Prose

Jeannie Zokan
Votes: 0 Scheduled for Review on July 31, 2017
Daughter of Colombian missionary finds her own way

James V. Viscosi
Votes: 34 Scheduled for Review on May 29, 2017
Choose your character wisely.

Elke Silvarain
Votes: 2 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
YA paranormal inspired by First Nation folklore.
For those of you looking for a YA novel that is a breath of fresh air and does not focus on the romance part, Hidden Dawn is a perfect choice. While the pacing could be too slow on some parts and the main character is not the likable type at first, it makes up greatly for the author’s exquisitely delicate maneuver with character development and the stunning imagery that is constantly present all throughout the novel.
Review by Kate Ashley

Rolf Margenau
Votes: 0 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
CANDIDE meets MASH. Coming of age during the Korean War
Public Information was a highly enjoyable, detailed read on the Korean War. It gives the reader a real sense of what it was like in the war with lovable characters to root for and a great feeling of years gone by. History buffs and fans of war fiction will love this novel, but the war scenes are not very graphic and the novel incorporates enough humor to make it accessible for a wider audience. A very solid, albeit long, read.
Review by Public Information

Tom Starita
Votes: 1 Scheduled for Review on January 16, 2017
Is “growing up” just another way of saying “selling out?”

William Lehman
Votes: 1 Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars
The SEALS were looking for a few good critters
One of the most marvelous things about this novel, is how the prose reads like the observations and experiences of a detailed orientated cop without actually feeling that it was written by a cop who writes up so many reports that it’s second nature. I certainly got the feeling who John Fisher was, even if he’s not someone I’d be buddies with. Of course, part of that is I like my were-critters to be sexy. Cool. So, if you are looking for Anita Blake like Weres, John Fisher isn’t one of those. But what John Fisher is, rough and yet smarter than he’d like you to think, he is in a totally realistic way. The supporting cast carries this verisimilitude across the book with only two clunkers of minor characters. I’m referring to two total twits in suits that remind of cops from an accidentally deadly traffic stop. Yet, in this first person narrative, it is realistic that John holds them in such disdain that they do not actually come across as realistic. The dialogue is witty when John is not trying to be witty, and often not when he’s trying to be. The other characters often have better dialogue, which is amazing to me. It’s almost a police procedural, which I enjoy when done correctly (and this was). When a book isn’t going to be a straight procedural, I like to have seen more romance and more introspection. But, true to type as a military man, just kinda says he blows his top and rushes through through the moment until he is out of emotional upheaval. It’s realistic… just not as satisfying as it could be. I’m interested in reading more in the series. If William Lehman can adjust the mix a little, John Fisher could become quite the popular hero. Or Anti-Hero.
Review by Harvest of Evil

Ginger Bensman
Votes: 7 Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars
"Just because something's crazy doesn't mean it isn't true."
To Swim Beneath the Earth should delight readers who enjoy literary fiction and appreciate beautiful language. It’s a novel that pulls the reader completely into its world. Those who enjoy mystical fiction will certainly relish Bensman’s inventive plotline, psychic phenomenon and past lives. It may not be a good fit for readers searching exclusively for fast-paced action but will certainly satisfy those who revel in a rich story told with detail and depth.
Review by To Swim Beneath the Earth

Robert DeFrank
Votes: 0 Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars
Dreams borne to us on the star winds

Flinging a respectful salute to Lovecraftian lore, the novel carefully recreates the poetry of familiar cosmic horror and secret history, and scatters easter eggs about liberally. But Robert DeFrank is no copy cat, and he overlays his stories on Lovecraft’s cherished backgrounds in his own confident, elegant (and to be honest, much more accessible) way. Here is good horror, written well, and for genre afficiandos that alone should be enough to click the purchase button.

The tales of Star Winds at Dusk are anchored around a respect and dedication to building a solid supernatural mythos, providing the cozy depths to lose oneself in that is so necessary to a good horror tale. Though the book is filled with outlandish beasts and no small amount of the occult, Robert DeFrank pulls off that Lovecraftian trick of presenting the inexplicable with academic credulity, and really pervades the sense that a world of the inexplicable lies close by… for those that know how and where to look.

All this talk of H.P Lovecraft may be off-putting to some, but those of you who don’t know their Shoggoth’s from their elbows won’t feel put out. Star Winds at Dusk isn’t a fan fiction, and at the core of the cosmic musings is a solid thread of story filled with intriguing characters. It’s an original twist on time-tested concepts.

I thoroughly enjoyed Star Winds at Dusk. It was pleasingly intriguing, sometimes disturbing and shot through with a quiet dread and tension you’d expect from a seasoned horror writer.

Review by Steve Wetherell

Kevin Berry
Votes: 1 Selected as a Top Pick!
Quirky Aspergers fiction in earthquake zone.
Stim was a delightful, insightful, and often funny read that pulls at the reader’s heart. It will appeal to those interested in Asperger’s Syndrome and those just wanting to understand the myriad of challenges and unique experiences associated with being different. Highly recommended!
Review by Stim

Igor Ljubuncic
Votes: 0 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear hose.
This isn’t the first review to compare The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich with watching a train wreck and won’t be the last. There’s something fascinating in an embarrassing way about not being able to pull away from a story with such despicable characters. The writing is excellent and Ljubuncic keeps the reader walking a tightrope between wanting the “dashing prince” to succeed and wanting him to get his comeuppance. The author’s ability to keep the reader turning the pages despite so few not- despicable characters, is truly a feat to behold.
Review by Lynne Hinkey

T.E. Scott
Votes: 3 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory. Shelley
The Song Journey is a beautiful and intriguing story of time travel, love, loss and family, with an invigorating backdrop of social history and music. Singer Julia MacAllistair receives a unique gift from her great-grandmother Etty before she dies. Five sheets of music which are able to transport her back in time. Five adventures await her, where she will meet members of her own family, and face danger in war torn Vietnam, as well as true love in 1940’s New Zealand. A beautifully evocative and visual book about the power of music, with a wonderfully strong narrative voice and characters to remember. Readers who enjoy romance, adventure and historical novels will enjoy this book immensely. 
Review by Chantelle Atkins

Alan Jones
Votes: 0 Scheduled for Review on March 20, 2017
Gritty crime with big heart and real characters.

Tony Wirt
Votes: 24 Selected as a Top Pick!
Can you stop a killer before he starts?
A page turning psychological thriller that had me on the edge of my seat. An interesting and debatable subject matter; would you kill a killer before they killed? Something similar to the moral question about whether or not you would go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby. Also a brilliant and convincing portrayal of small town life.
Review by Chantelle Atkins

M. A. Phipps
Votes: 57 Scheduled for Review on April 17, 2017
If you could see the future, how far would you go to change it?

J. T. Bishop
Votes: 20 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Sarah's not human, but that's just the beginning.
A competent, well written and interesting alien adventure, with a hint of romance, Red-Line: The Shift holds your interest from start to finish. Who is watching Sarah Randolph and what do they want with her? Why hasn’t she felt like herself lately, or been able to sleep? John Ramsey has the answers, or at least some of them, but can she trust him? The action starts quickly, with Sarah going through the ‘shift’ just moments after being told she is not in fact human. The story then confines us to one house and one group of characters as they aid and protect Sarah through her shift, whilst using their own unique sensitivities to divert and fight danger as it appears. Sarah is a ‘red-line’ Eudoran, possibly the last of her kind and the only hope the gray-line Eudorans have of survival…but there is another force at work, and who they are and why they want to get hold of Sarah will no doubt be revealed in Volume Two.
Review by Chantelle Atkins

John Stryder
Votes: 0 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Life is not a gift. It must be earned every day.

If you could change people’s minds, would you change the world? If so, how far would you take it? That’s the question at the heart of The New Lease, a global thriller that pits a journalism student against a rising political movement with darkly fascinating philosophies on the future of humanity.

The New Lease does what you’d expect a good thriller to do— it hooks you, reels you in and keeps you turning the pages. However, this novel has little in common with your typical Patterson or Child. In a particularly homogenous genre, The New Lease stands out as something very different. For a start, there’s very little reliance on action and suspense to keep you interested. There’s no cheap tricks to keep the pace flowing. What The New Lease relies on instead is a sumptuous cultural immersion and a highly intriguing concept.

Without giving too much away, John Stryder makes a very convincing case for supernatural ability through tantric practice, and indeed, the first person account of a young man on a spiritual journey is perhaps the strongest and most compelling writing in the book. The central premise, though, that a person who can change minds might start a cascade of unprecedented political change, is what propels the reader to the ending.

There is no real hero or villain in The New Lease, as the conflict instead revolves around a tricky moral question— if the ticking time bomb of over-population is an extreme problem that requires extreme measures, who, if anyone, has the moral authority to tackle it head on? In a world that’s increasingly turning a cynical eye to the fallout of globalism and free market capitalism, a book that questions whether we’re capable of change without compromising our innate values is very much of its time. With a careful sense of moral ambiguity, The New Lease doesn’t bash you over the head with any convenient resolutions, and even the protagonists are left not entirely sure who to root for. 

Philosophical intrigue aside, The New Lease is a solid read with few weaknesses. Those sensitive to such things might pick up on John Stryder’s tendency to front-load exposition and tell rather than show, but honestly these foibles are brushed aside by the force of the plot, which, in a thriller, is always king.

Above all, The New Lease has an ace up its sleeve when put alongside the usual cookie-cutter detective yarns that pad the thriller genre, and that is that The New Lease is inherently interesting. And that alone is worth a reader’s time.

Review by Steve Wetherell

Joel Canfield
Votes: 2 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
An overwhelming conspiracy - an underwhelming hero
Dark Sky is a fast paced and action packed detective style thriller. It keeps your interest in both the plot and in the characters. As well as the physical journey to the mysterious Dark Sky complex, there is the inner journey both Max and Jeremy undertake; the examining and letting go of the past and the attempt to make amends with estranged family members. Max Bowman is a great and believable character and once you’ve got to know him, you will be grateful there are further adventures to come in the series. An enjoyable adventure for fans of action, adventure and detective stories.
Review by Chantelle Atkins

Robert Cowan
Votes: 0 Selected as a Top Pick!
A gritty British drama, mixing crime, coming of age and dark humour
This book will appeal to readers who enjoy gangsters and crime thrillers, as well as dark humor. It does, however, have a lot more to offer than that. There are unique and believable characters, and two intriguing story lines which keep you hooked and guessing as to when they are going to tangle. Anyone who enjoys coming-of-age style stories would also enjoy this book, not to mention anyone who thinks of themselves as a music fan. Also for fans of very British books/films. It is described as Goodfellas meets The Commitments, but felt more like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels meets The Commitments.
Review by Chantelle Atkins

Ken Altabef
Votes: 1 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Alaana must be the next shaman. But she's a girl.
I can say so many great things about this novel, from the dialogue to the sweeping scenery to its solid editing. While I think Altabef succeeded bringing this ambitious vision to life, there were a few minor issues. Sometimes the switch between settings could be a bit jolting and confusing. Also, he often switched character perspectives from paragraph to paragraph, making the blending of the spiritual/physical characters difficult to sort out.  It tended to slow down in a few places, too. While Alaana’s interactions with her family, tribe and spirit creatures were fascinating (and well written), about halfway through the book I wanted the overarching conflict to reveal itself more clearly and the story to progress. This cross-cultural fantasy epic may not be for everyone, but THE CALLING is my kind of book. Original in both scope and execution, I highly recommend it.
Review by A post with the ID $staff does not exist.

Traci L. Slatton
Votes: 1 Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars
Power is pornographic
The book is beautifully written. The history is magnificent, and if you want to learn about occupied Paris from the perspective of persecuted Jewish families and Resistance fighters, this book is a fun way to do so. 
Review by A post with the ID $staff does not exist.

R L King
Votes: 1 Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars
Meet Dr. Alastair Stone: His magic is real. His enemies are horrific. And his exams are a bitch.
If you’ll read a story about magic, even if it isn’t perfect, simply because magic is your thing, this professionally produced book is a good choice for you.
Review by A post with the ID $staff does not exist.

Gerry O’Sullivan
Votes: 0 Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars
A cop on the streets of jazz age Shanghai 1927.
O’Sullivan’s first novel is a treasure trove of historical information and a fully realized portrait of a complex, exquisite, and cruel place. I was not as concerned with the plot, though it was a fast-paced and well-constructed tale. Sometimes the characters in the novel felt a bit too stereotypical and one-dimensional. More—and better—dialog would have served it well. But these are small things to get past in order to enjoy the vivid descriptions in Gangsters of Shanghai. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading well-researched action stories in order to understand history.
Review by Kim Kash

Robert Klose
Votes: 1 Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars
Good fun for fans of campus satire.
Well-written, Long Live Grover Cleveland is an entertaining look at academic life, filled with both subtle and laugh out loud observations on the egos and insecurities that fuel it. A formatting issue in the electronic version results in numerous, random line breaks that interrupt the reading flow, but the meticulous editing of the narration, and the fun story with a feel-good ending more than make up for the inconvenience. An enjoyable read, definitely worth it, particularly for anyone who has experienced college-life in any form.
Review by Lynne Hinkey

Deng Zichao
Votes: 1 Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Aesthetics, unrequited love, and frozen courgettes
People Like Us is an intelligent (in some places brilliant), well-written and entertaining novel. It reads like a cold white wine, not sweet but dry enough to make you pucker your lips in anticipation of the next sip. Perhaps it might go well with courgettes.
Review by A post with the ID $staff does not exist.

Ted Kelsey
Votes: 3 Selected as a Top Pick!
An Odd and Awesome Illustrated Fairytale Adventure
Olga will enchant readers young and old. At times reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and at others of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, fans of fantasy and adventure will find both excitement and comfort in the novel’s pages.
Review by Genevieve Shifke Ali

Sara Rich
Votes: 2 Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars
Magical realism meets Midwestern gothic in Kansas.
Ligatures is for readers who appreciate beautiful language and enjoy a story that both entertains and stimulates thought. It is on the dark side, and is not a simple “feel good” read. Instead, it is a novel with depth and complexity and power. Sara Rich is absolutely an author to watch.
Review by Ligatures

Amy R. Biddle
Votes: 4
A dark comedy about a fairy-worshiping suicide cult.