Hypnos

Jon Biddle

What if the unthinkable became a reality? What if technology could be used against you? A software program has been stolen from the digital vaults of the CIA. It is capable of bridging the gap between A.I. and human consciousness, making a person do whatever the controller wants, creating a potentially terrifying new world. The organisation responsible has racist, right-wing views and a perverted desire to reduce population growth by culling it using the software. Only the rich and the powerful can be part of Asclepius. The software is uploaded to the brain via eye movement using a smartphone, leaving open the possibility for entire countries to be controlled remotely.
Alex Brown, newly-appointed to the B5 Intelligence cell of British intelligence while hunting for the serial killer Dale Broc who has kidnapped her daughter, has been assigned to the case and now has to choose. Will she save the country or her daughter? Hypnos is the second novel in the Alex Brown series. Author Jon Biddle brings extensive medical knowledge coupled with military and law enforcement experience that combines to produce an exciting sequel to The Harvester.


Extract

Jamal was thinking that if time could be reversed now, this would be the time to do it. His right hand was gripped in a vice in his dad’s old shed, with a lunatic screaming in his ear. He watched the South African reach for the lump hammer on the shed wall, leaving a white outline showing where it should always belong.
Like a golfer, Van Den Jong, or Jongy to his mates, took couple of dry swings to the tips of Jamal’s fingers. On the fourth swing it connected. The middle finger was the first to snap, followed immediately by the ring then the forefinger and finally the little one.
Jongy stood back. “Fuckin’ ’ell eh, look at that eh,” he said to Errol. “The little bastard pinky finger Errol, only bashed the top of it, eh.”
Errol shuffled on his feet. A small Zulu from Bulawayo peered at the hand trapped in the vice. Jamal was hang¬ing from said vice, trying to support his trapped arm. Screaming, the pain searing through the limb like a hot needle. He daren’t look at the vice, eyes fixed to the floor, sweat pouring down his face.
Errol reached for a pair of pliers that was marked out next to the lump hammer, felt the weight, like a plier connoisseur.
“What are you doing?” Jongy asked Errol, who looked at
him, showed him the pliers and then motioned to the little finger, still standing proudly next to the other smashed digits.
Jongy looked at Jamal. “Errol just wants to tidy up your hand, your little finger isn’t as smashed up as he would like, eh.”
Jamal looked up. “Fuck you! I’m connected you know, I know people.”
“Oooooo,” Jongy taunted, before tapping Errol who laughed as well.
Errol turned and Jamal screamed as the pliers came closer.
“Errol, the boy has been through enough eh, let’s see if he cooperates.”
Errol nodded and moved out of the way, Jongy crouched. He looked at the hand, which was turning dusky blue around the edges of the vice.
“Tut tut,” he said, he grabbed Jamal’s hair and pulled his head up with it.
“You only have to agree to our terms and I’ll let you go,” Jongy said.
He was well dressed, cropped hair, six foot three and made of what Jamal could only assume was human steel. There was a coldness to his attitude that was unnerving. Well turned out, he didn’t fit the usual reprobate he dealt with. His South African accent was menacing and threaten¬ing. Jamal fought a hard corner. He knew he had a winner, he just needed to hang on a bit longer.
The week previous, Jamal had been hacking American government files and had come across a file marked, ‘Gamma top secret.’
The details of the file were titled HYPNOS. After deep searches on the conventional web and the dark web, he finally made it to the locked vaults of the CIA in Langley. Within minutes, he had download the entire HYPNOS file including the software driver, still not knowing fully what he had. Files and software that had this much security often meant secrets that shouldn’t be made public, or access to software drivers that could be used to aide further his crim¬inal behavior.
When Jamal opened the file, it seemed unbelievable. A software program that could upload instructions to the receiver and the receiver could be made to do whatever the operator wanted. All the software needed was an app-based game, which used eye movement to control the game and soundtrack. This caused a triad of hypnosis to the user, opening the brain-waves for the software to be uploaded.
“Bollocks,” he said out loud.
He quickly found the game that fitted the parameters of the software on the app store, and invited his friends to play the game. Jamal had already hacked most of his friend’s phones, using their location signals to baffle the police for ongoing jobs he did for the criminal underworld. They agreed to play and when he knew they were playing the game, the software did everything else.
Rufus, Jamal’s longtime friend from school, was playing the game in the local pub. Watching him, he had access to the front camera, he could see the progress that he was making while playing it and uploaded the software. Jamal hacked into the security camera at the back of the bar.
With free text, Jamal typed, ‘Steal some beer from the beer tap, and drink it in front of the landlord.’ The software ran algorithms. A few seconds later, the information was being uploaded to the game.
Not more than five seconds later, Rufus put his phone down and walked off. He came into view of the CCTV camera and stopped. He turned almost robotically to the bar, took a step, picked up a half full pint of beer and tipped it on the floor.
The owner of the pint took a step back, demonstrating his anger at what Rufus had done, being quickly held back by the man’s friend.
Rufus didn’t even skip a beat. Leaned over the bar and pulled on the tap. The beer, clear in the footage, was filling up the glass. The beer drinker now incensed. Jamal stifled a laugh.
When the glass was almost full, Rufus took it and started to drink, leaving the tap on, spilling beer all over the floor. At this point, the landlord came into view and was remon-strating. Rufus stood back and drained the beer while stick¬ing his two fingers up at the bar. It was at this point Rufus was wrestled to the ground and dragged out of the bar by the bouncers.
A more sinister exercise – Jamal’s cousin Salma. She worked in the bank as a cashier. He instructed her to steal one thousand pounds secretly, in a way no one would ever know. Deliver it to one of his dead drops by 9 pm that night. Jamal went to the dead drop, scoped the area, then reached into the bush by the phone box. His fingers found the bundle of notes, his heart quickened as he touched them. Pulling them out, he didn’t need to count it. He knew he was on to a winner.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 334
Genre: Horror
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Tusker

