Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Devil's Daughter: Lucinda's Pawnshop / Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Fantasy/Occult/Supernatural/Urban Fantasy

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words

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


Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez:

Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez have been best friends for more than four decades. They both grew up in Los Angeles, California, and share a passion for mystery and science fiction. This passion led them to create the forever young and beautiful daughter of darkness, Lucinda… To assist in bringing Lucinda's story into the literary world, Hope and Paul enlisted the help of Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff as a collaborator… All three authors reside in California: Marquez in West Hollywood, Schenk-de Michele in Toluca Lake with her husband of twenty-two years, and Bohnhoff with her family in San Jose.”

To learn more about Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez check out Lucinda’s Pawnshop website.

Or, if you dare, check-out Lucinda’s Pawn Shop on Facebook. *Mwahahahaha*

Collaborating Author:
Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff:

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff: “Maya became addicted to science fiction when her dad let her stay up late to watch The Day the Earth Stood Still. Mom was horrified. Dad was unrepentant. Maya slept with a night-light in her room until she was 15… Maya lives in San Jose where she writes, performs, and records original and parody ) music with her husband and awesome musician and music producer, Chef Jeff Vader, All-Powerful God of Biscuits… To top it off, they've also produced three musical children: Alex, Avery, and Amanda.”

To learn more about Ms. Bohnoff and her many works be sure to check outher website.


Lucinda is as old as humanity itself, yet perpetually young, beautiful, and endowed with supernatural powers. She lives a double life—human and immortal. In her human guise, she manages Lucinda’s Pawnshop & Antiquary, the doors of which can open to any street anywhere in the world at any time. Mortals who have arrived at a moral or spiritual crossroads are drawn into the mysterious shop. If they acquire one of its cursed artifacts, they may find themselves drafted into Lucifer’s service.

Born out of a betrayal of trust between the first woman, Eve, and father Lucifer, Lucinda has worked covertly and subtly for millennia to be true to her mother’s love by subverting her father’s schemes. She wins freedom for some; Lucifer keeps those who fail for eternity. She has to be careful, for Lucifer has placed her under the watchful eye of the fallen angel Nathaniel, whose real intentions are a mystery to her.”


You can get the jest of the story from the blurb. That is the tip of the iceberg. There are at least six story arcs going on in this book. I want to count Nathaniel as a story arc also though, he intrigues me the most of the fallen angels, and adding his would make seven. So, we have the basic good versus evil plot with the twist of Lucinda (Lucifer and Eve’s daughter) thrown in the middle. Lucifer kidnapped Mariel when she was five-years-old and brought her into his realm of the Between, renamed her Lucinda, raised her with his influences and watched her grow into her powers. The struggle within her is real and she must be careful subverting Lucifer’s goal to start the end of times, Armageddon.

Lucinda must also try to piece together how all the story elements fit together. Lucifer does not reveal his game, and it is a game to him. We have lawyers dealing with insider trading and funding terrorist groups in the Middle East. Covert military missions manipulating religious factions, precious antiquities that affect their owners thinking processes. A handsome and devout journalist who is handed the story of a lifetime. Witches, demons, fallen angels, religious cult fanatics, and a love story. All of these components are expertly woven into Lucifer’s grand scheme.

With all of this going on around her, Lucinda experiences a human emotion she has never felt in all the millennia she has been alive. The awakening passions concern the human journalist, Dominic Amado. She knows she should walk away for his own souls safety, peace, sanity... She just can’t. I couldn’t help but love Lucinda. She has a strong spirit, and she’s level-headed, intelligent, and can be as devious as her father. It’s going to be interesting to see how she tries to make this relationship work with Dominic, who also has a strong character and a bit of darkness in his own soul. However, he is working hard to redeem himself.

The plot has a nice pace considering all the elements incorporated into the story. It also takes place all over the globe. Distance is not a problem for Lucifer and his ilk, they just pass through the between to be anywhere or anytime they wish to be in the blink of an eye. However, not all demons have this ability. This turned out to be a unique read and I hope to continue the series. I have great hopes for Lucinda and Dominic if she can keep him alive. Lucifer is not a threat to him, but there are a couple other factors that may be. Also, as I said at the beginning, I look forward to learning more about Nathaniel, I think his role will become more involved as the story develops.


There were no F-bombs dropped, and sex was behind closed doors, which really disappointed me but didn’t warrant dropping a star for.

Devil's Daughter: Lucinda's Pawnshop is book 1 of a series. This first book does not end in a cliff-hanger but some story arcs are unfinished, in a not too suspenseful way, to hopefully continue in the next book.

Format/Typo Issues:

Practically perfect.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Eaten: The Complete First Season / Michael La Ronn

Reviewed by: Michael Thal

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Satire

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words
Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: NO  Smashwords: YES Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


When he recovered from a deadly sickness in 2012, Michael La Ronn realized the shortness of life. So he decided to pursue his passion—writing. Today he writes quirky science fiction and fantasy novels about vegetables and androids, short stories, and poetry. The author lives with his wife in Des Moines, Iowa.


Kendall Barnes is one of the human citizens of the Middle Rind of New Eaton. His city is unique for it is comprised of cereal boxes and soda bottle skyscrapers. On its streets are other people as well as “candy bars, boxed dinners, doughnuts, and other processed foods each with bright packaging and droopy eyes, adding artificial color to the area.”

In Kendall’s world most of humanity is obese and the underclass are the vegetables. The Gourmans, the ruling class, keep the humans happy with plenty of junk food and inactivity.

Kendall intends on entering the Festival of the Harvest to be held in Nonpareil Square. All he has to do is slash and gash the most free-running vegetables with his knife and fork weapons. He could win Nutrizeen injections that would shed his unwanted pounds leaving him fit with a god-like body.

Fry Guards bring in the prisoners—a fresh group of veggies harvested from the battlefield. (New Eaton is at war with the vegetable kingdom.) The vegetables are led off of a jail ship connected by chains. When set free to be attacked by the likes of Kendall Barnes, a few prisoners fight back. They are led by Brocco (a brave broccoli) Celerity (a stick of celery you wouldn’t want to mess with), and Frank, (an odious onion).


Thus Michael La Ronn begins his satirical novel, Eaten: The Complete First Season. The author does an amazing job of showing the depth of hatred between the Gourmans and the vegetables. The Gourman leader, Sodius, is a cloud of salt making Adolph Hitler look like a pacifist.

Sodius is contrasted by Carrodias, a carrot, who is the vegetable king. He’s a courageous vegetable willing to risk his life for peace between the two kingdoms.

La Ronn provides his readers with a non-stop joyride in a plot filled with unexpected twists and turns as the vegetable “terrorists” stop at nothing to end Sodius’ reign of genocidal terror against the vegetables. In so doing, La Ronn explores the folly of racial hatreds and the stupidity of war.


Readers beware: Eaten: The Complete First Season leads into other volumes so the plot is not resolved.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sparkle / B. Patterson

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Fantasy/Humor/LGBTQ/Young Adult

Approximate word count: 12-13,000 words

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


Brandon (Patterson) is a graduate of North Carolina State University where he majored in Psychology and minored in Japanese. He currently lives in Southern Maryland… Communion is his first published novel… Brandon’s values as a writer include: writing high-quality books, diversity, integrity, and entertainment.”

To learn more you can visit his Goodreads page.


Tedward Culling hates everything, but particularly: geometry (the one class keeping him from graduating), Genicelle Eaglin (the high school girl with an obsessive crush on him), and Jesper (his homicidal older brother who also happens to be the world's top assassin). With Jesper now in town and on the prowl, Tedward is asked by the vampire elite to create an army of day-walking vampires called Sparklers in exchange for a passing grade in geometry. Can Tedward finally stand up to his older brother and save the town?”


I picked this up because I wanted to see what B. Patterson did with his sparkly vampires. Truth be told I did read all of the Twilight books, my granddaughter insisted, I thought they were “Meh”. Anyway, Tedward Culling being a high school student, having a groupie fan girl, and his sparkle is about all this book had in common with Twilight. Poor Tedwad is twenty-seven years old and can’t seem to grasp Geometry. He has to pass this class to become an assassin. Luckily he has Genicelle to tutor him this year however, she is very obsessive and insists she wants to become a vampire.

The story is told through Tedward using first person present point-of-view. Except for the Prologue, which is told through Jesper, who is one nasty vampire. Jesper has come to town looking for Tedward to eliminate him as well as other vampires he comes across. The Keepers of the Night are the traditional older vampires, whose dead bodies are animated through magic. They have to avoid the sun, crosses, holy water, and silver. This is not so with the Sparklers, the day-walking vampires.

The plot is evenly paced as we learn about Malcolm, a nerdy black student, who is having trouble with bullies and Genicelle with her ever present infatuation with Teddy. Then we meet The Keepers of the Night who wish to hire Tedward to kill Jesper for them. B. Patterson is able to tell a unique story with lots of humor without going over the top. I found it interesting and entertaining while still being able to keep its overall integrity. This is a fun light read that does carry a message.


There were two F-bombs. The gay/lesbian factor was soft.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues with editing or formatting.

Rating: **** Four stars

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Hydra / Graham Stull

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Thriller

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words

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


With roots between Ireland and Boston, Graham has spent a life swinging across the Atlantic, gradually becoming more and more European in his thinking. He has worked as a real estate agent in Boston; a postman in Cologne, Germany; and a Law Searcher in Dublin, before completing his training in economics and settling into international public policy. Along the way he's picked up three foreign languages, a jellyfish phobia and a love of Scrabble. His short plays have been published and performed on multiple stages in Ireland. The Hydra is the first of his series of political thrillers.


A viral pandemic has spread worldwide and stricken billions of people making them infertile. A natural disaster? No. This is a man-made tragedy, because the virus was developed in a laboratory, and Brian Matterosi, its creator, believes himself to be a hero for saving an overpopulated world from spiraling into wars and famine and regressing into the dark ages.


On occasions, I stumble across a novel in Big Al’s long list that really stands out. The Hydra qualifies on many levels.

Firstly, the premise is current and real. With seven billion humans forecast to rise to eleven billion, overpopulation is, and will be, a major contributing factor to many of the world’s problems. To his credit, the author doesn’t preach an agenda. Rather, he offers up potential future scenarios that allow the reader to consider and examine the challenges facing the modern human multitudes.

But this is far from a dry techno-thriller. Mr. Stull unfolds his plot through the actions of a number of compelling, and wonderfully flawed characters. The human aspects of the story made it more believable and kept me enthralled from page one until THE END.

The tale is told from two perspectives: One set in the near future where Brian is on public trial for mass murder--a crime for which he faces the death penalty. The courtroom provides a perfect vehicle to illustrate the pros and cons of Brian’s act. And a second thread that tracks Brian’s life and examines his upbringing as he develops from an isolated child with extraordinary mental capabilities into a genius, specializing in biology. As the two threads draw closer in time, we get a fuller picture of the reasons for Brian’s acts.

If you enjoy fiction with a political and/or scientific basis, I think you’ll have a lot of fun with The Hydra, and I suspect it’ll make you think deeply. It certainly had that effect on me, and isn’t that what we all want from good fiction?

Highly recommended.

Format/Typo Issues:

Very clean copy.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Initiated to Kill / Sharlene Almond

Reviewed by: Sam Waite

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

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


Sharlene Almond is “an author of historical/21st century psychological, international thrillers.”

For more, visit Ms. Almond's blog.


Parallel stories are told of modern day serial murders and those associated with Jack the Ripper.


Initiated to Kill is an unimaginative rehash of Jack the Ripper crimes with a tired sub plot of a Freemason conspiracy to control the world.

The narrative skips among three time periods, including depictions of the original Ripper murders, modern-day parallels and flashbacks to the heroine’s childhood. The story alternates point of view with sections belonging to the heroine in first person. First person is given to other characters as well, adding confusion to an already poorly constructed story.

For gore aficionados, there are human hearts delivered in wrapped packages to police and detailed slicing up of murder victims, along with rape and torture. Nevertheless, the greatest horror of Initiated to Kill is its butchery of English prose.

* Spelling:

I’m afraid we don’t have any definitive news on Celestina, per say.

Per se”


Who’s who.”

* Grammar:

His thrusts came quick and deep, gripping onto her buttocks.”

Did his thrusts really grip her bottom?

His wife was much older than him,…”

Should be he. Errors of objective and nomative case abound.

* Punctuation:

Her eyes widened, she tried to struggle; her breathing in rapid bursts.”

Semicolons are used extensively in the narrative, often incorrectly. In this example, the semi does not join two complete sentences.

* Diction:

The immaculately gardens and land bespoke of the hard-working staff he employed.”

Bespoke” means tailor made. “Immaculately” is an adverb used here as an adjective.

Eyes averted his openly intense stare.”

Avoided,” not “averted.”

“…the blooming orange trees crammed with the bright orange fruits…”

Cram” means to force something into a confined space. It doesn’t describe a tree loaded with fruit.

When her parents rung me…”

The simple past tense of “ring” is “rang.” “Rung” is a past participle.”

The tension was plausible.”

The tension may have been believable, but I doubt it’s what the writer intended. Perhaps palpable?

The train ambled…”

Amble means to walk slowly.

* Factual errors:

“…hanging ferns sprouting into bloom.”

Ferns don’t bloom.

Duck, peacocks and swans swam leisurely on the still waters.”

Peacocks don’t swim. Also number, singular/plural should be consistent.

* Wooden dialog:

It’s actually a family heirloom. Since I’m the only one that wanted to live in Spain, they said I could have it.” His sophisticated English accent only added to the allure of his overall demeanor.

One would expect a sophisticated speaker to use “who” rather than “that.”

Uh, uh sir...well...a package was delivered at the desk...and well uh, it’s addressed for the CID division.”

* Faulty logic:

The little boy remembered how Charles Dickens spoke of a similar ordeal.”

The boy, later described as five years old, recalls Dickens and relates the memory to his own circumstance.

Valero tightly gripped his paddles (He is in a rowboat, so he grips oars not paddles), sculling back and forwards.”

The boat would go nowhere. A rower would scull in one direction and feather the oars in the other. Also, “back and forth” or “backwards and forwards,” please.

Rubbing his hands on a weeks old stubble, reminded him he should have shaved this morning.”

Weeks without shaving would produce more than stubble.

* Simple bad writing:

Drying off, he meticulously picked out the clothes he would wear that day. Aligning his shirt, pants, underwear, socks and shoes. Carefully putting each garment on, each time smoothing out invisible wrinkles. Moving towards his bedside table, he went to put that treasured object on.”

Aligning…” and “Carefully…” are not sentences. That awful structure is used purposefully throughout the novel. If wrinkles are invisible, are they wrinkles? What is there to smooth out?

Paint flaking off the walls, sprawling of inherent descriptions lining available waiting space.”

I can’t guess what that means.

Hastily they covered her, not noticing a pool of dark liquid, racing to find the nearest constable.”

Blood racing to find a constable?

* Style inconsistencies:

Her model-like height of 5’8 accentuated her thin frame…”

The way she held her five-four inch frame.” We also need the word “foot” after five.

*Aside for history buffs:

This place is filled with cultural influences imbedded (embedded is preferred spelling) from history. The Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla are rainwater tanks. These tanks were named after Maria de Padilla, mistress of Pedro the Cruel. He supposedly killed her husband, but she refused his advances and poured boiling oil over her face so that Pedro would not want her. She became a nun and is a symbol for purity in Seville.”

The passage describes the legend of Maria de Padilla, not the history. She bore at least four children sired by Pedro and whose names are recorded in history.

According to the front matter, the novel was edited by Jeremy Tyler, who bears at least equal responsibility for the multitude of mistakes and a style that embraces inane disregard for grammar. Ultimately, the fault of offering such shoddy work for sale to the public lies with the publisher Whiskey Creek Press.


My examples of errors may seem exhaustive, but they scarcely begin to describe the problems with this novel.

Format/Typo Issues:

There are many misspellings, words missing, and unwanted words left in sentences.

He believed he was a god, that’s why I suspect is why they chose him.”

This is also a run-on sentence.

Rating: * One Star

Friday, September 25, 2015

Reprise Review: Abide With Me / Ian Ayris

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Coming of Age / Thriller

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

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


Ian Ayris has had a love of writing since childhood and has had some forty short stories published. Recently first novel, Abide With Me, was released. Ian is currently studying for a degree in English Literature. He lives with his family in Essex in the UK.


Abide With Me is the story of the two fourteen year-old boys, Kenny and John, growing up together in the East End of London during the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s. One is very odd, the other very normal. Inexplicably drawn together their lives eventually take very different turns until fate brings them back together again.


If you’ve read any of my previous reviews you’ll know I favour the genres of crime / thriller / noir (delete as applicable). So to pick up a coming of age novel is somewhat of a departure. However, I was so blown away by the quality of writing in Ayris’ A Day in the Life of Jason Dean I felt compelled to read this full-length novel. And I’m very glad I did.

Written in the first person from John’s perspective, Ayris immediately paints a strong view of working class London life in a small community with close friends and family – good and bad. John lives reasonably well, not poor, not rich. He’s full of life, loves his football and his school days. His neighbor, Kenny, couldn’t be more different. He comes from an abusive background and it shows. The kid is withdrawn, uncommunicative, and downright weird.

However, John finds himself drawn to protecting Kenny at school and as a result develops friends and enemies that remain in place through this teenage and eventually adult years.

Like A Day In The Life… Ayris pulls the emotional heartstrings very well, it is easy to immerse yourself in this powerful story of two very different children. The characters are highly compelling, the strongest part of Abide With Me. As a reader I really wanted to know what would happen to the pair, particularly when their paths diverged for a period (John ends up in prison and has a pretty brutal seven year stretch) and then ultimately cross paths again. Kenny eventually repays John’s faith in an incredibly emotional final scene.

The prose and dialogue are excellent, locally themed, but this adds to the story, rather than detracts. John’s voice is excellent, it varies throughout the story as he matures and then ends up in trouble. You can feel the character developing through his eyes. Very well done.

This is an excellent debut novel and readers that enjoy strong, compelling, and raw characterization would do well to pick it up.


Adult language throughout.

Format/Typo Issues:


Rating: ***** Five Stars

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Maidens’ War / Lynne Cantwell

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Magical Realism/ Contemporary/ Mythology

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

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


Lynne Cantwell is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited where she shares her knowledge about Indie publishing and promotion. She has a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University and is a former broadcast journalist who has written for CNN and Mutual/NBC Radio News, among other places. Ms. Cantwell currently lives near Washington, DC.

Ms. Cantwell is the author of The Pipe Woman Chronicles, which includes five books, Pipe Woman's Legacy series, which includes two books, The Land, Sea, Sky series, which includes three books, and other works of fiction and non-fiction alike.”

You can connect with her at her website or on her Facebook page.


Maggie, fighting to escape her abusive upbringing in West Virginia's coal country, has built a new life for herself at college: new ideas, new friends, and maybe a normal boyfriend. Then her professor introduces her to the Czech myth of ‘The Girls' War,’ and hires her to help build a society of strong women like the one in the story. But Maggie's father will stop at nothing to get his hands on his daughter again. Distraught, Maggie cries out for help - and against all odds, a Slavic goddess responds by sending her an unlikely champion.”


Interesting story, a timeless tale, will the power struggle between women and men ever be on equal ground? Which is stronger, a matriarchy or a patriarchal society?

Maggie’s professor in her Introductory Women’s Studies class, Dr. Kohout, dreams of building a community for women. But first she has to motivate students to want to make a change in defining women’s place in America and in the world today.

The story switches back and forth between time settings. Sarka and Vlasta’s story from the Czech myth over a thousand years ago, to Maggie and Dr. Khout’s story during the 1980s in Huntington, West Virginia. I like the way the story elements were woven together through the two different time periods. It made it easy to see the parallels in the characters between the two different stories. Dr. Khout was obsessed about the old Czech folk tale of The Maidens’ War. She had dreams of visiting Prague, perhaps even living there. In the meantime she is trying to teach her students how to empower themselves using myths about strong women. She envisions constructing a society for women.

I think that women bond differently than men. Dr. Kohout seemed to be realizing this towards the end of the story. I got the feeling throughout the story that she was a closet lesbian who couldn’t face that fact, but I didn’t have that same feeling at the end of the story. I could see her organizing an abused women’s shelter though. I think it is strange that I am not worried about Maggie and her history or future, I think she will be fine. But Dr. Kohout, I am worried about. Her story-thread takes a turn and seems unresolved. I have a lot of thoughts right now running through my head about this story. It will be a while before they rest.


This story deals with incest and sexuality.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant issues with editing or formatting.

Rating: **** Four stars

#Free for your #Kindle, 9/24/2015

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

Uglyville by Sawney Hatton

No Good Deed by M.P. McDonald

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Day Bailey Devlin Picked up a Penny / Rebecca Forster

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words

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


USA Today best selling author Rebecca Forster’s twenty-something books mostly fit within the broad mystery genre, some in the legal thriller subgenre and others harder to classify. Forster is a two-time winner in the Books and Pals Readers’ Choice Awards, with Before Her Eyes topping the mystery category in 2013 and Eyewitness (book 5 of the Witness Series) getting the nod from our readers in 2014.

For more, visit Forster’s website.


Oh, Boy! Oh, Bailey!

Find a penny, pick it up; just don't bank on Lady Luck.

Bailey Devlin is on the fast track to happiness. The bar exam is behind her (for the second time), Jeffery adores her, and her hobbled together family of misfits becomes dearer by the day. The future isn't just bright, it is dazzling. But Lady Luck has taken note and decides a little mischief is in order. As Bailey and Jeffery set out for a very special weekend, they come across a penny in the most amazing place. It doesn't take long for Bailey to realize that she made a big mistake picking this one up, and now Bailey is on a tear to put things right. But Lady Luck is no pushover and Bailey learns that bad luck might just be the best luck of all.”


Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck.

In the second installment of this trilogy, Bailey Devlin finds and picks up a Penny, which leads to good luck, right? Of course it does. Bailey's budding romance seems to be heating up when she's invited to meet her beau's family. The visit goes well, although everything the luck, Bailey's plans, and even the Penny take different forms than you might guess.

Romantic comedy is a change of pace for legal thriller author Rebecca Forster, but she's acquitting herself well in this trilogy with great characters, putting them in fun (and funny) situations, and in the process lead character Bailey is learning about life. As new challenges and obstacles are thrown in Bailey's path, she's realizing what's important to her and what she wants out of life.


This is the second volume of a trilogy. While it might work as a standalone, I'd advise reading the first installment before reading this one.

Format/Typo Issues:

Review is based on a pre-release copy. Can't judge the final product in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Secrets of Ice Cream Success / AD Hartley

Reviewed by: Michael Thal

Genre: Middle Grade

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

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


AD Hartley is a British author currently living in Kuala Lumpur. He began his career in animation and used that training in IT Finance. He has held a potpourri of jobs including a baker, website sports columnist, overseas expedition leader, and operation manager for an international youth development organization. The Secrets of Ice Cream Success, his first novel, is based on an animation script he wrote many moons ago.


Carlo Leodoni is twelve when he survives an accident that takes the life of Luigi Leodoni, his father. Now orphaned (his mom died during child birth), Carlo becomes the ward of his dad’s business partner, Randolph Fox. Two years later, when Uncle Randy is about to sell the Leodoni Ice Cream Factory to Luigi’s competitor, the odious Haverton Hill, Carlo becomes livid. Though he initially had no desire to inherit the family business, he now decides to keep his father’s legacy and re-open the factory, just so Hill can’t get his nasty hands on it.

With the help of his gang—Norton, Ben, Abi, and Newton—they assist Uncle Randy with the gargantuan job of jumpstarting a factory with deep roots in the community. Uncovering a mysterious book in his father’s study, Carlo believes its secrets could aid him in his efforts.


AD Hartley does an amazing job of creating realistic characters overcoming adversity during their summer holiday. The author has also developed a dynamic plot, which includes intrigue, suspense, villains, and perhaps a terrorist plot. All of this is done with humor and the help of a very lively ghost.

The Secrets of Ice Cream Success will attract middle grade and YA readers alike. The story’s pace is upbeat with enough twists and turns to hold the interest of its young audience.

The novel is a light-hearted coming of age tale placing ordinary kids in an extraordinary situation as they use teamwork to reach their goals.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars