Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Prophecy (The Adventures of Xanthus Book 2)

I was given an e-copy of The Prophecy by Francis Mills for review.

As even the most casual reader of my reviews easily understands, I try to be positive in my reviews while maintaining my credibility and honesty. The series The Adventures of Xanthus is testing my resolve to stay positive.

The story focuses on the prophesy involving the child of Xanthus (a white warrior) and Ivana (a black witch), white and black here not relating to race or color but good and evil. Those who tend to make things racial wherever possible may interpret the book in a racial context, I don't.

The positive: we still have a good versus evil fantasy here. It is still a light read and, it is a quick read that you won't have to set aside a lot of time for.

The negative: The Prophecy seems to be trying to be an adult oriented fantasy. Not a bad goal at all. Unfortunately, it reads more like the cheap porn books I hid under my mattress as a teenager. The story is just there to fill space between sexual encounters. The dialogue is stilted and at times just ridiculous.

Either the sex is gratuitous and unnecessary to the story, or the story is gratuitous and unnecessary to the sex. I'll leave that to you to decide.

As a continuation of the first book, The Prophecy falls short of the mark. It is not a bad read, but be forewarned that it will probably not satisfy the requirements of the  die hard fantasy reader. And though I am not an authority on the genre, I will venture that it falls short in the erotica genre as well.


Mike



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rarity from the Hollow intro to the author



Rarity from the Hollow is a book written by Robert Eggleton.

Below you will see an introduction to Mr. Eggleton, pictures of medals the book has won, an excerpt from the book, excerpts from reviews and various links to the author and purchase sites.

I strongly support the aim of this book and what Mr. Eggleton is doing. With my career history I choose not to read books based on or in the mental health world. I know they are important, but after 19 years I choose to read for escapism.

That does not in any way diminish my support for this endeavor and I hope you will give Mr. Eggleton's work a look.


Mike







About the author:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines. Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment.

Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment: http://www.childhswv.org/

















Excerpt from Chapter 10, “One Moment, Please”







Scene Prologue: In this scene, Lacy Dawn stands up to her abusive father for the first time. Dwayne is a disabled Gulf War Vet who suffers from PTSD, night terrors and anger outbursts. Her mother, Jenny, is downtrodden and weak-willed. Lacy Dawn has just returned home from the android’s spaceship. At this point, her powers were evident but not fully matured. She had been negotiating extraterrestrial assistance to cure her parents of their mental disorders, but rushed home after sensing an emergency there…:  

…Three minutes later, Lacy Dawn stood on the back porch. She was keen to hear a whisper. The yells could be heard half-way Roundabend. She peeked through the kitchen window.  Her mother was on the floor with her back propped against the gasoline can that hid her GED study guide.  Jenny’s nose bled. 
            “WHAT THE HELL ………GIVES YOU THE RIGHT ………………TO THINK ……….…………….that you can THROW AWAY …something that is MINE?” her father screamed.
            Jenny adjusted her position. So did Lacy Dawn to get a better view through the window.
            “Where’s my SWITCH?”  Dwayne left the kitchen. 
            Lacy Dawn felt for her knife. 
            I hope Mommy runs for it.
            Jenny moved the gasoline can to cover a corner of her study guide that stuck up. Dwayne had put the can in the kitchen two winters ago after he cut firewood.  At the time, snow on the path to the shed had been deep. Jenny didn't complain about the can in the kitchen because it turned into her best place to hide her GED book. It was convenient and the mice stayed away because of the smell. When her GED book was hid behind the refrigerator, it lost a corner to the nibbles. She repositioned her bra so that everything was contained.
            If it's okay with him, I'll take it right here with my arms over my face. God, I wish I’d worn long pants today. If he finds that book he might kill me. Maybe that'd be better.  I can’t handle anymore anyway. Welfare would take Lacy Dawn and put her in a group home. She’d have friends and stuff to do and decent clothes. That’s more than she’s got now. Who am I kidding? I’ll never get my GED or learn to drive. I’d be better off dead. She'd be better off. I ain’t no kind of decent mom anyway
            Jenny pulled out her GED study guide. Lacy Dawn burst into the kitchen and, at the same time, Dwayne appeared in the opposite doorway from the living room. Lacy Dawn and Dwayne stood face to face.
            “She didn’t throw away those magazines, Dwayne. I burnt them all!” Lacy Dawn looked him in the eyes. 
            I’ve never called him Dwayne before.    
            “Well, here’s my switch, little girl, and you can kiss your white ass goodbye because it’s gonna be red in a minute.”
            “I told Grandma that you had pictures of naked little girls my age kissing old men like you.”
            “Well, your grandma’s dead and gone now and it don’t make no difference.”
            Dwayne grinned at Jenny and resumed eye contact with Lacy Dawn. Jenny did not move. The GED study guide was in the open. Lacy Dawn straightened her posture. 
            “Not that grandma -- the other one -- your mom. I tore out a page and showed her. She said the Devil must’ve made you have those pictures with naked girls way too young for you to look at. She told me to burn them to help save your soul before it was too late and you ended up in Hell.”
            Dwayne raised the switch to waist level. Lacy Dawn took a step forward. 
            “I was sick of them being in the trunk under my bed anyway. I did what Grandma told me to and now they're gone.”
            “That was my Playboy collection from high school. I bought them when I used to work at the Amoco station before I joined the Army.”
            Dwayne lowered the switch and leaned against the door frame. Jenny sat up straighter and slid her GED study guide back behind the gas can. Lacy Dawn maintained eye contact.    
            He's starting to lose it. Where’s my new butcher knife?
            Dwayne looked to the side and muttered something that she did not understand. He raised the switch and then lowered it.   
            “But, Mom knew I had them when I was in high school and never said nothing. Hell, those girls were older than me back then. I bet they’re all wrinkled now -- with tits pointing straight to the ground, false teeth, and fat asses.” 
            Dwayne muttered again. Lacy Dawn maintained eye contact. 
            I must have hit a nerve. He always mutters when he's thinking too hard.  
            “Anyway, you’re both still getting switched even if Mom told you to do it. But, I won’t make it too bad. She wouldn’t like it.”
            He paused.  The point of the switch lowered to the floor.
            Damn.  I can't think of a new name
            "Tammy, bammy, bo mammy…" Dwayne sang. (Dwayne named all of the switched that he used on Lacy Dawn and Jenny to discipline them.)
            “If you even touch me or Mommy with that thing, I’ll tell everybody about Tom’s garden. (Tom is a neighbor who grows marijuana.) I’ll tell Grandma, the mailman, my teacher after school starts, and the food stamp woman when she comes next week for our home visit. I’ll tell Tom that I’m gonna tell the men working on the road at the top of the hill. I’ll tell all your friends when they come by after the harvest. And, I’ll call that judge who put you in jail for a day for drunk driving if Grandpa will let me use the phone. I swear I’ll tell everybody.”
            “Oh shit," Dwayne said.
            I knew this day would come -- ever since she brought me those DARE to Keep Kids off Drugs stickers to cover up the rust holes on my truck….
            “Lacy Dawn, drugs are bad. I don’t take drugs and hope you never will either.”
            “Cut the crap, Dwayne. This ain't about drugs. The only thing this is about is if you even think about switching me or Mommy, that garden has had it -- period.”
            “But smoking pot is not the same as taking drugs,” he let go of the switch. Thirty seconds later, Lacy Dawn picked it up and hung it in its proper place on her parents’ bedroom wall.
            “I love you, Daddy,” she said on the way back to the kitchen.
            Dwayne went out the back door and walked to his pick-up. The truck door slammed. It started, gravel crushed, and the muffler rumbled. He floored it up the hollow road.
            Things will be forever different
            Lacy Dawn sat down on a kitchen chair, did her deep breathing exercise, smelled an underarm and said, "Yuck."
            Things will be forever the same unless DotCom can help me change them. (DotCom is the name of the android, a recurring pun in the story.)
            Jenny got off the floor, sat on the other chair, scooted it closer beside her daughter, put an arm around her, and kissed the side of Lacy Dawn's head.
            The muffler rumbled to nonexistence.
            “Asshole,” they screamed out the open kitchen window at the exact same time without cue.
            “He used to be a good man,” Jenny giggled and hugged…. (This phrase is an intergenerational familial saying that Lacy Dawn turned into a chant and used to magically elevate above the ground, and to travel back and forth between her home and the spaceship without getting her tennis shoes muddy.)                                                        
                                                                 Excerpts of Two Book Reviews – Gold Medal Awards

Awesome Indies:
“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.





Readers’ Favorite:

“…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved… Robert Eggleton is a brilliant writer whose work is better read on several levels. I appreciated this story on all of them.”

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow


Blurb

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest


“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
    Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review

"…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s 'Animal Farm.' I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list." -- Marcha’s Two-Cents Worth 

Purchase links:

Public Author Contacts:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Soul Census

Author A. J. Vega provided a print copy of Soul Census for review.

Soul Census is the first installment in the Soul Census Trilogy, and a fantastic first installment it is.  A. J. Vega is another indie author keeping the quality of indie writing at the highest level. He has set himself a huge task in continuing this story. It is that good.

It is difficult for me to find a genre with which to label Soul Census. It is fantasy, spirituality, reincarnation, love, suspense, history and much much more. Parts of the story are told in the spirit of 50's noir, part in contemporary suspense, at times humorous, horrific, romantic and redemptive. There is just so much going on here. You are starting to see why it is hard to pigeon-hole.

Suffice to say, Soul Census firmly has a place in the category of  "darn good book".

As for the story itself, we enjoy the eternal conflict of good vs evil, eternal love, eternal creation (are you sensing a theme here?). Soul Census touches metaphorically on spiritual, religious and political topics. A very intricate tale with characters whose existences are intertwined across the ages. The story actually spans approximately 1.5 million years and countless lifetimes.

Although not a cliffhanger ending in the classic sense (thank you A.J. Vega), Soul Census does leave the reader hungry to continue the story. There is action, sometimes graphic, At times in the "real" world and at times on the etheric plane. To try and condense the flavor of the story into a few sentences would be an injustice of mythic (perhaps even Biblical) proportion. A complex and intricate story yet surprisingly easy to follow.

Soul Census by A.J. Vega is a fantastic read which I believe will have you waiting as eagerly as I am to continue the adventure. I strongly recommend checking this book out. Enjoy!


Mike

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Dark Crystal (The Adventures of Xanthus Book 1)

I was given an ecopy of The Dark Crystal (The Adventures of Xanthus Book 1) by Francis Mills for review.

The Dark Crystal  is a light fantasy adventure. Although it deals with a heavy theme, it still reads as a light adventure. We have good and bad guys, some who want to rule the world (there is always somebody who wants to rule the world, right?)

The Dark Crystal is the first installment of the Adventures of Xanthus trilogy. At only 118 pages it is a quick fun read. The story is set up fairly well for continuation in the next two books. The story line is not all that complicated, generally a quest tale. For the most part I would say The Dark Crystal  has good middle grade or YA appeal.  The problem with that classification however is the adult oriented part of the story.

While the quest has been well established, the story seems to evolve into a sex fest (not a problem for me, in case you were wondering). The sexual activity is not a problem in itself, but the way it is presented is. We have two very passionate (read: horny) characters, yet when they do get together we don't feel the passion. The action is graphic but in a more clinical way. More like a report of what the characters did than allowing the reader to feel the passion of the moment. I just didn't get caught up in the action.

I did enjoy The Dark Crystal  by Francis Mills over all. It is not an epic story full of twists and turns and plot complications. But that is okay it doesn't have to be. It is a good, quick, light, fun read. But as is, it is an adult read. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. Enjoy!

Mike

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Becoming the White Wolf

I was sent an e-version of  Becoming the White Wolf   by author R. H. Neil for review.

Becoming the White Wolf  is another of those books that demonstrate just how talented the indie author field is. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book.

The basic story is one of the police building a vigilante crime fighter hero by "bending" some of the facts of a criminal case. Author Neil does a masterful job of creating an almost anti-hero hero. The story is well crafted and kept me engaged through out.

Plenty of action, violence, suspense and terror to keep avid readers of the genre satisfied. The White Wolf is definitely the man you want on your side. If he is aligned against you, you might want to consider relocation (if not repentance).

The characters are well developed and presented. We dislike the bad guys, and they are BAD GUYS, but they are not cartoonish or comic book bad guys. Given this type of story I would think it easy for an author to fall into that type of depiction. So kudos to the author for avoiding that pitfall. There are technologies that I didn't know about presented, but they sound plausible enough to be real, so again not a comic book fantasy.

Becoming the White Wolf  by R. H. Neil is a well rounded, action packed crime thriller with enough punch to satisfy the most jaded action reader. I recommend you check this one out, you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!

Mike

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Order of St. Michael : A Bud Hutchins Thriller

Hi everybody, I'm Baaaack!

Still recuperating from five level neck fusion, but getting back into it. I actually finished this book before surgery but was unable to post a review.

I read a print copy of  The Order of St. Michael : A Bud Hutchins Thriller by J. B. Michaels.

This was a really fun read. In the flavor of the books I read as a young reader, kids doing the smart, heroic stuff without those pesky adults getting in the way.

Make no mistake, The Order of St. Michael is a middle grade/ YA book but even old guys like me can enjoy the action adventure, suspense, and age appropriate depictions of violence. Our hero Bud is of course not your average kid who has to foil the plot of a wicked adult trying to exploit his genius work.

The paranormal setting is a great vehicle for telling the story. The Order of St. Michael : A Bud Hutchins Thriller is an all around fun read which will keep you hooked throughout. It is a quick read, great as a palate cleanser between the more serious or intense works that I usually read. A great change of pace.

If your looking for such a change of pace, or want to feel good with what your younger reader may be looking at, The Order of St. Michael : A Bud Hutchins Thriller by J. B. Michaels fills the bill nicely. I recommend it. Enjoy!


Mike

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tongues

I was provided a print copy of Tongues by Sam Joyce for review.

Tongues is a horror story from the beginning. It does take a bit to understand what exactly the focus of the horror is. The story moves from one anti social group to another before telling us what the real evil is. The horror is a practitioner of a voodoo-type spirituality, Palo Mayumbe. Carmen (the practitioner) unleashes a sinister spell in a small Texas town.

I have to say I was a little disappointed in how this story played out. I'm not sure if I received a galley or uncorrected proof. There weren't typos but there were issues of continuity at times. For example: in one sentence the heroine jerks a gun out of the bad guys hands. Two sentences later she struggles with the bad guy to take the gun away from him. That kind of continuity issue.

The story itself was scary enough and I did like it over all. Serious evil running rampant with no way to stop it. But some of the depictions of the evil people were doing just seemed too jarring. Not just graphic (which I have no problem with) but seemingly included more for shock value than story progression. Graphic violence, graphic sexuality (at one point bordering on the absurd). A six hour or so road trip took up a major portion of the book, bogging it down for me.

The ending didn't really resolve the problem and didn't really set us up for any future books.  I always strive to be positive in my reviews, and Tongues by Sam Joyce, is an o.k. book, but for me it fell a bit flat. If you like horror stories about evil spirituality, and can get past a few continuity issues, you'll probably like Tongues. Enjoy!

Mike