Accompaniment (Reviews, etc.)

Please note, due to a high volume of requests, we are closed for reviews for the foreseeable future, thank you

Authors, if you would like to submit your published book(s) for review then please see the Submission Guidelines Page before contacting me.

Readers, below you will find honest reviews from me, giving you a star rating of between 1 and 5 stars.  (Please note, that as of March 2014, I will no longer be posting reviews of less than 3 stars on this blog).

Here is what each rating means:

1 Star = unacceptable craftsmanship. It will include some, but not necessarily all, of the following: unacceptable number of copy- editing errors, poor plot, shallow characters, info dumps, structural defects, clumsy expression, grammatical errors etc. It should never have been published in this state. (I won’t finish reading a book like this.)

2 Stars =  substandard craftsmanship. The faults may simply be fewer in number than those in the first category, or they may be more subtle in nature, eg all expositional or passive writing (eg over-use of variations of the ‘to be’ verb), major point of view confusion (eg chronic head-hopping), major plot holes, limited character development, clumsy expression, too many copy-editing mistakes etc. Or it may simply be a major structural problem , very poor pacing and/or excessive scenes.

3 Stars = worth buying. A three star book will generally have no major structural defects, though it could have minor ones and may have pacing issues. The prose may need some improvement but the story has sufficient good qualities for them not to be a major issue. For example it may, or may not, have minor P.O.V. problems, mild plot holes or passive writing. Alternatively, it may be well crafted but lack imagination or originality or have excellent prose but a poor plot.

4 Stars = a well-crafted and enjoyable book, or an exceptionally well-crafted book that didn’t inspire me enough to add one more star.

5 Stars = an exceptionally well-crafted and enjoyable book, or a well-crafted book that had that extra spark that really excites.

Book Reviews

New reviews will be given a mention on my blog page, and the complete review can be found below.  The most recent reviews are posted at the top of the list. (As of January 2014, new reviews will be included in my blog feed and not on this page).

 

 

Zoe Cannon

5 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥♥

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

ABOUT THE BOOK:

“When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca Dalcourt assumes it’s the usual drama. Wrong. Heather’s parents have been arrested as dissidents – and Becca’s mother, the dystopian regime’s most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state.

 

To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents’ innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn’t expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents… and about her mother.

 

When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn’t the only one with secrets – and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people she loves most. For Becca, it’s no longer just a choice between risking execution and ignoring the regime’s crimes; she has to decide whose life to save and whose to sacrifice.

 

It’s easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? THE TORTURER’S DAUGHTER is a story about ordinary life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime… and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what’s right in a world gone wrong.”

 

MY THOUGHTS:

If you like dystopian novels with a lot of suspense then you’ll love this book. There isn’t much in the way of backdrop, but for me this serves to bring the main protagonists into sharper relief, and to heighten the tension. I read this in one sitting, and thoroughly enjoyed it. There is one scene of execution, which is over with quickly, and otherwise only vague allusions to violence perpetrated by the Government Regime. There is no sexuality in this book, and I would have no hesitations in recommending it for YA readers. In my opinion, this books asks some good questions, as well as being a gripping read.

 

THE STRUCTURE:

The book is approximately 272 pages in length, and I read it in one sitting. It has been edited and proof read to a very high standard. The narrative is from the Point of View of the main protagonist throughout, and remains consistent. The ending is well finished, and complete, despite also allowing for a sequel.

 

SUMMARY:

A well written, well presented, gripping tale set in a dystopian society. The reader isn’t fed much information on the place or time, but this (to my mind) doesn’t detract at all from the story. The characters are thrown into sharper relief and the tension of the plot raised dramatically by this simple device. A bit distressing to read at times, but not overly so, and keeps the reader hooked from beginning to end. The book opens by throwing you into the deep end, and keeps you there throughout. A wholehearted 5 out of 5 stars from me. I intend to read more of Zoe Cannon’s work in the future.

More from Zoe:

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

ABOUT THE BOOK
“A year and a half ago, Becca Dalcourt joined the resistance. Three months ago, she started working undercover inside Internal Defense. A year from now, she’ll probably be dead. She knows the odds. She’s seen how the life of a double agent ends.

All she wants is a chance to do something with what little time she has left. Something big. Something meaningful. But the resistance doesn’t trust her, and her job transcribing torture sessions hasn’t given her anything but the names of dissidents whose lives, according to her resistance contact, aren’t worth saving.

So when she discovers a secret government program designed to brainwash dissidents into loyal citizens, she resolves to shut it down, no matter the cost. Even if her plan puts everyone she loves in danger. Even if the most experienced resistance fighters say it can’t be done. Even if it means betraying the only person who sees past the mask she wears every day.

Even if she has to do it alone.

The sequel to The Torturer’s Daughter, which has been praised for its dark realism, Necessary Sacrifices asks how you fight an enemy that can’t be defeated… and what sacrifices are worth making along the way.”

MY THOUGHTS:
This sequel to ‘The Torturer’s Daughter’ continues the tension and struggle admirably. There is more violence in here than in the first book, however I would still say it is suitable for the older YA, as well as the adult reader. If you like dystopian tales, you’ll like this series of books. The main character, Becca, has to keep a tight lid on her emotions, and builds a mask behind which she hides whenever she is around other people. Nonetheless, the reader gets to see her responses, her terror, her determination.

THE STRUCTURE:
The book is 364 pages in length, and I read it in two sittings. Although the author often writes with ‘ing’ formulations, there is nothing passive about this book. The POV is told from that of the main protagonist, and remains consistent throughout. The ending is well rounded and complete, despite being part of a series. The plot pace is a good one, and will keep your attention throughout. There are a couple of good twists included, which add to the enjoyment of the read. The proof reading has been done to a high standard.

SUMMARY:
I loved this book as much as I did the first in the series. I have also read the novella which follows (The First Evil Thing), for more on which see my review. I look forward to the next in the series coming out in 2014. Although I read these books for review, I am a new fan of Zoe Cannon. We still don’t get much in the way of backdrop, but quite honestly, it’s not needed. It would probably only detract from the main action. On the whole, a well written and entertaining read.

 

… and the third book in the series….

 

This New Adult dystopian novella is approximately 14,000 words long, or about 50 print pages. Set in the world of the Internal Defense series, it takes place between Necessary Sacrifices and the upcoming No Return, but can also be read as a stand-alone story.

This novella is also available as part of the Darkest Worlds charity anthology.”

MY THOUGHTS:
This novella switches away from Becca, and introduces us to Lucas. It continues with Becca obviously working in the background, and recruiting so called Dissidents from within Internal. If you like Dystopian novels, you will love this novella.

THE STRUCTURE:
This is a short book of about 50 pages, and I read it in one short sitting. It is well written, and proofed to a high standard. The plot and pace are both good and pitched just right. The ending is well rounded, yet leaves room for the sequel. It is written from the POV of a new character, Lucas.

SUMMARY:
Again, this book is filled with difficult choices, and plot twists. An entertaining read, with no overt violence or sexuality. I’ll be looking out for more from this author, and eagerly await the release of the fourth book in this series, which is due out in 2014.

 

 

Lenore Skomal

2.5 out of 5 stars (rounded up to three where needed to post on review sites)

♥♥+

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed on behalf of Awesome Indies.

2.5 out of 5 Stars (rounded up to 3)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Third Willow is a heart-wrenching coming of age novel, ostensibly written for young people but better appreciated by adults…It’s the summer of ’54 in the sleepy mid-western town of Sand Flats, Nebraska. Four lonely misfits forge an unlikely friendship under the draping branches of the third willow-a safe place where humor, magic and sorrow coexist. There they discover that best friends can ease the pressures from the adult world that threaten to steal their innocence. Ringleader Hap-a poor man’s Peter Pan-is unwilling to let the abuse of his alcoholic father taint his boyish optimism while he secretly searches for his missing mother. Obsessed with his Indian roots, he constructs a carefree world on the outskirts of town. As the new kid in Sand Flats, tomboy Patsy joins him, eager to escape her father’s iron rule and the pain afflicting her wounded brother, a Korean War veteran. Together, Hap and Patsy befriend timid Beah, who struggles to earn the love of her cold mother following the death of her only brother. It takes level headed Raz, the eldest of the only Jewish family in town, to be the conscience of the group. Told through their eyes, this is a tale of a summer of unbridled adventure, which ends unexpectedly and abruptly forces them all into adulthood. As tender as it is intense, Third Willow will transport you to the last summer of your innocence.”
MY THOUGHTS:
The premise of the book is a good one, unfortunately it gets lost somewhere in the execution. I read to 50% before I stopped reading. As a prolific reader it is a rarity for me to not finish a book.

THE STRUCTURE:
The character development and plot pace are very slow in coming, and by 50% of the way through I hadn’t seen anything significant develop. The author has taken all this time to show us the children playing games together, and to introduce the characters. Despite this being so long and drawn out, I still don’t feel connected with any of the protagonists. They are just cardboard cut outs, words on a page. The prose is clumsy and needs work to tidy it up and smooth it out. On numerous occasions the writing changes from past to present and back to past tense, without any discernible reason for doing so. The proof reading and editing need revisiting, and the prose needs work to move it from amateurish to professional.

SUMMARY:
Whilst there are a few nice phrases, on the whole the prose is poor. I didn’t finish the book, and only made it to 50%. This was due to poor plot, pacing and prose. If the author tidied up the manuscript, and cut off a lot of the excess baggage, this could shape up into a good read. Due to the issues mentioned, I feel I can only offer 2.5 out of 5 stars for this book, which I shall round up to 3 stars.

Melinda Brasher

4 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥

(I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Nothing holds more danger than the things you think you know.

Kallinesha, daughter of the High Commander, with glory on her mind and duty in her blood, knows many things. She knows that her father is the noblest man in the kingdom. She knows that hard work and study trump raw magical talent, even talent as strong as that of her cowardly commoner companion, Ista. She also knows that she can kill the ruthless Chaos Mage and prove herself worthy of her family name.

Ista, daughter of a city baker, knows a few things too. She knows that Kallinesha has no heart and that none of the protectors can be trusted. Most importantly, she knows that her beloved mage mistress is never wrong, and sending them out here alone to face the Chaos Mage must therefore be right, no matter how it terrifies her.

The man they pursue knows only that he won’t let two inexperienced girls ruin everything.

They’re all wrong.”

MY THOUGHTS:
This book is suited for the YA reader, and is in the genre of fantasy fiction. ‘Far Knowing’ is the magical ability to see things far away, unfortunately it’s a very imprecise tool and can easily be misinterpreted. Following their Mistresses’ Far Seeing, two girls Ista and Kallinesha embark upon a mission to seek and destroy the Chaos Mage. The two girls come from vastly different backgrounds, and are definitely not friends.

THE STRUCTURE:
Each chapter is told from the POV of one of the main characters. The book is written clearly, and has been proofed and edited well. There was the odd error here and there, but not enough to detract from the narrative. The ending is nicely rounded off, and any loose ends are taken care of.

SUMMARY:
This is a gentle read for the younger adult, with no undue violence, bad language or other nasties. The plot pace is a gentle one, with a bit of excitement here and there. I guessed early on the true identity of the Chaos Mage, and there were no surprises or unexpected turns for me in this story. On the whole, a well written book, but without that extra bit of spark that would lead me to give it full marks. Thus it gets a strong 4 out of 5 stars from me.

 

Tony McFadden

5 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥♥

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Vampires? No Such Thing.

Aliens, though, that’s something else.

They’ve been here, living quietly among us, since before the Industrial Revolution.

Their goal: To ensure we never leave our Solar System. We have a bad habit of wiping out indigenous populations, and theirs is the nearest inhabited planet to ours.

So when a scientist at Sydney University harnesses the power of wormholes, making interstellar travel a virtual walk in the park, one of these tall, pale-skinned aliens, Callum, is forced to choose: destroy us, or help us survive the inevitable Armageddon.

8 billion Earthlings, and our survival is in the hands of one guy – alien – meant to wipe us out.”

MY THOUGHTS:
This book has a bit of everything: sci fi, cross species romance, and drama in a race against time to save the Earth. The bits of science interspersed within the fiction are wholly believable (at least to a layman such as myself) and add to the fun and enjoyment of the story as a whole. It is realistic and funny and exciting all at once. I had a movie playing in my head as I read this book, which means that the author managed to hit the balance just right between describing and leaving it up to my imagination.

THE STRUCTURE:
This book is approximately 277 pages in length, so is a nice length read. It has been edited and proofed to a high standard. The characters are well developed and real, so that you care what happens right the way through. The narrative is in omniscient perspective, so that we get to view different scenes through different eyes. What’s more, the writer has achieved this without blatant head hopping. The ending is tidy and pulls all the threads together nicely.

SUMMARY:
If you enjoy sci fi you are likely to enjoy this book, even though it is set largely upon earth. There is also a hint of romance thrown in, and throughout the book there is plenty of humour sprinkled around. Fast paced, and enjoyable, this book will keep you entertained from beginning to end. I offer a resounding 5 stars for Have Wormhole, Will Travel.

E.L. Farris

5 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥♥

(I purchased this book on Amazon)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“When high-powered attorney Helen Thompson discovers that her fifteen-year old daughter has been sexually assaulted, she takes drastic measures. Finding herself in trouble, Helen must relinquish control and put her faith in a process she knows to be flawed.

As a team of lawyers, therapists and women from a safe house help Helen and Phoebe find hope and healing, a sociopath lurks, waiting for his moment to strike.

A lyrical, dark fairytale that will resonate with fans of women’s literature and psychological thrillers, Ripple delves into the nature of evil, without seeking to provide final answers to the issue of what makes a human commit evil acts. And while the author takes readers to scary places, she ultimately shines a light on the human condition and celebrates the triumph of the human spirit in the face of great tribulation.”

MY THOUGHTS:
The story opens powerfully, sucking you right in, and it keeps a tight hold of you all the way through. This is a difficult book to read in some ways, given that it deals with abuse, rape, and the deep emotions surrounding this. But, and this is a big but, this book also gives you hope, and shows the kind and compassionate side of human nature. It goes a lot deeper than simply exploring these difficult issues, it shows up the American Legal system for what it is – to quote: “it’s not a justice system, it’s a legal system”; I feel this is true of any legal system today. The author writes with authority, clarity, and knowledge. Quite simply, Ripple is a many faceted jewel.

THE STRUCTURE:
The book is approximately 370 pages in length, so is not a quick read, but is a gripping read none the less, and I found myself zooming through it, literally devouring one page after another. The characterisation is so real and effective that I found myself tearing up on at least a couple of occasions. It is a long time since a book has affected me so deeply. The proofing and editing has been done to an excellent standard, and the POV shifts are easy to follow. The ending ties the many different threads together nicely, and the reader is left feeling that this part of story at least has been resolved, whilst also recognising that this is a story that will continue on.

SUMMARY:
A work of literary fiction, this book will be attractive to a many and varied readership, and invites male and female readers equally. I love that E.L. Farris has managed to write about such a difficult subject, whilst avoiding any of the usual stereotypes or demonising every man on the planet. As well as being relevant to those who have suffered some form of abuse in their lives, this book would also be a useful read for those responsible for policy making in their legal systems. This is a powerfully written narrative, and you will find it disturbing, you will also find it heartening. This story highlights and brings fresh air to a subject that is all too often brushed under the carpet, or left in dark corners where it can continue to fester. I offer this book a resounding 5 out of 5 stars.

Matt Galeone

4 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review).

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

“Adam Darvin was a normal young man living in a suburb of Clarendon Ditch until the day he ‘hatched.’ Suddenly in a fiery trance-like state, Adam’s incredible powers emerge. The life Adam knew is over in an instant and his entire world will never be the same. Although Adam initially feels isolated by his new powers, he slowly discovers that he’s not alone. Adam meets other would-be heroes Liam Clover and Kerri Ross and develops deep friendships with both. Follow Adam, Liam, and Kerri as they learn more about their powers, discover secrets about their true enemies, and make new allies in what will begin as a fight for knowledge and survival, and soon become an epic struggle to save their world.

 

The Champion of Clarendon Ditch is a story about heroism, sacrifice, loneliness, leadership, and above all, friendship. It combines the excitement of a super hero comic book adventure with the heart of a character-based and relationship-driven novel. With both incredible battles and quieter moments between its characters, the story is as much about super-powered good fighting to overcome an all-powerful evil, as it is about the relationships, growth, love, and loss of its heroes.”

 

MY THOUGHTS:

This is a quick, enjoyable read with well-developed characters.  It is science fiction, but based solidly on earth. I thoroughly connected with this story, unfortunately the number of typos and incorrectly used words were just too many for me to ignore.  This book is in severe need of a thorough proof read and copy edit.

