Book Review – Lightblade

Lightblade Book 1 by Zamil Akhtar

Note: This review was made possible by an advanced copy provided by the author Zamil Akhtar. Check out all of his books, including Lightblade and an incredible cosmic horror series called Gunmetal Gods here.

SUMMARY

In three days, Jyosh will slay the God Emperor, or die trying.

But first he must train his lightblade skills. While asleep. Each hour of sleep equals a day in a lucid dream, plenty of time to master the essential lightblade techniques and hopefully get skilled enough to defeat the monster who enslaved him and beheaded his parents and sister.

When Jyosh awakens to learn that the God Emperor has surrendered to an even crueler foe, a mysterious lightblade master who can summon divine dragons to burn whole cities, he’ll face a trial by fire against forces far more frightening than he could ever dream.

That is, if he’s not still in one.

Star Wars meets The Matrix in this progression fantasy adventure inspired by Indian and Persian mythology, featuring dragon gods, energy sword duels, ancient floating cities, and shared dream exploration.

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lightblade, the latest book from author Zamil Akhtar makes me wonder if there is anything this author cannot pull off. I’ve read all of his cosmic horror books and found them thrilling and fascinating. I was excited when I heard he was going to attempt a progression fantasy but wasn’t quite sure if the story would live up to my expectations.

I’m happy to say, the book surpassed all expectations I had and kept me constantly turning pages, immersing myself in this incredibly colorful and vibrant world.

Jyosh is a laborer at a camp where he spends his days using the green light in his world to create machine parts for an emperor who he has vowed to kill. Unfortunately for Jyosh, he has no combat training, and doesn’t possess a red crystal which would allow him to create a lightblade, an energy weapon which may have a chance at destroying the emperor.

What Jyosh does have is a modified dream crystal which will allow him to train in his sleep. In this world an hour of sleep is equal to a day in the dream. This may just be enough time for Jyosh to hone his skills and seek his revenge. But, there is something different about this training program.

Jyosh is going to have to figure out what he needs to do to survive and figure out what is dream and what is reality or he may lose everything he holds dear.

While the author makes the comparison here to Star Wars meets the Matrix, and that is certainly true, I was most reminded of Inception with this book. There are also fantastic creatures, some amazing illustrations, and tons of action.

If you like futuristic fantasy with elements of Indian and Persian mythology, you. are going to absolutely love this book.

Book Review – Doctor Glass

Doctor Glass by Louise Worthington

Note: This review was made possible by TCK Publishing who kindly granted me a review copy. Find out more about all their books by clicking on their website: https://www.tckpublishing.com/

To get your copy of Doctor Glass click on the Kindle preview above or click the link here: Doctor Glass: A Psychological Thriller Novel

To read more of Louise Worthington’s books check out her website: https://louiseworthington.co.uk/

SUMMARY

Psychotherapist Emma-Jane Glass has prioritized work over leisure for far too long. She does whatever it takes to help her clients, and it’s bordering on professional obsession. When she publishes a controversial article about unstable mothers murdering their children, an anonymous letter arrives on her doorstep:

I will expose you.
Then, I will mutilate you…
Wait for me.


After she is abducted into the night, Doctor Glass finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous sociopath. But being a relentless doctor of the mind, she feels an urge to help her fragile captor, even if it might shatter her sanity—and her life. It becomes a game of survival, and only one mind can win.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Emma-Jane Glass is a therapist who is not afraid of taking on controversial positions and challenging patients. She has a small practice where she does her best to treat patients with kindness, empathy, and understanding. She will also go the extra mile to help those in need whenever she can. Not everyone in the community appreciates her views on unstable mothers who murder their own children. After she writes an article on the subject she unknowingly puts herself in danger.

Doctor Glass is an intelligent, empathetic, and caring clinician. When she starts receiving threatening notes and letters she will need to use all of her professional skill to understand who might be threatening her and why.

Lucy, the nutritionist and longtime friend of Emma-Jane who has an office next to the psychologist has her own patients and circumstances to deal with. But when Emma-Jane seems to go missing, it is up to Lucy to see if she can find out what happened.

The book is part thriller, part mystery, and part exercise in human understanding. The beginning of the book ratchets up the intensity immediately. While parts of the story waver, for the most part this is a page-turner.

Emma-Jane Glass is a fascinating character in not only how she deals with others but how she deals with her own traumatic experiences. There were times in the story where it seemed like some more sensible choices could have been made but overall it’s a believable story with a lot of intense emotion.

There is a side story involving Lucy which some readers may not enjoy but it does contrast nicely with what Emma-Jane is going through with her own patients.

If you like tightly wound psychological thrillers where the protagonist has to user their own wits and experience to get out of serious trouble, you’ll enjoy this book.

The first installment of The Glass Minds series has strong potential to carry the story forward and become a reliable read for enjoyable psychological suspense thrillers and I look forward to reading more in the series.

Jimmy Chartron and the Lost Keystone – Book Review

Jimmy Chartron and the Lost Keystone by J.T. Michaels

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

The Great War ended a century ago. Peace reigns across the eight countries. Epic tales of heroic men and women of those times are recounted in song and story. Yet, history seems to have forgotten a young battlefield healer, Tessa Marlise…

Sixteen-year-old Jimmy Chartron has just enrolled at the Navale Academy of Eagleon, his mind set on becoming an electrician. A chance magical encounter binds him to the trapped soul of Tessa Marlise. As Jimmy struggles to deal with this shocking development, murder and mystery unravel in the academy. Caught in the middle of everything, Jimmy realizes that a larger evil is afoot and that only two things can stop it: himself and the ghost in his head…

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Jimmy Chartron is a hard working, sixteen year old, boy. He’s been accepted to the Navale Academy where he wants to learn to be an electrician. He also works on the docs. But a chance encounter with a bit of magic pairs him with a ghost named Tessa. Tessa is stuck in Jimmy’s mind and the two of them have to find a way to work together to keep Jimmy safe, unravel a mystery, and quite possibly save the world.

The book is a bit of a mix of Harry Potter and futuristic technology. At the same time, it’s got a unique feel to it and manages to tell an original story. While the relationship between Jimmy and Tessa is the main narrative there is a wide cast of supporting characters and J.T. Michaels does a good job of balancing the action with the characters.

Parts of the story do feel like something you may have read before but there is enough of an original spin here to keep the reader interested. It would have been nice to have just a little more of the background of the war which ended a century ago. But I believe this could easily be expanded upon in future installments of the series.

There is also a well thought out magic system in use here that feels like a good blend of traditional ideas of magic with a bit of technology thrown in for good measure. And there are some unique creatures populating the landscape as well.

This definitely feels like a book with good series potential where the stakes and action can rise in the future.

If you like fast paced adventure books starring adolescents such as Harry Potter, Septimus Heap or Rick Riordan books you will enjoy Jimmy Chartron and the Lost Keystone.

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Book Review – Footsteps in the Dark: Short Horror & Sci-Fi Stories Volume II

Footsteps in the Dark Volume II by Joshua G. J. Insole

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

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SUMMARY

Another collection comes from the three-time Reedsy winner, Joshua G. J. Insole. This second volume of horror and sci-fi explores the dark alleys of the mind once more.

A woman defends house and husband from the home’s eight-legged inhabitants. Two strangers discuss music’s finer points as cannibals try to break into their car. A gender-reveal party goes off the rails as the true nature of the infant comes to light. Thirteen women gather at night to right the wrongs of society. A mother takes shelter in the family treehouse as the world ends around her. And finally—

Wait. Do you hear that?

Footsteps.

Footsteps in the dark.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Footsteps in the Dark is a collection of short science fiction and horror stories, most of them between three and five pages long. It’s a world of stories inhabited by zombies, vampires, wendigos, creepy crawly spiders and other things that go bump in the night. There are also several stories that might be considered more science fiction than horror but even these have a bit of a horror element to them.

The nice thing about a collection like this is there is a wide variety of stories to read and none of them take a huge time commitment. While not every story comes off perfectly, any reader who is a fan of horror is bound to find at least one story here that will stay with them long after reading. For example, Gender Reveal takes a decidedly unexpected turn and the story Ordinary stayed with me long after I finished that story. Another standout in my mind was Homeowner’s Association which gives a new take to how much people are willing to tolerate in their neighbors.

A word of warning would be that some of the stories can get a bit gory so if you don’t have a stomach for that type of reading you may want to skip a few in this collection. If you have a strong enough stomach though, most of the stories are worth reading at least once and added together they make a fine collection for horror fans.

