Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scifi / #Horror Survivors’ Club by @MKMartinWriter

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Survivor’s Club by M. K. Martin


4 out of 5 stars

A brilliant young geneticist, Marius Tenartier, starts work at the top security Chrysalis Biopharmaceuticals.  It seems like he’s landed a dream job, but is a bit perturbed by the excessive regulations and the way in which the company appears to expect full life commitment.  The first 20% was brilliant; I was totally engrossed.  It was clear that the author really knows her stuff, and was so well-written, and cleverly, subtly sinister.  Then Marius is sent on a mission to pick up one of the boss’s daughters and pick up some samples, and the book turned into something else.  I felt as if it had switched genre from a terrifically convincing scifi thriller into comedy horror, with humans growing tentacles and damsel in distress Miranda’s inner thoughts about how hot Marius is when she’s strapped to a gurney by a mutating madman.

The book is more people-fighting-monsters-ish than I thought it would be, but of its type it’s jolly good.  I liked the writing style a lot, although sometimes the quip-filled dialogue became a little irritating, particularly that of Miranda.  I notice that the author has a military type background and this is clear; this aspect of the novel was highly convincing, as was the medical.  I liked the ending very much; I love a book that surprises and leaves you up in the air in the last chapter, a perfect lead in to the next book.

If you like intelligent scifi/horror and have an interest in horrendous viral outbreaks, I’d most certainly recommend this book.  

Book description

People have always wanted to be stronger, faster, smarter, better. The scientists at Chrysalis Biopharmaceuticals believe they’ve found a virus that will allow them to unlock humanity’s hidden potential. The cost is small. A few lives here and there, but it’s all for the greater good … and the corporate bottom line.

Brilliant and idealistic geneticist, Marius Tenartier, has dedicated his life to battling the world’s worst diseases – from malaria to Ebola, tuberculosis to cancer. When Chrysalis offers Marius the chance to carry on his work with no budget caps, he accepts, no questions asked.

While Marius tackles the most challenging pathogens, Chrysalis secretly uses his work to develop an experimental vaccine intended to artificially evolve the human race. Instead of making people into super humans, it mutates them into terrifying abominations. After Marius is caught in an outbreak, he realizes that Chrysalis has been using him. Worse, they’ve covered up the outbreak.

Bureaucracy, incompetence, and greed threaten civilization and even the human race’s survival. Surrounded by danger and cut off from the outside world, time is running out to contain the virus, and Marius can’t do it alone.

Who can he trust – Chrysalis’ ambitious vice president, the rigid head of security, or the CEO’s fearless daughter?

Can Marius discover the truth about the virus’s origin before it’s too late to prevent a global pandemic?

About the author

M. K. Martin is a motorcycle-riding, linguistics nerd. A former Army interrogator with a degree in psychology, she uses her unique knowledge and skill set to create smart, gritty stories that give readers a glimpse into the darker corners of the human mind.

M.K. Martin

AmazonUK | AmazonUS


Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #thriller Lily White In Detroit by @CynthiaHarriso1 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Lily White In Detroit by Cynthia Harrison


4 out of 5 stars

Lily White is a PI in Detroit who usually concentrates on insurance scams and missing persons.  When she is asked to investigate the activities of Jimmy Heyl’s wife, she finds herself involved in much more than she bargained for, and events become complicated when her personal and professional lives become intertwined.

The novel is written in alternating POVs: Lily in the 1st person, and Detective Paxton in the third.  From the beginning of the story, we discover that there is more to Lily than meets the eye, and the mystery surrounding her is drip-fed slowly, which I liked.  The theme of PTSD is examined throughout the novel, with regard to both Lily and the ex-partner of Paxton.  It is clear that the author has done her research into not only the psychological effects but also the physiological, and the effect is quite an eye-opener for a reader such as me; I knew very little about it.  The factual side of the novel is convincing throughout, and I liked the picture of the Detroit of the 21st century.

I do warm to an emotionally damaged loner in novels, and though this character type is one to be found often in detective stories both in literature and on-screen, Lily was in no way a stereotype.  The author’s background in romance novel writing was evident in that I could see exactly where a certain relationship was heading from the very beginning (you know how in romance novels the reader knows before the characters do!), but this element did not seem out of place, for this is a psychological drama as well as a crime story.

There were some events that I thought deserved to be shown in an actual scene via flashback, or at the time, rather than the details being related to one character from another in dialogue, which would have made for more impact and suspense, but on the whole it’s a cleverly put together book, and I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys unravelling murder clues, or has particular interest in PTSD.

