Accepting NO review requests

As of 28 February 2016, due to decline in my health and chronic illness

Thursday, February 28, 2013

THE LAST DEGREE by Dina Rae_Blog Tour and Review

Tour Banner
Author Bio:
Dina Rae is a new author here to stay. As a former teacher, she brings an academic element to her work. Her three novels, Halo of the Damned, The Last Degree, and Bad Juju weave research and suspense throughout the plots. Her short story, Be Paranoid Be Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character. Dina also freelances for various entertainment blogs.
Book Blurb:
The Last Degree is a fictionalized account of how Freemasons and other secret societies set up the world for takeover. Ancient writings foretell a ‘Shining One’ who emerges as the world’s prophet. A murder of a Most Worshipful mason resembles a secret oath. A cop gets too close to solving the crime. Paranoid preppers go underground, preparing for war.
Headlines such as the Norway massacre, meltdown of the European Union, unscrupulous media, animal die-offs, Middle Eastern unrest, and U.S. shrinking power make the plot relevant to present day. The Last Degree is an ode to Christians, Birthers, 2012ers, Truthers, preppers, and/or other conspiracy junkies who enjoy Dan Brown, Jesse Ventura, Brad Meltzer, Alex Jones, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. A sequel will soon be available.
Social Links
 Book Giveaway
Dina Rae is giving away five (5) digital copies of her book ‘The Last Degree’ through a Rafflecopter giveaway. If you would like to post the book giveaway, simply copy the code below onto your site. This begins on February 28 and end on March 10. Feel free to post this giveaway during that period.
Tour Stop List
March 1 - Mallory Heart Reviews Review
March 1 - The Cerebral Writer Guest Post
March 2 - This College Dropout Review
March 2 – Free Book Dude Review (Guest Reviewer)
March 3 - My Cozie Corner Review
March 4 - sylv-jenkins Guest Post
March 5 - Zombie ACRES Guest Post
March 6 - The FlipSide of Julianne Interview
March 7 - Mallory Heart Reviews Excerpt
March 7 - sylv-jenkins Review

Book Excerpt

“I am sending you a master craftsman named Hiram-abi, who is extremely talented.  His mother is from the tribe of Dan in Israel, and his father is from Tyre.  He is skillful at making things from gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and he also works with stone and wood.
2 Chronicles 2:13-14

The mystery of Hiram Abif originates from the Biblical passage above.  Secret societies have given him credit for constructing Solomon’s temple.  According to legend, Hiram used talented craftsman and secrecy, such as passwords for orchestrating its construction.
Solomon didn't like Hiram's growing power, along with the attraction the Queen of Sheba had for him.  Some scholars imply he may have had something to do with his death. Hiram remains the primary protagonist and martyr in modern day Masonic circles.

--if you like the Prologue, check out Mallory Heart Reviews' review of the book, then look for the Excerpt of Chapter One, right here, on March 7.--

Review of The Last Degree by Dina Rae

5 stars

A complicated murder/terrorism/secret society mystery bouncing back and forth between time periods, “The Last Degree” also includes elements of romance and love; political stances and affiliations; and a plethora of “behind the scenes” kingmaking, queenmaking, and juggling of governments and economies. The novel doesn’t blink at violence, either, whether on the individual scale or on the mass scale. Much of the covert activity is due to the higher councils of Freemasonry, but the Illuminati are also included, and an annual meeting called “Vanderbild” which strongly put me in mind of the rumours about Bohemian Grove.

Although I didn’t read this in one sitting, the story did maintain my reader’s attention throughout. Most definitely fans of Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” and “Angels and Demons” are going to devour “The Last Degree,” as are conspiracy theorists of many stripes, and all who expect and are concerned about a coming “New World Order” and “one-world government.”

THE BIRDMAN CYCLE by Thomas Rose-Masters

The Birdman CycleThe Birdman Cycle by Thomas Rose-Masters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of The Birdman Cycle by Thomas Rose-Masters
5 Stars

Readers in search of splatterpunk gore need not apply here. The author mentions that this is a novel of “literary psychological suspense”; for this reviewer, it seems more akin to the Classic Gothic subgenre of the 19th century, with resonances of a few contemporary novels and novelists. Carefully couched in an unnamed location, the story centers around three individuals—or is it more than three?---living in a vast penthouse apartment high atop the unnamed city. Laura, Nick, and the incredibly advanced and precocious five-year-old daughter Reese: on the surface, with the wide new apartment, Nick being offered an architectural partnership of sorts, Laura continuing her beloved teaching, Reese with her artistry—everything should go swimmingly and this story could be a paean to normality. Far from it, the horror creeps up on silent cat paws (or maybe, like mist in the night) until the reader is ready to scream aloud at certain of the revelations (I expect I really did scream when reading Reese’s narrative of a dream), and then eventually, the psychological horror is ratcheted tighter and higher, till every nerve is straining—both the nerves of each individual family member, and the nerves of the reader.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DEHUMANIZED by Michael Loring_Blog Tour

Title: Dehumanized
Series: Dehumanized  #1
Author: Michael Loring
Genre: Paranormal Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Bokheim Publishing
Format: Ebook and Paperback
Length: Paperback 522 pages | Ebook 524 pages

Purchase: Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle |

Book Description:

A deadly and currently incurable disease has been released as the result of an unknown experiment that went awry. Dubbed 'Lycanthropy' by the media due to its similarity to the horror movie genre depiction about werewolves, anyone infected begins to change, and every night of the full moon the 'beast' within is released. Within one year, lycanthropy spread throughout Europe, Asia and has now infected the USA. In an attempt to control and treat the outbreak, concerned governments have begun creating camps to contain those who are infected and to help find a cure. Despite rumors comparing these camps to the concentration camps of almost 70 years ago, the US government maintains these camps have the best interests of the public and the residents at heart. Expectations for a cure in the next year remain high.

Ryan Zachery lived his life the way all high school teenagers should - carefree, and oblivious to anything around him. He had an attractive girlfriend and hope for the future. One night when he was walking home he was attacked by an unknown assailer. He awoke in the hospital to learn he had been infected by lycanthropy, a disease he had heard about but had ignored.

Taken by armed guards and dragged away from his parents who did not understand what was happening, Ryan was thrown into a US camp made for those 'suffering' from lycanthropy. Treated like prisoners, he and other lycanthropes were abused by the guards and by their own kind. Scientists regularly performed experiments that promised to treat the disease, yet only caused pain. If Ryan or any of the other roommates acted up or demanded answers, they were thrown into solitary, nicknamed the 'dungeon', and ignored until they became docile once more.

But at the night of the full moon, the beast within him is freed. The beast hates the prison and Ryan. When an experimental procedure allows the beast and Ryan to communicate, the two enemies become unlikely allies who will stop at nothing to tear down the walls keeping them prisoner. With the beast's help, Ryan learns how to change at will. When even his own kind begin to fear him, he creates a plan to release all lycanthropes. They caged the beast, but now he will show them that he will never be dehumanized.

About the Author:

Michael Loring was born in Bristol, Connecticut, but has lived in a variety of places such as Florida and Tennessee. He likes to think of himself as an amateur Lycanthropologist, studying werewolves ever since he was eight years old when he first saw An American Werewolf In London. He spent most of his life switching between home school and public school, always focusing on his passion of writing no matter what. His interest in writing was sparked in the second grade when his teacher encouraged him to write short stories for the class, earning him more than one award at school assemblies for Creative Writing. He currently resides back in his birthplace of Connecticut with a house full of women who like to drive him up the wall until he finishes his chores. Though they seem to avoid him during the night of the full moon for some unexplainable reason…

Website | Twitter: @MichaelLoring |" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Feb. 25th- A Bibliophiles Thoughts on Books (Review/Giveaway)
Feb. 26th- Kaidans Seduction (Review/Giveaway)
Feb. 27th- Buffy's Ramblings (Review/Giveaway)
Feb. 28th- Mallory Heart Reviews (Review/Giveaway)
Mar. 1st- Sharing Links and Wisdom (Review/Giveaway)
Mar. 4th- Reader Girls (Review/Giveaway)
Mar. 4th- Sweet n' Sassi (Review/Giveaway)
Mar. 5th- Andi's Book Reviews (Review/Giveaway)
Mar. 7th- Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess (Review/Giveaway)
Mar. 8th- Pavarti K Tyler at Fighting Monkey Press (Review/Giveaway)


Review of Dehumanized by Michael Loring

What if: Lycanthropy is an infection, not a legend? What if: humans become werewolves during a Full Moon, simply because they were bitten by a werewolf and the blood exchange mutates their DNA? What if: governments consider safety above human rights, and incarcerate “werewolves” in camps bound by barbed wire fencing? What if: “werewolf” sufferers are considered really as lower than prison inmates, abused by guards, frequently subjected to solitary confinement in a freezing “Dungeon” room and allowed to fight each other with only further punishment? What if some of the research scientists are evil enough to have taken a page from Dr. Mengele?

Sounds like a horridly dystopian society, doesn’t it? Such is the case in which young Ryan finds himself, after being bitten inadvertently. However, even in the midst of the most horrible conditions (as had been demonstrated in the concentration camps of WWII and in refugee camps ever since), hope does spring eternal in the human soul, and there is that miniscule possibility of finding friendship, romance, even love, if one tries diligently enough.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The Eternal SphinxmanThe Eternal Sphinxman by J.E. Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of The Eternal Sphinxman
5 stars

“The Eternal Sphinxman” is an utterly engrossing and fast-paced mystery which I read in one sitting, simply because I could not bear to put it down until the denouement(s). This is one mystery in which the author is very careful not to telegraph the results; there are several possibilities, but the reader won’t know until the end which possibility, if any, is the accurate one. Peeling back the layers of façade at a Greek fraternity, at a “historically black only college” in Southern Louisiana, author Jones treats readers to a smorgasbord of characters, activity, and twisted plotting. Even the backdrop characters (such as two of the main characters encounter later on in another town) are catchy, intriguing, and carriers of facts about the situations. The fraternity becomes something of a character itself, as it takes on a life of its own, and that works wonderfully well in the context of this novel.

I totally enjoyed this story and expect to be rereading it in future.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 25, 2013

THE ENCHANTMENT SERIES by Alicia Rivoli_Book 2 Cover Reveal

for those of you who enjoyed MERE ENCHANTMENT, Book 1 in the ENCHANTMENT  series by Alicia Rivoli, you don't have long to wait! Book 2 has a projected release date of April 5 (2013) and the cover:

Isn't it gorgeous--and intriguing?

For those who haven't read Book 1, here's a reprise of my review of it:

Mere EnchantmentMere Enchantment by Alicia Rivoli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of Mere Enchantment  by Alicia Rivoli

I received a review ebook copy from the author in exchange for my fair and impartial review.

“Mere Enchantment” is a moving and imaginative contemporary/fantasy postulating an alternate “world,” one located under mysterious Mirror Lake in the Rockies. Preston, almost eighteen, has lived exclusively in a cabin on the lake which belonged to his grandfather, who also owned another cabin on the opposite shore. From early childhood Preston’s father Jack has related stories of a fairytale-like world, Mere, which had been attacked by an evil duke and his insurmountable minion creatures. Preston of course always assumed these were bedtime stories, intended to soothe a fretful child to sleep. Little does he realize they are factual.

This summer Jack has rented the other cabin for the first time, to two families, each of whom has a son and a daughter. Preston, who is ordered into an arranged marriage as soon as he turns eighteen soon, instead falls for Chloe, one of the daughters. Almost immediately terrible things occur: violent storms, tornados, his folks go missing temporarily, and his father orders him to the cave beyond the other cabin. Quickly he is joined by the four other adolescents, and an entirely new world unfolds to them.

I certainly hope “Mere Enchantment” will be the first of a series, as I want to know what happens “after—.”

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Alicia's site is:
Alicia's site is

Mere Enchantment at Amazon

WORTH THE RISK by Anne Lange_Review

Worth The RiskWorth The Risk by Anne   Lange
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Worth the Risk by Anne Lange
5 stars

A smoothly-written and well-executed erotic romance novel, “Worth the Risk” immediately captures the reader’s attention and emotions and maintains that grasp throughout until the ending, leaving the reader to relax in satisfaction with a “well done!” to the characters and the author. Some ten years earlier, Molly and Tanner, lovers for some years, were about to graduate from University and move on to their new, “adult,” lives. Tanner fully expected marriage and a lifetime with his beloved Molly—until she informed him “it’s over between us.” He disappears from her life, until a camping reunion of their friends ten years later. Now Tanner wants answers (so does the reader) as to why she suddenly sent him away.

