Creepy Sheen – Rebecca Gransden

Title: Creepy Sheen

Author: Rebecca Gransden

Publisher: Cardboard Wall Empire

Genre: Short Stories/Science Fiction

Page Length: 98 pages

Gransden has a great imagination and shows considerable promise as a writer. All her stories were original and engrossing, but the execution of her ideas is still a work in progress. Professional critique would be welcomed.

I feel this is an author to watch as she grows within her artistry. Creepy Sheen was an excellent start, and with time and growth I believe Gransden will be a master storyteller.

You can find the stories on Amazon.

Synopsis: For decades, Humankind sent transmissions around the globe. In addition to reaching every corner of the planet, the signals travelled beyond, into the dark void of space. All of broadcast history made its way gracefully through the stars, racing into the unknown—until the mid 1980s, when nuclear mushroom clouds plumed in the skies of Earth’s Third World War.

The magnitude of the explosions caused the extinction of life on Earth, and sent a shockwave through the fabric of reality. Due to this anomaly, all broadcasts running at the time of the bombs hurtled into space at an impossible speed. The signals, disobeying natural laws, outran and passed all transmissions from previous eras, leaving them far behind. At the head of Earth’s messages to the cosmos travelled the collective broadcasts from one atomic day in history.

In a remote star system, eyes turned towards the approaching 1980s transmissions.

Curious consciousnesses examined the broadcasts from the strange extinct civilisation of Earth. Filled with these transmissions, the distant consciousnesses devised their response. They returned it in the form of their own transmission, directed back to the origin of its inspiration—1980s Earth.

That transmission is Creepy Sheen.

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE STORIES:

This author has always lived by the sea. She tends to write about the edges of things so if you inhabit the fringes you may find something to like. If you are interested in reading any of her books then send her a message and she'll get it to you in the digital format (PDF, MOBI, or eBook) of your choice. Fellow indies - feel free to get in touch. 

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OWL Rating:

*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Idiot – Laura Clery

Title: Idiot

Author: Laura Clery

Publisher: Gallery Books

Genre: Non-fiction

Page Length: 256 pages

Funny girl Laura Clery, convinced me to buy her book after coming across her videos on Facebook. Memoirs are always a risky business in my opinion for young writers, but Clery certainly has lived a lot of life and has many stories to share.

The book begins with the voice of a hyperactive narrator that sounds a little crazy. But her voice calms as her story slows and you actually start to feel the peace she has found in her sober life. Whether intentional or not, you can feel the unbalanced, off the rails energy from her youth that drove her to many scary life choices. By the end I started to relax, as life became less unhinged for her.

The book was easy to read and certainly has many ups and downs. Clery’s voice is clear as a bell throughout the entire tale and her life revealed is rather shocking. I was surprised I liked it, and happy that it made me only think more of her as an artist and person. Clery is nothing if not relatable, and funny. Always funny.

You can find the book on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: From nationally bestselling author, YouTube star, and Facebook Video sensation Laura Clery comes a collection of comedic essays that paint “an honest, complicated portrait of how your life can change” (SheKnows).

Laura Clery makes a living by sharing inappropriate comedy sketches with millions of strangers on the internet. She writes songs about her anatomy, talks trash about her one-eyed rescue pug, and sexually harasses her husband, Stephen. And it pays the bills!

Now, in her first-ever book, Laura recounts how she went from being a dangerously impulsive, broke, unemployable, suicidal, cocaine-addicted narcissist, crippled by fear and hopping from one toxic romance to the next…to a more-happy-than-not, somewhat rational, meditating, vegan yogi with good credit, a great marriage, a fantastic career, and four unfortunate-looking rescue animals. Still, above all, Laura remains an amazingly talented, adorable, and vulnerable, self-described…Idiot.

With her signature brand of offbeat, no-holds-barred humor, Idiot introduces you to a wildly original—and undeniably relatable—new voice.

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Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence

Title: Sons and Lovers

Author: D.H. Lawrence

Publisher: Wordsworth Editions

Genre: Classic Fiction

Page Length: 372 pages

Every year I choose a classic to read. In 2020, I chose Sons and Lovers because I have loved other stories written by Lawrence. I have been working for months on reading this tale and finally was able to close it for good this past weekend.

Being somewhat autobiographical, I can understand why Lawrence got a bit carried away. There were huge sections that were repetitive and droning. I read he cut 100 pages from the initial drafted manuscript and I’m sad to say it wasn’t enough.

I can’t say this was an uplifting story, in many ways it was quite depressing, but it was interesting commentary on sons relationships with their mother and how that impacts their romantic relationships later on. It provided a glimpse into the mind of Lawrence and perhaps some of his emotional struggles.

If you have a complicated emotional relationship with your parents perhaps you can relate to this story. But it won’t bring any closure, only relateability.

You can find it on Amazon in paperback.

Synopsis: This semi-autobiographical novel explores the emotional conflicts through the protagonist, Paul Morel, and the suffocating relationships with a demanding mother and two very different lovers. It is a pre-Freudian exploration of love and possessiveness.

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Strangled by Simile (Chalkboard Outlines Book 3) – Kelley Kaye

Title: Strangled by Simile (Chalkboard Outlines Book 3)

Author: Kelley Kaye

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Page Length: 241 pages

I’ve shared the journey of Emma Lovett and Leslie Parker for three books now. This female duo solve murder mysteries that keep happening at their school. At the same time, they quote Shakespeare like they eat it for breakfast. It’s a light read that keeps you guessing as you uncover the truth. Cozy mysteries are not my genre, so to speak. Which is funny, because I love cozy mystery TV like Father Brown. However, I have never chosen this genre in book format on my own. I’m finding with each story by Kelley Kaye, I am liking the genre the more I read.

Kaye is a good storyteller. Her stories are efficient at telling the tale without drawing it out. Every ending and revelation is a surprise to me and I never see it coming. I especially enjoyed the third book because it began to delve into deeper themes like health and the effects of disease on the body and mind. In this case, I have a personal connection to the situation. As a result, I was able to relate on some level.

If you are looking for a story that keeps you on your toes and makes you suspicious of every character that appears, then this might be a story for you. As long as you don’t mind a southern flare with campy flavor, Emma and Leslie’s teaching adventures might delight your reading taste buds. With each story I grow fonder of this team of English nerds. And I use nerds as a term of endearment.

You can find the story on Amazon in Kindle format.

Synopsis: Southern transplant Emma Lovett and her best friend, Leslie Parker, can hardly believe it’s Emma’s third year at Thomas Jefferson High School. In addition to an amazing year with Emma’s boyfriend, Hunter Wells, and Leslie’s brand-new love interest, they’ve gotten all the way through Homecoming with no one dying.

Oops!

At the end of October, Emma discovers the strangled body of Charlie Foreman, one of Leslie’s favorite nemeses. But the first clue implicates Leslie in the crime. To make things worse, Emma’s feeling a little oogy. She’s tired and dizzy and something’s wrong with her eyes.

All Emma and Leslie are trying to do is find new methods for teaching the youth of America, hopefully using lessons from the Great Bard, their hero, William Shakespeare.

But someone has a different idea: more schooling in murder.

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Kelley Kaye taught High School English and Drama for twenty years, but her love for storytelling dates back to creating captions for her high school yearbook. Maybe back to the tales she created around her Barbie and Ken—whatever the case, the love’s been around for a long time.

Kelley is married to this amazing man who cooks for her, and they have two funny and wonderful sons. She lives in Southern California.

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*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl He Used to Know – Tracey Garvis Graves

Title: The Girl He Used to Know

Author: Tracey Garvis Graves

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Page Length: 291 pages

Due to the pandemic, I haven’t ventured into a library in some time. As my membership was about to lapse, I quickly checked out this book. It’s a book I had added to my Goodreads to read menu, but had no recollection as to why.

So I started reading it, not sure where this story would take me. I have never read or heard of Graves, so this was uncharted territory. I was in for a personal journey that kept me turning the page. I saw a loved one reflected back at me in every word and action or lack of action.

If you have a loved one on the high functioning autism spectrum, I feel that this story will hit home. And it might just help you understand them a little bit better. It may illuminate some questions you may have had and never asked. But this story is much more than a book about a girl with a social disorder. It’s also a love story of when a boy loves a girl and how life can get in the way of our hearts. I loved this story and I loved Annika and all her quirks, but most of all I loved Jonathan because he saw the beauty inside her that many couldn’t see.

You can find the book on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: What if you had a second chance at first love?

Annika Rose likes being alone.
She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.

Annika Rose likes being alone.
Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.

The Girl He Used to Know is an uplifting novel full of surprising revelations that keep you turning the page. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Gail Honeyman, Jill Santopolo and Sliding Doors.

OWL Rating:

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Throne of Glass Series – Sarah J. Maas

After a couple years of working my way through this series, I finally crossed the finish line! I read books .5-7 and loved every minute. Though the last couple books started to drag a bit for me, I understood why they were necessary for the overall story-line.

Maas is a magical visionary who knows the hearts of us faerie loving fantasy junkies. She weaves tales of challenging choices, impossible odds, and soul crushing love.

Every installment is imbued with strong female protagonists that make me want to wield swords of fire and take on dark lords.

If you love fantasy, strong leading ladies, romance that breaks and recreates your heart then this is the series for you.

If you haven’t heard of Maas yet, where have you been hiding? You can find all her stories on Amazon in multiple formats.

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Throne of Glass, Court of Thorns and Roses, and Crescent City series. Her books have sold more than nine million copies and are published in thirty-seven languages. A New York native, Sarah lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and dog.

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Shelter for the Damned – Mike Thorn

Title: Shelter for the Damned

Author: Mike Thorn

Publisher: JournalStone

Genre: Horror

Page Length: 190 pages

Starting off the new year with a couple horrific tales feels right, given the state of the world right now. 2020 was a mess, and 2021 is proving to also be rather distasteful. The horror genre fits right in.

Thorn creates a bloody ghostly experience that will leave you with more questions than answers. But at the same time will take you down a dark and winding rabbit hole of vivid imagination and troubled minds.

The tale was wild with gory illustration and schizophrenic mirrored rooms. I found myself being drawn in to the ever growing void of what felt like a mental breakdown.

For me, this read like a psychological thriller and trapped me in its web. But for another, it may reveal a very different experience. You can find the story on Amazon.

Synopsis: While looking for a secret place to smoke cigarettes with his two best friends, troubled teenager Mark discovers a mysterious shack in a suburban field. Alienated from his parents and peers, Mark finds within the shack an escape greater than anything he has ever experienced.

But it isn’t long before the place begins revealing its strange, powerful sentience. And it wants something in exchange for the shelter it provides.

Shelter for the Damned is not only a scary, fast-paced horror novel, but also an unflinching study of suburban violence, masculine conditioning, and adolescent rage.

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours and the novel Shelter for the Damned. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast and Tales to Terrify.

His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, Seventh Row and Vague Visages.

 

 

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*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Duke and I – Julia Quinn

Title: The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1)

Author: Julia Quinn

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Romance

Page Length: 433 pages

Following my binge watching of the Bridgertons on Netflix, I had to pick up the book and compare the two.

The book was just as compelling as the show. However, I have to admit I preferred the changes that the show made. I loved the race bending and the additional flavor that the show writers added. But of course, the original novel gave the bones for the popcorn popping and heart melting streaming show.

Both were wonderful to escape into and I look forward to reading/watching more!

If you love a steamy romance then look no further for you have found it in The Duke and I. You can find it on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the first novel in the beloved Regency-set world of her charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix.

In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.

Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

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Corpsing – Kayleigh Marie Edwards

Title: Corpsing

Author: Kayleigh Marie Edwards

Publisher: Sinister Horror Company

Genre: Horror/Short Stories

Page Length: 150 pages

While the cover of this short story anthology written by Edwards did not exactly pull me in, her writing certainly did.

It is rare that I am able to say that I loved every little tale that was woven throughout this short collection, but I honestly did. Each story was fresh and original.

If you are a horror fan, Edwards is a writer to watch. Each of her characters were immediately captivating and brought to life. I look forward to seeing what else she will publish in the years ahead. I am thrilled to add another author on my will read/want to read list.

You can check her writing out on Amazon.

Synopsis: Kayleigh Marie Edwards has been entertaining and chilling audiences with her own eclectic mix of horror and comedy. Now, for the first time, this popular author has collected her works together, reviewing and revising each one to bring you the definitive versions of her unique tales.

From murderous children to nightmarish trips to an ill-fated zombie apocalypse, Corpsing will send you running for the light switch, but smiling as you do it.

Featuring the stories: Bitey Bachman, Bits and Bobs, Siren, Now You See Them, Skin, ‘S’ Day, Barry’s Last Day & ’Twas The Night Before Christmas.

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Kayleigh Marie Edwards is a regular writer of articles and reviews (http://www.gingernutsofhorror.com and http://www.spookyisles.com), a published short story and flash fiction writer, and a playwright. She has an MA degree in Scriptwriting.

CONNECT WITH KAYLEIGH

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*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Knight in Paper Armor – Nicholas Conley

Title: Knight in Paper Armor

Author: Nicholas Conley

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

Page Length: 426 pages

Conley is a writer full of imagination and originality. Knight in Paper Armor will take you on a twisting and turning rollercoaster ride of unknown destinations. Conley weaves dark historical themes into a fantastical tale of a magical empath who can take one’s pain into himself and control those around him.

It is a romantic tale full of tragedy and darkness, but not without hope. Hope that rides on the tails of the young.

Overall, the story was well-written and much heart was clearly put into the storytelling. I did find that perhaps there were too many balls being juggled in this complicated metaphor of a story. As such, there was just too much going on for my personal reading tastes. However, I am sure that for many other readers it will be quite palatable.

You can find the tale on Amazon in paperback or Kindle format.

Synopsis: Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

 

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Nicholas Conley is an award-winning Jewish American author, journalist, playwright, and coffee vigilante. His books, such as Knight in Paper Armor, Pale Highway, Clay Tongue: A Novelette, and Intraterrestrial, merge science fiction narratives with hard-hitting examinations of social issues. Originally from California, he now lives in New Hampshire.

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OWL Rating:

*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.