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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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29 June 2022

Publisher: Dragon Moon Press

Written By: J.V. Hilliard

RRP: £12.82 / $19.95 (Paperback) | £3.77 / $4.63 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

The Last Keeper (book 1 in J.V. Hilliard's 'Warminster' series), is a thrilling fantasy, rich in plot, detail and character, but more than this - it's the beginning of a promising series of gripping adventures.

I'm coming into this book as a fully-fledged, paid-up fan of the fantasy genre. The Lord Of The Rings was a staple growing up, and just a few pages into The Last Keeper and I instantly felt that warm, familiar comfort in Hilliard's storytelling.

It's a classic tale of good vs evil, but on a much more multi-layered canvas that is constantly throwing fresh twists and turns, and - perhaps what I loved most - unpredictability.

The story focuses on Daemus Alaric - a young, blind Keeper with the gift of foresight, who must use his abilities to counter the dark motives of Graytorris the Mad. Daemus is an incredibly likeable character who you never tire of during the story. He, like many other characters in the book, is multi-faceted, and oozing with depth and colour.

Nothing in the story feels accidental; everyone who steps into the pages of this book has purpose and meaning, and bring different, complimenting flavours to this rich world. And speaking of the world, I have no reservation in saying that I've read scores of fantasy books over the years, and the world-building that Hilliard shows here, is among the very finest...even Tolkien would be proud! From place names to the details of the magic system, we are constantly treated to layer upon layer of immersive storytelling.

What goes hand-in-hand with the world-building is the author's fantastic grasp of the English language, and his almost poetic style through description. I defy anyone to read the first two paragraphs and not get instantly swept up in this magical realm.

I love books that end on a cliffhanger, and without wishing to spoil anything, we get that here. The idea that you achieve the end of a truly thrilling story, only to find you have to wait to discover what happens next is a wonderful tool in an author's arsenal, but it has to be executed carefully. And execution is something that Hilliard wields masterfully, much like most of his approach to writing. I simply cannot wait to read the next instalment in the series, and strongly recommend The Last Keeper as THE summer read for all fans of fantasy!

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20 February 2022

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Ian Hunter

RRP: £8.99 / $10.99 (Paperback) | £4.99 / $5.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Mary Anne Yarde at The Coffee Pot Book Club

It was a gift, a source of great power. But with such power came great responsibly and unfortunately no handbook. 

One minute, Tiponi was trying to find a way not to spend the day weaving baskets with her mother and the next she was fleeing for her life, alone.

Jessie Mason was alone. She did not have a family. She did not have any friends. All she had was the courage to battle on and a strange yet beautifully coloured stone. But then the earth rumbled, and she fell through a crevice, and everything changed.

It was not every day that you found yourself in the company of Custer, Lieutenant-Colonel, of the Seventh Cavalry. After that, the day took a decidable downwards turn for Abe, and the only thing he had left of his former life were the clothes that he was in and a stone.

The unworthy were returned to the earth, but Kesejowaase was beginning to suspect that the Great Spirit did not have a hand in this magic. Who were these strangers that the ground spat out? And how did they know the tongue of the Haudenosaunee? There was only one person who could unravel this mystery, and that was Nishkamich, the tribe's shaman.

Nishkamich knew of the stones, he knew of their power, for he had one of his own. But his time in this world was nearing an end, and he had to teach those who would come after him everything he knew.

However, it soon becomes clear to Nishkamich that the stones are being hunted by a man who wanted them for his own malicious intention. He must never be allowed to take them…

From a harrowing slaughter to the realisation of a terrible truth, Quillan Creek And The Little War (Time Stones Book I) by Ian Hunter is in all ways a time-travel fantasy triumph!

Hunter weaves the elements of frontier adventure, fantasy, warfare and the racial conflicts of the era into a story that is next to impossible to put down. The dark foreshadowing at the beginning of this book and the utter confusion of the protagonists as they search for answers makes this the kind of novel where the reader really feels that they too are on this incredible journey of discovery. This is a book that captured my attention from the opening sentence, and it continued to hold it until that emotionally powerful final full stop. This is the kind of book that one would forgo sleep to finish.

The forbidding landscape of the Haudenosaunee tribe is a stark contrast to modern-day America. The air is cleaner, the life is more in tune with nature, and there is a wonderful balance that is missing in the fast-paced high-tech life we all know. However, this is the beginning of the end for the Haudenosaunee tribe as they contend not only with their enemies but foreign invaders who bring war, disease, and death. And this is where our brave protagonists, who all come from very different times, find themselves. It is here, in this frontier setting, that the heroes of this story come together and change the very definition of family — they quickly realise that family is not defined by blood. It is defined in loyal friendship and unbreakable bonds.

Jessie Mason is a character who one can instantly relate to because she is from modern times. When she finds herself in a vastly different world the first thing she notices is that the lake, which she knows well, is full of life — whereas in her time there is no life, the lake is polluted. Jessie is also one of the most pragmatic characters, and she approaches this adventure with an open mind, and she embraces the opportunity of what has been given to her even if she does not understand it. Jessie was wonderfully portrayed, and she is a fabulous role model for young adults, for she triumphs despite her adversaries, whether that be in modern times or the past and she is a genuinely lovely person. There is no pretence about her at all. I thought her depiction was brilliant.

Of all the characters in this story, it is Kesejowaase that is the most conflicted for he had envisaged a vastly different life for himself than the one he finds himself living, and yet he does not shrink from his responsibilities, nor does he fight against it. His loyalty to his friends and his family are absolute, and he will do everything possible to make sure everyone is safe. His selfless acts of courage and his bravery makes for a very appealing protagonist.

The wilds of the frontier is the perfect backdrop for a story that is rife with action, adventure and magic. The enthralling narrative, and the equally compelling prose, paints a historical setting that is rich in authenticity. The attention to the historical detail has to be commended. Hunter has brought the frontier back to life in both its glorious and darker detail, although he is forever mindful of his book’s intended audience — the language used in this novel reflects that. There are moments of trepidation, fear, and battles, but there is nothing unsuitable for a young adult audience.

I thought Hunter really captured this era and what it must have been like to live through it. The relationship between the various tribes and the influence that the white traders were beginning to have on the native people was realistically portrayed. A beaver’s fur could buy things that the Haudenosaunee now needed because they were in the middle of what we would call an arms war — they needed the modern white-mans' weapons if their people were to have any chance of survival. The greed of man and the wilful destruction of the wildlife and the natives is also touched upon, which I thought validated the legitimacy of the setting that Hunter has so masterfully created.

Quillan Creek And The Little War (Time Stones Book I) by Ian Hunter is an enthralling adventure that begs to be read again and again. I cannot wait to get my hands on Book #2 of what promises to be an absolutely brilliant series. Highly Recommend

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28 January 2022

Publisher: Pear Tree Publications

Written By: Thorne Moore

RRP: £12.41 / $20.88 (Paperback) | £1.99 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Inside Out by Thorne Moore, is a Science Fiction tale with heart and soul, that takes the reader to the edge of our solar system, the edge of humanity, and, at times, the edge of your seat!

We join the passengers of the ISF Heloise, as they embark on the 11-month journey to Triton Station, Neptune. It's a mixed bag for our seven principal players, but all of them share a common interest in the work ahead of them. Once they complete their seven-year mission, huge rewards potentially await them.

At first glance, this looks like Big Brother in space, but scratch beyond the surface and there's an almost Orwellian, direct style to this story. Despite being set in the future, and in space, this is a story about the people rather than the purpose - and I must say, it makes for a breath of fresh air. Each character is rich, detailed and gets their chance to shine, and by the end, they have each earned your attention and empathy.

Speaking of characters, I think one of the stand out qualities in Moore's work is her use of character dialogue. It's real, and almost tangible in the way it jumps off the page. It doesn't feel scripted or forced, but lived-in, and, more importantly, natural.

There are some shocks and surprises along the way, and without giving too much away, everything from Ganymede Alpha onwards, had me finishing the book in one sitting. Something I don't do very often, for the record.

It's worth noting that Science Fiction is a break in genre for Moore - not that you'd be able to tell, however. What we have here smacks of a seasoned storyteller in the SciFi space, but one who paints in between the cracks to flesh out the characters and bring some reality into the mix. We couldn't help but see the parallel between this style and Russell T. Davies approach when he brought Doctor Who back to our screens in 2005. Mixing the 'out there' elements of SciFi, with the mundanity of real life, somehow works so well; one tempers the other, almost enhancing it like salt in caramel.

There's an almost prophetic ending via the author's afterword, which we refuse to spoil. It is a strong drum beat that will reverberate in your mind for some time to come.

Really hoping that Moore continues this series - there's a lot of road ahead, and we can't wait to clock up some more mileage with this incredibly talented author!

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14 December 2021

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Written By: Mark Rosendorf

RRP: £12.99 / $10.21 (Paperback) | £3.59 / $4.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Following on from our review earlier this year for Mark Rosendorf's The Witches Of Vegas, we were incredibly excited to get stuck into its new sequel; Journey To New Salem.

Set a year after the events of the first book, the Vegas show is bigger than ever, and things are equally going just as strong for teen witch Isis and her magician boyfriend Zack. That is until Isis begins suffering from seizures that have destructive effects...

In order to save Isis, they must travel across the globe to the titular New Salem, where they hope to find another coven of witches, and with it an unlikely figure as a potential remedy for her seizures.

We can't hide the fact that the evil Valeria is back and we simply love the polarity between her and Isis. It's such a typical good vs evil, principal vs absolute, driving force that elevates the story.

There's a perfect peppering of suspense and some surprising plot twists which build strongly on the precedent that Rosendorf set in The Witches Of Vegas. In fact, worthy of note is how many other breadcrumbs the author has been scattering, that come into play here in book 2. Kudos for his masterplan for world-building, and subsequently, its masterful execution.

Although the actual journey to New Salem is a relatively short one (thanks to some handy witchcraft), the true journey is the one that the characters go on both individually and in wholly in aid of Isis.

Speaking of characters, the ones you loved from the first book are built upon even more here; some even have new-found abilities, and you love them even more. There's also a new set of characters to love (and hate). Zack has a more central role in this book, and we're all for it, as Rosendorf has written an incredibly lovable hero in Zack, who really comes into his own here.

It's very rare that a sequel is considered even better than the first in the series, but that's exactly what Rosendorf has done with Journey To New Salem. It's a tighter, more suspenseful, more impactful book, that is pushing towards a greater arc. The stakes are higher and by the closing chapter, you are dropped in the middle of a bittersweet predicament that will have you clawing for book three.

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13 December 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Edward M. Hochsmann

RRP: £8.30 / $10.99 (Paperback) | £2.56 / $3.49 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

For our latest review, we have Edward M. Hochsmann's 'C6S: Tales Of The Patrol Force' - an epic military Science Fiction collection, comprising of four novella-sized stories.

We begin with a great piece of expositionery prologue that gives us a potted history of the two main species; The Urtimalians and the Listrians, and how their xenophobic dislike of each other has led to present events. If this was a movie, it would make a cracking pre-credits sequence!

The First Step (the first story in the series), focuses on a Listrian ship, which picks up a distress call, and the truly difficult choice that its Captain (Therlos) has to make in order to save lives. This acts as a great study on the complexities of war and how even the slightest movements and decisions can have massive outcomes. There's a particularly moving, and ultimately pivotal scene involving a ceremony that the author has placed and paced perfectly - we won't spoil it, but it's a great piece of writing.

False Flag - the second in the series, is set a year after the events of the previous story. We also get properly introduced (after a fleeting mention, previously) to a new alien species; The Baltans. The ever present threat of the dissolution of peace is palpable, and the reader cannot help but see parallels to conflict in our own world. So much can be at stake, yet balanced on a knife-edge. Hochsmann masterfully plays with this theme, and the constant threat keeps you invested throughout.

The third story, Force Majeure, acts as a great change of pace as we somewhat put aside politics for a mission based plot. Planetary Observation Station 331-3 has been severely damaged by a solar flare, and the crew must land on a developing planet, fix the ship and leave without breaking Patrol Fleet regulations. We really loved Force Majeure as it almost felt like a textbook Star Trek story.

The final story, Pirate Crisis, mixes things up once more as we deal with the theme of space pirates. We're thrown straight into the action as merchant ship Patrakee is under attack from said pirates. Class-A frigate patrol ship, PF-238 is on the trail and together with it's crew, must uncover the identity of the pirates and bring them to justice.

This was another solid story, full of action and intensity, and the reveal of how and why PF-238 kept getting out-manoueivered is once more a masterstroke from Hochsmann's pen.

Overall, a great collection of stories that have the concurrent theme of meeting challenges and resolving them through ones own skill and integrity.

Grab a nice cup of Girondon Tea, find a comfortable chair and settle into the holiday season with this fantastic story. Recommended! 

+  C6S: Tales Of The Patrol Force is Out Now!
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7 November 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Nathan Jones

RRP: £7.99 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £2.99 / $4.12 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Imagine, if you will, a world that blends The Matrix, Mortal Engines and TRON, - this would go some way to giving you just a taste of the mind-blowingly brilliant world that Nathan Jones has given us in Travelling Without Moving. In fact, it's fair to say that, right from the off, this book, even in light of the comparisons, is genuinely unlike anything we've ever read before.

Focusing on Napalm Carton, the story explores his self awareness of the world he lives in (Kaputt) and the suspicions he has about the very reality around him. A mystery that takes you right up to the last drops of ink to unravel.

The exploration of multi-faceted aspects of reality is realised in lavish detail. From the moment we see Mokey taking Napalm's Willy Wonka-esque, mind-enhancing concoction we are catapulted into his game like world - and like all good stories, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Jones' world-building is king here; the lore, the sounds, the shapes and the very fabric of the detail he paints, enwraps the reader in totality. It's like putting on a VR headset and being immersed in a new world; you completely forget everything around you and focus only on everything before you.

The disparity between The Americas (the Western half of Kaputt) and Kaputt Real (the Eastern half), is almost akin to The Man In The High Castle; the West VS East 'us and them' duality, almost serves as an underlying theme throughout the book - in many different forms. On this front, Jones' work feels very much on a higher intellectual plain than you may at first think. There's purpose and planning that slowly reveals itself in several 'Aha!' moments, or even back-pocketed until the very end. It's impressive to say the least. 

There was a section in the book that reminded me of a kids TV show I watched, growing up, called Knightmare, in which a team of kids enter a virtual reality type game world, where they have to survive on their wits, whilst making smart choices along the way. Every now and then they would arrive in a room with a table which has a selection of items you need to choose from - I couldn't help but feel pangs on nostalgia as I read that paragraph:

"The scullery door, yes, a scullery door, was locked. He didn’t have the key, and he needed to get out. That was all that mattered. On the table sat a selection of items: a pocketknife, a compass, a box of matches, a tin pot of glue, a length of copper wire, and a hessian sack of quick-rice.   ‘Ok,’ he said, his voice flat and mechanical.  ‘Classic locked room puzzle, I reckon.  How do we get out of here?’

It also made me sit up and realise just how worrying the prospect is of being trapped somewhere you *know* just doesn’t feel right. That every move you make is somehow pre-determined or destined to be outplayed. It can be a real rabbit-hold moment for the reader if you truly allow yourself to be immersed in the allegory.

From the clockwork sun of Kaputt's bio-dome, to the rich tapestry of realities, characters, cultures and devices, Travelling Without Moving is truly a ground-breaking piece of literature that captivates the imagination, frees the mind and ensnares the reader in Jones' mastery.

There's a hell of a cliffhanger, too - one that Doctor Who itself would be proud of. With the seeming promise of more adventures to come, this epic work - and it really IS epic - will take some beating. 

+  Travelling Without Moving is Out Now!
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3 November 2021

Publisher: The Pencil Princess Workshop

Written By: R.L.S. Hoff

RRP: £9.44 / $12.99 (Paperback) | £2.43 / $3.34 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

R.L.S. Hoff's Leaving Hope is a futuristic SciFi story that focuses on Anya - a strong female lead who is desperate to live up to the book's title by leaving the titular spaceship 'Hope' and join the team colonising the planet Shindashir. The wonderful thing about Anya’s s strength is how it builds throughout the course of the book - yes you have that strong-willed seed at the beginning, but there’s a hell of a journey for her. 

Hoff's world-building has to be commended first and foremost. Every word on the page has meaning and purpose and through her deliciously descriptive writing, Anya's life and her immediate world, jumps out of the book in such a rich, detailed way. 

Sometimes in life there are paths that are set before us that we don't want to take; choices that are made for us that we don't necessarily want to act on. This theme, for us at least, was the beating heart of Leaving Hope. The ability to know what is expected of you and the conflict of what you *really* want to do, was palpable here, and every wall Anya smashes through results in an air punch moment for the reader.

Leaving Hope lends a warm comparison to The Little Mermaid, but in space; a girl who has dreams and aspirations beyond her position, going against her father's wishes. This is no bad thing, by the way, it merely represents an interesting narrative that clearly follows a trend throughout history - even fictional nautical tales! Just like its comparative counterpart, you realise the safety and assurance in what's set before you, but long for the excitement of that alternative path.

Worthy of note is just how diverse the story is; there are a fantastic set of characters - each with poignance and purpose, and each with varying backgrounds. Ethnicity also plays an important role, and it's so refreshing that it isn't just touched on or glanced over, but intrinsic to plot points throughout.

The ending is magnificent; we won't spoil it, but despite being a book series, it's self contained and leaves the reader more than satisfied. We particularly loved the arc in which Anya has throughout the book, and where she ultimately ends up. So much can be said for strong female leads, but to see one written in such an interesting, intelligent, and well-thought-out way that Hoff manages to do so effortlessly, makes the journey she has, so much more poignant. A genuinely brilliant read and cannot wait to see what's next in store for the series.

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27 October 2021

Publisher: Three Ravens Publishing

Written By: John Drake

RRP: £12.00 / $25.84 (Paperback) | £4.25 / $5.86 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Nathan Jones

I’m definitely not the first person to compare John Drake’s Zoomers to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams, and I certainly won’t be the last. The plot, after all, revolves around a typically English character being whisked away from Earth into a madcap, hilarious sci-fi adventure.

The Arcadian people—if you can call tentacled creatures people—have decided the end of the universe is nigh. Doubting their own ability to avert the ultimate disaster, General Buck—a tea and biscuit obsessed leader—and Professor Doubt, decide to enlist the aide of a human. Their logic is that, since Earthlings tend to obsess over meaningless details and often ignore the major devastating issues in life, a human might be able to provide a completely different viewpoint on the end of everything.    

So, Scratch, a Southend-on-Sea professional burglar, is “Zoomed”, mid-job, to Arcadia, by Pdnrtk (otherwise known as Terry). Unexpectedly, Scratch does not arrive alone. He’s accompanied by Mr. Reisback, a retired human resources manager who is obsessed with the imminent delivery of his new sofa, Cantina, a Swiss pharmacogenomicist, and Glorious, the well-groomed, female plumber to the king of Kenya.

Before they begin training Scratch et al to collect data from on the demise of individual planets, Corporal Cauliflower (a “miserable optimist”) and Sargent Bakewell must practice the task themselves, Zooming through space and time to various, unexpectedly dull planets, when all they really want to do is head to the Moon Shots bar for a glass of Pomplefitzer and “cheerful”.

Elsewhere, in the Arcadian Production Corporation, Jod, Quality Control Engineer, Fourth Class, has a regrettable accident with his iron wedding ring on the lithium bracelet production line. It results in the creation of the universe’s first conscious alloy. This gift of self-awareness and intelligence spreads quickly across inanimate items, resulting in attempts to overthrow their sentient overlords in ways you would never conceive.

Despite Zoomers obvious parallels with Adam’s works—is it possible to write a space comedy without such comparisons being made?—Drake definitely has his own, individual style. Firstly, his plot moves much faster, thereby cramming more comical content into a similar space. Secondly, he focuses much more on dialogue than description. And last but not least, if you can possibly imagine so, the plot is even more eccentric and ridiculous than those of the Hitchhiker’s series.

For me, the highlight of the book is definitely the farcical dialogue of a host of characters who all—except possibly Scratch—appear to have serious mental misgivings. Each and every scene seems comparable to a stand-up routine full of wordplay, quips, and humorous miscommunication. Following Scratch through the bizarre plot gives the reader a perfect grounding, however, as he’s a plain-speaking, no-nonsense kind of chap, with the ability to see through all the nonsense thrown at him to the heart of the matter.

If you’re in need of a seriously good laugh, Zoomers is for you.

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24 September 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Jeremy Dwyer

RRP: £0.77 / $1.06 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Our latest fantasy review is for Jeremy Dwyer's Potion Voyages series, as we delve into Book 1: Castle & Conceit.

Right from the start the author launches straight into his world-building, and immediately paints a vivid  world, rich in detail and description. Hot blue suns, far-reaching oceans and jewel-encrusted palaces tease the menu of the delicacies to come in this epic fantasy series.

Written in third-person prose, the writing style works wonderfully in an almost 'Fighting Fantasy' type way, and any character interactions are made all the more prominent because of this.

Speaking of characters, we have a terrifically diverse cast here; from the magical Taesa, the conflicted historian, Judith, to the deliciously evil Prince Octavian and his equally despicable advisor Cassius, to the awful Keallach (Captain of the Burning Bones). There are many more, but these were among our favourites.

As with all good fantasy, this is a tale of good vs evil, but rather more than that, what's interesting is the various levels between each - on both sides, and the clever way in which Dwyer plays them off against each other. The empire that Octavian, and moreso, Cassius is building, neatly and cleverly ties into key players throughout the book, and it interesting seeing the conflict in those with better intentions.

There is a brilliant magic system, which isn't complex and really invigorates the plot through its perfectly peppered usage - rather genuinely it all ties into the water-based theme that is current throughout the story.

Perhaps most genius of all is Dwyer's ability to pull in an audible experience to the Potion Voyages series. Those of you with access to SoundCloud, will find a selection of free music that go hand-in-hand with those referenced in the book. Chapter 10's 'Praise Every Sun Upon The Sea' is a wonderful, almost lamentful song, sung by Taesa. It's incredibly immersive and genuinely adds to the overall experience, and we HIGHLY recommend you make use of it when reading.

When you get to the end you just know this is the start of something much bigger, and kudos to the author in his craftsmanship of this entire world and its rich detail and characters. Here's looking excitedly towards Book 2!

+  Potion Voyages - Book 1: Castle & Conceit is Out Now!
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24 September 2021

Publisher: Fresh Ink Group

Written By: Robert G. Williscroft

RRP: £3.57 / $20.54 (Paperback) | £2.16 / $2.95 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Icicle: A Tensor Matrix, is the first book in the Oort Chronicles by Robert G. Williscroft - a story that holds no bars in its opening prologue. Right from the off we are thrown right into the action as our protagonist, Millionaire, Braxton Thorpe, dies of prostate cancer and is whisked off to have his head cryogenically preserved. And just like that...BOOM!...we head forward in time by 100 years, straight into the 22nd Century, where Braxton wakes to come to terms with his new *ahem* life.

This is a bold opening gambit from Williscroft, and one that works so well due to the 'matter of fact' drive in which he pushes the story forward. One could be forgiven for drawing comparisons to The Matrix and Tron, where similar themes are explored - however - it is our sincerest belief that Williscroft actually trumps the aforementioned with this thrilling new take on uploading one's consciousness to a digital mainframe.

Despite being told in third-person prose, you feel every moment of pain and anguish that Braxton goes through. In fact, anyone who has had paralytic sleep, will find a rather eerie parallel in some of the moments our protagonist goes through.

Let's make no mistake, this is Science Fiction - and really good SciFi at that, but Williscroft's evident knowledge of technology and science, shines through to make this feel more like a foreshadowing of what will come to pass. Every technological detail is described in such detail that it's almost tangible to the reader, which make feel all the more intimate a read.

There's interstellar travel, wormholes, aliens and the threat of inter-planetary war, which, together with Braxton's personal and wider quest, adds up to one hell of an adventure. Not bad for a dead man!

We're thrilled to report this is only the first book in a planned series, and eagerly await the follow-up!

+  Icicle: A Tensor Matrix: The First Oort Chronicle is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
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19 September 2021

Publisher: Melange Books

Written By: Arrendle

RRP: £14.94 / $22.91 (Paperback) | £4.74 / $6.51 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Nathan Jones

Arrendle's debut novel, The Dragon Within: The Threat of Crowns, is an incredibly engaging fantasy adventure story with a refreshing take on the standard tropes of the fantasy genre. I truly loved every moment of this read, and even skipped a meal to continue reading.

The Dragon Within is set on a world of five distinct and isolated realms: Ahan, home of the sparkling star people; Mazati Iskus, where the vibrational sound people live; Badari, home to animal-headed humans (with a clear nod to Ancient Egypt); Wazari Eren, the realm of humans; and Indu, home of the shadow people. Each realm also has its associated type of Dragon, but at the point the book begins, dragons are believed to be merely mythical creatures.

Arrendle provides us with a comprehensive historic set-up to the story, but I’m not going to spoil it by revealing it here. I’ll just say that rather than giving the history as inactive exposition, it’s told through wonderfully immersive real-time events.

Once we’ve been grounded, the story begins. We get to follow the cocky, arrogant antagonist, Samil, as he attempts to unleash a terrible power upon the world, and his mysterious “co-conspirator”. Aubra, a powerful, ancient wizard, sets off to re-form the Magnus Concilium (magic council) in order to stop Samil, and is aided by his adopted daughter, Eshney, and an old friend, Char. Eshney must make a brave journey into learning the skills of magic as Char struggles with the complex, confusing assault of emotions that spur from his recent transformation into human form. And, of course, there’s a charming story of blossoming love woven throughout the main plot.

The descriptions as we travel through the fantastical realms are nothing short of beautiful. Arrendle’s use of language to conjure up such intricately woven societies and breathe life into peoples who look, operate, move, speak, and even think differently is stunning. In fact, Arrendle’s descriptions are delightful throughout; I believe a forty-two word sentence to describe laughter may be a record breaker!

The second big highlight is the novel’s comprehensive, very real journey through the thoughts and emotions of the main characters. They’re some of the best painted characters I’ve encountered. It’s a real pity this is a stand-alone novel, as it would have made an excellent series of books.

I could wax lyrical about this book for some time, but I’ll conclude by saying the epic ending, expertly bringing together all the elements and diverse characters encountered throughout the book, is one of the most satisfying and rewarding endings I’ve ever read.

+  The Dragon Within: The Threat Of Crowns is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
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+  Follow @Arrendle on Twitter.
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16 September 2021

Publisher: There Is No Design LLC

Written By: K. Leigh

RRP: £8.44 / $12.06 (Paperback) | £4.31 / $5.97 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

If Space Opera with an LGBTQ+ twist is your thing, you would go far to find a more satisfying story than that of K. Leigh's Constelis Voss Vol.1: Colour Theory.

