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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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23 April 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Jim Hamilton

RRP: £9.25 / $17.68 (Paperback) | £1.64 / $2.29 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

The Chaos Machine is the first book in The Chaos Trilogy by Jim Hamilton; a SciFi adventure spanning 7000 years that's light and easy going on the reader.

"When the crew of a Shoomaran freighter find themselves stranded on Earth in 5342 BC, they learn that the native inhabitants are destined to die out in only a thousand years. Aided by a machine that can foretell the future, they are able to make minor changes from time-to-time in order to keep mankind on the path to survival. However, in spite of all of their efforts, the clock will finally run out for everyone in less than a year from now. Unable to find a solution on their own, they turn to those that they have watched over for more than seven millennia. But will the humans be able to find a way to save the solar system from annihilation?"

First off, the use of timelines is genius; from 5342 BC to present day and then darting around the 15th, 19th and 20th centuries, the reader genuinely feels like they have been on an actual adventure, and because of the regular changes in time, you never once feel bored or that the storyline becomes stagnant. Often when multiple locations are used over and over again in a story, the reader can quickly become tangled in a web of confusion of the author's making, but Hamilton guides you clearly though his journey through time and space.

Kudos to the author for his use of location, too; San Francisco, the Persian Gulf Delta (and sea floor), Turkey, New Jersey, Germany, Las Vegas, London, Tennessee and the alien home world of Shoomar are all brought to life in crisp detail, and agin add to that sense of adventure.

If you like first contact stories, The Chaos Machine will tick a lot of boxes for you. Forget the likes of Independence Day, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Alien, though - this is very much seated in a more plausible scenario; aliens coming to Earth to essentially help us. Sure, on paper having aliens target Earth for an attack may look better, but it's far more interesting in the long run to actually see how friendships can be formed and what we can learn from one another; something that is at the heart of this particular story.

It is clear that the author has a big plan in mind for the series, and the breadcrumbs laid out in this first tome - whilst maybe not evident right away - actually  set things up for the bigger picture to come in books 2 and 3. That being said, everything ties up nicely in The Chaos Machine, so you're not left hanging uncomfortably when you reach the final page.

This was Hamilton's first book, and you really wouldn't know - it's incredibly well put together and the skill shown in the world-building and character development is that of an author with many books under their belt. A truly fantastic read!

+  The Chaos Machine is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Chaosity9 (Jim Hamilton) on Twitter.

8 April 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Simon J. Walker

RRP: £7.99 / $10.44 (Paperback) | £0.99 / $1.30 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 8th April 2021

We take a sideways trip in the Dark Fantasy genre for Simon J. Walker's Battlebridge novel - a thrilling alt-universe saga (or sequence, as the author puts it) that feels like a genius mash-up of Nineteen Eighty-Four meets His Dark Materials.

The events surround a 1977, authoritarian government controlled London (called Lund, here) - instantly, we love all the subtle changes between our own world, and Walker's. Located to the north of the River Tames (again, nice little change) is the dark and dingy district called Battlebridge. The author describes Battlebridge in darkly poetic detail:

The filthy back street warrens were easy to get lost in and unwary travellers finding themselves in those streets would undoubtedly be robbed, if not dispatched with a certain degree of bloodthirsty enthusiasm. For those not in the know, the Battlebridge canals, flowing through the manor like veins in an arm, were simply a no-go area for outsiders.

Walker, Simon J.. Battlebridge (p. 41). Kindle Edition. 

For those in Battlebridge, it's a real struggle for survival and our protagonists find themselves at the heart of this struggle. Dripping in mystery, and peppered with memorable characters and beautifully described locations, it's a deep, yet surprisingly straight-forward read. Normally where alternate universes or multiverses are concerned, the reader can easily get lost in the detail, but this particular author holds your hand throughout, and the best part is you don't even know it's there.

There's something incredibly fresh in the overall feel for a book of this genre; it doesn't ever seem cliche or that it's treading old ground. There's a gradual build in the pacing that culminates in a surprising and ultimately memorable ending (which we won't spoil here) that has you desperate to find out what happens next for our characters.

Final point of note is the wonderful prologue and epilogue which have a warm, almost campfire quality to them that reminded us a little of Peter Falk's character in The Princes Bride. Whilst the main bulk of the story leaves you hanging, so does the epilogue in its own brilliant way.

This book is the first in a trilogy called the Battlebridge Sequence, and all three titles are available now via Amazon.

+  Battlebridge is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JDiarist (Simon J. Walker) on Twitter.

16 March 2021

Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers

Written By: J.L. Haynes

RRP: £6.07 / $9.74 (Paperback) | £2.80 / $4.86 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 16th March 2021

We love a good space fantasy and J.L. Haynes' 'Zara Hanson And The Mystery Of The Painted Symbol' ticks all the right boxes.

The story centres on the titular Zara Hanson - kind of an interstellar Scully from The X Files with a dash of James Bond and Indiana Jones - but with superhuman powers. There's actually a scene in the story that will have fans of 'Moonraker' smiling and punching the air!

We live in a time where we are finally getting to see more and more strong female characters (we've seen it happen in Doctor Who, with a female lead for the first time in the show's 58-year history), and it's great to see it here in a space fantasy adventure. She has purpose, drive and strength, but balanced with the vulnerability of her own sense of self.

Zara Hanson And The Mystery Of The Painted Symbol is very much a story with mystery at its heart; not just for the mission our protagonist goes on, but for her own journey of self-discovery. One of our favourite parts involves the pyramid in Alaska - the whole section just grabs you as a reader before catapulting you into other worlds, dangers and mysteries. It's fantastically fresh and diverse, and with every turn your attention is held throughout.

This is a very different beast to similar titles we've reviewed recently; at times the narrative almost feels like an academic observation of our universe, and you'd be forgiven for being swept away believing what you are reading as fact. Such is the skill of the author, that the level of detail and language used, thrusts you head first into this galactic yarn.

At just 244 pages in length, it's relatively short and perfectly manageable for a weekend read, but despite this length, it's a story that will stay with you for some time. It is heavily layered with philosophical, comical, and, at times, religious brush strokes, and the reader will come away with their own questions about the world and indeed universe around us. 

It definitely feels like the beginning of a much wider saga, and look forward to where Haynes will take the story next. Read it - you'll feel surprisingly smarter by the final page turn!

+  Zara Hanson And The Mystery Of The Painted Symbol is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JLHaynes4 (J.L. Hayneson Twitter.

9 March 2021

Publisher: Gate Key Publishing

Written By: J.G. Blodgett

RRP: £7.17 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £2.16 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th March 2021

For fans of epic fantasy, J.G. Blodgett's 'The Dark Light' (Book 1 in The Gate Key Chronicles) delivers a gripping, well-thought-out saga, that will have kids, teens and adults alike captivated.

It focuses on Jimmy Mankins and Amelia Miller; childhood friends who share a mysterious secret that opens the way to a dark threat from another world.

The book begins with the prologue and a mystery; Jimmy (simply known as 'Boy'), wakes up at the edge of a field with a hazy memory of who and where he is. He quickly discovers Amelia, and with the help of both their Father's, they return to a place of warmth and safety. As the prologue draws to a close, however, questions are left unanswered - tantalising the reader by wanting to know more.

We are then properly introduced to Jimmy and Amelia, and the next few chapters beautifully captures the beginning of their special friendship, as well as, despite some differences, touching on the many parallels between their lives.

There is a wonderful scene in Chapter Three that juxtaposes Jimmy and Amelia's home environment - but, like with most of their relationship, there's something that connects them. Rather perfectly, (and sure this may sound odd), it's reflected in broccoli; Jimmy's dinner is a humble one with sausages, mashed potato (out of a packet) and broccoli - whereas Amelia is tucking into a steak dinner, with broccoli as her accompaniment. It was so poetically written, and I don't think I've ever seen a vegetable used in such a meaningful way!

As the story unfolds, Amelia entrusts her own secret to Jimmy, and we discover how everything is connected and why their world's are fatefully thrown together. The author uses time to dip back and forth in the narrative to fill in some gaps along the way. It acts as a nice break in the story-telling, whilst fleshing out our protagonist's backstories.

There is, of course, a lingering threat throughout The Dark Light (as the title suggest). Something that you know is coming, but not entirely sure of what form it will take. Be it school bullies, dark creatures, or an oncoming storm, you feel protective of our protagonists and want nothing bad to happen to them.

The relatively small cast of characters are incredibly well-rounded and layered. Jimmy's father (Donald), for example, is someone you don't necessarily like, but one simple line a few chapters in: "time in the Vietnam War" - instantly gives you a small sense of sympathy and understanding for him. Amelia also sees Donald's redeemable qualities; "he was capable of being the father he once was".

As a reader, I was unaware of just how much emotion there could be in the story. The rich relationships between the characters, between father and son, father and daughter. The way in which loss is dealt with (or not), and how faith is something that can drive you through even the toughest situations. Yes it's a fantasy, but it's one with a surprisingly grounded heart that makes you simply feel every word on the page.

If there was a comparison, I'd say it was Stranger Things meets The Neverending Story. It's simply screaming out to be made into a Netflix series.! You can almost feel the natural cliffhangers to each episode and with more books to come, there's a lot of mileage, here. 

I am so pleased and feel privileged to have read The Dark Light. It was so much more than I had hoped for (hence the length of this review), and whilst I have no idea what form Book 2 will take, believe me when I say that I will be hounding the author for it's release, as it can't come soon enough!

+  The Gate Key Chronicles: The Dark Light is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JGBlodgett on Twitter.

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.

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