Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Wayfarer / H. Barber

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Short Story

Approximate word count: 4-5,000 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


No information available.


The Wayfarer is a short story about a man who finds a woman to settle down with after constantly moving from place to place.”


A short, yet fun read. Caleb experiences a great business success, enough to move out of his parent’s house. Still needing somewhere to live, he takes an unconventional approach to his housing situation, although entirely logical in his situation. Then his life takes an unexpected turn or three.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

#Free for your #Kindle, 4/30/2015

The author of each of these books has indicated their intent to schedule these books for a free day for the Kindle versions today on Amazon. Sometimes plans change or mistakes happen, so be sure to verify the price before hitting that "buy me" button.

Hider/Seeker by Tom Claver

Two Birds by Vicki Tyley

Author's interested in having their free book featured either here on a Thursday or a sister site on a Monday, visit this page for details.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Blackline / Alex Shaw

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Thriller

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words

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


Alex Shaw was a drama teacher in an international school based in Kyiv until he left to set up his own consultancy business.

Hetman, the author’s first novel, took 12 years to write, subsequently followed up by Cold Black. Both were Kindle bestsellers.


Jack Tate is on holiday, taking some time out in Camden, Maine. He hasn’t been in the country long before he’s taken into custody for a crime he didn’t commit. A local dignitary has been assassinated and Tate fits the description. The local police chief, Donoghue, can’t get the charges to stick however and soon Tate is back on the streets.

But Tate isn’t what he at first seems. He’s actually MI6 and ex-SAS. When he checks into his hotel he’s immediately suspicious of several fellow guests – Russians.

Then the US is attacked by an EMP bomb, knocking out everything electronic. At the same time a tsunami hits Boston, causing huge loss of life. It seems to Tate as if the Russians are in the middle of it all…


Alex Shaw writes taut, fast moving military thrillers. You know exactly what you’re going to get when you pick up one of his books – entertainment at pace. Blackline is no exception. Shaw gets through a lot in a relatively short space of time. There’s intrigue from the first page with the assassination of a retired Senator and the mystery of Tate’s identity.

He gradually builds a relationship with the cops who at first had distrusted him, something that strengthens when the EMP hits and knocks out almost every car, cell phone, television etc.

Tate’s investigations reveal a conspiracy against the US. Unfortunately the novella ends before everything is revealed, presumably this will occur in a follow up. It’s a shame, it would have been good to have seen it closed out.

Tate is a believable character. Tough, yet not over the top. Donoghue is a useful foil. A local cop. Solid and dependable. There’s also Sara, owner of the hotel Tate is booked into. She’s strong willed and sassy. More than a match for Tate.

The one element that needed a suspension of disbelief was the tsunami that hit Boston at the same time as the EMP blast – this was caused by a meteorite strike that no one spotted. Later in the novella it’s explained why, but for a period it was a large question in my mind. Could that really happen?

This aside, Blackline is another entertaining thriller from the pen of Shaw and I look forward to part two.


This is part one of a series.

Format/Typo Issues:

Nothing of note.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gas, Food, Wifi / Caryn Rose

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel Memoir

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 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


The author of two novels and two prior non-fiction works, Caryn Rose is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer. You’ll find her writing about baseball and music in various venues. I especially enjoy her musings on music and concert reports on her blog, JukeboxGraduate.


LET’S GET long as we're back at the office in two weeks.

Not all who wander... have more than the US-standard two weeks' vacation in which to do it. Caryn Rose is one of those people, who refused to let her vacation days get in the way of allowing her to realize her desire for a good old-fashioned road trip. Armed with an actual map and a list of always-wanted-to-visit destinations, come with Rose as she explores Route 66, the National Parks, and other classic destinations, and searches for a brief sliver of freedom on the road in the Great Southwest.

Gas, Food, Wifi is a meditation on wanderlust, white-line fever and purple mountain majesties.”


