Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tesla’s Signal by L Woodswalker #BookReview


Genre: Science Fiction

Description:
Electric Wizard...Mad Scientist...Public Enemy Number One! 

Nikola Tesla has a unique affinity for electric current...he can visualize the unseen...he speaks with beings of light. In 1899, he receives a message from “Mars”. …Then things start to go wrong – and he and his brilliant colleague Clara must go on the run. … At the same time, Nikola must learn to tap into the cosmic forces and face his own demons. …A classic-style SF novel that blends real history with fantastic gizmos, far-out space wonder, and hair-raising adventure.”

About Tesla: “The Serbian-American scientist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) is the developer of the alternating current electrical system which the world has used for over 100 years. Thus, he can rightly be called ‘the father of the industrial age’. And yet until recently, his name was virtually invisible. When I first learned his story, it seemed so incredible that I said ‘this is a science fiction story that practically writes itself!’ … Some of the devices and theories depicted here are loosely based on Tesla’s documented work, while others are based on the more ‘legendary’ aspects of the Tesla story. Still others are sheer fancy. … The basic ideas of this novel – that Tesla had otherworldly visions, and claimed to have received signals from Mars – are documented in all of his biographical material.”

Author:
L Woodswalker (Laura Todd) was raised in State College, Pennsylvania, where her father was an engineering professor at Penn State University. Her family enjoyed hiking on Tussey Mountain and the surrounding hills of Central Pennsylvania. She is a lifelong hiker and woodswalker.
At college her favorite subjects were Art and Biology. She later worked as a nurse and graphic designer. She became interested in electricity after learning to wire simple LED circuits.

Woodswalker has attended the Philadelphia Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop for many years. Her short fiction has been published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine and The Magic Within anthology.

When she is not writing, Laura might be composing ambient electronic music, which she performs at the Electro-Music Festival in Huguenot, New York. Some of her other creative outlets include art and video, DIY crafts and steampunk gadgetry.

Laura’s grandmother Ida Epstein came to America from Kostopol, Ukraine, in the early 1900s. To Laura’s knowledge, no one from this side of the family was a Theremin player or an electrical genius. As for Jake Flint, it is possible that he, or another ancestor, may have been a bootlegger.”

The author admits that there might be a sequel to Tesla’s Signal in the works. To keep apprised of L. Woodswalker’s latest writing projects, visit her website or Facebook page.

Appraisal:
You get a lot of bang for your buck with this book. I picked it up because I knew so little about Nikola Tesla. I only heard about him properly when British telly had a brief flirtation with the excellent ‘Warehouse 13’ SF series. And it is certainly true that I know a lot more about him now. How much of what I’ve learned is true is another matter.

So the bangs you get for your buck are these: lots of information about Tesla’s life and inventions (although you have to decide for yourself what of this is fact and what is fiction); two sorts of aliens – the Alu (all of whose names begin with an ‘A’ – which made them pretty interchangeable for this reader) and the U’jaan; a well-drawn, kick-ass, super-bright, female colleague and love interest in Clara Eps; Theremin concerts (if you’ve ever wondered whether, after Sheldon Cooper’s assault upon it, the device is capable of making actual music); all wrapped up in a well-written, old-fashioned, rip-roaring SF romp along the lines of HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, or Robert Louis Stevenson. And you get Woodswalker’s enormous enthusiasm for her subject on every page.

That’s a lot to fit into one book. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the book has sprawled a bit. There are places where the story loses focus briefly, and some unnecessary repetitious material appears. Furthermore, I did wonder about the vast numbers of electrical things that Tesla and Eps made in very small amounts of time – the most sensational being a flying saucer invented and constructed in days.

On the other hand there are many lovely passages like this:

“… he had seen the whole system in his mind: magnets and coils of bright copper wire, the color of earth’s blood, drawing out the electrons into a miraculous dance. And then further refinements to control and guide the current, braiding them as Mother’s fingers twisted the yarn on her knitting needles.”

If you want to know more about Nikola Tesla, and/or enjoy SF novels from the turn of the twentieth century, then I think you will enjoy this book.

