Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Triple Treat for Halloween …

IASDpicWell okay, I know we’re another nine months off from Halloween but hey, give it another couple of months and we’ll be seeing all the usual adverts for Christmas and whatnot. It’s with great pleasure I present my review of IASD member Lacey Lane’s 2nd book in her Halloween Pumpkin Horror short story series and another of her short story collections, The Little Book of Horrors (and for those of you that missed the first one of the Pumpkin series I’ve included my review of Book One of that as well).



The Revenge of the Pumpkins  – Amazon Blurb:

It’s Halloween and the Smith family are having fun carving pumpkins. As the witching hour arrives and the pumpkins come to life will the Smith family live to regret the monsters they created?
Find out what happens when the pumpkins come to life and take their revenge…


The Revenge of the Pumpkins

timberwolfamazonA tiny tale of sheer horror genius!

Lacey5Anyone looking for a gory Halloween story for kids, say twelve or thirteen upwards need look no further than Lacey Lane’s The Revenge of the Pumpkins; we all know what happens on Halloween, or at least we think we do, when little boys and girls dress up for trick or treating, or carve shapes and faces in to unsuspecting pumpkins, and in that respect the story here is no different, or at least to begin with – what starts off as a fun filled day for the Smith family, dressing up, and indeed, carving their pumpkins in preparation for Halloween night, quickly descends into a scene right out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

What Lacey Lane has done with a seemingly harmless tradition, but which actually has its origins in ancient Celtic tradition when spirits and ghouls supposedly come back to haunt and cause mischief, is nothing less than sheer genius. The start of the story could easily be that of any traditional children’s story or perhaps a Roald Dahl tale, but it very soon takes a giant step into the much darker world of bloody and psychological horror – this is most definitely not a ‘young’ child’s bedtime story. Within this tiny tale of horror and revenge, and I say tiny because this really is little more than a ten-minute read, the author has managed to take a traditional story format and turn it on its head; the combination of seeming innocence and normality with incredulous horror is done to perfection. Without giving any of the plot away, all I would say is never underestimate or take for granted the power of a child’s imagination.


The Return of the PumpkinsAmazon Blurb:

Peter Smith is a patient at West Hills hospital. He has been there for nearly a decade. At the age of thirteen, his parents were brutally murdered and Peter was tortured to near death by his Halloween pumpkins. Killer pumpkins haunt his dreams and his doctor thinks he’s delusional. Determined to turn his life around, he has eventually decided to join in with the Halloween festivities in the hospital and carves his first pumpkin. Will Peter survive the tenth anniversary of his parents’ death? Or will his pumpkin be the death of him?


The Return of the Pumpkins

timberwolfamazonAnother delicious slice of horror filled pumpkin flavoured terror

Lacey4A dramatic and scary flashback to the first book provides the perfect springboard opening for Return of the Pumpkins. This sequel is much longer and is more of a psychological horror story than its predecessor; set ten years after his first bloody encounter with the demonic knife-wielding pumpkins, Peter is now a patient in a psychiatric ward being treated for the trauma he suffered many years before. Needless to say, the doctors believe Peter’s stories about killer pumpkins being responsible for the brutal murder of his parents and he himself nearly dying in a fire to be his mind’s way of dealing with whatever happened – Peter’s far from sure of that though and still harbours very real fears of Halloween and any thought of pumpkins.

The hospital setting alone conjures up a mental image of an asylum and helps add to the increasingly sinister tone of the story, the classic scenario of being normal while everyone around you are the insane ones; added to the mix we have some less than sympathetic hospital staff and a downright creepy doctor. Fortunately for Peter, he finds an ally in fellow patient Sue, who seems determined to befriend and help him deal with  his traumatic past. With her help, Peter develops a new sense of confidence and hope for the future, but as in any good story, events take a different direction, placing the two of them in the gravest danger, leading Peter to believe the murderous knife-wielding pumpkins are indeed real and not just the delusional creations of his imagination. How Peter and Sue face that danger provides a clever and frightening climax whilst leaving sufficient scope for another instalment to the series should the author decide to write one, which I hope she does.

With just a couple of characters it would have been easy for the author to write this story from a first-person point of view to really get inside the main character’s mind but somehow manages to achieve the same result with a third person perspective, an excellent balance between narrative and just the right level of dialogue and action.

As a psychological short horror story, this (and its predecessor) really is as good as they come, a story that would stand out as a classic Hammer House of Horror episode if it were ever adapted for film/tv – impossible for me to praise this story more highly!



The Little Book of HorrorsAmazon Blurb:

A deliciously wicked treat, no holds barred horror served up bloody with a side dish of sex. The Little Book of Horrors is macabre, disturbing, viciously satisfying and definitely not for the squeamish.


The Little Book of Horrors

WPscreenshotAdult horror in every sense of the word, three bite-sized helpings of horror. 

