Blog Archives

Dirty Sixth Street – Short Story Review

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Felipe1Felipe Adan Lerma is a prolific author, having written numerous books in IASDpicnumber of genres ranging from short thrillers, as reviewed here, to poetry, photography, travel, and many more. He is also a prolific book reviewer, contributing to a number of online Indie author review and writing groups as well as offering help and advice whenever and wherever he can. On a personal note he has also proved to be an invaluable and valued member of my Indie Author Support & Discussion Fb group and website of the same name, having blogged a number of posts in support of the IASD anthology You’re Not Alone in support of the cancer charity, Macmillan Nurses. 

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Click IASD thumbnail for website:           Click thumbnail for Felipe’s blog post.  

Dirty Sixth Street, Austin by Felipe Adan Lerma is the second of the author’s stories I have read and reviewed, the first being his novella One Night in the Hill Country

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       Click on thumbnail for link to Blog Review:  

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Amazon Blurb:

Part of a series of short stories, Texas Shorts.

“Dirty Sixth Street, Austin”

This short story is a first of several shorts.

My first story that takes six of my cast of characters in my fiction, the young cousins traveling and hanging around with each other, down into one of Austin’s most well known party streets.

Another first, is their involvement in a minor, but nevertheless, scary crime.

And a mystery, also of a sorts.

Besides the six children, Antone, Cherise, Simone, Tabitha, Buzz, and Zilker, two new characters, from Vermont, are introduced. Sam (Samantha) and her brother Matt. They’re adults. 🙂

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Dirty Sixth Street, Austin

By Felipe Adan Lerma

(Available from Amazon in eBook format)

5Starscropped
timberwolfamazonNice little thriller … Moves along at a cracking and entertaining pace. By Rudders on January 10, 2016

FelipedirtysixthstreetAnother short thriller from Felipe Adan Lerma but again one that packs a lot more into it than the relatively short word count would suggest. In his writing, the author strips away every superfluous word of needless padding, once again putting me in mind of Hemmingway. What’s left is a short hard-hitting thriller that moves along at a cracking and entertaining pace.

For a short story there are more than the usual two or the three characters, in this case there being six young cousins as well as police officer and child advocate Sam (Samantha) and her geeky brother Matt. At a little under eight thousand words the author manages well to bring to life the settings and busy atmosphere in which the story unfolds. The central character, Sam, is visiting Austin, Texas, to attend a law enforcement conference and job interview. Right from the start there are hints at Sam’s background, and some of the traumatic events she’s witnessed in the past. To relax and get away from things, she goes for walk in the evening along the busy Sixth Street. During that walk she encounters a group of six children of varying ages, the youngest being a boy of about eight who happens to be crying at the time. It turns out there have been a recent spate of robberies, one of which involves the children; being a police officer, and one particularly interested on the effects of crime on children, she sets about her own investigations, getting to know the children better along the way.

Another aspect of the author’s writing that impresses is the authentic characterisation and dialogue of the children and their interation with the adult police officer, Sam; quite often when writing children’s dialaogue, it can be difficult to get it just right or believable but the author succeeds in this area better than most, especially given the varying ages of the children in the story, a testament possibly to the author’s own extensive family background and interaction with his own children and grand children. The writing is actually quite enchanting, and though a thriller that doesn’t shy away from reality and the criminal undertones of the story, it does not rely on excessive violence, making it a suitable story for reading across most age groups and tastes.

An engaging and quick read, and one that will particularly appeal to fans of the crime, thriller, and short story genres. I won’t say more other than that as well as enjoying the story you may feel the urge to eat a spicy taco too… Why? You’ll have to read ther story to discover that ….

 

Author Profile:

Born and raised in Texas, and now a young senior living in Vermont, his wife Sheila’s home state, Adan brings a gentle infusion of yoga and fitness to bear on life long interests in writing, painting, dance, photography, and the arts in general.

Determined to learn about the ideas of Western Culture that have informed our civilization, Adan put himself through college with the help of his GI Bill benefits. More recently, he has added certifications in fitness and yoga.

His self stated mission on his website, reads, “a Beginner’s View : Integrating Yoga Fitness and the Arts.”.

NEW: Over 50 titles available FREE in Kindle Unlimited.

Fiction, photography, poetry. Family, mystery, and (new) thriller fiction. Set in Austin Texas, Paris, and Vermont.

Images and poetry from all three locations.

 

Further links to the authors numerous novels and poetry collections can be found at:

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www.felipeadanlerma.com 

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https://twitter.com/FelipeAdanLerma

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Felipe Adan Lerma’s Amazon Author page

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And lastly, a few words from Felipe Adan Lerma himself …

As the oldest of six, a father of three, and a grandfather of five, and married over thirty years, I believe, in writing stories and poems, I’ve found a perfect outlet for my years of living.

