Sunday, December 31, 2017

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The purpose of this site is to Review self-published and small-press published books. If a book is reviewed here, you can expect the quality and content to be sufficient for human consumption (at least ours, your mileage might vary), or know the reason why not. We will post clearly in our review the general quality, the amount of violence, language, sexual and spiritual content.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review: He Said, She Said: Marriage, Divorce & Restoration by Ernest Dave Bennerman, Roseline Roz Bennerman

He Said, She Said: Marriage, Divorce & Restoration

30659349
Marriage is a sacred union. 
Divorce stinks! 
Restoration happens when we allow God to make a NEW Marriage. 

In words that are profound, often humorous, but always biblical, Dave and Roz draw from over 2 decades of marriage, divorce, and re-marriage. They openly share their struggles through their marriage and divorce experiences to challenge soon to be and married couples to ask this question: 
“What is it like being married to me?” 
In ‘He Said, She Said,’ you will discover practical strategies and exercises for creating and sustaining a fulfilling marriage. Although the struggles and challenges are real in a marriage, they share sound principles that, if applied, will create an environment of peace, love, understanding and respect. 
Know that God wants your marriage to be incredible, to be represented as a Kingdom Marriage. But that can only happen when unselfish love is at the center of it all. 
Dave and Roz Bennerman are passionate about encouraging and strengthening marriages. They have mentored numerous couples. Now, they focus their efforts on creating fun and engaging marriage bootcamps and workshops to help keep the Sizzle Alive and Smoking. 


My Take:
This book is a chronicle of Roz and Dave Bennerman, who went through a rocky eight year marriage ending in a divorce. As Providence would have it, they both came to Christ individually years later, and remarried. They have enjoyed a solid, bible-based covenant marriage for eight years since then, and have devoted their lives to helping singles, divorcees, and couples either approaching or in the midst of marriage, to find hope and guidance from their experiences.

Filled with anecdotal wisdom, liberally soaked in scriptural references, and stuffed with good advice, this book is a clear warning to adults in all stages of life to consider carefully before putting on the rings. Advice on dealing with your past baggage, getting right with God, understanding unrealistic expectations, and the principals of regular, steady communication, being committed for the long haul, dealing with differences and enjoying them, sex and its place inside and not outside marriage, and the importance of God in the marriage, this short book is a must-read for anyone considering marriage.


Content:
Even though this is non-fiction, figured I'd better put a bit about the content in here. This book has no profanity, as one would expect, and the subject of sex is only obliquely referred to, though the importance of it in marriage is underlined, and supported by scripture.

Packed with nuggets of wisdom and solid advice, this is a quick read that all couples considering marriage would benefit from. If you are in marriage and considering divorce, there's help in here for you as well. Well written, biblically based, informative and helpful, Five Stars!


About the Authors:


An image posted by the author.Coach Dave captivates his audience from all walks of life, developing needed skills that will bring transformation to his listeners for generations to come through humor and visuals. He’s well-received and loved by his students (mentees) and colleagues. As a Certified Personal Life Coach, author and speaker, Dave focuses on transforming the lives of people through goal setting, life planning skills, and accountability measures. He grew up in Northern New Jersey, surrounded by violence and poverty, with a loving sister and a mother, who instilled hard work and perseverance into their lives. After finishing high school, he joined the United States Army and later met his wife, Roseline ‘Roz’ during his college years; they are blessed with one son, Terrell. Dave took a wrong turn in life and discovered problems, heartache, and disappointment do not discriminate. He lost everything that was dear to him and made a decision to seek God for healing and restoration.

Now, he empowers countless individuals in his surrounding community and shares his faith and love for God with many individuals from diverse cultures. He has also committed himself to empower, encourage, and bring hope to our youth who have made mistakes and who've found themselves detained within local juvenile detention centers. In 2012, he was ordained as an Evangelist, and he travels around the world encouraging people to live on PURPOSE.

Roz has teamed up with her husband, Dave, to encourage and empower marriages. They've found, through their own challenges, first being married for 8 years to each other, then 10 years of divorce, and now as they write this book, 8 years remarried, when each spouse puts the other first...No One is Left Out. After being asked to plan married couples' fun and engaging events, which they felt unqualified to do, they eventually realized that through these activities, marriages became more passionate, and everyone had lots of fun. Their passion is to encourage and empower marriages through fun and engaging workshops.
Along with her passion for seeing marriages strengthened and having fun, Roz has mentored numerous young adults through the Development School for Youth. She mentors married women, and she's an author, publisher, and fitness enthusiast, who's passionate about inspiring and helping women create and sustain a Fit Lifestyle. She has found, because women are natural nurturers, they put everyone else before themselves, causing them to put their fitness on the back-burner.

Now she and her husband, Coach Dave, have teamed up to structure fun and engaging marriage workshops and bootcamps that will connect couples on another level. The workshops and bootcamps are designed for interaction...they've moved away from the typical marriage conferences, where couples gather, sit, and listen. These bootcamps and workshops are for married couples to INTERACT and have FUN! Their marriage bootcamps and workshops are based on Biblical principles.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Elimination (The Mind Breaker #1) by Marina Epley

Elimination (The Mind Breaker #1)

30839740For fans of The Hunger Games, Maze Runner and X-Men. Immerse yourself in a gritty YA dystopian adventure with telepathy, hypnosis and mind reading.

Eighteen-year-old Rex is trying to survive in a dangerous world where the government hunts down, imprisons and even kills those with psychic abilities. He’s a mind breaker, considered not only a deviation from the norm but the biggest threat to society.

Once he reveals his abilities for hypnosis, the deadly hunt begins…

Rex has to flee across the devastated countryside while an entire army of resistant soldiers searches for him. Worse yet, by going on the run, he’s endangering his one and only friend Kitty.

Rex soon realizes that together they make a vulnerable target. And the only way to save Kitty is to allow himself to be captured, thus diverting attention while his friend escapes. But nothing goes as planned, and his actions only serve to push Kitty into an even worse situation than a life sentence in prison. With his world falling apart, Rex must figure out how to fix his accumulating mistakes and regain their freedom before it’s too late.

What Rex doesn’t yet understand, is that he may soon play a major role in preventing all-out war between ordinary humans and mind breakers, a war which could lead to total extinction of the entire human race.

My Take:
Rex is an eighteen-year-old with a terrible secret. He is part of a subset of a post-apocalyptic population that have special mental abilities - hypnosis, telekinesis, mind-reading, and more. He's a mind-breaker, and that amounts to life in prison or worse, just because of who he is.

Lies permeate the media that society watches, tagging mind-breakers as nothing but deadly threats bent on raping, murdering or using their powers to take other advantage of the population at large. Their top-rated show involves watching mind-breakers being hunted down and exterminated by Elimination, a jack-booted black-ops group of specially trained commandos who gather mind-breakers and gather them into research facilities and death camps.

Rex tries to eke out an existence as a 'normal', but the lie he is living crashes around him as the bank he works at is robbed, and he has to use his powers of hypnosis in order to escape. Now, on the run for his life, he has to separate from his sister, Kitty, in order to save her, even if it means capture and death.

As society continues to pursue the annihilation of this enhanced race of beings, aided by the lying media and the merciless Elimination, there's going to be a reckoning - one that just might spell the end of everyone.



Content:

Drug Content:
PG-13 - Several characters do a significant amount of drinking or drugs to ease guilt or pain. Drugs are administered to control or subjugate.

Violence:
R+ - This is extremely bloody. Genocide is a good term. This dark, dystopian novel has torture, bullying, slaughter of innocents, torching of schools and hospitals. Threats and murders of loved ones for leverage or revenge. Street fighting and skull crushing abound. Noses and arms, legs and ribs are broken throughout for the joy of inflicting pain or dominance, for some of the psychotic villains.

Language:
PG - The D-word is used a bit, but nothing else.

Adult Content:
PG - There's not much, but there are some suggestions of rape and such. One of the bad guys intimates considering having his way with a girl who is not yet an adult.   

Christian content:
None. There's not much talk about an afterlife, and there's not any concept of hope beyond surviving the next 30 minutes or just escaping from one bad situation into another. There are some points in the book where characters consider the concept of good and evil, or bad and worse, or who is deserving of death more than someone else. Family and loved ones appear to be the main motivating force, and on the antagonist side, apparently there is no level too low to stoop, no line too bad to cross, in a sadistic pursuit of the destruction of a new race. There are a few characters who learn about forgiveness and reconciliation, and there are some that ardently argue for peace and coexistence. 

Final analysis:
Wow. Where to begin. There are some editing issues, and this book is far darker than my usual fare. As described above, there is a lot of sadism in between the covers of this novel, but the book is a fast-paced thriller that had me glued to it from the shocking and depressing start to the action-packed end. The world-building was stark and realistic. The main character spent far too much time soul searching and pondering his path, waffling in decisions until he focused on a destiny. The antagonists, and there were quite a few, were very dark and very bad. They seemed somewhat one-dimensional, unredeemable, and completely unlikeable.

I would have liked to have known more about the backstory of Wheeler and some of the evil villains like him, to get a better understanding of their motivation for hatred and sadism. A good 'bad' guy has reason and stakes or history that motivates him to be like he is.

The novel was realistic, if disturbing, gripping, a real page-turner. It sets up for a nice dystopian world war, and the world building was solid, but the character building and there were a few pacing issues that kept me from awarding the story the five stars that the plot deserved. Four Stars!

About the Author:
Marina EpleyI’m a former journalist turned full-time author who began writing at an early age. Growing up on science fiction, horror and action movies more than cartoons, where the stuff of my dreams (or nightmares) quickly evolved into the short stories I shared with classmates. Well, nothing much has really changed since, except nowadays I write for your enjoyment and reading pleasure.

I published my first YA dystopian trilogy The Mind Breaker in 2016, and I’m currently working on a new series. I mostly write science fiction with plenty of action and adventure, but appreciate any good stories with lots of unexpected twists and turns.

Visit my website https://www.epleymarina.com/

To hear about new books first, sign up for my mailing list http://eepurl.com/czyC4H 

Stay updated with my new releases at: 
https://twitter.com/MarinaEpley

Review: Lady Hornet: Genesis of a Superheroine (Metamorphosis Book 1) by Bruce Graw

Lady Hornet: Genesis of a Superheroine (Metamorphosis Book 1)

25385865Elizabeth Fontaine is a lonely, ordinary young woman in a world where superheroes struggle daily against the world's evil. To fill the empty void within her soul, she becomes a hero fangirl, following every supers event, subscribing to multiple fanzines, and never missing the daily superhero talk shows...until one day, fate grants her the opportunity to leave behind her boring, dreary life and become what she's always dreamed of...a superheroine! 

Elizabeth learns the hard way the meaning of the phrase “Caveat Emptor!”

My Take:
When Elizabeth Fontaine happens by an alley where one of her favorite superheros lies dying, her quick thinking saves his life. In gratitude, he gives her the opportunity of a lifetime - the chance to become a super herself. A closely guarded secret in the ranks of superheros is that you can 'buy yourself in' if you have enough money, and are lucky enough to be asked.

Elizabeth jumps at the chance, little realizing the radical life-altering changes her decision will make. As she and the many superheros she now rubs shoulders with face the most deadly enemy of all time, she also must deal with the loss of everything and everyone she used to know.


Content:

Drug Content:
PG - There is some mention of social drinking, and some characters have some serious drinking issues, though it's off-screen.

Violence:
PG-13 - There's a lot of violence, but it's on a level with TMNT, for the most part. There are a few scenes that made me push this to PG-13, including one where a person is burned into a skeleton and ash.

Language:
PG - The D-word is used fairly liberally throughout, but harder language doesn't make an appearance. Unless I missed it.

Adult Content:
PG-13 - As stated earlier some characters play pretty loose in the club scene, but it's mostly offscreen. The main character does in fact have some onscreen action but it's not really described in any detail. There is however a main plot point in this area, which, although hinted around multiple times, is never described graphically. I can't say more or it would be spoilers.  

Christian content:
If the church exists in this book it's pretty much a setting for a battle. Faith is not bashed or promoted, so from that perspective, it's not on the menu pro or con. Faith based topics, however, are certainly in this book, like self-sacrifice, sacrificing one's life for another, standing up for what is right, doing one's duty no matter the cost, personal redemption, and a liberal dose of forgiveness. One character whose life is ebbing away asks for prayer. 

Final analysis:
I love a good romp with superheroes through the skies, facing killer robots and dastardly villains. This book had it all - a solid plot, great characters, cool gadgets, some interesting world-building, and a fast pace. The stakes were high, the plot was gripping, a real page-turner! Five Stars!



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: Agrathias by Conor Nicholl

Agrathias

31365562900 years ago, Dogane fell at the hands of Ubinion and Ramas. That day, the people rejoiced to the heavens, which had finally removed its dark veil and given them the warmth they had deserved for so long. Since then, nearly everyone had forgotten Dogane's power that almost tore Agrathias apart. 
But Ubinion and Ramas had always warned of the corruption they were never able to completely rid of the world of. A corruption that now allows one sorcerer the chance to rule Agrathias...forever...

My Take:

Dogane, a wicked sorcerer who wielded lightning, and held the world enslaved in fear and darkness for 1200 years, was dead. Dead at the hands of Ramas and Ubinion, two sorcerers who wielded fire and ice.
The world enjoyed centuries of peace, but there was a warning, left by the two sorcerers, that Dogane was only defeated, not destroyed, and would someday return. Because of this, they would return as well, to defeat him again, hopefully for good this time.

Arone had heard the stories, of Dogane, Ubinion, and Ramas. The dusty stuff of legend, buried under centuries of peace. But as armies of Arcams wiped out the town he lived in, and he escaped alone, he discovered the ability to wield fire buried within him, released by tragedy and fury. And he began to suspect that he was the returning Ramas, destined to face Dogane again, and defeat him once and for all... or die trying.

This debut book by Conor Nicholl is an action-packed, high-stakes sword and sorcery romp through a medieval country that has paid dearly for a millennium under the cruel dictatorship of the insane wizard Dogane. Filled with adventure, violence, camaraderie, as well as betrayal and rebellion, I looked forward to diving between the covers and escaping into a world of fantasy.

Plot twists, talking griffons, monsters, ghosts, wizards, sword-fighting, and alternate dimensions. What a ride!


Content:

Drug Content:
G - Though I believe alcohol might have existed in a tavern somewhere in one scene, there was really no mention of it 

Violence:
PG-13 - This is a war-torn, overrun epic fantasy novel replete with swords, archery, and monsters that want nothing more than to run you through, and wizards that burn, shock, or vaporize you. It's filled with anime-style action and a ton of violence. It's not deeply graphic but it's borderline R.

Language:
PG - I don't recall any swear words at all.

Adult Content:
G - Squeaky clean. 

Christian content:
Nothing. There's discussion at some points of reincarnation, and the afterlife actually has a place where spirits return on earth, similar somewhat to Purgatory, and even named similarly. There is a massive temple with gargantuan statues in it, and an altar, but if deities are discussed I breezed over it. It had some serious moral lessons about honesty, faithfulness, forgiveness, redemption, and remorse. Characters turned over a new leaf, went from bad to good, and some went from good to bad. Self-sacrifice and substitutionary death play a major role in this book.

Final analysis:
This was an epic story, covering a period of several months and two worlds. The world-building was immersive, though the characters seemed a bit two dimensional. For a debut novel this was an extremely well-constructed adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed the action, and the plot was wonderful. As I understand it, I was reading an earlier copy, and a professional edit was done, so I won't give it a ding on quality.

Fast-paced, immersive, high-stakes, an enjoyable read. I look forward to seeing what Conor puts out next. Five Stars!

About the Author:

An image posted by the author.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Review: Sweet Secrets by Stephanie L. Weippert

Sweet Secrets

29778220
My Take:
Michael is an independent-thinking seven-year-old who has a talent for cooking with his stepdad Brad. When Brad is asked to watch his new stepson, he doesn't realize just how much trouble the boy could get into when left alone for just one minute.

The postman misdelivers a box of candy to their house, and while Brad is digging up the number to their mysterious new neighbor, to whom the package is actually addressed, Michael opens the package and digs out one of the candy bars.

