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Ryan Bracha (Yorkshire)

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dEaDINBURGH: Alliances: Volume 2 (Din Eidyn Corpus )
dEaDINBURGH: Alliances: Volume 2 (Din Eidyn Corpus )
by Mark Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Strong Return, 1 Mar. 2015
A very strong return to the quarantined city in Mark Wilson's inspired dEaDINBURGH series. After the shock twists in the first book, Wilson takes his familiar characters and throws a major concern for them to deal with, to come together, and to try to beat. I'll avoid more plot based comments, because it's the second book, and I wouldn't want to give anything at all away.

The major victory for the author in this book, for me, is that Wilson manages to avoid a potential banana skin, and takes the story away from the plagued wandering Zoms. Lesser writers would keep the focus on the battle with the zombies, re-treading old ground, and giving us re-hashed repeats of what happened in the first book, but not Wilson. He might look like somebody drew basic facial features on a potato with a biro, but what goes on inside that potato head is always gold. He builds on what the characters know, and he allows them to grow and mature before our eyes. Joey and Alys are no longer the naive warriors taking their fight to the plague, instead they are allowed to take control of their own destinies, and those of not just the people they love, but those of every living breathing person in the city. He has a huge capacity for painting good people. His protagonists aren't flawed or sneaky in any way, they are just good people, and it gives you a really happy feeling when they succeed, or a shocker of a feeling in your gut if they fail. I enjoyed the first book immensely, despite the genre, which was down to Wilson's skill with the written word. The second book, though, now he's inside their heads, comes across as far more confident affair. The plot strands weave through it incredibly well, and he has it held together tighter than a fat goth's corset.

Look. Mark Wilson's not one of my favourite writers for no reason. He's one of my favourite writers because he's very very good at what he does. His passion for writing courses through the veins of every word he writes, and this is just another reason why he should be one of your favourite writers too. He's destined for very good things, and I'm going to be following him every step of the way. Highly recommended.


The Search For Ethan
The Search For Ethan
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 31 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't know where Robert Cowan came from. Maybe he just appeared from a wormhole from the future. Maybe he was grown in a petri-dish and only unleashed on society when the scientists were satisfied that he wouldn't do any damage to us little people. Maybe. Probably not. Anyway, wherever he came from, he brought with him a quality book, and I'm glad he did.

It's the tale of young rogues Tommy and Stevie. The former is an intelligent son of God-bothering parents, full to the brim with potential. The latter is a mischievous son of an alcoholic yet fiercely loyal woman named Margo. It's a mystery why the two lads enjoy one another's company so much, but they do, and they find themselves in a few scrapes involving beer, girls, and vomit, much like all young men then. One night, an LSD fueled night turns their worlds upside down, and what happens then is a spiral into darkness for all involved. How they choose to deal with it will ultimately dictate the rest of their lives.

I did really enjoy this. Cowan starts you out with what you think will be a hilarious coming-of-age tale akin to The Inbetweeners, or Superbad (gross-out and toe curlingly funny), but before long he's laid his stall out, and rips the carpet from beneath your feet, leaving you tumbling along with his characters as they struggle to pick up the pieces. The empathy he pumps into his very much three dimensional characters means he leaves you disappointed when bad decisions are made, because you want these boys and girls to come through it unscathed, the dialogue is high end, and the humour is fantastic. You could do a hell of a lot worse than spend your hard earned pennies on this little gem. Very highly recommended.


Russian Roulette: The Konstantin Files
Russian Roulette: The Konstantin Files
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars He does it again.., 31 Dec. 2014
Keith Nixon does it again.

Having read and reviewed the individually available stories in this collection, I was more than happy to pick this bunch up, re-read, and then add to my growing admiration for his flawed protagonist Konstantin.

Keith Nixon has a unique writing style, one which doesn't just apply to his approach to writing a word or a sentence, he extends it to the whole story, and it works a dream for him. Each word, each sentence, each story is a carefully constructed punch to the face. Thundering along at a terrific pace. Clipped sentences tell you what you need to know and then move on, no time for fluff. You aren't fast enough to catch up? Tough. This collection is the perfect foil for his style, and the Konstantin creation is the perfect foil for the collection. Seriously, it's very entertaining stuff. Get it got, or I'll send Konstantin round to knock you out.

Highly recommended.


The Eagle's Shadow (Caradoc Book 1)
The Eagle's Shadow (Caradoc Book 1)
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely well written..., 31 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't read historical fiction, let me make that clear from the off. It's like museums, for me. I know all that old business exists, I'm not interested in knowing any more than that. I do read Keith Nixon, however. I find the minimalist writing style of his crime books fascinating and extremely skillful. So when I was presented with the knowledge that he'd ventured out of what I was used to, I was intrigued to say the least, and more than a little impressed with the result.

It's a very well researched and delivered delve into an unrecognisable Britain, filled to the brim with peasants and lords, savages and druids, all battling for prominence in a country threatened by an impending attack by a Roman leader with something to prove. For me, as a virgin to the genre, I found it to be extremely well written, with all the back stabbing, ladder climbing (I don't recall anybody climbing any actual ladders, I'm talking about the ladder of power) and violence that you could ask for. Highly recommended.


Amsterdam Rampant
Amsterdam Rampant
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Confident and entertaining, 31 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Amsterdam Rampant (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this a lot.

It's the tale of Scottish emmigrant, Fin. A complex, lonely divorcee, running from his past in his relocated job as marketing guy for Cloudburn Whisk(e)y in Amsterdam. Ordinarily he spends his days and nights either at work or the low key Scottish bar he's found as a home from home. It's generally a quiet and pain free existence, if a little devoid of real human interaction. This may be changed very quickly, however, as he finds himself suddenly with his job on the line if he can't buck his ideas up. Add to that the fact that his future brother-in-law is headed over for his stag night, along with three menaces from school. Oh, and there's also the case of the mysterious violent pimp that may or may not be looking for him.

So yeah, I enjoyed this a lot. Neil Cocker has woven a sphincter-tight tale of one man's frustration at himself into a raucous, hilariously uncomfortable, and violent backdrop. He spins three different storytelling devices in a highly effective manner, to add the meat of history and context to the bones of the running plot. The low-hanging threat of the mysterious pimp sneaks in every now and then to add a cheeky bit of suspense, and his propensity for quality dialogue is evident throughout.

I powered through this in a few days, and will probably revisit again at some point. Kudos to the author for an extremely confident and entertaining debut. Highly recommended.


What I Did On  My Summer Holidays
What I Did On My Summer Holidays
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unflinching smack in the face..., 26 Nov. 2014
I enjoyed this unnervingly dark and twisted tale of a woman's spiral into a precipice of mental illness. A lot.

Deborah (Debs) is a teacher. Fresh off the back of her first year on the job, she enters the summer holidays filled to the brim with petty neuroses, a mild drink problem, and a lack of connection with the world. She's seeing the holidays as her chance to finally reconnect with Pete, the boyfriend of 8 years who's watched her drift away in her first year as a teacher, emotionally speaking. Unfortunately Pete has other ideas, and upon splitting up with Debs, he ships himself off to his friend Gav's house, and sets in motion a downward trajectory through depression, Obsessive Compulsive behaviour, stalking and violent sex as Debs' mind struggles to cope with what the world is asking of her. It doesn't help either, that an unwanted admirer is malevolently pulling everybody's strings from afar.

So yeah, I enjoyed this a lot. The carefree title, and the blue-sky front cover gave the impression that we might be on for a Shirley Valentine-esque wander through some Greek nightlife with a woman re-discovering her passion for life off the back of a dead relationship. Not here, squire. Nope. No siree Bob. What you're getting her is an unflinching smack in the face from Emma Stevenson.

What I liked most about it were the emotions Stevenson drew from me in the short time I spent with her characters, like a seasoned pro in the body of a debutante. The behaviours her characters displayed ranged all the way from pathetic, through underhand, through sly, all the way to downright nasty and sickening, and I could feel each and every one of them in the pit of my stomach. She paints an impressive picture of the gradual cracks which appear in an already frail mind, without resorting to clichés and treading worn ground, and I found myself wanting to grab a hold of her protagonist, shake her and tell her to get a grip, but then I figure then I fall into the exact same trap as other people who don't know how to deal with the likes of depression in everyday life, so then I start to reason that she's painted this spiral to absolute perfection.

I dropped a star from the rating because, although the execution of the ending is excellent, it felt like it came too soon, and the story promised a few more loose ends tied up, but delivered none. There are a handful of typographical errors, but being such a fan of indie authors, I've got used to it, and prefer my stories just a little less polished than those which have been edited and edited to death. This is a really good book, kudos to the author. Highly recommended.


Lanarkshire Strays: Collected Edition
Lanarkshire Strays: Collected Edition
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man who Conquered Words..., 2 Oct. 2014
Mark Wilson can do no wrong for me. He epitomises everything that's good about the indie scene, from his work rate to his attitude, and more importantly, he improves with every step he takes into his fiction writing career.

From the melodrama of Bobby's Boy, through the fantastical superhero (with political undertones) tale of Naebody's Hero, down into the sleaze of the gutter with a sociopathic drug dealing scumbag in Head Boy, and finally zipping forward 50 years and a couple of generations in the speculative thriller, The Man who Sold his Son. Wilson flings himself fearlessly into new genres like a child into a ball pool, emerging from the sea of concepts to proudly proclaim that he'd conquered each one with energy to spare, and I'd be inclined to agree. That his characters wander nonchalantly into each other's novels for blink or you'll miss it cameos is a master stroke, but don't take my word for it, just pick up this collection and learn for yourself. Whatever price it's at right now, I promise you that you'll not get better value for your money anywhere.


The Man Who Sold His Son (Lanarkshire Strays Book 4)
The Man Who Sold His Son (Lanarkshire Strays Book 4)
Price: £0.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, educated and mind blowingly complex, 25 Jun. 2014
The talented and prolific Mark Wilson is at it again. With the exception of the fantastically dark Head Boy, which was my sociopathic cup of tea from the off, he continues to mess with my preconceptions of the various genres that he chooses to tackle. His release of dEaDINBURGH earlier this year was a YA horrorfest (ordinarily not my cup of tea) that set his concept as simply an imaginative backdrop against which he would expertly paint quality relationships, both fracturing and blossoming. His latest, The Man who Sold his Son, is yet another reason to keep your eye on this awesome talent that continues to bang out top notch multi dimensional literature.

It's 2055, and the world is a very different place to what we know now. A virus rendered the majority of men infertile, and the conception route of choice is via synthetic sperm, created and sold by the titular man, Gavin Ennis. Some people can conceive naturally though, and these offspring are derided and reviled by others as 'Randoms', but they do have their uses. Enter Alex, the grandson of the hero of Wilson's debut novel, Bobby's Boy, whose own son was conceived naturally, and whose wife is addicted to mind altering substances. After a near tragic accident the family grow closer, but the joy is short lived, because Ennis is about to rear his head, and force them to make decisions they'd really rather not.
So yeah, Wilson is to writing mesmerising and emotionally packed relationships what Katie Price is to being a mediawhore. He's very good at it. You feel every ounce of emotion he wrings out of his characters in your very marrow. The return of a handful of protagonists from his earlier work is a master stroke.

Look, just buy and read this book. It is an intelligent, educated and mind blowingly complex technological tale of one man's paternal love and determination vs one man's heart stopping and crass treatment of the same responsibility. Highly recommended.


A Case of Noir (Atlantis)
A Case of Noir (Atlantis)
Price: £4.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Case of awesome..., 28 May 2014
Loved this. Paul Brazill's masterful control of the noir short is displayed in full boozy glory in this collection cum novella. The hack writer Luke Case opens the tale in Warsaw, where, between drinking himself into blackouts, he's somewhat saucily dragged into a ménage a trois with hookers and molls who have very naughty connections. The affair leads to a brutal beating by the very same connections, and he flees across Europe in a series of interconnected shorts, encountering torch singers, Irish criminals, and bulky legionnaires, and leading right back to the very past he's running from.
So yeah, the usual Brazill suspects are all here in their very colourful glory. The pop culture references by the bucket load (the man either has the biggest record collection on the planet, or his Guinness book of music needs replacing. Loved the Manu Chao reference), the boozy and flawed protagonist, the sordid and lazy (in a good way) dialogue, and of course, the descriptive prose that licks your eyeballs before it jabs a manicured nail into them.
When he's done conquering our world with his masterful noir, Paul D Brazill is going to get right back into his time machine and go back where he came from. Lovely stuff. Five stars.


Plastic Fantastic (A Konstantin Novella Book 2)
Plastic Fantastic (A Konstantin Novella Book 2)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another quality piece of work..., 28 May 2014
So Keith Nixon's colossus of a creation, Konstantin Boryakov, continues in the extraordinary story of how he comes to rest in Margate. Here he meets and helps filthy dominatrix with a shady past, Plastic Fantastic. You get all the standard snappy prose, stomping through the violence and witty dialogue that you would come to associate with Nixon's gleefully nasty world, and all the while getting to know Konstantin a little better. The way his story is playing out over the several novellas is akin to pulling a sticking plaster off of a particularly hairy piece of your skin. A softer, more caring writer might rip it off in one go and give you the whole story in one. Nixon, however, is no such author. He's joyfully pulling back the plaster one nasty centimetre at a time, and laughing while he does it. Superb stuff.


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