Indie Book Review: Shallow Waters by @RebeccaJBradley

Review:

Crime isn’t really my genre (I like cozy mysteries, not so much the gritty stuff), but since I follow Rebecca Bradley on wordpress, I was interested in reading what she’d written and decided to pick up her book. Shallow Waters sucked me right into the cold and gritty world of British police procedurals, and I was surprised at how quickly my reading experience turned from a ‘just out of curiosity’ to ‘I have to know what happens next!’ The atmosphere and the characters were done so well, and the crime was so compelling: there was so little information at the start, then it seemed to be an open-and-shut case before it spiralled into something much darker and sinister. I really enjoyed getting to know the Detective-Inspector and her world. There was just the right amount of personal drama and drive, and the ending was suitably tragic.

I’ve become attached to DI Hannah Robbins, so I’m looking forward to where this series goes. Even though crime isn’t really my thing, I found a lot to enjoy here. Has it changed my attitude to the whole genre? No, not really, but I ‘get’ it now, and I find police-procedurals more appealing than I did before.

Recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in crime.

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Shallow Waters, by Rebecca Bradley

Book Length: 370 pages

Police Procedural Crime (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

‘A gritty police procedural, with no-holds barred and a shocking insight to the reality of some. Dark and disturbing, yet exceptionally compelling.’ – Mel Sherratt, author of Taunting The Dead.

‘Tense, compelling and utterly absorbing. DI Hannah Robbins is a force to be reckoned with.’ – Jane Isaac, author of The Truth Will Out.

When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

Indie Book Review: Rangers by Chloe Gardner

Review:

Being a long time Supernatural fan, as I read Rangers I immediately recognised the inspiration behind the story. This isn’t just a fanfic though – the lore and characters are their own, and I had a lot of fun reading the paranormal adventures the twins and their tag-along got up to.

I did find the writing a little clunky, but the imagination was there, and I’ll take imagination over fluid writing any day. Having said that, I felt I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I wanted to, but I was still able to enjoy the ride. So many monsters, so much magic, so much action! I am interested in seeing where the series goes…

Recommended for fans of Supernatural. I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Rangers, by Chloe Gardner

Sam and Sam #1

Book Length: 414 pages

Paranormal Adventure (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Sam and Jason have been at this a long time, and they’re some of the best out there. Gremlins, goblins, ghosts of all kind, vampires, even the yeti that time in Cleveland, they go where they’re needed and they kill what needs killed. It’s that simple. And it’s a pretty good life, really.

Then there’s the girl. Samantha. She’s feisty and difficult and she knows next to nothing about what they do, but she’s pretty handy with a hatchet and seems to just keep tagging along with them, city after city, witch after ghost after spirit, despite Jason’s best efforts to ditch her along the way. If he’d had any idea just how complicated she was about to make their lives, he probably would have left her in Georgia.

It’s too bad, really. Sam appears to be in love with her.

Indie Book Review: Shattered, by Becky Durfee

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Review:

Yet again Becky Durfee has managed to create a fresh and compelling mystery. This time, the spirit that visits Jenny Watkins can talk, and talks quite a lot, but Jenny can’t understand Russian! Going by the few words she can pick up, she once again uses her amateur detective skills to pursue justice for the dead.

While I had a niggling issue with how the protagonist searched for clues in the last book, this time Jenny’s got her head on straight. We also get to see some finality to what Jenny wants out of her marriage (that’s to say, she wants it to end), and it’s great to see Jenny take another step towards becoming the person she wants to be.

We also finally get to meet Jenny’s family, and get some shocking revelations to boot!

Another exciting and enthralling mystery with the most relatable woman in the world. Have I mentioned I love this series?

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Shattered, by Becky Durfee

Jenny Watkins Mysteries #3

Book Length: 176 pages

Paranormal Cozy Mystery (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Psychic Jenny Watkins’ world has been turned upside down. Everything she once knew to be fact has come into question, and she is faced with choices that could impact the rest of her life.

As she deals with the crisis in her personal life, she is contacted by a young murder victim who lived in America but spoke no English. Relying solely on timing and intuition, Jenny tries to interpret the clues and find justice for a woman stripped of life too soon.

Children’s Book Review: the Gift of the Quoxxel

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Review:

This was a delightful read, the kind where the reading experience is just as fun as the plot. As you can probably tell by the book cover, this story screams ‘quirky’, and I don’t think I could adequately describe the book any more than the blurb (see below). It reminded me a little of Terry Pratchett’s tongue-in-cheek style (which I love) so I was so glad I decided to read this (after receiving a request from the author).

The ending was a little disappointing, but I suspect it’s being set up for a sequel, or at least another book set in the same universe. Although kids of 10-12yrs will love this book, it’s my kind of read too J

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you are interested in reading this book, the author is accepting requests for those interested in posting a review. You can contact him at richard.p.titus <at> gmail.com

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The Gift of the Quoxxel, by Richard Titus (author and illustrator)

Book Length: 121 pages

Humorous Fantasy (Children’s Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

King Norr of Nibb was not content. He longed to know of the world beyond his tiny, island kingdom. Why travel elsewhere, said his people. What place could possibly be more perfect than Nibb?

What frustrated Norr even more, outsiders never came to Nibb. Foreign ships approached, hesitated, then sailed away. Why was that?

And that wasn’t the only mystery.

Who was the little girl who sang, but would not speak?

What kind of monster lurked in waters along the shore?

Had Dr Hinkus been devoured by woolly drumbkins?

And most importantly, what’s for lunch?

Drearily perfect Nibb was about to turn upside down. As King Norr often said, it’s enough to give one “haddocks.”

Children’s Book Review: Runaway Smile by Nicholas C. Rossis

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Review:

It’s a little different reading and reviewing a children’s book as an adult. I did go back and read some old Secret Seven books when I bought the hardcopies two years ago, and I guess Runaway Smile is roughly the same age-group(?) Although, kids all read at different levels, don’t they?

Runaway Smile was a fun blend of everyday life with regular doses of the fantastical. The illustrations were a real treat, really adding to the story without being imposing. The poem at the end was a nice touch, but I did I wish it would’ve rhymed more.

I know for a fact my nine-year-old self would detest (if she knew the word) the dog being referred to as ‘it’. That’s just a personal thing, since to me ‘it’ indicates an inanimate object without feelings, but then, some people prefer to use ‘it’ as it’s neither masculine nor feminine. I just know what the nine-year-old in me thinks, and she thinks it’s mean to call a dog ‘it’.

That’s such a minor gripe though, and the book is a fun, short magical read for bedtime. The ending was especially sweet, and I’d like to see what the writer and illustrator come up with in their next collaboration.

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Runaway Smile, by Nicholas C Rossis (author) and Dimitris Fousekis (illustrator)

Book Length: 64 pages

Children’s Fiction

According to the Blurb:

“I woke up this morning and I had lost my smile and it wasn’t my fault and I looked everywhere and it was gone. Then I met a workman and a king and the best salesman in the world and a clown and no-one wanted to give me theirs. At school, I asked Miss to give me hers, but she gave us a pop quiz instead, and then no-one was smiling and…”

A little boy wakes up in the morning and realizes he has lost his smile. After spending the entire day trying to find it, he learns the truth behind smiles: the only real smiles are the shared ones.

Indie Book Review: Nine Lives of Adam Blake by Ryan Gladney

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Review:

This is a different sort of time-travel book, one where the main character, upon his death, gets transported back in his own lifetime to his twelve-year old self. Adam Blake gets to go through his life again and again, making new discoveries and pursuits in order to be the best he could be, thinking that that would be the path to end his (quite literal) life cycle. But then, what is the ‘best’ we can be?

I was hooked by the mystery presented in this book. Every life he lived was very different, mostly from the choices he made, but then the plot thickens when there are changes in the world that cannot be contributed to Adam and his actions. He explores all possible causes for this by pursuing spiritual, religious and scientific theories. I really connected with Adam’s story. He was an understandably flawed person in his first life (which I always like, since none of us are perfect), and all the characters made up a tangible, interesting world.

This is a shorter sort of book, and I loved it. I fell right into the ripping yarn, and ate up all the contemplations on life, how it works, and what we choose to do with it. A great story wrapped in some very interesting ideas. Looking forward to seeing what the author comes up with next.

Highly recommended, especially for people who like genre-defying books.

I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Ryan Gladney has also given me permission to post his email and invite readers to email him if they would like the same arrangement (he provides a free ecopy of his book, and all you have to do it review it honestly once you’ve read it)! Email him at gladney.ryan <at> gmail.com

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The Nine Lives of Adam Blake, by Ryan Gladney

Book Length: 218 pages / ~40k words

Sci-fi/Time-travelly with Romance (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Adam Blake knows what fate awaits him after death. He has died before, and will die again, and always it’s the same. For Adam, there is no heaven, no hell, no reincarnation, or cold, final sleep. When he dies, his life flashes before his eyes; it rushes backward—nothing skipped or overlooked—until it stops, suddenly, at age twelve, one week after he had mysteriously disappeared in the woods behind his childhood home. Then, he wakes up. Adam is cursed—or blessed—to relive the same life again and again, from this moment onward, regardless of how he lives, who he becomes, or what ultimately causes next his demise. He is free to right past wrongs, avoid past mistakes, pursue any interest and chase any dream. But the longer Adam lives, the less anything matters but answers. He must know: Why is he stuck in this loop? What is its cause? How will it end? And what awaits him on the other side of death when it finally does?

Indie Book Review: Millennium Crash by James Litherland

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Review:

I was really looking forward to reading this book but, unfortunately, I found it underwhelming.

The premise sounded good and it started out well, but the story quickly deteriorated into dull waiting and organisation sequences.  There were lots of visits to the bank, finding food, and just generally waiting around for something to happen. I was bored for much of this book, I think that boredom prevented me from connecting to characters.

I actually sort of liked Sam’s and Anya’s characters (even if I found them a bit one-track minded), but Page was just vapid and stupid. We follow these three characters around and Page’s story seemed to run through the same thing three times, with very little difference – her only plot drivers seemed to be shopping and getting into trouble. I found it was very repetitive.

I did like Anya’s authority, but she didn’t do much besides find her scattered work colleagues and then… she bought a house. There wasn’t much to her story, except for towards the end when things finally started happened to her, but by that time I was completely disinterested.

Sam’s story was the one I came closest to liking, but again it was bogged down by long periods of waiting and spying (which amounted to waiting around outside a building).

As I indicated before, the ending was a bit better, but I am honestly not interested in reading a sequel to this series. That’s just my opinion though, other people might like it. I’d recommend checking out the ‘look inside’ for those interested in buying it, and remember those first few scenes are probably the most action-packed of the book.

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Millennium Crash, by James Litherland

Watchbearers #1

Book Length: 326 pages

Time Travel Adventure (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

EVERYTHING goes wrong when the first research expedition from the future lands in New York City in the summer of 2000. Instead of arriving together, the time-travelers are separated and scattered across the ancient metropolis. Even worse, the professor in charge of the expedition is killed when he materializes in the middle of a busy street—and the device he carries to take them back home is destroyed in the accident. Their project in a shambles before they have even started, now they find themselves stranded in the past—and their troubles are only beginning.

After seeing her mentor die right before her eyes, Team Leader Anya attempts to salvage something from the disaster, starting with rounding up the rest of the travelers. She doesn’t know it yet, but even that much has already become an impossible task.

Research Assistant Samantha finds her own team leader just in time to witness one of her colleagues stab him to death. The only witness to the killing, she chases the culprit through the city—but the murderer has the perfect plan for escaping justice.

Dazed and disoriented in East Harlem, Team Leader Page is being mugged when graduate student Matt Walker runs to her rescue—but playing the white knight will plunge him into improbable peril and lead him into a trap from which there is no escape.

Indie Book Review: The Perfect Son by Kyion S Roebuck

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Review:

I’ve always liked short psychological thriller/mysteries, and The Perfect Son provided exactly what I love about the genre. My mind was running with questions the whole time I was reading it. Has his mind split in two? Has he been experimented on? Is he a robot? Is he possessed? I love these stories that walk the boundary between science and the preternatural. The mystery was compelling, the ‘Perfect Son’ was both a sympathetic character and a really creepy kid. Then there was the mother. You can never tell with mothers in these sorts of stories. Are they as nice as they seem?

The pacing was well done, and after being absorbed in the mystery I felt I was well-rewarded with a satisfying ending. Not that everything is explained in nitty-gritty detail, but it mystery is resolved enough so that I felt content and could fill in some minor blanks with my own imagination. I found it a very appropriate ending for this sort of genre (the reason I say this was I saw a review that lamented the ending not being explained enough, and I thought it was it was unfair. The ending was right for the story).

An enthralling horror-esque read. Highly recommended for a dark and stormy night.

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The author requested me to read this book and I purchased it of my own accord. This is an honest review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Currently on Amazon for US$0.99

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The Perfect Son, by Kyion S. Roebuck

Book Length: 68 pages

Pyscho-Thriller (Novella)

According to the Blurb:

After barely surviving a near fatal accident, fifteen-year-old Cody Winters returns home changed in ways that defy science. He’s now more intelligent, polite, responsible and mature– practically every parent’s ideal son. Oddly, he can’t remember anything about his life prior to the injury, but nothing stays buried forever.

Indie Book Review: Betrayed by Becky Durfee (Jenny Watkins Book 2)

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Review:

After loving the first book so much, I was excited to read the sequel and finished it quickly. Becky Durfee has set up a wonderful paranormal mysteries series, nicely paced with another compelling mystery.

This time, it isn’t about figuring out whodunit – the visiting spirit shows Jenny exactly who her killer is. Instead, the challenge is to figure out a) who this man is and b) how to prove he’s a killer to the police. Instead of a cold case, we get a current murder. Instead of a forgotten victim, we have a whole town in mourning for this tragedy. With a few already established characters , this book is a perfect sequel – take everything that a reader loved about the first book (which is why they’ve bought the second), and make the mystery and perspective so completely different from the first so that it’s all fresh and new. A perfect match of the ‘same-same, but different’ mantra.

I did have a niggling “why aren’t they pursuing (x) more?” when Jenny was doing her amateur detective work, but for all my annoyance, Jenny did do the understandable thing in that circumstance by deferring to the police. It isn’t what I would’ve done, but Jenny isn’t me, and what she did was within her character so I couldn’t blame her.

Having said that, she does take some very bold steps by the end of the book, twisting what I accepted as an almost-cozy mystery into something more thriller-ish with its edge of danger. Nice.

A worthy sequel, and a series to watch.

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Betrayed, by Becky Dufree

Jenny Watkins Mystery #2

Book Length: 204 pages

Paranormal Mystery (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Someone, somewhere, had been strangled.

Psychic Jenny Watkins’ second vision comes through the eyes of the victim. While she doesn’t know when or where the strangulation took place, she does get a good look at the killer. With little else to go on besides an image in her mind, Jenny races to put a name to the face before he strikes again.

The sequel to Driven, Betrayed offers an unusual plot, an element of romance and humor throughout.

Author Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7123147.Becky_Durfee

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JennyWatkinsMysteries

Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Driven-Jenny-Watkins-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00CXX0LOC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421712621&sr=8-1&keywords=driven+becky+durfee

Indie Book Review: Driven by Becky Dufree

Driven cover

Review:

“Insisting on being happy isn’t being selfish. It’s necessary.”

  • Elanor Whitby (wickedly awesome character)

First off, this is currently a free book on amazon for Martin Luther King Day. GO AND GET IT!

It’s been a long time since I couldn’t put down a book, and longer still when I’ve read a book in a day. Even when I really like a book, I would pace it out over at least two or three days. Even when I couldn’t put a book down, I would because I had other things that had to be done. But the stars aligned and the more I read Driven, the more I was sucked in until I had to finish it.

Of course, it isn’t a bloody tome of a thing so that really helped. Short and to the point, every single moment in this book had a purpose.  No filler, no padding, no bullsh*t that has ticked me off many times before. And I loved every moment of it.

A paranormal mystery wrapped up in a tale of self-discovery where our protagonist realises that throughout her life, she’s just been ‘going through the motions’ and that she has to work out what she really wants to do. This book ticked all my boxes, as if it were written just for me. Crazy how someone on the other end of the world can write a tale that speaks to me like this.

The characters were brilliant, realistic, complicated and so very, very different from each other. I love how the book ended – it was so naturally done, nothing was forced, and everything was well reasoned. How often do you read a story where you think it’s going to go in an obvious direction, and then it surprises you by bringing a solid dose of reality that in the real world, things just don’t work that way? I cannot be more specific than that because I do not like to spoil things. If you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about: the characters’ relationships are not forced, and they are not idealistic.

I was asked to review Driven by the author. Obviously my thoughts are my own and not everyone is going to love this book as much as I did, but I think if you have similar tastes in paranormal mysteries and journeys of self-realisation as me then you will love this book. I went and bought the sequel straight away, that’s how much I loved it.

Also, that moment when you recognise the cover picture in the story O.O awesome 🙂

Author Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7123147.Becky_Durfee

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JennyWatkinsMysteries

Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Driven-Jenny-Watkins-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00CXX0LOC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421712621&sr=8-1&keywords=driven+becky+durfee

Driven, by Becky Dufree

Jenny Watkins Mystery #1

Book Length: 197 pages

Paranormal Mystery (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Jenny Watkins is an ordinary elementary school teacher who buys a ramshackle old house with her husband Greg, intending to renovate the structure back to its original grandeur. Shortly after moving in, Jenny begins to hear voices, prompting her to look into a long-forgotten sixty-year-old missing persons case. During her investigation she meets a spunky elderly woman who causes Jenny to re-examine the way she looks at life.

This inspiring story offers believable characters, an intriguing plot, and plenty of humor throughout. The first book in a promising new series, Driven is sure to leave readers looking for more.