Friday, August 30, 2019

Review: Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning




Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Satire

Description:

“Working as a janitor at an insane asylum in rural Idaho has Jim in the dumps. One night, his attempted suicide is rudely interrupted by one of the residents, and he's recruited to play a game called Cryptofauna. The bizarre contest of worldwide mischief and meddling might actually help the blue custodian discover a reason to life, if he can survive the deadly trials that await...”

Author:

“Patrick Canning was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Illinois, and now lives in California with his dog, Hank.

He is primarily focused on turning coffee into words, words into money, money back into coffee.”

To learn more about Mr. Canning visit his website.

Appraisal:

Wow, what a bizarre trip Jim is sent on. In essence he ends up being a pawn in a century’s old game called Cryptofauna. It was designed to entertain the gods. They take wagers on the players and it is broadcast over the jinn radio station. Oz is Jim’s operator/mentor. There are three levels of trails/challenges the players must survive to become certified. The instructions Jim is given is to try not to die. Oz’s opponent is Nero and he has chosen Boyd, whose single mind set is destruction and death. He makes his own rules.

The outrageous adventure takes Jim, and the people he has chosen to be on his team, all around the globe. His team members are diverse but work well together, covering for each other’s weaknesses. Their trials are packed with action and nail-biting tension. Jim is a pacifist and tries to avoid conflict and confrontation, which never works out well for him. Boyd cheats by interfering with Jim’s trials trying to eliminate him during the challenges. Boyd is a loose cannon, and wishes to take over the world. He really is a nasty piece of work and Nero underestimates him.

The author, Mr. Canning, does an excellent job by not losing track of the many threads he has incorporated into weaving Cryptofauna together. If you enjoy eccentric fantasy adventure stories with unique twists, this book may be what you are looking for.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK
  
FYI:

Bigotry, black humor, and adult language. I would not recommend Cryptofauna to young adults.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Reprise Review: Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson



Genre: Fantasy/Post Armageddon

Description:

Since Armageddon, Heaven and Hell had beaten each other into a bloody, uneasy stalemate. It’s been twenty seven years and neither Heaven nor Hell is the clear winner in the war between good and evil. Set with the backdrop of post Armageddon earth, Daniel Arenson tells us the story of Laila, an Uzi and grenade carrying half-breed, fighting for a home or just a place to survive. Her mother was an angel, her father an arch-demon, Lucifer. Unable to survive in Heaven or Hell she was raised on earth. Born with claws, fangs, and bat-like wings, she is an outcast on earth as well.

Author:

Born in Israel in 1980, Daniel Arenson lived in Manitoba and New Jersey before settling in Toronto, Ontario. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and enjoys painting in his spare time.

He sold his first short story in 1998. Since then, dozens of his stories and poems have appeared in various magazines, among them Flesh & Blood, Chizine and Orson Scott Card’s Strong Verse.

In 2007, Daniel sold his first novel, Firefly Island, to Five Star Publishing. He's been writing fantasy novels since, including several standalones and two fantasy series: The darker Song of Dragons and the lighter Misfit Heroes. You can read more at his website.

Appraisal:

The first character we are introduced to is Nathaniel. He is a jaded and gritty angel who had lost his wings and an eye fighting an arch-demon during the battle of Armageddon. He was my favorite angel and he drew me in. This story though is about Laila, both forces of Heaven and Hell think having Laila on their team will finally turn the tide in their favor.

When Laila returns to Jerusalem and finally chooses a side, she has her own agenda and refuses to follow orders. She will not let her fate be decided for her. Her only friends are Volkfair, a very large black wolf, who fights by her side, and Bat El, her innocent and pious angel sister, who has only been on earth a few months and serves as a captain in Michaels’ army. We learn of their relationship through flashbacks that are easy to follow. Humans are a rarity now and seldom mentioned. It was easy to feel the angst and exhaustion of the characters. God seems nonexistent, except to Raphael, who seems to be in the story only to remind us that God exists in all things.

The characters are complex, fully developed, and well-drawn; the plot is unique and flowed well. I enjoyed the tongue in cheek dialogue that served to lighten some scenes. The battle scenes were epic with tens of thousands of angels and demons, narrated with descriptive prose. The settings were vivid around Jerusalem, Caesarea, Masada and the Sea of Galilee. The ending was a bit surprising with a twist to leave us something to ponder and open enough for perhaps a sequel.

Arenson did get a bit repetitive in a few places describing angel wings and demon wings, but not enough to remove a star or lessen my enjoyment of the whole story. This story may cause you to rethink or reevaluate your concepts of good and evil.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

If you cannot handle spitting, cursing, hard edged angels, or devils who have a heart and react with some humanity this book may not be for you.

Added for Reprise Review: Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson was a nominee in the Speculative Fiction category for B&P 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran June 28, 2012.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Monday, August 26, 2019

Review: Always and Never 20 Truths for a Happy Heart by Lisa Shumate



Genre: Self-Help

Description:

“Today, more than 45 million men and women are in their twenties and trying to figure out this very important phase of their lives. Striking out on their own with many firsts and unknowns, they face a decade filled with self-discovery and self-doubt.

In the challenging book Always and Never: 20 Truths for a Happy Heart, Lisa Shumate shares an incredible resource for twentysomethings, walking them through 20 truths that they should always and never incorporate into their lives.

Whether you are twentysomething or older, these concepts are simple yet timeless, and they have the power to transform the way you think and act, setting a high standard for you and the quality of your relationships.

Shumate asserts that putting Always and Never mantras into practice every day will build a strong foundation for the rest of your life, one that helps you realize your most cherished goals and dreams. This book will guide, inform, and inspire you for the bright future to come!”

Author:

“Lisa Trapani Shumate is Associate Vice President of the University of Houston System and General Manager of Houston Public Media, and also serves as Executive Director of the Houston Public Media Foundation. She holds national leadership roles with PBS and the Public Television Major Market Group Board.

Lisa has more than 20 years of media management experience, is the recipient of numerous awards, and participated in an International Business Residency in China. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston.

Lisa is expanding her media footprint to publishing with the goal of sharing wisdom and encouragement with young men and women entering adulthood.”

Appraisal:

It would be easy for me to write a review as long as this short (under 3,000 words) book, commenting on each of the 20 “truths for a happy heart” and telling stories of things I’ve experienced or seen others experience that would tend to support the advice the author is trying to give. Instead I’ll keep it short by saying that I’m a lot older than the 20-something audience the author is aiming this book at, and based on my experience, her advice makes sense.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 2-3,000 words

Friday, August 23, 2019

Reprise Review: Deeds of Mercy by M.P. McDonald



Genre: Thriller/Supernatural

Description:

 “An unexpected visitor from Mark's past brings him unwanted attention from the authorities. Unable to decide who is friend and who is foe, Mark becomes a fugitive from the law, but with thousands of lives at stake, he is forced to put aside his fear of capture, and instead, seek help from his pursuers.”

Author:

A mother of three and a respiratory therapist, M.P. McDonald has been an avid reader her entire life. As the fifth of eight children, hiding in the corner with a book was her only way to get a moment of peace. She has two other books available, No Good Deed and March into Hell, which are books one and two in the Mark Taylor series. This is the third.

For more, visit McDonald’s website.

Appraisal:

While visiting Afghanistan, Mark Taylor purchased a camera that had magical qualities. When developing the film from this old-fashioned camera, additional pictures would appear, depicting a negative event that would happen in the near future. Taylor would then dream about the events in these pictures and, if he acted fast enough, be able to prevent them. The series happens in the early part of this century, when film cameras were still in common use.

The reaction of some readers to the second book in the series, March into Hell, was interesting and, in my opinion, missed the point. Through both books, Mark is consistent. He’s the good guy and, with the assistance of his magic camera, fights evil. That the primary evil Mark was fighting was a religious cult triggered some knee jerk reactions, not recognizing that Mark was still fighting evil.

Deeds of Mercy is a return to Mark’s roots, in that many of the ways March into Hell was different from No Good Deed do not apply to this latest installment. As with No Good Deed, this book is operating in the political, rather than the religious realm. Who is friend and who is foe is no longer clear. Deeds of Mercy also answers one of the big questions some readers had about what happened to one of the secondary characters from No Good Deed, and brings that story thread to a satisfactory resolution.

If you’re a thriller fan, especially political thrillers, and haven’t read No Good Deed, you need to. For those who have read the series and felt March into Hell didn’t live up to your expectations, Deeds of Mercy almost surely will.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK
              
FYI:

Although experiences from the prior books in the series are mentioned, a reader could probably read this as a standalone. However, I would advise reading the first book, No Good Deed, prior.

Added for Reprise Review: Deeds of Mercy was the WINNER in the Thriller/Suspense category for 2013 Readers' Choice Awards at BigAl’s Books and Pals and is the third book in M.P. McDonald’s The Mark Taylor Series. The original review ran March 15, 2012.

Format/Typo Issues:

This review is based on a pre-release, Beta version of the book, and I’m unable to comment in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Review: Sun Scream by Barbara Silkstone



Genre: Cozy Mystery/Humor/Woman Sleuth

Description:

“A series of peculiar and highly suspicious accidents threaten the life of the Loud Mouth of the South. Can Olive and Lizzy find the predator before their friend becomes the victim at her own Murder Mystery Party?”

Author:

“Barbara Silkstone's most current series is Florence Nightingale Comedy Mysteries...The Giggling Corpse, The Killer Corset, and The Cheeky Coroner. Cozies all.

Silkstone is the best-selling author of both Regency Pride and Prejudice variations, including the popular the MISTER DARCY SERIES OF COMEDIC MYSTERIES ~ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE contemporary variations. All her books are light-hearted adventures based on Jane Austen's timeless tales of love denied and love discovered. ‘Feel good’ tales to warm your heart.

She is also the author of the Wendy Darlin Comedy Mystery series. Five coffee-snorting tales that combine cozy with outrageous adventures.”

For more from Barbara, visit her website and her Facebook page.

Appraisal:

Jamie Toast, Loud Mouth of the South, wants to have a Murder Mystery Party for an open house where all their friends dress up in roaring twenties attire. Jamie isn’t really a likeable character, but Olive and Lizzy have befriended her. The week before her party, mysterious accidents start happening to Jamie, which could have all been life threatening. All evidence seems to point to her husband, Chip Toast.

In the meantime, Sophia Napoli, an Italian film star, is considering backing and endorsing Nonna’s Cold Cream. One of her conditions is that Olive and Lizzy have to stop their crime busting antics, they would have to leave that up to the local police. Their involvement wouldn’t reflect well on Sophia. Olive agrees, but is torn. Being a psychologist, one of the things she does for the police is profile the people Kal brings in for questioning. She won’t let that go and figures she could do it on the sly.

Grams, Lizzy’s grandmother, is a spunky old coot who assigns herself, with her large brass candlestick, as Jamie’s bodyguard. She is also convinced that Chip is guilty of setting up the traps to kill Jamie. The night of the Murder Mystery Party Lizzy and Olive are assigned their roles to play. Everyone is having a good time and the game goes as planned with Jamie and her death scene. Then one of the party goers falls from one of the balconies and dies. Another mystery needs to be solved. This woman could have been mistaken for Jamie from behind. Was this another attempt on Jamie’s life?

Kal, Olive, and Lizzy scramble to clear Chip Toast and find the real person behind Jamie’s life-threatening attacks. And solve the real murder at the party. Was the woman pushed or did she jump to her death? Nothing can be found to link her to any of the party attendees. Olive invited her and her guest to the party. All possible leads are dead ends. Join Kal, Olive and Lizzy as they try to solve an unsolvable mystery…

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Sun Scream is book 4 in Ms. Silkstone’s, COLD CREAM MURDERS series. “Each book contains a recipe for homemade cosmetics!”

