Books we've read through our Indie Author Review System. If you're looking to give an independent author a chance, look no further.
‘K-666: BRUTUS - The Mongolian Virus: War through biological weapons’ by Alessandro Boccaletti is a Bond-esque take on a global pandemic. Sinister governing organisations setting out to manipulate a once dormant virus and use it as a biological weapon in order to expand their economy and improve their global positioning. As more and more people fall ill around the world, the unlikely co-operation of an American virologist and his Russian colleagues may just be able to find the solution needed. Based on the global experience over the past year, significantly embellished into a work of dramatic fiction with the incorporation of conspiracies and evil plots, in order to make this an entertaining medical and political narrative. With either a great deal of research or initial knowledge, the author navigates the scientific research and medical scenarios within this book in a way that appears technically detailed and believable throughout. Personally, I didn’t like the footnotes used in the book as I feel that as this is a work of fiction, information is either important enough to be included in the main narrative and should be integrated there, or else left out. However, this little pet peeve of mine didn’t stop me from following on and enjoying this medical thriller in one sitting. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Any Porth In A Storm’ is an entertaining piece of travel writing that follows Oscar Burton as he walks the South West Coastal Path. The journey covers 1015km and goes from Somerset to Dorset. With wit and deep insight, the author takes us on this gruelling journey filled with ups and downs, opportunities to meet new people and terrible weather conditions. This is a story of endurance. I was captivated by Oscar’s perseverance and needed to read on to see if he reached the end, although I was sad at the moment he lost his companion Zippy. I loved the literary references throughout, and although this book does not inspire me to walk the Path it does inspire me to learn about and see more of the South West Coast. Set against the backdrop of political and economic uncertainty experienced in the UK in modern times with fallouts from Brexit etc. and ending with the lockdowns of 2020, this is an enlightening read that will not only potentially put you off walking the Path in one go, but also give you the space to explore themes of resilience and hope amidst dire circumstances. An enthralling read that I would wholeheartedly recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
63 collectable cards from Magic The Gathering© split into nine groups of seven cards. Nine short stories in which characters resemble those from traditional fairy tales and at the same time are different from the literature known to us. Nine short stories created and inspired by the same writer.
Size Zero is a crime thriller set in the high fashion world. Covering everything from the fashion trends to sex trafficking this is an intense plot that you might not be able to predict. Although this book follows Cecil as he seeks to find out what happened to Annabelle and who her murderer was, this story delves into an all too believable world where the elite can hide the most perverse activities because of who they are. The characters throughout are eccentric but well-crafted and the description was vivid, brutally so at times. Handling issues such as rape, sex trafficking, paedophilia, self-harm and eating disorders this isn’t one for the faint-hearted. The author manages to integrate the plot of Size Zero into the modern world, with references to names and events everyone will be aware of. For me, this helped to make the story more believable and emphasised the critique of the high-fashion industry (Which I think this book ultimately is). About halfway through, everything seemed quite straight forward for Cecil, and I wondered at that point how, and perhaps why, there were so many pages left. There were a few more twists and lots of events that I think benefited from the author’s detailed descriptions, and I flipped through the rest of the pages easily. With black humour and a dark narrative, I don’t expect that this will be for everyone, but if you’re wanting something hard-hitting this could be the book for you.
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.
'46% Better Than Dave' is Alastair Puddick's third novel. Although it has been shortlisted for a prize for comic fiction in this far from comedic year, it contains a very serious message about mental health. It may be human nature to compare ourselves to others at times but this book emphasises the importance of keeping things in perspective and not losing sight of what really matters. It will make readers laugh in it's absurdity but also cringe when it reminds us of similar comparisons we may have made. Dave Brookman has no complaints about his life...happily married to a wonderful wife, two great kids, a nice house and a job he's good at. That is, until a new neighbour moves in next door. The newcomer, also called Dave Brookman, is the same age, from the same town and in the same line of work but there the similarities end and his advantages, both real and assumed, begin to prey on Original Dave's mind until what starts as friendly rivalry becomes something infinitely more sinister...obsessive jealousy. The lengths he goes to in his fear and insecurity about New Dave being 46% better than him are destructive, both to him and his family and also his career. Will he come to his senses in time to salvage his life and learn to appreciate the richness of his own existence? Though the main character comes across as immature and his own worst enemy, he is redeemed by the humour and the wit of the writing. I shall certainly be looking out for the author's two previous novels. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Such a great read oh my goodness this authors first trip and to climb Kilimanjaro was certainly not for the faint hearted most of us would have packed up and gone home but not this determined author and all in the name of charity. Then years later the author and this time with his wife walking with lions, in search of Rhinos, beautiful scenery and the dreaded mountain to climb! and will they climb this? It is an interesting read, fascinating accounts of Africa (I've never been but just loved the descriptions, the wildlife and culture) I take my hat off to him not sure if I would follow in his footsteps but has given me a great read on my holiday. This author writes a good story and keeps the reader on their toes. This author has written a number of books of his adventures and I will certainly be following him and catching up on what I have been missing. Jane Brown, 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
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.
The bold, bright and colourful cover image for ‘The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing’ by Andrew J H Sharp grabbed my attention immediately. I was then intrigued by the images on the cover and wanted to know how they were connected to the story. Lead character Savalamuratichimimozi “Mozzy” Mlantushi works as a Safari Chef for a struggling bird observation business but has higher than high aspirations of travelling to the most reputable of restaurants in New York or London as a renowned and applauded Head Chef. Mozzy sees his visiting VIP guests as an opportunity to make new connections and progress, and when a new opportunity arises he looks before he leaps. The supporting characters are just as vibrant and interesting to get to know as Mozzy. His wife, Dorothea is devoted to her Divine Prosperity Assembly, and guests Miss Camlyn and Mr Summerberg are determined to hear the call of the illusive Brackish Akalat. A tale of friendship and healing, Mozzy’s journey is one about chasing aspirations and knowing when to realise that the grass isn’t always greener. I found Mozzy to be perhaps too selfishly steadfast to his dreams and I didn't really warm to him until the second half of the book, however I enjoyed the flow of the story and the pleasant outcome. This is an interesting contemporary fiction tale filled with hope that I’d be happy to recommend.
Nudey Beach tells the story of Amber Stone, while in the process of leaving an abusive relationship she books into a Sophia Classique static caravan near the beach to finish her “truly dreadful” book. During her time at the caravan park, as she waits for her intimidating spectre of an ex-boyfriend to leave their home, she discovers a naturist beach that she soon becomes a regular at. As Amber gets to know the locals she finds herself attracted to one particular visitor and local artist, Luke. Like Desperate Housewives, things heat up behind the doors of an unassuming caravan park, and as a reader we don’t seem to miss any of it. With plenty of action and a dramatic conclusion this book isn’t shy, and may not be for those who blush easily. I thought Nudey Beach was an interesting read. I found the characters and the setting believable and entertaining and it would be a good recommendation for those looking for a relationship story with more mature themes.
A Cobra's Bite Doesn't Hurt by Anil Nijhawan is as potent and daring as the title suggests, but in a way that felt endearing and fondly reminiscent. Kalu "Cobra" is an impoverished orphan boy who grew up in a mice and cockroach ridden orphanage, called Durga Bhabi Bal Kalyan in Haridwar, India. He often spends his days staring out the window of his hidden alcove, dreaming of escape. Then one day, his fortunes seemingly change when he is forced to work for some gangsters as a pickpocket, out in the big city of Bangalore. His retrospective tale, recorded on an old Japanese Sanyo is addressed to the leader of his country, Mr Narendra Modi, who claims to care for the poor and dispossessed but whose actions prove the opposite to be true. This book is an unfiltered recollection, rich in cultural representation, that I very much adored reading, despite my minor grievances with the writing. I felt like the execution of the story, the pacing, the development of Kalu's endearing character and the cultural undertones more than compensated for this and made me empathise with Kalu's plight. It was a candid statement about the tragic path that often results owing to a lack of opportunity because of a person's social class. Put simply, I can't wait to own it! Lois Cudjoe, A LoveReading Ambassador