“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)

“The Rescue Nurse”, by J. Philip Horne – Review

Well written albeit less-than-believable plot with simple characterization. Amazing how quickly bullet wounds heal in this book. Hey, it isn’t any more far-fetched than the latest Dan Brown or David Baldacci formulaic screeds. The female lead is a unicorn, an Italian of Albanian extraction who flawlessly speaks and understands colloquial English. She’s beautiful as well as deadly (chortle).

Having said all that, the book is perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon bunkered against viral contagion and can easily be read in one sitting.

I rate this book a 4.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $5.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a fair entertainment value.

(Disclosure: I received a free copy through Veracious Readers Only!)

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

“Alias: Mitzi and Mac”, by Victoria Landis – Review

Solid storytelling and a fun concept: Imagine a financial advisor steals your retirement nest egg and leaves for parts unknown. It happens to an older couple living on the poorer side of a Florida beach town, and now they can’t afford to stay put. Luckily though “Mac” looks like Harrison Ford and his equipment is still functional as “Mitzi” will attest. With so many rich older women in town, surely there is a solution to their financial problem. Nothing can go wrong, right?

I enjoyed the story and its setting (I live in Florida). Secondary characters were hard for me to remember, and indeed interchangeable in some respects, but the primary ones are more than sufficient to carry the story. The plot is a bit far-fetched, but what caricature isn’t? We’ve all met Florida people very much like the ones featured.

I rate this book a 4.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $3.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a good entertainment value.

(Disclosure: I bought a signed copy at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore – Delray Beach)

“Colt Harper: Disparaged Vampire Cat”, by Tyrolin Puxty – Review

The second installment of Colt Harper didn’t live up to the promise of the first. The plot arc is haphazard and while it has its moments the kinder gentler Colt isn’t nearly as interesting. It’s short as well, coming in at 155 pages.

One note to the author; even Stephen King couldn’t insert himself into a story without eventually dragging it down (Dark Tower series), so it’s not a surprise Tyrolin Puxty cannot either. The first time (or two) in the first book rated a chuckle, in this one it comes off as shameless self promotion and not at all amusing.

I rate this book a 3.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $3.99 on Amazon Kindle, it seems expensive given the content and length.

(Disclosure: I received a free copy through Veracious Readers Only!)

Image by ana carla from Pixabay

“Where Weavers Daire”, by R. K. Bentley – Review

I love this kind of book generally, so I hung in there hoping it would get better. Sadly, if anything the plot and characters were even more confusing at the 25% point, which is where I threw in the towel. Lots of really interesting concepts are teed up, but the characters are an undefined hot mess. The lack of motivation, character development, political details/history. combine into a confusing mishmash of conversations meaningless to a reader. The cool stuff, like magic combined with physics, gets lost along the way due to that. Also needs a good structural edit to eliminate the many homonyms used incorrectly (e.g. rapped versus wrapped..etc).

I rate this a 2.5 on the FCP book review standards scale. Priced at $4.99 on Amazon; seems expensive given the content.

(Disclosure: I received a free copy through Veracious Readers Only!)

What Do You Do?

Recently I was standing in line to board a flight, making small talk with those around me, and an earnest extrovert (who was doubtless in sales or marketing) asked me “What do you do?”. Oddly enough the question triggered a system failure in my brain, as it looped unsuccessfully in search of a correct or acceptable response. After a longish pause I muttered something about management consulting and continued on my way.

Later I considered why the question stumped me so. Part of the issue is I’ve never identified with things done merely to earn a living or for recreation. Being limited to something like that is faintly repulsive to me. I don’t mind the need of people to categorize/stereotype others, it’s merely a way for them to make sense of the world. In short, they’re building a model of who you are to guide them in further discussion. The problem I have is a simple answer will not always provide an accurate model. It generally doesn’t in my case.

So how should I answer the question?

Should I say;

    • I’m an international energy systems engineer?
    • I’m the founder of a gaming software company?
    • I’m an inventor?
    • I’m a technology product manager?
    • I’m a program manager for space systems?
    • I’m a book reviewer
    • I’m a publisher?
    • I’m an author?
    • I’m a management consultant?
    • I’m financially independent?
    • I’m a masters swimmer?
    • I’m retired?

An accurate answer requires much more than these simple statements, all of which are true but don’t get to the heart of the literal question. I wouldn’t be happy with any of these answers as my summation. Standing in line with strangers however requires a simple throwaway statement, one which conveys the balance of who you are without providing excessive detail. Better yet, the answer should provide the questioner nothing to engage (just in case they ARE in sales).

After a great deal of thought, I’ve come up with the response I’ll use going forward.

“Anything I choose.”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay