Prose

Scheduled for Review on December 25, 2017

As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia’s walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind’s comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.


In Chicago, a secret L train runs through the mythical East Side of the city. On that train, you’ll find a house-cat conductor, an alcoholic elf, a queen of the last city farm, the most curious wind, and an exceptional girl by the name of Francesca Finnegan.

The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan is a whimsical frolic through an alternate Chicago–past and present–complete with the “real” stories behind many famous Chicago sites, events, and characters. Readers unfamiliar with Chicago landmarks, history, and culture may not find the stories as entertaining as those who have fallen under the Windy City’s charms, but anyone who has will be captivated.

Review by Lynne Hinkey

The Existence of Pity is a story of flawed characters told with heart and depth against the beautiful backdrop of Colombia. The daughter of missionaries, sixteen-year-old Josie Wales feels torn between their beliefs and the need to choose for herself. But she isn’t the only family member with secrets.

The Existence of Pity will appeal to young adults as well as adults. Well-written and thought provoking, it’s the kind of novel that will have readers thinking about Josie’s dilemmas even after they’ve completed the book. It is rather tame compared to the more strident YA novels out there—no mean girls, teenage promiscuity or intense parties. Readers looking for that kind of enticement won’t find it in this novel. What they will find is a sixteen-year-old’s thoughtful search for her own identity in a conflicting and sometimes hypocritical world.

Review by The Existence of Pity

All sixteen-year-old Francie Mills wants is to be an amazing tennis player and forget about her dad’s drinking. The likelihood of amazingness seems impossible, however, when she injures her knee, that is until she meets Chet Jones, lead singer of the band Blues Harp Jones, and everything changes.

Music, tennis, teenagers and their families. This book is for those who like reading a little bit of all of these. And if you like reading a book about human connections, give this book a try.

Review by Blues Harp Green

“this strikes me as a finely crafted story…I rate it as a superior novel and recommend it to anyone who appreciates the challenge of an unflinching mystery. Certainly I was repeatedly surprised.” —Multiple NYT bestseller Piers Anthony

Whether you’re a fan of sci-fi fan, hard-boiled detective stories, or mysteries, this book will appeal to you. Yes, it crosses genre lines, but in such a seamless manner and with such elegant prose, even purists of any one of those genres will be satisfied. But, don’t grab this if you’re looking for a cozy mystery. The violence isn’t gratuitous but some of it is graphic. The superb writing and editing (the few errors stand out because of their paucity), and complex plotting of The Last Detective make it a great read for anyone who enjoys an exciting who-done-it.

Review by The Last Detective

Scheduled for Review on May 29, 2017

A game is only a game if you can stop playing when you want to.


Scheduled for Review on July 3, 2017

After five campers are hacked to death in their sleep in a national park campground, FBI Special Agent Cal Bocock learns nothing is as it seems at Elkmont. Bocock and his companions are pitted against an ancient evil that has been haunting the mist shrouded mountains since colonial days.


After her father dies, seventeen-year-old Sky moves in with her estranged aunt in British Columbia. She soon discovers disturbing abilities and a hidden heritage but she must relinquish the tight control she has on her mind to embrace her powers. And accept an elk into her life.

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

Second edition of best selling war novel–incorporates veterans’ comments and new historical information. Young man comes of age during bloody combat and aftermath of war. Accurate history, engaging story, the bad and the good, warm and funny.

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

Scheduled for Review on January 16, 2017

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated is a classic coming-of-age story that takes a unique and comic look at what we all fear— having to grow up and abandon our dreams.


John Fisher, is a Park Police officer. His office is a Dodge Durango. The dark legends and creatures have always been around, and after the civil rights movement they’re legal. When someone breaks the law on Federal land, it ‘s John’s job to bring them in, vampire, were, or other…

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

“A woman discovers that she’s the reincarnated spirit of an Inca warrior in this imaginative debut novel . . . An often elegantly crafted story that explores the love between parents and their children and how people come to terms with the loss of loved ones.” –Kirkus Reviews

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

A sequence of interconnected novellas of dark, Lovecraftian fantasy. Stories of people who find themselves at the borders of reality and discover heroism – or horror.

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

Robert has Asperger’s Syndrome and endures a myriad of awkward moments in his quest to meet a nice, normal girl.

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

Imagine the perfect hero: handsome, tall, courageous, loves his father. Meet Prince Dietrich, the exact opposite.

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

Julia MacAllistair, a young singer, had always believed in the power of music. But she never imagined that music could literally take her places–that is until she played the music in the box. Will Julia ever see her home again? Can she return from her Song Journey?

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

Scheduled for Review on March 20, 2017

The last train. A father’s anxious wait. A desperate search for his missing daughter. A London nightclub . Bloq.


David and Matt were content to keep their suspicions about Scott to themselves until a simple trip to the library set them on parallel trajectories where even the most careful plans have unexpected consequences that can rock a community and reverberate long after they’re gone.

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

Scheduled for Review on April 17, 2017

Don’t stand out. Blend in. Remain invisible. These are the rules for survival in Wynter Reeves’ world. But when circumstances beyond her control put her in the spotlight, her worst nightmare becomes reality.


Sarah Randolph’s just learned that she’s an extraterrestrial living on earth. She’s about to Shift, but she can’t do it alone. Her transformation will reveal her true nature, but will also expose an assailant with sinister intentions. As time runs out, will Sarah’s unique gifts change her fate?

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

Fae Cunningham, a young reporter with a history of mental illness, seeks out the charismatic founder of a new political movement. Behind his polished rhetoric lies a sinister social program, an ambitious conspiracy to change everything. More disturbing still, his words sound eerily familiar, as if spoken by an acquaintance.

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

An overwhelming conspiracy – an underwhelming hero. Max Bowman, aging ex-CIA desk jockey, may be lacking in secret agent skills, but he’s positively brimming with bad luck as he accidentally steps into a massive military conspiracy centering around a missing war hero who just happens to be the son of a celebrity general. Now he’s on a road trip into the heart of America’s darkness – where he has to confront some ugly truths about the country – and himself.

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

Vincent with sadistic right hand man Frankie, seeks to expand his interests with his own brand of gangland psycho terrorism. Music obsessed James leaves school determined to do life his way, dreaming of glory in a gang with guitars. As two worlds collide, will dreams become nightmares?

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

Alaana’s Way: The Calling is an epic fantasy with a unique arctic setting. Surrounding the story of Alaana who must go through the process to become the new Shaman for her tribe.

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.

Can love sustain light when the forces of evil close in? Paris, 1939-1942. A fallen angel is trapped in the web of German occupation. The deadly noose of Nazi control grows ever tighter, ensnaring her and two of her lovers.

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.

Dr. Alastair Stone, Occult Studies professor and powerful mage, has his hands full trying to keep the two sides of his life separate as he trains a new apprentice, deals with a malevolent entity trapped a wealthy old woman’s massive home, and battles dark mages intent on enslaving it.

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.

It’s 1927, the son of a rural Irish cop, Michael Gallagher joins the Shanghai Municipal Police to escape an Ireland crippled by its recent bitter independence fight, and to trace the aristocratic woman whose memory still haunts him. Shanghai in 1927 is a city where after dark anything seems possible. A city where anyone can be crushed, and anyone corrupted. Even an innocent Irish cop.

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

Grover Cleveland College is dying, and the shock is too much for the founder/president, Cyrus Cleveland – a descendant of President Grover Cleveland. In a last bid to save his beloved institution, he wills the college to his nephew Marcus, a used car salesman who has never been to college.

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

Following a series of bad judgements, Nicolas Keszthelyi finds himself alone and pursued by the police in the depths of the French countryside. In a final attempt to secure his freedom, he writes to the police and lays out his side of the story…

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.

When a mysterious figure is spotted dancing in an empty field, two children investigate. They’ll be led to a place far beyond their imagination, the cloud home of OLGA. Magic weapons, white tigers, cat-faced moths and giants on motorcycles… Ted Kelsey’s quirky children’s novel features illustrations by Dillon Samuelson.

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

Join Stanza on a tornadic quest into regional folklore, a string of historical murders, and the occult – and ultimately, into the mysteries behind her own bloody heritage and fey destiny. Between the suspense and the quality of writing, you won’t be able to leave aside this spellbinding first novel.

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

An alcoholic mall Santa and a coke-dealing stripper get tangled up with a fairy-worshiping suicide cult. The Atheist’s Prayer is a dark comedy about religious beliefs (or lack thereof), which follows an eclectic group of people as their lives and religious beliefs are shaped by a tragic event.