 

THE STRUCTURE:

This book is approximately 240 pages in length, and is told from various points of view throughout.  In the author’s preface he writes that each character has their own full chapter, however as the reader gets into the book they will find that POV can change from one paragraph to another.  The majority of POV shifts is indicated with *** but not all of them.  The plot pace is excellent, although sometimes repetition of events can get in the way.  The manuscript is in dire need of a thorough proof reading and copy edit, as it is sadly plagued with typos and incorrect word usage.  (Passed for past/ Imaging for Imagining/ was instead of were/etc.).  The punctuation could also do with some reviewing, especially that within speech marks.  The ending feels a little abrupt, and I feel this first book in the series could have been tidied up just a little more, without necessarily detracting from inviting the reader to purchase the next one.

 

SUMMARY:

An excellent story with a strong plot pace and well-rounded characters.  Well worth spending your money on, if you can live with the many typos and mistakes.  If this book were tidied up I would give it 5 stars, but as it stands I do not feel I can offer more than 4 stars.  This writer has talent and tells an excellent tale, it is solely the polishing and finishing of the book that lets it down badly.

 

 

Stephanie Zia

5 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥♥

Sad, Sexy, Raucous Laugh Out Loud Funny

This is the first book I’ve read in a while that’s been for pleasure, rather than for review. And oh my goodness what a pleasure. I connected with the main character (Sally) in a way I haven’t done in a while. I felt her pain, her grief, her loss. I also understood fully her reactions, her decisions, her blunders – but most of all her courage and her humour. I didn’t read this book, I lived it. I loved it. It’s just so real, so gritty, so funny. Ms Zia, I will definitely be buying and reading more of your books! I downloaded this one a while ago, when it was on free promotion, and it’s been sitting on my To Read list for what seems like an age – I really really really regret now not having opened this book sooner. It’s one I’ll be returning to, again and again. And again. This is a book that lends itself to being revisited, like an old friend. A friend that gets into places you might prefer to keep in the dark, but also a friend that comforts you, yet makes you cry with laughter. This isn’t a book to be read in public, if you do you’re likely to receive some funny looks – because you will erupt into sudden, inexplicable belly laughter. Loud, perhaps inappropriate, guffaws. I did. So will you.

Sylvia Engdahl

4 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review on behalf of Awesome Indies)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Crime is considered illness, untreated illness is crime; ambulance crews are the only police. Dead bodies stay on “life support” forever. Can anyone gain freedom?

When burned-out star-ship captain Jesse Sanders is seized by a dictatorial medical regime and detained on the colony planet Undine, he has no idea that he is about to be plunged into a bewildering new life that will involve ordeals and joys beyond anything he has ever imagined, as well as the love of a woman with powers that seem superhuman. Still less does he suspect that he must soon take responsibility for the lives of people he has come to care about and preservation of their hopes for the future of humankind.”

MY THOUGHTS:
This book is of the futuristic dystopian variety, yet with a situation that resonates strongly with where we might find our current technology taking us here in the 21st century on earth. The plot begins well, and is engaging and interesting. Unfortunately it peters out from the point at which the main character begins his mind training. There is a lot of dialogue, and it feels like sitting in a heavy duty psychology/parapsychology class. Everything else that happens later in the book is predictable, and the ending is very abrupt. Which rather than inspiring me to go on to purchase the next book in the trilogy, just leaves me feeling a bit cheated. Yes, we want to be lead into asking what happens next, but no – we don’t want to finish this story with so much unresolved.

THE STRUCTURE:
This book is approximately 460 pages in length, and is told from various points of view, usually indicated by a paragraph break and easy enough to follow. There is a lot of detailed dialogue for roughly 300 of the 460 pages, with bits of action interspersed briefly in between. The copy editing and proof reading has been done to a good standard, but the plot does suffer from pacing issues. The ending is abrupt and feels unfinished.

SUMMARY:
If you enjoy dystopian novels, or are interested in paranormal psychology then you might well enjoy this book. Although it is set in an off world location in the future, I would not really class it as Science Fiction, it has elements of that to be sure, but not enough to plant it firmly in that Genre. The narrative raises valid questions for where we find ourselves in this day and age with all of our medical and technological advances and abilities, and the many issues that are arising with regard to individual rights of privacy – especially in relation to the internet and all that that entails. However, the voice in the story is strongly one sided, and doesn’t furnish us with any alternative viewpoints at all. So in many ways, it can feel a bit like the reader is being told what to think. Whilst there are no major structural issues, or editing/proofing mistakes, I do feel that the plot pacing has problems. It is for this reason I do not feel able to give this book any more than 4 out of 5 stars.

Frank Kusky

5 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥♥

(I received a free copy of this book in order to review on behalf of Awesome Indies)

ABOUT THE BOOK:

“When Frank teams up with Spud to become the largest wholesaler of hippy-Hindi glad rags in the UK, and to fulfil their dream of becoming rupee millionaires, he thinks he’s got it made. But what he’s made is a deal with the Devil.

Dodgy Frank Kusy, born into poverty from immigrant parents, learns to live on his wits––first as an unwitting money collector for Ronnie Kray, later as a Buddhist trader in London’s St Martin’s-in-the-Fields market. Then he meets up with thuggish ‘Spud’ who is so good at scaring people, notably the Petrovs, two encroaching Russian gangsters, that he hires him on the spot as his business partner.

It’s a deal with the Devil. Spud is a loose cannon, liable to blow up at any moment. The two travel to India to become the largest wholesaler of hippy-Hindi glad rags in the UK, and to fulfil their dream of becoming rupee millionaires.

Along the way, they pick up a motley crew of kooky characters––Ram, a lovable, crutch-bound Rajasthani, George, an irascible American, Nick and Anna, a quirky Canadian couple, Susie, a Dagenham girl gone ‘native’, and Rose, the secret love of Ram’s life. These become the ‘Pushkar Posse’, a group of oddball traveler-entrepreneurs who meet once a year to have fun and make money in equal measure.”

 

MY THOUGHTS:

This is a book about a young man called Frank, who travels to India in an effort to try and find himself.  He ends up also finding a trade, which starts out well, until he teams up with Spud that is.  The story follows Frank through the ensuing decade, with the reader walking his journey by his side.  The understory is one in which he is seeking the approval of his loving Hungarian mother, and until he feels he has this he can’t really accept himself.  Kusy’s style of writing is relaxed and chatty, and as a result the reading experience rather feels like that achieved from sitting down next to Frank and having a friendly and entertaining cuppa.  What is perhaps most amazing about this book is the fact that it’s based on truth, which for me makes it even richer and funnier than it would have been had it been pure fiction.  Kusy’s powers of description are superlative, and his story will have you laughing out loud and shaking your head most of the way through the book.  This book is aimed at the adult reader, has a gentle pace and is a very entertaining read.  It’s a mix of travel book, memoir and comedy all rolled into one.

 

THE STRUCTURE:

The book is approximately 222 pages in length, and if you have the leisure I can guarantee you’ll finish it in one sitting.  The editing and proof reading have been done to the highest of standards, so much so that I only made 9 highlights throughout the whole book – a first for me as a reviewer.  Each chapter is named, rather well I might say, reflecting accurately and often humorously what is contained therein.  The narrative is written from Frank’s point of view throughout, and the writing style is clear, informative and engaging.

 

SUMMARY:

If you like comedies, travelogues and/or memoirs then you’ll love this book.  The charm and richness of India is portrayed beautifully, and together with some great characters, surprising twists and emotional moments, this is a truly enjoyable read.  This book is about self-searching, faith, hope, love and friendship – it is also about the depths of foolishness we human beings can reach with all of our quirks and foibles.  This story is so much more than a mere memoir or travelogue.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and give it a resounding 5 stars.

 

Ken Mooney

3.5 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥+

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Olympus has fallen; new gods must rise.

The gods have been betrayed by one of their own. Zeus is dead, and the city is under siege by the demonic forces of Kaos. Their only chance of survival is to abandon the city, buying time to regroup and rebuild.

Thousands of years later, the children of the gods walk among us, protecting humanity from the demons. But not all of them know the secrets of the powers they have.

The gods are no more, eliminated by their greatest enemy. And now, she wants to return home; no matter who stands in her way.”

MY THOUGHTS:
The book opens with the battle for Olympus, and then jumps thousands of years into the present day. We are introduced to two young Americans – Karl and Megan, who suddenly find out they have inherited some of the powers of the gods. The book is set at a pace that will hold the readers attention throughout, especially in the latter half of the book where the action really picks up. There is one minor sex scene described, with others being vaguely inferred, and bad language is kept to a minimum. I would there suggest that this book would be suitable for the older young adult and adults.

THE STRUCTURE:
There are many shifts if POV, but all of these are indicated well enough for the reader to be able to follow. The book is approximately 414 pages in length, and is an easy and engaging read. The only reason I have not given this book more stars is because of the sheer number of mistakes throughout. They are significant enough to detract severely from the enjoyment of the narrative. Another issue for me was the presentation of the narrative. The use of italics seemed to be overdone, spoiling the interactions. Also, there were a lot of … used within the dialogue and way too many unfinished sentences. If these issues are addressed then I would love to give this book a resounding 4 or 4.5 stars.

SUMMARY:
If you like Greek Mythology, Urban Fantasy and horror then you’ll probably love this book. There is a lot of good about this book, and with the right editing and proofing it could be turned into an absolute gem. This is the first book of a series, and despite its flaws I would like to read the next one ‘The Hades Contract’. The ending is satisfying, whilst leaving a lot of threads hanging loose, which I assume will be picked up in the sequel. If you can cope with the many typos and the clumsy dialogue, then this book should be on your to buy list. If I see a revised copy of the MS then I would be more than happy to revise my star rating upwards for this promising author.

Russell Bittner

3 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥

(I received a free copy of this book in order to provide a review)

Reviewed on behalf of Awesome Indies

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Ordinarily here I would copy in the book blurb, but in this case I find it very wordy, which is much like the rest of the book. Instead I offer you my very brief synopsis:
Meet Daneka Sorenson, a very wealthy Danish transplant to New York City. Enter Kit, a financially poor New York Photographer. After a very short romantic encounter they then don’t see one another for another 11 years, when they are once again thrown together. What follows is a steamy love affair, but with a cloud hanging over the relationship. They leave New York and travel together through many European cities …
“What gradually comes to light in the space of two continents and one return transatlantic flight is that, while love’s bite may initially be sweet, the aftertaste may be exceedingly bitter–when not downright nauseating.” (This last bit is taken from the end of the book’s blurb).

MY THOUGHTS:
The book starts very slowly, and even when it reaches speed the book remains a complicated read. It feels as though the author has tried too hard for a colourful array of vocabulary, which ends up confusing and hard work. This comes across as a very intellectual book, which makes it very difficult to place. Whilst it definitely satisfies the criteria for outright erotica, I would have to say that this would be erotica aimed at the highly intellectual reader. This book sits very definitely within the Adult genre, and is not for the faint hearted.

THE STRUCTURE:
The first 20% of the book is given over to a commentary from the author – we don’t meet the characters really until this point – a fifth of the way in. The point of view changes often from one paragraph to the next, with a sudden shift of point of view mid flow on at least two occasions. We start the narrative with a lengthy foreword, and then leap 11 years to the first chapter. More detailed description and commentary follows, and finally – at about 30% of the way into the book – we are introduced properly to Daneka and Kit. However, the wordiness continues, which may explain why this is such a long book – over 160,000 words (approximately 450 pages). The book could do with some further editing, and there are enough instances of inadequate proofing to interrupt the read. Throughout, the dialogue is presented in many and various languages, each instance accompanied by an English translation. One nice touch was the inclusion of links to Youtube for the different pieces of music described, unfortunately – here in the UK at least – not all of those links work.

SUMMARY:
There is no doubt that this writer can write, and has great powers of description. However, the language used in this book is complicated where it could be simple. Whilst there were a few lines that I really liked, for the most part I simply found this book hard work. If you are a highly intellectual reader who enjoys erotica then this would be the book for you. At 450 pages this is never going to be a quick study. This is not a book for the faint hearted, and not just because of the sexuality. There is one scene in which we are treated to an incredibly graphic description of an automobile accident and its physical consequences for the bodies involved. Overall this is a decent enough read, and the author shows potential. He does, however, need to polish and simplify the writing and smooth out a few rough spots. I offer a soft 3 stars for this book.

Carol Davis Luce

5 out of 5 stars

♥♥♥♥♥

I purchased this book on Amazon.

2nd November 2013

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Behind closed doors, a young mind is awakened to a world bigger than innocent brown eyes can imagine. Suzy Kovak learns early how to keep a secret.

One secret she didn’t keep. “When I was six, I sat Danny down on the curb and told him his mother was his grandmother and his sister was his mother–and that made him a bastard. A bastard, I said, was a really bad thing to be. It sent him into his house wailing, and bought us a one-way ticket out of my Aunt Flora’s court complex.”

Latchkey kids, Suzy and her brother, watch out for each other until he finds a new best friend. Forced to fend for herself, Suzy becomes a target for bullies. Growing up in Southern California in the 50′s wasn’t exactly root beer floats and sock hops. Their single mother struggles to keep the family together. Suzy feels lucky to get in good with the cool kids who would cut their mark into the flesh of anyone clumsy enough to cross the gang. Tough teenagers take care of themselves. Yet sometimes a girl still needs her mom even if her mom is less than perfect.

Suzy holds tight to her secrets–until she meets the one person who unlocks her mind and sets the secrets free.”

MY THOUGHTS:
This book is very deserving of its place on the Awesome Indies Approved list, it is up there with the greats. It follows the life of Suzy from around the age of five up to thirteen, with an epilogue taking us to her as an adult. This is a coming of age book, that delves deeply into the nitty gritty of everyday life. Luce writes authoritatively on life in the 50′s, and does it so well she takes you there. For me this book was a time machine, and I was living and breathing this story, playing in the back yards and walking the streets as I read. We see the world through the eyes of a child, which Luce portrays impressively and realistically. We know intimately what it is to grow up poor in white 50′s America, and feel the pain and struggle of a family trying to keep it together through the good and the bad.

THE STRUCTURE:
The book is approximately 336 pages in length, and is told entirely from the point of view of the main character, Suzy Kovak. The editing and proof reading have been done to a high standard, with only a very few errors remaining in the ebook format I bought and read – certainly nowhere near enough to interrupt the flow or enjoyment of this superb novel. The ending tied everything up well, and left me feeling satisfied.

SUMMARY:
Whilst not an action or a thriller, this book has enough suspense and drama to keep you hooked. Not only that, but you care about Suzy enough to want to keep on going right through to the finale. A well written, superbly presented book, that is unafraid to explore secrets the less bold would prefer pushed under the rug. Engaging, thought provoking, and insightful – this is a book you would do well to add to your shelves. I will be sure to read more from Carol Davis Luce.

 

Alan Tucker

I picked this book up free on Amazon.

28th October 2013

3 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“High school will be a breeze for Jenni Kershaw – if she lives long enough to enroll, that is. Jenni’s ordinary, eighth grade life becomes a thing of the past when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with only their notebooks, MP3 players, and wits, Jenni and her classmates are unknowingly transported to another world. There they encounter amazing creatures, some of which think a kid shish kebab would be a tasty treat. But they soon find the greatest dangers they face may come from themselves … Follow Jenni and her class on their extraordinary adventures in their fight to discover who – and what – they really are.”

MY THOUGHTS:
This book is aimed at the younger adult reader, and is in the genre of fantasy fiction. Its main premise is allegorical, with the students and teachers transforming into creatures and elements that represent what they are truly like within. A nice new twist within this genre. The pace starts off somewhat slowly, and remains slow for the majority of the book, only picking up pace in the last 25% to 30%. I had to work hard to stay with it at first, but feel that by the end of the book my efforts paid off.

THE STRUCTURE:
The book is approximately 350 pages in length, and from chapter to chapter changes its POV – although there are a number of times that the reader is forcibly head hopped into an entirely different character without due warning. There are a number of minor copy editing and proof reading issues that could do with addressing. On the whole the book is well presented and clear.

SUMMARY:
With a little polishing and tidying up I might be inclined to give this book a soft 4 stars, but as it stands I can only offer a 3. This is a good, gentle and clean book for the younger adult reader. The pacing could be a little faster from earlier in the book. A book that’s worth buying, if not too highly priced, but not one that I found particularly memorable or engrossing.

 

Pamela D Beverley

4 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥

 ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Frank Ellis has it all—good looks, a charismatic personality that draws people to his financial seminars in droves, and a multitude of women for the choosing. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough anymore.

As Frank leads one of his entertaining seminars on financial planning, one audience member captures his attention—the beautiful Delilah Carpenter from Savannah, Georgia. Bewitched by her charming accent and sexy curves, he is thrilled when he encounters her again in the hotel bar after the seminar. They go to dinner, but not before he has had too much to drink. After he makes a less-than-favorable impression, he passes out at the table, leaving Delilah to ensure he gets back to his room safely. When he awakens the next morning and discovers she has already checked out, Frank wonders if he will ever get a chance to redeem himself.

Frank and Delilah come from different races, different backgrounds, and different parts of the country. But in a passionate affair of two lonely hearts, only time will tell if all of that really matters.”

MY THOUGHTS:
From the synopsis you don’t really get a picture of what this book is actually about. Yes it’s about relationships, and there is definitely romance throughout, but it is really exploring the many and complex issues of mixed race relationships when not all of the family are supportive or even accepting of it. This book is aimed at the adult reader, who is looking for a gentler paced novel. It will tug at your emotions, be prepared.

THE STRUCTURE:
On the whole this book is well set out and well presented. There is some need of minor copy editing, and a bigger need of proof reading. However, these issues are just low enough in number to not detract from the reading enjoyment over all. For this reason it gets a soft 4 stars from me, and with a little tidying up I would give it a good strong 4 stars. There is a lot of dialogue in this novel, and it has been done very well, keeping both the story and the characters alive and kicking.

SUMMARY:
I enjoyed this book, and it managed to keep my attention. It wasn’t exciting or thrilling, in fact it was really quite gentle. Still, it was very well done. There is a strong romance/love element throughout the book, however there are many other aspects of relationships that are explored at the same time. This book is worth buying, and is well written, however it didn’t have that certain magic spark that would lead me to give it 5 stars.

 

A J Church

27th October 2013

3 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Raphael is a rogue. Has been his entire life—breaking the wrong rules, crossing the wrong men, romancing the wrong women. It’s a habit that has gotten him into trouble more times than he can count, but when his poor judgement lands his neck in an executioner’s noose, he’s given the opportunity to cheat death by joining the ‘Ru, an ancient, immortal race sworn to protect mankind from the demons of the Underworld.

Embracing his new role, Raphael becomes one of the most feared Enforcers in his Clan. Lethal with a blade and deadly in a fight, he can best any demon that crosses his path. About the only thing he can’t defeat is his knack for making bad decisions. This time, however, there’s more than just his own neck on the line. Signs are pointing to a war with the demons, and the key to not only its outcome, but the fate of the entire ‘Ru race, could rest on a single choice. The question is, can Raphael finally make the right one?”

MY THOUGHTS:
Initially I found it difficult to get into and follow the book, due to the sheer amount of new characters and concepts introduced right at the beginning. Add to this a fair amount of hopping around, and it really took some concentration. My efforts were rewarded however, as I was soon engrossed. Ms Church has created engaging characters within a nicely paced plot, and all in all I found this an enjoyable read. This book is the first in a series.  I would say that people who enjoy fantasy fiction, or metaphysical realism would be interested in this kind of book.  I would pitch it at the adult reader, if only for the violence contained within, and the one (albeit gentle) reference to rape.

THE STRUCTURE:
On the whole the book is well laid out and clear, and is approximately 350 pages in length. Unfortunately, it is marred by a good amount of head hopping, often without a clear demarcation between the one POV and the next. Add to this a number of typos, spelling mistakes and other errors large enough to interrupt the reading – we are left with a book that could be brilliant, but isn’t. This book could do with a thorough proof read, and some minor editing.

SUMMARY:
A book worth buying, if you can live with some typos and are prepared to give it a lot of concentration. The ending draws most of the strands of the story together, but leaves a lot open – definitely attempting to entice the reader into buying the 2nd book in the series. The pace is set about right, once you get into the story. Without the errors I would have given this book 4 stars, but given it’s need of polishing it stands at a 3 from me. A good book, worth a read, but without that magic spark that sets it apart as something special.

 

Michelle Scott 

 

21st October 2013

3 out of 5 stars

♥♥♥

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Cassandra Jaber’s dream of acting becomes a nightmare when she blacks out on stage during a private audition. She awakes, sore and disoriented, with a three-hour hole in her memory and a crippling fear of the spotlight. Although she tries to piece her shattered life back together, she remains at the mercy of the dark secret locked away in her mind.

But when a mysterious man, who calls himself a guardian of the night, rescues her from a terrifying attacker, Cassandra’s eyes are opened to a fantastic world she never guessed existed. She soon realizes that her midnight rescuer holds the key to her salvation. And her heart.”

MY THOUGHTS:
In my opinion this book would appeal to the older YA reader and adults, who enjoy paranormal, gothic and vampires.  The book starts with a slow pace, but builds its momentum from about a third of the way through onwards.  The premise of the story is a good one, and the characters are portrayed well enough to draw you in. I did, however, struggle to care overly much what happened to them, as I never felt I truly got to know any one of them.  The biggest reason I have given this book three stars is because of the sheer amount of typos and errors in it. At one point Marcella becomes Melissa, and then changes back to Marcella again. There are so many spelling mistakes and half done amendments to sentence structure, that they really let the book as a whole down. I hate it when I see a book published in this state, when all it needs is some careful proofreading and copy editing.
This author has a talent, that much is obvious. Such a shame that the finishing has let her down with Stage Fright.

 

Bette Stevens

 

Oct 09, 13

4 of 5 stars

♥♥♥♥

Read in October, 2013

 

Review by Harmony Kent
9/10/2013(I received a free copy of this book for review purposes)ABOUT THE BOOK:This is a very short story (approximately 5,000 words), about a young boy named Shawn and his six year old brother. They are seen as poor white trash by both the children and adults of their town.MY THOUGHTS:An excellently portrayed short story, which really puts you into the main protagonist’s head. It hints at regular bullying, and the story as a whole serves as an introduction to a longer book about Shawn, which I believe will be published in the near future.THE STRUCTURE:On the whole this book has been very well put together and well written. Unfortunately the level of proofing errors lost it a star. Whereas ordinarily poor proofing would relegate a book to the 3 stars or lower category, I felt that the calibre of this story made up for some of the loss.  Other than these issues I would have given this book a resounding five stars. I look forward to seeing Bette Stevens’ next book, and would recommend her work.

Brian Sfinas

The Sexual Adventures of Time and Space

5 out of 5 stars

♥♥♥♥♥

Review by Harmony Kent

27th September 2013

I was given this book free for review purposes.

About The Book:

The Sexual Adventures of Time and Space is an epistolary novel told in the form of excerpts from a young man’s journal. After a group of friends becomes addicted to the concept of lucid dreaming, they find a way to medically induce themselves into comas with the goal of extending their lucid experiences. When things get out of hand and someone dies, the friends must find a way to cover it up.

My Thoughts:

Firstly, despite the title of this fantastic book, this story is not about sex.  Sure, it contains a number of references to that subject, but it actually goes a whole lot deeper than that.  This excellent writer has managed to pull off a masterpiece here, and I can only congratulate him.  The story is written in an epistolary fashion, formed solely around excerpts from the journal of a 20 something man.  The narrative is in the first person throughout, and I feel that Mr Sfinas has pulled this off incredibly well.  I read this book in one day, and the speed had less to do with its length (138 pages) and more to do with my being hooked – right from the very first page.  This is the first book in a while that has grabbed me in quite such a way.

Throughout, the book has a realistic feel to it.  Indeed, the author has taken great care to make it so.  Even to the extent of deliberately inserting spelling mistakes to make it more like an authentic journal entry made by an (in my opinion) messed up young man.  I know these are deliberate, because I went back to the author and asked him about this.  So when you do read this book, and you spot the mistakes, you would be making a wrong assumption if you simply put them down to poor proofing.  In my eyes, this only serves to elevate this fine author in my esteem, as I feel he has taken a great chance in deliberately introducing something that is less than perfect – indeed, I believe wholeheartedly, that this is an essential part of any fine art.

I disagreed strongly with most of the premises postulated by the main character, in fact I would honestly say that I hated his basic life philosophy.  Having said which, I still wanted to read what he had to say.  Which is another reason why I feel this book is a masterstroke.  I would struggle to put this into any particular genre, but if pushed would say that it might be comfortable in the recently created genre of Adult Fiction.  Calling it ‘realism’ would also fit the bill.  I love the wit and verve to be found in every single page.  Had I come across this book ‘on the shelf’ the chances are that I would have passed it by – that would have been a very grave mistake on my part.

The Structure:

The chapters are presented as verbatim excerpts from the journal of fictional character Michael Thorn.  They are presented in a careful random date order in order to preserve and lucidly present the story line.  Apart from the deliberately introduced spelling mistakes (see above) there are no errors that I could see – and believe me I would spot them … I just have that kind of a brain.  From reading the book, and talking (via email) with the writer, I can see that a lot of care, time and effort, as well as thought has gone into the presentation of this book.  Its seal of approval by Awesome Indies is one that is so very well deserved.

I will be looking out for more books by this engaging author.

Joseph Turkot

Harmony Kent’s review

Aug 08, 13  ·

5 out of 5 Stars

♥♥♥♥♥

Recommended to Harmony by: free for review

Recommended for: all sci fi readers

Read from August 06 to 08, 2013 — I own a copy, read count: once

Review By Harmony Kent

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Mick Compton is a man with a past: he’s facing thirty years in prison for violence—and he’s lost his once highly coveted position with NASA’s FRINGE outfit. Now, facing a long stretch in prison, with two sons and an ex-wife he wants back, he’s faced with a horrible dilemma—do the time and miss out on his children’s youth, or run one black hull smuggling operation in a distant system, get a meaty reward, and pay off a connection with a standing offer to wipe his crime history from the UCA database.All is going well until the ride home: Mick finds himself waking up prematurely, long before arriving in Earth orbit. He’s floating in dead space.”MY THOUGHTS:
Brilliant! The transition between serialization and full novel has been affected seamlessly. This is an author I have not read before, but shall certainly be reading more of. The plot is fast moving and keeps the reader’s attention the whole way through. The characters have depth and pull you into the story. The writer accurately depicts the many and complexly interwoven aspects of human nature. You’re left wondering “does he? doesn’t he?” right up until the penultimate pages. Well done Mr Turkot – a book to be proud of!

Judith Sanders

Aug 04, 13

5 of 5 stars

♥♥♥♥♥

Recommended to Harmony by: free for review

Recommended for: everybody

Read from August 03 to 04, 2013 — I own a copy, read count: once

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.

ABOUT THE BOOK
When the National Guard calls up Lane’s youngest son to serve, Lane knows he will do anything to save his child—even if it means going in his place, a pursuit unheard of since the Civil War when slaves were sent to war in place of their masters.In His Stead, Judith Sander’s second novel, follows Thomas Lane’s crusade against the United States Army, its JAG corps, a vengeful officer, the very son he is desperate to save, and his own wife, who has the Solomon-like choice of losing either a husband or a son.

MY THOUGHTS
Wow! Just: Wow! This is the best book I have read in a long time, and that is saying something. I read it in two sittings, and only stopped because it was after midnight and my vision had gone all blurry!The narrative is expertly done, and will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. An old law is invoked within the midst of a modern war: and a father puts himself in harms way to safeguard his one remaining son. The characters are so real they pop right off the page and shake your hand, and the reader easily finds themselves lost in the landscape as the vivid imagery wraps itself around you. You can quite literally feel the bullets zinging past your skull.The author manages to portray both a loving family life, and courage in the midst of battle with equal authority. It is obvious that not only has she done her homework, but that she also writes from the heart.This is the first book I have read by author Judith Sanders. I will most definitely be reading more. This is one of those very rare instances where I wish I could give more than five stars.

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