Monday, June 27, 2016

Last Years Resoultion

I was given an e-version of Robert Lampros' Last Years Resolution for review.

Last Years Resolution is a quick, thoughtful read focusing on the book of Revelation from the Bible.

We follow the early manifestations of the end of days as experienced by a famous writer. He is a God-fearing man who actually listens to God. He is not immune to the effects of some of the judgments visited on mankind, but as an obedient Christian, he is not consumed by them.

At the same time, Last Years Resolution is a love story. We witness the growing relationship between our writer and his new found lady fair.

Throughout all the turmoil, our couple maintain their love of and obedience to, God. The benefit of doing so is clear throughout the story.

I realize I'm sharing more of the actual story than I usually do. But I find it kind of necessary with this particular book.

Last Years Resolution is a well written, clean, Christian story. One of the more thoughtful depictions of a popular theme. It is not an over the top horror-fest, but it is not sugar-coated either. It portrays situations that a large portion of the Earths population believes will occur at some point in time, and shows the benefit of being properly prepared.

Last Years Resolution by Robert Lampros is a non-sensationalist telling of  Biblical Prophesy. Those readers interested in such a topic will find this telling both entertaining and faith affirming. Not a bad feat to accomplish. Enjoy!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Journey

Author John Heldt gave me an e-copy of The Journey for review.

The Journey is actually the second book in John Heldt's The Northwest Passage series. As this is the sixth book authored by Mr. Heldt that I have reviewed, it is obvious that I did not read the series in order. In the case of The Journey, it is not a problem.

What surprises me about Mr. Heldt's work is how he has avoided the trap of his series becoming predictable or formulaic. While all of his books are "time-travel" stories, he brings fresh new plots and situations to each. The Journey represents the shortest time traveled (so far anyway) and has been one of the most compelling of Heldt's books for me. There was little if anything in this book that I was able to predict. The climax was nothing short of stunning.

Set in a more contemporary time frame, The Journey will take many readers back to their own youth, making the book more relate-able from the perspective of understanding the time into which our main character is thrust.

The story is tight and allows us the chance to consider what we might do in the same situation. (Minor spoiler alert) What would we tell our younger selves given the opportunity.

This offering of Mr. Heldt's craft has more sexual activity than most of his others (probably a consequence of the time frame), and definitely focuses on the changing mores of the culture at the time. There is also romance, teenage drama, and as always a little history in the mix.

I have enjoyed all of John Heldt's writing so far, but The Journey is a standout from even his usual high quality. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip through time courtesy of Mr. Heldt and recommend The Journey to any reader of time-travel, sci-fi, fantasy, or anyone who just wants an entertaining, fun, blast to the past. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Extraordinary Temptation

Patrick McCusker provided me an e-copy of his book The Extraordinary Temptation in exchange for a review.

The Extraordinary Temptation starts out as what the reader thinks is going to be your basic archaeological treasure hunt adventure. It quickly disabuses that notion. Our hero (the archaeologist) has found (though he doesn't know it immediately) The Crown of Thorns, yes that crown of thorns.

An unscrupulous businessman (you'll have to read the book to get the connections) steals the crown, and finding a desiccated piece of flesh, attempts to clone it. No spoiler here, this is all in the blurb.

The story takes a turn into the macabre and delves deeply into eeriness and horror at this point. The ending brings us back to a Utopian hope.

I don't recall a book that has prompted such visceral reactions in me as I read. I have read many books which have affected me on an emotional level to be sure, but The Extraordinary Temptation went well beyond those.

There are some questionable turns of phrase that were difficult for me as the story is told with British vernacular. The only one I feel pretty sure of commenting on, is when the term "First Nations" is used to identify Native Americans (the former is a Canadian designation not American). Minor, I know but there you go.

For me this story divides itself into three distinct parts. We have the set up in a mundane (not boring) manner, things unfolding the way we would normally expect them. Then we move into the horror, serious horror, that forces us to think about some really unsettling ideas. Questions that quite frankly, scare hell out of me.

The Extraordinary Temptation ends on a much more hopeful, as I said Utopian, note. It still manages to leave us with much to consider. Over all I ended up with a somewhat uneasy feeling.

Author Patrick McCusker has given us much to think about in The Extraordinary Temptation. This is not a lighthearted piece of fluff to pass some time with, it is a story that will probably grab you and take you, for a while at least, into a very uncomfortable place. A unique read is probably the best way to describe it. A very good unique read for sure. Just not an easy one. Enjoy!



Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Express

My e-copy of The Express was sent to me by author R.K. Howard in exchange for a review.

At approximately 47 pages, The Express is an extremely quick read, also a particularly creepy, scary, thought provoking one.

We don't get to know very much about the main character who is relating the story. We are with him as he boards his usual morning bus. Things go down hill from there, and just continue to get worse. Then they get really bad.

Without getting "preachy" or extolling the virtues of any religious dogma, author R.K. Howard does provoke us into the sometimes uncomfortable consideration of: What's next? Is there an existence after this life? Will there be consequences for how we lived this life?

A lot to bring up with a 47 page story. The Express did have a few typos, but not enough to impact my enjoyment of the book.

If you are ready for a story that will make you think, without trying to tell you what to think, The Express by R.K. Howard is the way to go. Enjoy!


Lunar Options

I was provided an e-version of Lunar Options by author T. R. Locke for review.

Lunar Options is at its core, a political thriller. Set on both the Earth and the Moon, this story is very action oriented. I found it to be a very entertaining read.

We have a crew of good guys in pursuit of a serious bad guy, taking them from the Earth to the Moon and back. We have military technology, military ego-maniacs, political ego-maniacs, terrorist ego-maniacs, and a hero with a wildly useful superpower.

Not a particularly long read, the action in Lunar Options makes it read even more quickly. It keeps the reader engaged from the first page to the last. The action sequences are interspersed with the political stupidity one would expect in an emergency that threatens the very existence of the U.S. Government.

There are a few moments of spousal tenderness (and discord) as two of the good guys are husband and wife.

With the length of the story and the strong action orientation, there aren't a lot of extraneous story lines, but that's okay. The story is strong enough to not need them.

One big plus; very few editing errors. The big negative? Lunar Options ends with the dreaded cliffhanger (as usual, that may be just me). So, obviously it is the start of a series. The version I received did not identify either the name of the series, or the title of the next installment.

All around Lunar Options by T.R. Locke is a good read for those who enjoy straight-forward action without a lot of other side stories to get in the way. Enjoy!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Ochoco Reach

I won a print copy of Ochoco Reach by Jim Stewart in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Ochoco Reach is a highly entertaining mix (I think the current buzzword is "mash-up") of many sub-genres of the main action/adventure genre.

There are aspects of military, Native American spiritualism, political corruption, and international tension, to name a few. Author Jim Stewart (I have to wonder, any relation?) does an outstanding job of weaving all these threads into the fabric of a story that grabs the readers attention and doesn't let go.

Ochoco Reach is action/adventure to the max. It appears that this may be the first in a series, the cover identifies Ochoco Reach as "An Ironwood Novel". This would definitely be a good thing.

However, I would suggest (respectfully) to the author; Take it easy on this poor guy if you want him to be around for an extended run. Mike Ironwood (our hero) is a hero-warrior in the best tradition, the guy you want on your side to be sure. I know it is part of the great action we read, but, this guy has got to look like a jigsaw puzzle when he takes off his shirt, and it has only been one book!

Ironwood has a dog, Bucket (a Catahoula Leopard Dog, I had to Google it), that rivals Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, and Yukon King combined for intelligence. An awesome sidekick. His other partner, Daniel, his half-brother (and Native American connection) adds a whole different dimension.

It may sound like Ironwood is an over the top character, but not really. He's not as ego driven as other characters in the genre. He is smart and tenacious, a deadly adversary to be sure, but he is also well aware of, and true to, his inherent humanity.

Ochoco Reach is not a one note adventure at all. There are drug cartel baddies, government alphabet organizations (as the author identifies them) both true and corrupt, international activities, shoot 'em up violence and bloodshed a plenty.

There is also romance, compassion, tenderness, and love. Very well balanced. Vengeance is a main aspect of the story, and it is brutal at times, but it is also tempered with our hero's sense of justice.

Over all, Ochoco Reach by Jim Stewart is a great action/adventure, with romance, sex, humanity, morality and honor. Enjoy!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Murder and More

I received an e-version of Murder and More by Gerald Darnell for review.

Murder and More is the fourteenth installment in the Carson Reno Mystery Series. No, I haven't read the first thirteen, but after reading this entry, I don't think I would mind. It didn't seem to put me behind by not having read the first books, this story was pretty well self contained. Murder and More was a fun read.

I don't read a lot of mysteries usually, but the hard-boiled, or noir genre does catch my interest. Murder and More did not disappoint, I could hear the bluesy-jazz music in my mind while reading the story.

There were sleazy bad guys, extremely hot women, hard drinking, cool cars and twists and turns leading to the conclusion. As I said I don't read a lot of these type books, so I don't know the usual conventions. Murder and More was illustrated with pictures (not drawings) pertinent to the story. The picture of the scantily clad lady definitely caught my eye (a little cheesecake is not a bad thing). There were pictures of businesses mentioned in the book and pictures of cool classic cars (again not a bad thing). This did make the book more fun.

It was fun reading about the way the private eyes "investigated", mostly letting things develop with out there intervention, but still making enemies of every bad guy in the area. Of course, our hero Carson Reno ties it all up neatly in the end (You think that is a spoiler? Reno has 14 books, he didn't get that many failing now did he?).

Murder and More does contain graphic violence, but only hinted at sex, just like the 50's and 60's true detective stories my mother used to read when I was a kid. The language wasn't bad, the whole reading experience was like being back in the 60's, not what would be written today. In those days you could have either sex or violence, but not both.

Which brings me to my biggest complaint about Murder and More, at one point we are teased with a hot female character wearing a bathing suit that would "stop traffic", did they have a picture of that? Nooo! We got a picture of a '57 caddy, nice car but come on!

All kidding aside, Murder and More, by Gerald Darnell is candy for the hard-boiled detective fan. Enjoy!


Eleven Floors

Eleven Floors  (Volume 1) by Robert Lampros was provided by someone for review. I say someone because I'm not sure if it was by the author, or someone named Joshua Brenner (I think I'm missing something here) who's name appears on my e-reader under the title. There is another book by Robert Lampros that has Joshua Brenner connected to it as well, I haven't read it yet.

Anyway, mystery aside, Eleven Floors is a nice, clean, good read. At only 64 pages, at least on my e-reader, this is the story of a young man's first year at college. He is Christian and doesn't try to hide it. He's open about his walk with God, praying publicly and in social situations.

We see his growth in a greater society by way of his college life. Thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly in this day and age, he maintains his Christian walk while making friends. That's all the spoiler you get from me, but I will say this, the story is in his interactions with other characters.

At 64 pages there is obviously not a lot of character development, but there is enough for us to clearly see what's going on. The ending caught me off-guard, yeah, it's a cliff hanger (the title says volume 1 after all), and I don't like those, we will have to see if it was necessary in volume 2.

I really enjoyed this quick, wholesome read. There is nothing here to find offensive or off-putting (unless maybe you're an atheist or some other non-christian. If that is the case don't read this book, you won't get it).  I don't usually tell anyone to not read a book, but there you have it. This is a Christian book and a good one at that. I just don't want to give the idea it's anything else.

 With Eleven Floors (Volume 1),  Robert Lampros has written for us a good, wholesome and uplifting short read. Enjoy!



I was given a print copy of Revenge-aroni by author Eirik Gumeny in exchange for a review.

Revenge-aroni is the fourth installment of the Exponential Apocalypse series. Full diclosure; I have not read any of the other books.

Eirik Gumeny has written one weird book here (actually, probably four... a series after all. And yeah, I like weird). I remember seeing Rocky Horror Picture Show and Phantom of the Paradise as a double feature (yes, a science fiction double feature) in the 70's. I thought they were out there. Revnge-aroni is as far beyond those movies as they were beyond Heidi and The Sound Of Music (see, told you I'm old).

Lame comparisons aside, Revenge-aroni is a seriously wild adventure. A revenge themed story (surprised?) with a multitude of mythic and non-mythic (depending on your personal belief system) out to get the corporate wienie that done them wrong. Part road story, buddy story, action adventure and anti-establishment fun. Serious graphic (need a stronger word than "graphic") violence, non-graphic sexuality, politics, same sex relationships, corporate greed and enough cultural references to satisfy anyone who has been around a while. Although probably written for a younger audience than me, I think you have to be "of a certain age" to get all the references in Revenge-aroni. There are so many, I wonder if they were all intended. For example: "Satan laughing spread his wings"? Is that a reference to Black Sabbath, or just a coincidence? Only the author knows for sure. Judging from his bio pic, that reference is before his time.

The language in Revenge-aroni is strong; NC-17 at best. Usually explicit language (meaning f-bombs generally) doesn't add much to a story for me, and it didn't here, but it didn't particularly put me off either. There are some great "colorful metaphors" employed here that are very inventive without actually using f-bombs to make the point.

The multiplicity of Gods and former Gods may be offensive to believers, I was not particularly offended, mainly because I understand the concept of fantasy. The way the author ties all these characters together is interesting, I liked it (I'm sure Eirik Gumeny will be so glad to here that).

This book is so over the top that although I liked it and I like that style of writing, I don't think I could binge read the whole series at once. My brain kind of needed a break after this one.

Revenge-aroni  by Eirik Gumeny is a sarcastic, raunchy, sacrilegious, irreverent, and funny read. Enjoy!


Sunday, June 12, 2016


Titanborn has not been released yet, so the only place you'll find my review is here on my blog or at Goodreads (I hope). I'll post at Amazon and Barnes & Noble when the book is released.

Titanborn in e-format was provided by author Rhett C. Bruno for review.

Titanborn is an entertaining blend of post- apocalyptic and outer-space science fiction. The universe is now controlled by corporations. Our story follows the exploits of a "Collector" Malcolm Graves, kind of a corporate paid bounty hunter.

This story ranges from earth, to the rings of Saturn as humanity has spread through the universe.

Along the way we have new technology to deal with, as well as estranged family, and corporate deviousness,  Malcolm is a serious bad ass, the kind of guy you don't want to ever have to deal with (unless of course you are a corporate big wig).

We follow Malcolm as he resolves a series of problems. Without giving away the whole story, Malcolm's usually mercenary attitude (don't kill for free),  is challenged.

Titanborn is long on action, corporate intrigue, high-tech and personal relationships. Minimal sex, no romance, but lots of emotional turmoil.

Fast-paced, the story did not bog down at all. It kept me engaged to the point that I finished it in one day. The characters are developed through the course of the story. We are constantly learning more about them and their motivations as the story progresses. For me, this kept the story fresh and interesting. Author Bruno does a great job of setting the mood in the various locales he weaves into his story, allowing readers to feel the lack of creature comfort in the more remote locations. Malcolm's world is gritty and harsh, just the way it should be in this kind of story.

I saw no indication that Titanborn is the start of a series. The ending did not lean towards anymore books, but I've been wrong before. Either way, if Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno is a one-off, or the beginning of a series, it is a story fans of the genre should thoroughly enjoy.

Action, drama, space travel, intrigue, rebellion and emotion. Titanborn has it all. Enjoy!


Friday, June 10, 2016

Into the Outside

Author Lynda Engler sent me an e-version of her book Into the Outside for review.

Into the Outside is a post-apocalyptic story (one of my very favorite genres). Engler has written a new twist (at least for me, but then I don't get out much) on the genre. Without giving away the whole story, the mutated descendants of the big war are presented as intelligent, caring, and peaceful people (for the most part anyway). A pretty refreshing way to tell a survivalist type story.

Into the Outside is a fairly short (160 some pages in my version, although other sites list it as 276 pages hmm), quick read. Still, the main characters are pretty well developed.

Like most entries in the genre, the government is bad (well they are usually responsible for the apocalypse in the first place), but the real difference is between the two types of survivors; shelter dwellers and those who didn't have that luxury.

The negative for me (and it is very, very, slight) is, the good guys are a little too good, if you know what I mean, almost Pollyana-ish, but again only slightly so. That said, there is stark reality, hardship, and tough choices to be made.

Into the Outside is at times heartbreaking, uplifting and thought provoking. It does make the reader think more about post-apocalyptic survival long-term than many of its genre-mates.

Oh yeah, Into the Outside is the first in a series, it did end in a bit of a cliffhanger, but not so much as to draw my cliffhanger ire.

Into the Outside by Lynda Engler is probably directed a little younger audience than other books of this genre, but was still an enjoyable read for a cynical old coot like me. If your in the mood for a thought provoking, stark, yet clean, story with action, adventure, young love, idealism and suspense; Into the Outside works well. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Immortal: Curse of the Deathless

I received an e-version of Immortal: Curse of the Deathless from author Derek Edgington for review.

Immortal: Curse of the Deathless is a prime example of why I have come to enjoy reading Indie authors. This book is great, no other way to say it.

I'll start with the negatives, actually, there is only one, and it is the most prevalent in self-published indie books: typos. There weren't as many as I often encounter, but more than there should be. Note to indie authors: Get good proofreaders, reviewers like me will rise as one and praise you! So much for the negative.

Immortal: Curse of the Deathless is an epic work of fantasy. Many mythic creatures (sorry, I don't know the PC title for such) are intertwined in a thoroughly entertaining adventure. Our hero is a completely irreverent and sarcastic immortal (so that's where he got the title). His immortality is put to the test repeatedly as he deals with witches, were-people, the Fae (Fey?), zealots and regular human folk (emphasis on deals).

The case can be made that this story entails three distinct episodes, but they tie together so nicely that the case can also be made that it is just one long quest. Our hero has to incorporate tasks set on him by those who seek to either take advantage of his unique abilities or destroy him.

There is all the action, suspense, violence, bloodshed (lots of bloodshed, but not always in a bad way), romance, and sex- very hot sex. Author Edgington has the ability to weave extremely steamy sex scenes without being overly graphic (read pornographic).

Edgington does a fabulous job of balancing drama and violence with sarcasm and wry wit. Immortal: Curse of the Deathless is the first installment in a series of Immortal stories. Thankfully, this author knows how to continue a series without using the cliffhanger.

For mythic adventure, action, knock-down drag outs, sex, and humor, Immortal: Curse of the Deathless by Derek Edgington has the answer. Enjoy!



Saturday, June 4, 2016

Power Rises

I won a print copy of Power Rises by R. M. Willis in a Goodreads giveaway.

Power Rises is another of those books I have mixed reactions to.

First and foremost, as I always say; the main story is very good, I like the magical realm it is set in. The main characters are well developed and believable (at least as far as beings in a magical realm can be). Author Willis' descriptions are good, he paints a fine mental picture of the story.

Power Rises is the first installment in a series: The Ways of Power.

For me, the epilogue was so different from the overall mood of the book, it didn't work that well for me. There is nothing really wrong with it, and I can see how the continued story requires it, just an abrupt change for me.

Power Rises is an adult oriented story as demonstrated by some of the more racy dialogue and character descriptions. They were not graphic or obscene, but perhaps a little gratuitous. Not overly so, they did flow with the story, but I wouldn't let younger readers have this one. That is kind of sad because other than the sexual content, the story is very tame, too tame at times. Conflicts are worked out a little too easily, having an almost fairy tale quality. Everyone lives happily ever after when the day before things were absolutely bleak. I don't say this is either positive or negative, just my reaction.

The only real negative for me was the editing issue. They weren't horribly numerous, but they were egregious. Some times funny. For example page 200, second sentence: "Rancoth pushed the door open with a creek." Personally, I've never used a small stream of water to open a door. Does this ruin the story? Of course not, but it does disrupt the flow.

Over all, Power Rises by R. M. Willis is good introduction to the series, just needs good proofreaders. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Indiana Belle

An e-version of Indiana Belle was provided by author John A Heldt for review.

Indiana Belle is the third installment in the American Journey series.

Often, when an author has written several books in a specific genre, they begin to become somewhat predictable and formulaic. This is not at all the case for John Heldt. Although Indiana Belle is the eighth time-travel book he has written, the third of the second series, he continues to bring fresh, adventurous stories full of twists and turns the reader will not see coming. Yes, there are similarities throughout his work; time travel for one, and romance for another, and always adventure. Kind of hard to avoid when you write time-travel/adventure/romance novels.

I particularly enjoy the characters he crafts for these stories. They are well developed and sympathetic for the most part. Of course, the bad guys are less sympathetic. We get history from times that are not as well known generally. A real plus in Indiana Belle is that Heldt explores new territory for the recurring characters; the Bells.

Our intrepid time-traveler is much different this time, he seeks out Bell and coerces him into providing the means to travel to 1925. Naturally there is a romantic interest for Cameron (the time-traveler), but here is another vital goal to achieve. You'll have to read Indiana Bell (or read the review of someone who uses spoilers) to find out what that is. But I will tell you this; it is integral to the American Journey and John Heldt franchises (how's that for ominous?).

In Indiana Belle we get to see a new slice of American life. It is fun for me as a reader, to spend time in another era. We get to see the ways our society and culture have changed over the years without moralizing, great fun.

I really enjoyed the ending of Indiana Bell, extremely satisfying!

This is the sixth book authored by John Heldt that I have reviewed (I have the other two, but haven't gotten to them yet). I don't believe I have said anything negative about any of them. John A Heldt (make sure the "A" is there when you google him or you'll get someone else) has quickly become one of my favorite authors. His books are good clean stories that give the reader a warm feeling when they are finished.

So if you want a clean, fun, romantic (with a little non-graphic sex thrown in for spice), adventure, that will keep you entertained, Indiana Belle, fills the bill nicely. Even an irreverent, cynic like myself finds Heldt's work satisfying and emotionally uplifting. Enjoy!