Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reprise Review: Schrodinger’s Telephone / Marion Stein

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A native New Yorker, Marion Stein has two Masters Degrees, one in creative writing and the other in social work. She moved around the US and Mexico before returning to New York in September 2001. In addition to this novella, she has a novel, Loisaida, and another novella, The Death Trip, available.

For more, visit Stein’s blog.


“Lizzie Greene seems to have it all -- a great husband, a job she loves, a baby on the way, even a rent-stabilized two bedroom apartment on New York's Upper West Side. Then a random decision leads to a senseless act of violence, and it all disappears.

But what if things had been different? What if things are different? Could someone be both dead and not dead at the same time? Is it insanity to believe in mysteries that go beyond human understanding, in the evidence of things not seen?

Lizzie's sister, her best friend, and many others think she's lost her senses, but maybe she's gotten a glimpse of something most of us never get to see.

Schrodinger's Telephone is more for fans of The Twilight Zone than of Twilight.”


Speculative fiction is an umbrella that encompasses many subgenres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, dystopian, Horror, and Supernatural Fiction are just some. However, some speculative fiction doesn’t neatly fit into any of the subgenres, and Schrodinger’s Telephone is one of those. A case could be made that it is Supernatural Fiction, but that presupposes one specific interpretation of what happens to the protagonist, Lizzie, when there is at least one other possibility, that Lizzie is insane.

Regardless of what we call it or how we categorize it, Schrodinger’s Telephone is a quick and engrossing read that will exercise your mind. How would you react if someone you knew insisted that something impossible had happened? 
What if that someone was you?

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five stars

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Light Who Shines / Lilo Abernathy

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance

Approximate word count: 130-135,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Lilo Abernathy lives “amidst the Smoky Mountains and can sometimes see the shadows of clouds lying on the mountains from my front porch.” The Light Who Shines is her debut novel. You can learn more about her by checking out her website and blog.


“When Supernatural Investigation Bureau agent Bluebell Kildare (a.k.a. Blue) arrives at the scene of the crime, it's obvious the grotesquely damaged body of the deceased teenage boy was caused by far more than a simple hit and run. Using her innate sixth sense, Blue uncovers a powerful magical artifact nearby. She soon discovers it acts as a key to an ancient Grimoire that was instrumental in the creation of the Vampire breed and still holds the power to unravel the boundaries between Earth and the Plane of Fire.

Blue and her clever wolf Varg follow a trail that starts at the Cock and Bull Tap and leads all through the town of Crimson Hollow. Between being sidelined by a stalker who sticks to the shadows and chasing a suspect who vanishes in thin air, the case is getting complicated. If that isn't enough, Dark Vampire activity hits a record high, and hate crimes are increasing. However, it's Blue's growing feelings for Jack Tanner, her magnetic Daylight Vampire boss, that just might undo her.

While Blue searches for clues to nail the perpetrator, it seems someone else is conducting a search of their own. Who will find whom first?

Danger lurks in every corner, and Blue needs all her focus in this increasingly dangerous game or she risks ending up the next victim.”


I have mixed feelings about this urban fantasy. While I liked the overall story, I wasn’t a big fan of the style in which it was told. And that was the key problem. The story was being told to the reader instead of being shown. This style made it hard to identify with the characters because it all seemed impersonal. This story is mainly told through Blue’s eyes as she investigates the death of a gifted teenager who had been held hostage and tortured. With Blue’s Gift of empathy she is a valuable asset to Supernatural Investigation Bureau, but she puts herself at risk in an effort to prove her worth to her team. As Blue’s past is unveiled, to both herself and us, it becomes clear that there is more going on than the story at hand.

It is important to note under the chapter headings the POV (point of view) changes are announced along with the date. Some days were several chapters long. I found it hard to follow the dates or day changes. Occasionally the POV changed to Jack’s point-of-view, which helped clarify why he responded to Blue the way he did at times. Jack is not only Blue’s boss, he is her guardian (which is unbeknownst to Blue) and he is unsure how much of the prophecy surrounding the Grimoire he should share with Blue. He also feels like he doesn’t deserve Blue’s affections, despite his overwhelming desire for her, because his soul is tainted with Lilith’s dark mark.

I really liked Ms. Abernathy’s inclusion of Varg, the mysterious wolf that appears when Blue is attacked in the alley. I am a bit partial to wolves and am anxious to learn more of his story. He turned out to be an excellent guardian for Blue. However, I was puzzled when Varg ran to greet the chief of police in the park. It was completely out of character for the wolf and this action was used to force the plot along a certain path of the author’s choosing and didn’t ring true. I had this reaction with a couple other spots in the story concerning Blue’s actions as well.

Bottom line, I think this series has promise. I would like to see the author improve the flow of the story and remain true to her characters personalities by allowing them to lead the story. I felt like the supporting characters were strong and well developed. Maud was a hoot, everyone needs a friend like her, and Alexis was an interesting friend to have around. She was a good emotional support system for Blue to have. I think both friends will play vital roles in the future of this series. 


The Light Who Shines is the first book in the Bluebell Kildare Series.

It contains explicit sex, foul adult language, and graphic violence.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant issues with proofing or formatting.

Rating: *** Three stars

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lionel and the Golden Rule / Paul R. Hewlett

Reviewed by: BigAl with input from The Princess

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Approximate word count: 10-15,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


The author of two books in the “Lionel’s Grand Adventure” series, Paul R. Hewlett is an Air Force vet.

For more, visit his website.


“Lionel is sick of his brother picking on him and of his mother yelling at him. One day, while cleaning the closet his mother has been after him about, he discovers not only boxes and old clothes, but a lucky charm with more magic than he bargained for. After an unusual encounter with his brother, Lionel knows things are about to change for the better.”


I drafted The Princess, my eleven year-old granddaughter, to read this book and give me a kid’s perspective to add to my own in writing this review. The Princess gave it high marks (a letter grade of A+) with the comment that she really liked it. She described it as having “a lot of fantasy” and a “moral about luck.”

I concur. It’s a fun read that should hit the sweet spot for its target audience (ages 7-10) with a lesson to be learned (I’d describe it as “be careful what you wish for”), that comes through clearly, yet doesn’t overshadow the fun of the story.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Agent’s Daughter / Ron Corriveau

Reviewed by: Michael Thal

Genre: Young Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: Yes
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A self-described geek, Ron Corriveau considers himself an electrical 
engineer who designs integrated circuits for a large telecommunications company located in Texas. Corriveau believes his writing is a hobby meant to activate the right side of his brain. Originally from Southern California, this Texan lives with his lovely wife and wonderful two children just outside of Dallas. 


Melina Roberts suffers from normal teenage angst. However, problems with school, friends, and a love interest are compounded by the sudden hospitalization of her mom—a victim of a drunk driver. Mrs. Roberts is in a coma and doctors don’t understand why.

Unbeknownst to Melina and younger genius brother Travis is the fact that their dad is a talented undercover agent for the President of the United States.


Ron Corriveau does a wonderful job moving from Melina’s point of view to that of her father, Evan Roberts. Readers get a close look at the life of a teenage girl who recently lost her mom and the life of an undercover spy. With action scenes that will keep readers flipping pages to tender moments of a girl’s first kiss, The Agent’s Daughter is a combination of Spy Kids and James Bond rolled up into one exciting adventure.

Format/Typo Issues:

There were a few noticeable typos, but nothing too serious to pull you away from this entertaining read.

 Rating: **** Four Stars

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Recently at The IndieView

The most recent interviews at The IndieView starting with a refresher on the different kinds of interviews. 

We also want to be sure to draw your attention to the IndieView with Pete Barber and point out that BigAl consented to an Allirea's Realm (or should that be Allirea's Interrogation?)

The IndieView

This is an interview with a standard set of open ended questions. While they focus on a specific book, they also delve into the author's history as a writer and the path they took in becoming an indie author.

The BookView

This is a shorter interview format for authors who have already done an IndieView which focuses just on their most recent book.

Reviewer IndieView

These are interviews with reviewers who have their own review blog that delve into their approach to reviewing. A great way to find other book blogs you might like to follow. (For authors, there is also an extensive database of indie friendly review sites you might like to check out.)

Allirea's Realm

By invitation only, these are quirky, often irreverent interviews done by longtime Books and Pals follower, Allirea.

(Authors and reviewers interested in doing an IndieView should visit this page for details.)

IndieView with M.L. Gardner, author of Sayan Knights

"It was an impatience to share my stories and wanting to have control over the process. I’m very happy being my own boss."

BookView with Laurie Boris, author of Playing Charlie Cool

"The seed was planted in Don’t Tell Anyone, one of my published novels. Charlie is a secondary character in that story, and I was curious about his secret romance with a closeted, married politician, which was only revealed off camera."

IndieView with Richard Engling, author of Visions of Anna

"I don’t really know what happened to Fern to set her up for suicide. In inventing those parts of the story, I wanted to be true to the spirit of her life and create the fictional Anna’s life in a way that was respectful to the memory of my friend. I wanted to do right by her."

IndieView with Adam Ingle, author of Necessary Evil and the Greater Good

"Once I gave up control most of it was easy. Sometimes there were hard choices, or hard times letting things happen that I knew needed to happen. Mostly I just went along for the ride and found it went much easier that way."

IndieView with Amy Flint, author of Shadows in the Mist

"While the lead character has the ability to see ghosts, she is sceptical of the fact. Training as a parapsychologist, and becoming a paranormal investigator allows her to explore what she and other people think they see."

IndieView with Jayra Almanzor, author of Stygian Rift

"I got the idea from a lesson at school about how the world’s population is increasing significantly (there are more births than deaths). I thought to myself, “what would be a possible last resort for this issue?” and came across the idea for Stygian Rift."

IndieView with Anonymous-9, author of Bite Harder

"Fed up with hit and run drivers in Los Angeles, Dean Drayhart becomes a vigilante. The twist is that he’s a paraplegic in a wheelchair and he has a trained service monkey do the dirty work."

Allirea’s Realm, Coffee and Conversation with R.G. Cordiner

"As a primary school teacher, I found that there were not that many books that were easy to read aloud to my class."

Indieview with Reviewer Malka Ahmed of Contemporary Books

"My favorite kind of characters are the ones that promise to me that they will tell me everything and reward me for sticking alongside them in their journey. These types of books are the ones that transform you, and that’s what I am always on the hunt for"

IndieView with Catherine Bell, author of Rush of Shadows

"One character wouldn’t know the whole story, and I thought an omniscient voice was inappropriate."

IndieView with Ariel Pakizer, author of Iron and Glass

"The moment I understood the characters, their story unfurled like a flag in a gale breeze. I knew how everything and everyone connected."

IndieView with Pete Barber, author of Love Poison

"I’m a late blooming writer. Not because I didn’t want to write earlier in life, but because I was too busy putting bread on the table."

IndieView with Nick Vellis, author of Dig Two Graves: Revenge or Honor

"Unpredictable plot twists are what I enjoy reading so I put quite a few into my debut novel."

IndieView with Rebecca Chastain, author of A Fistful of Evil

"Does your brain try to sabotage your sleep time and keep you awake thinking about all the things that need to get done the next day? (Or that you should have done today? Or that you wish you’d done differently today?)"

IndieView with Shauna Roberts, author of Claimed by the Enemy

"The variety of reactions people had to their losses fascinated me. Some people were frozen and unable to do anything. Some gave up, thinking New Orleans could never recover from such a blow."

IndieView with Russ Hall, author of To Hell and Gone in Texas

"Once the action starts it’s just a matter of hanging onto the characters’ shirttails as they rush pell mell along into the jaws of increasing danger."

IndieView with Terry Baker Mulligan, author of Afterlife in Harlem

"At times I struggled with how to write about a President Hillary Clinton, when Hillary Clinton was actually running for the office."

IndieView with Sarah Lane, author of The God of My Art

"I also wanted to grapple with the old question of where the balance lies between freedom and responsibility and between necessity, fate, and a lack of choice."

IndieView with Marina Raydun, author of Joe After Maya

"This is a murder-mystery/suspense novel, but, on a larger scale, it’s about self-acceptance, the importance of being true to one’s self, and the danger that looms when these things aren’t there."

IndieView with reviewer N.M. Sotzek of On Writing

"There’s nothing worse than reading the same story with the same characters over and over."

IndieView with Henrik Rohdin, author of The Forbidden Army

"Some people I have encountered that I dislike eventually have some of their traits written into the villains, but nobody is a direct caricature of anyone real."

Allirea’s Realm, coffee and conversation with BigAl

"Does getting kicked out of the first class cabin for most of a flight from Cincinnati to Salt Lake count?"

Indieview with Thomas Medonis, author of Lost Reality

"Sculpting the most random subjects together in order to educate and entertain is what I pride myself most in."

Indieview with Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper, author of Populatti

"Whenever I’m out, I tend to pay attention to these things and then file them away for just the right book or scene."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Flushed / Joseph Mulak

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Joseph Mulak is the author of several short stories, many of which are collected in Haunted Whispers. Flushed is his first novel. He lives in North Bay, Ontario with his four children and is at work on a new novel.

Ivan ekes out a living playing poker for low stakes at his local casino. He’s a disappointment to his parents. His wife, frustrated by his reluctance to accept responsibility, has left him. The story follows Ivan over the period of a few weeks as a series of unexpected events cause him to reassess his life.


This novel grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go. I read it in two late-night sittings. On the face of it, it’s difficult to define exactly what gripped me so strongly. The pacing is laid-back—just like the main character. There are no explosions or near-death experiences. But the way Ivan reacts to external events is so believable, and so typical of a man, that I found myself smiling and nodding my way through the story.

Ivan is a million miles from marriage material. He loved his wife, so he did try to conform to how society expects a husband to behave. But his married life was a constant struggle between his selfish (lazy? immature?) personality, and his innate desire to please his woman.

As the author throws curve balls at Ivan (and there were a couple of doozies), his response always stays true to his character. To me, that was the magic in the story—it stays true to life and to Ivan throughout. Even when there were opportunities to give Ivan and the other characters an easy way out, the author resisted, and that truth shone through—kudos, Mr. Mulak. This was an unusual story, and a lot of fun to read.

Format/Typo Issues:

Not enough to distract. The story is listed as romantic suspense. I think it fits better in the contemporary fiction category.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Monday, December 15, 2014

Love is not free. The price is 99 cents. / Rudolf Kerkhoven

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Humor

Approximate word count: 90-85,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Rudolf Kerkhoven lives in the South West of Canada, near Vancouver. He’s the author of three novels as well as the co-author with Daniel Pitts of four “choose your own adventure” novels.

For more, visit Kerkhoven’s website.


“ … a darkly comedic romantic-drama. Mathematically brilliant but socially anxious Xavier Dekker has developed uCupid, a 99-cent phone application that purports to flawlessly match people with an ideal mate anywhere around the globe. Xavier's estranged younger brother, David, is a new father and downloads uCupid as a lark, not because he's unhappy with his marriage. But unbeknownst to him, his wife has done the exact same thing. And soon everyone will download uCupid. And soon everyone will be madly in love. So, then, what is the problem? How can so much love cause displeasure? And just what is Xavier keeping secret about this 99.97% flawless app?”


Xavier, the brother of the protagonist David, is the stereotypical computer nerd. He’s socially awkward and sometimes too logical by normal standards. I’m afraid I saw a bit of myself in Xavier at times. :) I even thought uCupid, his phone app to match people with their “soul mate,” wherever they might be, sounded like a great idea. The right data, analyzed the right way, can solve any problem, right? I’d sure like to think so.

Of course, where Xavier (and I) fall short in our theory is that the typical human isn’t as logical as Mr Spock would like us to be. Human emotions and, yes, love is largely about emotions, aren’t always so logical. Love isn’t free … is funny, dark and thought provoking, with explorations of themes involving family, our obsession with (and sometimes over reliance on) technology, and yes, even love.


Adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars