Month: March 2016

Review of ‘How to Find Book Reviewers’

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Every author has to struggle with promoting his or her work, and getting a book reviewed is one of the best ways to get a buzz going. Getting people to review your book, though, can be a challenge. Werner Stejskal, a top-flight author of illustrated children’s books has penned an easy to read, common sense guide for doing just that.

His book, How to Find Book Reviewers, is a departure from his usual fare, but it’s written in the same simple style as his ‘Oliver and Stumpy’ books. In this book Stejskal describes the methods he uses to find reviewers, methods that can easily be used by anyone, indie author or those published by others—news flash, even the big publishers expect the authors to do the lion’s share of book promotion, unless you’re lucky enough to be an established best-seller.

With the advice in this book, you could very well one day join that stellar group. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘The Heretical Divide’

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Heretical Divide by Serban V. C. Enache is a dark fantasy a la ‘Game of Thrones,’ with epic battle scenes, treachery, and intrigue, as armies of mortals, allied with various demigods, wage war against each other, each side adamant in its beliefs.

The author moves the reader from one side to the other in this bloody contest with ease and aplomb, portraying a world in torment, and people in the throes of emotions that have world-altering implications. Here there are no heroes, only people caught up in forces over which they have no control, and impelled by emotions they cannot suppress.

If you’re a fan of epic fiction with a touch of the paranormal, this is the book for you. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Crossing Lines’

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Crossing Lines by Lea Roches is the second book in the Crossing Fates series. It follows Eva Stanis, who has moved from Evanston to Westport to get away from her ex-fiancé, Riley, and has hooked up with Mal, a member of Westport’s Morai community. Riley, though, has come to Westport to take her back to Evanston, and she finds herself torn between the two men, and uncertain of Riley’s true intentions.

The first book in the series very effectively introduced the fate-twisters, the Morai, and the stark differences between Evanston (a rule-based community) and Westport (where individuals appear free to pursue their own agendas). The second book, though, doesn’t quite rise to the level of excellence I found in book one, with a shade too much overwriting. Despite this small fault, though, it is still an interesting read that ends on something of a cliffhanger after Riley is taken into custody by Mal and his associates, leaving Eva undecided about her future.

This has all the.makings of an interesting series. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give this one three and a half stars.

Review of ‘Necropolis’

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Newly appointed head of the Burials and Cemeteries department of his local council, Dyson Devereaux is intelligent and witty, but he’s also a sociopath who views political correctness and the feelings of others with disdain. When he suspects that a local cemetery worker is a wanted Serbian war criminal, he sees it as an opportunity to better himself. At the same time, he has to deal with a blood thirsty collector who is threatening his friend unless she pays a debt she owes.

Necropolis by Guy Portman is a black comedy featuring a classical unlikable protagonist that you’ll both love and hate. His barbed observations of society and its cultural icons will have you laughing and shaking your head—sometimes in agreement. Great book to read when you’ve been marooned by the east coast blizzard of 2016.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Rise to Power’

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The story of David, King of the Israelites, is one that has fascinated people for ages. The Songs of David rank among the classics of ancient literature. But, what did the slayer of Goliath think of himself? In Rise to Power, book one in the Chronicles of David, by Uvi Poznansky, we read the truth of David’s rise to power in his own words.

With his hands stained in blood, David chronicles his ascent to the throne in words that were not permitted of his biographers. Nearing the end of his life, he feels compelled to tell the ‘whole truth.’ Told in modern language, the reader is treated to a glimpse inside the tortured mind of a complex, driven man; driven by blind ambition that competes with a desire to be virtuous, forced to flee for his life from Saul, the first king, a man he both hates and loves in equal measure.

A story that once you start reading, you’ll be unable to put down. Readers who are turned off by less than obsequious treatment of biblical figures will find this novel disturbing, but the author’s deft touch with the language is compelling. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Blood Reckoning’

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George Mackey, a Georgia lawman, member of the Georgia Office of Special Investigations (OSI), known as The Hunters, has been suspended, and is awaiting the decision of the state attorney general regarding his prosecution for murder for his vigilante-style killing of a ruthless serial killer—a prosecution that is motivated more by a political desire to embarrass the governor than a desire to serve justice. Arrayed against him and his allies, including the woman he loves, and an old man he thinks of as a father, is Roy Budroe, boss of a criminal empire, who wants even greater control. Most of all, though, Budroe wants blood. He wants the blood of George Mackey, in retaliation for Mackey’s role in causing him to have to flee the country.

Blood Reckoning by Glenn Trust is book four in the Pickham County Wars series, and it begins when Budroe decides to return to Georgia to revive his empire and spread it countrywide. This is not your classic mystery. It reads more like a psychological thriller as it skips back and forth between the two main characters, Mackey and Budroe, as they do a deadly dance that can only end when the blood of one is being soaked up by the rich Georgia mud. Filled with riveting action scenes and taut psychological insights into the nature of good and evil, there are no completely virtuous characters, only people doing what their basic natures compel them to do.

Once you start reading this book, it’s impossible to put it down until it ends, and the ending will leave you breathless. There are no cliffhangers here, but you just might be tempted to go back and read the first three offerings in the series just for the fun of it. Trust knows his characters, and he lays them bare for the reader, warts and all.

Five stars for a great read!

Review of ‘Sea Sick’

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When his partner was killed by a thug, police officer Jack Wardsley’s life came to a crushing halt. After killing those responsible for his partner’s death, he descended into a spiral of anger and violence. His superiors, after covering up his crime, send him on a cruise to get his life back together before the send him out to pasture.

Aboard the Spirit of Kirkpatrick, Jack is attempting to come to terms with his empty life when a virulent illness springs up among the passengers, turning them into blood thirsty zombies, and Jack finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. Confused and frightened, Jack discovers that he is not the only one who is aware of the events unfolding around him. A beautiful, but treacherous member of the ship’s crew, a Romany who is immune from whatever spell that has affected almost everyone else, she holds a fascinating attraction for Jack, and in the course of time, tells him of a mysterious ‘path walker’ who is resetting time for some unfathomable reason.

Jack’s world is turned upside down as he strives to discover what is truly going on, and what he learns is horror beyond human imagining.

Sea Sick by Iain Rob Wright is a novel of horror and suspense that will keep you turning pages until the final, explosive climax. Despite a number of grammatical and stylistic glitches, and a bit too much purple prose in places, this is still a story that horror fans will find entertaining—if you like having your blood chilled.

The theme, though lacking somewhat in logical flow especially at the end, is worth four stars, but the overwriting and poor grammar forces me to give it only three stars overall.

Review of ‘Ocean of Fear’

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Baxter Cruise is a graduate student in robotics and computer technology who is just cruising through life. Instead of focusing on getting his higher degree, working with his mentor, Professor Sydney Mantis, he’s up to his eyeballs in an illegal computer spamming scheme that allows him to live a life where money flows through his hands like water. One day, when Mantis gives him a thumb drive to deliver to the cold-fish robotics professor, Alessandra Bisch, his life changes forever. Baxter finds Bisch shot to death in her office and himself caught in the cross hairs of a deadly assassin for a drug cartel, and a ‘person of interest’ to both the FBI and CIA.

Ocean of Fear by Helen Hanson is a fast-paced techno-thriller that provides just enough technology (thankfully, without all the techno jargon) to keep geeks interested, and enough thrills and chills to keep you turning the pages. In places, the author mixes up tenses a bit, but not so much that it makes you want to stop reading, and you’ll find yourself sympathizing for Baxter as he tries to work his way out of a no-win situation.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. Some of the tense changes disrupted reading in places, but the author kept the pace going, and logically worked out the main character’s dilemma. This one’s a quick read that can be easily finished in an afternoon. I give her five stars for the concept, but have to knock off points for some of the grammatical blips. I’d actually give it three and a half stars, but that rounds up to four anyway. If you like techno thrillers with fast-paced action, this book is a good read, and if you like flawed characters who get it together before the last page, you’ll love it.

Review of ‘Eden’s Promise’

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A global terrorist attack sends the world back to the 19th century, with anarchy and chaos ruling. On an island off the coast of Oregon, though, thanks to the foresight of Eden McKay’s father, things are peaceful—relatively. When Eden’s mother wants to see her other daughter before she dies, Eden has to leave the safety of her small town and venture onto the mainland. The only help she has is Aaron Jenkins, a Navy SEAL who has fought his way through hell to get back home. The two of them must fight packs of wild dogs and even wilder humans in order to get their mission accomplished and survive.

Eden’s Promise by M.J. Frederick is a post-apocalyptic novel that is fast-paced, yet profound, as it explores the depths of human depravity and the heights of nobility. You won’t be able to put it down. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Hexad: The Chamber’

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After totally mucking up their world, and uncounted alternate worlds, Dale and Amanda wake up in bed with each other back on the day the whole thing got started. Only, Dale’s convinced that the Amanda lying next to him is not his Amanda, a fact that she corroborates. So, they’re off again to try to put all the universe’s right. For that, though, they must go back to the future, find the originator of the time travel device, and stop him. Unfortunately, a police detective named Cray has gotten his hands on one of the hexads (that’s what they call the thing for reasons that are never explained), and it’s given him power he has no intention of relinquishing.

In Hexad: The Chamber by Al K. Line, Dale has to contend with Cray, with The Caretaker, who doesn’t seem to really be taking care of anything, and an almost infinite number of Amandas who were created through his fumblings the first time he tried fixing things.

The author has maintained to keep the manic pace and totally improbable events going at full pace in this second book, dangling it in front of the reader like a carrot in front of a horse, leading inevitably to a desire to read number three, which if he doesn’t publish soon, I’m going forward to the past, or back to the future and strangling him.

Okay, he get’s another four stars for this one – ha!

Review of ‘Hexad: The Factory’

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After a weird nighttime, alcohol benumbed conversation with his girlfriend, Amanda, Dale Ando woke up and began digging in his yard for evidence of time travel. He thought it was all a joke, but was curious, so he was amazed when he found a note from himself that made it seem that time travel was a reality. And, what a reality it was. Dale and Amanda soon found themselves chasing themselves across different timelines and alternate universes, all the while being pursued by strange men, some of whom seem bent on doing them harm.

If you’re a ‘Doctor Who’ fan, you’ll love Hexad: The Factory by Al K. Line, a time-travel thriller that is short on science, long on fiction, and chocked full of fun, fumbles, and has more twists than a big fill of twizzlers. If you’re a scientist—or a science nerd—who understands the theory of time travel, you’ll probably not like this book. Then again, you just might. It’s a bit like Doug Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You know such things are impossible, but the characters are so endearing and the escapades they get up to so funny, you chuck disbelief in the dustbin and soldier on.

Warning: don’t read this book unless you’re prepared to keep going for the next book(s) in the series. A lot of the problems Dale and Amanda encounter are solved, only to create even bigger problems lying just out of reach beyond the final page.

I’ll take a flyer and give him four stars for this one.

Review of ‘Steemjammer: Through the Vertgaat’

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An odd house stands at the edge of a small Ohio town. The residents use steam rather than electricity, and raise all their own food. As you might imagine, this draws the attention of their neighbors, especially an exceptionally nosy and intrusive one across the street. That, though, isn’t their worse problem—they are hiding from an evil force, the Rasmussens that is out to enslave or destroy them.

When young Will Steemjammer’s father and mother disappear, it’s left to him, his sister Angelica, and their cousin Giselle, to discover the secrets of their house, find their father and mother—as well as Giselle’s father—who have vanished without a trace.

In Steemjammer: Through the Vertgaat by John Eubank steampunk meets urban fantasy in a fantastic world that looks like it was invented by someone on some serious psychedelic substances. Excitement, humor, and more pratfalls than a Three Stooges film mark the author’s tribute to his children. Thankfully, a glossary and pronunciation guide is provided for the author’s creation of a language that’s Dutch without actually being Dutch, and a world that could only exist in an imagination that hasn’t escaped from the youthful ability to fantasize.

Follow Will and his crew through one hair-raising episode after another until you reach a conclusion that leaves you hanging on every word with awe, and anxious to pick up the sequel to see what he gets up to next.

I give this opening salvo four stars.