From reading three of Caryn Rose’s previous books I know that I share one of her obsessions (music) while her other major interest (baseball), I don’t so much. However, despite two of the three books I’ve read having travel as a major component (one fictional, the other not), I didn’t pick up on her interest in travel, that I also share, until now. Early in Gas, Food, Wifi and the trip it chronicles Rose shared this insight, which really struck home with me:

The last time I drove this route was over 10 years ago, and I am straining to find the familiar, the recognizable; for some reason I need to demonstrate that I know this part of the country, to remind myself that I am worldly and well-traveled, that I am larger than the day-to-day views of myself as a small person who goes to an office every day and does a small thing and then goes home. I am a person who has seen the world. Being able to say that and have it be true makes me feel less like a slave to the grind and more like a citizen of the planet.

When I read travel memoirs, what I get out of them varies. There is the vicarious experience or sometimes comparing notes. The vicarious might be something I’m unlikely to ever experience (a couple travel memoirs from Japan I recently read), or as a preview for the future (at least some of the areas Rose traveled are places I’ve never been, but are on my list for the future, Cadillac Ranch, and the fabricated, but musically famous corner in Winslow, AZ for two). Other parts of Rose’s route are places I’ve been. A couple standouts for me are the Grand Canyon (pretty impressive for a big ditch) and the remoteness of Boise City in Oklahoma’s panhandle, a place I’d venture few have been.

But more important than the itinerary, what makes or breaks a travel memoir is the personal. What did the traveler learn about himself or herself, the world, and their place in it? Without this, all you’d have is a travelogue, which I’d find boring. Gas, Food, Wifi is chock full of those, too, ranging from the paragraph I quoted above right up until the end when Rose summarizes what the trip meant to her and encourages her readers to “pick somewhere, rent a car, pick up a map, and start driving.” Her claim is that even without planning you’ll find things or “things will find you,” and even if that doesn’t happen, “the drive itself will bring you something.” From experience, I know she’s right.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Monday, April 27, 2015

Recently at The IndieView

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

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 J. Daniel Batt, author of Keaghan in the Tales of Dreamside

My son isn’t as an avid reader as the rest of the family. He often struggles to find books that would interest him at his reading level. So, my desire was to take some of the elements that are found in older fantasy works and put them in a book that was at his reading level.

IndieView with D.A. Bale, author of Running into the Darkness

With the gritty content of my current series, I’d have to say they’re more targeted to the eighteen and older crowd who like mysteries, thrillers, suspense, etc. Just remember there’s that dark edge to it.

IndieView with DC Renee, author of Let it Go

Let It Go is about a guy (Benny) who is sort of a cross between a gang banger and a more “sophisticated” gangster that is actually a really sweet guy, is loyal to his friends, and has a heart of gold.  He has a past and reason for becoming a thug, which we learn in this story ...

Reviewer IndieView with Adrean Messmer of Splatterhouse 5

I’m looking for stories and characters that stick with me. Also, books that are easy to read. Not in that they’re simplistically written, but that they draw me in and keep me going.

IndieView with J.S. Bangs, author of Storm Bride

At the level of plot and setting, I was intrigued by a recurring cycle in the history of Europe and Asia where the “civilized” people living at the edges of the Eurasian continent get overrun by barbarian nomads from the inland steppes, and then the barbarians settle down and become civilized, and then the whole cycle repeats again a few hundred years later.

Reviewer IndieView with Erin Henrikson of The Reader’s Hollow

If a book doesn’t snag Joe-Schmo right away he’ll put it back on the shelf and never buy it.

IndieView with Anne Louise Bannon, author of Fascinating Rhythm

I was listening to Fitzgerald’s recording of the Gershwin Songbook (with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra), and the tune Fascinatin’ Rhythm came on as I was pouring my cheesecake batter into the pan. I danced along to the tune as I went to put the cheesecake into the oven and half the cheesecake went flying onto the floor. As I was cleaning it all up, it occurred to me that the song was about obsession – what an interesting motive for murder. From there, the characters just started coming alive and talking to me.

IndieView with Angela V. Cook, author of Into a Million Pieces

Every time this girl kissed her boyfriend, she absorbed some of his life energy, which in turn weakened him. I had never heard of a succubus, but I loved the idea of a teenage girl who was in love, but couldn’t so much as kiss her boyfriend without harming him.

IndieView with J.B. Maynard, author of The Cautionary Tale of Butch Black

I lived the life of Butch Black, so conveying and exaggerating actual events came as little challenge. I believe that’s what makes this book so hysterical: the fact that 90% of these things actual happen to the people working in retail.

IndieView with Ashay Abbhi, author of The Inevitable

I feel the trick to writing stories is not to look elsewhere but within myself. Our lives have enough plots and subplots and complications to make great stories.

IndieView with Austin Dragon, author of Hollow Blood

Writing is a very visual thing for me. So I am equally influenced by great movies as I am by great writing. 

IndieView with Lorraine Devon Wilke, author of Hysterical Love

As for the initial idea: many years back, one of my brothers shared an interesting tale with me of a man who found an old story of his father’s about a woman who seemed to be the “one that got away.” This fellow was so intrigued by the idea of this mysterious woman from his father’s past (whose name and location were mentioned in the story), that he got her number via 411 and called her.

IndieView with Evangeline Jennings, author of Riding in Cars with Girls

Music is a huge part of my life. And there are myriad musical references in my work – most of which are too obscure for most readers to notice, I’ve dropped several during this interview. But when I am actually writing, I need silence.

IndieView with Tahlia Newland, author of Words within Worlds

Author and editor Prunella Smith inhabits a multilayered reality. Physically, she lives in the Australian bush with her crazy cat Merlin. In her work world, she edits the love story of Kelee, a Magan Lord’s daughter, and in the cyber-world of social media, she’s subjected to slanderous attacks by a disgruntled author.

IndieView with Anne Louise O’Connell, author of Deep Deceit

When Celeste Parker’s daughter Tamara goes missing in Dubai the all-out search and rescue mission she anticipates never materializes. She is put off by the police as 18-year-old Tamara is technically an adult, and no foul play is apparent. Celeste faces the gut-wrenching fear every mother dreads… the possibility of losing a child.

IndieView with Katrina Monroe, author of Sacrificial Lamb Cake

All she wants is to get through the day with her apartment and relationship intact. Then, someone who calls himself Jude claims that she is the Messiah and it’s time for the whole Second Coming thing.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An Abduction Revelation: The Comeback Kid Returns/Thomas L. Hay

Reviewed by: Michael Thal

Genre: Science Fiction/Memoir

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: Yes  Smashwords: Yes  Paper: Yes
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Thomas L. Hay grew up in a small mid-Western town, Clinton, MO. He enlisted in the US Navy during the early 1960s and upon leaving the Navy worked for TWA and American Airlines. Now retired, Hay resides in Lake Waukomis, MO with his lovely wife, Karen. If you happen to cross paths with him on April 1 be wary. He loves plotting April Fools jokes.


An Abduction Revelation: The Comeback Kid Returns reads like a memoir. Author Thomas Hay writes about growing up in Post World War II America, love relationships, a stint in the navy, and most importantly, multiple abductions by UFOs and their alien inhabitants.

Hay’s style is chatty. His goal is to reveal all the facts of his abductions leaving it up to the reader to decide if his adventures were real, fiction, or just the product of a fertile imagination.


Throughout An Abduction Revelation Hay injects lyrics from popular songs from his youth that are supposed to describe the era of his musings. This literary device works nicely when the lyrics come at the beginning of the chapter. However, too frequently lyrics are placed in the body of the chapter wrenching the reader away from the story line.

Hay also seemed to entertain himself by injecting idiomatic expressions throughout the manuscript. (He even defines and provides a history for each one used in the book’s appendix.) At first I found these idioms amusing, but very quickly these clichés, used extensively throughout the manuscript, became annoying.

If readers are interested in a unique alien abduction novel, An Alien Abduction Revelation: The Comeback Kid Returns won’t disappoint, especially the surprise ending. However, be ready for scenes that turned out to be dreams that did very little to push the plot ahead while taking the book’s continuity off track. Consequently, plan on entering Hay’s world with an open mind.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: *** Three Stars

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Reprise Review: Endless Joke / David Antrobus

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Non-Fiction/Writing/Publishing

Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


“David Antrobus was born in Manchester, England, raised in the English Midlands, and currently resides near Vancouver, Canada. He writes music reviews, articles, creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The lessons he learned from working for two decades with abused and neglected street kids will never leave him.”


“Endless Joke is a collection. It's funny. It's irritating. It's the book you never realised you needed. But you do. If you want to stay safe (and sane) between the twists and turns and death throes of the old publishing monster and the anarchic new killing fields of epublishing, this book will help in that regard. It's equal parts passion, humour, angst,  and a kind of bewildered, contemplative awe.”


There’s a cliché people use in describing Allison Krauss, Becky Schlegel (I know, you’ve never heard of her – she sounds a lot like Allison Krauss), or other singers with great voices. They say they’d “love listening to her, even if she was singing from the phone book.” I feel the same way about reading David Antrobus’ writing. I’d love to read anything he writes because of his facility with language. Well, almost anything. Maybe not the phone book. Some describe his style as literary (I’ve called it that before and we see some of that here), but he also a talent for finding the humor in subjects you wouldn’t think of as funny. Although Endless Joke is, on the surface, aimed at target readers who sees themselves as writers, authors, or at least wannabes, I could see much of this book being of interest and entertaining to those who are interested in the life of a writer (even if they don’t want to be one), in the world of publishing and how it is changing, and just generally in language and literature.

The book’s description is true, but if you’re like me, you’ll read it and still wonder, “If I buy this book, what will I get?” It’s a series of standalone essays, some originally written for Indies Unlimited (a multinational, multiauthor blog), some for Antrobus’ personal blog, The Migrant Type, and others specifically for this volume. As a group I’d describe them as “Dispatches from the Frontlines of Indie Publishing,” but that’s not as clever a title as Endless Joke (which is a reference that will be explained in the introduction). They covered a wide range of subjects, yet seemed to make a coherent whole. One example, Punk Fire or Indie Schmindie, discusses the similarities between the Punk Rock movement of the 70s and Indie publishing today and points out why the similarities aren’t all a harbinger of good things to come. Another, Well Defined? Nevermind, lists thirteen words from a list of fifty compiled by The New York Times that were most likely to stump their readers. With each he gives the real meaning as well as his own, made up definition. This mixing of education with entertainment in many of the essays kept even the driest subjects (like definitions of twenty-dollar words) interesting.

Whether an indie author (current or future) or a reader, Endless Joke will entertain, educate, and provoke thought. I promise, it’s much better than the phone book


UK (or maybe Canadian, you’ll have to decide) spelling conventions are used.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five stars

Friday, April 24, 2015

Prime / Windsor Harries

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Science Fiction

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 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


"Windsor Harries was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, in the heady years between TV's heyday and the Internet revolution. He has been writing ever since he can remember. His early influences include everything from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Doctor Who (Tom Baker, of course). In his mild-mannered secret identity, he works in marketing in the financial services industry. Prime is his first published novel."


Centuries ago, the Spidon invaded, conquered, and occupied the planet Axion. To ensure continued domination, they eradicated two warrior gene types from the Axion race. The story details a long-term Axion plan to overthrow their oppressors.


This novelette was a fast, fun read. I was rooting for the main characters, Toch and Luqas. Their manipulation at the hands of the Axion council was believable and created an interesting backdrop of political intrigue. There was even a nice plot twist that I didn’t anticipate.

I think there’s a good novel, or possibly more, in this premise, although that of course would require a lot more detail. But I did enjoy the story in its present “short” incarnation.

Format/Typo Issues:

Very clean.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Five Things I Learned Writing Sacrificial Lamb cake, a guest post from Katrina Monroe

1. Being a woman doesn’t make writing a female protagonist any easier.

My protagonist, Rain, and I have a lot in common. We’re both a little aggressive; we’re of the vagetarian persuasion; and we like our ranch dressing. But for a long time, she was a mystery to me. Writing Rain (previously Michelle, Kristin, and Rochelle) was like going on a series of blind dates that never saw any action apart from the slurping of a few margaritas. She had her walls up—had she been burned in the past? Was she looking for some casual fling rather than the long term commitment I wanted? It wasn’t until I let her come to me—in the middle of the night, mischievous grin cut across her face—that we were able to make it work.

2. Don’t push for the obvious jokes. Writing comedy is more delicate than that.

I knew I wanted to write comedy ever since I read Lamb by Christopher Moore. That guy can smack you across the face in a way that you laugh rather than cry. My first book, Reaper, was on the right track, but at the time I didn’t have the tools to make the chuckles happen the way I wanted. In Lamb Cake, because I had such distinct and starkly different characters to work with, I discovered the secret to good comedy in fiction is to let the characters be themselves.

3. A good title is ALL THE THINGS.

When I started doing events for Reaper, I already knew when Lamb Cake would be published, so I put a bug in anyone’s ear that would listen. The reaction every time I told a stranger the name of my forthcoming book, they smiled. Sometimes, they even laughed. Even better, they asked what it was about. These people hadn’t even seen the cover yet (which is also ALL THE THINGS) and they were intrigued.

Lamb Cake’s title came from a short series of emails between myself and my Aunt Cauline, mostly me whining about how horrible the book was (oh, and back then, it was—we’re talking 2004, ignorant-noob-awful Katrina) and how I couldn’t even come up with a title. It took her seconds to come up with Sacrificial Lamb Cake—a play on a childhood traditional Easter dessert—and I’m forever grateful to her for it.

4. Plot is important, but characters are too.

I hate being late. I’ll leave early and avoid highways to get where I need to be on time, if not a few minutes early. Such is the way with early drafts in my writing—I’m anxious to get from Point A to Point B, with the right number of stop-offs along the way to form a solid plot. It isn’t until I’m looking at the turn off sign for Point B that I remember to let my characters take the wheel. It is, after all, their road trip. Genre writers, I’ve noticed, will sometimes let this little detail pass them by. I make sure to read awesome literary writers like A.M. Homes, Kate Atkinson, and Janet Finch as reminders.

5. It’s not wrong to ask for what you want.

This bit is meant for the publishing side of the process. It wasn’t until recently that I learned when a publisher asks for your opinion, GIVE IT. No one knows your book better than you, so when the opportunity arises for you to let others behind the curtain to better understand your vision for the story, the book, the whole shebang, TAKE IT. I was lucky enough to have an awesome design consultant work with me on the cover for Lamb Cake who took my thoughts seriously. The end product is a culmination of my direct requests and the creative brains behind cover design at Red Adept Publishing. It has made me feel empowered to push for what I feel best represents my characters and their unique paths.

But this piece of advice can go for writing, too. It’s not wrong to ask for a few extra hours in the evening away from friends, family and whatever daily life distractions get in the way. It’s not wrong to disappear into the world you’re trying to create during that time you’ve designated as SUPER COOL IMAGINARY FRIEND TIME. It’s not wrong to pass on an invitation to a party you really didn’t want to go to anyway but felt obligated because this person did a favor for you ONCE a really, really long time ago and who really remembers it anyway… *breathes* In fact, I insist.

Get your copy of Katrina's latest book, Sacrificial Lamb Cake, from Amazon US (paper or ebook), Amazon UK (paper or ebook), or Barnes & Noble.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Free for your #Kindle, 4/23/2015

The author of each of these books has indicated their intent to schedule these books for a free day for the Kindle versions today on Amazon. Sometimes plans change or mistakes happen, so be sure to verify the price before hitting that "buy me" button.

Drawing Breath by Laurie Boris

A Chance for Charity by S.L. Baum

Author's interested in having their free book featured either here on a Thursday or a sister site on a Monday, visit this page for details.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reprise Review: The Baker’s Man / Jennifer Moorman

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/ Fantasy/ Chick-Lit

Approximate word count: 65- 70,000 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


Jennifer Moorman was born and raised in Tifton, Georgia and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She majored in English/Creative writing at MTSU. I picked this up from her website. “My life is a writer’s journey through the ramblings in my cluttered mind, the stories demanding to be written, my travels along forest pathways, and my search for the ever-elusive unicorn and the end of the rainbow.”

The Baker’s Man is her debut novel.

For more, visit Moorman's website.


“Moorman weaves the tale of a young woman whose grandmother’s secret—and the ancestry of her grandfather—are about to change her life forever.”
Anna O’Brien has inherited more than her grandmother’s talent for baking and her bakery. When her boyfriend of two years accepts an architectural job with a firm in Napa Valley, with no plans to include her, she is forced to face an uncertain future. One late night in the bakery with her best friend, Lily, they have a little too much to drink and follow a mysterious recipe of her grandmothers with a secret ingredient. The next morning she wakes up to find Elijah, a handsome stranger, baking donuts in her kitchen and things rocket out of control.


I found this book to be a magically enchanting tale that weaves in just enough reality to suspend my disbelief. Anna has always lived her life to please others, but when Baron decides to take a job across the country, she decides she needs to take charge of her own life and follow her heart. Anna has internal and external forces pulling her in different directions; she knows she wants to continue making pastries, but perhaps not in her hometown of Mystic Water. There is a perfect place by the sea and an offer has been made, but to move there will disappoint the hometown folks, her mother, and her friends. The relationship with Baron is also unsettled, they were both comfortable with each other and neither is ready to give it up, although they know it is over. Anna’s biggest problem is she is not ready to believe this mysterious force that draws her to Elisha is real, she doesn’t trust the magic. When her friend, Tessa, falls head over heels for Elisha, Anna tries to take a step back. This story explores friendship, forgiveness, and the possibilities of following your own heart. When Elisha, her dough-boy, starts growing into his own person things get very complicated and there are a couple of unexpected twists. The dialogue reads true and humor is expertly woven into this heartwarming journey.

I couldn’t help but love Jennifer Moorman’s prose, each of her characters and places had distinctive smells that Anna identified with them. Her mother smelled of ripe cherries or rotten cherries depending on her mood, her father like green pine or freshly cut grass. Elisha smelled of rosemary, cinnamon, spicy chocolate and melted sugar. How could you not love that?

This is one of those stories I had trouble assigning a genre to, so I went back to Donna Fasano’s guest post defining romance and chick-lit. I decided it was chick-lit with a strong romantic element, although I do not claim to be an expert on this subject. But I will tell you, if you like foodie fiction or chick-lit you will love this story.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant errors or issues.

Rating: ***** Five stars 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Knuckleball / Tom Pitts

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Crime Fiction/Noir

Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words

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


Tom Pitts learnt about life on the mean streets of San Francisco where he still lives, works and writes today.

You can learn more about the author at his website.


Hugh Patterson is an old-school cop and die-hard Giants fan rooted in the San Francisco Mission District. When he's struck down in the line of duty, the whole city is aghast. But Oscar Flores, a 15-year old Latino boy obsessed with baseball, witnesses the gruesome crime and has a plan to assuage the city’s grief and satisfy his own vision of justice. Against the backdrop of a weekend long series with the Dodgers, the gripping crime story plays out against the city's brightest monuments and darkest alleys.


Tom Pitts delivered one of my favourite novels of 2014, Hustle, so I was looking forward to reading his next work. Knuckleball has some similarities, some differences.

In the former camp, it’s fast moving, hard-hitting, noir-laden with character driven action and cracking dialogue. In the latter it’s shorter (being a novella) and has sport as a backdrop, rather than drugs.

The prime characters are the murdered cop, Patterson (although it could be argued he’s more of a prop), his partner Alvarez and the kid, Oscar.

Oscar doesn’t live a great life. His mother is rarely home, she works hard to keep the kids fed. When she is around she’s too tired to interact. His brother, Ramon, is a sadist. Rather than looking out for Oscar he gives him hell, a situation Oscar will do anything to get himself out of and when he witnesses the murder a plan comes to mind, but can he get away with it?

There’s only one negative with Knuckleball, it’s too short, but that’s the thing with novellas. I’d like to have read more about Oscar and the finale opens up the potential for further events to occur. But nevertheless this is an excellent story.


Some swearing.

Format/Typo Issues:


Rating:  **** Four Stars