Book description

Private investigator Lily White has a client with a faulty moral compass. When the client is arrested for murdering his wife and her alleged lover, Lily follows her intuition and her own leads. If she’s wrong, she’ll at least know she did her job.

Detroit police detective Derrick Paxton remembers Lily from another case. He understands she suffers from PTSD and thinks her judgment is impaired. He goes after her client and the evidence he needs to close the case. When Lily is kidnapped, the case takes an unexpected turn.

In a sometimes racially divided city, a black cop and a white PI work together to peel back every layer to find the truth. What they find leads them to each other, but do they have enough to bring the true criminals to justice?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #shortstory The Baby On Tha Back Porch by Lucia N Davis

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Baby On The Back Porch by Lucia N Davis


3 out of 5 stars

San Francisco girl Sara rents a mountain cabin as a retreat, having been through a difficult year with a relationship break-up and bereavement.  As luck would have it, the landlord is the handsome, single David.  No sooner has Sara got settled in than she starts to have sightings of a bear in the garden… and then everything goes from bad to worse, to dangerous and inexplicable.

This is a nicely written story, presented well, and I didn’t guess what was going to happen, always a plus with a mystery.  I did find the style a little safe; it’s all very ‘nice’, so perhaps just not really for me, though I imagine it would appeal to perhaps an older readership who like a ‘clean read’, and enjoy a light, undemanding drama.  It took me about an hour to read.

Book description

An old cabin, hidden in the forests of the Northern Cascades, has been a silent witness to mysterious events long forgotten. But sometimes the past has a way of resurfacing…

In search of solace after a personal tragedy, Sara Eriksson exchanges vibrant San Francisco for a small mountain village. Initially, everything at the cabin is just as she imagined: Her new surroundings are breathtaking, and her landlord, David, is kind and helpful. As soon as she’s left alone, however, Sara finds her new home is not quite as peaceful as she’d thought. First she has an unwanted visitor. Then, an unsettling dream…

Sara pursues the leads presented to her, but she can’t solve the mystery on her own. It takes both Sara and David to uncover the truth about the past—and discover a connection they never expected.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS


Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #YA #SciFi #Dystopia Clone Crisis by Melissa Faye @melissafaye16

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Clone Crisis by Melissa Faye


4.5 stars

I really enjoyed this book.  I’m not its target audience, which is (it says) YA/NA, but it’s the sort of intelligent YA that’s not terribly ‘teen’.  It’s set in the US about 300 years in the future, when a 100 year long fertility crisis means that the human race continues by way of cloning.  Obviously this means no families; citizens live in communities, where they are divided into Gold, Silver, Bronze and Grey categories, according to intelligence and capability tests taken at a young age, and assigned a job most suited to them ~ allegedly.

It’s all about the community.  Most follow the culture and rules laid down by the authorities without question, but the main character, a ‘Gold’ intern doctor called Yami, has started to think that all is not as it seems.  Then the impossible happens: someone gets pregnant.

I liked Yami very much; she’s antisocial, doesn’t require many friends, and says what she thinks because she doesn’t care too much what others think of her.  The blinkered believers and followers of rules get on her nerves.  Some of her friends are super-irritating in their inability to see what was really going on, but such is the way of things in these dystopian worlds.  The writing flows well, all the characters are clearly defined, and the story is not predictable.  The science is convincing, too, when it needed to be; I never thought, uh-oh, she doesn’t know enough about this stuff.  It’s clear, for instance, that computer hacking/concealing of data is not her area of expertise, but it’s written in such a way that the reader has all the information he/she needs.

There were a couple of areas that I felt could have been dealt with more fully; for instance, Yami and her friends have to leave the community to travel across country to others, over land they have never seen before, but there was nothing about what the country actually looks like, 300 years on.  Where are all the old cities and towns?  I’d have thought the characters would have been gazing about in wonder, and I was looking forward to knowing what America was like outside these small, artificial settlements, but there was nothing.  Or perhaps Ms Faye didn’t consider that necessary for a YA/NA novel ~ as I said, I’m not exactly its target market.

Yes, I’d recommend it for any lovers of light, dystopian/futuristic scifi.  The ending is excellent, and made me want to read more, which I definitely will do.

Book description

In the 25th century, the entire population of the world is a clone of a person born hundreds of years earlier. Without parents and family, what’s best for the community is best for all. That means going along with the career assignments that divide society by class, working towards finding an end to the fertility crisis, and obeying whatever the government decides is best.

