Simon J. Townley

Blood Read: Publish And Be Dead

Blood Read: Publish And Be Dead
Publisher:
Published: November 18, 2016
Author's Twitter: @simonjtownley
When investigative journalist Tom Capgras finds his literary agent hanging from an oak beam in her West End office, an immaculately tied noose around her neck, his dreams of a non-fiction book deal appear dead in the water. Joanne Leatherby’s death looks like suicide but Capgras suspects murder. Nonsense, say police, who dismiss him as a conspiracy crackpot. Capgras uncovers links to a string of untimely deaths – editors, publishers, reviewers, even book bloggers, killed for an unkind word. All the evidence points to one man – a mid-list author of detective tales with a career on the skids. Cast adrift by agents and publishers alike, his dreams thwarted, Arthur Middleton has gone to the dark side and embraced self-publishing. He may be crazed with ambition, but how mad would a man have to be to kill for publicity, for book sales? Mad enough to admit everything on the pages of his latest blockbuster? As the body count mounts, and the police refuse to take him seriously, Capgras must act alone, defy his critics and get to the truth fast – before the killer gets to him.

Awesome Indies Assessment

November 18, 2016

5 Stars

Great book, beautifully written and a perfect read for anyone in the publishing industry. It’s written with a light touch while having a deadly serious plot. The story revolves around murders in the publishing industry and a reporter trying to catch the murderer without the kind of support a detective or PI would have. Highly recommended for authors, publishers and anyone who likes a good mystery. 5 stars!

 

 

The Dry Lands

The Dry Lands
3,000 years BCE, in Africa’s Rift Valley: isolated by a changing climate, hemmed in by arid wasteland, a prehistoric tribe fights for survival. A prehistoric tribe fights for survival Isolated by a changing climate, hemmed in by arid wasteland, a band of prehistoric humans faces extinction. There are too many mouths to feed – the tribes have grown too large, they’ve hunted too fiercely and the animals are gone. The waterholes are dry, the rains don’t come. Their world has changed, and they need a way out. As the young men of the Koriba go in search of a new home, Temfe, the chief’s son, must learn to lead his clansmen before they betray him. To survive in a harsh world, surrounded by enemies he must gather new allies, discover new weapons and learn new ways of seeing the world. In the African rift valley, 43,000 years BCE, a spark of consciousness flares into life. The dawn of human culture, the fire that will reshape the world.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

At the dawn of human culture, 43,000 years before the birth of Christ, the Kariba live in a region of East Africa that was once teeming with game, lush forests, and water, that is now an arid wasteland. Temfe, the 17-year-old son of Beru, chief of the Kariba, is a cripple, his foot mangled by the buffalo that killed his brother. Betrothed to Yamba, he must contend with Kofu, the tribe’s chief hunter and warrior, who not only wants to be chief, but wants Yamba.

The Dry Lands by Simon J. Townley is the story of Temfe’s effort to find new lands for his tribe. He must find a place for them to go or watch his people die. His only ally is his friend Ngoh, a young man of the same age. When Beru sends the hunters out to find new lands, he places Temfe in command, but along with having to cope with his handicap and the deadly, unfamiliar desert, he has to deal with Kofu’s treachery.

Not since Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear has there been a novel set in prehistoric times that does such a good job of bringing this era to life. Townley’s straight forward prose and rich descriptions of the land, wildlife, and the people put the reader smack in the middle of action that resonates with anyone who loves history. This might seem a contradiction in terms, considering the story is about what we modern people call ‘pre-history,’ but a close reading will reveal parallels with life as we know it today. What the author shows us is that human emotions haven’t evolved all that much in the millennia since man arose in East Africa.

Temfe is the prototype of every modern hero or explorer – the men and women who have struck out into the unknown to expand the range of human understanding. The action is well framed, the dialogue realistic, and the settings colorful. This might be fiction, but it’s a good history lesson as well.

Highly recommended reading for all ages.

Lost In Thought

Lost In Thought
A journey into the perils and pitfalls of the subconscious mind – to save a life, solve a crime and recover an algorithm that could change the world. A secret that could change the world is lost inside Richard Trescerrick’s comatose mind. The only hope is the Brainscape device, an experimental mind-link technology and doorway to the subconscious. To save his life and recover the formula, a team of police and doctors use the Brainscape to enter Richard’s unconscious mind. Along for the ride is estranged son Luke who must risk his life and sanity on a mission to wake his father, unmask a killer and expose a conspiracy that threatens the world. But when the Brainscape device is sabotaged the team is scattered and trapped in the subconscious unable to escape. If they die in here, they die for real and there are dangers everywhere – because in the labyrinth of the Brainscape, enemies lurk behind every memory. Secrets spawn riddles wrapped in metaphor. Stories come alive. And monsters are made flesh.

Reviewed by Tony McFadden,

4 Stars

“Lost in Thought” is a psychological thriller, the bastard child of Inception, The Cell, and a little bit of The Matrix.

