Reader warning: This book contains several explicit sexual encounters.
Valeria Lancaster is a witch, an Enforcer and, to top it off, the daughter of the Chief Enforcer, Lionel Lancaster, the latest patriarch of an old line family of witches, warlocks and Enforcers. Enforcers enforce the will of the High Council on all of the supernatural beings of the world; witches, warlocks, fae, werewolves and other were-animals and last, but not least, vampires. Their mandate is to enforce the Council’s will fairly and impartially, but in the hands of a madman, that mandate could become a means of enforcing racial prejudice and personal power.
After a mysterious encounter with a werewolf, Asher Stonelake, Valeria is left with unanswerable questions in addition to a head injury. When her magic seems to become uncontrollable, and she appears likely to have killed her mother, she runs…at Lionel Lancaster’s request. Two years later, she winds up the prisoner of Asher Stonelake accused of killing his little sister. From that point, her questions about her magic and Asher’s questions about his sister, as well as other questions concerning other individuals in Asher’s sanctuary come to a dramatic head revealing Lionel Lancaster’s true nature.
Broken Magic is good story; a metaphor for human nature where those unlike us are shunned and those like us are favored…especially where those like us give us personal power. Valeria and Asher bridge the prejudicial gap between magical beings and lead by example as other beleaguered magical beings unite to fight back. The characters are complex and well developed. The writing was excellent, although a few small typos were encountered.
While I admit this genera is not my reading preference and found the sexual scenes gratuitous; the details unnecessary to the story (I skipped over them), I did enjoy Broken Magic and felt it would be a story that should be well suited for 18+ fantasy and romantic fantasy fans.
Once again, B.P. Smythe has come forth with a collection of macabre short-stories that are well worth the read. Although I didn’t find From a Poisoned Pen, Volume II as creepy as Volume 1, these are eight tales that are certainly creepy enough to satisfy the most hard-core of horror and suspense fans. The stories are:
“Wanting to be Loved” - Not even created monsters want to be taken for granted.
“Roxanne” - “For lessons in French call Roxanne”…a trap even terrorists fall into.
“Train Spotting” - You might see anything while watching trains. You may even get revenge.
“One Fine Day” - Are Do you really want to know where all the Nazi’s hid after the war?
“Sleepers” - Brain washing is alive, well and active in England.
“Aunt Meg” - A real live “Oh, crap!” scenario.
“Twilight of the Dogs” - The dogs tell the tale of murder…even after their own.
“Rupert”: The very idea of a snake can be deadly!
Each story has its own complement of bizarre characters. Each character is ‘damaged goods’ in their own way. I had a hard time developing empathy for most of the characters. Some were victims of mayhem at the hands of others close to them but somehow I wasn’t convinced to feel sympathetic. Others were criminals bent on creating mayhem themselves.
From a Poisoned Pen, Volume II was generally well written, however, there were occasional typos that careful proofreading and editing should have caught. On the whole, however, From a Poisoned Pen, Volume II was enjoyable and should be loved by readers of the odd and macabre.
Murder by the Book has all the elements of a great murder mystery; multiple dead bodies under mysterious circumstances and difficult conditions, a police detective with marital problems and a conniving wife, a town mayor concerned about his political image, innuendo of an old case hanging in the resident’s memory…and finally, an old perceived wrong that escaped everyone’s attention…except that of the murderer and the victims.
The active characters are sufficiently developed to support the storyline and just enough backstory is provided to keep them from falling into limbo. However, no information is provided about any of the victims. I was not able to generate emotional interest in either the main characters or the victims. There was simply no information for a reader to know anything about them or to put together pieces of the puzzle that would make them potential victims in the reader’s eyes…or for to allow them to satisfactorily deduce the identity of the murderer before the detective can do so. The one exception was Rose, whose backstory was, in the end, irrelevant.
The dialog seems contrived, strained and unnatural, more like reading a script than normal conversation. There is a difference between reading a story and being immersed in a story. I felt the dialog was being told to me, never that I was participating in it so I never felt the character’s emotions; I just read descriptions of them.
I try not to be overly critical of writing style but Murder by the Book approaches the story in a unidirectional manner just as though the detective’s, or an uninvolved person’s, perspective is the only perspective that counts giving the reader a one-sided view and denying a sense of competition between the murderer and the detectives. Rabbit trails rise suggesting alternative solutions to the mystery none of which are followed to their logical conclusions.
Nevertheless, I found myself interested in the story and wondering when the next shoe would drop. Because the overall story plot was generally familiar, I had little trouble guessing what would happen next. Despite that, the book was enjoyable.
Based on the strength of the story’s potential, folks who enjoy mysteries, especially cozy mysteries, should enjoy Murder by the Book.