Buy now from:    Kindle US     Kindle UK     Paperback

Format/typo issues:
On the file I read there were some, minor, proofing errors and a recurring formatting infelicity.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 145-150,000 words


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reprise Review: Wee Danny by @GerardBrennan


Genre: Crime Fiction

Description:
Danny Gibson is in a home for young offenders, in for a stretch after previous bad behavior. He has to prove to his teachers and psychologist that he’s a reformed character before he can be released. But that’s difficult after a lifetime of running wild on the streets of Belfast and when his fellow ‘inmates’ are trying to get him in trouble. Danny knows only one way to act, until he meets Conan that is.

Author:
Gerard Brennan lives in Northern Ireland with his family and recently completed an MA in creative writing at Belfast University. Gerard has previously published several other works including the novel, Wee Rockets, a novella, The Point, several short story collections and contributed to a number of anthologies.

You can learn more about Gerard on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Appraisal:
Gerard Brennan is one of my favourite authors. He writes highly accomplished and gritty crime fiction. However, underneath the vast majority of his stories are softer human elements, the characters often existing in a dog-eat-dog world but fighting to be something more. One example is Bouncer, a short story from the previously reviewed Other Stories

Danny is one of the main characters from Wee Rockets. His incarceration is supposed to turn him around, but as usual he’s simply revolting against the regime and fighting for position with his peers. Danny is unlikely to ever conform.

Then he comes across Conan Quinlan, who, of course, gets nicknamed The Barbarian. Conan is a gentle giant and displays some distinctly odd behavior at times. Danny isn’t sure whether he’s friend or foe. Whether he’s disabled or not. But they quickly, and unexpectedly (to Danny at least) form an increasingly strong bond.

The boys are offered some community support work at a nearby castle – time outside the institution is very rare – but Danny takes events into his own hands and a really touching and emotional series of events occurs. The element Mr. Brennan handles so well is that another person, loaded with his own problems, is what ultimately begins Danny’s transformation, not the rigidity of routine, law and psychology.

Overall Wee Danny is a powerful and touching story of friendship over adversity and disability. I’m not ashamed to admit I spent the majority of the tale smiling my stupid head off. Excellent writing in a small package that’s brought to a great conclusion with an economy of words. Perhaps Mr. Brennan’s best work to date. It’s no accident that another excellent Irish writer, Colin Bateman, rates him so highly.

Buy now from:    Kindle US    Kindle UK

FYI:
Adult language

Added for Reprise Review: Wee Danny was a nominee in the Crime Fiction category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran August 8, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:
None.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Approximate word count: 15-20,000 words


Monday, June 27, 2016

Wrong! 101 Reasons Why You Should Never Listen to Anyone by G.R. Howard


Genre: Non-Fiction

Description:
"If you're needing inspiration, read this book!

Every significant scientific advance became manifest amidst an audience of naysayers. Every person who ever amounted to anything, every dedicated dreamer, every doer, every person who was set on accomplishing something of importance or uniqueness, did so around people who said he or she couldn't do it. Every one of them.

Whether it were friends, family, colleagues, or the 'experts,' there was always somebody, and more often than not a chorus of somebodies, who said 'it' couldn’t be done.

But they didn't listen..."

Author:
"G.R. Howard is Georgian by birth, and currently living in Dallas by way of Los Angeles and Portland. A proud graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, this is his first book. When not writing and earning a living, he spends most of his time with two old convertibles and his much-beloved 1964 Vox amplifier."

Appraisal:
This book consists of a series of short chapters, each of which starts with a naysaying quote about something or someone. For example, Bill Gates saying “there's no money to be made there” in regards to the Internet. As the book's title makes clear, those people were Wrong! The remainder of the chapter explains what really happened in each case.

Every significant scientific or technological advance became manifest amidst an audience of naysayers.

That line from the forward of Wrong! summarizes the point the author hopes you'll take away from this short book. The point is that those who accomplish great things do so by believing in themselves and not giving up, regardless of what the naysayers think.

Buy now from:    Kindle US     Kindle UK

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl


Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words

Friday, June 24, 2016

Side Effects: What Candidates Don't Tell You by Tomas Payne


Genre: Non-Fiction/Politics

Description:
Side-Effects: What Candidates Don’t Tell You takes you behind the scenes on issues of the day and campaign promises. It focuses on consequences, issues, and options. It also challenges myths such as who are the wealthy, and what is the history of depressed wages. The emphasis is on shedding light, exposing myths, examining consequences, and exploring options, not on personalities. Sorry, no dirt on the people, just on their promises.

