Friday, December 28, 2018

The Xeno Manifesto

 The Xeno Manifesto 
I was given an e-copy of  The Xeno Manifesto by Brysen Mann for review.

The best description for this book would be for me, Ancient Aliens meets The X Files, and that's a good thing. It feeds my literary addiction for stories that fall under the heading of "conspiracy theory". I love it.

Aliens, Bigfoot, lost technology, government cover-ups. It's all here. Sci-Fi fantasy with just enough technology to be interesting but not overwhelming. Lots of twists and turns. Violence, suspense, mystery and redemption. I really enjoyed how the tables were turned in this tale. How, you ask? You know me better than that, no spoilers here. The main character, Frank, is not the most sympathetic character, but the author does develop him well, we easily understand him and his motivations.

My negatives? The file I received was not that clean. Many typos that should have easily been caught by proofreaders. Stylistically I had a bit of difficulty with the author switching from a third person narration to first person action. This left me a bit unsettled at times. The back story on Frank while very interesting and compelling on it's own, was very lengthy and distracted from the main story because it took so long to resolve.

Negatives aside, I found The Xeno Manifesto very interesting and fun. A cleaner version would probably have received a higher rating. Fans of aliens, Bigfoot, cover-ups and intrigue will like The Xeno Manifesto by Brysen Mann. Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Snow City

 Snow City

I was provided a print copy of Snow City by G. A. Kathryns for review.

Our heroine, Echo Japonica, wakes up in the city (Snow City) of her dreams and fantasy. The story follows her integration into the city and the discoveries she makes about herself and her dream world along the way.

At first I thought; "okay a Twilight Zonie kind of story, I'm in". I was disabused of that idea rather quickly. The depth of this book is extraordinary. Author Kathryns mastery of the written language is so powerful. She is able to bring the reader both the heartbreaking and heartwarming experiences of the characters. There are books that transport the reader and then there are books, and Snow City is a stellar example, that transform the reader. We become a participant (benign) in the story, we experience not just witness . It is a story of relationships, agape love, the power of music and so much more. 

As I avoid spoilers, I will share that Echo meets and befriends characters who take us in very non-traditional directions (not from a social justice view) that are refreshing and uplifting.

The story often highlights various music pieces being played by Echo. I am in fact listening to the most predominant piece as I write this: Bach's Chaconne in d minor on guitar (beautiful). Our author obviously has musical talent as well as story telling talent.

Suffice to say I did not expect to be drawn so completely into the story. I found it at times soul-shatteringly heartrending and at other times so powerfully uplifting. The book contains 16 chapters. I only point this out because at the conclusion of chapter 13, I thought the story felt complete. I was so wrong. 

I could have gone on and said "nice book" at that point, but our author had other ideas. She took the story to such a level beyond a simple ending that stunned me as a reader. As I continued, I found myself saying; "wow" over and over again. I enjoy a lot of books but it is not often that I find myself  so strongly affected. Snow City knocked me out. Thank you G. A. Kathryns for such a moving experience. Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

My First Ten Days in Heaven

My First Ten Days in Heaven 

I received a print copy of My First Ten Days in Heaven by Robert Brown.

This book is going to be very difficult for me to review. Not because it is a bad book by any means, but because as a Christian it opposes several beliefs I hold. 

I have read and reviewed many books that are decidedly un-complimentary to Christianity. Not a problem, I don't require all my reading to be "Christian" oriented.

My First Ten Days in Heaven explores exactly that; a man (an atheist) awakes and finds himself in Heaven (OOPS!). Great premise. He is actually in kind of a reception area Heaven where he has to learn what Heaven is. Author Robert Brown presents a Heaven markedly different from the Christian concept of Heaven. 

Mini-spoiler: He's not sure he wants to stay, and we're not really sure if he does. He spends the ten days exploring his beliefs, understanding how this Heaven operates, and the mysteries of the Universe. All in preparation for entering (for lack of as better term) "full Heaven".  

I did find profound ideas expressed at times, thing I could and did agree with. To sum up; though I personally disagree with much of the book, I found it to be well written and thought provoking. To paraphrase a college professor's comment on a paper I once wrote: "While I disagree with your premise, you defend it admirably". By the way, I truly enjoyed the ending.

If you are willing to read a book that may challenge your conceptions and (as it did for me) help you codify those beliefs, My First Ten Days in Heaven by Robert Brown may just fill that bill for you. Enjoy!


The Last Living Detective

The Last Living Detective

I was provided an e-copy of The Last Living Detective by Bruce S. Levine for review. 

The cover shown above was found at Amazon shows a different cover. The file I received did not have any cover art included. I usually provide the cover for the edition I actually read in the interest of honesty. I liked this one best so there you have it.

This book was so much fun! We have a hard-boiled detective story with lots of action and suspense. The twist is that he lives and works in a world inhabited by mythic monsters as well as humans. How it came to be so is more of a spoiler than I care to share here.

Our detective, Elmer, is a human (aka; Pink) who doggedly continues to ply his trade while surrounded by vampires, werewolves, elves, fairies, ogres, dragons, aliens, even Godzilla. He has the ubiquitous bombshell secretary (Val, who just happens to be a vampire). She won't bite him because she doesn't want to screw up her job. Elmer has to continuously factor in the vagaries of the various monsters he comes into contact with in order to conduct business. 

The story revolves around his search for a missing ring. He comes to discover the ring is considerably more valuable and powerful than he was led to believe.

The Last Living Detective is actually two separate shorter stories starring Elmer and Val. Hopefully it is an ongoing series, these characters are just too much fun. Enjoy!


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Indian Paintbrush (The Carson Chronicles series #3)

Indian Paintbrush (Carson Chronicles, #3)

Author John A. Heldt provided me with an e-copy of Indian Paintbrush, the third entry in the Carson Chronicles series for review.

Having now read all thirteen of Mr. Heldt's books, it has been interesting to witness his growth as a story-teller. From the beginning he was a talented author and his stories are well crafted and very entertaining. He mixes history, science fiction (time travel) and relationships into compelling, fun and sometimes heartbreaking tales. 

Indian Paintbrush showcases Heldt's growth in crystal clarity. The story is so complex, seamlessly weaving WWII history with the Carson family children as they continue their quest to reunite with their parents. The story has more depth of emotion and evokes more compassion for the characters, in my opinion, than previous books. I found myself talking to the author while reading ("John, don't let this happen" and such). The family now finds themselves immersed in 1944 America. They meet the people who have to deal daily with the World War Two. From men who want to do their part to Japanese-Americans held in internment camps. The Carson men also have to face scrutiny for not being part of the war effort.

I really enjoy how the author weaves in characters from earlier books. Meeting friends who have aged while they haven't. Lots of bittersweet moments. This makes for a flowing narrative, like real life where things and people come and go and return again. This of course means the reader needs to read the series from the beginning to get full enjoyment and understanding (fortunately a pleasant task).

As usual, you see I don't share a lot of the story line. I feel if I did that you wouldn't need to read the book, and you really should read this book. But I will share this; there is suspense, romance, tragedy, almost sex (yes sex, almost), even a running gun battle with police. 

Probably the best thing I can say, among all the praise I have heaped on Indian Paintbrush, is that Mr. Heldt has already hooked me for the next book, and didn't have to use a cliffhanger ending to do it. He has crafted such a compelling and emotionally engaging story that readers will naturally find themselves eagerly anticipating the next installment. So, in case you didn't catch it, I highly recommend you check out Indian Paintbrush as well as the rest of the Carson Chronicles by John A. Heldt your effort will be rewarded. Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hollywood Hang Ten

Hollywood Hang Ten

I received an e-copy of Hollywood Hang Ten by Eve Goldberg for review. 

Set in Malibu and surrounding environs during the sixties, we have a surfer-cum-private eye starting out with a missing person case which even he, as a rookie, can see has more to it than meets the eye. Compounding the situation is the fact that his mentor/trainer aka his uncle is hospitalized after a heart attack.

Ryan (our hero) is trying to resolve his first solo case as it becomes increasingly more complex and confusing. The mystery takes him into the world of Hollywood power brokers, the "red menace" and the shadow world of homosexuality (remember, it's the sixties).

Along the way Ryan must navigate the rough waters (get it?) of past relationships, zealotry and intolerance. 

Action, mystery, suspense and illegal activity all rolled into one big enjoyable mystery/adventure. My file does not indicate whether this is the beginning of an ongoing series, but I would be quite surprised if it isn't. Think rookie Magnum PI set in SoCal without the military aspects.

I do hope Eve Goldberg does bring us more of Ryan and his exploits. Enjoy!


The Last Straw

The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red Book 2)

The Last Straw is the second installment of the Pigeon-Blood Red series. 

Interestingly, the print copy I received for review does not mention the first book, or that this is indeed a sequel. The Last Straw can easily be read as a stand alone. I don't necessarily advise that though, just because the first book is also a very good read. 

Author Duncan does give us enough background from the first book to keep the relationships among characters clear but (thankfully) does not retell the entire first book.

Our hero (anti?) is a hitman with scruples, not many, but enough for our purposes. He starts out helping his prostitute friend and gets caught up in a much larger and more convoluted situation. We have an organized crime connection and a racial theme, though maybe not what you might expect. I'll not spoil it here, I'll let you read it for yourself. 

Very well balanced action and suspense. Peripheral sex. A full serving of the seedier side of life. The main character, Rico (what else?) is a "man-with-no-name" kind of character, deadly as they come if you get on his bad side and able to deal with pretty much any situation. A true stoic (actually, my kind of hero) in the classic sense.

Rico deals with a rival, a girlfriend, a mob boss, an unlikely ally and various distractions all with a laconic, "just doing my job" approach. He is not big on explanations.  

Thankfully, as the second part of a trilogy, Duncan does not saddle us with the dreaded cliffhanger ending (THANK YOU). As I said, it stands alone. But if you don't read the first book, you're missing out. Enjoy!


Nightvision Twilight Shadows

Nightvision Twilight Shadows

The first book in the Mother's Realm series, C.H. Knyght's Nightvision Twilight Shadows maybe the first "shape-shifter" story I have read. Obviously I am not well versed on the genre, but I did like this book quite a bit. 

A magic based fantasy with a quest feel. We have various kingdoms inhabited by shifters segregated by their particular abilities. We have wolves, owls and snake shifters so far, as well as dryads, elementals and other magical nature entities. A nice blending of sword and sorcery and shifters.

The character development may be a bit thin to begin with but does build as we read further, and as the introduction to a series we will have more opportunity to get to know the characters better.

Good action so far with hints at intrigue, romance and coming of age. I think what I liked the most was the way the magic element came into play. We don't get wildly powerful wizards performing unbelievable acts. The magic is actually an underlying glue to bind all the kingdoms. The characters have to rely on their own abilities and not just fall back on magic.

There is someone using forbidden magic and therein lies our tale. Unlikely alliances are forming to combat the evil. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in future books. All in all a good first encounter with this genre.

If you are a fantasy/shifter fan, check this one out. I think it's worth your time. Enjoy!


Friday, November 2, 2018

Time Castaways

Time Castaways (Deathlands, #89)

Time for another guilty pleasure read. Time Castaways (Deathlands # 88 according to Goodreads, 89 on Amazon) by house name James Axler. As usual, I do not know who the actual author is (nor do I particularly care), I like the series and have so far enjoyed all I have read.

This go around the warrior survivalists are in the Great Lakes area of what is left of the U.S. As usual they are battling ruthless barons intent on their destruction. The twist? In this part of the nukescape the items of value, and hence the basis for power are; salt and metal. The inhabitants believe their small section of the planet is the whole world. They live according to the dictates of The Book. A genealogy of sorts which directs who can mate with whom in this small population to avoid excessive inbreeding.

As Deathlands books go,  Time Castaways is a pretty good entry. It even has an epilogue. First one I recall seeing. We have the requisite violence and mayhem, but also one sided romance (not a good idea for an outsider to have romantic inclinations towards one of the companions).

I always count on The Deathlands series to provide good escapist post-apocalypse reading. Time Castaways was well balanced and entertaining. Enjoy!


Uncle Herbert: Time is Running Out!

Uncle Herbert: Time Is Runing Out!

I received an e-copy of Uncle Herbert: Time is Running Out! by Philip C Elrod for review.

The story of Uncle Herbert is related by his nephew Andrew a guy just going through the motions in life and seemingly okay with that. His uncle has other plans and they make for a wild, almost madcap world wide adventure.   

Herbert is your basic misunderstood scientist marching to his own internal drummer. He has built a time machine and needs help from Andrew to "SAVE THE WORLD!"

Andrew is thrust into a world he really has no idea how to function in (yeah. I know, bad grammar). How he adapts to fulfill his uncle's requests is great fun to witness. International intrigue, romance, action, time travel, family dysfunction, violence and some surprise aspects that would require a spoiler alert to share.  

My copy did have some typos and mistakes, you know how I get when they are too egregious. Fortunately they didn't quite reach that threshold. But enough to mention.

Main characters were fairly well developed, but some ancillary characters not as well. This makes some of the actions those characters take a bit jarring. I admit though that this may be a bit on the picky side, because overall the book is very entertaining. A good engaging adventure that appears to be the launch pad for a fun series. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Through the Whole of Space-Time, A Keiff Carmadden Tragicomedy: Book One—Mysteries, Secrets, and Lies

Through the Whole of Space-Time, A Keiff Carmadden Tragicomedy: Book One—Mysteries, Secrets, and Lies

I received an e-copy of  Through the Whole of Space-Time, A Keiff Carmadden Tragicomedy: Book One—Mysteries, Secrets, and Lies by Dean Rosenthal, for review. Whew! That's a lot of title!

This book is a space-based sci-fi story told from the main characters pov. Minor note: the story seems to be related in present time, but Keiff makes comments that are more appropriate for a retelling. Comments along the line of "Little did I know" (not an actual quote, but that type).

A lot of "hard science" techie talk about quantum physics and the like, but surprisingly, though I don't understand much on that topic, I didn't feel intimidated by that part of the story. Author Rosenthal does a great job of blending humor and sexual tension with the science. The Blephyron Syndrome is something I have never heard discussed in any other outer-space sci-fi story I've ever read, but it's very important. If you plan on travelling in space you need to understand it.

Sex, drugs, aliens (who, in outer-space, is actually the alien?) cultural diversity, academic jealousy and politics, physics and fun. It's all here. I found it a fun read.

Through the Whole of Space-Time, A Keiff Carmadden Tragicomedy (yay for cut and paste) is the first of the series and does sound like fun to follow. Enjoy!


The Raven

The Raven

I won a print copy of The Raven by Y.I.M.S. in a Goodreads Giveaway.

I did not have the reaction to this book other reviewers have shared. There are way too many mistakes to have made it into print. It appears to me that no one proofread this work prior to printing, and for me they were of sufficient number to impact enjoyment of the book. If that were the only problem with The Raven, I could get past it.

The story is one note; revenge for a brutal murder. Granted, revenge is not an unreasonable motivation for Victoria, but she experiences no growth or understanding as the story unfolds. She is a flat, one dimensional character, as is her compatriot Poe. 

The story was choppy and disjointed for me. It did not build to a moving climax. The ending was ho-hum. Readers of my reviews know that I try to be positive, while being honest. I respect the work it took for this author to create this book, but I must maintain my objectivity and share my true reactions to this book.


Friday, October 12, 2018

The God Virus

I received a print copy of The God Virus from the author for review. Editorial note: I see other reviewers state that they were given a book in exchange for an honest review. I don't recall ever being offered a book in exchange for a dis-honest review. Just wanted to say that since I don't make such declarations anymore.

Author Indigo Voyager (that's what my copy says) has created an excellent story of fantasy, suspense, crime, politics, government, academia and family. This book is just great!

I have seen three different covers for this book. One of which identifies the author as Justin Smith, the person I received the book from. I do like my cover best and I think it may be the first, and the author can call themselves anything they like. You'll see the connection between the story and Indigo Voyager when you read the book.

The story starts with an experimental drug trial and develops into a wild ride as the main characters try to stabilize an out of control situation.

The story deals with the creation of a superhuman hybrid. Of course everyone. good and bad, wants to control them. We see the positive and negative aspects of having such beings in "regular" society. The new humans are just short of indestructible and omnipotent. Fortunately for us the new hybrids are basically good people. I like this format; fantasy that still operates within a realistic format. This makes characters and situations more believable.

The suspense builds as the story progresses. The whole situation grows more and more complex as more people learn about the hybrids. 

The story is well balanced between violence and tenderness, drama and humor, good and bad. The God Virus by Indigo Voyager (that's what my copy says) is a fantastic start to this series. I look forward to reading more. Give this book a look, I think you will like it. Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Dog That Laid Eggs

The Dog That Laid Eggs: Every Monster Comes From Somewhere by [Maas, Jonathan]

I received a print copy of The Dog That Laid Eggs from author Jonathan Maas some time ago and was finally able to read it.

This book operates on so many levels it is hard to categorize. Most of the message is going to be interpreted by the reader based on their own beliefs. I see messages about social justice, sycophantic followers, self elected arbiters of morality, academic snobbery, xenophobia, marital relations and more. Fortunately for my reading tastes, these messages are well couched in the sometimes downright silly activities of the eclectic collection of eccentric (who knows, they might be rich) characters. Humor is the name of the game here. Anyone trying to keep discussion of The Dog That Laid Eggs on a serious tone will quickly become frustrated. The story is so full of puns, veiled nods to pop culture and downright bizarre action that the reader has to really pay attention so as not to miss any of the fun. The lazy zombies are a real kick. 

I have read several of Mr. Maas' books and enjoyed them all. I can't say The Dog That Laid Eggs is my favorite, but it is still a book that made me laugh out loud often, and think occasionally. Pretty much the order I prefer.

My only complaint: with a character named Jethro Tull, I kept waiting for him to reveal an Aqualung hidden in his barn (people my age will get that).

The Dog That Laid Eggs by Jonathan Mass is seriously entertaining. If you possess a working sense of humor, I think you will like this book. Enjoy!


Moral Panic

Moral Panic

I received an ecopy of Moral Panic by K.M.Ecke for review.

A futuristic techno thriller, Moral Panic explores the uses and abuses of internet and computer technology. Readers who have even the slightest antipathy for technology and its potential for abuse will find it difficult to identify a real hero in this story. The various factions represented each have the desire to be a force for good but each is also willing to embrace evil, or at least antisocial behavior to achieve their goals.

Operating under the name Social Justice we have outright evil perpetrated on both the innocent and guilty. We have corporate ideals perverted by corrupt politicians (are there any other kind?). Well written with mostly believable characters. The main bad guy may be a bit over the top.

A very scary tale because so much of the story is plausible. The readers reaction will no doubt depend on where they fall on the conspiracy theory continuum. The more they believe such activity possible, the more frightening the story will be.

As a person with a healthy skepticism about relying completely on the benevolence of technological advances, I'll admit Moral Panic by K.M. Ecke scared me pretty well. Enjoy!


The Undertaker's Revenge - A love Story

The Undertaker's Revenge: ~A Love Story~ (Krakenshire Collection Book 1) by [Davis, A.]

I accepted an ecopy of The Undertaker's Revenge - A love Story by A. Davis for review. 

To begin, make no mistake, this is a very quirky story, bordering on bizarre. But in a completely good and fun way. 

I suppose a reader could muster up some outrage for the evil corporation that is at the root of all of the village of Krakenshire's woes, but that would be missing out on the hilarious goings on of the inhabitants. Townspeople obsessed with the confections produced by the baker, the veterinarian building hybrid animals in his back room and of course, our hero, the undertaker.

Our hero only wants revenge (hence the title) on the evil company he blames for the death of his beloved wife. The problem? Finding help in his goofy village. His minions are twin (but not born at the same time) makeup obsessed zombie assistants. 

The story is told to us by a narrator (my personal favorite character) who speaks directly to us and the undertaker. Very funny and not overdone. 

For a good lighthearted wacky read, check out The Undertaker's Revenge - A love Story  by A. Davis. Enjoy!


Monday, September 3, 2018

Children of Neptune

Children of Neptune (Volume 1)
I was provided a print copy of Children of Neptune by Makenne Snow.

When I took this book off my to read shelf I only looked at the title. I didn't really look that closely at the cover art. When I started reading, I thought "wait a minute, where's the spaceship?" Then I looked more closely at the cover; oops! Wrong Neptune, my bad.

So, what we have here is part coming of age for a teenage princess (not unexplored territory for sure), a society set up by a god (ditto), and a mystery to solve (do I need to say it?). But in Children of Neptune these familiar story lines are presented in fun and entertaining fashion (bet you thought I was going to bag on it). 

This is a YA book to be sure, but I happen to enjoy well done YA. And yes, Children of Neptune is very well done. The authors (yes it's a team) do a good job of portraying teenage angst, insecurity and even budding romance. Perhaps a bit of an ecological/animal rights vibe, but not at all preachy.  

As in all YA tales, our heroine and her friends are the only ones who can solve the mystery and save the day. But, what impressed me was that they did so without disrespecting their parents or other adults (except one who really deserved it). The adults did not condescend to the kids as well.  It is not an adults versus kids kind of story. I like that.

There are enough twists and turns for mystery lovers, but there is also action and adventure.  Children of Neptune by Makenna Snow was just an all around fun read. Enjoy!


The Muse


I was given a print copy of The Muse by Arjay Lewis for review.

I really enjoyed this book! The cover touts the story as "A novel of unrelenting terror" and I do agree. Our author Arjay Lewis tips his hat to Stephen King as the impetus for this story. Okay, he more than "tips his hat", he pretty much bows down to King. But he is giving credit where credit is due. I was concerned Lewis would try to sound like King, but not to worry,  he has his own voice and style.

The Muse is a horror story about writers and their inspiration (The Muse is a much better title than "The Inspiration" right?). The horror aspect of the story starts early and continues to build throughout. Characters are well developed and I was caught up quickly. I found myself thinking "Please don't hurt so and so". Much as I was tempted, I did not peek ahead. I savored the suspense and let the terror mount as I read.

There were several characters who played major parts in this story, and I really liked the way the author kept all these different story lines fresh and active. Short chapters dedicated to each characters points of view keep the story moving at a comfortable pace; not so slow that we get bogged down in minutiae, and not so breakneck that we get fatigued by over stimulation.

The Muse is pretty graphic with sadistic sexual scenes. Fortunately for me, those scenes were short. They were extremely powerful, but over quickly so I didn't have to spend too much time in an uncomfortable place.

If you like horror, suspense, crime, and a bit of fantasy, You are really going to like The Muse by Arjay Lewis. Enjoy!

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Coyote

The Coyote: A Motivational Novel

I was given an e-copy of The Coyote by Steven Georgiou for review.

I've been stewing for several days about how to frame my review. I am somewhat fussy abut what I accept to review, I only accept books I think I will enjoy. I wanted to enjoy this one, it's the mindset I went in with.

So, here's the problem: The Coyote needs a lot of work. The coming of age story of Raki (The Coyote) is a good concept. But the story seems to be trying to talk to several different age groups at the same time. Not an impossible feat, but it didn't work well here. Beginning the book I though "this is a book I would have to read to my grandchildren" (the book was represented to me to be a children's book) because some of the language would be beyond their understanding. At times the vocabulary is more appropriate to a teen audience at best. Okay, not the end of the world.

Next, the story was highly repetitive, repeating backstory on characters way too much, even for young readers, got to be a bit tedious. 

The Coyote offers itself as "motivational". I didn't really see this until the final 10% or so of the story, and I was looking for it.

Of the hundreds of books I have reviewed I have only not finished one, at 40% complete I decided to add this one to that short list. It was just getting too hard to read. I actually put it down for a couple of days and started to read something else. Well, I happened to get a Goodreads notification from a friend whose opinion I greatly respect who "liked" that I was reading The Coyote. So I decided to give it another shot.

Sad to say for me it was a real grind. The climax was very disappointing. The story continuously hinted at the big confrontation to come and it, for me, fell flat. The resolution was just kind of an afterthought. The epilogue did not bring resolution to many of the side stories. It was the most disappointing for me.

What I came away with was the belief that what this book needs is an editor, and proofreaders. An editor could smooth out the rough and clunky spots and temper the redundancy ("ascended up the path"). Proofreaders would catch the mistakes (several) like random words inserted in sentences where they don't belong.

With good editing this could be a fun read. I like that the author wrote a full length book, long enough to really develop the story line. I also like that he didn't necessarily talk down to his audience, although he was guilty of over explaining at times.

I am more than willing (hoping) to find that I was sent an early draft of the story by mistake, It has happened in the past more than once. Easy to happen where computer files are involved. 

I truly hope such is the case here, because as it was presented to me, I can't work up much enthusiasm for this book.


Monday, August 6, 2018


Paradise: A Michael Quinn Short Story

Author Kevin Scott Olson provided a print copy of Paradise for review.

Another entry in the Michael Quinn series. Mr Olson continues to give readers exciting vignettes in this ongoing series. I've read most of the available titles (one is out of print, drat!). Paradise is tight, well written and engrossing. 

The problem? I want more (this one was only 35 pages, 35 great pages but I want more!). In the words of one of Michael Quinn's professional colleagues (a Mr. Bond played by Pierce Brosnan), "enough foreplay". Michael Quinn is a strong enough character to support a series of full length books. We have seen this in Night of the Bonfire. Please Mr. Olson, "May I have more"?

Length aside, a good read. Enjoy!


Dion: A Tale Of The Highway

Dion: A Tale of the Highway

Author Jonathan Maas gifted me this book a while back without expectation of a review, but hey it's what I do.

Dion: A Tale Of The Highway; what to say about this book. It totally blew me away! I personally like stories of a lone character on a quest, it speaks to my favorite fantasy of being the "last man on earth".

There are so many things going on in this simple precept: a lone man being forced to "Drive until this road ends, and then drive some more" (pg 24). 

Our hero doesn't remember who he is or why he is where he is, but he has some wild encounters along his way. In the beginning, the book started to sound like a treatise on climate change and I got a bit worried (not my kind of story), but it quickly left that tone behind. 

Dion: A Tale Of The Highway is pure fantasy, with so many underlying themes that those readers who enjoy dissecting such things will find a treasure trove here. We have the mythology of ancient gods, currant social conditions, far-flung cosmic connections, philosophy and the full range of human emotion.

I did figure out who Dion was early on, which tells me it was probably no great secret to begin with. Sherlock Holmes I'm not (but then a blind squirrel does find an acorn now and then, right?).

The writing is so evocative that I could watch the story unfold completely in my minds eye (since the title of my blog is "Theater of the Mind", this is right in my wheelhouse).

Dion goes to Hell and back (repeatedly) to complete the quest. There are various factions vying to control the outcome of his quest and Dion struggles with figuring out who is actually right. Author Maas does an incredible job of weaving together so many different ideas, emotions, and agendas into a coherent and wildly entertaining tale.

Having read Mr. Maas' two City of Gods books and enjoying them thoroughly (I gave them 5 stars each), I was stunned by Dion: A Tale Of The Highway, it caught me completely off-guard.  It breaks from City's mold and is such a strong story I have to say it is my favorite Jonathan Maas book so far. In fact I will go so far as to say it makes my top ten favorite books. When I had around fifty pages left to read, I actually forced myself to stop for the night. I just didn't want it to end. I prolonged my time in his world one more day.

Okay, enough gushing. Dion: A Tale Of The Highway by Jonathan Maas is an incredible read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys mythic fantasy. You will not be disappointed! Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

3 Hour Dad: Reading Is Believing by [Hourlution, Adam T]

Author Adam T Hourlution's publicist provided an ecopy of 3 Hour Dad for review.

I'm not sure why, but I didn't catch that this is a true story when I started reading. I kept waiting for the joke to made clear. But, it's true. An interesting tale of a surprise birth (I don't think I'm giving away anything here). 

The story is at once scary, when you consider what could have happened, and miraculous when you read what did. A short, intense, at times funny, but ultimately heartwarming story. I dare you not to feel good after reading 3 Hour Dad by Adam T Hourlution. Enjoy!

By the way, a potion of each sale is donated to a random act of kindness fund (not trying to be an ad, but that is kind of cool).


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance (Ma…

Author David Ahern provided an e-copy of Madam Tulip and The Bones Of Chance for review.

This is the third entry in the Madam Tulip series, and for me the strongest so far. The story is more focused, tighter. As I gave the first two books high marks, this is saying something. Set in the Scottish Highlands, our hero is ostensibly there to make a movie. But as fans of the series know, trouble is never far away (I'd be really worried if Derry, aka Madam Tulip, moved into my neighborhood).

As readers have come to expect from David Ahern, the story is full of twists and turns. No character is all they appear to be keeping the reader on their toes.

Madam Tulip actually appears a bit later than usual this time. The action well balanced, the intrigue tight and the suspense builds to an incredibly satisfying climax. The supporting cast is still there; business minded Mom, devil-may-care and flamboyant Dad, and the rest we've come to know. They stay where they belong; on the periphery. Made for a much smoother read. 

Madam Tulip and The Bones Of Chance by David Ahern is for sure my favorite so far. It's a good thing when later entries in a series get stronger as they go. Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 11, 2018



A publicist sent me an e-copy of  Literature® by Guillermo Stitch for review.

Literature® is an interesting spin on the dystopian theme, corporate rule. In this world reading books is considered rebellion. I didn't get a good sense of why though. (We Goodreads members would be the subversives here). Our hero, Billy, is the hapless and clueless pawn in the conflict. 

A bit choppy for me, time frames changed without warning. We eventually wind up with a man running for his life. Well written and complex, but it left me a bit unsatisfied at the ending. Don't get me wrong, the ending was beautifully written and emotionally engaging. Just unfulfilling for me. I got the feeling that I missed something important along the way, or maybe that I am just not cerebral enough to get the full benefit from Literature®. 

If you like cerebral and at times ambiguous motivation, go for it. Enjoy!


Horsemen (City of GodsII)

City of gods II: Horsemen by [Maas, Jonathan]

I received a print copy of Horsemen the second entry into the City of Gods series, from author Jonathan Maas with no expectation of providing a review. You know I'm going to do it anyway.

I may have a problem here. I gave the first book in the series; Hellenica 5 stars in all the places that require such things, and it fully deserved that rating. But what am I supposed to do now? I'm all out of stars. Giving Horsemen another five stars seems to be damning it with faint praise. Horsemen has taken the story to new heights. Considering the four main characters (Horsemen) are teens, we must believe this book is to be pigeonholed as YA. That would be so wrong, so limiting. 

Our "teens" are tasked with bringing order to the "Conurbation" while dealing with petulant, scheming, greedy, and double dealing Gods. Thankfully the Gods here are second tier. Most are recognizable as deities, but they are not the "Big Guys". Poseidon is probably the highest ranking god mentioned. Okay, maybe Zues, but both of these appear mostly as backstory. We instead, spend time with lesser gods; Loki, Heracles, Oshun, Dagon, Lillith and more of that ilk.

Author Jonathan Maas has created such a wonderful "conurbation" of districts which worship all these lesser gods. This really facilitates the interactions between various districts. 

Our Horsemen are familiar, in principle, to most readers: Death; Kayana Marx. War; Gunnar Redstone. Pestilence; Tommy Alderon, and the White Knight Saoirse Frost. This group destroyed my ability to call Horsemen as a YA book. These characters are incredibly wise and consider their actions deeply before acting. Many YA stories have young people who are the smartest or most clever around, but these four are so far beyond that, there age becomes irrelevant. 

We have violence, political intrigue, no sex (kind of difficult when the slightest touch from two of the characters causes death), loyalty and distrust. 

The story is so well crafted, the character and world building is superb, and the author speaks to his audience with such respect and intelligence that Horsemen holds its own in any age group from YA on. I think it appropriate for even the mature middle grade reader.

There is some veiled social justice message hanging around the periphery. Why else would Frost Giants, Spartans, Apaches (yes, Geronimo and Cochise), Norse and Amazons all live so closely together? Can you say diversity? Thankfully the focus is on the story and not the social justice. The balance works for me.

If I haven't been clear, I think Horsemen (City of Gods II) is an incredibly good followup to Hellenica and has definitely hooked me. Jonathan Maas has hit this one out of the park. Bring on more! I encourage everyone who has even a passing interest in epic fantasy to check this one out. Enjoy! 


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Dark Waters

Dark Water

David Haviland (publicist) provided an e-copy of Dark Water by Simon Thould for review.

Dark Water, an eerie sounding title to be sure, actually refers to the town the story is set in. The activities taking place in this small community on the edge of the Forest (the Wikipedia function on my ereader explained this location well) are also quite dark. Rafter, our hero or anti-hero, you choose, is the hard drinking ex-military sniper whose code of ethics draws him into a missing person case.

We have; sex, drugs, rock'n roll. Human trafficking, drug-dealing, Albanians, Hell's Angels, Foreign Legionnaires, promiscuity, extreme partying and plenty of local secrets. Brutal and graphic violence. The sex would be called a tease; lots of promise but little to no follow through. I guess hearkening back to the idea that you can't have graphic sex and violence in the same story.

Good action sequences, but the story did lag a bit for me between those sequences. A lot of hurry up and wait; kind of like the real military. This added to the feel for me that the book was longer than it actually was. In the end, not a lot of really likable characters. Gabriel and Li Li (new friends of Rafter) were probably the only ones for me. The rest are so flawed, and unabashedly so that it becomes difficult to sympathize with them, or root for them. Our hero, unrivaled killing machine that he is (and really, isn't that what we all want in a good action story?), is the hardest drinking character I think I have ever encountered. The amount of vodka he consumed through out the story, which chronologically is only a few days, is staggering, and he should have been by the end of the story (pun intended).

My biggest and most lingering question? Does anyone (beyond the author) know what a "Wolf" vehicle is? I Googled it, and all I got were auto dealers, no reference to any actual vehicle. Made me a bit crazy. 

I did like Dark Water by Simon Thould. It did make good on its' claim to be good action story. Enjoy!


Friday, June 15, 2018

Zero is the Key

Zero Is The Key by [Guerrera, Robert]

I won a print copy of Zero is the Key by Robert J Guerrera in a Goodreads giveaway.

Zero is the Key is a fun middle grade adventure that made me a little bit nostalgic for the books I read as a middle grader. There was a series called The Happy Hollisters that Zero is the Key strongly brings to mind. The kids are smart, but so are the parents. Everyone is respectful and the adventure is just a lot of fun. Perhaps a bit unrealistic when the family travels all over the world at the drop of a clue. But that is a part of the charm for me, not letting real life logic dictate the flow of the story.  

The action is quite good and the suspense is maintained throughout. Age appropriate violence and danger. A travelogue to some of the more mysterious locations on the planet. Giorgio Tsoukalos would probably love it. Zero is the Key also crosses over to the ancient alien theory and fits in quite well.

A fun thing to notice that isn't a spoiler. Most of the main characters have the family names of famous scientists. The main characters are the Salk's, you can pick out the rest. Zero is the Key by Robert J Guerrera is a fun middle grade adventure even if no longer a middle grade reader. Enjoy!




I received an e-copy of Woodcutter  by Shaun Baines for review.

A dark, grisly, intricate tale of a mafia-type family. Full of action, violence, brutality, familial intrigue and peripheral sex. Pretty much what a reader expects from this genre. Not to say it is predictable or mundane. It is able to still be full of surprising twists and turns.

The problem for me? No body was sympathetic! The main character Daniel tries but just can't pull off likability.  Every character had such unforgivable flaws that it was difficult to root for any. Just when you are ready to sympathize with a character, they participate in something that destroys their humanity and connect-ability. After finishing Woodcutter I decided, "I don't like any of these people". But that is okay because the story is interesting and engaging and well written. It held my interest and kept me guessing (wrongly as usual).

If you like good ol' shoot'em up violence, extreme brutality, mafia-esque honor and loyalty, all inflicted by unlikable characters, Woodcutter is the ticket. It wasn't a problem that it was set in England rather than a more mafia style location like New York or Chicago. A good read all around by Shaun Baines. Enjoy!


Friday, June 1, 2018


Icarus (The Noble Trilogy Book 1) by [Hulegaard, David K.]

I won a print copy of Icarus the first book in The Noble Trilogy by David K. Hulegaard in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Icarus is a great start to an ongoing story of mystery, murder, noir detective, with overtones of political/military/alien subversive activity. This first entry leaves a lot of unanswered questions; the most intriguing being who the bad guys actually are.

Not predictable at all for me. (Mini spoiler) I was shocked by the demise of who I thought were main characters. This just tells me there are a lot of twists and turns to come.

Set in the late 40's, we have a not-very-hard-boiled detective (Miller Brinkman) caught up in a colossal world shattering secret operation. By the end of this first book we are not sure of who is actually in control of the sinister agenda. 

A lot of character development in the form of flashbacks. A lot of story yet to be developed. Perhaps a bit slow in the beginning (not enough to make me want to stop reading), I was thoroughly hooked before long.   

Icarus does employ the ever vilified cliffhanger ending, although given the flow of the story I have a hard time seeing how it could have been avoided. Author Hulegaard has an engaging style, keeping the reader interested in the story, while building the suspense and terror (oh yes, there's terror). I really liked Icarus, Book 1 of The Noble Trilogy by David K. Hulegaard and am looking forward to continuing on Miller Brinkman's investigation. Enjoy!


Demons of Eden

Demons of Eden #37 in the Deathlands Series by house name James Axler was part of a Christmas present this past December (thanks Wil & Jenn).

This series is my own guilty pleasure. I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I don't much care how it happened, I just like to read the survival stories. As an early entry in the series, Demons of Eden fills the bill nicely. 

Our band of companions meet up with a character from earlier adventures and enter the world of native-american mysticism. As often is the case, they encounter what could be a paradise only to uncover the hidden sickness.

The characters are true to their continuing depictions. We have the usual shoot-em up violence, life threatening danger and even some tenderness. Nice blend. Light on the evil mutations they often encounter. In short, pretty much a believable story line. At 346 pages, a bit longer than the usual 316. 

In my opinion, one of the better series entries. Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles, #2)

The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles, #2)

Author John A Heldt provided me with an e-copy of The Memory Tree, the second book in the Carson Chronicles.

I have had the pleasure of reading all of Mr. Heldt's books to this point. I have given five stars to each book so far on the sites that require them. That is 70 stars (I wonder where he keeps them all). The Memory Tree continues his run of fantastic books. I have been witness to his growth as an author, he continues to raise the bar for himself with each new book. Always an excellent writer/story teller, it has been fun to see his work evolve.

The Memory Tree continues the story of the Carson children playing time-traveler tag with their parents. This book, as is the first in the series, has a more adult feel to it. Some sexuality (not at all graphic, although in one case, almost. There, my spoiler), some  violence, mildly graphic. Mostly though it is a good family oriented time traveling adventure. The story-line(s) cover multiple countries as the family spreads out in their attempt to finally reunite with their parents.

We have historic events weaved throughout some you will know (you may have heard of WWI), some a little less well known, at least they were to me. We also have romance, loss, heartbreak balanced with humor, adventure, terror and uplifting humanity.

Our author does not shy away from the stereotypical difficulties presented in most time travel stories, he in fact embraces them and weaves them into at times, heartbreaking moments or heart warming ones. This story so complex it keeps the reader hooked. I don't know if it is purposeful or not, but Mr. Heldt uses a short chapter format, usually 4 or 5 pages at most. What this does is allow the many story-lines to flow without the reader losing track of where the story is going. It also keeps, me at least, reading further into the night than I should. It's just too easy to tell myself, "One more chapter" until five or six later when I say "One more", you get the idea.

Author Heldt (remember, John A. Heldt, leave out the A and you'll get the wrong author) has developed a family of characters that the reader comes to really care about. I unashamedly will admit to becoming teary eyed several times, he makes their situations so moving.

I could go on and on about the virtues of The Memory Tree by John A. Heldt, but suffice to say, this is an awesome book and I highly recommend you check it out. Enjoy!


Friday, May 4, 2018

Crooked E: A Short Story

Crooked E: A Short Story

Rebecca McNutt sent me an e-copy of Crooked E: A Short Story just because I requested it.

Crooked E is a retelling of the neighborhood haunted house story. The house with the spooky history that people use to scare each other. Ms. McNutt does a good job of telling the story. While it has been told in many incarnations, Crooked E does manage to be original in its own way. 

The author does a good job of creating the proper atmospheric dread. She created the perfect protagonist to relate the story. We want to shout "get away from them" as we can tell something bad is coming.

The ending was no surprise, but that is what I liked. It is what I wanted to read. Sometimes the "ending with a twist" just feels abusive when it doesn't fit the narrative.

A good quick spooky read, kind of like the ghost stories we like to share around a campfire. Enjoy!


Surfing with Snakes and Dragons: and Other Tales of Suburbia

Surfing with Snakes  Dragons

Author Roger J. Couture sent me a print copy of Surfing with Snakes & Dragons: and Other Tales of Suburbia for review.

For me this was not an easy read. The verbiage of Mr. Couture is complex and beautifully descriptive, but does not lend itself to quick reading. I don't say this as criticism but sharing how the book affected me.

There are eight stories on varied topics delving deeply into the existential conflicts the characters were dealing with. We see characters at all substrata of society dealing with similar problems. Social or financial status does not protect from such dilemmas.

Along the way we get a bit of a primer on such topics as surfing (Surprised?), street life, marriage, race car driving and relationships; both casual and committed.

We see there are people living "low" status lives in strictly honorable ways. We see the struggles of drug use and the paranoia that can come with it. We see the adrenaline junkies who will never "grow up". People who live life on the edge. People who live lives of quiet desperation.

Surfing with Snakes & Dragons explores all these themes and more. There are moments of levity, romance, tenderness and love sprinkled throughout. A balance of life in general.

As I said Surfing with Snakes & Dragons... by Roger J. Couture is not a simple read, but it is a satisfying one. Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gun Kiss

Gun Kiss

I received an ecopy of Gun Kiss from author Khaled Talib for review.

Wow! This is an action packed book. Semi-spy meets Hollywood mega-star (How is part of the plot).
Very high body count. Graphic violence perpetrated by a truly deranged bad guy. The action just never lets up, and this may be the knock against the book. Too much nonstop violent action can lead to a kind of fatigue in the reader (it did in me). 

The scope of the story covers the world and does tie the story together well. The various story lines are intertwined effectively. 

The romance in the story does not get the attention it deserves in my opinion. It becomes secondary to the violent action when it is more integral to the tale. This made the book a bit unbalanced.

I did over all enjoy Gun Kiss as shoot 'em up action and the negatives I share here were mostly easily overlooked. However there was one point I couldn't get past, and I break my own rule because this is a bit of a spoiler. Toward the end of the story our author attempts to introduce a story line of racism and social justice that just doesn't fit the story as constructed. It was off-putting for me. Not because of his message, but that it was such a jarring distraction to the story.

Gun Kiss by Khaled Talib is over the top action, and if that is your bag, you'll like this book. Enjoy!


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Winell Road

Winell Road by [Foster, Kate]

I won a print copy of Winell Road by Kate Foster in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Winell Road is a middle grade book about life on a truly weird street. 

Our young hero Jack lives on Winell Road, populated by more strange people than any road should. We see how his twelve year old mind processes this strangeness. 

There are lots of twists and turns. People go from being friends to suspects and back again at a dizzying pace.As in any good middle grade story, Winell Road operates with the premise that Jack is the only person who sees and can resolve what is going on in his neighborhood. The "secret" of Winell Road is amazing in scope, and a fun mystery to be solved.

Winell Road by Kate Foster is a fun middle grade story for all ages. Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Streets of Nottingham

The Streets of Nottingham

Author Auckly Simwinga provided an ecopy of The Streets of Nottingham for review.

The Streets of Nottingham reads like a retelling of a mythological story. But since I can't say which one, and no one has told me this is so, I accept it as completely invented by the author. And inventive it is. 

A true quest story (the best kind), our hero Adam is off to Nottingham to find a healer who knows he's coming but isn't waiting for him, in the city that doesn't exist. How's that for a quest?

He embarks on his quest with no more knowledge than that to go on. The obstacles he encounters are monumental at times. Obviously he perseveres (otherwise we wouldn't have a book). Being a fantasy reader, the story didn't necessarily surprise me, but I can't say it was predictable either. It was a fun ride.

The Streets of Nottingham is a action filled fantasy quest adventure, a heartwarming love story with mythic underpinnings. Enjoy!


Ebba, the First Easter Hare (Spring)

Ebba, the first Easter Hare (SPRING) (FOUR SEASONS Book 2)

Ever have to try to explain to a child why the Easter Bunny brings eggs?

Ebba, the First Easter Hare by Leen Lefebre tells the story. It is a dark and foreboding world Ebba inhabits. As you would expect, she is a truly good hare (the story differentiates between hares and rabbits). Our heroine (hareoine?) is on a quest to find a place of light. 

Ebba, the First Easter Hare is not light fantasy in my mind. It is a bit more dark than I would have expected. But it is a great story non-the-less. To explain about the eggs would be a spoiler, so no. During her quest, Ebba learns about the larger world and meets other inhabitants all while trying to live her motto: Never show fear.

Looking up the author Leen Lefebre, I found she lives in Belgium. This may explain my one negative, the book is a bit choppy, like (surprise) it was translated from another language. Minor complaint, and readers will enjoy having an answer to "that question". A quick read that I got to enjoy right at Easter.  book

This book operates on several levels; a children's story, a morality play, a philosophical exploration or just a fun read about a hare. You can choose for yourself. A fun story. Enjoy!


Footsteps in the Dark

I figured out how to include the cover of the books I review! Better late than never I guess.

Footsteps in the Dark: Stories of the B…

Author Carlo Armenise provided a print copy of Footsteps in the Dark for review.

This book is like a step back in time for me, back to the original Twilight Zone. The stories here follow that format beautifully. Zoners (if no one has coined that term yet I will) will love it.

A collection of eight stories presented as "steps" are a walk through the "bizarre and unusual". My imagination immediately formed a picture akin to the Zone and my inner voice became that of Rod Serling. 

This is not to say that Footsteps in the Dark is a mere knock-off of the original. These are new and inventive works by a seasoned story-teller. I make the comparison only to give the flavor of the book. 

Step Seven caught my attention as the main character is a psychologist. I was yelling at him throughout. You'll have to read it to see why. 

Each story is it's own short passion play focusing on the characters flaws, quirks, passions and foibles. Though short, we quickly become intimately connected. 

A great group of stories presented in an attention grabbing format. Footsteps in the Dark is a great way to spend a couple of hours. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Blackwing (Raven's Mark #1)

I won a print copy of Blackwing (Raven's Mark #1) by Ed McDonald in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Blackwing (Raven's Mark #1) is the first book in the Raven's Mark series (kind of obvious from the title eh?). This book was right up my reading alley; post-apocalyptic dystopian hard-core kill 'em all, let God sort them out, action.

Our hero, Ryhalt Galharrow is for sure a great action hero. Besides taking cursing to a completely new plane, his twisted morality and unswerving dedication to duty (whoever is paying him), we see a one note character slowly revealed as a more complex individual than even he would probably like to admit.

Surrounding himself with the lowest scum his society has to offer he (of course) becomes the last best hope for humanity. He is irreverent, angry, arrogant, devious, vicious, loyal and absolutely deadly.

Blackwing is hilarious in an anti-societal vein. Galharrow sees the stupidity of those whose tune he dances to. I particularly enjoyed that he often voiced the sarcastic comments that I was thinking while reading. The argument can be made that it is a story of redemption. I think that is being overly generous. He is who he is, and is good with that.

Lots (I mean LOTS) of language, sexual references, graphic violence. Hard to tell if the "good" deities are all that good. But, the best thing I can say; In my opinion, Blackwing (Raven's Mark #1) by Ed McDonald is a great escapist, no apologies, politically incorrect, fun read. Enjoy!


Monday, March 19, 2018

Science and Wonders II: The Light, the Heat

Author Amy Joy gave me an e-copy of Science and Wonders II: The Light, the Heat for review.

I have read and reviewed the first book in the series; On the Edge of the Chasm. This follow up is every bit as good. We get to hear more about Amy Joy's adventures and misadventures as she makes her way through the college experience.

Amy Joy does still strive to bridge the chasm between science and religion in this second book, but I will say however, that The Light, the Heat does lean a bit more towards the Christian side of her story. I don't say this as a negative, or in any way an admonishment, merely an observation.

We get even more insight into the thoughts and feelings of this unique person as she shares her life with us. It is at times, tragic, uplifting, terrifying, and hilarious. Kind of like life for real.  We see an indomitable will, and a strong reliance on faith.

What I like most about Amy Joy's work is her unapologetic telling of her story. She is an unabashedly devout follower of Jesus Christ and her writing demonstrates this. Although strong in its message of her faith, it is not a "you better believe too" kind of book, not a beat you over the head until you submit book. It's more of a "this is how it works for me" book. I am not a fan of writing that tries to guilt me into accepting the author's viewpoint. Thankfully Amy Joy apparently feels the same.

I enjoyed Science and Wonders II: The Light, the Heat immensely, and if you are interested in seeing where science and religion can peacefully coexist, I think you will too. Enjoy


Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Step-Spinsters

Author Madina Papadopoulos provided an e-copy of The Step-Spinsters for review.

The Step-Spinsters is the continuing story of Cinderella and her step-mother and step-sisters (hence, step-spinsters). In this entertaining, fairly quick read we have characters who are all flawed to some degree. I was particularly pleased to find out Cinderella's real name (no, I'm not going to tell).

The story is comical, tragic, mysterious and redemptive as any fairy-tale should be. I found myself rooting both for and against each character at different times. Reading this story with the original (I know there are probably hundreds of versions), or maybe the Disney version in mind, will mess with your mind a bit. In a fun way. A peek into medieval French custom.

I enjoyed The Step-Spinsters by Madina Papadopoulos. If you like the story after ever after, I think you will like this one too. Enjoy!


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Darkened Demigod: Weapon of War

I won a print copy of Darkened Demigod: Weapon of War by Dr. Shawn Phillips in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Author Dr. Shawn Phillips has created his own genre with this book: fant2sci. A blend of fantasy and science fiction. As the first example of this genre that I have read (I don't know if there even are any others) I have to say he blends the two masterfully here.

Set in the future, far future, this post apocalyptic story recounts the creation and activities of a human created demigod. That is a great story in itself. Techno-geeks will find much here to nerd out over, whilst fantasy fanatics (like me) will dive into the fantasy quest aspects of the story. Our hero (anti-hero?) is a grumpy demigod who is carrying a boatload of anger. The story begins with his imprisonment in a subterranean cell chained to the walls.

The crux of the story is this demigod (there are more than one)(mini-spoiler) is responsible for the global apocalypse and by a twist of the authors creative abilities, he now is the hope of the remaining human population.

Our author is able to speak (or more correctly write) at many levels at once. He easily transitions from discussion on quantum physics to references as mundane as "Where's Waldo?" and all points in between.

Darkened Demigod is as full of twists and turns as any mystery you can name (even though it is not a mystery, that would be a fant2scistery). While reading, it often seemed that I was nearing the end of the story, but would notice that I had a fair amount of book left and then, Bang!, the story would gallop off in another direction. The quest would be recharged and continued. All in all a very exciting read that kept me engaged throughout and finished leaving me well satisfied. A great epilogue.

I found myself considering philosophically oriented questions (I usually hate when that happens). This story lends itself to discussions of philosophy, spirituality, the human condition, good vs evil and such. Though you won't catch me in such a discussion (my days of waxing philosophic are well past me), those who indulge in such esoteric activities will find much here to fuel many a discussion.

No sex, no romance, a fair amount of violence, some graphic most not. Lots of great action, dry humor and of course, fantasy and technology. Darkened Demigod; Weapon Of War by Dr. Shawn Phillips; a great read. Enjoy!


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Deficit of Diligence: Make No Assumptions (Mike Stanhope Mysteries Book 2)

I received an ecopy of Deficit of Diligence: Make No Assumptions, second in the Mike Stanhope Mysteries series from author Peter Rowlands for review.

Having read the first book in this series; Alternative Outcome and giving it highest marks, I fully expected to enjoy Deficit of Diligence as well. I have to say I enjoyed this one even more. Mike Stanhope, not a sleuth, but a writer, gets himself into so many tight spots he should maybe reconsider his profession. But where would the fun be in that. He has to juggle a budding relationship while people are trying to kill him.

This time out our hero gets caught up in corporate deviousness while at the same time trying to find out why he inherited the estate of a woman he has never met. I have to admit (somewhat smugly) that I figured this part out before he did. Maybe I'm getting better at reading mysteries. But then again I only figured out a very small part of that story line and not all the details so, maybe not.

The story is a bit more action oriented than the first, Stanhope takes even more of a beating but appears to keep his stiff British upper lip throughout. Author Rowlands does a wonderful job of keeping our hero complex, yet believable and human, amid all the turmoil he has to deal with.

Again, Mr. Rowlands gives us a tight tale full of twists, turns and surprises that kept me hooked. The story never lagged, keeping me reading until I couldn't keep my eyes focused.

What I find interesting is the authors ability to set a story in a rather mundane setting; business logistics, and keep it exciting. Stanhope is no hard-boiled detective, but he is a lot of fun to follow.

Action, mystery, romance, intrigue and logistics. What more could a reader want? I highly recommend Deficit of Diligence by Peter Rowlands. Enjoy!


Friday, February 23, 2018

The Stranger In 0-G

I was given an e-copy of The Stranger in 0-G by Kate Bassett for review.

This book was offered as an erotic science fiction, and although I do not generally review erotica, The Stranger in 0-G intrigued me enough to give it a look.

The story is one of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage of duty to her family. She is married to a worthless, abusive husband, and has a somewhat spooky daughter.  The eroticism comes at the hands (and other appendages) of... you guessed it; The Stranger in 0-G. 

The story was interesting enough to hold my attention, and not just because of the erotic content. As the beginning of a series, The Stranger in 0-G sets up the story well. Set in a world similar to ours yet with startling differences, we have the bones of an entertaining story.

I do have one serious problem with this book. That is the editing, the copy I downloaded from Smashwords is in serious need of a good proofreader. Not typos exactly, but words in the wrong place, unneeded words, and left out words. Too many to be overlooked. It did impact my overall enjoyment of the book. Because of this I have given it fewer stars on sites which require that arbitrary rating system than the story itself deserves.

The second much less serious problem was the internal consistency of the characters. We have characters who are well described as physically different from your run of the mill human. Yet when we get into the erotic passages those differences seem to disappear. Not unforgivable, to be sure, but it let that passage fall a bit flat for me.

Overall, The Stranger in 0-G is a decent beginning. With a good proofreader and just a touch more internal consistency, author Kate Bassett will have an excellent series here. Enjoy!