Friday, October 23, 2020

Review: Slippery When Wet's Classic Fairy Tales of Murder and Mayhem by Linda Vanek

 


Genre: Fairy Tale/Humor/Satire/Short Story Collection

Description:

“Bluebeard's naive bride is only a cover for his truly brutal fetishes. Rapunzel is the unbalanced spawn of an opium-addicted mother. The Wolf is the least of Red Riding Hood's problems. Meet Sleeping Beauty's twin henchman sons. A product of incest when her own half brother comes upon her helplessly passed out in a coma and takes advantage. Discover the real price Rumpelstiltskin charges for spinning straw into gold.

If you enjoy dark humor with your incest, torture, cannibalism, dismemberment, and other medieval pastimes you've come to the right place. These are extremely gruesome adult retellings of classic fairy tales more than just fractured. These stories are deeply dark with twisted sexual encounters and the women in these fairy tales are not the tenderhearted pushovers as in modern-day fairy tales.

So come down to the dungeon, settle onto your Judas cradles and break out your heretic forks. A delectable feast for true horror fairy tale fans. This book will haunt your dreams if not give you vivid nightmares. Each story and many characters are tied together all into one dysfunctional kingdom with a viciously abusive king and many murderous, lascivious and just plain monstrously evil people. This book includes Bluebeard, Rumpelstiltskin, Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel and more. A wicked read.”

Author:

“Originally from Chicago, Linda has been writing horror and thriller short stories for years and formerly published stories in pulp fiction magazines such as Murderous Intent Magazine under a pen name. She is also a composer, rock guitarist and singer in the classic rock style band Slippery When Wet and uses the stage name Linda Vee Sado.”

Appraisal:

If you like dark and twisted, this might be right up your alley. Each of the stories in this collection takes a classic fairytale as the foundation and rewrites it, staying true to the basic story while adding some off-the-wall twists to end up with a story that you’d never want to tell the kids that the originals were aimed for. But for adults who know the real world isn’t quite like it is depicted in fairytales, you’ll hopefully laugh at these dark and demented tales. Hopefully they won’t feel too familiar to real life.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult themes.

Format/Typo Issues:

The number of proofing errors (homonym issues, missing or extra words and other typos) wasn’t enough to impact the ranking, but it went right up to the line and didn’t quite cross it. If you’re bothered by typos, beware.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Review: Fate’s Arrows by Malcolm Campbell

Editors Note: This is the second half of a doubleshot review. Today we'll see ?wazithinkin's thoughts on this book. In case you missed it, our prior review gave Judi Moore's views on the same book.



Genre: Magical Realism/Fantasy/Folk Tales

Description:

“In 1954, the small Florida Panhandle town of Torreya had more Klansmen per acre than fire ants. Sparrow, a bag lady; Pollyanna, an auditor; and Jack, the owner of Slade’s Diner, step on fire ants and Klansmen whenever they can while an unknown archer fires fate-changing arrows at the Klan’s leadership. They are not who they appear to be, and while they take risks, they must be discrete lest they end up in the Klan’s gunsights.

When Julia and Eldon, a married couple from Harlem, New York, run afoul of the Klan because of Eldon’s pro-union stance at the sawmill, they find themselves down at the ancient hanging tree where two policemen, hiding their identity beneath white robes and hoods, are the ones holding the noose.

Meanwhile, Sparrow seems to have disappeared. When the ne’er-do-well Shelton brothers beat up the Klavern’s exalted cyclops because they think he harmed Sparrow, they, too, find themselves the focus of a KKK manhunt.

Bolstered by support from a black cat and an older-than-dirt conjure woman, Pollyanna persists in her fight against the Klan, determined to restore law and order to a town overwhelmed by corruption.”

Author:

Malcolm R. Campbell, “previously worked as an insurance company's training materials designer, a police management school's course materials developer, a mental health department unit manager, a technical writer, a grant writer, a corporate communications director, and a railway museum’s volunteer collections manager.

His fantasy novels were inspired by Glacier Park Montana where he worked as a bellman and from a tour of duty aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War.

