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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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. 

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.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Beyond the Void Darkly by Douglas Tanner

Beyond the Void Darkly
by Douglas Tanner

30283948Can a man and woman separated by a century and a half be destined for each other?

In a love story which spans from 2031 to 1883, a man wrestles with questions of faith, love, and destiny. Matthew Walton is a man on a mission. As a pharmaceutical scientist working on a top-secret time travel project, his one goal in life is to find a cure for his mother's cancer. But when he sees a beautiful young woman in 19th century Kansas, the daughter of a doctor who may have stumbled across the cure, Matthew becomes enraptured and begins to wonder if there is such a thing as love at first sight. But she can't see him, hear him, or feel him. To her, he is a ghost.

As he gets to know her from reading her faded old diary and repeated trips through time, Matthew's desire to make contact with Elizabeth grows in urgency, because he has seen her die. And only he can save her.

Weaving in issues of philosophy, heartbreak and loss, Christian faith, and ultimately, hope, "Beyond the Void Darkly" will remain with you long after you have finished the story. It will make you believe in love again.

My Take:
Matthew Walton is a pharmaceutical scientist driven by his desperate race against time to discover a cure for cancer, to save his mother's life. With a team of scientists, he is sent back in time to the late 1800s to find a little known doctor who may have stumbled on the cure. The clues to the cure, the ingredients needed, are in the doctor's diary, which was partially destroyed at the doctor's death. 

But while back in time, Matthew falls desperately in love with the beautiful daughter of the doctor, though she can neither see nor hear him. He follows her from her bedroom into the doctor's lab, just before they are brutally murdered right before his eyes.

While traumatized, Matthew insists on being repeatedly sent back in time, on the surface to retrieve the final ingredients to the cure, but underneath is the desperate desire to save the girl and her father from the senseless act of violence.

But if Matthew manages to change the past, what disastrous changes could that make in the present? 

Drug Content:
PG - In the advanced society there is a significant amount of drinking socially. Matthew wakes up at home and doesn't remember how he got there because of his state of inebriation, once. There is virtual reality addiction, and (like smart phone usage today) there is widespread digital isolation to the level of an addiction, almost universally.

PG - The doctor and his daughter are murdered before Matthew's eyes. More than once or twice, as he attempts repeatedly to thwart their death or warn them somehow. A soldier threatens one of the scientists with a gun, and another soldier goes into the time machine and gets blown up in it.

PG - I don't remember any gratuitous cussing in the novel, though I won't say there wasn't any.

Adult Content:
PG13 -  Matthew's former girlfriend drops quite a few hints that he could have her back, and uses derogatory terms in relation to the girl back in time, who keeps dying. Matthew's brother is addicted to a virtual reality girlfriend.

Christian content:
Quite a bit. Matthew has several meaningful conversations with his believing mother about life and the hereafter, the importance of love, and the destiny God has for each of us. Matthew struggles with atheism and in his life, only his electronic virtual assistant seems to have solid Christian words of advice. The Void is a dark realm with no life at all, not memory or thought, almost, through which Matthew must travel to reach the past. Matthew equates it with death, which is the atheistic view of death. The only thing that makes this transition easier is love for another, and later, his faith.

Final analysis:
Beyond the Void Darkly is a poignant saga of love and loss, a bit slow-starting but action-packed. While it is science fiction and romance, the science is not overbearing and the romance isn't overwhelming. It's message of love at first sight, and the desperate drive to save someone you care about deeply, will resonate with most readers. It's pretty well-written, though the scenes could do with more description. The depth of character for the main character and a few of his supporting cast are well-depicted and dimensional. Some others, are simply unlikable and rather one-dimensional. It was entertaining if not depressing that the supporting character with the most dimension was a VR construct. Four Stars!

About the Author:
Douglas Tanner lives in North Carolina with his wife, son, two daughters, and a small Schnoodle named Snuffleupagus (Snuffy for short). He has been writing since fifth grade when he began sharing his stories with friends.

He studied at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri and Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas, and has been a lead vocalist in rock bands; a radio DJ and news director; and a provisioning analyst and team leader with Sprint in Kansas City.

Doug's first adult novel, "Beyond the Void Darkly", a Christian time travel romance, is now available.

Other works by Douglas Tanner:
His initial book, a creative non-fiction self-help manual entitled "A Truly Successful Life: Ten Principles for a Life of Meaning and Purpose," was published in 2008. He followed up with a middle grade/young adult series of inspirational horror novels; "Alec Kerley and the Terror of Bigfoot" (2013), "Alec Kerley and the Wrath of the Vampire" (2013), and "Alec Kerley and the Roar of the Dinosaur" (2014). The fourth book in the series, "Alec Kerley and the Revenge of the Werewolf", is due to be published in October 2016.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Review: Reviews Wanted: An Author's Guide to Effective Networking with Book Bloggers by Kasey Giard

Reviews Wanted: An Author's Guide to Effective Networking with Book Bloggers

Many small press and indie authors struggle to market their books. Book review bloggers are a valuable asset to an indie writer because they get the word out to readers and other reviewers, helping to generate far-reaching buzz about books they love. Reviews Wanted will show you how to successfully build relationships with book review bloggers and generate excitement and reviews for your books while introducing them to new readers with tips from a veteran book review blogger and author of over four hundred book reviews.

My Take:
And now, as Monty Python is wont to claim, for something completely different.
I'm taking a pause on my review-blogging journey to review this book about review blogs and getting reviews from bloggers, written from the perspective of a review blogger. Whew. 
I'd suggest anyone who wants to get reviews for their books, from an indie and small-press perspective, to pick up a copy of this book. It's inexpensive, it's quick, and it's packed.
It covers topics such as identifying your genre and your audience, the importance of choosing or creating a meaningful and attention-getting cover, well-written marketing copy, the importance of a professional author website, and other things, even before contacting book bloggers.
Kasey also helps the reader-author choose the 'right' book bloggers to market their book to, to prevent confusion, wasted time, and possible bad reviews. She discusses pitfalls and warning signs in reviewers, to help you avoid pain and loss in your review process. She covers researching the bloggers, the review site, and the importance of following the blogger's guidelines, how to craft a good submission email, and how to build the all-important relationship with a blogger. 
Because frankly, if the blogger liked your book but you didn't follow the rules, came across as rude or unthankful, chances are they will give your next submission a pass. Conversely, if you are professional and build rapport with the blogger, chances are they will be much more likely to review your next book as well.

Final Analysis:
This is a well-written 'fireside chat' with a book reviewer for predominantly indie and small press authors. It covers, from stem to stern, the basics for getting your book reviewed, and getting those reviews posted where it counts. 
From my perspective as a reviewer, I'd love for submitters to read it simply because it will ease the process. And help the authors understand the issues behind getting their novel reviewed. 

About the Author:
It won’t surprise you to learn that I enjoy reading and writing, or that I’m a Christian parent concerned with the content in books my daughter reads at home and in school. What you might not know is that I am a total sucker for a story about a good guy who has to make some tough choices and nevertheless does the right thing. I love happy endings but also enjoy a good tear-jerker if there’s some good that comes to someone out of all that sorrow and suffering.

I have two sisters. One saves me from fashion blunders. If I’m wearing something cool, it probably used to be hers or she bought it for me. I like to think this is payback for our entire middle school lives in which she sneaked into my room to swipe my clothes before I woke up for school in the morning. My other sister saves me from poor music choices. She tries, anyway. If I’m listening to something too trendy or annoying, she’s probably hanging her head in shame while simultaneously composing complex, emotive, super-hip tunes on drums, bass, or guitar. (Yeah, she’s THAT girl. Don’t hate.) I also have one brother who keeps us all laughing. I mean, with him. Usually.

When I’m not reading or writing, I might be found geeking out over video games with my husband, carefully cultivating an appreciation for Cary Grant and classic movies with my daughter, outside planting herbs or building a butterfly garden, snuggling with my adorable cats, or perhaps out on the water chasing down a fish or two with a fly rod. In addition to blogging, I write contemporary YA and harass my very patient, wonderful critique partners on a regular basis.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot's Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview by Jason B. Ladd

27774433A US Marine fighter pilot explores life’s important questions as he prepares for combat, searches for truth, and wages spiritual warfare during his mission to become a better husband and father. “I highly recommend it.”— John Njoroge, speaker and radio host at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Jason B. Ladd grows up in a military family with loving parents but spends his young life filled with spiritual apathy. Ladd enters the US Marine Corps, becomes a fighter pilot, and sees combat in Iraq before life events align to nudge him into profound spiritual inquiry. Digging deep into his quest for truth, he realizes the art and science of fighter pilot fundamentals can help him on his journey.

Filled with stories that contrast his spiritual apathy with his post-Christian worldview passion, One of the Few is the compelling life story of a spiritual seeker engaged in a thrilling profession combined with a strong, reasonable defense of Christianity.

For fans of Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and Frank Turek, Ladd’s remarkable journey shares the transformative power of faith during a time when belief in God is dismissed and religious liberty in the military is attacked.

My Take:
This is a non-fiction memoir and apologetic, so to speak, of a Marine fighter pilot and his journey to faith. Jason begins this account as a cocky, self-assured agnostic with a fiery ambition to be the best of the best, a Top Gun fighter pilot in the Marines, who DON'T just take 'anybody.' He ends the account in a settled faith in the Lord of Creation, and his journey from A to B is laid out for all to see, with a well-thought-out, erudite apologetic for the faith, for purity, for moving on with God.

Drug Content:
PG - Alcoholism is quite common in the military, and it is unveiled in a frank and clear exposition as to its dangers and effects. Jason is clear that while drinking is not prohibited in scripture, drunkenness is described therein as unwise. Smoking and other drug use are also discussed briefly.

PG - In wartime, there is bound to be death on both sides, whether dealing or receiving it. The struggle in military conflict is exposed without giving sensitive information. Jason struggled with the death of insurgents he was ordered to take out. A death by dragging is described.

G - I do not recall any language in the book at all.

Adult Content:
PG - There is a brief description of the soldiers' life and forays on leave with the ladies in town calling for attention. Nothing is described, but one soldier who left early as the group went to a strip club, later mentioned offhand that he left early because he took two girls home with him. There is some mention of the struggles of loneliness and infidelity when deployed, and the high divorce rate in the military. Pornography, its additive perils and collateral damage are clearly explained and decried.

Christian content:
This is a solidly Christian conversion story. It is rife with apologetics at every step as Jason takes us along on each step from unbelief through reasoning and analysis of the Christian faith, to solid belief. He doesn';t just cover the basics, but also delves into God's requirements for purity and holiness, and several of the common threats to it. Each chapter begins with two opposing quotes - one from the worldly, atheistic point of view, and one from either a biblical apologist or straight from scripture, exposing the opposing worldview for what it is. Quotes from Chuck Colson, Ravi Zacharias, Norman Geisler, Walter Martin, and C. S. Lewis share pages with Deepak Chopra, The Satanic Bible, and Manuals on Military Codes of Conduct. Strange bedfellows, but every page is directed to the cross.

Final analysis:
Jason has done a masterful job of presenting the truth couched in terms a person in the military (or anyone else) can identify with, as well as clear guidance for a seeker beginning from where he was, an agnostic or atheist with an open mind. It is well-written, erudite, well-informed, solidly Christian, informative, hard-hitting, challenging, even convicting. Five Stars!

About the Author:
Author website:
Jason B. Ladd---
Jason B. Ladd is an award-winning author, US Marine, and Iraq War veteran. Ladd served on active duty with the Marines for fourteen years and has flown as an instructor pilot in both the F/A-18 and the F-16 fighter jets. He is the founder of Boone Shepherd, LLC and creator of, the largest live online database of book promotions results built by authors. He and his wife, Karry, are the parents of seven children.

His book One of the Few was awarded as Finalist in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: Oki and Harlo: Fairytale Friends by Cas Mesterom

Oki and Harlo: Fairytale Friends
by Cas Mesterom

30761727Oki, a little orphaned goat meets Harlo, a shooting star, who falls to earth and ends up in the field where Oki is asleep. They become instant best friends and together they go on a quest to find Oki's momma.

On their adventure, the little friends encounter wise old, Mr. Owl, Wobbly, the chicken, and a little girl named Ellie and her family. 

Enter a world where children can safely go and learn about making friends, being honest, and believing in dreams, as well as healthy eating and the REAL purpose of rainbows! 

