Thursday, 30 July 2015

Book review - For Mercie's Sake, by Sharon Srock

This charming story is the most utterly heartwarming thing I've read all year. I'm not going to spoil other readers' experiences by saying too much, but the writing is smoothly competent and the characters engaging. The scenario is believable too, and all in all it's a lovely piece of work, both viewed as Christian literature and just as a nice read. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. 

For Mercie's Sake is available from AMAZON and SMASHWORDS.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Book review - Callie, by Sharon Srock

This charming story follows the fortunes of a teenaged single mother as she struggles to bring up her baby and small sister. Meanwhile, a widowed father searches desperately for his lost daughters and an elderly woman fights emotional trauma.

The characters are sympathetic and engaging, the writing smooth, and altogether it is a charming and delightful read.

My one criticism was that I felt the action in the second half of the book was a little rushed. It would all, I thought, have been more believable if the events had stretched over a year or so, or even six months. This rushing of emotional resolutions is something I often encounter in Christian fiction, and it is possible that it arises in part from the nature of the genre; certainly a speedy resolution is a powerful illustration of God working in people's lives, and yet I did feel the story would have worked better overall with the action more drawn out.

Overall, though, a fine piece of work which I enjoyed very much.

Callie is available from AMAZON and SMASHWORDS.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Book review: Frosted Shadow, by Nancy Warren

Devotees of Stephanie Plum will love this first book in the Toni Diamond Mystery series. It is as if Stephanie Plum had mated with Bubbles Yablonski to bring you a kick-arse down-to-earth, self-made, working-class, cosmetics-obsessed amateur detective. It's a lot of fun.

Warren is best known for romance, but this book classifies better as crime. I enjoyed it so much and look forward to the rest of the series.

Frosted Shadow, along with the rest of the Toni Diamond Mysteries, is available in both kindle and paperback editions at AMAZON.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Book review - Passing Through Darkness & Other Poems, by Roger Cowin

In his iconoclastic collection, Roger Cowin has addressed pretty well every aspect of human existence. The poems are well crafted and some are powerfully moving.

Among my personal favourites were An Autobiography, with its trenchant comment on stereotyping, Pearls and Swine, doing the same for capitalism, the playful Doctor's Orders, Bedlam, and The End of Poetry, and the closing poem, the delightful Disclaimer.

Not all of the poems were equally successful. I did feel that Jellicat Jones missed its mark. It would have been wiser, I felt, to avoid the attempt to emulate one of our greatest poets. The Old Days, on the other hand, did have a genuinely Eliotish flavour about it.

Overall, a lovely collection, but rather marred by careless proofreading. Homophone errors, punctuation gaffes and several instances of the egregious intransitive 'lay' detracted from the reader's experience.

Passing Through Darkness & Other Poems is available in both ebook and paperback form from AMAZON.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Book review: Labors of Love, by Ray Anselmo

This small collection of three love stories is not the usual fare offered by romance writers. There's no 'LURVE'. No one-glance-across-a-crowded-room fatal attractions. No rippling abs. No unnaturally-coloured emerald green or purple eyes. No fancy undies getting ripped off.

These stories are about actual love, real love. The kind that can actually happen, with rare good fortune and a lot of work, between grown-up men and women. Each in its own way, the stories celebrate the mature, adult love between married people.

Readers of Anselmo's work will have come to expect smooth competence, deft plot construction and textured, believable characters, so I shan't say anything about the technical aspects of the work other than to remark that it's well up to his usual standard. But the adventurousness of these stories in a culture that's come to equate 'romance' with cheap porn raises a white flag of excellence amid a bloody battlefield of crud that I found utterly inspiring. 

Labors of Love is available on AMAZON.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Book review: The One Grapes, by Joseph Picard

This incredibly witty and fun book was created out of drawings done by the author, who having to spend two painful and distressing months in hospital, amused himself by working up funny pictures based on the hospital food.

Just this courageous and gallant response to horribly bad times deserves the full five stars. How many people greet adversity with this kind of cheerful, generous attitude? And then, being a writer, he made a book out of it.

Those who've encountered Mr Picard's other work won't be surprised that it's a great piece of work. But the sheer funniness of it. The drawings are very, very clever and well executed. And these have not been produced on a drawing board with fine artist's materials in a studio, but hurriedly sketched on bits of paper while lying in bed and photographed with a mobile phone, quickly before the lady came to take away the tray.

I am in awe, both at the attitude to life which brought this creation out of adversity, with not a hint of whining or complaint, and at the talent which enabled it to happen. This book is a must for anyone going to hospital.

The One Grapes is available from AMAZON in both paperback and kindle format.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Book review - Sea Kissed, by Nancy Warren

It's light, it's fluffy, it's a very pleasant read. I did think it was a little short on conflict to be really exciting. Boy meets girl, they fancy each other, they shag, they decide to get married.... I think it would have been a better read with a bit more of an antagonist. All the large amount of space devoted to pointless descriptions of sexual activity could have been used to develop the plot in this way.

One thing, though, I really think deserves a mention, and that is Warren's depiction of her working-class Australian hero. Normally I cringe when I encounter an Australian in an American writer's book. But this one is done so well, so very well. We were not told the man's nationality, but it was immediately apparent within a few words, and so deftly done! This character was totally believable. You can meet men just like him in any working-class suburb in Australia. I was so impressed by this, as I do not think I have ever seen an Australian character depicted so well by an American writer. One would think Ms Warren a native of our country. Well done indeed, a fine piece of work.

Sea Kissed is part of the Crane series of novellas, and can be found on AMAZON.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015



I will shortly be releasing my short fiction collection, Once Upon A Dragon. This is a non-themed collection of my short fiction. The name is derived from the fact that four of the stories are about a dragon.

This collection crosses genres, including fantasy, science fiction and horror as well as general fiction. I'm not quite daring enough to say 'literary fiction', so I'll leave that to my fans.

I'd like to have a few reviews up before I release, so I am offering advance review copies to anyone who would like one. I can provide it in any ebook format.

Please message me if you'd like to have a review copy. Reviews can be posted here: GOODREADS

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Book review - Firebird's Snare, by Lynne Cantwell

This series is the ultimate in wish fulfillment as the Gods of all cultures join humanity in fixing climate change. If only it were true, I thought constantly as I read.

In this latest instalment of the Pipe Woman saga, we see the second generation heroes, Sage and Webb, journeying to the underworld to bring back the planet's stolen water. As always the action is smoothly paced, the characters, including the Gods, well drawn, and the background rich and complex. I never know whether I'm more in awe of the amount of research that must have gone into all these God characters from different mythologies, or the sheer chutzpah of using Jesus and Jehovah as characters.

This book felt a little shorter to me than the others in the series. I didn't measure the word count, so I am not sure whether the difference was real or merely apparent. It could have been simply that the story line is more single-threaded than in other books in the series. In any case, it provided the great read and satisfying conclusion I've come to expect from this author.

Firebird's Snare is available from AMAZON and SMASHWORDS.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Book review - Don't Ya Know, by Suzanne McLain Rosenwasser

Lovers of Steinbeck's Cannery Row books will be captivated by this original offering. Set over the first half of the twentieth century, the book chronicles life in that creature unknown to real life America, a truly multicultural community. It's a rambling, relaxed book that meanders down through the years, pausing here to spotlight a character, there to investigate an event, and  with its casual, gossipy tone the reader feels almost as if he is listening to gossip, or hearing Grandpa's reminiscences.

The book opens with a description of a series of odd events occurring in the community. As the years roll by and the plot develops, issues such as racism and religious bigotry are examined, and the book concludes with lovely symmetry where it started, with the strange events of the opening chapter now horribly understood. The overall message, however, is one of hope, and the flavour of the book was to me sharply evocative of the warm-hearted, multifarious denizens of Cannery Row. It's a beautiful book, and the teaser chapter of its sequel provided at the end has left me thirsting for more.

Don't Ya Know is available from AMAZON in both Kindle and paperback editions.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Book review: First Kiss, by Barbara Alfaro

Reading First Kiss, I did, of course, what I had promised myself that this time I wouldn't do. I devoured these poems in great, greedy gulps. I just couldn't stop.

These poems are really something special. The quiet, reflective tone of most of them produces searingly intense images and something of the timeless feeling of old, polished rooms. One feels that Alfaro, a true poet, has somehow distilled the essence of each thing she examined, to encapsulate it for our reading eyes.

And she knows dogs, how she knows dogs, as we see in the joyous chaos of Riley and Lulu.

First Kiss is available from AMAZON and SMASHWORDS.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Book review: The Amateur Authorpreneur, by Sarah Jane Butfield

I wasn't particularly impressed by this very tiny book. The author seems to know a great deal about Twitter, but overall there was a good deal of 'do this, do that' but very little 'how to', and given the marketing associated with the book, 'how to' was rather what one had expected.

Overall, I felt it had the air of something cobbled together in a hurry, like so many of these non-fiction self-pub offerings, in order to increase the number of titles on the author's Amazon page.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Book review - Dragon's Web, by Lynne Cantwell

Following on from the Land, Sea, Sky trilogy, Dragon's Web introduces a new generation to the saga that began with Seized. A new generation of characters, that is, for the original heroes have passed on the torch to their son and daughter, stepping back in true heroic style to the realm of legend.

As we have come to expect from Cantwell, the action is well paced, the characters believable and well established, and the book moves smoothly to a proper conclusion, while of course leaving the way open for the next book in the series.

Of all the independent authors I read, I do think Ms Cantwell is one of the most sheerly professional. One knows what one is getting with a Cantwell book - research meticulously done, and the work revised and polished.

Dragon's Web is available from AMAZON and SMASHWORDS.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Release announcement: Bound, by Cathy Jackson

Following up on my May review of Cathy Jackson's BROKEN, it's my pleasure to announce her upcoming release event for the latest book in this chain - BOUND.

Bound follows on from Broken, in which we saw the almost-Christian Evelyn and the lapsed but likable Jonathan fall madly in love. Here, a brief synopsis of the coming book, in hero Jonathan's own words:

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life that I wish I could take back. There’s been so much pain and hurt, all of which I have caused. I can only pray that God helps me to be a better man. A long time ago I knew who He was, but things happened and I walked away from Him. Now I am coming home, and I am not going to do it alone. I love Evelyn Miller, a woman of God who follows His ways. My prayer is that she would be mine, but first I have to be the man she deserves. I will go back to church, get a job, and procure a home to put down roots. My brothers will see the change in me, and I will earn their trust once again. I will be the man of God again. There will be a homecoming. If it is God’s Will, Evelyn will be mine.

The new book will be released on 29 August, and you can participate in the online launch event HERE.

Bound can be preordered from AMAZON US, AMAZON UK, Barnes and Noble, or iBooks.