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29 Jul 2010

The Ticking

The Hollows Book 1: The Ticking is written by Ben Larken and published by LL Publications.
Acclaimed to be better than Ben’s first novel, Pit-stop, which won the 2009 EPPIE Award for the category of horror.

Ben Larken resides in Fort Worth with his wife and 3 kids; he works as a Police Dispatcher.
The Hollows Book 1: The Ticking is Ben’s second novel and is part 1 of 4 in the series.
Book 2 The Man in the Wall is due out in the fall of 2010.

The cover art for The Ticking was created by Susi Steele and depicts a close up of a grandfather clock with blood dripping from the face. The hands of the clock point to ten past ten with the shadow of a skeletal being with an outstretched arm and hand to the left of the clocks face. The cover is two shades of brown looking as if someone has shone a torch upon the clock in a darkened room.

The cover appears true to the title, The Ticking, of this first novel in the Hollows series although this title does not appear on the cover or the spine of the book but in fact the title page.

The authors name appears at the top of the cover in large black writing highlighted in red whilst the series title, The Hollows, appears in larger writing at the bottom.

In 1949, young Tess Buckner is like every child inquisitive, adventurous and she loves stories. When her mother promises to tell her another story in return for her fetching a bucket of water, Tess agrees and whilst out makes a discovery of a bunker in the forest behind her home. Upon hearing a voice crying for help Tess investigates, soon after Tess is witness to a terrible murder which will leave her traumatised and having to grow up very quickly.

In 2009, Cop David Alders has spent the past decade putting both his life and career on hold in search for his missing wife. He has spent this time compiling files of everything he believes can bring her case to a close. Upon deciding there are no more answers leading to her possible whereabouts he finally chooses his final option of looking down the barrel of his gun.

With growing bills and a daughter about to head off to college David decides he and his daughter can no longer afford to live in the family home and it is time to move. Finding a complex called The Hollows, set away from other buildings and the main road separated by a vast forest and bushes it seems like the perfect place to start over, except for the loud ticking.

Woken by a grotesque burnt man Melanie Alders attempts to convince her father that she wasn’t dreaming and did in fact experience these goings on, but an uninterested David is more interested in the fact he just woke up to find himself reliving yesterday.

The Hollows is a complex place full of interesting people both old and young. There are strange goings on which although at first appear to be nothing more than usual goings on one would expect to find in such a tightly knit community, will in fact reveal themselves to be a series of related events no matter how mundane they maybe.

The characters are diverse ranging from old men loving their poker night tournaments, to over protective mothers with son’s in their twenties, one Rennie who does all he can for his mother never thinking of himself and Dontae who is Rennie’s complete opposite.

The Ticking is a story of humanity, life, death and immortality and is filled to the brim with questions such as how do all these characters lives come together? Why? What is the incessant ticking and where is it coming from? And, how did David Alders travel to the past? Every question on every characters mind will have you turning page after page and since every chapter does not lead on from the previous, you will find yourself reading as quickly as possible to get the answers you seek.

As many questions that are asked within the book even more are asked by the reader, how far are you willing to go for those you love? How far would you be willing to go to obtain immortality? And what are you willing to give up, to obtain it?

Time has always been considered the one thing man cannot use his/her five senses to experience and yet he/she does. Every minute of every second of every day we are experiencing time and it is measured by the events taking place in that time. Someone once said that we are experiencing the future all the time because time is always moving and this saying is quite true to this story in that new futures are created all the time and that the story is constantly shifting between different time periods.

Thought to be linear, time is always ticking away from us but if we could go back and right our wrongs would we? Could we? The laws of physics say no because we would essentially delete the time period in which we ourselves travelled back.

The Ticking is a very well and carefully constructed book that even as you close the book after reading the final page you are left still wanting more because you still have more questions.

I found this book to be even better than Mr Larken’s first novel, Pit-Stop, and I did enjoy how he managed to fit in two instances where by anyone who has read Pit-stop will be reminded of it in this book.

The only fault I can find in this book is with regard to the cover, I would have personally been more inclined to have had an indication on the cover and spine that this was Book 1 and titled The Ticking because on a bookshelf if the spine of the next three books are the same, there could be some confusion.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone aged 18 years and over due to some of the content.

I give Ben Larken and The Ticking Book 1 of The Hollows Series 5 stars

By R.N. Hadley

9 Jul 2010

October Rain

October Rain is a novella of 131 pages, written by Dylan J Morgan and published by Sonar4Publications.

Dylan J Morgan lives in Norway, he was born in New Zealand and raised in the UK; he writes during the quiet moments in small hours after dark while the rest of his family are sleeping.
Dylan has also published his first novel, Hosts through Sonar4Publications. Other works include two short stories published in the 2009 anthology, Gentlemen of Horror. He also has works in War Wolves, Horrology and Zombology III. Dylans short story Melissa, was published in January this year in Issue 9 of Necrotic Tissue.

The cover art by Jerrod Brown depicts two blonde men possibly twins, dressed mostly in black clothing with black sunglasses. In their hands they are holding smoking guns. The background is like an area of space illuminated by the sun, there is a planet and what looks to be two moons, one on the left and the other on the right. A spaceship is taking off directly in front of the planet which has the novellas title upon its surface and the smoke of the ship descends toward and between the men with the name of the author between them.

The short prologue leaves the reader wondering about the person speaking, who they are, where they came from, how they are in this situation, why and what do they wish they could so easily forget.

It has been years, decades even since mankind had to abandon Earth and seek a new home on its neighbour planet Mars. Having brought much of the worlds historical artefacts along there is hope that mankind would have a second chance at bettering itself. However, years later it appears there are something’s which mankind can just not abandon because these things are built into their DNA, making each individual who they are.

Now with a second failing home world mankind is again under threat and those remaining in the city of Olympia on Mars are seeking refuge to the other planets within the system.

Steele is a strong confident character we first encounter whilst on the job, he’s a bounty hunter and if you ever believed that bounty hunters were heartless beings then you’d find yourself clearly mistaken. Driven by the love of and for his family Steele will go to any and all lengths to keep those he loves safe as any man would. Steele’s contract endorsed by the government is to seek and kill a man known only as Pierce and gain information to his whereabouts and plans by any means necessary. For Steele this means hunting down Pierce’s men and clients in the hope they will lead Steele to him and all the while keeping his occupation a secret from his wife and daughter.

In time it becomes apparent that there is something more than a mere job driving Steele in his hunt for Pierce. Who is he? Will Steele find him? If so will he kill him? and by his deadline?

We all strive to protect our way of life and those we care for to the best of our abilities but how do we protect those we love from those who share our DNA? From those we call family? Or, even brother?

It would seem that on Mars in the month of October it never just rains it pours and for Steele the flood is coming.

October Rain written by Dylan J Morgan is a fast past shuttle ride into mankind’s future yet following the main character of Steele, a family man who protects his family by any means even if it means becoming a bounty hunter to keep them safe.

Very well written this story, the character of Steele and the setting completely pull you in so much that you can almost see the dust clouds on the horizon and taste the sulphur in the air. The characters are believable even if for a split second you think the likes of Al Capone may show their face.

The story is so fast you’ll have it read cover to cover in a single afternoon, you will not want to put this book down for what you may miss and for fear of losing your pace.

This is a fantastic novel very different from Dylans first novel Hosts, but still to be enjoyed by old readers and new readers alike. I would recommend this book to all scifi/fantasy fans over the age of 17 due to excessive language.

I give Dylan J Morgan and October Rain 5 stars.

By R.N. Hadley

22 Apr 2010

Second Chances

Second Chances Written by Christle Gray is published through Sapphire Blue Publishing.

Romance Novelist Christle Gray lives in Kentucky with her husband, cat and large number of collectables from Doctor Who Figurines to Stuffed Stitch toys. Born and raised in Ohio she has always had a love for writing spending much of her youth filling notebooks with poems and stories. An avid artist to boot it appears there is always something to keep Mrs Gray busy and creative. Second Chances was her first novel to be published and is available as an ebook.

The cover of Second Chances was created by Kendra Egert and depicts a landscape view of London showing the Millennium Eye on the left and Big Ben on the right side of the cover. The title is in large red letters whilst the authors name sits directly below in large white lettering. At least 60% of the cover depicts a man and woman wearing what appears to be formal wear laying together, the woman resting against the man who has his arms around her.

Kristen can’t believe it when the handsomest man at the gala, an up and coming actor, takes a sudden and intense interest in her after losing her husband, all she wants to do is mull through life and work at her gallery. But things change quickly and Kristen is thrown into what appears to be a love triangle with David and his fiancĂ©e actress Sophie Miller. It soon becomes apparent that Sophie is nothing more than a spoilt woman who loves getting what she wants and controlling everyone and everything around her including David, she is psychotic and will go to any and all means at keeping her man under thumb. In a relationship merely set up as a PR stunt David wants out but can he keep his true relationship with Kristen a secret from the press and Sophie and eventually air the truth to the public or will Sophie try and scupper any plans David has of leaving her for Kristen.

Second chances are a very difficult thing to come by but they come plenty of times throughout this novel. Any reader will instantly take a disliking to the character of Sophie Miller and hope for her downfall, whilst at the same time wishing for the characters of David and Kristen to find some happiness, because they truly deserve it. This is a very easy book to lose yourself in and quickly with characters, dialogue and plots shadowing real life you’ll find yourself gunning for one or another side as the story progresses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend Second Chances by Christle Gray to anyone over the age of 18.

I give Second Chances 4.5 out of 5 stars

By R.N. Hadley