Yami, a driven but closed off medical intern, has avoided building new relationships after her mentor disappeared years ago. She can’t hide from the world anymore when her best friend, Etta, gets pregnant for the first time in three hundred years. Yami begins a journey to protect her friends at all costs. But when more and more secrets are uncovered about the government they all trust, Yami is forced to question the walls she’s built up around for herself.

What’s best for the community may not be best for any of us.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS



Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie


3 out of 5 stars

Doctor Perry is an evil medical man from the pages of an Edwardian horror story, complete with black leather doctor’s bag and a curious potion he asks patients to drink.   The crux of the plot is about what happens when you drink said potion; this came as a surprise to me, and the build-up to it was well done.

Much of the action takes pace in a retirement home, with an abundance of characters.  Some are well-drawn and realistic (Elijah, the main man, was particularly good), others conforming to perceived stereotypes, which I felt was intentional, as this is not a ‘serious’ horror story.  I changed my mindset about what I was reading once I saw that Perry is more a like a dastardly doctor you might see walking out of the mists on an old BBC drama.  Patients drink a ‘tonic’ from Perry (rather than one obtained via a pharmacy) with little questioning about what it contains. Of course this is pure pantomime, in an era when many patients look up even prescribed medication on the internet to make sure it is safe.

The writing is generally good, with wit and understanding of human nature (always a plus) but it needs another go-through with a copy-editor/proofreader who knows how to punctuate/has more of an eagle eye. There was a fair bit of incorrect punctuation, mostly missing commas or commas that should have been semicolons, and many, many run-on sentences/comma splices. The sort of uncorrected punctuation errors present in the book are not of the type that would be noticed by everyone, perhaps only by those they call ‘punctuation Nazis’, but unfortunately I am one!

Book description

“The sound of the man’s screams changed pitch and Doctor Perry looked up from his notes. Ah, the cranium was shrinking…”

Under the Hippocratic Oath, a doctor swears to remember that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

Doctor Perry reassures his elderly patients he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is a liar.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Set in 1984 #ComingOfAge Lucky Star by Holly Curtis

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Lucky Star by Holly Curtis


3 out of 5 stars

Set in 1984, this story opens with a group of schoolboys who go on a shoplifting trip to Guernsey, keen to get their hands on designer sports gear they crave.  Protagonist Ben is particularly desperate for a certain pair of trainers.  This is intermingled with him seeing the gorgeous Susie and falling instantly in love with her, all set to a backdrop of Madonna’s Lucky Star.

What I liked:

  1. It’s nicely written, and flows well; it’s an easy read.  The characterisation is very good, I thought, and the dialogue is, for the most part, realistic; natural.  I liked the usage of regional slang words like ‘dinlo’ and ‘clump’ (and the fact that the author didn’t feel the need to explain them!).
  2. There are elements that are very typical of kids of that age, and it’s good to read about a time when young people didn’t have their eyes permanently fixed on smartphone screens.  It certainly ticked a few nostalgia boxes, too.

What I was less sure about:

  1. The basic premise.  I realise the kids who flogged the designer gear would have had money, but where did Ben and his friends get the cash to travel to Guernsey, get taxis, eat in cafés, buy beer, etc?  There was no indication of him asking his aunt for it.  I also don’t buy that a group of daft 16 year olds suddenly became proficient at shoplifting from upmarket shops, where assistants know all the tricks.  I think it’s a fun idea that needed a bit more thinking through.
  2. I found the whole Susie-love-at-first-sight thing a little hackneyed, more like something you would see in a 1980s film, but the ‘coming of age’ genre has grown more sophisticated since then; also I felt the whole novel needed chopping down a bit.

So not really for me, but the fact that it’s nicely written and the characterisation is good, and it has the nostalgia thing going on means it may appeal to those who like a light read about a time they remember, and enjoyed films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Book description

Teenager Ben Somerset has three great loves in his life: Sherlock Holmes, designer clothes and a certain song by Madonna. And then Susie appears.

Set in England in 1984 Lucky Star tells of Ben’s introduction to the world of shoplifting, music, politics, love and heartbreak.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Dystopia Literature® by @GuillermoStitch

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Literature® by Guillermo Stitch


3.5 stars

‘We don’t know exactly when Literature® takes place and we don’t know exactly where’

This unusual novella takes place over the course of one day, and is set during a time when literature has been made illegal, and where secret, underground networks exchange books… Billy Stringer, the hero, is caught up in one of these. It’s one of those ‘life in the day of’ scenarios, in which you find out more about Billy’s situation by way of flashbacks, including his dying-a-death relationship with girlfriend Jane, her parents’ disapproval of him, and an occasion when he got embarrassingly drunk while socialising with her colleagues.

