Metaphysical & Visionary

Feast of Mercy

Feast of Mercy
Publisher:
Published: November 7, 2016
Author's Twitter: @KathrynMHearst
Nick never wanted to live forever, and he certainly didn’t want to join the Order of the Sinistra Dei. Unfortunately, before he’s able to get used to the idea of immortality, the High Judge from the Vatican arrives in New Orleans to investigate the strange events of Fat Tuesday. If Nick doesn’t play his cards right, his forever could be a whole lot shorter. Marin, a relatively new immortal, hasn’t had time to settle into the idea of living forever, and she doubts she ever will. When she’s forced to assist the High Judge in his investigation, she’ll do what she has to do to protect her clutch. However, her efforts bring her closer to facing the executioner’s blade. As their world spins out of control, Marin and Nick struggle to reconcile past hurts and hold onto their budding relationship. With new enemies, new abilities, and new desires threaten to tear them apart. It isn’t long before they realize … Loving someone means you want the best for them...but what happens when what’s best isn’t you? Feast of Mercy is the third book in the Sinistra Dei series. If you like mysterious supernatural creatures, conflict-ridden romance, and a lot of heat, then you’ll love this Urban Fantasy series.

Approved 

5 Stars

If you’re a fan of serial vampire fiction and are looking for a fresh voice that not only captures, but also amplifies the allure and mystique of the classics of the genre – look no further than the Sinistra Dei series by Kathryn M. Hearst!

The second novel in the series, Feast of Mercy continues the story of Gia and her would-be suitors on their holy quest, and delivers the same level of charismatic dialogue and meticulously detailed world-building as the first entry, Feast of The Epiphany. For fans of the first novel, you will find yourself again wracked with both empathy and schadenfreude as our characters fall into and out of love with each other during their adventure. While unfamiliar readers will likely want to start with the first book in the series, this entry has more than enough action, romance and witty dialogue to engage newcomers.

If Feast of The Epiphany was the introduction to this world, Feast of Mercy establishes in detail the hierarcy of power within that world. While this is primarily the story of Gia and her beaus, the Christian metaphysical aspects of the story are paid close attention to. This is a story of trust and betrayal and sacrifice and redemption. It is a tale that draws you in and makes you choose. It is the journey from first chance to final judgment.

The author takes great care when blending several genres into something that is current, sexy, smart and spiritual. I give this book 5 stars and recommend it highly to fans of vampire fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

Trusting the Currents

Trusting the Currents
Publisher:
Published: November 4, 2013
Author's Twitter: @lynndapollio
Trusting the Currents is a unique visionary novel that guides readers into their own truth and transformation. Narrated by Addie Mae Aubrey, a Southern, African American woman, Trusting the Currents is a universal story of faith, courage, forgiveness and the uneasy search for one’s place in life. There are three levels to the book: the story of Addie Mae’s teenage years in the late 1930s rural South, spiritual life messages woven throughout the story, and high energetic frequencies embedded in the writing that shift consciousness into the heart when reading. Addie Mae reveals how life blossoms when we have the courage to not only accept but also learn from our mistakes and sorrows. Her story may belong to one woman, but the lessons it teaches belong to everyone willing to open their hearts and listen to the truth within their souls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Locksmith’s Secret

The Locksmith’s Secret
Published: April 8, 2016
Author's Twitter: @TahliaNewland
Ella’s boyfriend Jamie seems to be her perfect match until a death in the family calls him back to England and it becomes clear that he’s hiding something. Can their relationship survive the revelation of something so astounding that it completely changes Ella’s perception of him and his place in her world? While Jamie struggles with family responsibilities, Ella’s steampunk murder mystery develops a life of its own, raising disturbing memories of her time as a striptease artist and a past life as a sexually abused Italian nun. She also dreams of an ephemeral city, where she seeks to unravel the locksmith’s secret and find the key that opens a door to other realities. All these, together with a lost brother, a desperate mother, a demanding cat, and a struggle to live up to Buddhist ideals, weave together in a rich tapestry that creates an extraordinary work of genre-bending treansrealist fiction    

Reviewed by Amy Spahn

5 Stars

Worlds Within Worlds was one of the most unique novels I’ve ever read. The story of Prunella Smith continues in The Locksmith’s Secret, and while not as unique as the first book, this novel adds a new depth of Ella’s character while exploring themes of trauma, womanhood, and the need to confront evil.

