Wednesday 30 April 2014

A Letter from Hell by Billy Presley

Title: A Letter from Hell
Author: Billy Presley
Read Type: Indie read
Stars: StarStarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US

You can find out more about the author on Goodreads
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In a desperate attempt to save his soul before he dies, southern aristocrat William Virgil Hollingsmore writes the world a cautionary letter on the last of his twelve days in a personalized Hell. In it, through the haze of his own mental deterioration, he chronicles the horrors and agony that befell him at the hands of Satan, as well as the sad events leading up to this unfortunate climax.

This novel starts in an unknown time period, but treatment of asylum patients point to the past, in said asylum as a person's mother arrives in the late hours. I was unsure what to make of this story at first, especially when terms like God and Satan, heaven and hell were thrown at me. I thought at first I would end up reading preaching, but while there are aspects, it caught my non-religious attention.

I don't believe the age of somebody denotes their skill, however, when I found out this author was 17 I was surprised. He starts of writing convincingly as a put out young man in an asylum, then when the novel changes to the letter mentioned, writing as is elderly grandfather in his last days. The latter writing read almost Dickens-esque. Very apt for an old man knowing he is in his last days and getting weaker by the second. There were some snags, things I think an editor could have ironed out, odd words here or there that were unnecessary, but the story itself overrode this.

A large part of this story, the history that brought the character to this location, was told either through standard flashbacks, or the devil's torturing, of which how much to believe was uncertain. Even when I put this book down I was still thinking on what I'd read and what it could mean. In one or two places I fel the author got a bit wrapped up in the horror scenes being caused … SPIDERS … and forgot to add the emotion on top of the actions.

I think this novel can be easily read and enjoyed by both religious and non-religious readers. It covers theory over what heaven and hell, and their purported guardians may be, but never sits you down and says "here is how it is". It one part it is actually stated that hell is different for every person, a concept I liked, as it means we can all be correct.

I felt the ending was a little abrupt, but filled in the gaps in the answers of what happened. I liked it for how different it was.

This novel had highs and lows in its make-up, when I have trouble working out a rating I break it down, sometimes I work out a mean, other times I just use it as reference. This is what I got:
Characterisation: 4.5
Clarity: 3.5
Plot: 4
Ending: 4
Description: 4
Emotion: 3

That gives a mean of 3.8 which I think it fair and will happily upgrade for a 4

As a side-note I do not believe you are EVER too young to write and get published. When does the next novel come out, Billy?

Sunday 27 April 2014

In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation by Jennifer Ellis

Title: In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation
Author: Jennifer Ellis
Read Type: ARC read
Stars: StarStarStarStar

This book is pre-release, please check back often as I will give an update once it is released.

You can find out more about the author on her website and twitter.

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 What matters most - love or power?

In a world torn apart by economic collapse, Natalie and her husband Richard have established an island of relative safety on a communal farm. Death—by starvation, raiders, or sickness—stalks them daily, and their survival hinges on working together for the common good. But in a lawless land with no shortage of suffering, good is a malleable concept.
As the constant grind of survival and the frictions of farm politics expose the rifts in Natalie and Richard’s marriage, Natalie finds herself seeking refuge in the company of Richard’s twin, Daniel, a solitary man with little interest in politics. Daniel can’t offer Natalie the same privilege and stature in the farm community as his brother, and leaving Richard could upset the delicate social balance on the farm—but Daniel may just give Natalie a chance at love.
Richard, intent on staging a triumphant return to provincial politics with his wife and children at his side, refuses to give up Natalie so easily; and Daniel, used to subsuming his own interests to those of his twin, must decide if he is willing to fight for the woman he wants.
When people dying from a potentially new and virulent form of influenza arrive seeking help, Natalie, Richard, and Daniel must each map the boundaries of their own loyalties and morality. In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation is a story of adventure, politics, and love in a brave new world where the old rules don’t always apply.

Despite starting in two scenes of life or death this book instantly had emotive writing, clueing you in to who was who and bringing the night and the inferno out of the pages. The switch from the first danger of a fire, to the second of arrows was smooth, giving little away about the reason.

During the first chapter, if you had not read the blurb, you would have believed you were reading a wild west farming novel. This worked to the book's advantage, allowing you to meet the cast and get an emotional grip before learning the back catalogue of how this happened. Throughout the entire book it flipped seamlessly between diverse farm life, life of death battles and romance.

I liked that despite this novel being post-Apocalyptic for once there weren't humans walking around rotting on every corner. This was very much a more realistic and refreshing change, covering how oil ran out and caused economic collapse. This is explained well and believably, but without spending half the novel in flashbacks. It very much lives in the present, galloping from one event to the next.

The characters were well written, many with an instant like or dislike for the reader. For example, Richard, the owner of the farm comes off as instantly brash, especially as he argues with his wife, him doing nothing, while she tries to stop their crops burning to the ground. It shows a lovely power uncertainty between the couple, both fighting to run the farm their own way. As Richard left that scene one of the gems of the writing shows up, "Natalie’s wedding ring sears her finger like a brand".

…And then Richard's brother shows up on the scene. Cue the fireworks!

I did find it hard to keep some of the farm members straight as to who was who and who was the mother-in-law, for example. I think that is a natural hazard of having such a large cast as you would need to run a farm with minimal electric or fuel, but when somebody we haven't seen for a few chapters casts a main character a dirty look then stalks out I would have liked a quick thought to somehow let me know who I was dealing with.

I would give this novel a 4.5 for believability and depth. However, for the sake of review sites I have to drop to down to a 4, I feel there was just a little too much character confusion to give it a 5

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Trans-Human by David Simpson

Title: Trans-Human
Author: David Simpson
Series: Post-Human series - Book 3 (according to author's suggested reading)
Type of read: Indie Publisher
Stars: StarStarStar

You can find my review of the first book in the series, Sub-Human here
You can find my review of the second book in the series, Post-human here
You can buy the set of 4 I am reading Via Amazon UK or Amazon US. Links to individual books should be available from these pages if you would prefer.

This review is posted without the knowledge of the author and therefore without consent for book cover of blurb due to being able to get a response from him. If you are the author or know him I would love to get permission to add these elements to the review

Firstly, I should state that despite my many problems with this novel I did get enjoyment out of it and plan to read the next one (partly because I felt this novel was merely a set up for the fourth instalment, and partly because I have the 4 book box set so I may as well make use of it). I think it is also worth noting that I do not think I am reading these in the order they were written, but in the order of the box set, so some of my misgivings may be related to that.

This is the third novel I have read in this series. While I have had minor gripes in the back of my head with the previous 2, these were often undefined. This time however they stuck out too much to ignore, even one of the characters hit on it. They were going to fix things with a deux ex machina. I would have liked to have seen them use their minds, rather than rely on advanced robots, abilities humans of present day do not have, or the ability to change themselves into something else.

This is not the first book in which most, if not all of the main characters have been killed, then miraculously revived by a character who has shown no abilities beyond other people of this futuristic time.

The author in this novel had some potentially great ideas, but it felt as if he was getting bored of each one mid way through the implementation and jumping to something different without the padding to catch me as I fell through the plot hole.

In each book more types of inventions, creatures and robots have been introduced. I have had little issue with this as I felt, while often not implemented as well as they could have been, these have added to the story and felt like likely progressions in a human race who have advanced so much. However, in this novel it felt as if a new species was invented, the rules for many previous ones were ripped out from under our feet, and while I tried to regain my balance they were all put in a blender and attributes switched between them. For example I felt in some places the androids had more emotion than the humans.

All of that aside the ending, what I hope is a permanent resolution for the group of "purists", people who decided not to become part machine made me smile. All too often they seem to be treated as lesser individuals, sometimes feeling like the author's political statements on certain groups of our society under a thin veil.

I am disappointed to have to give this a 2.5, rounded to a 3 for the sake of reviewing sites.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Hunger Moon by Melissa Snark

Title: Hunger Moon
Author: Melissa Snark
Series: Loki's Werewolves - Book 2
Type of read: eARC

You can find the book on Amazon US, Amazon UK and B&N
You can find more about Melissa on her website and blog

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Victoria Storm faces seemingly insurmountable odds to keep her dwindling pack of werewolves alive and together. She fights hunters- including the brother and father of her deceased lover-and the pack takes another devastating loss. When they seek sanctuary in a small town near Lake Tahoe, high in the secluded Sierra Nevada Mountains, Victoria discovers they are infringing on the territory of a vastly more powerful Alpha wolf. To save her pack, she uses her feminine wiles to seduce the Alpha. Nothing comes easily for Victoria. Her plans are complicated by the Alpha's erratic son, a ghostly wife, and a vengeful witch. Not even her status as a Valkyrie or the favor of the Goddess Freya can change the course of destiny for Victoria or her packmates

This is the second book in the Loki's werewolves series, you can find my review for the first one at

I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

This is the second book in the Loki's Werewolves series, and while the first one was good I felt this was a big step up in writing quality. The connections between the characters and their species, as well as the wolf hierarchy really showed in this novel, making fascinating reading as character chose to submit or not depending on rank. And not all the dangerous ones are supernatural, there's danger at every turn.

The character's were well crafted: Victoria, the Valkyrie werewolf who give a lovely insight into both the living and those who died both in this book and the last, Arik, the hot suitor with more secrets than he has sleeves for, a grumpy librarian, breaking the tension of the story for a little bit, and the fact that you have amputee werewolves that just get on with life.

The book has a lovely action feel, starting off with a vicious fight and carrying problems, whether they be ones of growling animals or stomachs all the way through. Problems of the heart, war with problems of survival as Victoria, the almost accidental Alpha of the pack, has to find a mate to keep her pack alive. That just leads to more trouble, cover up, trouble, fighting, and did I mention trouble?

This book sent me from laughter to being choked up, to tension, everything I like in a good novel. I am looking forward to the next in the series, especially having read the excerpt in the back of the novel. I think this is a series to keep your eye on.

I would give this book 4.5 stars but increase it to 5 stars for the sake of rating sites

Friday 11 April 2014

Sex, Spooks and Sauvignon by Tracy Whitwell

Title: Sex, Spooks and Sauvignon
Author: Tracy Whitwell
Series: Sex, spooks...
Type of read: Indie author
Stars: Star Star Star Star Star

You can buy the book via Amazon UK and in paperback on her website
You can find Tracy on twitter and her website

COVER sex & spooks & sauvignon photo COVERsexampspooksampsauvignon_zps78b5e473.jpg 
Meet Tanz, a thirty-something, northern, lusty, cash-strapped, failing actress with a penchant for cocktails. When, with her bank balance dwindling fast, she decides to work in a local New-Age shop in north London and starts hearing voices, a journey begins that brings spooks, laughter, a cast of millions (well, tens... ) mortal danger and some very pleasant shenanigans with a young Irish barman called Pat. Join the mad ride that is Tanz's life, today. And bring a bottle.

Despite this being an ARC review site, I wasn't asked to review this novel. After having read it however I contacted the author, who I can tell is just as much of a character as the ones she writes and notified her I'd be reviewing regardless of her opinion… but did she have an opinion and would she like to share? Thankfully either the bad guy isn't based on anyone she's close to or she took to me as I seem to still be alive, and even got the cool title of "sexy book-mafia"! Woohoo go me!

I wanted to share this though as I think it deserves to be shown off.

I found this novel on a free special offer on Amazon UK at the start of the year but it has sat neglected on my kindle since. I wanted to read something a bit different and I am so glad I picked this book up.

The book is light, funny and doesn't take itself too seriously which I found a refreshing change. The plot floated along, slow enough that there were times to just hang out with random cool characters from the point of view's, Tanz's, life, but still felt scripted enough that I knew where I was going, and hung on for the ride. I particularly liked the character of Milo, the funny best friend who, while not really having much to add to the plot except a sense of fun and life from before the events of the book, would have left a devastating hole if he were to be removed. I hope to see him take a larger role in future books.

A large part of the plot centred around work, whether as an actress, a till assistant in a spiritual shop, or a slight unbelieving and very bemused medium blurting out messages from beyond the grave! At the beginning of the novel Tanz has no idea on the mediumship front, merely taking a till job in a shop until her next acting break comes along. I feel the disbelief in this was essential to me having such an easy time believing the events later on in the book as the spooks get serious. I had time to go from non-existent to creepy-coincidence, to get-in-there-and-kick-ass-girl!

The side plots in between work of drinking, sex and sex while drinking were great fun. I imaging the author had fun "researching" the drinking side, possibly the sex as well.

Having since spoken with the author and found out several of the characters are based on her life I love this book even more. A diamond in the rough, I hope we get more soon.

Monday 7 April 2014

The Child Thief by Melissa Snark

Title: The Child Thief
Author: Melissa Snark
Series: Loki's Werewolves - Book 1
Type of read: eARC
Stars:  Star Star Star Star

You can find the book on Amazon US, Amazon UK and B&N
You can find more about Melissa on her website and blog

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Valkyrie Victoria Storm has werewolf hunters hell bent on revenge trying to kill her. She can barely keep her own downtrodden pack alive, let alone respond to the pleas of a murdered mother.  Can she set aside her differences and work with her sworn enemy to save a little boy from a Christmas nightmare?

I received a free copy of this short story in return for an unbiased review.

This book has a great hook from the first page, a bit creepy with a smatter of world building in the mix. I did feel in the next few that various mythology and supernatural terms were thrown at me a bit fast while I was still trying to get my feet with the relationship between the characters. This smoothes out as the book progresses however and I got a comfortable feel for the supernatural involved.

I felt the protagonist was relatable, despite reeling from recent loss and the emotions that come with it she keeps away from emo and looks after her pack as well as herself. It was refreshing to see a character that didn't hit one extreme or the other but was able to move between them. I also liked her reactions to different ages within the pack, both having to act as a mum and a little sister.

In places the writing quality dipped, particularly during fighting, with redundant words or phrases. The rest of the time the quality was high and made me want to keep reading.

A nice quick read, I look forward to reading more.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Doomseeds by Tam Linsey

Title: Doomseeds
Author: Tam Linsey
Series: The Botanicaust series - Book 2
Type of read: eARC
Stars:  Star Star Star Star

You can follow Tam Linsey on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and her website
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How could a rescue mission go so wrong?

A photosynthetic woman ventures into cannibal territory to find her lost sister, but her trader guide has his own goal; he needs to sell her to ransom his father from a cannibal king. Neither rescue mission will go as planned…

I received a free copy of this book in return for an unbiased review. A copy of the review for the previous novel, Botanicaust, can be found here

Set several years after the first book in the Botanicaust series, this was a wonderful re-entry to the world and expanded greatly on it. At first the novel felt a little fragmented as it switched rapidly between several points of view while the reader was still trying to get to grips with the changes that had taken place. However, many of these characters soon came together, or their plans linked in, making it seem whole again.

This novel felt like it had depth. I particularly liked the look we got into the different cultures, and how each of them responded to the others.  It felt as if the author had a tighter hold on cultures and religions, especially when mixing them. This particularly showed when meeting cannibals who were also traders who had to "keep the peace" and not follow the instincts they were brought up on.

The plot twisted back and forth, sometimes to the point of confusion, but any knots were soon unraveled. In the first novel one of the things that got my attention was the way some of the characters were torn between different communities and ways of life, never being accepted, and never feeling they fitted in. In this novel that is ramped even higher, really pulling at the heartstrings.

I felt the ending wrapped up nicely, but I hope for a third novel so can enjoy these characters again.