I have been writing and creating pictures since high school in the sixties, and began writing more seriously in the late 70s and early 80s.

One of my more recent surprises has been to read a definition of Romance that seems to generally fit the majority of both my poetry and fiction: a central story involving the relationship of two people, and a generally optimistic and satisfying ending.

With that revelation, I now view Romance fiction in a whole new light. 😉

But if I had to give one word about most of my fiction and poetry, and even my images, it’s relationships.

The interactions of people, especially couples and among family, seem to have the strongest hold on me. That would also help explain why even in my poetry about teachers and nurses and others, it is the relationship aspect that usually is my focus.

The Processing my Fiction series on my site has more detailed specific articles that might be of interest.
http://felipeadanlerma.com/category/areas/arts-area/fiction/processing-my-fiction/

 I hope you can take advantage of the half dozen or so titles I offer free for downloads, and will also consider and enjoy my other work. Thanks so much!

Sincerely,
Felipe Adan Lerma

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Blood Ties: Language In The Blood (Book 2) – Book Review

angelaimageAnother book from the members of the Indie Author Support and Discussion Fb group, this time a humorous book from the vampire genre by group inadmoorepicmember Angela Lockwood. This will be the second book of Angela’s books I’ve read and reviewed, the first being an anthology of short stories that she co-authored with Elspeth Morrison. Apart from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this is the first vampire book I’ve read since then. This particular book is actually book 2 of a series, but one that that stands equally well as a stand-alone book. In addition to her own books, Angela Lockwood has had one of her short stories featured in the highly acclaimed Indie Author charity anthology You’re Not Alone.

Angela Lockwood-van der Klauw was born in the Netherlands. She learned her trade as There she met and later married her husband Adam. Angela ran her own jeweller’s shop in Edinburgh for ten years before she and her husband moved to the south of France in 2011. Angela prefers the climate there, but often thinks about the town she left behind and its people.

Angela started writing in the spring of 2013, a very wet spring during which she found herself climbing the walls, frustrated that she couldn’t go out and have her usual long walks along the seafront. Seeing his wife’s frustration, Adam suggested ‘Why don’t you write a book?’ Angela thought about it for a few days, then switched on her laptop and started writing. She published her first book ‘Language in the Blood’ in August 2013.

Further links to Angela Lockwood’s writing can be found at:

Angela Lockwood’s Amazon Author page:

Blog: http://languageintheblood.blogspot.fr

Website: http://www.cruftslover.adzl.com

Fb: https://www.facebook.com/CruftsloverAkaCameronBlair

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Blood Ties: Language In The Blood (Book 2)

By Angela Lockwood

(Available from Amazon Kindle)

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AngelaBook2This is one of those books that gets off to a flying start, really drawing you in from the very first page. Our principal character, a Scottish vampire by the name or Cameron, finds himself in the unlikely scenario of having to explain his existence and circumstances to the French police authorities. Right from the start the book begins to live up to the author’s claim of ‘comedy with bite…’ The central character Cameron Blair has lived for over a century, living off the blood of both humans and animals to survive, much as you might expect of a vampire – but that’s as about as far as any similarity to the traditional image of the evil blood sucking stereotype goes. What the author has done here is provide the reader with a humorous and satirical exploration of just what else it takes for a vampire to survive through the ages, i.e. earning a living, interacting with humans, sex and romance, and a host of other circumstances and practicalities you wouldn’t normally associate with a vampire; although committing a host of crimes over the course of a century our vampire here also displays some remarkably human tendencies and virtues, some to his advantage, and others to his detriment such as loyalty to a human friend which is what leads to the situation he finds himself at the beginning of the book.

Although this is the second of the two books the author has written in this vampire series, it reads just as well as a stand-alone book, and not once did I find myself confused at not having read the first book (yet). I also liked the first person point of view, which I must say is not a style of writing I often like in a full length novel but one which works extremely well in this instance, giving the reader a thorough insight into Cameron’s mind and rather skewed sense of logic and morality; since there is no jumping from one character or location to another the story flows in a mostly linear and easy to follow fashion. Cameron’s ‘inner narrative’ provides just as comprehensive a view of the wider picture as might be achieved had the author chosen to write in the third person, and the way Cameron deals with people is the perfective vehicle for the author’s humour here – referring to his blood sucking activities as breakfast and feeding, the reference to blood that’s been processed to prevent clotting not tasting as good as fresh blood, his dislike of cat’s blood, and fear of getting rabies when he once drank from a fox are just a few examples of when you just can’t help but laugh. In many ways, Cameron is like a vampire version of E.W. Hornung’s gentleman cat burglar Raffles, sharing the latter’s charm and debonair persona, and yet like the former, doing what he has to do to survive and get by, with possibly just a bit of the amoral serial killer Dexter thrown in the mix.

A very funny and entertaining take on the more traditional vampire genre, and just as the author describes it as comedy with bite, I’d say definitely a huge helping of humour with the horror in this one… great book.

 

Angela Lockwood’s works: click on thumbnails for Amazon links

 

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Book Review – The Third Servant

mikeBI rarely use such reviewing clichés as blew me away, but such words would not have been out of place in the following review. Michael Billington is another member from my Fb Indie Author Support & Discussion group, and the author of several highly acclaimed books, of which details and links appear following my review of The Third Servant.

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The quality of the author’s writing comes as no surprise given his extensive journalistic background, having investigated and reported on stories from all around the world, and indeed the quality of his own prolific book reviews.

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Michael Billington spent nearly a half century as a reporter covering stories around the world and across the United States including Operation Desert Storm, the Rwandan Civil War, hurricanes Hugo, Andrew, Katrina and Rita as well as the Love Canal environmental disaster and the 9/11 airline crash near Shanksville, Pa. During his career he earned more than 40 awards including the Brotherhood Medal of the National Conference of Christians and Jews for an undercover investigation of white-power extremists and the Southern Journalism Award for Investigative Reporting for a series he co-authored exposing police abuses of Florida’s Contraband Forfeiture Act. He also received several awards for a lengthy series on infant mortality in Delaware. An Army veteran who spent two tours in Vietnam, his awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. In addition, he was twice decorated by the Vietnamese government. Given his background, it’s not surprising that he writes in a wide variety of genres from Steampunk to mystery and even historical fiction.

A percentage of the author’s royalties are regularly donated to the Home Of The Brave Veteran’s charity in Delaware in the US, details of which can be found at their website below:

http://homeofthebravefdn.org/

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Further links to Michael Billington and his writing can be found at:

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Michael Billington’s Amazon Author page:

www.twitter/com.Billington_Book

Michael Billington’s Goodread Blog:

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The Third Servant  

By Michael Billington

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 (Available in eBook & paperback from Amazon)

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thirdsevantThis is a story based on and then reinterpreted and expanded from a simple parable taken from the book of Matthew in the New Testament of the bible. Without going into the meaning of the parable, this is a clever idea for a story, speculating on what might have happened to a servant following his dismissal having displeased his Master, much like what might have happened to Heathcliff in the missing years whilst he was away from Wuthering Heights. The principal character, the servant Ezra, does not immediately engender the reader’s sympathy, and would appear to deserve all his initial misfortunes, having made no effort to increase his Master’s wealth when given the opportunity, and his less than honourable actions flowing his dismissal from his Master’s house. What follows is a series of adventures that takes Ezra across much of the known world of the time: from his Judean homeland as far as India and Afghanistan, and then back through the Roman Empire on his return, where the story comes full circle. Interwoven in this series of adventures we meet a wide and varied cast of esoteric characters ranging from reformed warriors, female gladiators, foreign emperors and kings, and the highest of Roman nobility along with poor to name but a few. Several of these adventures highlight the harshness and apparent barbarity of the times but what also shines through are the many moments of justice, kindness, nobility, honour and courage that were also prevalent, giving much of the book a heart-warming and feel-good factor to it. Another aspect I enjoyed as much as the story itself was not just watching the story unfold as it were, but also watching the growth and maturing of Ezra as a man as he seeks to discover what purpose God has decreed for him; but this isn’t just the story of a man with some god given mission and path to follow – Ezra might well indeed have some greater purpose to his life but he is no empty vassel for it, often having to rely on his judgement and courage to fulfil any such plan.

Throughout the book the author demonstrates a good knowledge and understanding of the period in which the story takes place, namely during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius and in and around the years surrounding the death of Jesus, with just the right balance of intelligent speculative poetic license to drive the story forward. The narrative and dialogue have a certain biblical formality to them that pays homage to the original text of the parable but nonetheless works very well, giving the story added authenticity and a real sense of the time in which events take place, but not so much so that the reader feels they’re reading an historical account or history of the times. It’s hard to pin down this book into any one genre, combining as it does, action, adventure, political intrigue, religion, and a host of elements, but what I can say, it is one of the most well written and highly original ideas for a story I’ve read in a very long time, and one that engrossed me from start to finish.