He grew up in the Florida Panhandle, a wondrous place often called “the other Florida” and “the forgotten coast,” that was the perfect environment for growing up and learning about writing and magical realism.

Campbell lives on a north Georgia farm with his wife, Lesa, and their two cats.” He dreams that one day their menagerie will include two miniature burros, and a couple of fainting goats for his wife, Lesa.

To learn more check-out Mr. Campbell’s website, or follow him on Facebook.

Appraisal:

The blurb for Fate’s Arrows says it all. The plot moves at a nice pace and the twists and turns pack lots of surprise. Tension runs high as the Klan exerts their power over the town of Torreya. The archer is an unknown entity fighting the good fight but never killing. Pollyanna is a different story, she can be deadly when pushed to her limits.

Torreya is a tangled web of corruption and Klan members. However, Rudy Flowers, the chief of police, is a good man as well as some of the business owners around town. The problem is they are outnumbered by the Klan and it doesn’t take much to get your name on the short list.

I loved the talk Willie had with Eldon. Wise words were spoken, I’m just not sure the advice hit the mark as deeply as they needed to go. Old habits are hard to break.

Eulalie is feeling her age, but does what she can to bolster Pollyanna with her fight against the Klan. And Lena is ever present to keep Eulalie and Pollyanna apprised. Lena is the best secret agent ever.

The ending I did not see coming! You think you know somebody then BAM, right out of left field it knocks you for a loop! I found Fate’s Arrows well told with several threads woven together to make it an encompassing tale of the era. It’s raw and fraught with danger. The Klan may operate differently these days, but it is still alive and well.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Fate’s Arrows is book #4 in Malcolm Campbell’s, Florida Folk Magic Stories. Brace yourself, there are a few F-bombs dropped, and racist language.

Format/Typo Issues:

A few more proofing errors than I like to see in this length of book. Mostly missing letters that change a word, extra words, or wrong words.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

Monday, October 19, 2020

Review: Fate’s Arrows: 4 (Florida Folk Magic Stories) by Malcolm R Campbell

Editors Note: This is the first half of a doubleshot review. On Wednesday we'll have another review of the same book from ?wazithinkin.



Genre: Historical/Adventure

Description:

This is a story about how the Ku Klux Klan operated in Florida in the nineteen fifties, leavened with a sprinkling of southern conjure magic. Turns out the KKK aren’t very bright and it is easier to confuse them than you might think, or might be deemed wise, considering they like setting fire to things and are usually heavily armed. So, a silent approach might work best: a bow and arrows?

Author:

Malcolm R Campbell is an author who has lived in the Florida panhandle (where this novel is set) and is old enough to remember the final days of the KKK. His anger about that organisation continues to burn, and this is an angry book. Coincidentally, it has been released when we must, once again, reiterate that Black Lives Matter and that racism is a foul thing which must be resisted wherever it is encountered.

Appraisal:

I enjoyed this book a lot. It’s set in Torreya, a fictional town in the Florida panhandle, in the mid nineteen fifties. Domination by the KKK ran deep at that time in those southern places. All the same, although it put their lives in danger, there were those who resisted.

Campbell’s cast of characters include people the reader has met before in the first three books of his Florida Magic series. Favourites Eulalie, Willy Tate and the mind-speaking cat, Lena are present once again. However, Pollyanna, is the main protagonist this time and other new and interesting characters also have parts to play. It is difficult to say more without massive spoilers. Suffice it to say, Pollyanna is not simply the hard-drinking blonde she appears to be. She has as many layers as an onion, and great courage.

Pollyanna is a whizz with figures, and is untangling hardware store proprietor Lane Walker’s accounts. But why does she linger in Torreya? Jack Slade runs a diner in town. The local police and other local dignitaries frequent his tables. They are all Klansmen. Silent Sparrow comes in every day too. She’s a bag lady who collects the deposits on pop bottles to get by. The Klansmen don’t bother to keep their voices down. Nobody dare stand against them. Chief of Police Rudy Flowers is an honest man. But one honest man can’t make a lot of headway against generations of ingrained KKK activity. 

However, it turns out that the days of the Klan in Torreya are numbered. An archer starts picking off some of the KKK’s grand panjandrums. Why? Just to tease them really. To set them against each other. So that they make mistakes.

The action keeps on coming. The conversations, the come-backs and put-downs are delightful. Much damage is caused and characters one has come to care about die. Not all of them are brought back to life.

You do not need to have read Campbell’s previous three Florida Magic novels in order to get great enjoyment from this.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of proofing errors.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Review: Where Hope is Found by Rebecca L. Marsh

 


Genre: Women’s Fiction/Drama

Description:

“One tiny moment in time can shatter your whole world.

A family beach vacation turns to tragedy and Marissa must find a way for her and her traumatized eight-year-old daughter, Maisy, to move forward and heal. But memories of what she lost surround her, threatening to take her to a dark place; a place she can never go again.

When her brother extends an invitation for her and Maisy to move in with him on Princess Island, Marissa thinks it might just be the fresh start she needs. But can she really find hope and healing on an island surrounded by the same ocean that broke her heart?”

Author:

“Rebecca L. Marsh is an author of women's fiction and member of the Paulding county writer's guild. She grew up in the mountains of western North Carolina, and now lives in Dallas, Georgia with her husband and daughter.

When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with her family (cats and dog included), she occasionally likes to make home-made candy and work on her scrapbooks (she is woefully behind).”

This is Ms Marsh’s third novel. For more about her visit her website or like her Facebook page.

Appraisal:

While presented as women’s fiction, a genre designation I can’t argue with, primarily because the main character is a woman, I can see this novel appealing to people of any gender. The story is about the aftermath of a family tragedy and the struggles the surviving family members (mom and daughter) do after the death of dad and another daughter. Different people deal with difficult situations differently, and this can sometimes cause misunderstanding, conflict, and stress. That should be enough hint as to what Marissa and her daughter Maisy go through in this book. Their struggles made for an intense, thought-provoking tale as I tried to figure out whether they were going to be able to get past this major life event reasonably intact, and if so, how.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

Version read for review was an ARC (advanced readers copy), so I’m unable to gauge the final version in this regard.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Review: Mr. Menace by R. Michael Burns


 Genre: Suspense/Detective Mystery/Noir

Description:

“When a mysterious woman begs detective Frank Orpheus to help her find a missing person—herself—he is intrigued on more than just a professional level. The perplexing puzzle of his client’s lost memory is the most interesting case he’s gotten in years…and the fact that she’s rich and gorgeous doesn’t hurt his enthusiasm, either. 

Despite dire warnings from his devoted and prescient secretary Cass, Frank takes the job. But even as his fascination with the mysterious Lady in Gray flares into passion, Frank finds himself drawn into a shadowy underworld populated by devilish dilettantes and notorious criminals…all of them the puppets of the cryptic crime lord known only as Mr. Menace. A man who traffics not just in drugs and booze, but—possibly—in souls.

As Frank uncovers the clues that might lead him at last to lost identity of the Lady in Gray, he learns that her world holds dangers far more diabolical and deadly than knife-wielding thugs and insidious criminal syndicates.  Frank’s obsession with his strange client could get him and the people he cares about killed— or worse. The closer Frank gets to finding the answers, the more he suspects that the truth might be too terrible to live with. Just who—and what—is this woman he’s fallen for?

 And how hard, and how far, will he finally fall?”

Author:

“R. Michael Burns is an October child and Colorado native with a background in theater, creative writing, philosophy, and other dark arts.  He has published short stories in the horror, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery genres, as well as the horror novel Windwalkers. After earning degrees in English and Philosophy, he taught for the better part of five years in Japan, both in public schools and in a private English conversation school.  During that time, he traveled extensively around southeast Asia. Three of his Japan-based fantasy tales have appeared in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly's Best Of anthologies, and his articles on the craft of fiction have been recognized by Predators and Editors and are taught in several college creative writing courses.  He currently resides in Florida where he teaches English and coaches his school's speech and debate team.”

Appraisal:

One thing I can say about this book is that it is different. In many ways I’m not sure quite what to make of it.

It starts out not unlike a typical detective novel. A private investigator, Frank Orpheus, has a potential client come to his office with a need that is outside the realm of his typical cases, things like finding out if a spouse is cheating or someone is attempting to defraud their insurance company. In this case his new client wants him to figure out who she is, because she’s lost all memories. It’s like she woke up on the street with no idea of who she was or where she lived. Her clothes indicate she’s well-to-do and the pocketful of large bills she has to pay him indicate she’s not just a mentally ill homeless person, but the vibe he’s getting is strange. His secretary tries to convince him to not take the case, but he’s curious and, if we’re going to be totally honest, that he finds her attractive figures into his decision to take this on.

When this story is taking place isn’t obvious. Going in I assumed it was contemporary, but various anachronisms that popped up (things like landline phones and phone booths, taking pictures using film, or not using modern technology of any kind at any point where they’d obviously be used today) told me it was sometime in the distant (but not ancient) past, Sometime in at least the 70s or 80s, but conceivably decades earlier.

As the story goes on it gets stranger and stranger. Frank finds some of the answers he’s looking for, but what to do with that knowledge and figuring out how to get his client back to who she was mentally proves not so easy. As the story goes on it becomes darker and darker, and goes from what I’d consider a hardboiled or noir detective story into what might be termed supernatural and almost surely into the realm of horror. How everything resolves, and where our main characters, Frank, his secretary Cass, and our mysterious client, end up by the end is nowhere near what I’d have guessed as one strange twist after another led us down many different roads and extremely dark alleys to a strange finale.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some mild violence and adult content.

Format/Typo Issues:

Review is based on an ARC (advanced readers copy) and I can’t judge the final product based on this.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Reprise Review: Awakening by Christy Dorrity

 


Genre: Urban Fantasy/YA/Coming of Age/World Mythology

Description:

“A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a clairvoyant for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has an amazing best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital, and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled, janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities.

After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened. When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy.”

Author:

“Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming and is the author of The Geis series for young adults and The Book Blogger's Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she's not reading or writing, she's probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.”

Learn more about Ms. Dorrity and her books on her website and check out her Facebook page.

Appraisal:

This book exceeded my expectations. This is not just another coming of age story. Ms. Dorrity has woven Celtic myth into this whole family's history with an ancient curse they never had a clue about. The author's passion for Irish dance shines through in the emotion of her words. I was totally swept away into the dance, the history, and the characters of this book.

The story is mainly told through McKayla's eyes interspersed with third person, the transitions are smooth and well placed. The story threads were woven together with thoughtful consideration to the overall plot. The stories are heart wrenching and fascinating. I was blown away when I learned this was Ms. Dorrity's debut novel. I thought the story started off strong but I found myself a little overwhelmed with all the details and was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up. It turned out I didn't have the problem I anticipated thanks to Ms. Dorrity's adept writing style. At about a third of the way in the story takes off and I had trouble putting the book down to sleep. The story comes to a satisfying ending with a nice twist to draw you into the next book. This is going to be an enchanting series.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Added for Reprise Review: Awakening by Christy Dorrity was a nominee in the Fantasy category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran February 15, 2014.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Review: Tokyo Traffic by Michael Pronko

 


Genre: Crime/Thriller

Description:

“Running from a life she didn't choose, in a city she doesn't know  Sukanya, a young Thai girl, loses herself in the vastness of Tokyo. With her Bangkok street smarts, and some stolen money, she stays ahead of her former captors who will do anything to recover the computer she took. After befriending Chiho, a Japanese girl living in an internet café, Sukanya makes plans to rid herself of her pursuers, and her past, forever.

In Tokyo, street smarts aren't always enough

Meanwhile, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu leaves the safe confines of his office to investigate a porn studio where a brutal triple murder took place. The studio's accounts point him in multiple directions at once. Together with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi and old-school Takamatsu, Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo's music clubs and teen hangouts, bayside docks and byways, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.

As bodies wash up from Tokyo Bay, Hiroshi tries to find the Thai girl at the center of it all, whose name he doesn't even know. He uncovers a human trafficking ring and cryptocurrency scammers whose connections extend to the highest levels of Tokyo's power elite.”

Author:

Michael Pronko is a Tokyo-based writer and a professor of American Literature at a university there.

Appraisal:

This was an interesting read. While it has the elements you’d want and expect to find in a crime thriller such as this, for me and probably many of those who will see this review the books like this you typically read are normally happening in the US, sometimes the UK or possibly Canada. While there are some differences in these places, the cultural differences between them and Japan, where Tokyo Traffic takes place, is significant. Those differences and how they are reflected in the story as well as how Detective Hiroshi Shimizu approaches getting to the bottom of the case made for a change of pace from your typical crime thriller. The story kept me engrossed, wondering how it was all going to shake out and worried about a few characters who were in danger throughout.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Adult subjects implied throughout, but never very explicit.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Friday, October 9, 2020

Reprise Review: School of Shadows by C.W. Schutter

 


Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy

Description:

“At Shadow Academy, every romance is a paranormal romance. But what happens when you fall in love with someone whose destiny is to kill you? For a girl named Destiny, an invisible dork everyone ignored, a dangerous paranormal romance is a creepy, but exciting dilemma. The first day at school she is plunged into a world of magic and meets Liam, a super-hunk sorcerer who jumps out of a limo and into her heart. Way easier to meet the man in the moon then getting someone like Liam to notice her.

Then why does he suddenly start paying attention to her?

Although Destiny has long-forgotten her imaginary playmate, Liam is haunted by the supernatural romance they shared as children. But Liam has a deadly secret.

Only Destiny can free powerful, imprisoned archangels who intend to raise a Nephilim army to seize control of the world. Tormented by opposing forces of good and evil warring inside, Liam knows he must obey the fallen angels and turn the girl he loves to the dark side or kill her. To stay together, the lovers must trick or defeat a terrifying worldwide network of evil spirits and demons.”

Author:

Originally from Hawaii, C.W. Schutter says she “grew up listening to fascinating stories of her family and the people around them from her mother.” Books have always been her passion and at the age of eight she wrote in a notebook, "I want to grow up to be an author." Ms. Schutter is a screenwriter as well as an author. She now lives in the mountains of Colorado.

You can follow Ms. Schutter on Facebook.

Appraisal:

Destiny is charming, full of spunk and sass. It is not hard to like her from the very beginning. She is smart, down-to-earth, easy-going and completely out of her element at this new school. She is immediately drawn to Liam and soon learns that this is no ordinary school. The small group that she is placed in are far more special than the rest of the students though, they are an elite group with special skills that need refining as they each come into their own.

This is a complicated story with a lot of theology and mythology woven into the plot that is set on a contemporary earth that gives it a very real feeling. The characters are well developed, the dialogue and the interactions between the students on a human level is palatable. The demonology and history of angels in this story as it relates to the students is unnerving, I am sure there are truths woven in here. The author has done a good amount of research to make her story seem possible.

I was intrigued by the possibilities and a bit scared for their future as well as our own. The plot is well paced and the implications in the story-line are huge. This story is not finished, there is room for more. Unless the author is leaving the end for us to finish on our own, choosing what we are most comfortable believing.  That is an interesting thought that I hadn't realized until now. Hmmmm...

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Added for Reprise Review: School of Shadows by C.W. Schutter was a nominee in the Paranormal Romance category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran December 5, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant editing errors.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Review: Elphie Meets the End of the World by Hagit R. Oron


 

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Description:

“The end of the world is coming. Today. They said so on TV!

When Elphie overhears an older boy talking about the end of the world, he runs home to find a better place to hide. Luckily, Mom and Dad are there and the three of them manage to deal with the dreadful news.:

Author:

A lifelong love-affair with books eventually led to Hagit R. Oron writing books of her own. For more, check out Ms Oron’s website.

Appraisal:

I enlisted my granddaughter (we’ll call her LBG) who just started second grade to read Elphie Meets the End of the World to me while I looked at the pictures. LBG did a pretty decent job, struggling a bit with some of the bigger words, but between sounding them out and a bit of help from me she got all the way through. The story might be one that hits a bit close to home in these strange times, but with the help of family Elphie makes it through okay. When she was done reading I asked LBG whether she liked the story and what she thought of the pictures. Her immediate response was “I loved all of it.” As she was reading she’d point out subtle things in the pictures that she thought were important or that amused her, one example was when Elphie took a “sip” of a drink, but after just that one sip the glass was almost empty. Since that initial read LBG has borrowed my Kindle fire to re-read Elphie’s adventures. I think we can safely say we’d both recommend this book for early readers or for others to read to younger, non-reading children.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 16 pages

Monday, October 5, 2020

Review: The Disappearing Shore by Roberta Park


 


Genre: General Fiction/Eco-Lit

Description:

“This enigmatic three-part novella imagines what might happen if the nice environmentalist next door finally snapped and started telling the truth—the real truth about his overwhelming guilt, rage, and fear. As the story unfolds, others break their silence in a desperate bid to save their corner of the world from the recklessness that has led us here.

From the confessions of today’s unlikely heroes — full of candour and dark humour — The Disappearing Shore depicts a much different tomorrow, and the struggle of those determined to continue the human story.

We are at an extraordinary point in human history, and this eco-lit tale by Roberta Park addresses the fears and responsibility we must face.”

Author:

Roberta Park is the pen name used, at least for this book, by an author and community activist who lives in Canada. For more, visit her blog.

Appraisal:

This book is fiction and it’s not. It isn’t true, yet it is. It reads like non-fiction with several authors, but is actually fiction with multiple characters. Confused? I’ll try to explain.

The Disappearing Shore appears to be a series of short essays by a variety of people with expertise in different areas, each relating a bit on their experiences and thoughts on things that are generally related to the environment. The reality is the people aren’t real (although maybe they’re based on real people), but it gives us a series of characters to view how the world and our environment is changing over time and give us some different points of view on environmental issues. At a minimum this should get you thinking. Ideally that will be followed by action. (What that action should be, I’ll leave to you to decide.)

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

The author is from Canada and her spelling reflects this.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Review: One Hundred Bullets by EJ Findorff

 



Genre: Thriller/Crime

Description:

“Captain Lou Rush of the New Orleans police department is the leader of the Tribunal, a band of ten cops dedicated to eliminating the criminals that fall through the cracks of the justice system. Their success has made them powerful, and untouchable in the Crescent City, but that is about to change.

After two decades, the time has come for Lou Rush’s son Nick to join the Tribunal as aging members are due to retire. However, a fellow officer is killed by the Tribunal, and Nick discovers that his father may have also murdered an innocent man.

For years, Nick’s fiancé Cali Maddox quietly blends into the background. With an agenda of her own, her secrets will force father and son to decide where their true loyalties lie - with the Tribunal or with the love of Nick’s life, because one of them will not survive the aftermath.”

Author:

“New Orleans and all its dark weirdness laid the foundation for every story E.J. has written since high school up to present day. He was born and raised in the Crescent City, but now lives in Chicago.”

Appraisal:

Wow. This was quite a story. Few stories keep me as on edge, unsure of what was going to happen next, pulling for the good guys (but at times not positive who the good guys really are), as this one did. Just when I’d think I had a handle on things, not where the story was going to go, but at least who was good and who wasn’t, or what was fact and what wasn’t, something would happen to show me I was wrong. Or maybe not, as what I was sure of changed, then changed back (but with more details and a more nuanced opinion). It was a great story, an edge-of-your-seat thriller, with a unique set of characters and a new take on an old premise. (A group of vigilantes taking out the bad guys has been around since the old west, or at least the westerns that pretend to be from then, right?)

So why am I raving about the great story and giving it a mediocre ranking? One of the knocks against self-publishing is that too often indie authors don’t polish their prose to acceptable levels, letting way too many grammar issues, typos, and other such things that should be eradicated prior to publication get through to the book that goes on sale. My experience has been that for the most part, this complaint is overstated. But when I do read a book that has issues with inadequate proofing, if I don’t discard it up front, if the number of issues I flagged while reading it go over a certain number, I’ll mention it and knock off stars to reflect the inadequate proofing. This book exceeded my limit. In fact, it has double the number of errors it takes for me to consider a book over the line. These are all minor (missing words, extra words, wrong words, etc) but all things that make me stumble over the sentences as I’m reading, throwing me out of the story. It’s sad when such a fantastic story is sullied by proofreading as atrocious as this.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

Lots of proofing issues. Missing or extra words, wrong words, and assorted other issues. Way beyond what is acceptable.

Rating: *** Three Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Review: Barclay: Bachelors & Babies by Charlene Raddon

 


Genre: Sweet Romance/Western/Historical

Description:

“No bachelor could be prepared for what happens to the Givens brothers one stormy night in 1876. Finding a pregnant woman on their road, they take her in. Before they can learn anything about her, she gives birth to triplets and disappears. Luckily, the doctor supplies a much-needed wet-nurse— Cynara, a recent widow who lost her baby. Her sad eyes and gentle acceptance awaken something in Barclay's staid soul. But she's not ready for a new man in her life. She'll stay at the ranch and tend the babies, but that's all.

Meanwhile, where is the babies' real mother? Who and where is the father? And what will become of these helpless infants?”

Author:

“Charlene Raddon fell in love with the wild west as a child, listening to western music with her dad and sitting in his lap while he read Zane Gray’s books. She never intended to become a writer. Charlene was an artist. She majored in fine arts in college.

In 1971, she moved to Utah, excited for the opportunity to paint landscapes. Then her sister introduced her to romance novels. She never picked up a paintbrush again… Instead of painting pictures with a brush, Charlene uses words.”

For more information about Ms. Raddon feel free to visit her website.

Appraisal:

Bachelors & Babies is a multi-author endeavor. Barclay is the oldest of three Givens brothers running the family ranch, and the first of Ms. Raddon’s contributions to the series. Each brother gets his own book, and I think Barclay sets a nice foundation for the other two brother’s stories. However, the last thing this ranch needs are more babies.

The prolog to this story is tragic and heartbreaking. Cynara Stratton is a young widow who has lost everything and most recently her own baby.

The story proper starts one stormy night when the Givens brothers take in a pregnant woman coming up their road to the ranch house. Cold, wet, obviously abused, and in the early stages of labor she is seeking sanctuary for the night. She warily accepts their help, but refuses to even give them her name or where she is from. The brothers are flying blind having only birthed calves. After the baby is born they think they are home free, however the mother doesn’t even want to look at him or hold him. Then the labor pains start again. Doc has been sent for, but is delayed because of the storm and the flooded creek. By the time he arrives a third baby has been born. Since the baby momma won’t give the men even her name they call her Minnie (no relation to the mouse). Doc gives the babies a clean bill of health, despite their small size, and tells Minnie to rest and stay in bed for a few days. However, by the next morning she has run off leaving the babies behind.

Doc brings Cynara to the Givens ranch to be a wet nurse for the premature triplets hoping it will help heal the hole in her soul. She blends in well with the men knowing this is just a temporary situation, but can’t help loving each of the babies. I thought it was endearing how each brother claimed and named a baby. The plot twists and turns as other secondary characters are brought into the story. It’s a rollercoaster ride running the ranch and dealing with more personal attacks. Barclay’s life is turned upside down and inside out as tension builds in the last few chapters for an explosive turn of events.

I found Barclay and Cynara’s journey quite satisfying, and I was glad when Barclay finally found the right words he meant to convey to Cynara. This was a fun adventure into the wild west of Montana.  

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Barclay is book 4 in the Bachelors and Babies Books.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of proofing issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words