Book Review – Mind in the Gap by C.R. Dudley

If someone tells me a story is thought provoking or mind bending then count me in.

I’ve looked forward to this book since it was first announced months ago. Having read Fragments of Perception (It’s bloody awesome, check it out) I was intrigued what Dudley had planned next. But could Mind in the Gap deliver?

The answer is an emphatic yes. In fact, I’d say it was better than Fragments. The stories are surreal, short, sharp shocks that transport you to possible futures and are full of bold visions. There are hidden connections throughout the 14 stories that would definitely reward repeated reads. I definitely haven’t spotted them all.

The thing that stands out about this collection for me, is how much fun the author is having. Sure, it’s metaphysical and tackles some huge issues but it feels to me like a real labour of love. An outpouring of a very clever and very creative mind. It’s literally bursting with ideas and has left me questioning the nature of reality.

Mind in the Gap is the best short story collection I’ve read this year and I can’t wait to read it again. I think good fiction, for me, has to effect the reader in some way to be considered a success; Mind in the Gap has made my life better by it’s very existence.

Highly recommended.

Mind in the Gap https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GX7F4K5/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_QdNSBbTEBT5SX

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Book Review – The Women Who Lived by Christel Dee and Simon Guerrier

First impressions count. As I slipped this beautiful book out of the package I instantly fell in love with it. The colours, the art and the premise immediately stole my heart.

That it was created by the fantastic Christel Dee and Simon Guerrier makes it even more appealing. The admiration that the pair have for the show is unmistakable. This is a real love letter to the show.

The artist selections will likely be familiar to anyone with more than a passing interest in the Doctor Who Twitter community and it’s fabulous to see them collected here. There’s some seriously talented people in this fandom!

This is a high quality, well written, funny and heartwarming book. Buy it now and your life will be a little bit better because of it. I know mine is.

Book Review – Complicated Blue by P J Whittlesea

Forget everything you think you know about witches! Complicated Blue rips up the rulebook and does things it’s own way. As does Anaïs Blue. And you’re going to fall in love with her.

It’s a bold and brave story that will make you laugh but there are also sentimental sections that jab at the emotions.

Anaïs Blue is a lovely character to get to know. So well drawn that I really felt that I knew her by the end of the book. This is surely the first of many adventures.

And what an adventure it is. Witches, ghosts, hell hounds and all manner of other nasties run amok all over this story. I found myself thinking this story and cast of characters would fit well in a Discworld novel by the late great Terry Pratchett.

If you want a funny heartfelt new book to keep you warm at night now the summer is over you couldn’t go far wrong with this.

Find it over at Amazon now.

Complicated Blue: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Good Witch Anais Blue: Volume 1 (The Good Witch Anaïs Blue)

Audiobook Review – Rock Bottom (Second Chances Book 2) by Jason Ayres

I love a time travel story. Jason Ayres is becoming the master of telling them. This is the second book in the Second Chances series which is a spin off from Ayres’ Time Bubble series.

The main character, Kay is down on her luck. She lives above a chippy and is strapped for cash. She’s lost touch with her daughter following a breakup and she’s relying more and more on alcohol to keep her going. A visit from a guardian angel, which takes the form of her younger self, could be just what she needs to get her back on the straight and narrow.

I really felt for Kay in the opening chapters. Her life was out of control and I found myself really rooting for her as the story progressed.

The guardian angel gives her the chances to go back and re-live several days from her past. It’s important to note that in terms of time travel we are talking about fixed points in time from Kay’s perspective. She can go back and re-live days from her past but nothing she does will effect the future. It is later revealed that these other versions of the days she does re-live are multiple universes and credit to Ayres for giving a little roundup of what happened to each different version of Kay’s life at the end of the book.

As a child of the 90s I find Ayres work particularly relatable. It’s full of nostalgia and is impeccably researched.

I enjoyed the way a particularly nasty character developed into something a lot more sinister and the way Kay ultimately dealt with him.

I loved this book as much as the first book. I can’t wait to read the next one.

Highly recommended!

Check it out now in Amazon. Audible version available too.

Rock Bottom (Second Chances Book 2) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N76YM5M/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_mtqGBb8DC33RW

Book Review – Inside the Moon by C.J. Boyle

Inside the Moon is a freewheeling pulpy sci-fi delight!

We are thrown straight into the action from the first chapter and from then on it never let’s up. Kirk Rogers is on a mission to the moon to find his missing sister. She’s befriended a giant spider who goes by the name CheeChee. It’s as bonkers as it sounds but most importantly it’s great fun.

I found the story to be unpredictable and that actually heightened my enjoyment of it. I’ve got a LOT of time for these characters. A particular scene towards the end is really emotionally charged and, as you are totally invested in the characters by that point, I found myself getting choked up. I don’t want anything bad to happen to these characters.

I was hooked on the story from the start and it’s definitely difficult to put down once you’ve started.

C.J. Boyle has crafted an incredible fun new world to get lost in. Onto book two, I can’t wait for more!

Check Inside the Moon out now on Amazon.

Book Review – Heliopause by J. Dianne Dotson

If you like your sci-fi with a bit of intrigue and mystery then this cleverly written story is the book for you.

A space station at the end of known space is about to encounter the unknown. You’d be forgiven for thinking this type of setting is a gimmick, it’s not. It’s not only realistically brought to life by Dotson but it’s integral to the narrative. The design of the station is rather lovely due to being quite organic. Just look at that cover!

The pacing is perfect and everything glides by at a zip. The main players are introduced early on and the juxtaposition of friendship and the loneliness of the setting is very cleverly done.

The way the characters interact is believable and just when you think you know what someone’s intentions are there’s another twist. Not everyone is exactly who they seem!

The ending hints at something more and hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for the sequel. Great stuff and highly recommended.

Check it out now at Amazon.

Book Review – The Jesus Man by Keith Anthony Baird

Every once in a while as a book reviewer something incredible comes along and reminds you why you fell in love with books in the first place. The Jesus Man by Keith Anthony Baird is the bleakest, darkest and most magical book I’ve read this year.

I can’t emphasise the ‘dark’ and ‘bleak’ enough. Essentially the world has ended after a nuclear event and the book picks up many years after this and focuses on a group of survivors in a place known as The Ark.

Throughout, we are slowly introduced to an otherworldly entity who seems hell bent on the destruction of what remains of mankind. Scenes within the bowels of the Ark are almost as brutal and unforgiving to witness as they are for it’s occupants. There’s a real sense that barely any good remains and has all but been completely extinguished from the world. It’s a gripping and difficult read, mainly due to the fact that it’s nigh on impossible to see a way out for these scraps of humanity.

It’s slowly revealed who the mysterious entity may be and as it sinks its tendrils of possession into the Ark the whole stronghold of humanities last stand is turned upside down in thrilling and violent fashion. The book is an interesting study of what faith means in such stark and desperate circumstances.

A special mention must be made for the language used by Baird and the lyrical, almost magical (there’s that word again) way in which the story is told. I’ve not read anything quite like it before and since finishing it I’ve carried it with me to and from the office to dip in and re-read sections again. It’s a book that I think would reward repeated reads.

This is a story that is tense and grips you by the throat straight away and is spiked with scenes of bloody gore and gut wrenching set pieces. It’s violent, unrelenting and the ending is one of the most memorable hair up on the back of your neck endings you will ever read. I’ll never ever forget the image described in that last paragraph.

Go, buy it and read it now and tell everyone to do the same.

The Jesus Man https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1980302456/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_eoFwBb0CC1794