Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Reprise Review: An Honorable Man by Donna Fasano

 


Editors Note: It has come to our attention that the Kindle version of this book will be free on Amazon from June 16 to June 21, 2021.

Genre: Sweet Romance/Native American

Description:

“Nothing can make Native American Mat Makwa give up being a New York City police officer… except one little girl—all alone in the world—who needs a father. Returning to his Kolheek reservation to take on the safer job of sheriff of this small, close-knit community, he never expects his heart might be in danger to school teacher Julie Dacey.

Mat's six-year-old daughter Grace is a handful, and Julie finds herself getting to know Mat quite well during some intense parent-teacher meetings, which soon start occurring after hours. Then Mat begins mentoring Julie’s troubled teenaged brother and her heart softens toward this honorable man. Despite being wary of relationships, Julie can’t deny how her soul soars when Mat is near. Is the attraction between the flame-haired beauty and the lawman destined to turn into love?”

Author:

“Donna Fasano is a three-time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl's Books & Pals Review Blog. Her books have sold 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her novels have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #1.”

Ms. Fasano has two grown sons and lives with her husband on the eastern seaboard of the United States. To learn more please visit her website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:

When Mat Makwa, a NYC police officer, gets custody of Grace, a six year-old spitfire who is smart beyond her years, he decides to raise her in his hometown in Vermont. Misty Glen is a small Kolheek reservation where he has lined up a job as Sheriff, and he enrolls Grace in the first grade. As a member of the NYCPD he saw too many fellow police officers lose their life only to see the devastation on the families faces to allow that to happen to him. So he has sworn off relationships, Grace is all he is willing to take on.

On Grace’s first day of school she punches a fellow student. As a result Mat is called in for a parent teacher conference that afternoon. Grace’s teacher is Julie Dacey, a new resident in the area. When Mat and Julie first formally meet, fireworks fly. Both are caught off-guard by their overwhelming feelings, but try to remain professional during the conference. 

Julie Dacey has had a difficult time with abusive men growing up and is leery of new men. She has also carried a guilt for leaving her young brother, Brian, behind when she went to college. After her mother dies, and she had earned her teaching degree, Julie is able to get legal custody of Brian. She moves to the small Kolheek reservation in Misty Glen. She is hired as a first grade teacher at the elementary school there. She hopes that moving Brian to this small community will help tame his rebellious, thirteen year-old, nature.

Watching Mat’s internal struggles with his own convictions is frustrating, aggravating, and at times comical. Julie is intelligent and strong-willed, she also understands Mat’s position. However, Julie doesn’t have to do anything but be near him for his will to stay single to shatter all around him. It’s entertaining to watch their dance and a bit nerve wracking. It’s usually the woman I want to bop on the head and say, ‘Snap out of it!’ I loved the way Julie handled Mat at the end, after all he put her through, she did good.

An Honorable Man is enlightening, heart-warming, and a fun read. Grace was a blast! Ms. Fasano always makes her kids realistic and a joy to read about. We got to meet Dakota and Chay briefly as the story arc widens. I really can’t wait to read Chay’s story! He captured my interest. All we know about Chay is he’s taking a break from life, living alone in an old hunting cabin in the woods. I need me some Chay! But, Dakota’s story is next, I am looking forward to learning more about these Black Bear Brothers!

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

An Honorable Man is book 1 in Ms. Fasano’s, The Black Bear Brothers Series.  Although the books in this series are stand-alone novels, reading the books in order will offer the most enjoyable experience.

Original review was posted October 23, 2019.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant proofing errors.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words


Monday, June 14, 2021

Review: Twilight Walk by Melissa Bowersock


Genre: Mystery/Contemporary Fiction/Paranormal

Description:

“Paranormal investigators Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud have their lives turned upside down by a sudden medical emergency that sidelines Lacey for the foreseeable future. At the same time, however, the LAPD is stymied by what appears to be a serial murderer, and not just the ordinary garden variety. This one leaves teeth marks on the victims’ necks. Is a vampire loose in LA? Sam intends to find out, and must plunge alone into the dark underground of bloodlust culture. Can he track down the evidence by himself, and can recalcitrant Lacey follow doctor’s orders long enough to let her body heal?”

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 southern Utah 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:

Twilight Walk hits the ground running, not necessarily with the murder mystery. This emergency is more personal and it’s not often we see Sam undone. I love the way Ms. Bowersock always has at least two storylines in each book. There is a family storyline that generally includes Sam’s kids on the weekends and how well Sam, Daniel, and Kenzie have melded into a perfect family unit with Lacey. Then there is usually a paranormal mystery where Sam Firecloud is the Navajo medium who can read the spirit’s emotions and Lacey is the former LAPD detective extraordinaire who dives into research each case to learn why a spirit is bound to the earthly plane. Together they make a crack investigative team.

Believe it or not the reader will find little paranormal mystery in these murder cases that have the LAPD stymied. What they will find is an unnerving, twisted, psychopath, who may be a serial killer. The path to find this killer is a dark and tangled web. Sam must submerge himself in the bloodlust culture hidden in the underbelly of LA alone. Twilight Walk rattled me to my core and kept me glued to the edge of my chair waiting for the other shoe to drop. Give me ghosts any day over this kind of realistic horror. Nice job, Ms. Bowersock.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Twilight Walk is book 31 in Melissa Bowersock’s, A Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series.

Format/Typo Issues:

I was a beta reader for this novella so I can’t comment on the final book.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words


Friday, June 11, 2021

Review: Roller Rink Starlight: A Memoir by William Hart

 


Genre: Memoir

Description:

“William Hart’s true coming of age memoir begins when at fourteen he joins an amateur roller racing team comprised of both sexes and loaded with RSROA national champions. A varsity sprinter in track, he soon excels at speed skating.

Insiders know roller rinks are conspiracies to turn singles into couples.

The main storyline follows Hart’s early education in romance—piquant, humorous, harrowing, and laced with major life lessons. The setting: Wichita, Kansas, early 1960s, when the sexual repression of the 50s still prevails, except in rare zones of marked liberation. Adults have their watering holes, teens the rink, where they can experiment with their budding sexualities. Immersed in powerful mood music they glide in pairs through darkness under stars and make out in the bleachers. Falling in love is ridiculously easy, as we see in the adventures of teammates, parents, and certainly the author. Hart fell hard for a gifted racer, his kindred spirit, costar of many of his most indelible memories.”

Author:

“William Hart is a novelist and poet living in Los Angeles. He writes while helping produce the documentaries of PBS filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar, his wife. Hart's work has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and fourteen books.”

Appraisal:

This was an enjoyable read. In some instances, it brought back memories for an old guy like me. Yeah, I hung out at the roller rink in my town a bit. I may not have done so as often as William Hart, the author of this memoir, and it was a decade later, but many of the experiences he recounts still felt familiar. Some were different (I was definitely not athletic or involved in organized racing at the rink) but reading about his experiences were still interesting.

In fact, in some ways reading about experiences that were different from my own was more of a positive than any flashback I had. At one point in the book the racing team had gone to a racing competition in another town that was unfamiliar to most of them. The author mentioned that visiting other towns was an education to many of them, saying that there is “something about spending even a day in an unfamiliar town that can open a young mind to life’s possibilities.” This is something I’ve recognized as a positive of travel in general, but it struck me here that when you’re young and inexperienced the place you go doesn’t have to be very far away to feel a lot different. I like reading memoirs for the same basic reason, but instead of putting yourself somewhere different physically, it allows you to put yourself in someone else’s body and mind, seeing the world through their eyes. Both are learning experiences that benefit the reader while also being an enjoyable activity. I’d recommend this book to those of you of a certain age, if you’re interested in going back in time like I did. But for those who are a bit younger than William Hart and myself, it gives you the chance to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a while.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Reprise Review: Wytchfire by Michael Meyerhofer

 


Genre: Epic Fantasy

Description:

Rowen was kicked out of his knight’s training only to find himself alone on the road. Several strange encounters later, which are too much to be just coincidences, and Rowen is looking to lead an army of gang members, knights and citizens against an army fortified with a ghoulish demon they call Nightmare and sorceresses. Rowen must rely on the people he meets along his quest to aid him and save the city of Lyos from crumbling.