"Oki and Harlo, fairytale friends" is the first ever draw freely e-book. 
The story invites the readers to make their own illustrations. There are free-draw pages that have clear instructions on what to draw.

My Take:
This children's book is a little longer than the average illustrated kids' book, weighing in at a bit over sixty pages. The delightful story of a goat who finds a friend in a fallen star, and sets out with him to find his lost mother, will resonate with kids everywhere, who find security in their moms. A bonus is the embedded pages that allow kids to draw and illustrate the book themselves. A nice touch that can turn a children's book into a treasured family memory.

As this is a children's book, I wouldn't expect to find anything objectionable, and I didn't. Certainly related to language, drugs, violence, or adult content. Concerning Christian content, a family goes to church in the story, and there is quite a bit of discussion about a deceased relative and their presence in heaven, and the ability to talk with them. Valuable life pointers such as healthy eating, being honest, showing respect for others, are shared, coming from Oki's mom and a wise old owl. However, I'll caution that talking to a deceased relative is not a practice found in the bible. In a children's book it's a therapeutic thing for a kid to do to deal with the grieving process. Just be ready to answer questions if they arise.

Final Analysis:
Oki and Harlo: Fairytale Friends is a delightful journey full of wisdom and life lessons. The added benefit of places for the kids to illustrate is a big plus, as it promotes creativity and imagination. Five Stars!

Review: The Scorpion by John A. Autero

The Scorpion
by John A. Autero

24860887You watch the TV news every night and think you know what’s going on… think again.

Three friends stumble upon information that describes an underwater excavation site and refinery that processes a newly discovered source of energy. Who built the site? What is the fuel used for? What happened on December 26, 2004? The friends are determined to reveal the truth about their findings to the public and realize that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. 
“The Scorpion is a Techno-Thriller on steroids!”

My Take:
Who knew digging in the dump could thrust you into the middle of the biggest government cover-up in the USA's history? When Bruce and his two friends find an unmarked computer server drive while reclaiming electronics equipment for their day job, they decide to keep it to store music and movies on. But the top secret government data already on the drive isn't the kind of information you can just ignore. 

When the drive contacts the NSA, government agents come running to reclaim the data and anyone who has seen it. But the three friends aren't going down without a fight. What ensues is an edge-of-the-seat race against time to expose the disaster and cover-up with the help of an underground conspiracy-exposing podcaster known only as the Folsom Street Avenger.


Drug Content:
PG - The three friends make it a weekly habit to visit a local bar. One plays designated driver while the others get a bit wasted. The effects of a hangover are described in some detail. Some drugs are used to obtain the truth, Illegal street drugs don't show up in the book. 

PG - A sniper is used at one point to take out a target. His expertise is described at some length, as well as some of his past activities. NSA agents discuss eliminating people rather blandly. An agent considers the pros and cons of several methods of killing an unarmed target. No gratuitous violence.

R - There's a significant amount of cussing in this book, from the first page, where the F-bomb is dropped quite a few times, to late in the book. The first few pages are actually the worst, and if you don't have a problem there, the rest of the book is much better.

Adult Content:
PG - I don't really recall any adult content in the book, and actually few females show up in the work, other than moms and aunts. 

Christian content:
Ah, pretty much nada. The aunt(?) seems to have a level of faith, and gives some good advice, but there's no scripture that I remember in the novel, and while the central message seems to be one of exposing truth, it's driving force is the public's right to know rather than any moral accountability.

Final analysis:
The Scorpion is a well-written, fast-paced techno-thriller, with believable characters and high stakes on both sides of the fence. I was put off a bit by the language, and the missed opportunity to drive the story's main message by the need for a moral accountability in government, but in retrospect the story stood well on its own, with even room for a fast-paced sequel? Five Stars!

About the Author:
John A. AuteroJohn A. Autero is an indie author of techno-thriller adventure novels. An engineer by education, John employs a technical style of writing that combines existing technologies with those that are yet to be developed. John enjoys anything sci-fi, automotive, heavy metal and ballistic. Always a fan of government conspiracies and black-ops, stories like "The Terminator" and "The X-Files" are always on his list of favorites. John was born in the United States and has spent his entire life there, where he happily lives with his wife and pets.