Vaccination by Philip Tomasso

The start certainly got my attention; it wasn’t what I was expecting. Reading through the short chapters made it a fast paced novel. Instantly addicted at the start as people seemed to be infected with some sort of disease; turning out to be a vaccination gone wrong.

The reader is promptly chucked into the exciting plot as a person is bitten, while a woman crosses the street broken, scratched and bleeding, appearing dead.

This was hard to put down. It started off thrilling and only increased. Very little breaks as the mass of test subjects increases. The telephone lines connecting with the police and ambulance are flooded, and the main character has to tell friend from foe. Having to escape away from these zombie-like creatures as he and his girlfriend race to safe his kids from his ex and her husband who have also been infected.

Tension increases as more is revealed. A tad bit on the conspiracy side with the government trying to cover-up this monumental mistake; while on the other the ever-increasing zombies coming from all directions; some fast, some slow, all converging on them.

The characters are relatable; you are rooting for their escape. On the edge of my seat as the characters keep on having to escape one location after another without being attacked.

The characters now have to fight for survival, kill to live. No one knows the numbers. Some are slow; some are record fast, all seeking human blood and flesh to devour.

Excellently written, descriptive scenes of violence and death, but not overdone in the scheme of things. The author easily creates images; I could picture what I read. Feeling the desperation and the progression of the characters.

As I enjoy fast-paced novels, this one is right up my alley. It doesn’t stop. They have to be always on their guard, anything can attract the walking dead.

I would highly recommend this book for those that enjoy zombie-based thrillers, or anyone that enjoys a non-stop ride of suspense.

4 ½ stars


4 1/2 stars out of 5


Café Insomniac by Mark Capell

The start is somewhat unusual, but it did have me intrigued. Justin starts up a night-time café, specially designed for those that can’t sleep, especially him. Battling from insomnia, his idea to open an all night café leads him down a path completely unexpected.


When an accident happens at the café, Justin debates on calling on his first customer that offered his ‘services’, claiming to want to support the local community.


At first I thought this story was going to be a bit mundane, but there are definitely a lot of twists happening. Customers coming off the street to help fix things, while an attractive woman spends the entire night in the café, but obviously scared of something… or someone.


The author has a humorous way of depicting characters and scenes, which lightens up the overall feel of the novel.


Not exactly what I would describe as a thriller, but the unusual events and how and why they are all connected is fascinating and keeps me enthralled. I want to read more to find out what exactly is going on.


The plot thickens as a death and a threat or warning occurs. There is no indication to what started this; why Justin and his café is being targeted.


As the plot progresses, more unusual things take place. Unfortunately the middle of the story slows down. There is the underlying presence of a corrupt person, but the story mainly continues to tell about the different characters that come into the café. I wasn’t sure if they were part of the underlying plot, or just talking about the type of customers that come into the café.


Although the main plot is quite good, I think the story perhaps goes for a bit too long. It shouldn’t slow down as much. There is a bit too much focus on what happens at the café, and less exciting events happen.


There are some interesting and sad moments. The different characters add another dimension to the story; with another character getting caught up in the mix of a powerful man that thinks he owns everything and everybody. People under his grasp can’t be free, and the one man that could bring him down refuses.


Although I connected with the story to begin with, I did fade in and out in the middle of it. It’s not really a mystery, but a bit slow to be a thriller. Some dramatic scenes create a bit more pull from the novel, but they don’t really contribute much to the overall story line; at least that would appear so, but with this novel, appearances can be deceiving.


Finally, the pieces start to fall into place. Events start to make sense, unexpected events come into play.


The ending does drag a bit, I got the gist of where the author was heading with the ending quite quickly, so the ending could have been a bit shorter just to tighten things up.

Overall, a good read which could have benefited from being about a hundred or so pages shorter.


3 ½ stars



The Last Escalation by Isaac Goldone

Not quite sure how to take the start. It’s quite a mix of unique characters chucked in from the start, a bit of humour, wondering if it’s supposed to be serious or not.


It seems to be getting more bizarre by the minute. A psychiatric hospital called “white mouse”, containing major players of America, Presidents and their aids etc. Under new laws this new Islamic state can hold these people.


These people also have doubles in case of an invasion and to prevent the real ones from getting imprisoned. A lot is quickly revealed in the first few pages, with unusual characters and depictions, but the more I read the more confusing it was.


It tends to dwindle out a bit when the presidents of two countries at war in 2016 meet. Long and tedious conversations drag the novel a bit. The writer creates a novel that is supposed to be full of weird humour, and many jokes, but it tends to get lost amongst of whatever else is going on.


The characters are a bit difficult to relate to, because they seem to jump around a lot. I assume that a man call Barney, a comedian and works with the President is the main character. He fills the novel with plenty of jokes, which at times can be funny, but there is one too many jokes chucked in there.


While reading the novel ‘random’ and ‘weird’ are the two words that frequently come to mind. But this could be what the author wanted, a book like nothing I have ever read before.


I wanted something really exciting to happen, and although there is a war going on, there’s no reality to it. No real grit, and what makes it even more unusual is the celebrities that are included in the novel are sort of hired guns, but the initials of their names are changed; Teagal, instead of Steven Seagal etc.


It jumps to and fro without any proper interlude; the writing style could be improved on by using more imaginative phrasing.


I would say that the novel is a bit too long for whatever genre it is trying to fit into.  For those that like reading slightly cliché jokes, this novel is for them. Certainly a more light-hearted approach to things which some readers may enjoy.


Some unexpected events occur. I wasn’t really sure who was supposed to be ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’.


I don’t really know what to make of the ending. Everything seems to happen all at once, but yet nothing really happened. It’s hard to sum up a novel quite like that. A bit crazy.


2 ½ stars



Interview with Anthony Caplan, author of Savior

1. Tell me about yourself. I’m a writer who also works full-time as a high school teacher in New Hampshire. I’ve been writing fiction since I was twenty seven years old. I worked as a journalist in Mexico, Central and South America. I met my wife in Venezuela where we were both working as journalists. We moved to England where she is from, then we moved to Ireland. Then we came back to the States and had our first child. I took my wife’s job teaching Spanish when she wanted to stay home with our son. We had two more children, sold the house we had built in Ireland, bought a run down farmhouse and fixed it up. Now we have sheep, chickens, a dog and three kids and the oldest boy is in high school. I kept writing the whole time and finally found a publisher after twenty five years of sending stuff out. That’s got to be close to a record for either stupidity or persistence.

2. How were you inspired to write Savior? The main inspiration came while I was on a family holiday and trying to surf with my son and I had the idea for a father and son adventure battling the forces of evil attempting to destroy the world as we know it.

3. What inspired you to write? From the beginning the idea of writing was to help me discover things about the world I did not know. It’s like teaching is the best way to learn things except writing is even better.

4. What is something interesting about you not many people know? I was an extra in Dune, the David Lynch cult classic.

5. What genre do you like to write in? I have mainly written literary or contemporary fiction, but am finding myself working on a sequel to Savior also in a dystopian, science fiction mode.

6. Have you ever encountered writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? No. Working as a journalist is good training and discipline to teach yourself to write on demand.

7. Summarise your novel. Here is my back cover blurb which I am sticking to because it’s pretty good. Al and Ricky, father and son, plan a surfing getaway in Guatemala, the perfect place to bond and reconnect after the death of Mary, the woman who held their lives together. But the Santos Muertos are taking over Guatemala, and when the gang discovers that Ricky has the Chocomal, the Mayan tablet which carries the secret code they need to take over the world with their fearsome Resonator, all hell breaks loose. An unwilling hero, all-American teenager Ricky must find and rescue his father and in the process save us all from utter destruction. Will he learn how to be a real man along the way?

8. Tell me about your characters. Al and Ricky are the main characters. Al is a forty something guy who dotes on his family and is devastated when his wife dies and leaves him in charge of raising his semi-estranged son Ricky. Ricky is an adventurous kid who would rather surf than play football, rather hang out on the beach in Florida with his girlfriend than be in school, but learns that he needs his father more than he thought and devotes himself to finding him after he’s been kidnapped by the Santos Muertos.

9. Tell me about your publishing journey. My previous three books have been self-published. I’ve been getting better at the publishing and marketing process with each book, but with Savior I received interest from a small press and decided to go with a publisher rather than self-publish just to see if it helped the book find a larger audience.


Interview with Theo Cage – author of Buzzworm

1. Tell me about yourself.

I’ve always loved to write. I scratched out my first short story when I was seven, about a boy who mysteriously shrank down to the size of a mouse and was sucked up by the family vacuum cleaner. I still remember the excitement of being able to manufacture a story out of pure imagination. Getting that boy safely out of the vacuum cleaner at the end was also a great puzzle to solve. Nothing is more fun.

I work in the technology industry today and write and paint in my spare time. And I continue to enjoy finding ways to get people safely out of tight spots.

2. How were you inspired to write Buzzworm?

I worked for a year with an IT expert who, it turned out, was on contract once to the Mossad in Israel. His first-hand accounts of using computer viruses as a military weapon really caught my imagination. Most people have no idea how powerful and ubiquitous these threats are. Today, computer viruses can attack our smart phones, our cars and even our appliances. Just think of all the possible story lines.

3. What inspired you to write?

I didn’t grow up on Harry Potter; my YA was H.P.Lovecraft, Issac Asimov and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Especially Vonnegut. He just seemed to be having so much fun writing that I could hardly wait to finish his novels so I could start my own. Of course that sense of ease was a complete deception. He struggled over every word just like all of us. He just made it look easy.

4. What is something interesting about you not many people know?

I actually wrote and produced a comedy television show for one year in partnership with a very talented comedic actor. The series even caught the attention of the American Comedy Network in New York. What I learned from that experience is the technique of writing on-demand. You have five minutes and we need one hundred words. Go.

5. What genre do you like to write in?

I’ve always loved thrillers and have read everything written by Chrichton, Stephen Hunter, Connelly, Sandford and Lee Childs. Again, I think this goes back to my fascination with watching interesting characters find their way out of difficult situations. But I am working on a novel right now about a golden retriever that goes on a long journey to find the answers to life, so I do wander around a bit. As a kid I wrote a lot of sci-fi short stories and loved horror too.

6. Have you ever encountered writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

 That hasn’t been an issue yet (I’m crossing my fingers). I write far too much as it is and most gets swept away in the first edit, so I’m very “word wasteful”. If you find yourself staring at your computer screen, my suggestion would be to break out of your comfort zone. Dive into a completely different genre for a while and see if that gets the ideas flowing. But that’s just a suggestion. I’m certainly no expert.

7. Summarise your novel.

The CIA comes under attack by what appears to be a computer virus that has learned how to kill people. Med, a programmer working in satellite surveillance, thinks she knows how to stop the threat. She partners with a quirky virus expert from Canada and a veteran homicide detective from DC to find the deadly source of the “Buzzworm” super virus.

8. Tell me about your characters.

Greg Hyde is a veteran homicide detective, who, like many I’ve met, is a bit jaded by the politics and the bureaucracy after ten plus years on the job. And of course, he has seen everything – a lot that can’t be erased. I don’t really know how these people get up every morning and go to work. I find that endlessly fascinating. But what I love most about Greg is he has a great sense of irony about life in general and he just doesn’t know how to give up. It’s not in his tool kit. So he soldiers on. 

Mary Ellen Dukes (Med), the book’s CIA hacker, has dreamed about being a secret agent since she was ten years old. Imagine her excitement when she actually gets hired and then finds herself working in the sub-basement of a special division that monitors satellite imagery. In Buzzworm we barely scratch the surface of what Med is capable of. She will definitely be coming back. There’s a multi-book story arc for Mary Ellen I can’t wait to write.

9. Tell me about your publishing journey. 

Like thousands of other writers, I spent a decade submitting manuscripts and query letters to agents. I have over a hundred rejection letters in my inbox. Then in 2008 I secured a New York agent who was very supportive and worked with me to completely re-write the book. That was an exciting six months. Unfortunately, due the recession, he lost his job. That was when I decided to self-publish. 

The self-pub learning curve is pretty steep but involves the use of a lot of tools and techniques I enjoy playing with; Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, AdWords, Google+, Goodreads etc. I am also experimenting with a number of marketing features available on Goodreads, Amazon and Google and hope to write about them when I learn more.




999 Abroad by Borkur Sigurbjornsson

It was a slightly awkward start, a bit monotone, not really unveiling much about anything. The main character sitting in an Amsterdam park talking to a Dutchman about Iceland and their belief in Elves.


Nothing really happens at the beginning. Just conversations, simplistic in structure. Unfortunately the chapters don’t seem to have much point to them. It isn’t difficult to read, but I was itching for something more to transpire.


The narrative occasionally switches to other people. The writing would benefit from being written in an active voice instead of passive; and not always starting the sentences with ‘he’ or ‘she’, would just make the sentences flow better.


The change of characters are not separated by another chapter, but merges into one. It does feel like the characters are kind of chucked in there, not really contributing much to the overall plot.


There are some interesting tidbits thrown in there, along with some humorous conversations. Some scenes take the reader back to references of another person, but it is difficult to have any connection with those characters. I wanted something to be memorable about this story, but unfortunately it was slightly disappointing.


There is of course potential in all work, if there were some good build-up scenes, and a climatic or defining moment for the character, I think that would have improved it quite a bit.


2 ½ stars