Tag Archives: book review

Book Review: Wild Concept By C.S. Boyack

Craig Boyack is one of those engaging people you just love to have around. He has a blog where he talks about real-life things like pruning peach trees and perusing county fairs for pumpkin beer as well as his fiction writing process. His muses stay in his writing cabin which he welcomes us into from time to time. Most of his muses are characters from his books, which he has for free over the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December; Wild Concept, Panama, and Arson, respectively. I started with his first published: Wild Concept .

Book Review:

X2 is a prototype robot created by a company that makes automations, but X2 is so much more than the typical robot. With the capacity to have human emotions and life-like qualities, X2 becomes Lisa Burton. Lisa has more compassion and common sense than your average human. Lisa is extraordinary in every way. Both a sci-fi and a crime novel, with her unique capabilities and the understanding she is gaining about human behavior, she is sent to join the local P.D. and sets about with her partner to catch a serial killer.

Lisa is an excellent sleuth, but she is also one of the most colorful and endearing characters you will find in a fiction novel. In her effort to be a capable companion, as well as a top-notch robot, Lisa develops the sort of deep and meaningful friendships meant to last a lifetime, and Bunny makes me want to get a cute little rabbit of my very own.

Boyack has a character that has no backstory. There is no history to Lisa Burton, but Boyack takes this thing and breathes a fascinating life into it. Lisa has style, many of them actually, and the fashions she picks for herself echo her adaptive abilities. The supporting characters are as equally well-developed and seem as real as people you would know in real-life, each with their unique personalities and behaviors.

Either Boyack is brilliant or he has done his research…perhaps both, he has Lisa Burton engaged in some complex situations she works diligently to resolve. The novel has a few grammatical errors and a couple of typos, but nothing that impedes the read. The writing is reasonably tight with respect to the story line, but lack of scene breaks make it read more like a stream of consciousness novel style. This was a fun read and exciting adventure. It also offers some room for deep reflection on prejudice and what it means to be different. If you are looking for an entertaining read that will make you think about mankind’s journey beyond the natural, make you smile and make you cry, this is a neat little story to pick up.

4 of 5 Stars

Book Review: White Wolf Moon by Mike Grant

I don’t usually post book descriptions that you can see on Amazon, (and I didn’t think this one served the content well), so I am giving a bit more description of the book in the review than usual.

Book Review:

It is rare to find a contemporary book that can speak eloquently to a span of generations and build bridges. This book does. Peter Michaelson, a sixty year old photographer, has hidden Evan Morris, musician and poet, away out in the country on the Thompson River in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. Jennifer MacAvoy, a twenty year old university student has an assignment that involves finding and getting to know him. He doesn’t make it easy for her either.

Jennifer meets the man and his wolf, but his initial reaction to having been discovered by her is not warm. She persists and finds his home, and gets invited by his wife to stay a while. Meanwhile, a terrible tragedy occurs in Evan’s circle of old friends, which brings the girl spiritually closer to Evan, his wife, and their friends as she uncovers the secrets of their Haight-Ashbury past.

The tragedy also brings the circle of friends, which includes Jennifer’s mother, a former girlfriend of Evans, together again after forty years. The characters all have their own brand of humor which the author sprinkles throughout the pages spicing a rich and savory read.  Admittedly, some of the jokes might be lost on someone not familiar with the era or the music of the times, but there is enough general humor to keep anyone laughing.

There is a lot that Jennifer learns about the man, but just as much that she learns about herself. It is as much about understanding the present as about understanding the past. Evan Morris truly lives through Grant who gives him a genuine soul. Ginn, the wolf, not so very different. Everywhere Evan takes you on his journey through time is described by Grant with such precision that you can smell the coffee, see the sparks of the fire swirl into the night sky on that beach by the river, and hear the wolf howl at the white moon.

Although written in third person, the writing style of this novel is as if the main character himself, a man you will come to respect, wrote the words. It reads like a memoir of sorts. The rhythm of the writing is like a melodic mountain stream that fills all the nooks and crannies of its bed with sparkling fresh water. The author has a way of weaving his words into subtle messages that you will want to read again and again just for their profound beauty. It is a character driven, not plot driven, book. The character development is so very deep that you can’t help but feel like these are all people you have known for a very long time, shared some laughs with, cried some tears with, and if you haven’t, you will.

The book is exceptionally well-written with insightful, meaningful prose. There is philosophical banter, but this is a light, fun, easy read. It will remind you that after you mature to become someone else, you still are who you were, only changed. This is a book I highly recommend.

5 of 5 Stars

Mike Grant


I was born in Fort George, Scotland, in 1947. My family moved to Canada in 1955. As an army brat, I spent a decade in various locations across the country finally settling in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1964. With careers in radio broadcasting, advertising, and photography under my belt I moved to Kamloops, British Columbia, in 1994.
I’m an organized hoarder with a roomful of Alien/Predator toys/collectibles; Hot Wheels & Matchbox die cast cars and assorted old toys, CDs/DVDs, and books…lots of books. My music and movie tastes are as varied as they can be. I watch and listen to most genres, depending on my mood. Book-wise I read Richard Brautigan, Leonard Cohen, 60s bios, Michael Connelly, and a host of others…again, depending on my mood.
I’m married with three children, six grandchildren, two cats, and a rabbit.




Book Review: Occasional Soulmates by Kevin Brennan

I heard a great deal about Kevin Brennan’s writing talent, but had not read one of his books, yet. He offered ARCs to a few bloggers and I picked one up. I am telling you, I have really been missing something. This guy can write and write well! I am not such a fan of chicklit or romance, but this novel goes much deeper than that.

You can pick up Yesterday Road right now for the sale price of 99 cents. And while your at it, be sure to grab this one. You won’t be disappointed, I’m sure! You can get Occasional Soulmates in digital or paperback.

Book Review: Occasional Soulmates by Kevin Brennan

Dr. Sarah Phelan is creeping up on forty. Divorced and having given up on the .com method of securing a relationship, serendipity brings her a seemingly flawless specimen of a man, Dylan Cakebread. (Okay, nearly flawless.) She begins to pen her “relationship novel”.

Brennan is amazing at engaging the reader by having Sarah speak directly to us. This is a personal story that she, with her wit and charm, shares with us relating both her introspections and observations on her own behaviors, those of her new lover, and the people around her. The humor is sometimes subtle and sometimes jabs you right in the gut. There is an array of superficial and deep emotion that carries the reader along with laughter and tears as the kind and compassionate physician makes one discovery after another about herself and her soulmate…the ideal man of her dreams.

We cannot help but fall in love with the hapless doctor. We, too, can’t help but become infatuated with Dylan, until his unchecked character defects become clear. The ancillary characters are deeply developed as well. The subplots that are going on in the story are as profound as the story itself. The reader becomes fully aware that this is NOT a romance novel, but a neatly disguised examination of intrapersonal and interpersonal relations in general.

If you are looking for a read that is well-written, clever, and offers insightful and engaging appraisal of love, life and the pursuit of happiness, you will love this book. I highly recommend it.

5 Stars out of 5

Book Review: The Worms of Heaven by Misha Burnett

A while back, March 15, 2014, to be precise, I posted book reviews for Misha Burnett’s first two books in the “Book of Lost Doors” series, Book One: “Catskinner’s Book” and Book Two: “Cannibal Hearts”. You can read those here if you like:

I recently had the honor of reading an ARC of Book Three, “The Worms of Heaven”. This is more a series review than a book review. I don’t usually post the book descriptions with my reviews because you can read those on Amazon, but I will for this book review to give you an idea of where this book: “The Worms of Heaven” is coming from. This review is a lot longer than my typical review. You will see a much shorter version on Amazon:

Book description: “Catskinner’s Book”:

Catskinner’s Book is a science fiction/urban fantasy novel set in a surreal world unlike any that you have seen before.