While reading Worlds Within Worlds will help readers to understand this book (and I highly recommend it), The Locksmith’s Secret can be read on its own. You’ll still enjoy the rich tapestry of interconnecting narratives weaving together to form a multifaceted whole. This time the fantasy element comes in the form of a steampunk novel Ella is writing. We also explore her past as a stripper, her past lives, and the mysterious background of her boyfriend, Jamie, who might be too good to be true.

A solid follow-up to an exceptional novel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reviewed by Charles Ray

5 Stars

Editor-Author Prunella Smith seems to be getting her life back together. She feels that things are going well with her boyfriend, Jamie, until the death of his older brother in England draws him back home and into the clutches of a demanding, manipulative mother. While coping with this unexpected separation, Prunella is drawn into writing a steampunk novel about Nell, an intrepid investigative reporter on the trail of a vicious killer who also happens to be an esteemed member of the upper class, and enmeshed in the ‘dream’ life of Daniela, a young woman about to become a nun, who is caught between trying to get away from her abusive past and the decidedly earthly feelings she has for the convent gardener. While all this is happening, Prunella is also experiencing waking dreams about a mysterious locksmith who seems to hold the key to everything she needs to understand to get her world back into balance.
The Locksmith’s Secret by Tahlia Newland is, to use a word coined by Prunella, a multi-genre story that combines all the best traits of sci-fi, thriller, steampunk, and a few other genres in a tale that grabs your imagination in a vice-like grip and refuses to let go until you breathlessly reach the last page. This is an exploration of the mind that takes up where the author’s World Within Worlds left off, but stands on its own as a story that will make you question everything you thought you knew about the universe. Most importantly, though, it will entertain you in the way that well-told stories are meant to entertain.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

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Reviewed by Mary Maddox

5 stars

A Rich Narrative Tapestry
By Dream Beast VINE VOICE on April 8, 2016
In The Locksmith’s Secret, Tahlia Newland has woven several narratives into a complex story about the joys and pitfalls of love and the enduring power of the imagination.

Writer Prunella Smith, whom readers may remember from Newland’s last book, Worlds Within Worlds, has found love with Jamie Claypole, an English transplant to Australia. The two are happy together, but Ella knows little about Jamie’s past. The gaps in her knowledge become apparent when Jamie is summoned home after his brother’s sudden death. All at once he becomes secretive about his family and where they live and how long he intends to stay with them.

The other narratives reiterate in various ways the problem Ella faces: whether to pursue Jamie and uncover his secrets or to reclaim the solitude she lost when he came to live with her.

Memories of unhappy past experience with a lover who abandoned her overshadow Ella’s hope for happiness with Jamie. Ella had been a ballerina with a promising career until a back injury forced her to give up ballet. Her lover, who was also her onstage partner, promptly discarded her once they could no longer dance together.

A Buddhist, Ella mediates regularly, and during meditation she’s transported into the world of Daniela, an Italian nun. On the brink of taking her final vows, Daniela finds herself attracted to the man who tends the nunnery’s garden. Like Ella, she faces an unexpected choice about the direction her life will take.

In addition, Ella has a recurring dream featuring a locksmith who may or may not be Jamie and who holds the secret to unlocking doors into countless other worlds, a metaphor for the creative and spiritual freedom that she seeks. She pursues the locksmith, but he seems always just out of reach.

Although troubled by Jamie’s secretiveness, Ella keeps writing fiction. Woven into The Lockman’s Secret is a steampunk novel that has taken hold of her imagination. The chapters appear as she writes them, and the story of intrepid reporter Nell and her efforts to uncover the villainy of Lord Burnett generates as much suspense as the main narrative. Like Ella, Nell values her independence and strives to prove her worth in the professional world. She worries that marriage to her employer’s son will mean the end of her career.

Newland interweaves all of these threads with consummate skill. Not once do they get tangled. Not once does the suspense flag, which is especially impressive in a contemplative novel like The Locksmith’s Secret. The credit goes to Newland’s mastery of narrative structure, to her concise and transparent prose that is eloquent without ever drawing attention to itself, and to her wonderfully varied and complex characters.
The worlds of Prunella Smith have a clarity and power that you won’t soon forget.

~~~~~

Reviewed by Simon Townley

5 Stars

Tahlia Newland writes with beautiful simplicity – making this book a joy to read. Never do you feel lost, or wondering who is who or what is going in. Which is quite an achievement – because there are at least four completely separate stories in here, interwoven yet happening in different times, places and even realities.

The core story is set in our world, our times and is a good old-fashioned romance – with twists for sure and interesting interplay between cultures and value systems. It revolves around a man and a woman making choices about where and how to live their lives, who to share them with, and what can and should be compromised. If you love a place and you love a person and the two don’t necessarily mesh – how hard is it to choose? It’s a dilemma many of us have faced or will face at some point in our lives.

The other stories possess interesting parallels to the main tale – for example, the medieval nun wondering whether to stay in her order, or forsake it for the love of the local gardener. She too has to choose between one life and another and never does Newland make the choices look or feel easy.

The interweaving of these stories is accomplished with great skill and even humour. I’m sure there’s much more to come from these characters, and l look forward to reading more of the series.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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Reviewed by Pete Trewin

4 Stars

This was an interesting book for me. Well-written and pacy, I read it at a fair lick yet I wasn’t always sure exactly what was going on. The core story is a classic romance. The main character, Australian author Prunella Smith, has an English boyfriend. Things are going well; he is kind and attentive and the sex is great. Then he is called home when his brother dies to sort out the ancestral home and deal with a difficult, domineering mother. The question is, will he come back?
So far, so good. But three other stories, spread over time and other worlds, are inter-woven with the main plot. Prunella is writing a steampunk novel about Nell, a reporter investigating murders in a Victorian Australian city. Daniela, a novice nun in medieval times, is torn between her ambition to escape an abusive past and become a nun and her attraction for the convent gardener. Prunella is a Buddhist and, during her meditations, she has waking dreams in which she wanders through an empty city in search of a mysterious locksmith, who she glimpses but cannot reach. These dreams are quite disturbing, almost Freudian.
Despite this complexity, all the stories inter-weave and work with each other to create a satisfying novel.
Personally, I would have liked the characters in the main story to be playing for higher stakes but then that’s probably just me.
This book will appeal to fans of steampunk, romance, magic realism and fantasy. That’s a few genres to be going on with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delirium – The Rimbaud Delusion

Delirium – The Rimbaud Delusion
Published: July 30, 2014
Author's Twitter: @BSE_Writer
How many times had I dreamt of coming across the yellowing manuscript of La Chasse Spirituelle? Inside an old book on a stall in Paris, perhaps. Or in the attic of some befriended ancient. How many daydreams had I enjoyed over the possibility that one day…? I shook myself. It couldn’t possibly be true. 1872: The explosive love affair between flamboyant French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine rocks French society. They flee to London, abandoning the manuscript of La Chasse Spirituelle to Verlaine’s scorned young wife. When a lawyer’s clerk salvages it from a dusty deed box, the manuscript begins its journey down the decades, revealing the secrets and betrayals of its various keepers. 2004: Andrea Mann, disenchanted with life and love, travels to France. Driven by her obsession with Rimbaud, she’s chasing her dream – the missing manuscript. Beside the poet’s grave at Charleville-Mézières, she meets a beautiful young man who shows her a single page – from La Chasse Spirituelle. Andrea embarks on a desperate quest. Drawn into a manipulative relationship with the youth and his Svengali-like mentor, the mysterious Albert, she faces unwelcome truths. The closer she gets to the manuscript, the further she veers from reality. But is Albert’s copy genuine? And can La Chasse Spirituelle fill the void in Andrea’s soul?

 

There are a lot of voices to listen to in Delirium, and they’re all talking about one thing: a lost manuscript.

The search begins with the source, the poet Arthur Rimbaud, the manuscript’s author. We hear first the voices of Rimbaud, his lover Paul Verlaine, and Verlaine’s wife, Mathilde, giving us a glimpse of the world as it was then, in the late 19th century. Other voices add to the story as we follow the manuscript through the 20th century and into the 21st.

