Sunday, 2 August 2015

Book Review: You're Not Alone - An Indie Author Anthology by Ian D Moore and Friends

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Synopsis (from the author): An international group of indie authors, inspired by the personal grief of one, decided to collaborate in the spring of 2015 in a project to create this multi-genre smorgasbord of original short stories, all with the same potent theme – relationship. Some are heartfelt, some funny, some poignant, and some are just a little bit scary – much like relationships themselves. All are by authors fired by the shared enthusiasm to give something back in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. 100% of the profit made on the purchase of this book, in any format, goes to the charity. Cancer touches us all. It has in some way affected those who have contributed their time and talent here. This is our way of showing that we care.

 Indie authors carry forward a revolutionary shift in publishing, which allows the author to be creative director in their own work. There are many exceptional, experienced and acclaimed writers who have decided to take this bold step in publishing. In producing this anthology we have also had the inestimable assistance on board of artists, graphic designers, and bloggers – all of whom have a place in our acknowledgements. You, the discerning reader, are the other vital part of this equation. By buying this book you are supporting the work of indie authors, as well as discovering their worth. You are also supporting the charity to which we have chosen to dedicate our work.

100% of the royalties earned or accrued in the purchase of this book, in all formats, will go to the Pamela Winton tribute fund, which is in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Review: Now this is going to be tricky. How can I review a book that features so many authors, some whom I am familiar with, others less so? 

I'll start with an admission. I treated this much like an LP (remember those) or a CD of an album I had bought, where I knew some of the more famous tracks. That's right - I read the authors I had previously read first. Not sure why I did that, but maybe it was because I had read a book of theirs already, in most cases it had been a full length novel they had written. Fully understanding the difficulty of condensing a story into a novella format, I wondered if they could pull it off.

Before I dissect the stories themselves, I would like to pay a special tribute to Ian D Moore for pulling this off - bringing so many authors together was no easy feat, and yet with You're Not Alone, that's what we have right here. 

Add to the fact that the proceeds contribute to a worthy cause - Macmillian Cancer Care, and there is yet another reason to buy this book.

Readers of course, will want to know what it is all about. Here goes.

There are stories that pay an obvious nod to people affected by cancer, and I pay tribute to them for tackling such a hard subject. My own father went from an apparently healthy man to death's door within a matter of weeks, once this brutal disease had taken hold. The fact he had long left the marital home was irrelevant. Whatever differences he and my mother had did not disguise the fact that he was a human, and this disease tore him apart.

I suppose the overriding theme of these stories in You're Not Alone is that whoever has been touched by cancer, there is some hope, some feeling that it can be beaten. Even where it wins - it's a temporary win, because it cannot kill the love held for that special person.

With so many stories in the book, and many authors who I hold in high regard - being indies takes away none of your talent (who says established authors have got this writing thing down anyway?!), I don't wish to highlight some at the expense of others, yet I feel I must. Otherwise this review could turn out to be a book in itself.

Kayla Howarth's "Dad" is a poignant story that really pulls at you. (Having read her excellent Institute series, where she brings us a dystopian world that works), I found myself thinking about that story long after finishing it. I'm not saying it is the best of the tales, but my, does it hit home, and yet is never depressing or self-serving.

Ian D Moore is the man who brought the collection together, and his story One of Those Days is a truly brilliant story that left me absolutely floored. If you want genius in a few short pages, you could not go wrong here.      

Lesley Hayes'  A Year Afterwards opens the collection, and having read her Oxford Marmalade collection of short stories, I can say reading one of her works again was like a guilty pleasure - you know it's going to be good, professionally written as befits an author of her considerable experience, and well, I loved it.

Tom Benson's  Goals demonstrates the breadth and depth of this author. I read another collection of his and his short story here is an easy pick, and will be remembered by those who read it.

Now this review is starting to look like a love letter to independent authors. Not all the stories hit a home run, but it would be unfair to expect that. What I can say is that each other has given their all here, so if the tale didn't quite work for me, it doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't absolutely love it.

A title that stood out for me was Witch's Mark by Katerina Sestakova Novotna. Now this lady can spin a tale or two - her own Hawaiian Lei of Shrunken Heads was the oddest and yet utterly beautiful collection of stories I have read this year. I knew she would hit the heights again with an amazing tale. Her story is worth the book price alone.

An author I was not familiar with was Anthony Randall. Anyone who had relied on the little black box in their car will empathise with this wickedly clever story. For my own part, the satnav got me to Cornwall, only to direct me towards a cliff....thanks for that!

The Birth by Lucinda E Clarke is truly jaw-dropping. Make this high on your list to read!

Babes by Max Power shows the depth and sheer talent of this man. I have not read anything of his since Darkly Wood (still my book of the year so far)

There are some authors here whose individual books I have not read, but am about to. Nico Laeser, Angela Lockwood and Eric Lahti are authors to watch.  If you are unsure, look through the names. There is a wealth of talent here.