Sixty Minute Reads (1 & 2) by Dave Johnston

What is the winning recipe for a short story? You’ll want something to pull you in sharpish, you want the right amount of detail around the plot and the character(s), and you want the action to be completely engaging and have a conclusion in that short amount of time. Execution, presentation, and a touch of something fresh. Top it all off with something that is unique to the author and you’ve got a signature ‘dish’!

Atomic Number Sixty

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
Amazon ebook 69 indie Thriller / Short Story August 4th, 2016

31291641Holly Holloway is locked in a dusty room, strapped to a ticking bomb.

What would you do, if you only had one hour left to live?

Atomic Number Sixty is the first part of a thrilling series, with 60 chapters each set in real time taking the reader 1 minute to read.

Atomic Number Sixty fits a lot of personality, humor, suspense and urgency into the hour during which Holly observes the bomb counting down the hour to explosion and how she ended up sitting on that dangerous chair in the first place.

Dave Johnston has found a fan in me- I just love his writing style and he seems to know exactly what the reader wants.

Atomic Number Sixty is not simply a story about a girl strapped to a killing chair. It will also capture you with the dynamics of family relationships (which I found utterly hilarious! I LOVED Holly and her Dad!), a date night (again, completely hilarious, but at the same time slowly inching over into how it ties in with the plot) and the bad guy’s history (which was detailed and, shall I say, current). These different elements shook me up a bit, because essentially something really bad was happening, but in between the moments that Holly is moving towards to being dead, Johnston offers comic relief.

‘Squid?’ Dad asked, raising an eyebrow quizzically at me.

‘Let’s just say he had a dodgy case of… the wandering tentacles!’ I clarified, poking Dad’s behind with a banana for sensory effect.

For a brief moment, I thought I perceived a flash of paternal darkness sweep menacingly across my Father’s eyes. It was soon replaced though, by his customary twinkle.

‘If you like,’ he offered. ‘I can remove all of Markus’ bones for you?’

The most admirable aspect for me was that I could get where the antagonist was coming from, why he was doing what he was doing. Yes! No! Of course, you can’t explain and excuse away the killing of innocent people, but what I’m trying to say here is that I liked that Johnston didn’t just put a bad guy in the story because we all know he’s bad. He put a bad guy in the story and told me WHY he was the bad guy… I’m all for balance!

I wondered who was crazier. The brainwashed. Or the worms whispering in their ears, leading them on such a destructive path.

Another note I made while reading this story, was this: Dave Johnston writes Holly Holloway in first person. A guy writing a female and you know what? He does a pretty darned good job at it… I totally felt the girl power!

Like I said: multitasking! The female population can hold its collective head up high. Me personally though, I secretly envy the male population’s super talent: delegation. The ultimate power… often referred to as idleness.


Personal Fun Fact: Holly Holloway made me constantly think of Holly Holm and Max Holloway! #UFC


Massacre of the Sixty

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
Amazon ebook 70 indie Thriller / Short Story November 25th, 2016

33129661The billionaire Mengistu is running a competition with a ten million dollar prize fund: 60 minutes, 60 players, no rules, a straight fight to the death. Massacre of the Sixty attracts only the depraved and psychotic..

<spoiler> Can Holly Holloway survive the carnage to discover more about the shadowy agency “The Hollow Falx”? It’s gonna be brutal, it’s gonna be violent, it’s what she’s trained for.</spoiler>

First of all, I took the liberty of ‘hiding’ Β a bit of the blurb for Massacre of the Sixty… if you haven’t read Atomic Number Sixty yet, it’s best if you don’t know! My advice, if you go purchasing the stories- try and click the Buy button without reading the synopsis πŸ™‚

Now that the ”cat was out of the bag’ for me, I was wondering… what next!?! How was this bloody death game organized by a billionaire going to play out?

With a lot of action!Β Massacre of the Sixty should be a freaken’ movie!

‘I’m Psy Nide,’ he hissed dramatically, lifting the axe. ‘I’m solid gold poison.’

Dave Johnston upped the ante in this one… probably, definitely, quite possibly not for readers who can’t take detailed descriptions of people being cut/torn/sliced open… yeah… Β So while, in Atomic Number Sixty the suspense was gradually building and building with the time ticking away, in Massacre of the Sixty it was wham- straight in!

The signature humor and banter of course continues in this installment. There’s just a lot more blood involved! Did not manage to take a breath with this short story and … um… excuse me, but did he just create 60 freaking awesome names for 60 freaking depraved psychos? Yessir! Yes, he did!

Basically… to keep this short- you know those excitement shivers you get? Yeah, I got the excitement shivers!

Finally… remember I mentioned Dave writing in first person female and doing it well? Yep, yep.. well, he also manages to write some of the male characters into pretty attractive beings… I can’t recall reading a romance book and visualizing the male character as well and as drool worthy as Dave managed to… just odd!

Mr Vaca’s voice was intoxicatingly layered, like a soft voice simultaneously being drowned out by a more dominant one.


So, there we have it folks… if you’re looking for short completely suspenseful reads to fill in an hour here, an hour there, I do recommend checking this series out…

Personally, I hope there’s more to come… let there be mmoooaaarrr!?!

Atomic Number Sixty: Amazon UK | USA

Massacre of the Sixty: Amazon UK | USA


  1. You totally sold me Atomic Number 6!! First, a guy writing from the perspective of a girl? That takes balls! And talent, because we are so complicated, haha! Also, YES to the bad guy WITH ACTUAL REASONS AND EXPLANATION BEHIND HIS BEHAVIOR! I don’t like it when stories have a bad guy without giving you enough to understand how it ended up this way. You mention humor, too.. Wasn’t expecting humor here! I’m so intrigued!
    The second book is less appealing to me for now, but if I like the author’s style, it might change! Brilliant work here, my dear!!!xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooo I love this concept, reading a story in real time πŸ˜€ I imagine it adds to the intensity, especially given the dramatic nature of the themes of each of these short books!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh gosh, I like the premise of both books and how there’s well-integrated humour in both. I definitely find that short stories are SOOO much harder to get right, but when they’re done successfully, they’re simply amazing. Glad to see you’re a fan of this author too! Great reviews, Liz! πŸ˜€

    P.S. I have the feeling it’s been 1000 years since I last spoke to you. Did my previous comments on previous post get arrested by the WordPress police? LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Lashaan! πŸ™‚
      Thank you-first of all! πŸ™‚

      Yes, I feel like it’s actually been a 1000 years since i’ve been online… well, I’ve been stalking but I totally switched off for like 3 days from the webz and just read books XD but yeah, work is just so goddarned busy and after sitting behind a computer week after week, day after day, sometimes one just needs to shut those machines down and breathe πŸ˜€ I have been missing you lot though but I see in my inbox that there are some reviews up in Bookidote, so I shall visit you soon! πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahahah! I totally understand. Life can be such a… You know.. I definitely didn’t mean to rush your return to the blogosphere or anything! πŸ˜› Take all the time in the world, Liz. It’s always a pleasure to read your thoughts on what you read and learn something new every day with ya!

        Liked by 1 person

        • πŸ™‚ Ah, no you didn’t rush me back at all… sometimes taking action is the best way to survive zombism! πŸ˜€ seriously, I was so exhausted yesterday I felt my bones being tired and I passed out at 9PM! like wtf! XD Hope you’re enjoying your break though and are reading some good books πŸ™‚ I bet secretly you’re watching Wonder Woman over and over and over again πŸ˜‰


  4. I don’t usually do Short Stories unless they are part of a book series but this does sound like a good read .

    I also kept reading Holly Holm and thinking of Holly Holm while reading the blurb , didn’t think of Max Holloway I’m still a bit miffed at him for beating Jose Aldo so easily .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes… short stories can be so… unsatisfying but I’ve recently read quite a LOT of short stories that have proved me wrong! πŸ™‚ These two were especially cool, I thought πŸ™‚

      Hahaha… a fellow UFC fan here I see? πŸ˜€ I hope we wont fight now but I was actually hoping Max was going to win! πŸ™‚ I just knew he was going to do it and that Aldo’s done… I’d say a lot of long term Aldo fans though must be crushed…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well deep down I knew Holloway would win , he just so quick and precise but I have been watching Aldo destroy opponents for over 5 years now and the first round really made me excited about his chances , Oh well the better man won and as it stands only Mighty mouse remains among those called the best in the division who still holds his title , rest all now have been surpassed .

        Maybe i’ll take your word and try getting my hands upon some short stories

        Liked by 1 person

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