Tag Archives: reviews

Review: The Forest Bull

The Forest Bull  by Terry Maggert. See interview with author in next post.

The author’s synopsis from my interview request:

“Three lovers who stalk and kill the immortals that drift through South Florida (tourists are a moveable feast, after all) are living a simple life of leisure until one of them is nearly killed by woman who is a new kind of lethal.

When Ring Hardigan isn’t making sandwiches for, and with, his two partners, Waleska and Risa (they’re cool like that), he’s got a busy schedule doing the dirty work of sending immortals to the ever after. Wally and Risa provide linguistics, logistics, and finding the right place for him and his knife together, they’re a well-oiled machine, and they’ve settled into a rhythm that bodes ill for the Undying. Warlocks, vampires, succubae and the odd ghoul have all fallen to their teamwork. Life is tough, but they soldier on killing the undead, liberating their worldly goods for charity, and generally achieving very little.

Until Ring wakes up after nearly dying at the hands of a woman who may or may not be the daughter of Satan. Ring’s a tough character, for a boat bum (killing immortals sort of rubs off on you that way), but twelve days of comatose healing are enough to bring out the ugly side of his temper. When a letter arrives asking for their help finding a large collection of stolen heirloom jewelry, they form an uneasy friendship with the last Baron of a family hiding in a primal European forest.

Cazimir, the Baron, has two skills: Jeweler and preserver of the last herd of forest bulls. It’s an odd occupation, but then, Ring, Risa and Wally aren’t your everyday career folks, and Cazimir’s lodge might be sitting on something that looks a lot like hell, which, according to a 2400 year old succubus hooker named Delphine, is currently on the market to the strongest immortal. The Baron’s impassioned plea to find the jewelry comes with some conditions – he doesn’t want the collection back as much as he does the thief, Elizabeth, who happens to be his daughter – and the woman who nearly sent Ring to his grave.

In a tapestry of lies, it’s up to Ring, Wally and Risa to find out what is evil, who is human, and exactly who really wants to reign over hell.”

I don’t need to provide a synopsis as the author has given a thorough synopsis, so onto my thoughts and feedback. The first chapter begins with a bang dragging the reader into the world of Ring.  A fantastic beginning! Also the author weaves his words well and reminiscent of poetry.

Reading the book you learn a great deal about the author. Mr. Maggert is a history teacher and this is revealed throughout the book. My degree was in history so the descriptions of European politics from the author’s point of view didn’t bother me as a historian, but as a reader the digression did not add to the story. The novel is heavy with description, for this reason the book falls more into literary fiction than genre fiction. However the topic of the novel is a combination of genres, horror and fantasy.  A dark and nasty fantasy where immortals are primarily unrepentant predators. The Forest Bull, Cazimir is confusing.  Is he Satan? Is his daughter Elizabeth Satan? Is the lodge hell. The lack of clarity can be maddening or intriguing depending on what type of reader is partaking of the novel.

The characters all have a questionable morality. Ring, Wally and Risa live a lazy and somewhat decadent lifestyle.  As they begin to question what they believe and know I was disappointed they did not come to the conclusion that they may be as evil as the villains. A comparison to Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake can be drawn here. Blake saw all vampires as evil at the beginning of the series but changes as it continues.

The immortals are bad and have a wealthy Euro-trash lifestyle. They are vicious sociopaths. They are not teenage angst vampires nor well- dressed business clients with a taste for blood as in Hamilton’s Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse’s lovers as written by Charlaine Harris’s. All the characters, including Ring and roommates, lifestyles create an entirely disturbing atmosphere.

The introduction of Delphine adds a different spin to immortals. She is a succubus and as she reveals her history to Ring I could not put down the book. The writing and revelation made the book more intriguing. An introduction to a lone immortal hunter from the Midwest adds further texture to the story.

The Forest Bull is a fresh spin on horror and fantasy.  Other than the heavy description of places and history which detracts from the story, the reader will be compelled to find out what happens next. Recommended.


Filed under Books, Recommended, Reviews

Review: The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering

The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering by C.S. Johnson.

The Prologue opens with an episode much later in the book. Wingdinger is introduced in an episode fighting a sinister-ling, in this case Daiken. Daiken had a “villainous twinkle in his eye all too reminiscent of his many demon predecessors and his fearless Sinister leaders.”  Wingdinger is a super hero accompanied by Elysian, who is a celestial dragon/changeling. He is unsuccessful in his fight and is upstaged by Starry Knight.

In this world of the Supernatural, God created the Stars as He created People: Each for a different purpose, Each to bring glory to His Name. But Stars can be just as fickle as Mortals. These are their stories: The Starlight Chronicles.

The chapter gives young adults a teaser to excite as the next part of the book introduces the ordinary world of Hamilton Dinger.  Hamilton is a self-absorbed, egotistical sixteen year old. He has charisma, good grades and loves to play video games. He is sure of himself and his place in the world.

Then the earth is hit by a meteor and evil is unleashed and brings an end to Dinger’s world.  Hamilton’s life is changed as he and his friends are attacked my forces they do not understand.  All Hamilton Dinger wants is to play football, participate in the school play and continue life as a normal teenager.

As the reader is introduced to evil forces, changeling dragons and ‘sinisters’ Hamilton learns he is marked and has supernatural powers.  What Hamilton Dinger has a difficult time with is not just believing but accepting his role. Why should forgo his happiness and be a superhero? “Here’s the thing about beliefs – real beliefs. They change you….I didn’t think, even when the meteorite struck the earth, I would ever change, or ever believe in the truth that began to stalk me.”

Johnson has written the first book in a new YA series. Ms. Johnson has a way with words as evidenced in this sentence: “The nails sank in harder, a black steam rising as she released toxins of deceit into Gwen’s blood.” The Starlight Chronicles Slumbering is fantasy with strong spiritual overtones.

Here’s the thing about beliefs – real beliefs. They change you….I didn’t think, even when the meteorite struck the earth, I would ever change, or ever believe in the truth that began to stalk me.

I enjoy some young adult literature.  I like TCS Slumbering. I believe young readers will become fans of the series even though – and fortunately – there is no angsty love triangle.

The story engaged me as a reader. Two small issues bothered me about the book and they are small issues. The first being I am so removed from high school I found the recitation of everyday activities of students bogging me down. I wanted the storyteller to pick up the pace. However, this may be something that will lure and appeal to young readers.

Second, again because I liked reading, I wanted Hamilton to move from continuing denial and self-absorption to acceptance and action.  However this is an important factor in the tale so my complaint is unwarranted.

Johnson has written an excellent book for young adults.  Parents will have virtually no issues with the story or the message. The underlying theme is about belief and choosing to be a part of a greater good. Recommended. Check out an interview with the author C. S. Johnson.

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Dreck – WWW Wednesday

WWW_Wednesdays4To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions:

  • • What are you currently reading?
  • • What did you recently finish reading?
  • • What do you think you’ll read next?

Today I deviate from the standard meme.

What am I currently reading – easy, yesterdays Tuesday Teaser.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss.

What did I finish reading? – DRECK. Terrible dreckishy dreckful  dreck.

What did I finish reading? – DRECK. Terrible dreckishy dreck. A book (actually more than one piece of dreck, but the last one I read was dreckishy dreck) I offered to review.

A book that has a poor plot, clichéd villains, POV flip flops. No descriptions or descriptions that contradict.

The male dialogue usually ends with , ‘he sneered.

The young female police officer is always in trouble, has a temper and her boss doesn’t like her.  So he assigns a 20 year veteran cop to keep  her out of trouble while they investigate a vampire like killer.

No one believes in vampires. But it just happens that her partner is the vampire kingpin.  That’s right – Kingpin.

She kills him (the kingpin) and is covered with blood that spits. Sorry, that is what is written, spitting blood. Immediately there is a knock at the door. It is her boss, the Lieutenant.

” “I see we have a problem” he sneered.

“How did you know?”

“A neighbor called about the commotion. Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll get this taken care of this for you.” ”

Oh the humanity!

I push myself out of a sense of duty to read on. It doesn’t get better.

I don’t want to write an unkind review. I don’t want to hurt feelings.

And I will not say something that isn’t true or I don’t believe.  So what is the answer?

Do I let the author know I have to give a bad review? Or do I just not review the book?

I am leaning the don’t review way out.

Input and advice would be appreciated.

Now, I that I am all worked up about the level of dreck my brain has endured, I need to relax.


Filed under Books, Not recommended, Reviews

Many Monday Plans – Monday Meme 9/30/13

Many Monday Plans. My Monday Meme.

What the heck am I going to do this week? Time for a plan. Oops, I should have done that last night – make a plan I mean. 
You can participate in Many Monday Plans – Monday Meme.

  • List 7 planning to do items. (It is a seven-day week)
  • Share with your friends.
  • List one TIP to share.
  • Enjoy your week.
  1. Read a book. Read another book. Read another book. What only 3 books? OK, Read 2 More.
  2. Blog. Plan to blog 3 times during the week for six posts or more. Schedule the posts. Review blog. Doggie Blog. Craft Blog. – Oh yeah, take pictures for craft tutorials. New Meme coming (and I don’t mean this one). Get With the Craft Blog! So Many Crafts. http://somanycraft.blogspot.com/
  3. Write a Review. Write another Review. Write still another review.
  4. Bathe some of the dogs. Hmmm, who is stinkiest?
  5. Shred paper in the office. This could take a while.
  6. Pack boxes and move to garage. Pack more boxes. Take a hot bath.
  7. Take a nap. A girl just wants to have fun.

Book reviews awaiting my brain and fingers:
The Morac
The Starlight Chronicles
Crime Bites – finish reading.
600 Hours of Edward
Edward Adrift


  • Craft Projects for So Many Crafts
  • Another Easy Peasy Wreath
  • Paper Stitching
  • Products and coupons

My Tip for the week. To remove odors, for example musty dusty books removed from storage.  Place a small container filled with vinegar nearby.  Odor gone!

My silly tip. Using embroidery floss instead of dental floss doesn’t work.



Filed under Books, Crafts, Meme, Reviews

Author Interview and Review: Order of the Dimensions by Irene Helenowski

Author Interview and Review: Order of the Dimensions by Irene Helenowski

Interview with Irene Helenowski.

Can you give me a Synopsis of Your Book? The book is about a graduate student names Jane Kremowski who is involved in developing a device that allows for inter-dimensional travel. She could also see how her life differs in different dimensions. But trouble ensues when the villain, Anton Zelov, gains access to it.

What drove you to write this book? I was watching a special on the Discovery channel featuring theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku about the multiverse theory and became fascinated with the notion that we could really be living different lives in different dimensions within our universe.

You are a bio statistical analyst (correct me if I have your title wrong) how did that play into your writing if at all? As a biostatistician, I work with different researchers at Northwestern here in Chicago. In my book, I focus quite a bit on academia life, since that is where my career lies. I also do quite a bit with probability, which I consequently read is also part of the multiverse theory as scientists have become interested in how possible are certain events if there are indeed other dimensions.

What is your writing process? I just try to write whenever I can about whatever comes to me.

You self-published. Can you share the pros and cons of self-publication? I know many authors are considering this option. It’s a lot of hard work promoting it yourself and unfortunately, a lot of people are still weary of picking up anything self-published. But I still try my best. And so far, I like the freedom of not having to answer to a publisher. I am still entertaining the thought of going the traditional route, perhaps with my next book, however.

If you were to re-write your book or edit anything in the published version what would you change? Actually, I have just re-written the book a third time based on some criticisms I’ve received and focused on doing more showing than telling.
What is next on the horizon? Hoping to finish up the sequel 🙂

Is there any one thing you would like to share with readers? Just hope they enjoy the story 🙂

If you are a person that wants to know ‘what happens next?’ than you will enjoy.

Review:  Order of The Dimensions by Irene Helenowski.

Jane Kremowski is a physics graduate student at Madison State University. She is part of a team that has developed a device that allows for inter-dimensional travel. After a successful testing, Jane decides to use the device. The book begins with Jane jumping from one reality to another. She ends up in different cities working at different universities on similar projects.

Dr. Anton Zelov visits the university under the guise of providing funding for further research of the Multiverser – the inter-dimensional traveling device.
Jane discovers Zelov has taken the technology her team developed and has created his own version of the Multiverser. Confused at first by Zelov’s capture of scientists at a convention, she is whisked away into a Multiverser where she discovers she is married to Zelov.

Zelov is a classic villain. He wants to create a New World Order, an Order of Dimensions. He uses different dimensions for his own evil, selfish purposes. He wants Jane, he wants power and he has a team of henchmen available to force is schemes on others.

Jane along with Randy, her husband in some dimensions, Emily, Michael and the other members of the Good Guys working for the Federation jump from dimension to dimension trying to thwart Zelov. Along the way she discovers ‘alters’ and dimensions where you can never tell who is good or bad.

A science fiction novel set in contemporary times, The Order of the Dimensions is a mesh of Sliders, Jump and Fringe. The author reveals different paths a life can take. A New World Order is a conspiracy theory in which secret elite, in this case Zelov, is conspiring to rule the world via world government and globalization.

The novel is fast paced, jumping from event to event. Helenowski’s writing style is third person omniscient driven by dialogue. The characters talk about what they are thinking and what is happening. I am not generally a fan of this method of writing as I like description and deep POV. If you are a person that wants to know ‘what happens next?’ than you will enjoy.

I admire writers that consider other avenues to publication. Self-publishing is a brave and confident step. Authors can make more money with a book they publish themselves but they most work diligently at self-promotion. The downside of self-pubbed books is the lack of a trained editor and copy editor. Self-publication is an entire topic for another blog.

As this is the author’s first novel I expect her to grow and improve as she works on the sequel. I feel petty mentioning that the overuse of adverbs drove me batty. It’s not like I am the queen of grammar because I fail repeatedly. Helenowski even mentions in her interview that she has rewritten based on criticisms and critiques.

Sci-Fi fans and Sci-Fi purists should consider adding Order of Dimensions to their library. And through October 31, 2013 Irene Helenowski is giving away a FREE Ebook copy of her book, follow this link: box.net link . In addition she will donate $1 to Susan G. Komen for every book.

If you are a person that wants to know ‘what happens next?’ than you will enjoy.
I met the author through Book Blogs and was given a copy for review. Irene Helenowski kindly answered my questions.

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Books: Dogs Are Better People Than Us

Dogs & Our Animal Companions Are Better People Than Us.
If you are a dog lover, you already know that dogs are better people than humans. Here are some wonderful books that help make the point.

“Dogs love and share and help and care. Dogs Are Better People Than Us. Dogs Make Us Better Humans.” Andrea Geist

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher by Sue Halpern.
Funny, moving, and profound, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is the story of how one faithful, charitable, loving, and sometimes prudent mutt—showing great hope, fortitude, and restraint along the way (the occasional begged or stolen treat notwithstanding)—taught a well-meaning woman the true nature and pleasures of the good life.


The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of “Unadoptables” Taught Me About Service, Hope, and Healing by Susannah Charleson.
“Charleson journeys into the world of psychiatric service, where dogs aid humans with disabilities that may be unseen but are no less felt. This work had a profound effect on Charleson, perhaps because, for her, this journey began as a personal one: Charleson herself struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder for months after a particularly grisly search. Collaboration with her search dog partner made the surprising difference to her own healing. Inspired by that experience, Charleson learns to identify abandoned dogs with service potential, often plucking them from shelters at the last minute, and to train them for work beside hurting partners, to whom these second-chance dogs bring intelligence, comfort, and hope.

Along the way she comes to see canine potential everywhere, often where she least expects it – from Merlin the chocolate lab puppy with the broken tail once cast away in a garbage bag, who now stabilizes his partner’s panic attacks; to Ollie, the blind and deaf terrier, rescued moments before it was too late, who now soothes anxious children; to Jake Piper, the starving pit bull terrier mix with the wayward ears who is transformed into a working service dog and, who, for Charleson, goes from abandoned to irreplaceable.”


Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson.
Charleson first book. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper of an exhausted canine handler, face buried in the fur of his search-and-rescue dog. A dog lover and pilot with search experience herself, Susannah was so moved by the image that she decided to volunteer with a local canine team and soon discovered firsthand the long hours, nonexistent pay, and often heart-wrenching results they face.


The Silence of Dogs in Cars by Martin Usborne.
“Photographer Martin Usborne is on a mission to save as many animals as he can in 365 days. His aptly titled project—A Year to Help—began in July 2012 and will wrap up next month. The quest has sparked him to travel the world visiting rescue shelters in Spain and a dog meat restaurant and a zoo in the Philippines, as well as to launch a blog chronicling his adventures. In his just-released photo collection, The Silence of Dogs in Cars (Kehrer Verlag), he aims to capture the way in which we silence, control or distance ourselves from other animals. Mission accomplished.” quote by Abbe Wright.


The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving: How Dogs Have Captured Our Hearts for Thousands of Years by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.
“No other animal loves us in quite the same way as dogs love us. And it is mutual. Is it possible that we developed the capacity for love, sympathy, empathy, and compassion because of our long association with dogs? In “The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving”, Masson considers the far-reaching consequences of this co-evolution of dogs and humans, drawing from recent scientific research. Over the past 40,000 years a collective domestication has occurred that brings us to where we are today – humans have formed intense bonds with dogs, and the adoration is almost always reciprocal. Masson himself has experienced a profound connection with his new dog Benjy, a failed guide-dog for the blind, who possesses an abundance of inhibited love. But Masson knows that the love he feels for Benjy – and that Benjy feels for all the people and animals around him – is not unique, but is in fact a love that only dogs and humans possess. With wisdom, insight, and a brilliant analysis of recent scientific research, the bestselling author delivers a provocative and compelling book that will change the way we think about love and canine companions.”

Be the Change. You can make a difference.


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Filed under Animal Rights, Animals, Books, Dogs, Reviews

Teaser Tuesday Meme 9/10/13 A Twofer

Teaser Tuesday Meme 9/10/13 A Twofer!

“Use your intuition, empathy, collaboration, self-control and a little worry to give yourself a great advantage.

Unleash the Power of the Female Brain by Daniel G. Amen

From Chapter 2: Harness the Unique Strengths of the Female Brain.
“Use your intuition, empathy, collaboration, self-control and a little worry to give yourself a great advantage. Male and Female brains are different. I know some people will be irritated when they read this.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read • Open to a random page • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Tithe a Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black

“Remember the faeries you used to tell stories about? What was his name? Which One? Spike or Gristle?”




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Filed under Reading, Reviews, Teaser Tuesday