Month: April 2017

Review of ‘Under the High Ground’

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Washington Post reporter, Paul Litic, continues to investigate the bombing death of his father, former editor of the Post—killed when Paul was just a kid. Now, he gets a call; a voice on the phone asking for a secret meeting, with the promise of answers to his questions. His brother, Al, President of the United States, goes to the meeting in Paul’s place, and is killed. Just hours after the murder, Paul is contacted by the FBI to travel to the scene of the private plane crash to verify that the remains of the pilot—who died from gunshot wounds, not the crash—are indeed those of the president.

Paul is then put on a collision course with destiny when the Chairman of the Joints of Staff, a long-time Washington power broker from a wealthy family, encourages him to investigate his brother’s murder, and provides him with a partner, an Australian counterterrorism and forensics specialist, who also happens to be drop-dead gorgeous. As the two dive deeper into the murky waters of Washington politics, sparks fly—and, they’re not all romantic.

Under the High Ground by Scott Michaels is a first-class thriller that peels the onion of power politics, exposing the stink that lies just beneath the surface. You’ll cheer the good guys; that is, if you can figure out who they are, and you’ll cheer when the bad guys get what’s coming to them. Yup, it’s that good.

I received a free copy of this book.

A solid five stars.

Review of ‘The Thing Speaks for Itself’

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Rookie Diplomatic Security Special Agent Gracie Stratis and her veteran partner, senior Special Agent Charles Davis, are assigned to the Los Angeles field office, where they investigate passport and visa fraud and provide protective details to foreign VIPs visiting the city. Gracie is looking forward to a career of travel and adventure until assassins attempt to kill a Mexican official she and her colleagues are guarding, Davis is killed, and she’s severely injured.

Back home in Oakland, recuperating from her injuries, she reunites with her brother and friends, the only family she’s known for a long time. The long and difficult rehabilitation process is impeded by strange visions of smoke and fire, and messages from her dead father. Then, Noah, one of her friends who is employed by the mayor’s office on a special community development project, goes missing.

Gracie and her friends pull out all the stops, and start turning over rocks in search for Noah, in the process irritating some dangerous people, including a crooked businessman with visions of grandeur, and a drug dealer with a thing about people wearing shoes in his house. When she starts getting too close to the truth, political payoffs on a large scale, attempts are made on her life, and another of her friends is killed, which is a mistake for the bad guys—Gracie Stratis doesn’t like it when people hurt her friends. With help from a grizzled old PI, and her father’s . . . spirit, Grace kicks butt all over Oakland.

The Think Speaks for Itself by A.S.A. Purphy is a fun read. Tons of white-hot action and a female main character that makes Jason Bourne look like a wimp. Some of the events strain credulity; it’s unlikely that the Secretary of State would become involved in the hiring of a junior Diplomatic Security agent, for example, but that bit of literary license can be forgiven, because the reader’s taken on an entertaining ride.

I received a free copy of this book.   I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Resurrection America’

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When his deputy, Manny Garcia made a frantic call and then went off the air, Sheriff Rick Johnson of Resurrection, Colorado, had a feeling that something was wrong. When he drove out to the old Resurrection Mine looking for Garcia, and found an impenetrable military grade fence and armed guards, led by a cold-eyed elderly man wearing a suit, he knew something was wrong.

When the man, Hank Keefer, told him his company, CZ Corporation, was planning to reopen the mine as a totally automated operation, and then offered him money to keep this fact secret from the townspeople for a few days, Rick accepted, but smelled a rat. On the day of Resurrection’s big town festival, with some two thousand visitors, Keefer tells Rick the truth, he’s been working on a secret weapon, and there’s been an accident and the people have all been exposed to a deadly virus, requiring that the town be quarantined by a highly armed force.

As things progress, Rick and his friends realize that something far worse than an accident has occurred—Keefer has a deadly plan that could spell the literal end of Resurrection. It’s left to Rick and his former lover, scientist Cassie Baker, to put a stop to it.

Resurrection America by Jeff Gunhus is a spine-chilling thriller of duplicity and the misuse of power, and shows how bad things can become when those in power are not held accountable. This one will make you think, and think hard.


I received an advance review copy of this book, which will be published in June 2017. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Immortal Shadow’

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Jibbawak, a Shadic, rises from slave to become ruler of the planet Lan Dar. But, one planet is not enough for him. He wants to become an immortal ruler, so he runs Lan Dar with an iron fist in his quest. Then, resistance to his rule comes from an unlikely source, Adam, a teenager from Earth who has been transported through a portal to Lan Dar. Impressed with Adam’s knowledge of the science and technology of Earth, Jibbawak makes him his slave, and forces him to help increase Lan Dar’s technology. His aim; conquest of Earth and all the rest of the universe, and immortal life for himself. But, he should’ve been careful what he wished for.

Immortal Shadow by Anderson Atlas is the third book in the Heroes of Distant Planets series. It contains a lot of action that will appeal to young readers—although, some of the violence is quite intense. It was an interesting story, albeit somewhat predictable.

I give it three and a half stars.

‘Daniel’s Journey,’ from Outlaws Publishing, now available!

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Wagon's West
Ten-year-old Daniel on the way to Oregon with his family. Lots of adventures on the way.

Wagons West: Daniel’s Journey

Outlaws Publishing LLC.


I’ve written a lot about where my story ideas come from, but my most recent book, Wagons West: Daniel’s Journey, from Outlaws Publishing, LLC; the story of a ten-year-old’s view of a wagon train journey from his home in Iowa to a new home in Oregon, came about through the strangest way yet.


Several months ago, I was contacted by J. C. Hulsey, head of Outlaws Publishing, to be interviewed for his Internet radio show regarding my book about the famous deputy U.S. Marshal, Bass Reeves; Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. During the interview, we discussed our mutual love of the western genre, and ideas on how new readers might be brought to love it as much as we do. One of the way, we both agreed, would be to interest young readers. That led to the idea (I don’t recall which of us brought it up first, but it was likely me) of doing books that appeal to younger people. One thing led to another, and in the end the idea of doing a series of western novellas was born.

After some thinking, I decided that the best way to appeal to younger readers was to have a youngster as the main character. That way, the history of the west, and the genre could be made relatable. Some more thinking, and I came up with Daniel Waterford, a 10-year-old, and his introduction to the West. I started with the title, Wagon’s West, but as I neared the end, I added Daniel’s Journey. I deliberately kept it short, and kept the violence to a minimum, and added no foul language, so it can be read by, or read to, any age group.

I kept the historical input to a minimum, but did try to show the diversity that was the western frontier in the years after the Civil War—including some references to the war itself, and kept the main character front and center. The idea was to show this environment through the eyes of a young person.

Outlaws Publishing did a great job with the cover and editing. The hallmark of a well-edited book is that the Kindle version has no stray margins or glitches that often happen when the manuscript for a paperback is converted to e-format.

At the risk of sounding vain, I think we did a great job with this first book in what I hope will be an extensive series, following Daniel as he grows up on the frontier.

It’s available on Amazon at the following links:

Paperback: $5.40

Kindle version: $0.99

If you’re a fan of the western genre, or you have a youngster that you’d like to get interested in reading, I encourage you to take a look at Daniel’s Journey. As always, if you like the book, a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, or any other book review site, would be greatly appreciated.

Comments here rea welcomed as well.


Review of ‘I am Sleepless: The Huntress’

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After the discovery of Sim 299, Aidan and his group are put to the test. Director Tuskin destroys the sim system, forcing Aidan and his coterie to escape the training complex and venture into the outside world for the first time in their lives. Their quest is endangered, though, when Tuskin sends the Huntress, Sheva, to recapture them.

I Am Sleepless: The Huntress by Johan Twiss is the second book in the ‘I Am Sleepless’ series. It picks up where the first book ended, and ups the ante for Aidan and his friends as they experience an unknown world and new adventures, with Sheva breathing down their necks. This is an excellent book for young adult readers, packed with suspense and adventure in a fantastic, but almost believable world.

I give this one four stars.

Review of ‘The Ghost Files’

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Ever since her mother tried to kill her when she was five, 16-year-old Mattie Hathaway has been able to see ghosts. It’s bad enough that she’s been in the foster care system since that terrible incident with her mother, but she doesn’t need the hassle of being thought weird, so she keeps it to herself. But, when her foster sister, Sally, appears before her with a bullet hole in her forehead, she has to do something. As she feared, though, people think she’s a bit strange. Things only get worse when other wraiths, similarly killed, begin to appear, including one strange boy spirit who is capable of hurting her—really physically hurting.

Her only hope is a rookie cop, only a few months on the job, who doesn’t know if he believes her, but is sure that he has strong feelings for her.

You might think that The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker is a scary story for young readers, but I caution you; think again. A chilling tale that begins a bit bumpily, but very quickly, the ‘bumps’ are the things that inhabit the night. Mattie is seeing the victims of a demented, vicious serial killer who seems to enjoy inflicting maximum damage on the victims before dispatching them. The stakes are raised when Mattie tunes into one of the victims who hasn’t died yet, but who is being tortured, and she learns that she’s slated to be the next victim. Can she find the killer before the killer finds her? I’m not telling, because that would spoil the book for you. You’ll just have to read it and find out for yourself.

I give you fair warning, though; read this book in a room with all the lights on.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Prophecy of Light – Trapped’

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Kady and her aunt have, it seems, always lived a nomadic life. They are fleeing some unknown, dark force, which her aunt will never name, because ‘words have power.’ When Kady is awakened one night by some force destroying their home, her aunt uses magic power to spirit her away to safety, while she battles the dark mage, Zyam. Alone, and seeking to rescue her aunt from the dark mage’s clutches, Kady learns from the dwarf mage, Pylum, that she, too, has magic powers, but they have yet to fully awaken.

Prophecy of Light – Trapped by R. J. Crayton is the opening salvo in a three-part series that introduces Kady as her powers begin to manifest themselves. This story is short, but powerful, and does a masterful job of setting out the characters, their histories, and the obstacles they must overcome in order to prevail. The author has built a credible world, and peopled it with characters the reader will have no trouble relating to—either to cheer on, or to jeer at.

I give this book four stars.

Review of ‘Speak Heart, make them hear’

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Books of poetry are hard to review, because poetry is so subjective. What resonates with one reader leaves the next cold. Furthermore, when poems have been translated from another language, often something is lost. Speak Heart, Make them hear by Charly Wilde is a collection of love poems by a Bulgarian poet who is a bestseller in her own country. Based upon her own personal experiences, these short verses capture the angst and beauty of love, fulfilled and unfulfilled most effectively.

Interesting imagery and excellent use of the language. Kudos to the poet and the translator.

I received a free copy of this book. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Outsourcing: The Beginner’s Guide to Hiring Virtual Assistants’

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If you’re a solo entrepreneur, chances are you spend a lot of time performing tasks that could more easily and profitably be performed by someone else. If, however, you’re operating on a tight budget, taking on more employees in your business might not be an option. Not really a problem; there’s always the less expensive option of using virtual assistants. Outsourcing certain routine, repetitive tasks might be just the thing you need to be able to refocus your time more profitably.

Outsourcing: The beginner’s Guide to Hiring Virtual Assistants by Robert Lawrence is a brief tutorial on how to deploy outsourced help in your business. A good starting point if you’re just starting out in your business.

I received a free copy of this book.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Afterlife of Abdul’

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What happens when you die? Abdul, a young Londoner, is rushing on his motorbike over rain-soaked streets to meet his girlfriend, when a car appears in front of him, and he’s unable to avoid the collision. Jenny, a six-year-old girl, is in the backseat of the car. She and Abdul die in the crash. Although they’ve never met before, their souls connect when Azrael, the Angel of Death, comes to collect them.

The Afterlife of Abdul by Ayse Hafiza is a short story that explores the unknown realm of what happens after death. An interesting tale that bridges the gap between living and dying in a sympathetic way; a profound exploration of existence, and an entertaining read.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Watcher Within’

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Frank Silver is apartment-bound and suffering from severe agoraphobia. He spends much of his time observing the world outside his apartment, in particular, the Kabbalah Institute across the street. One Friday night he observes an attractive woman entering the institute, a place that is supposed to be closed at that time, and denied to women at all times. When he sees a second women enter the place a week later, and then learns that a prostitute’s body has been found in the sewer drain nearby, his suspicions are aroused—he knows that something evil is taking place, but he finds it difficult to convince an overworked homicide detective of that.

His persistence, and some amateur sleuthing on the part of his housekeeper, finally gets the detective to visit the institute, an action that will soon have dire consequences for Silver. Joseph Goodman, an eccentric Talmudic scholar with macabre leanings, had been evicted from the institute, but had secreted himself in one of its unused spaces, from which he pursued his deadly quest. When he inadvertently learns that Silver’s watching has threatened his haven, he vows revenge, and takes it by kidnapping Silver’s recently acquired girlfriend.

The Watcher Within by William Appel is noir fiction at its finest. Tension and suspense begins on the first page, and builds increasingly to an explosive climax as Silver must overcome his phobia in order to save his girlfriend’s life.

This one’s a typical Appel page-turner that, even though you know the killer’s identity from the start, has you wondering how it will turn out. The obstacles faced by the hero seem insurmountable, and on several occasions, you’re sure he’s hit a brick wall—then, he hits back. This is a book that takes the reader deep into the darkest depths of human depravity, a journey that will leave you breathless.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Positive Thinking’

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You are what you think. Too many people are bogged down in the swamp of negative thinking, and never seem to be able to see the positive side of life. With effort and practice, you can learn to refocus your thoughts and develop the habit of positive thinking.

Positive Thinking by George Ripley is a short book of tips to rid yourself of pessimism and get on the road to a more positive, fulfilling life. While I found many helpful hints in this book, the number of typos and grammatical errors (that could be eliminated with a better job of editing and proofreading) detract a bit from its overall value. It would also be helpful to know a bit more about the author’s credentials as an aid in assessing the validity of his claims. The quotes supporting his thesis were helpful.

With better editing and a display of credentials this could be a five-star book. Unfortunately, I’m only able to give it three stars.

Review of ‘Hidden Agenda’

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When special operations soldier, Dan Roy, seconded to a super-secret black ops agency, stumbles across a secret cache of American weapons in Afghanistan while hunting a high-value target, he’s accused of working with the enemy. When people around him start to die, he discovers a plot to attack America where it hurts. Then, his best friend and mentor is killed, and, working with the dead man’s daughter, Dan sets out to thwart a plot that, if successful, could start World War III.

Hidden Agenda by Mick Bose is a fast-paced action thriller that pits one determined man against sinister forces with a deadly hidden agenda. The action starts white-hot from the beginning, and never lets up until the final pages. This could be a superior action novel, but for the many grammatical and typographical problems throughout. Even with the problems, it’s a fun story for action junkies.

I received a free copy of this book.

I give it three stars.

Review of ‘Murder House’

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When the Baxters, newly moved to London, bought the house at 54 Belleview Street, they were ill-prepared for the amount of fixing-up that would be required. They were even less prepared for the body found in one of the boarded up fireplaces.

DCI Isaac Cook and his murder investigation team are then tasked with solving a 30-year-old murder, a challenging case where the witnesses keep dying, and old secrets are well-hidden. Murder House by Phillip Strang is an interesting peek into British social dynamics and police procedure, with plenty of false leads and red herrings that would be an even better mystery if there’d been more showing and less telling. The telling made it a bit of a slog, but on the whole it was rather enjoyable.

I received an advanced review copy of this book. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Enchant’

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Enchant by Demelza Carlton is a retelling of the story ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and it’s definitely not for children.

When the wicked king, Thorn, forces the enchantress, Zuleika, to cast a terrible spell, and then imprisons her in his castle, she flees to wander the world and provide magical help to those in need. In her wanderings she comes upon an island, whose ruler, Prince Vardan, has been cursed to be seen as a beast. Repulsed at first, Zuleika soon finds herself warming to the man who, under the beastly exterior, is really a kind person. She’s determined to undo the curse upon him, but even her power is taxed to the limits—especially when she learns that it was Thorn’s curse that turned his brother, Vardan, into a beast.

This story follows the general theme of the original ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ in that the beautiful woman finds herself drawn to the Beast because of his kindness which enables her to see past his horrific exterior appearance. The machinations and action from that point on, though, are completely different, and makes for entertaining reading. Carlton is a competent story-teller, whose work is worthy of note.

I give her four stars for this one.

Review of ‘7 Simple Steps to Use the Law of Attraction Effectively’

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Karma is the belief that what you give the universe, the universe gives back to you. If you feel that your life’s not going right, you just might need to adjust your thinking.

John Ward’s 7 Simple Steps to Use the Law of Attraction Effectively is a handy little guide to making the necessary self-adjustments to get your life back on track. From visualization to thinking positively, to meditation, these hints can be applied by anyone, and are a validation of the axiom, ‘as you think, so you are.’

While the grammar in this book is a bit clunky, it is still a useful guide for anyone who wants a simple, easy-to-apply method for self-improvement.

I give it three and a half stars.

Review of ‘Red Noon at Helltowne’

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The hunter, Oborren, and his not-so-merry band of eccentric allies are enroute to Helltowne, on a mission of revenge. Not only must they face the town’s hellish (pun intended) supernatural threats, but they must contend with the philosophy of its red dwarf masters and their leader, Commissar General Noel. The philosophy of Equalitarianism is a threat to the human race and all the other beings, but an even bigger threat is their inability to get along with each other.

Red Noon at Helltowne by Dan Oberchuk is a book that defies genre classification. It has elements of fantasy and magic, science run amok, blood-curdling and blood-letting action, and as much humor as you can stomach. As you follow this band of misfits on their quest, it’s hard to know who to root for. Sure, Noel is a bully who is trying to install a Soviet-style rule over all, and destroy the human race in the process, but our ‘heroes’ have many stains on their escutcheons as well. Nevertheless, you’ll find yourself rooting for them—after all, genocide’s a bummer.

This was an entertaining bit of escapist reading that had me chuckling as often as cringing.

I give this rib-tickler five stars.

Review of ‘Excalibur Rising: Book One’

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At one time, Marcus Ryan was a rising star, the host of his own treasure exploration show. Now, though, in his mid-forties, his show has been cancelled, he’s lost his family, and is reduced to being the curator for rare relics for a Vegas Mafioso. When an old friend arrives at his hotel with an improbable tale of the fabled King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, and is later poisoned in front of Marcus, his boss makes him an offer he can’t refuse—find that sword. They rush off to Florida to consult with Violet Chambray, a con woman who just happens to have the ‘gift’ of being able to find things.

Pushed into an unwilling alliance, Marcus and Violet go off to England, where in the mist-shrouded moors, they uncover a secret that can change their lives forever; provided they can survive the encounter.

Excalibur Rising: Book One by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts is an amusing mix of Medieval history, paranormal, humor, and violence, in a story that spans centuries and across dimensions, adding a new twist to the mythical tales of Camelot and the Round Table. The author pulls you into the story and holds you fast as she takes you on a whirlwind ride through fantastic settings and improbable events. I can only describe this book as ‘not-put-downable.’

I received a free copy. A nice rainy-day read. I give this book four stars.