Book Review – The Beached Ones by Colleen M. Story

This book is a bit dark and has things in it which are really very sad including quite a bit about suicide which ought to have a trigger warning especially the book might appeal to teenage readers with its romantic theme and young main characters.

It is a ghost story about Daniel a young man who doesn’t know that he has died in a horrible motorcycle crash but has come back as a ghost and is trying to contact his family especially his little brother. Most people can’t see him but he meets an old girlfriend who can because she is a bit psychic and her new boyfriend who also can for reasons that I won’t give away. A few other people can see him but they are mostly people who are on the verge of suicide and other people who are also dead but don’t know it. The relationship between the main character and his little brother is very beautifully done as they are from an abusive home and have gone through a lot but Daniel always tried to protect him even when he had to leave home to become a motorcycle stunt rider which is a dangerous job but one he loved and the only way he could escape. The story is complicated and when you get to the end you can see that it’s also very clever. It begins and ends with whales which is what the title refers to and it is a beautiful book with a beautiful ending which made me cry but in a good way.

The Blurb

He came back, determined to keep his promise.

Daniel and his younger brother grew up in an abusive home. Daniel escaped. Now an established stunt rider, he intends to go back to rescue his brother. But then one jump goes horribly wrong . . .

He recovers to find himself in Iowa, unscathed, yet his life has drastically changed. His best friend won’t answer his calls. Even his girlfriend is hiding something. Increasingly terrified, he clings to the one thing he knows: He must pick up his brother in San Francisco. In five days.

From the isolating fields of Iowa to the crowded streets of San Francisco, Daniel must fight his way through a fog of disjointed memories and supernatural encounters to face the truth and pay a debt he didn’t know he owed.

Book Review – The Portable Nine by Pete Mesling

I’m once again excited to post a review for Blackthorn Book Tours!

This is a book about paid assassins seven men and a woman who have formed an organization to do assassinations for corporations and governments but they only assassinate bad people like terrorists and rapists. The boss assassin Davenport calls them together telling them that this time they are working for themselves to steal $22million from a businessman and then they can retire but actually his plan is to capture and assassinate a criminal mastermind the Black Phantom who has murdered one of Davenports relatives. Davenport does not know it but two of his team are secretly working for the Black Phantom as well.

The characters are all different and interesting but the ways that they kill people are unnecessarily unpleasant so although they could all just shoot people in a normal way like Davenport does others in the team do it in other ways like sticking enormous pins in them or cutting them up with a hatchet which makes me think that actually they are just serial killers and psychopaths who have decided to work as assassins because they like being paid for that. Also one of them has had his brain altered with surgery to cut out his ability to feel fear and make him a better assassin and one of them is blind but has visions which tell him where he is. It is an exciting book which does make you want to read on and even though some of the ideas in it are a bit disturbing underneath all the bad things they do they have their own morality which they mostly stick to. It was a good book.

The Blurb

Meet Davenport, also known as the Mad Marksman of Malta. He is a hunter. Not of game or fowl, but of men. What he hunts he finds, and what he finds he exterminates—until his trusty revolver fails him at a crucial moment in Italy, that is, leaving a job unfinished and his resolve shaken. Mistakenly thinking the blow has been struck, a criminal mastermind known as the Black Phantom performs a cruel act of retaliation. The once and would-be assassin has no choice but to reunite with a storied band of skilled mercenaries in an effort to exact revenge.

Davenport. Abel Hazard. Miranda Gissing. Dr. Joseph Intaglio. Mr. Bonnet. Twitch Markham. The Butcher. Lovinia Dulcet. Robin Varnesse. These are the Portable Nine. They operate outside the law, but they are not without a code of ethics. Outcasts all, they are heroes to the underdog and enemies of the ruthless. Intelligent and fearless, they will stop at nothing to see that their brand of justice is meted out.

Hag of the Hills (The Bronze Sword Cycles 1)

My Review

This novel is set in the celtic time and so I was expecting it to be a bit like the Juliet Marillier books which I really like but it wasn’t at all like that. For a start it is all about men and almost no women and the plot is all about one man who wants to be a famous warrior and does a deal with a magical “hag” who says she will make this happen but afterwards everything goes wrong for him and his tribe get massacred and he is sold into slavery. He is also supposed to be looking after a woman he inherits a bit the way you might inherit someone’s dog but he doesn’t do very well at that either because she’s also sold into slavery. I thought when she came into the story that this was going to be a romance but really it isn’t even though late in the book it does seem like they will get married but marriage doesn’t mean much in those days and there’s nothing very romantic there. Brennus the main character does become a famous warrior in the end but only after a huge amount of very graphic fighting. This is a book that will appeal more to men than women I think and to people who like ancient history more than to people who like fantasy. I’m giving this one Three Stars.

The Blurb

Brennus is destined from birth to become a warrior, despite his farmer’s life. But when the Hillmen kill his family and annihilate his clan, he now has the opportunity to avenge those who he loved.

Brennus must survive endless hordes of invading Hillmen and magic-wielding sidhe, aided by only a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword.

Failure means his family and clan go unavenged. Victory will bring glory to Brennus and his ancestors.

Hag of the Hills is a historical fantasy novel set in 200 B.C. on the Isle of Skye, steeped in Celtic mythology and culture.

Book Review – Scarred by Damien Linnane

I was excited to step into Blackthorn Book Tours latest tour!

Scarred – The Blurb

There were five now. The mugger, the sex offender, the wife-beater, the drug-dealer. And of course, Peter. Jason hadn’t needed a gun to kill Peter.

Jason Ennis doesn’t understand why the world is such a confusing place. Why it’s so difficult to read between the lines, so hard to understand what people want, such a struggle to fit in. Not that he isn’t trying as he works a dead-end job and chips away at a degree that’s going nowhere.

But good things come to those who wait. Sometimes, when he least expects it, he gets a chance to make a real difference. To make the world a better place. By removing someone else from it. Someone who doesn’t fit in with his standards of behaviour, someone who reminds him of how they scarred him as a child.

My Review

Serial killers always bother me a bit in novels. I prefer a novel where one person gets killed and you’ve got to figure out who did it. Or you know who the murderer is going to be and the question is whether the police can stop him before he does it. But with serial killer books you just go on and on one after the other and it gets a bit wearing till you’re banging your head on the wall telling the cops to hurry up and get a move on because really you’ve had enough of blood and gore and you’re looking at the page numbers wishing it was a novella not 460 pages… That is how I felt for the first 50 pages anyway but after that this novel got under my skin and I started to see things through the eyes of the characters and then I was rivetted and couldn’t stop reading. It’s gritty it’s noir it’s urban it’s got tremendous pace but also makes you think. There are a lot of changes of POV so it keeps you on your toes. And it really gets tight and edge of your seat because you can see that all the characters are driven by their own history which can’t be changed so none of them change the way they are so it all has a bit of inevitability. One of the serial killers is quite sympathetic if you ignore the brutal way he kills people! You care about him more than you care about the victims which is a bit of a problem I suppose but it’s all cleverly done the way the author pulls you inside this character’s head. By the final scenes I was rocking on my seat glued to the kindle wondering which of the characters were going to end up dead. Clearly they weren’t all going to make it out alive and it began to dawn on me that maybe none of them would. No spoilers. It’s a great read.

**** 4 Stars

About David Linnane

David Linnane is a former Australian soldier and also a former prisoner. In November 2015 he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for a series of crimes that the sentencing magistrate described as “vigilante action”.  He decided to make the most of the time inside, viewing it as a once in a lifetime opportunity rather than a punishment. He spent the first five months writing the first draft of his debut psychological thriller novel Scarred.

Book review: Stumbling Stoned by A. van Wyck

About Stumbling Stoned

State-sponsored drugs in the megaton range. More rice pudding than I could shake a spork at. And a little padded terrarium of my very own.

If you’d told me yesterday that, come morning, I’d be hunted by the police, the mob, the supernatural (and a cat), I’d have laughed in your face. Granted, I’d have laughed in your face regardless (Clozapine gives me the giggles). Then I’d have gone looking for your flying DeLorean in the nuthouse parking lot.

An epic misadventure involving drugs, sorcery, cannibalism, love and other necessary evils.


I’ve seen lots of reviews of this book that go on about the hero being a psychiatric patient and some that try to make out that it is some kind of description of the mind of a mentally ill person. But lazily setting a book in a psychiatric hospital does not make it is a book about mental illness. As the title suggests the ‘madness’ of this character is about drug abuse not about mental illness and that makes me irritated. Everywhere I go I see people misusing words like crazy and insane and mad when they are not talking about the difficult world of mental illness they are just talking about people behaving in a rather adolescent out of control way which is the general flavor of this book. The humor is violent and gross-out. The author keeps tipping more and more random mismatched things into the mix as if worried that his audience will pass out if he doesn’t keep up the shouting and the flashing lights and the shocking images and the changes of scene. This is a book that may appeal to some students and college dropouts I guess. It won’t appeal to anyone who knows about mental illness or how much damage drugs can do.

3 Stars

André van Wyck is a South African-born writer and law school graduate. Despite the hardships of earning coffee money, and in between yelling at Duolingo, he perseveres at his passion: writing.

“When I started The Waking Worlds series, it was as an exercise in exorcism – a way to rid myself of this ‘writing nonsense’ and get back to my nine-to-five… It did not work out so well.”

His debut novel, A Clatter of Chains, published on Amazon’s Kindle Store in 2016. The supposed palate cleanser (before starting the second installment) turned into a book in its own right and delayed publication of A Fray of Furies considerably. Stumbling Stoned was published in 2018 and advanced to the semi-finals of the vaunted Booklife Prize.

André lives in Luxembourg, with his Industrial Psychologist wife and imaginary pet rock.

My thanks to Blackthorn Book Tours.

Blackthorn Book Tours review Central City by Indy Perro

Book Blurb

Kane Kulpa learned which laws could be bent and which broken after a short stint in prison courtesy of Detective Vincent Bayonne. Bound by time, integrity, and the reality of life in Central City, Bayonne and Kane made peace with the past. Now, gang tension spirals from corrupt to deadly, and a series of murders stresses Kane and Bayonne’s uneasy alliance. Kane balances on a razor’s edge to protect his bar, power, life, and family, and Bayonne hustles to keep another lonely man from being strangled.

Central City is a city struggling for identity. The cops protect the rackets, and the criminals shelter the injured. Innocence is only an appearance, and rage finds a voice.

I like crime novels and this is a good one.  There’s a serial killer leaving bodies in brothels all posed in the same odd position and a detective who’s trying to identify the killer before anyone else gets killed.  As is traditional in such novels some of the suspects turn into victims and others are red herrings and the real killer is the last person you’d expect. 

I found the setting interesting but the era was a bit of a mistake I think.  It’s is a detective novel in the Chandler tradition, but while Chandler’s novels are proper period pieces this one is neither old-time enough to be exotic nor present-time enough for the date not to matter. It’s set in the early 90s – no-ones got a cellphone and people use “pagers” and are always looking for telephones and I found this a bit irritating and didn’t add anything.  The story could have been set in the present because everything that happens could still happen now.  You don’t have to write about the last century to have corruption and drugs and prostitution and gangs competing over bits of cities.  I got the impression that the author wanted readers to mind about the corruption and abuse and exploitation but I think readers would mind more if they felt that it was about the present day. 

It’s a good plot and it’s got some good twists. The author is interested in psychology and this shows in the characters who really are what makes the plot happen so you really believe in them and most of them you can identify with.  You certainly get carried along as you read it and it’s not a book that you’re going to start and not read to the end.  Personally I started in the morning and read all the way till bedtime and it felt like a day well spent.  The reveal at the end is terrific.  I hadn’t guessed it – the killer actually WAS the last person I expected.  Good book. Worth the read.

5 Stars

Here’s Indy Perro

Indy Perro is a novelist, an independent thinker, and a recovering academic. Indy has a degree in history, graduate degrees in religious studies, comparative literature, and education, and has spent more than a decade teaching philosophy, religious studies, writing, and literature. While continuing numerous side projects and building a career as an author, Indy launched his website,, to reach a larger audience, an audience interested in the practice of writing. “We’re all in this together. Let’s connect, have a conversation, and engage each other to generate meaning.”

Amazon Link:

Blackthorn Book Tours Book Review Of Myth and Shadow by Matthew S. Cox

Purchase Link:

Book Blurb

Aegaan is a vast and righteous kingdom, yet darkness gathers in the distant corners of the realm. Elven raids on small towns have inflamed racial tensions with humans, pushing distrust to hatred and the brink of war.

Anrael wanders the woods alone until a chance meeting tempts him to set aside his contempt for those who scorn his half-elven blood.

When Kylie, a naive elf terrified of humans, is thrust among them against her will, she begins to question her mother’s tales of dread.

Having lost everything dear to him, the bandit king Jhelan lives only to seek challenge in battle… until he finds himself willing to die protecting that which he hates the most.

The diabolical mystique of the dark elves cloaks L’an Thal’Sara in protection, but the cruelest lie she tells is to herself.

Thaelwyn, a virtuous knight, sets out to discover the source of the Elves’ aggression, but faces a much greater test within his mind.

Beneath the chaos, minions of the Destroyer search for their promised leader, a child possessing power beyond their years. If the innocent falls to darkness, a kingdom rife with hatred will surely crumble.

My Review

When I was younger I used to read a lot of fantasy and this massive epic quest really piqued my interest because I’ve read a few of Matthew Cox’s post apocalyptic books and really liked them.

This is a book for adults and a really complex story which uses many different points of view as it gradually introduces a massive dramatis personae of apparently unrelated characters who all in their different ways have a part to play in the weaving of this story of light against darkness and who come together in its final conclusion. The characters were so well developed that they kept the story together however complicated it got and individually I found them really interesting. I particularly liked Serelin a feisty little girl and dark elf L’an Thal’Sara an assassin.

I don’t know why but fantasy books always seem to be set in some version of mediaeval Europe with Knights and Barons and creatures out of European mythology like wizards and dragons and elves. In this book as typically the names of characters make you think that it’s probably set in one of the celtic countries of Europe like Wales or Cornwall or Brittany. I find this a bit annoying because it’s supposed to be fantasy and not based on any particular country or historical period and I don’t see why authors couldn’t have the originality to create a completely new sort of fantasy world that could happen in America. This author did this with Prophet of the Badlands and I would have liked this book even more if he’d done it again with Aegaan.

All the same this was a good book and I enjoyed it.

4 Stars

Author Bio

Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.

His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, developer of two custom tabletop RPG systems, and a fan of anime, British humour, and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of humanity, reality, life, and what might happen after it.

He is also fond of cats, presently living with two: Loki and Dorian.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @Mscox_Fiction /






Author Website:

Blackthorn Book Tours Slow Down by Lee Matthew Goldberg

How far would you go to make your dreams come true? For budding writer and filmmaker Noah Spaeth, being a Production Assistant in director Dominick Bambach’s new avant-garde film isn’t enough. Neither is watching Dominick have an affair with the lead actress, the gorgeous but troubled Nevie Wyeth. For Noah’s dream is to get both the film and Nevie in the end, whatever the cost. And this obsession may soon become a reality once Dominick’s spurned wife Isadora reveals her femme fatale nature with a seductive plot to get rid of her husband for good. Slow Down, a cross between the noir styling of James M. Cain and the dark satire of Bret Easton Ellis, is a thrilling page-turner that holds a mirror up to a media-saturated society that is constantly searching for the fastest way to get ahead, regardless of consequences.

My Review

I wasn’t too sure about this one when I first started reading but I was sucked in by the Talking Heads quote in the front end matter not that it is my favorite quote from my favorite Talking Heads album it must be said. I’m a big fan of True Stories the film and the soundtrack and the record. But it also must be said that the song “This Must Be the Place” does relate to the story of Slow Down and David Byrne is a New Yorker and he represents the kind of New York presented in the novel as anyone who is a fan of the former ‘Heads front man would know.

Goldberg makes his readers wait a long time for the thrilling side of his thriller as he lays out the setting of clubs and parties and presents his cast of messed-up characters filled with drugs and aspirations to become movie stars and directors wanting to hit the big time. Slow Down is narrated as a memoir looking back on the previous few years by twenty-something rich kid Noah. A tight knot of players interweave as the plot unfolds in one long breathless descent into craziness and betrayal and deception. Goldberg writes well and it might be said too well in places as I could smell the putrescent odours and taste the absinthe.

I’ve always considered the spoiled brat elite to be tremendously annoying as characters and hardly worth the author’s time of day. Goldberg has changed my mind about that. The ending of this novel comes with a backwards slap as Noah is forced to reassess everything he believed was and wasn’t true.

Slow Down is most definitely a thriller to look out for.

About Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.

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The Falconer’s Apprentice by Malve von Hassell

”That bird should be destroyed!”

Andreas stared at Ethelbert in shock. Blood from an angry-looking gash on the young lord’s cheek dripped onto his embroidered tunic. Andreas clutched the handles of the basket containing the young peregrine. Perhaps this was a dream—

Andreas, an apprentice falconer at Castle Kragenberg, cannot bear the thought of killing the young female falcon and smuggles her out of the castle. Soon he realizes that his own time there has come to an end, and he stows away, with the bird, in the cart of an itinerant trader, Richard of Brugge. So begins a series of adventures that lead him from an obscure castle in northern Germany to the farthest reaches of Frederick von Hohenstaufen’s Holy Roman Empire, following a path dictated by the wily trader’s mysterious mission.

Andreas continues to improve his falconry skills, but he also learns to pay attention to what is happening around him as he travels through areas fraught with political unrest. Eventually, Richard confides in Andreas, and they conspire to free Enzio, the eldest of the emperor’s illegitimate sons, from imprisonment in Bologna.

The Falconer’s Apprentice is a story of adventure and intrigue set in the intense social and political unrest of the Holy Roman Empire in the thirteenth century.

My Review

This is billed as a young adult book but do not buy it for any young adults you may happen to know as they won’t appreciate it for another couple of decades until they’ve got all rid of all that boring adolescent stuff that I won’t go into. They will probably enjoy it after that so buy it for yourself in the mean time and perhaps you could leave it to them in your will.

It’s a slow and life enhancing trip through mediaeval Europe.  It might be seen as a coming of age novel but really it’s a growing-into-birds-of-prey novel which is very much more interesting.  After all most people come of age so that’s not exactly unexplored territory whereas I didn’t know anything about keeping peregrines before.  The author is some kind of historian, so it also contains a lot of perfectly researched historical detail and the action cuts across some real live (well anyway none of the people seemed dead to me) historical events.  You will probably like this authenticity as I did but I think it would arouse the suspicions of any self-respecting young adult who would probably think you were surreptitiously trying to improve their school grades. 

It’s absolutely beautifully written.  A short read and never heavy.  The kind of book you could read on a really bad day and it would turn into a day you remembered with pleasure.

Poplar Hill by Stephen Ramey Glines

She was cold, she was alone, and she knew she was going to die.

In the middle of an epic ice storm, Kitty Stevenson, an eccentric old woman, self-exiled to rural Canada from New York society, realizes that she is having a heart attack. She had survived Nazi Germany – she can survive this too. Her neighbors mount a heroic effort to save her. She lives to tell her tale of self-reliance, incredible wealth, poverty, and escape on the eve of a World War. Kitty is ultimately confronted by what she perceives as a personal moral failure.

A strong character, Kitty Stevenson is molded by the Depression and toughened by an intense encounter with Nazi Germany. In the end, she has only one story left to tell: a tale of murder. But, “It was war, damn it, it was war.”

My Review

“For heaven’s sake Sweetie this is a book about an old lady dying in Canada”.  I cannot say I was impressed by this choice of a birthday present from an old school friend.  I don’t do old ladies or dying and I certainly don’t do Canada.  (Such a virtuous country and so boring – it’s worse than Switzerland which at least has those shady bankers. What has Canada got? Leonard Cohen’s throaty angst?)

Actually though it’s a wonderful book.  Kitty Stevenson isn’t Canadian at all she’s a New York society girl who lived in Germany just before and during World War II. As a heart attack builds during a long ice storm in remote rural Canada (where even this won’t summon an ambulance in bad weather) there are secrets she wants to tell.  And what a story!  As a sharp delicious counterpoint to the lives of her caring down-home neighbours who doubtless wear dungarees and eat whatever the Canadian version of hominy grits is Kitty slowly unpicks her memories  of her life in Berlin as the war-clouds gathered.  She’s not some right-on political activist who sees at once that what was happening is wrong and she has no wish to give up the sparkly life she’s living under the Third Reich but she’s feisty and independent and gradually the truth dawns and she has choices to make.  Is she ashamed of her choice or is she proud?

The book has a hypnotic quality in the end – all of it a moment between life and death and dreaming and waking as two very different worlds collide with each other. For Kitty caught in the middle as time collapses at the end of her life both are equally real.  Actually I admit they were for me too.  In the end I even enjoyed the Canadians who turned out to be complicated and smart and funny as well as predictably generous.  And Kitty is a character who takes you quietly like someone gently taking hold of your hair.  You don’t feel at first but when you try to get away…  She’s a tough cookie.