Books we've read through our Indie Author Review System. If you're looking to give an independent author a chance, look no further.
An interesting, perhaps surprising look into the world of counselling. When Therapy Goes Wrong uses the author’s own experience of therapy, the good and the bad, as a foundation to educate and warn others “ to be aware of the potential consequences of therapeutic negligence and the dangers of abusing a position of power, especially when you work with vulnerable people.” It is acknowledged that this warning is not needed for the majority of those who work within therapy as a profession, but the author goes on to illustrate the lack of regulation within this sector and the potential for vulnerability when looking for a counsellor or therapist and trying to validate their reputation, accreditations or qualifications. This is a very interesting insight into the world on counselling. Written from the perspective of a client and a training counsellor, the author is frank about the problems she’s seen with the system and the regulation bodies that do exist, as well as taking a look at the response to women within healthcare. Throughout the book there are black and white illustrations from the author, created as an additional form of expression which I liked, and there are references at the end for articles mentioned in the book.
In The Aviculturist a horrific event from Alice’s childhood, secrets, lies and romance all take place in Penwyth House, Cornwall. When Alice’s mother dies, Alice returns to Cornwall and uncovers a web of family secrets that she must unravel in order to find peace with her past and discover the reason for the nightmares she’s had since she was a child. This book is really enjoyable. It is a quick easy read, and well paced. It has everything you need in a good book, a big old gothic house, and a beautiful remote and rugged location. I enjoyed the writing style and felt that the author really knew and loved her characters, as they felt very real, and I just wanted to love them too, and although there were some parts that did seem a bit implausible, all was forgiven as you just want everything to work out well for everyone.
‘The Power of Us’ depicts a powerfully passionate relationship between Cassidy and Harly. Cassidy has always dreamed of becoming an internet at one of the most successful newspapers in New York, The Artefact. Harly is a publisher at said newspaper and comes to Cassidy’s class at Columbia University to offer an exciting opportunity. Now that the two character’s paths have crossed, what begins is a turbulent relationship with plenty of bumps in the road. The first book in a Duology, ‘The Power of Us’ is a so-called NA (new adult) romance. I liked the characterisation of both Cassidy and Harly, and being able to see the story from both their perspectives endear me to the couple. Cassidy is introduced as an open book that you are endeared to immediately, whereas there are more questions surrounding Harly’s past that kept me intrigued and needing to read on to find out more about. I would say that the tropes in this book aren’t new - the younger “innocent” woman meets and almost miraculously mystifies the man with status and confidence - but I think that the plot is well-written and would be readily enjoyed by fans of New-Gen or NA romance fans. I was eager to read on, and would be interested in reading the next book in this duology.
Cassidy is running away from his past on Alabama Chrome, but his ghosts never leave. With little other than his campervan, he doesn’t seem to settle anywhere. But a snowstorm changes all that, bringing Cassidy into contact with Lark, and a community he might be able to feel at home in. With more complications on the way, from an inscrutable new waitress and the arrival of a reality TV host with a full crew in tow to shoot a new TV show, will Cassidy be able to share his truth, or will he return to the road? A story that will bring your emotions to the front but in an enjoyable way. Alabama Chrome is written from the first person perspective of Cassidy; he shares the life of a small, close-knit community, featuring family bonds, the looming presence of domestic violence as well as a critique on reality TV. I was intrigued by the story throughout and I found the characters to be very well-rounded, with each past event revealed adding nuance and believability to the story. The author definitely has a detailed knowledge of people, their quirks, traits and behaviours and is good at crafting believable characters that evoke sympathy and empathy.
'The Woman of Stencils' is the title of the tenth story in Marianne Price's book of 22 short stories. As a West End actor and singer brought up in North London, the author draws on her very varied life experiences as well as her prolific imagination to enrich her writing of these exceptionally wry and moving tales. The common theme to all is that of loss, or perceived loss, of something or someone, and the very profound and lasting effect that can have. A few of the stories, such as 'Remember, Remember' and 'The All Too Perfect Teddy Bear' deal with the loss of a child in a very dark and ghostly way, so that they read like horror stories, guaranteed to have the hairs on the back of the reader's head up on end. Far more laid back are the stories dealing with the fragility of romantic attachments, whilst the saddest and most poignant are those dealing with lost youth and time. All the stories have a surrealism about them, are thought provoking and compelling. Perhaps the most memorable in the collection are the stories with a theatrical backdrop, where the characters and scene setting are particularly realistic and well drawn, since performing has been the natural environment of the author for so much of her life but every story will resonate with and be appreciated by the reader. We look forward to more soon. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Dream is a fantasy book which follows Aldon as the secrets of his past force him on the run. With a lot at stake and an opportunity to clear his debts, Aldon and his companions discover a grand conspiracy and Aldon must place his trust in a stranger. This fantasy story is set in a familiar world, with aspects of both modern and medieval combined, all steeped in magic. The story dives straight into action but this means that getting to know the characters and understand the storyline is more challenging as you are trying to keep up as you read. I also found it quite violent throughout. I felt that this book had a flow similar to that of a dream where it didn’t feel like it followed an order and sometimes didn’t feel like it even made sense to me. I think that as a stand-alone fantasy then it could be a good read.
Crossed-Dressed to Kill is an incredibly interesting book filled with instances from the 17th century onwards of women who dressed as men in order to go to war. Some of the names of these women were known to me, Anne Bonny the 18th century Pirate for one, however this book gave me more insight into their history, and there were many other women who I was introduced to for the first time. This is a fascinating side of history with the author’s detailed research shining a spotlight on the women who defied their gender roles in order to participate in military action. The account of each woman is detailed, although brief, this means you could happily flick through the pages, reading about a couple of brave women at a time, or read cover to cover. At the end of each account there is a concluding summary, which not only rounds our each story but highlights some of the patriarchal views of the time. Some of these stories are more sad than others, but all are incredibly interesting with plenty of references included at the end of the book to allow for personal research and further reading. I never enjoyed History at school, but as an adult I love learning about the past and I think that stories like these should be shared in schools, at the very least to demonstrate that the old-fashioned notion of the “traditional” role of women, didn’t work even at the height of it’s popularity.
Secret to Sultan follows on from Gordon Lewis’ first book, the Secret Child. Although I don’t think you necessarily need to have read about the first part of Lewis’ life in order to enjoy this book, it does start without preamble, so I would recommend you do. Born and raised in a hostel for Single mothers in 1950s Dublin, Gordon has ambitions of a much better life for his family and when he moves with his family to London, he works hard to achieve it. From his interest in pop culture to a Beatles concert, Gordon is inspired to pursue a career in show business. This book focuses on Gordon’s career, how he worked hard to develop a very successful Production business before taking on a new challenge of creating a London gay village as a part of the Soho nightclub scene, this lead to his favourite nickname and inspiration for the title “The Sultan of Soho”. This book covers such a wide range of modern history. Through Gordon’s life experience we learn more about growing up in both Dublin and London, including the discrimination the Irish experienced in England. We find out about the development of a video production company as well as getting behind the scenes access to the running of bars and clubs in Soho. Gordon introduces us to interesting people and colourful anecdotes throughout and I think that this is a witty and wonderful book for all non-fiction fans.
Euphoric Recall is inspired and based on the author’s life. This is an honest portrayal of a number of traumatic events including sexual abuse and addiction as well as his recovery. You are drawn into Aiden’s world in the first pages, his writing style is familiar and open, helping to form an immediate connection to the reader. This makes the book enticing, and I was keen to keep reading right to the very end. I think that this is a brilliantly written debut. The details of the trauma that Aiden experienced are dark and heart wrenching, however there is an element of hope - this book has been written and Aiden is in a position to reflect and tell his story. I admire the strength it’s taken to reflect and share dark moments. I also think that Euphoric Recall includes many moments that any reader would find relatable. As I was reading the title did confuse me slightly, but upon reflection I think that the ‘euphoria’ comes from the ability to look back, to have come back from trauma and share the whole story. I really enjoyed this book and I think that it would be a good memoir for those who are interested in more gritty life stories.
Soul Seeker is a complex thriller packed full of tension, drama and the supernatural. I liked that this book starts off with a poem, almost like an old shakespearean narrator introducing the plotline and what’s about to happen. We are first introduced to the story of Benjamin Poe, A death row inmate finally sharing the twisted events that led to a shocking murder. After reading the synopsis for the book I was eager to start reading and I soon became engrossed in Benjamin’s story. I like the small town that the author creates and the variety of characters that live in Lochton. I also liked that it wasn’t stereotypical quaint and peaceful, with a brief shoplifting incident early on. I think that this added an underlying realism and grittiness and was a solid foundation to build the darker aspects of the story. Even early on in Soul Seeker we are aware of evil events and non-moral actions which I think set the tone for later on in the novel and provide an interesting environment to introduce the supernatural characters. I found the characters interesting and I enjoyed how the characters are developed alongside plot twists. These plot twists kept me guessing throughout the book, with more questions than answers and a need to find out more. I liked the supernatural element of this story, I think it really helps to ramp up the suspense that builds throughout the novel while also maintaining a sense of realism and moral complexity - even Crighton, a high ranking demon, is made up of more than pure evil. I liked seeing his relationship develop with Ariel towards the end of the book. Soul Seeker is the first book in a series and I look forward to reading more. I think Soul Seeker would be enjoyed by fans of the supernatural, darker relationship stories and thrillers.
June Wilson has created a wondrous mythological world in Middengard and her 'Middengard Sagas', five books aimed at readers aged 11+, are peopled with Norse deities, demons, fairies and beings with superhuman powers. 'Gloriana' is the first book in her new series, 'The Chronicles of Albion', aimed at older readers, which continues the story of some of those characters, though the author assures us that it isn't necessary to be familiar with her earlier work to appreciate this new tale, a historical fantasy, set very realistically and atmospherically in Elizabethan London. An unlikely and fragile alliance between Mae, Queen of the Fae Folk and Isolde, the last of the ancient race of Vanir, sends Josh and Molly to 1571 to find a secret key, thought to be in the possession of Elizabeth I, aka Gloriana. This key has properties, unknown to it's owner, which could bring chaos to the world if it's power fell into the wrong hands. Aided by Balthazar, a Fae warrior and shape-shifter, and Cat, also gifted with powers she is only just learning about, they gain access to the Queen's court and hatch a plan to secure the key. However, the forces working against them, who want to bring about the destruction of the human race, are not going to give up without a fierce fight and the story ends on a cliffhanger. We'll have to wait till later this year for the next book in the series to find out if and how that which has been lost can be recovered. This book combines two of my favourite genres, historical fiction and fantasy, so I enjoyed it very much. The evocative scenes of sixteenth century London are well researched and the whole story is exciting and gripping. I will definitely be looking out for the sequel. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
No Place to Hide has an excellent plot that kept me hooked and unsure of who did what right to the very end. The start of a trilogy featuring the surgeon, Daniel Kendrick. In this first book Daniel’s life is far from perfect, trying to come to terms with his daughter’s murder, with his marriage and his career both on the verge of collapse. Then his wife disappears, and Daniel is a suspect. As the tension builds he needs to start his own investigation to find her before time runs out. I found this book to be exceptionally well written and researched with very believable characters and storyline. It gave me goose bumps and I couldn’t put it down. I would describe No Place to Hide as a proper page-turner. I think it’s one of the best books I have read in a long time. I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy.