Month: April 2015

Review of ‘A Special Bull’

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Alyssa was becoming accustomed to life in the country, helping Jeff raise animals on his Florida farm. Her life, though, changed in ways she could never have imagined when a bull calf was born, with a great amount of difficulty.

A Special Bull by S. A. Molteni is a touching short story told from a couple of unique points of view. A quick read that you’ll find yourself re-reading because of the sympathetic, but utterly realistic way it addresses life on a farm. Told from Alyssa’s point of view from the beginning, after the birth of the bull calf, an animal that is destined for the meat market, it takes a surprising turn that will leave you breathless.

Molteni has a way of describing life on the farm that is charming and heart-warming. This short story in book form will leave you wanting to read more of her work.

An easy five star read!

Review of ‘Dividers’

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Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely; and, money is the source of power. When the quest for more and more wealth is added to the mix, along with the insatiable desire for revenge, and a malevolent spirit that has been searching for redemption for 6,000 years is added to the mix, you have a tale that is mesmerizing.

Dividers by Travis Adams Irish is the story of Jacob Calbraw, the wealthy and spoiled son of billionaire Earl Calbraw, and his quest to discover who was responsible for the death of his mother. He has been locked for decades in a struggle with his father who is trying to make amends for his misdeeds of the past, and he finds himself possessed by Thretch, a spirit who has suffered untold deaths as he struggles to redeem himself for a failure when he was a mortal.

This is a story of personal jealousy, greed, and class warfare, as the reader follows Jacob, who struggles to break free from Thretch’s hold. Jacob’s life crosses paths with Kelvin Carver, a Harlem resident whose son dies because the rich and powerful can’t be bothered with a common man’s problems, so they stand idly by while the child dies from anaphylactic shock, causing Kelvin to seek justice through revenge.

Jacob and Kelvin are the central characters in this chilling tale, and with each near encounter, you’ll find yourself on edge waiting to see what will happen when they finally meet. Their explosive encounter will make your blood run cold. Adams has created a future world that is a chilling foreshadowing of what can happen when wealth determines the fate, not just of nations, but those who value wealth above people.

I give Dividers four stars.

Review of ‘General Well’NGone in Love’

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When Mendel Krinkle, father of Berel and Sarah, dies, he leaves the two children on their own. Sarah is able to do her father’s work, provided no one knows that a girl, and a Jewish girl at that, is doing copy work for a Gentile firm in London of 1814. One day, Berel, the youngest, encounters General Well’ngone, second in command to Earl of Travel Lane, head of a band of Jewish thieves. After walking Berel home, the General sees Sarah and his heart is lost.

General Well’NGone in Love is another of Libi Astaire’s Jewish Regency Mystery series, and despite its brevity, is an excellent read. Along with Sarah, Berel, General and the other denizens of London’s Jewish community, there is as usual Ezra Melamed, a wealthy widower who is one of the Jewish Community’s leaders, and who spends a good bit of his time supporting the members of his community. All of his abilities are tested when Berel goes missing and it’s feared he has been kidnapped.

The author writes with wry wit and a deft hand, skillfully portraying London’s Jewish society of the period and entertaining readers at the same time. Don’t miss this book! Five stars all around.

Four Elements

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Lisa Dorenfest, on her blog ‘One Ocean at a Time,’ posted a photo challenge of sorts – a photographic representation of the Four Elements, Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. This seemed such an intriguing challenge, I decided to give it a go. I’m posting some of my photos sans captions–let’s see if they represent well. Oh, and comments are most welcome.


A country road in Zimbabwe, coming down from the mountains.
A country road in Zimbabwe, coming down from the mountains.
An IED exploding kicks off a mass casualty/rescue exercise at Playas, New Mexico.
An IED exploding kicks off a mass casualty/rescue exercise at Playas, New Mexico.
A bright blue sky frames the pastel shades of foliage and birds' nests in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa.
A bright blue sky frames the pastel shades of foliage and birds’ nests in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa.

Review of ‘The Brightest Light’

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Kade Traskell, who lives on the Skyland of Girinbult, was once a member of the Skyway Men, but he’s been exiled to the metal working community for a decade. Finally, he’s been given a job and a chance to redeem himself—or so he thinks. But, as soon as he arrives in the target area things begin to go wrong, and he learns that he’s been set up.

Not only must he worry about being a target of the Skyway Men, but he must also dodge the mysterious Green Sea Raiders.

The Brightest Light by Scott J. Robinson is science fiction adventure at its finest. Non-stop action and double dealing from page one as Kade desperately tries to learn who to trust. Hard-hitting dialogue and bigger than life characters in a fictional universe where no one can be trusted. A page-turner that you’ll not want to miss.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. Another five-star offering from a superb sci-fi writer.

Review of ‘Little Chickadee’

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“I write, write, write all day long,” says the little Chickadee. Another great book for the little ones – either to read if they’re first readers, or to have read to them. ‘Little Chickadee’ by Scott Gordon is another book for children by an author who understands what appeals to kids. The little chickadee is missing someone, and he writes every day, but gets no answer. Finally, one day his answer comes–and, it will be a surprise. Another four-star book from a great children’s author.

Review of ‘The Nines’

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Roxie Bailey is an 18-year-old college student hiding a terrible secret—a secret that makes it difficult for her to form relationships, other than her online chats with fellow psychology students, in particular ALEXANDERTHEGR8T. She finds herself in a tricky situation when her Claire, her roommate, insists that she go along with her and her boyfriend, Julio to meet his roommate Hector. Hector develops a liking for her, but she’s reluctant to let it get beyond friendship. Then, she convinces Hector to accompany her as she tracks down the mysterious Masked Man reported to be living near campus.

From this point on, things get complicated. Roxie meets the Masked Man face to face. Alexander, a recluse who has suffered severe burns which have disfigured him, is at first hesitant, but quickly a bond develops between them, a bond that could be severed when Roxie learns that Alexander was maimed when her brother set off a bomb in their high school on the first day of school. Can a victim of the Back to School Bomber deal with the emotions he’s feeling for his assailant’s sister?

The Nines, by Dakota Madison and Sierra Avalon, takes us alternately into the lives, minds, and hearts of Roxie and Alexander as they learn to live with their pain. The suspense is ratcheted up several knots when Claire fails to return to the dorm, and they learn that she’s been killed by members of a secret fraternity near the campus. Claire’s boyfriend wants more than justice, he wants revenge. But, the fraternity members are all rich and well-connected—and basically consider themselves above the law.

As Alexander and Roxie set out to make things right, their relationship grows even stronger.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. The authors write with a level of authority and understanding of human nature and human relationships that will suck you in and keep you reading until the end. Given the recent news stories about fraternity misbehavior around the U.S., this book is more than a complicate love story. It’s a story of the level of dysfunction that exists on too many college campuses, and how two people have chosen to deal with it. It might be fiction, but the way it reads, it’s all too real. A five-star must read!

Review of D.E.M.: Deus Ex Machina

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When a little boy is kidnapped in broad daylight, computer geek Rachel wants to try and help rescue him. When the police refuse to listen, she takes matters into her own hands. The results are far from what she’d expected, or desired. The boy is rescued, but the kidnappers are brutally murdered, and she gets messages from a strange person only identified as D.E. M.

Under threat, Rachel seeks the help of Cam, a white hat hacker, and his boss Dave, and gets comfort from her neighbor, Deborah. Before she knows it, things have spiraled out of control.

D.E.M.: Deus Ex Machina by Lee Ness is a spine-tingling thriller of Rachel’s efforts to identify D.E.M. and stay alive, a story of infatuation, betrayal, and the misuse of social media. Nothing in this book is as it seems, and it’ll keep you guessing for a long time until you’re suddenly hit with one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments.

I received a free copy of this book for my review. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read, despite a few too many typos and grammatical errors throughout. I would have also appreciated knowing a bit more about Rachel and Cam, the two main characters—whose last names are never given. In fact, few of the characters in the book are identified beyond their first names. A minor point, but one that adds a bit more immediacy and credibility to the story for me. Also, this was really two stories. The first one ended when Rachel discovers the identity of D.E.M., and from there until the end we have a completely new—but just as entertaining—story.

As much as I’d like to give it four stars, the problems with grammar and other issues I mention above force me to give it three. I know, however, that this author has five star books just waiting to be written.

Review of ‘The Age of Heroes’

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What does an aging hero do with himself when he’s the Last Great Hero? If he’s Rawk, he trades on his notoriety for a few coins and free food, and tries his best to ignore the creaks and groans of a body that can no longer support the exploits of his youth.

I received a free copy of The Age of Heroes: the Last Great Hero by Scott J. Robinson in exchange for my review. Robinson has done a superb job of creating a world that is populated by a strange and entertaining cast of characters.

When Rawk is injured taking down a magical creature that is no longer supposed to be around, he goes in search of a healer—but, not just any healer—he seeks the assistance of his arch-enemy, Silver Lark, a magician who is living incognito to avoid the unwelcome attention of Prince Weaver, who has outlawed magic in the land.

The Age of Heroes is a funny book, but it also addresses the serious issue of aging and the difficulty that active people have with the inevitable result of a body that no longer performs the way it once did.

A fun weekend read that I give four stars.

13 Reasons You’re not as Successful an Author as you Should Be.

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A great video that addresses the reasons people fail as writers:

Review of ‘You Can Say That Again’

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Redundancies are all around us. If you write, no matter how careful you are redundancies will creep into your writing. You Can Say That Again: 750 Redundant Phrases to Think Twice About by Marcia Riefer Johnston is a short book listing a number of redundant phrases that are ‘the result of semi-conscious writing.’ This is an excellent reference book for any writer, whether you’re penning fiction or nonfiction. I keep the free copy that I received for review near my computer whenever I write—including this review—as a tool to help me avoid the sin of creeping repetition.

A useful guide, and here I’ll risk providing the author with grist for any update she decides to do by describing it as ‘hilariously funny,’ because, in addition to being useful, it was fun to read. Five stars!

Review of ‘Ice Wind’

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Taran Collins is a long way from home. Home is Earth, but he finds himself on a strange planet chasing bad guys—or, in his current predicament a female thief, Zayri LaRarque—and he’s stranded in a desert where when it rains, the sand bursts into flame. When it does in fact rain, Taran takes the only escape route, a strange city buried in the sand, and then finds himself on one of the planet’s four moons where he discovers people much like himself who are enslaved by a race of human-animal hybrids. He is given the mission to find Zayri, ally with her, and deliver his people from slavery.

If you’re a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter on Mars, you’ll enjoy reading Ice Wind by Guy S. Stanton III. In this book Stanton has Taran, like John Carter, a Civil War veteran who finds himself on a strange planet far from Earth, facing similar challenges and through his fighting ability and faith, dealing with seemingly insurmountable odds with a combination of humor and derring-do that is typical of the merger of Western and Science Fiction, but, unlike Burroughs, he includes a dose of religion in the story—in a very subtle way that does not at all detract from a nicely structured adventure yarn.

The only negative aspect of this story is some unconventional grammar in the narrative that if cleaned up would elevate it to the top of its class. Unfortunately, because of the grammar issues I have to give it three stars.

Review of ‘Surfing in Stilettos’

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Fifty is not the end of life—or the end of fun—or so Amanda Wilson thinks when she and her grumpy husband, Phil, leave home and head for a vacation in France in their camper van. What should be an idyllic sojourn turns sour when their left-at-home son, Tom, starts destroying their house, a piece at a time; the camper van breaks down, stranding them in a small French town babysitting with a geriatric dog; and, Amanda’s newfound friend, Bibi, in an effort to punish her philandering husband, puts Amanda in jeopardy.

Surfing in Stilettos by Carol E. Wyer is a hilarious look at life after fifty; as only a master storyteller could tell it. You’ll find yourself chuckling at Amanda’s adventures, and roaring with laughter at how she translates them in her blog postings, complete with comments from her fans from all over. Wyer has taken aging and put into a perspective that those of us over fifty can really relate to. On the other hand, you don’t have to be over fifty to like this book. Another five-star book from Carol E. Wyer!

Review of ‘Three Strikes’

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If you’re a fan of A.J. Stewart’s ‘Miami Jones’ mysteries, you need to read the prequel, Three Strikes as soon as it’s available for sale. I received a free review copy of this book, which gives the early history of baseball player turned PI, Miami Jones.

Miami, while a student at Miami University, and a member of its championship baseball team, is playing in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. He meets the beautiful and enigmatic Kate Milne, daughter of a general who is commander of a sensitive Air Force base. Miami and Kate become involved, but he soon learns that she’s involved in some super-secret activity that could get Miami involved in treason.

Stewart, with his Elmore Leonard style of writing, takes us through Miami’s career from college to the Oakland A’s, all the while weaving Kate and her activities in and out of his life until a final confrontation in south Florida involving a scheming politician and the byzantine activities of manipulators inside the Washington Beltway during the second Gulf War.

An expert’s look inside baseball, and a sharp eye for the goings on of politicians and spies marks this introduction to the series. If you’ve read any of the others in the series, you’ll love this back story – and if this is your introduction to Miami Jones, you’ll be hooked for life. Great writing, fascinating characters, and a plot full of more twists than the roller coasters at Disney World. A five star romp by one of the best mystery writers around. This one definitely needs to be on the market!

Review of ‘Four Mothers’

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You might think you understand motherhood, but after reading R.J. Crayton’s Four Mothers: Four Short Stories Focused on Mothers in Crises you’ll probably have second thoughts. The author gives us four stories about mothers and the different way they deal with crisis in their lives—women, who the author says, make parenting decisions that have significant consequences for their children.

This extremely well-written collection is actually five stories. It includes a bonus story, ‘Lynch Party,’ which is she claims is not about a mother’s decision, but in fact is. The only thing that sets Mrs. Lynch in this story apart from people such as Bitsy Wellsworth in ‘Almost Perfect’ is that she is not the focal point character. Nonetheless, her decision to include a lifelike figure as a piñata in her child’s birthday party has the potential to significantly impact not only her children, but everyone around her.

Some of these stories will give you the chills, others will bring tears, but all will have a profound emotional impact long after you stop reading. Crayton is a master of the short story and this collection of her work should be next on your to-read list. Five stars!

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Morning Light – 2

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Here’s a slightly different view of the weekly photo challenge Morning Light, horizontal rather than vertical.


Review of ‘A Little Book About You’

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A Little Book About You (A Great Way to Tell Your Child You Love Them) by Scott Gordon is a cute little book with a great message. Perfect for reading to children as young as 18 months, and a good way to introduce an older toddler to reading.

Some nice illustrations, each with an uplifting message to help children have a positive self-image—and, a great way to tell your child he or she is loved.

This is a short book, so I’m writing a short review–it wouldn’t do to have the review longer than the work being reviewed. Get this one for your child. You won’t regret it.  I give Gordon five stars for this one.

Introducing Author Christine Butler

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 Christine ButlerTitle: Breathless (Death Viewers, Book 1)

Author: Christine M. Butler

Supporting Authors Tours

My name is Lacy McAdams and I am a Death Viewer, an agent of the highly trained Homicide Viewing Squad, otherwise known as the Death Squad. When a person dies suspiciously, I get called in to view their death. Actually, I get to rewind their memories up to 12 hours before their death.
You’d think that would make solving murders a no-brainer, but there’s a catch. When people are about to be murdered, they get that whole “life flashing before their eyes” thing going on, and suddenly what really happened is mixed with what they remember from their twelfth birthday party.
In other words, a dying person’s mind is a jumble of reality vs memory. It takes training, experience, and a lot of trial and error to get things right. I’ve been at it for quite a few years, learned a lot, and I have a natural talent for filtering out the realities from the memories.
It’s a good thing, because the most important case of my life just landed in my lap while I was at dinner with Brad. It was our third date and judging by how fast he took off, not to mention leaving me with the bill, I’d say he wasn’t too thrilled to be dating a Death Viewer. Maybe I should have mentioned that on the first date?
Chances were good that I would never see Brad again, but the case that I got called in for was one that could make or break Homicide Viewing Squads nationwide. No pressure or anything…


Author Bio:

authorChristine was born in a Naval hospital in Virginia, and while she was staring into the doctor’s eyes as he marveled at her exceptionally long umbilical cord, all she was thinking was, ‘I need to write this stuff down so I don’t forget it.’  Hey, believe what you want, that’s her story and she’s sticking to it!  As soon as she could pick up pencil and paper and get those stories and poems out of her head, she was doing it.

Christine is the author of multiple paranormal fantasy books for both adults and young adults. She currently lives with her children and dog in Greenville, NC. Go Pirates!


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Review of ‘The Words We Use are Black and White’

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Lucy sells weekend cinema tickets in Evian, on the shores of Lake Geneva. Along with her brother Jean-Luc, and their childhood friend, Fabrice, they struggle with learning to communicate with each other. Lucy’s life is complicated by the arrival of Alain, who has come to Evian to escape human contact that has bedeviled him in Geneva. Alain and Lucy develop a relationship that complicates both their lives, and the lives of everyone around them.

Simon Holloway’s The Words We Use are Black and White is an epic tale that shows how words fail to convey the meanings in our hearts, as these hapless characters struggle to make themselves heard and understood.

Holloway has written a profound book that addresses the prejudices and misconceptions that we are often unaware of, and except for a bit of confusion caused by the expansive cast of characters and some annoying similarities in naming – Lucy, Lucie, and Lucien, along with Jean-Luc and later Luc – which caused me to have to re-read some sections to get myself oriented, it was thoroughly enjoyable. I give it four stars, only because the name confusion keeps me from giving it five.