James Ozryck has a monster in his head.

All of his life the entity that he calls Catskinner has made him a fugitive, afraid to get too close to anyone, afraid to stay in one place for too long. Catskinner kills, without compassion and without warning, and is very good at it.

Now James has learned that Catskinner is not the only monster in the world, a world that has suddenly become a far stranger and more dangerous place than he imagined. In order to survive he will have to become something more than a monster, he will have to learn what it means to be human.

 Book description: “Cannibal Hearts”:

A year ago James Ozryck was a loner, forced to keep the world at bay by the alien entity he calls Catskinner who shares his body. Now he has found a community of others whose lives have been changed by the Outsiders.

Along with Godiva, his half-human lover, James runs a property management company that serves as a front company for Outsider activities.

When the pair’s mysterious boss, Agony Delapour suddenly shows up in town with a new project, however, things get dangerous fast as events unfold that threaten the life that they have made.

Book Review: “The Worms of Heaven”: 

I have mentioned in previous reviews in this series that Misha Burnett’s works are genius. His Catskinner character enmeshed with James Ozryck in both physical and psychological form; yet, really quite separate, is in and of itself remarkable. I fell in love with the singular duality of the character in Book One. Burnett worked wonders to give this (these) character (s) unique voice and personality.

Book Three brings Catskinner back in full force and has James and Catskinner interacting with the entire crew of Outsider affected characters in ways that are sure to keep you turning the pages. Agony Delapour has been kidnapped. Havoc has been wrecked on the Blue Metal Boy camp. Catskinner, the Butcher, has vowed death in revenge, facing his most formidable opponent yet, the Orchid.

Burnett’s ability to draw and create a colorful cast of characters was well illustrated in Books One and Two. Book Three takes that ability even deeper. There are humans, yes, but there are also Orthovores, a hive of Thomases, Ambimorphs, Pale Surgeons, Minraudim, Necroidim, and Blue Metal Boys, with depth; motivations, actions, and consequence, and these partial humans or undead have their own unique cultures.

Though most entertaining, this book moved me emotionally in ways that I really was not expecting. Existing within our culture, these Outsider affected “alien” beings have feelings and emotions (or lack of them), lifestyles and practices, if different from our own personal human experience, that are part of who they are in their society…like the cultural differences we find in our real world wide society. There are significant parallels here that cannot be ignored. Burnett has brought these beings together in stories that demonstrate the meaning of community without prejudice. The concepts of honor, love, loyalty, devotion and dedication are proven to be as “alien” as they are human.

So what does this mean for a fiction read? Some of it is grotesquely creepy, and some of it is profoundly beautiful. All of it is a bit weird, but weird is good. It’s supposed to be strange. It teaches us things about others and ourselves. I’m not talking about tolerance and acceptance. Those prejudicial concepts actually appall me. I’m speaking of the manner in which Misha Burnett has written non-judgmentally integrating worlds within worlds. There is much insight found in the methods of Burnett’s brilliance.

In conclusion, “The Book of Lost Doors” series has characters that have the ability to make decisions and affect the story. The characters have agency and push the plots more than the plots push them. They are much more than plot puppets. While the plots are fascinating and exciting, the books are also very much character driven, and that is where Burnett excels.

If you like urban fantasy or sci-fi, or anything in the paranormal realm, and have not started this excellent series, I highly recommend that you do.

5 of 5 Stars

You can follow Misha Burnett on his blog here, where he engages readers in interesting and insightful topics.

“The Worms of Heaven” available soon.

Book Review: Seneca Scourge by Carrie Rubin

Carrie Rubin is a physician who has a humor blog here: The Write Transition

She makes me chuckle with every post. She is a most insightful person and it is a pleasure to know her.

She is also an author and has a wonderful award winning book out: “Seneca Scourge”.  If you have not read it yet, I highly encourage you to give it a read.

Seneca Scourge is a medical thriller/sci-fi. It starts off like many other medical thrillers with a terrible disease we must find a cure for. Rubin did not choose some complex disease that no one could relate to. She chose a familiar one. It is an influenza strain that devolves from an ordinary common occurrence into a nightmare with the potential to infect billions around the globe. Dr. Sydney McKnight gets assigned to do research with Dr. Casper Jones, a rather odd fellow who whose behavior sends up some red flags.

People are dying. The numbers are more than alarming. Racing to beat the clock on this dreadful disease that starts out innocently enough, Sydney is appalled when she discovers Casper Jones injecting her patient with something he passes off as steroids. Here is where the medical thriller that has kept you on the edge of your seat takes an unusual twist with a sci-fi flavor that is remarkably creative and fascinating to read. Suspending disbelief is part of the fun!

Rubin does a fantastic job creating characters and situations that touch your soul. Being a health care provider myself, I was enthralled by the realism of the hospital situation in crisis. It reminded me of the ten days we suffered in 2004 with four hurricanes back to back and overflowing hallways, only worse. There is no end in sight. When the light appears at the end of the tunnel, the book takes yet another unexpected twist. The ending was interesting and made me think deeply on the future of medicine.

If you want a fast paced, well-written read that is full of unexpected twists and turns, you will enjoy this book.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.





A Review of Red Clay and Roses and Giveaway Reminder

Rosie Amber, one of my favorite book bloggers, has a new review up of “Red Clay and Roses”.

You can see it here: http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4Ge

Although the  99 cent sale was supposed to end Sunday night, it will remain in progress until all platforms can get the price changed back to $3.99. Amazon will be last.

The Goodreads Giveaway is still in progress through March 3rd. Check it out if you haven’t already:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls

Red Clay and Roses

by S.K. Nicholls

Giveaway ends March 03, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Book review: “Corridor of Darkness” by Patrick O’Bryon


A stellar read!  Masterfully crafted and exceptionally well executed, the eloquent prose and rich descriptions easily carry the reader into a creatively imaginative world of pre-war Germany and the adventure and thrill to be discovered there.  This contemporary author has created the best example of “show” not “tell” that I have seen in twenty years. (Okay, I am telling my age here.) You “see” the emotion and “feel” the tension from the words as well as develop a sense of time and place. It is not merely what the characters are doing, but how they live and act or react in their space that becomes apparent in the words.

I don’t usually open a book review with gushing lines of praise, but this one is truly exceptional. I found this book fascinating in many ways, but the inspiration for its development is particularly interesting.  I don’t reprint book descriptions, but I want to take just a moment to tell you a little backstory. This is from the author’s own blog:

Leonard L. O’Bryon

“In the fall of 1929 a young New York banker came to Berlin to study finance. The collapse of Wall Street convinced him to stay and pursue a doctorate in history. While Hitler rose to power the American became a favored guest of the old aristocracy, risked his life probing the most dangerous boroughs of the city, witnessed Communist street demonstrations and Nazi rallies, instigated a duel, and pursued the rescue of Jewish friends from under the eyes of the Gestapo. He went on to spy for his country.

That seeker of adventure was Leonard L. O’Bryon, my father. Inspired by his newspaper reports and private journals, Corridor of Darkness tells the story of dashing Ryan Lemmon, on assignment in Nazi Germany for the State Department. It is now 1938, and Ryan must discover his own dark side to counter the murder, treachery, and torture threatening a former girlfriend, and allow him to escape with a secret which could change the course of history.”


The author, Patrick O’Bryon, is a self-proclaimed Europhile who knows Germany, has lived there, studied and worked there.  Former academic in the field of Germanic Studies, Princeton Ph.D., interpreter and community liaison with the US Army in Germany.

The passion with which he writes is influenced by all of the above and I believe that is what separates “Corridor of Darkness” from the typical, pre-war German espionage novel. Already with the Awesome Indies Achiever’s gold Seal of Excellence, this book is destined to become a Best Seller!

Now, on to the review:

I loved this book so very much that I was compelled to read it twice.  The writing style had me enraptured from beginning to end. I was so taken by it that I wanted to study the techniques employed. I thoroughly enjoy a read that encourages me to think deeply on both the writing and the story.  The author has a powerful and confident writing voice. The eloquent prose serves well to set the reader into another time and place. The 20th century historical value alone makes it a worthy read, but O’Bryon gives us so much more.

Breaking away from the overdone linear style of the tired traditional spy novel, O’Bryon employs the technique of analepsis, or flashbacks, remarkably well. I loved the way the first half of the book ebbed and flowed with rich, fully fleshed out stories inside of the story. The action was well paced. As the plot and subplots unfolded, the characters, as well as their motivations, became very clear and real to me in a pre-war German world that was beautiful, exciting and dangerous.

This book offers all of the elements of a great novel, intrigue, historical value, adventure, thrill, mystery, espionage, violence, romance, lust, and love. Ryan Lemmon is dashing, clever and daring. His nemesis is despicable. Moving from pre-war Germany to the atrocities of Nazi Germany that led to imminent war, O’Bryon revs up the pace as Lemmon races across the countryside using wit, charm, weapons, and muscle in an effort to save his friends and their families and get intelligence back to America. The pace change lends a sense of urgency that was well timed.

I would give “Corridor of Darkness” a much higher score than 5 stars were it possible, and highly recommend this book. This historical thriller will leave you breathless and wanting more.  The author also sets up what is yet to come, so be sure to read the Epilogue, Afterword, and the Prologue to the much anticipated sequel, “Beacon of Vengeance”.

Visit with Patrick and read some other writing of his at his blog here: http://patrickwobryon.com/

Sunday Synopsis

This week has been quiet on the home front.  The quietness is possibly contributing to my blues.

I visited a former patient of mine from the pediatric extended care unit I used to work in who has been moved into a private home.  She was happy to see me, and I was surprised that she remembered me.  Grandma’s House, the unit I worked in at Orlando Health and Rehab, closed its doors and is no more.  I hated to see the children separated, and the devoted pediatric staff moved to other units.  At Grandma’s House the old folk could come visit the children every day.

I miss my kids and their families.  Speaking of my kid’s families:

I have another five star review.  I know it may strike you as odd for a book review, but it is special to me.  The review came from another patient’s mother who learned that I had written a book.  Hilda came from Puerto Rico.  She reads and understands English well, but she struggles with the spoken and written language. Hilda expressed many times how she wished she had a better grasp of the spoken and written English language.  A few years ago, before I had thought about retiring and resuming my writing, I encouraged Hilda to read to improve her language skills.  She started bringing books to the facility to read when she was visiting her son.  Obviously, she still struggles with conveying her thoughts, but it is nice to know that she is reading and that she read and liked my book.

5.0 out of 5 stars Divine, November 27, 2013


Hilda Cotto

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: Red Clay and Roses (Kindle Edition)

Personality I know Miss. Susan, we meet at job like RN’s. Very professional, nice friend, wonderful mom. About Red Clay and Roses strong story.


That is a bit more personal than any book review I have ever read, but the fact that she took the time and made the effort to post one…well, it means the world to me.

I did not get the chance to do my sensory deprivation last week because I need to schedule an appointment.  So that is on my list for this week.

Tomorrow my yard guy is coming and we are going to lay landscape fabric and mulch in the garden on the other side of the pool.  We have already weeded around the flowers and plants, but we have to cut the fabric to fit around all of the plants and move the park bench, birdbath, and some other stonework before we can lay the fabric and mulch.

Have a happy, productive week, and read something!

Book Review: “Twelve Days: The Beginning” by Jade Reyner

Click here for Amazon link U.S.
Click here for Amazon link U.S.

Click here for Amazon link U.K.

Today is the last day of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the States.  Although there are horrifying statistics relative to domestic violence around the world, they can only begin to show the tip of the iceberg.  Survivors must know that there is support and hope for them. I saved this book review for today as this novel shines a bright light on the abuse which is often tucked away into a dark corner.  I applaud people willing to write on the subject.  Jade Reyner, one of our own WordPress authors, has done just that. It is not my habit to read contemporary romance, but this novel struck a chord with me as a health care provider, because it deals with so many contemporary issues that affect women’s health.   Marriage, romance, desire, love, domestic violence, loss, and hope are explored in a modern day setting.


The book is technically sound, well written and well edited.  Some of the characters are deeply developed and some are superficially shallow, and that is how people in the real world strike me socially, so the novel is most realistic.  The main character is challenged as she examines both her heart and her societal commitments.  It is a love story that involves a lot of pain and growth.

From the very beginning, it is evident that domestic violence, including marital rape, would be prominently featured. Reyner did very well throughout her story, to illustrate the excuses and cover ups that women employ to prevent discovery and deal with the shame.  The viciousness of the cycles and the honeymoon phase play a part to some degree, also adding to the realism. There is quite a bit of slapping around and throwing punches in this fast paced novel.  Reyner also does very well to demonstrate the emotional extremes of both men and women. There are a lot of twists and turns making a rather common plot interesting to me.

The romance that the main character develops, while giving her some sense of joy, increases her shame as she struggles to come to terms with what is important to her.  There are several graphic sex scenes; hot, erotic, and steamy. Interesting to me personally, were the British idioms and colloquialisms.  I would highly recommend this read for those who enjoy contemporary romance, and those who may live, or touch the life of one who lives, in the shadows of domestic violence.  The series promises to carry the reader further on this romantic journey of self discovery.  I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

Book Review: Weed Therapy by Mark Paxon


My husband and I both read this book and talked about it for days.  We have already recommended it to a friend who is in a bad relationship.  With a “Part Two” added to this book, it has the potential to be a masterpiece in the self-help genre on relationships and I will tell you why:

I loved the craftsmanship in the way this book was written and the author’s writing style.  The word pictures created were superb.  The beauty of the well written story was magical.  The novel really moved me in a deep and spiritual way. Mark Paxon’s insights and intuitions were well woven into this account of a man’s quest for understanding his own unhappiness.  It reminded me that men, whom we often regard as the stronger, less emotional sex, really do have feelings, hopes, and desires.

The characters, both primary and ancillary are truly tangible.  Kelvin, his family, and the people of Santa Cielo are very real people to me now.  You can see the characters, hear them speak, and feel their pains. Father Santos is a humble man.  Santa Cielo is a most inspiring place that I visited with Kelvin, and his home is not unlike so many in America.  The settings are vivid and clear, and come alive with the people, sights, sounds, smells, and flavors of the distinctively different cultures. At times, I thought Kelvin most selfish, and as I read on, I realized that he was truly selfless, compassionate, and wanting the happiness of all, himself, the people of Santa Cielo, and his family. Kelvin, however, is not a humble man.

The author is very talented, and I would have loved to have seen him expound on how Kelvin was able to achieve happiness, the changes that were necessary in both his thinking and behavior, in order to attract the sort of happiness of his desire. I did not feel that Kelvin ever thoroughly and effectively cleaned up the weeds on his side of the garden. I wanted the book to be longer.  It felt somewhat incomplete.  What it was like, and what he intended to do different were there, but what it is like now was not. There needed to be a conclusion chapter, at least, for a more satisfying ending. I felt this was an awesome and inspiring book wherein the author does not preach his ideas, but relates to people and their issues in a way that is genuine and not forced.  All good books leave you wanting more.  If you have ever been in a relationship, are in a relationship, or plan to be in a relationship, you really should read this book.  I would love to read a sequel by this author.  I would definitely buy it, read it, and most certainly find it interesting. I love books that get me to think, and not simply entertain.  This book did both!

When reading this book, it is important to keep in mind that the POV is exclusively Kelvin Rockwell’s, and Kelvin has some work to do. We all need to be mindful of tending our gardens.