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Books we've read through our Indie Author Review System. If you're looking to give an independent author a chance, look no further.
‘Twilight of Innocence’ is a mystery that follows a resourceful vigilante grandfather a hero-figure pilot and fiery investigative journalist looking to uncover and derail a child sex traffic ring. The mystery around Andreas in the opening made me intrigued. I was eager to learn more about this mysterious man working to capture and interrogate members of the sex trafficking ring using highly specialised methods in order to release and rescue the victims. The subtle hints and brief descriptions were a brilliant introduction to this character, conveying his age and experience briefly, while keeping the quest front and center. As I read I wanted to learn more about this shadow-y figure’s mission as well as more about his past and what he’s had to do in the past in order to acquire his interrogation skills. I was less enamoured with Rebecca and Jon as we are introduced to them, I think the repartee between them, at the end of the contentious flight from Scotland as an example, could have been a bit snappier in my opinion, but I was interested in learning more about both characters and their motives as well as their inevitable connection. Their story and relationship within this dark mystery reminded me a little bit of Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher, and so I was keen to learn more about how they would merge with the Taken style storyline set up with Andreas. This is an interesting and entertaining read that feels like it will have widespread appeal to fans of mysteries, thrillers and action books. There is a dark subject matter at its core but there’s plenty of twists, turns and details throughout that keep you entertained. Action packed and thrilling this is a book I would definitely recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Ever Rest’ by Roz Morris is a beautifully well-written story that focuses on the after effects of the loss of a larger than life character. Rock musician Ashten dies on a mountain climbing expedition and his fiancée, bandmates and bodyguard have been left with a hole in their lives that has never been healed as twenty years on as the past is continually dragged back up each time a body is recovered. We learn more about Elza, Hugo, Steve and Robert, their history and connection to The Ashbirds and the paths their lives have taken since the band’s abrupt end. We see them struggle to get their lives back together while the spectre of Ash, and renown in general prevents them from finding complete normalcy. The thing that struck me the most in this narrative is how it handles the theme of fame. Someone, or a group of people can be very famous, known around the world even for a single thing or for the briefest time, and yet that single accomplishment can both haunt and define every other aspect of their lives. And if that period of fame ended in tragedy, then feelings of loss and grief seem destined to be ever present. In some ways it reminded me of documentaries and stories prevalent at the moment in recent celebrity history - breakdowns or struggles of reinvention, unsympathetic media portrayal and fans wanting to relive the single highest moment. I think the author did a great job in emphasising that there’s more to people than that. And each character in the book is filled out and made three dimensional flawlessly. I really enjoyed learning about each character, and while I found myself drawn to Elza’s story the most, I found it easy to settle into learning more about Robert, Hugo and Steve when it was their time to share their story. I think that ‘Ever Rest’ is an endearing story of loss, grief and acceptance in a unique setting of rock-star fame. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
I rather enjoyed this book. A romance with a difference. Not your usual light romance, which I much prefer, something with a touch of the dark side about it. Grey finally leaves New York and a whole load of baggage behind her and heads to Berry Springs to rebuild her life. After a setback or two, she meets Declan, someone with his own history. Having said that he only appears in the book a third of the way through. The first part deals with Grey’s life challenges and how she takes them on. Ultimately, they both want to turn their lives around. I liked this book, it was refreshing and had honesty in it. Well written and plenty going on to keep my interest. Thanks for the opportunity to read this. Helen Lowry, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Presence, the Play’ is a lyrical story of the stage interwoven with a tale of spirituality. Script, An Estillyen monk and brother in their Sacred Order of Storytellers has an accident on the opening night of his play, ‘Presence’, leaving him in a coma, and working his way through mystical adventures in a dream-like world. I found this novel highly descriptive and it is clear through the references to many famous literary works that the author is either very well read or conducted extensive research for this novel. There are references throughout and a list at the back of the book with all of the literary titles quoted. I understand and can agree with the connection made between ‘Presence’ and C.S Lewis in the synopsis, as we travel with Script through a strange and mystical other world that, much like Narnia, has religious connotations at its heart. ‘Presence’ is an interesting story with plenty of drama throughout that encourages the reader to celebrate the power of stories, as well as take the time to be “present” in the world around us, a pertinent theme and lesson in today’s ever increasing social media age. An entertaining and well-written novel with a cast of brilliant characters that focuses on the importance of the arts Leading by example with brilliant storytelling, adventure and plenty to ponder over. I think that this book would have a wide appeal and I would definitely recommend it. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Written by Ben McCarty, technically reviewed by Ari Schloss and with a foreword by Malek Ben Salem, this is a thoroughly revised and polished book that uses the concept of ninjas to take the reader through the variety of different areas that you need to be aware of when it comes to cybersecurity. Using relatively recent translations of Ninja scrolls, information that for most of history has been kept hidden, ‘Cyberjutsu’ contains theories of how ninjas were so successful at being the elusive and deadly characters we know, and how this analogy can be used to allow the reader, “think like a hacker”, gain perspective and use a variety of different methods to improve and protect their programs, software or personal details from attack. Although the intended audience for this book is security professionals, I found that the language used throughout and the use of the ninja analogies helped to translate concepts into scenarios I could visualise. With an easy to follow layout which is explained in the opening pages, this book takes you through teachings and philosophies from 400 year old ninja scrolls before going on to explain how these teaching can be connected to cyber security and finally what you can do to keep your organisation safe as well as a checklist of recommended security settings. An interesting book full of useful information and recommendations that would be beneficial for anyone who has information online.
How do you catch someone who can appear as anyone? The Rose is a shapeshifting assassin that has left a trail of bodies in high-profile hits all over the globe for the last decade. The bounty on the Rose’s head is massive, and Zack and his team want to cash in. When a multi-million dollar hit contract is put on a heavily protected arms dealer in Las Vegas, it looks like the perfect bait for the Rose. Zack and his team travel to Las Vegas to shadow the arms dealer and take down the Rose in the act. Unfortunately, things quickly go south. The team has threats from all quarters to deal with. From vampire mobsters to the FBI and everything in between, it will take everything the team has just to stay alive. If you enjoy action-packed Urban Fantasy with a dash of humor, you'll love this novel.
Not in my Name by Michael Coolwood is an interesting mix of political fantasy and murder mystery. It is earnest and passionate but quite straightforwardly written, which makes it also suitable for younger adult readers. The plot revolves around a group of activists living in a commune in an imaginary version of 2003. Each of the group has their own reasons for being there and their own personal problems that they have brought with them. The trust and camaraderie that the group feel towards each other is suddenly put in jeopardy, however, when they discover that they have been infiltrated and then...the murders begin. The writer has cleverly used authentic but edited contemporary quotes from public figures, applying them to a different situation, thus underlining his premise that politicians will say, do, promise almost anything in order to gain or remain in power, a very high profile scenario happening right now in the U.S. The book is also timely in the descriptions of the way the activists are treated at the hands of the police, very reminiscent of the BLM protests. The ending is slightly unexpected but perfectly reasoned and inevitable, going a long way to restore the reader's faith in human nature and family ties. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
I was intrigued by Cold Wallet from the very start. We begin the story from Henry’s perspective and enough detail is shared to tell us about the relationship between Henry Andrew and Jess while simultaneously raising questions that keep you intrigued to read on. We then follow Jess on her tragic honeymoon and as she scrambles to get to grips with the company she has inherited. Her relationship with Henry is strained but when he offers to help manage the cryptocurrency business Vaultange is it because he’s changing or because he has something more sinister planned. I liked the basis of this storyline, although some of the more in depth conversations went over my head to begin with it came across as very well researched and I slowly became immersed in Andrew, Jess and Henry’s complex world. I liked the depth of each of the characters, all multifaceted and in their own way unreliable, with each development sending me in a spin as I read. The author takes the time to set the scene, with flashbacks that show how relationships develop as the plotline moves forward. With revelations and resolutions that left me spinning I think that this is a really good thriller and I would recommend it. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Briarmen is a fantasy story that has quite a traditional feel about it. First we meet Hamish’s daughter as she travels to meet enny in order to scatter her father’s ashes. During this meeting we are taken back in time to the evacuation of children to the countryside during WWII, when Hamish is first sent to live in Brombury with the Platts and he and Penny first discover the Briarmen. This story did remind me in it’s essence of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, where evacuated children discover something magical in their new home. I loved the imagination used to construct the Woods Beyond The Railway and how the Briarmen are interwoven with reality as the plotline develops. I enjoyed discovering more about Hamish and Penny and watching as their friendship developed. I think that this is a classic story filled with magic and escapism which will remind readers of the books they read when they were little. I also thought the black and white illustrations at the top of each chapter was a nice extra touch.
‘Love Stories for Hectic People’ is a collection of short stories exploring aspects of love that aren’t necessarily the ones that are focused on most often, the sides that aren’t “happy ever after”. Each flash fiction piece is distinct and the collection can be read from cover to cover or picked up and enjoyed in whichever order takes your fancy. The author’s writing helps to create an entire world in a few deceptively simple stories, each one felt thought through and complete to me, with the reader left at the end pondering about next steps and unspoken meaning. The perfect way to be left after a flash fiction piece in my opinion. Covering a number of aspects of relationships and sex, from the joy of it to deeper and darker issues of affairs, abortions and miscarriage. I highlight this to demonstrate the variety within these stories (as I’ve said, each have their own unique tale, setting and atmosphere) and also to mention in case any potential reader is sensitive to a particular topic. Quick to read through with plenty to come back to and contemplate, I think that this is a great collection of flash fiction.
Last Star Standing follows protagonist Aiden on a sci-fi adventure. A world left ravaged and vulnerable after WWIII is invaded and overpowered by aliens. A small rebel group remains and works to overthrow their intergalactic rulers. Part science fiction - but mostly action-adventure - ‘Last Star Standing’ is an entertaining read that has a lot of detailed and cohesive world-building that makes the plotline believable from the start. I liked that this book is futuristic but also focuses on issues that we see in our society today - the impact of our actions on the environment and the spread of disinformation. Aiden is a wry and entertaining character to read about, and I really enjoyed his tone and humour as I read. There are some more adult moments so this is definitely not a story for younger readers but I do think that this is a brilliant choice for any sci-fi fan. I feel there’s an opportunity for the story to continue into other books and so I eagerly wait to see if any sequels appear. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Shakey’s Madness’ is a well-researched and well rounded argument around the “real” author of ‘The First Folio’. Using academic resources including The Folger Shakespeare Library, The author sets out his hypothesis that the real author of the work currently attributed to William Shakespeare may have experienced bipolar, and this information may help us to uncover the true author of these Elizabethan plays and sonnets. I can’t say I’ve ever particularly doubted that Shakespeare’s work was written by William Shakespeare; that is I was familiar with the theory that they were written by someone else, it had just never interested me enough to look into it. I was curious about ‘Shakey’s Madness’ as a neutral observer, and I found that the author formed his arguments in a way that was entertaining and interesting. It reminded me of a university essay, with references to academics and further sources but I found it easy to follow along with. I feel this would be an interesting read regardless of which side of this particular argument you fall. Perhaps slightly conspiratorial in nature, and in the end left for the reader to decide if we agree with the argument put in front of us. I think that this book is an interesting one to ponder for those looking to learn more about the Oxfordian arguments as well as those looking for more evidence to support that theory. You might also learn something about the nuanced disorder of bipolar along the way.