In this strange world we’re given a hint of how the lack of reading material has affected the literacy skills of the people. Billy and Jane communicate on their ‘tabs’ ~ everyone has one, in the same way that, increasingly, people in our world are attached to their smartphones as if they are an extra limb without which they cannot function.  The way in which Billy and Jane write to each other makes ‘text speak’ or the abbreviations used on social media look like great literature.  Words are spelled phonetically, using the fewest possible letters, as if they have never been taught basic English, despite being both educated and intelligent.

It’s a curious book; the characters and atmosphere are painted cleverly and effectively.  I liked the writing style very much, with its dark humour and astute observations.  Occasionally there is a poignant reminder of the world of the past: ‘There was a reception desk that Billy supposed had been used when the building was new, a good couple of hundred years ago.  Nowadays everyone would be scanned discreetly and visitors directed via their tabs and earpieces’.  

I did like it, and I realise that part of the point of it is that we don’t know ‘when’ or ‘why’, but I would have liked just a little more explanation.  I read parts of the first quarter of the book over a few times, thinking that I had missed something, and was a third of the way through before I realised that I didn’t really know exactly what was going on.  Just a little more scene setting would have made it even better, I think, and would give it a broader appeal, especially to lovers of dystopian fiction.  The blurb likens it to the ‘razor wit of Raymond Chandler’ and the ‘extraordinary vision of Philip K Dick’; I am put off by such comparisons as I think they are for the reader to decide upon, which is why I passed it by at first glance.  In this case, the story stands up well enough on its own without making such grandiose claims.

Book description

We don’t know exactly when Literature® takes place and we don’t know exactly where. All we know is that Philip Marlowe would fit right in.

We don’t get Marlowe though. We get Billy Stringer. And Billy is on nobody’s trail.

He’s the prey.

The day hasn’t begun very well for Billy. He just messed up his first big assignment, he’s definitely going to be late for work, his girlfriend won’t get back to him and, for reasons she has something to do with, he’s dressed like a clown.

Also, he’s pretty sure someone is going to kill him today. But then, that’s an occupational hazard, when you’re a terrorist.

He’s a bookworm too, which wouldn’t be a problem–or particularly interesting–except that in Billy’s world, fiction is banned. Reading it is what makes him an outlaw.

Why? Because people need to get to work.

It’s fight or flight time for Billy and he’s made his choice. But he has to see Jane, even if it’s for the last time–to explain it all to her, before she finds out what he has become. That means staying alive for a little while.

And the odds are against him.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Psychological Suspense SICK by @christawojo #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Sick by Christa Wojciechowski

SICK Part I (The Sick Series Book 1) by [Wojciechowski, Christa]

4 out of 5 stars

This is a short novella that I read in just two hours, and possibly the most peculiar book I’ve ever read.  John Branch is an impoverished aristocrat who lives in squalor with his wife, a podiatric nurse called Susan; the book is written from Susan’s first person point of view.  Throughout their marriage he has suffered one illness after another, and terrible accidents; many of his maladies baffle the doctors.  Suzie lives on frazzled nerves and chocolate bars, but they love each other, and exist in their own little world of their house and his illnesses.  Their relationship is odd in the extreme, with their baby talk, and the way she refers to him, and he acts, as if he is a child.  She is a plain woman who had little in her life before they met; he is everything to her.

At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish it; I wondered if English was the author’s first language as Susan talks about singing John his favourite ‘lullaby’ when he is ill, and describes him as having ‘pretty lips’; there are several other odd word choices, and I couldn’t work out if they were part of the peculiarity of the couple, or if they were just ill-chosen.  Also, a hyphen is used instead of an em dash throughout, which is confusing when the hyphen is used for two different purposes in the same sentence.  Thirdly, the book is graphic in its descriptions of blood, puss and worse; I can do gory violence, but not bodily functions/secretions.  But at the same time it’s very well-written; it’s dark, vivid and horribly depressing.  As it went on, I thought, yes, I do want to read it, but perhaps it’ll be one of those ‘3*, good but not my cup of tea’ books.

Then I got to appreciating it more and more, and I understood how clever it is.

It becomes clear that all is not what it seems in the dingy servants’ house where they live, on the estate that once belonged to John’s family, but Suzie is too tired, undernourished and concerned for John to investigate the irregularities.  When the truth about John’s illnesses comes out, the whole story is turned on its head.

So I ended up giving it 4* because I liked it ~ I would recommend it to anyone who is not squeamish and likes something a bit out of the ordinary.  And I think I might pick up the sequel at some point, too; I am most intrigued to see what happens next!

Book description

John Branch is a brilliant-minded aristocrat, bereft of his family’s wealth, ravaged by a terrible and as yet unidentified disease. Susan is a hard-working nurse at the end of her tether. Years of caring for her charming yet debilitated husband have begun to take their toll. Living in squalor, in the very shadow of a mansion that John and his family used to own, she is plagued by the intrusive groundskeeper Pete, ever-increasing bills, and the constant threat of John’s physical collapse.

John’s illness has always baffled doctors, and there are times when she wishes that he would just slip away. But John’s mind is very much alive, and she can’t help but cling onto the dream he will recover.

As pressures mount, Susan resorts to one desperate act after another to keep John alive and manage his pain, all the while haunted by a creeping sense that something isn’t right with her world…

SICK is a Gothic novel in the true sense: brimming with atmosphere and suspense, rich with style and psychological insight. This seemingly simple tale of two psyches will take you to the heart of the human condition, and show you just how twisted the relationships with those closest to us can be.

About the author

Christa (Wojo) Wojciechowski is the author of The Wrong David, The Sick Series, and is working on a series called The Sculptor of New Hope. Her characters explore existential turmoil, mental illness, and the complexity of romantic love. She uses her stories to compare the dark, carnal nature of humanity with its higher qualities of creative expression and intellectualism.

Christa currently resides in the mountains of Panama with her husband and a house full of pets. She works as a freelance digital marketer and helps thought leaders, podcasters, and fellow writers develop their marketing platforms. Christa enjoys foreign movies, yoga, wine, and rambling around in the cloud forests near her home. Most of all, she’s passionate about books and writers, and loves discussing them on social media.

Christa Wojciechowski

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #crimefiction Brand New Friend by Kate Vane @k8vane

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading BRAND NEW FRIEND by Kate Vane


4 out of 5 stars

The basic plot: Paolo is a BBC journalist, who gets a call from Mark, an old friend from university days, when they were fellow animal rights activists. Then a newspaper report exposes Mark as an undercover police officer, and his former ‘handler’ is murdered.  Paolo is wrenched away from his affluent life, with the house in Suffolk, successful wife and two children, back to his days at Leeds University, and the friends he knew at the time.  Who exposed Mark?  Who was really responsible for an on-campus fire back in the 1980s, in which a security officer died?  Paolo soon discovers that there is more going on than originally met his journalistic eye…

This book was a slow starter for me, but by about 20% I started to get more into it, and by half way through I was enjoying it a lot, and looking forward to getting back to it.  The story dots back and forth in equal measure between the murder case and Paolo’s life back in what I assume to be around 1984; gradually, the two stories merge.  I found the murder/conspiracy plot and present day half of the book only moderately interesting, but loved the sections set in the old days ~ the desperate-to-be-hip-and-relevant characters and the atmosphere of the time were so real.  The wannabe cool guy Paolo, terminally bored Isabel, spiky, chip-on-her-shoulder Claire and determinedly zany ‘Ratman’ are so well drawn, as was their dismissal of football-and-a-pint boy Graham, the odd man out.  I loved how aspirational they all were, though over the years their aspirations changed ~ from the ‘making a difference’ cliché and being seen as authentic and academically inspired despite having been drunk/stoned/speeding/in bed with a stranger until 4 am the night before, to succeeding in the capitalist society they once claimed to despise.

What kept me reading was the astute observations, and the slow unfolding of the changing dynamic between the friends – I actually would have been happy with just this as a novel, with maybe just the security officer murder aspect; Ms Vane’s understanding of her characters is good enough to carry a less sensational plot.  Only two aspects grated a tiny bit ~ in the 1980s Claire is meant to be a working class girl from Durham, but she talks like a middle class girl from the south; there is no trace of the North East in any of her dialogue.  Also, they all refer to ‘uni’ instead of ‘university’ ~ aside from the fact that it’s ghastly, I am not sure people had started doing so in the early-mid 1980s.  I believe it originated from Aussie soap operas; the first time I heard it was around 1989.

To sum up, I’d give 3* to the ‘main’ story which, for me, had too many long conversations with people explaining to each other why things happened and how they found them out, but 4.5* with some 5* moments to the whole 1980s element ~ thus, I shall round up at 4*.   I didn’t love it all but I liked it (some parts very much), and it’s definitely worth a read.  Especially if you were a student in the 1980s, I should think.

