“White Trash Warlock”, by David R. Slayton – Review

Author Slayton has written a very entertaining work introducing Adam Binder (the titular warlock). It starts off fairly slow at first, introducing an interesting mix of characters and situations, however the pace soon builds relentlessly to a climactic conclusion. A few threads are left open for the next installment, but the story itself is self-contained. A short work, perfect for weekend reading. I especially enjoyed the nods to Denver, CO landmarks and attractions.

While the plot doesn’t break any truly new ground, priced at $6.29 for Amazon Kindle, it is a fair entertainment value. I rate the book a solid 4.0, based on the FCP book review standard. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Image by Mustafa Alpaslan from Pixabay

“Black Willows”, by Jill Hand – Review

The Trapnell family is at it again in this sequel to Jill Hand’s White Oaks. (click here for previous review of White Oaks) The offspring of recently-deceased billionaire Blanton Trapnell are still doing their best to inherit their respective portions of the largest estate in Georgia. It’s a terrible thing to be bound by the constraints of a trust fund. One can’t buy a snake-infested Greek island with a mere trust fund! Unfortunately the executor of the estate, oldest daughter Karen, has gone missing. Like most Trapnell problems this one is self-inflicted, as Aimee is pretty sure she successfully killed Karen. My favorite character among the children is the fastidious international arms dealer, Marsh, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about the character of the Trapnells.

Black Willows is another testament to Jill Hand’s skill in weaving an engrossing and humorous tale. I read it pretty much in one sitting, and re-read a week later at a much slower pace. Why? Because there are so many witty and sly cultural references embedded, I’d hate to miss one. It’s always a pleasure to read well-crafted stories without wasted threads. There aren’t many authors who consistently deliver on that score, but Jill Hand has done so repeatedly.

I rate the book a solid 5.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Available for pre-order at https://www.amazon.com/Black-Willows-Trapnell-Thriller-Jill/dp/1684335868, with international general availability October 20, 2020

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JILL HAND is a former crime reporter. She is a member of International Thriller Writers.

White Oaks, the first book in her series about the scheming, free-wheeling Trapnell siblings, won first place for thrillers in the 2019 PenCraft Awards. Her short stories have appeared in many anthologies.

 

 

Website: http://www.jillhandauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jill.hand.5855

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jillhand1_gef

Banner and photography artwork provided courtesy of Black Rose Writing and Jill Hand.

Good Times, Bad Times

“..Sometimes you’re the Louisville Slugger, sometimes you’re the ball..”
Mark Knopfler, “The Bug

It’s been that kind of year, hasn’t it? In my case, I’m seeing only a subset of the challenges of COVID19. Being mostly retired, my income hasn’t been significantly impacted but other challenges have risen instead.

I recently was diagnosed with a medical issue needing an immediate start of treatment, but COVID19 made it impossible to see or be examined by a doctor in person. One could have gone to an emergency room, but it would have only led back to the same queue awaiting treatment, as emergency room doctors aren’t the right type to deal with the problem.

After a month of negative COVID19 tests I actually got in to see a doctor. Cutting to the chase, I started treatment last week – four months after the initial diagnosis. Better late than never, right?

In the meantime, a friend of mine gave me an idea to do a Dear Leader Tales anthology of short stories, in time to be released prior to the election. We just closed the submissions period and are reading/scoring the 300+ stories now. So in between treatments, the daily work of publishing continues!

When you’re a ball, sometimes it pays to spin things around to where you’re back on the Slugger side of the equation. Especially if you can produce something which will bring joy; if not to readers, then to the authors being paid for the use of their work. All in all, that’s a win-win situation.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Virtue

“I tend to suspect the virtue of those who signal it.”
Dan M. Kalin

“Empire of Light”, by Alex Harrow – Review

Alex Harrow kicks off the first of the Voyance series with a bang, literal and figurative. The action is non-stop, filled with betrayals and plot twists when something isn’t being blown up. The writing is very tight and the characters well developed. I would caution there are fleeting scenes of graphic sexuality (if that is a concern) which were fully in support of the storyline. I was left still not knowing much about the Voyance, but I expect it will be fully explained in later installments.

I rate the book a solid 4.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $6.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a fair entertainment value.

(Disclosure: I received my signed paperback copy at a charity event for child literacy)

Image by Omni Matryx from Pixabay

“Wolf’s Soul (Firekeeper Saga Book 8)”, by Jane Lindskold – Review

Jane Lindskold has done it again; produced a gripping Firekeeper novel which has a storyline easily capable of standing on its own. The characters are vividly painted and the plot is well-tuned (as usual). I purchased the paperback version, which is beautifully presented in both cover art and interior formatting. It isn’t often a reading experience is as delightful as this one.

Will I read it again?: Absolutely, and probably before she finishes the series.

I rate the book a solid 5.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $7.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s well worth the premium.

Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay

“Mortgaged Goods”, by Lorraine Cobcroft – Review

This is a book which veers from tear-jerker to thriller to morality tale and finally redemption storylines. Normally that indicates a lack of focus on the part of the author, but Lorraine Cobcroft succeeds in pulling it all together in this technically well-written book set in Australia. I had to chuckle at her multiple references to Australian aristocracy, but I suppose all barn yards do sort out their chickens.

The dialogue is fairly flat, as most of the characters use the same turns of phrase and speech mannerisms regardless of education or background. Also, in my experience, lawyers achieving at the level described of the protagonists would be much more complex in thought, but verisimilitude is not necessary to enjoy this read.

I rate the book a 3.5, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a solid entertainment value.

Hobbit Birthday Celebrations

Inspired by a close acquaintance and her hobbit birthday celebrations, I’m celebrating my birthday by offering the Kindle version of Martyrs al-Sabra free to all on Amazon for the next five days. Pick it up!

If only the print version will do, and you want an author-signed version, they can be found here.

Chasing Eleven Available

Chasing Eleven was released this week. It’s a collection of my short stories, early versions of some have been shared on the site, but others are definitely new.

The foreword is exerpted below.

“The title and concept for Chasing Eleven is inspired by an iconic scene from the movie Spinal Tap; specifically, a conversation between characters Nigel Tufnel and biographer Marty DiBergi:

“..If we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?”

“You put it up to eleven.”

“Exactly! It’s one louder.”

“Why don’t you just make ten louder, make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”

(long pause as Nigel considers the possibility)

“These go to eleven…”

What does that have to do with a collection of short stories? More than is initially apparent! I’ve found certain behaviors in myself and others invariably becoming a source of rueful amusement. Generally, this occurs when a person is so focused on a singular obsession they ignore all external indications they may be incorrect and persist in likely folly.

Think of a poker player, betting all-in while drawing to an inside straight. The odds of pulling that one card is very low, but the gambler ignores them, betting everything left, sure this is the one time it will happen. Indie authors are kind of like that: persisting regardless of ample evidence to heaven’s vast indifference. Why each writer persists varies by the individual, but is closely tied to the reasons they write in the first place.

As for me, I’m just chasing eleven.”

It was fun pulling it together, Sarah Kalin – Editor helped me trim some of the more self-indulgent elements into something more or less cohesive.  I hope you enjoy it!

“Tribe Earth”, by Tony Saunders – Review

Tony Saunders puts up a story which has been told and retold many times, the earliest I remember would be a Tom Swift, Jr. book which uses a similar propulsion drive principle in the 1960s. However, the author doesn’t demonstrate a working understanding of the physical sciences, engineering, business, or government in this book. Those can be set aside if the author is telling a compelling story, which in this case he does not. There’s a story here, it just isn’t presented in its best form. The biggest issues are pace and characterization. The dialogue is mostly unattributed and spare of descriptive detail. All speech sounds like the same person is talking monotone, without emotional context. What do the characters look like, do they smile, how do they move, what are they thinking, etc. Why are there variable jumps in time from one paragraph to the next? What were the aliens doing for the years it took to launch Earth’s spaceship? Did the editor only provide a spelling and grammar check?

My recommendation is that potential buyers read the sample text on Amazon before buying a copy. The sample is very representative of the overall quality in this case.

As it stands, I think this is most suitable for a young teen SciFi audience, I rate this book a 3.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a fair entertainment value.

(Disclosure: I learned of the book through Veracious Readers Only! and purchased a copy)