Tim and Caroline Carson have disappeared. Several months have passed when the family attorney shares a letter left by John with Adam John’s oldest son. What the letter contains causes Adam to gather Greg, Natalie, Cody and Caitlyn, his brothers and sisters, together to plan a strategy; a strategy to travel to the past to rescue their parents.
Traveling to Johnstown, Pennsylvania in the year 1889, the Carson’s find life enjoyable and a bit simpler than 2017. They also make friends whom they grow to love, but who seriously complicate their mission. But others complicate their mission more. An association with a drifter in the Arizona territory puts Greg in jeopardy. Romantic interests bloom, but must be dealt with in light of the harsh realities of time-travel.
However, there are two even greater complications: the Johnstown flood of May 31, 1889 and the fallacies of time travel when two groups are trying to meet in the same time and place over the span of a hundred twenty-eight years.
The Characters are torn emotionally by the search for their parents, their new relationships, and the effects of the pressures of anonymity, criminality and a natural disaster of immense proportions. They are well developed and the book contains romantic storylines that should satisfy the most ardent of romantics.
Maybe things will be better in 1918 than they are in 1889…but maybe not…we’ll have to wait for the next book to see.
John Heldt writes wonderful historic fiction in a time-travel context. His books are great reading anytime. Any of them, particularly this one, would appeal to anyone who likes reading historic fiction, sci-fi time travel, or even romantic novels.
In 1917, a woman was killed by an unknown assailant in Linden, New York. The killing was a sensation because Linden was a quiet rural town where nothing, much less murder, happened. The murder was never solved, but over a period of several years, a number of other murders occurred in Linden all attributed to the same killer.
In Shadow ByThe Bridge the author has fictionalized the story of Linden during the period of 1917 through about 1924. It told through the eyes of a young boy growing over the period of years to become an adult; a young boy who was an unintentional eye-witness to the first murder and who suffered as some of the best known and closest friends of his family fell victim to the murderer. The reader is treated to the turmoil, grief and unease caused by such events in the community, and to the burden of grief, regret or even guilt some of the participants carry throughout their lifetimes.
Shadow by the Bridge is an engrossing and grim reminder how far criminalistics has progressed since 1917. The author appears to have diligently researched the story to ensure as much historical accuracy as possible. The reader is invited to share the confusion and lack of closure with the residents of Linden of the time…who had no idea which one of them may be next.
Imagine a world in which there is a rigidly controlled caste system, where one must apply for marriage which may be approved to into a lower or higher caste depending upon your social indiscretions, your intelligence or simply where the government needs workers. Imagine that art is non-existent, that one can be imprisoned simply for being ‘different’, that racial differences are ironed out by controlled manipulating marriages and strictly controlling births. Imagine that no one is allowed to see, read, or know anything the government does not approve; that is, anything that is not part of their prescribed program for ‘your’ wellbeing.
Now, imagine Bristol…a non-entity in this ‘perfect’ world. Bristol is a person without an identity; an “unregistered”, meaning that his birth was illegal so he must live completely outside the prescribed social order. However, Bristol has a talent for art and his art inspires secret admirers.
Now, enters Jude…a boy framed by the police for Bristol’s artwork and sent to prison. He is a boy who never loses faith despite the abuse. A boy the prison warden plans to kill to effect population control in the prison.
Then, then is Samara, Jude’s prison teacher who sees his abuse and the fallacies of her boss, the warden. Samara, inspired by Bristol’s art begins to question society and her place within it.
Denver, Bristol’s sister, never considers disobedience and is fearful Bristol will be caught and executed. She is assigned to a loveless marriage; a marriage with a fateful twist.
This handful of characters come together in an unexpected way that rocks their world, shows them there is more than they’ve been told and gives them hope for the future.
The Unregistered is much more than I hoped for when I began reading it. I found myself engrossed and really emphatic to the characters. This is a fascinating read with potentially serious social implications and a couple of major twists that keeps readers guessing. It should be enjoyed by those who enjoy dystopia and anyone who is into reading about strange overbearing social systems.
A big welcome to Jeff Motes, author of the popular "Once Upon An Apocalypse" series, The Journey Home, The Search and Gathering Home. The daily lives that we live nationally have become so dependent upon electrical energy it is inconceivable the turmoil that would occur if it were unexpectedly interrupted...perhaps permanently. Yet, EMF weapons, solar storms and similar disruptions make interruption more a matter of 'when' rather than 'if'.
An electrical engineer and contractor by training, Jeff marries his electrical expertise and his interest in disaster preparedness together in this series to explore the best and the worst of human nature under survival conditions.
Can you tell us how many books have you written?
I have written three books so far and I'm working on a fourth.
What kind(s) of books do you write?
Hmm… I consider it to be a book to make you think. The theme is Post-Apocalyptic, but it’s imbedded with information and scenarios to spur critical thinking.
What inspired you to write books and when did you start writing?
In 2015, I felt the need to help family and friends understand the need to prepare for difficult times and an uncertain future. I started by making small short posts on Facebook. I started getting lots of questions so I decided to tell a story using three different characters with three different mindsets and levels of preparedness. I hoped this story would prompt my family and friends to think. The response was overwhelming. What had intended to be only a short story took off. Into book 1.
Did where you grew up influence your writing?
Yes. Since my initial audience were all local family and friends, I use our geographical are for the backdrop. It has made for some interesting conversations.
What is there about your writing that especially appeals to readers?
The story is intended to make you think and to provide you with ideas. While the books are not religious teachings, the main characters are Christian. Their faith influences how they react to the events unfolding and the way they interact with each other.
There is a bit of romance thrown in. My mom was reading as I was writing and I still remember the taste of soap so the language is pretty clean.
The characters are strong yet ordinary people. Just like most of us.
Do you write books in series? If so, why?
Yes. The flow of the story required me to do so. Though, much of the ending of Book 3 was written as I finished Book 1.
Tell us about your latest book release.
Once Upon an Apocalypse: Book III Gathering Home was released on August 8th.
Are any books coming up?
Yes. I’m working on the fourth book in the series now.
As an author, what challenges you the most?
Keeping the story informative yet entertaining.
As an author, what bring you the greatest pleasure?
Reader feedback letting me know how deeply they were impacted by the books. I truly believe lives may be saved by these books.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m an electrical engineer and own a small electrical construction business. We work on various commercial and industrial projects in southwest Alabama.
How do you make time to write? Do you have a set writing schedule?
As I can grab it. Sometimes it may be many days between writing. The first book flowed so well I was writing during lunch breaks, breaks in the flow of our work, in my truck while waiting to pick up my son at a school event and sometimes even on my phone sitting in a restaurant.
Do you plan your writing and use an outline or just write as it comes?
Book 1 strictly from flow, though I did have a destination in mind. The others I had milestones that I want the book to reach so I worked toward those markers.
How do you approach cover design?
I tried to tie the cover to a significant scene from the book.
Is social media an important marketing tool for you ? How do you use it?
Actually, it’s the only marketing tool I’m using right now. Mainly through the book series Facebook page.
What is your most effective method for book promotion?
Word of mouth. That has been the primary driving force behind my books.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Just do it. Share what you can as you write so you can get real time feedback. I wrote the first draft of my first book on Facebook daily. The feedback from there is what kept me writing. Had it not been for the daily feedback I would not have written these books.
What is the best advice about writing anyone has ever given you?
To use Felicia Sullivan as my editor. That is the single greatest piece of advice I have received.
What do you like to read?
Books that inform me or teach me something.
Do you write for readers of multiple genres or just one?
I did an interview last year and the host commented it was hard to put my book in a genre. The theme is post-apocalyptic, the characters are of faith and the story doesn’t hide it or bury it, romance keeps the tension and flow moving, and it’s informative. It could be categorized as: Post-Apocalyptic, Christian Fiction, Romance, and as a Prepper Guide.
Thank you, Jeff. No one can read the "Once Upon and Apocalypse" series and not sit up and take notice that the world as they know it can fall apart on a moment's notice. Hopefully, your series will give folks some perspective on the issue.
I wish you good writing and good luck with the series!
Hi folks...I'm into a second career as a fiction author. After more than thirty-seven years of professional managerial experience, scientific background, and a lifetime of practical skills, my love of reading, research and writing has combined into action stories about real people told in a tongue-in-cheek style.
See the books Clabe has reviewed on Pinterest.
I'm sorry. For the foreseeable future I will be limiting reviews to authors whose work I've previously reviewed, for author launch teams with which I'm involved, and works obtained through Goodreads or LibraryThing.
I will consider publishing author interviews and/or guest blogs as described below with cover images, review links to other sites and purchase links to books if you contact me through the appropriate forms.
Need reviews? I will provide a FREE honest review for 4-6 fiction books each month from specified genre. Reviews are always FREE. Reviews are posted free on multiple sites and limited additional promotion of your new review is available for a fee.
Please contact me by using the Book Review Request Form link above and after reading the rules carefully, provide all the requested information.
Need review promotion?
Links to your new reviews can be posted on Twitter and Facebook/Google + for a fee. Please pay for optional promotions here.
Guest bloggers are welcome here! Additional exposure can only help you sell books and get you better known as an author. Would you like to write about your book or series, your inspiration, your experiences as a author or things you have found to be helpful as an author? If so, please contact me through the Guest Blog Request Form on the Review Form page. We're all learning together, so give it a try!
The CPMA Book Review Blog is growing and would like to expand into other genre to better serve author needs. We need new honest reviewers who are interested in reading and writing 200-400 word reviews with Star ratings for various books in accordance with simple review guidelines typically within thirty days of assignment. .
If you are interested, please see the guidelines on the Review Forms Page.