Monthly Archives: January 2016

Many Mini-Reviews

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Before I started blogging and seriously reviewing books, I wrote what I call mini-reviews. A review helps the author even if it is only a sentence or two. I no longer post a review if it doesn’t at least garner 3 stars. So, for your reading pleasure here are 17 mini-reviews.

33 Degrees by Vincent Robert Annunziato 5 stars

I love post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels and this one did not disappoint. The character development was spot on. I felt as if I was in the story itself. It’s a very sad tale of a very possible future in the USA. I am so looking forward to both the prequel and the sequel promised to be in the works. Great job!

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood 5 stars

I thought this book would never come out. Love her writing. Love this trilogy. It would be really great if she were to write another set about 20 years in the future to let us see how far things evolved in this new world.

Command Authority by Tom Clancy 3 stars

You can tell in the past several books that Clancy was not the writer of this series. It’s a shame he is gone & can’t write for us. I liked his work much better.

Pines by Blake Crouch 4 stars

Good book with only two exceptions that I saw. 1. The fete doesn’t have to be violent to serve its purpose. There was no need for murder. And, 2. when Ethan got slashed to the muscle on his stomach, it was glossed over. Whereas, all other injuries were described in great detail with follow up pain & suffering. Found this weird as it was the worst of his injuries.

Project Cyclops by Thomas Hoover 2 stars

I thought this book would never end. I always finish any book I start, but this one was painful to read.

Free Falling: Book 1 of the Irish End Games by Susan Kiernan-Lewis 3 stars

Hated the husband & won’t read the remainder of the series because of him.

Black Flagged Alpha by Steven Konkoly 5 stars

Wow! I thought all was lost when Mr. Clancy passed and there would be no more Ryanverse books. But, Mr. Konkoly’s writing is as good if not better.

The Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly 5 stars

He certainly writes in such a way that you either love, hate or tolerate the characters. I feel that he truly addresses how quickly and drastically events can change people.

The Perseid Collapse by Steven Konkoly 4 stars

I can’t give it 5 stars as he just stops the book without any conclusion. I understand the concept of sequels. Each book should be able to stand on their own. Otherwise, he is a great story teller with great insight.

Wayward Pines: First Contact by Steven Konkoly 5 stars

I love everything Konkoly has written. And, now that he has added to the Wayward Pines universe I’m more pleased than ever. Can’t recommend him enough no matter what he writes.

Into the End by Bonnie R. Paulson 5 stars

This is a very original twist on a post-apocalyptic fiction. Not for the faint of heart. Highly recommend.

Power Games: Operation Enduring Unity 1 by R. A. Peters 1 star

Very hard to follow & not very clear as to who is doing what to whom when. It is the only book I’ve ever not finished. I forced myself through the first 75 pages.

Conch Republic by Cliff Roberts 2 stars

I thought the writing style was far below any adult level reading. It was very poorly written in my humble opinion.

Expat Diaries: What Really Happens When You Move Overseas by Philip Trew 3 stars

It was O.K. Basically, the same thing over & over – don’t trust other expats. Double & triple check references.

The Gringo Guide to Panama by Elizabeth Vance 4 stars

Great starter resource for those interested in moving to Panama from the USA. Be sure to read the companion book – “The Gringo Guide to Panama II: More to Know Before You Go” to get a more detail for living in the city of Panama.

The Gringo Guide to Panama II by Elizabeth Vance 4 stars

This book certainly makes you think about things you might not have otherwise. It is most helpful for those interested in the city of Panama area.

The Krone Experiment by J. Craig Wheeler 2 stars

I thought it was a spy thriller and it turned out to be a science fiction novel. It wasn’t too bad until the revelation as to the cause all the problems. From there forward it was downhill. I always finish any book I start. But, dang it was a chore.

Discussion Groups

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bodbcMy favorite genres of books at the moment are dystopian and apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic. My greatest source of book referrals is from a Facebook group called Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans (BOD). It’s a public group and they are a lot of fun. https://www.facebook.com/groups/bandofdystopian/

They fully support authors & encourage them to promote their books, but it is largely a discussion group. Authors can promote their books once a week. The most fun though are the launch/release parties. There are games and prizes and good old fashion fun!

I’ve met so many authors through this group and have gained a wealth of knowledge from them.  It’s fun to help them out by being a beta reader or advance copy reviewer. So many of them are indie authors and have such wonderful talent.

Another great group that I follow is Committed Authors and Readers Only. It is a relatively new group and is rapidly growing. https://www.facebook.com/groups/897626200306462/ Author Ian Smith started this group to have authors and readers support one another. Unlike BOD which has a specific genre it caterers to, CARO includes every area.

I also belong to reading challenge groups. Whatever you like to read I’m certain there is a discussion group out there for you.

Technology happens

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Technology

Technology – machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge -is a fickle mistress. Sometimes it works and works well. Others, well not so much. Those times are full of frustration and despair, especially with our ever increasing reliance on it.

Being married to an IT kind of guy, the first words out of my mouth before I ask for his help with my computer are “Yes, I’ve rebooted it already – twice.” Why do I have to reboot? That may fix the problem for now, but it doesn’t tell me what was wrong. How does rebooting fix it? And, why is that the solution to so many of the computer problems? It makes no sense to me whatsoever. If the house is too warm I lower the temperature on the thermostat, not restart the heating system. Surely, there must be a real fix to these computer problems, though no one seems to know what it is.

When rebooting doesn’t solve the problem my husband then sits in front of my computer muttering unintelligible sounds. I get frustrated. Sometimes a heated exchange takes place between us. It’s not a pretty sight. I threaten to throw the computer in the middle of the interstate. He almost always gets everything straightened out and peace settles quietly over our home.

Fortunately, we use an online backup system as one of the ways to restore our files should one of our computers FUBARs. We really need to invest in a backup system at home that also includes a Faraday cage –a grounded metal screen surrounding a piece of equipment to exclude electrostatic and electromagnetic influences. That way we would have a much better chance of recovery should a sun burst or other EMP causing mechanism come our way.

Computers are not the only tech things that go wonky. I got up the other morning to find that I had WiFi for my phone but not my computer. After texting my husband at work to find out what was wrong, I was told to reboot the router. With at least 3 different devices sitting with blinking lights where the router was, I was at a loss as to which was the router. I texted him again. I ruled out the tiny box with blue lights as I seemed to remember that was something to do with his weather station. So, was it the small tower thingy or the thingy with ears? Turns out the tower is the cable modem and the ears is the router. Rebooting that worked. But, why did that work? Why did it connect my phone but not my computer? Gah! This stuff is so foreign to me.

O.K. that was computer related, but you know what I mean. We depend on cellphones, programmable thermostats, cars, fitness wristbands, drones, and many other items in our daily lives that are full of electronic components that fail, don’t talk to one another, or do other weird stuff from time to time for no apparent reason. And, you know the moment you take it in to be assessed by a technician that it will work just fine. <faceplant>

Can a Cyborg Retain its Humanity?

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Terra Genesis Book Cover

This is A. S. Winchester’s debut novel. I love supporting indie authors.

Cala is a 17 year old female who will start in the Exceptional Program of New Earth on her 18th birthday and be forever separated from her family and friends. Seventy-three days before her birthday Cala is severely injured in a horrific accident. The only way for her to survive is for her to become a cyborg and immediately be placed into the Program. Can she hold on to her humanity as she finds out what the Program is really about?

Winchester’s first book in the Terra series, Genesis paints a stark picture of a rigid dystopian society in an Earth colony orbiting Mars. Rule infractions are met swiftly with extreme consequence. Everything one does and becomes is based on genetics and rigorous testing. Cala is not one to accept her fate and follow all of the rules which only serves to exacerbate her situation.

This book is fairly well written and has only a few errors which is not uncommon in a self-published work. Therefore, I was only able to give it 4 stars our of 5. The story is well paced and has several twists that keep it interesting. Therefore, it is a book well worth recommending. I will definitely read the next book in this series.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Look at that! Cats!

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Cats are everywhere. They are in our homes, in our yards, in our neighborhoods, and on the internet. They are quite the sensation. Yet, so many folks still don’t like them or totally misunderstand them. I’m not here to try and change those opinions. I am going to tell you stories about our cats.

First we have Flash. When Flash adopted us as a stray kitten that took up residence at our home we thought he was a she. She was first named Blaze due to the white streak between her eyes and up her forehead. Once Blaze was tamed enough that we could tell she was a he Blaze became Flash. My husband insisted that Blaze was not a name for a male cat. I think he just like the name Flash.

Flash is your basic orange and white tabby. He is very sweet and most curious. While he may not come up to you immediately, he will sit nearby to observe you. He is also the most nurturing male cat I have ever had. He carries around a stuffed toy weasel, but he doesn’t play with it or try to kill it like other toys. This weasel has to go to bed with us at night too. We lavish praise upon Flash for bringing us his weasel.

My husband brought home a box filled with 4 abandoned kittens that we fostered a few days until we found them homes. Flash took control and those were his kittens. He bathed them. He gently played with them. He watched over them. Whereas our other cats wanted nothing to do with them.

Our other cat, Tuffy, is a goofball. Tuffy is a medium-haired black cat. We found him at a pet store that specialized in finding homes for rescued animals of all kinds. You would think that Tuffy would be a very outgoing cat and very friendly as a result of being around people all day before we adopted him. Nope. He is very skittish. He hates the postal carrier and growls at them before running up the hall to hide. If you visit us you might not ever see him.

Tuffy also has a warped body perception. He has no idea how much space he takes up and often misjudges his abilities. You might see him rolling over and being silly on the bed only to see him fall right off unexpectedly. He will get in my lap and a few minutes later be sliding off into the floor. He will go to jump from my desk up to the top of the bookcase only to end up doing a belly flop on my printer. Now, mind you, he doesn’t do this each and every time. It happens enough that we’ve noticed and watch him very carefully.

I could go on and on about the antics of our cats, but I don’t want to bore you to death. Tell me about your furbabies.

You review, I review, we all should review!

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Have you ever read a book and thought “Wow! Everyone should read this.”? So, what did you do about it? Tell a few friends? Or, did you actually write a review?

Authors need your reviews to help get their books read by more people. Readers need your reviews to gauge whether or not the book would be a good fit for them. If you write enough reviews over time authors may seek you out to read their books for the price of a review. It should be a win-win situation for all involved.

You don’t have to say a lot in your review for it to be of value. Give a brief summary of the story without spoiling it and explain why you liked it. If you want, you could get into a more detailed description of character development, plot pace, and originality. But, it’s not necessary. Think about what you would want to know about a book that would help you decide to read it and go from there.

Most sites have a 5-star rating system. Personally, I give 5 stars for books that I absolutely love and find hard to put down. They are also free of plot and grammatical issues. Books that get 4 stars from me are really good stories with minor plot and/or grammatical issues. A 3-star book is one that has a great story and has more than 3 typo/grammatical issues along with time-line or other significant plot holes.

I’ve been lucky so far since I started writing reviews to have not read any 1 or 2-star books. I know they are out there as I’ve read them in the past before I started reviewing. For any book in which I find even the smallest issue I try to communicate with the author in hopes of them making any changes that are needed and reissuing the book. Of course, that is a lot easier to do with e-books than with physical books.

It’s hard to be an author in this day and age where anyone with a computer can self-publish. So, it is important to have reviews in order to have their works stand out. Please help the authors that you read get ahead and write a review.

Who is in control?

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Loyal 9 Book Cover

Today’s selection is by Bobby Akart. He is very detailed and thorough in his research. I can’t tell you how much I love his books, both fiction and non-fiction. If you like political thrillers, you will enjoy his books. If you wanted to know about prepping, you will enjoy his books. With that said, here is a five star review for the first book in the fictional series The Boston Brahmin.

Is the USA doomed to fall as has happened to every empire throughout history? With social unrest rising to the point of demonstrations and riots due to adverse economic conditions it appears the collapse of the USA is coming a break-neck speed. Who will protect her from those that seek to overtake her? Can The Loyal Nine under the direction of John Morgan and The Boston Brahmin, direct descendants of the founding fathers return her to her former greatness?

Akart’s book, The Loyal Nine (The Boston Brahmin Book 1) is very well written and contains a wealth of history and intrigue. The setting is contemporary and draws from events that are dominating the news in the USA and abroad. The main focus of this book is the development of the characters and providing scenarios that could bring about the downfall of the USA, such as the most often ignored real threat of cyber attacks.

It will leave you wondering who really controls the world economy. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

The Pumpkin Saga

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The week after Thanksgiving I took our fall pumpkin off the front porch to repurpose it as bird and squirrel food. Being the brilliant, educated woman that I am I proceeded to throw the pumpkin with all my might at the base of a tree in hopes of shattering the pumpkin. I mean, really, it had been sitting out in the weather since September. Surely it had aged enough to where it would burst open upon hitting the tree trunk. Wrong.

The dang pumpkin bounced. Bounced! Then it proceeded to roll across the driveway, bounce into the shrubs, over the curb, and into the street, finally coming to rest in front of the mailbox. Our house it at the top of a slight hill so that the driveway in on an incline. I stared at it and went back into the house. My husband recovered it for me when he came home from work.

Now that I know this is a viscous pumpkin I cut its top off and fill it with sunflower seeds for the birds & squirrels. Bwahahahaha! Teach you to try & get away from me, Pumpkin. Ha!

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About a week later I knock the evil pumpkin over to dump out the sunflower seed shells that were on top in order to make the uneaten sunflower seeds more accessible. When I tried to right the pumpkin again it bailed on me and rolled down the driveway, across the street, & into the gutter. I shook my head and went back into the house.

When my husband got home from work he retrieved the wayward pumpkin from the gutter across the street and placed it back under the maple tree by the house. In its travels across the driveway and cul-de-sac the pumpkin completely emptied itself out. I had to refill it with sunflower seeds for the birds and squirrels.

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Cheryl – 2, Pumpkin – 2. So, we are even, right?

Sadly, the pumpkin saga came to an end on December 17th when it was all but destroyed by a heavy rainstorm. Also, poor pumpkin, you gave me grief and laughter, but you are no more.

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Missing Alaska

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Snow! Yay! We had a dusting of snow when we got up bright & early on this fine Saturday. Why am I so excited? I live in Augusta, GA. We don’t get snow here. Having lived in the great state of Alaska for 3 years I thoroughly miss the snow we had there.

Speaking of Alaska there were a number of things this southern gal learned during our short stay there. And, yes, it was by choice. We didn’t move because of work, the military, or anything like that. We wanted to live & experience Alaska. Anyway, here are some of the things I learned when we first moved up there the end of February 2008.

• Lizards freeze. There were at least 2 dead, frozen lizards with our household goods.
• You can’t use your debit/credit card to buy gas station in the winter time at the pump.
• You cannot turn on any of your electronic items for at least 4 to 6 hours after the delivery people leave when they have been shipped long distance in the winter.
• There ain’t enough hairspray in all Alaska to hold your hair in any style when the wind blows off the mountains like it has today. Does Bozo the Clown bring any pictures to mind?
• Almost everyone owns a gun and has gone hunting, even our governor and the mayor for whom I worked, both ladies at the time.
• Almost everyone has gone fishing.
• Almost everyone owns a snow machine (not snowmobile) or ATV.
• Besides snakes, there are no lizards or roaches up here. Someone said no fleas, but I’m not sure I believe that yet.
• It seemed that I was the only one that owned, much less wore, pantyhose or skirts/dresses. Most women wear pants or pantsuits. Those that do wear a skirt go barelegged (yes, in the freezing cold & snow) or tights. Quite a few wear sandals in the winter.
• I’ve only seen one man in a tie and only one in a business suit. Most wear khaki-type pants, jeans or other pants, not slacks. The beard ratio seems to be about 50/50. All have had their teeth from what I could tell. LOL
• There are no billboards or other advertisements along the roadways – anywhere.
• Porcupines are very common though I haven’t seen one yet. So are wolverines but I hope I don’t see one up close.

And, that was just in the first 2 weeks! I may bore you with more of these in a future blog. When I first jotted them down & shared them with relatives and close friends I called them Sourdough Tales. I wasn’t a sourdough at the time though. It takes a full year of living in Alaska and then staying after winter to earn that title.

 

The Autobiography of Ren Lewis – A mind controlling monster

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Ren Book Cover

Let’s get to is, shall we? This first review is about a book called Ren by Sarah Noffke. It is by far her best work to date. After you’ve read the review I would appreciate feedback as to what you want to see in a review. Should there be a second version full of spoilers? And, please remember, I don’t always give 5 star reviews. Enjoy!

Ren Lewis was born with a combination of gifts as a Dream Traveler that no one person should have. He has the power to control minds, hypnotize others, and read the thoughts of anyone he touches. The last gift causes him the most grief and he grows into a sad and lonely person with nothing but contempt for mankind as a whole. What compelling forces will bring out the worst in Ren? Will he be able to redeem himself and find any sort of happiness?

Noffke’s first book in the series Ren, The Man Behind the Monster is outstanding! Ren is a breakout series based on the character Ren Lewis who appears in both The Lucidites and The Reverians series. It grabs your attention the moment you start reading it and keeps you engaged until the very end. This is one of the better books Noffke has written.

The book is narrated by Ren and serves as his autobiography. It briefly mentions his roles in The Lucidites and The Reverians series, but not enough to spoil those should you have not read them. It is spell binding and will have you rooting for Ren regardless of the circumstances. I am looking forward to listening to the audio version as the voice behind Ren is fantastic!

Ren is such a curmudgeon and goes out of his way to make others dislike him. He takes advantage of anyone that can feed the monster consuming him from within. A life altering event causes him to seek a way to destroy the monster. You will need to read the book to find out if this arrogantly awful, selfish man indeed has emotions and a heart like the rest of us. 5 stars!