Book Review: “Backlash” by S. A. Hoag

S. A. Hoag’s Backlash is my eighth read of the year.

I wanted to review the works of other indie authors, and Hoag is the first. Backlash follows three characters after a great war has devastated the land. They volunteer to protect the last vestiges of humanity from the new world’s dangers. These three share eerie psychic abilities because they are genetically enhanced.

The setting is fascinating. As a horror and sci-fi nerd, apocalyptic tales always pique my interest. (After all, Fallout is one of my favourite video games.) Yet, Hoag wastes no time or energy on long-winded expositions and infodumps. Instead, she places the reader in the middle of the characters and trusts you are smart enough to figure it out.

The story moves at a breakneck pace, and Hoag keeps descriptions bare bones. This approach lets the story race past, uncluttered and streamlined. I’ve read short stories a tenth of Backlash‘s length that took me longer—I devoured it in two days.

Give Hoag’s work a shot; it won’t disappoint.

Book Review: “Grave Predictions”

Grave Predictions was my seventh read of 2023.

I picked up Grave Predictions because it contained Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.” I’d always wanted to check out this short story but could never find it anywhere—and I didn’t want to pirate it. Then, after a chat with friends about disturbing ideas—such as Roko’s basilisk—Ellison came up. Thus, I decided I needed to read it and find a copy.

The collection as a whole stands as a bit hit-and-miss. “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”—the reason I got it in the first place—was excellent, as expected. As were several other stories, such as King’s “The End of the Whole Mess”. I also enjoyed the early pieces from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The progression through the decades was a nice touch. But a few parts did not work for me.

It’s worth the price of admission for some of the more standout stories. Of course, some are weaker than others. But the high moments make it all worthwhile. And that closing story is breathtaking.

Please give it a go, but don’t be afraid to pass on the stories that aren’t working for you.

Book Review: “The Drift” by C.J. Tudor

I picked up C.J. Tudor’s The Drift for my sixth read of the year.

I’d heard of Tudor before and had seen The Chalk Man getting positive reviews. So when I saw The Drift’s stunning cover in my local Tyrolia, I had to pick it up. Whoever said don’t judge a book by its cover?

Three thriller stories twist around each other, happening at the same time. Oh, and there’s a zombie-ish apocalypse going on, as well. A coachload of students crashes, leaving the survivors trapped inside. A cable car breaks down, stranding the strangers onboard with a dead body. Friends, locked in a snowed-in chalet, are soon at each other’s throats.

The Drift is a mix of murder mystery, suspense thriller, and apocalyptic horror. So it’s hard to pinpoint what genre The Drift is, but there’s one thing for sure: it’s bloody brilliant.

If any—or all—those listed genres appeal to you, then I urge you to pick up a copy of The Drift. It had so many twists I could not predict where it headed.

I’d say it’s damn near flawless, and I look forward to delving into Tudor’s back catalogue.

Book Review: “A Prayer for the Crown-Shy” by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers’s A Prayer for the Crown-Shy was my fifth read of the year.

The first Monk and Robot book—A Psalm for the Wild-Built—was excellent. But A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is perfect. The post–semi-apocalypse and post–robot uprising story follows two loveable characters. Sibling Dex, a tea monk, and Mosscap, a robot who wishes to know what people need, go on a road trip.

This book has it all. A hilarious moment between two post-coital humans and a curious but innocent robot. A heartwrenching funeral for a fish from a robot that avoids violence. A magical moment where the robot first meets a human child, and said human child first meets a robot.

Reading this book felt like a cuddle from my wife for the mind.

‘18.01528’: A short story about a heated conversation

Hey, guys! Hope you’re all doing well, as autumn fast approaches! This next one was written for the Reedsy contest, Dog Days of Summer. I chose the prompt, “Write a story about another day in a heatwave.” At first, I wasn’t really sure what direction to take the story in, but then inspiration struck and I went for a Mad Max-ian vibe. The title of my story is 18.01528, and — as per — you can read it here on WordPress or over on my Reedsy profile!

The old man spoke, pale blue gaze resolute. He ignored the barrel of the assault rifle that was aimed at his forehead. “We were neither prepared nor equipped to cooperate.”

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Well, until tomorrow’s Friday Afternoon Frights… 😉

‘Where the Children Used to Play’: A story about what happens after the horror

Hey guys! How we all doing? Sick of this constant barrage of stories yet? Well, I’m afraid we’re not quite done yet — but we’re almost there! This next one I’m really rather fond of. It was written for the contest A Moment Like This, and for a while I was thinking about using the prompt, “Write a story told entirely through one chase scene,” but in the end, I went for, “Write a story about a summer afternoon spent in a treehouse.” I don’t want to become predictable, after all! Anyway, the title of my story is Where the Children Used to Play, and you can read it here on WordPress or over on my Reedsy profile.

They couldn’t climb, so she knew she was safe, even if only temporarily.

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Well, until next time, guys and gals — stay safe, and look after each other. 🙂

‘Living and Dying in 42 Beachley Street’: An apocalyptic story written during lockdown

We’re halfway through July. How the hell are we halfway through July!? The year is just flying past, isn’t it? I guess that can be mostly (but not completely) attributed to the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.

Appropriately, this next one was written in the middle of lockdown, for the contest Close to Home. I chose the prompt, “Write a story about two neighbours talking from their yards, windows, balconies, etc.” The title of my story is Living and Dying in 42 Beachley Street, and you can read it here on WordPress or over on my Reedsy profile.

I held my breath as the silhouette of the little old lady turned around at the sound of my veranda door opening, then sighed internally when she waved cheerfully in my direction.

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I really like this one, and it’s actually the kinda vibe I’m going for in my current WIP (stay tuned…). I hope you guys liked it! Until next time — be careful of your zombie neighbours.

The next Reedsy entry on the list: ‘The Open Window Lets the Rain In’


Okay, so continuing with the short stories I’ve been meaning to upload! This one was written for the Reedsy contest Staying Inside. I chose the prompt, “Write a story about a rainy day spent indoors.” The title of my short story is The Open Window Lets the Rain In, and you can read it here on WordPress, or over on my Reedsy profile.

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon when I discover the open window in the upstairs bathroom.


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I had a lot of fun writing this, I really enjoyed the creepy descent into insanity. Maybe it was a bit too close to home, with the current lockdown. 😉 Anyway, stay safe you guys! More stories coming soon!

Read my quirky little entry for this week’s Reedsy: ‘Frank’

Hey, guys! So, here we are, the final day of NaNoWriMo! But… I’ll be making a post about that another day. Today is Reedsy short story contest time! The final Reedsy during NaNoWriMo! I’ve found it a little bit exhausting to maintain all my side stuff alongside NaNo, but I’ve made it!

This week’s Reedsy theme was ‘All the Fixin’s’ for Thanksgiving! As a Brit, I don’t really know what it’s exactly all about, but I was more than happy to pen a story under the theme, nonetheless! I chose prompt #2 — “Write a story about a family dinner that includes someone unexpected showing up.”

The title of my story is Frank, and, as always, you can read it here on WordPress, or over on my Reedsy profile!

We all thought that Frank was dead. Had we known that he wasn’t, we would have killed him again.

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I wrote this piece in a really short space of time, due to my NaNo commitments — it came together in the space of an hour or so. I think it’s got quite an off-beat vibe! I hope you all like it!

Stay tuned for more posts as NaNo comes to an end!

‘As It Ends’ Was Shortlisted for the Reedsy Contest!


Hey, everyone! Sorry for being so quiet on here lately, but life has been so busy! Anyway, I’ve been shortlisted for the Reedsy contest again! This marks the second time I’ve been shortlisted for the contest. Of course, I’d love to win the contest again, I’m still really pleased at being shortlisted!

If you haven’t already, you can read As It Ends here, or over on my Reedsy profile.

Sally didn’t see the nukes explode.

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If you’d like to read my previously shortlisted story, What Did We Do? click here or here. And if you’d like to read my stories that actually won, you can read The Things That Do Not Float here and here, and Astro Naught here and here.

Check back tomorrow to read my latest entry! I feel as if I’ve broken new ground with this most recent piece…