Accepting NO review requests

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015



I am a complete illiterate on the topic of gaming and gamers, but I know exciting adventure, and the possibility of an AI (Artificial Intelligence), whether in a supercomputer as in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, or in this series as a morphing mobile robot-type "game boss," is terrifying. Now that ECHO-7 is "loose" and targeting the focus group of top gamers, no one is safe--especially if E-7's empathy mode cancels out. This is 2 in a series of 5.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tour: THE SPARKS by Kyle Prue. Q&A

A Q&A with Kyle Prue, author of The Sparks,

Book One in the Feud trilogy


1. Where did you get the idea for the Feud series?


This is a coming of age story for young adults and I am a teen in that demographic. Everyone struggles to find their path in life and my characters are all struggling with not wanting to let people down and to find their way; forgiveness and hope is a part of that journey as well. One night, at the age of 15, I had terrible insomnia and I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about the different personalities of my siblings and myself and how we will all follow different paths. That gave me the idea to create three different families loosely based around our differing personalities. I decided it would be fun to take these families and place them in a fantasy world where the obstacles we all face could be magnified to a whole new level. I wrote out the plot for the three books that night.


2. What drew you to write YA Fantasy?


I wanted to write for me. Recently, I’ve hit an “in-between” zone where it’s harder for me to find books I want to read. I wanted to write something that I would want to read and that would appeal to other kids my age. I wanted to appeal to boys who have lost interest in reading and I also created strong female characters that girls will love.


3. When did you first start writing?


Like a lot of kids, I was bullied in middle school. I doubt you will ever find a kid that says, “I rocked 7th grade! That was the best time in my life.” I was short and fat and had a bowl haircut with braces. This was not a great time in my life. But I discovered I could come home and pick up a pen and create a whole fantasy world that I could control, when the rest of my life felt out of control. I learned that I loved to create characters because their potential is limitless.


I was lucky because I learned to use writing as an escape at an early age. I was in a multi-age program from 1st-3rd grade where I had the same teacher for three years. She had an experimental writing program where she gave us an hour a day to write in our journals. She told us to just write freely and not worry about punctuation or grammar, just let the creativity flow. So by the end of that program, I had a stack of notebooks filled with an adventure series. I also did a series called Three Rings that I wrote from the age of 12 to 14 when middle school was really rough. It was a 200-page manuscript. It wasn’t good, but it was good practice.



4. What are your other interests besides writing?


I love stand up comedy because like writing, it requires an ability to look at the world in a unique way and find the humor in that. I’m a varsity swimmer for my school. I’m involved with mock trial, I’m in a number of plays every year, I started an improv club at my school and I’m really involved with our film club—we spend our weekends writing scripts and filming. We are currently working on a web series called “Amockalypse” that I’m really excited about. I pretty much gave up on sleeping after middle school.


5. When do you find the time to write?


If you love something, you find the time. I write during any hour that I can get free. With extracurriculars, I don’t usually get home until around 7:00 p.m. or later, and then I have homework, so I may only write an hour or two during the week. I try to make time to write during the weekends and breaks—I get the most writing done in the summer. I started the second book in the trilogy, The Flames, this past summer and am working on editing it over this school year.


6. Where is your favorite place to write?


I’ve usually got a notebook or computer on hand so any time I feel even the slightest bit inspired I can write. I am a big fan of writing in bookstores—it’s an interesting feeling to be surrounded by the works of people who have achieved what you are trying to accomplish.


7. What is your family like?


My family is nothing like the families in the book, I better clarify that up front. My parents are incredibly supportive and have allowed me to follow my dreams. I have two siblings: a brother and a sister. They are great; we are very close. I am the youngest.


My brother and I used to fight a lot and that dynamic inspired my idea for the three feuding families in the books. We don’t fight anymore, as we’ve outgrown that phase, but it gave me plenty to write about.


8. What were you like as a child?


I lived in a fantasy world all the time—I was always inventing stories and reenacting them. I lived in costumes. I had a cat suit that I particularly loved. My mom would always get me a new costume for Halloween and inevitably I would end up back in my cat suit when it was time to go trick-or-treating. I wore that cat suit until the legs only came to my knees. It’s weird…for some reason when you dress like a cat all the time you don’t make a ton of friends. But anyway, that’s why my parents signed me up for acting classes. I started taking acting classes at the age of six. I loved it from the start.


9. I understand you still have the acting bug. What are you doing now?


Currently, my whole focus is on college auditions. I’m crazy enough to be applying for programs where thousands of kids audition and they literally accept only six boys. So it’s kind of like trying to win the lottery, but I’m giving it my best shot. As I mentioned, I’m writing, directing and acting in my web series and we are launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund that this week. I spent last fall in LA and I was so lucky to take acting classes and perform improv at LA Connection. It was like what I imagine grad school is like. I spent 40 hours a week in acting classes and seminars—and still had to keep up with schoolwork online. It was intense but amazing.


10. What's your favorite part of acting? Favorite thing about improv?


My favorite part of acting is initially stepping into the shoes of a character and just beginning to break them in: finding out what they want, how they talk, how they move, etc.


My favorite part of improv is when you are easing into a scene and the really good lines just start flowing, especially when you’re working with a talented partner.


11. Were you a big reader as a kid?


In 5th grade, I started at a new elementary school when I moved to Naples. They had a reading contest for whoever read the most books. I ended up reading like 200 books, which was a bit of overkill as the next highest kid read about 75 books, but apparently I’m more competitive than I realized. I just really wanted to beat this girl in my class who told me she was a better reader.


12. Were you drawn to a certain genre as a kid?


When I was younger, I really disliked reading. My mom would read me the books that my brother liked and I just never got into them. One day she was at the bookstore picking out books for us, and she mentioned to the owner that I didn’t seem interested in reading and he asked her about my personality and interests. He recommended that she try some fantasy books for me. She brought home a few of those books and from then on, all I did was read and write. I love young adult fantasy.


13. Were there certain authors that you really liked?


I’ve always loved Rick Riordan, and every kid in my generation loves JK Rowling. My mom started guarding the Harry Potter books and reading them aloud to us, because otherwise I would read one whole book in a night and then tell my siblings what happened. We would barely leave the house until we had finished each book. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series has been phenomenal.


14. How have those writers influenced your writing?


I think Rick Riordan introduces and writes characters very well, which is something I kept in mind, because I have a group dynamic with my book. But I really like the way JK Rowling set up the overall plot and carried it through, intertwining a lot of different elements. She knew how to set up a big, epic adventure and finished it beautifully. That is what I hope to do with this trilogy.


15. Do you work with an outline or do you just write? Do you ever get stuck?


Normally, I have a basic idea of where the story is going when I start writing a chapter. But there have been times when I am writing the chapter that I suddenly decide to take it in a new direction. Sometimes I struggle with writing a chapter or a character in the book, so to overcome that I’ll take a break and work on another project.


16. Do you have a favorite character in The Sparks?


It alternates a lot. In general, I’ve always been a fan of characters that are only around for one book and that are very big and eccentric. I really like Michael Taurlum because he’s kind of the epitome of what’s wrong with the Taurlum family and he’s just such a child. So it was really interesting to write about him and make him such an aggressive, haughty character.


17. If your book was made into a movie, which actors would be cast as the main characters?


I’ll try my best at this one. (Disclaimer: this would be one expensive movie . . . )


Neil: Brenton Thwaites (or Kyle Prue, if Brenton Thwaites is not available)

Saewulf: Michael Fassbender

Darius: Luke Bracey

Lilly: Alexandra Daddario or Emma Watson

Rhys: Dane DeHann

Jennifer and Victoria: Teresa Palmer

Bianca: Leven Rambin

Michael: Chris Hemsworth

Carlin: Mark Strong

The Emperor: Benedict Cumberbatch

Jonathan: Rico Rodriguez

Sir Vapros: Mads Mikkelsen

Quintus: Jonah Hill (Cameo Role)


18. Can you tell us a bit about the second book, The Flames?


One of the big themes of the second book is that no one should get to a point in their life when they should experience a complete absence of hope. Things will always get better. My best friend from childhood committed suicide this year and I really want other teens to understand that whatever seems so overwhelming in your life today, won’t be what’s important to you down the road. When my characters experience this loss of hope, that is when they gain their advanced powers. Something good can come out of something that in the moment seems so terrible.


The second book in the series focuses on the remaining family members (spoiler alert!) and their friends, as they begin to kindle the revolution. It’s a lot about personal growth for the characters, like Neil and Darius. Even Robert Tanner, who is a minor character in the first book, comes back and has a very big story arc. It is the book where we start to reach that giant conflict that the characters have been stepping toward in the storyline.


19. What was your favorite part or chapter to write in The Sparks?


I really, really enjoyed writing the fight between Darius and Jennifer. It’s interesting when you write characters separately, then give them a chance to interact together. Jennifer is one of my favorite characters. Neil describes her as the model assassin so it was really fun to write her in that type of setting.


20. How did you come up with the title?


The entire book is based on a family feud so that was the reason for the series name, Feud. But the individual titles are The SparksThe Flames and The Ashes; these are symbolic of the Vapros family motto which is “Victory Lies Within the Ashes.” The Vapros turn a person to ash when they kill them. For them that is a macabre way of saying, “You have to bust a couple of heads to get what you want.” So the titles reveal that there is going to be a lot of bloodshed and a climax to this storyline, which we are building up to in the series.


21. How did you pick the names of the families?


I based the family names on Latin root words: Taurlum is based on the Latin word for bull, Celerius is the Latin word for swift and Vapros is smoke.


22. How did you get the idea for the three families?


In the first book, there are three main families and since I have a brother and a sister, I loosely based these families around the three of us—their mannerisms, their traits, resulting in a black-and-white version of us blended with a more honorable, respectable side and a more aggressive, audacious side. So the Taurlum are based off my brother, the Celerius off my sister and the Vapros off me, a little bit.


23. What can you tell us about the challenges of getting a book published?


I went to the New York Pitch Conference and Writer’s Workshop and got the opportunity to pitch my book to Random House, Penguin and McMillan Press. Each requested the manuscript (it was the most requested manuscript at the conference!), so I felt like I had a sound idea. The conference director advised me to use the publisher interest to try to get an agent. So, I began the process of sending query letters. I got some good advice from the agents I talked to. One advised me to hire a well-respected editor, as publishers expect manuscripts to be perfect, so I did that. Then another agent took the time to really ask me about my goals. I wanted the book to be read by as many people as possible and I wanted to get it published in a timely manner. She explained that—if I was lucky—the publishing process would take 3-5 years. She recommended that I meet with a small, independent publisher with a good reputation. They could meet my timing needs and I would have more input in the process, ensuring that I could retain some creative control of the final product. I met with the publisher she recommended (Barringer Publishing) and we hit it off immediately. So far, I’ve been thrilled with the process.


I’m hoping to publish Book 2, The Flames, in late summer 2015.


24. Do you have advice for other high school students wanting to write a book?


Yes, never stop writing. Write, and write and write, until you’ve got something that you like. Don’t be afraid to have a very rough copy of something. The editing process is terrible and long and arduous, but it’s something you have to do. What matters is getting something on paper and then really shaping it into what you are looking for.


25. Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?


Thank you for sharing this journey with me. The series only gets better and more intense from here and I can’t wait to see what you guys think of it all.


26. Tell us where we can find your book and more information about you.


You can find more info on my website,,, Twitter @KylePrue and Instagram @KyleStevenPrue.


Tour: THE SPARKS by Kyle Prue

Chapter One Neil

Slide the knife between the third and fourth rib.

Neil’s father’s words rang in his ears as he pulled his dark, ornate hood over his head and raised his cloth mask to cover his mouth and nose. He knew all Taurlum had several weak spots on their bodies, but only one was vulnerable enough to cause an instant kill. All he needed to do was thrust his knife directly between the ribs (the third and fourth ribs, he reminded himself) and straight through the heart. Neil’s father had taught him this trick on his tenth birthday. It had been one of the more pleasant ones.

He spent a moment adjusting his mask, making sure his face would remain concealed. Not that it really mattered; during the middle of the day, the mask would do little to camouflage him. Any Taurlum would spot a Vapros like him from a mile away. The disguise had been given to him mostly for the sake of preserving his identity. Nobody needed to know which Vapros boy had made the kill. 

Neil ran his finger over the hilt of the knife. His father had presented it to him upon completion of his assassin’s training. Engraved in the handle was the Vapros family crest. The background of the crest was purple and black, with a raven embedded in the center. The Raven was the family nickname, as the black-haired, green-eyed descendants seemed to favor their swift, calculating animal mascot. The raven was known as the bringer of death: an appropriate symbol for the trained assassin. The family motto was inscribed along the bottom: Victory Lies Within the Ashes. Neil loved his knife; it made him feel like a real assassin.

Neil craved the assassin’s glory but knew in his gut that he desperately needed another assassin to assist in this mission. Two stealthy ravens against a Taurlum bull was still a risk, but they would have the element of surprise on their side. Alone it was a certain death mission, but his father’s orders were clear. Neil was desperately alone.

Making it into the giant Taurlum mansion had been easy. Navigating its giant corridors would be harder. Neil glanced carefully around the marble corner. A single guard stood watch. The man wore simple plated armor with red and gold war paint but had removed his helmet to reveal his entire head. Not a Taurlum, Neil thought. The guard lacked the golden blonde hair shared by every direct descendant of the Taurlum line; therefore, this man was not worth his time or effort. Neil squinted in concentration, and then threw all his energy into dematerializing. He reformed a split second later on the other side of the corridor. The guard continued watching the hallway and never noticed Neil materialize just behind him. As silently as he could, the Vapros boy made his way down the hallway toward the communal baths where his target would be waiting.

A Taurlum family crest hung above the door to the bathhouse. Its colors were the same gold and scarlet that covered the uniforms of the Taurlum guards who roughed up villagers in the market. A proud-looking bull stood in the center of the crest, eyes narrowed, as if challenging all who dared to oppose the name of the “great Taurlum.” At the thought of eliminating his first Taurlum man, Neil’s heart began to quicken, jump-started by adrenaline. He reached for his crossbow and fired a bolt directly into the bull’s pretentious forehead. Then he opened the door and dematerialized as quickly as he could.

He reappeared behind a marble pillar a few feet away from the entrance. The inside of the Taurlum mansion was lavishly decorated with red and gold, from long velvet banners to giant tapestries depicting the family’s crest. The manor itself stood in the center of the marketplace so that all the merchants affiliated with the Taurlum could get home quickly if the mighty Vapros warriors showed up. Even though Neil was disgusted at the opulence of the mansion, he couldn’t help but admire how impressive it was. The entirety of the Taurlum mansion was made of polished marble to accommodate the great weight of its residents. A marvel like this had never been built before and was quite a change from the wooden and brick buildings that filled the city.

A door on the opposite wall opened. Neil risked a glance around his pillar. Two towheaded men wearing red and gold swimwear came into the bathhouse. Neil resisted the urge to snort. They never missed a chance to bear their family colors and boast of their “superior lineage.” The two Taurlum were young, one looked to be Neil’s age, the other a few years older, and they were unarmed. But their skin, Neil knew, was hard to pierce. The boys might as well have been made of iron.

Neil glanced around the corner to look at their swimwear. He had never seen anything like it. Most people in Altryon didn’t have the money or opportunity to swim for fun, but when they did, their swimwear covered their chests along with their legs. These boys wore nothing except what appeared to be swim shorts. This was most likely because they wanted to show off as many muscles as possible. The taller one chatted loudly and easily to his companion. Neil dared to relax. They didn’t suspect he was here. The shorter Taurlum was quieter, but the proud, almost cocky way he held himself when he walked made Neil roll his eyes.

“So,” the taller boy was saying as he walked into Neil’s line of vision. The Vapros boy held his breath. “Did you hear about the Pig?” Neil recognized this boy now: Michael Taurlum, known as “the Nose” among the villagers because of his prominent snout. He wore a gold ring on every finger, and the multitudes of bracelets adorning his arms clinked loudly. Any normal man would struggle to carry all that jewelry, but Michael’s skin bore the weight easily. His droopy, yet unsettlingly alert eyes were fixed on his Taurlum companion and he had a thin, blonde beard growing on his iron jaw. He didn’t see the Vapros enemy behind the pillar, which was incredibly fortunate for Neil. Michael wasn’t well known for his mercy.

The younger, clean-shaven boy sank into the warm bath water. “The Pig?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Michael climbed into the bath beside him, not bothering to remove his jewelry. “Come on, Darius, learn the damn city.” His voice was louder and bolder than his brother’s. It was almost as if he wanted the entire city to hear him, and to hear him clearly. It made Neil want to shoot him on the spot. Patience, he reminded himself. He couldn’t make his move yet. If these two realized he was here, he would not only fail his mission, he would probably also be killed, or worse, held for ransom. Even if his family paid the ransom to get him back, Neil’s cover would be blown and he would be forced to spend the rest of his days working as a socialite. That was not the life he’d been working toward for all these years. He was trained to be an assassin. He could not mess this up. Failure would not be tolerated.

“The Pig is the guy who owns the mask shop in the market,” the Nose was explaining to the one called Darius. Neil focused his energy and rematerialized behind another pillar a little farther away from the boys.

Darius cocked his head. “And why is he called the Pig?”

Michael waded into deeper water and smiled. “Because he’s a pig,” he chuckled. “And because he’s famous for forcing himself on women.”

Darius’s mouth stretched into a grin. “You shouldn’t be talking. You’re kind of famous for that, too.”

Michael’s smile quickly turned to a frown. Behind the pillar, Neil nearly laughed out loud. This Darius wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. From across the room, he heard the men continuing with their conversation, but he couldn’t stay to listen. There was a mission at hand.

He rematerialized behind a new pillar, edging his way closer to the other side of the room where the door to the next room was waiting. Coming to the baths had been a waste of time; neither Darius nor the Nose was his target. Neil could still hardly believe his father had chosen him for this critical mission. His target was the Taurlum grandfather, the titular head of the Taurlum family. The Vapros controlled the nightlife district and the production and distribution of ale. The Taurlum controlled the markets. But in an unexpected power play, the Taurlum were attempting to corner the market on barley, wheat, and hops, buying up the ingredients needed to produce the Vapros ale. This assassination was in direct retaliation for this ill-advised maneuver.

Neil dematerialized again, and then again, and then stopped short; he was out of pillars. Nothing but empty space stood between him and the door, but it was too far. He wasn’t strong enough to rematerialize that far away. Neil felt his heart begin to pound and he ran his hand through his raven hair angrily. He was stuck. 


If you enjoyed this excerpt from Chapter 1, please buy the book. A 25% discount on an AUTOGRAPHED copy is available, ONLY at Kyle Prue's website store!/Autographed-Copy-of-The-Sparks/p/40025918/category=0 Use code BLOG25







Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: NUTCRACKER by Shana Alexander

Review: NUTCRACKER by Shana Alexander Long-term journalist Shana Alexander's concise reportage illumines this true-crime narrative, which leaves readers thinking "thank goodness that's not MY family!" The portrait Ms. Alexander paints reveals a intergenerational extended family whose permanent dysfunctions make one's skin crawl. Decades ago, a women's magazine featured a monthly column, "Can this Marriage Be Saved?" In this case, "Can this Family Be Saved?" would be the apropos question, and the answer is "Impossible!" NUTCRACKER is a casebook for abnormal psychology; a treatise on how NOT to raise offspring.

Review: THE ALPHABET HOUSE by Jussi Adler-Olsson


Gritty but hopeful, terrifying yet optimistic, Jussi Addler-Olsson' s newest novel paints the ugly facts behind the Axis side of The Second World War. The eponymous establishment is a "mental" institution, it's ostensible goal to harbor lunatics--it's true purpose to provide involuntary guinea pigs for medical and biological experimentation. Two young RAF fliers, downed behind German lines, pretend insanity to stay alive, such little as life now entails.

I reviewed a digital ARC via the Penguin First to Read program.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

REVIEW: KILL RATIO by Bryan Cassiday

Review: KILL RATIO by Bryan Cassiday KILL RATIO is part of the Chad Halvorsen series, set in the Zombie apocalypse. Halvorsen is a former operative for the US government, now a target for termination since a fellow black ops agent gave Halvorsen information on the factual source of the virus behind the Zombie infection. After narrowly escaping a predator drone attack, he and temporary sidekick Victoria begin to cross-country from Southern California toward D.C. I'm not quite sure how to consider Halvorsen. The man is a trained and efficient field agent, knows weapons, presumably knows how to strategize; but I've seldom seen anyone so indecisive. The other aspect I take away from this book is that the author wisely expands the apocalyptic circumstances: instead of just shuffling, biting, undead, there is socio-economic collapse, looters and murderers, wildfires and urban devastation, starving dog packs, starving rat hordes, and folks with identifiable mental and emotional disorders, possibly caused by the plague and subsequent apocalypse, possibly preexistent. Then there's my favourite character group, those cynical, shortsighted fools running the government from exile in underground Virginia--hilarious if they weren't so pathetic. I reviewed at the request of the author, who provided a digital copy for review purpose.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: A TERRIBLE MERCY by David Crossman

Review: A TERRIBLE MERCY by David Grossman An intellectual' s thriller, in which the real scare is the extent to which some are willing to stretch to impose their ideology: be it religious, militaristic, political, socio-economic. A TERRIBLE MERCY is lyrical, alarming, diligently-researched, political, historical, scientific. If you think you fear the spread of H1N1, of Ebola, of Marburg, read this; your fear will rise to all new levels. Again, the real terror is not in accidental contagion nor violation of lab protocols (as in, for example, Stephen King' s THE STAND). The real danger lies in the humans who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims--including fatal biological warfare.

Review: A DEAD PLACE CALLS by John White

Review: A DEAD PLACE CALLS by John White A delightful, entertaining, and smoothly written fable, in the tradition of epic fantasy. Yes, we have The Thief, but he's likable. Plus a clairvoyant, prophesying, epileptic boy; a disgraced deserter (he says not) with real Berserker spells; and dwarves! Altogether, a novella I enjoyed very much and recommend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: SKIN IN THE GAME by Tomas Byrne

Review:  SKIN IN THE GAME by Tomas Byrne

If Kafka and Dostoevsky had teamed up to write a 21st century perspective on terrorism, torture, and global terror from a British perspective, the result might be SKIN IN THE GAME. Penned with expertise by a Canadian author who formerly was a London banker and lawyer, this complex thriller with deep philosophical and psychological undertones will astonish, entertain, educate, and elucidate readers. I predict it will also linger on in readers' memories.

Review: BITTER COLD by J. Joseph Wright

REVEW:  BITTER COLD by J. Joseph Wright

An excellently-written, almost poetic in description, paranormal story which I literally read in one sitting. By turns thriller, Supernatural, gently romantic, corporate-greedy, with a large cast of characters to entertain, delight, and scare the reader. Not to mention, anyone who isn't cowed by this wildly-imagined "monster"--well, doesn't have a lot of imagination.  BITTER COLD has my HIGH recommendation. Can't wait for more from this author!


Review/Tour POLARITY

Book Links:

Red Adept Publishing Store!/Polarity-in-Motion-by-Brenda-Vicars/p/46536765/category=12029047

Author Page:!/Vicars-Brenda/c/12029047/offset=0&sort=normal

Fifteen-year-old Polarity Weeks just wants to live a normal life, but with a mother diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, that’s rarely easy. Her life gets exponentially more disastrous when her sixth-period history classmates start ogling a nude picture of her on the Internet. Polarity would never have struck such a shameless pose, but the photo is definitely of her, and she’s at a complete loss to explain its existence.
Child Protective Services yanks her from her home, suspecting her parents. The kids at school mock her, assuming she took it herself. And Ethan, the boy she was really starting to like, backpedals and joins the taunting chorus. Surrounded by disbelief and derision on all sides, Polarity desperately seeks the truth among her friends. Only then does she learn that everyone has dark secrets, and no one’s life is anywhere near normal.

Review:  I think POLARITY will appeal to a wide audience of YA readers. It goes "down low" with significant issues, including cyber-bulling, the potential loss of reputation plus the inability to defend oneself against false accusations, and the stresses of being not just an adolescent, but a peer-persecuted one, in the household of a parent with a diagnosed mental disorder--one that is difficult for both patient and loved ones.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Publication Date: Feb. 17 2015

Review:  NIGHT OF THE HUNTER by Steven Gore

A compelling thriller, neither current police nor private investigator, in a series involving Harlan Donnally, former San Francisco PD detective, mustered out for disability, who lives in suburban San Francisco with a psychiatrist, operates a cafe in Shasta, fishes, and too frequently gets hooked into troubles not of his own making as a de facto investigator.

In this mystery, a judge invites Donnally into a trial conviction two decades old, with a defendant near execution. Meanwhile, Donnally's father, a film director, is either covering his tracks for his own reasons, or slipping into Alzheimer's.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: GRITS IN YOUR CRAW by Robert Luckadoo

Publication: Feb. 03, 2015

Review: GRIT IN YOUR CRAW by Robert Luckadoo

There is a fairly common saying:  "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Author Robert Luckadoo tells us, adversity, triumph, and challenges are all with us for a reason: all part of God's plan for each. Metaphorically closing our eyes, ducking our heads, turning our backs accomplishes zilch, simply fluttering our God-given talents and opportunities away. But if instead, we realize that "grit in our craw" is to help us digest and utilize our adversity, we can get going, get on, get ahead. Mr. Luckadoo suggests polishing these characters tenets:
Diligence, tenacity; optimism, flexibility; discipline, resilience; confidence, purpose.

A digital copy was provided to me for review by The Cadence Group. No remuneration was exchanged.



The killing of a mild-mannered Jewish female accountant in Central Park strikes homicide detectives as simply a random mugging gone fatal. However, the victim was employed in the diamond industry, as a bookkeeper in her uncle's business; and where diamonds are, so go greed, concupiscence, and the violation of all sorts of commandments and laws. The mayor wants the case closed, but when Raja Williams and super-hacker sidekick Vinny enter the scene, a quiet closure is the last possibility. Stirring up drug dealing and Russian Mafiya, Raja and Vinny find themselves really put to the test to save themselves as well as to uncover the truth.



Thanks to media oversaturation, so much of the global populace is phobic about the potential spread of the Ebola virus; what if it was transmitted by very hungry, strong, implacable [gulp] ZOMBIES?? Scary, yes? Read this book, and you'll see how it might just come to pass. Author Marilyn Peake presents a first-person of a young American nurse who travels to Liberia to work in an Ebola clinic. The conditions are extraordinarily primitive, and the danger of contagion very prevalent. Add in that no one in charge seems truthful; and that some patients are taken outside the compound to be treated by native healers. Our narrator will soon find out what is the price of "cure "

Review: SUBJECT 11 by Jeffrey Thomas

Review: SUBJECT 11 by Jeffrey Thomas 

I found this novella extraordinary. I think if we set Jeffrey Thomas to work on String Theory, we might have a Unified Field Theory at last. That's how tautly derived is this story. Like Ouroboros or the Mobius strip (a prime figure here),  we start at the beginning, continue to the end--except that end is once again the beginning, and no, that's not spinning in circles: that's quantum observation. SUBJECT 11 is true philosophical horror. Loved it.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: ZOMBIE TATTOO by J.Gordon Smith (aZure Tribe 0.5)

I totally enjoyed every aspect of this story! The Antarctic setting, the large cast of.well-fleshed characters, the taut tie-in to the next in the series--and the really imaginative, totally unexpected, antagonist. I must read the series!!

Saturday, February 14, 2015



A delightfully smooth and cosy suspense tale with supernatural and paranormal flavoring, THE LEGACY OF FEAR: HORROR AT THE LAKE  is filled with multiple mysteries, archaeology, biography writing, ancient Egyptian history, and a constant level of tension. Remember what life felt like in the small town in Hitchcock's THE BIRDS? Now combine that with the village insularity and suspicious nature of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. That's the intuitive feeling of this story, for me. Author Vanessa Ryan has a marvelous descriptive scene-setting talent, and a clever way of getting under the veneer of her characters.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review: THE LITTER by Kevin Doyle

Review: THE LITTER by Kevin Doyle

Engrossing, riveting, unforgettable; with each new revelation, readers (and protagonists) step off yet another cliff, into unimaginable ferocity and mutation--yet every single step is logically patterned and worked through, despite the entirely outré nature of the framework. I know I won't get this story out of my mind for a very, very long time.

A young woman working at an inner city homeless shelter seeks a missing young boy. What she begins to uncover has massive repercussions, ranging from dangerous to outright fatal.

My enormous gratitude to author Kevin Doyle for allowing me to read and review an advanced digital ARC.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: FRAGILE LIES by Laura Elliott

Review: FRAGILE LIES by Laura Elliott

A touching literary gem with the resonances and deep motivating power of Lesley Glaister's AS FAR AS YOU CAN GO, but set in Dublin and Trabawn, Ireland rather than extreme rural Australia. Like a stone tossed at a pond, one illicit situation leads to deceit and deception, lies and concealment, and teeters on a precipice at the moment of a tragic yet avoidable accident. Morality and integrity fall away in the face of narcissistic self-interest, and eight lives are irrevocably altered. Only some will mature from adversity, and for others, life will hang in the balance.

I reviewed a digital ARC generously provided via NetGalley.

Review: SWIMMING UPSTREAM by Jack Thompson (Raja Williams Mystery Series, 3)

Review:  SWIMMING UPSTREAM by Jack Thompson (Raja Williams Mystery Series, 3)

Reading any novel in this series is like sinking into a hot tub with a glass of champagne and a good book. Comfortable yet adventurous, cosy yet full of the evils of the human heart, edifying yet revealing of human frailties, the series features an extraordinary protagonist in private investigator Raja Williams. Of rainbow Caribbean descent, he is an attractive and appealing figure, grounded in deep empathy and possessing a nearly non-earthly psychic sense.

This installment involves an attorney in environmental law, dead inexplicably on Mount Rainier, an individual with no enemies. Raja declares it murder, and off he goes, with prime hacker partner Vinny. If justice and truth can be exposed, Raja Williams will see to it.

Author Jack Thompson generously provided me with a digital copy of SWIMMING UPSTREAM. No renumeration was exchanged.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


REVIEW: COOKIE' S CASE by Andy Siegel A really odd--bizarre--medical case elicits the attention, at a chance meeting in an exotic club three years later, of two malpractice/personal injury attorneys, and an unjustly barred neurologist. The "victim," a dancer who really does possess the proverbial "heart of gold," has been triple damaged: incompetent surgeon, incompetent lawyer, deceptive boyfriend: a real trinity of narcissistic nastiness. Start the story and immediately find yourself engrossed. I reviewed a digital ARC generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.No remuneration was exchanged.


Review: THE HAUNTING AT GRAYS HARBOR by Michael Richan This is the eighth, and newest, in author Michael Richan' s THE RIVER series. I've loved them all, finding each one even better. Surprisingly for me, I've read them consecutively. The entire series is great. The characters are endearing: protagonist son-and-father team Steven and Roy; Eliza, Maynard and Dixon, Winn and Deem. The spirits are riveting too; and though each story stands alone, they also form an entirety.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: OUTSOURCED by Eric J. Gates


An exciting and convoluted thriller with a strong thread emphasizing the Federal Government's insertion into the lives of private citizens, and a strong "paranormal" type element. I'm reminded of Hitler's capacity to alter mob behavior by speech; here the instrument is a certain formerly Tibetan object, now used as a pen. Those readers of science fiction are surely familiar with the concept that in dimensions in which thought or words alter reality, proper focused intent is essential. Here, proper focused intent is essential when composing with this "pen," because this object also alters reality.

I reviewed a digital copy generously provided by the author for review purposes. No fees were exchanged.

Review: BLOOD INFERNAL (ORDER OF THE SANGUINES #3) By James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

REVIEW: BLOOD INFERNAL by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell   (Order of the Sanguines #3)

A rip-roaring historical prologue sets the scenery for this riveting thriller whose suspense never falters. Readers who loved the first two books in the Order of the Sanguines Series (BLOOD GOSPEL and INNOCENT BLOOD) will find this conclusion immensely appealing; those who haven't yet read the first two novels can still enjoy this one (and will be inspired to check out the earlier books, and enter the saga of the Sanguinists, once preternatural monsters who have converted to the Blood of Christ, and archaeologist extraordinaire Dr. Erin Granger, herself bonded to the Blood Gospel of Christ.

Review: THE DAMNED by Andrew Pyper

REVIEW:  THE DAMNED by Andrew Pyper

Nearly middle-aged, Danny Orchard is a twin survivor and a best-selling author of a memoir of his own after-death experience. By choice, he is solitary and lonely, as he believes his deceased twin Ashleigh will intervene in any attempt to form a meaningful relationship. Unfortunately, Danny's belief is accurate. Born a sociopath, Ashleigh quite literally possessed no soul, but was infused by a drive for control and for cruelty. Murdered on her 16th birthday, she is neither "gone" nor "forgotten"; her Will attached itself to Danny the way an unformed embryonic twin sometimes emerges as an internal tissue mass in the surviving twin.

This novel is graphically violent, gritty, and gory, and includes some unpleasant "taboos." While.not for the weak of stomach or the easily offended, it is excellently written and was a one session read for me, as I couldn't stop till I finished. I'm now off to peruse Andrew Pyper' s earlier excellent novels.

Review: FINN FANCY NECROMANCY [Preview] by Randy Henderson

Review: FINN FANCY NECROMANCY [preview] by Randy Henderson

Imprisoned in Fae for a quarter-century for Necromancy he did NOT commit, poor Finn's set-up continues: at the moment of his release to Earth, an enforcer appears in an assassination attempt on Finn's changeling, who has taken his place for the past twenty-five years. As the portal is closing, Finn must barrel through without recovering the changeling's memories of Finn's life; or remain in Fae, perhaps forever. Someone really means to keep Finn barred from his Earth life.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Review:  I SHOULD HAVE TOLD YOU by Joanne Clancy (THE NIGHT KILKER #1)

Set in Dublin and London, this first mystery in THE NIGHT KILLER series pits Detective Chief Inspector George Ellis of the Dublin Crime Against the Person Squad, against an elusive, clever, cunning and very determined killer, whose murderous acts are crimes of passion, because each one he designs to repeal an act of "betrayal" committed some decades prior. DCI Ellis is middle-aged, but two decades witnessing the horrid consequences of humanity's cruelty have aged his soul. No matter what he tries, the killer remains unnoticed; but Ellis' efforts lead to a series of personally shattering revelations. I can't wait to read the next installment.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Review: WORDS ONSCREEN by Naomi S. Baron


Examination of the phenomenon of "onscreen reading" (ereaders, tablets, smartphones, desktop computers, laptops) vis a vis traditional reading (print books; printouts--in other words, "hard copy"), WORDS ONSCREEN takes an academic viewpoint. Linguistics expert Naomi S. Baron looks at both sides of the debate: aficionados of print vs. aficionados of e-reading, and explores e-reading globally.

I think in the end, it comes to a matter of personal preference. I myself began reading print books (voraciously) in the 1950's, and loved the content, the weight, the fragrance. But more than a year ago, I gave up reading print in order to preserve my eyesight (I read on an iPad and several different generation Kindle Fires). Many contemporary print books use font that several strains my vision. I expect more of my generation will take up e-reading for similar reasons.

I highly recommend that all readers, publishers, authors, and academics peruse WORDS ONSCREEN and ponder its conclusions.



Clever, cunning, insightful: this up-close and personal look at sociopathy illustrates the process of such minds, illuminates their sense of entitlement (imagine a toddler grown large, with power and deception: "I want that, I will have it--NOW!!"), their inability to empathize, sympathize, or understand others. Author J. L. Faura gives us the "inside view" of these predators, those who stand at the top of the food chain because they lack conscience as does a shark or jellyfish.

I reviewed a digital copy provided via StoryCartel for review purposes. No fees were exchanged.


18 Thoughts, by Jamie Ayres


Genre: young-adult, coming-of-age, paranormal-romance


Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press


Date of Publication: 01/27/15


Cover Artist: Michelle Johnson at Blue Sky Design




Olga Gay Worontzoff left the Underworld for her final year of high school anxious for things to return to normal, but fate has other plans.


The new hottie at school reads her thoughts but nobody else’s. Her best friend wakes up from his coma acting like a completely different person. Caught in a world that’s a mix of familiar andsupernatural, she must confront what she will—or won’t—do to bring him back and stare down her own perceived inadequacies to face a couple of tenacious demons, figurative and literal.


Everything she thought she knew about reality will change as she walks the line between past and present, fear and faith, love and loyalty.


And by the end of a heartbreaking year, she might be forced to realize “normal” in the conventional sense of the word is the one thing she may never achieve.


Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK




About Jamie Ayres:

Jamie Ayres writes young adult paranormal love stories by night and teaches young adults as a public school teacher by day.

When not at home on her laptop or at school, she can often be found at a local book store grabbing random children and reading to them. So far, she has not been arrested for this.

She lives in southwest Florida with her prince charming, two children (sometimes three based on how Mr. Ayres is acting), and a basset hound. She spent her youthful summers in Grand Haven, Michigan and this setting provided the inspiration for her debut novel, 18 Things.

She really does have grandmothers named Olga and Gay but unlike her heroine, she’s thankfully not named after either one of them. She loves lazy pajama days, the first page of a good book, stupid funny movies, and sharing stories with fantastic people like you. Visit her website


Find Jamie Ayres Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads