“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

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

There are many things to like about this first Colt Harper installment; a new vampire concept, relentless wry humor interspersed with things any cat owner would recognize, and an interesting backdrop universe where the action takes place. I especially enjoyed the many small obscure jests and references. Tyrolin Puxty is one of those authors who I would love to have a leisurely conversation with, as I am certain it would be hugely entertaining.

As the first book in a series the stage is being set for the sequels, although the book does present a standalone story which is mostly complete by the last page.

I rate this book a solid 4.5, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, this is a very good value and punches well above its weight.

I learned of the book through Veracious Readers Only!, and bought my own copy.

Image by ana carla from Pixabay

“The Corona Book of Ghost Stories”, by various authors – Review

Editor Sue J. Eaton has pulled together an entertaining collection of sixteen ghost stories. The Kindle presentation is well considered and doesn’t structurally distract the reader, which deserves comment as many are not so well done. The volume itself is short, and requires very little time to read its entirety.

I must be getting jaded when it comes to ghost stories (I read many), as none of these were particularly surprising or suspenseful. I did enjoy reading the book however. My favorite stories were “Everything Here is Mine”, “Anna in the Night”, and “Ligeia”. This is the kind of book you’ll read once, happily enjoy while doing so, and likely never come back for a second go.

I rate it a 4, based on the FCP book review standards. Priced at $2.99 on Amazon, this is a good value and sure to entertain.

Image by ariadne-a-mazed from Pixabay

“Peaks of Power: God Hand”, by Paul Campbell, Jr. – Review

First, a public service announcement: This book is a LitRPG fantasy. The blurb doesn’t mention this niche genre, and has only a passing resemblance to the actual story being purchased. It doesn’t mention this is the second book of a series.

The story sets a reader down with no explanation of what has already happened, which in this case is somewhat important. Otherwise, the story initially makes very little sense. The first 70% of the book is spent killing boars in the forest, leveling party characters up to epic. The main Omega storyline is therefore rushed and incomplete. Writing is abysmal; characters are not developed, words are misapplied (e.g. amplitude vs. aptitude), the author doesn’t seem to know the difference between a pun and a metaphor. In short a good structural edit is sorely needed (i.e. more than a spellcheck).

Young gamers with high school reading skills might love this story, but old gamers want more for their $3.99. I recommend reading the samples before deciding to buy.

I rated “Peaks of Power: God Hand” a 2.5 on the FCP Review Standards scale.

Image by Parker_West from Pixabay

“Devour the Stars”, by R. Coots – Review

First and foremost, unless you really have a royal flush book on offer, an author probably shouldn’t be inviting reader comparisons to Game of Thrones or the politics of Dune in their blurb. While on the topic of the blurb; it bears only a faint resemblance to what is actually within the plot itself. R. Coots drops the reader right into the middle of a new universe, replete with invented terms, slang, and hidden powers without a life-raft. It took me the first 100 pages or so to get an understanding of what the rules were, and then mainly by inference. Not a lot of exposition or transitions to help explain complex plot settings. The most likeable (and developed) character is Syrus’ second, Quinn, whose character takes a turn for the worse at the very end.

Why did I persist? Because the story has legs, of course! R. Coots’ universe, the rules under which it operates, is unique and interesting. The book is technically well-written, professionally presented, and complete in itself. At $3.99 on Amazon, it is a good value.

I rated Devour the Stars as a solid 3.5 on the FCP Review Standards scale.

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

Image by Peter Fischer from Pixabay

“To Mars and Other Short Stories”, by Hana Aianhanma – Review

This is a short book of short stories for a reasonably short price. All of the stories are written by the author and prove to be interesting in spite of a few quirks. The book reads more like a post-copy-edit draft prior to being formatted rather than a finished work. And yet, it kept me interested and did entertain.

My favorite stories are “Method” and “El Viejito”, both of which appeal to my admittedly dark sense of humor. At $2.99 on Amazon.com it is priced close to being a good deal. Maybe Hana Aianhanma is on to something here; minimalist cover, minimum polish (things were spelled correctly), and good content but not a lot of it. Hmmmm.

I rate this 3 stars on the FCP Review Standards scale.

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

Image by Reinhart Zehetbauer from Pixabay