Showing posts from April, 2014

Book Review: Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes: The Scribing of Ishitar by Carrie F. Shepherd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the second book of the Scribing of Ishitar series, author Carrie Shepherd continues the dialogue between Azrael and Charlie, a blind human of the modern age. Azrael gives him some more scrolls, which are coveted by unknown benefactor Joshua, and tells him the story of the next war, this time between mortals, specifically the elves and the vampires. Particular attention is paid to the first elf ever created, as it falls to him to lead his kind.

This book is an epic fantasy, and as such there are a lot of details to keep track of. It is an interesting story, made more so by the inclusions of gods and stories that we are generally familiar with from human mythology, such as Loki. She describes the battles and the lovers well, but I still found myself getting a little lost in all the intrigue among the characters. FYI, if you have not read the first book I highly recommend you do, as it will help kee…

Book Review: The Master

The Master: A Tale Of Evil by Dennis Lively
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Follow intrepid Talent spy (NOT the FBI) Rex Stout as he tries to untangle a devious plan to unleash a strange poison that drives agents mad before they turn on others and ultimately themselves. He heads to South America and tries to figure out why agents are dropping like flies and who exactly is this Master, who seems to be pulling the strings of everyone he meets. He doesn’t expect to meet Pamela Rojas, the charming daughter of one of the victims, who is intent on avoiding her father’s fate.

The Master is a story told in a 50’s gangster movie style, just not set in the US. Although in some of the slower moving scenes it delved a bit too far into Coleman Francis territory (look up the MST3K version of Red Zone Cuba if you don’t get the reference.) The conversation is a little stilted, but it’s an interesting plot, if a bit far-fetched. “The Master” character is bent on world domination but seems to be playing Risk …

Book Review: Heaven is in Your Future

HEAVEN IS IN YOUR FUTURE: The gift you cannot refuse by David Arthur DuRocher
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The conclusion of the book offered the theories proposed in the book as an alternative to the traditional Christian theory of salvation. I’m glad that was clarified, because this is definitely quite a different interpretation of a traditional Biblical view of souls, salvation and the Cross. DuRocher offers his personal revelation that in fact reincarnation is consistent with Christianity, and Christians are only here to aid others on the easy passage to heaven rather than be burned into heaven by fire. We all make it, however, as evidenced by the title. There is no hell in store for any soul, only the Kingdom of Heaven.

While I appreciated that multiple translations were cited and stated in the text, the reading became a little redundant because of the verses written several times each. I think that it would have been simpler to cite what was changed in each translation rather than r…

Book Review: Pals: Women and Grenades

Pals: Women, & Grenades by J. Angelo Greco III
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading this book I’m not sure that I’m hot enough to review it, but I’m sure the cocky surgeon main character, Joe, could fix me right up. So just pretend he already has for the purposes of this review.

Self-assured rich boys who generally get what they want, entrepreneur David and plastic surgeon Joe, are BFFs and business partners who develop of the most exclusive nightclubs in the NYC. David takes care of details, and sends Joe to wine and dine the daughters of the investors in an effort to bilk capital out of them. Joe does not believe in true love, only bromance with his pal, David. Joe is only interested in the hottest of hotties, but gets in trouble when his current assignment, mob boss daughter, Alexis - who is a supermodel, and somehow also has red hair, green eyes and freckles despite her Sicilian origins - actually causes his heart to flutter as much as other body parts. It gets worse when h…

Book Review: Showdown at Shinagawa

Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil by Bill Zarchy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There actually was a showdown at Shinagawa, detailed in the first chapter, but many more stories unfold as noted photographer, cinematographer and blogger Bill Zarchy delves into tales of global escapades while shooting documentary footage for corporate clients. At least mostly documentary footage for corporate clients, one of the best accounts describes a doomed sci-fi thriller that was supposed to be his big break. Each chapter tells a different story of shooting on various projects, and they all offer a snapshot of what that particular film was like. He also helpfully offers links to some of the footage, which I think is a great way to deliver an additional punch to a great description.

Zarchy writes in a laconic but engaging style, and doesn’t shy away from poking fun at himself - especially his height in some of the Asian communities - or describing his reactions to touching scen…

Book Review: The Pa-la-ti-shan

Follow a young idealist, Bernie Green, through the intrigue, backstabbing, secret-keeping world of Pennsylvania Democratic politics as he starts out as an Iraq war vet working as a “Constituent Service Representative” to foul-mouthed Gov. Slattery as he is somehow talked into running for state representative by the Governor, who just knows he’d be perfect for the job. His life seems to be falling into place - he wins the race, marries the woman of his dreams and gets a posh job at a prestigious law firm (state rep is only a part time gig, you know.) However he has a penchant for making enemies quickly thanks to his refusal to compromise on certain issues, and he manages to make those enemies right off the bat, within 10 minutes of meeting powerful NRA lobbyist Bob Worthington. All of a sudden he is embroiled in a number of scandals, and his past, as well as his wife’s, is coming back to haunt him. He’s pretty sure Worthington is behind it, but can’t figure out how.

This was a great po…

Book Review: An Enigmatic Escape

An Enigmatic Escape: A Trilogy by Dan Groat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An Enigmatic Escape is actually three stories that intertwine into one tale of the three Blaylock brothers, who come from a less than ideal family life, and how they conquer their past - or don’t. From the very first story, Groat engrosses you with his description of a descent into madness and leaves you wondering exactly where that came from. You vaguely figure it out in snippets revealed in the subsequent stories, but as with most stories it’s the journey that will stick with you more than the destination.

I found it interesting that all three stories were told from “outsiders” perspective but still weave you into the story of the Blaylock brothers more so than that of the actual story teller. All in all the writing was superb, and being a Missouri girl myself I was thrilled to read bits of the Midwest entwined in the descriptive narrative. I look forward to a full length novel from Groat, as I figure if his shorte…

Book Review: Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain by Nancy Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when you challenge yourself to write a story based on the last line of the story you just wrote? What if you kept that up for 10 stories? Author Nancy Morgan has done just that with Daisy Chain. While some of the stories have similar elements, none of the stories are related to each other. Characters come in the form of a woman slowly losing herself, a man mourning the death of his best friend, a gambler who may be willing to part with her youth, a middle aged woman desperate for a baby, and woman recovering from a brain injury, among others.

I love academic challenges like this, and I like them even better when they are good enough to publish, and Morgan’s certainly is. While she has a distinct writing style, all of the stories are independent and hold their own as short stories - although I think some could easily be turned into novellas or even full novels. There is a spiritual element to many, and I like the unknown…

Book Review: Spartanica

Spartanica by Powers Molinar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young adult novel full of fantasy, Spartanica is the first in a series that follows brothers Ty and Marcus as they find themselves transported from their average suburban Chicago home to another dimension. While there they discover a decimated world that may offer clues to some parts of their past and help rescue a group of children attempting to escape captors, with the help of some of the local creatures.

Spartanica is a great read, even for adults, and I think it provides an intriguing series to hook readers during middle school. There is a lot of fantasy, including super powers, an arrival to an apocalyptic landscape to navigate, anthropomorphic creatures, a hostile takeover and fantastic technology. Tweens will easily be able to put themselves in the position of Ty or Marcus, and I think that they will clamor for more in the series. Author Powers Molinar provides clear, concise writing that is quite engaging without falling …