Accepting NO review requests

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: BLOOD OATH by Samantha Coville

Smoothly-written, enticing, and realistically paranormal, BLOOD OATH     relates the tale of Raya, daughter of a loving human mother and a Siren. From age six to.seventeen, her mother has raised her alone, but the agreement with Raya's father, Christopher Sharian, means Raya  must now live for a year in the sphere of the Sirens, a year with a father whose deeds terrified her eleven years previously.

No suspension of disbelief necessary here:  readers will slide immediately into the tale.

Review: FROG MEETS THE BOG BEAST by Linda Button

Not only is this delightful children's book intriguing, well-illustrated, and offering some important lessons, it is also educational, with frog data and activities. This is one I recommend for reading to and with children and grandchildren, and for teachers in the younger elementary grades to share with their children (library Storytime readers too). Developing young readers, future wildlife advocates, and budding scientists-to-be will enjoy reading the story, and studying the additional material on their own.

THE TESLA GATE by John D. Mimms

Our narrator, Thomas Pendleton, finds himself on the horns of a dilemma, one of cosmic proportions. A devoted family man emotionally and mentally, he has always allowed his career to overwhelm his time and efforts, believing that providing for family means giving all they might want. In the meantime, he misses birthdays, holidays, and family vacations, until finally, from one such family trip undertaken by his wife Annie and six-year-old son Seth, neither returns. Now the devoted husband and father has nothing but his grief--until one of them returns from beyond death, as do many of the dead, planet-wide, reappearing through.a bizarre cosmic magnetic storm.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review: THE SECOND DEADLY SIN by Asa Larsson

An exciting and complex Swedish mystery (with wildlife and lovely country scenery), THE SECOND DEADLY SIN is the fifth in the series about District Prosecutor Rebecca Martinsson, a wonderfully humanized and highly delineated character. As tension and terror escalate among rural villagers about a possibly man-eating bear foraging too near, it soon becomes apparent that although the wild bear is a real worry, there's also a raging human killer about.

Review: THE FIVE: OUT OF THE PIT (Book Two) by Holli Anderson

Leave your disbelief at the Door, once again; you're not going to need it where you're going. Leaping in where the first installment (THE FIVE: OUT OF THE DARK) ended, we find the tension ratcheted up, the romance deepening,  new characters added and old ones subtracted. The danger is more intense, the rewards of success so much greater--the cost  of failure that much worse. I don't know how many more installments are yet to come; I don't know where the precious FIVE are headed next, but I know this: on their journey, I'll be going along.

Review: THE FIVE: OUT OF THE DARK (Book One) by Holli Anderson

I love finding fiction in which the author so deftly.tweaks aside the veil of reality as does Holli Anderson in this special series, THE FIVE. There's no conscious decision to suspend disbelief, it's natural. Just as we believe wholeheartedly in the existence of grass and trees, dogs and Seattle,  homelessness and young love, so.too do we believe in adolescents with untrusted but strong magical powers, Fairies, Demons, and hideous changelings.

In.this first installment, five extraordinary youngsters come together, all called by a Purpose greater than each,  all suffering much as their powers come into fruition.

Review: THE GIFT OF DARKNESS by V. R. Giambanco

An exciting mystery with a tense, taut, story line,  THE GIFT OF DARKNESS will keep readers perched on the edge of their seats. It is difficult enough, I think, for a writer to construct a mystery's plotline, juggling clues while holding back revelations from arriving too soon. When that author also deals in multiple mysteries, including  a twenty-five year old unsolved and extremely puzzling (and sad) cold case, the effort is quadrupled. V. M. Gianfranco solves this dilemma admirably, and far more than simply capably. Don't miss out on THE GIFT OF DARKNESS.

Review: DESTRUCTION by Susan Bayliss (THE DECEMBER PEOPLE Book One)

I so completely love this intense, powerful, book that I feel I've consumed it and made it a part of my soul. It's magical (yes, magic and its practice or avoidance is one of the essential theme threads) but "magical" in the sense of inspiring, soaring, life-affirming, love-affirming. It's lyrical, light-bringing, and unforgettable. Please do savor it and make it a part of your life too.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: THE PATRIOT by A. S. Bond

This UNSTOPPABLE thriller begins with a BANG (literally) and the tension never eases. Extreme danger; military action; secrecy, covert maneuvering and intrigue in HIGH places.  I don't believe I took a breath the entire time. As a thriller/political espionage aficionado, I rank THE PATRIOT in the pantheon of the BEST.

Review: THE PERFECT STRANGER by Wendy Corsi Staub

This plot contains about as many twists, convolutions, and labyrinthine maneuvers as a hungry python tightening around its prey. I never saw any of it ahead of revelation, I was riveted, and I totally enjoyed it. This is a taut, well-tuned, story--a tapestry without a missed stitch.

Additionally, this mystery contains much good advice on privacy, personal life vs. Online exposure, and the growing tendency to shift our time, interests, friendships and other relationships to the online sphere rather than "face to face."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: EERIE AMERICA by Eric R. Vernor abd Kevin Eads


If you're an aficionado of the occult and the paranormal, or if you just enjoy the titillation of the supposedly (and possibly real)  spooky, and you're exhausted from hunting piecemeal on the Internet for locales and information--relax, the void in your life is about to be filled. Authors and researchers Eric R. Vernor and Kevin Eads have done the fieldwork and the footwork for you.

EERIE AMERICA gives you, state by alphabetical state, the right locales, illustrations, and applications. Don't let your next "Haunted Vacation"  be hit-and-miss.  Get EERIE AMERICA and get it right.

Review: THE MOUNTAIN PLACE OF KNOWLEDGE by Marshall Chamberlain

Review: THE MOUNTAIN PLACE OF KNOWLEDGE by Marshall Chamberlain

Eleven and a half  centuries ago, in a Central American jungle, a sudden brilliant blinding  light, powerful enough to destroy,  would not attract much attention, simply due to the paucity of population. Nowadays,  with global Information overload and a planetary population in the billions and a society ruled by the Greed Motive, secrecy is, literally, a thing of the past. Jump in for a globe-ranging, tension-laden adventure, and be prepared to have your eyes opened and your imagination stretched.

Review: XVII (SEVENTEEN) by Mark Diehl

Review: XVII (SEVENTEEN) by Mark Diehl

As highly dystopian as it gets (if it could be worse, please spare me), XVII postulates an Earth severely groaning under the combined eight of a populace of 17 billion (hence the title) and multi-corporate rule. The 99% of humanity have been wrung dry to feed the gross profit motive of the 1%. What remains can scarcely be considered human.

Review: NECROPOLIS by Guy Portman

Review: Necropolis

Narrator/protagonist Dyson Devereux is not human. Not to say, "extraterrestrial"; but definitely, alien. His only claim to humanity is his physiognomy. Internally, he experiences no emotions in the sense that normal.humans do; his one rule is self-interest.  As if to make up for his emotional void, the Universe granted him a high level of intellect; were he tested, he might be considered "gifted." With that high intellectual capacity arise the concomitant qualities of easily acquired boredom,  total tactlessness, and elitism. Like most sociopaths, Dyson is self-analytical. All that given, why is he spending his career life as Head  of Burials and Cemeteries for his local borough council? Why not, instead, Minister of Defense, Prime Minister, or world domination?   One wonders.

5 Stars

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: QUINTANA ROO, YUCATAN by Scott Harper

The author graciously provided me with a copy solely for review purpose; no fees were exchanged.

Realistic, true-to-life characters, each well-defined despite a large cast; setting imagery which calls into play all the senses; clever balancing of the Man Against Nature, Man Against Man, and Man Against Himself literary tropes, all function together to showcase an author of excellent talent and a story with sufficient thrills, chills, adventure, and mystery to satisfy even jaded and dulled readers.

Readers will feel as if they've lived the story.

Review: BEST NEW HORROR OF THE YEAR VOLUME SIX edited by Ellen Datlow

When a reader must stop in the middle of a story in order to wait for daylight before continuing, and when a tale leaves the reader shivering even at the memory, that is a sign of a Horror Anthology well worth the reading. This is very true of this volume, which effectively proves that Horror can be subtle, not splatter.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Whether or not we believe in the possibility of alien invasion (extraterrestrial, that is, not cross-border), who among us could imagine Earth 's only hope being a sloppy, "no-'count," bullied, low-achieving high school boy? Author Matthew Kadish tried that idea on for size, and it worked-very well. Although I found the prologue a little dry, the story, from the entrance of our protagonist (and Earth 's Defender) Jack, rockets along (pun intended) and I.totally enjoyed it.

Review: SATAN'S PREP by Gabe Guarente

Strictly Laugh-out-loud hilarious, delightfully illustrated, cute plotting--of course it helps if you've a skewed sense of humor--or if you're an adolescent with a keen appreciation of the downside of school. For everyone who's ever lamented, "High school is hell," here's your validation.

Review: SPACEHIVE by Kenna McKinnon

Review of SpaceHive by Kenna McKinnon

5 stars

SpaceHive” is a zippy little tale which makes the “what if” of alien invasion seem probable, and even likely. Forget what you’ve read and heard about the humanoids with oblong heads and huge onxy eyes; it’s space insects we should be worrying about instead—bees and wasps. Oh, and we also need to worry about the shortsightedness of those in power, because it’s all too easy to destroy during a war, even a war against an advanced alien species.


The good news is, there are individuals like young Jason, age twelve when the aliens invade, and Aadab, a freedom fighter in India, who won’t take this invasion lying down; instead, they will use good common sense and cleverness to fight back. As long as there’s life, there’s hope.


SpaceHive” was written for middle-grade and above, but us oldsters can enjoy it too (and this one did!)

Sunday, April 20, 2014


A delightfully cosy and not scary story of a group of inhabitant ghosts "living" a normal routine existence: writing poetry, working in the garden, cooking, attending Ghost School, being "overly proportioned," and getting expelled. Warm and gently humorous (I am so minded of Victorian and Edwardian instructive tales for children), this series will delight young readers and adults, alike.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review: PEACE COTTAGE by Lisa Kent

Adorable, enchanting, poetically imaged--a sheer delight and glory to read. Couched in concentric circles of mysteries, readers will yearn to unfold the characters, each one a delight in her or his own right. Even the setting--quaint, homey, very-small-town East Winsett, Maine--is a Character not to be missed.

Race to read PEACE COTTAGE; then anticipate with joy the author's next.

Review: BONE DUST WHITE by Karen Salvalaggio

Gritty, uncompromising, and terribly real, BONE DUST WHITE, a debut novel, is a mystery.that refuses to look away or turn its head. No hiding one's eyes here: instead, one is glued to page after page of unrelenting enhancement, puzzling out mysteries piled upon covert plots upon illegal, immoral conspiracies. Don't miss it, don't dim the lights, don't answer the phone, nor the door--you never know just whom it might be.


An adorable and engaging story that fits well into the age brackets of  upper elementary readers and middle grade readers; the young girl who owns and trains two beautiful horses is entering fifth grade.

It will also be quite suitable in The category of chapter books, read a chapter at a time as positive and encouraging bedtime reading? I quite enjoyed it and will look for others in this series.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: THE GUIDE by Milt Mays

I HIGHLY recommend THE GUIDE, for any reader of suspense, mystery, thriller, and literary fiction. This is a very DIFFERENT kind of thriller, a mystery that is  character-driven rather than plot-driven.  Make no mistake--plot is here and it's excellent, very unexpected and twisty, all in a way that makes perfect sense: in the context of CHARACTER.

Read ONCE for pure enjoyment; read TWICE to savour the author's excellence.


I truly think this novel is like nothing I've read before, and I found it very, very good. There is so much of horror here, of Supernatural and Paranormal, of history and contemporary life, of greed and selfishness, of dedication, honor, loyalty, and friendship. The horror (screaming horror) is approached in such a low-key manner, that like a silent jungle predator, it is on us before we realize--and then it's too late for retrieval.

I also enjoyed the background, first prehistory, then 12th century, then moving forward. This is a definite candidate for re-trade!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: O'SHAE THE OCTOPUS by Brandee Buble

A really cute and enterprising children's book (but adults can use the reminder too!) about capitalizing on our differences and uniqueness, and how these can be strengths to turn the tide of bullying. O'Shae and pal Shelton are adorable.


An author with many different types of work and life experience who can combine all into a thriller/mystery, write it well, and make the reader friends with the protagonist, vicariously "living" the story, is a gem to be treasured. Witness author David Freed. FANGS OUT is #2 in the CORDELL LOGAN MYSTERY series.

Review: VOODOO RIDGE by David Freed (A Cordell Logan Mystery. #3)

Exciting yet romantically-inclined, rip-roaring adventure combined with rip-roaring emotional entanglements, deep issues of privacy, secrecy, disclosure: this is a thriller/mystery (and a series) not to be overlooked. This is the third in the series-can be read as a stand-alone, but readers will want to seek out the earlier books.


Some novels are so powerful as to render me awe-struck; here is one of the best of those! A 36-star book, here is history and magick, poetic imagery and realistic suspension of disbelief, literate composition; Elszbet Bathory, Dr. John Dee, Edward Kelley; and a host of like able contemporary characters. I could read this book a thousand times.

Review: THE FALLING WOMAN by Pat Murphy

Early on our protagonist Elizabeth Butler, speaking of the long-ago Mayan populace and the centuries of history intervening, states that "Christianity sits very lightly on the land." As her story unfolds, archaeologist Elizabeth -- a woman who once abandoned her marriage and family for the pursuit of her career --discovers that modernity also-- indeed, contemporary woman's grasp on consensus reality--also lies "only lightly" on this historic, nay, prehistoric, locale.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: WOLF by Jim Ringel

Despair, hopelessness, depression: complete loss of faith or hope in a potentially different future. Life is only survival, only going through the motions, if at all. THIS is what every Dystopian novel needs to convey, and WOLF brings it on in spades. 

Our protagonist Johnny Wolf is a loser. Aging, obese, smoking, divorced, a failed salesman--but his saving grace is his love for Dogs, especially Sindra, his childhood companion, who lived 20 years before her disappearance (or death), at the time all the dogs went away (or were killed by the police). In fact, Johnny Wolf has internalized his dog:  he injects a little bit of Sindra's heart or liver, every day. 

Johnny is/was a salesman. He knows all the sales lessons by heart; and somewhat self-analytical (intermittently) he recognizes where he falls short. 

Johnny may be an anti-hero, held in contempt by ex-wife and colleagues; but in the End, Johnny Wolf proves his mettle.

Review: EYE TO EYE by Vanita Oelschlager

I laughed aloud at this book so much that I asked my grandson--almost 11--to "Test Read" it. His laughing reaction: "Fun AND Funny!". This is definitely an "I'll Buy!" book.



Adorable series debut, narrated by--the dog:) ! I really like this approach. The story can be easily handled by upper elementary readers, and precocious younger readers, and would make a good chapter-a-day bedtime read as well. A winner!

Review: DON'T LOOK BACK (Sampler)

This type of Sampler is much appreciate as we voracious readers can access new mysteries, possibly authors new to us. The sampler provides a sufficiently lengthy excerpt to allow us to know each novel, and results in several additions to our Must-Read TBR.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: THE GOOD DOG by Todd Kessler

This delightful, enticing story carries several lessons for children and for the adults who are fortunate to read to and to share with them. Greed doesn't pay! But kindness, friendship, and loyalty do. This story deserves to be read over and over again.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: PROTOCOL 7 by Armenia Gharabegian

An incredibly riveting page-Turner, a futuristic part science-fiction, part-science, conspiracy-fuelled, privacy-destroyed thriller, ricocheting from abandoned desolate Antarctica to Oxford, England, Washington D.C., all around the globe, while anyone e and everyone might be the enemy, and nothing one says or does can ever be concealed. Welcome to 2039!


Double Alchemy
Susan MacNicol

Genre: m/m paranormal romance

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group


Book Description:

Powerful yet tormented modern warlock Quinn Fairmont must initiate the silver-eyed Cade Mairston into the world of witchfinders, Withinners, and what can happen when two men fall truly, madly, deeply in love.


In modern London there lurks a warlock, Quinn Fairmont. Dangerous, powerful, tortured, sharing his body with the soul of an ancient Welsh sorcerer, Quinn is never alone—and never wholly himself. He fights against all those who would exploit his kind. He takes pleasure where he can find it.

In the forest of Hampstead Heath, Quinn’s hometown, Cade Mairston appears to him like a waking dream. Lithe, lean and silver-eyed, he evokes feelings in Quinn unlike any other: lust with true affection, immediate and shocking. Cade is clearly more than he seems. And yet, if a man of the world, Cade is innocent. He knows nothing of warlocks, witchfinders or Withinners. He knows nothing of what he is, what he might be, or what he might feel. For him, the story is just beginning. Magyck, peril and passion await.

Available on Amazon

About the Author:

Sue Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. At the age of eight, her family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she stayed for nearly thirty years before arriving back in the UK in December 2000. She has written ten novels, two novellas and a screenplay since February 2012 and clearly believes in keeping herself busy. She has found herself wanting to stay in the genre that is M/M Romance so more can definitely be expected.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She is also a member of a rather unique writing group, called the Talliston Writer’s Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell and lives in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her family. Her plan is to keep writing as long as her muse sits upon her shoulder. Her dream is to one day make enough money to give up the day job and get that big old house in the English countryside overlooking a river, where she can write all day and continue to indulge her passion for telling stories.


21 Stars to this novel, tremendously riveting from first page to left, utterly unstoppable with tension, mystery, suspense, passion, friendship, and romance; plus fanaticism and emotional pain, fear and hatred, and self-righteousness to the max. Unforgettable.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I’m always amazed by the places that writers set their books, whether it be real or imaginary. I’ve read stories about other worlds, both above and below the earth; different realms where anything can exist, and countries that I’ve never thought of until I read about them in someone’s writing.  I’ve read about beautiful tropical islands, dystopian worlds (where really, life doesn’t really seem worth living) and beautifully imagined steam punk splendour.
Of course, I’ve read books set in the real places of the world -Baltimore, New York, Nevada, New Orleans, Vancouver, Brisbane and of course, many places set in the UK. I especially love the places where I haven’t actually been, outside of my own country, where authors describe such magnificent settings and take me on holiday without even leaving the comfort of my armchair.
My books mostly take place in England, in and around London. I’ve featured St. James, Soho, the West End, Hampstead heath, Little Venice, Chelsea, the county of Essex where I live, Stamford in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and the wild east coast, the mystical town of Glastonbury and the beautiful picturesque village of Finchingfield. However, I’ve taken my characters to Hollywood for movie premieres, Tibet (Shangri La) for filming, Fiji to get married and to Germany for film awards ceremonies. So some of them have got around a bit.
I have this thing I do that if I’m writing about somewhere featured in my books, I have to visit there if humanly possible, take some pictures and reassure myself that what I’m writing about is actually true. So I’ve visited Stamford, Glastonbury, all the places in London I mention, Cromer in Norfolk, the actual lighthouse I featured in Worth Keeping (I was fortunate enough to be invited down on a maintenance visit and see inside) and of course my home county of Essex. I love these ‘research trips’ as they add a real layer of reality to the events I’m writing about.
I’ve enclosed a few pictures of some these places, taken with my very own smart-phone camera, and I hope you enjoy seeing them too.


Such a Delightful, Heartwarming, Spirit-lifting, Life-enhancing, Life-affirming, book! So smoothly interwoven, that had I not read the blurb, I would have expected LOST AND FOUND IN CAMDEN to be the work of a single author. These eleven stories, by eleven discrete authors, are seamless. Camden Lock Market seems such a magical place, with almost a fairy presence; a locales where lives can suddenly improve and deepen and change.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: Dead Man's Drive: A Rot Rods Novel by Michael Panush

What's not to Love? Hot rods, friends & fun, thrills and chills, action, adventure, Satanism, Supernatural, "the good guys vs. the bad guys"---and a zombie with emotions!! What a cool book, and I sure hope it's a series. I consider this a Keeper.

Review: Treasure from the Past (Big Honey Dog Mysteries Easter Special Edition) by H. Y. Hanna

WOW! As a grandparent of 10, I am constantly on the lookout for good stories, both for the kids to read, and to be read to them. Look no more--Big Honey Dog Mysteries are GGGGGRRRRREEEAAAATTTT!  Ms. Hanna doesn't tell us about sentient conversing dog, she demonstrates. In this story, the clever canines hunt a valuable, missing, fabulous "Fabby" (Faberge) egg.


I really enjoy these super stories, and plan to introduce my grandchildren to this series (May it continue for years!) Smoothly written, cosy, clean, with tautly plotted mysteries, they've heartwarming and enjoyable.

Review: THE MONTAUK MONSTER by Hunter Shea

A really smoothly-written, exciting, involving, tale, with a large character populace ( each one actively delineated and backdropped--all endangered) and some creatively-engineered "monsters" invading the beaches and homes of southeast Long Island. By "creatively-engineered" I include both author Hunter Shea's imaginative staging, plotting,  and creature-design; and the "research & development" brought forth by those pesky "mad scientists" on a certain nearby island in Long Island Sound. The horror is, yes, visceral; but an integral part of the story, and this reviewer did not find it to be over the top, but just right.

Review: EVIL LIBRARIAN by Michelle Knudsen

21 Stars and "Wow! Wow! Wow! " I was totally absorbed and riveted by this absolutely wonderful book, which surpasses all my expectations for the YA genre. Forget high school drama, these students have real trouble: DEMONS!! Forget suspension of disbelief; believe me, you WILL believe. Well-written, strong on friendship, love, and loyalty--I SO hope this will be a series!