Book Review: Kill Code by Clive Fleury

Author: Clive Fleury
Release Date: 5th December 2018
Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopian
SeriesThe Sunset Of Magic (Book #3)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 220
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Blurb:
WHEN THE OCEANS RISE…THE TRUTH DROWNS
It’s the year 2031. Our future. Their present. A world decimated by climate catastrophe, where the sun’s heat is deadly and the ocean rises higher every day. A world ruled by the rich, powerful, and corrupt. A world where a good man can’t survive for long.
Hogan Duran was a good man once. He was a cop, forced to resign in disgrace when he couldn’t save his partner from a bullet. Now Hogan lives on the fraying edges of society, serving cruel masters and scavenging trash dumps just to survive.
But after four years of living in poverty, Hogan finally gets a chance to get back on his feet. He’s invited to join the National Security Council, the powerful paramilitary organization responsible for protecting the rich and powerful from the more unsavory elements of society. All he needs to do is pass their deadly entrance exam, and he’ll be rewarded with wealth and opportunity beyond his wildest dreams.
But this ex-cop’s path to redemption won’t be easy. The NSC are hiding something, and as Hogan descends deeper and deeper into their world, he starts to uncover the terrible truth of how the powerful in this new world maintain their power…and just how far they will go to protect their secrets.
In a world gone wrong, can one man actually make a difference, or will he die trying?
Kill Code is the first novel in an exciting new dystopian science fiction series from the mind of the award-winning author, screenwriter, and director Clive Fleury.

REVIEW

★★★★

Kill Code by Clive Fleury is a smashing dystopian read that was equal parts engaging and unsettling.

The dystopian settings in the book felt very realistic and, to be honest, seemed like a possibility for our own future. What I really liked about this book is that instead of focusing only on the dystopic settings and the new world, something that most of the authors writing in this genre tend to do, the author focused on the National Security Council (NSC), the elite force to protect the elite class in this horrible new world. The book had some really gritty action scenes which made the plot all the more exciting.

The characterization was strong and the inner conflicts of the MC, Hogan Duran, made it even better as I was able to connect with him. The plot-progression was great and the pacing and tension well tuned. The writing was good and complimented the plot making it easy as well as quick to read.

In a sentence, I enjoyed this book from the first page to the last one and would recommend it to all dystopian readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

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Book Review: Bort’s People (The Sunset Of Magic #3) by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 11th February 2016
Genre: Science-Fiction-Fantasy, Adventure, Quest, Magic Elementals
SeriesThe Sunset Of Magic (Book #3)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 260
Publisher: 
Blurb:

Magic, dragons, drama and adventure… did I mention the dragons? Lots of those! The wizard Zerphal, Bort and Lofti the Dunnit Sprite leap across the void between Nephus and the Harrowen homeworld, Mirt. Each have their reasons: Zerphal, an agent of the Council of Wizards, seeks to discover how his species, the warlike Harrowen, have managed to escape Mirt; Bort, on a mission of hope, to find out if any of his Trollid race, kidnapped and enslaved some some 300 years earlier, still survive; and Lofti… well… because a true friend would not allow Bort to make such a journey alone.

REVIEW

★★★★

Bort’s People by Alistair Potter is the third instalment in The Sunset Of Magic series and the sequel to The Counsel Of Wizards. It is a very entertaining sci-fi-fantasy adventure that has a mix of characters from both the previous books in this series who embark on an adventurous journey, which entails serious action, mild drama and a good emotional arc.

This book is in lieu of the previous one, and therefore, I enjoyed it to no end. It had good characterization and a well-written plot that progressed with an even pace. The tension rose and fell as needed and the action scenes were both well timed and well executed.

I enjoyed reading this book as well as this series would definitely explore more books by the author. I’d recommend this book, and the rest by author Alistair Potter, to all sci-fi-fantasy readers, lovers of hardcore sci-fi and those who love adventure genre.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Author Interview: Rob Shackleford

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Rob Shackleford, author of Traveller Inceptio, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Rob Shackleford

An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher and management roles in too many places.

With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, Scuba diving, Family History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas.

Rob is father of two and lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.

 

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | LINKEDIN


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

To become a highly paid, best-selling author.

Seriously, it would be nice to make a living from being an author as I have a few stories that are ready for print. To write more and do what I love will be the ultimate life goal relating to my writing career.

Which writers inspire you?

I can’t say I have a firm favourite, though many do inspire.

Brilliant and imaginative storytellers with whom I can relate include Stephen King, J.K. Rolling (yes – I know – Harry Potter – but what can I say?, she is very clever), Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, H.G. Wells, Margaret Atwood, and many more.

Beautiful writers I admire as wordsmiths include Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Steinbeck, Tolkien, Yann Martel, and Gregory David.

There are so many others.

I aim to become a great storyteller and hope my writing skills improve as I progress.

Tell us about your book?

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it to a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.

An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when an international team of crack Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The elite researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trials of early 11th Century life.

How long did it take you to write it?

I was obsessed in making sure my data was correct; about the Saxons, the Vikings, and about modern Special Forces. In the end my head swam with so much information I ultimately began to believe in myself.

I was often banned from my local library because one obscure tome on Saxon history or another had been out for six months.

It took me about five years before the book was in a state I thought worthy of someone to read.

I then gave the book, then called ‘Traveller’, to an English editor. He metaphorically tore off my arm and beat me over the head with it. Wiping away my tears I followed his advice in most areas, reduced the draft by 50,000 words, sent it out for review and received a positive response and 5 star ratings. My head still hurts though.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Traveller Inceptio lends itself to a sequel. The tale of sending 21st Century, Special Forces trained ‘History Researchers’ back 1000 years can spread to other locations than Saxon England, so Traveller Book 2 – ‘Traveller Probo’ (to Prove) takes in missions to New Zealand and Byzantine Turkey. Traveller Book 3 – ‘Traveller Manifesto’ – details the issues that arise from missions to Mississippi USA and Jerusalem.

I have completed a couple of other books away from the Traveller stable, but I am keeping those under wraps for now.

Why Have You Chosen This Genre?

For as long as I can remember I have loved Science Fiction and History. My father is a keen genealogist so I have been fascinated by tales of our ancestors’ struggle to survive.

Traveller Inceptio is a mix of science fiction and historical fiction that examines how members of 21st Century Western society could survive the world of the 11th Century.

I was inspired one day when I sat on a beach imagining how the location would have looked 100, then 200, then 1000 years in the past. Fortunately I lived close to the beautiful beaches of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia and the exercise of imagining the location before resorts, powerlines and phone towers brought to mind a very different world.

The next step in the tale was to imagine how modern humans would survive ‘back then’. Then – how was this leap of imagination possible?

Traveller Inceptio (Latin for Beginning) examines what could happen if such an accidental discovery was not hidden from public view. How would a device that takes one back a thousand years be used? Where would one go? In a world where academic historians are not like Indiana Jones, who would be sent?

So, that is my long-winded way of saying that I didn’t really select the genre, but in a way the tale and thus the genre selected me.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I am kind of old. I really started my writing in my late 40’s. I never sat and thought, “I know! I’ll become a writer!” The story began to coalesce and, in the end, I decided to actually write. To my surprise I liked the creative process and, I hope, have learned a lot about writing and language.

Why do you write?

When I decided I had a story to tell, it was almost impossible not to write. It became a compulsion, not driven out of an arrogance that my story was to change the world, but something that, once I began, I found something I could do.

Surprisingly I have found a few stories lurking in the deep crevasses of my mind which, I hope, will be entertaining.

Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come from a mixture of real life – real people and their funny and silly ways, and the creation of an ‘if-then’ scenario. I try to keep the story as realistic as possible within those parameters and retain the reality of response of the characters involved.

Through research I have been able to understand the history and reality of some of the lives my characters could experience. Also, many amazing tales can be shared rather than experienced, thus enriching the story without having my characters having to actually engage in everything.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I am a computer writer. Word on a PC. Don’t hate me.

What are your 5 favourite books and 5 favourite authors?

In no apparent order – here are 5 books I enjoy with wonderful authors:

  1. Shantaram by Gregory David
  2. The Roman series of books by Colleen McCullough
  3. The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkein
  4. The Dune series by Frank Herbert
  5. 1984 by George Orwell

Ask me next week and I will have others, but these are a great start.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Rather than writers block, I experience writer’s fatigue. I get sick of writing, so I go for a swim in the ocean or play a game on my PlayStation. Getting smashed by ‘Red Dead Redemption’ and loved ‘Fallout 4’. A gaming legend I am not.

I also go through a book many times. Once immersed I think of issues or situations to include or discover new items in my reading or even from Social Media. I keep my eyes open for possibilities and my ears open for good stories from people I talk to daily. That inspiration then pads out the bare bones of a tale into something I hope resembles real life.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Writing can be tough, because much is about your own personal confidence and desires.

My first piece of advice is to start writing, no matter what. Too many believe they must have the whole story before writing starts, while I find the story develops as I write. It’s like painting, or weaving a rich tapestry with words. Like a journey, it starts with the courageous first step.

Second is to not worry about what everyone else thinks. Writing is like running: you have to practice to get good at it. I find the process of writing and rewriting allows me to get better. Just go for it and let your creativity shine.

Third: Never be happy with the first draft. I always go back through the story, the words, the creative writing many, many times. It might feel like an OCD thing, and that is what makes writing so personal. My format will be different to everyone else. Find your way and follow it.

Fourth – and the hardest. Be prepared to be disappointed at criticism. As my first book, ‘Traveller Inceptio’ was initially self-published, critiqued, then edited. Criticism can be very tough, but cling to what others might say are well done. Not all can be Salman Rushdie.

Fifth – have a market in mind. Writing is a creative art, but selling books is strictly a marketing endeavour. I aim to become an author that sells. That is my ultimate goal. For any writing to sell it must appeal to a market, to a slice of humanity who likes what you produce. Some popular book series come to mind that are only marketing, with no substance, yet they sell. Publishers only seek what will sell and then leave it to you to create the market for them. Gone are the days of offering a new author a million dollar contract. Yes, it’s a tough gig.

Thank you, Rob, for all the interesting answers!


About The Book

Traveller Inceptio

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it into a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.

An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when a crack international team of Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The special researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trails of early 11th Century life.

AMAZON | GOODREADS | WEBSITE

To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: The Counsel Of Wizards (The Sunset Of Magic #2) by Allistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 15th May 2014
Genre: Science-Fiction-Fantasy, Adventure, Magic-Elementals, Quest
SeriesThe Sunset Of Magic (Book #2)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 259
Publisher: 
Blurb:

Action, adventure, magic and more! Scholarly Grant Moy is sent by the dying Wizard Torven to a distant world in search of the Council of Wizards. Without another wizard to inherit Torven’s legacy, all his vast knowledge and experience will be lost. Ahead are challenges and adventures beyond Grant’s wildest imaginings.

 

REVIEW

★★★★

The Counsel Of Wizards by Allistair Potter is the sequel to The Last Trollid, being the second book in the series Sunset Of Magic. This book is more of a magical adventure than anything else and I loved it for that. After reading author Potter’s books back to back, this one, even though being as technically detailed as it is, felt like a respite from hardcore sci-fi and gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling of a really great adventure story.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot and liked the character of Grant Moy a lot. He was very relatable and I felt a connection to both, him and his quest. Some of the characters from the previous book also joined Grant on his journey and it was good to read about them in a bit lighter settings. I think this is so far my favourite book in the series (though I’ve just read two) and can’t wait to see what more do the author has in store for us in the next instalments.

If you’re an adventure and magical quest buff then you should definitely read this book.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: The Last Trollid (The Sunset Of Magic #1) by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 13th May 2014
Genre: Science-Fiction-Fantasy, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Magic-Elementals
SeriesThe Sunset Of Magic (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 272
Publisher: 
Blurb:
There’s; world jumping magic, Dragons, ruthless invaders, epic battles, unlikely heroes, bravery, sacrifice, and a steam cannon worthy of Archimedes! And yes it does have wizards, both good and very bad. Romance? Yes, a little of that too! What more do you want in an adventure story?

A disparate band: fussy spinster, Ida Fairweather; crusty old soldier, Endor Caffri; dishonest manservant, Moleskin; King’s guard, Lineth, and Last of the Trollid, Bort, engage in a desperate struggle against the Harrowen invaders.

 

REVIEW

★★★+1/2

The Last Trollid by Allistair Potter is the start to a new series The Sunset Of Magic. After having read three other books by the author, I was confident that this book is going to be a smashing read, and, thankfully, to a great extent, it was. Just like his previous books, this book had a brilliant premise and an amazingly awesome world built with a great deal of detailing. The pacing and tension were good as they both had good highs and lows and the overall progression of the plot can’t be faulted. So all in all, it was a good read.

My only problem was with the characterization, somehow, unlike in the previous instances, I was not able to feel a connection to either of the characters. I liked Bort and even Ida and Moleskin to some extent, but that was all, I just liked them enough to be able to read the book without wanting to stop, but not more than that. Still, I enjoyed the book, if for nothing than for the plot and some of the high-tension battle scenes and the ending, which was really well written.

I’d recommend this book to all science-fiction readers, especially who prefer plot over characters.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Spotlight: Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the section of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles. Today, we are featuring Rob Shackleford, author of Traveller Inceptio, for one of our features, Book Spotlight.

About The Book

Book Name: Traveller Inceptio

Author: Rob Shackleford

Publisher: Austin Macauley

Genre: Science Fiction

Page Count: 431

Release date: 28th February 2019


Synopsis

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it into a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.

An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when a crack international team of Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The special researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trails of early 11th Century life.

get the book here:

AMAZON | GOODREADS | WEBSITE


About The Author

An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher and management roles in too many places.

With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, Scuba diving, Family History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas.

Rob is father of two and lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | LINKEDIN

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Probability’s Edge by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 27th September 2018
Genre: Science-Fiction
Series: 
Edition: E-book
Pages: 269
Publisher: 
Blurb:

After crash landing on a technologically backward planet the crew of the Eagle face a tough decision: save themselves, or save the planet.

 

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

Probability’s Edge by Alistair Potter is an entertaining and quick action-packed read. It had a unique plot line,  well-developed characters, great action sequences, delicious detailing and world-building and great writing – so overall, it made for a complete package! I was sucked into the plot from the beginning and enjoyed it right till the end.

This is the second book I’m reading by author Potter and I must say that after this book, I can’t wait to read more of his amazing works. The genre lovers would greatly appreciate his works, so I recommend this book, as well as his others to all hardcore science-fiction fans.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: A History Of Madness (The Outlands Pentalogy #2) by Rebecca Crunden

Author: Rebecca Crunden
Release Date: 14th July 2017
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction-Fantasy
Series: The Outlands Pentalogy – Book #2
Edition: E-book
Pages: 258
Publisher: 
Blurb:
The four remaining fugitives are now spread across the Kingdom. And with the fate of the others unknown to him, Nate Anteros prays for a fast execution.

Yet execution does not come. After a meeting with the King which leaves Nate questioning his sanity, he’s sent to a workcamp in Argon Basin for five years of hard labour. It’s there that Nate learns what became of his friends upon their arrest.

And as his strength returns to him, and he’s plagued by dreams which are much too real to be ignored, Nate decides five years is far too long to wait …

Book Review

★★★★+1/2

A History Of Madness by Rebecca Crunden is the sequel to A Touch Of Death and the 2nd book in the Outlands Pentalogy. After reading the first book, and really liking it, I was really eager to read this one and to my pleasant surprise, this book turned out to be as good as (actually even better) than the last one. I love when a series goes from strength to strength and this series is turning out to be just that, though I’ve just read 2 books so far. Given the opportunity, I’d love to read the next part of this well-developed saga for sure.

The characterization was the highlight of this book. I loved how the author uses a different character as the main POV character for this part as it gave a fresh vibe to the series, instead of taking the story ahead with the same POV character. It was really good to know the motivations, inner conflicts, impulses and feelings of Nate as I really liked his as the main character.

The writing was good just like the last book and the world building was a true step ahead. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and would recommend this series to all dystopian readers and fantasy readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Perax Frontier by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 27th April 2017
Genre: Science-Fiction, Action, Mystery
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 214
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Perax Frontier, a place like no other! Bathed in the constant glow of the Interface connecting two Universes, the frontier townships of Praxton, and Millaki on the Atlathian side, function without any electrically based technologies. Set against this unusual background, and fighting the hierarchal restrictions of Imperial society, Sheriff Artur Perax investigates the murder of Imperial Ambassador, Madam Lintsa Kroft. And all the time still keeping order among the visitors, frustrated scientists, religious fanatics, misfits, reformed felons and plain good folks who keep the flow of trade goods moving across the Interface.

Book Review

★★★★+1/2

A well-written hardcore sci-fi mystery which will keep you engaged from the start right till the very last page. An intricately woven mystery, expertly punctuated with intense action scenes, underlined with enough drama to make you want to keep reading further, highlighted by believable characters – this book was a complete rollercoaster ride!

The ending was good and very fitting. The pacing was really good and the tension was at an all-time high. The prose was tight and easy to read and overall it was a complete package. I enjoyed it thoroughly and would recommend it to all hardcore sci-fi lovers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Box Of Tricks by Alistair Potter

Author: Alistair Potter
Release Date: 13th May 2014
Genre: Science-Fiction, Action, Adventure
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 290
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Multiverse spanning action and adventure, with eye-popping special effects (requires reader input). To prevent catastrophe Earth needs the ultimate eco-warrior, but is mild-mannered Edinburgh taxi driver Tom Mathers up to the challenge?

Exploring questions of ethics, resource management, and caring for our planet, this hilarious, yet sobering journey through the multiverse hides deep philosophical questions beneath a veneer of joviality and witty sarcasm.

Book Review

★★★★

The Box Of Tricks by Alistair Potter is an explosive sci-fi novel that has something to offer to all of its readers. It has a great storyline that is executed well and a brilliantly created world that made reading this book a complete delight. The characterisation was excellent and I was able to feel a connection with the main characters, Tom, Caroline and Fanshawe and felt that the secondary characters were also very believable.

The writing was good and easy to read. The tightness of exposition made it a really pleasant read for me as I always appreciate brief yet informative exposition over unnecessarily lengthy one, so this book made for a really smooth and quick read. Author’s humour really shone through the prose and went a long way in making this book both entertaining as well as light as it had some emotional and moral themes that could have, otherwise, made the plot very weighty.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and waiting eagerly to get started with the next book by Mr Potter. I’d recommend this book to all sci-fi readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: A Touch Of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1) by Rebecca Crunden

Author: Rebecca Crunden
Release Date: 23rd February 2017
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction-Fantasy
Series: The Outlands Pentalogy – Book #1
Edition: E-book
Pages: 306
Publisher: 
Blurb:
A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.
A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.
Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

Book Review

★★★★

A Touch Of Death by Rebecca Crunden marks a really promising start to The Outlands Pentalogy series. This book has everything that can be expected of a good dystopian story – detailed and extensive world-building, believable characters, intriguing plotline, engaging twists and turns, even pace and oscillating tension. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and can’t wait to read the next one in this series.

The characterization is the backbone of any dystopian novel and thankfully, this book had not only believable and relatable characters but also the ones you easily fall in love with. I liked both Catherine as well as Nate and can’t wait to read more about them in the following parts.

The writing was pretty good and complemented such a tremendous plot well. The pacing was nice and even and the tension kept on increasing and decreasing in sync with the plot structure which kept me hooked throughout the book, from start to the very end. The book ended on a great note, setting high expectations for the sequel.

As I said, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all dystopian lovers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

AuthorJoe Hill
Release Date: 24th October 2017
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Dark, Short Stories
Series: 
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 448
Publisher: Gollancz
Blurb:
Four short novels from the author of THE FIREMAN and HORNS, ranging from creepy horror to powerful explorations of our modern society.
One autumnal day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails, splinters of bright crystal that tear apart anyone who isn’t safely under cover. ‘Rain’ explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as clouds of nails spread out across the country and the world. Amidst the chaos, a girl studying law enforcement takes it upon herself to resolve a series of almost trivial mysteries . . . apparently harmless puzzles that turn out to have lethal answers.
In ‘Loaded’ a mall security guard heroically stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun movement. Under the hot glare of the spotlights, though, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it…
‘Snapshot, 1988’ tells the story of an kid in Silicon Valley who finds himself threatened by The Phoenician, a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid that can steal memories…
And in ‘Aloft’ a young man takes to the skies to experience parachuting for the first time . . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapour that seems animated by a mind of its own.

REVIEW

★★★

This book turned out to be an okay read. I had a lot of expectation from this one, mostly because I had heard a lot about Joe Hill’s writing but also because he is one of the offsprings of my favourite writer. Overall, I liked the concepts of the stories, but what I did not like was the way they started to feel “lost” after a good beginning. The writing was good, no doubt, but the narration seemed to have faltered a lot as the story reached a certain point and then it went downhill from there at a fast speed.

Snapshot – 3/5 – Being a king fan, I felt this was very much like his works. I liked this story, but do feel that the ending was a slog. Hill could have totally ended the story 10-20 pages before and it would have been a great read rather than having over-stretched it.

Loaded – 1/5 – I read the first 2 pages and I left it there itself. I didn’t find the writing very appealing in this one nor did the story made any sense to me (I mean it is a short story, it has to make some sense in the first 2 pages, right?!) So… DNF

Aloft – 4/5 – A very good story. I loved the backstory more than anything else but overall, I really enjoyed this one. This book was a big relief and felt like a glass of chilled water in the desert heat as after such average stories, it was good to read something Hill is famous for – his unique imagination and style.

Rain – 3/5 – I really liked the beginning of this story and thought that this one would be my favourite one from this collection but towards the end, it started to feel like a burden and I was not sure where was it even headed to (something that I felt in the first story, Snapshot, too.)

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Audiobook Review: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Release Date: 19th May 2015
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic, Speculative Fiction
Series:
Edition: Audiobook
Length: 32 hours
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Blurb:
What would happen if the world were ending?
A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.
But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain…
Five thousand years later, their progeny — seven distinct races now three billion strong — embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown … to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

Review

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson book was too heavy for me. The narration was slow and the story progressed so slowly in the first hour that when I realized the book was 30 something hours, I stopped it right there. You really need to like the narration enough if you plan to spend another 30 hours listening to it. And that was not how I felt, so I abandoned it. I have other books that I can read and enjoy in that much time (pretty sure I can read a good number of other books in that much time.)

THIS REVIEW IS ALSO POSTED ON GOODREADS

ARC Review: Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent

Author: Minka Kent
Release Date: 9th April 2019
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 256
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Blurb:
Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.
Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.
As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.
To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.
Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Stillwater Girlsby Minka Kent is one of those few books that managed to grab my attention on NetGalley with a beautiful blurb and cover image when I was trying hard not to request any new titles at all. I was very excited to read this book and finally when I dove in expecting a mind-blowing thriller, I ended up marking it as another disappointing DNF read.

For some reason, I was not able to get past the first 8% of the book. Even though I really wanted to read this book, a couple of intolerable things led me to abandon this book even though when I almost made up my mind to simply skim over the pages in order to at least find out the mystery:

  1. Chapters full of fragmented sentences for exposition which led to overtreatment of a technique I otherwise love and use in my own works.
  2. Excessive foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is good, necessary even in thrillers for building suspense, but here it was too much.
  3. I felt forced by the author to feel sympathetic to the girls living alone. It felt like the girls themselves (or at least the POV one) were screaming at the readers to feel sorry for them and their conditions. As a result, I simply felt irritation and nothing more.
  4. focus on the unnecessary details and overall, the writing felt immature; it felt like the author wanted to go for Gillian Flynn’s writing style but ended up totally botching it up.

All in all, I think this book has a lot of potential in terms of the plot, or so the blurb has led me to believe but failed miserably.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and NetGalley

Book Review: The Curse Of Time (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon

Author: M.J. Mallon
Release Date: 2nd April 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Bloodstone (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 237
Publisher: Kyrosmagica Publishing
Blurb:
Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Curse Of Time by M.J. Mallon is an intricate fantasy novel with unique supernatural and magical elements which serves as a highly entertaining read. I had a great time reading this novel and exploring the magical world of Amelina full of magic crystals and enchanted mirrors.

The writing is good, the characterization decent and the pacing and tension in sync with the plot. The plot-progression was good and the character development was something I really appreciated in this story. The simple use of language complimented the plot and made it an enjoyable read.

The only problem I had when I started reading this book was that there were a number of themes running through the book, which at times felt a little bit confusing to me. But as I progressed further in the story, everything started to fall into place, and eventually, everything started to make more sense. So, maybe it was intentional or maybe not, either way, it wasn’t a big issue as I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it to all fantasy and supernatural readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Author Interview: Erin Rhew

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Erin Rhew, author of The Transhuman Project, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Dwayne Gill

Erin Rhew is an editor, the operations manager for a small press, and a YA fantasy and sci-fi author. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin spent years in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest before returning to her roots in the land of hushpuppies, sweet tea, and pig pickin’. She’s married to fellow author, the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) Deek Rhew, and spends her time writing side-by-side with him under the watchful eye of their patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. Erin and Deek enjoy taking long walks, drinking coffee, lifting, boxing, eating pizza, staying up late into the night talking, and adventuring together.

 you can connect with the author here
Website | Facebook | Twitter


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

Of course, everyone would love to have a bestselling novel, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream of that. But mostly, I enjoy entertaining people. If people read my book and feel like they’ve taken an amazing adventure by the end, I can’t ask for much else.

Which writers inspire you?

I love, love, love Rick Riordan. His Percy Jackson series is top-notch for me. I really like how he mixes mythology with the modern world and adds a splash of humor. I’m not nearly as funny as Rick, but I try to have a humorous character, my Percy homage if you will, in every book.

Tell us about your book?

The Transhuman Project is about two neighboring countries, each subjugated by different things. Pacifica is run by a brutal dictator, and Kadar tangled up in the fake niceities of social media shows called Life Channels. Molly Richards and her friends get sucked up in the middle of both countries, and Molly must figure out a way to stop a tyrant from turning people into robots called transhumans while smiling and waving for the Kadarian masses who’ve made her their latest obsession.

It’s about friendship, love, social media, family, and what’s really important in life.

How long did it take you to write it?

The initial draft took me about three months to write. However, what you see now is actually the sequel. I decided the real story lay not in the original but in what comes after. So, I’ve been writing, rewriting, and fussing with this story for about five years.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

I am currently working on story which places a historical figure in modern times. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to share it with readers!

When did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t know that I ever really decided to become a writer. I think I was born a writer. When I was four, I wrote my first poem (a terrible rhyme verse about cars, since my grandparents own a car dealership), and I’ve been hooked since that moment.

Why do you write?

I write because I can’t not write. Stories live in my core, and characters take up residency in my mind. They clamor to have their stories told, and I am at their mercy to oblige.

Where do your ideas come from?

I am inspired by everything around me. But mostly my ideas come from conversations I have with my husband. We’ll be like “what if this” or “have you ever thought of that,” and stories evolve.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer to use my laptop because it’s portable, and I think way faster than I can write. I’m a pretty fast typist though, so my fingers can *almost* keep up with my brain when I type.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I love a lot of books, so I’ll just name five I really dig.

  1. Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. I know it’s not technically a book (it’s a play), but the Bard is one of my biggest inspirations. I’ve played Juliet in three different renditions of the play, and I have almost the whole thing memorized.
  2. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read.
  3. 122 Rules and Birth of an American Gigolo by Deek Rhew. Yep, that’s my husband. I’m obviously biased, but let me tell you, my man has got words. I’ve worked for small presses for years now, and I can truly say I’ve never seen such an amazing mix of literary and commercial in one voice. He’s masterful.
  4. She Wants It All by Jessica Calla. One word—Dave. I love this story so much, and I definitely have a book crush on Dave. Jess creates such vivid worlds and characters that you can’t help but get swept up in them.
  5. The Bloodline Series by Richelle Mead. While I enjoyed the Vampire Academy series, I really, really loved the follow-up series. It’s a whole world of alchemists and vampires that is a new, fresh take on the genre.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

It depends. If I’m on a deadline, I sit down and force myself to write, even if what comes out is garbage. But if I’m not on a deadline, I take some time to get inspired again. I read, watch shows, and talk to people. Inevitably, it rejuvenates my spirit.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Two things: never give up on your dream and edit, edit, edit. This business is tough, so you’ll need a thick skin. You’ll have to believe in yourself and your works even if no one else does. But you wrote something, so stick with it and keep believing. Secondly, edit, edit, edit, and when you think you’re done, edit some more. Never, ever, ever turn in a first draft to anyone.

Thank you, Erin, for all the insightful and interesting answers. I personally loved your writing advice!


About The Book

The Transhuman Project

When a video of Molly Richards is taken out of context and goes viral, she’s thrust into the upper echelons of social media stardom and becomes an overnight success in a country where Life Channel ratings reign supreme. As Kadar’s fastest-rising celebrity, her life becomes a media circus, a show put on for the shallow national audience salivating for the next new thing.

But in a world where image is king, danger and death hide among the shadows. In the nearby country of Pacifica, the brutal Caezar turns his citizens into robotic weapons who infiltrate Kadar as sleeper transhumans. They walk among the populace, unaware they are pawns in the madman’s personal arsenal.

Only Molly, her friends, and an elite group of Kadarian fighters known as the Cyber Knights fully understand the transhuman threat, and only they can break the Caezar’s terrorist grip on both Pacifica and Kadar. Battling Fire Bots and humanoid agents, they seek to put a stop to the Caezar’s tyranny by unraveling the secrets buried between layers of deception.

And they have to do it all while smiling and waving for the cameras.

As Molly and her friends peer behind the glitz and glamour, they discover something more frightening and more sinister than anything they’ve encountered yet…the truth.

Amazon |Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks | Goodreads

To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Spotlight: Erin Rhew

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles. Today, we are featuring Erin Rhew, author of The Transhuman Project, for the Author Spotlight feature.

About The Author

Erin Rhew is an editor, the operations manager for a small press, and a YA fantasy and sci-fi author. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin spent years in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest before returning to her roots in the land of hushpuppies, sweet tea, and pig pickin’. She’s married to fellow author, the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) Deek Rhew, and spends her time writing side-by-side with him under the watchful eye of their patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. Erin and Deek enjoy taking long walks, drinking coffee, lifting, boxing, eating pizza, staying up late into the night talking, and adventuring together.

 you can connect with the author here
Website | Facebook | Twitter

About The Book

When a video of Molly Richards is taken out of context and goes viral, she’s thrust into the upper echelons of social media stardom and becomes an overnight success in a country where Life Channel ratings reign supreme. As Kadar’s fastest-rising celebrity, her life becomes a media circus, a show put on for the shallow national audience salivating for the next new thing.

But in a world where image is king, danger and death hide among the shadows. In the nearby country of Pacifica, the brutal Caezar turns his citizens into robotic weapons who infiltrate Kadar as sleeper transhumans. They walk among the populace, unaware they are pawns in the madman’s personal arsenal.

Only Molly, her friends, and an elite group of Kadarian fighters known as the Cyber Knights fully understand the transhuman threat, and only they can break the Caezar’s terrorist grip on both Pacifica and Kadar. Battling Fire Bots and humanoid agents, they seek to put a stop to the Caezar’s tyranny by unraveling the secrets buried between layers of deception.

And they have to do it all while smiling and waving for the cameras.

As Molly and her friends peer behind the glitz and glamour, they discover something more frightening and more sinister than anything they’ve encountered yet…the truth.

Amazon |Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author/book featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

ARC Review: Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown

Author: L.M. Brown
Release Date: 15th March 2019
Genre: Short Story Collection, World Fiction
Series: 
Edition: E-book
Pages: 206
Publisher: Fomite
Blurb:
The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A by-pass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later.

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown is a beautiful collection of short stories about a small town in Ireland in the early ’80s and ’90s. I had a very good time reading this book and the thing I found most impressive about this story collection is that each and every story bore a plethora of emotions that were very real and relatable. Being from a small town myself, I enjoy books that display the lives of people in small towns, the highs and the lows of living in a close-knit and ever-watching society. So I really enjoyed this book.

All the stories were related in some way or the other and so they felt more like chapters than individual stories which was another thing that I liked as this made the overall theme more interesting. The characterization was good, the writing was good and the pacing was very good. I’d say this book would make for an excellent coffee table book.

I’d recommend this book to everyone who loves exploring new cultures and distinct works fo literature.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles #2) by John A. Heldt

Author: John A. Heldt
Release Date: 30th April 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time-Travel, Sci-Fi, Relationships & Family
SeriesCarson Chronicles – Book #2
Edition: E-book
Pages: 659
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Days after barely escaping 1889 with their lives, the Carsons, siblings from the present day, resume their search for their missing parents in 1918. While Adam and his pregnant wife, Bridget, settle in Minnesota, unaware of a wildfire that will kill hundreds, Greg seeks clues in his great-grandparents’ Mexico, where he finds love, danger, and enemies. At the same time, Natalie, the ambitious journalist, follows a trail to World War I France, and teen twins Cody and Caitlin rekindle a friendship with an old Pennsylvania friend haunted by her past. In THE MEMORY TREE, the sweeping sequel to RIVER RISING, several time travelers find answers and meaning as they continue the adventure of a lifetime in the age of doughboys, silent movies, and Model T’s.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Memory Tree by John A. Heldt is a compelling sequel to River Rising, book one in the Carson Chronicles series. Just like the first part of this series, and the others I’ve read by the author, this book was equally interesting, entertaining and emotional. It had a lot to offer in terms of the rich American history, WWI and the culture of the years long gone. This book was especially good because it had a twist which I was not expecting and the element of surprise really caught me off-guard as I’ve come to understand where things are generally moving in author Heldt’s books because of having read many of them and being familiar with his style of writing. So the twist was a pleasant surprise for me.

The characterization was good and I was able to see the development of all the characters from the last book experiencing new worlds and living in times new to them. The writing was good and complimented the story well. And I’m really looking forward to reading the next part of this series.

I’d recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers and to everyone who loves reading stories on relationships and families. It is an honest-to-god feel-good story that will definitely warm your heart.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Afterlives of Doctor Gachet by Sam Meekings

Author: Sam Meekings
Release Date: 1st August 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 290
Publisher: Eyewear Publishing
Blurb:
Who is that mournful man in the painting? THE AFTERLIVES OF DOCTOR GACHET tells the story of Paul Ferdinand Gachet, the subject of one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous portraits: one that shows what the artist called “the heartbroken expression of our times.” But what caused such heartbreak? This thrilling historical novel follows Doctor Gachet from asylums to art galleries, from the bloody siege of Paris to life with van Gogh in Auvers, and from the bunkers of Nazi Germany to a reclusive billionaire in Tokyo, to uncover the secrets behind that grief-stricken smile.

REVIEW

★★★★

“I know some people argue that our lives are predicated on the quirks of our genes, that our destiny is inscribed in the code of our DNA. On the other hand, it is only when we are tested in the outside world that all the possibility bristling within us is whittled down and we really take shape.”

The Afterlives Of Doctor Gachet by Sam Meekings is a very delightful and a pretty compelling historical read with a powerful, well-written and brilliantly executed storyline. This book was such a good break from all the contemporary fiction I read. The plot was very unique, fresh and pretty captivating. I enjoyed reading this book a lot because I truly enjoyed reading each and every single sentence of this book (which is very rare  for me.) The writing was beautiful and the author’s style was pretty impressive. I guess I can say without a speck of doubt, and as rare as it may be, that in this book the writing was the best part.

I loved the characterization and character development in every chapter. I also appreciated the side-story of which was given in alternating chapters; it kept the story from being monotonous and made it very interesting.

I’d recommend this book to all historical-fiction readers and to anyone who is looking to take a break from their usual choice of books and might want to explore something refreshing and brilliant. Also, I’m sure Van Gough enthusiasts and fans would definitely love reading this book and exploring the background of the subject of one of his most talked about pieces.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Ghost Tribes: The Ghost of Africa by Venancio Cadle Gomani Jr.

Author: Venancio Cadle Gomani Jr.
Release Date: 1st January 2019
Genre: African Fiction
Series: Ghost Tribes (Book #1)
Edition: Ebook
Pages: 199
Publisher: Venancio Gomani Books
Blurb:
In a semi-fictional verisimilitude of the continent of Africa, all the tribes are ruled by kings, smaller breakaway tribes are ruled by chiefs, and all are governed by the council of paramount—a legion of the noble tribes of the continent.
The principal story follows the tale of Likando and the war of the brother kings. Likando is the Lozi tribe’s princess, heir-elect to the throne, and the only legitimate child of the Lozi king, Simasiku Lumeta. However, growing without the presence of her mother, and her father never having told her the story of who her mother is or where she is or if she is even alive today, causes her to begin searching for the truth against her father’s permission and/or consent. She stumbles upon darker truths that result in her to learn that her birth may not have been a result of love or mere chance, but a carefully considered and planned series of events. This leads the princess into taking courses of action that bring her tribe, family, and overall kingdom to the brink of near-extinction.
The second part of the tale which begins eight years before the events of the first novel follows the story of Kaleya, the lost son of nothing who, after waking up alone in the jungle with no memory of his identity or his past prior, goes on a quest to discover the truth behind his stolen memories but entangles himself in a series of circumstances that result in him having to fight for his survival more often than not. The second part of the story simultaneously chronicles the Ghost of Africa, an enigma thought to be a demon that terrorizes tribes around a territory it claimed as its own three years before the events of the novel. Before the Ghost of Africa occupied the territory it occupies, there lived a thriving tribe with an organized structure and an army of possessed soldiers, ten thousand strong. However, when the Ghost of Africa first emerged, it led an army of exiled tribesmen-turned cannibal, who form the population referred to as the cannibals tribeless in the millions, against the growing tribe and thus, overwhelming its army and having the cannibals devour the raw flesh of the men, women, and children of the tribe. After wiping out of existence the tribe that existed in its territory prior, the demon goes on to fence that very territory with the skulls of the tribe’s populist on barbed wooden stakes in the hundreds of thousands all around that territory as a warning for anyone who ever dared to trespass.
The first book in the series, The Ghost of Africa, opens with Likando, the heir-elect to the Lozi throne, preparing for the maturity ceremony who gets ambushed by a gang of purported ‘mixed-breeds’. This series of events leads her to come face-to-face with the Ghost of Africa.

REVIEW

★★★★

Ghost Tribes: The Ghost of Africa by Venancio Cadle Gomani Jr. is a beautiful book that is culturally so rich that it is impossible to not like it. It is an enriched and captivating tale which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The book opens with a bang and ends on such a high note that I was left thoroughly impressed by the author’s ability to pull off something like this, which is conceptually so heavy, with such ease and precision. The writing is commendable and I am looking forward to reading more works by the author.

The characterization could have been better, but it is one of those books in which story is the main hero and the characters come next. So overall it proved to be a pretty good read and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes reading books with more emphasis on the story than characters.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

ARC Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Author: Melanie Golding
Release Date: 30th April 2019
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Adult Fiction, Horro, Supernatural, Suspense
Series: 
Edition: Ebook
Pages: 304
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Blurb:
“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and Aimee Molloy’s The Perfect Mother.
Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.
A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley—to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.
Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.
Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking—and rechecking—your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

REVIEW

Let me begin by saying that when I first saw this book’s listing on NetGalley, I was totally in awe! It had the most amazing cover, an incredible blurb and (upon further research) some really good reviews in the book’s favour. So basically it had it all and I was positive that this will be one heck of a read.
To be honest, I couldn’t start reading this book fast enough and I felt like this right till the moment I started reading this book:

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But when I started reading this book, say about 20-25 pages in, I was really not sure if I was reading the right book because the writing felt very forceful and unnecessarily dramatic. For one, the author kept going on and on about how the main character (don’t even remember the name) did not feel “the rush of love” for her newborn twins. I am all for complex and grey characters, but after a while, it did start to feel like the author was unnecessarily pressing the point on the readers in order to make them hate the MC (or maybe they just wanted to make the readers feel that the character was very complex) either way, it felt too forced and outright fake. Still, I kept on reading in the hopes that maybe once this part gets over the good part would begin.

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Then came the part where the MC was being checked by the doctor in order to see if her womb (?) was okay (not even sure if I even understood that part) and then everything went to hell because the descriptions got so crazily gross that it’s going to take me a long time to get over it. I mean, if you haven’t been pregnant ever, then I recommend not to read this part as it sure as hell scared the shit out of me!!

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AND THAT WAS IT FOR ME!
I COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!

If you’ve read this book and liked it, then hats off to you! But you haven’t yet read this book and are planning to read it, then I’d suggest to check out some other book on twins and/or pregnant-female-horror fiction like Cleaving Souls by Chauncey Rogers or stick to the plain ol’ decent thrillers like Sister Sister by Sue Fortin or The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Book Review: Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

AuthorLeigh Bardugo
Release Date: 12th July 2016
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic & Elementals
Series: Six Of Crows (Book #1) & Grishaverse
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 495
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Blurb:
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

Review

★★★★★

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, the first book in the Six Of Crows Duology (also a part of the Grishaverse), is DEVILISHLY GOOD!!

When I was starting with this book, I did not even have the slightest of ideas that it would turn out to be one of my all-time favourite fantasy books! I loved, LOVED, the world-building and felt like Ketterdam was indeed a real world of which I desperately wanted to be a part of! This book is like a dream come true for a fantasy reader because this book has so much to offer to its readers that you simply can’t fault it! The conflicts were ridiculously good and lent an air of authenticity to the characters, something that lacks in most of the fantasy books these days. It was pure bliss to have read this book as I was so fed up of reading books that were only hyped up and had literally next to nothing to offer Caraval.

description

This book is a mind-blowing and earth-shattering dark fantasy novel. The story is deliciously complex and suitably grounded and the characterisation very mature, gritty and intricate. The story and the concept are simply out of the world and the author’s meticulous detailing is spot-on. This is a book you’d want to get lost in forever.

It is like a beautiful piece of art that you want to collect and then visit and revisit it again and again and again… This book is so ridiculously good that I can re-read it right now (only after 10 days.) It is one of those books that you wish would never get over… like The Hobbit and the ASOIF series but in a totally different way.

description

THIS BOOK HAS IT ALL!!
✦ A badass anti-hero with gut-wrenching inner-conflicts and an extremely difficult background and who is dubbed by people as the demon or the devil – check ✔︎
✦ A deadly and dangerous heroine who uses her Wraith-like persona to find out everyone’s dark secrets in order to serve the devil himself – check ✔︎
✦ A super-funny, charming and dangerous sharp-shooter side-kick who also happens to have a crush on the devil – check ✔︎
✦ A super-sassy, bold and gifted enchantress with unmatched super-powers who can kill you with a snap of her finger – check ✔︎
✦ A badass warrior-hunter-soldier who cannot be matched for strength – check ✔︎
✦ A naive rich brat who has left all the comforts and riches behind in order to find himself – check ✔︎

And there’s even more…
☛ An impossible heist
☛ Harsh weather conditions
☛ Bitterness amongst some people in the crew
☛ Possibility of backstabbing
☛ The odds are completely against and the stakes are so high that the readers can’t help but get swept away by how things happen the twisty turns that greet them at each and every page turn!

This book is a legitimate un-put-down-able read and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy and/or books with a solid plot as well as characterization. I mean, What The Hell Are You Still Waiting For?! Go and get this book today and do yourselves a huge favour!!

this review is also posted on Goodreads

Book Review: Challenges Of The Gods by C. Hofsetz

Author: C. Hofsetz
Release Date: 7th January 2018
Genre: Science-Fiction/Fantasy
Series: 
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Blurb:
After Mike goes through a gut-wrenching betrayal by his fiancée, he finds himself in what he thinks might be the afterlife. But this is no heaven. The gods made a mistake and created another Earth in a parallel universe, putting both universes in peril. They need someone from his planet to destroy the alternate, and Mike is randomly selected for the job.
Trapped in an impossible choice, Mike accepts his mission and is returned to an Earth—and a body—so unlike his own. There, he meets Jane, who is—unbeknownst to him—the secret leader of an organization bent on tracking down Earth’s saboteur. In the face of her passion for humanity, Mike’s resolve falters. If Mike won’t complete his mission, the gods will.

Review

★★★★

Challenges Of The Gods by C. Hofsetz is a new sci-fi fantasy novel with a very unique plot based a really good concept. I liked this book a lot because it differs from most of the new sci-fi novels as it had depth, good characterization and good world-building and the best part was the concept itself – it was both fresh and unique.

The characterisation was decent if not excellent but it did compliment the story as, for me, the real hero in this book was the story. The plot was complex and at times it took me a while to grasp what was really happening because of the thin border the author dared to tread in this book between two parallel realities, but that was as it should be and it proved to be a good stimulus for the brain.

The writing was really good and it made the reading of such a complex book very easy. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it highly to all sci-fi readers.

this review is also posted on Goodreads

Book Review: The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

Author: Karma Brown
Release Date: 12th July 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 316
Publisher: Mira
Blurb:
Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate’s skirt with a mirror. While they’ve been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah’s heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it’s Kate’s turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah’s surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

Review

★★★★+1/2

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown is a beautiful, heart-warming and very memorable read about friendships, husband-wife relationships and the unpredictability of life.

This book is one of those books that always stays with the reader. I believe Contemporary Women’s Fiction as a genre has a lot of potential and when the books in this genre are paired with excellent writing, a strong and unyielding plotline and powerful and believable characters, they transform into magic. This book had all these things and so much more. I loved the dialogues in this book a lot because they were good and as a result, each and every conversation felt real. For me, this was the strongest aspect fo this book.

The second best thing about this book was the writing – clean, crisp and clear. As a result, the book felt like a very easy and quick read (something that I always appreciate.) The writing had a very smooth air about it and flowed beautifully complementing this beautiful story. The pacing was spot-on and the tension perfect.

I was totally blown away when the main turning point of the story came; I was left gasping for breath, literally. I did not expect it and it totally broke my heart. It took me a while to digest what actually happened and all the while I kept wishing for it to somehow get undone, but then when it did not, I found myself struggling to grasp what was actually happening just like the characters in the novel. I mean, one thing you know you love a character and then the next thing you know something very bad has happened to them and you totally did not see it coming (I’m remembering Ned Stark’s execution in the first book itself… god! it still hurts!) After having read a lot of books you come to a point where hardly anything surprises you. But this book made me feel emotions I forgot having felt for a long time. This book made me feel like a first time reader who got involved in a book so much that even after having finished the book I am not able to forget the characters.

I’m cutting back 1/2 a star because the author left me sleepless for a couple of nights with such a tragic ending (I hate you for it, Karma Brown, but I love you for writing this book!) I’m sure as hell reading other books by the author. And I’d recommend it to all the readers who have a hunger for really good stories but won’t mind reading about issues related to surrogacy or pregnancy.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and NetGalley

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by C.J.

Author: C J
Release Date: 4th September 2018
Genre: Dystopian, Speculative Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 448
Publisher: 
Blurb:
When chemists Danny and Kevin accidentally create the ultimate beauty product–with a little inadvertent help from Danny’s biochemist girlfriend, Maggie–they’re convinced they’ve hit the jackpot. After all, who wouldn’t pay anything for the ability to permanently remove blemishes, burns, and even scars especially when one of its side effects prolongs the user’s life indefinitely.
But a discovery like that is one many would kill for–something the three quickly learn when they are targeted by a rival corporation and their murderous corporate spy, Suzanne. Even worse, it isn’t long before the unstable formula reveals another side effect. One decidedly nasty. If Maggie, Danny, and Kevin can’t figure out a way to fix it, the world will soon learn that there’s a heavy price to pay for beauty.
As the three scientists struggle to save humanity from potential disaster, they will have to overcome deadly mercenaries, the sociopathic Suzanne, and the man pulling everyone’s strings: the mysterious Boss. Will this Beautiful Disaster be the beginning of a brand-new world or the end of mankind?.

Review

★★+1/2

Beautiful Disaster by C.J. is a unique new dystopian book with a fresh concept and a good plot.

I finished this book pretty quickly in spite of the book being 400 plus pages long which is a good thing and was mostly possible because of the simple writing style of the author. Though, in many instances, I felt that the writing needed some polishing. I liked the storyline and the concept, which was different from what I generally always expect from a dystopian book.

The characterisation was okay, it wasn’t too bad but I wasn’t really impressed by it. I liked the characters just enough to finish the book, so the characterization could have used more work, though as I said, it wasn’t too bad either, I just wasn’t able to feel a connection to any of the leads. For me, this was more of a plot dominated book than a character driven one.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to explore a new title (and/or author) in dystopian or speculative genres and won’t mind a plot-driven story.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

AuthorStephanie Garber 
Release Date: 28th November 2018
Genre: Techno-Thriller, Action, Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Written By Blood #1
Edition: e-book
Pages: 238
Publisher: 
Blurb:
The Sunday Times bestseller WELCOME TO CARAVAL, WHERE NOTHING IS QUITE WHAT IT SEEMS . . . Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show. Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father. When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

REVIEW

★★+1/2

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is one book that I had waited for a long time to read before, finally, I was able to read it for the buddy read of RMFAO‘s Buddy Read for December’s Fantasy Month. To say that I had monumental expectations from this book would be a complete understatement. I’ve always loved reading immersive and elaborate fantasy books, but after having read The Night Circus, I was completely enthralled to have discovered magic in such a conventional form – Circus. And that was the reason why I was so eager to read Caraval which, to me, seemed a lot like The Night Circus.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, comparing both these books would be an insult to The Night Circus as Caraval miserably and unapologetically failed on more fronts that I even care to count. The only reason I even completed the book was the plot because somehow (unbelievably) the plot managed to keep me interested and I wanted to find out how the book ended.

I was appalled to see that the characterisation was so lifeless that I don’t even remember the names of the leading heroine even though I finished the book only a couple of days ago! And this was not even the fault of my huge expectations because I really feel that if a book is a Sunday Times Bestseller, it has to have something going for it, shouldn’t it??

The descriptions were very forced and sounded repetitive, the characterization was weak and immature and the progression of the plot felt weak too. The pacing was not great as at some places it was so slow that I had to skim over portions. The world building was okay but not as it should have been and the dialogues were outright bad at some places.

I hate writing so much negative about this book as I do feel that this book had a lot of potentials but it failed miserably for me in almost every aspect. I won’t be recommending this book to anyone. Though if you love reading fantasy genre, you should really give The Night Circus a read because that book is simply MAGIC!

this review is also posted on Goodreads

Book Spotlight: Beautiful Disaster by C.J.

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the section of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles. Today, we are featuring C.J, author of Beautiful Disaster, for one of our features, Book Spotlight.

About The Book

Book Name: Beautiful Disaster

Author: C.J.

Publisher: KDP

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Page Count: 448

Release date: September 2, 2018

Synopsis

When chemists Danny and Kevin accidentally create the ultimate beauty cream–with a little inadvertent help from Danny’s biochemist girlfriend, Maggie–they’re convinced they’ve hit the jackpot. After all, who wouldn’t pay anything for the ability to permanently remove blemishes, burns and even scars?

But a discovery like this is one many would kill for–something the three quickly learn when they are targeted by a rival corporation and their murderous corporate spy, Suzanne. Even worse, it isn’t long before the unstable formula’s decidedly nasty side effect pops up. If Maggie, Danny, and Kevin can’t figure out a way to fix it, the world will soon learn that there’s a heavy price to pay for beauty.

As the three scientists struggle to save humanity from potential disaster, they will have to overcome deadly mercenaries, the sociopathic Suzanne, and the man pulling everyone’s strings: the mysterious Boss. Will this Beautiful Disaster be the beginning of a brand-new world or the end of mankind?

get the book here:

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About The Author

C.J. graduated from Illinois State University and has lived her entire life in the Chicagoland area. She is currently semi-retired, works part-time at the local library and lives with her husband and two dogs, Chili Pepper and Molly. She finally managed to put down on paper the strange and humorous story that had been with her for several years. This is that story and this is her first book.

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If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Braidy Von Althuis And The Dastardly Djinn By Cassidy Dwelis

Author: Cassidy DwelisRelease Date: 30th October 2018
Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy, Supernatural
Series: Braidy Von Althuis #3
Edition: e-book
Pages: 228
Publisher: Precursor Publishing
Blurb:
“He should have known this would happen. Wishes in movies and books seemed to go bad, so why would this one be any different?” 
Ten-year-old Braidy von Althuis misses his family dearly. Ever since his father, his aunt, and his uncle went to look for Gran in Europe, the house has been quiet and lonely. Even worse, Braidy’s cousin Blockhead is miserable after a breakup. Braidy wishes more than anything that he could do something to make his cousin happy. His wish is granted by a mysterious djinni, but the wish does not solve all his problems. Something is wrong with Blockhead, and Braidy learns a dark secret about his family that changes everything he knew. Will Braidy and Blockhead be able to undo the djinni wish, or will Braidy spark a war that may change the world as he knows it? Braidy von Althuis and the Dastardly Djinn is a story about identity, self-worth, consent, and responsibility. 
This book is suitable for children aged 8 – 11.

Review

★★★★

Braidy Von Althuis And The Dastardly Djinn by Cassidy Dwelis is the sequel to Braidy Von Althuis And The Gullible Ghost Hunter. I had a bit of a complaint from the last part because of the absence of a character, but this book totally made up for everything because this part focused mainly on Braidy and Blockhead, Braidy’s cousin. So I really, really enjoyed this book (as much as I did the first one, Braidy Von Althuis And The Pesky Pest Controller.) 

The story in this book starts where the last one left off and the plot progressed further featuring Braidy on yet another adventure, this one, again, a little bigger and better. Reading about the familiar characters felt so good and in no time I was there living the plot myself right beside Braidy. I loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading more books (especially in this series, if the author plans to continue) by the author.

I’d recommend this book to all middle-graders and to their parents and siblings and friends alike because this book has so much to offer that anyone could enjoy it.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Written By Blood – Conviction by Dwayne gill

Author: Dwayne Gill
Release Date: 28th November 2018
Genre: Techno-Thriller, Action, Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Written By Blood #1
Edition: e-book
Pages: 238
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Abandoned to a secret government program at birth, Cane was trained to be the world’s most skilled assassin. For years he excelled in the field, bringing dangerous terrorists all over the world to justice and making even the most protected villains lose sleep. But since the program was shut down four years ago, he’s been forced into hiding, doing odd jobs to keep himself busy, and struggling to find a place for himself in society. The years of social isolation and, seemingly, his own brutal nature, have made him question whether or not he possesses the ability to feel certain emotions that most others exhibit effortlessly.Cane’s only hope of normality in a lonely life rests in the warmth of his friendship with Helen and her daughter Kristy, the latter of whom he rescued five years earlier, from the clutches of the evil Blue Rose serial-killer. Cane lives with his friend Lynks, with whom he served in the disbanded “Red Delta” assassin program.Cane finds a cryptic message from Marcene, a mysterious lady who knows more about him than she should. He soon finds himself thrust into the middle of a mystery that’s been at the center of the country’s attention for the past several years: ordinary men around the United States have been disappearing by the thousands, leaving their families and careers behind, only to turn up elsewhere in the country. Even more curious are the markings, which look like tattoos, that each bear upon their return. Conspiracy theories have abounded for years, but little has ever been known about these men, until now. Marcene claims the missing men are not only dangerous terrorists plotting a major attack on U.S. soil, but that they’re also genetically enhanced, and she aims to prove it to Cane through a series of instructions.

First, Cane is to save a college girl named Natalie, who, without her knowledge, is being targeted by the marked men. Guided more by curiosity than information, Cane and Lynks agree to help the girl, but after succeeding, they find only a new web of mysteries to unravel. The marked men are receiving their orders from seven dangerous men, and Cane remembers one of them by name: Amos. He’d been on Cane’s radar in the past, though he remained out of reach. Amos’s re-emergence gives Cane added motivation, so he looks to Marcene to continue pointing him in the right direction…

She leads them to the next, and most important step: find and recruit Daniel, a mountain of a man with a long history of violence.

There’s only one problem: he’s a convicted murderer in a super-max prison.

Cane and Lynks enlist Calvin, Daniel’s old friend, and Bowman, the man who trained Cane, to help orchestrate a plan for extracting Daniel. But Amos and the marked men are watching and making plans of their own, and they’ll use any tactic available in order to ensure their sinister plans remain in place, including hurting the few people Cane cares about.

It’s not only the marked men hot on their trail; FBI Agents Hart and Barkley, who’ve been hunting Cane and Lynks since the dissolution of Red Delta, are getting closer as well. But the nearer they draw to Cane, the more they learn about Amos, the other six terrorist leaders, and the marked men. And what they discover leads to even more terrifying scenarios and a deeper web of corruption than anyone expected, including a conspiracy involving high-ranking U.S. officials and the Russian government.

If Cane can just save Daniel and set him free, he’ll have a valuable ally: Daniel stands over seven feet tall and weighs over four hundred pounds, and he has his own bitter history with the marked men.

What started as curiosity for Cane quickly turns into something personal when Amos targets Helen and Kristy, sending him on a frantic race against time, pitted against enemies that far outnumber him and his friends. It’ll be a struggle to balance saving Kristy, rescuing Daniel, all while battling his own demons and self-doubt.

To succeed, it’ll take determination.

It’ll take focus.

It’ll take CONVICTION.

Review

★★★★

Written By Blood: Conviction by Dwayne Gill is an action-packed techno-thriller that is sure to keep you entertained right from the start to the very end. This book is jam-packed with high octane thrilling action and masculine drama like there’s no tomorrow. The storyline was good and the thing I liked best about this books is that it revolved around male characters, something rare to find in today’s books where the leading lady always steals the show, so for me, this book was a real treat.

I liked the writing style as the simplicity of it greatly complimented the plot, though at times it did feel a little rough around the edges, it did not get in the way of reading. The characterization was good and I was able to relate to almost all the characters, primary or secondary. The plot progression was really, really good and the pacing was great too.

Overall, it was a really new engaging read which proved to be a quick read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a book with strong male characters and don’t mind gritty action and rustic tones.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon