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Roderick Donald

Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

Archived news and reviews can be accessed by clicking on the relevant area on the News / Reviews Key panels to the right.

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22 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Nathan Burton

RRP: £4.00 / $5.25 (Paperback) | £2.00 / $2.51 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 22nd February 2021

From the stunning cover, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Tales Of The Starmen: Volume 1, by Nathan Burton was a graphic novel, but this is in fact a short but punchy space saga.

The story focuses on two brothers; Helion and Eckron, who, despite their disparity, must fulfil their royal duties.

There is a great variety of pacing here; we go from a vicious space fight to a street race in Kingson, Jamaica. Both these scenes act as stark metaphors for the differences between the two brothers. One just wants to win a race (Helion) and the other wants to ascend the Nova Throne (Eckron). That being said, there are more to the characters than their differences - particularly Eckron. Sure, he is unlikeable and power hungry, but, rather geniusly, there's a redeemable side to him that you discover near the end of the book. One particular line we loved from Eckron near the end, was as follows:

‘He said he wanted to be like me. Perhaps I should make some effort to be more like him.’

For a story so short, there's actually some decent character development, and whilst the cast of characters are relatively small, each have purpose and place within the narrative. We also love the diversity; this is very much a black-centric royal family and outside of the likes of Black Panther or Coming To America, its fantastic to have a black royal family represented in literary form for us Science Fiction fans.

It is clear that the author is a SciFi fan - and a well-seasoned one at that. There are hints of Star Wars and even The Fifth Element here, but Burton makes Tales Of The Starmen very much his own.

Whilst this is Volume 1 of a proposed series, it also acts as a satisfying conclusion. For those who hate cliffhangers, you can rest assured of a stress-free ending. Whenever Volume 2 does come out, it will mark a new chapter in this fun, gripping, pleasantly manageable saga.

+  Tales Of The Starmen: Volume 1 is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Nattybe96 (Nathan Burton) on Twitter.

19 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Jodi Bowersox

RRP: £10.13 / $7.14 (Paperback) | £3.05 / $4.26 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 19th February 2021

Mars Madness is book 1 in a 3 book series by author, Jodi Bowersox. It's self-titled as an 'out of this world romantic adventure' and boy does it deliver on that promise! What was left out of that headliner, however, is just how funny it is, too. 

We follow divorced mum of one, Katrina McKenna as she reluctantly buys a lottery ticket (on her daughter's insistence) for a luxury, two-year Mars adventure. The chances of wining are astronomical  to say the least (if you pardon the pun), but chance finds its way to Kat and before she knows it, she finds herself, begrudgingly on her way to Mars.

Thing is... her ex husband, who works for the company sending her to Mars, is also going to Mars, and he will be bringing their daughter along for the ride. All isn't as straightforward as one would think, though, and half of the fun we have is just getting to Mars. Hell, even leaving Earth has its fair share of setbacks with errant robotic maids, stowaway daughters and... an Israeli terrorist?!

We love the dialogue between Kat and her husband Doug; they really do reflect a real life ex-couple - complete with all the fallout (bad and good) that comes with it. Their daughter, Francesca is the magnet that has kept them in each others lives, and whilst you can see why they have gone their separate ways, there's this underlying feeling of wishing they could work things out.

Bowersox is a wizard in the way she sets up the situations our characters find themselves in. They present themselves as quietly comic (and not so quietly in some places) playlets, and whilst there are undoubtedly predictable outcomes that you relish as a reader, the author also takes you in unexpected directions.

It's tricky not to spoil things, but we will say that the ending wasn't at all what we were expecting, and it is absolutely a better story as a result. It sets up book 2 perfectly, and there's even a little sneak peek at the prologue for the sequel (Beware The Eyes Of Mars) at the very end.

There is a wonderful phrase that states; "The fun is in the journey", and nowhere is this more present than in Mars Madness. A fun read that has heart and soul!

+  Mars Madness is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JodiBowersox on Twitter.

9 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Xavier Marcé

RRP: £14.47 / $19.99 (Paperback) | £FREE / $FREE (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th February 2021

Modern Warfare meets SciFi in Mark Of Odin: The Awakening - a gripping story from the pen of Xavier Marcé.

The events of the story are set in 2012, where Luis (our main character) is set to graduate in Aerospace Engineering. Everything is going his way until Luis begins to have recurring nightmares from mythical beasts from Norse mythology.

We want to start by drawing particular attention to the prologue (set in Norway, 60,000 years ago), which instantly submerses the reader into the author's fantastic use of descriptive exposition;

"The city resembled a marble ocean in shades of blue and green; it was formed by palaces and large buildings that were dotted all over with the lush greenery of trees and cleaved through by wide stone avenues. The port area thronged with the city’s inhabitants who were heading to the ships with their most prized possessions. One vast building with a dome of titanic proportions stood out above the rest, dominating the centre of the city."

After being introduced to Luis and one of his nightmarish dreams, the story then switches tone, pace and location completely as we are introduced to Lieutenant Colonel Jack Preston of the United States Air Force, who is working on a prototype which ties in with what Luis is working on, half a world away. Soon their worlds collide, and, without giving too much away, their world's are not the only ones to collide...

The tying in of Norse mythology with that of a modern day setting is incredibly well thought out and successfully executed, and the final four chapters will have you gripped as there are flavours of Independence Day with a dash of Thor. That being said, there's no emulation here - Mark Of Odin is very much its own beast and with a conclusion that guarantees more to come, you'll be counting down the weeks, days and minutes until the next instalment.

It's worth mentioning that Mark Of Odin was originally published in the author's native Spanish, and having seen this with other books in the past, it normally comes at a cost in descriptions and sense of character. We were very pleased to say that nothing is lost in translation, and it stands shoulder to shoulder with its native version. The book is steeped in the flavour of Spain; from touching on its society to its history, you really get a rich sense of identity in the novel.

Rather ingeniously, once you are done reading Mark Of Odin, you can continue the reading experience  via an online pass which unlocks a digital edition with bonus chapters and stories. This really boosts your whole experience of the story and also gives you direct access to the author himself, via the online forum. It it because of this exciting way of creating and distributing additional content, that it really does feel bigger than the sum of its parts and, as such, we look forward to delving further into Marcé's world!

+  Mark Of Odin: The Awakening is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @MarkOfOdin (Xavier Marcé) on Twitter.

7 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Duane Simolke

RRP: £5.65 / $8.00 (Paperback) | £2.31 / $3.15 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 7th February 2021

Alternate realities and parallel timelines are the hot topic of the moment in both the cinematic and televisual worlds, and whilst one could argue that the concept has been around for years in the hallowed halls of written fiction, there have been slim pickings on the spread of titles we have read that feel refreshingly different.

Sons Of Taldra by Duane Simolke is exactly that - refreshingly different, and at its beating heart is some much needed diversity that slots in effortlessly and with purpose. And why shouldn't it?! When we think of the future and interactions with alien species, one can only accept diversity in all its many, beautiful colours. Colours that Simolke captures perfectly within the pages of this story.

Surfing the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, as the title suggests, Sons of Taldra follows Taldra (Leader of Valchondria - an alternate Earth), and her twin, gay, 19-year-old sons; Argen and Telius. Together they fight off an alien attack, but what quickly becomes apparent, and what is rather poignantly paralleled by the author, are the battles closer to home.

There are most definitely flavours of Star Trek: Discovery, which is particularly interesting as the book was published in 2016 - a full year before the first series of the aforementioned show. Just like Discovery, there is a broad spectrum of diverse characters - each with purpose and prominence, and despite being a short read, everyone fits in perfectly without any overcrowding. 

It is a short book, coming in at just 106 pages, but don't let that fool you into thinking this is a throw-away "short story". This is hands-down one of the most rounded books of this length that we have ever read. It's engaging and thought-provoking and whilst it may be a work of fiction, you cannot help but see the seeds of a future we could be heading towards.

As far as conclusions go, it's one of celebration, and one that ties back into the diversity we mentioned earlier. It's a beautiful end, and the last sentence in particular is one that we wish would be even more prevalent in our own time. Top marks to the author on this incredibly well-accomplished pocket SciFi.

+  Sons Of Taldra is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @DuaneSimolke on Twitter.

4 February 2021

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Written By: Bella Rayne

RRP: £14.95 / $16.43 (Paperback) | £3.19 / $4.35 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 4th February 2021

Bella Rayne's The Fate Of Magick centres around Dabney West; a befreckled, red-headed, self-reliant, loner, and, in her own words, "a force to be reckoned with". Dabney (great, unusual name by the way) is hugely affected by a horrific incident involving her parents, which changes her life forever.

If that wasn't enough, Dabney and her husband have drifted apart, and the company she works for is responsible for dumping toxic waste into her treasured forest. Having been caught taking photos and video of the incident, Dabney is later found out and sacked from her job.

Desperate for a fresh start, she moves to a new city to start her new life. It is in this new life that she begins having vivid dreams with strange messages. There's also a rather shocking predator (the details of which we won't spoil here), but it makes for some uncomfortable reading. That being said, it is this point in the story that you really feel a change in stakes.

With newfound powers and a true sense of empowerment, we see our central character change before our eyes and it is one of the most beautiful yet shocking changes we have ever seen to a character on the page...ever! Speaking of which, Dabney is surrounded by a fantastically diverse set of characters - not all of which she can trust...

We love the way in which Dabney is telling her story to us; at times it feels like a conversation with an old friend, and there are certain moments or subjects she talks about that the reader can totally align with. There's a whole section about Twitter, of which there are some elements many of us can relate to!

There are some racy moments, some downright scary moments, and best of all, moments that will have you punching the air for our heroine, in this darkly beautiful story from Bella Rayne.

One cannot help feeling there may be similarities to our protagonist and the author; Dabney comes across so clearly on the page and the details of her life are so rich and fleshed out that it almost feels like elements of a life that has actually been lived. She is even an author of the paranormal!

The wonderful ending sets things up for a sequel, and promises of adventures new. We will be there for the ride and recommend this book for anyone who loves the fantasy / romance genres.

+  The Fate Of Magick is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @BellaRayne10 (Bella Rayne) on Twitter.

1 February 2021

Publisher: Self-Published

Written By: Barbara J. Gilbert

RRP: £8.04 / $10.99 (Paperback) | £2.19 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 2nd February 2021

Future Apocalypse: Beginnings is the first in a thrilling new time travel series from Barbara J. Gilbert.

We follow Paulette Brown, a young woman who, after dealing with a personal tragedy in her hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, moves with her Mother to Washington.

Due to the events of her life in Wilmington, Paulette cannot shake her wish to change the past, which leads to her eventual elopement of a time pod, with her best friend, Greg.

With a relatively small pool of characters, one feels more intimacy with the plot and in turn, really hones in on Paulette's journey. You know that the people she meets are rich and rounded, and not just thrown in as padding. We particularly liked what the author does with Greg - whilst he supports his best friend, you feel the real-life conflict between them as he doesn't always agree with Paulette.

One of the things that we really loved, which, on paper, may not seem necessarily ground-breaking, was the fact that we follow 10 years of Paulette's life (and half the book) before we get our first taste of any time travel. As a reader you follow Paulette's struggles to get her project to conclusion, and you are chomping at the bit to see her dream realised. Hats off to the author for the slow build as it gives us time to get to know our protagonist, before she's thrust into the action.

Needles to say, time travel has its own rules and pitfalls, and it's not long before Paulette is thrown into a world-changing dilemma that picks up the pace and hurtles the reader in a fantastic, exciting new direction. It's this gear change that almost makes you feel you are reading two different stories - nay, genres. It's a delightful pace breaker and it comes at exactly the right moment.

The ending is far from what you think it will be, with all predictability thrown out the window, and with two more titles in the series now available, we are looking forward to seeing where Paulette's adventure takes her! Highly Recommended!

+  Future Apocalypse: Beginnings is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @BarbaraJGilber2 (Barbara J. Gilbert) on Twitter.

31 January 2021

Publisher: Modern Mystic Media LLC

Written By: Grace Blair & Laren Bright

RRP: £11.98 / $14.99 (Paperback) | £2.20 / $3.01 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 31st January 2021

Albert Einstein has appeared in Doctor Who a couple of times during the show's long history; most recently in the mini episode 'Death Is The Only Answer', but what has been sadly lacking is a full-on, Einstein-centric, time travel adventure.

While we wait for that day to come, our attention was drawn to Einstein's Compass; a Young Adult time travel adventure from the joint pens of Grace Blair and Laren Bright.

Focusing on a young Einstein, the story sees our famed mathematician given a special compass from his Father - a compass which opens the doorway to an adventure that spans millennia. From mythical Atlantis to ancient Egypt, through biblical times to mystical beasts; it's a non-stop whirlwind of time travel fantasy, with a good old dash of good vs evil that will have you gripped throughout. 

Einstein's Compass has a real vibrancy, thanks in part to the way in which the many locations are brought to life in broad technicolor strokes, juxtaposed with the authors' rounded characters - some of which you will know, and get a kick out of their interactions.

Whilst the content is almost wholly a work of fiction, there are factual elements peppered within that add a wonderful balance, keeping the reader's mind open to the possibilities; something that Einstein was renowned for and also something that this book ultimately pays tribute to.

This is a book that is written by two authors, but yet it reads absolutely and unequivocally as one. You sense no conflict in tone or direction, nor do you feel like the narrative is pulling in any jarring direction. Clearly this is a work of genuine passion from Blair and Bright and it shines in every drip of ink on the page.

+  Einstein's Compass is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @GraceBAuthor (Grace Blair) on Twitter.

27 January 2021

Publisher: Author's Reach

Written By: Francesca Tyer

RRP: £9.19 / $6.96 (Paperback) | £1.99 / $2.72 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 27th January 2021

The Firestone is the debut novel from Francesca Tyer - book 1 in a proposed series.

The story focuses on James; a fourteen year-old boy who, after witnessing a strange event at an airport, finds his way to an old clock shop that helps open the door to a new, exciting world.

One cannot help but feel some kindred similarities with Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, but rather than feeling like emulation, The Firestone very much treads its own path. We only mention this as fans of those books will feel very much at home here.

Terrific pacing sees James and his newfound friends bounding forwards in this wonderful, magical adventure, that has time quite literally at its heart. There is a quest within the story (and what a quest it is!) that will soon make it clear to the reader where the following books in the series may go. Needless to say, it powers you through, and whilst the phrase is horrendously overused in reviews, this really is a page turner, in the truest sense.

The author's use of descriptions are just wonderful; the way she paints misty, night-time London is so evocative and really sets the standard early on. With cavernous cities, fire, ice, wolves and dragons, The Firestone is simply brimming with excitement at every turn and the conclusion will have you both satisfied and desperate for more.

With the promise of a return trip to Arrisel, Francesca Tyer has set up the series perfectly in this first book. To think this is Tyer's first novel is mind-blowing - for this is the work of a seasoned writer whose attention to detail, character development and world building, galvanises her as a most accomplished author.

The Firestone, in our opinion, could very well be the next big thing since Harry Potter and it is simply screaming out to be made into a movie series! Most definitely recommended!

+  The Firestone is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @FTyer_ (Francesca Tyer) on Twitter.

11 January 2021

Publisher: Author's Reach

Written By: Richard Hardie

RRP: £9.99 / $14.90 (Paperback) | £1.99 / $2.99 (Kindle) - Also available on Audible!

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 11th January 2021

Leap Of Faith (the first book in The Temporal Detective Agency series) is a totally bonkers, humorous, yet surprisingly gripping, cross-genre adventure. 

Tertia - our main character, and chief narrator - hilariously guides the storytelling. Right from the off we find our heroine stuck at the top of Nelson's Column (sans Nelson himself), thanks to some time travel shenanigans gone awry. That whole first chapter had us in stitches, and the laughs - nay tears, didn't stop there!

This is a story that very much sits nearly in the pocket of interest for fellow Doctor Who fans, and if the multi-coloured, 4th Doctor-esque scarf on the front cover wasn't enough of a carrot dangler for you, you'll find several gems within that will have you drawing parallels to our favourite Sci-Fi TV series.

We mentioned earlier about the humour, and whilst Leap Of Faith is a truly brilliant story that will keep your interest throughout, it is author, Richard Hardie's sheer talent as a comic writer that shines through, page after page. In fact, we don't think we've ever read a book that had us laughing consistently throughout as much as this did!

From modern-day London to 18th Century Wales and beyond, Hardie keeps you on your toes with delicious plot twists, rich, vibrant characters and a foe that matches the talents of our temporal team, perfectly.

If you want a fun, feel-good frolic of an adventure to kick off 2021, this is it!

+  Leap Of Faith is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Richard_Hardie_ on Twitter.

24 December 2020

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Written By: Mark Rosendorf

RRP: £12.99 / $15.99 (Paperback) | £3.98 / $5.19 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 31st October 2020

Mark Rosendorf's The Witches Of Vegas is a fantastic new YA / Urban Fantasy with a thrilling supernatural twist. Think The Greatest Showman meets Twilight and you get the recipe for this thoroughly entertaining book.

Set against the titular backdrop of Las Vegas, the story follows Isis; a young witch getting to grips with her magical powers. Following a troubled childhood she is saved and subsequently taken in by a coven of witches who give her the family she's always wanted.

And now to the really clever bit... the Witches have a sell-out show at the Sapphire Resort in Vegas -  displaying (unbeknown to the audience) real magic. This is a genius move by the author to create a device where the Witches can hide in plain sight, whilst using their talents, and earn a tidy crust on the side.

As well as Witches we also have a rather nasty Vampire, which compliments the story wonderfully by giving us a worthy, and may we say unexpected adversary. There's also room for a little Romance in The Witches Of Vegas, and whilst we don't want to give anything away, we did enjoy the fresh way in which it unfolds in the story.

There are characters that you will simply love; outside of Isis, Sebastian, Luther, Valeria and Zack were among our favourites and were all layered and delightfully complex.

Not only does Rosendorf bring to life a rich palette of characters, but he also brings Las Vegas to life in the pages of the book. It's clear this is somewhere he has researched, walked the streets and breathed the atmosphere, and it reads very much as a character in its own right.

The conclusion was incredibly satisfying, whilst leaving you wanting for more, and you will love how everything regarding the show itself has a poignant part to play for our beloved coven.

The Witches Of Vegas is simply screaming out to be a movie series. The glamour and sparkle of Vegas juxtaposed with the magic and dark undertones of the story would convert so well on the big screen. One can only hope that Hollywood snaps up this incredibly engrossing adventure.

In a conversation with the author, we were pleased to learn that there will be a sequel, which is just as well, as we felt like we weren't done yet with Isis and her fascinating world. Expect big things from Mark Rosendorf - an author you most definitely have to have in your library!


What first got you into writing?

Writing was something I always knew I wanted to do. As a child, I had a wild imagination, especially when playing with my toys. I used to create worlds which were detailed and followed a story that would continue each time I laid on the floor and played.

I was in the seventh grade when I knew writing was in my future. My social studies teacher gave us an assignment to interview a grandparent and then write up their story. Unfortunately, my grandparents had a 1960s sitcom ability to turn every single topic into an argument…and they both hit below the belt. The fact that they were married for 70 years is perhaps the eighth wonder of the world. I did take a shot at the assignment; I asked my grandfather to tell me about his life growing up during the depression. He told me about the girl from Ohio he wished he’d married instead of the woman he did marry. My grandmother jumped on the line and, of course, they ended up arguing. Even as I hung up the phone, they were still yelling at each other on the line.

I sat down and made up a story about my grandfather. In the story, I explained how, during the depression of the 1920’s, he left home at fourteen years old and survived by carrying bundles of hay for a nickel an hour. I talked about how he managed to save one nickel every other hour, which he used to open a business and become successful. Then he met my grandmother, and it was love at first sight. They settled down and lived happily ever after.

None of that was necessarily true, but my teacher loved the story. He gave it an “A” and asked me if I would bring my grandparents to school so they could talk about their lives and take questions from the class. Picturing what a disaster that would have been, I did some quick damage control and explained that my grandparents wouldn’t be able to make it.

Do you have any literary influences / authors you admire?

There are a lot of books that I loved reading while I was growing up and they were certainly influences towards my own writing. 

Number one on my list would have to be “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. I found the story clever, funny, and well told. Not to mention, so many of the lines are quotable. The sequel, “Restaurant at the end of the galaxy” was just as good, if not even better. After that, the sequels started to drop in quality, but I’ve reread the first two books many times. (Truth be told, I gone though both books twice before realizing that one of the main character’s name was NOT Ford Perfect). 

My next book is “The Time Machine” by HG Wells. The concept of travelling through time and witnessing the future is every fiction writer’s dream.

Last, and perhaps most important on my list was Stephen Baxter’s “The Time Ships,” which was a direct sequel to “The Time Machine.” It was one of the first non-classics I remember reading. It had short chapters and each one ended with a cliffhanger. The entire book kept my attention, especially since I never liked long chapters. I say “Time Ships” was the most important book I’ve ever read because it was the one that pushed me over the line and inspired me to become a writer. 

We absolutely loved The Witches Of Vegas! With the sequel just around the corner, what can you tell us about it?

Thank you for the compliment, I’m glad you loved “The Witches of Vegas.” I think your audience will too, not just for the fantasy aspect, but for the characters. These are the types of people we all want to be our best friends. 

The sequel, titled “Journey To New Salem,” takes place a year after the events of “The Witches of Vegas.” While “The Witches of Vegas” introduces us to this family of witches and their vampire mentor in Las Vegas and the local magicians around them, the sequel will open up more of the supernatural world. We learn more of their world and their history as the family searches for a fabled village of witches that may or may not exist. Why must our heroes leave their home to seek out this village? Find out in “Journey To New Salem.” 

Are you a fan of Doctor Who, and if so, what was your first memory and do you have a favourite episode?

It’s really hard to choose a favorite episode from a series that’s been around since the sixties and has gone through so many different renditions How can I even begin to compare Doctor Who from 1963, which I had seen as syndication on PBS when I was a young child, to current Doctor Who which I am seeing now on BBCA as an adult. (I will say, however, that one arc I particularly liked was the Brain of Morbius storyline.)

My earliest memory involving Doctor Who is kind of funny. When I was about ten years old, my father would tell me about Doctor Who, which I was interested in watching. If my father liked it, I figured I would like it. After all, he was right about Star Trek. So, I read in the TV guide (which was a thing back then) that an episode of Doctor Who was going to be shown Saturday afternoon on PBS. Saturday afternoon came but I didn’t get to the TV until about fifteen minutes after the time the episode was supposed to start. I sat down in front of my TV and turned on PBS. Apparently, I had the day wrong, because PBS was showing the old 1981 TV movie version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Being ten years old, and never seeing Doctor Who before, I thought that was what I was watching…and the guy in the bathrobe WAS Doctor Who.  I remember, even at ten years old, thinking that was a weird way for a timelord to dress…and where was the TARDIS my father told me all about? 

Finally, if you could take a round trip in the TARDIS, anywhere in time and space, where would you go and why?

Wow, what an opportunity, to travel to another planet with human life somewhere across the entire universe. The chance to either find out, in person, what the world looked like during the dinosaur age…or see what humanity would evolve into 200 thousand years from now. 

Hmm…I think in the end I would choose to stay in my own home in current time. Why? Because that’s where all of my stuff is. 

Thank you for the interview and giving me a chance to share The Witches of Vegas with all of my fellow Doctor Who fans. 

+  The Witches Of Vegas is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @MarkRosendorf on Twitter.

16 December 2020

Publisher: Pyr

Written By: Barbara Barnett

RRP: £16.99 / $19.95 (Paperback) | £7.66 / $9.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 16th December 2020

Alchemy Of Glass is the follow-up novel to Barbara Barnett's The Apothecary's Curse; a cross-genre story seated in a historical fiction setting. In it, Burnett continues the story of Gaelen (our central character, who also happens to be an immortal apothecary). That being said, if you haven't read the previous book, you can jump right in here.

This time around we are thrown further into Gaelen's past, present and future whilst dipping in and out of themes such as mythology, science and ancient lore. There's also a rather worrying foreshadowing of things to come, and one cannot help but feel a parallel with certain world events our our own reality...

One of the things we loved most is how past actions from the previous book are accountable in this one, and in particular lead to an interesting plot point in relation to a returning character. 

The story, characters and sheer drive through Alchemy Of Glass is a true testament to Barnett's skill as a writer, but even more than that, it's her almost poetic way in which she describes her world. You don't even have to venture past the very first page for a greater example of this:

"Gaelan Erceldoune strolled along the water’s edge, zigzagging his way through the detritus washed up on the gravel-strewn shore. Stopping, he gazed at the horizon, only now becoming discernable against the black water.

A lone figure, frock coat billowing in the stiff breeze, stood at the distant point of a decaying wooden pier, staring into the dusky lavender of the pre-dawn sky as daylight advanced in slow ascent."

And again at the start of Chapter 16:

"Shadows crept the catacomb walls as Gaelan made his way through the narrow corridor. The last vestiges of lantern light faded and extinguished. And that damnable tinkling again. Where the fuck was it coming from? Burrowing into his head, it had become a discordant concerto, disorienting and setting the darkness isorienting and setting the darkness to relentlessly spin around and through him."

Two completely contrasting settings, but equally described in a rich, almost mesmerising way. Fantastic!

Contrast is a tool that the author uses to great advantage; from the cross-genre settings, the thematic disparate of darkness and light, to the locations of this story - (we begin in Chicago and end in the UK), you're always guessing what's coming next and never sure of what to expect. 

We have no idea if there will be a third story in this series, but we are hopeful. Barnett has crafted a unique masterpiece and if anything, has actually created an even better book than the first!

+  Alchemy Of Glass is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @B_Barnett (Barbara Barnett) on Twitter.

9 November 2020

Publisher: HK Doodles

Written By: Kip Koelsch

RRP: £8.09 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £3.21 / $4.15 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th November 2020

Not knowing what to expect in a book is a rare treat for a reader, in a world where certain themes, plots, devices and even characters can seem like they're treading old ground or rehashing old favourites. Kip Koelsch's Piercing The Celestial Ocean, however, constantly has the reader guessing and wondering what direction it will go in.... and we LOVE it!

This is an epic story, essentially, about two universes coming together (in more ways than one). With wormholes, multiverses, time travel and AI (to name just a few popular devices), there's so much going on that you can't wait to find out what crazy turn is around the corner. That being said, at no point does the narrative become muddy or complicated; we get explanations along the way and if there does appear to be a short moment of time where you start to wonder what's happening, it's not long before Koelsch sets things on course again.

The sheer amount of work that has gone into fleshing out one of the main cultures in the story (the P'nesians) has to be commended. You really get a feel for the people and their hierarchy and it's so interesting when you blend this with the multiverse and other cultures.

Anyone who has read Koelsch's other works, particularly Wendell's Lullaby, will know that the author has a close affinity with the ocean - something that is very much present here in this book, and is rather cleverly used as a key part of the whole story. To draw a parallel to Star Trek (something that you will feel strong flavours of in this book) it had us thinking back to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - except this time, the author got it right!

Piercing The Celestial Ocean is old-school Science Fiction that seamlessly connects to modern day aspects of the genre. It seems the multiverse is very much an in thing at the moment within SciFi, but rather than feeling like it's keeping up with the trend, this books use of it feels natural and certainly not shoe-horned in.

The tagline of this book is 'The Saga Of The Cerulean Universe Begins' and begin it most definitely has! By the time you reach the end, you feel like you're only just scratching the surface of what's in store. We very much looking forward to following this saga!

+  Piercing The Celestial Ocean is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @KipAAuthor (Kip Koelsch) on Twitter.

16 October 2020

Publisher: Bookbaby

Written By: Ryan Hastings

RRP: £7.06 / $10.76 (Paperback) | £6.04 / $7.80 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 16th October 2020

Ryan Hastings' Rituals is a fresh take on the SciFi / Fantasy mash-up genre, and takes no time in throwing the reader straight into the action. In the city of Evermore a treacherous son is about to make a decision that will be the catalyst of a war between good and evil.

Our protagonist's, Galai'el and Yana battle the evil Dom'rel, together with Baalta, whilst saving a princess along the way. All the right ingredients are here for a fantastic adventure and Hastings pulls it off with lustre.

There is some fantastic world-building in Rituals, with the world of Harth and the kingdom of Malene painted in glorious detail - sometimes at the cost of added character depth, but with such a wonderful roster of characters, the author can be forgiven for painting some with lighter brush strokes than others.

All the action (and there's a LOT of action) ticks along at great speed, and as a reader you are constantly being propelled to continue reading - even, at times, when your eyes may need a rest, there's a wonderful propulsion to find out what happens next. 

There's a wonderful morality tale at the heart of Rituals. Sure there is the obvious strands of good vs evil, but there is a religious theme that beats away gently throughout, and you can't help but feel like being a slightly better human at the end of it all. In fact, Hastings' closing paragraph is rather apt and bookends this story perfectly.

We were pleased to learn that there are two sequels to Rituals (Rituals: Storm And Serpent and Rituals: Wars, Worlds And Wards) - both titles we hope to review in due course. We enjoyed the escapism of Harth and cannot wait for our return ticket!

+  Rituals is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @DragonFrisky (Ryan Hastings) on Twitter.

15 October 2020

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Philip Raymond Brown

RRP: £9.60 / $15.99 (Paperback) | £2.39 / $3.08 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 15th October 2020

It Gives You Strength by Philip Raymond Brown is a SciFi / Fantasy / Historical mash-up, set in New York during the Prohibition in the 1920's.

The story begins in 1918, with a spaceship carrying the royal family of the planet Dagan, in a mid-space standoff in our own solar system. Faced with a shocking ultimatum, the family are forced to send their Daughter (the Princess Halana) to Earth, using an experimental procedure that deposits a person's life-force into the nervous system of another, until it can be retrieved. I love that the time period of 1918 conjures up a post-World War I, non-technological era, yet, in contrast, hovering over the planet is an established, technologically advanced alien civilisation, capable of transferring one's life-force. Just because it's 1918 on Earth, it could be the equivalent of the Year 3000 to others. Brilliant!

We then skip forward 8 years as we're introduced to alien anthropologist, Tashan Zho. Zho is transported to Earth on a mission to recover the princess, before the Dagan's launch all-out war on the Humans as 'revenge' for killing the Daganian Royal Family. Zho himself is deposited into the body of Ryan Costello; a (recently deceased) alcoholic bootlegger. Due to the.. *ahem* state of Costello's body, Zho has trouble accessing his mission files, and only has a nugget of information to go on. And so begins his mission to find the princess and save the planet in the process.

Along the way, Zho encounters a number of real-life historical figures, including Jack "Legs" Diamond, Edith Cavell and Jack Dempsey - something that felt right off the screen of a Doctor Who adventure. It's these moments that add connectivity to what is ultimately an alien recovery story, and it's wonderful having Earth as the touchstone.

As the story progresses, Zho's mission objectives change, which lead to some surprising and unforeseen outcomes for both the character and the reader - expertly executed by Brown, this page turner always has you on the back foot, guessing what could possibly happen next.

If one could draw a comparison, It Gives You Strength is Quantum Leap meets Battlestar Galactica meets Once Upon A Time In America - there are elements from all 3 that are echoed throughout, and it makes for fantastic reading!

Without spoiling the end, it is clear that the author has done his historical homework - especially considering one particular character (albeit with some rather neat dramatic license). We're unsure if there will be a sequel, but as a standalone, this was an incredibly engaging book with some clever tools and devices by its author. Readers will be gripped and nowhere else can you throw boxing, bootlegging and aliens into a story and expect it to stick, but stick it does and it's purely down to Brown's literary craftsmanship.

+  It Gives You Strength is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @philipraymondb1 on Twitter.

7 October 2020

Publisher: Grimprint Publishing

Written By: S.B. Norton

RRP: £12.00 / $15.00 (Paperback) | £2.83 / $3.49 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 7th October 2020

By day, Hope Kelley is a bespectacled, dorky, adolescent girl, but by night she enters the dream world of Sombre and becomes Halliday Knight; a kick-ass 'Gatherer' who battles the violent incumbents of this nightmare world. This Clark Kent / Superman type duality works wonderfully in S.B. Norton's spirited yet macabre story.

Just three pages in, you realise this isn't your average fantasy, as horror very much plays a (rather exciting) part in this Gaiman-esque tale. In fact, the horror goes about as far as you may be comfortable with, and just dips its toe on the other side, at times - something that makes you feel uncomfortable in a surprisingly welcoming way.

The many journeys Halliday goes on almost makes us reminisce the Fighting Fantasy books of our youth, with such gruesome details in the creatures (and their inevitable demise). You can almost imagine John Blanche's artwork being accompanied with Norton's monstrous descriptions.

"The devil-imp was a hideous cross of Neanderthal baby-human and shaven mangy street dog. Claw-like hands scratched at the dirt. A wasted, bony body and leathery, oily skin. Prowling on all fours it coughed and spat more blood."

Norton, S.B.. Sombre (p. 5). Grimprint Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

Hope / Halliday is joined by a cast of incredibly likeable, diverse characters who lift off the page; both good and evil. Dave is probably our favourite - an almost foil, to Halliday. 

We mentioned the Fantasy and Horror genres, but one other that fits so perfectly in this world is that of Steampunk. In fact, it's a genre that - quite literally - sits at the beating heart of Sombre. Take Halliday's Machanihorse, for example:

“A mechanical horse,” Dave pondered scratching his stubbly chin. “Does she ever breakdown? What does she eat?” “A Machanihorse, Dave,” Halliday corrected him as she stirred the balance of her drink with a straw, she nodded, “And not a lot, really. Pecks the grasses, drinks from The River occasionally. She is quite chock full of her mechanisms, you know. She needs a tweak from The Menders here and there.”

Norton, S.B.. Sombre (pp. 28-29). Grimprint Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

This is most definitely a fast-paced story that will have you putting off your daily duties, just to get a little further. Rather aptly, you almost feel like Hope; trading your mundane life to pick up the book and enter a vividly more exciting one.

Without spoiling things too much, it's safe to say that a sequel is coming in 2021 and we're rather excited (if a little scared) to re-enter this wonderful world that S.B. Norton has created.

+  Sombre is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @SBNorton1 on Twitter.

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