Lacey3Another quick read from this extremely talented horror author, this time a trilogy of blood and gore filled tales encompassing a mix of karmic justice for someone most deserving of it, a blood and lust fuelled sexy vamp encounter that you probably wouldn’t want to have, depending which side of the encounter you were on of course, and finally a mix of all three in the last tale of poetic justice.

The author has blended horror and a touch of erotica to produce three entertaining horror tales. I must admit to finding the first story a tad obvious but still enjoyable to read nonetheless. The two remaining stories were definitely more to my taste and in each case held my attention from beginning to end. I enjoyed the way the author combined an erotic setting and situation with a violent and bloody conclusion, and then in the final tale, my favourite I might add, again it was a relatively simple story and a tad predictable in where it was headed but it was told in such a way to keep you guessing just how it would actually unfold. Once again, enough horror here to keep any devoted fan of the genre more than happy.


More about the author:

Lacey Lane was born in the UK and as a child loved writing stories. At the age of 31 she decided to rekindle her passion for writing.

Her debut ebook The Revenge of the Pumpkins was first published in October 2014. Since then she has published five more books. With the current exception of Revenge of the Pumpkins, all Lacey Lane’s books are available in both Ebook and paperback formats.

Lacey’s other passions include reading and gardening along with being an avid reader and book reviewer. For further info please links below:


Lacey Lane IASD entry



Lacey Lane’s Amazon Author page for all the author’s books …

Lacey8 Lacey5 Lacey7 Lacey4 lacey10 Lacey3

Book Review – The Oscar Dossier

IASDpicThis is the third review of one of Lesley Hayes’ books I’ve written (I’ve still got a few more to be written up). I first encountered Lesley via a chance post on Twitter of all places and from that, I was intrigued enough to take a look at her website and then one of her books, and since then I’ve been a fan. Most members of the IASD will already be familiar with some of her books, but for others, if you’re not I highly recommend you give one of .. Click above for website them a go to see for yourself. 


Lesley Hayes on the IASD

Amazon Description:

Who exactly is Oscar? He seems to be one thing for one person and something quite different for another. Is he a brilliant artistic genius or a mad, lovesick fool? And the women into whose lives he sweeps with his wild Genghis Khan looks and his courtly passion each have their own tales to tell. Be beguiled along with them as you enter the slightly surreal world they inhabit. And watch out for the Polish ranting parrot – he spits. 

This delightful collection of four interlinked stories will amuse and intrigue you, and leave you wanting more. Luckily, Lesley Hayes has provided them. Two other collections are here on Kindle, and more are yet to come.


The Oscar Dossier



timberwolfamazonBoth funny and sad, beautifully written, totally enchanting… loved it!

These four short stories each look at the seemingly eccentric and enigmatic Oscar and the different women in his life, and of course a foul-mouthed Polish speaking parrot. Oscar is one of those larger than life characters, hugely talented and yet flawed in equal measure. There is a certain type of woman he is attracted to yet he seems blind to the love an altogether different woman has for him. The opening story introduces us to Oscar and his longtime friend, Lily. For some reason, these two names immediately put me in mind of the relationship between Oscar Wild and Lilly Langtry, and oddly enough there are some similarities between our characters here and their more famous namesakes. Each story effortlessly connects with the next, first introducing us to Oscar himself and then exploring the characters and stories of the women in his life, all intertwined with that of Oscar; how a foul-mouthed parrot fits into the grand scheme of things is best left for the reader to discover for themselves.

What we have in these four short stories is a beautifully written peek into the lives of a small clutch of captivating characters, brought alive by the fascination surrounding Oscar. The author skillfully plays with and switches the time frame from the present to the past and then a little into the future from the time of the initial story. Even though the stories are interconnected, there’s not so much an overall story as such but more a series of episodes that provide the reader with a lovely look into a part of Oscar’s life. It’s a present-day setting but the writing has a period, almost timeless quality to it. Within this book’s short length there is humour, sadness, perhaps a little albeit justified bitterness, and – on more than one occasion – unrequited love. There’s also perhaps a hint that the author knew such a character herself once, or at least someone on whom Oscar might be based. At just under an hour or so’s read, these four enchanting stories will immerse you in a world of literary imagination. I do so hope we get to meet Oscar again in other stories, though if not he’s certainly a character I will remember with a smile.


* Once again as has recently been the case with other books I’ve read, I’m not sure the cover connects with the story; yes, the cover here might loosely reflect the written description but personally I don’t think it reflects Oscar’s character, looking more like some ‘hoodie’ wearing juvenile than the fascinating larger than life persona that comes across in the book. 


More about the Author:

lesley2Lesley Hayes lives in Oxford, where she gains much of the inspiration for her writing. She had numerous short stories and one novel published prior to training as a psychotherapist, and for two years had a weekly slot on BBC Radio Oxford reading her short stories. During the past seven years she has surrendered to the compelling urge to write fiction again, and has now published six novels: ‘The Drowned Phoenician Sailor’, ‘A Field Beyond Time’, ‘Round Robin’, ‘Dangerous People’, ‘The Other Twin’, and ‘The Girl He Left Behind’. All are available in paperback and on Kindle. She has also published four collections of short stories on Kindle: ‘Oxford Marmalade’, ‘The Oscar Dossier’, ‘Without a Safety Net’, and the aptly named ‘Not Like Other People’ – the last two are available in paperback in a collated version titled ‘Through a Glass Darkly’. You can find out more about her on her website, blog, and on social media:


Fb author page

See Lesley Hayes’ Amazon Author page for all the author’s books.



2 Short Story Reviews – The Consuming & Survival by Rhonda Hopkins




IASDpicHere are my reviews of two short stories written by Rhonda Hopkins, an avid reader and prolific reviewer as well as being a valued IASD member and contributor. Having already read and enjoyed ‘The Consuming’ I knew  I was on safe ground taking advantage of the free download of ‘Survival’ (though it has now reverted to its original price. Having said that, both are free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited).


Amazon Description: Survival: Survival Series Prequel

When Sarah escapes from her brutal abductors, she promises to return to rescue her twin sister, but with the walking dead invading Fort Worth, TX, she is forced to rely on a competitive coworker who made her work life hell for years. With her coworker weakened by cancer treatments, her sister still imprisoned, and zombies looking for an easy meal, Sarah’s only plan, if she can pull it off, is Survival.

SURVIVAL is a 14,000 word (approx. 45 pages) short story and was originally published in the Let’s Scare Cancer to Death anthology.


Survival: survival series prequel

timberwolfamazonA great start to what could well develop into a gripping ongoing series …

Rhonda2I haven’t read all that much in the Zombie genre so I can’t say how this compares with similarly themed stories but it certainly sets off at a cracking pace with the fight for survival starting right from the opening sentence almost; it was a nice touch that the initial ‘survival’ efforts were quite unrelated to the Zombie apocalypse occurring. It’s probably premature to make comparisons but the opening scene could easily be one straight out of the hit tv series ‘The Walking Dead,’ though the cover does invite such comparisons, which given its current popularity, I’m not sure is such a good thing.

Although it would read quite well as a stand-alone story, I’m glad the author indicates there will be future instalments thus hopefully allowing the reader to explore the characters in greater depth. It’s impossible to tell what direction the story will take in the future but the story has been written in such a way as to leave open all manner of possibilities and a yearning to know the hows and whys of the current situation the characters have found themselves plunged into.



Amazon Description: The Consuming

Serena knows her late uncle wasn’t crazy. So when she inherits his sprawling Carolina mansion and leaves the big city to restore both his home and his name, she uncovers a mystery that could cost much more than her sanity. As the house slowly reveals its dark secrets, and the extent of her peril becomes evident, she’ll settle for escaping with her life—if it isn’t already too late.


The Consuming: A short story

WPscreenshotA classic ‘haunted house’ tale of long-dead restless family spirits … 

Rhonda1A supposedly haunted dilapidated old house you’ve just inherited, the sudden death of an uncle you haven’t seen since childhood, rumours of madness, the locals refusing to go near the place, and a psychic best friend who warns you not to go near the place … It’s hard to say too much about a short story without giving too much away but here we have all the ingredients of a spooky little ghost story, the sort that would make for a great episode of Hammer’s House of Horror. I liked the author’s style of writing, hints of a modern Edgar Allen Poe but obviously more current and without overdoing the gothic atmosphere, striking just the right balance at the beginning between outward normality while feeling and knowing something’s not quite right. Sometimes a short story will leave too many unanswered questions but in one such as this, a bit of mystery left to the imagination just adds to its enjoyment.

Taking just under an hour to read, this is the perfect story if you like a little mystery and the supernatural in your reading but aren’t in the mood to take on the challenge of a full-length novel. Personally, I would have preferred this to be a little longer, perhaps with more involvement of the psychic friend but overall a fine short story that horror fans will appreciate.

Peer reviews: 

 “The Consuming by Rhonda Hopkins is the literary version of what films like Paranormal Activity tried to be. This has the bumps in the night flying off the page.”  ~~  TW Brown, Author of the Dead, and the Zomblog series.

“The Consuming is a wonderful, chilling tale that leaves you listening too hard in the quiet of a dark night, and jumping at shadows in mirrors. Definitely looking forward to more from Ms. Hopkins.” ~~ Stacey Joy Netzel, USA Today Bestselling author of Beneath Still Waters and Lost in Italy.

“The Consuming by Rhonda Hopkins is the perfect example of gothic horror…” ~~ Jennette Marie Powell, Author of Hangar 18: Legacy and the Saturn Society series.

“…Rhonda Hopkins’ The Consuming had me turning on all the lights in the house and checking behind doors.” ~~ Stacy Green, Author of Into the Dark and Tin God (A Delta Crossroads Mystery).

“…This tale will give you shivers up your spine, make you take second glances in mirrors…Superb!” ~~ Penelope Anne Bartotto, The Library at the End of the Universe.

More about the author:

Rhonda4Award-winning romantic suspense and horror author, Rhonda Hopkins, has learned firsthand that truth is stranger than fiction. Her two decades of experience as an investigator for her state and family courts give her characters a depth and realism that gives truth a run for its money. In addition to stories published under her own name, Rhonda Hopkins has also contributed stories to a number of other multi-author IASDpicanthologies. You can find out more about Rhonda at:


On Fb – Author page



See also Rhonds Hopkins’ Amazon Author page for all the author’s books


Book Review – The Crime Writer’s Casebook

IASDpicNothing to do with the IASD this time, but something that might well be of use/help to our members as well as all Indie writers who write Crime  & Detective, ‘Whodunnits,’ or anything really that’s likely to feature a police presence at some point. Given that my own writing doesn’t require a comprehensive knowledge of police procedures (at least not yet) it’s difficult for me to write this review with any real authority so I’d be interested to hear from or see some reviews from those who actually write in the genre. I would say though from the information publically available about the authors, both appear eminently well qualified to collaborate on such a book.

As I stress in the main review, this book is written from a UK perspective with primarily the UK market in mind which is why I won’t be posting the said review on the .com site. 


Amazon Description: 

For anyone interested in writing or reading crime, whether historical or modern day, this book is an essential reference companion.

In addition to detailed information on police and criminal procedures, the book features true crime case studies from two leading experts in their field.


The Crime Writer’s Casebook  

A Reference Guide to Police Investigation Past and Present


Stephen Wade & Stuart Gibbon


timberwolfamazonAn essential ‘turn to’ resource to be kept at the Crime & Detective author’s side – excellent writer’s reference book.

It took me a little longer to read this than I thought but it was well worth the effort. The first thing to stress is that this book is written from a UK perspective so isn’t likely to be of too much use to anyone writing the next Sam Spade or Columbo type book. I was afraid that it might read like a dusty old academic lawbook, the sort Judges keep by the side but thankfully that’s not the case; divided into fourteen easily digestible chapters, each divided under various useful sub-headings this book packs a lot of comprehensive but relatively easy to understand information.

Given the popularity of Murder Whodunnit type Mysteries, I was pleased to see the first chapter is an examination of the Murder victim and Scene of Crime, especially since that’s often the starting point for many a great story.

This book won’t tell you exactly what or how to write or give you formulaic step by step instructions on how to deal with police methodology in your story but what it does do, and really well I might say is provide lots of guidance on many of the essential elements to think about in any given scrime scenario, little areas of detail such as all the different experts that might be called to assist in an investigation that could easily be overlooked (or not even thought of by the writer), and of course accurate terminology and a general outline of police procedure. Throughout the book, the authors provide relevant case studies to accompany and illustrate their own thoughts and narrative, enabling the prospective Crime/Detective writer to craft an authentic story either now or at any time in the past, and for anyone writing in the Victorian era there’s an interesting account in chapter 14 ‘A Victorian Policeman’s Lot’ of policing and the resources available at the time as well as lots of miscellaneous but invaluable detail to give authenticity to a story set in that era.

As well as the fourteen specific chapters outlining everything from the initial crime/murder scene and investigative processes through to the many lines of enquiry and tools at the Detective’s disposal there follows an excellent reference section, also divided under various useful sub-headings, and again for the more ‘historical’ writer, an A-Z of Legal terms for historical fiction reference.

I would also say the book is well laid out and easy on the eye in its presentation, something that’s rarely an issue in regular fiction but for a reference book, such details can often mean the difference between a dull and laborious book and one that is kept as an essential research aid. Related to what I’ve just said, whilst I am happy to read regular fiction on my Kindle when it comes to reference books, especially ones for writing that are likely to get a lot of use I find having a physical copy to hand far more useful than having to mess about with an E-reader. In this particular case, given that the difference in price between the eBook and paperback is less than five pounds I would highly recommend the paperback version.


 More about the authors:

casebook5StuartStuart Gibbon: Stuart Gibbon is well qualified to collaborate on a book such as this having served over years as a policeman, many of those years as a Detective. During that time he has been centrally involved in the investigative processes of numerous categories of crimes including rape, serious assault and robbery, eventually qualifying as a Senior Investigation Officer in a number of Murder cases. On the writing businessman with magnifying glassside, he now acts as a writing consultant, including to the to the Crime Writers Association, advising authors on police procedure and investigation to ensure authentic accuracy in their portrayal of such things. Additional information about Stuart Gibbon’s life and career can be found in the book’s introduction.


casebook6Steven Wade: Stephen Wade was born in Leeds and educated at the universities of Wales and Leeds. He taught in further and higher education for many years, and this was followed by six years as a writer working in prisons.  He also lectures part-time at the University of Hull. Having written over fifty books, mainly in non-fiction, Stephen Wade is equally well qualified to collaborate on such a book. Over the years he has become a specialist in crime history and biography. Again, much more additional information about Stephen Wade can be found in the opening introduction

See Stephen Wade’s Amazon author page for his full catalogue of work …



Book Review – Summer Day


I would have been inclined to say ‘Summer Day’ was a bit out of my regular reading comfort zone but as I’m discovering, even from within the IASD writing group of which I’m proud to be a member, there’s enjoyment to be had from almost any genre, you just have to find the right book …



When it comes to the term ‘literary’ there are a few names that spring to mind but having read ‘Summer Day,’ the name Frank Parker can now be added to that list’


Amazon Description:

Bess, a Welsh Collie sheepdog, is old and ailing. Jack, her owner, has decided it is time to put her down. His young son, Henry, tries to prevent this, causing Jack’s gun to go off injuring Jack. Believing he is responsible for his father’s death, Henry runs away, taking Bess with him. Will this summer day be the last of Bess’s life? Or of Henry’s? Set on a Welsh Border hill farm in 1947, a time and place lacking land-line phones, let alone broadband, the story follows Henry’s desperate attempts to evade capture, and the amateurish efforts of family and neighbours to find him and explain that his father’s injuries are not life-threatening and no-one holds him responsible. Each member of the family has his or her own fears for the future and these influence their behaviour throughout the long sultry day as storm clouds gather. Henry’s older brother, Cecil, wants to have a bigger say in the running of the farm, his mother and his sister, Margery, are preoccupied with planning her forthcoming marriage. His aunts, too, have problems that demand attention. Assorted professionals have their own distorted view of the family and of Henry: the family Doctor, the district nurse, the vicar, the school teacher. Henry, meanwhile, faces an escalating series of setbacks and injuries which lead him to make a near-fatal decision.


Summer Day

By Frank Parker


timberwolfamazonA charming and delightful village drama, as fine & enjoyable a book as I’ve read all year …

An expertly crafted village drama, Frank Parker’s ‘Summer Day’ is a charming and delightfully written snapshot of postwar Britain among the rural villages and farming communities in and around the Herefordshire border between England and Wales. Part of this snapshot brings alive the huge social changes that were taking place at the time: the newly elected Labour government’s raising of the school leaving age and the effect that had on local communities where a youngster’s life was pretty much already pre-determined, the changing and conflicting social attitudes of the time, and even a reference to to the spread of mains electricity. Getting back to the main story though, right from the start the reader is drawn into an intense scenario, rewarded by an unexpected and what ‘appears’ to be, a climactic and tragic ending to the first chapter. What follows are the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the events of that short opening chapter, in which the truth gradually emerges surrounding an accident and tragic misunderstanding, during which neighbours and family pull together in the search for Henry, a young boy widely regarded by locals as ‘not quite right in the head.’ Secondary to the main story we learn that there is much more to Henry than most people, even his parents, give him credit for.

Throughout the story we are introduced and return to a variety of characters ranging from the ageing but dedicated village vicar who refuses to give up riding his bicycle, a District Nurse who has helped bring most of the local youth into the world including Henry, and who provides some insight into why Henry is the way he is, and an opinionated Headteacher stuck in his ways to name but a few. Others include Henry’s parents and other family members followed by an assortment of friends and neighbours; often when an author introduces a large number of characters it can become confusing, with the peripheral characters coming across as a bit one-dimensional, but the author has skilfully breathed life and substance into every last one, each by way of their own story and circumstances playing their part in the bigger picture and driving the story forward, and although I was completely hooked on the unfolding drama of the search for Henry, part of what really brought this story to life were these other character’s backdrop stories, many of which could feasibly warrent a book or short story in their own right.

Elements of the characters, the vivid depictions of rural everyday life, and the time period put me in mind of Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider with Rosie.’ Sadly books such as this don’t appear as often as they once did, possibly because of the passage of time and the  inevitably diminishing pool of writers with sufficient personal experience to draw on.

An unexpected literary gem and as fine and enjoyable a book as I’ve read all year.


* Quite separate from the above review as it’s really nothing to do with the story and quality of the writing, I have only two minor concerns about this book. One, that I’m not overly keen on the cover; even though the story is reflective of a past era, I don’t believe the dated look of the cover really does the story justice (just my opinion). My second concern is the Amazon description – whilst I think a good book blurb is essential, this particular one I think gives a little too much away, the sort of description that if a review were to reveal the same level of detail (if it hadn’t already been revealed in the blurb might) might well be termed as being full of spoilers … other than these minor asides, a superb story impossible to find fault with.


More about the author:

Frank is a retired Engineer. He spent most of his working life in England where he was employed by UK based multi-national companies. He always wanted to write but has only found the freedom to do so since retiring to Ireland in October 2006. He lives with Freda, his wife since 1963, in Stradbally, County Laois. In addition to the above, Frank Parker is an active and valued contributor to the IASD FB group.                                  ( see also: )


Frank Parker Fb author page



See Frank Parker’s Amazon Author page for the author’s full catalogue of work






Book Review – A Stitch in Time

SenanGilSean3Senan Gil Senan is an author who I’ve reviewed twice before, namely IASDpichis two-part (to date) highly acclaimed Outlander Sci-Fi series. In addition to his regular writing, Senan Gil Senan is a regular reviewer and valued contributor to the IASD fb writing group and its sister site at:




Six thought-provoking stories about time & reality. Kindle Edition

By Senan Gil Senan



5starscroppedHighly original and imaginative. Would definitely read more short stories from this author …

At first glance at the cover, one could easily be forgiven for thinking this might be just another collection of Sci-Fi short stories. I would say a couple of the stories do fall into that category while others venture into the realms of horror and the paranormal. I  loved the author’s style of writing for each one, three being written in the first person, a style I particularly enjoy when it comes to short stories, and the other three written in a style most suited to their content but still maintaining a very personal viewpoint. There are no clever explanations or theories about ‘time’ to be found here, but more the personal observations, perceptions, and experiences of it, all crafted into highly original tales, and while some stories were better than others, none failed to either intrigue or entertain. In those stories where a little ‘science’ added to the narrative such as in ‘The Fall and Rise of the El,’ the author struck a good balance between the sort of terminology that most sci-fi fans will recognise and have some understanding of and not over-explaining or confusing the reader.

I especially liked ‘Clocks Slay Time’  which for me, perfectly epitomised the title and description for this anthology. Another story that stood out, in my opinion, was ‘Hello Friend,’ a clever and imaginative set of scenarios all woven together by a frightening glimpse into the possibly intrusive path that social media and artificial intelligence might take, and sooner likely than we imagine. A couple of the stories, while captivating almost throughout, were I thought slightly let down by an unsatisfactory or less than conclusive ending; I accept that for some readers, being left with unanswered questions or puzzling for themselves what the ending of a story meant might add to its enjoyment but for me personally they didn’t quite work, and it’s for that reason alone it wasn’t quite as convincing a five star read as the author’s previous Outlander series (more a four-point-eight).

I’m not sure if fans of more traditional sci-fi will immediately take to this collection but for those whose interests extend beyond that of robots, outer-space, and alien invasions then I think it might well appeal. Despite a couple of minor misgivings, the style of writing, its originality, and the imaginative and well-written storylines lines would certainly induce me to read more of the author’s future short story offerings.



More about the author …

Senan Gil Senan believes that it is the job of a writer to visually transport a reader to a place he or she is unlikely to venture. Then without alienating them, it is to introduce them to a pattern of thought that may differ from their own.
His writing is not typical of the science fiction and dystopian genres. It is more visionary, in that it examines the effect of technology and bio-engineering on future society. He is an adamant believer that humans will integrate more and more with technology in order to keep up with the deluge of technological advances created by the advent of artificial intelligence. He believes that this emergent sentience will be shaped by human interaction, much the same as a child.
…….His own interests include psychology, noetic science, physics, theology & philosophy and ancient history. He agrees with RR Martin who said that any writer who is looking for an intriguing character, a gripping scenario or plot twist, needs to look no further than the pages of a history book.

He was named Senan, by his father Patrick Gilsenan who thought that the name would look good on the cover of a book. He was an Irish printer who yearned to see his own prose and poetry appear in print. Sadly he died before achieving either ambition. Senan left behind the beauty of Sligo in Ireland to set off for London and oblique strategy of career choices. These included working fourteen years as a computer systems engineer. He has also worked as a self-employed financial trader, a writer, an employment adviser, and as a bar manager. He still lives in South London with his wife and family.



In addition to the above, Senan Gil Senan also writes under the name Angus Cactus , a pen name he uses to differentiate his comedy writing from that of his other literary projects.

To Hell or Sligo by Aangus Cactus ~ Amazon


Book Review – A Time for Courage: and other military stories

Tom Benson is a multi-genre author and artist whose work I’ve reviewed several times since first discovering his writing on his wordpress site (see link below).

In 1969 at the age of 17, Tom left his native Glasgow to join the British Army. Tom’s military career spanned from 1969 to 1992. He followed this with a career in Retail Management, in which he was employed from 1992 to 2012.
Tom is a prolific writer and book reviewer and has been writing since 2007. He has published seven novels, five anthologies of short stories, a five-part novel, a five-part series of erotica novellas, and a series of five anthologies of genre-based poetry. In addition to his own writing, Tom Benson has contributed short stories to several other multi-author anthologies both commercially and in aid of various charities.

Youre Not Alone 3d inamge (1) TBpics  PR1


Tom is presently working on a number of other projects including helping manage and promote an international collection of indie authors on the website which he helped create.


Tom’s other websites and contact details:




 Amazon Description

A collection of 12 stories created using a wide spectrum of scenarios. Military experiences can be funny, heart-breaking and, everything in between.
This anthology is a blend of my personal experience and knowledge together with specially created pieces to highlight the highs and lows of service life.
These tales can be enjoyed equally by those who have served and, those who have never donned a uniform.

Humour, fact, fiction, and fantasy are used to portray service in theatres as varied as Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Ancient Briton, the Persian Gulf, Africa, and elsewhere.



A Time for Courage: and other military stories

By Tom Benson

(Available as an eBook from Amazon – click on above title for link)

A Time for Courage - 2Of all the short story collections the author has written this is by far and away my favourite. Tom Benson has drawn on both his imagination and his considerable length of service to craft a poignant collection of short stories across a variety of military theatres. Unusually for a short story collection, not a single story here disappointed or fell even slightly below the high standard of every other.

Throughout this collection, Tom Benson has applied meticulous attention to authentic military detail but not to the point of overkill as to confuse the non-military reader. As anyone who has served will know, the army and other services practically speak another language with all the acronyms, slang and other assorted colourful phrases, but the author’s  clever use of dialogue and context give all the slang and military terminology clear and obvious meaning thus ensuring  the non-military is never left confused or wondering at certain words.

The opening story is a real ‘lump in the throat’ one of courage and self-sacrifice but it is immediately contrasted by the side-splittingly funny satire of the second, one that any military wife (or husband for that matter) will immediately identify with but its razor-sharp humour it cannot help but appeal to all. In the third, the author takes a somewhat personal trip down memory lane in a way that we can all relate to from some time in our lives when we were determined to prove our doubters wrong. Others in the collection highlight much of the military ethos of courage and protecting the weak and vulnerable but still providing the reader with a captivating story, and in the case of Photographic Memory, a real ‘punch the air feel good factor. In The Odd Couple we get a glimpse into some of the more covert activities of ‘The Toubles,’ bringing back painful memories for some of real events that mirror some aspects of the story. Another thing I liked about this collection was its sheer variety; from modern-day Afghanistan and  Northern Ireland right back to the 2nd Century, from Jungle warfare to covert missions in the desert, from the sadness of a family torn apart from being on opposite sites to the sort of comradeship that transcends family that can only be formed with those you would die for and they for you. One story that is particularly pertinent to modern times is that of Walking Wounded; with today’s modern medicine and better field facilities, many more servicemen and women are surviving the sort of injuries only a few decades ago would have spelt certain death. The downside to this, of course, is that we have a whole generation of soldiers returning from conflicts having to face and cope with life-changing disabilities, and it is easy to understand the increased cases of PTSD in many such people. In the Walking Wounded we see the beginnings of one such man’s journey in finding a reason to look to the future with some hope, and with an unusually heart-warming twist too.

In ‘The Afterlife’ the author once again uses mostly his personal experience to round off the collection, giving the reader some brief comparisons of his life since leaving the army with that of a younger man who has never served and through it we see just why so many ex-servicemen refer to themselves as such rather than simply accepting their post-service ‘civilian’ status.

Overall, a thoroughly entertaining collection that will not only entertain but give the non-military reader some rare insights into military service. For others, again it will entertain but also bring back memories, some good, others not so maybe, but if nothing else, for me personally they remind me how very much I have to be thankful for still being in a position to read such stories when so many others are not.


For further links to Tom’s many other books please visit his Amazon author page by clicking on the link below:

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Tom Benson Amazon author page TomB1 


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Children’s Book Review – Pablo the Storytelling Bear

Pablo the Storytelling Bear

By Penny Luker

(Available as an eBook from Amazon and in paperback from Lulu)

14 December 2017 … Verified Purchase

pennyLuker2Having already read a couple of Penny Luker’s previous books it was no surprise to find this latest offering too had its own touch of friendly magic about it. When a little boy gets a different birthday present from the one he wanted his disappointment is short-lived when he discovers that his present is a magical storytelling talking teddy bear. The book is divided into seven bite-sized chapters which although flowing quite seamlessly from one to the next, each tells a different story thus making them perfect for the classic five minute bedtime story for younger children, saving the next one for another night, though slightly older children, say seven up to ten or eleven might well want to read them all in one go. Running through the stories there are little snippets of advice for children relating to being kind and thinking of others that I suspect are more likely to be taken on-board coming from a talking teddy bear than if they came from an adult. There’s also a gentle exploration of wider issues that slightly older children may pick up on and ask questions about such as a subtle reference to climate change and how it’s affecting the polar bears.

If I had but one minor criticism it’s that with a children’s book I would have preferred a physical copy available on Amazon rather than the Kindle edition, especially when it’s for a child under seven but apart from that this was a lovely book to read with my grandson and I’m pleased to say most of the author’s other children’s books are indeed available in print formats. Since reviewing this book I have learned a print format is available from Lulu and that the author hopes to make it available in the same print format on Amazon in the near future.

Overall I would say Penny Luker has set just the right tone in style and vocabulary for a younger readership in producing a book that entertains them in a safe and gentle manner while at the same time adding just enough detail and subtle wider references that will intrigue children who are ready to start reading independently and old enough to pick up those subtleties that pre-school little ones will happily be oblivious to. Highly recommended!


About the Author

pennyLuker7Penny Luker used to spend her time working as a teacher and Head Teacher and then as an Associate Lecturer with the Open University. She now spends her time writing stories and poems. She has been writing for the last few years and loves reading and writing poetry and also enjoy playing the piano and ukulele and painting in watercolour.

Penny also works as a volunteer for the e-zine All Things Girl as a contributor and was the Writings’ Editor for five years but now wants to concentrate on her own writing for a while. ATG is a showcase for women’s writing and has four themes a year. Check it out:

She is currently in the middle of writing two novels. One is a fantasy novel, the sequel to The Truth Finder and the other is a whodunnit, and has for awhile been collecting new stories for a fourth book of short stories, but is debating whether to change this to a book of ghost stories.

Penny is also a keen member of the Winsford Writers, a local writing group. They welcome new members so, in Penny’s own words, ‘if you live in the area do get in touch. It’s challenging and great fun.’

Penny Luker is also a regular and valued contributor to the IASD fb group and its associated web/blog site at www.indieauthorsupportanddiscussion


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Some other books by Penny Luker:

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……………………..Children’s Books…………………………………...Short Stories


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…………………………………………………….Poetry Collections.


Children’s Book Review – Meet the Rainbow Monsters


Amazon blurb: On a mixed up rainy, sunny day, The rainbow monsters love to play. Jump on a cloud and join the rainbow monsters in their fun and games. Come and meet each of the monsters and learn the colours of the rainbow.

Meet the RainboMonsters   

By Sylva Fae


timberwolfamazonA super charming book that parents and grandparents will enjoy reading time and time again with their little ones … 14 December 2017

Format: Paperback Edition|Verified Purchase

sylva4I read this book with my six-year-old grandson. He loved that SylvaHthe rainbow monsters were called different colours and that the descriptions of them all rhymed, and they gave me lots of scope to have him chuckling at all the different granddad voices I put on with each new monster. On every page there are bright colourful illustrations which strike just the right balance between professionalism and the way a young child might draw themselves. As an extra treat and surprise, there’s lots more fun to be had with some super educational games and puzzles at the end.

Overall a delightfully charming book that parents and grandparents will enjoy reading over and over again with their own ‘little monsters, ideal for young children between say three or four up to about six or seven. Well worth the money, but the smiles and laughs it will bring your little ones is beyond price.

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About the Author                 

                                                                                                                                                              sylva1Sylva Fae is a married mum of three from Lancashire, England. She grew up in a rambling old farmhouse bordering onto the moors, with a slightly dysfunctional family and an adopted bunch of equally dysfunctional animals.

As a qualified lecturer and verifier, she has spent twenty years teaching literacy and numeracy to adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. Sylva owns a wood where she and her husband run survival courses and woodland craft days.

She escapes to the woods at every possible opportunity to enjoy the peace and fresh air. Her husband busies himself making fire and chopping logs while she takes the girls off on adventures in their own enchanted woodland, hunting for fairies and stomping in muddy puddles.

Youre Not Alone 3d inamge (1)Adventures in the woods inspired her to write stories to entertain her three girls. Now she hopes to publish some of these stories. Sylva writes a blog, Sylvanian Ramblings and has a short story published in the IASD anthology in aid of MacMillan Cancer ‘You’re Not Alone: An Indie Author Anthology.’ She has several rhyming stories aimed at four to six year olds, ready for illustration, is in the process of writing three books for early readers and a woodland activities book for parents. I’m also proud to say Sylva Fae is a member and Admin of the IASD Indie Author IASDpicSupport and Discussion fb group and its associated blog/website at:


When not writing or chasing three muddy girls through the woods, Sylva likes to geek out on cryptology puzzles and ciphers. She has won the US Navy cryptology challenge two years running.


(Twitter) @SylvaFae

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