Further titles by Michael Billington: Click on thumbnails for Amazon links:

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Larry Flynn – Book Review

 

maxblogpicLarry Flynn by Max Power is another title that came to my attention via facebook, twitter, and the growing number of positive reviews it has quickly accumulated. Having already enjoyed and reviewed Darkly Wood by Max Power I had no hesitation in adding this new one to my reading list.

Max Power has written several books including Darkly Wood, Bad Blood, and Little Big Boy. Originally from Dublin he currently resides in Maynooth in Kildare Ireland with his family, and following the huge success of Darkly Wood, is currently working on its sequel.

As well as being an author, Max Power is a prolific book reviewer, blogger, and regular contributor to a number of Indie Author Support Fb groups, Goodreads, and other assorted social media, and is fast establishing himself as major name in Indie publishing.

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Further information on Max Power and links to his writing can be found at:

http://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com/

Max Power’s Amazon Author page:

www.facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

www.twitter.com/maxpowerbooks1

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Larry Flynn

By Max Power

(Available in eBook and paperback from Amazon)

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Larry Flynn isn’t your usual doddering old fella but one harbouring a hidden past filled with tragedy, drama, and secrets of epic proportions. He certainly isn’t a nice old man; in fact he comes across as a thoroughly dislikeable and heartless bitter old man without a single redeeming virtue to his name – whether this is due to circumstances, the fact that he’s slowly dying and knows it or simply his nature is for the reader to discover and decide for themselves, but what they will also discover along the way is a cleverly constructed story that starts off in a sedate but intriguing way, hinting at a horrific progression.

Quite early on the author makes it clear that Larry Flynn has a hidden and sinister agenda, and one in which a pretty young girl plays a major part, giving rise to all sorts of gory speculation, but as anyone who has read any of Max Power’s books before will know, it’s never wise to jump to any obvious conclusions. Set in Dublin, much of the narrative and dialogue pays homage to the locality, utilising some of the local dialect to give a real feel for the characters and place, but keeping the balance just right so as not to distract or confuse any readers not familiar with the Irish accent or terminology. The dialogue is authentic, switching effortlessly between the characters to give each their own distinctive voice, bringing each of them to life with every word, thought and action. There are some lengthy narratives at times, but expertly interwoven into the dialogue and action sequences, providing the framework for the unfolding story.

In its simplest terms, this is a story of one old man’s obsessional need for revenge, and he’s prepared to go to any lengths to get it. When a young girl provides the opportunity for Larry to put his plans into action, things quickly escalate beyond his control, que the arrival of host of other characters he hadn’t allowed for: a ruthless Dublin crime boss, some nasty associates of the crime boss even more objectionable than Larry Flynn himself, a couple of equally ruthless US security special forces, and the US ambassador. What emerges is a story spanning the past seventy years; a conspiracy involving the Catholic Church, a soldier who knows too much, a shady high ranking Nazi, the smuggling of a Nazi fortune, and the Fuhrer himself – these may sound like the typical ingredients of a thriller but without giving too much away, those elements really are just the surface of this intriguing story of political ambition, murder, rape, kidnap, and a determination to safeguard a terrible secret. Another fine piece of writing from Max Power.

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Further titles by Max Power: click on thumbnails for Amazon links –

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Goin Postal – Book Review

rhodapicAnother prolific book reviewer and facebook group activist in her own right, it gives me great pleasure to present my first review of one of her books, Goin Postal & The Creek by Rhoda D’Etorre…

Rhoda D’Ettore was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, into a family of 5 siblings–which has provided her with plenty of comical material. She began working at the United States Postal Service at 25 years old, and over the past 15 years has accumulated many humorous stories about situations that the public never gets to know about. Her first eBook, “Goin’ Postal: True Stories of a U.S. Postal Worker” was so popular that readers requested it in paperback. Recently, she published the humorous “Goin’ Postal” in paperback along with another story entitled, “The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive”. Combining these two into one book may seem strange, as one is humorous and the other is a heart wrenching historical fiction, however, doing so proves to the reader Rhoda D’Ettore’s versatility. 

Rhoda D’Ettore received her degree in Human & Social Services while working at USPS, has travelled extensively, and loves history. Over the years she has volunteered for several community service organizations, including fostering abused and neglected dogs for a Dalmatian rescue.

Further links to Rhoda D’Etorre’s wring can be found at:

Rhoda D’Etorre’s Amazon Author page:

https://bobandval.wordpress.com/

http://www.rhodadettore.com/

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Goin Postal & The Creek

Rhoda D’Ettore

(Available as an eBook, paperback, and as an audio book from Amazon)

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RhodapostalI first decided to read this book out of curiosity of the cover and the two different titles listed there, probably not the best of reasons I know but what a little gem it turned out to be. Here you get two very different stories for the price of one, the first being a series of side splitting snapshots and anecdotes of the author’s time working in the US postal service, and in the second story, The Creek, the reader is treated to a delightful family and local history of stories from in and around a creek in New Jersey dating back to the American civil war to the present.

In Goin Postal, the author takes us through the trials and tribulations of being a temporary and then permanent worker in the postal service; it’s not so much a story in the conventional sense but more a collection of memories and hilarious anecdotes loosely linked via an amazing array of characters in the form of her fellow workers. Her colleagues are every bit as varied and funny as the anecdotes themselves, ranging from traumatised Vietnam war veterans, a mad forklift driver chasing the white devils, a big hearted bisexual supervisor, and a Russian history buff, not to mention Aunt Gertrude and a bigoted Nigerian. Despite the racial and cultural diversity reflecting the huge melting part of immigrants that made America the country it is today, for the most part they all get along as one giant though often somewhat dysfunctional family. The author’s time with the postal service starts with the time consuming FBI checks for her employment, but once passing them she finds herself immersed in a truly mad and chaotic workplace, filled with its very own sub cultures including betting on who will be the next person to go on a shooting spree, or ‘goin postal’ as it might be called, dodgy dvd and arms sales, and a host of other ‘have to be there’ to be believed scenarios. The characters and language are as colourful as you can imagine, reflecting the working class diversity and backgrounds of the postal workers. The day to day humdrum of the work is punctuated with numerous pranks and hilarity, not to mention the bizarre situations that arise from the many strange things people try to send through the post, a severed head being among them, but despite the seeming madness of the workplace, in the true tradition of the Pony Express, underpinning the chaos is the workers’ determination that the post will go out no matter what, even amid the security and horror of 9/11. The writing is sharp and witty, and in a style that perfectly complements of the comedy of what the author is describing, and for anyone who has worked in a menial shift environment will certainly be able to identify with much of the humour, and probably recognise similar characters from their own work places.

In The Creek the writing and subject matter takes a surprisingly more poignant direction; the reader initially encounters what at first impression comes across as a truly heart-warming and delightful tale of love and romance set against the backdrop of the civil war, only to have that perception completely turned its head. The reader is then transported through a succession of stories carrying on from the first, taking the reader through the depression of the 30s, prohibition, two world wars, and the civil rights struggle, to almost the present day, covering love and romance, murder, bigotry, the Black Panther movement, and even ghostly apparitions. Although the stories through the decades take very different turns, they retain the creek as a sort of anchor connecting them all, and eventually conclude in such a way as to tie them all together really well. As I’ve said, the writing and content in the Creek is somewhat different, but still retains an entertaining story telling style throughout. Goin Postal and the Creek might seem like an odd combination at first but they subtly complement one another; whereas as in the former in its portrayal of the incredible diversity the author has presented a snapshot of American society as a whole, so too in the latter, she has presented the reader with an entertaining portrayal of how America has evolved to what it is today.

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 More titles from Rhoda D’Ettore: click on thumbnails for Amazon links:

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The Final Box – Book Review

Matthew1Matthew Williams’ The Final Box is the third anthology of short stories I’ve read and reviewed from this author.

Such was my admiration for his short stories, I was delighted to be allowed to include two of them as guest contributions in my own debut anthology of short stories… Not What You Thought? and other surprises

 

Matthew Williams is a new and aspiring young writer who has been writing ever since he can remember. Like myself, he is a great fan of ‘twist in the tale’ stories, and tries to include them in his own writing. In his spare time he is working on a number new writing projects, including a new children’s book, and a Young Adult (YA) novel.

Further links to Matthew Williams and his writing can be found at: 

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Matthew Williams’ Amazon Author page:

www.twitter.com/williamsmatthe5

Author Matthew Williams Fb group:

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The Final Box

By Matthew williams

(Available from Amazon Kindle)

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mw1This is the third of this author’s short story anthologies I’ve read and reviewed, and once again I’ve not been disappointed in my expectations. Not every story worked for me in quite the same way as in the two previous anthologies but having said that, one of the things that impressed me here was seeing the way the author has taken his stories in different directions rather than relying on a tried and trusted formula in serving more of the same; whereas all of the author’s previous stories were humorously light-hearted with a definite twist at the end, some of the ones here are more abstract and open ended. A couple of the stories did leave me wondering at the end, but never was I failed to be entertained. As always though, I found I had finished the book all too quickly, and especially given the more abstract tone here, felt a longer collection would have been in order. Having said that, every story was well written and equally well crafted, and anyone who has read the author’s previous works will I think see a certain maturing in his writing, and a willingness to venture into new territory. Matthew Williams is a writer who is equally adept at making the reader laugh as he is at pulling the heart strings, and as I’ve seen here, getting the reader thinking, and I enjoyed the new direction he has taken in this latest anthology.

Another very entertaining collection, and one I would highly recommend to flash fiction fans as well as those of the more traditional short story.

Matthew Williams’ previous short story anthologies – click on thumbnails for details:

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* Two stories by Matthew Williams also featured in my own debut anthology:

Not What you Thought

The Inlooker – Book Review

terrytumblerAnother book from within the ranks of my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group.. The Inlooker, by Terry Tumbler.

Terry Tumbler, like myself, is one of our more ‘mature’ members, having taken up writing relatively late in life when time and circumstances made it possible. Now retired, Terry Tumbler currently lives in Spain with his wife. Prior to his current writing endeavours, he spent the greater part of his working career in the computer and I.T. industries. In addition to the Inlooker, Terry tumbler is the author of several other comic Sci-Fi novels, details of which can be found at both his website and Amazon Author page. 

Further links to the author and his writing can be found at:

http://www.terrytumbler.com/

Terry Tumbler’s Amazon Author page:

http://terrytumbler.blogspot.co.uk/

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The Inlooker

 By Terry Tumbler

(Available from Amazon)

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terry1Although primarily a science fiction book with many traditional science fiction themes, there are all sorts of other elements thrown in the mix too: sharp political satire and intrigue, comic and dark humour, and a host of funny yet chillingly accurate observations of the world we live in. The main premise of the book is a man who has the ability to look into and subjugate the will or ‘soul’ of others – whilst not an entirely new concept in the world of science fiction, or indeed other genres, its treatment here is both funny and original, and at times, bordering on the comically distasteful; the central character, upon learning of his newfound abilities, does little to ingratiate himself with the reader, initially choosing to use his abilities to gratify some of his own baser instincts and sexual fantasies, along with inflicting his own unique brand of vigilante justice on several wrong-doers his abilities lead him to – In fact, Thomas Beckton actually comes across as quite dislikeable, and never truly progresses to the point where the reader can or might want to identify with him in the traditional ‘hero of the story’ sense, but neither is he one that the reader find it in their hearts to wholly reject either. In many respects, our central character is somewhat of an anti-hero; with his god-like abilities and power to shape world events, he is remarkably unassuming most of the time, quietly (and not so quietly on occasion) shaping and directing mankind’s future, quite ruthlessly when called for, and with a quite chilling disregard at times for those he is manipulating, yet still retaining a semblance of humanity about him.

The narrative is well written, and although written in the third person, perfectly matches the tone and feel of the central character, giving much of the book a sort of first person feel to it, but without any of the restrictions that come with such a perspective. Likewise with the dialogue – sharp, witty, and often quite caustic in its observations, but always complementary and wholly in tune with, and effortlessly interwoven into the narrative. This is definitely a book where the author’s voice and I suspect much of his own character, really shines through on every page and in every word and idea within the book.

If I had but one minor criticism it would be the author’s use of an explanatory introduction to each part of the three parts of the book, sign-posting as it were what’s to follow – I know this is a popular and often effective writing technique but personally I feel it to be unnecessary here, that the strength and clarity of the author’s writing allows the story to unfold quite naturally without the need for any such artificial pointers.

My overall rating for this book would be on the plus side of 4.5 stars, the slight deduction being on account of the unnecessary introductions as already referred to, but apart from that, I found this to be a highly original and indeed funny take on some traditional science fiction themes; the author’s treatment of aliens and their technology, spacecraft, and extra ordinary abilities and powers, was reminiscent of say Douglas Adam’s Hitch Hiker’s Guide or Grant Naylor’s Red Dwarf writing, but without trying to imitate in any way, creating its own unique and refreshing comic sci-fi style with added touches of Jonathan Swift’s political satirical style thrown in. If you like your science fiction a little zany with a touch of sharp humour, definitely worth a look!

Further works by Terry Tumbler:

Santiago Tales

Seb Cage Begins his Adventures

Magic Carpets, Turkish Carpets

The Rough & Tumbles Of Early Years

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Henchmen – Book Review

Eric1This is a book that has been on my tbr list for some time now; for some reason the cover and the title just didn’t prompt me to pay it much attention, but seeing the increasing number of good reviews it was getting from within my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group I thought it was high time I gave it a closer look. In addition to being an active contributor to a number of online review groups and a regular blogger, a he is also a programmer, a database engineer, and Kenpo practitioner. He enjoys martial arts, coding, and of course, writing. Henchmen is his first novel, and he has written a sequel to this called ‘Arise.’

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Further links to Eric Lahti and his writing can be found at:

www.ericlahti.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/EricLahtiAuthor

www.ericlahti.com

Eric Lahti’s Amazon Author page:

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Henchmen

By Eric Lahti

(Available in eBook format from Amazon)

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HenchmenWhere do I start with this one? This is a full-on action thriller that throws in elements of Sci-Fi, mysterious aliens, the supernatural, and a body count not seen since the days of the great flood. The Henchmen are a varied group of guys and gals you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of; led by a seven foot bullet-proof Amazonian blond bombshell, this assortment of characters possess both the will and the skills to literally change the world. Anyone expecting a typical macho ex-military commando type outfit will be pleasantly surprised; apart from Eve, their super humanly strong and virtually invulnerable leader, among the Henchmen there is the latest addition to the group, a drop dead gorgeous kick boxing ex-nude model, Jessica, who doesn’t think twice about killing someone in the most brutal of ways when circumstances demand, computer and security system hackers gay couple Frank and Jean, Jacob the gun mad biker, and last of all, Steven the narrator.

Despite their propensity to violence and a desire to kill off the entire American Congress, you can’t help but like every last one of the Henchmen. The book completely turns on its head the idea of good and bad guys; the violent chaos causing Henchmen are superb in their role as sympathetic super villains, while the American Government is clearly cast in a bad light. Some of the background plot, and just what it is the Henchmen hoped to achieve was a little light on detail at times, but then again, any attempt to elaborate there might well have slowed down the pace; there’s plenty of explosive action, fighting, fire-fights, and realistic and accurate weaponry and computer security detail to give the book authenticity in these areas, but not so much as to bog the story down in such detail. Given the unusual nature of some of the characters and the mixture of genres, the reader does have to suspend disbelief to some extent, but you’re so engrossed in the moment of what’s happening you rarely give it a second thought.

Written in the first person from the perspective of Steven, the author manages to give the narrative a real sense of character and a distinct ‘voice.’ By making the narrator a close ‘member of the team’ so to speak, the author managed to combine the intimacy of this point of view with the sort of overview usually associated with a third person perspective, yet still providing the opportunity for some sharp and witty humour and satire by way of Steven’s own thoughts and observations of those about him; the author’s ability to lampoon and caracature the male psyche was as funny and sharp as I’ve read in a long-time.

Following a literary roller coaster ride of combat and fire-fights leading to a literal world changing finale, the author nicely rounds up the conclusion, giving a brief post-script to the characters. I did think that some aspects of the cataclysmic conclusion were a little vague, and there are lots of unanswered questions about the characters, in particular the Amazonian like, Eve, but given there’s a sequel, one imagines much of this may well have been intentional. Overall I was kept hooked from start to finish, laughing out loud at times, and gasping for breath at others. Will I be reading said sequel? Absolutely!

Sequel to Henchmen – Click on thumbnail for details:

Arise

Authors helping authors…

As some of you may have noticed that apart from my recent review of a short story, I’ve been somewhat quiet on the reviewing and blogging front. Without going into specifics, some health concerns have diverted my attention elsewhere over the past few months but am happy to say I’ll now be returning more of my attention and efforts to one of my enjoyable pastimes, namely that of writing and reviewing.

Book reviews, particularly for the Indie and self-published author are the lifeblood of such writers, but for the relatively unknown or debut author, such reviews can be frustratingly elusive. As we all know, there are already numerous review exchange groups on Fb, many of which list their numbers in the thousands, but with such numbers posts are often consigned to history as minutes later endless more requests and posts are made before they can be responded to.

I know many authors who are only too happy to read and review other’s work, and with this in mind I’ve recently created a second WordPress blog, http://www.indieauthorreviewexchange.com and an accompanying Fb group of the same name. Where I hope to be more effective than some of the other online equivalents, is by deliberately keeping the two smaller in membership, and with the accompanying wordpress blog there will be no reason for book links to be lost amid a plethora of subsequent Fb posts, enabling members to browse at their leisure other member’s books listed on the different ‘Genre’ Pages on the Wp site and if they wish, they can contact them via the accompanying Fb group.

I will still continue to post book reviews and the occasional short story, articles, and other miscellaneous posts and reblogs here on echoesofthepen, but I’ve quoted below from the About page my other new blog some further explanation as to why I’ve created these additional sites… I hope some of you will find them useful…

 

I’ve created the Indie Author Review Exchange WordPress site and its sister Facebook group of the same name (see links at bottom of page) to promote mutual support among independent writers and authors by way of reading and providing honest and informative reviews of each other’s books. It’s all too easy to assume that a great book will be widely read and reviewed on it’s merits alone, but unfortunately, being a good writer doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with being a good marketeer, promoter, or publicist, and for that reason, I believe a lot of very good books aren’t getting the attention and readership they deserve. My hope is that as the number of members grows, that each member will read and review other members’ books, as well as passing on recommendations for other independently published books they may have read.

If as a member of the accompanying Fb group, you feel your book doesn’t fit into any of the genres listed, please email me with a suggestion for a new category for it to be included in (email listed in pinned post in Fb group). Likewise to other authors who blog on wordpress and elsewhere, feel free to take a look at our Fb group to see if you’d be interested in joining for inclusion on this site too.

In addition, there will be links and reblogs of many other Wp bloggers, book reviewers, and shortlyn in the near future, a Resources for Writers page (listed under Categories on right hand side) with links to various other sites, blogs, and posts that might be of use to aspiring writers and authors, and secondly, another page with links to various publishing sites that may prove useful…

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Book Reviews

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/exchangereviews/

Reviewexchange

WordPress: http://www.indieauthorreviewexchange.com

Twist in the Tale – Book review (& ebook article)

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Twist In The Tale, by Mathew Williams (available on Amazon kindle)

A great little collection of short stories, each with an unexpected ending that surprises or makes you smile, or both. There’s a nice variety of stories here, from the heart-warming to the slightly dark, so the reader is never quite sure what they’ll be getting next, but is never disappointed. One particular story, ‘Only Make Believe’ was as gentle and heart-warming as is hard to imagine, and, without giving anything away, the final line brought as wide a smile to my face as I can remember.

If I had to make one tiny criticism, and it’s nothing to do with my enjoyment, it would be that I would have preferred a slightly more informative description in the amazon blurb as there really isn’t enough grab the ‘potential’ reader’s attention. And on a purely selfish note, I would have liked a few more stories to make for a longer read. Well worth reading…

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 Ebook & Self-Publishing?  Some personal thoughts on the matter…

Despite its success, the whole ebook and amazon kindle phenomenon has not been without its critics, and concerns about its effects on the more traditional publishing industry. It’s true that the advent of the internet and the rapid expansion of free or relatively inexpensive self-publishing via Amazon, Smashwords, blogging, and a host of others has resulted in a lot of, shall we say, ‘less than professional’ writing to be made available.

Proponents of traditional publishing might well argue that with a traditional and well known publisher, the reader is assured of the quality of the writing in advance? I don’t know about your experiences but for myself, I’ve read some pretty awful stuff in traditional print too, long before Amazon was little more than a barely known webpage.

In answer to the last point though, if a title and cover grab your interest, then both Amazon and Smashwords provide the facility to browse through free samples of whatever you’re considering buying. And since many of the books, including most of the classics on both Amazon and Smashwords are either free or in many cases, less than a few pounds, such arenas have made reading a lot more accessible and affordable for a lot of people. I know my own reading has doubled, if not trebled, in both quantity and variety since I got my Kindle.

Much of the early criticism of self-publishing was by way of comparison to ‘vanity publishing’, where hopeful writers might be lured into parting with thousands of pounds following exaggerated praise of their work and promises of best-selling success. But today? Self-publishing is completely free with little more than a few basic internet skills, and even without those skills, it can still be achieved with for little more than a hundred pounds or so. Yet still there is criticism that any amount of money aspiring writers might spend promoting their work is at best, optimistic, and at worst, delusional. But why? Not every amateur writer has aspirations of becoming the next Zadie Smith or Harold Robbins. For many, it’s just an enjoyable hobby, so why shouldn’t they spend whatever they like on it if it brings them satisfaction? Apart from writing, other hobbies of mine include cycling, outdoor pursuits, keep fit, sports, all of which I’ve spent money on over the years; if it’s acceptable for golfing and motor cycling enthusiasts to spend hundreds, if not thousands on their hobby, without the slightest hope or intention of profiting from it, why not writers too? Even bloggers, for whom their writing platform is the simplest and freest of all, might well spend a small amount for a premium theme to improve the look of their work.

The evolvement of the self-publishing arena can in many ways be compared to that of the music industry. In the past ten or fifteen years we’ve seen the virtual disappearing of all the traditional mediums of music. Vinal and cassette tape are now largely collectors items; even the CD is losing ground to the ipod and digital downloads. Many of today’s biggest recording stars started their careers building their audiences on the likes of Youtube and Myspace. And even the traditional method of ‘gigging’, is that so very different from blogging?

Whatever one might think of ebooks, the Kindle, Amazon, Smashwords, blogging, and many other forms of self-publishing, they’re all here to stay in one form or another. Let’s embarace and make the very most of them….

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