From Away — Book 1: A Serial Thriller of Arcane and Eldritch Horror by Deke Mackay Jr.

Publication Date: July 18, 2015



Mossley Island is a place where the residents keep to themselves and distrust outsiders. Ren Lesguettes may have been born on the island but when he and his daughter, Dawn, move to the island so that he can consult on a bridge to connect it to the mainland, they find ample opposition. With Dawn wanting to reconnect with the family her father left behind, what she finds on Mossley Island is a people with a lot to hide.



From Away is an investment. It is the first volume in a planned serial fiction and, as such, the story is really just beginning by the last page in the book. There are several perspective threads to follow and a host of characters with uncertain involvement beyond their resident status on the island. What we know from the first page is that there is a dark evil that the islanders fear with good reason and while it may not have showed its face for a while, they are ever vigilant (and the subject of the series) so will at some point return with likely devastating consequence.

There’s awkwardness in the writing style of From Away. The book is written in present tense, a style of which this reader is not especially a fan but also, in a likely attempt to build tension, the sudden starts and shifts are a bit too frequent. The audience seeing a character and potential threat before the person in the book can be a great device for fostering terror if paired with exposition. Of course, “suddenly surrounded by nuns” is enough to fill anyone with dread.

There are some things that as a reader I found odd and puzzling. They’re building a bridge for access from the island to the mainland but Dawn is initially denied access to the island because she lacks a blood test showing a familial link. One young man starts to stay something to his father and is immediately shut down because he’s not supposed to know. In many ways, From Away reminded me initially of Blake Crouch’s “Wayward Pines” except no one is being kidnapped and there’s a Ferry to the island.

Mackay’s strong suit is setting. He has a good feel of the island on which his story is set. In an interview listed on Amazon, the author says that  the idea for Mossley Island came while living on an island off of the East Coast of Canada. The sense of place is unique and its place in time uncertain. What we know by the end of the book is that there are grave dangers and dark evils haunting the people who have stayed.

Ultimately what the reader is left with is a good idea and great promise but with a few issues that are not insurmountable. The book is short and a quick read and beyond a few flow problems as a result of the aforementioned sudden stops and starts. I think as the story naturally unfolds (and much of the series has already been released), the outstanding issues will be easy to rectify.

If you’re looking for a sci-fi read that’s a good idea, buy From Away today.


Read an excerpt and buy From Away — Series One, Book One: A Serial Thriller of Arcane and Eldritch Horror by Deke Mackay Jr. on

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For more information about Deke Mackay Jr., visit his website. You can connect with him on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga) by Steven Kelliher

Publication Date: July 31, 2016



Kole and the Emberfolk have long protected Last Lake from the creatures that lurk in the dark. When a creature attacks that is like nothing they’ve seen before, the Emberfolk are convinced it’s a legendary evil that must be vanquished. Kole and his fellow warriors set out to fulfill the prophecy and defeat the dreaded Eastern Dark.

I received an ARC of Valley of the Embers from the author in exchange for my review.


Valley of the Embers has the feeling of a creative writing class project. Simile heavy, Kelliher chooses lyricism over clarity in his tale of a mystic people with a weaponized fire starting ability. Though the concept of a protector race is in an interesting one, Kelliher drips information about the Emberfolk that would have perhaps been used to as a better world building tool in a short prologue. The novel starts with characters experiencing a sense of urgency in that they know something terrible is coming but don’t know where it will hit. That heart pounding watchfulness becomes the hallmark of Kelliher’s work.

Kole Reyna, the protagonist of the piece, is a fully realized skeptic. He knows there is more in the world than he’ll ever understand but he feels that his compatriots sometimes connect dots based on ancient stories instead of modern data. Despite his devil’s advocate position in the story, Kole is a team player with the good of the people he’s supposed to protect at his core. He realizes that the people his Emberfolk are charged with championing are losing their faith. In the initial battle in which Kole is injured, they start to evacuate. The job with which the Emberfolk are tasked is innate in them. Kole and his supporting cast are interesting to read and their motivations ring as true to the fantasy genre with an undercurrent of something more to say.

Perhaps because my young daughter is so in love with anime at the moment, Valley of the Embers called to mind the anime series Attack on Titan. The Japanese Manga focuses on a group of warriors charged with keeping their fellow townsfolk safe from the frequent Titan attacks. Ever watchful, the attacks can come from anywhere and while the antagonists know what the titans look like, they know little else about them beyond stories passed down. Like Eren and pals, action in Valley of the Embers happens at any time. Kelliher is a former fighter and sports and entertainment writer, his fight scenes are visual. There is a time worn elegance to the conflict in the work. Once the flowerly language and similies run thin, the beauty remains. With time, Kelliher’s ability to build tension and the knowledge of imminent danger carries the piece from a confused 3 star rating to a solid 4 star with anticipation for the next in the series.

Valley of the Embers is a novel that takes time to engage the reader. The formality and lyricism is consistent throughout the piece but the greater knowledge of the Emberfolks and others in their world, gives readers a better understanding of the world built. If you like fantasy, just stick with this one. As first books go, Valley of the Embers is exceptionally well crafted and shows great promise for future outings by the author.


Read an excerpt and buy Valley of Embers by Steven Kelliher on

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For more information about Wayne Zurl, visit his website. You can connect with him on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter @Steven_Kelliher.

Gabriella (Hiatt Regency Classics Book 1) by Brenda Hiatt

Publication Date: June 26, 2012



The Duke of Ravenham (Dex) lost a bet and must bring Miss Gabriella (Brie) Gordon into society. Her family connections are not desirable in London society, but Dex may be the one man that can help her make a brilliant match. As Dex gets to know Brie and their friendship builds, will he be able to let her go?




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Heroes and Lovers (A Sam Jenkins Mystery Book 3) by Wayne Zurl

Publication Date: March 22, 2016



The on-air reporter, Rachel Williamson, is kidnapped while helping Chief Sam Jenkins with a routine case. Sam soon discovers that the case is far from routine and poses a significant danger to both him and his missing friend. Heroes and Lovers is the third book in the Sam Jenkins series.




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Phaleeta’s Obsession by Cathy Crowne

Publication Date: November 12, 2015



Phaleeta Turnbow is a lifelong, Kansas City resident that works in public relations at a publishing house and has a disastrous dating life. She measures all men against the man of her dreams, Frisco Balantine, a fictional creation by author Rob Penner. When Phaleeta  gets an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) of Rod’s new book and finds that he’s killed Frisco, she decides that the protagonist must be modeled after the author. In researching her next move, she finds that Rod’s hometown of Lavender Fields, Michigan is in need of a new librarian. Can Phaleeta  find happiness in the tiny western Michigan town with the man of her dreams or will he turn out to be a nightmare?


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The Onion Field by Joseph Wambaugh

Publication Date: November 26, 2008



On March 9, 1963, two men on a burglary spree were stopped as a result of a routine traffic offense by two plainclothes LAPD officers in an unmarked car. The men took the officers, both former Marines, to a field and executed one of them. The Onion Field is an in-depth analysis of the case by Joseph Wambaugh, an LAPD officer himself at the time.



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Lady of the Star Wind by Veronica Scott

Release Date: May 10, 2016



Mark Denaltieri is an ex-soldier who has a history with the Empress of the Outlier planet. When she asks him to rescue his first love Princess Alessandra from kidnappers, he finds himself unable to deny her request. Alessandra’s grandmother told her that Mark was dead so when he appears in the home where she’s held is under attack, she’s not sure if the person trying to trick her is worse than what waits outside. While running from a man that wants to use Alessandra to land a throne, the duo finds themselves entrusted with a strange gift that takes them to another world where Alessandra is mistaken for the legendary Lady of the Star Wind. Can they find a way to survive together and if they do, will they ever be able to bear being apart?

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Channel Blue by Jay Martel

Publication Date: December 1, 2013



What can a network do if its best-rated show starts to plummet in the ratings? Channel Blue’s highest rated program is a Big-Brother-esque show featuring Earth. When the ratings make it unprofitable to stay on the air, the series finale will be explosive…literally explosive.




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Spurs and Lace: Clearwater County World by Bonnie R. Paulson

Publication Date: January 30, 2014



Dr. Becky O’Donald is a small-town doctor that wants to find her way back to the big city. Slate McAllister is a local veterinarian that prefers horses to people. When they meet on a stormy night, Becky saves Slate and sparks fly, but can anything happen with Slate looking for a doctor to help a little boy that is his mirror image?




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