Sunday, December 31, 2017

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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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

For the Joy Set Before Us: Insights Into the Missionary Journey by Erica Fye, Erica Mbasan

For the Joy Set Before Us: Insights Into the Missionary Journey
by Erica Fye, Erica Mbasan

30207235What does it take to leave behind everything you know, all the comforts of home, to travel into the unknown to answer the call? For the Joy Set Before Us invites you into the depths of the mission field, offering insights into the life God may have in store for you. Whether you are called to serve overseas or to serve right where you are, this book is for you.


My Take:
The call to Missions can be a daunting and frightening concept to many Christians in our comfortable air-conditioned living rooms. Those of us who are considering whether we are called to short-term or long-term missions work would be well-advised to pick up a copy of this book. In it, Erica Mbasan clearly illuminates many of the mysteries and covers some of the misconceptions and fears surrounding the surrender to the mission field.

With riveting true stories of salvation and the miraculous work of God in the war-torn country of Uganda, this book equips the new missionary with an understanding of what to expect both at home and abroad during their life as a missionary, including such topics as mission board requirements for service, spiritual warfare, loss of friends, disillusionment, pride and its consequences, wolves in sheep clothing, the loneliness and isolation. It encourages camaraderie with other Christian missionaries to bolster and encourage you in the faith, how to stay immersed in the Word and prayer, how to get out of your comfort zone. How to deal with the culture shock both when immersing into the field, and when returning home for short visits to the home church or family.

There is much more meat in this book for the aspiring missionary, I'd label it a must-read if you are considering service in the mission field, or if you simply want to understand the decision your friends have made in going to the mission field, the struggles and opposition they will face, and how you as a fellow believer and friend should support them.


Content:

Drug Content:
PG - There is some mention of rampant homemade alcohol, alcoholism and its devastating consequences. 

Violence:
PG - A few scenes in this book cover some very violent true events, including one where a fellow missionary is tied up, stabbed multiple times, and left for dead. The ravages of war and its impact on the people of Uganda is covered, though not in graphic detail.

Language:
G - No language issues.

Adult Content:
PG - There is some discussion of the widespread AIDS epidemic and wanton rape. Missionaries are warned that the missionary is not immune to the violence, rape, and even threat of robbery or death. No adult events are described, that I remember, however.

Christian content:
It's full of meat and brimming with scripture and encouragement, as well as admonishment and biblical warnings. I would say that if you read this, you cannot come away without a clear understanding of the reality of spiritual darkness outside our comfy borders, or the crying need for workers in the field.

Final analysis:
Oh, wow. My heart goes out to those on the mission field. It's both harder than I ever dreamed, and more rewarding than this armchair quarterback could ever imagine. This book is well-written, clearly equipping missionaries for the field, from a spiritual readiness standpoint. Five Stars!

About the Author:
Erica MbasanErica was born and raised in New York State. She developed a passion for writing at a young age, and also a desire to help those in need. In 2006, Erica went to Kitgum, Uganda for the first time. She fell in love. After that, her life has revolved around doing missions work, writing, and traveling. She is the founder of Africa for God NGO in Uganda. She works with orphans, widows and others who were negatively effected by a 20 year war. She works with a wonderful team of people doing Biblical discipleship, literacy training, and outreaches. Her passion for writing has never dwindled, and in late 2014 Erica published her first book. She also maintains a personal blog, ministry blog, and writes a quarterly newsletter for the missions organization.

In August 2015, she was blessed to marry an amazing man, Robert (Robb). Robb and Erica live together in Kitgum, sharing the Good News and reaching out to the most vulnerable people.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Unlikely Adventures of Race & Cookie McCloud: Volume 1 by Tom Hoefner

The Unlikely Adventures of Race & Cookie McCloud: Volume 1
by Tom Hoefner
Illustrated by  Kevin Gillespie

28095142
A superhero with anger management issues! A living stone idol with a love for pop-culture trivia! Fist-pumping vampires! These are but a few of the nefarious (and ridiculous) challenges facing awful private investigator Race McCloud and his teenaged niece, all-star spy-in-training Cookie McCloud, as they scour the globe in search of their missing secret agent family. Stuck together by Cookie’s parents under the pretense of ‘babysitting’ (who is sitting for whom is left largely unclarified), the pair find themselves the target of special forces who are out to capture Cookie and KILL RACE! With nowhere left to turn, they seek the aid of Green Suit Jacket Man, the night-stalking vigilante that Race has been hunting for six months and that Cookie finds in one night. With the hero’s reluctant support, the dysfunctional duo are off! To find Cookie’s parents, spies of a Bond-ian sort! To find Margolis McCloud, a tomb-raiding treasure hunter! To find Nyte McCloud, a monster slayer and practitioner of badassery! Through it all, our two heroes must figure out why the military is so hellbent on capturing Cookie, how to act like partners and, most of all, how to be a family.


My Take:
If you like adventure stories with nonstop action, werewolves, vampires, zombies, mafia, superpowers, gadgetry, lost civilizations, mummy curses, and ninja skills, this one's for you.

When Race McCloud, private eye, agrees to babysit his sixteen-year-old niece Cookie, he knows it's not going to be an easy task - after all, she's in training to be a super-spy like her parents, and all of her extended family as well. And the clandestine way her parents dropped her off, with strict instructions not to take her back to 'school', make it clear that somebody's coming to get her, and probably kill Race in the bargain. Without the protection of her spy extended family, I might add... all of whom seem to excel at something exciting and deadly.

The only, well, reasonably 'normal' one in the family is Race, a never-even-has-been with a penchant for collecting useless bits of trivia on comic books and video games, who lives in a hovel rent-free as the janitor. Yeah, THAT guy.

With the help of the mysterious hero Green Suited Jacket Man, who Race has been hunting for six months, and who Cookie finds in one night, they attempt to stay at least one step ahead of their pursuers as they attempt to reassemble their over-powered family and save the world.


Content:

Drug Content:
PG - Several scenes in this book occur in a nightclub where there is some drinking.

Violence:
PG - Like in any YA Spy novel, there's quite a bit, but not gratuitous or explicit in its description. Bones are snapped, jaws are broken, some thugs get killed. Lots of high-velocity chases and some explosions occur. A lot of violence is done to a werewolf and a bar full of vampires.

Language:
PG - I don't recall any swear words at all, except perhaps the D-word tossed in a couple times, but nothing that I took note of.

Adult Content:
PG - I would have kept this at G, but there are a few innuendos tossed around and some mention of a gay vampire, and a few scantily clad succubusses. There's also some discourse about the objectifying of women and a brief discussion about the physical discomforts of females battling without proper attire.

Christian content:
Apart from some mention of holy water and silver crosses, and a slight nod to a side character who if I remember correctly is a priest, there's no mention of scripture or prayer anywhere. The characters depend solely on their own admittedly adequate power to overcome significant obstacles. There's no real discourse on life after death or a higher power.

However, Race tries very hard to be a protector for his niece, and in his bumbling way is clearly depicted as better than the rest of his amazing family. Cookie begins the novel with nothing but contempt for him but in the end realizes his true value and character. Issues like character, diligence, family, self-sacrifice, and consequences, are pretty well depicted here, in a manner that, after the laughter dies down, will make you think.

Final analysis:
Race and Cookie make an unlikely 'odd couple' but the combination works wonders not only for the plot but the flow. Their interactions are priceless, and Race plays the part of comedy relief well. The author transitions him smoothly into the part of a real three-dimensional hero. Pace, setting, world-building, action, dialog - it's a solid, complete package of fun as a fast-paced laugh-a-minute getaway.
The book was well-edited and kept my attention pretty much cover to cover. Five Stars!

About the Author:
Tom Hoefner is a writer, director, and teacher (not necessarily in that order) who lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jaime, his daughters Gabby and Audrey, and their cat Zelda. In his spare time he stages college and high school musicals, plays too much Nintendo, and roots for the Mets.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Six Months to a Year by E.P. Grace

Six Months to a Year
by E.P. Grace
29491334
Scottslynn Steele and Martin Drake happened into each other’s lives out of the blue and fell in love just as quickly. It was love at first sight – perfect chemistry. Most would call it fate. Scottslynn calls it God’s Will. But then the unthinkable happens. A latent disease becomes terminal. It cannot be stopped - neither can her reason for living. In what will become her darkest hours Scottslynn must learn to accept God's Will no matter what it brings, and find the courage to face a future that suddenly leaves her with only Six Months to a Year.

My Take:
When Scottslynn Steele accidentally cuts her foot on barnacles in the ocean, her blase lack of treatment of it causes a serious infection. A newfound acquaintance, Dr. Martin Drake, suggests she get it treated at his office. It doesn't take long for chemistry to take effect, and the two fall in love. Both are strong Christians with a solid faith, and Scottslynn is sure their future together is God's sovereign will.

But just when her future seems brightest, a latent lung disease she has carried since birth becomes terminal, and Martin must give Scottslynn the tragic news that her time left is only... six months to a year.



Content:

Drug Content:
PG - There is a some slight discussion of drinking, but the main characters do not drink.

Violence:
G-The most violent thing that happens in this book is a debilitating disease that slowly suffocates the main character. Much of the suffering in that decline is glossed over, so there's only a light dwelling on the serious physical aspects of the disease..

Language:
G - I don't recall running across a single swear word in the novel.

Adult Content:
G - There is one short discussion about one of the ladies in the church suspecting the main characters in the novel of having an affair. This is squeaky clean.

Christian content:
There is a tremendous amount of meat in here, of the struggle for faith in doubtful circumstances, or crying out to God for an explanation, of being angry with Him. Some emotions are very raw. Good Christian advice is shared between good friends, and the characters must come to grips with the brevity of life. Heaven is portrayed clearly in a positive light. Scripture is quoted only a few times in this book, and it does not come across as preachy but open and honest.

Final analysis:
I normally don't like to dive into a book that is filled with the promise of impending death and suffering, and usually expect I will have to crawl through it kicking and screaming to the tragic bitter end.

But what i found instead in between the covers of this 270pp novel is a chronicle of faith and doubt, love and loss, and ultimately acceptance and triumph over one of our darkest foes, Death. The characters and struggle were believable and the setting was immersive. The pace was good and the conflict was real. Five Stars!


About the Author:

E.P. Grace
Hello everyone, I'm E.P. Grace, author of Six Months to a Year. 

I've read a lot of books over the years. Lots and lots. And I've figured out that my favorite types of stories are usually kind of sad. They're the ones that stay with me, the kind that make me think about the plot and characters after I've finished the book and ultimately make me go back and say hello again a year or two later.

I have a little stack of those books that I keep in my bedroom. They aren't all best sellers and they aren't ALL bittersweet or sad (I have some happy favorites too!) Some were given as gifts and some are library discards by obscure authors. Their social status isn't important to me. What's important is that they leave me wanting more when I reach the end. As a reader and as a writer, I think that's the best place to stop. 

My hope - my goal really - is that you as readers will think about the characters in Six Months to a Year even after you've reached the end. Because if you do, if you can put yourself in one of the character's shoes and emote with them and think about them when you're away from the pages then I'll know I've succeeded as an author and that'll make me really happy.

So. All of that said, I'd love your feedback! if you liked Six Months to a Year please let me and others know by leaving a comment and a rating here on Amazon and over on my Facebook page, facebook.com/epgrace.author

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Seven Misterious Gifts by John Mellor

The Seven Misterious Gifts

30813939A reject rock star and a lonely white dolphin, together with "some of the most bizarre and memorable characters that have ever appeared in a book", take a young boy on a wild, electrifying ride through seven extraordinary, unimaginable tales. Buried deep within the heart of each lies a precious gift for the Earth, and the young boy must find them. And also the truth of himself. And perhaps the mystery of us...

The boy clings precariously to "a fine line between profound and insane" as "these quite incredible characters and events begin to strike the reader as insanity on the part of the author. However, if insanity it is, this is the type that gives birth to great achievements and in examining so many themes such as society, religion and environment, this book can be considered a great achievement."

My Take:
A young boy getting ready to be sent to Earth must first read seven books, which each contain a gift to be given to Mankind. From a reject rock star and his eclectic band, to a lonely bosun shipwrecked alone on a desert island, to a lonely white dolphin with a desire to rescue lost ships, the boy must read a scattered disconnected collection of stories and glean the heart of them, before he will be allowed to come to Earth.

Overseeing the boy and the stories is a mysterious Angel with plans of her own. She guides the boy in his discoveries, and prepares him for the journey he must take. But what could he hope to accomplish in a world gone mad, in the death grip of an insane controlling Snow Queen and her lockstep minions?

The outer story of the Angel and boy tie together an eclectic collection of fascinating violent stories of the Snow Queen's domain in this wild fantasy ride that teeters between insanity and wisdom.


Content:

Drug Content:
PG - There is a small amount of drinking and drug use hinted at in some of the stories in this collection. The queen and her entourage seem to know how to party.

Violence:
PG-13 - A person is struck in the throat with a crossbow bolt. A song destroys a palace and everyone in it. A vine strangles a person to death and destroys an entire kingdom. There are hints of torture, but none of it comes onscreen. Many people are exiled into a wasteland with vicious marauding beasts.

Language:
PG - There's a bit of cussing in this book. Several of the stories depict coarse people with coarse language, but the book doesn't seem to wander past the D-word.

Adult Content:
PG - The princess has a party which seems to be poised to devolve into an orgy, though none of that is more than hinted at. A song for the princess is fairly revealing in its discussion of her immoral descent.

Christian content:
I'm not exactly sure where to place this book. It appears allegorical on the level of Narnia, but the main characters are a bit hard to reconcile with who they seem to be intended to represent. Some scripture is quoted, but reincarnation is hinted at, and a 'cycle' of returning to earth until a lesson is learned, smacks of karma and Hinduism. There are some definite Christian references, but they are intermixed with other religious concepts that make it unclear where the path is. Basically the seven gifts are intended to put Mankind back on the path to enlightenment.

Final analysis:
Although the author intended to draw the reader into the characters depicted in the stories, and into the personalities of the boy and the Angel, there just wasn't enough time and dimension to help me relate to any of them. The Snow Queen was rather one-dimensional, a classic villain with only the characteristics of arrogance and contempt. The boy and the Angel had the most coverage, yet there didn't seem much in the way of conflict or emotion in their journey together. The best character in the line of characters is a tossup between the flamboyant musician Custer and the aged gardener George.

The author seemed driven to send home a point, and the story was exceptionally good on that front, but mixed with solid wisdom and encouragement are differing worldviews a bit at odds with each other. Coupled with rushed world building, character development, and pacing, the story placed with a solid Four Stars.

About the Author:
John MellorI was born and brought up in Liverpool, UK just after The War and went straight from school to sea as a young officer in the Royal Navy. After five years I resigned and worked as a professional yacht skipper for quite a few years before settling to full time writing. I have lived in and renovated a number of boats and houses in various places, and now share a delightful house and 10 acres of weeds near Nelson, New Zealand with wife, son, daughter and a motley collection of animals and boats.

Having had a dozen yachting books professionally published I am now striking out into publishing my own novels. The first is an unusual fairy tale called The Seven Gifts, which has been well received so far.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: 1123 Hard to Believe Facts by Nayden Kostov

1123 Hard to Believe Facts
by Nayden Kostov

30522577A compilation of the most interesting and verified facts, suitable for a broad audience. This is the result of years of sifting through history and reference books on a myriad of subjects as well as searching the Internet and paying attention to the news.

Most trivia books are insufferably boring. This book promises to be different, packed with interesting, educational and fun ingredients; it seeks to entertain as well as challenge. It will provide you with never-ending intellectual ammunition for a lifetime of dinner parties. You will amaze your friends and family by recounting to them that the greatest Chinese pirate of all times was a woman, or that herrings use flatulence to communicate! 

The book will be your strongest ally in combating social awkwardness and will arm you with plenty of ice-breaking pieces of trivia, suitable for any occasion.

My Take:
There's a lot of interesting statements in this trivia book, little factoids that were in some cases titillating, in other cases I had to do some research to determine the veracity.

1123 hard to Believe Facts is packed with interesting tidbits concerning animals, world events, natural disasters, political and popular figures, places, and other odd bits of information, much of which is suitable for discussion starters. 

Content:
Even though this is non-fiction, figured I'd better put a bit about the content in here. The F-bomb is dropped, there's even a picture of it, because there's a town over in Europe by that name. Go figure. The Tower of Babble strikes again. 

There are some adultish tidbits of information that are listed in the mix, but for the most part the author keeps the conversation starters pretty civil. There's no real Christian content, pro or con, but from a secular standpoint there's a good deal of interesting factoids for general consumption.

With an organized bulleted list of facts and figures it's hard to give a proper rating. The wording of most of the facts was interesting, and in that respect I found the book well written. Five Stars.


About the Author:
Born in Bulgaria, I have lived in places like Germany, Belgium and Iraq, before settling down with my family in Luxembourg. With varied interests, I have always suffered from an insatiable appetite for facts stemming from an unrestrainable intellectual curiosity. It has certainly influenced my academic background and career: after acquiring Master degrees in Greek Philology, German and English Translation, I graduated in Crisis Management and Diplomacy and, most recently, undertook an MBA. 

My career has been equally broad and diverse, swinging from that of an army paratrooper and a military intelligence analyst; through to that of a civil servant with the European Commission, and presently, that of a clerk, performing purely financial tasks in a major bank. Member of MENSA.