This reader had considered a few possibilities, but the author skillfully avoids telegraphing the reasons, so that the reader will be just as surprised as Tanner. The working-out of the plot for Tanner and Molly, and for their friends, is realistic and possible. I predict romance aficionados are really going to love “Worth the Risk.”

Rated 18+ for erotic content

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

SKY by R. E. Palmer_Review

SKYSKY by R.E.  Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of Sky by R. E. Palmer
4 stars

A witty coming-of-age novel couched in science fiction paranormal fantasy, “Sky” revolves around an adolescent young man in London, Tomas; and the girl who is literally the “girl of his dreams.” He early on named her “Sky,” although her actual name is Carla-and she is now a University student in Australia. In real life terms, they’ve never met, but they are together nearly every night for years, in dreams. Tomas also has a new dream companion, one who takes him to previously unseen worlds, entices him with the beauty of their creations—and then offers to take him to such a world. In reality, the entity now appearing to him, Selene, has an agenda definitely her own; and it is not to save Tomas’ world, or Tomas, or his beloved dream girl Sky.

I found it easy to suspend my disbelief and treat this story as if the events (far-fetched as many of them are) were, or could be, real. I fully entered into the psyches of Tomas and Carla, as well as Shelley, a journalist from Sydney who is put on to Carla’s case when the girl seems to fully recover from an inexplicable coma—yet those who come into contact with her die.

I reviewed a complimentary e-book copy provided in return for my fair and impartial review.

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THE SHOLES KEY by Clarissa Draper (Evans and Blackwell #1)_Review

The Sholes KeyThe Sholes Key by Clarissa Draper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of The Sholes Key by Clarissa Draper
Evans & Blackwell #1
5 stars

In this first of the Sophia Evans and Detective Inspector Theo Blackwell series, young single mothers are being targeted for abduction and subsequent killing. Blackwell understands it’s a serial killer involved, but the puzzling numerical and later, alphabetic, codes left with the victims make no sense; until he meets a government-employed cryptanalyst, the brilliant, and beautiful, Sophie Evans, whose current personal life and work status are in turmoil as she had been ordered five months ago to go undercover. Sophie is tracking a businessman who MI5 believes to be the mastermind of a violent animal rights group, but she hasn’t been able to discover the key to unlock the embedded emails ordering a new bombing target.

Theo Blackwell has a personal life in continuous turmoil. Years ago his beloved wife Agneta was struck by an intoxicated driver. She survived, but has no memory, much like an Alzheimer’s patient. Associating with the beauteous Sophie reminds him of all he has lost, but he must persevere before this clever killer takes out any more mothers.

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Artificial Absolutes

Written by Mary Fan

Jane Colt is just another recent college grad working as an Interstellar
Confederation office drone—until the day she witnesses her best friend, Adam,
kidnapped by a mysterious criminal. An extensive cover-up thwarts her efforts to
report the crime, shaking her trust in the authorities. Only her older brother, Devin,
believes her account.

Devin hopes to leave behind his violent past and find peace in a marriage to the
woman he loves. That hope shatters when he discovers a shocking secret that
causes him to be framed for murder.

With little more than a cocky attitude, Jane leaves everything she knows to flee
with Devin, racing through the most lawless corners of the galaxy as she searches

for Adam and proof of her brother’s innocence. Her journey uncovers truths about
both of them, leading her to wonder just how much she doesn’t know about the

people she loves.



All the More Perfect

“Story older than the skies,
“It’s been told ten thousand times,
“Not the first, won’t be the last,
“Same old tale in different rhymes.”

As Devin entered Sarah’s apartment, he noticed she’d left her demo song playing on her
digimech. She must’ve left in a rush.

“Still, there’s something to be said,
“Maybe something to be heard,
“Faiths adrift in falsehoods found,
“Meanings lost within a word.”

Sarah’s voice shimmered in the air, rich as emeralds, glowing softly like a distant star—
perfect. Devin was certain she would make it as a singer.

The door closed behind him. Outside the window, airtrains on ribbon-thin rails and flying
transports swam around Kydera City’s gleaming skyscrapers.

A Moray spacecraft soared across the atmosphere, its serpentine form heading toward the
resplendent headquarters of the Interstellar Confederation in the heart of the Silk Sector. Gray
diplomatic markings. Probably the delegation from the Wiosper system.

Devin pulled his black slate out of his pocket, unfolded it from its triangle shape, and
snapped it flat. The silvery touchscreen glowed. He checked the time at the top, then realized he
had no idea when Sarah would be home. He considered calling her, but he didn’t want to risk
disturbing her in the middle of something important. The workday hadn’t ended yet.

All he could do was wait. He might be there for hours, or she might walk through the
door the moment he looked up. Either way, the thought of seeing the woman he loved terrified
him. He had stared down laser guns and betrayed warlords, knowing how deadly the
consequences could be, and yet a mere question had him pacing and almost shaking in fear.

Sarah DeHaven, will you marry me?

Every rational instinct within him had warned him not to come, but for once, he’d
allowed himself to follow the siren’s song of impulse instead.

* * *

Less than an hour ago, that afternoon had been an ordinary, monotonous workday at
Quasar Bank Corporation. Devin had waited idly at his desk for his manager’s approval before
moving forward with his project. Although the company was armed with more money than the
entire Republic of Kydera, it was still bogged down by bureaucracy.

The weekend was only a day away. Devin thought about how he and Sarah would spend
it. Then he remembered she’d scheduled back-to-back auditions, meetings, and singing gigs.
Ever since her career had taken off, he’d seen less and less of her, and he was beginning to feel
left behind.

It hit him.

Sarah was a rising idol, poised to become a pop culture icon. Her perfectly sculpted face
and luminous black eyes were made to splash across the stars. Soon, her mesmerizing voice
would reach into the souls of trillions. Every person in the galaxy who was touched by her songs
would adore her, revere her. Ordinary citizens and exalted celebrities, workers and bosses, wage
slaves and royalty—all would want her, and all would love her. Perhaps even as much as Devin
loved her.

And there he was, just another Silk Sector drone, a “tool” like any other.

Why is she with me?

She elegantly wove her way through a perilous thicket, never living the same day twice,
while he’d walked the straight and narrow path to normality for more than six years. Sarah

embraced life’s passions with a daring élan, whereas Devin had done his best not to care, not to
think, in an attempt to simply… be.

It wasn’t because he was afraid of the unknown. No, he’d been down that path, following
his passions straight to hell. Although many would call his current situation dull or meaningless,
he found it infinitely preferable to his turbulent teenage years and the white hole of chaos his life
became after that. Those days were behind him, and he wanted nothing more than a normal,
peaceful existence.

And Sarah.

Sarah, who melted his self-imposed prison bars in a haze of light, who showed him that
life could have meaning beyond the frozen ideal he’d tried to become.

A second realization struck Devin:

I want to spend the rest of my life with her.

It was irrational. He had known her less than half a year. It was insane—and stupid—but
he’d never been more certain of anything. Perhaps he would get shot down, but he had to ask,
and soon. That day.

Right now.

Devin had abruptly locked his computer and left. As he passed his coworkers, ignoring
their odd looks and indignant questions, he contacted his bank via slate.

After retrieving the engagement ring bequeathed to him by his mother, he’d found
himself on his way to Sarah’s apartment, hardly knowing what he was doing.

The holographic calendar on the wall indicated that Sarah had a meeting with a producer,
but neglected to mention the time. Not very helpful.

Outside, the serene logo of Ocean Sky Corporation lit up as the golden Kyderan sun
faded behind the twisting tower of the company’s headquarters. Sarah was in that building or
maybe one of its chiseled satellites. Whichever housed the music division.

Devin couldn’t remember the last time he’d been scared. Whether he’d had a gun to his
temple or an arsenal exploding around him, he’d always managed to keep his head straight. But
waiting for Sarah to come home, he practically panicked as the lunacy of what he intended spun
through his head.

Yet if everything else were cast into doubt, he would still hold on to the one absolute
truth that brought him there:

I love you, Sarah DeHaven. Will you marry me?

* * *

Their first encounter had been like a scene from one of those hackneyed holodramas for
teen girls and lonely women. Devin had waited in the reception area of Ocean Sky’s
headquarters with the rest of his Quasar team, preparing to pitch the old tech corporation a new
financial product to increase investment. Even an institution as large and established as Ocean

Sky wasn’t immune to the dangers of time. Although it produced headline-grabbing machines
that pushed the limits of the Interstellar Confederation’s restrictions on AI technology,
consumers responded more to the company’s rival, Blue Diamond Technology Corporation.

