Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Review: The Pope’s Mistress: by Laylah Aragón

 


Genre: Autofiction

Description:

I make no apology for importing this description of the book more or less verbatim from Amazon. (On other indie sites the description is more colourful than this.) If you want to know how to write a book description, this is a first rate example. But then, you’d need to write a book that made pretty wild claims …

In this contemporary twist on real historical events, Aragón masterfully weaves together a thought-provoking story like nothing we have ever read before… An affair. A murder. And Laylah Aragón. Those are the pieces of the puzzle that made headlines six years ago. We heard the stories, the rumors and the countless conflicting eyewitness testimonies. We know that Laylah Aragón, a talented executive speechwriter, is tangled up in more ways than one in the scandal of the century. But no one knows what really happened. Now, amidst a puzzling turn of events, the mysterious Laylah Aragón has finally broken her silence. In this captivating and unexpected first hand account, we get sucked into the twists and turns of Laylah Aragón’s world, as the lines blur between truth-telling and survival, and she finally tells her side of the story.”

Hooky, isn’t it?

Author:

Laylah Aragón is the author of The Pope’s Mistress trilogy. Where this book sits in the trilogy isn’t revealed. If the two others are already published, I couldn’t find them. Aragón is a Cuban/Mexican-American Southern California native, a graduate of Mills College, a resident of New York City, and a committed vegan. Her books have themes of environmentalism, feminism, sexual liberation, and social progress.

Appraisal:

This is an unusual book: I like unusual. Although it is not, perhaps, as unusual as it thinks it is. It is quite difficult to review, as almost any discussion of the plot would result in massive spoilers. This is a gnomic approach to novel writing, where much is apparently happening, and yet almost nothing is revealed.

The success of this book depends on the hooky description (above). You read the book because of the hook. You wait for that great title and that great description to deliver. You wait a long time. You have been promised that the Pope has a mistress. Popes shouldn’t have mistresses, how is this all going to come together? Is it true? Any of it? All of it?

While we wait for the book to get going we are in the unrelieved company of Aragón, protagonist and author. Fortunately, Aragón writes well. Her (many) opinions are interesting; her philosophy (of which there is a lot) stays the right side of von Daniken ramblings; her quotidian doings are sufficiently entertaining to keep the reader interested; the work she does as a scriptwriter-cum-prompt for an important corporation is beautifully set out. After the intriguing opening chapter, the mildly interesting pages turn well enough. And one knows it is all building up to something amazing. But it takes its own sweet time to get there.

For 90% of the book one follows Aragón’s breathless 25-hour-a-day life from Los Angeles to New York to Rome and back again. We get into every cab with her, eat every meal with her, know what she is wearing and why, how she likes to sleep, how she apparently has pegue (apparently a kind of empathy). On display are her enthusiasm for life, the way she controls her own destiny and follows her own moral code. This continues from the moment she is picked up in a Los Angeles sex club by Marco until she arrives back from Rome about a week after the adventure begins. After a while it all gets a bit claustrophobic.

Almost the whole plot is concentrated in the final 10% of the book, and I have to say I found much of it incomprehensible. I have searched back and forth through my Kindle, looking for the links which would enable me to make sense of what happens, and the characters who have become suddenly important but whom I cannot place. But it did not all come together, for me, even with work.

I was fully engaged until the Big Reveal. And I do feel, as a reader, somewhat cheated by what happens (or, rather, doesn’t happen) in Rome. Perhaps the secret of The Pope’s Mistress is so dangerous that, even now, Aragón dare not tell all? And this is why the end is a muddle. 

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

Monday, November 30, 2020

Review: Indies Unlimited 2018 Editors' Choice Flash Fiction Anthology by Various Authors

 


Genre: Flash Fiction/Varied Genres/Short Story Anthology

Description:

The Indies Unlimited 2018 Flash Fiction Anthology features a year’s worth of winning entries from the IndiesUnlimited.com weekly flash fiction challenge. These stories were hand-picked by judges and editors. This collection contains 57 stories by 32 different authors from around the world, with full color pictures by award-winning photographer K. S. Brooks. From a soul-eating jack-o'lantern to a man's unexplainable shadow, there are a myriad of genres and stories to appeal to every taste.”

Authors:

“Authors with stories in the anthology include: Dana Adams, Allen Alright, Mary Kay Bonfante, Robert K. Blechman, E. Carr, E.J. Cooke, Rachelle Cory, Alyssa Devine, Bill Engleson, N.T. Franklin, Rutger Galtiarii, Diana Garcia, Judith Garcia, Dusty May Jane, A.L. Kaplan, Pharrel Katz, Dale E. Lehman, T. McGrath, Tamara McLanahan, Kevin P. Michaels, Antonia Overstreet, Mr. Pish, Diane Selby, Lou Silvestri, Jeremy James Smith, Lexi Storm, Stephannie Tallent, Ken Talley, Dana Vacca, Morgan Winters, JB Wocoski, and Ann Zimmerman.”

To learn more please visit the authors’ Amazon Author pages.

Appraisal:

Thirty-two authors from around the world contributed fifty-seven Flash Fiction stories in this 2018 Editors’ Choice Anthology edition. These are the best of the best, the cream of the crop, Flash Fiction submissions in Indies Unlimited weekly challenge.

The genre’s run the gamut from sci-fi, coming of age, paranormal, ghosts, evil spirits, thrillers, psychological games, miscommunications, and women fed up with men… Wanna know which were my favorites? Honestly, it would be hard to choose. I think we all know I love a good paranormal story, so aside from those Mary Kay Bonnfante’s, Sam the Ram made me giggle. I raised two girls so I appreciated the miscommunication. I also have a soft spot for kids so in Dale E. Lehman’s, Forest of Giants I should have seen the end coming. Rutger Galtiarii has a creative story with seven-year-old Max in, Secret of the Cave. Also, in A.L. Kaplan’s, Twin Stacks the kids are a little older and the end made me shiver. Ann Zimmerman’s, Little Dog, Big City was heartwarming and shows the powers of a pet.

All of the stories contained in this edition are great and everyone is bound to find their favorites. There are also twelve Honorable Mentions included. But wait there’s more! The photos, taken by K.S. Brooks, for Prompts without Winners are also included, perhaps they will inspire you to join in the weekly Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. There are also about sections for the editors, and the authors all with active ToC links.

These Flash Fictions are only two-hundred and fifty words of less, so you can squeeze in a story or two in your busy schedules.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Indies Unlimited 2018 Editors' Choice Flash Fiction Anthology is the 9th book in the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology series. Best viewed on a full-color eReader to appreciate the photos provided by KS Brooks as writing prompts.

Format/Typo Issues:

None that I noticed.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 10-15,000 words

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Review: Scent of a Dolphin by Barbara Silkstone

 


Genre: Cozy Mystery/Women Sleuth/Humor

Description:

“When Olive rescues a dolphin entangled in fishing net a friendship develops between ’Fluke‘ and Olive. During a game of catch Fluke the dolphin and WonderDog discover a body trapped near Lizzy’s dock. Can Olive and Lizzy find the killer in her neighborhood before he strikes again? Plus, meet Grams' new beau.”

Author:

“Barbara Silkstone's most current series is COLD CREAM MURDERS ~ GLOSSY LIPS, SMOKEY EYES ~ SOAP ON A ROPE ~ SUN SCREAM ~ LAVENDER TOES. And a bonus novella GRAMS'S CHRISTMAS BABY. This series will have at least 6 books when complete. The adventures take place in the imaginary burg of Starfish Cove, Florida ~ a place near and dear to Silkstone's hometown of Redington Beach on the Gulf of Mexico just north of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Barbara currently lives in Central Florida with her eccentric kitty who adores Liam Neeson and chasing lizards (the cat, not Barbara)”

To learn more about Ms. Silkstone’s many books visit her website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:

Olive finds a kindred spirit in a dolphin she rescues by cutting away the fishing net in which he has become entangled. She names the dolphin Fluke and he loves to toss Olive flotsam to entice her into playing catch. One of the things Fluke tosses to Olive is a small blob of green sparkly goo. Olive’s ever inquisitive mind is enthralled with this blob of goo that smells like a fresh ocean breeze. When Fluke finds a dead body stuck between Lizzy’s neighbor’s deck and the sea wall WonderDog understands Fluke’s alarm for Lizzy and Olive to follow him.

There is a lot going on in this story, Kal is out of town with his father, covering for him is a new young detective fresh out of training, Barney Piccolo. This murder is his first case so he ends up the butt of many jokes. It turns out the victim and her boyfriend were on a search for Al Capone’s secret stash in a set of bungalows on Scuttlebutt Point. There is also a TV journalist, Jerry Riviera, in town with his camera crew taping his hunt for Al Capone’s secret stash in the same location. Riviera has enlisted Grams to help him since Grams is the Silverfish Gazette’s ace reporter. Then there is that mysterious green goo. Olive is determined to find out what it is and whether it can be turned into a perfume? Olive’s white puffball of a kitten found her way into Olive’s blush. So Puff is now a pink kitten, even after Olive tried to scrub the blush out. And Gram’s has a beau she is totally smitten with.

Ms. Silkstone weaves all these threads into an entertaining adventurous mystery that keeps the reader guessing who the murderer is until the climactic ending that has a couple surprising twists. I have noticed that the Cold Cream Murders are becoming more complex. It surprises me that mystery crime writers don’t turn into criminal masterminds, or perhaps they do and they haven’t been caught yet. 

As with the other books in the series, Ms. Silkstone includes a recipe that helps you make your own signature scent.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Scent of a Dolphin is book 7 in Ms. Silkstone’s, Cold Cream Murders Series.

Format/Typo Issues:

Nothing to note.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Reprise Review: Seasons by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD_Mader, and Jo-Anne Teal

 


Genre: Short Story Collection

Description:

“This collection of four inter-woven stories explores the quest for redemption in a world made chaotic by emotional disorder. Broken characters brace themselves against their elemental constructs - only to find that nothing is promised and that nothing comes without a price.

Four seasons. Four stories written by four critically-acclaimed authors. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse at our slow decay?

The answer is not as simple as it seems.”

Proceeds from the sale of Seasons will be donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Author:

Among the four contributors to this collection is a winner in our inaugural Readers’ Choice Awards (David Antrobus for his 9/11 memoir, Dissolute Kinship) and two nominees, author Edward Lorn, whose horrific thriller Hope for the Wicked was on our short list in the Thriller category, and JD Mader, who contributed to Music Speaks, a nominee in the Short Story Collection/Anthology. (Antrobus also contributed to that collection, giving him the distinction of being the only dual nominee.) Joining them is Jo-Anne Teal. This is the first book linked to Teal’s author page on Amazon.

Each of the other authors have websites or blogs. Find more about Antrobus at The Migrant Type, Mader at Unemployed Imagination, or find out what Lorn’s been thinking about at Ruminating On.

Appraisal:

Anyone who has ever been touched by suicide knows that the event leaves you full of questions with very few answers. These four interwoven stories (one for each of the seasons) explore life, death, and the desire (or lack thereof) to continue the former. As the final line of the book’s description says, “the answer is not as simple as it seems,” and really, there is no answer. But possibly by considering these subjects we can get closer to an understanding.

I’d previously read Antrobus, Lorn, and Mader, and found their writing in this collection up to their normal high quality. Although this was my first exposure to Teal’s writing, she measured up to the standard set by her co-contributors.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Spelling conventions used are consistent with the home of the respective authors, Canada for Antrobus and Teal, the US for Lorn and Mader.

Added for Reprise Review: Seasons by DavidAntrobus, EdwardLorn, JD_Mader, and Jo-Anne Teal was a nominee in the Short Story Collections and Anthologies category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran June 13, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:

No issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 5-6,000 words

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Tech by Mark Ravine

 


Genre: Mystery/Crime Fiction

Description:

“Special Agent Alexandra Cassidy has made a career of disobeying orders, challenging bigwigs, and asking uncomfortable questions.

What offends her superiors most is that her intolerable antics have earned her one of the best track records in the FBI.

It’s too bad, some cases are better left unsolved.

When Cassidy is transferred to the backwaters of Arizona she finds herself leading a crew with so many black marks on their records, it’s a miracle any of them remain employed. Thankfully, their first case pretty much solves itself. But as Cassidy and her team continue throwing bad guys behind bars, a creeping sense of suspicion grows. The cases are easy, a little too easy, and troubling patterns become impossible to ignore.

Then things take a violent turn, and an elusive figure steps forward to help. But in a conspiracy big enough to topple kings, every player has an agenda—and misplaced trust will have devastating consequences.”

Author:

About all I can tell you for sure about Mark Ravine is that this is his first published novel. Or maybe that should be his or her first published novel using this name. I can’t rule out the potential of this being a pen name. I think he might be from the UK, but could easily be wrong about that. (See the FYI section for why I think that.)

Appraisal:

For the most part I enjoyed reading this book. I liked Alexandra and her team. While the book is named after Mike Patterson, The Tech, Alexandra is really as close as the book has to a main character or protagonist, where the obvious focus of the story goes, but even without the title clueing the reader in it isn’t hard to see that Mike is going to be a critical part of what happens, even if most of the characters don’t realize just how much so most of the way. The cases Alexandra and her team are working on through the book are intense, and because she and most of her team are motivated to show they’ve gotten a bad rap in the past, they’re all focused and motivated to solve the cases.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to those who are into mysteries. If you’re a fan of technology and its possibilities, you’ll like it even more. But there are a few things that I didn’t like. One was a few times when the events played out in ways that stretched my ability to suspend disbelief to the limit. I also thought the book was longer than it needed to be, to the point where it was starting to drag.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Although the novel takes place in the US, Arizona most of the time, the small publisher that released this book is located in the UK and the author or editors or both are, I suspect, located in the UK. This is based on word usage or choices that fit the UK, not the US, scattered through the book. Not an issue, but caught me off guard a time or two.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 150-155,000 words

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Reprise Review: Eyewitness by Rebecca Forster

 


Genre: Thriller

Description:

“Blame is in the eye of the beholder when Josie faces her toughest challenge yet – one that comes from halfway around the world and forces her to question her faith in justice while threatening the people she loves most.”

This is book #5 in The Witness series featuring attorney Josie Bates.

Author:

Best-selling author Rebecca Forster has had more than twenty books published in her career, most legal thrillers.

For more, visit her website.

Appraisal:

I’ve read three of the four prior books in this series and although having done so isn’t a prerequisite to understand or enjoy this book, when I evaluate why I liked it, one of the biggest reasons are the characters, specifically Josie Bates and her foster child, Hannah. Eyewitness can be read as a standalone and Forster introduces the bare bones of their back story, but I couldn’t help wondering if doing so wouldn’t be missing out on some of what I saw and felt, having made the previous investment and having the deeper understanding of the characters that I had coming in. Josie is an attorney and the books in the series are legal thrillers, yet they have more heart than the typical book in this genre, largely because the legal conflict is usually much more personal for Josie.

In this installment, that personal stake is because her client is Billy Zuni, a friend of Hannah’s who has been a secondary, but far from trivial character in previous books. As Josie digs, she discovers that much of what she thought she knew about Billy wasn’t quite reality. This is also unlike a typical legal thriller because of the way it weaves elements of a foreign culture and how that can influence the life of US immigrants into the story. I highly recommend this book for fans of legal thrillers. Even more, I’d recommend backtracking to the first of the series and reading them all.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Although the fifth book in the series, this can be read as a standalone.

Added for Reprise Review: Eyewitness by Rebecca Forster was the WINNER in the Thriller category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran April 17, 2013

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words

Friday, November 20, 2020

Review: GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet by Allan D. Hunter

 


Genre: Memoir/Coming of Age

Description:

“Derek is a girl. He wasn’t one of the boys as a kid. He admired, befriended, and socialized with the girls and always knew he was one of them, despite being male. That wasn’t always accepted or understood, but he didn’t care—he knew who he was. Now he’s a teenager and boys and girls are flirting and dating and his identity has become a lot more complicated: he’s attracted to the girls. The other girls. The female ones. This is Derek’s story, the story of a different kind of male hero—a genderqueer person’s tale. It follows Derek from his debut as an eighth grader in Los Alamos, New Mexico until his unorthodox coming out at the age of twenty-one on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque. This century’s first decade saw many LGBT centers and services rebranding themselves as LGBTQ. The “Q” in LGBTQ is a new addition. It represents other forms of “queer” in an inclusive wave-of-the hand toward folks claiming to vary from conventional gender and orientation, such as genderqueer people. People who are affirmatively tolerant on gay, lesbian and transgender issues still ask “Why do we need to add another letter to the acronym? Isn’t anyone who isn’t mainstream already covered by ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or ‘bisexual’ or ‘trans’? I’m all in favor of people having the right to call themselves whatever they want, but seriously, do we need this term?” Derek’s tale testifies to the real-life relevance of that “Q.” This is a genderqueer coming-of-age and coming-out story from an era long before genderqueer was trending.”

Author:

“Allan D. Hunter lived in New Mexico from 1973 to 1984 before emigrating to New York to become a gender activist. He received a degree in Women's Studies and graduate degrees in Sociology and Social Work and worked with psychiatric patients' rights groups and gender identity support groups. He later served as elder abuse case worker in the Bronx. His truncated academic career included publication of a short but groundbreaking theory piece, 'Same Door Different Closet: A Heterosexual Sissy's Coming-Out Party' in a peer-reviewed journal, Feminism & Psychology. The original manuscript for this book received an award in a Cisco Writers Club competition.”

For more visit Mr Hunter’s blog.

Appraisal:

Old straight cisgender guys like me grew up viewing the world, or at least the people in it and some of the ways we defined those people as a few binary choices. You were a boy or a girl. If you wanted sex it was either with the opposite gender or your own, with one of those generating a lot of paranoia (aka homophobia) among my high school classmates. Sex and gender were the same and viewed as entirely dependent on your physical characteristics. Allan Hunter, the author of this book, grew up in the exact same time, knew he didn’t fit those parameters, but for a long time struggled with what that meant. This is his story.

This is a memoir, even though the main character in the story is Derek Turner, the preface makes it clear that this is Hunter’s story, but he has changed the names of the characters (himself included, apparently) and in some instances may have combined a few characters into one for ease of telling his story, but this appears to be what he sees as his truth. I found myself being sympathetic with him at times, realizing that while I don’t see myself in the same way (a girl on the inside, a boy on the outside), that some of the stereotypical male traits that Hunter doesn’t have, I don’t either, and some of the expectations he had issues with as a kid, I did as well. This helped me understand that many things we try to view as binary with only 2 choices is actually more of a spectrum with different people falling in different places on the spectrum, only those at the more extreme ends fitting the traditional binary choices.

Society has gotten better at describing and acknowledging the many differences in people where sex, gender, and sexual preferences are concerned, but I realized that I didn’t have as good a handle on some of those possibilities. LGBT, I get, but if you’re in that Q+ that gets appended by some people, what does it mean? After reading GenderQueer, I feel like I’ve got a better handle on it.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language and adult topics.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 95-100,000 words

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review: Hellbound Humans by Elizabeth Corrigan

 


Genre: Urban Fantasy/Novelette

Description:

“Carrie, Khet, Cassia, Cama, Cain. She’s had hundreds of names through the centuries. Now she’s Chloe, an ordinary college student---at least as ordinary as a mind-reader can be when she has an angel for a boyfriend and a best friend who often forgets he’s not still a demon.

When Chloe discovers a fellow student has been murdered, she’s determined to stay out of it. Much as she wants to help, interfering has gotten her nothing but trouble in the past, and she needs to stick it out at the university for at least four years if she wants her degree. But when she inadvertently gives away her power at the funeral, she finds she has no choice but to use her unique gifts to track down the killer.”

Author:

“Elizabeth Corrigan has degrees in English and psychology and has spent several years working as a data analyst in various branches of the healthcare industry. When she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Elizabeth enjoys singing, reading teen vampire novels, and making Sims of her characters. She drinks more Diet Coke than is probably optimal for the human body and is pathologically afraid of bees. She lives in Maryland with two cats and a purple Smart Car.”

To learn more about Ms. Corrigan check out her website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:

Carrie feels she is in a good place right now. Gabriel and she are an item. She has started taking college classes to get a degree. So the next four years are planned out. You have to stay busy when you are immortal. However, Bedlam stays close at hand. He is living with Carrie, who is now Chloe the college student. Bedlam calls Carrie/Chloe, Khet. He always has and probably always will. I love Bedlam, he considers himself Khet’s protector and sometimes he forgets he’s not a demon any longer.

When a fellow student is found murdered and one is missing, Chloe has to look into it. Bedlam warns Chloe not to get involved because bad things happen to her when she does. But when Chloe comes across Adelaide, the missing college student, she has to do what she can to protect her.

The storyline is unsettling. There is a small group of medical students secretly conducting experiments in a surgical theater around midnight a couple nights a week. When the group suspects someone is spying on them they catch Chloe. That’s when things get really interesting. Now, I’ve read stories with the arch-demon Mephistopheles before, but I don’t recall him being physically described the way he is in this novelette. I liked the way he argued with the other lesser demons to stress the point he wanted Cama/Carrie/Chloe left alone and safe. He knows Lucifer has a vested interest in her, and Meph makes her comfortable while she is recovering in Hell. To know the whys and wherefores about Carrie you must read the Oracle of Philadelphia. That novel is Carrie’s story and the first book in the Earthbound Angels Series.

I love the twist at the end, which is orchestrated by Mephistopheles on behalf of Cama/Carrie/Chloe. He knew she would never condone his actions. I found Mephistopheles mesmerizing in this novelette. This is a captivating episode to add to the series.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Hellbound Humans is book 3.5 in Ms. Corrigan’s, Earthbound Angels Series. (That’s book 3 1/2 because it takes place between the full novels Archangel Errant - book 3 - and Angel in the Details – book 4.) It’s important to read the books in order.

Format/Typo Issues:

No issues with formatting or proofing.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 14-15,000 words

Monday, November 16, 2020

Review: Dear Sugar & Other Sorrows by Irma Fritz

 


Genre: Short Story Collection/Literary Fiction

Description:

“A collection of stories for anyone who has ever loved.

After causing heartbreak to start a new life, a lost lover comes home in ‘Dear Sugar.’ When her first love returns in ‘Euphoria,’ a young wife must choose between life and death. ‘Cigarette Break’ asks the ultimate sacrifice of a mother whose husband plots suicide. After losing everything in one night in the ‘The Hawk's Nest,’ a young woman finds her true home. 'Big J' Jim Jackson had his future all planned out but Betty was right there to intercept every one of his passes in ‘Interception.’ When she brings on her final play, he can only win by losing.”

Author:

Details about author Irma Fritz are skimpy. She has two novels available in addition to this short story collection and reportedly studied writing when she went to college in Los Angeles.

Appraisal:

Each of the short stories in this collection have some kind of love at the heart of the story. But to call them love stories or to imply anything even close to that would leave you confused and probably feeling that you’d been misled. Instead what comes through is that different people love in different ways. That love is often hard and that a story about love can get pretty darn dark.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

A small amount of adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Reprise Review: Spellbound by Deanie Mills

 


Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Description:

“Twenty years ago, Faith ‘Dani’ Daniels was subjected to the most terrifying ordeal a child can ever know. The painful memories of cruelty and abuse haunted her, tormented her...until finally, as a schoolteacher in a quiet Texas town, Dani rebuilt her life--and escaped her malevolent past.

Now the forgotten terrors of her youth have returned. In a deserted park Dani discovers a woman's body, scarred in a way that only Dani herself can comprehend...marked by the same assailants who shattered her youth. For twenty years, Dani has been on the run from her destiny. But she can stop running now...

They've found her.”

Author:

Author Deanie Mills has ten suspense thrillers, plus one true crime book, that were published traditionally in the early 90s. With the help of her daughter, GeekyJessica, Mills is giving those that have fallen out of print a second life via your ereader.

For more, visit Mills’ website.

Appraisal:

This is a well done psychological thriller. Putting together the pieces of what was happening along with Dani, figuring out what it meant, and hoping she’d come out of the experience unscathed, was quite a thrill ride for me. Another thing Spellbound has that I like to see in a book is a strong sense of place. If a story is happening in a real place that I’m familiar with, in this case East Texas, getting the look and feel of the surroundings right and correctly reflecting the culture and attitudes of the people, makes a big difference in how much I enjoy the read. Mills nailed this aspect.

The only negative I saw wasn’t a big deal for me. The book, first published in 1991, has some pop culture references that would be meaningless for the younger crowd. But I’m sure when I read Twain and Hemingway in high school, references that were contemporary at publication time meant nothing to me a few years later.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Added for Reprise Review: Spellbound by Deanie Mills was a nominee in the Thriller category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran November 7, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words