Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ark of Adams By Jack Kane

Article first published as Book Review:The Ark of Adams by Jack Kane on Blogcritics.

As Weather and Global warming continue to wreak havoc on the earth, snow and ice blanket the world, creating a new ice age. In an effort to moderate the conditions on humanity, discovery of an answer comes through the technological ingenuity of Dr. Adams. To reduce the difficulties produced by cold, starvation and the other stresses that arose from a new ice age, it would require a different environment, a virtual reality, a new Genesis that could be manipulated to a more agreeable and comfortable existence, a place to renew while the physical body was in stasis.

As with all answers and exciting discoveries, different factions look for control, Dr. Adams is one of the first of the inhabitants reset, and then replaced by other more capable operators. Reset is a program enacted for criminal or other inhabitants that become a problem in the mode. Reset is engineered to help rehabilitation, but as in the case of most correctional systems, the inhabitants often get worse.

Even in this virtual reality, there are issues; hackers consistently try to break into government computers. Nicki Allen innocently becomes a criminal because of her curiosity. Through an online companion, she obtains a thumb drive copy of Genesis and as she pulls it up to see what the excitement is all about, she herself is detained and reset. Her online companion, Kung Fu, is there and has a plan.

Even as rescue comes, death and destruction become a way of life in this new reality. Duplicity creates an opportunity; one that sweeps her in. As she fights for her life, she gains control, and becomes the

Split by J.J. Westendarp

Erika has been abandoned by her family, left on her own to survive or founder. Either way, they could not care less. She has an odd ability, something that makes her different, and they are not prepared to deal with it. Being on her own has only made her more determined and ferocious than ever. She is a hunter of vampires, and yet she does not understand her own power. She is found by Mitch, also a hunter, and he determines that she needs his training. She is willing to learn but has a difficult time taking direction, or even trusting. When Mitch decides he needs help with her training and brings in Adonis, her life takes on a direction that none of them can conceive of .

Erika is a lonely young woman, abandoned by the very people that should love her. She finds it difficult to trust, and yet she knows that she needs help. Mitch is a strong and thoughtful person, he has seen her wounds and understands the damage that has been inflicted. He cares about her as a person, but he also wants to help her gain strength to protect herself in her profession.

Adonis is an unknown. She is not sure what she thinks of him, and yet he is willing to help. She struggles with his willingness, no one else has been so available to her. When Mitch disappears, Adonis is there to help her succeed. She needs his help to find Mitch, and discover the answers to her strange power.
Will he be the one who can help her? Can she find her calling, and overcome the nightmares in her life?

J.J. Westendarp has the knack of building a strong heroine, and surrounding them with interesting side kicks. He builds a strong story, full of danger and surprises. This Novella is just another vehicle for his wonderful imagination.

A Novella of enjoyable proportions. Fast paced and delightful.

Rating 4/5

This download was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Written in Blood by Elaina Lee

Written first on The Romance Reviews

In WRITTEN IN BLOOD, Elaina Lee has built a tale of death and destruction, full of ugliness and pain, but she has found a way to weave in a spark of life and light. She has drawn hope from the self-destructive natures of two different and diverse personalities, twisted and guided them, and then found that piece that welds them together. While this is a story of finding the murderer of young women, it is also the story of finding one's self. Very imaginative and well done.

Lyndi Crisdean is struggling in her life as a defense attorney. She works in the same office of her most recent ex-husband. He has dumped her because she makes him feel too old and he has moved on to a younger woman, one of the women working at the firm. While she is beyond him, it still is a wound that bleeds. He is quite a bit older then she is, so the reasoning stings. She has also just recently been assigned several cases, one dealing with a serial killer, who is a strange and foreboding man, and definitely gives her the creeps. When he makes some threats, instead of admitting defeat and having him assigned to another, she refuses to acknowledge that she may not be able to handle it.

Alek Trevian is an investigator for the District Attorney's office, and is well known for his skills. He is attracted to Lyndi from the beginning and yet any dealing with her outside of the scope of their jobs could cost both of them their jobs. But Alek finds that Lyndi may be in the middle of the investigation that he is currently looking at. They are on opposite sides of the fence, yet when Lyndi becomes the focus of the madman, Alek finds she may hold the answers and this binds them in a way that may not be altogether healthy.

Lyndi has been married and divorced four times, she does not always make her choices in the right frame of mind, and she has been without sex for some time now. When she meets Alek for the first time, she has no idea who he is or how he will become a part of her life. She is electrified by the heat and

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crown of Crystal Flame by C.L.Wilson

This review posted first at The Romance Reviews.

In this fifth and final book of C. L. Wilson's Tairen Soul series, an "epic tale of magic, passion and destiny", she has not held anything back. It is exciting and passionate, full of danger and amazing magic, with passion that is both tender and yet scalding. It is heartfelt and bold and extremely beautiful, keeping you on a razor's edge, with baited breath awaiting the answer: Will light win over darkness? You will find that final answer in this exciting ending.

In this final saga, Ellysetta Baristani finally understands the darkness that she carries, deep inside and hard to find, but there all the same. Having already won the love of Rain, the Fey King and having saved the tairen, she has been marked by the evil mage; he is close to owning her soul. As the final battle of Eld begins, will evil win or will Ellysetta overcome the darkness and embrace the light? Will evil finally be defeated and Ellysetta be set free, to live and love, free of the demons of darkness, that pursue her?

I began this story at a disadvantage as I had not read any of the other books leading up to this final chapter. What I truly enjoyed about this was that while it took me a short time to decipher the characters and the background, once I got through the first chapter, I was enthralled. C. L. Wilson took this final story and weaved it around and about all the previous stories, making it one to stand on its own. While I will seek out the other books because the story is ingenious, it is not necessary in order to read and enjoy the final outcome, including the romance and interplay in CROWN OF CRYSTAL FLAME.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jessica's Tune by Jim Wygant

Article first published as Book Review:Jessica's Tune by Jim Wygant on Blogcritics.

We first met Nick Dement a retired KGB agent as he unmasked a mole in the CIA. He is put in the witness protection program for his own safety, and as the years turn into his first decade in the program, he realizes he has been all but forgotten. He still receives his stipend but it did not grow with inflation, and he finds himself working part time for extra money. His recent gig was as an employment counselor with JBI transition consulting, and it is in this capacity that he first meets another Russian,Lenny Doburoff.

Nick is not interested or even comfortable dealing with Lenny, yet he does not feel comfortable turning him down for dinner because his job is to help him transition. Lenny’s wife, Jessica is extremely attractive and he finds himself quite taken with her. She is smart and attractive, not at all what he expected from Lenny. As he relaxes and learns more about Lenny, he finds out that Lenny has a grown son Peter. Lenny believes that Peter may be in trouble, and asks Nick for his help. Since Nick only works his job part time, he decides to drop in on Peter and find out if Lenny has anything to worry about.

Peter is intelligent, very good with computers and when Nick stops and introduces himself, Peter is very suspicious of his motives. Nick notices that Peter is a music aficionado and complements him on a piece that he hears in the apartment. The song is called Jessica’s Tune, after his Stepmother. Getting under Peter’s guard, while not easy, puts Nick in a position to see what he is working on with is computer.

As Nick begins to follow up, he feels the familiar thrill, a part of his earlier life he did not realize he was missing. As he digs deeper he finds that Peter has attracted the wrong kind of attention, that of the Mexican Cartel. As Nick works to extract Peter from his problems, they are drawn deeper into the shady and deadly pull of the Cartel. Can he rely on his rusty instincts to save Peter, or will they both perish?

In this second installment and sequel to Jim Wygant’s novel, The Spy’s Demise, we continue the saga of Nick Dement. In Jessica’s Tune, Wygant creates another scenario, where the hero from his first work has another opportunity to shine. Nick has grown and developed; he is still a bit of a loner and continues to have trust issues. Married for a short time, he moves on when it does not work out, and finds a comfortable life.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Threads West: An American Saga by Reid Lance Rosenthal

Article first published as Book Review:Threads West: An American Saga by Reid Lance Rosenthal on Blogcritics.

In the mid 1800’s the United States is just beginning to explore their wilderness. For a variety of reasons people leave the comfort of everything they have ever known to move on to a wild and dangerous country, full of hope and dreams with adventure and possibilities. Gold is discovered in pockets of new areas, which increases the draw, as well as the lawlessness of those so bold. St. Lewis becomes the gateway to the new frontier with the unforgiving land beckoning to those men and women either brave enough or desperate enough to take on the challenge. This freedom is also known worldwide, and people are drawn to the new frontier, with the promise of freedom, land and riches, drawing them from their homes all over the world. It is a time of change and challenge, a time of discovery, both of the land and those hardy souls that challenge the danger and the elements to make their way to a new life.

In Threads West, by Reid Lance Rosenthal, we meet and follow a group of individuals on their journey. Each of them is from different and diverse backgrounds, with a variety of reasons drawing them to the wilderness. Johannes Svenson is a ladies man, run out of the very country he called home, caught dallying with the wife of The Frist Minister of Denmark. His journey to the new world is decided for him.

The S.S. Edinburgh is the ship, headed to a new and distant land, and it is here that Johannes meets Reuben Frank, on his way to America to claim land and begin a cattle ranch for his family. Here too we meet three unique and diverse women, all traveling on their own, an experience unwarranted and unusual in this time in the annuls of history. Sarah Bonney has lost her family and is headed to the new world to work with her aunt as a seamstress. Inga has been in the U.S for a time, and is making a living the very best way she knows how. She is a waitress, but occasionally has to sell herself to make ends meet. She has learned a hard lesson in the ways of the world, and has decided that a girl has to do what a girl has to do, to get by. Rebecca Marx is heading to the new world at the behest of her fathers will. He has found some land and she is there to claim it. She is very refined and unlike most of those traveling to find their place.

And with all the good, their usually comes the bad and in this group of individuals that meet and interact on their journey to America, we also meet Jacob O’Shanahan, a bully and a taker, one of those who feel that the world is theirs if only they can find a way to connive and steal what is worth the taking. His life too is tangles and weaved into and around the lives of those other few, all headed in the same direction, out to find their place in this new frontier.

Zebarriah Taylor, or Zeb as he is known, has his own part in this compelling and historical drama. Well inured to the ways of the west, with an understanding of the country itself, his life is drawn into and becomes a part of this group of individuals, guiding as well as helping to protect them in an aggressive and dangerous land.

Rosenthal has written a wonderful western saga, and peopled it with characters that you can care about. Each of them has internal struggles, and yet they are strong and brave, and in some cases reckless. As we follow their journey into a new land, as well as the growth of their characters, we become immersed, wanting and hoping to see them through. And while evil may be too strong of a description for Jacob, he is certainly not a very good man. The story is smooth and endearing, as they make their way. Rosenthal has drawn a likeness of the America of our history books and set it with the people that help us to understand the savage and yet ruggedly beautiful America of that time.

I am excited for the next installment of the series to come out, I am left wondering what will they find, is there really gold, and how do they come to terms with the different issues they are facing. This is an interesting and incredibly well written story, full of diverse characters and places.

If you love a good story, full of history both real and rugged, on a journey full of surprises, this is the book for you. It would be a great book for a book club, as well as for reading groups everywhere.

Rating 4/5
Threads West

This book was received through the Cadence group from the publisher. All Opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Talisman of Elam: Children of Hathor-Book I by Jim Mastro

Article first published as Book Review:The Talisman of Elam: Children of Hathor-Book I by Jim Mastro on Blogcritics.

Something is happening in young Jason Hunter’s life that he does not understand. He is seeing some very odd things and when he discusses them with his parents they just nod and smile. He is determined that he is being followed and is in danger, but he is not able to get them to believe him. He finally talks to his friend Kevin Hayashi with whom he now shares everything. They are the best of friends ever since Jason saved Kevin from being beat up at school. As Kevin is trying to get more information from Jason about an object he found in the woods, another student shows up, Amelia Reis. She too is a friend of Kevin’s and although has heard all about Jason, she has never met him.

Amelia does not fit in with the in crowd in school and is more like Jason and Kevin than anyone else. When Kevin invites her to listen in on the stories he is hearing from Jason, she is intrigued. Because she constantly has her camera with her and is a very curious person she is a good fit for adventure, and has the making of a great new friend.

Once she has left, Jason gets Kevin to come over so that he can help him follow his neighbors, whom he has dubbed the freaks. These are the very same people that seem to be following him, so he and Kevin decide to follow them into the woods. As night breaks, and the freaks leave their house for the woods, Kevin and Jason are right behind, they have every intention of finding out what is happening. When they run into Amelia in the woods, Jason is a bit upset, but she is adamant. She too is following these freaks, and will not leave.

Finding a hidden space ship is the very last thing that any of them expected. Even worse, they find that not only have these neighbors been following Jason, but that his real parents have been kidnapped and only he can save them. He must travel to space and find an ancient talisman, both to prevent destruction of the earth and to save his parents from death. As his friends finally agree to help him in this quest, little do they know that they will learn secrets about themselves unknown to all, and that not only the earth is in danger but the entire galaxy itself is in jeopardy. They find strengths within that make them the perfect foil for Jason, who discovers that he is the Heir of Elam. With the help of Shalan, one of the freaks as he calls them, he becomes someone he does not recognize, and yet it is what he needs in order to survive.

In The Talisman of Elam, Jim Mastro has put together a story of adventure and suspense, a tale that can only be dreamed of. The story is strong and bold, delivering an impression of realism, with characters that walk right off the pages. Jason has to grow up quickly, and he steps up and takes the challenge. Kevin is bright and very much into gaming, and with his background he is able to guide the space ship through dangerous situations, saving the group on several occasions. Amanda, with her background in languages, is very adaptable and picks up new languages easier, but is also the most human, wanting to be home, while the boys are enjoying the situations as they occur.

Shalan starts out as an unknown and while she is still very introspective throughout the first part of the book, when she finally breaks out of her shell she is courageous and very intelligent. She knows the information that will be needed, and when she is injured and almost killed, it takes everything that Jason, Kevin and Amanda have to keep her alive. She is their only link to both where they are going as well as their homes on earth and they need her.

The pace is quick and flowing, with strange and unique individuals, different and dangerous travel, and an exciting type of magic, which is imbued only to the owner of the Talisman.

This is a great young adult book, but with a strong story for anyone that is an enthusiast of science fiction. This is a first in the series of this young group of travelers, and I look forward to hearing more about them.

Rating 4/5
The Talisman of Elam

This book was received as a free copy from the Author. All opinions are my own based of my reading and understanding of the material.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Interrupt This Date By LC Evans

This review was posted first on The Romance Reviews.

L.C. Evans has written a fun and satisfying story about a family and their interactions, especially those when a marriage has dissolved. From the busybody comfort of a mother to the drama and well-meaning advice of friends, this story takes you on a journey, one of finding yourself.

Susan Caraway has been dumped by her husband after 19 years, and she is not sure what to do with herself. Her son is off to college, she's got to keep the house, but she had a great deal of difficulty finding a job after so many years of being off the market. When she finally does find one, it is at a pawnshop doing the books and it's barely enough to keep her afloat. She is terribly unhappy there, but with the economy, jobs are extremely scarce, and with no background, she does not have the skill required for many jobs that she has seen that sound interesting.

Her Mama is very involved in her life and is constantly trying to set her up with a new man. She is very opinionated and domineering. She has two Chihuahuas that are her constant companions and go with her everywhere. She is very disapproving of Susan and the fact that her husband left her. She is convinced that she knows best and Susan has always been there willing to help and step in for anything.

Her younger sister's boyfriend had just dumped her, and she has nowhere to go. Because Susan has always been the one to fix things and take care of problems, she moves herself into Susan's home with her baby, as well as a large, undisciplined puppy.

Susan finds herself putting her life on hold once again. When she runs into an old friend from school, Jack Maxwell, her world turns topsy-turvy. She has had a crush on him for years, but has only ever been his friend. Those few times when opportunity presented itself, she found herself knee deep in family issues. Will she find happiness again?

Susan is very immersed in her family and has a victim persona. She has lived for years with a man that she did not love and never took the time for herself, as she was always doing things for others. When she is divorced and on her own, she continues in the same vein, putting her own wants and life on hold for the others in her life. She is a fun and bright person, takes control even when it may not be needed. However, because she has always been available in every way to her family, they take advantage in every way.

When she sees Jack again, she remembers her feelings about him very well. She had always had a strong attraction to him and yet they had only once tried to progress beyond friendship. She had been stunned by his kisses, but he did not seem to have the same feeling,. She has always carried a torch, but they had always maintained their friendship even though they had not seen each other for years.

Jack is a handsome and brooding man, and also very attracted to Susan. He had been used to being put aside for her family and after several episodes of broken dates, settled for becoming her friend. But when they are together the sparks fly, and the looks thrill. It is obvious that there is feeling and they both fight it, unwilling to bend. Susan no longer has the nerve, afraid of being rejected, and Jack continues to have to take the back seat.

Will they find the common ground to bring them together, or will they be doomed to live life as it was dealt?

L.C Evans has written a tale of love and family, very similar to those you run across every where. She has sprinkled it with characters that are fun and frivolous. She has scattered a few eccentrics and made a fun and romantic read. You will enjoy the play and interaction of these characters.

Rating 4/5
We Interrupt This Date

This Book was received as a free download from the publisher through The Romance Reviews. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

J.J. Westendarp- Authors Interview

I recently had an opportunity to read and review Spiral X. I found it to be an interesting and fun novel and I was interested in learning more about the author. I believe that it is wonderful for dreams to become  reality, and I also believe that the reader would like to know more about the dreamer. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about J.J. Westendarp, and I hope you have an opportunity to read his work.

Please supply your writing name as it appears on your book or e-book and the name of your most recent published story.

My name is J. J. Westendarp and my book is Spiral X.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am a married father of two living in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Currently I work as an IT professional and am attending Kaplan University Online to obtain a degree in that field. Writing is done whenever I have a free moment with some creative juices flowing, and for now it is a hobby. I love to play games, both video and board, and I look forward to the day my kids are old enough to enjoy some of the more advanced board games I have in my closet.

Tell us about your book.

Spiral X is the start of a larger series of stories which encompass what I call the Eternal War, which is essentially the battle between Heaven and Hell over the souls of humanity. The main protagonist is Cheryl Erikson, a Hunter of demons and vampires, who is considered one of the best there is. At the start of the book though, she isn't necessarily dealing in her realm of expertise, as she is attempting to track down where a drug called Plast is coming from. The main reason for this is because the dealers are primarily vampires. Finding this information is only the tip of the iceberg, and she quickly finds herself under the gun, literally, as someone has taken a contract out on her head. Couple that with a nosy police detective who really doesn't like her very much, and the attentions of a shadow government organization, it's enough to keep her on her toes. But all of that pales to what she finds at the Spiral X nightclub.

What inspired you to be a writer or have you always had a passion for writing?

I've always had a passion for writing. I know it sounds cliché to say that I've been writing since I was a kid, but it's true. My first novel was written in high school, and it's still sitting off to the side, waiting for the day I can turn it into the epic fantasy it wants to be. My desire to write even got me in trouble in the Navy, as I was caught writing during my job training, and was subsequently written up for it. While I was signing the paper, my instructor asked me if I would rather go into Journalism since what I'd written was pretty good. I turned him down and stayed the course with my computer training, which is good because that's the day job at the moment. Still, that incident has stuck with me, and I'm finally giving my writing a shot.

If you could give advice to other authors or aspiring authors what would you say?

The first thing I would say is to stick with it. Like any art form, writing something that people appreciate takes practice. You're going to stumble, you're going to fall, and you're going to have times when it's difficult to drag a single sentence out of your thoughts. That's okay, just stick with it. There are lots of places to go to help you hone your craft, lots of books to read about what you can do to get better, but none of that matters if you don't stick with it.

When you completed your work what was your most difficult roadblock to becoming published?

Getting over my incessant need to tweak the finished product. As a writer, you have to know when enough is enough, and this is doubly so as an indie author since you don't have someone telling you that you're done. I'm still struggling with this, but it's slowly getting better.

Where can people go to get more information about you and your book?

You can read my blog here: People can also read Chapter One of Spiral X there.

My Facebook Page is here:

Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. I wish you every success in your further endeavors. I believe your work has the making of a great series and I for one will be waiting for the followup.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Advent of Lena by Neil M. Campbell

Article first published as Book Review:The Advent of Lena: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast by Neil M. Campbell on Blogcritics.

In a world where beauty and glamor are sought above all, Neil M. Campbell has written and interesting and yet intriguing novel, based on the life of one man, handsome to the extreme, always surrounded by beautiful women, Park Delafield. In his usual way he has insulted one of the ugliest women he has ever seen, and as he is knocked to the ground by one of her friends and defenders, he has a sudden realization the he is a shallow man. There is nothing that will save him from himself, nothing except this woman, with her rare ability to attract people; this is due not to her looks but her inner beauty. He is determined to meet her and get to know her. His disgust with himself is without bounds and he must know her.

Chloe Lambert had never had any problem with understanding her lot in life. She cannot even stand to look in her own mirror, and has had to live with her looks for her entire life. She does not dwell on it and lives her life to the best of her ability, enjoying her job and her friends, never expecting the things that most women look for in life. Life for her has been difficult with the name calling and rudeness and she has tried to look beyond all that. When a gorgeous young man begins to follow her and try to meet with her she is suspicious and not at all inclined to give him the time of day. And yet she cannot seem to detach him, he is everywhere. Her curiosity gets the best of her and she begins to allow him to get close, much to the dismay and worry of some of her friends. When trust finally begins to set in, Park finds that to those closest to her, she is known as Lena, and he finds he is drawn in even more. To be trusted with something so personal, a part of her inner self excites him beyond reason.

This gradual softening and dance around each other does draw them together and yet Park has not really grown into what he believes is necessary to change his life. As he draws Chloe out of her shell and finds that he really enjoys her, he still struggles with his inner demons, those that have guided him to this time and place, and his reason for seeking out Chloe in the first place.

In Neil M Campbell’s, The Advent of Lena: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast, betrayal and confusion set in, tearing them apart and yet through it all Park continues to pursue Chloe and try to draw his life back on track. Will he become the man he wants to be, or will he destroy Chloe in the process?

This is a strange yet thoughtful look into the psyche of two different and diverse individuals. Park is self-indulgent and spoiled; looking only for the gratification he believes is his, until he meets Chloe. When he is hurt by her protector for making a comment on her looks he takes a deep look into his own life. Seeing the ugliness within, realizing that it may be worse than what may show on the outside, he takes stock and determines that he must change his life and who he is. He is also determined that this is only possible through Chloe herself, she who wears her ugliness with style and distinction. And yet he is so flawed he hurts even those that have been close to him for years. He struggles with the changes he is trying to make, falling from grace time after time. And yet he is a likable guy, it feels as though he wants to change, but time and nurture make it difficult.

Chloe is a strong woman on the outside, having to hide her hurt and anguish from those around her. The tough exterior only hides her insecurities. She has a great job and wonderful friends, but has never been pursued; she does understand how her looks affect people. She is unsure and nervous about what Park is after, and yet he finally wears her down. It is through soul searching and trial and error that they determine the path where they are headed.

This is an interesting and thought provoking look at what matters, the old adage of “Beauty is only Skin Deep” applies, and it is a twist on the original story, with a bit of difference.

This would be an insightful book full of great discussions for a book club or reading group. It is interesting with a different perspective than most, an odd but quirky love story.

Rating 4/5
The Advent of Lena

This book was received free, courtesy of the author. All opinions are my own based off me reading and understanding of the material.

Second Chance by Sandra J. Gerencher

Second Chance by Sandra J. Gerencher is an emotional and inspirational look at those special people that are one step up, with the need and ability to fulfill the destiny of those that are left behind, for whatever reason. The book itself is told from the viewpoint of the young puppy that has been adopted from the shelter. It is rich in prose, and longing from both the human side to that of the animals that are also without home or care. While the book is about adoption and its saving grace, it is also about Autism and how love and grace can help a child to understand the processes. To me it also brought to light the special people in the world, those willing to find and nurture those that have been lost along the way.

I have to believe that there is a special light shown on them, not just the lost and innocent, but those that find and nurture them. It is a special characteristic unique to some, but not to all, and it is always an amazing honor to meet and know them. There is a love that wells, a bottomless source that can be drawn on, lost to many of us who can only look on in awe.

This book is fun and uniquely suited to the story it tells, Sandra J Gerencher has written a wonderful story with humor and wit. The pictures are wonderful, and the story is written to read to those special ones that we are graced with. It is enjoyable and thought provoking, but it shines in its simplicity.

About the author

A believer in second chances
Over the past 10 years, author Sandra Gerencher has been on a mission to save dogs from high kill animal shelters. Her first rescue was P.J., a black and white Pomeranian. She also adopted Shelby, an orange Pomeranian and of course, Chance, a big black Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix.

All characters in the story are based on Sandra's real life family. The book is filled with softly blended watercolor photos of her loved ones.

The most significant adoption was her son, Terry. He was considered a special needs child because he was born with a genetic disorder known as Fragile X Syndrome. The disorder can cause many cognitive disorders, such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation and depression.

$12.95, Children

A portion of your book purchase benefits the Humane Society.

PBS Kids Recommended title

Book web site:
Sandra J. Gerencher Facebook:

Tribute Books website:

Tribute Books Facebook:

Tribute Books Twitter:

Sandra J. Gerencher Bio:

Sandra J. Gerencher is a special education teacher in the Bangor Area public school system. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked at Lehigh University in a school-based program, as a Program Specialist for adults with disabilities. Over the past 20 years she has worked with children and adults with special needs in such areas as counseling, Behavior Specialist Consultation, behavioral research, crisis intervention and abuse therapy. Sandra graduated from Lehigh University with a M.Ed. in Special Education (2004) and from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia with an M.S. in Counseling Psychology (1999).

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fire Island By John J. Stevens

Article first published as Book Review:Fire Island by John J. Stevens on Blogcritics.

Fire Island by John J. Stevens is set in a time in history when the United States is still just a fledgling nation, it is a time and strife and change. Every man and woman has a chance to change the course of their own history, in a time when this is still possible. William Trask became enamored of sailing at a very young age, and becomes one of the finest ship Captains of all time.

Storms and weather are a force of nature and quell the mightiest of the ships and when running product from ports around the world they are one of the biggest challenges. Trask, in command of Young America, has had an uneventful voyage. It is only as he approaches his final destination that his luck has run out. He, along with his crew, which included his fourteen year old son have run into a storm that will change William’s life and begin a new course in the annuls of history.

To try and reach safety the ship is routed through the channels of Fire Island, a notorious maven of danger and ship wrecks.

Trask must seek shelter in this roughest of areas or the ship and all aboard will perish. Hoping that his luck will hold he moves forward with courage. Little does he understand the motives of those that manipulate the senses, working to turn the tide in their own favor. Trask and his charge the Young America are pulled from the safety of a deep channel, into the shallows to the side by those seeking to take advantage of the weather and bring down the great ship, leaving the spoils to be taken as plunder.

As the Young America founders, Trask loses his crew to the waves, and to his horror his son too is washed over. In the freezing cold and icy conditions there is nothing that Trask can do to save them. As day breaks only Trask and his cook are still on board, but his cooks is in terrible condition. Trask, himself not caring at this point about living or but dying now has a reason to keep fighting, he has one last crew member to save.

Living through the night protected from the worst of the icy temperatures and waves in the sail folds, they are rescued by a small group, those that came together during the worst of times to save those foolhardy enough to challenge the seas. Cassandra Wolff was one of these. Trask and his cook are rescued and looked after by Cassandra and her crew, but there is no hope for Trask as he loses his leg.

Trask is a strong and thoughtful man; he is brave in the face of danger and just a bit reckless. Even with the loss of his leg he perseveres. The death of his son has changed him and he no longer has the same mindset. He is offered another opportunity to Captain an entirely different ship and yet he decides instead to work with a newly formed and untried group put together on Fire Island called the United States Life Saving Service. It would require more work for less pay, and yet he knew that it was his calling.

Cassandra Wolff is half in love with Trask after her care of him during the dark time in his life after he lost first his son and then his leg. She is herself a very strong and brave woman, working in a profession that is still in its infancy as well. This was a time of new endeavors, with both Trask and Cassandra being at the very forefront.

John J Stevens has built a wonderful story around true events and people of the time. In Fire Island we learn the origin of the entity known as the United States Coast Guard. The history is wonderful and thought provoking, both real and well established. The characters are both real and fictional, twisted and tied together to form a story that is clear and precise, pulling you in and keeping you entertained. You can feel the pain and angst at the worst of times, the sadness and savagery of the times. The joys are more exuberant and alive at this time in history.

If you enjoy historical fiction, this is an excellent rendition of just that. The story is marvelous and the history is smooth, you do not even realize that you are learning. I was impressed with the narrative and the backgrounds that were described not just in the Americas but worldwide during this time in history.

I would recommend this book for reading groups as well as book clubs. It is a thoughtful and provoking look at the world of the past.

Rating 4/5

Fire Island

This Book was recieved as a free copy from the Author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Discovery of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski

Article first published as Book Review: The Discovery of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski on Blogcritics.
As technology takes hold in the world of today, imagine a world of tomorrow where virtual mode is used in every school system in the land. Leaving skin behind and entering into the internet, taking on a sim as a body, being who or whatever you want. But certain areas are approved through the schools and yet as with any rule, these are made to be broken, and other areas are hacked into, and small private wars are fought with other schools. Socket Greeny’s best friends are Chute, and Streeter. Streeter is the one with the computer savvy, and also the hacker extraordinaire. Chute is kind of like Socket’s friend, but also like his girlfriend as well.

On a day like any other, as they find themselves in their hacked universe, a small war ensues with the rival school. Socket’s sim is damaged beyond repair, and as his team covers him, protecting his simulated body from further damage, he makes an amazing discovery. He can feel, and touch, which should be impossible in virtual mode. This is only simulation and not real and yet, it feels real. No pain but definitely real. He sees a shadow of someone familiar, and yet his friends have no idea, they cannot see or hear anything unusual. But they do know that Socket is acting odd, talking to no one that is there. As they are attacked once more, Socket pulls from deep inside and causes time to stand still; giving his team time to get together, but with the stand still, the earth begins to split, right up the middle, enclosing everything in its path. He blacks out and when he awakes he is back in his chair at school, the virtual mode is down and all hell has broken loose.

And he feels wrong somehow. Everything is different, as he and his friends Chute and Streeter are escorted to the office for creating problems, he finds that his mom has called and will be picking him up. Now he knows that trouble has found him, and yet, when she picks him up she does not comment on his day. She takes him to her place of work. Here she introduces him to some of the people that she works for, and he finds that he will be tested and probed for his experiences and his thoughts.

His life as he knows it has just taken a huge curve, and he will be tested beyond endurance, and learn things about his parents that he never knew. He is in danger at every turn, and he continues to outpace his guides, in a game of life and death. Will he be able to help save the human race, or is it too late. Has it all been left too long? Will he ever be able to see Streeter and Chute again?

In The Discovery of Socket Greeny, Tony Bertauski takes us deep into the virtual mode, to a world of imagination. Everything you want to do and whoever you want to be is possible. He sets up a group of heroes, shining knights if you will, a group of those with extraordinary powers who have chosen to save the human race. Time is of the essence and Socket has become a part of a larger picture, one he is not ready for. The time has come for him to fulfill his destiny, and to step into his father’s shoes.

But who is he to trust when it is known that there is a traitor in their midst. He is pulled away from everything he knows and from his friends from home. His mom is acting like she does not know him most of the time, and he is never on his own. Everything he does is poked and prodded, and he is not ready to be what they want. An yet, he knows deep down that it is exactly what he wants, but will it be too late?

His friends stand by him even when he disappears for a length of time, and forgive him for much. They love him and will do whatever it takes to bring him back to who he was. Little do they know that they too are being sucked into a war that is soon to happen.

The characters are interesting, and at times quite brazen. I have problems understanding his mother, but she does have some redeeming qualities. When Socket needs her, he finds that he cannot always rely on her. The bad guys are deep from within the virtual mode itself and are ready to use it to take over the earth. There are some fun creative animals which show themselves to be quite useful, but are also very serious and yet frolicsome.

This is a great novel for the Young Adult, or even those that are just young at heart. It is fast paced with incredible insight. The friendships are close and the interplay among Sprocket, Streeter and Chute is just plain fun. This is just what I remember about being young, but Sprocket has to grow up fast, and I believe that there is just the right amount of adventure to keep you reading. I recommend this book for your young reader, and believe that they will enjoy the adventure.

Rting 4/5
The Discovery of Socket Greeny

This Book was received a a free E-Book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Homecoming by Sue Ann Bowling

Article first published as Book Review:Homecoming by Sue Ann Bowling on Blogcritics.

As humans explored the worlds, often new and different races were discovered. During one of those explorations they discovered the Maungs, who have the ability to wipe out the entire human race. It is here that they also meet the R’il’nai, a race of beings with powers and abilities that help to save them from extinction. As the years move on humans have hybridized with the R’il’nai and have continued their spread across the galaxy.

Here we meet the product of this hybridization, and one of the last full R’il’nai alive, one of the few not wiped out by a disease that was deadly to their kind. Slavery is still the way of the world and while the council does not necessarily condone it, many members themselves have slaves as well.

Snowy is a child born into slavery but he has learned the value of what is wanted. While some of his masters were cruel and callus, he has perfected a form of dance that makes him much more valuable. He has also collected a small group of friends and they dance together. This has made them popular and when they are sold, it is as a group because their beauty comes as a group in the form of the dance. But that is only a part of what is expected of them, they lead a hard and gritty life, abused and tormented by many of their masters. It is during one of the dances that they attract the attention of one of Derik, one of the R’il’noid, one of the hybrid of the two races that carry the characteristics and abilities of the R’il’nai side of the match. Derik is long lived and very lonely, he is entranced by Snowy and his group, and quite attracted to Snowy himself. When he purchases them, little does he realize that life as he knows it is about to change.

Snowy has been hiding something of his own for so long that it was no longer a thought. He could heal himself and others with his mind. He could block probes of his own, but he was beginning to show even more traits. His mother, before she was sold away warned him to keep his abilities secret, or he would be killed as a rogue. He had never seen her again, but he kept to her warning always. How would he get by in world where secrets were easily discernable? When he comes down with a severe form of Kharfun syndrome, he is immediately put in the spotlight. This anomaly only strikes those of R’ilnai or R’il’noid ancenstry, so now the immediate concern is, who is he?

Sue Ann Bowling has put together an amazing world, well written and believable. She has come up with a group of characters, each unique and either eminently likable, or on the other end of the spectrum, rather hateful. In Homecoming she highlights the frailties’ and strengths of a race that has no equal, and yet with all their intelligence and abilities they are near extinction. Set as protectors of humans, they themselves are almost annihilated by a disease that has very little impact on the human population.

Because of their abilities some of the hybrids have allowed slavery, and as in most other cultures it becomes a brutal and unending process of life for those that are owned. The master is all and the slave is considered a lower life form. While many are trying to change the process and outlaw slavery, there are those that resist. Many, like Snowy have found ways to make themselves worth more, in order to protect themselves and their friends.

Homecoming is a wonderful blend of both old and new, putting together humans and an alien race, melding them together in ways that form a new hybrid, with characteristics of both. And yet the slavery and some of the attitudes reflect a time of years past and seem to go against the basic reason for their connection, that of protecting the race, building an interesting conflict. The characters are both unique and quite interesting. The storyline within the school system is spot on and very reminiscent of what really happens in schools the world over. This is a quick paced and very interesting story, the characters are quite memorable.

If you like science fiction this is an amazing read. The story twists and turns, with action and adventure, and the characters step right off the page. I would think a book club or reading group would find this and interesting and attractive reading addition for their members.

Rating 4/5

This book was received as a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own and based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Final Deceit: Future Imperfect Book Three by P.I. Barrington

Article first published as Book Review:Final Deceit: Future Imperfect Book Three by P.I. Barrington on Blogcritics.

In a third installment of Future Imperfect Book Three, P. I. Barrington brings to a close the final saga of her gritty and suspense filled trilogy in a futuristic world. In the previous book, three of the Las Vegas Police force personnel along with a news anchor, were lost underground after an internal power struggle within the New Creation Religious community. They were all present when a bomb went off, causing the cave in, killing hundreds of those present.

An intense rescue operation is underway, with Charlie Bowman, the Las Vegas Police Chief in charge. At every turn, his old nemesis mayor, John Long, puts his operation into jeopardy. Long’s daughter was kidnapped and impregnated years previous, and he chose to blame the police force instead of the actual perpetrators. His animosity only continued to grow as he made the choice to lock his daughter away from the world in a facility, due to her mental state after her rescue. She absolutely believed that her baby was put there by an alien and no amount of therapy could alter her thoughts.

However, there is more to the situation then Charlie is aware of, there are secrets that John has long held that could shatter the very city they are both trying to save.

In addition, as the power struggle goes on above the cave in, Payce Halligan, along with Gavin McAllister and Nick Kinkaid are buried in the rubble but manage to escape serious damage. Payce and Gavin are separated from Nick who was last seen with Amy Strand the news reporter. As they try to rescue themselves, they actually find themselves getting deeper into an underground compound that is well developed and full of equipment , years ahead of that which they are used too.

As another collapse of the underground occurs, Gavin is lost and Payce is found by none other then Logan McKaye, the young intern that had saved her from her previous encounter while in the hospital. But something is not right about the whole situation, he refuses to help her look for Gavin or her other friends, and he drugs her, making her more malleable to his commands. She is unable to help herself and follows his instructions, and yet she is devastated at losing Gavin.

As time runs out, our friends are only getting deeper; will Charlie Bowman find them in time, before John Long calls off the search? It is essential that hey receive food and water as well as air, but can he find them all alive or will he have lost them in his attempt at rescue? What is the truth in a scam that is stranger then fiction, and will Payce lose Gavin just as she realized her feeling for him?

In Final Deceit: Future Imperfect Book Three, P.I. Barrington has only added a layer of intrigue to an already dangerous situation. She has continued to build on her characters, evolving them and yet keeping their same gritty attitudes from her previous work.

She has pulled in some unexpected villains as well as heroes, and added another twist to the strangeness of the New Creation community, bringing en ending that has been anticipated by those readers of her prior two installments.

P. I. Barrington has built a futuristic world in her Trilogy that is interesting, close to the Vegas that we know but dryer and grittier, with debauchery and crime common place. Her Characters are interesting and the backdrop of this series along with her characters could make for a number of books set in the same place starring the same LVPD characters.

I would recommend this book for its thoughtful and unforgettable rendition of a futuristic Sin city, and for the characters that she has peopled it with. If you like Science Fiction, or just a good suspenseful mystery you will like this book. This was a great ending to an imaginative series.

Rating 4/5
Final Deceit: Future Imperfect Book Three

This book was received as a free e-book ARC from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Exchange by Dale R. Cozort

Article first published as Book Review: ExChange by Dale R. Cozort on Blogcritics.

In an interesting twist on an alternate reality, Dale R. Cozort has brought us a rip in the continuum that occurs on different levels of time and place. It is being charted by the government and they are now getting closer to being able to plot the times and places these occur. A wide rift occurs in the area, which then relocates the portion of the earth in that rift to an alternate universe for a period. All people that are still within that area are then shifted as well. Preparing for the rift becomes a structured action, and many of the people are relocated to a safe area. In order to save the others there is a military presence brought in and a group of volunteers to help keep the area safe and secure. Sharon Mack is there, helping to prepare the area for the Exchange, as that is what the rift is called. She is selected as a volunteer, but needs to be home prior to the actual exchange so that she can pick up her daughter and relocate to a safe area until the Exchange reverses. That shift seems to average two weeks.

There are those that look forward to the exchange, planning on breaking the law and staying in the pristine wilderness known as Bear Country. In one of the first Exchanges, a group of convicts was included; they escaped and have become a part of Bear Country. On top of the wild animals and strange new species, this group of convicts also adds to the danger of being in the Bear Country side of the Exchange. There is also a group of extremists, a communal group, known as Sister West after it founder. It too plans to stay in after the exchange and is well prepared going in. As Sharon continues her work, she unintentionally catches the eye of a gang known only as the AK’s, short for Aryan Kings.

As she enters her home, she is attacked by her ex-husband, tied up and left for dead, as he kidnaps her daughter, Bethany. As she escapes she realizes that she must find her ex-husband and her daughter, she has a short window of opportunity, the two weeks of the exchange. If she cannot find her and get her back, she could lose her forever with the reversal.

It is during this mission that she first meets Leo West. He is part of the Sister West group, and ready to change his life by staying in Bear Country. The meeting and connection are electric. They are separated by a flash flood, not knowing if the other lives, but hoping to reconnect if possible.

Will she find her daughter before the exchange reversal? Will she be able to save herself? The government is now using her, and when she finds Leo again, she finds that even he has secrets, things he does not share about his past. How will the pieces come together?

Exchange is a very interesting and comprehensive look at an alternate universe. It is intense and exciting with action and adventure at every turn of the page. This is a great book and I found it to be fast paced and easy to follow.

The characters, which include several of the animal species, are well developed and interesting. The human characters are alternately strong and fierce, or stubborn and mean. The interaction is well written and believable, with snappy and sharp dialogue. The interaction with the animals is both amusing but at time fierce and deadly. Each group whether it is animal or human tries to find a niche in the changes occurring in Bear Country. Even with the actionable characteristics, there is also romance and tenderness, a longing that is as old as the earth.

The rival gangs keep the pace going, and yet there too you find pockets of good. Just when you think you have everything figured out; the story twists again, with new information and tactics.

I would recommend this book, it is full of interesting and charismatic people, and it is action packed, full of adventure and surprises. This is a book packed with fantasy and science fiction, with a bit of history thrown in. It would be a great book for anyone interested in the Science Fiction Fantasy genre, but it is also full of suspense, so should also attract the thriller or mystery buff. It would be a great addition to any book club or reading group with a rich array of conversational activity.

Rating 5/5

This book was received as a free copy from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.