In support of other authors like myself with smaller publishers, or those who have decided to go indie, I buy copies of their work and post reviews - check out these talented authors below!
Blowin' My Mind like a Summer Breeze is a beautifully written coming of age tale that draws you into the world of its protagonist and has you rooting for her from the get go. Rainey Cobb is a prodigiously talented 15 yr old girl who tours with her parents and brother as part of a family band. Her parents used to be big back in the day, but their star is waning, and now life on the road mostly consists of fast food, slow gigs, and an even slower tour bus.
However, in amongst the gig rehearsals and homeschool sessions, a chance encounter for Rainey awakens her nascent thoughts and feelings in more ways than one, and this leads to her starting down her own path with the feeling that she might maybe be destined for something great.
The feel of this book is one of its best features - it is told as if the story were a playlist (its title is named after a mixtape that appears in the novel) and this really works as each piece of the plot feels perfectly pitched, placed and paced to lead us onto the next track. The musical references are a who's who of great indie/cult classics, and the 90s nostalgia feels fresh and is great fun to dive into whether you're new to it, or, like me, you remember growing up in the 90s from the first time around!
The writing is tight and purposeful, without ever feeling fussy, and the characters are all authentically human in a way that feels easy when reading, but is so hard to get right. Exploring themes of first love, sexuality, mental health, being different, and the need to fit in, this is a wonderful, feel good read for anyone who dared to try and grow up and be something of their own, but didn't really know how.
A journey into the abyss that stares back at us all. Beginning with a doomed loss to the monsters, and closing with a poignant reminder to look out for the good in our lives, this incredibly inventive collection of horror stories is also a witty, imaginative and well-drawn set of critiques of modern life. Taking aim at everything from capitalism, to narcissism, to the expectations of motherhood, Probably Monsters never pulls its punches in its examination of the frailties of the human condition. If I had to pick one standout it would be 'Shark shark!' which plays with convention & breaks the rules whilst beautifully and - how else?! - brutally skewering the characters involved. A thought provoking, enjoyable read - very highly recommended.
Funny, touching and heartwarming, 'Spiked!' by Bob Madison is a wonderfully feel-good coming-of-age YA novel that will leave you satisfied and wanting more. A story that starts in kindergarten and ends with leaving for college, watching best friends Thom and AJ grow up and fall in love is quietly moving and beautifully poignant. They get into all sorts of scrapes and high school shenanigans, with baseball douchebag 'Spike' Tuttman providing a delightful cameo, and the 90s references to Star Wars and Lord of he Rings complementing the narrative well. Authentic, well-drawn and witty voices tell this big-hearted tale of love, friendship and growing up. Highly recommended!
The Ancient Evil vs The Good Boy - a fast-paced adventure with a great sense of humour and some very dark shadows. Jon is a quick witted, animal loving, ex-kickboxer who gets dragged into a very different type of fight after he meets a mysterious dog, Des, and some not-so-usual dark shadows start turning up in his basement. Jon's relationship with Des is big-hearted and warm, and the descriptions of 'the big bad' and his shadowy realm are vivid and engaging. The adventure has an Indiana Jones-type feel with its use of ancient mythology, museums, relics, otherworldly forces and trips into the dark. The story and dramatic finale balance humour & horror well - always keeping a comedic side in the confident narrative. Really enjoyed this book!
Impressive debut novel! Part Holden Caulfield, part Vernon Little, and part something all of his own, the voice of Charlie in Dyed Souls is a voice of a troubled, precocious, inquisitive and fragile young man. His existential questions are addressed here with a Darwinian slant on reality, & there are philosophical questions present throughout the novel. Dyed Souls is a story about the damage that humans can do to each other and how one off events can change the nature of whole family's lives. It is thought provoking, tightly written and, the notably outstanding first section of the story especially, brings you into Charlie's world with great dexterity. Thoroughly recommended!
A sprawling tale of alternate realms, hidden powers, repressed love and class divide, The Reaper's Descent by @violeta.m.bagia_writer is a highly detailed story of a girl discovering who she really is. The hero of the story is Alex, a flawed, self-conscious, introverted young woman who discovers after a cataclysmic New Year's event that she is no ordinary teen, but the key missing piece in a battle between realms.
The Reapers are here to wreak havoc and destroy, but what are they really after? And how does Alex fit in? As the reader, we navigate this post-apocalyptic dystopian world with Alex, running from monsters, both Reaper and human, & gradually discovering more about the truth, realising that there is a lot more to her than even she knows.
This is a love story with complications, and the forbidden feelings that Alex and Eric have for each other are well drawn out. Well paced and tightly plotted, @violeta.m.bagia_writer builds a magical world which is a frantic, tense and absorbing place to visit. Recommended!
The story begins by introducing the reader to Elizabeth who is riding the railways in an attempt to escape the monotony and meaninglessness of her life, but soon unfurls into an ensemble piece involving an eclectic collection of characters and their chance encounter as they each seek to remain in the 'middle', when their fear of reaching the end is too great. The trains act as an interesting metaphor for our need to escape, and the story has a kind of dreamlike quality to it. It is an allegory illustrating the shared human reaction we have when faced with a lack of meaning, structure or purpose in our lives. It is well written with warmth, compassion and humour. A recommended read.
A sweeping tale that covers the best part of a life time, #TheCode questions whether, even after growth, love and loss, people really change. #TheCode sees an unnamed protagonist fall foul of the machinations of others and lead a life that rarely feels his own. Through his relationships he becomes an unwitting part of a plot that ends up in highly dramatic fashion. The story is ambitiously broad in its scope and impressive in the details with which it relays the protagonist's friends, partners and jobs. The characters he encounters are well-drawn and the story wends and weaves it's way to a satisfying conclusion. An enjoyable read! Best of luck @NickThripp
Course of Mirrors by Ashen Venema is a sprawling, magical adventure that transports the reader into a world that has poetry, passion and poignancy. Ana is a headstrong female character whose desire to spread her wings takes her on a journey that traverses distant lands and encompasses a diverse range of characters. The detail in the narrative is meticulous and the world that Ana inhabits is immersive and full of fantastical wonder. The use of description and metaphor is constantly creative and the exploration of religion and faith well-handled. This is an accomplished, grand tale that provides some welcome escapism from the reality of the modern world.
Part media satire, part religious satire and part government mutant experiment spy thriller, this is at heart a story about a father and son and the struggles of living a life whilst being different. It has short chapters, lots of interesting characters and moves at a great pace. It's an enjoyable read & strikes a delicate balance between humour and genuine emotion. Full of imagination and wit this is a well-crafted story with a challenging ending. Give it a read!
A period piece with an exquisite eye for detail, this unravelling of a murder follows a young designer's intriguing foray into a world in which everything is clearly not what it seems. There is much description throughout & the narrative arc moves slowly, taking its time to indulge in many set pieces, & occasionally taking on hints of a surreal or dreamlike quality. The denouement poses the question of how much chance and coincidence influence our lives, & the resolution leaves the reader to piece together events included earlier in the texts. An enjoyable journey into a different world, best of luck @BFieldhouse
#WhatsLeftUnsaid by @DeborahStone is a tragic tale of loss and regret told from three vantage points. After a slowburning start, what begins as a story of a woman facing the inevitable struggles of late middle age life, unravels into a study of the unsettling power and repercussions of keeping secrets. Casting its narrative arc across three generations, the revelations relating to these secrets and their motivations are well-timed and executed with dexterity. I must admit, I wished that more had been made of the impact of Sasha's secret, but this is only a minor quibble. This is an accessible novel that poses some profound questions about the nature of human relationships and the long-lasting imprints that singular decisions can have on our lives