Category Archives: Fiction

Exhumation: An Epic of Existentia (Acts of the Sojourner Book 1) by S. A. Chapman

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Exhumation – Acts of the Sojourner – Act 1, An Epic of Existentia Chapman is writing an epic series about a mystical land of creatures, humans and many beings in between. The premise is worked out in the Act 1 of the Acts of the Sojourner.

Pious is an officer and head of the organization that provides some of the warriors for one group of the large city, Sanctuary. Act 1 is apparently all about his adventures as he sees his life changed from one of order and structure to one of chaos, trouble and loss.

Sanctuary’s politics are very subtle, stressed and with many machinations going on in all levels of existence for the people who abide there. There are Four Focal Towers that rise above Sanctum the center of Sanctuary. There are many factions, many of which are basically at war with each other in and outside of the houses of government and throughout the districts of this city.
There are numerous maps, illustrations and sayings that flesh out a campaign environment. All of the action and plots come from almost random directions. The plots interweave and twist and turn without apparent guidance. This goes on throughout the book and this is the first Act. There can only be a sense of wonder at the imagination that spawns such a complex and convoluted tale.

The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag (Review #2)

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Bitter Season
Tami Hoag writes great murder mysteries but believe that she almost outperformed herself on this one! Not quite sure what the title means but the story line is enough to make one’s mind turn to a slightly Bitter Season!

It really is a great read but it is also very twisted and re-twisted. It all begins with Nikki Laska, a Minneapolis detective, who is working on her first cold case which she has requested believing that it will give her more free time at night to be with her two sons.

At the same time Sam Kovac, her longtime detective partner, has just been assigned a murder case where an older couple were attacked and killed by someone using ceremonial Japanese weapons including a Samurai sword which was very valuable. The man who was killed had been a college professor who was in the midst of a possible promotion in East Asian studies at the university where he taught. Strangely enough he was battling another professor for that promotion and also strangely enough that other professor was very much involved it seems with the murdered professor’s daughter. And that mix-up is just one of the many weird coincidents that begin occurring in this story.

Spots: A Tale of Star-Struck Misfame and Misfortune by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Spots by Simon PlasterSpots by the talented author, Simon Plaster, is his latest satirical novel featuring a small-town reporter, Henrietta, who is from the actual small town of Henryetta, Oklahoma. In Spots, Henrietta travels to Oklahoma City, where the novel is primarily set, to report on the days leading up to a TV awards show in which awards are given to the best actors/actresses in TVCs, or TV commercials, otherwise known as “Spots.” Because of this, other than Henrietta and her mother, Wynona Sue, many recurring characters from Plaster’s other novels in the series are not featured in Spots, but that is more than made up for with his cast of new characters, including ones from famous commercials, like William Shatner, the insurance gal, Flo, and the two guys who currently are in commercials for Sonic.

The Way of the Dhin by John L. Clemmer

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The Way of the DhinPosing an intellectual convergence of science fiction, fact and possibilities, John L Clemmer’s The Way of The Dhin delivers with its futuristic tale of A.I. sovereignty, alien contact and the mystery of the technology they left behind.

During a time of revelation and turmoil on earth with A.I. grown to the point of hive mind singularity, governing much of what humans once managed for themselves. By virtue of their governance the need for manual labor was significantly reduced with A.I. providing everything for their human charges; food, water, shelter, power and transportation, making life easy for humans to basically exist. However, hot spots of rebellion surged, as many humans did not completely trust A.I. intentions and sought to somehow overthrow their advanced existence.

Salk Creek by Lucy Treloar

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Salt CreekMost of us strive for adventure and riches in fulfilling their dreams of the future.

Hester Finch’s grandparents arrived in Australia from England continuing their lives of wealth and status. Unfortunately, for Hester and her siblings, her father has dreams. This was life on her mother’s side of the family who fell in love with a man who was considered beneath her. Yes, he wanted the family to maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to living.

Having already failed at many prospective investments and opportunities, he decides that the family needs to start over. He chooses a deserted, dry region new Salt Creek in South Australia, uprooting their lives in every aspect with dreams of success and wealth.

Watching the Dark: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson (Review #2)

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

Watching the DarkI was excited to find a new mystery writer to read, and based on some reviews was excited to read this book. Unfortunately this book was not what I expected. It was an extremely slow and hard read that could not hold my interest. I have read thousands of books and this was the longest it ever took to complete the book.

The novel starts out intriguing with a police officer being murdered. Unfortunately the author then spends more time focusing on describing small, inconsequential details of each scene then he does working on the main mystery of the novel. The novel itself is also convoluted because there are multiple different characters following multiple different story lines.

Walk Shepherdess, Walk by Barrett Cobb

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Walk, Shepherdess WalkBarrett Cobb’s childhood was filled with literature and songs. As a young child one tune stayed with her, almost as a lilting lullaby.

Eleanor Farjeon wrote both the words and melody which were first published in Nursery Rhymes of London Town in 1916 and adopted by the American Girl Scouts evolving the little tune into a folk song reflecting to the world a different time, place, and culture for most of the world.

As with most folk songs, throughout the years the song has been modified slightly with the tune and alternative words. This book focuses on the original version. The book is based on a basic three-versed four-lined poem. Some of the vocabulary could be difficult depending on the past experiences of the readers. The story was written with sheep wandering through the nearby hills and uses words, not always commonly spoken in today’s city culture. Some words need to be introduced such as shepherdess, ebony, ram, ewe, fleece, wether, and shan’t. The book explains that a wether is a lead sheep which could be compared to the game Follow-the-Leader.

The music is beautifully performed by the author, Barrett Cobb and can be downloaded through the website listed in the book. The melody is an easy tune which quickly can be a haunting selection, staying with you for days. The simplistic tune is sung by Barrett, who has a beautiful, well-trained voice adding accompaniment harmonies, flute and piano into a memorable performance.

Twelve gorgeous watercolor paintings perfectly parallel the story in poem form as the story progressing reinforcing the poetic story.

After a few readings, it is easy for a young prereader or early reader to sing the melody as the pages are turned with the pictures reinforcing the words.

At the conclusion of the tale, a narrative explaining the poem assists in further demonstrating the theme being jealousy and how to appropriately recognize and turn this into a positive life lesson.

Barrett Cobb is a painter, singer, flutist and now a visual storyteller turning a childhood folk song is an enchanting life lesson for everyone.

Unsub: A Novel by Meg Gardiner

Reviewed by Allen Hott

UnsubThis is a very interesting, almost nerve-racking, story about a young female detective as she tries to learn about, find, and corral a demented man.
The man called the Unsub has returned to the San Francisco Bay area after a hiatus of 20 some years. On his first appearance he had terrorized the Bay area with his cryptic messages and killings. He also basically ruined a police officer both physically and mentally. This new young female detective, Caitlin Hendrix, is the daughter of that retired and fairly disabled police officer, Mack Hendrix.

Caitlyn basically grew up in a broken home as her mother was unable to cope with Mack’s mental condition after his encounter with the Unsub also known as the Prophet. Caitlyn however decided she wanted to be a police officer and worked her way onto the county’s Narcotics Force. One night while she was at home with her ATF policeman/boyfriend she got a call to report at once to a crime scene.

The River and the Ravages by J. M. Lawler

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The River and the RavagesThe River and the Ravages by J.M. Lawler touches on universal themes from a predominantly female perspective. This fiction-romance tells the story of a girl coming to terms with her true self, while being pulled in opposite directions by competing forces.

The core relationship explored by J.M. Lawler seems to be that between mother and daughter. Aaliya only felt truly understood by her mother, of whom’s recent passing threw the world off-balance. Freeing burning emotions is not something that comes naturally to her; instead she keeps the pain to fester inside. In her desperate desire to find a way to cope with a seemingly unbearable loss she recklessly throws herself in different directions, into the arms of a lover or into the hard labor of saddle making. The way to redemption and acceptance is crookedly paved, but this makes the journey all the more interesting and relatable.

Trial by Fire: A Novel of Suspense by J.A. Jance

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Trial by FireAli Reynolds is approached by Sheriff of the Yavapai County Police Department to become his media relations consultant. She had just recently moved back to Sedona, Arizona after losing her job as an anchor in Los Angeles. She not only lost her job but decided to lose her husband who she had found to be cheating on her. She was in good enough financial shape to do whatever she wanted and decided to do it in her hometown. She was startled by the sheriff’s offer but she decided to take it because it sounded like a challenge and something that fit her background well.

She didn’t know that one of the problems she was going to face was a battle going on in the department between two rival unions. However that really is just a small part of this entire story. Within the first week she is able to get news out about an old farmer who busted two guys for rustling Cacti! Yes it is actually against the law to take certain cacti from the desert. Her boss was extremely happy with the way she handled the story and the next step up for her was even bigger.