in the group are who they seem.
If you’re going on beach holiday and you’re a lover of creepy, psychological thrillers, then this is the book for you. In it, Lawford allows us to experience the full delights of a Mediterranean break, with the foods, the sights and the nightlife being described with a delightful richness to stimulate all your senses.
The characters are recognisable but not stereotypical, and with Brenda Bouverie the author has created a wonderful protagonist, very different from anybody I’ve read before. She’s wonderful combination of her the sensuous, with her love of food and drink; the steely, but with an underlying vulnerability that makes her a very special character indeed.
This is not, however, a book for the feint-hearted. The assault scenes in particular, while very well written, don’t pull any punches, but for me that’s as it should be. Horrible things should be portrayed as horrible. And it makes you all the more engaged in the search for who’s responsible.
What I loved most about this book is the exploration of moral grey areas. there is a particular dilemma that Brenda faces which you have no idea which way she will turn to almost the final page, and even then it’s difficult to tell whether the right decision was made, depending on your own viewpoint. This was very well done.
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys their thrillers to be a little dark and edgy, but with some warmth thrown in. Oh, and foodies. This is a great book for food lovers.

To buy Singled Out from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Singled Out from Amazon.com click here

 

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: Zero Echo Shadow Prime by Peter Samet

Zreo Echo Shadow Prime

The Blurb

CONSCIOUSNESS IS IN THE CODE

The year is 2045. 18-year-old Charlie Nobunaga creates the world’s first sentient AI and becomes an overnight sensation. But amid the red carpet galas and TV interviews, Charlie is diagnosed with cancer, and her promising future grinds to a halt.

To save her life, an ambitious tech company uploads Charlie’s mind into the body of a cutting-edge robot. The procedure is a success, but with a horrifying catch. They create additional clones for their own ends.

Charlie wakes up four times as four distinct entities: a robot named PRIME, a holographic assistant named SHADOW, a mysterious four-armed killer named ECHO, and the original dying human renamed ZERO. Separated and imprisoned, each version of Charlie begins an arduous journey alone. But their paths soon intersect in surprising ways as they retaliate against the people determined to destroy them.

ZERO ECHO SHADOW PRIME is the story of one young woman who splits into four…and fights to become whole again.

The Review

For many people Science Fiction is about spaceships and the exploration of far flung planets, but to me science fiction is all about the exploration of ideas, and Zero Echo Shadow Prime is packed full of them.

Set in the very near future, a young coder creates the very first sentient AI and everybody wants a piece of her. The problem is, she’s dying of cancer. When rich industrialist father calls in a few favours and with the help of Jude Adler, CEO of the technology firm Rivir, decides to save Charlie’s life against her wishes, Charlie’s problems are only just beginning.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s packed full of ideas, exploring some of the questions around human consciousness – what makes a person who they are, what is sentience, along with some of the thornier philosophical issues around the rights of synthetic beings and who owns a copied consciousness – all wrapped up in a fast-paced thriller. The world building is very well done, providing the small elements of detail required to show what areas of society and culture have changed without resorting to pages of backstory and setup.

In Charlie Nobunaga, Samet has created an intelligent, strong-willed female lead that had real agency despite her physical limitations, who is also a fearsome four-armed killer; a holographic personal assistant and a supercharged android warrior. The fact Samet manages to flick between each point of view without causing confusion is great testament to his skill as a writer.

There were a couple of areas where I thought the book could bi improved, the Echo storyline, while interesting, felt a little superfluous and the love interest never quite came off for me, but in a book this fast moving and complex, these are just minor issues. Overall this is a great read, and if this review doesn’t persuade you to buy the book then the cover surely will.

If you are looking for a fun-filled thriller with substance and ideas, this is the book for you. Recommended.

To buy Zero Echo shadow Prime from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Zero Echo shadow Prime from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.