When Brad comes back into the kitchen he sees Michael taking a bite out of a candy bar, and disappearing right before his eyes. When he confronts the neighbor, he learns that the candy are actually teleporting treats that send the person eating them to the stranger's home in another dimension, one where chefs are magicians and create incredible spells with their culinary masterpieces.

What's worse, Michael had to have talent to activate the treats, and is now in danger of being snatched up in the other dimension as a master magician. To top it all off, Michael has to be returned before Mom gets home, or Brad will have to answer for it... and the truth is an answer that no one would believe.


Content:

Drug Content:
PG - Several scenes in this book include drinking with a meal, none to excess.

Violence:
G - While there are certain veiled threats and some underlying unexplained fear in the top-notch school Michael finds himself in, the prodigy is fairly well treated. And while some bullying is present, it's quickly squashed by a ring of protecting friends.

Language:
PG - I don't recall any swear words at all. I think the stepdad uses the D-word a few times.

Adult Content:
G - Squeaky clean. 

Christian content:
Nothing. From a moral standpoint, certain subjects are broached in discussions, like faithfulness, family, and obedience. Pretty clearly depicted are the dangerous consequences of disobedience to parents, and the lengths that a parent, even a step-parent, will go to retrieve a lost child.

Final analysis:
It was an interesting and fun concept, sweets and foods making magic happen. The settings in the book were fun, and fairly well fleshed out. Michael and some of his friends were three dimensional, and Brad had some character shown, though a lot of it was desperation and anger over the frustrating situation he was placed in. I didn't find much deep content to recommend it from a teaching perspective, but it was fairly realistic in setting and action, and it was an interesting adventure, to say the least. Five Stars!

About the Author:
I write because I must. My writing addiction started with a slug.

Okay, I'll explain...

A Local convention held a contest for short stories involving a slug, and I entered just for fun, and found it hard to stop once I started. (Take note kids. This could be YOU!) 

I started with stories from the POV of wizard's familiars and even finished two 60,000+ books about them, but found that as I wrote more to build my skills, I wrote about lots of stuff from love stories to dystopias, including magic and space invasions. Fortunately for my sanity, not all in the same tale. lol

My muse is still an intelligent, ok very intelligent (you can retract claws now-thank you), cat. 

And if you're not scared away yet, I may be reached at my writing e-mail stephanie.weippert@gmail.com.:D

Friday, June 9, 2017

Zombie World Domination (The Destruction Begins) by L.D. King

Zombie World Domination (The Destruction Begins)
by L.D. King

30755697In 2036 the zombie outbreak exploded throughout the world. Hundreds of thousands of people were being killed daily around the world. Nothing man did could stop the zombies. The zombies moved forward like a conquering army.

For nearly a year, the world as they knew it, had ground to a stop. Every utility, communication and transportation that had existed was gone. They had been replaced with surviving from one day to next.

During that same year the number of zombies had grown. They had been able to kill hundreds of millions or even several billion people worldwide. There was no way to keep an accurate count of the killed and missing. Adding to the zombie killings bandits were killing other survivors for their meager supplies.

The Destruction Begins follows groups of people as they fight to survive the zombie outbreak. They fight for their lives. They fight just to survive. A year of fighting nothing mankind did stopped the zombies. The human race was doomed.

After a year of the killings there was still no relief in sight. If the zombies could not be stopped, and stopped quickly, the human race on the planet Earth would cease to exist.

My Take:
When a group of teens head to New York City for a last getaway adventure before heading off to college, they have no idea they are going to be meeting up with zombies in an abandoned subway they were using as a shortcut. I mean, zombies don't exist, do they?

From that brief encounter in NYC, to a simultaneous encounter in Australia, and similar occurrences at the same time around the globe, zombies have suddenly appeared out of nowhere. And they seem to be on a mission to kill every human still alive. Join us or die. Or rather, die and join us.

The zombies appear to be horrifically mutated and rotting versions of their former selves, lumbering deceptively quickly around ripping people to shreds in a bloodbath of mayhem and death worldwide. There doesn't seem to be any way to stop them. Baseball bats, clubs, and bullets don't even seem to faze them. I mean, how do you stop somebody that's already dead?

From Egypt to Russia, Australia to NYC, they are everywhere at once and taking people down. Is this the last gasp of the human race?


Content:

Drug Content:
PG - There seems to be very little in the way of drinking in the novel. That is, there are a few wild parties, and a couple people get out of control, but overall the booze is not present through much of the story. 

Violence:
R+ - Zombies are on a rampage, and from the opening paragraphs where people are ripped to shreds, disemboweled and left to die in their own entrails, it's incredibly graphic. If blood, guts, and stench are an issue for you, this is a good one to give a pass on. If it's your thing, you'll be gratified to know that there's a lot of it.

Language:
R - The F-bomb is quite common in this book, milder expletives occur but are not even as common. The language is adult, not teen.

Adult Content:
PG - As gruesome as the violence is, I would have expected a significant amount of adult content, but this book is fairly clean in the regards to sex. In passing some mention is made to characters pairing up but for the most part the sex lives of the characters are completely off set. 

Christian content:
Ah, pretty much nada. In fact, the only characters that seem to mention their deity are the Muslims. Not sure how much of that is simple conversation, because prayer rugs or praying towards Mecca wasn't in existence. I don't think Christ came up even as a swear word.

Final analysis:
I'm really not big on horror, though I am not turned off by it. And I rarely give a book low marks just based on the genre, and I won't here either. But while the story line was rather exciting, the shocking level of the gore was almost desensitizing, as common as it was, and many people simply stood there in shock waiting to be the next shredded victim. It took an amazing amount of distance in the book to pass major reveals in the plot, and many of the characters you might get involved in, partially because of their significant backstory, simply ran into a group of zombies and died.

The characters were relatively three-dimensional, though their struggles before the outbreak seemed superficial, vain, and self-indulgent. Some of them were likeable, honorable even. But some just reminded me of the boys in Lord of the Flies; left without restraint, they just went bad. The plot is interesting enough, and the post-apocalyptic backdrop is pretty well described. It's immersive, but the pacing just dragged horribly, and there were far too many characters to follow, all over the world. The author was obviously trying to give a feel for the global nature of the zombie apocalypse, but there was far too much text for the plot, and too much author intrusion into the story line, for me to enjoy the adventure. Three Stars.

About the Author:
L.D. KingI have been a resident of Las Vegas for over 46 years. I grew up on a working a cattle ranch near Silverton Oregon. In Silverton High School I was a starting lineman for the school’s football team. During my last two years I became a bull rider with the rodeo. In the late 1960’s I proudly served my country in the U.S. Army. 

After my time in the Army was over I moved to Las Vegas for my health. Oregon was just too wet me. My first job in Las Vegas I programmed slot machines for casinos on the famous Las Vegas Strip. In my spare time I started to perform as a standup comedian in the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. As my fame as a comedian grew so did my bookings.

I am an outgoing person. I quickly grew tired of the cubicle. I left my day job of programming slot machines. I started a small construction company building and remodeling homes in Las Vegas. After many years of being a contractor my injuries, the desert heat and I was getting a little long in the tooth. I sold my construction company. 

Owning a construction company I was still able to perform as a standup comic. Following the sale of my construction company I took a booking on a cruise ship plying the waters of the Mexican Riviera. Years of late nights and smoky rooms I left comedy for good.

Following comedy I became a residential real estate agent. For the next 25 years of my life I sold homes in Las Vegas.

25 years of being a real estate agent I have recently retired to pursue my writing full time.

Throughout my career as a slot programmer, comedian, contractor and real estate agent I held a private pilot’s license. With a number of relationships with casino host’s in a number of casinos. I offered a unique service to the casino host’s. I would fly their high-rollers or whales to one of the many legal bordellos in Nevada. I did this for many years. As my age crept up on me my injuries that I received as a professional bull riding grounded my career as a pimp. I could still fly, just not with paying customers.

What I am most proud of is being married to my wonderful bride. Our marriage brought 6 children together into a blended family. My hobbies are cooking and building hot rods.

Today, I am a proud husband, father and grandfather to my blended family with 6 children and 4 grandchildren.

Drawing from my various careers I is able to add a unique twist to my novels as I brings them to life.