Meet the Pals

Our Fearful Leader


An avid reader for more decades than he wants to admit, BigAl previously reviewed music for a variety of websites and magazines. After having several readers and authors tell him, “You ought to start a book blog,” he said, “what the hell.” We’re still not sure how that is working out. When he's not working the dreaded day job, reading, or writing about what he's read, you'll find BigAl wasting time elsewhere on the internet or hanging out with his four grandkids.

BigAl also runs another website, The Indie View, which has resources for authors and readers, including a database of indie friendly reviewers, and frequent interviews with authors and reviewers.

He is also a regular contributor to Indies Unlimited, and although he denies that he's an author or writer, somehow got listed as a contributing author to Indies Unlimited: Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital World Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords ) and the follow up, cleverly titled Indies Unlimited: Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital World Vol II (Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords)

Super Pals

This area is for Pals who have written at least 100 reviews.


In June of 2012 BigAl convinced this untrained newbie reviewer, with a mountain of a TBR pile, to become a Pal at BigAl’s Books and Pals because he found out she read a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal, which wasn’t a genre he himself loved. He has tried with all his might to teach her the finer craft of writing reviews. I’m here to tell you it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks and she’s about as hard headed as they come. However she is dedicated to help these new rising stars in the self-publishing world as she shares the good, and the not so good, in the Indie books that she reads to help other readers choose books they might enjoy also. This is ?wazithinkin’s way of helping the cream rise to the top since discovering Indie books, but you have to remember that her reviews are only her opinion. You may also be able to determine how she earned her name in the process of reading her reviews.

Keith Nixon

Keith Nixon has been writing since he was a child. In fact some of his friends (& his wife) say he's never really grown up. Keith is currently gainfully employed in a sales role for a UK based high-tech company meaning he gets to use his one skill, talking too much. However he spends much of his time by the sea in a small town called Broadstairs where Charles Dickens briefly lived & was the inspiration for The 39 Steps.

Keith has published a crime / humour novel The Fix (available from Amazon US (ebook or paper), Amazon UK (ebook or paper), Barnes & Noble, or Kobo.) & has a historical fiction series on the way soon. He has also written comedy and drama screenplays. His measure of achieving success is when he can ditch socks, watch and tie forever.

Oh yes, & he likes to read. A lot. Keith specializes in reviewing crime fiction and thrillers, but also likes humour, mystery, fantasy as long as they're well written of course...

He can be found on Twitter (@knntom) and Goodreads if you would like to abuse him electronically.

Pete Barber

I was born into a blue-collar family in Liverpool, England--missed The Beatles but did go to The Cavern a few times (a real dump). After immigrating to the US in the early 90s, I became a citizen.  

Burned out from twenty years in the corporate madhouse, I escaped to Lake Lure, North Carolina where I live with a couple llamas, two spoiled dogs, a brace of cookie-eating goats, numerous chickens, one ferocious cat, and a wonderful wife who thankfully understands my obsessive need to write fiction.

Pete's book, NanoStrike, is available from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Special Pals

This area is for Pals who have written at least 50 reviews.

Judi Moore

I moved to a leaky old cottage beside the Dorset seaside in Britain in 2016 and love it to bits here. Perfick.

I’ve been a professional writer since 1997, producing long and short fiction, poetry,   and reviews of literature and music. Between 2006 and 2013 I taught Creative Writing (poetry, short fiction and life-writing) part-time for the Open University, the premier distance-teaching university here in the UK.

I’m an omnivorous reader, avoiding only the extremes of soppy kissing and gratuitous bloody violence. I tend also to avoid police procedurals and murder mysteries (my school reports always said ‘easily bored’).

I’ve published five works of fiction. My most recent (published in 2022) is a collection of short stories set in and around Weymouth, Dorset, called Where the Gulls Cry. My most recent novel is Wonders will never cease, set in 1985, in a British university not unlike the one I used to work for … . My first novel, Is death really necessary? is set in the near future and looks at, amongst other things, what might happen if petrol ceased to be valid fuel source overnight. My novella, Little Mouse is set in 1948 in Edinburgh and follows a small family of Jews for whom the war is not as far behind them as they had hoped. Ice Cold Passion gathers together some of my short fiction previously available in small press magazines. See more about all that here: (AmazonUKor here: (AmazonUS .

As well as reviewing, I am (still!) principally working on a ‘history and mystery’ novel based on the death of Genghis Khan.

I’m on Facebook, and blog at


Michael Thal

Michael is the author of four published novels—Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura and Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Examiner writing articles about parenting and education.

Moving from the frigid Northeast to comfy Southern California in 1973, Michael taught elementary and middle school for 28 years until a freak virus left him deafened at the age of 50. He reinvented himself as a writer composing over 80 published articles in print magazines as well as novels for middle grade and high school aged students.

You can learn more about Michael Thal on his website

Michael's books and purchase links:

The Abduction of Joshua Bloom
Amazon US ebook paper - Amazon UK ebook paperBarnes & Noble

The Legend of Koolura
Amazon US ebook paper - Amazon UK ebook paperBarnes & Noble

Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback
Amazon US ebook paper - Amazon UK ebook paper - Barnes & Noble

Goodbye Tchaikovsky 


I  disliked reading in school—blame Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, and Puff— until becoming enthralled with read-aloud time in 5th grade. I went on to become an avid reader. I retired in 2011, after 38 years as special educator and 2nd grade classroom teacher. My hubby frequently makes attempts to hide my Kindle to engage me in conversation or activity, although he is happy to listen to me read-aloud to him while he is cooking dinner.  Getting a Kindle and exploring the Kindle Bookstore exposed me to different genres, which I had no idea I would enjoy. It also led me to meet and chat with indie authors and other readers on the Amazon Forum and Facebook. I was writing reviews on Amazon, when several friends started suggesting that I write my reviews for Books & Pals. So, here I am!

Hubby and I enjoy travelling, finding new restaurants, watching movies, listening to music, and hanging out with our four cats. We have a greenhouse in our yard and a large community garden plot, where we grow many vegetables, herbs, and flowers for ourselves and to share with our neighbors. I still enjoy going back to school to assist with assessments and special events. 


With the onslaught of self-publishing and indie authors, Sooz found herself immersed in the world of indie publishing. She devoured indie books and admired the work of self-published authors. Sooz read as many self-published books as she could, finding great reads.

While she hasn’t written any books, she has been a reporter for newspapers and magazines for more than 10 years, mostly covering sports. When she was 15 years old and realized how much she hated science and her dream of becoming a doctor was over, she decided to put together the two things she loved most – writing and sports.

Sooz also writes about the publishing world for Teleread.

Sam Waite

Sam Waite is retired from Bloomberg’s Tokyo bureau. He previously worked as a communications specialist for McKinsey & Co. Japan, financial and economics editor for Nikkei and editor in chief of a daily newspaper in Texas. A mystery novel Dollar Down, set in Paris and introducing private detective Mick Sanchez, is published by Uncial Press. (Amazon US or Amazon UK)  A second Sanchez mystery Tokyo Enigma is now available. (Amazon US or Amazon UK)

For more, visit Sam's website.

Joan Slowey

Joan Slowey, an Irish writer, has lived in Dublin for most of her life but is from Co Down originally. She has been writing for many years and has published a collection of short stories - Woman With Doll & Other Stories; a collection of poetry - The Red Petticoat; and two novels for children - Felix Finds Out and Ghosts in Trouble.  

Visit Joan's Author Central page at Amazon US or Amazon UK to investigate her books.


Midnight is the dark angel who helps behind the scenes, splashing reviews with red ink to prevent our worst syntactical errors from going public. Although BigAl claims she reads more books than Al and all the Pals combined, Midnight says surely all those people read more than the four or five hundred books a year she devours. Her motto is that "life isn't long enough to read bad books," so she refuses to entertain writing a review, preferring to get our approval before diving into her next read. She agreed to help us out in hopes that this would help Al and the Pals increase their volume of reviews.

The Princess

The Princess is BigAl’s teen granddaughter. She reads and provides input to BigAl on some of the books aimed at younger readers. When not reading The Princess enjoys making up stories of her own, playing with her younger siblings, and sending texts to her Grandpa.


Hoppergrass lives somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, where he or she works somewhere. When not working or sleeping he or she sometimes reads, writes reviews, and spends an inordinate amount of time helping BigAl get his commas in the right place.


Corina is a working wife and mother of one, with too many furry-kids and too many interests. She is a certified English teacher, beginning counselor, reluctant secretary, Reiki Master, professional Tarot and palm reader, non-practicing artist, beginning crocheter and frustrated knitter. When she isn't working or driving, she's fondling fiber or getting lost in a story, whether presented digitally, visually, aurally, or on celluloid.

Corina can also be found blogging about whatever strikes her fancy at Corina's Quill.

Arthur Graham

An indie author as well as a Pal, Arthur Graham hails from the north woods of Michigan and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and her cat. He writes his books alone in the dark, usually nude, surrounded by empty bottles and loaded guns. Occasionally, he prefers to work nude while astride a rainbow.

His style is one that willingly loses itself in the false dichotomy between "genre" and "literary" fiction, with much of it cleaving towards satire and surrealism. His work has been called "clever", "tacky", and "even a bit obscene", and one reviewer was kind enough to label it "Burroughs-lite".

His novella Editorial was recently picked up by Bizarro Press, and his short story Zeitgeist is set to appear in an upcoming anthology from the same imprint. One day, he hopes to sell enough books to supplement his drinking habit, but not so many that he's forced to claim the income on his taxes.

Arthur can also be found on his own blog.

Arthur's books can be purchased from the following locations.

Frog City Updike Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords 

Non/Fictions      Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords

Editorial            Amazon US, Amazon UK


I've been told that I swallowed a dictionary at a very young age, and never recovered.  I've always been a reader, and books always opened doors to other times and places for me.  The book that made the greatest impression upon me was J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. That aside, my favorite genres are not-too-cozy mysteries, history (nonfiction) and light fantasy.

In real life, I have a very mundane 9-to-5 job, 6 cats, and a Kindle (not listed in order of importance!).  Other than reading, my hobbies include photography and travelling.  I count myself very lucky to have seen some beautiful places and had the opportunity to photograph them.  And there are still so many places left to visit, and countless pictures waiting to be taken!

JA Gill

My first "published thoughts" were as an obituary writer for my hometown paper.  

JA "Tony" Gill, 34, formerly of Fort Wayne, Ind., currently resides in Seattle, Wa. He works as a researcher with the University of Washington and previously with the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda Md. He was named James Anthony Gill III, but prefers following the lead of such luminaries as RA Fisher, WD Hamilton, and EO Wilson. He enjoys reading, the great outdoors, and landscape painting. Surviving are his loving wife, Megan Y. Dennis of East Lansing, Mich.; dog, Lola GillDennis of the streets; mother and father of Fort Wayne; and sister and brother-in-law of Chicago. He is preceded in death by numerous houseplants. A private graveside service will be held at a much later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to JA's PayPal account at the donor's choice. To contact him, please write to

Ryan Bracha

Ryan Bracha has been reading for as long as he has had eyes, it's a pastime that he enjoys so much that he's decided to spoil it all by becoming a part time reviewer, as well as part time indie author. He's an Englishman who was born and bred in the kingdom of Yorkshire, and despite many attempts to free himself of its grasp he has now married a Yorkshire woman, and as a result he is stuck there for all of eternity. His own writing is designed to provoke response, and has proved to be either loved or loathed, which is just the way he likes it. He has an experimental approach to his work, and his life. Which is why he now has two tattoos he doesn't want, and a cat. He has every intention of becoming the most prolific storyteller ever known.

Ryan has two novels and a short story available.

Strangers are Just Friends You Haven't Killed Yet
Available from Amazon US (ebook or paper) and Amazon UK (ebook or paper)

Tomorrow's Chip Paper
Available from Amazon US (ebook or paper) and Amazon UK (ebook or paper)

Tha Dunt Come Frumt Tarn Tha Gets Nowt Frumt Tarn (The Short Shorts)
Available from Amazon US (ebook only) and Amazon UK (ebook only)


Unknown said...

I was getting ready to submit a book for review when I noticed UY at the end of the blog address. I live in Uruguay and am curious to know if Big Al and family live here.

We love living in UY.

BooksAndPals said...

Susan, the blogging platform (Blogger aka Blogspot) has the domain name with for most of the top level country domains (.com, .uy, .uk, etc) and for some reason they change the domain used based on the country of the person visiting. BigAl and most of the pals are based in the US with a couple pals elsewhere (UK and Japan).

Unknown said...

Wishing a great recovery. All the best!

Kate Jay-R said...

Hi there
I have had several books reviewed here. It says on the Books Review Submissions that we will receive an email acknowledging receipt of the submission. I sent one in October and followed up for acknowledgment but haven't heard anything. I appreciate that you don't always review but in the past I have always had an acknowledgement.