Book Reviews

Villains Rule (The Shadow Master Book 1)
By: M.K. Gibson

4.5 Overall rating  (rounded up to 5)

Writing: 4.5
Story: 4.75
Character Development: 4.25
Cover: 4.5
Editing: 4.25

First off, I have to say that the premise is quite brilliant. Here, Mr. Gibson has taken a host of genre cliche's and ... well ... thrown it into a pot and shook it up until he created his own universe. ;)

The writing style is easy to read, the story engaging, and you'll be laughing every page of the way. It would be easy to over do the snark, but Mr. Gibson has the ability to finely balance it, which is an art a lot of authors try, but fail at.

I don't give away plots in my reviews, so I will sum this up by saying that Jackson Blackwell is a character you have NEVER met before. You won't like him, but you'll enjoy his story.

I'm looking forward to more from M.K. Gibson, and I highly recommend Villains Rule to anyone who likes a good epic fantasy involving anti-hero's and a plot you can spit your coffee out at. Many times.

's review
Jun 18, 2016  · 

it was amazing
Read from June 14 to 18, 2016

5.0 Overall rating

Writing: 5
Story: 5
Character Development: 4.5
Cover: 4.5
Editing: 4.5

Casimir Bridge, by new author Darren Beyer, does NOT disappoint!

I don't say that too often. No, really. Most books disappoint me to a certain degree, because I always go into them with such high hopes. First and foremost, the writing has to be such that it is easy to read and pulls me in. I would say that I put down at least 50% of the books that I pick up in the first few pages. I know right away if the prose is just too much work to get through.

Mr. Beyer is an exceptional writer, and while I would consider this hard scifi, with a lot of technical info, it's still easy to read. That's a hard combination to find. There's a fine line between being written to a degree that the science behind it is believable, and crossing over into the 'eyes glassing over because I don't know what I'm reading anymore' phase. So, if you're intimidated by a lot of data, don't let that scare you away from this book. I quickly had faith in him as a storyteller, and totally bought into everything. That's not easy to do with me. I have a TON of pet peeves when it comes to storytelling. One of them is the good 'ole eye rolling scenes. I didn't roll my eyes once with Casimir Bridge. What I DID do, was have a hard time putting it down.

I don't give away anything in my reviews, so I'll lightly skim over the details of the story. It starts out with its feet solidly planted on good old terra firma. We're introduced to one of the main players, Mandi. She is a great, strong female lead without being whiny. :) (I can say that because I'm a woman) She's also intelligent, and that is perhaps with main theme with the characters of Casimir Bridge, which I found refreshing. We are then taken back and forth between planets, star systems, and secret political meetings, where the various pawns in this large playing field are quickly headed on a collision course. Now, normally, when a book is in this format, I find myself enjoying one view point over another, and rush to get through the scenes that I don't care for as much. Not here. Each angle is interesting in its own right, and I even appreciated the 'villain' scenes.

In all, this is a masterfully crafted tale. It's apparent that Mr. Beyer was committed to his story from beginning to end, and as a reader, I appreciate that. I believed him. I believed (and liked) the characters I was supposed to like and despised those who would try to harm them. It's no secret that there is another story in this series, but the ending is not a cliff hanger. While it certainly raises a lot of questions, it's just enough to make you want to come back for more.

Thank you, Mr. Beyer, for the hours of entertainment and I look forward to reading much more from you!

3.5 Overall

Writing   3.5
Story      3.0
Character development 2.5
Cover   4
Editing  4

Abandon, by Blake Couch, is story that had potential that just never really went anywhere.

I have to start out by commenting on Couch's awkward writing style. This was the first of his work that I have read, and I almost stopped after the first chapter. In retrospect, I almost wished I had because I was tempted to put it down several more times. Let me give you an example:

'He wades through waist-deep snow to the mercantile, bangs his shop-mades on the door frame.'

'He pounds his gloved fist against the door, counts to sixty'

'He attempts to tell her to stable George and burros, see that they're fed and watered.'

The book is full of sentences with this structure. I would say okay, so he has a writing style where he doesn't like to use conjunctions. I found it very distracting, but I would have been able to adjust, if it had been consistent. But it wasn't. The writing is a weird mix of otherwise normal sentences missing conjunctions, short and incomplete sentences, and then forever run-on sentences that in some spots had conjunctions and in others, did not. It made the whole thing a bit jilting and hard to read.

So why did I keep reading? Because in spite of this, he's a good writer. Obviously, he wouldn't have gotten to a best selling author status if he wasn't, and I don't know if his previous books are like this or not. However, for me, I would have given his writing a 5 star rating instead of 3.5, if these structure issues had been cleaned up in the editing process.

The story. *sigh* I don't give away spoilers in my reviews, so I will keep this simple. This is NOT a horror story, it isn't a supernatural story, and it really isn't historical, other than throwing in every possible unknown old-western town word possible. Seriously. There were times during the 'flash backs' that I had to just glean over half of the conversations, because they may as well have been speaking in another language. I get it. The author did his research. I was impressed with the wealth of knowledge of historical, old western verbiage and cussing. However, I think in places the line between authentic to downright annoying is crossed.

So what is Abandon? Well...I would call it a thriller (although it was drawn out way too long), and I guess a mystery. Maybe survivalist. I, like many other reviewers, was disappointed that it didn't fulfill it's creepiness, supernatural premise.

The protagonist was likable enough, but I never really felt too attached to her. *spoiler* Anyone with any sort of promise dies. The ending is not satisfying, and after five hundred pages of running through countless ridges, groves, and fields...a bit rushed.

I finished the book, so for that reason alone, it earns at least a 3 star rating. Because of the authors talent for telling a story, I added another .5 to it. However, I don't know if I would recommend it. It is long, a bit tedious, and at times unbelievable (someone who was near death able to run for miles through chest deep snow).

Couch is a highly rated author, and because of other reviews I have read by fans that liked his earlier work but were also disappointed in Abandon, I might give Wayward Pines a shot.

Abandon had a ton of potential starting out, but by about 25% into the was abandoned instead for a confusing mix of flashbacks, snow, killers chasing Abigail, more flashbacks, more snow, MORE killers STILL chasing Abigail through said snow, more flashbacks, feet more of snow, and yes, more killers STILL chasing Abigail through now chest-high deep snow.

's review
Oct 07, 15 
bookshelves: ya-challenge
Read in October, 2015

4.3 Overall

Writing 4.5
Story 4.25
Character development 4.0
Cover 4.0
Editing 5.0

Drowning Sandy, by Sarah Daley, is a delightful story that is a fast and easy read.

The writing is clear and flows well, painting a vivid image of the unusual setting. The main character(Sandy) is likable and I found myself wanting to read more at the end. Almost too much, which is why I gave a 4.25 rather than a 4.5 for the story itself. I realize it is a novella, but there are some aspects of the story that I just wanted fleshed out a bit more. In that same respect, she did an exceptional job of introducing so many characters in this first installment.

One thing I want to point out, is how superb the editing is. Readers are tough on Indie Authors, but Drowning Sandy is a prime example of how you can find a clean, well written book that rivals (and surpasses) many of the 'traditional' books out there. I don't see an editor listed, but if Sarah Daley did it herself....she has another career potential in that market!

I would highly recommend Drowning Sandy to anyone who enjoys YA, fantasy, and especially mermaid stories!

**I was given a free copy by the author in exchange for this honest review.


's review
Jul 04, 15 
bookshelves: ya-challenge
Read from June 20 to July 04, 2015

4.25 over-all rating

Writing 4.0
story 4.5
editing 4.5
cover 4.0
characters 4.0

The Extraction List, by Renee Meland, is a unique, YA, dystopian tale. I would have to say that my favorite aspect is the story. It's well thought out and I think pertinent to what is happening in our current, Big Brother culture. I appreciate a story (especially YA) that gives you something to think about, and the Extraction List does just that!

Meland's writing is clear and easy to read. That's another big thing for me. I'm easily distracted and nothing is more distracting than a book that's hard to get through. Although there were times that things were a bit stilted, as far as story progression, over-all it didn't take away from the novel.

I appreciated the relationship between Riley and her mom and that the story didn't pivot on a romance (one of my pet peeves), but I have to give character development a 4 rather than a five just because there were times that things weren't consistent. However, a four star rating to me means that it was good, so this by no means is a negative critique.

I don't give spoilers in my review, so I'm not going to address any direct content, but I want to close by encouraging fans of YA, Dystopian, or thriller genres to give this book a try! Renee meland has done a fantastic job of crafting a believable story with a whole lot of potential!!

Warrior by Don McQuinn
's review
Jun 20, 15 

bookshelves: ya-challenge
Read from May 16 to June 19, 2015

So far I have read the first book, Escape to Challenge, of the Moondark Saga.

I want to start by saying that the writing is exceptional. I was immediately swept up in the telling of this unique story. So if writing style is important to you, take note that this is an easy, enjoyable read.

The characters are richly developed. In this first book, we are introduced to Gan (son of the war chief, Col Moondark), Sylah the Rose Priestess, Tate and Clas. I also want to mention Gan's war dogs because they're just super cool.

This is a unique telling of a story set in a post apocalyptic setting. If you are like me and enjoy this dystopian genre but are tired of the all the cliches...then this is a saga you have to read. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes scifi, dystopian or thriller/adventures! (probably throw in fantasy, too. :) )

The Rules of Supervillainy by C.T. Phipps
's review
Jun 09, 15  ·
Read in May, 2015

4.5 rounded up to 5

Writing: 4.5
Story: 4.25
Character development: 4.5
Edit: 4.50
Cover: 5.0

Gary Karkofsky isn't your typical villain, or hero, or superhero, or even supervillain. However, he calls himself a supervillain, as this is what he has wanted to be his whole life. When the Cloak of Invisibility literally lands on his doorstep, he thinks he has now been given the opportunity to fulfill his evil destiny and Merciless is born...but things don't quite go according to plan. Or do they?

In The Rules of Supervillainy, Mr. Phipps takes an unlikable character and somehow makes the reader endeared to him. I say unlikable, because honestly, Merciless (aka Gary Karkofsky) is a self-admitted sociopath who has some very odd rules of engagement. The story is told in first person, so we have the pleasure of being inside the head of our protagonist for the duration. I rather enjoyed this twist in what is the norm for comic book style stories. I kept expecting him to grow a 'normal' conscious and end up falling within the parameters of what is acceptable superhero behavior. At the risk of giving too much away, I will refrain from saying what DOES happen...but it's not what you expect. Which is a good thing when it comes to storytelling.

The world in which Merciless runs amok in is one that any comic book lover will enjoy, full of all the cliche's you know and love. Mr. Phipps makes no pretense about this, but instead capitalizes on it and builds upon it so that The Rules of Supervillainy is sure to not only appeal to the genre, but also satisfy the craving for those that like to be in that world. If this is you, you will NOT be disappointed!

The writing is engaging and flows. There are times when it feels a bit forced in order to move the story, but I didn't find this too distracting. The story itself, as I said, is original but sometimes falls victims to its use of the cliche's, instead of perhaps developing more on its owns merit. I would really like to see that happen in Mr. Phipps upcoming books. He's a great writer and I look forward to reading more by him. I have absolutely NO doubt that this will be a hit among the superhero, supervillain, and comic book fans.

I have to add that I think the cover is absolutely brilliant!

Departure by A.G. Riddle
's review
May 18, 15  · 
Read in May, 2015

4.5 stars rounded up to 5

Story 4
writing 5
character development 4
editing 4.5
cover 4

I loved the concept behind Departure. From the beginning, it was both suspenseful and intriguing.

A.G. RIddle has proven himself to be a standout author. His writing is superb. Reading his stories is effortless and flows so that you are simply carried along for the ride, rather than climbing a mountain. (which is what some other books amount to)

Character development, as always is exceptional. I hold back on a five star for this aspect only because I almost feel like I have met these characters before, in his other series. I'm looking for a little more distinction, and something new. For that reason, Grayson was one of my favorites. I think his inner turmoil, and growth brought about by the circumstances was the most believable. This is a prime example of how adding that extra character (and therefore layer) to the story can create more depth, emotion and therefore commitment from the reader. It's easy to go wrong with that type of side story, but Mr. Riddle is a master at it.

The ideas presented and how it was all brought together in the end was believable and thought provoking. I love that in a book! There were a few holes, and spots where I shook my head (just a little) that I thought could have been prevented with just a little more creativity, otherwise it would be a solid 5 star book.

I have one thing that really bothered me (and why I give the cover a 4) - I had a mental image of Harper with dark brown hair. Through almost the entire book, I pictured her this way. It wasn't until near the end, Nick mentioned something about her blonde hair and I thought it was a typo. I finally had to go back and check in the beginning because it was messing with my inner 'picture' of her her. Yup. Right from the start, she was described with blonde hair. LOOK at the cover. The woman (I'm assuming Harper) clearly has dark hair. This might be a bit biased, but I really think the dark hair better suits the character, too. I don't know why this disparity bothered me so much...:)

Okay, so if you are into suspenseful, action-packed, thought-provoking, thrilling scifi's....READ this book! You won't be disappointed!

I am REALLY looking forward to the movie that is currently being produced. Congrats to all of your success, Mr. Riddle, you certainly have earned it and are an inspiration to all Indie authors, such as myself.

Chains of Prophecy by Jason P. Crawford


's review
May 11, 15  ·  edit

Read from March 28 to May 06, 2015

Solid 4.25 stars

Writing 4.5
Story 4
cover 4
editing 4

The Chains of Prophecy, by Jason P. Crawford, is the perfect mix of supernatural and great storytelling.

I almost passed this over, since it isn't my normal pick of genre, because the good vs evil tends to be so overdone. However, in reading through the book description and other reviews, it was apparent that it wasn't typical. And it's not.

Crawford has a great, easy-to-read style of writing that pulled me in early on. He has a knack for creating believable characters with good dialogue, both internal and external. It was also obvious that a lot of thought, research and work went into the telling of this story. I'm a writer myself, so I understand what it takes. Too many times, I start out reading a book that loses steam. I can almost mark the spot where the writer gives up and gets sloppy. Not so with Chains of Prophecy. It's a new, creative spin on a genre that's so easy to get cliche with. For that, I would give it nearly five stars, but there were just a couple of things holding me back.

There were a few instances where I felt things happened a bit suddenly, and perhaps unnecessarily, to move the story along. I don't want to give any spoilers, but it involved some deaths that I felt could have lent more to the story if not used for a shock factor. There were also a few spots where things happened that I either didn't buy into, or it wasn't explained. But these issues were small, and did nothing to detract from the excellent writing, or the story itself.

I know that Mr. Crawford has won some awards already, and I would expect him to win more. If you're looking for a fresh spin in this genre (I would also call it a mystery/horror/adventure), then I urge you to give it a try! At this time, it's only .99 on Amazon, which is an incredible value. Both the writing and editing is tight, and the 2nd book, Bonds of Fate, was just released!

Autumn Moon by Slade Grayson
's review
May 06, 15 
Read from April 02 to 26, 2015

3.75 rounded up to a 4.0

I want to start off by saying that Slade Grayson is an exceptional writer. I liken his ability to weave a story together the way Dean Koontz can. I want to stress that in spite of some of my critiques in this review, I think that Mr. Grayson has a TON of potential and is worth reading.

Writing: 4.5/5
Exceptional writer. I would give him a 5 if I didn't feel like he gave up in a couple of spots in order to just close out the scene to get to the next.

character building: 3.5/5
While he has an amazing ability and ease at building believable characters, he needs to remember that the reader needs a reason to want to keep reading. Or rather, an investment in the character. There were simply too many of them, and we were left without any that were built up enough to really care about what happens to them. At least one needs to be likable. I found myself confused as to which person I was supposed to root for. This could actually be a good ploy in a well-crafted novel, but as a reader I felt lost in it.

Story: 3/5
While I don't normally read fantasy, this was a good werewolf story. However, there were simply too many plot holes for me to accept. It wasn't believable enough. I think that with some simple back story building and a bit more investment in developing the why and how...this could be a very, very good story. As it stands, it really detracts from the overall book. Why don't they all just leave? Why don't they just call for help? Why was the reverend sent there in the first place? HOW do they (werewolves) protect the townspeople and prevent the 'bad' things from happening? This is never explained, so I just don't believe it, as a reader.

Grammar: 4/5
As good as a traditionally published book. There were a few things here and there, but nothing distracting.

Cover: 4/5

I look forward to reading more books by Slade Grayson, and I would recommend his work to others. Someone who spends more time reading the fantasy genre might not be as bothered as I was by the need to suspend belief. ; 


's review
Mar 24, 15  · 
bookshelves: ya-challenge
Read from February 15 to March 23, 2015

A great read! Recommended for young adult, and adults that enjoy the theme!

I have to admit, that is isn't my typical genre, so I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it. There are a couple of different styles here (technically speaking, I think due to the country of origin), but it was easy to get use to!

I was surprised by how quickly I was sucked into the story. The characters are believable and are built up masterfully. I paused at one point, and reflected on how Cooper was able to present a complete personality in less than a chapter. It takes quite a lot of skill to accomplish this, and they seemed to do it with ease.

I never give away much of the plot in my reviews, but rather address the quality and style of the book. I highly recommend Xavier to anyone who enjoys young adult, fantasy or adventure. It is well written, well edited and an excellent start to this series!


's review
Feb 18, 15  · 
Read from February 15 to 18, 2015

A True Science Fiction

What I enjoyed most about The Atlantis Gene is the fact that it made me think. I believe that's a sign of a good science fiction novel.

I have read some negative reviews that complain about the story being hard to follow. My advice to them is to stick with simpler fiction, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with this novel.

On the contrary; the depth and layers of the plot is not only intriguing and engaging, but original and well written. Mr. Riddle obviously put a lot of research and work creating such a complex tale and I, as a reader, thoroughly enjoyed it!

I am looking forward to the next installment in this series and I want to congratulate A.G. Riddle for his success. It is well deserved.

Buy on Amazon

's review
Dec 27, 14  ·
Read in December, 2014

Have you been eagerly waiting for 'Secrets' release? Well, you will NOT be disappointed! Mr. Bernheimer has done it again.

I really liked how the storytelling transitioned, and for me, this was the best of the three books to date. Anyone feeling a small pang of want for additional character building will have their desires fulfilled in 'Secrets of a D-List Supervillain'. In fact, I think this installment was about rounding out not only Cal, but all the supporting characters as well as the crazy world they live in. (All the while delivered in the witty, well-written word we have come to expect from Bernheimer.)

Best yet, this book has the feeling of some very good platform building, strong enough to launch several more wild, creative and humorous escapades!

's review
Nov 29, 14  ·  

King Neptune's Delite is a well-written story with intriguing characters. The plot is so unique, that you certainly can't complain about it being cliche or boring.

From the beginning, Reddy describes a world in great detail, including local traditions and way of life that for me, was something completely new. I found this aspect of the story to be the most interesting, and I appreciated how much effort the author put into it.

Maya was my favorite character, and for me was very believable. I loved the interactions between her and her brother and friends. I don't usually give a summary in my reviews, because I feel that is for the back-of-the-book and I don't want to give anything away. I would just like to encourage any prospective readers, that your time will certainly NOT be wasted on this story and it is well worth the money. It is well done, and a great read!

's review
Nov 24, 14  ·  
Read in November, 2014

Primes is one of those rare finds...a mix of excellent writing and good storytelling.

It is also unique, due to it being a real science fiction tale aimed at a younger audience. Ben is an extremely likable character, dealing with a hard, realistic family situation. His best friend, Olivia, is also believable, as is their relationship.

I don't typically talk much about the story itself in a review, because I don't like to give too much away. The books summary tells you what you need to know. All I will say is that it's a well though-out plot and isn't predictable.

Mr. Crossland has a great writing style that is easy and enjoyable to read. Don't let the fact that this is an Indie book deter you: this is as good as any traditionally published book out there and is more than worth the cost.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

's review
Nov 11, 14  ·  
Read in November, 2014

Interesting concept

I have some mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed reading it, and it's well written, but it wasn't extraordinary. I often found the text and descriptions to be so repetitive, that I was saying "I know! You've said it FOUR times, just get on with it!"

The concept is unique and intriguing but I often felt like the story could have been told in a third of the time. There just wasn't enough 'meat' there, to warrant the length of the book.

Over all, I would recommend it for a YA sci-fi reader, who doesn't want too thick of a plot and prefers simply written text. My main issues with it were the thin and frustrating plot line that takes forever to advance, and there is a lot of brutal, unnecessary violence.

's review
Nov 01, 14  ·  
Read in November, 2014

An Intriguing, Fast Read!

Nora's Sun is a well written short story that manages to build the characters and story from the first page.

There is most definitely room for a larger story here and I look forward to reading more of Ms Fowle's work!

Goodreads Link

's review
Oct 27, 14  ·

A Fast Paced Ride!

Ms Johnson does a great job of developing the main character, Char, from page one. She is likable, intelligent and tough.

The story is essentially about a mystery writer that ends up having to discover the identity of a serial killer before he finds her. It's non-stop action and relatable character will keep you turning the pages until the end!

Restricted Renegade
By: David Torres

Read from September 21 to October 23, 2014

For his first published work, Torres comes out strong!

The plot is intricate and the characters well-developed. The futuristic world is believable, and isn't so far out there, that as a reader, you can't see the possibility of it becoming a reality.

I enjoy a story that rides on the fringes, and some of the gadgets and imagery is very plausible (and cool).

I'm looking forward to reading his next book. Well done!

GoodReads link

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