Reviews 2015

Book Review December 2015

Author:  Cat Pleska
Title:  Rising on Comets
Publisher:  Vandalia Press -a division of West Virginia University Press

My Take:  The title intrigued me first. I don’t usually read more than romance that I can finish in a few hours and get back to my laundry.  When Cat Pleska sent it my way, I was glad that its essays so I could read a few, mark my spot and come back later though, it was hard to put down once I started. 
I didn’t expect this collection would hit on so many experiences of my own life because I really thought my own life was more unique and it was-but I related the stories Ms. Pleska penned from her life in this novel.  I smiled, laughed and almost cried-especially when reading the part about sitting on grandmother’s lap and listening to the beating of her heart.  That is one of my best memories of my Grammie. 
Reading this made me realize many of us have similar lives.  We all share the same fabric even if we come from different areas of the country-and in my experiences with exchange families from different countries-the planet.  We all have family, some of which are unusual.  We all overcome struggles and experience those amazing little joys-and some of the big ones too.  We love.  We grow and we try to be the best people we can. 

At least at this time during USA history, how we relate to the world and the world relates to us, this might be just the book to bring us all together and remind us about the important things. 

Grab a copy for yourself or a reader as a gift. It’s well written, will inspire and bring back memories of the things life gives. 

And yes, I do know that I've skipped a couple months of reviews....helping my kids so silly things like remodel their house and move and work...oh the list is endless!  It all takes away from my reading and writing time.  

Book Review August 2015
Author: Gina Barlean
Title:  Flames of Rosewood, Book 2

My Take:  Here’s what I’ll say first so everyone gets it, Gina’s a friend of mine and I’ve been excited to read one of her books since I found out she wrote. As any of my friends know, I rarely spend money on things-I am cheap. My friends remind me regularly and I’m not the least bit offended. I know it and my friends love me the way I am so it’s ok they aren’t afraid to tell me to stop being so damn cheap. Then I take a deep breath and act a tad bit normal-for a few seconds.  My husband’s been with me for 31 years and he has been known to give me that look that says “Damn tight ass” and not meant in a sexy way at all-though sometimes he does mean it in a sexy way.  (I’ve been walking around the section with my friend Denise-and its working a little)   Anyway, when Gina offered me a copy of her book for free, I jumped. I’ll be honest and that is what every author really wants.
Here’s what I didn’t get:  Its book two—right off the bat the author says to read book one.  And within the first couple chapters I knew reading book one first might be a good idea mostly because there are lots of characters…for me that’s always hard but for others that doesn’t matter.  I had to reread some places just to keep the characters straight.  There are a few places where character details are repeated.  I guess, once I read about characters’ thick glasses, I don’t need to be told about those again.  This happens with other details in the book occasionally.   Read book one first because I was a little lost starting in book two.
Here’s what I got: Gina’s a great author.  Read the book.  If book one is as well written as book 2 then it’s worth the cost even for my cheap ass.  The description of characters and events are great.  Not to flowery, just enough show verses tell.  There’s some stuff I didn’t get but that’s just because it’s not my usual read.

As a side note…I just finished Gina’s book of four shorts, Dark Works, which she offered for free today.  Both novels worth purchase on Amazon but do read book one first. 

Book Review July 2015

Author: Catharine Bramkamp
Title:  Future Gold
Publisher:   Eternal Press
My Take:  Series
Here’s what I didn’t get:  Future/fantasy isn’t quite my genre because my brain doesn’t digest fantasy very well.  I do much better visually.   Still, I read this straight through.  It does need a little work on point of view because some places skip from one character to the other and it’s hard to keep track-but only some places.  Like I said, this kind of work is hard for me anyway so, that said, I am the kind of person who has a time digesting it so to throw in a POV switch makes it that much harder for me. Not all readers will have that problem.
Here’s what I got: Cover art is really nice.  I like the show verses tell—I have a hard time with that when I write so I appreciate when it works and the author gets it most times.  What that means to me is, I read something a character says and then the description of what that character says builds on what was said it doesn’t explain what was said.  In building on the statement, I was lead to the next sentence and I could determine what the character was doing.  Example--“but people are people, and different is disconcerting.” He laughed and drained his glass. -- Keeps me reading more.  The author does this throughout the story.   Like I’ve said before, I don’t get fantasy because my brain doesn’t work that way-darn!  I hear reading other world novels are a lot more fun than I actually find them.  But, this author describes things in a way even I get it at least a little.
I thoroughly enjoyed the travels to the past…right up my alley.

‘The explosion rocked the night and the sound propelled the women from their beds.’ ‘He squinted at their destination as the sun cleared the eastern hills and turned the bay into sparkling waves.’  Good description in the book.  If you’re a reader who enjoys good description, you’ll like this.

Stories about future meets past and how the characters interact in the story are usually fun to read so people who enjoy those stories will like this one.


Book Review June 2015
Author:  Monica M. Brinkman
Title:  The Wheels Final Turn
Publisher:  All Things That Matter Press
My Take:  If you’re looking for a mystery that keeps you guessing as to who’s and what’s, this is a novel for you.  There are some issues with the work but nothing that distracts too much.  If you like those stories that sidetrack you from housework, laundry, yard work-oh, any kind of work at all, pick up a copy of this book.
Here’s what I didn’t get:  Right off there’s some issues with leading the reader.  As a writer, I’m guilty of that myself-a lot! One pretty famous writer once told me that I needed to let the reader decide what it meant to nod a head.  The shaking it up and down part wasn’t needed.  That’s a given.  Also—and I do LOVE them-adjectives.  One critique of my work said, “Adjective overload’, and this story’s got that.  But, I do love those so to me, that doesn’t matter either.
I’m not crazy about the dialogue but that’s me.   There are also some point of view issues.  As a writer, who does that all the time, I can see it but as a reader, that can be overlooked.
Here’s what I got:  There’s some really dark truth to this story.  Chapter One has some great examples of that though, as a positive person, I’d rather that not be!
This is a whole bunch of stories that come together in the end.  Some authors are great at this—this one is good too.  Keeping the stories apart but drawing them unexpectedly together in the end takes a lot of talent.  Keeping the reader guessing till the end on how the story will join takes even more.   There’s a few movies I’ve seen that do this.  I can’t recall the names just now, but I know the screenwriter who does it is always the same.


Book Reviews!

I’m a writer and a reader so I said, “Why not?”

I’ll take limited number of requests for book reviews to post on this page beginning in 2015.

Here’s the skinny:

 I  don’t particularly get into Sci-Fi because it’s a little out of my zone but I’ve read some so I’ll take it under consideration.  I won’t consider porn/heavy erotica/fetish-- not only am I not into it, I’m not posting about it here.  I like to keep my blog a place where everyone feels comfortable visiting without all the extra permission clicks.  

Contact me and, if I agree to review, I’ll request an E-copy of your work which I will definitely NOT share with anyone

 I’ll read and review and post on my review page—depending on how much time I have and the number of requests.  

  FREE is my favorite four letter ‘F’ word so, the review and the spot on this page is FREE.  I require a couple things from each review-ee which I'll share when you contact me.
 Be aware, this will be an honest review.  If I love it, I’ll let people know.  If I kinda love it, I’ll let people know. If there’s issues with whatever, grammar, flow, all that, I’ll put that in as well—but I’m not going to be mean or snarky—that’s just not my style.  If you don’t want honest, don’t request a review.
  Contact me using the contact tab.
Book Review May 2015

Author:  Robert Scott McKinnon
Title:  Jesse’s Hound
My Take:  A YA story about a dog largely written from the POV of the owner looking at the dog and making up things the dog might be saying at the time. It was a new genre for me and funny at times.
Here’s what I didn’t get:  There’s a lot of descriptive words packed into sentences.  It takes time for my brain to catch up with my reading.  There’s a few POV switches a lot of characters built into the story so if you’re reading, you’ll have to be able to keep up with the flow.  When you get into the story you’ll find an Eagle.  I don’t know that Eagles prey on dead things and in this story, a couple times the Eagle brings fish that’s been dead for a while.  If I remember, they’re not scavengers but I’m not sure about that so, unless you know, that’s not going to be a problem.  There’s a section where the humans and animals go on a fishing trip and the animals are separated.  They meet a pack of coyote’s and that section could be reworked just a bit to make it flow better.  The story is led by plot or maybe it’s best to day a string of plots linked together by people.  There are several main points and, as I said, in order to get this, you have to pay attention.
Here’s what I got:  
Interesting.  I actually loved the ‘dog’ words and introducing and Eagle as a rescue animal was a first for me. I really enjoy stories where the underdog comes out on top and this is about the Under-Dog.  It’s also a story about relationships between boys and men.  I’ve observed my husband and my boys and how they relate to each other (from experience, I know moms don’t relate to their boys the same as dads) and the author of this book catches that interaction pretty close.  The lady with the roses at the wrong address is really a great addition even though she’s a support character.
It’s a pretty good story that runs from the beginning of one day to the end of another and if you’d like to read a bit about a kid learning a lesson in life, it’s a good overall read.   This book takes up about three hours so, get it for your kids if you’ve got a trip planned.  I, for one, read it on my trek to Chicago—so, between airport time and flight time, it takes about that long to read. 
Many thanks to the Author for sending it to me!


Book Review April 2015
Author: Kathy and Becky Hepinstall
Title:  Sisters of Shiloh
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  or
My Take:  A civil war story of two sisters with two difference reasons for participating in the undertakings of that event.   Thank you to Becky Hepinstall-Hilliker, co-author of this book, for the ARC.
Here’s what I didn’t get:  Since this is an ARC copy, there’s a few, not many, places where the paragraphs don’t flow evenly for me but that doesn’t really distract from this work.  There are some Point of View switches that I had to reread again.
Here’s what I got:  I especially liked some of the writing.  Page 19 discusses a rumor—‘A rumor drifted around Winchester, tentative and wispy in the morning, turning darker by noon.”  I live in a small town and that perfectly explained the rumor mill in one sentence. 
Several pages later, there’s a description of one character giving a horse a piece of peanut brittle.  The way the authors describe the horse’s reaction is pretty great. 
Those kinds of descriptions are throughout the novel and will be enjoyed.
The civil war era is right up my interest alley.  I’ve written a series of books basked in the time period and, though the era bored me when I went to high school as most subjects did, I find it exciting as an adult. 
Add adventure to Civil War to Romance and you’ve got a book that’s worth the read for a weekend.  My thanks to the authors for sending me a copy.

Book Review March 2015
Author: Rico Austin
Title:  In the Shadow of Elvis
Publisher:   Nuevo Books 
My Take:  This book is an interesting account on writing a book about Elvis Presley’s unknown son. 
Here’s what I didn’t get:  Rico sent me a copy of this book and, since it takes me so long to finish reading novels, I just finished it a month or so ago.  I expected a book about Elvis. It took me a couple chapters to figure out what this book actually was about and then I fell into it. 
Here’s what I got: I want to go have a Corona with Rico and his friends in that little bar—which I have actually been to by the way, and maybe just tour the world with him.  More so than reading this entertaining log-like novel, he’s been so many places and I love to travel.  I found myself jealous because of the places he’s been and things he’s had opportunity to see…and the unique way in which the two things came together.  Almost fate-like but, I believe in fate and predestination…all that!   Great pictures, great account of the journey of a Ghostwriter and a quite interesting read all around.  I’ve read a couple of novels—fiction and non-about the life of Elvis Presley and this one offers a completely different take.   There’s descriptive writing and pictures readers will enjoy and fans of Elvis will enjoy this unique take on this section of ‘The King’s’ life.

 Book Review February 2015
Author: Kenneth Weene
Title:  Broody New Englander
Publisher:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 16, 2014) 
Bio: Having grown up in New England, Kenneth Weene moved to New York and subsequently to Arizona, but his accent and thinking have remained Down East. With Broody New Englander Ken shares his love of that region and especially of Maine with the world. Ken spent much of his adult life working as a psychologist and pastoral counselor, but the past ten years have seen the reawakening of his childhood dream to write. He has produced a stream of poetry, short stories, novellas and novels, all built around his love of language and his fascination with the human experience.
My Take: A poetic take on one man’s life.  Three stories:  The Stylite is one mans journey through love and life and his way of looking back on the most amazing things that happened.  You’ll be surprised, as I was, right at the intro to Mothers’ Teat, which wasn’t at all what I thought it would be.  And the final story, Hansom Dove—about a hotel—not the usual hotel either. I liked it.
Here’s what I didn’t get:  As I’ve said before, and my dear friends can attest, I’m a bit dense.  I have a smart and burning, sometimes off, whit, but I’ll miss things meant poetic unless someone points them out.  Shakespeare, though written beautifully, is lost on my ability when reading though I do get it better when I see it acted.  Why couldn’t he just write so it made sense to those of us who understand more visually?  I also have a hard time reading Harry Potter-and yes, I just heard you gasp as you read this.  I am one of those who have to see to understand.  That’s me.  
Here’s what I got: The author catches life in a lyrical way.  Like reading a sonnet, sometimes this reads so very sad, almost depressing, but the way its written makes even the sad parts awesome.  The way the sentences are worded, the way language is used; even I got the beauty behind the stories, the struggles, the joy, sadness and success of coming out the other side with a positive outlook and the strangest turn of a plot I’ve read in a long time in Hansom Dove.  
Once I read the Author Note, I understood more of the author’s outlook, the reasoning for this book. 
Not my usual read, because it requires attention to detail, but interesting just the same and, after reading this novel, if I don’t find this writer more well-known in a few years, I’ll be surprised.

 Book Review January 2015

Author: David Russell
Title:  Dreamtime Sensuality
Bio: Resident in the UK. Writer of poetry, literary criticism, speculative fiction and romance. Main poetry collection Prickling Counterpoints (1998), poems published in online International Times. Main speculative works High Wired On (2002), Rock Bottom (2005). Translation of Spanish epic La Araucana, Amazon 2013. Romances: Self’s Blossom, Explorations, Further Explorations, Therapy Rapture, Darlene, An Ecstatic Rendezvous (all pub eXtasy (Devine Destinies). Singer-songwriter/guitarist. Main CD albums Bacteria Shrapnel and Kaleidoscope Concentrate. Many tracks on You Tube, under ‘Dave Russell’
My Take: A collection of four stories of seduction and fantasy seduction, 108 pages: a little erotic for my taste even though sex isn’t actually described in detail but I agreed to review.   
First of all, the writing in some places is almost poetic.  There’s some pretty flowery language usage that, if curbed, could still add to the story without the distraction I read.   I didn’t understand the reasoning for all that until I read David Russell’s bio.  I’ll have to go check out his poetry sometime.
Second, in investigating the publisher, they publish ‘unusual and original’ which explained most of this writing.  Reading this was almost like having an unusual dream that seemed to last all night jumping from scene to scene without a clear ending.  I should have been prepared as that’s in the title.  A reader who enjoys an open ended story would enjoy the format because it leaves much to the imagination.  I kind of liked it.
Here’s what I didn’t get:  Right away, each story flows unusually and is a little hard track.  When I first started submitting my work to agents, one told me I needed to learn to ski downhill.  This book is the same in many places.  If the writing was tightened up and reworded to flow in a downhill motion and the main characters defined a little more, especially in part three, each piece of this book would be a more beneficial read.  Sometimes the dialogue isn’t natural.  In places, neither are the descriptions of the way the characters move.   I was a little distracted by all that.  That doesn’t mean everyone will be. As it’s written, this reads like an over edited movie.  We’ve all seen the film that needed ten or fifteen more minutes. 
Here’s what I got: There’s plenty of room to make each short into a great read with lots of action, plot and the start of beautiful settings.  Story four starts in the water and the description of the sea, the boats and the way the heroine associates with the water are good. The author only needs to add a little more description and a little less direction.  I especially like the introduction paragraph in story three.  It’s beautiful –and poetic—and I’m not a poet.
Each section of this anthology has a solid and interesting storyline. For a Sunday afternoon read, booklovers with tastes a little out of the norm will enjoy it, providing they ignore some overuse of flowery language and definite point of view switches.
I’m off to check out the search YouTube channel and the poetry mentioned in the bio. 

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