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant proofing issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words

Monday, August 19, 2019

Review: The MisreadBible: Genesis by J. R. Eldridge



Genre: Satire

Description:

“A collection of twisted Bible tales from the warped mind of J. R. Eldridge, taking the reader on a journey from the creation of the universe to the arrival of the Israelites in Egypt in this blasphemously funny collection.

A lonely deity creates the universe in his mother’s basement and makes a little clay man who falls in love with his own rib. After the humans engage in some freaky angel sex, God decides to flood the entire world, saving only a drunkard called Noah and his family.

Once the humans have repopulated the Earth, God chooses one man called Abram, drags him from his home in the middle of the night, changes his name, and then tells him to kill his son, forming an everlasting covenant with him and his descendants.

Later, Jacob steals his brother’s birthmark, boinks his cousins, and comes up with an innovative way to breed sheep. He fathers a dozen kids including Joseph, whose brothers get tired of his dreams of grandeur and sell him to some shapeshifting Ishmaelites who take him to Egypt.”

Author:

“J. R. Eldridge is a British satirical fiction author with a fascination for religion and the absurd mythology that surrounds it. He especially enjoys poking fun at it. He began writing joke Bible verses on Twitter, and eventually moved on to writing parodies of Bible stories. He collected some of these in his book the MisreadBible: Genesis.”

Appraisal:

If you’re a believer in the Christian God found in the Bible, stop reading. You’re done. This book isn’t for you. In fact, if you’re a devout believer in any of the Abrahamic religions, this book isn’t going to be your thing. That’s all you need to know. Move along now.

Now for you non-believers. Have you read the Bible? No, I don’t mean cover to cover. Most of the true believers haven’t done that either, no matter what they claim. Have you read a page here and a page there so you have an idea of what the writing is like? Have you been exposed to “Bible Stories” when you were a kid or in other situations where you had to just keep your mouth shut and pretend to listen, even if you thought it was a bunch of Bee Ess? Do you have a sense of humor and like satire? If so, you might enjoy or be amused by this book, to a point. I’ll explain.

Like the book this is satirizing, The Misreadbible: Genesis has a lot of genealogy (A begat B who begat C and so on) that is even more pointless here than in the original. It has a lot of contradictions where one part of the story can’t be true if a part you read earlier was true. (At least in this case, those contradictions are on purpose, at least some of the time.) I also couldn’t possibly use the word blasphemous too many times in this review. If you’re even a little bit of a believer and have chosen to plow ahead, you’ve been warned multiple times. You’ll be offended. Even non-believers may be offended. If you’re easily offended, stay away.

I found that I was amused, at least for the first several chapters. The blasphemy wasn’t an issue for me (it was a positive). The anachronisms (references to Star Wars, for example) got a chuckle, referring to Sodom as “a well-know party town” or describing characters using various forms of the F-word struck me as even more funny. But by the end some of the jokes or approaches were getting old and felt overused. I’d been amused and now I was getting bored with the concept. It was feeling too much like the book it was satirizing. As though it was never going to end. If this appeals to you and you give it a try, keep in mind that if you reach your limit and are no longer amused, you’re allowed to stop reading, or to take a break and come back and finish later. I promise, you won’t get sent to hell if you do.  

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Adult language and some adult subject matter.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

Friday, August 16, 2019

Review: Mind Walk by Melissa Bowersock



Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery/Native American

Description:

“Sam Firecloud’s job as a medium is pretty straightforward: along with his partner, Lacy Fitzpatrick, he investigates hauntings, researches the ghosts to find out what keeps them tethered to the earth plane, and he releases them. But a new call for assistance brings a surprising request: a neurologist wants to study Sam’s brain as he’s connecting with lost spirits. The study is one thing, but when Sam and Lacey look deeper, they soon realize the doctor has a hidden agenda, and it’s not scientific at all.”

Author:

“Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres: biography, contemporary, western, action, romance, fantasy, paranormal and spiritual. She has been both traditionally and independently published and is a regular contributor to the superblog Indies Unlimited. She has a tattoo on the inside of her left wrist that says IMAGINE. In her next life, she plans to be an astronaut. She lives in a small community in northern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She also writes under the pen name Amber Flame.”

Learn more about Ms. Bowersock and her other books on her website or on Facebook.

Appraisal:

I think we all have a clue how Sam Firecloud feels about mind games. However, getting a chance to learn how his brain processes information differently than others is too intriguing to pass up. Dr. Kaufman is heading a study to learn how a medium’s brain functions by having the medium wear a helmet that has electrodes attached in the key areas they want to monitor. It’s a legitimate study at an Institute for Neurological Study. But Dr. Kaufman hasn’t been wholly honest with Sam and Lacey about what else he is seeking.

The controlled study includes a control spirit located on an estate which Cal State now owns. Sam easily picks him up as a creative scientific genius who is bound to the earth plane by guilt. The source of his guilt is the mystery and without that bit of knowledge Sam can’t release him. To top that off the scientists don’t want the ghost unbound.

On the home front, Sam is experimenting with some new techniques with his pots. The kids are excited to give these a try on a pot of their own. There is also a new resident in the back yard of Sam’s studio. I was excited to meet him, as he tickled my fancy, and brought up memories of my own childhood.

Back at the estate, Sam takes a second Walk in the back flower garden and learns this ghost found a lot of solitude in the surrounding gardens. With more information from the scientists, Sam and Lacey claim they are done and leave the project. This is where the plot takes some interesting turns and things start to look bad for Sam and Lacey. The climax is rather subtle and Lacey starts to protest, but Sam shakes his head at her. I had a big chuckle at the turn of events at the end.

As always, I was thoroughly entertained with this unique story that almost went sideways. Emotions ran high, even for Sam. You don’t get to see him lose his cool very often. I loved everything about this story, from the neurological study, to the new pot techniques with the enthusiasm of the kids, to the backyard visitor.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK
  
FYI:

Mind Walk is book 21 in Ms. Bowersock’s, A LACEY FITZPATRICK and SAM FIRECLOUD MYSTERY SERIES. This series does not need to be read in order. However, you may miss some character development.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Review: A Squatter in London by Irene Pylypec



Genre: Travel Memoir

Description:

“Squatters. Dirty disheveled hippies lazing about smoking dope while occupying other people's properties? Maybe. Maybe not.

Told from a former squatter's perspective, this insightful, compelling narrative digs deeper into the squatting subculture of 1970s London by exposing the myths, while at the same time acknowledging the truth behind the stereotype.

When her traveling companion’s dad dies, the young woman from the Canadian prairie is thrust into traveling solo across the pond to England. She immediately falls in love with London but with only a three-week ticket and limited funds, she needs a strategic plan to extend her adventure. And she must do so in a turbulent environment of critical housing shortages, a tanking British economy, multiple social protests and unpredictable Irish Republican Army activities.

This is one woman’s story of how she handled these socioeconomic issues, all while combating culture shock, to achieve her goal.”

Author:

“Irene Pylypec, a sufferer of Peter Pan Syndrome, lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan aka ‘Paris of the Prairies’. A self-professed daydreamer and adventurer, she backpacked solo throughout England, Scotland and Ireland in the mid-seventies, where she caught the travel bug. Her passion for travel took her on numerous adventures to such diverse countries as Soviet Ukraine, England, Hong Kong and Mexico.”

Appraisal:

Memoirs appeal to me because they allow you to view the world and the situations another person experiences from a different point of view, helping you to understand what life is like for someone else in a better way. Travel memoirs allow you to vicariously experience someone else’s travels, getting an idea of what a place where you’ve never been is like or, if you’ve visited that place, comparing your experience to what the author of the travel memoir experienced and hopefully understand the place more thoroughly.

A Squatter in London goes the typical travel memoir one better. I’m tempted to call it a “Time Traveler Memoir” because it takes place in a distinct time (the 1970s) as well as a distinct place (London, England) and a specific subculture in that time and place. Something I wasn’t aware existed at the time or really until I read this book. I found it interesting, both understanding and following along as the author figured things out, but also contrasting her experiences to what I know (or think I know) of London and other comparable cities and subcultures. If this kind of thing appeals to you, I think you’ll find this an enjoyable and eye-opening read. I did.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Uses Canadian spelling conventions.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Monday, August 12, 2019

Reprise Review: Entangled Thorns by Melinda Clayton


Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Drama

Description:

“After the mysterious death of their brother Luke at the age of thirteen, seventeen year-old Beth and her younger sister Naomi ran away from home, planning to never return. Beth Sloan has spent the majority of her life trying to escape the memories of a difficult childhood. Born into the infamous Pritchett family of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia, she grew up hard, surrounded not only by homemade stills and corn liquor, but by an impoverished family that more often than not preferred life on the wrong side of the law.

Beth manages to suppress the painful memories and create a comfortable, if troubled, life with her husband Mark and their two children in an upscale suburb outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Twenty-seven years later old resentments and family secrets are awakened by a letter from Kay Langley that their mother is dying and it is time to make amends. Beth, at the urging of her sister Naomi, agrees to return to Cedar Hollow risking everything to finally face the truth about what happened to Luke that long ago summer night.”

Author:

Melinda Clayton is an odd mix of psychotherapist and writer who has always loved to read, and who loves to explore the motivations behind difficult choices and decisions. She has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration, and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado. Her vast experience working in the field of mental health gives her a unique perspective on human behaviors. She is also a regular contributor to the superblog Indies Unlimited.

Clayton lives in central Florida with her husband, two children, and various cats. She is the author of Appalachian Justice and Return to Crutcher Mountain.

Learn more at her website or at her Goodreads author site.

Appraisal:

Told through multiple points of view, Ms. Clayton does an excellent job devoting each chapter to a single character in this heart-wrenching story. She takes us on an emotional journey into the past of a dysfunctional, but proud family, to discover how abuse affects all members of a family and the dynamics of the abuse that surrounds them. By singling out and developing each character individually she explores how these cycles tend to continue, how the courageous ones try to break the cycle, and how things are not always the way they seem. Not many authors have the expertise to accomplish this without making judgments the way Ms.  Clayton does.

I love the style in which this story is written, through inner dialogue, we are allowed to feel what each character is feeling and gain an understanding of why things are the way they are and how each character perceives them. We are also given insight through the eyes of Kay Langley, the owner of the local cafĂ© that serves as the town’s hub. Through her eyes we see a caring outsider’s view of how the town views this family and its individual members. One of my favorite elements of this story is the fact that Beth took her seventeen year-old daughter, Marissa, along with her on this difficult trip to face her ghosts. With Marissa along we are given three generations of viewpoints.

This character driven story flows well considering we are getting the story from five different characters. It is incredibly well told and I enjoyed my trip back to Cedar Hollow. There is a definite feeling of hope as this story draws to an end and I found it inspiring. I will share this book with my daughters and granddaughters. One of the things I appreciate about reading a hard story like this one is it makes me reevaluate my life and I realize my life is not so bad after all; things could be a whole lot worse. Melinda Clayton has won herself a spot on my ‘must buy’ list for future books.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Although this is the third book about Cedar Hollow Ms. Clayton has written, I believe it can be read as a standalone story. You may miss some of the richness of the minor characters or of the area in general in doing so though.

At the end of this story Ms. Clayton has included questions for book clubs to consider after reading her book. This would be a great book for discussion because everyone has their own story and view point and I am sure everyone can identify with one of more of the characters in this book. I know I did.

Added for Reprise Review: Entangled Thorns by Melinda Clayton was a nominee in the Contemporary Fiction category for B&P 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran October 29, 2012.

Format/Typo Issues:

I noticed NONE at all.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words