Book description

Friend. Liar. Killer?

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends. What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same.

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

About the author

I’m an author of (mostly) crime and suspense, living in Devon.

My crime novel, Brand New Friend, will be published on 5 June 2018.

I have written for BBC drama Doctors and have had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

I mainly read crime and literary fiction with some non-fiction and am a recent convert to audiobooks.

Kate Vane

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter


Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #PostApocalyptic Assaulted Souls by William Blackwell

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Assaulted Souls by William Blackwell


3 out of 5 stars

This first instalment of the Assaulted Souls series is a short novel (possibly a novella) of just 183 pages.  The setting is an alternative reality ~ the year 2016, three months after a nuclear blast.  The story opens with Nathan King – who has lost his memory due to a fall from a balcony – waking up in a cave with a man he doesn’t recognise and no recollection about how he got there.  Great opening.  We soon find out that the cave is on Prince Edward Island, which I assume to be off the coast of Canada, and Nathan begins to piece facts together via information from the stranger (Edward) and his own still hazy memory.

Elsewhere, Nathan’s girlfriend, Cadence, is held captive by the cannibalistic Thorvald.  In another cave we meet escaped convicts Karl and Russ.  Everyone is scared of the Neanderthals, a group of other escaped convicts from the same facility as Karl and Russ.

This opening to the series has a lot going for it; there is some excellent, amusing dialogue (both spoken and inner), and the setting descriptions totally worked; I could imagine every scene.  It rips along, and I found each character to be clearly defined from the outset.  Mr Blackwell can certainly write, and this is one of my favourite genres. 

However, much though I enjoyed the author’s writing style and humour, I feel that the book needs more work ~ careful redrafting, the fine-tuning of ungrammatical sentences, and more attention to structure.  The backstory of some important issues, such as Nathan’s amnesia and the nuclear blast itself, are brushed off in the odd short paragraph (some of which read like notes that were written with the intention of expanding them in a later draft), whereas a story about some trouble with a difficult tenant in Nathan’s past life was more detailed than necessary for such short book, and not particularly relevant; the tenant does appear later on, but is in and out within a couple of pages.  Mr Blackwell is clearly imaginative, articulate and can write some captivating sentences (which is much of what writing a good book is all about), but there were too many that made me go ‘ouch’. At first I was highlighting passages and making the note ‘ill-thought out sentence’.  As I found myself highlighting more and more, I shortened it to ‘ITOS’.  Then I gave up.   A few examples:

‘..his stomach was still knotted with hunger and when he had woke up this morning he had even…’ ~ either ‘when he woke up’, or ‘when he had awakened’ or ‘when he had woken’.

‘The radiation had already infected his mind, producing a stark raving lunatic’.  Better: ‘turning him into a stark etc’, or something like ‘producing worrying psychotic tendencies’; I think the phrase ‘stark raving lunatic’ is a more like something you’d read in a comic book, anyway.

There are run-on sentences (two independent clauses without an appropriate punctuation mark or conjunction to separate them) and non-sentences such as this: Suddenly banging and growling at the door.

To sum up, the basics are all there, but in my opinion it needs fleshing out, more re-drafting and the help of a good copy editor for it to stand up as the good example of this genre that it could be.

Book description

Nathan King wakes up one day freezing cold and starving with hunger on a tattered mattress in a dark cave and has no idea where or who he is.

He meets Edward Sole, apparently his protector for the last few months, who tells him a nuclear bomb has been dropped and most, if not all of the world, has been destroyed.

Slowly the realization sinks in that in this horrific post-apocalyptic landscape, there are no rules, no laws. Cannibalism is rampant, mutant animals and humans are on the attack.

With all communication cut off, and meagre supplies, every day becomes a fight for survival and sanity!

To make matters worse, a band of savages called The Neanderthals have emerged who rape, pillage and murder for more than just survival. They enjoy it.

Fighting for their survival and hoping to find a more hospitable island off the coast of Prince Edward Island, Ed and Nathan team up with Cadence Whitaker, Nathan’s girlfriend whom he has no recollection of, and fierce warrior Velvet Jones to try and hatch a plan to escape the island before they’re all killed.

In the meantime, Ed has begun a slow descent into madness, leaving the group wondering who the enemy really is.

A lightning-paced, action-packed exploration of a terrifying existence in a wasteland produced by mankind’s stupidity.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS