In the tamin...moreTitle: Dark Prairies Author: RS Guthrie Format: Kindle Edition Size: 459 kb – 202 pages Interest: Action/Crime Drama Rating 0-100: 94 (5 Stars)
In the taming of the West, the prairies, they bled. There was war between the white man and the Native American, the outlaw against the honorable, the harsh elements against anything that crawled or thirsted—yet as scurrilous and unforgiving as bloodletting always is, much still represented a kind of progress toward the future. Not always fair; not always judicious; not always kind.
But it is 2012, and though we call ourselves more civilized, little has changed. The greedy still steal the land, the rich still get richer, murder still happens. Dark Prairies is set in the prime of the twenty-first century Wyoming gas boom, when some landowners become rich and others get nothing but ruined roads; fortunes are made or lost on what some would call a toss of the legal dice.
When a terrible murder rocks a small town—when Sheriff James Pruett himself loses his beloved—the prairies, they WILL bleed again. How many will die this time, in honor and in vain?
In this, his third novel, R.S. Guthrie has delivered his magnum opus. Dark Prairies carves into the raw, twenty-first century West at both its worst and its finest hours and does so in the depths of an ocean of both loyalty and greed.
Oil may be big in Texas, but in Wyoming gas is the golden fortune. If you remember the famous feuds between J.R. and Bobby Ewing from Dallas then you will no doubt recognize the greed and ruthless nature of the McIntyre clan. When an inheritance of land is split unevenly between family members it’s only a matter of time before the first chess piece is moved. Sheriff Pruett’s wife is soon caught in the crossfire, and the lawman finds his sense of duty and honor are put on the line as he tries to hold his vengeance in check. His wife’s killer, her own brother, is arrested and locked up to await trial. With revenge on his mind, and alcohol on his breath for the first time in more than a dozen years of sobriety, Sheriff Pruett starts to slide down a hole that threatens to encompass his very soul.
This is the third book by Rob Guthrie that I’ve reviewed and it’s a charm. Before I give you the good and bad of Dark Prairies, in what I hope will be an unbiased review, let me state for the record that I’m a huge fan of Guthrie. As an author in training and still struggling with my own magnum opus, I respect what he as accomplished as a writer. More importantly, I respect the man. Rob Guthrie encourages and supports those trying to learn the craft of telling a good story. His blog, Rob On Writing, helped introduce me to the indie author community, and for that I will be forever grateful. Now, let’s get to the good stuff.
Obviously it’s a good book or I wouldn’t bother reviewing it. One of the things I loved the most about this book is the easy, western style dialog. It helped bring these characters to life faster than I would have thought possible. Typically I need to read a chapter or two before getting into the story, and that wasn’t the case with this novel. Here’s an example…
“Sheriff,” Ty finally said. “Yep,” Pruett answered, his finger steady on the trigger guard. “That rifle loaded, Ty?” “Wouldn’t be much of a rifle if it weren’t.” “You know where Roland is, Ty?” Ty pointed toward the back door. “Took a powder,” he said. “Weren’t much jaw in him. Not like usual.” “Ty, I’m taking you in. Just two ways that happens.”
The dialog also helps set the scenes. The locations are vivid enough to pull you in and put you right in the middle of the action, which there is plenty of by the way. The death of Sheriff Pruett’s wife was just the beginning. A fortune is on the line, and even a lawman can be tempted if the price is high enough.
The book promises action and it delivers; not a pizza kind of delivery either. No, this was much more in line with having a Tomahawk Cruise Missile sail through your front door and explode in your favorite reading chair.
There are quite a few things in this book that you never see coming. The unexpected twists will keep you guessing long after you think the villains are identified. Guthrie walks a fine line here, and pulls it off with few exceptions.
Some of the unexpected twists are so unexpected it’s like playing poker with an unknown. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the game changes. I’m not saying this is totally bad, but it makes for an interesting game.
Without giving away significant parts of the plot, let me say that there are a couple of character situations that were unexpected. During much of the read I felt in the novel, and in a couple of parts I felt like I was reading one. Again, that’s not too bad if it’s a good story; which it is.
The goal of a review is to express an opinion in the hope that others may find the information useful. Would I recommend this book? Yes, without question or reservation. The characters are memorable, and the action will keep you turning the pages. I freely admit to getting less than two hours sleep the other night, and during a workweek I might add. Overall, it’s a great read and I think you will enjoy it.