Dougie Arnold

The sudden and violent increase of elephant poaching in the remote Kenya game reserve of Uwingoni threatens its very existence. Those who have devoted themselves to the protection of its precious wildlife seem ill equipped to deal with this new menace.
However, the arrival of two young people with no experience of Africa might just prove a turning point. For the first time in his life Harry feels he has found somewhere he really belongs and something he can fight for and believe in. Ana, a journalist escaping the horrors of a different war, brings a fresh insight into the battle against poaching as she struggles with her own internal demons.
They soon realise they are up against forces far more powerful and brutal than they could ever have imagined. Foreign investors driven by greed, corrupt government officials and religious fanatics with no boundaries, draw them deeper into a web of evil.
Half of all the net profits due to the author will be used to help organisations committed to elephant conservation.


Author Interview

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I become so engrossed in the characters I am writing about that they become totally real in my head. Their strengths and vulnerabilities in many ways mirror those of a mixture of people I have known in life and of course there is some of me in there too. I like them to be able to behave in ways that allow them dig deep and believe in themselves. So often in our own lives those we know who have real talents or ability don’t have enough self belief to become the person they really are. Combining that with writing about a subject I am really passionate about, in the case of Tusker, elephant poaching, is a strong combination and makes writing itself such a powerful experience.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
My favourite character is Ana. She really feels for the world around her. As a young journalist in a war zone she wants to tell the stories of ordinary people that so often get forgotten. Yet despite her inner strength, her experiences get close to breaking her. How living in a remote Kenyan game reserve helps her to overcome her fears and find herself again is a particularly powerful thread running through the book.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Ginger herbal tea.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I write in the north facing side of the house as the garden and sunshine on the other side distract me. However, people are often walking by, frequently the same ones at around the same time each day and I start to wonder about their lives. My mind is transported to imaginary homes and places of work and if they seem interesting individuals I find it quite hard to refocus on my writing.

