Books we've read through our Indie Author Review System. If you're looking to give an independent author a chance, look no further.
I Am The Sand is an intense and graphic psychological thriller with a unique perspective. The plotline pivots around the abduction of Chloe Thomas, while she was on her way home from school. From the reader’s distanced viewpoint we are not only given access to the investigation and Chloe’s fight to survive her capture and endure abusive treatment, we are also able to follow the captor and learn more about his public perception. From this outside perspective, we are also able to enjoy the author’s skill at characterisation, with vital side characters coming to the forefront of story to add an extra twist. This book is incredibly tense and there were times where my heart was racing for Chloe and I couldn’t get through the pages fast enough, at certain points shouting in frustration as hope ebbs away. I also think that the author handles the topic of mental illness well in this book. I am usually hesitant when mental health is incorporated almost as an explanation of a villain’s behaviour, however I appreciated the work carried out by the author to present these themes in a different light, through Sarah’s perspective as well as providing more detail of an aftermath towards the end of the book. I thought I Am the Sand was a highly gripping read and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a page-turning psychological thriller.
Calum O’Domhnaill has had a very eventful life, explored in Taking The Bad With the Good we find out about his upbringing in a Catholic school, how he then gravitates towards a life of crime, a tragic accident that leads to the loss of a child and how he and his wife, Lydia, rebuild from the trauma. I think that this is a great read for those interested in autobiographies. This book covers a range of topics with openness and honesty which makes this story both endearing and heart wrenching. The author doesn’t pull his punches as he covers the darker events in his and his family’s life, but there is some humour to be found amongst the pages too. Taking the Bad With the Good is the story of one man’s upbringing in a dysfunctional family, an Irish Catholic upbringing and convent school system, the tragedies that befell his wife before they met, and those that happen to their family and how they are overcome. This is a twisting rollercoaster of a life that is incredibly moving however it is also a story of resilience and I think that a lesson of hope can be found too.
Blurry Lines is a tale of family, grief and loss set amongst the current coronavirus pandemic. This story is not like a lot of the pandemic fiction I have come across over the course of the past year. It’s not a science fiction take that places everything we’ve seen into some sort of dystopian, medical drama reality. This book, to play with the title slightly, blurs the lines between fact and fiction with a family’s story. The details and confusion of the spreading pandemic looming in the background, but existing as a catalyst to the experiences within the plot as opposed to the main focus. Nathan, a physician, is a widower and single father who is in lockdown with his sister-in-law and her two children, all coping with the sudden death of Nathan’s brother from COVID-19. As he works to support Maria and her children, Nathan is also able to re-evaluate his life, with the distance from his normal routine during lockdown allowing him to see what impact his actions have on his family. I’m sure a lot of people, myself included, will have taken the time to reflect on their lives and look for opportunities to change, develop and improve going forward. I think the author expertly uses the coronavirus outbreak to spark recognition in the readers, allowing them to connect deeply with the characters as well as take the time to remember their own perspective as they read. The author then manages to develop this further by going on to incorporate an evaluation of the human condition in a way that feels, if not relatable because the reader has already done it, but inspiring, allowing the reader to take a moment to reflect on their own life and experiences. All of the characters in this book are very well-crafted, believable and endearing. Tayo Emmanuel also offers an insight into a different culture throughout the book, including details of Nathan’s upbringing in Lagos. To me, this adds even more depth and detail to an already immersive book. This book is created with honesty and vulnerabilities, and I think it is a brilliant literary insight into the realities of a family, love, loss and grief in this unprecedented world.
‘The Friends of Allan Renner’ by Dave J Andrae is an intriguing concept. We follow the story of Allan Renner, not directly, but through his connection with a circle of his friends. I liked this as it brings the secondary characters into the foreground, while also revealing more and more about Allan in each chapter. Looking at the chapter headings, named after Allan’s friends, one name in particular does stand out, and without including any spoilers the progression of the philosophical conversations about the past and what technological advances and societal changes could mean for our future in each chapter seems to lead us gradually and naturally to the final chapter. With references throughout the story to a ‘fateful day in 2017’ the plot strolls on, creating intrigue as you try to work out what’s going to happen to Allan. There are elements of science fiction but I think that this book demonstrates most strongly the bonds made by and between people. We read about the human condition when we read about Allan Renner’s connections and interactions with his friends and family. An innovative concept that I feel has been well executed and makes for an interesting read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A detailed start to a fantasy series, ‘Enok and the Womb of Gods’ uses stories from ‘Genesis’ and ‘The Book of Enoch’ to develop a world shrouded in mythology. This is an epic story that has been designed to be read repeatedly, with something new to be uncovered and learned each time. Admittedly I was a little daunted at the detail before the story started, I’m unfamiliar with reading an explanation about how to read a book before I begin and I was a bit concerned about whether or not this would impact my enjoyment of the book. I am also not familiar with the Book of Enoch, a section of the bible on which a part of this story stems from, however, I think that the author does well to set the plotline in a realm of fantasy so that this doesn’t cause too many problems. I think people who have a more detailed understanding of Christianity and Judaism will undoubtedly notice more nuance in the characters and the story than I did, and it will spark those with an interest in mythology to read and learn more. Set up like an Greek epic, a story weaved and told by elders, the story of Enok unfolds. I found this book an in depth and interesting read, there’s lots of details to keep track of and I personally appreciated the glossary of terms at the end. There’s lots to enjoy for fantasy and mythology fans and questions yet to be answered in later books. A good book that will absorb all of your concentration for a while.
Elise Rose lives with her mother and one night whilst sitting on her bed reading, she hears raised voices. These noises pull her out of her room and so she witnesses a horrific and violent altercation between her mum and a drunk man. Move forward and after a period away, Elise is now living with her grandad, while helping run his shop. You get the impression that Elise is very uncomfortable with her life and where she lives, and because of this she stumbles across a house in Darcy Lane. She spends many hours thinking about the house, drawing pictures and dreaming of all the improvements she would make if the house was hers. Back in real life, Elise meets someone who has ties to the past and soon becomes entangled in his life. He gives her the means by which to improve her standing and fulfil her dreams. However, he is not all that he seems, and Elise learns this in a horrific manner. Life turns full circle for Elise, but by the end of the book you feel that she is now settled and is hopeful for her future. This is not the usual sort of book that I would read. However, I really enjoyed it and it gave me a few things to think about, even after I had read the final page. Gail Phillips, A LoveReading Ambassador
Merchants of Hate is Jack Jardel's first novel and what an entrance onto the literary scene! Set in the near future at the time of writing, the author has imaginatively and, in some cases prophetically, described events, which could or are about to happen in real life. An unprecedented natural disaster disables all the manmade satellites orbiting the Earth and with them all digital forms of communication. Through the experiences of several people in different countries around the world, we learn of the unfolding chaos that this catastrophic event causes. Written in short sections, the book keeps readers on their toes, with this constant change of voice and location and the emerging pattern of the relationships between the characters. The writer examines some of the most pressing issues of modern times in this chillingly detailed dystopian scenario, especially the impact of fake news and social media on democracy. This is a bold and powerful story, convincingly exposing the vulnerability of the society we have sleepwalked into. The players are frighteningly realistic and their actions, in the light of recent news, not so improbable or farfetched as we might once have thought. A gripping read for anyone who cares about the future of this uncertain world. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
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.
'Resistance, Revolution and Other Love Stories’ by K is a collection of short stories which, as the title already suggests, focuses on varying perspectives on love. From teen boys who both have feelings for the same girl to futuristic Big Brother-like worlds with automatons and a telling of one of my personal favourite Greek Myths Orpheus and Eurydice. Each story stands alone and so this book can be picked up and enjoyed from cover to cover, or when a reader is looking for a short story to get lost in. Although the theme throughout is love, not all the stories are uplifting, and each one has a distinct tone and atmosphere. I thought the stories were well written and found myself chuckling out loud to ‘Calamity Jane’. Set across the world and throughout time with one universal thread I think that this is an eclectic collection of stories that’s well worth a read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
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.