Title: The Norothian Cycle (Books I-IV) Author: M. Edward McNally Format: Kindle Edition Size (Book I): 927 kb – 475 pages Interest: Fantasy Rating 0-100:...moreTitle: The Norothian Cycle (Books I-IV) Author: M. Edward McNally Format: Kindle Edition Size (Book I): 927 kb – 475 pages Interest: Fantasy Rating 0-100: 98 (5 Stars)
Tilda Lanai has trained for years to take her place among the Guilders of the Miilark Islands, but now the Trade House she is to serve is imperiled by the absence of a legitimate Deskata heir. Scenting blood in the water, rival Houses begin to circle. The desperate search for an exiled heir takes Tilda across a war-torn continent and to the gates of the Sable City, where centuries ago dark magic almost destroyed the world. Along with a sinister sorceress, a broken-hearted samurai, and a miscreant mercenary long on charm but lousy with a crossbow, Tilda must brave the demon-infested ruins. Only then can she find John Deskata, who may not want to be found at all.
(Only one thing worse than reading short blurbs for long books, writing short blurbs for long books. ;-) The above is very nuts and bolts: "Tilda must go here to do this," but of course it is all a lot more complicated than that. I love the fantasy genre and respect its classic elements. That said, this series is to some extent about playing with what might be expected, and bringing some humor, mystery, and a bit of flirty banter to what can easily turn only too grim, when the stakes are so "fantastically" high. It isn't "Dark" fantasy, but nor is it slapstick. It's basically a character piece about Tilda Lanai, trying to hold down a job, help out her friends, and survive the day-to-day. With a couple dragons thrown in, of course. - Ed McNally)
This is a review of not one book, but four. These four books of the Norothian Cycle (Sable City, Death of a Kingdom, The Wind from Miilark, Devil Town), are the first in a series. I'm not sure how many more there will be, but I know that the author is working on Book V now. If I took them individually my five star rating would hold up for each one, but I believe it's only fair to treat this series as a single review, as I doubt that anyone that purchases the first book would not be inclined to buy the others as well.
I first came across Ed McNally (@medwardmcnally on Twitter) on the Indies Unlimited website where he has a regular column. His articles are informative and witty, and that led me to pick up a copy of Sable City. It's the type of book I loved to read while growing up. Tolkien, Donaldson, and a few others made the fantasy genre a favorite of mine. I grew out of these types of books, becoming bored with what seems to be the same problem with vampire stories today. There are just too many, and the structure falls apart when each author describes their vampire, or dragon/elf/dwarf/magic, in a different way.
Yes, it does make the story unique when your vampire has an alien origin, or the God of Bizmark created all dragons, but it also ruins a good genre when it's not done properly. I'm not saying that all magic systems should work the same, but with so many variations out there it damn well better be original, believable, and compelling if you stray from the norm. McNally and his Norothian Cycle brought the fantasy genre back to life for me because he kept it simple and pulled from a realm that I, and hundreds of thousands of others are familiar with; D&D.
There are many good things about this series, not the least of which is that it's easy to understand how things work, especially if you have D&D experience in your past. The magic system used is familiar, as are many of the spells. Some of the creatures in the book are similar to the ones that I've come across in many games. This is not a bad thing; it's a good thing. McNally doesn't rewrite the magic system or creatures. There's no need to. I already know what dragons look like, and I know that the color of the dragon indicates a specific challenge in terms of what to expect; fire, acid, poison, cold, etc...
Even those not familiar with the mechanics of D&D will be able to keep up easily. McNally does a good job of giving you just enough information to keep you on your toes. It's not all about magic and creatures though. At its core, it's about the characters. Each of them have their own lives, and agendas. This is what makes the story shine, and it raises the bar for future fantasy novels that I will read. Tolkien was the original master, and Gary Gygax (D&D creator) was influenced heavily by his work. McNally manages to blend the two and tell a tale of epic proportions. This is not just a good book, it is an excellent series.
Book I (Sable City) is a staggering 180,000+ word novel. There's nothing better than a large book, especially when it's a good one. The others are a bit lighter, but no less enthralling. Some of the characters are lovable, some are dastardly, but all of them are memorable. The multiple plots all cross and converge at various points, and it's enough to leave you breathless.
There is some bad news, and I'll give it to you straight. Some of the descriptions go on longer than necessary at times, especially at the start of a new chapter. I found myself skipping multiple paragraphs of prose to get back to the action on more than a few occasions. This was most annoying in the first book, but the later ones are not that bad. It did take me out of the story a few times, and I thought to myself, "Wow, this author has a ton of detail on everything in his world." - I just didn't need that much detail.
That's it. If you can skip a few paragraphs here and there, not unlike fast forwarding through a commercial on the DVR, then you won't have any problems getting through the first story.
If you buy the first book then you will probably buy the rest of them. I bought books two and three about halfway through book one. It was fortunate that book four became available just as I finished book three. Now I'm waiting patiently for book five. This is one of my favorite fantasy series. The characters, the humor, and the story kept me entertained for a couple of weeks, and I feel like I've had a vacation.
Fantasy isn't for everyone, I'll concede that point. However, if you've ever played D&D (and enjoyed it), or you're a fan of Tolkien, Donaldson and other masters of the genre, then you will love this series. It's my top fantasy pick of the year so far.
Title: Bay’s End Author: Edward Lorn Format: Kindle Edition Interest: Action/Thriller Rating 0-100: 100 (5 Stars)
What does it take to ruin a perfectly goo...moreTitle: Bay’s End Author: Edward Lorn Format: Kindle Edition Interest: Action/Thriller Rating 0-100: 100 (5 Stars)
What does it take to ruin a perfectly good summer? Four cherry bombs.
When twelve-year-old Trey and his best friend Eddy play a prank on Officer Mack, the resulting chain of events rocks the small town of Bay’s End.
Today, Trey Franklin is a man haunted by his past. Tormented by that one tragic, fateful summer, Trey searches for catharsis the only way he knows how – by writing. ____________________________________
Edward Lorn, or simply E., first came to my attention when I followed a link to his blog. (EdwardLorn. WordPress. com) I could immediately tell that this was a writer to watch. His writing has a quality that I’ve come to admire and respect. It’s honest, sometimes painfully so, and it takes you to places that you wouldn’t want to go alone. After reading several blog post on his site, I contacted him via twitter @EdwardLorn. Accessibility is one of the wonderful things about the indie author community. These people (99.9%) do not make a million dollars a year, nor do they have millions of fans. They are happy to hear from nearly anyone that will take the time to read their work, and E. was no exception.
I told E. that he had a great blog and that I loved his writing style. He thanked me, and like every new author is required to do, asked me if I had read his book yet. Sadly, I had to tell him no, but that I would put it on my reading list. Now, here we are months later and I’ve finally gotten around to reading his book. As promised during our first conversation my review will be an honest assessment of his book, and if it sucked I would tell him so. I’m happy to report that it not only doesn’t suck, it’s one of the best indie books I’ve read. On my personal scale of 0-100, it is the only book to achieve a perfect score. If there were problems with grammar, typo’s and such, I didn’t notice. The story was that good. So, as promised, here’s the good and bad of Bay’s End by Edward Lorn.
Trey Franklin is an adult now, and he’s trying to work through a troubling time in his youth by writing about it. Some of these old ghosts have haunted him for years. Now it’s time to lay them to rest. Thus begins our adventure into the small town life of Bay’s End, back when Trey was twelve and the most dangerous thing in town was a crazy wolf dog down the street. When Eddy moves into the house across from his the adventure kicks into high gear. Eddy is a streetwise kid, being both mature and immature at the same time. If Eddy sounds like a contradiction, then wait until you meet some of the other characters. Few people are what they seem to be, and the pretty mask they wear on the outside covers some dark and troubling personalities.
The last thing I want to do is give away any portion of the story or plot, so let me say this… if you buy this book and do not like it (read The Bad first), I will write you a personal apology via email or twitter.
This was one of the most brilliantly written books I’ve come across in or out of the indie community. The characters were so dimensional that you not only felt as if you were tagging along on their journey, you could almost reach out and touch them as well. Character development is done well when you feel like you know them well enough to pick up the phone and call them. The story is crafted around a solid plot, and not once did I feel like skipping a paragraph to get back to the action. When you combine these, great characters and story, you have a winning combination. Bay’s End is a winner.
I can’t believe I have to do this, but I’m well aware of the society we live in, so it’s a must. If you are offended, even slightly, by colorful metaphors, salty language, or the seven words you can’t say on T.V., then don’t buy this book. It would not appeal to your sense of self righteous morality. That’s it. I can’t say anything bad about this book.
Bay’s End is one of the most honest books I’ve read in the past few years. It will take you on a wild ride, and into dark and creepy places that your mind may not be prepared to go. Don’t worry though. The characters that Lorn provides will hold your trembling hand and guide you through. Lorn is the master here, and he won’t give you anything that you can’t handle, provided you know when to shut your eyes.
I first came across...moreTitle: The Biker Author: JD Mader Publisher: Lockjaw Publishing Format: Kindle Edition Interest: Action/Drama Rating 0-100: 98 (5 Stars)
I first came across JD Mader from a guest post he made on the Indies Unlimited site. He has since become a contributing author on their staff, and also writes for some other blogs. His weekly articles are written with an honesty that is rare. I was a fan of JD Mader long before purchasing either of his books. With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s what I thought about The Biker.
Matt Stark is a simple, yet complicated character. He’s driven by revenge to seek out those responsible for the death of his father, and he does so with a determination that could only be described as reckless. Mader deals his protagonist a multitude of crappy hands throughout the adventure, but evens the odds with a cast of loyal friends that Stark can count on. These friends also help Stark to focus his efforts, and manage to keep him reigned in long enough to come up with a plan.
Luis, not a very nice guy, isn’t content with letting someone like Stark continue breathing, but he knows he has to be careful. He covers his bases, and he knows just enough about the biker to prepare for anything. Almost anything that is. He’s never met anyone like Matt Stark…or, has he?
This is the story of a virtual chess match fought between an unlikely hero and his villainous counterpart. Pawns will be sacrificed, and when fists are no longer an option, knives and guns will come into play.
Will Matt hold onto his hatred long enough to get the revenge he seeks, or will the love of friends stay his hand?
It’s on my recommended reading list, so you should find out for yourself. It was a great read and I highly recommend it. That’s the good news. The bad news for me was that the ending came too quick, and I found myself searching to see if there was a sequel on the way.
If enough of you buy the book, I think we could probably talk Mader into writing one. Trust me on this, it’s worth the price of enjoyment for an afternoon.
The murder at Joe...moreTitle: Joe Cafe Author: JD Mader Publisher: Lockjaw Publishing Format: Kindle Edition Interest: Crime/Thriller Rating 0-100: 97 (5 Stars)
The murder at Joe Café is an abomination. It stops the entire universe. For Michael, it tarnishes everything, including his badge. For Chet and his hostage, it is the beginning of a chase that will lead them through dingy motels and the darkest corridors of their minds. Dogan just wants Sara back. Jimmy the Cat wants to make up for all the time he has wasted. Frankie wants to live a 'moral' life, erasing everyone in his path who does not live up to his standards. Conventional notions of good and evil quickly blur as they are all forced to look into the mirrors they have avoided for so long. Chilling and horrifying, whimsical and wretched, Joe Café's cast of broken characters try to find their way in a world they never understood to begin with...for the Chens, it is easy. They are dead. ________________________________________
I first came across JD Mader from a guest post he made on the Indies Unlimited site. He has since become a contributing author on their staff. His weekly articles are written with an honesty that is rare. I was a fan of JD Mader long before purchasing this book. With that disclaimer out of the way, here's the good-bad-ugly of Joe Café.
This is not a book that I would let my children read. As a parent it's my job to protect them from the evil in this world, and make no mistake about it, this book is filled with evil. It's also wonderfully written.
Every character in the book goes through a transformation. The good cop goes a little crazy. The crazy killer has moments of tenderness and yearns to be more than he is. The stripper, club owner, and even the mob boss all see life from a different perspective by the end of the book. Say what you will about the dark theme, it takes mad skills to pull off what Mader accomplishes in a short amount of time.
This book is a rollercoaster ride of emotion. In some ways it's not unlike passing a car wreck on the Interstate. It's hard to look away, as much as you might want to. Some of the scenes in this book are so graphic that if it were made into a movie, it would either be regulated to Pay-Per-View or win an Oscar. There is no middle ground here. If there is such a thing as a 'fine line', then I can assure you that Mader has no problems crossing it.
And that's the good. Here's the bad.
There were several times, especially in the latter part of the book, that I had to back up to see which character the scene focused on. A few of the primary characters had similar traits; cursing and drinking. Nothing wrong with this, but I did get confused a few times. Of course, I should also point out that I read the last quarter of the book in bed with the flu. It may have been the fault of Benadryl.
And now for the ugly.
This book will take you inside the mind of a psychopath. If that's not someplace that you can handle, then you will not enjoy this book. The curse words may turn some off as well. However, if you put yourself in the same situation as these characters it's seriously doubtful that you will be hurling Disney lines.
This goes back to the honesty in his writing that I mentioned earlier. Mader does not shy away from getting inside these characters, and he gives them a voice that rings true to the situation.
Would I recommend this book? For my children, no. But I would recommend it to my friends and fellow writers. It's a great read, and if you are a writer, it should be a textbook on how to create rich, compelling characters.
Jake Bronson is just starting to get his life back together when an old enemy surfaces. The danger is up close and personal, with a mastermind that's...moreJake Bronson is just starting to get his life back together when an old enemy surfaces. The danger is up close and personal, with a mastermind that's just out of reach. Jake will be forced to fight back, or watch the people he cares about suffer the consequences.
With the extermination of America on the agenda, Jake will be forced to put his friends in danger. In a desperate attempt to stop a madman, even the lives of his family and friends may be a small price to pay.
As I stated in the review for the previous book, this needs to be a movie. It's beyond good. The last line in this book left me with chills. Getting to that last line was a heart-pounding pleasure.
This book takes multiple genre and deftly bottles it up into an addicting substance. Take a sip and you'll wake up having guzzled the entire book.
I'm giving it five stars, simply because I couldn't give it more.
Title: The Bones of the Earth, Book I Author: Scott Bury Publisher: The Written Word Communications Company Format: Kindle Edition Interest: Fantasy / Ser...moreTitle: The Bones of the Earth, Book I Author: Scott Bury Publisher: The Written Word Communications Company Format: Kindle Edition Interest: Fantasy / Series Rating 0-100: 93 (5 Stars)
With his debut novel, Scott Bury has firmly established his place in the fantasy genre. The plot is solid, the pace is quick, and the characters are well written. Typically I read two or three books at a time, jumping from one to the other between sittings. I was not able to do that with this one. My intention to read the first chapter or two failed miserably. Several hours later and I found myself half-way through the book.
When you follow the main character, Javor, you can expect excitement. What you can't expect are the plot twists. The most unforgivable sin in any form of storytelling is predictability. That is not an issue with this book. You never know what's around the next curve in the road, hidden in a dark cave, or even whom you can trust. Just when you think it's safe - WHAM!
The world that Bury writes about is familiar to anyone that is a student of history. He has researched the era for accuracy and deftly blends fantasy with reality. Before long, you begin to wonder if some of his fantastic creatures and characters really existed in our distant past. The story pulls you in, and the action pushes you from one page to the next. It's a heck of a good story, and I highly recommend it.
I originally purchased this book during the holidays in response to a Kindle giveaway promotion by the author. Since then, I've been a fan of his blog site. RS 'Rob' Guthrie has some great information posted there, for aspiring authors such as myself.
Even so, I wasn't sure whether I would like this book, after reading the sample on Amazon. I figured what the heck, it was a opportunity to win a Kindle for my wife and help support the author and his charity. I'm glad I took a chance on it. The sample that Amazon gives really does not do justice to this book. This one is on my recommended reading list, and I give it a grade of 95, solid "A".
My goal is to read at least 30 books this year. If the other books are as addicting as this, then I might have a chance to double that number. By the third or fourth chapter, I was hooked. I can't tell you how tempting it was to take my Kindle to work with me today. As it turned out, I found myself reading it on the iPhone with the Kindle app during lunch. In fact, the last five chapters went by with thumb blazing speed.
Bobby Mac is not the typical hero, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. I purchased 'Lost' a few minutes ago, and if it's as good as 'Black Beast', then I'm in for a long night.
If I had one suggestion to make, it would be that Guthrie post a few chapters of 'Black Beast' on his website, or if possible, extend the sample on Amazon.
This is the first book in a series from author Richard Bard, and his second book BRAINRUSH II, The Enemy of My Enemy, is already on my Kindle. This is a fantastic read that combines action, adventure, thriller and scifi into a package that screams, "Make a movie outta me!" -- Hollywood take note, this could be a blockbuster franchise.
The story follows Jake Bronson, as he deals with a brain tumor that will eventually take his life, and a close circle of friends that will do anything to help support him. When a mishap in the hospital leaves Jake with an extraordinary gift, he wastes no time in showing it off at the local bar. Soon after, a video of the event goes viral, catching the attention of some very bad people. What follows is a tale that only a true Bard could tell.
This is one of the few books that I've read this year that made me feel guilty every time I had to set it down. I highly recommend it.
You can contact the author at his website http://richardbard.com/ or on his GoodReads page, as well as Facebook at Twitter.
The Dimension Researcher is the first in a series for author Chris James. If you're a fan of H.G. Wells, then you will no doubt enjoy this book as much as I did.
The fast pace will keep you turning the pages, long past your bedtime. When you finally do go to bed, don't be surprised if the characters follow you.
Wells may have popularized time travel, but James crafts a tale that can only be described as original. Every action that we take, or fail to, can create a new timeline in an alternate universe.
Follow the adventures of the Dimension Researchers as they travel back in time to record events in worlds that we can only dream of. It's a highly recommended read that will leave you begging for more.