Are There Enough Chairs In Heaven – Cullen Spurr

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Memories are the pathway to our souls…

I’d like to start by saying I am delighted to be the first person to review this author’s debut short story, bringing his work into the blogging world is truly an honour, as well as giving him the recognition he fully deserves. Pushing his work into the spotlight and paving the way for his future works to be shown to the world. If his other work is as good as this short story then we are all in for a treat!

Firstly we dive straight into the story with a stream of consciousness as the protagonist starts to describe his surroundings and the confusion in which they bring, already the sense of darkness fills the gaps as we go along the characters journey. Guessing at each turn on who this character is (as no names are given), where he is and what has happened to him, which only increases the mystery.

As we progress through the characters memories we are taken on a trip through his childhood, dipping into his adolescence and falling in love. However don’t let this description fool you, the darkness behind the words slips out as we slowly discover the character’s emotions (feeling numb to the world) with a glimmer of hope when ‘she’ walks into his life. Even when all seems like it could be a ‘happily ever after’ situation his world comes crashing down beneath him.

One of my favourite things about this story was the break of consciousness, snippets of the protagonist swaying from his past recollections and bringing more mystery into his words. The fact that he realises he’s breaking from his trip down memory lane and giving away clues to the reader without them knowing how they piece together.

Another way to know if a story is good usually falls into the lines of wanting to know more, with this story it is open to interpretation on what actually happened with this man. Not giving you a clear black and white ending you find yourself questioning whether the break in consciousness earlier in the story meant that the ending wasn’t all that it seemed.

If you like a bit of darkness, some mystery and a story that pulls you in from the beginning and doesn’t let go then this is a story I would definitely recommend. Cullen Spurr is an unknown author for now, but I have a feeling that his work is going to capture a wide audience and have something special behind every cover.

Until next time…

If you would like to read this yourself it is available for download by viewing the PDF here – Are There Enough Chairs In Heaven – Culln Spurr

Bio: Cullen Spurr
Throughout his school life he was reprimanded for being outspoken and a little different, with the exception of his English teachers, who praised his creative writing and inquisitive mind. He developed a passion for all forms of creative writing early on in his life. This developed through many mediums such as music, poetry and prose. He self-released a short novella through Amazon’s Kindle store in 2013 but then took a step back from writing to pursue music throughout university. After graduating university Cullen rekindled his passion for writing and started working on, what he hopes to be, his debut novel.

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Hell Will Rise – Skyla Murphy

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Always be one step ahead when dealing with the Mafia…

This is the first book I’ve read that had a Mafia theme and quite honestly I was intrigued to see how much my innocence to this theme would filter down into the book and impact my reading experience. It is safe to say I was pleasantly surprised with the story that unravelled, giving me a bit of everything (romance, violence and revenge) to keep me on my toes and turning each page with held breath!

Before you even begin the book you are told by the main protagonist ‘Hunter Garciez’ that you are reading his story, his tale of misery and warning you that Hell Will Rise! If that doesn’t give you enough persuasion to keep reading then I don’t know what will… This book splits the story between two perspectives, one of the male protagonist (Hunter) and one of the female protagonist (Shayla), this gives you a way into how each see the same situation but dealing with them in complete opposite ways, but also insight into their separate lives.

One of the plot twists unfolds early in the story (no spoilers here!) and allows the reader to almost anticipate what each character will do with that information, slowly having the characters realise the connection between them makes you really question the actions that may follow. The suspense built with this book really kept me going, always wanting to know what will happen next whilst really connecting with the characters and their own struggles and actions that lead them to be where they are now.

Now, the characters are just something else! I was a bit sceptical of Shayla as I’m not usually the kind of person who likes the whole ‘damsel in distress’ story line, but she is most definitely not that kind of girl! Shayla proves to be a headstrong, sassy and durable character, who has been dealt a rough hand yet keeps on fighting! Hunter being in the mafia is shown to have a sensitive side even after the years of gore, violence and malicious behaviour he’s endured and dealt out. Protecting his little sister after his parents died, his love for her shows no boundaries even after he is tested again and again!

This actually is the first book of ‘The Bloodthirst Mafia Series’ and from what Skyla Murphy has provided in ‘Hell Will Rise’ I most definitely cannot wait to read the rest of this series! Considering this is Skyla Murphy’s first book I must admit I’m impressed with the level of detail to the storyline, character creation and development and overall keeping me hooked onto every word she provided.

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Hell Will Rise’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Skyla Murphy
Skyla Murphy is a highland junkie from the West Coast of Canada. When she’s not searching the Rocky Mountains for Sasquatch, she can be found researching every other conspiracy theory known to mankind. Her Yorkshire Terrier is usually clung to her side, but he doesn’t buy into her philosophies much. Therefore, she writes about them instead.

The Calling – Louise White

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Portal travel can lead you down a dangerous road…

I always love finding a good fantasy book that is different and really stands out, it is quite hard as there are so many books out there that follow similar story lines which can get quite repetitive and predicable. The Calling is not one of those books, it’s such a refreshing narrative and story that really draws you in and gives you hours of escaping your own reality and following the life of Carolyn our strong willed female protagonist. I had no issues getting into this book and got taken on a journey that crosses realms, encounters demons and involves a romantic twist, a little bit of everything you’d need to enjoy a fantasy novel!

The story follows our female heroine Carolyn, who has lost her mother and brother to another realm and spends years in the unknown about her new found ‘magical’ powers. Being drawn to the gateways to complete tasks of killing demons she becomes ‘The Destroyer’ without having much insight into why she does this ‘job’. The book itself is quite confusing to begin with, especially as it flicks between the present/past and Carolyn’s internal thoughts but once you’ve sussed out what section your reading it does flow quite nicely. The story is full of amazing detail that really brings the story to life and creates the perfect balance of realism and fantasy!

The characters are something that really stood out for me, we see a lot of Carolyn and her strong feminine attitude which gets broken down somewhat by the demon Note who unexpectedly takes our protagonists heart (romantically of course) but the character development is brilliant! You really feel connected to each character you meet and understand their purpose in this book to the full, blending the bonds of friendship and love with some key characters along the way (Ethan) you really get a wide variety of people and each one stood out on their own, connecting with you on a personal level.

Mystery and confusion are two things that spring to mind when I thought about describing this book, the mystery side of it is due to never truly knowing what will happen next (always on your toes) but also being slightly sceptical of some characters and their motives, wondering if a character is actually right for our main lead and judging people before we truly understand them. All of these aspects make you so hooked to this book it’s unreal, I never wanted to put it down as I was always hoping to get more information on the next page! Confusion is another description due to this being the first novel in the series I’m hoping some of my questions will be answered, especially how the book ended I am desperate to find out more!

Overall I would say if you are a fan of fantasy I would highly recommend this book as Louise G. White has created a world (or two) that you can get lost in! This book has a bit of everything for everyone and is so well written I cannot wait to read the next novel in the Gateway series! The story line is flawless and really grabs your attention straight away, you won’t be putting this book down at any point until you’ve finished it!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘The Calling’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Louise G. White
The scenic west coast of Scotland is where she lives with her family. She didn’t set out to write Fantasy, but when she sat with her laptop to begin The Calling, It became apparent that she still believed in Bogey Men, the Monster in the cupboard and of course, the Faeries at the bottom of our garden. Suddenly she found that she was writing a story of heroes who could be found both on our doorsteps and in the realms that lie beyond.

Spells & Persuasions – S.J.Budd

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Dark, twisted and extremely believable…

Now this review will be slightly different to my usual book reviews, as this collection features 9 short stories in the dark fantasy genre but I will try to review them as a whole and pick out some highlights from each. Before we begin I would not suggest reading these before bedtime as they have such an element of realism, making you think about situations in your own life that these events could occur as well as giving you twists to leave you shocked!

As mentioned before this collection has 9 short stories in, I actually read this book twice! Not only because it was such a well written book but because I wanted to make the experience of reading it last longer and really take in each story as a whole (letting the twists and turns really sink in). Each story draws you in straight away, not needing a long build up to realise what is happening. By doing this you are already engaged with the characters situation and follow the story word by word.

The style of each story varies from modern day to fantasy (witches and spells) but all have an underlying theme that is ‘relationships’ whether this be in the form of mother and son, husband and wife or teenage crushes. Each story delves deeper into these relationships and shows the darkness behind them, even the most innocent of characters are not as they seem (A Most Devoted Son, The Little Orphan Girl & Hold Me Tight). These stories really make you think about your own experiences (especially Spells and Persuasions) where teenage crushes can turn into something horrific, especially when magic is involved.

Now the genre of all these stories is dark fantasy and as it is a genre I most enjoy reading, I must say I wasn’t disappointed. Each story took me down a route that I thought I would suss out the ending but always shocked me and left me wanting more answers when the plot twists came out of the woodwork! The writing is so well done that you turn each page with ease, completely engrossed with the story that S. J. Budd has provided. The darkness within these stories is done in a way that makes you want to keep reading but part of you knows that something frightening is yet to come.

Just to pick out some of the stories that I enjoyed the most (honestly I wish I could write a whole review for each one) – ‘The Mound’ was one story that felt very close to being a real life event, yes it had magic and ghosts but the underlying theme of adultery made it full of possible realism. Not to give away any spoilers but let’s just say that if your husband is cheating on you and you find out, be careful what you wish for!

Another one that I enjoyed thoroughly was ‘The Little Orphan Girl‘ this story was one that wasn’t set in the modern world but in a world that had witches. The reason for picking this was the fact it really creeped me out! Normally I don’t like little girls in anything remotely scary (films or books) but this story really showed that innocence can be misleading. Again not giving away any spoilers but this twist really had me, I kept trying to work out what would happen as I was reading but I would have never guessed that ending.

In all honestly I would highly recommend this collection as it does have a little something for everyone (even if you’re not a huge horror/ dark fantasy fan) as the story lines are very well thought out and the twists will leave you speechless. I will definitely be looking forward to any future works of S. J. Budd as her writing is spectacular (and scary!).

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Spells and Persuasions’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: S. J. Budd
Originally born in Cornwall, south west England, her childhood was surrounded by myths and legends and she has always been fascinated by anything out of the ordinary. It was in this strange and ancient land where she developed a passion for writing.
S.J.Budd loves writing short stories exploring dark fictional worlds and its mysterious inhabitants, and is currently working on her first novel. Her day job involves working as journalist for http://www.findahood.com and she also blogs on her site http://www.sjbudd.co.uk
Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome, Innersins , Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Shadows at the Door and Danse Macabre Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Morpheus Tales and Freedom Fiction. Twitter @sjbuddj

The White Raven – Carrie D. Miller

Do you believe in magic?

Before I even begin with my review of The White Raven I must admit to being very excited to read it (little kid at Christmas kind of excited) as this book follows a similar genre to one of my all-time favourite books! As soon as I started to read The White Raven, I couldn’t put it down. It captivated me right from the beginning (as if by magic) and all the way through I couldn’t stop smiling as I went on this amazing journey Carrie D. Miller provided!

Now, on with the review…

Firstly, we follow the life of Aven Dovenelle (a real witch) who is cursed to live life after life with all her memories of her previous lives (including her horrific deaths). Straight away Aven’s character is so intriguing, wanting to know more about her curse and her new life in Salem I didn’t have a problem in following her story word for word. In her thirteenth life she seems to have found some peace with her endless curse, having her own shop to sell magical items and true friends by her side, I loved reading about Aven’s journey and truly felt as if I knew her, understood her pain, her frustration, her love and friendships.

The prospect of this book turning into a romance genre wasn’t entirely a bad thing (who doesn’t love a good romance) but as it already has fantasy, magic, friendship and tragedy muddled within, it gave this book a perfect mixture to satisfy all readers. The relationships that Aven encounters (Calvin being one) really proves that love can be hard to come by when you are different, but Aven inspired me by proving everyone wrong that a strong independent woman (witch) can have happiness and I was swept up with the romance that blossomed between her and Cal (even if there were a few rocky patches!).

One part I thoroughly enjoyed throughout (it is very hard to pick just one!) was the chapters where the White Raven (Ren) had an inner monologue, it was a very unique writing style and quite frankly a brilliant way to tie up the relationship between Aven and the White Raven, showing a softer side to her as well as giving us some insight into how she felt about Aven and the struggle they both must go through! How there relationship whilst somewhat a mystery proved to be something much more powerful and inspiring. It broke up the usual narrative perfectly and really gave me a different side to the story that I was very grateful for!

Learning about the curse was a huge shock! Although a few twists were put in place which completely threw me. I honestly didn’t see it coming and I couldn’t imagine it being announced any better, no spoilers will be mentioned but I was completely in awe of how the whole book finished…

I think that the book was written beautifully and honestly I don’t think my words can do it justice, I do feel as if The White Raven is a perfect read if you wish to escape reality and enter a world of magic, curses and friendships. My only downside would be that it wasn’t longer (but fingers are crossed for a sequel). I will most definitely be looking out for any other books Carrie D. Miller brings out because her writing is truly wonderful!

Until next time…

If you wish to read The White Raven by Carrie D. Miller yourself you can pre-order it on Amazon here. The official release date is April 1st.

Bio: Carrie D. Miller
Carrie D. Miller was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on October 31, 1970. She credits her vivid imagination, as well as her sugar addiction, to being a Halloween baby. In a former life, she was an executive in the software industry for many years. Her career in the technology world included software product management, website design, training, and technical writing just to name a few. Although Carrie’s written a great deal over the decades which has been read by thousands of people, software documentation allows for about as much creativity as pouring cement. At the age of 45, she decided to chuck it all to become an author which had been a life-long dream.

There Is Always More To Say – Lynda Spiro

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Love and friendship never really end…

For a lazy Sunday afternoon I couldn’t have asked for a better book to get lost in! This book really does make you think and even got me to reminisce on my own past friendships. Before reading this book I had done some research into it and discovered that it wouldn’t be written in a way that I have come across before, however this just made me even more intrigued to see a different style of writing and what it could have in store for me.

Firstly I must point out the use of inspirational quotes that are used at the beginning and end of each ‘chapter’ – they really enhance the reading experience but also compliment that which has been discussed in the chapter. After reading this book you really do feel a sense of enlightenment and the quotes just make it that little bit extra to stand out from the crowd of ‘normal’ book writing styles. Safe to say I may have to use some of them in any future writing I do!

The literary style almost feels as if it is a memoir of the narrator (or even a diary) as the book follows a stream of thoughts, feelings and past experiences that seem deeply personal to the narrator. However this is done in such a way that you feel you’ve gone on this journey with them and laughed, loved and cried through every step. This book could be challenged as a typical love story but digging deeper it is so much more, you really feel connected to the characters and can relate to experiences they’ve had regarding ‘first love’ and ‘true friendships’.

As for the characters there is an air of mystery as you never get to know their names, always keeping you guessing and allowing your own imagination to take off, which personally is a very clever writing strategy. I kept wanting to know more, as my questions never got fully answered, but throughout this journey of a book it really brought a smile to my face as it was just on a level that everyone could enjoy.

Being quite a short story you would have no problem curling up for an afternoon and really getting lost in it (I most certainly couldn’t put it down!). I can’t wait to see what Lynda Spiro does next as her writing style has most definitely captivated me!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘There Is Always More To Say’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Lynda Spiro
Lynda Young Spiro is a mixed media artist whose love of textiles, found objects and recyclable materials are incorporated into her colourful work. Lynda was born in 1959 in Hampstead, London, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. Lynda’s previous book Latch-Hooking Rugs is published by A & C Black. There is Always More to Say is her award-wining first novel, which has since been recognised by Chill With A Book, Shelf Unbound, and Hollywood Book Festival.

Can’t Buy Forever – Susan Laffoon

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You can buy an escape…

Getting lost in a good book is something that I look forward to doing the most, especially when the weather is miserable and I can stay inside warm and happy with a cup of tea and a new book. It is safe to say that ‘Can’t Buy Forever’ was most definitely a book that I couldn’t put down. I was taken back in time to the 1950’s, experiencing the tale of Odessa Drake and holding on to every word.

My first thoughts on this book was that it would be a historical romance, I was happy as this would be a genre I am quite interested in. However as you journey further in the genre evolves and twists making this book a highly intriguing read. Speaking of journey’s the way that Odessa Drake (Dessa) narrates her story really feels as if you are there with her along every step. The level of detail in this book not only ‘paints a picture’ of Dessa’s life it brings you in so that you could almost feel exactly how she does in every surrounding.

The characters I felt were shown with such depth that you could really imagine what they would be like as people, Dessa as the young (slightly naive) girl with not much life experience and Nicolas the mysterious stranger who lures you in from the second you see him. Personally from the outset I was suspicious of Nicolas, with a hidden past you can never be too careful and at times I felt that he may have taken advantage of Dessa but the more you learn about him, my guard fell along with it. I do feel that I could connect with all the characters on some level and the way that the characters connect with each other really brings this story to life.

This book really made me go through so many emotions, I fell in love, laughed and cried along with Dessa’s journey and for me when you get that involved with a book you know that it is skillfully written. As mentioned before you are taken back to a time where you wouldn’t have even known, shown the ways of life of women in that era and taken across county on a journey that you will never forget.

As mentioned before this isn’t your typical historical romance, the twists and turns that this book takes you on are utterly brilliant! The plot twist at the end was so unexpected yet it fit so perfectly. Honestly I didn’t want this book to end, every page I turned I couldn’t wait to see what happens next. A beautiful book by Susan Laffoon, I can’t wait to read more of her work!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Can’t Buy Forever’ by Susan Laffoon yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Susan Laffoon
Susan Laffoon knows whereof she writes having been raised in Glens Falls, in upstate New York. There, the Hudson River and the boulders that lie in its path, is Cooper’s Cave, a hide-a-way made famous in James Fedimore Cooper’s novel, ‘Drums Along The Mohawk.’ She visited this impressive attraction often growing up and listened to the rushing waters that echoed in the cave. There she decided to one day write romantic adventures. Thus as a young girl, while friends played with dolls, she imagined and scribbled stories of adventure to escape childhood responsibilities and unhappiness. She continued to journal through the years occupied with her husband, Greg, and seven children. It was discovered her love of storytelling was predisposed from a Scandinavian father who died young, a journalist for the Denver Post, a half century earlier. This passion is being fulfilled by his daughter, since putting aside her stethoscope and career as a registered nurse. “Writing has always been in the shadow of my heart”.