Knitting the story together is the central narrative of Andrea Mann, who, in 2004, goes in search of Rimbaud’s lost poem, La Chasse Spirituelle. Andrea’s meeting with a young man at Rimbaud’s grave starts her on a journey that may or may not connect her with a manuscript that, if genuine, would be worth a great deal of money. It’s not the money, though, that intrigues Andrea. We sense that the lost poem represents something else.

The intertwining threads of the history of the manuscript—caught up with its various custodians in the senseless tragedy of World War I, the cruel barbarity of World War II, and the lives, hopes, and dreams of ordinary people—I found fascinating. Andrea Mann’s story I found less so. Perhaps because part of her search involves knowing, or not knowing, what is real and what is not, I was never sure what was real and what was not. While that may have been a conscious choice by the author, it kept me too cautious, unwilling to enter fully into Andrea’s story. As in real life, if I believe I’m being misled, I will stay a bit removed from a situation. That remove also made me too critical—even judgmental—of Andrea. I never really got a sense of who she was; I only saw her jerked around by the manipulations of others.

Delirium is an ambitious book. I believe the author did not quite achieve her ambition in telling Andrea’s story, but it was a worthy attempt. I’m still mulling over many of the issues she raised and questions she never answered fully. And I’ve also started reading fin de siecle French poetry.

I received this free of charge in return for an honest review on behalf of the Awesome Indies.

Another Space in Time

Another Space in Time
Publisher:
Published: April 6, 2011
Author's Twitter: @RichardBunning
Murdered, Rodwell awakes to a second life on a parallel world. By the time he understands that this isn't home he is himself being pursued as a killer.   How could a story from a parallel world reach us from the body, from the stored cadaver of a dead man? That wouldn’t be possible, right? Well, anything is possible in fiction, and who knows? People don’t suddenly appear in our world, as either children or adults, arriving from another existence. Of course they don’t. There aren’t people, with no history, no family, no identity, totally alienated from society, being immediately pursued as terrorist killers, are there? That wouldn’t be credible would it? Especially if they had ‘arrived’ naked, bewildered, claiming to be looking for a home that doesn’t exist, and conversing in an unknown language about stuff that seems like pure fantasy? This wouldn’t happen, especially if they had never been seen, ever, by anyone, until just two days before. This book must be fiction, mustn’t it? But then again, there is an underlying logic. Perhaps there is even a ‘God-given’ reason. But there can’t be, can there?

Review by Tahlia Newland.

5 Stars

Another Space in Time is an interesting and somewhat surprising story that I really enjoyed. It begins at a slow pace, but after the attack on the Grange, I couldn’t put the book down.

A man called Rodwell wakes up in a parallel world after being assassinated on earth. While Rodwell slowly became accustomed to his new surroundings and indulged in long philosophical discussions, I wondered where the story was going. It seemed that he had arrived, not in heaven, but in a beautiful, sleepy place with none of the ills of our world. About one quarter of the way in, we realise how wrong fist impressions can be. A kidnap, a killing and a case of mistaken identity catapult Rodwell and the reader into a roller coaster of events that, since the police are pursing him as a murderer and terrorist, it seems unlikely he can escape alive. What eventuates is a fast paced, well written, highly unpredictable story in which Rodwell is forced to use all his resources in a bid to sort out the mess.

Rodwell is a likeable character and one who gained my respect early on as an astute thinker. He manages to escape various situations where I could see no possible hope for him. I congratulate the author on his skill in working out the intricacies of the plot. The secondary characters are also well-drawn and we get to know and care about them quickly. Lucy is a particularly endearing character, one we come to care about deeply, thus we feel deeply Rodwell’s pain at her disappearance and the trials she goes through.

Although science fiction in setting (it’s in another galaxy with a pulsar as a sun), it’s basically a crime mystery written from the point of view of the accused. What makes this story different from any others I’ve read in these genres is the philosophical speculation of the main character. The concept of those who meet an untimely death having another chance in a new world is an interesting one, and for our philosophically inclined hero, it—along with a rather limited understanding of evolutionary theory—convinces him of the existence of God. The seemingly irrefutable existence of life after death raises questions about the sanctity of life which come to our hero when events force him into a position where he may have to kill or be killed. He reflects on how religious fanatics could use such knowledge to justify killing those they don’t agree with, and concludes that this is why God makes this knowledge unavailable to us.

I found this a highly intelligent book that, along with giving the reader a jolly good tale, provides food for thought and contemplation. It gives insight into the challenges and prejudices faced by new arrivals in a culture, and, in my family, it stimulated a discussion on the details of evolutionary theory.

The writing is flawless, as is the world building—Bunning has worked out all the details of a planet in the asteroid belt of a pulsar star. The only problem with the book is that the beginning may just be a little too slow for some, however, its initial leisurely and amiable pace does give us time to get to know the main characters and makes the shock of reality crashing in that much more chilling.

I highly recommend it for anyone who likes conceptual, scientific and philosophical challenges, or simply fancies a crime mystery in a sci fi setting. I give it 5 stars and a place on the Awesome Indies listing.  I notice that there’s a second book out in the series, and I look forward to reading it.

The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman:

The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman
Series:
Publisher:
Published: June 19, 2014
Author's Twitter: @michaelapeck
 “Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie–and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.” And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It’s been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America-stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead. Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them. Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever. But first they have to save themselves.

Reviewed by Katt Pemble

4 Stars

I don’t really know what to say after finishing The Journeyman… my mind is still whirring around putting things together, rehashing scenes from the start that held hidden meanings that only revealed themselves after you’ve finished the book.

My first thought was around how instantly engaging and interesting the story was, even though it began as a slice-of-life type of story. The first few chapters welcomed the reader into Paul’s world, showed a young man who had struggled through life, had been beaten to the curb time and time again.

Annie and Zach also added to the delightfully well-constructed characters. I especially liked that they were both a bit different from the traditional characters. Zach appeared to be on the spectrum, while Annie is a strong minded, single mother, data analyst and injured war veteran.

Brilliantly different and yet, someone that just about anyone could relate to on some level.

The idea of a purgatory or interim afterlife has been done before, but not with this sort of fantastical element. When the book changes from slice-of-life to The Commons the whole world is turned on its head. This left me a little lost as to what was happening, and while a little disorienting, the fast pace meant you really couldn’t stay focused on that for too long.

This will either encourage the reader to just ‘go with it’ or potentially put them off completely (which is what I’ve seen in a couple of the other reviews). For me, the unanswered questions around what was happening and who all the new people were, was more intriguing than annoying. But I can completely understand how some people would get ‘over it’ quickly.

My biggest criticism, and probably the only one really, is to do with the pace of the book. The action starts at chapter 5, and it does not stop until you read the last line of the book. Now, at times, this works brilliantly. The epic battles and racing through dark tunnels was fantastic at a frantic pace, but normally as a reader you need some slower parts. Parts that allow you to digest what has happened and to form intricate and emotional bonds with the characters; It’s a part that was almost missed because of the frantic pace.

The emotional impact of one of the pivotal sad moments in the story was a mere molehill to me because of my lack of emotional attachment to the characters. The reaction that should have occurred was nowhere to be seen because my level of emotional commitment to the character was still in its infancy. Had there been a few softer, quieter moments with this character, ones to forge emotional bonds with, then I’d probably have been crying like a baby at that climatic scene. I wanted to, I really did.

Are you crying?

This isn’t to say that Michael can’t make the reader care about the characters, because he does. I really felt for little Zach and felt my heart lurch along with Annie’s as she worked her way through the puzzles along her journey, but these scenes were about characters that’d been with me the whole way through the book. I knew something of them, I wanted to read more about them and experience things with them.

When it comes to antagonists, Michael really shone. Mr Brill was insidious in his evilness and yet, still not out and out creepy. There was an intelligence about him and a polished exterior that was somewhat misleading. I also liked his little side-kick Gerald Truitt, he was an interesting character. I can see bigger things for him too.

All in all, this is a fantastic book. One that is well written, flawlessly edited and thoroughly engaging. If you want to try something that’ll get your imagination flowing, pick this book up today, you will not be disappointed.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review***

A Lifetime Last Night

A Lifetime Last Night
Author:
Published: August 10, 2014
Author's Twitter: @DavidHomick
Every choice has a consequence, a notion Richard Dunham refuses to acknowledge even as his twenty-five-year marriage to college sweetheart Emily falls apart. Forced into a homeless shelter when Emily throws him out, Richard has an unexpected encounter with an eccentric old man who offers him a rare opportunity. A fatal accident leaves Richard between two worlds, but he refuses to leave this one before making things right with Emily. Left with only one option, he embarks on a mission to reclaim the heart of the only woman he’s ever loved, while trapped in the body of a man she’s never met – the man involved in her husband’s death. With time running out, Richard must navigate a minefield of obstacles that stand in the way of reclaiming everything he once held dear. A shocking discovery offers hope, but is it too late? Will Richard let his past determine his future, or will he discover that it is never too late to be what he might have been?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worlds Within Worlds

Worlds Within Worlds
Imagine living in a multi-layered reality of separate but complimentary worlds—physical, mental, spiritual and technological—when a bully you thought safely tucked away in the cyberworld suddenly appears in your physical world looking suspiciously like your worst nightmare. Can you stuff him back into your computer? And if not, can the Magan Lord’s daughter from the fantasy book you’re editing, your dreams of a rabid beast, your visions of a Tibetan Yogi and your reawakened memories help you maintain your sanity and survive the darkest night of your life? Find out in the double award-winning metaphysical thriller Worlds Within Worlds when all this happens to author, editor and reviewer Prunella Smith. This inspirational, transrealist work—a mix of psychological thriller, fantasy and romance—has been awarded the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence and a BRAG Medallion of Excellence in Independent Fiction. Worlds Within Worlds has a unique perspective on the nature of creativity. Its touch is light, its humour distinctive but it reaches deep into the nature of human experience.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

December 12, 2014

5 Stars

I received a free copy of Tahlia Newland’s Prunella Smith: Worlds within Worlds for review, and I have to say up front – this is a book that is long overdue. It addresses cyber bullying, especially as it pertains to writers and reviewers, but does so in a chilling way that will live you looking over your shoulder with every word you write.

Prunella Smith is a freelance editor and author who is up against a deadline on an editing job – a fantasy story about an adventurous woman, Kelee, who is having an affair with a young groomsman on her estate. Ella, as she is known, is also a book reviewer, and a recent review of a not-so-good novel has provoked the author, Dita, to begin a campaign of on-line stalking and bullying. Dita’s cyber bullying begins to take its toll, interfering with Ella’s ability to objectively edit Kelee’s story, and things only get worse when she discovers that she has a physical stalker as well.

Newland’s tale kept me interested from page one – and the little surprise she threw in near the end, well -2 I didn’t see that one coming. A thoroughly entertaining story. An easy five stars here.

Reviewed by Frank Kusy (aka Wussyboy)

5 Stars

This is a very topical book, a very well written one too. Thirty something Ella Smith lives in a remote log cabin in the Australian bush, cut off from most of humanity but connected through her mind and imagination (and her internet) to a multitude of worlds: at times she is a writer/editor in the real world, at others she is a wise old Yogi in the prelude to the 1959 Chinese invasion of Tibet, or Kelee, the fictional warrior princess with whom she comes to identify strongly through the book she is editing. Not to mention her alter ego as Electra, an ‘after dark’ dancer in a local strip joint. The topicality of the book comes when Ella responds to a request of an ‘honest’ review from an arrogant (and unbalanced) author on his new novel and gives him just that… a two-star review on a social media website (Amazon) which he deeply resents. At this point, we enter Stephen King territory – the demented author Dita shouting “Take it down!” much as the main protagonist of King’s ‘Thinner’ shouts ‘Take it off!’ to the gypsy who has laid a curse him. When she doesn’t, the author turns cyber troll and begins invading her virtual world with increasingly nasty abuse and threats, along with one-star reviewing her own recently published book. As the bullying author penetrates even her dream world (he’s a dark, human shaped blob in a hoodie!) her other identities as Kelee, Electra and the Yogi also run into crisis, and she struggles, through her Buddhist practice, to elevate her mind above the worldly concern of being unliked by 20 Facebook friends overnight. ‘Sometimes it’s hard being a Buddhist,’ she observes when not just one but two stalkers get on her case – the fight is on, in her own mind, to see all obstacles as opportunities, to see Dita, The Creep and even the evil Beak as fuel to fire her own journey to enlightenment. This is riveting stuff, part magical realism dreamscape, part taut psychological thriller, and I was literally on the edge of my seat when the final twist – and what a twist it is – came around. Phew, what a ride!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an ‘honest’ review of my own. Well done, Ms Newland, I can honestly say this is the best book have read this year.

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Reviewed by Amy Spahn

5 Stars

 

Worlds Within Worlds tackles the problem of identity in the age of technological anonymity. Ella Smith is an independent author and editor whose online life crashes into reality with disturbing implications. The book questions how much of one’s true self can – and should – be broadcast to the world.

The story also delves into the nature of authorship when anyone with a computer can publish themselves instantly. What determines the value of a writer? Their career success? Their contributions to other authors, appreciated or not? What about when their readers disagree with their interpretations of their work? Who is the final authority when everyone has an opinion?

This book will make you think. Considering the deluge of new works streaming from authors these days, that may be the highest praise a novel can receive.

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Reviewed by Robyn Gregory

4 Stars

World Within Worlds was an interesting read. There was a mixture of Buddhism, magical realism and present-day problems of a 30-something writer/editor. She has chosen career over a family and children. She seems fairly content with the decision. During the time she is editing another author’s book she is bullied online by an author who she gave a bad review to. My only issue with it was that there were too many storylines running at the same time and I was having a little bit of trouble following along with them. I think it would have been better if they had her story alongside Kelee’s story (the one she was editing). But, otherwise, it was able to keep my interest. I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.

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Reviewed by Justin Spahn

5 Stars

My wife recommended this book to me, and I absolutely loved it. I do not normally review, well, anything on Amazon, but I decided it was time to start, having read something which inspired me to respond. Its multiple layers were very compelling, and the author struck just the right balance of keeping the various strands and plot threads and titular worlds separated as well as intertwined.

I love how thoughtful this book was. It asked many questions about reality, imagination, and how perception and intent shape the world and vice versa. It gripped my attention and fascinated me, and I found that I couldn’t put it down. The main character is in her own world, experiencing the worlds of others through meditation, social media, dreams, and real-life clashes. In addition, the entire book is a world of its own within the author’s mind, and I myself, as the reader, am yet another world into which her worlds are introduced and experienced. Is the book I finished reading the same book that the author wrote? Did I perceive and experience it the way it was intended, or did I myself change the book simply by observing it, like a quantum physics experiment? Not since “If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler” by Italo Calvino have I felt so intellectually stimulated by a novel!

Finally, I find that I’ve bonded with the main character, which is quite a feat as I personally share virtually nothing in common with her, and yet I miss her terribly. I eagerly look forward to the release of the sequel!

A Matter of Perception

A Matter of Perception
Publisher:
Published: October 31, 2011
Author's Twitter: @TahliaNewland
This collection of imaginative and entertaining stories about ghosts, sirens, light spectrum mages, realm-hopping gods, alien monsters and ordinary people will warm your heart and make you smile, shiver, and maybe even wonder about the nature of reality itself. The theme of individual perception as a result of our assumptions, beliefs and emotional experience bind these otherwise diverse stories into a unified whole.

Reviewed by Katt Pemble

4 Stars

Tahlia delivers another solid book, this time by way of a mix of short stories.

I loved the little intro, A drop from the well of creativity. I loved the way the stories where characterised like children, it made me smile, especially this line:

Inspiration falls like a drop of mercurial silver into the vast depths of my open mind. It hovers in space, then collects and merges with a gaggle of ideas and images until it hangs pregnant and heavy with a pressing need to deliver.

I just adore that imagery! What a welcome intro!

Now, the content… While some of the short stories weren’t really my favourite, I can’t fault Tahlia for producing a flawlessly written book, it was. The subject matter was uplifting and inspirational in each piece, dealing with self exploration of your mind and understanding perception, dealing with death and even the dangers of making assumptions.

By far, my favourite story was ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’ I felt the most connected with the characters, even though it was probably the most far-fetched in terms of plot.

In closing, if you are after a delightfully uplifting and exploratory adventure that is easy to read, well crafted and inspirational too, all while galloping through romance, YA, drama, science fiction and fantasy genres, pick this one up!!