If you like bite-sized horror and science fiction stories this is a great collection to add to your shelves.

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Book Review – Reflection

Reflection by Brandon Hargraves

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

After witnessing the tragic death of her closest friends and family, Dawn travels across the country with a weathered vagabond in search of her aunt. On the way, she discovers that the world is a much scarier place than she had initially imagined, and that she might have some darkness lingering within herself as well.

REVIEW

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Dawn lives a quiet, happy life in a small village. She has a family who loves her and close friends to keep her company. She hasn’t traveled outside of her village but she hasn’t minded because she’s happy. Everything changes when her little village and family are attacked and left for dead. Dawn is now on her own and will need to make friends and allies in order to navigate her way through a world she has yet to truly experience.

She meets up with Cain and Ragnar who are what is known as Reavers. These are people who uphold justice and protect the land. Dawn sets off on an adventure with the two of them as she tries to connect with her only remaining relative, her aunt who lives in a far away city. On the way she will have to face danger, enemies, and most of all, herself.

Reflection is a high fantasy adventure full of magic, interesting creatures, and compelling action. What is most interesting is that the characters in the story don’t automatically resort to violence to solve their troubles and there are some characters who really think about what it means to take a life. That’s refreshing to see in a fantasy book as oftentimes there is action without consequences in these kinds of stories.

There was room for a bit more character growth for some of the characters and there were times when the world didn’t feel as fully built as it could have been. But the story is satisfying to the reader and there is a lot of potential for this as a series. The characters are enjoyable to read about and there is a sense of fun in this world.

If you like fantasy books with lots of magic in it like Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time series, you’ll find this an enjoyable book worth reading.

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Book Review – The Winding (Time Corrector Series Book 1)

The Winding (Time Corrector Series Book 1) by Avi Datta

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

Morally complex, orphan, and absolute genius Vincent Abajian is hellbent to uncover all he can on Artificial Intelligence. His relentless pursuit distracts him from a traumatic childhood loss—his childhood best friend Akane was engulfed in a time-turbulence, a random rift in space and time.

But when a beautiful, temperamental, post-doctoral scientist, Emika Amari, joins his Center, everything changes. Vincent is convinced that Akane is inside the irresistible Emika. As they begin a life together, Vincent’s past and his connection with a time turbulence survivor challenge everything they’ve created and push them into a spiral of politics and conspiracy. Vincent’s silence to protect Emika threatens to tear them apart. Unknowingly, Emika is torn between what she wants and what Akane wants from her. With his newfound power, Vincent struggles with whether or not he should create another time-turbulence to free Emika from the grasp of Akane once and for all. But will tinkering with time be more destructive than anything he has ever encountered before?

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Vincent Abajian is an orphan who grows up at a wealthy boarding school. His life is anything but privileged though as he has to fight school bullies, not knowing who his parents are, and prejudices of his schoolmates. That is, until he finally makes a connection with Akane, a sweet girl who shows him kindness and connects deeply with Vincent. She is soon lost to what is known as a “time-turbulence” where people can disappear from one reality to another. Sometimes they come back and sometimes they don’t. They may even return into a new life as a whole other person with small fragments of memories from the first life.

Vincent spends his life in driven pursuit to be the best he can in his chosen field of AI robotics. He has given up on finding Akane again until Emika Amari walks into his life. She may be Akane or she may be only Emika but either way, Vincent loves her. He now has to grapple with what all of this means, if he can do anything to change it, and must figure out how to protect Emika in the middle of political turmoil even if it costs him everything he truly wants.

The Winding is an intricately detailed story full of deep emotion. It also makes the improbable seem possible. However, what really stands out is not just how well the plot is constructed with all of its connections but how deeply the characters connect to one another. The reader is able to sympathize with Vincent while also feeling for Emika and feel the sadness that comes with great loss and the joy that comes with great connection.

At some points, parts of the book feel like they may be disjointed but by the end everything comes together and makes sense to the reader. Vincent and Emika are especially well developed both in terms of their characters and in their relationship to one another. There are moments where the political situation seems slightly underdeveloped but in the end it comes around enough to be worthwhile.

Overall, this is an excellent story full of surprises, twists, turns, and especially, deep emotional resonance.

If you enjoy love stories with a bit of science fiction such as The Time Traveler’s Wife or books like The Great Gatsby this book is an excellent read and well worth the time. If you just love great stories, this is a must read book. And the best part is this is only the first in the series. It will be exciting to see where it goes from here.

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Book Review – Pray Lied Eve 3: Tales of the macabre and untoward

Pray Lied EVE 3 by Lydia Peever

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

Macabre tales of alienation, terror, and the supernatural…

Take a seat in a darkened theatre for Wormwoods Final Cut, then cast a wary glance at the scarecrow Staked in the fallow field. Gaze across strange shores, All White and Jagged, and too far away from the safety of a library holding Grave Marginalia. Listen close for the Fading Applause in Quintland before Checking Out of the abandoned hotel rotting back into the ground, then stumble through city streets to avoid the Crocodile Rot.

Horror, weird tales, quiet stories of the dread… these seven stories serve as a following to the first three dark offerings of the Pray Lied Eve series. This third installment is dense, and as with the previous collections, we delve into realms, perhaps best left undisturbed.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pray Lied Eve 3: Tales of the macabre and untoward is an anthology of seven short stories mostly falling into the horror category. This is the third entry into the series but it’s not necessary to have read the previous books in order to enjoy this one.

Like all short story collections there are some stories that work better than others but each one here is an enjoyable read. Most of them have at least some gore in them but if you are a regular horror reader it won’t be anything you are not used to reading.

One of the strongest stories comes at the beginning in Wormwoods Final Cut in which a young woman hears something strange in an old film projector. She’s not the only one to hear it and it just gets more horrifying from there. Also extremely memorable is Grave Marginalia where a quiet library is disturbed when the staff finds a collection of books that contain things that definitely don’t belong in books. Stake is a quite short tale but it pulls off the story very well in a short amount of time. Fading Applause in Quintland is probably the story that works least in this collection but it’s still an interesting entry and worth reading.

Overall, if you are a fan of short stories, especially ones with a horror or supernatural theme of any kind you’re likely to find at least one good story here.

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Book Review – Afterworld

Afterworld by James G. Robertson

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

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SUMMARY

Death comes, and misery follows. As a man in his early twenties, Leon never genuinely contemplated what would happen after his death. Like those before him, he never understood the truth of our universe. After his sudden demise, the terrorizing reality of a mysterious dystopian afterlife begins crushing him as it has those prior. Men have started enslaving and killing each other to sate their greed while enigmatic creatures oppress the masses. Only a select few have shown the courage that is needed to challenge their supremacy.

Through this eclipsing darkness, there is hope. But will that hope prove to be enough to save this turbulent cosmos? The revelations of advanced science, magic, human savagery, and even our gods will be showcased. Both in a new light and disturbing darkness, will the verities of Earth and Afterworld give him a greater understanding of our universe; or in turn, begin to break him as they have done to so many before?

REVIEW

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Leon has met with an unfortunate accident. He awakes falling through the air with no parachute to soften his impact. This turns out to be the least of his worries as what happens after is larger than anyone might imagine. He’s in a place called Afterworld where gods, men and women, and monsters all fight for power and supremacy.

Afterworld has an interesting premise in which all of the worlds religions have been preparing man for one thing and one thing only, to be able to fight dark gods from another universe. There is a fair amount of action and a bit of gore in the book. We see most of the action from Leon’s perspective. While a lot of the action and story is intriguing, it would have been nice to see Leon taking a bit more of an active role in the book.

The gods and creatures are fairly unique and so is the premise so that may be enough to keep readers going. Leon gets to interact with people who have incredible powers and learn from some of the most brilliant minds humanity has ever known. He is thrust into a sprawling universe that is full of danger at every turn possible. Only with help from the few people he can rely on will he be able to endure.

The ending leads nicely to the next book in the series and it will be interesting to find out where it goes from here. If you like books about alternate worlds, that tackle philosophical questions, and have a bit of blood in them, Afterworld is worth reading.

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Book Review – Hellsleigh

Hellsleigh by D.C. Brockwell

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

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SUMMARY

They say if you listen carefully at night , you can still hear the screaming…

Seven bodies are recovered from Hellsleigh , the most infamous asylum in the country, which has been left derelict for the last 30 years.

24 Hours Earlier:

On the eve of its planned demolition, famed parapsychologist and author, Brandon Fiske and his team of paranormal investigators break into the abandoned hospital determined to find proof of its supernatural powers.

Local villager, Jason Hough whose past is connected to Hellingly returns for one last visit, along with a group of university students in search of a place to party.

Little do the two groups know, they are there on a very special anniversary for the hospital, an occasion the building remembers only too well…One thing they’ll all find out the hard way is: once you enter Hellsleigh, it wont let you leave…

REVIEW

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hellsleigh has a haunted past. It was once an asylum for those with mental illness but twisted and cruel events occurred there. For the past thirty years the place has been left disused and is about to be demolished. Brandon Fiske, who has made a career out of writing about haunted places, has brought a team with him to investigate the hospital on the eve of its destruction. One way or the other he wants to find out if spirits are real. Meanwhile, Jason Hough and a group of his friends are looking for a place to party. And what better place for a part is there than an old, abandoned hospital where no brothers, parents or police will be? Once everyone has arrived, things start down a dark and deadly path. It remains to be seen if any of them will survive.

DC Brockwell does a fine job of managing a large list of characters and balances the time focused on each well. There are significantly bloody and frightening scenes so anyone who enjoys a good bit of body horror will enjoy this book. The death scenarios are fairly inventive as well and are guaranteed to stick in the readers mind. The end comes to a satisfying conclusion and ties up the loose ends nicely.

While a lot of the book is inventive and intriguing, the setting of an abandoned mental hospital does read like something horror fans have seen before. In addition there is a bit of time jumping that some readers may not enjoy but it is necessary for the end of the book to work as intended.

All in all Brockwell has put out a solid horror story that has enough for most horror fans to keep them awake at night. It would be great to see a fresher, more surprising setting in the next book from this author. Either way I’m sure it will involve a good scare worth reading.

If you are a fan of American Horror StoryThe Shining or movies that involve a good amount of blood and gore like the Saw series this is a book worth reading.

Book Review – The Ravenstones: Gains and Losses

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

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SUMMARY

The alliances in Aeronbed and Vigmar have shifted, the battle lines redrawn. Old enemies become friends of convenience, former confederates hunted down. Can bears and lions become true allies? Can old prejudices be overcome? Is true reconciliation possible?

Eirwen and Fridis have been reunited, but their lives are filled with conflict and challenge. Eirwen must lead the Heimborn bears against their panther overlords. Fridis embarks on her quest to unearth the truth about the Ravenstones, starting with her former bodyguard Raicho, the peregrine falcon, and then to uncover the mysteries of Manaris.

Ammarich begins to doubt Adarix, who has abandoned the wolf pack’s ambitions and committed his life to supporting the polar bear. The lioness Olwen seeks to rejoin her kin in their northern sanctuary. Her panther friend and confidant, Eisa, chooses to stay with Eirwen and Heimborn’s bears, but he must prove himself to the suspicious clan chiefs — or die. And Vigmar’s security chief, Vulpé, the fox, is on the hunt once more, but now it’s the magic gemstones he’s after.

In Volume 4 our heroes face new trials. The stakes are higher, the challenges bolder, the treachery more outrageous and the threats to survival even graver.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eirwen and Fridis have come a long way since the events of the first book in this series. Fridis continues to discover secrets about the magic gems she and Eirwen discovered. Eirwen continues to grow and understand his role as a leader. All the while the world is at war and plots, complications and battles are changing the political landscape at every turn.

As always in these books there are alliances, betrayals, surprises and plenty of action to keep the reader interested. At times it can be difficult to keep track of all the characters as there are so many in the story. There is a handy dramatis animalium to help the reader keep everyone in mind at the beginning of the book.

The work here by C.S. Watts is extremely ambitious and impressive on a large scale. The different factions vying for rule or supremacy or in some cases simply to survive are reminiscent of the politics in the Game of Thrones series. The Ravenstones books are certainly more suitable for children but that does not make this story any less complex.

It’s been a great ride so far to see how the characters grow and change, constantly needing to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. And while Eirwen and Fridis are the stars of the series there are plenty of other characters Watts is able to make the reader care about. In particular Olwen and Eisa who were featured in the last book are enjoyable and interesting to read about.

There are still more books in this series to come and they are all great reads. If you want a story with a focus on not just fighting but politics behind fighting and plenty of character growth and development, do yourself a favor and pick up the Ravenstones books.

If you are an epic fantasy fan and have read The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time or if you love Watership Down these books are for you.