Author:

Michael Meyerhofer also writes poetry, publishing five poetry chap books, and has won awards for his work. He enjoys weight lighting, medieval weapons and history. Meyerhofer current teaches at Ball State University. You can learn more about him at his website.

Appraisal:

In his acknowledgements, Meyerhofer refers to himself as a boyhood Tolkein fan. It’s obvious from reading Wytchfire where his inspirations came from by using multiple races that have to band together to fight a strong foe.

While the inspiration is there, Meyerhofer is able to make his own world using a rich history, reluctant heroes and a few surprises along the way.

The book is the first of a trilogy and is set up that way. There isn’t a huge cliffhanger at the end, but more of the end of one battle while we know the rest of the war is ready to rage on.

Wytchfire may start off a bit slow, but the action picks up fairly quickly with Meyerhofer not dawdling too long to give the reader background information. He’s able to blend it into the story while continuing with the current action.

One of my favorite parts was the distinction of two strong female characters. They held their own against anyone who confronted them and were layered characters. My only gripe is that they are both, of course, easy on the eyes, which has to be noted by the men looking at them. It’s nice when I read a story where the men and women are described similarly without bringing beauty up when it comes to the women and not even mentioning that aspect when it comes to male characters.

However, Wytchfire is a great read for those who love epic fantasies – as I do. It certainly filled its role and feels like the start of a great adventure.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Wytchfire is book 1 of Michael Meyerhofer’s, The Dragonkin Trilogy. Wytchfire was also a nominee in the Fantasy category for B&P 2015 Readers' Choice Awards.

Original review posted July 3, 2014

Format/Typo Issues:

None.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Sooz

Approximate word count: 115,000-120,000 words

Monday, June 7, 2021

Review: A Tracker’s Tale by Karen Avizur

 


Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal

Description:

“Welcome to the strange and perilous world of Katherine Colebrook: FBI special agent, Los Angeles… Trackers Division.

In Katherine’s world, werewolves, vampires, pĂșcas, and other parasapien species – forced for centuries by human fear and prejudice to live at the fringes of society – have finally come out of hiding to demand their rightful place alongside us. Within the FBI’s unit that handles parasapien cases, the Trackers division, Katherine Colebrook is one of the best. Her psychic abilities made her a natural, allowing her to move between the parasapien and human worlds in ways that no other agent could. But Katherine’s calling hasn’t come without struggle and losses along the way.

As a single mother, she must contend with her teenage daughter, Alexandra, who not only shares Katherine’s psychic abilities, but seems determined to follow the same dangerous path as her mother. And so, when Katherine’s latest assignment threatens to bring that danger too close home, she finds herself faced with the toughest challenge of her career: Can she protect her daughter’s life, while battling a ruthless adversary who’ll stop at nothing to destroy her?”

Author:

“Karen Avizur grew up on Long Island, New York and ended up in Orlando, Florida, with stops in Connecticut, West Virginia, and Los Angeles along the way. She's been writing stories since she was twelve years old. In those early days, she discovered it was impossible to keep up with her thoughts by writing longhand, and ended up borrowing a 7-pound laptop from her dad, quickly honing her typing skills.

After graduating film school, Karen moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as a film editor for several years while also pursuing her writing. ‘I was taught that a film editor is really the final-draft screenwriter. It’s true’ she notes. ‘I’d written much of Trackers as separate short stories over the years, but being an editor helped me see how to weave those stories together into novel form.;

Karen now lives in Florida with lazy dog Ginger (her Australian cattledog mix), and still keeps a hand in editing for special clients.”

Appraisal:

Katherine Colebrook is one of the best Tracker agents in the FBI’s unit that handles parasapien cases. She’s trained in all the defensive arts and has psychic abilities. Katherine is a single mother of a sixteen-year-old daughter, Alexandra, who is also psychic and trained in defensive arts and weapons.

The police found Rebecca alone in a diner, rocking to and fro afraid and mumbling.  The doctor admitted her to the mental ward of a children’s hospital. The nurse on duty, a friend of Katherine’s, thinks Rebecca may be psychic, however, she is also a high functioning autistic teenager. Someone is trying to kidnap her. When Katherine learns her older brother was killed trying to protect her, Katherine askes for a quickie adoption from the FBI, so she can protect her.  

It doesn’t take long before the fists and feet start flying, races against the clock ensue, and training a new partner begins. Of course, politics finds its way into the story of Werewolf society, Vampire hierarchy, and Mob bosses. Which all requires Katherine’s special touch. It’s all edge of your seat intensity with surprising twists and turns. It’s no holds barred when Katherine get fired up, her stamina wore me out reading about all the action. All of the story arcs are brought to a close except the mystery surrounding Rebecca’s past and her nightmares. Then in the last chapter two new characters are introduced who are connected to Rebecca. Luckily book 2 of this series is published.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

There are a few F-bombs dropped.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant proofing or formatting issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Friday, June 4, 2021

Review: The Sovereignty File by Elizabeth Smith

 


Genre: Political Thriller

Description:

“It is the summer of 2004, and pristine antebellum homes, once the refuge of wealthy New Orleanians seeking to escape yellow fever, sit proudly along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But beyond this tranquil setting and the seductive Gulf breeze, there are secrets, never revealed, that still remain a threat.

Following an interview with a U.S. Senator and leading presidential candidate, a young journalist will have cause to wonder if a killer could soon occupy the White House.

While Jonathan Burke attempts to link the Mississippi senator to the secret Sovereignty Commission, an agency whose mission was to destroy the entire civil rights movement within the state, he stumbles upon the unsolved murder of a ten-year-old black girl. When he becomes obsessed with solving this thirty-year-old murder, he is forced to examine his past and the real reasons for this obsession. Soon it becomes clear to Jonathan that this is a place where heat still lingers, hate still simmers, and secrets from the past must never be revealed.”

Author:

“Elizabeth Smith is an artist and writer. Following a career in advertising, she taught middle school and high school. She is the author of seven novels and currently lives in South Carolina with her husband, Don.”

For more, visit her website.

Appraisal:

An intense political thriller that as a starting point uses something that apparently really happened, a “secret Sovereignty Commission” designed to stop the civil rights movement back in the 60s and 70s. Years later, when details starting coming out, it led to some serious criminal charges (up to murder) against some of those involved. This story imagines the story is on the verge of coming out and what some might do to try and prevent it. As I’d hope, it keeps you wondering how it is going to turn out and whether those who appear to be guilty will pay an appropriate price.

In some ways the reader is setup to hope and expect certain things will happen near the end, enough that had they not happened it would have been a disappointment. Given the number of years the person who was the obvious villain had been a bad guy I don’t think it would have been possible or credible for him to suddenly turn out to be a good guy, so if he came out unscathed it would be an issue. Hopefully I haven’t said too much, but will say that how things turn out isn’t going to be exactly as the reader pictured. The ultimate resolution might not be quite where it felt like the story was heading. Yet, in the end, you’ll find the resolution to be satisfying as well as surprising.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Reprise Review: The Darker Carnival by Frank Tuttle

 


Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Detective/ Mystery/ Adventure/ Magic

Description:

“When Dark’s Diverse Delights arrives by night to set up shows and rides that promise fun and excitement for one and all, the outskirts of Rannit begin to look disturbingly like the nightmares that plague Markhat’s sleep.

Mama Hog has sent him a new client, a cattle rancher with a missing daughter. Markhat’s search reveals genuine terrors lurking amidst the carnival’s tawdry sideshows, where Death itself takes the main stage every evening, just past midnight.

The orchestrator of the murderous, monstrous mayhem is the mysterious carnival master, Ubel Thorkel. And after Buttercup the Banshee is threatened, Markhat is in a race against time to find the carnival’s dark heart and strike it down once and for all—or die trying.”

Author:

“Frank Tuttle lives and writes in the perpetually humid wilderness of North Mississippi. Frank tried to be a proper Southern author and write about pickups and hound dogs, but trolls and magic kept creeping into his stories, so Frank is a fantasy author. Although hounds do make occasional appearances in his fiction.”

To learn more about Mr. Tuttle’s series, The Markhat Files, and his other Young Adult series, Paths of Shadow, check out his website or follow him on Facebook.

Appraisal:

In this seventh book of The Markhat Files, I see changes on the horizon. Markhat’s world is shifting. Characters are transforming, growing in ways I would never have foreseen. However, Markhat’s expanding abilities are not surprising to me. I think past installments of the series foreshadowed these changes. This story also introduces two new personae who will no doubt be appearing in future sequels. One mystical, named Shango the storm-sniffer, and the other a runt of a troll named Slim. Up until this story, I felt that most of The Markhat Files could be read as standalone books and in almost any order. While this is still true of the overall book, the secondary characters are gaining importance in the continuing story line and many nuances may be lost when read out of order.

If you are one to feel uneasy about carnival sideshows and clowns, you may find The Darker Carnival unnerving. What starts out as a simple missing person investigation quickly turns dark and nefarious. This is no ordinary carnival; magic compels everything about Dark’s Diverse Delights. When Buttercup is captured, it becomes personal for Markhat and Mama Hog. With Evis deathly ill and Stitches indisposed, it is left to Markhat and Mama Hog to get to the heart of the carnival and set things right again. It is a rollercoaster ride of twists and dead-ends until puzzle pieces start falling into place. Then Markhat finds himself confronted with something he never imagined he would find himself doing or having the will to carry out.

This is a game-changing installment in The Markhat Files and I am looking forward to further additions. Frank Tuttle’s books are, as always, a must buy for me.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK   

FYI:

The Darker Carnival is Book 7 in Mr. Tuttle’s series, The Markhat Files. I think this book could be read as a standalone; however, some character nuances would be missed. I don’t think that would lessen your enjoyment of this story. Original review posted March 30, 2016.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant issues with proofing or formatting.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Monday, May 31, 2021

Review: If I Can’t Eat Flies, What Am I? by Alicia J. Pfaff

 


Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Description:

“As a brave little frog looks for a way to fit in, will he discover that it’s okay to be different?

Tad is sad because he’s allergic to flies. Since everyone knows that’s what frogs eat, he’s sure he must be another kind of animal. So, the unhappy hopper heads out into the wide world to find out what he might be instead.

As he travels around the pond meeting a young duck, raccoon brothers, and a friendly cow, his efforts to find a place where he fits in just have him feeling even more like he stands out. Then, the frustrated little guy meets a magnificent medic bee who gives Tad all the information he needs to answer his question!

Will Tad realize he’s still a fabulous frog, no matter what he eats?

If I Can’t Eat Flies, What Am I? is a whimsical picture book designed to help youngsters understand and feel better about food allergies, suitable for ages 4-8. If you or your child like endearing characters, lighthearted learning, and clever rhymes, then you’ll love Alicia J. Pfaff’s charming tale.”

Author:

On her website Alicia Pfaff explains that she has a food allergy and that when her son had a bad experience related to a food allergy of his own, she went looking for a book to help him put his allergy into better perspective. When she couldn’t find what she was looking for she was inspired to write her own. This is her first book.

Although Alicia Pfaff hadn’t dreamed of writing a children’s book, her friend, artist Paula M. Zelienka, had dreamed of sometime illustrating a children’s book. When Alicia asked if she was interested she jumped at the chance.

For more visit her website.

Appraisal:

A fun read with a message. For those kids who need the message, that it is okay to have a food allergy, this book should do the trick. Even for those without a food allergy, the lesson that it is okay to be different in other ways is just under the surface. I think most kids could benefit from that more subtle interpretation and even those who don’t need that will probably still find this to be a fun story. I read this with my 8-year-old granddaughter who I call LBG (little blonde girl). She loved the story of Tad and at the end when I asked her to pretend she was doing a grade for the book she didn’t hesitate in telling me that it got an A+. Since she’s the boss, I didn’t argue. My only negative, for any half-blind grandparents who might consider reading this to their grandkids, is that on a Kindle Fire the words were difficult to read, especially when I was trying to hold it in a position so that LBG could see the pictures. Slightly larger letters would have helped as would reading it on a bigger screen or from the paper version.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 23 pages

Friday, May 28, 2021

Reprise Review: Don't Tell Anyone by Laurie Boris

 

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Description:

“When pneumonia lands Estelle Trager unconscious in the emergency room, it ruins everything for the stubborn 65-year-old woman. She'd been keeping a secret—a deadly secret—that she'd planned on taking to the grave. But now her son Adam and his wife, Liza, know about her tumors. Adam is outraged, but Estelle, who watched her mother and grandmother suffer from breast cancer in the days when no one dared speak its name, has no intention of putting her family or herself through the horrors of cancer treatment. Estelle decides there is only one solution: ask Liza, the 33-year-old daughter-in-law she once called a godless hippie raised by wolves, to kill her.”

Author:

A freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer, Boris is the author of two other novels, The Joke’s on Me and Drawing Breath. She lives with her husband in the Hudson Valley of New York.

For more, visit Boris’ website.

Appraisal:

This is the second book I’ve read by Laurie Boris, and although the story and characters are much different, it struck me that the other book, Drawing Breath, had a character suffering from a serious disease too. This is a time-tested recipe to create conflict, one of the more important qualities a book needs to draw a reader in and make them care about what happens.

I would describe Don’t Tell Anyone as character driven. The main point-of-view character is Liza and the story revolves around how she, her husband Adam, their family, and friends deal with Liza’s mother-in-law, Estelle, after she is diagnosed with cancer. Not to mention how Estelle reacts and the chain-reaction among all concerned. It’s an interesting spotlight on the dynamics of relationships, both within families and between friends.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Original review posted December 4, 2012.

Format/Typo Issues:

My reading was based on a beta version. Unable to judge the final product in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Review: Talk to a Real, Live Girl and Other Stories by Paul Clayton

 


Genre: Science Fiction/Short Story Collection

Description:

Three futuristic short stories. The first is Talk to a Real, Live Girl, the story of men, working in the mines of their robot overlords on a faraway planet. The Lawn and Happy Acres are much shorter tales of an imagined potential future.

Author:

Paul Clayton is the author of several books, from historical (a three-book series taking place during the Spanish conquest of Florida), to slightly more recent history, Carl Melcher Goes to Vietnam, based on Clayton’s Vietnam War experiences, to science fiction.

Appraisal:

All three of the stories in this collection are entertaining and thought-provoking reads. The two shorter stories that conclude the book, The Lawn (a story of a man whose backyard has turned into a jungle, and maybe more), and Happy Acres, the story of a man who moved with his wife to a new housing development on Mars, but things aren’t working out as hoped. These both had me trying to figure out what was going on and where the story was going to go. The endings of all three leave enough wiggle room that whatever you think the answer should be, might be right. (Or maybe not.)

But the title story is the longest and the one that drew me in the most. Alex, the protagonist, has just gone through a divorce. He’s tired of a lot of the cultural and political upheaval happening in America and decides the answer is to flee earth for a while. He accepts a six-month contract with a mining company on a planet called Kratos. Things here are definitely different, for example the place is full of bots. Some of them are the bosses. Some, for those humans from earth with physical desires to be satisfied, are bots that can get physically intimate. With all the men from Earth visiting these bots keep busy. But for those who want something more, or at least something different, the men can also use some of their hard-earned money to be allowed in a room where they can talk to a girl. No, not bots, an actual real live flesh and blood girl. Alex does this once, he likes the girl, which I’m sure happens all the time. But it appears the girl really likes him too. Except that’s against all the rules. How this all shakes out makes for a fun and intense read. The world where this story took place with its differences and similarities to our current world made for some interesting things to ponder as well.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words