When Anne Brady, a high school English teacher in a rural South Georgia town, answers the door to a strange woman who presents her with a framed copy of the Ten Commandments, which she wants Anne to post in her classroom, her life changes forever. Soon, Anne begins to receive anonymous, threatening letters accusing her of corrupting her students and afterwards, she is pressured to stop teaching Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn in her English class.
A Majority of One by Robert Lamb is a gripping tale of prejudice and insanity on a mass scale, and a condemnation of single-minded bigotry in all of its pernicious forms. In a narrative that is both compelling and instructive, he shows how zealots who are willing to go to any extreme to force their views on others can destroy a society.
Lamb paints a picture that is not pretty, because, even though this is a work of fiction, it could very well have been ripped from today’s headlines. This is a book that religious zealots would prefer you not read, the very reason it should be recommended reading for any rational person.
This is a definite five-star work!
In Twelve Months of a Soviet Childhood: Short Stories, Julia Gousseva has written twelve captivating tales that capture a slice of life in the now-defunct Soviet Union. She begins with winter, the dreariest, yet the most colorful month in Moscow, with its New Year’s parties and colorful New Year trees. She then takes us, month by month, on a journey that she calls fictional, but must be in large part autobiographical. We see things through the eyes of a child, unvarnished and without adult filtering.
A captivating collection of tales, as I said; but, the book has some near-fatal flaws. First, the sans serif text is a bit on the difficult side to read. But, the ragged and inconsistent indentation of paragraphs is by far the most distracting. This is a potentially great collection of short fiction that could reach that greatness with a bit of judicious editing.
I’d love to give it four or five stars, but alas, the formatting flaws drop it down to really two and a half.
Fourteen-year-old Bryanna McConnaichie, while riding a bus home, receives a cryptic warning from a strange woman with webbed hands, “Your father’s time is running out.” She doesn’t understand why her father, cryptozoologist Angus McConnaichie, should be in danger until he’s kidnapped by another strange woman right before her eyes. In her quest to rescue him, Bryanna finds herself moving between Scotland and Alba, and encountering strange creatures that, until that time, she had thought to be mere figments of her active imagination. During her search, she learns that her father is the Guardian protecting Scotland and the ‘other’ worlds from all manner of evil, and that she’s a half-blood with magical powers. She encounters Kaylee, another half-blood, who might be a friend – but, who also might be a deadly enemy.
In Scotland’s Guardian, by German writer Katherina Gerlach, you’ll find non-stop action from page one, written in an engaging and entertaining manner that will keep you on the edge of our chair. Gerlach brings creatures from Scotland’s rich history of mythology to life in a way that makes you believe in them. Her characters are believable, and, even the bad guys elicit sympathy.
A crisp tale, told in Gerlach’s unique style, this is a definite must-read for anyone interested in fantasy and myth. In fact, it just might be the book to interest those who’ve never read a fantasy novel before.
Leine Basso has left her old life as a government assassin behind, and moved from L.A. to Seattle to start anew. When the contestants on the reality TV show “Serial Date” begin to become victims of a cannibalistic serial killer, Leine is hired to provide on-set security. Returning to L.A., she finds herself in the middle of gritty, bloody action, which soars to new heights when her estranged daughter returns and is kidnapped by the killer, who begins making demands on Leine that plunge her right back into the life she’s tried to leave behind.
In Serial Date, author D. V. Berkom exposes the dark underbelly of society, from the unreal make believe world of reality TV to sordid politics, and paints a picture in such vivid colors and bold strokes you feel you’re there. Crisp, crackling dialogue and characters you have no problem believing in, are the hallmarks of Berkom’s story, and the action, which is non-stop from start to finish, will have you on the edge of your chair, panting for more.
This is mystery as mystery should be – intricate, non-linear plot with more twists than a bag of pretzels, a lead character you can identify with, warts and all, and a satisfying conclusion that, if you’ve read carefully, will surprise you as you slap your forehead and say, “why didn’t I see that coming?”
Aron Joice’s The Rising: The Lost Children of Managrail, Book One, is a fantasy that is chock full of adventure. When the twins, Lila and Simian of Managrail, fall from the heights upon which their city is located, and find themselves lost in the forest inhabited by the night-prowling, flesh-eating Fergay, they set in motion an epic struggle between and among powerful forces that threaten to overwhelm them and destroy their way of life.
The impetuous Lila becomes central to all that transpires, despite her more mature brother’s every efforts. They are soon joined by Medack and Cayda, who are hunting the marauders who destroyed their village of Dirth and slaughtered all their kith and kin.
The action in The Rising is non-stop, with a combination of sword and sorcery that is sure to please fans of the genre. Despite some excellent writing, the story is somewhat marred by the introduction of too many characters without ample description of their origins or motives. A good story would rise to greatness if the reader had a better understanding of the interrelations of the various factions as they move inexorably to a showdown after Managrail is destroyed by the Fergay.
While I found the book enjoyable, I’m giving it only three stars because of this. Joice is an excellent craftsman when it comes to dialogue, but needs to give more background to help one navigate through the intricacies of her tale.
Love You More Than You Know: Mothers’ Stories About Sending Their Sons and Daughters to War, edited by Janie Reinart and Mary Anne Mayer, is a collection of true stories that bear witness to the angst borne by mothers awaiting the safe return of their children from war. This book grew out of the two authors’ personal experiences when they began writing their stories and speaking at meetings with other mothers undergoing similar experiences, as a way to help them make sense of their emotions and fears.
This is not a book by professional authors; these stories are written by mothers who have sons or daughters who have put on their country’s uniform and taken an oath to willingly go into harm’s way for that country. Despite not being professionals, however, they are stories that could only have been written by the mothers themselves; they will touch you in ways that smooth prose written by a professional writer never could. They are stories of loss, grief, hope, and love; written from the heart.
This is a five-star book that is ‘must’ reading for anyone who wants to understand the true depth of a mother’s love. It will also help renew the reader’s faith in our culture, society, and nation. While the mainstream news media bombards us with stories of cynicism and selfishness, here you will see that we still have people among us who understand the meaning of service and sacrifice.
Leine Basso is a former government assassin who is being framed by her former boss for murders she didn’t commit. LAPD detective Santiago Jensen, her lover, is determined to prove her innocence. When Leine is hired by a movie star to be his bodyguard when he suspects someone is trying to kidnap him, she finds herself immersed in the world of human trafficking and facing a greater threat than a frame-up.
This tightly woven, suspenseful novel is full of action, twists, and gritty human emotion that will keep you sitting on the edge of your chair as you root for Leine as she tries to rescue 12-year-old Mara, who has escaped the clutches of the traffickers who plan to sell her to a rich pedophile, and who will stop at nothing – including murder – to achieve their dastardly ends.
Author D.V. Berkom’s Bad Traffick, takes us into a world that might seem hard to fathom for the average person, but a world that is all too real. Tight dialogue and nonstop action marks a novel that establishes new benchmarks for action thrillers. This is a solid five-star novel that you won’t want to miss.
Bad Moon Rising is a delightful collection of short stories by San Antonio-based writer Helen Haught Fanick. The three short stories feature the unnamed narrator who, with her sister Andrea Flynn, gets caught up in a series of mysteries – the murder of the mayor of the town of Pine Summit, the murder of their Aunt Libby, and a plot to kill a relative – which Andrea solves a la Jessica Fletcher. Written with wry wit and pithy dialogue, they hang together well, giving a good sense of place and character. The narrator’s identify is finally disclosed in the second of two excerpts of novels Ms. Fanick has written; Moon Sight and Moonlight Mayhem. Kathleen Williamson, is a cross between Dr. Watson, who is somewhat passive observer and chronicler of events, and Mike Hammer, who can dive into action when necessary, is a delight to get to know, as are the stories in Bad Moon Rising. I give this book four stars.
We all want to have out work reviewed favorably by readers. This is, after all, why we write – well, we actually write to be read, but it’s nice when those who read are positively impressed by what we’ve written. Over the years, I’ve received comments, both positive and negative, from readers. I don’t solicit comments – somehow, that is one step I’m reluctant to take. It’s far better when readers comment of their own volition, whether or not they like my books.
Sometimes, the shortest comments have the greatest impact. I think the review that has really made me feel good, was a sort of backhanded compliment, but, as it was unsolicited, I feel it really reflects the feeling of the individual who wrote it. Furthermore, in a few short words, it summed up my writing style. This, my friends, is the kind of reaction I think we, as writers, should be striving for.
This was a reader review of my latest Al Pennyback mystery, Death From Unnatural Causes.
It kept my interest and was an easy and quick read. I liked the main characters.
Not a fantastic piece of literature, but I might read this author again.
Was I wrong? You tell me.
In Melynda Price’s Shades of Darkness, Redemption Series: Book Two, we pick up on the continuing saga of Olivia, a mortal with the ‘sight.’ Olivia has the rare ability to ‘see’ the dark angels, and thus expose them to mankind, and for this, they are determined to destroy her. She has been guarded since birth by Liam, a Ronnin warrior commissioned to be her guardian angel. Liam’s problem, though, is that he has fallen in love with her, thus threatening his very angelic status.
As Olivia, now a fully grown woman, is about to wed, Liam learns of yet another attempt by the Dark Court to kill her, and he again risks the displeasure of his own superiors in order to save her.
A fascinating blend of theology and mysticism, love and betrayal, Price takes us into the minds and hearts of the characters in a deft way. Although some of the prose and dialogue tends toward the stilted, the reader is nonetheless made to care, and care deeply, about the fate of the protagonists.
A surprise ending, though, lifts this tale above the mundane mortal meets angel story. Language and scenes of violence make it a book not for the squeamish.
Every writer, in order to be successful, must be disciplined. One of the ways to become disciplined is to set goals and then work toward them. What are your writing goals for 2013? Will this be the year you finally make it out of the slush pile to the top of the editor’s stack? Join the discussion on my Amazon author’s page and share your goals with other like-minded individuals.
I have to start this post by making it abundantly clear – I HATE SHOPPING! And, by that, I don’t mean just Black Friday, although it has a special place on my list of things I detest, but shopping any time. When I need to buy something, if I can’t find it on the Internet, I make a list, research the stores that have what I need at the price I’m willing to pay, go to the store, enter, buy, and get the hell out as fast as I can.
Having said that, this year, my wife finally discovered Black Friday, and wanted to know what all the hype was about. All day on Thanksgiving, she threatened to wake me up at oh-dark-thirty Friday and drag me to the nearest shopping mall to join the mob. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well Thursday night, and the lobster, turkey, and all the other goodies I wolfed down had nothing to do with it.
I got up yesterday at my usual time, 6:30, and made my breakfast. As usual, I tippy-toed around the house, hoping I wouldn’t wake my better half up; she likes to sleep in and hates eating breakfast except on weekends. At 10:30, her usual wake-up time, I breathed a sigh of relief when she got up, did her shower and makeup, and plunked herself down in front of the TV with a cup of coffee to catch her favorite Korean soap opera. At noon, she pried herself away long enough to make two bowls of noodles for our lunch, and went back to the afternoon news shows. Never a word about Black Friday shopping; could I be that lucky, I wondered.
I didn’t really relax until six in the evening. All day, she’d not said a word about going shopping, and it was now time for her favorite evening shows to start. No way she misses them unless the house is on fire, and even then I wonder.
But, we went to bed last night, and not once did she say anything about shopping. So, I was able to get a bit of writing done – starting the editing phase of my NaNoWriMo entry, which is a lot of work and requires the ability to focus. Of course, now I have to worry about whether or not she’ll decide to see what’s left on the shelves the day after Black Friday – a day I’ve taken to calling Gray Saturday for the somber mood of everyone who went through the torture yesterday, and the appearance of the stores with shelves nearly bare from the scourge of locust-like shoppers yesterday.
I’m a bit happier, though, after looking at the sky. It’s a grey day here in suburban Montgomery County, Maryland. The wind blew hard last night, dumping tons of leaves on our recently raked lawn, so instead of shopping, I’ll get my afternoon exercise moving leaves from the grass to the tree line behind our house. That I don’t mind; it’s a good way to stretch the muscles after sitting here at the computer for several hours, and it’ll set me up for a late night writing session. I might start my new Chronicle of Pip of Pandara book tonight. Or, maybe I’ll do some more sketches for planned projects. What I won’t be doing, folks, is shopping.