The double doors opened. Sarah’s loose sapphire dress flowed behind her as she
approached the reception screen. She glowed with an ethereal aura that was otherworldly and
enticing, a radiance beyond mere beauty.

“Sarah DeHaven. I have a meeting with Ocean Sky Talent at two.”

The computer responded with mechanical crispness, “Have a seat, Miss DeHaven.”

Sarah glided into a seat across from Devin and crossed her shapely legs. She carried her
neck long like a swan queen, betraying no emotion. She glanced around the room. Her full ruby
lips became a thin line as she fiddled with a strand of long, black hair.

Knowing he shouldn’t stare, Devin forced his gaze away. He wasn’t alone in his
fascination. All eyes in the room fixed on Sarah with longing expressions that seemed to say,
“Look my way.” There was something magnetic about her delicate face, slender wrists, and
perfectly curved figure.

Sarah’s alluring onyx gaze met his. Her face warmed into a demure, inviting smile. She
lowered her eyelids.

Against his better judgment and almost against his will, Devin got up and approached.
Her gaze followed him.

He didn’t know what else to do, so he smiled and tried to make conversation. “I couldn’t

help overhearing that you’re meeting with the talent division. Are you an actress?”
“Singer, actually.” Sarah extended a hand. “I’m Sarah DeHaven. And you are?”
Devin took it. “Devin Colt.”
Sarah glanced around the room again. “Everyone’s staring at me. Is there something

caught in my hair?”
“No. You’re perfect.” He meant it as an offhand comment, but Sarah looked down as

though embarrassed. It must have come out more expressive than intended.
Silence. Now what?
“You could have smiled at anyone here.” Too late, Devin realized he was saying aloud

the question he should have kept to himself. “Why me?”
Sarah regarded him with slight confusion. “I don’t know. It’s like something was telling

me I should get to know you.”
“I’d like to know you too. Are you doing anything later?”
Her face brightened. “No. Not anymore.”
Previously, Devin had preferred the company of shallow beauties he barely knew and had

no intention of knowing. Sarah wasn’t one of them. She avoided the hollow flirting and
meaningless banter he’d grown accustomed to, navigating around his shield of artificiality, the
façade he presented to the world. She even confessed the reason she’d agreed to go out with him.

Her career-driven life left her craving any kind of human connection outside her industry, and so
she had chosen to take a chance on him.

The night had ended with a promise for another, which ended with a promise for yet
another—and by then, Devin had allowed his walls to crumble.

It hadn’t taken long for his father, who insisted upon knowing every detail of his grown
children’s lives, to learn that Devin finally had a steady girlfriend.

Dad had pulled him into his office, closed the door, and lowered the shades. He crossed
his arms and expressed his displeasure at having learned of his son’s social life from a third
party, then probed Devin for every detail. “It’s about time you got your act together. Is she
intelligent? Is she ambitious? Are you sure she’s not using you, that she’s not simply better than
the others at hiding it?”

Devin had been sure. He’d been equally sure that nothing he did—short of, perhaps,
being elected President of Kydera—would be good enough for the illustrious Victor Colt. Even
then, his father would probably ask why he hadn’t reached higher and aimed for Chancellor of
the Interstellar Confederation. Although Devin did everything he could to become the person his
parents wanted him to be, he knew he lacked the ambitious desire that had driven Victor Colt and
the late Elizabeth Lin-Colt to become two of the most influential people in Kydera. He

sometimes wondered if he’d inherited anything from them other than his mother’s dark eyes and
hair and his father’s height and angular bone structure.

He also knew that, at twenty-eight, he should choose his own future, but after the hell his
decisions had caused seven years ago, he had silenced any notions of “Could I?” or “Should I?”
and surrendered to “I will.” He would do as his father commanded—and remain indifferent to
what it was. Yet he still wasn’t good enough.

“Come on, baby,” Sarah had said once. “Don’t let your father bother you. He loves you,
Devin. He wouldn’t care so much if he didn’t.”

She was so perceptive, willing to listen patiently and always ready with the right kind of
counsel. She was also as busy as he was. Rather than being irritated or saddened by his lack of
spare time, she’d said she preferred it that way so she could advance her own career without
neglecting him. At the same time, Sarah had told him many times how much she appreciated
having him there to save her from isolation.

So she would be happy if he proposed, right?

Mary Fan

Mary Fan lives in New Jersey, where she is currently
working in financial marketing. She has also resided in
North Carolina, Hong Kong, and Beijing, China. She has
been an avid reader for as long as she can remember and
especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and out-of-thisworld
experiences of science fiction and fantasy.

Mary has a B.A. in Music, specializing in composition,
from Princeton University and enjoys writing songs as
much as writing stories. She also enjoys kickboxing,
opera singing, and exploring new things—she’ll try

almost anything once.


Artificial AbsolutesArtificial Absolutes by Mary Fan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan
4 stars

At the heart of this science-fiction novel is the theme of consciousness. What does consciousness entail? Are only humans conscious? Set in the future on a far-flung solar system, wealthy siblings Jane and Devin Colt must confront these questions, while simultaneously on a race to preserve their lives, and to acquire the right and capability to live those lives as they choose to live. Much of the novel revolves around “Artificial Intelligence.” In our world today that simply signifies computers which can think for themselves; in the future, in this world, it means so much more. Of course, nothing is going to be as or what it seems, and both Jane and Devin will discover this, and then need to find the strength in themselves to break out of the mold their powerful father has chosen for them. “Artificial Absolutes” is a story of evolving consciousness, and evolution in personal growth.

I reviewed a complimentary e-book copy provided in return for my fair and impartial review.

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KINGSLEY WOODS by Joan Conning Afman_Review

Kingsley WoodsKingsley Woods by Joan Conning Afman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Kingsley Woods by Joan Conning Afman
5 stars

A new gated upscale community located at the site of a former long-term forest, Kingsley Woods magnetizes many of the area’s former residents to return and buy home sites there. One of those is Jaycee, who left after a bad experience in her twenties, and must cope with the memories of her early life, as well as with new bizarre events in the neighborhood, especially in the remaining wooded area. In a community which ought to be peaceful, neighbor-friendly, and relaxed, the tension is ratcheted up almost moment by moment, until surely something must break.

I totally enjoyed this engrossing, excellent novel, which so readily suspended disbelief. As a reader, I felt more as if I was a witness, believing the odd events and sightings which occurred. Author Joan Conning Afman has a skillful wit and a deft hand with characterization; I came to know the populace of the novel as if I myself had known them for years. The paranormal or perhaps Supernatural elements work well as part of the ongoing plotting. Additionally, the author weaves in some past history, from Colonial times, and does so in such a way that it becomes another thread in the narrative. I especially appreciated the approach to history as referencing people, with their distinct emotions, drives, and fears, rather than as dry dates on a page.

I applaud this novel, which I read in one sitting, totally oblivious to the world around me, and which I will definitely reread. I reviewed a complimentary e-book copy provided for my fair and impartial review.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

THE CALLING by Robert Swartwood_Review

The CallingThe Calling by Robert Swartwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review eof The Calling by Robert Swartwood
5 stars

“The Calling” is an exceptionally satisfying novel of the Supernatural. Set in one of the same locales as the “prequel,” “Spooky Nook,” this story is fine as a stand-alone (but I recommend, for the reader’s continued satisfaction, reading “Spooky Nook” as well). Author Robert Swartwood delves into some Supernatural venues not usually the purview of horror writers, makes that choice work excellently, and horrifies readers while keeping us thrilled with the novel’s progress and pace.

Christopher has just turned eighteen and graduated; like many adolescents, he acts out quite a bit and stays out late. The next morning, after oversleeping, he discovers he is the only person left alive in his home: his parents have  been slaughtered. Initially suspected of the murders, he is eventually exonerated and sent from his Pennsylvania home town to upstate New York to live near his grandmother and detective uncle. On the surface, his life seems almost normal, but Christopher and his family members have already served a session in hades, so to speak, and as is gradually revealed, nothing is normal about him, his family, or his ancestors--or the town to which he relocates.

Robert Swartwood keeps the Supernatural heat turned up, yet at the same time we are given a perspective on Christopher’s coming of age, in the emotional, metaphoric, and metaphysical sense. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

KEKAJU AND THE HIDDEN SWAMP by Robert W. Sweeting_Review

Kekaju and the Hidden SwampKekaju and the Hidden Swamp by Robert W. Sweeting
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of Kekaju and the Hidden Swamp
4 stars

A boy’s thirteenth birthday ought to be a really special day, especially for a boy who’s already had enough sorrow in his young life. Not so for Zachary Bonroy, whose mother went out to the market one day and just never returned. On his thirteenth birthday, as his father and he are headed out to breakfast in New Orleans’ French Quarter, Zach stops to check out the home of his Great-Aunt’s former husband—and his father is killed in a senseless streetcar accident. Now Zach is alone and wants to be on his own—but his wacky Great Aunt shows up and takes him to her home, an isolated run-down house on the edge of a long-abandoned plantation, next to a swamp. It isn’t too long before Zach discovers talking animals, good vs. evil in the swamp, and some of the secrets hidden at the old plantation home.

A multi-threaded contemporary fantasy, and what promises to be only the first in a series, “Kekaju and the Hidden Swamp” juggles a wild cast of characters, including many talking animals and wildlife—even some of the trees talk in this story! And oh, yes, this is Southern Louisiana, so don’t forget the voodoo and the zombies.

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SPOOKY NOOK by Robert Swartwood_Review

Spooky NookSpooky Nook by Robert Swartwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Spooky Nook by Robert Swartwood
5 stars

“Spooky Nook” is a shorter prequel to Mr. Smartwood’s novel “The Calling.” This was the first I had read by this author, and I immediately went to “The Calling” as soon as I finished this. Despite the shorter framework used here, the author manages to present a fully-fleshed out drama, good characterizations, very unexpected plot twists (I’m thinking of a snake with diagonal stripes rolling over and over in place—now you see the stripe, now you don’t), and a clever and engrossing denouement. All that doesn’t even include the Supernatural-or perhaps, preternatural-overtones.

Writer Keith has been in total creative limbo since the disappearance of his wife eight months earlier. Law enforcement has no clues, and all Keith knows is that the heart and soul have gone out of him. Then late one evening at a Chinese restaurant, an elderly lady appears, announcing she is his long-forgotten first-grade teacher—and she asks him to drive her to Maine. That’s just the beginning, as Keith and “Anna” head out on a journey that is in a way more of a Vision Quest than it is a trip to a Stephen King autographing session. Readers who love horror, the Supernatural, finely-tuned mysteries, and excellent writing need to snatch up “Spooky Nook.” (Just wait till you discover the meaning of the title term!)

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MURDER AS A FINE ART by David Morrell_Review

Murder as a Fine ArtMurder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
5 stars

“Murder as a Fine Art” is a compelling and engrossing mystery, a suspenseful thriller as only author David Morrell can deliver. I truly felt as if I was an active observer in the events, living in this era, as mid-19th century London is so vividly detailed and brought to vivid life through art. In 1854 in London, a series of murders commences, and the unknown murder (in whose mind we walk) considers himself an artist. Indeed, he constantly plays off the motif of the famous essay by Thomas DeQuincey, “Murder as a Fine Art,” which elaborated on the 1811 Ratcliff Highway slayings in London. The monumental mysteries surrounding the 1854 slayings (and those of 1811) are matched by the incredible depths of characterizations, as author Morrell gives us characters to populate this novel that are perhaps even more than three-dimensional, so deeply are they related. High recommendations are in order for “Murder as a Fine Art.”

I reviewed a complimentary e-book copy in return for my fair and impartial review.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

INTO THE DARK by Alison Gaylin_Review

Into the Dark: A Novel of SuspenseInto the Dark: A Novel of Suspense by Alison Gaylin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Into the Dark by Alison Gaylin
5 stars

“Into the Dark” is a tautly plotted and multilayered riveting suspense novel. Filled with a plethora of “what if” questions, this mystery kept my attention on the page and racing to unravel the next denouement. Brenna Spector, a part-time single mom (custody is shared with her ex) of a precociously intelligent and well-grounded thirteen-year-old daughter, is a private investigator. Trained in that profession by the oddball Errol Ludlow, Brenna has been on her own for a while, employing a trusty but Narcisstic sidekick, Trent. When Ludlow contacts her about seeking a missing “performance artist” who has been known only through her sensual but shadowy monologues on the Internet, Brenna almost immediately finds herself tumbling down the rabbit hole, plagued by that whole series of “what if’s.”

Alison Gaylin is very talented at writing suspense that hooks the reader immediately and then holds on. I so enjoyed this novel that I plan to read the earlier one in the Brenna Spector

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