How did you research your book?
The fifteen years I spent living in Kenya gave me a great insight into many sides of the country. However, I read up all sorts of additional information on elephants themselves as well as many in depth reports on elephant poaching and its devastating effects.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. I find that plays a vital part in my enjoyment of writing. I love not really knowing where my imagination is going to take me until I sit in front of the computer. Of course my head is endlessly full of ideas but the outline of the story is on a single sheet of A4 paper.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I would live in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. You can almost feel and breath it once you get drawn in. Although it is fantasy it has a remarkable knack of making us believe we are actually a part of it as we read. Who wouldn’t want to pass some time chatting contentedly in the Shire, marvel at the magic of Rivendell, overcome the darkness of Mirkwood and ultimately join the band of those fighting to overthrow the powers of evil. I believe Tolkien fell in love with his own mythology and showed the most amazing self belief to create new worlds, creatures and even languages which through books or films have been enjoyed by millions the world over.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
When I first read Winnie the Pooh as a young boy I thought he was the most wonderful, happy, fun creation and all these years later he remains the fictional character I would most enjoy as a friend. There is a simplicity and innocence about him that is sorely missed in the stresses of today’s world. There is so much joy in his adventures and to be one of his friends and to share in them would be utterly magical. We all know Tiggers, Rabbits or Kangas in our daily lives but Pooh was the glue that held them all together. He said simple, profound things but this is probably my favourite, “Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.” Who wouldn’t want Winnie the Pooh as a special friend?

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 298
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Sully’s Glow

Simi Godagama

Harpi the eagle discovers her inner voice that guides her to Sully, a boy with a glow. Sully is unaware of his glow until he discovers he has the capacity to help someone in need. After he meets Harpi, together they meet more friends who each in turn have their own issues that heal and transform through their encounters with one another. Eventually with their combined energy, they transform the world they live in. Sad Sully becomes Smiling Sully, Hopeless Harp becomes Hopeful Harpi, Perfect Parrot becomes Pitch Perfect Parrot, Greedy Giraffe becomes Grateful Giraffe and Cranky Croc turns into Courageous Croc.


Sully’s Glow is a charming little story about how four different animals and a human, who are struggling with inner demons, work together to find each other’s worth and to help each other become happier. It has a good rhyming feel to the book that allows it to be easy to be read aloud to children as well. I really enjoyed the moral story at the centre of this book and I know that my niece would really enjoy this book. It’s also got some amazing illustrations as well that really bring the story to life.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially to those children aged 5-8 who are struggling to find friends. Perhaps they feel like they don’t belong anywhere, or that they are too ugly, or too bored or simply too angry. This book shows that if you open your heart and help one person that you will feel better yourself and it may just lead to a wonderful friendship. It’s just got a lovely feel to the book that I really enjoyed.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 88
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Caught in a Cold War Trap

Miller Caldwell

Listening to a Radio Moscow broadcast on holiday on Jura, Glasgow schoolboy Robert Harvie finds errors in the programme which he reports to the Russians. Then, as a student, the Soviets give him a grant, and so Robert is inadvertently compromised. His first job takes him to Ghana, and soon he has murder on his hands. How can he escape Soviet attention?


Exclusive Extract

Have you ever been to the island of Jura? Not many people have. If you are a whisky connoisseur you possibly toured the island’s distillery to taste the Isle of Jura single malt. Perhaps you were a climber assaulting the famous Paps of Jura, or a sailor assessing the treacherous cauldron of the Corryvreckan whirlpool from the safety of land. Maybe you needed to imbibe the presence of George Orwell (aka Eric Blair) who completed Nineteen Eighty-Four at Barnhill on the north of the island. That’s about all you can do on Jura, which is why not many go there. That however, may be its attraction. I was there during the Cold War and there my spying career took roots. I was on a family holiday in July 1967. In the third week, my life changed forever.
My name is Robert Harvie and on that holiday I turned sixteen years of age. My father was a Church of Scotland minister. Minister’s families were not rich, so the holidays were the only real perks we enjoyed. Dad would bring four sermons with him each summer and the pulpit exchange was complete when our manse in Glasgow was occupied by the minister whose manse we lived in for a month. We usually enjoyed somewhere with fresh sea air, while the other minister and his family explored the culture of the Gallus Glaswegians, their numerous parks and the animated city which ‘Smiles Better’ with its keen sense of humour.
It was a wet morning. I remember that well. A real humdinger of a downpour, I heard my father say. I stood in the small north facing wooden porch while the salty air filled my lungs. The rain made the nearby coastline of Mull of Kintyre invisible. I cursed this four-week island break for being neither summer, nor a holiday. I longed to be home in the city engaging in the many different interests I had.
By lunchtime, the rain had retreated. A tiny patch of blue sky fought through the grey cloud, offering a ray of hope. The land in slow progress began to have a re-birth. Colours became vibrant once more and the single track road’s tarmac glistened. I focussed on a snail crossing the road. It was not risking a car’s approach; few cars were on the island but I feared a seagull might be tempted to devour the slow-moving creature. I ran towards it in haste. I picked up the snail and placed it on the grass verge. It felt good—a good deed accomplished on a boring day. The snail was insecure and unwilling to reappear from its shell at first. I waited in silence. It did too. Then I smiled as it continued its journey into grassy cover.
I turned around and saw the sun settle on a verdant hillock behind the manse. I decided to get to its summit and take the family Bush radio with me. My mother approved my plan and I set off. It was a steep climb and my route was circuitous—to avoid calf strain. I stopped and turned around. I saw a tanker in the distance. It moved slowly like that reluctant snail I helped cross the road. I imagined myself on the ship, going somewhere exotic. It was sailing down the Firth of Clyde after all, and that perhaps meant an American trip, even South America. There again it might just be going to Ireland. My thoughts came back to land.
The swirling wind dictated which way my blond hair would flow as I arrived breathless on the crest of the hill. My foot caught a heather clad mound. Then I saw I had caused a disturbance to the zigzag of an angry adder. It moved like a retracting hose away from me and I relaxed. I forgot to mention—Jura had a number of vipers lurking in the undergrowth in the hills. On warm sunny days, they could be seen on any open land squirming around on the warm ground. I found a flat grassy bank and sat down.
The Bush radio gave me the Home Service and the Light programme. I could not concentrate on their urban offerings so changed the button at the top to short wave and turned the dial. I caught some French programme and lingered to hear an excited high-pitched Parisian woman. It could advance my French studies, which would resume in two weeks’ time back at school. However, after I had heard a sentence or two of her rapid French fire I could not follow her line of thought. I turned the dial further on. This time I heard a farming report. I gave up re-tuning. I kept the station on and lay back to absorb some sun. I could have fallen asleep in a matter of moments but there was something odd about the programme.
The announcer spoke about English Ayrshire cows. What a howler. That was akin to saying Eccles cakes come from Aberdeen. There was more to confuse me. The reporter spoke about the 12 coal mines in Suffolk, the powerhouse of energy for the south of England. Suffolk coal? I knew these facts to be wrong and waited for the punch line. It never came. When the programme ended the announcer informed me that Farming Matters would broadcast at the same time next week, on Radio Moscow.
It was not a comedy after all, but an inaccurate description of British farming and land use. I felt indignation; an urge to respond, to clear up their misinformation. After all, I had little else to occupy my time. So that night in bed I wrote a letter explaining that Ayrshire cows were from Ayrshire, in Scotland, and Suffolk was farming land and did not have a coal seam—as I recalled from my school geography notes.
The following day I took my letter, addressed to Radio Moscow, Moscow, U.S.S.R. to the Craighouse post office, which was in a cottage. A red post box outside gave the clue that the postmistress lived inside. I entered setting off a bell clanger above my head. A woman came through from her lounge, closed the door behind her and sat down on a floor screeching wooden chair by her ink padded desk. She read the address.
‘Moscow? That’s foreign,’ she confirmed in a matter-offact voice and opened a book. Two fingers ran down the columns like sprinters. ‘Anything in the letter I should know about?’ she asked.
I hesitated. My heart seemed to stop beating for a moment. I supposed I could share its contents with her. ‘I have written to them to show there were mistakes in one of their programmes.’
She looked at me through horn-rimmed glasses. ‘I don’t need to know what you write. So, is it just paper inside?’
I nodded somewhat embarrassed. She took her fingers from the list then snapped the book closed.
‘Then that’s nine pence postage. It might take a few days to get there.’
Phew, I expected to pay more. She returned the letter to me and I took it to the post box outside. As it dropped down into dark oblivion I wondered how soon she would retrieve it and have it sent seaward, landward and forward to Moscow.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: February 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 172
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Zein: The Homecoming

Graham J. Wood

The nightmare continues. Returning to Earth, Kabel and Tyson are fighting different battles. Kabel angry and struggling to restrain his feelings for Gemma, and Tyson fighting an internal battle with the methir still coursing through his body; the magics are growing stronger. On Earth, the Cabal are tightening their grip on the control of the zinithium and the fearful population. Their ruthlessness is supported by Zylar aggressively pushing his domination plan forward, and his desire for revenge on the Blackstone brothers is all consuming. The odds seem high, almost unimaginable. Into this despair stride the conflicted brothers with the support of their companions. Despair, defeat and death will face them. Now is the time to fight back, to face the ultimate battle of good versus evil, for the sake of the Earth, the universe and their own internal peace.


Author Interview

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Escape. I write at 4am in the morning in my hut at the bottom of the garden and it feels like I am in a different world. Just to simply create and expand a work of fiction that never existed before I placed pen to paper is simply n exceptional feeling.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Difficult one now that I have finished over 900 pages but strangely I would have to go for one of the characters who is part of the main group but not a lead character like Kabel or Tyson and that is Bailey. You draw the characters from a combination of people you meet in life and of course sometimes your own traits and his one liners, faithful friendship to Tyson and underlying courage are attributes I like in my own friends and family.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Haha, good question and since I do like my pale ale beer that would be the answer if I wasn’t writing at 4am in the morning so the answer is a strong mug of coffee with one sugar or a red bull.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Oh yes. The biggest one is I drift off listening to the birds who become really noisy around 4 to 5 AM and if it is a nice sunny morning (you would think unlikely in Manchester but it does happen), I sit back and relax. Before I know it the house is moving with my family coming down for breakfast and I haven’t completed my allotted number of words.

How did you research your book?
When the story was on Earth, I used the usual search engines to make sure that the supportive descriptions of places etc were accurate. For example, the first book includes the destruction of Old Trafford Stadium (Manchester United’s home) and I just had to make sure ther layout was correct.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Wow, another great question. Well I start as a plotter, probably engrained by working in a Bank for 24 years from age of 16 but though I start like that I quickly turn into a Pantser as my main job is negotiation and I have to change my approach within minutes and sometimes seconds to win the argument / position. I do the same when writing and in every day life. I have a good strawman but when I come to a road block I just let my constraints go. My wife says it drives her crazy as I switch between both and confuse the heck out of her!

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
The Shire in the Lord of the Rings – plenty of food, beer and fireworks…though at 6ft 2 I may bang my head somewhat on the ceilings of the houses.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones. You could say this is an unusual choice but his wit, one liners and willingness to enjoy himself would make for a great evening.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: February 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 294
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Vatican Games

Alejandra Guibert

Vera is born on the day an apocalyptic revenge is unleashed, annihilating half of the world’s population.
Her birth marks the beginning of a new world order run by powerful gaming corporations.
A warless existence with no poverty has been secured, until this fine balance becomes once more under threat.
Vera is the female David to beat Goliath and prevent further devastation.
The future lies in her hands. It’s a game that she needs to win.


Five of My Favourite Things About Being An Author

by Alejandra Guibert

I love creating stories, imagining a world that is not my own but someone else’s. As a child, I always created stories during bath time and became lost in my imagination to a point that my mother had to drag me out of the bathroom when I had been too long!

Of course creating characters gives me great pleasure too. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes and feeling what they feel and doing what they would do brings an incredible feeling as I’m putting it on the page. It’s almost as if I were introduced to these characters at the beginning of a book and as time went by and they developed, they would end up telling me what their next step would be.

One of my favourite things of being an author is the ability to be in my own bubble of creation. Spending time in the worlds I’m creating and with those people within those worlds and being able to create meanings and ideas through them.

I also enjoy immensely being inspired by other authors. Alongside my own journey as a writer, I am constantly reading and looking for inspiration from different sources: I enjoy looking into different and inspiring forms of expression from other novelists but I also thrive on the knowledge passed on by non-fiction authors. I usually have four or five books on the go, from which I gain inspiration, as long as they are relevant to what I’m writing.

And last but not least, I love the interaction with readers, I enjoy learning of their own interpretation of events and characters and sharing deeper meaning to a story or a poem. Some of my ideas and wishes translate into a kind of message that I want to convey. In brief, communication with the reader is paramount to my writing. Showing viewpoints and concepts that might help change reality for the better, whilst somehow moving or touching the reader is my ultimate goal.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: January 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 242
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Princess and the Valley Man

Dorota Kluza and Evan Williams

The Princess and the Valley Man is an enthralling, educational tale of adventure, fantastic creatures, and dashing acts of bravery!
Join Solis and Princess Luna, on an amazing journey through the Earth’s most unusual place: Death Valley. Luna, a princess from a kingdom in a far-away star, is curious to see the sights in Death Valley. And Solis, smitten by Luna’s beauty, is only too happy to indulge her.
They travel through landscapes – from the exhilarating Sea of Sand to the majestic Canyon of Marble to the eerily frightening Mysterious Cave – forming new friendships and gaining a deep understanding of each other.
Meet fantastic creatures – from moving rock formations, to Kiko the talking bird, even mysterious inhabitants of a ghost town – and be with Solis and Princess Luna as they dodge challenges, solve puzzles, craft clever solutions and find a way out of hairy situations.
More important, discover how to love with all your heart, the most seemingly unlovable place on Earth.


Exclusive Extract

There was a place on Earth that was considered most unusual: Death Valley, which was in California in the United States. Now you might be asking yourself: what make’s Death Valley so unusual? Well, it was a land of extremes. While it had towering mountains, it also had below-sea-level salt flats and even sand dunes. All strewn across the landscape were rock formations of many colors, some of which held mystery. Sometimes, when the rain comes at the right time, the landscape would bloom with an explosion of flowers. These mostly grow from the many seeds that had been waiting in the dirt; sometimes they wait many years for the rain to come. Mostly, though, it is the heat that makes this place famous. You see, Death Valley is the hottest place on Earth!

One day, because of Death Valley’s unique terrain and features that focused the sun’s energy upon itself, it reached a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56,6 Celsius degrees) – the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Something very special also happened on that day: a child was born in this place of extremes. This child, some say, got something even more special from the sun on that day, an inexplicable kind of energy that would be with him wherever he went which kept him safe and protected him from harm. His parents called him Solis. He was an extraordinary boy who grew up in this most interesting and unusual place. He was not afraid of anything and he made lots of friends, including local animals that he used to play with. A born explorer who never gets sick, decided one day to take it upon himself to protect and preserve Death Valley, which he loved with all his heart.

As a young man, Solis travelled to many places far and wide and has seen many kingdoms. In fact, as a former soldier in his kingdom’s army, he had fought in many battles. His exploits were famous throughout the lands, especially among schoolchildren who were studying history. Living in Death Valley, he worked by helping those who came to seek adventure and see the amazing sights.

One day, on his way back home after a deeply exhausting day at work, he came upon a group of travelers who had become trapped in their big coach within a massive sand cloud. He sped up his wagon to reach them quickly and to help them get out of it. He knew it was not a typical sand cloud caused by the wind, but a monstrous attack of a deadly sand creature living in this area that could not stand any noise. Luckily for the travellers, Solis was not afraid of it!

“Do not leave your coach!” Solis screamed. “Close the windows and your doors, and be as quiet as possible!”

But the travellers were overwhelmed with fear and panic. “Help us and get us out of here!” They screamed. “Get us out of here, please!”

Solis jumped off his wagon as quickly as he could. He looked like a cowboy wearing an old Western-looking bandana on his face and a special pair of shoes designed to not sink on any surface. He ran to them, then tied a big thick cotton rope from his wagon to their coach. But at this moment, the scary sand creature came out of the sand cloud and started to shake the noisy coach violently from one side to the other.

The travellers were screaming loudly from fear, but Solis was not afraid of the creature at all. He stayed calm, carefully connecting the rope. He made a few quick steps, like he was floating on the sand on his wide flat shoes, and was back in his wagon in a second, pulling the tourists and their coach away from this dangerous sand monster.

Once they all were on safe ground, Solis emerged from his wagon covered in sand. “Are you all okay? Is anyone hurt?” His voice was calm, reassuring. “This was the sand beast living in this area. I hope she did not scare you too much. Next time you must be more careful here and must follow some precautions. By the way, my name is Solis.”

Just as he introduced himself to the travellers, he saw among them the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He was entranced. But the travellers interrupted his reverie, crying with happiness and saying, “You saved us! You saved us! Thank you so much, Solis!”

“Oh my goodness, you are all covered in sand,” one of them said, helping Solis dust the dirt off his shirt. “We are very sorry for this trouble, but we got confused by the intense heat of this place. Luckily, we found the coach. But when we tried to drive out, the beast attacked us. You know the rest of the story, Solis. You are our hero!”

Solis’s face blushed from the attention. “Oh, I’m not a hero, guys. I am just glad I could help and to make sure you are all fine. Travellers often get confused from the heat here. Ordinary folks could rarely stand the kind of heat we have in Death Valley. Just be more careful next time, wear a hat and drink lots of water, and watch out and take precautions to avoid the sand beasts in this area.” Solis flashed them a smile that was pure charm.

“We would love to thank you, somehow, Solis,” said someone from the group. “Please allow us to invite you for dinner tonight?”

“It is really not necessary,” he replied, but then he could not take his eyes off the beautiful girl. “But of course, I would love to have dinner with you all.”

“Hoooraay!” they cheered in unison. “See you tonight at the Last Kind Words Saloon?”
“See you then,” replied Solis happily.

On the way to their accommodation, the travellers could not stop talking about how Solis fought off the deadly sand creature, and how brave he was for saving them. And among them, the beautiful girl that Solis liked merely smiled, quietly anticipating to meet him again.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: January 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 100
Genre: Adventure
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Coffee Traveller

Fahad Ben G.

A collection of musings about travel, life, love, family, relationships, the future and growing up in Saudi Arabia, by the author and poet Fahad Ben G.


Exclusive Extract

Invisible lines tie me to you whether I like it or not.

No matter how much I travel away from you, no matter how far we are, and no matter how different our roads are;

No matter how distinct our stations are, and no matter how your routes and mine are different;

The invisible lines continue to tie me to you.

Constant they are… they exceed the multitude of people between you and me.

Tense they are…indifferent to the laws of the universe or the gravity of Earth.

Unaffected by the amount of rocks and dismal valleys,

That separate my icy mountain from your flaming mountain…

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 140
Genre: Poetry
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Red Book

Davide Cortellucci

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THOUGHTS.
Martin’s life as he knows it has turned upside-down, and he decides to embark on a trip to give sense to his existence. Via coincidences and fabricated non-coincidences, he finds a group of people that helps him enhance the power of his thoughts to modify the physical world around him. In a journey within a journey, Martin discovers the powers of visualisation and its pull. And he acknowledges why he’s flooded by negative feelings when he’s close to certain people.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE ENEMIES.
Unless Martin finds the strength within himself to fight, he and everyone around him will cease to exist.


Author Interview

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
The feel of joy I experience while writing. I love putting what I picture in my mind – and what I feel – down onto the page. I love the idea of people reading what I write. I have great affection for storytelling; I always did. When I was in primary school, I used to write short stories for my friends. I love the warmth and lightness I feel when the writing flows. Also, I think that creating a story has therapeutic powers.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Tough question. I love all my characters, as I dislike the antagonists of my stories. When I put my work down between drafts, I miss them as if they’re real people. If I have to choose one, I have to go for Chuck. He has a take on life that regardless of all the negative things that happened to him in his past, he remains positive, he’s loyal, funny, and he’s gifted without knowing it, which makes him even more likeable.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Coffee.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
There’re times I cripple my creative stream because I’m fixated on a few pages or even just a single word I’m not happy with, and I need to remind myself that I can correct or even scrap it later in the second, third or whatever draft. Other times, I sit down, face the computer, and the demon of procrastination comes and knocks at the door. It’s not an ordinary procrastination’s demon, it’s a cleaning one, and it has a thing for symmetry. I can leave the blank page on my computer and start rearranging the bookshelves or decide that that’s the day to descale the showerhead. I must say, thanks to this, my home is pretty tidy. Also, I can get lost inside a dictionary looking for words I may never use.

How did you research your book?
I start from the sticky idea I have in my mind, and then I connect that with my own life experiences. I must say I had a very eventful life so far, so, making a connection between the original idea and a correlating feeling I experienced before it’s a thing that comes naturally. After that, I take the two things and put them down on paper, roughly. Once I’ve done that, I read things that can be correlated to what I need, like newspapers, books, videos, the internet, speaking with people. After that, I see if anything I read, watched, or heard can give me something extra. Regarding situations I’ve never experienced or locations I’ve never been to, but I want to use them in my book, I generally watch documentaries, speak with people that may know more than me on the matter or location, I research photos I find online, and surround myself in them and then. If I find anything that inspires me, I fuse it with my imagination.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both. I plot the points that I want in the story – including the ending – and then I pantser through. I write better if I know what’s the destination, or at least an idea of the destination. Like a boat at sea, it can fight the storms or enjoy the calm. It may take a week or a month to get to the destination, but in the end, it gets there.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
The world in the Neuromancer. I’m fascinated by the idea of a super technological future I’ll never see. With the past, we can use history to give us an idea of what it was like to live in Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian era. The future requires imagination. I’d also like to live in Wonderland for a while as Alice did.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Santiago, from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. The character transpires good vibes, and I like that. Also, I’d like to meet Alan, from The Hundred-Years-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, as I’d love to sit next to him and listen to his stories.

Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: September 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 245
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Parallel

L. J. Bacon

Have you ever had an incredibly vivid dream?
A dream so real that you can feel, taste and smell the world around you?
Déjà vu is a feeling which all too clearly tells you that you’re going somewhere you’ve been before, or experiencing something you know has happened to you already. Jacob knew that his weird dreams were much more significant than that.
When Jacob suddenly realises that the life he’s living isn’t his only life, he will have to uncover ancient truths and the schism that changed mankind’s history forever. He must determine the point at which the parallel world was created; the world the other version of Jacob inhabits.
He must discover who is controlling these split universes and why, before it’s too late.


Author Interview

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Writing enables me to let my imagination to run wild, I can be totally uninhibited and hopefully take those that read my books along for the ride.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
My favourite character has to be king Stephen, he is a man of power who uses his power for the good of his people, totally unselfish loves his people willing to give his life for them, he is what a true leader is meant to be, if only those that rule this world were like him.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
My god I drink too much coffee.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I play my music too loud, music helps my writing flow.

How did you research your book?
I didn’t, its like a story being told to me and I’m the vessel used to write it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I just go with the flow.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I would love to live on soul from my book, as it is a none materialistic world where the people live as one, always looking out for one and other, and they have mental abilities beyond our imagination.
They live as one with every living creature and able to communicate with them.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
That would have to be Egum from my book, who wouldn’t want to be friends with a mighty Dragon.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: November 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 334
Genre: Sci-Fi/Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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