Side-Effects will answer questions such as:
Will raising income and estate taxes hurt the billionaires and redistribute wealth?
Why healthcare is broken and what options we have.
Why wages are depressed and what we can do about it.
What are the implications of various immigration plans?

Side-Effects cuts through the BS to look at campaign promises on wealth redistribution, taxes, Social Security, healthcare, depressed wages, and many other topics that aims to bring facts to these issues.”

Author:
Author is a CPA and has an MBA in finance, a BS in Political Science, and over 30 years of experience in business. He is a long time student of business, the ever-entertaining field of economics, and of the political shell game.
Like many of you, he is frustrated by candidates not addressing the real issues or doing so with simplistic sound bites that don't stand up to scrutiny. That's why he dove into campaign promises to see how they fared and found a number of surprises he'd like to share with you.”

Appraisal:
Of all the books I've ever read on contemporary politics, this book has some qualities that I've never seen before. Depending on what you'd prefer to get from a book like this, you could perceive those qualities as positive or negative.
In the early days of the US, political theorist Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called Common Sense and now an author with essentially the same name (maybe Tomas Payne is a pen name?) shows a lot of common sense in exploring the current political environment in the US. Payne explains his thinking clearly and in multiple instances had me questioning my current political stances. If that possibility concerns you, this book isn't for you. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum you'll almost surely find that Payne agrees with you on some things and disagrees on others. If you're willing to have your thoughts and political beliefs challenged, this book will do the trick.

Buy now from:    Kindle US     Kindle UK

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl


Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reprise Review: Keep Me Ghosted by Karen Cantwell @takethemonkeys


Genre: Humor/ Paranormal Romance/ Ghosts

Description:
Desperate to pay the bills, 29-year-old Sophie ignores the advice of her stuffy spirit-friend, Marmaduke Dodsworth, and takes a job with the handsome Dr. Callahan, an optometrist with a desperate situation of his own. The good doctor's problem? He has a spirit-friend as well: one with a fiery crush and a vicious jealous streak. When chemistry starts to brew between Sophie and Dr. Callahan, his green-eyed ghost wreaks some bad-tempered havoc, scaring away his patients and putting Sophie on edge. Will Sophie give up the ghost and quit the new job, or buck up and find a way to rid Dr. Callahan of his pesky specter, freeing their romance to find a life of its own?”

Author:
In another life, before Karen Cantwell started writing full time, she had a different, very rewarding job – a vision therapist. She decided to give her male romantic hero a profession that was more specific than just, a lawyer, or a doctor, or a coffee shop barista. They say write what you know, and one thing she knew very well, was vision therapy. Her own husband is an optometrist in this specialized field, and the reason why she became a vision therapist, herself. Hence, the decision was made, Cal Callahan would be a developmental optometrist – an eye doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating patients (by and large, children) with Learning-related Vision Disorders.

To learn more about Ms. Cantwell and her successful Barbara Marr Murder Mystery series, the check out her website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:
I have read several of Ms. Cantwell’s books, the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery series is one of my favorites. When I heard she was writing a ghost story I was pleased to see her branching out into the paranormal; one of my favorite genres. She has an easy-going style to her writing that makes it a pleasure to read.

I dearly loved Marmaduke. He is such an English gentleman, and I think the author pulled off his verbose English dialect quite well. I found Sophie and Marmaduke’s dialogue thoroughly entertaining and I loved their relationship. I was glad to learn he is sticking around for a few more books. The chemistry between the reserved Dr. Callahan and Sophie was charming and natural. The story setting and characters are unique which set up the book to be an interesting and educational read. As with all of Ms. Cantwell’s writing there is a mystery to unravel with unexpected twists in the plot. The humor flows well and is not over-the-top or slapstick. I was also pleased that Sophie is a fully-fledged character in her own right; she is not a rewritten Barbara Marr, but I like her just as well. This is a light, fun, quick read that leaves you feeling satisfied in the end.

Buy now from:    Kindle US    Kindle UK    Paperback

FYI:
I think this book will teach us all to stay away from internet magic spells. Keep Me Ghosted is book 1 in the Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance series.

Added for Reprise Review: Keep Me Ghosted was a nominee in the Paranormal Romance category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran May 1, 2013

Format/Typo Issues:
I found no significant issues with editing or formatting.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Legend of the Bogeyman by James R. Womack @deafauthor



Genre: Short Story/ Fantasy/ Young Adult/ Occult

Description:
Oh, you know about the Bogeyman. That old mythical character used to frighten wayward children. What if there's something you already know? That the Bogeyman isn't really a man. What if there's something you might not know? Like Ole Bogey is real and has cosmic aspirations and is interested in a whole lot more than just saying 'Boo!'”

Author:
From James Womack’s author page on Amazon: “I'm a deaf person who likes to write stories. Actually, I prefer telling stories in American Sign Language (ASL) but not everyone understands it. For me, storytelling is storytelling so writing stories gives me much pleasure. My hope is readers get pleasure from what I've written. I'm not focused on any specific genre so my stories range from science fiction to religious based stories. I hold a bachelor degree from Gallaudet University and a Masters degree from California State University of Northridge. I used to teach Deaf high school students before teaching college students full time in the last two decades of my career. I'm married to a really cool woman who was also my Gallaudet University classmate during my time there. My non-writing activities include cooking, fishing, playing with my youngest grandkids, and experimenting with applying computer software to educational purposes.”

Find and follow the author on Amazon and on Twitter.

Appraisal:
If you thought the Bogeyman was scary before, wait till you read Mr. Womack’s interpretation! I’ll begin my review with what Mr. Womack states in his afterword:

It’s not intended to advocate any religious body’s point of view. Certainly it contains a lot of my own biased perceptions but isn’t meant to advocate any doctrine. It’s a story, a work of fiction. Anyone is free to enjoy, dislike, even mock or discard it.

Needless to say, Mr. Womack has gone back to the beginning of time and rewritten from Lucifer’s — ‘Morning Star’ or ‘Light Bearer’ — own point-of-view in a convincing fashion. Can you imagine the weight, with names like that, Lucifer carried on his shoulders? Being one of God’s favorites, a lot of responsibilities were directed towards Lucifer. At times I had to agree with the twisted logic that Lucifer began to believe in this tale.

Each chapter begins with a portion of a cited passage from the Bible, which lends a little bit of the credibility towards the author’s vision. Since this is a work of fiction I didn’t check out the quotes. They were there to solely move the tale along and worked to weave the story together. I will tell you Mr. Womack’s vision gave me the creeps because this could be how the ‘Morning Star’ lost his way…


Buy now from:    Kindle US     Kindle UK

FYI:
May or may not offend some readers' religious sensibilities.

Format/Typo Issues:
Too few to mention.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 9- 10,000 words


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Reprise Review: Orla's Code by @FionaPearse


Genre: Women’s Fiction

Description:
If you want to get ahead, get noticed, is Orla Hanlon’s motto. New to London and the first female programmer at CouperDaye, a global investment bank, she takes on a high-profile but controversial project.
With her new luxury apartment and a work-romance quietly on the side, Orla thinks she has everything under control.

Until a bug in her code causes chaos on the trading floor and Orla finds herself a scapegoat in a corporate game, fighting to save her new life in London.

Author:
Fiona Pearse was born in Dublin, Ireland and has been a software developer for 15 years. Now settled in London, she writes financial software and is working on her second novel. She is also a blogger and poet with several poems in literary journals.

For more, visit the author’s website.

Appraisal:
As the first female computer programmer at her new employer, Orla has to deal with the obvious issue of being a novelty among her peers, along with some of the all-too-typical management issues and job challenges typically found in a software development shop. I was impressed with the author’s ability to communicate the challenges of Orla’s job without sinking into tech-talk or too much detail for the layperson.

Much of the story conflict comes from Orla’s struggle to balance her work goals, her personal life, and possibly sneak in a little sex (surely romance and a fuller relationship would be asking too much). Overall, Orla’s Code was a quick, fun read.

Buy now from:    Kindle US     Kindle UK     Paperback

FYI:
Adult language and some mild adult content.

Added for Reprise Review: Orla's Code was a nominee in the Chick Lit/Women's Fiction category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran February 22, 2014.

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues.

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words

Rating: ***** Five stars

Reviewed by: BigAl


Monday, June 20, 2016

Dragon Lord’s Mate by @EileenTroemel #BookReview



Genre: Fantasy/ Magic/ Erotic Romance

Description:
During spring rites, Dragon Lord Arius claims Pena, a healer from the Plains. He likes her small body, flame hair, and spunk. Pena wants nothing to do with the Dragon Lord. She wants love and comfort. Arius carries her away from her Plains village. The shadow dragon rises, reaching out his power to aid Pena's enemy, Indirez. Betrayal within the Dragon Clan endangers everyone that Pena holds dear.”

Author:
From poetry to novel, Eileen enjoys telling a good story or expressing a heartfelt emotion. She’s been published in Circle Magazine, The American Tarot Association's Quarterly Journal, What's Cooking America, Children, Churches and Daddies, placed second in Words of Women 2010 Writing Contest, 2012 Daily Flash, and The Deadman’s Tome. She has a bachelor's degree in business and a second bachelor's degree in English Professional Writing and Book Editing. On the side, she has a small editing business. In addition to her work, she loves to read, crochet, crafting, research genealogy, and spend time with family. She has three adult daughters and has been married to her husband for over 30 years.”

To learn more please visit Eileen Troemel’s website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:
The Dragon Clan has long since stopped pillaging smaller villages to find mates. They are a highly respected Clan and the unclaimed women of mating age gladly line up naked to be chosen during the spring rites when clans travel through seeking mates. By the time the Dragon Clan reaches the Village of Barrow, Arius, the Dagon Lord, has grown tired and bored with the choices offered. He is not interested in a thin, weak, or submissive mate. When Pena’s aunt drags her to line up with the rest of the girls, Pena resists and causes a commotion. She also refuses to strip down naked. Her curves, spunk, and fiery red hair capture Arius’s attention and he doesn’t hesitate to choose her. Pena makes it clear to him that she will never submit, but she has no recourse but to leave with him.

Pena is a strong heroine; she is outspoken and stands up for herself. She has had a hard life living with her abusive aunt for the last ten years since her family was slaughtered. Pena has gifts, which her aunt had considered curses, and was severely punished when caught using them. One of her most developed gifts was healing. Pena can also find lost items and sense when there is danger around. She is completely unaware of what other gifts she has potential to develop.

On their long trek back to Measc Realta, where the Dragon Clan dwells, Pena and Arius’s relationship starts to grow as they learn more about each other. In the beginning Pena often felt her body betrayed her as his kisses and hands lit a fire in her she couldn’t deny. Twists in the plot and trouble on the trail fill the story with danger as we learn about other Dragon Clan members and the mates they have chosen. The settings are realistically described and easy to imagine because of their earth-like qualities.

By the time the group arrives at Measc Realta Pena and Arius are fully mated. Arius was so smitten he used ancient rites to bind them together. I enjoyed learning about the Dragon Clan's history and myths that had been long forgotten during the long age of peace. There is an old evil that has found a new font of energy and it is growing stronger. Pena and Arius have to risk everything that is dear to them as the dragons of light and dragons of shadow are awakened. Old truths have to be rediscovered and learned. Pena must also learn and master her true power of the elements to overcome this threat. The battles are bloody, graphic, and will enthrall the reader. While this story comes to a satisfying close, it is far from over. I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Buy now from:    Kindle US    Kindle UK    Paperback

FYI:
Several graphic sexual scenes without a single F-bomb dropped. :) However, there are also scenes of graphic rape.

Format/Typo Issues:
A few small proofing errors, nothing that threw me out of the story.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 90- 95,000 words


Friday, June 17, 2016

White Girl by Grace Jelsnik #Kindle #Paperback



Genre: Suspense/ Mystery/ Adventure/ Native American

Description:
When her lifelong best friend, Maggie, entrusts a USB drive into Tashina’s care, she tells the rookie FBI agent to give it to an unknown David if anything happens to her. He’ll find her, Maggie assures her. Hours later, Maggie is dead, and Tashina’s family and friends are under surveillance. She has nowhere to run but to the home of her mother’s people, the Lakota Sioux on Pine Ridge Reservation. In her journey from California to South Dakota and back again, the half-Lakota Tashina learns not only what is on the USB drive but also what it means to be half-Indian and half-white in a world where both sides still nurse old grievances. A mission to honor a friend’s request becomes a period of discovery for the woman disparagingly called ‘white-girl.’”

Author:
Grace Jelsnik lives in North Dakota with her husband of fifteen years, their three children, two dogs, and three cats. Her romances emphasize the give-and-take emotional interaction between two characters, addressing the sparks that lead to heat, not the heat itself. She takes pride in writing clean romances for both young and old readers, novels her daughter can one day read without embarrassment, and enjoys inserting comic elements into both plot and dialogue.”

Learn more about her at Goodreads or on Facebook.

Appraisal:
I like to read stories that include Native American elements, more often than not mysticism is brought into play. That is not what you will find in this novel though. What you will get is a solid view of Sioux culture and history. Tashina’s parents recognized her warrior spirit at a young age and sent her to spend summers with her grandfather on the Pine Ridge Reservation so she could have a solid foundation in her Native American heritage. However, her cousins never let her forget they considered her a white girl because she wasn’t a full-blood Sioux. The story is told through Tashina’s point-of-view so we are given insight into her inner thoughts as she works through her inner dilemmas; justifying her FBI identity, her somewhat privileged white upbringing, and her Sioux heritage. I found these story arcs particularly engaging and fascinating.

Ms. Jelsnik has woven Tashina’s journey with a powerful story arc about a homeland terror plot that could have a global impact. This includes corporate espionage on the highest level as well as potential corruption in other federal agencies. Tashina’s only ally is a man named David she had never met. David is an unusual, interesting character. He was raised by a man who was not his father and who instilled discipline and loyalty to mold him into an ideal agent. Tashina has her suspicions as to which agency, she has good instincts that serve her well throughout the story. David was secretive and detached; he also had good instincts as well as survival training. He was quick to observe that Tashina was trapped between two cultures, being an Indian at heart but white in practice. Their relationship was guarded and felt realistic. Their dialogue was comical at times as they played off each other like an old married couple.
I don’t usually read political intrigue type novels full of espionage, but this one seemed well researched, plausible, and frightening. I wouldn’t call White Girl a relaxing read, but I did enjoy it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if this is a genre you enjoy.

Buy now from:    Kindle US    Kindle UK     Paperback

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues were noted.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Reprise Review: Laughs Last by @DylanBrody


Genre: Humor

Description:
Laughs Last is a rumination on family, legacy, talent, and the fluidity of time, a poignant dream of adulthood coming in fits and starts to our protagonist Damon Blazer. With a quick mind and an instinct to flee (preferably before getting punched, but not before getting in a punchline), Blazer comes from a family whose laughs never mean just one thing. He struggles to glean what lessons he can from his brutish and detached brother, his grieving but understanding mother, and his aloof but proud father, but it’s the inheritance of his grandfather’s lessons that truly form the backbone of Blazer’s biography.”

Author:
Dylan Brody is a humorist who appears regularly on radio (including XM/Sirius) and comedy clubs around the country. He has written plays, novels, and jokes for other comedians as well as being a contributor to the Huffington Post.

For more, visit Brody’s website or follow him on Facebook.

Appraisal:
Damon, you have to decide, every time, whether you’re willing to face the consequences when you tell a joke. Every time. A good joke, any good joke, it tells the truth. They’re very powerful and they can hurt people and they can change the world.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this quote encapsulates one of the themes that runs throughout Laughs Last. This was one of the lessons the protagonist, Damon Blazer, learned from his grandfather, who was a comedian, too. His grandfather was also Damon’s mentor and often the only member of his family who understood him.

The story jumps back and forth in time, which has the potential of being confusing, but isn’t. The logic in this convoluted timeline is explained by the narrator as a lesson Damon’s father had tried to teach him finally sinking in, that “it is only possible to know the meaning of events after some time has passed, when they can be looked back on in context.” The disjointed time line arranges events in a way that helps them make sense.

As advertised, Laughs Last is humorous. However, there is much more to the story than that, with plenty of food for thought about family and taking the unconventional path in life. A great read. If this story is any indication, that cliché about there being a thin line between comedy and tragedy is right on the money.

Buy now from:    Kindle US     Kindle UK     Paperback

FYI:
Some adult language.

Added for Reprise Review: Laughs Last was a nominee in the Humor category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran October 12, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words