March Indie Book Of The Month; Black Storm by Mark Gillespie

Each month I highlight the best indie book I read, and for March, let me introduce to you the tension-packed first book in a highly promising post-apocalyptic series. Black Storm by Mark Gillespie. 

I’m working my way through Mark’s Future of London series, so I knew I would not be disappointed by this survival thriller, and I wasn’t. It ticked every box for me as a reader; a fast-paced story with a believably flawed and likable protagonist, tension that clings to every page, action, drama, and emotion. I was hooked on the dangerous journey Cody chooses to take in order to get his young daughter out of a world gone crazy. I’ve posted the blurb and my review of Black Storm below. Look out for an interview with Mark in the next few weeks!

Blurb;

“A wild ride…Reminiscent of Stephen King.” 

These are the last days. The Black Storm – a permanent state of darkness has engulfed the Earth, plunging the world into eternal night.

Out of the Black Storm comes the Black Widow. A ghostly figure, she walks the Earth triggering an epidemic of despair – suicides, mass murders and arson attacks. Nobody knows why it’s happening. But it is happening.

Ex Hollywood actor, Cody MacLeod, is a burned out recluse living in Texas. He’s got one chance to protect his young daughter Rachel from the Black Storm.

A plane is taking off at San Antonio International Airport, piloted by Cody’s friend. But to get there in time, Cody and Rachel must drive through the darkness together. But the road is a dangerous place where desperate people are lurking in wait.

And the Black Widow is always close by.

Black Storm is a post-apocalyptic survival thriller about a father trying to save his child from the end of the world. What would you do to protect your child in exceptional circumstances? Grab a copy of Black Storm if you love apocalyptic, dystopian, horror and supernatural thrillers!

My Review;

I’m already a fan of this author’s fast-paced and tension-packed novels, so I knew I would not be disappointed by the first book in a new series. I am working my way through the Future of London series, so had an idea of what to expect from Black Storm. A flawed yet believable and likable protagonist, twists and turns, jump out of your seat drama, and tension that clings to every page. The drama starts on page one, no hanging around. Cody, a faded Hollywood star is about to leave his house with his 10-year-old daughter Rachel. We learn quite a lot in the first few pages. Rachel’s mother, also a former star, is dead, and a deadly black storm has enveloped the world. The black storm has wrapped the world in darkness and from this darkness, the mysterious black widow emerges. People are going crazy. Killing themselves and each other. Cody has a chance to escape the madness, and a plane waiting at the airport if he can only get there in time and in one piece. What follows is a race against time and a risky jump into the unknown. Cody and Rachel face numerous dangers on the road trying to get to safety. This story is a brilliant and energetic introduction to what promises to be a nail-biting series. I was really pulled into Cody’s dilemma, as a parent trying to decide what risks to take in order to protect his child. Brilliant stuff!

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February Indie Book of the Month; A Funeral For An Owl by Jane Davis

It’s the end of the month, so that means it’s Indie Book of the Month time here on my blog. This is a new feature for 2018, where each month I will highlight the best indie book I read. This month please let me introduce you to another award-winning writer, Jane Davis. I first discovered Jane’s writing when another author I admire, recommended her book An Unchoreographed Life. I read it and loved it; it ticked every box for me as a reader. For this reason I was very keen to read A Funeral For An Owl and it did not disappoint at all. When I read books, I want good writing and a good plot, something to keep me turning the pages, but I also want to feel invested in the characters. I want to feel strongly about them, I want to worry about them and wish I knew them. Jane’s characters satisfy this need for me. It left me feeling I am in safe hands with her as  writer and will enjoy anything she writes because of this.

So, here is the blurb for A Funeral For An Owl;

A schoolyard stabbing sends wingbeats echoing from the past.

One shocking event. Two teachers risk their careers to help a boy who has nothing. Three worlds intersect and collide.

‘If you want to laugh and cry and stamp and cheer – all in the space of a few hours – then this book is the one for you.’ Bookmuse

The best way to avoid trouble, thinks Ayisha Emmanuelle, is to avoid confrontation. As an inner-city schoolteacher, she does a whole lot of avoidance.

14-year-old Shamayal Thomas trusts no one. Not the family, not the gang. And at school, trusting people is forbidden.

Jim Stevens teaches history. Haunted by his own, he still believes everyone can learn from the past. History doesn’t always have to repeat itself.

A powerful exploration of the ache of loss set in a landscape where broken people can heal each other.

Fresh, funny, heartbreaking and real, this original and compassionate study of when to break the rules and why is perfect for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Rachel Joyce and Ali Smith.

“A perfect balance of gritty and feel-good.” society that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable.”

And here is my Amazon/Goodreads review;

“Having previously read another novel by this author, I was keen to read more and A Funeral For An Owl did not disappoint. In fact, it ticked so many boxes for me as a reader that I instantly pre-ordered the author’s new book which is out in the Spring, and I will be working my way through her backlist without a doubt. The plot of this book revolves around Jim, a history teacher who is stabbed while trying to protect a pupil at school, his colleague Ayisha who witnesses the attack, and Shamayal, a fourteen-year-old pupil Jim has befriended. Jim helps the boy one rainy night and a friendship grows between them, which is of course, very much against the rules. On the surface, it may seem like Jim and Shamayal have little in common, but it turns out Jim grew up in the same block of flats on the same notorious council estate and suffered many of the same issues Shymayal is dealing with. They even have a friend in common, Bins, a local misfit who knows everyone on the estate by the nick-names he gives them but is unable to recognise faces. With Jim in hospital, Ayisha comes to his aid and discovers the unlikely friendship between him and the boy. At first, she is very disapproving but as the story continues she finds herself drawn deeper into the lives of Jim and Shamayal. This book does an excellent job of weaving the past with the present. In 1992, Jim was a twelve-year-old boy with a penchant for bird-watching. His father is in prison, his older brother has been thrown out, and the estate is rife with danger from gangs. One day, Jim finds a teenage girl in his bird-spotting place. The mysterious Aimee White provides the thread that holds the past and present together. Jim’s friendship with her, the funeral for the owl and what happened to her, are things that have haunted Jim throughout his life. The reason this book ticked every box for me was that the plot kept me turning the pages, and the characters kept me there as I became increasingly engrossed in their lives. I wanted to find out what happened to Aimee, I wanted Ayisha and Jim to recognise the attraction between them, and I desperately wanted things to turn out well for Shamayal, who was probably my favourite character. A brilliant book, so well-written and compelling. I highly recommend it and this author!”

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Other Indies I’ve Enjoyed This Month;

The Finest Hat In The Whole World by Colleen A. Parkinson

Best Traditionally Published Book of The Month;

Release by Patrick Ness

 

 

New Feature; Indie Book of The Month!

Welcome to a new monthly feature for my blog. I read A LOT, and I read a good mix of indie and traditionally published books as well as a real mix of genres. I’m always looking for ways to repay the indie community who are so supportive of me, so I thought why not post a book of the month feature?

At the end of each month, I will post a blog promoting the best indie book I read that month. I will also be contacting the author for a follow-up interview. After highlighting the book of the month, I will also link to any other indie books that caught my eye, as well as the best traditionally published book I read this month and the best new author I discovered this month. But the main feature is the indie book!

So, please allow me to introduce you to the very best indie book I read in January 2018. The Minotaur Hunt by Miriam Hastings

This fantastic book about life inside a mental institution won the MIND book of the year award and was previously published by Harvester Press. Here is the blurb;

A winner of the MIND Book of the Year Award, this is a present-day story with a legendary model. To the people of Crete, the Minotaur was a creature of darkness and horror. Locked in a labyrinth where no-one could see him, he became the scapegoat for everyone’s worst imaginable nightmares and terrors.

Chrissie and Rachel are Minotaurs. They meet in Bradley, a rambling Victorian institution for the mentally ill. As the novel unfolds and their respective stories are gradually revealed, their growing relationship becomes a rich source of shared experience and a focus for their deepening knowledge of themselves.

The Minotaur Hunt is an arresting story of modern society which draws on some of the most evocative qualities of myth-making. In its fearless exploration into some of the darkest areas of human experience, it strikingly portrays the complexities and difficulties of human communication in a powerful and moving narrative which is both disturbing and honest, captivating and profound.

This is a revised edition of the novel with a new Afterword by the author.

And here is my Amazon/Goodreads review;

I was drawn into this book from the very first page. Rachel is a 16-year-old girl who has a habit of escaping from everyday life whenever she feels like it. She simply curls up on her bed and waits for the boat to come and take her to the world she has created in her mind. It’s a beautiful world, inhabited by elegant and sexless creatures who would like her to live with them permanently. Rachel cannot do this while she is still anchored to the real world, and her desire to do so results in her parents committing her to an institution for the mentally ill. At such a young age, Rachel is terrified and confused, but she gradually discovers true friendship among the other inmates, Chrissie, Rosie, Daniel and David. Rachel and Chrissie become particularly close, eventually realising that they have experienced similar trauma. This book is set in the 1980’s, a time when the mentally ill were still treated quite badly in such places. The relationship they all had with the ward doctor made for some interesting reading. I could never quite decide if he was on their side or not, or simply manipulating them. This is a beautifully written book which gave me characters I could truly care about and I thank the author for that. I felt like they were all real and I was part of their journey for the time I was immersed in their lives. There is a tragic ending for a few of the characters and hope and recovery for some of the others. I was desperate for things to turn out well for all of them! There are some fantastic characters in this book and some really thought-provoking issues dealt with. It really made me think all the way through. I also enjoyed the mythical element to it which at times provided a slight relief from the starkness of life inside the institution. A brave and wonderful book. I would love to read more from this author.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something to really get involved with. Not only does this book totally pull you into these characters lives and minds, this novel really invites you to think about mental health. Not a light read and contains some upsetting scenes, but in my view, an extremely important book by a fantastic indie writer, who I really hope has more books out soon!

The Minotaur Hunt by [Hastings, Miriam]

Other Indies I Enjoyed This Month;

Ghosts of London(book 3 in Mark Gillespie’sFuture of London Series)

The Oscillator by JK Neve

Best Traditionally Published Book of the Month;

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

Best Author I’ve Discovered This Month;

Matt De La Pena