Our story centres on Alex, a human who has been reincarnated as a robot on board the titular Constelis Voss - a planet-sized spaceship. We follow Alex' struggle for self-understanding and acceptance in his new form, as he ventures into a much wider mystery with good and evil in the balance. We flip-flop between the far future and 90's New York with both settings brought to life in meticulous detail.

Never before have we seen colour used in a story in such a beautiful way. First and foremost they are used as descriptors, but much more than that they almost act as a poetic canvas that highlights the LGBTQ+ beating heart of the book. At the beginning of Colour Theory, the author states:

"I aim to let my readers know I see them in all their complicated inner paintings"

It is this statement that constantly hits home throughout the story. No matter who you are, inside or out, you can't help but find some form of recognition and representation within the pages of this truly unique novel.

It's a given that there is diversity in the story, but nothing prepares you for just how vivid, real and almost tactile that these characters feel. There is an intimacy in Leigh's writing that makes you feel you are inches away from them and that you are more than just an observer.

There are some strong themes and scenes explored within (as outlined in the author's content warning at the start), as well as a fair few choice words, but nothing fans of Torchwood wouldn't be accustomed to. At no point, however, do they distract or feel out of place. In fact, nothing in Colour Theory feels like a happy accident; there is immense artistry in the broad strokes of Leigh's work, and it shines through every character, scene and page in the book.

Volume 1 ends on both a high note and a cliffhanger which very neatly leads us into Volume 2: Pattern Recognition. Whilst Colour Theory isn't necessarily a large book per se, you feel like you've been on a hell of an adventure with a lot to unpack. You would almost certainly benefit from a second reading, which is no bad thing, and just like a piece of art, it almost requires it so you can appreciate it from all of its wonderful angles.

Incredibly surprised and impressed with how much I enjoyed this book. Even if you don't hit one of those important letters or symbols in the LGBTQ+ acronym, you will find familiarity and relevance in Leigh's multi-layered work, as well as a much deeper love for the world and fellow humans around us.

+  Constelis Voss Vol.1: Colour Theory is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @KiraLeigh (K. Leigh) on Twitter.
+  Follow @SebastianJBrook (Sebastian J. Brook) on Twitter.
+  Follow @DrWhoOnline (Doctor Who Online) on Twitter.  

28 August 2021

Publisher: Silverback Books

Written By: A.T. Duguay

RRP: £11.61 / $16.17 (Paperback) | £1.71 / $2.33 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Beginning a new fantasy novel is always exciting; especially if the front cover is as striking as A.T. Duguay's 'The Guardian' - book 1 in his 'Soulstone' series. Somehow it ramps up the anticipation as you pick out elements from the cover and wonder how they will play out in the story.

Right from the off, our protagonist Gauthak, and his Night Jay (of which we discover, he has the ability to 'enter' to scan the path ahead), are hurled into the action, having just jumped off a waterfall to escape his giant pursuers. There is a sense of urgency and danger that is palpable to the reader, and you cannot help feeling it lurks around every corner. We then follow Gauthak on his journey to the city of New Alannah, where he soon lands himself in a spot of trouble...

As we delve further, we learn more about Gauthak's history and abilities, as well as discovering more about his own kind - the Northmen. For those who like magic in their fantasy stories, Duguay has you covered, but it's in a way more believable way. There's even a bit of romance thrown in for good measure too, and, again, it's done in such a realistic, meaningful way.

There's a great turning point in the plot, too - one you won't see coming, and it gives fresh focus to our character and the direction of the story. Kudos to the author for his skill here as everything in The Guardian seems to have such purpose and meaning. You don't feel like there's any padding and there is no character that feels like dead weight.

There is a mastery of description in Duguay's work; an almost poetic blend of rich detail through landscapes, colours, sights and sounds. This breathes life into his Medieval-esque world, which jumps off the pages of the book in the most vivid way.

The third-person style, together with the setting was almost reminiscent of the old school Fighting Fantasy books, and that sense of danger we mentioned earlier, further lends itself to this comparison. As such, there's a wonderful sense of familiarity, whilst obviously on a completely fresh and uncharted path.

As this is part of a trilogy, we hope it's not spoiling things by saying the story ends on a cliffhanger, of sorts. Whilst the reader feels content with the ending, there's a great springboard for the next book, and we know personally that we won't be content until we've read it :)

A final note we wanting to pick up on was in the book's acknowledgments at the end; in it, the author bravely explains his process in writing the book and the stress, depression and anxiety he suffered from. He cites his fears of change, risk, desires and for being himself. Having read the book, we genuinely believe he has triumphed in the very act of producing The Guardian. It is a testament to his hard work and persistence, in spite of those fears.

+  The Guardian is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @ATDuguay (A.T. Duguay) on Twitter.
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23 August 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Terry Geo

RRP: £9.49 / $9.38 (Paperback) | £3.99 / $5.48 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

When we think of Science Fiction, our first thought is almost always that of a futuristic plot, but Refraction by British author, Terry Geo, is a very different beast, set in our present, but still with all the bells and whistles you could hope for in a book of this genre.

At its heart, this is a story about dreams and how they can be harnessed, but, in fact, this only scratches the surface of what Geo explores, and the ramifications for our characters. Speaking of characters, there’s a wonderfully diverse mix, with rich backstories given for each of them. We're also given different aspects of dreams which are attributed to these characters - a fascinating way to explore the lucidity and yet complex nature of our dream world.

Despite being a science fiction story, there's so much reality in Geo's writing; not just the familiar around us, but the way in which characters interact with one another. Right off in Chapter One we go from San Francisco to Bedford in just a couple of pages - the first time we've ever seen Bedford in a SciFi novel :) It's then onto Yorkshire with a very real situation that a lot of family-owned farmers find themselves in; giving up their dreams to follow the family business. Without wanting to digress, the author hails from Derbyshire and the few people we do know from that part of the UK are as down-to-earth and 'keep it real' as you can get. Despite the SciFi nature of the book, that very same 'keep it real' approach, grounds Refraction at even its most 'out there' moments - and it's to the credit of the story (and Derbyshire)!

It's also in these mundane moments that the genius of Geo's writing blooms; the juxtaposition of these ordinary moments against the exciting world of dreams creates a richer story - just as lucid as the worlds we explore when we're sleeping.

It's clear the author enjoyed the process of writing Refraction; there are so many nods and winks to  TV programmes and Movies from yesteryear - even computer games we played as kids. Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Super Mario, Donkey Kong - heck, even Flight Of The Navigator all get a namecheck here, and every mention peppered throughout gives you a warm, Mr Kipling-esque feeling as you reconnect with moments from yesteryear.

There's a big rug-pull moment, which we won't spoil, but it's testament to the journey the author takes us on in Refraction. The skill in its execution and the journey it takes to get there in the set piece, is utter brilliance. This is Geo's first novel, and we were blown away by this fact due to the level of literary mastery and detail in the world-building. We highly recommend this book and eagerly await the author’s next release.

+  Refraction is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @TerryJGeo (Terry Geo) on Twitter.
+  Follow @SebastianJBrook (Sebastian J. Brook) on Twitter.
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21 August 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Michael A. Gordon

RRP: £7.95 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £0.99p / $1.37 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Barnaby Brown And The Time Machine is the first instalment in Michael A. Gordon's thrilling time travel series. The story follows the titular Barnaby Brown - a 15-year-old boy from England - now living in New York (and very much missing his favourite brand of bread). As well as the bread, Barnaby is missing his old life; he lives with his Mother and mad scientist Uncle Finch, who spends most of his time in the basement.

It is in this basement that Barnaby discovers the doorway to a new, exciting life, and Gordon's way of introducing it is classically magical. Whether it's Lucy Pevensie discovering the wardrobe to Narnia or Kay Harker discovering the magic of the box of delights, you feel that same warmth and familiarity when Barnaby and his friends make their way down to his uncle's basement in Chapter Three.

Kudos to the author for his incredible detail behind the time travel elements; there's lots of science and common sense behind how the time machine actually works and the ramifications of altering history, and as the story progresses, you'd be forgiven for believing that time travel could actually be possible (who knows...perhaps it could be?!). 

There's such a wonderful balance of drama, humour and suspense; as for the humour in particular, there are several laugh out lout moments that spring to mind, namely the absolute corker of a line; "There’s no point turning up for the birth of Christ in jeans.".

With thrills, shocks, scares, rescues and a decidedly perfect villain to round things off, Barnaby Brown And The Time Machine is the time-hopping adventure tonic we could all do with right now.

At the time of writing there are five books in the series, with Barnaby Brown And The Dark Star being the most recent. After this first instalment, we cannot wait to see where Barnaby's adventures take him next!

+  Barnaby Brown And The Time Machine is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
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+  Follow @MAGauthor (Michael A. Gordon) on Twitter.
+  Follow @SebastianJBrook (Sebastian J. Brook) on Twitter.
+  Follow @DrWhoOnline (Doctor Who Online) on Twitter.  

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