Books we've read through our Indie Author Review System. If you're looking to give an independent author a chance, look no further.
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
This tense and twisty thriller featuring an El Salvadoran filmmaker teems with revenge, mystery and international intrigue. Packed with characterful details of people and places, Peter Harper’s Agenda Indiscriminate is a page-turning thriller that teems with tension as it entertains. The absorbing set-up of a film-maker becoming enmeshed in a world of criminal gangs, governmental schemes and global terror makes for a heady mix that will surely satisfy readers who like their mysteries meaty, and their thrillers to reel with international intrigue. Following the brutal murder of his lover, filmmaker Rafael leaves London for his native El Salvador in a state of turmoil. Having abandoned his script-in-progress, he agrees to help the government liaise with a dangerous gang to try to curtail an epidemic of violence and death. But it’s not long before Rafael decides to get out while he can, so he returns to London to pick up his incendiary script. Cue encounters with a mad gunman and uncontrollable revenge impulses that unfold through suspenseful plotting and perceptive dialogue. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
We embark on a coming of age fantasy story in 'TTEO: Take The Emotion Out’ by Ren Laws. 18-year old Brissy is gearing up to embark on the next stage of her life; finishing up her A levels with the aim of going to university. She tries to fit in and appear as normal as possible, but when the things that make her unusual turn out to mean something bigger than she ever could have imagined, the fantasy adventure begins. I like Brissy, from the start she’s an endearing and warm character with lots of similar concerns to readers of her age. I also like the way that the book begins focusing on the mundane, getting us settled in the world of A Levels and university offers, before the fantasy elements are slowly introduced. I personally feel that the writing could do with a little bit more polish, at times it was a little bit repetitive - Bus said three times in one paragraph on p. 17 and lake and water repeated twice in a similarly short space of time on page 16 - but when I became immersed in the story I found this didn’t really detract from the action. I found the plot of ‘Take The Emotion Out’ action-packed and entertaining, the ending leaving you eager to see what happens in future books. An enjoyable and quick read for fans of YA Fantasy. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘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
‘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
A historical fiction with a determined and strong-willed female lead. ‘Emilie’ by Ingrid Ramsdale explores the life of a noble Huguenot 16-year old, determined to do more with her life than society and her class demand of her. The scene in this story when Emilie is brutally beaten after being lured to a dangerous area by her scheming and conniving brother Pierre. Their relationship continues in much the same way as Emilie rebels against the meek and subservient daughter and potential wife role she is expected to play. Seeking solace among her friends in the kitchen and the garden and secretly following her ambitions to become a healer land her in trouble. Then the Bartholomew Day Massacre changes Emilie’s life in ways she would have never imagined. She’s faced with the choice to flee France or stay and fulfill her vocation as a healer. I liked the determined nature of Emilie and enjoyed following her story, set against the backdrop of the French wars of Religion in the 16th century. The narrative of a woman before her time looking to carve out a new place in the world is a popular one amongst historical fiction, especially in books with a younger protagonist and perhaps directed at the YA market as well as the adult one. I found ‘Emilie’ to be a well-crafted story, with action and twists that will keep you turning the page. With plenty of different characters to love and some that you will love to despise, this is a strong character-led story set against a period of history that I didn’t know much about.
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
As soon as I opened the book and the title ‘Volta’ and its definition was revealed I knew this was going to be a book full of twists and turns and I looked forward to finding out exactly how this was going to be related to the plot. ‘Volta’ by Nikki Dudley throws the reader in at the deep end, when someone we later find out to be Briony wakes up covered in blood, apparently with no recollection of how she came to be in such a situation. We then pan out, taking the opportunity to meet Mari (Briony’s therapist) Aris (Mari’s detective brother) and SJ (Briony’s new lawyer with a history with Mari and a friendship with Aris). This interconnected foursome carry the plotline, each having their own turn with the narrative which I found added more dimension to the characters and the storyline. In this twisting and tense thriller there are multiple conundrums to figure out: what happened between Briony and Ed and is it connected to Briony’s past? What happened in SJ’s Past? And the ‘will they, won’t they’ of SJ and Mari which I found to be a more light-hearted aspect of the narrative that provided some much needed respite from the grittier topics although brought a different tension to the book. Having already won the Virginia Prize for Fiction, I know I will be adding my voice to a sea of others when I say that I really enjoyed this well-crafted and gripping thriller. The characters all have so much dimension and there’s a great deal of detail to the plot, this is a book I was mulling over when I wasn’t reading and will linger with me for a while now I’ve finished. 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.