Luke Trescerrick is in a bad place. His mother is dead, his father, Richard, is emotionally unreachable and his young son, Daniel, is possibly autistic and definitely in need of professional help. When it can’t possibly get worse, he’s evicted from his crappy little Cornish cottage by his father, who then is a victim of a home invasion, left in a coma.

It’s the coma that is the centrepiece of the novel. The coma, and Brainscape – a device invented by his father to enter the (sub)consciousness of others.

Richard kept a key part of the device secret. His business partner is keen to use Brainscape to go in and try and find the key. Medical professionals are interested in seeing if Brainscape can help lift Richard out of the coma and the police, specifically one eager, ambitious Detective Inspector Yvonne Warren, is very interested in the potential investigative powers of the tool.

They enter Richard’s subconscious and embark on a journey of ego, super-ego, id, metaphors and archetypes, all running around in the fantastic world of Richard’s imagination and memories.

After a bit of a slow start (not so slow that I was tempted to stop reading), the pace quickly picks up once the band of not so merry men and women start traversing the brain. Townley does a good job of creating the main characters – Luke, his father, Cate the psychologist and Dubois, the business partner, are real. The worlds are real. At least as real as imaginary worlds can be, and the premise of summoning metaphors and archetypes move around and solve problems while inside the subconscious is genius. And the ticket out, a brilliant idea.

Townley does a great job with this book. Structurally there is nothing wrong and Luke’s evolution is a very well-defined arc. A strong four stars. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

 

Ball Machine

Ball Machine
Can an android win Wimbledon? Or the soccer World Cup? What about the heart of a beautiful woman? When the beautiful bio-robotics prodigy Rosa Rodriguez joins an elite science project in the Arizona desert there’s only one thing missing from her life: a decent tennis partner. So she persuades the guys to build her an android – Vitas, the robot who plays to win. Whether it’s tennis, football, or making love to beautiful Russian starlets, Vitas is a true ‘ball machine’ – relentless, untiring, and highly skilled. But when Vitas decides to turn pro, the world of tennis will never be quite the same again. A tale of androids, intrigue, tennis champions, criminal conspiracies, the world’s worst football team… and the ultimate, non-binary meaning of life.

Reviewed by 

I loved this book to gushing point—fairly rare for me. Why? In a nutshell, it’s expertly written in a distinct voice, has a delightful central character and a great cast of supporting geeks and sports fanatics, an interesting, well-paced plot and, one of my pet delights, a touch of metaphysical/philosophical insight.

Vitas Rodriguez is an android, thrown together by a brilliant bunch of scientists working in a remote area in their downtime. Rosa, the only girl in the team, wanted a tennis partner, a ball machine, and she offered to strip for the boys if they managed to make her an android that did what she wanted. They succeeded better than they had hoped. No one quite understands how this android, the result of a mishmash of scavenged parts, became self-aware but somewhere along the way, he did. Perhaps it was the philosophy they uploaded to his hard drive and the background programming’s directive to work out the meaning of life.

Vitas is strong, fast, tireless and smart. He knows how to learn. And he loves to win. The book is written from his point of view, and it’s a wonderful one; an endearing mixture of innocence, drive, determination and the confidence that comes from clear programming. I never doubted for a moment that these were the thoughts of an Android, but a very human one. He feels things in his circuits rather than his heart or his veins, and every night he plugs himself into a power socket to recharge. Though he can’t see how it’s possible, he even suspects that what he feels for Natayla might be love.

The story is full of descriptions of tennis and football matches, but the author never lost me (a non-sporty person) in too much detail. Instead, the descriptions drew me into Vitas’s enthusiasm and deftly built to the climax of the game.

During the story, Vitas comes face to face with situations where his programming has conflicting directives and in the end, even the most vital one of all, ‘obey Rosa’, must be questioned. This is without a doubt, a 5 star read. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a really good story.

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways
This superbly written short story anthology showcases talented Awesome Indie authors from around the globe. Though from a variety of genres, the stories are all entertaining, contemporary and thought-provoking.   Indulge your taste for good fiction with this short story anthology by authors with bold new voices. Though from diverse genres, the stories share a contemporary and contemplative feel that will linger long after the reader has read the last one. Awesome Allshorts showcases talented authors from around the globe, many whose novels have received multiple honors, including Awesome Indies approved status. Stories selected by Tahlia Newland, Dixiane Hallaj and Richard Bunning.

Reviewed by Bill Kirton

5 Stars

First, a disclaimer. This volume contains a flash fiction story of mine but the review relates to the other 26 contributions. It’s entirely objective. If it weren’t, I’d be undermining my credibility as a reviewer.

The enigmatic subtitle of the collection, Last Days, Lost Ways, hints at disjunction, reflection, scenes in which a variety of voices recount departures, frustrations, lost or decaying loves. In fact, as you read from story to story, the variation in styles and subjects, the movement from striking characters to bleak or funny situations, the range of emotions provoked – all combine to make this a rich experience.

The authors all know how to grab the reader and draw him/her very quickly into the specifics of their settings and the mysteries of the characters and their obsessions. The mood swings from anxious to loving, sinister to funny, despairing to whimsical, futuristic to domestic, romantic to dystopian. Some stories are firmly set in an apparently mundane everyday world, but one unpicked by a character’s reactions to its pressures and interpretations of its moments. Others move straight into the paranormal or historical. But all touch on aspects of life, fears, relationships which will have echoes in readers’ own experience.

The anthology exemplifies the flexibility and continuing relevance of a form which is nowadays enjoying an overdue revival.

Reviewed by Amy Spahn

5 Stars

Full disclosure: One of my short stories appears in this anthology. This review is about the others.

I did not expect these stories to move me as deeply as they did. Short works often struggle to pack a significant punch in their diminished wordcount, but the pieces contained in this collection rise to the occasion. Some had me on the edge of my seat in suspense. Some brought tears to my eyes with their emotional depth. And some utilized unique writing styles so artfully that they should be studied in literature classes.

Like with any anthology, not everything in this book will appeal to every reader. But the breadth and depth of the writing styles, storylines, and people explored make it deserving of a spot on any avid reader’s shelf.

Reviewed by

Ignite

3 Stars

 

This is a collection of stories subtitled Last Days and Lost Ways. I received an Advanced Review Copy. It is not the final version. I don’t know if the stories will appear in this order but I found I didn’t really get on with most of those in the first half. The second half of the book picked up for me, but if I hadn’t been reading to review, I might easily have lost interest and abandoned it.

The writing was good. It was the definition of ‘story’ which didn’t click with me in some cases. To me, and I suspect, to many readers, a short story is a complete tale. Some of these read as, or maybe even were, excerpts from some longer work and I didn’t like that. I wanted closure.

The stories I liked best were Pearls, Home late, The Creator, Recipe for a Dinner Party, Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin; for the Devil to Show and A Matter of Trust. I enjoyed these stories and the feeling of having savoured a complete experience with them.

Reviewed by

Justin Spahn

5 Stars

As the husband of one of the authors in this anthology, I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. So, here it is!

I’ve read a few short story anthologies, and this one is definitely the most interesting. The collection is richly diverse in terms of subject matter, national origin and setting, narrative tone, length, and literary style. As I read, I found myself jumping from fantasy to vignette to full plots inspired by true events, and the transition somehow is fluid and seamless rather than jarring or distracting. Awesome Indies has managed to build an enjoyable whole out of various and disparate components!

Among my favorites in the lineup were ‘Clearing the Shed’, ‘Quarantine’, ‘I, Zombie’, ‘Chasing Dreams in the Time Left Over’, ‘Traffic’, ‘Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin’ for the Devil to Show’, ‘Home Late’, ‘A Matter of Trust’, ‘Pearls’, and what is likely the stylistic jewel of this collection, ‘Recipe for a Dinner Party’.

This anthology asked me interesting questions, presented me with some of my greatest fears in life, introduced me to new ideas not common in conventionally published shorts, and fed an interest in diverse snippets of literature that I didn’t even know I had.

To sum it up best, I’ll paraphrase one of the author’s descriptions regarding the virtues of the short stories collected in this anthology: The short form gives authors the opportunity to write in ways that couldn’t be sustained for an entire novel.

I recommend reading these shorts–open yourself up to unique experiences from authors all around the world who love writing so much that they publish themselves.

Reviewed by

Sandra Padgett

5 Stars

This collection of wonderful stories covers a variety of themes. From satire to thriller to contemporary life and much more. Each story gets your attention and keeps it from start to finish. They are thought provoking, with characters, dialogue and themes that are believable, but sometimes out in the twilight zone, which is what I like. I will be looking for more works by the various authors and follow them in the future. I received this free from Simon Townley for an honest review. Outstanding! Recommend to any and all.

Reviewed by

Annie Evett

5 Stars

Both emerging and established writers from Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand present a peek into the spectacular moments everyday life holds, but with a twist.

The collection opens with a bang with a story by Tahlia Newland. Intriguing to the last paragraph, I was surprised to find it was an excerpt from her newest project. It sits perfectly as a short story and a wonderful teaser into what looks to be an exciting premise.

Each story has an incredible depth and texture to them, that, although is specific to its own style, melds beautifully as a collection. The human condition is explored where the reader is challenged to reassess their perspectives on stereotypes and events. Post apocalyptic tales sit comfortably with personalised stories like fragmented memories; separate, but with a golden thread holding them together. Heart-wrenching, whimsical, tear-jerking and lighthearted there is a story to suit all moods and readers tastes.

It is difficult to chose a favourite story, with a wrestling loving gran meeting her idol, to emotional trials of marriages breaking apart or forming, futuristic zombies and maids from a gentler time.

Authors are recognised in their own right with multiple honours and prizes and although the anthology is an eclectic mixture of genre, reading one after the other only highlights the complexity and intrigue each story brings.

A great book to stash into someones Christmas stocking for some fireside holiday reading, Awesome Allshorts is set to be a winner in your readers life.