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
The synopsis of ‘1414º’ by Paul Bradley Carr gripped me as soon as I read it. I was really curious and wanted to know more about this thriller that sees Journalist Lou McCarthy track down the person responsible for the deaths of two powerful Silicon Valley predators but then potentially turn her efforts to aiding them sent my expectations for this storyline off kilter. Lou works tirelessly at her job as a Journalist for the Herald to uncover and expose scandal and criminal behaviour committed by some of the most powerful people in San Francisco’s tech giants. But people that are powerful have a way of failing upwards. When her latest expose goes terribly wrong, her career is in disgrace and when events spiral even more drastically and dangerously out of control, Lou works with an unlikely ally to find out who is behind the deaths. I liked this storyline and that there’s a cast of strong female characters that take the lead. This thriller takes a lot of modern societal issues in order to develop a chillingly believable basis for ‘1414º’ and I was gripped by every twist and turn of the plot. The characters are all well developed, each with their own secrets and flaws, and Lou’s investigative skills as a journalist fit well into the storyline. An entertaining thriller that I enjoyed in a day and would recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A spiritual memoir ‘Return to the light within’ by Dmitria Burby tells readers of the author's journey from corporate executive to rediscovering herself. Written to share her story of self-enlightenment in the hopes it will resonate and help others on their own journey. This book is succinct and well constructed, broken down into easy to digest chapters and sections that works through the author’s initial questioning of ‘who am I?’ to reconnection with her spirit and finding her purpose as a spiritual guide and healer. I liked the conversational and open tone used to write this book, it felt as though I was listening to someone’s journey without feeling directly instructed. I think that this would be an interesting book for someone looking for their own spiritual advancement, or perhaps those caught at a crossroads and looking for a more spiritual alternative to a more traditional self-help book. Regardless of personal beliefs there are plenty of lessons that can be taken away from ‘Return To The Light Within’. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
'Hell Unearthed' is Hilary McElwaine's interpretation and updating of Dante Alighieri's 'Inferno', the first part of his 'Divine Comedy', written between 1308 and 1320. In the original, hell is described in graphic and gruesome detail before leading the reader through purgatory and finally to the salvation of paradise. This author has adapted Dante's work for a modern audience, providing many recent examples of behaviour, which although generally condemned, doesn't always make for comfortable reading. The book keeps to Dante's original map of nine downward circles of hell, through which he is guided by Virgil, who he greatly admired. As the pair travel deeper, the tormented souls they encounter are guilty of more and more serious crimes, though I find it disturbing and hard to accept that, for instance, someone who has betrayed a client in business is on a lower level than a paedophile like Jimmy Savile, because he or she has used their intellect to commit their crime. This is not of course necessarily the author's view but some of her more modern day examples include veritable icons like David Bowie, Princess Diana, Elvis and Horatio Nelson, which many readers, myself included, would view as controversial and upsetting. These are far outweighed though by the examples of Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Al Capone, Myra Hindley and the like, who committed terrible acts of violence against humanity. Also in line with the original, some fictional perpetrators of wickedness are included, which I found rather strange, as there are surely more than enough real life evildoers to fill the chapters, both then and now. This is a very interesting and thought provoking read, regardless of whether you believe in any kind of afterlife or not and I do hope that the author will go on to rework the other two books in the 'Comedy', as Dante is undoubtedly one of the greatest writers of all time and deserves to be introduced to a wider and younger audience in the same way that Shakespeare has been. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘The Bridge to Rembrandt’ by Nelson K. Foley is a story that follows soul mates through time, culminating in a meeting with the famous eponymous artist. We start in modern day Amsterdam, Robert does appear to have enough going on - he has a wife and two growing children, a secret affair with Saskia who is looking for more from him, and a business selling reproduction art that’s got itself into legal trouble. One day when everything gets a bit too much but as Robert drives across a bridge in the city he is transported back in time. Each time this happens, Robert goes further and further into the past. I like how the author sets the scene, the book doesn’t seem to rush to get to all the time-twisting and we have a good understanding of the characters ready for when the time periods change. I liked the descriptions of Amsterdam, and how its history is used throughout the story. I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the person but the author did a good job of making it feel familiar, and the historical events throughout the book were entertaining and educational. The time travelling aspect isn’t explored in that much technical detail and, even though there is a time travel element, I wouldn’t describe this as a science fiction story. I’d say this is more ‘About Time’ and ‘Time Traveller’s Wife’ than ‘Doctor Who’ in terms of atmosphere and what a reader could expect. I liked the additional complication of Robert’s diabetes as he ends up further and further in the past, I feel this adds a subtle layer of urgency to the narrative. In all I thought that this was a well-written and entertaining book, great for historical fiction as well as contemporary fiction fans. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Chef Mozzy Mlantushi is toiling in a safari company kitchen in the bush. He dreams of escaping the perilous wilderness and his despised employer to become head chef in an upmarket restaurant in London. When VIP guests arrive to record the song of a rare bird, he believes his big break has arrived. But is it his guests or the bird that hold the key to his future? Mozzy’s path leads him out of the wilds towards his dream, but it is the journey of the heart that ultimately fulfils Mozzy’s destiny.
‘The Tenets in the Tattoos’ by Becky James is the first in an ambitious YA Fantasy series. In a world where everyone has a soulmate, another person who compliments and completes them, though not necessarily in a romantic sense. Thorrn has lived for a lot longer than most without finding his. When he does, he must not only learn to accept her but then work together with a collection of unlikely allies to save the kingdom. With secrets, revelations and plot twists along the way, ‘The Tenets in the Tattoos’ is certainly an action-packed adventure. I enjoyed this book, I liked the characters and found the unfamiliar descriptions of familiar things and places (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers) laugh out loud funny. The storyline is ambitious in its scope and really is one for fans of fantasy and science fiction, with multiple tropes all utilised to great effect as Thorrn and Evyn’s path unfolds. I liked Thorrn as a character, he’s arrogant enough in the beginning to not be particularly likeable, but not too arrogant that his work to earn forgiveness for his behaviour rings false. Each character is multi-dimensional and have their own skills that are utilised in the more tense parts of the plot. I think this is a strong new fantasy title and would be interested in reading the rest of the series. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A tale of two women, left vulnerable by the ever present and invisible threat of both the plague and the Witch trials in the 1600s. ‘The Blighted Road’ by Anna McCormac is a historical novel that uses the true events of the 17th century with additional embellishments to full effect to tell the story of Orla, a young midwife accused of witchcraft and Abigail, an orphan of the plague. A story of two strong women who endure and survive against the odds, I think that this story would be enjoyed by fans of historical fiction. I have to say reading a story of the plague in the 17th Century felt rather uncanny considering our own more recent plague times and I wondered as I read whether inspiration from the clergy death counts shared by Abigail’s mother early in the story were inspired by our own bulletins or a mildly terrifying repeating of history. With attempts to use language you’d associate with the time (although I did think “‘Twas” meant “it was” not “I was” as it is sometimes used) the backdrop to Abigail and Orla’s story is well constructed, I felt the tension and the horror at the graveyard, the dread experienced as superstition reigned in Essex and the companionship as the two main characters meet and bond. Without spoilers, the story ends on a subtly foreboding note and I would be interested in reading the next book in the series to see what happens to Abigail next. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘The Tests’ by Robert W. Kirby is a tense psychological thriller. When Alex Clayton loses his mother he is adrift and looking to find himself some new friends and escape a school life of bullying. But the interesting group he chooses has an initiation in order to be a part of the gang. Years later, the initiation and his time with this group come back to haunt him and Alex’s only solution to end his insomnia and nightmares is to gather the gang and work out what happened. Flipping between each group member, the present and the past the reader is taken on a twisting and turning ride that doesn’t give you much time to find your feet, let alone work out what secrets are going to be revealed. Each flash to the past entices you to read on, to work out which event exactly is at the source of Alex’s search for the truth. Each change of character allows you to know more about the whole group of friends, allowing them to have their own developed story and dimension. Gripping and brutal this is a story that I couldn't put down, a rollercoaster ride for anyone looking for a thrill. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Starting off by recounting his incredible journey to the North Pole, ‘Live a Life to Die For’ by Roger Davies is a really interesting autobiography. Roger’s life story and what a varied life he has led. Some of the achievements included in this book, as well as coming 5th in a race to the North Pole include: being a part of the highest rugby game, played on Everest, climbing Kilimanjaro, rowing the North Atlantic and being a charity worker in Africa. These adventures, challenges and life experiences would be sufficient to fill an autobiography in themselves. However, intertwined within these epic tales is the more human story of a life turned around, addictions and adversities overcome. Through this combination, and the order in which each part of the author’s story is revealed to the reader, you learn where the author developed the true grit, strength of character and determination to achieve what he has in later life. Because of this unique structure and the honest and open writing style you’re able to enjoy these highs of the adventures even more. An inspirational and entertaining autobiography. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
The book charts the story of 18-year-old Brissy Jayne Yah. All she wants is to go to university and start her new chapter. Brissy does not want to dwell on the unusual things about herself, she just wants to be a normal teenager. When she finds out that she is a Gene Bearer – a Mutata. Brissy is forced to face the reality of just how different she is from the average person. She is about as far from normal as she can get. Dangers unfold as she starts to understand what it means to be a Mutata. She is a target for Acadia and Zraykus, two rogue organisations with quite different agendas. One wants to use her to further their goals of establishing Gene Bearers as superior to the rest of humanity. The other sees her as a genetic defect that should not exist, they want her dead. Soraya, Brissy’s Mutata Guardian helps her to navigate her new reality and her developing capabilities. It soon becomes apparent that Brissy is unique even amongst the Mutata. Her combination of capabilities is unusual, and the speed at which they are developing unprecedented. She must work with Martha, her Overseer to gain control of her capabilities. Trouble is, Brissy does not trust Martha. Martha was responsible for maintaining a block on Brissy’s memory that prevented her from remembering the events of the night her mother was killed. As Brissy’s capabilities grow, she fears that she will lose herself to whatever it is she is transforming into. The love of her foster family, especially her closeness to her foster brother Marcus help to keep her grounded. There are also her deepening feelings for Kade, as she allows herself to go with the flow in their developing relationship. When Brissy reads a letter left by her dead mother, she gets a disturbing glimpse into her family background. The letter reveals a shocking revelation that floors Brissy. She is left with little choice but to agree to meet with her grandfather. The very man who hunted her mother for most of her life, kidnapped her, and gave her a terrible choice to make. Brissy’s biggest fear is that she will turn into something unrecognisable to herself, something to be feared. That she will lose the love of her family, and the love of Kade as they realise what she is capable of. She desperately clings on to the hope that her capabilities can be used for good, to make the lives of those around her better. But her capabilities can also be a weapon, she can kill. Brissy prays that she can cope as it becomes clear that her journey and the challenges she will face are just beginning. She must cope and stay true to herself as she walks her true-life path. This fast pace urban fantasy will have you engrossed and turning the pages. The characters are wonderfully diverse, and they come to life with the developing story. Readers are thrown a curve ball with plot twists that are both intriguing and a genuine surprise. The book ends on a cliff hanger. The good news is that Brissy’s story continues in Book 2 which is expected to come out in 2022.
‘Echoes of Light’ by Jani Viswanath is a collection of poetry and lyrical short stories that focus on kindness, hope and an appreciation for what is around you. Introductions before each poem and story display the title and a paragraph that sets the tone, I liked this as it helps you decide which piece to read, if you were reading the book out of order, or works as a literary palate cleanser, giving you a time to come out of the previous narrative and prepare for the next. All of the poems and the short stories are well written and well-structured. ‘Requiem’ was a poetry highlight to me, I liked the slow subtle revealing of the scene before me. The short stories all hold lessons about humanity and kindness being displayed in different forms and the tolerance and patience shown in ‘The Brahmin’s Karma-Sundra’ made it stand out to me. This is a very peaceful anthology of work. Each piece is separate but they all coexist perfectly in this collection. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an uplifting and pleasant read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador