Friday, December 19, 2014

Lionel and the Golden Rule / Paul R. Hewlett

Reviewed by: BigAl with input from The Princess

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Approximate word count: 10-15,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


The author of two books in the “Lionel’s Grand Adventure” series, Paul R. Hewlett is an Air Force vet.

For more, visit his website.


“Lionel is sick of his brother picking on him and of his mother yelling at him. One day, while cleaning the closet his mother has been after him about, he discovers not only boxes and old clothes, but a lucky charm with more magic than he bargained for. After an unusual encounter with his brother, Lionel knows things are about to change for the better.”


I drafted The Princess, my eleven year-old granddaughter, to read this book and give me a kid’s perspective to add to my own in writing this review. The Princess gave it high marks (a letter grade of A+) with the comment that she really liked it. She described it as having “a lot of fantasy” and a “moral about luck.”

I concur. It’s a fun read that should hit the sweet spot for its target audience (ages 7-10) with a lesson to be learned (I’d describe it as “be careful what you wish for”), that comes through clearly, yet doesn’t overshadow the fun of the story.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Agent’s Daughter / Ron Corriveau

Reviewed by: Michael Thal

Genre: Young Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: Yes
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A self-described geek, Ron Corriveau considers himself an electrical 
engineer who designs integrated circuits for a large telecommunications company located in Texas. Corriveau believes his writing is a hobby meant to activate the right side of his brain. Originally from Southern California, this Texan lives with his lovely wife and wonderful two children just outside of Dallas. 


Melina Roberts suffers from normal teenage angst. However, problems with school, friends, and a love interest are compounded by the sudden hospitalization of her mom—a victim of a drunk driver. Mrs. Roberts is in a coma and doctors don’t understand why.

Unbeknownst to Melina and younger genius brother Travis is the fact that their dad is a talented undercover agent for the President of the United States.


Ron Corriveau does a wonderful job moving from Melina’s point of view to that of her father, Evan Roberts. Readers get a close look at the life of a teenage girl who recently lost her mom and the life of an undercover spy. With action scenes that will keep readers flipping pages to tender moments of a girl’s first kiss, The Agent’s Daughter is a combination of Spy Kids and James Bond rolled up into one exciting adventure.

Format/Typo Issues:

There were a few noticeable typos, but nothing too serious to pull you away from this entertaining read.

 Rating: **** Four Stars

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Recently at The IndieView

The most recent interviews at The IndieView starting with a refresher on the different kinds of interviews. 

We also want to be sure to draw your attention to the IndieView with Pete Barber and point out that BigAl consented to an Allirea's Realm (or should that be Allirea's Interrogation?)

The IndieView

This is an interview with a standard set of open ended questions. While they focus on a specific book, they also delve into the author's history as a writer and the path they took in becoming an indie author.

The BookView

This is a shorter interview format for authors who have already done an IndieView which focuses just on their most recent book.

Reviewer IndieView

These are interviews with reviewers who have their own review blog that delve into their approach to reviewing. A great way to find other book blogs you might like to follow. (For authors, there is also an extensive database of indie friendly review sites you might like to check out.)

Allirea's Realm

By invitation only, these are quirky, often irreverent interviews done by longtime Books and Pals follower, Allirea.

(Authors and reviewers interested in doing an IndieView should visit this page for details.)

IndieView with M.L. Gardner, author of Sayan Knights

"It was an impatience to share my stories and wanting to have control over the process. I’m very happy being my own boss."

BookView with Laurie Boris, author of Playing Charlie Cool

"The seed was planted in Don’t Tell Anyone, one of my published novels. Charlie is a secondary character in that story, and I was curious about his secret romance with a closeted, married politician, which was only revealed off camera."

IndieView with Richard Engling, author of Visions of Anna

"I don’t really know what happened to Fern to set her up for suicide. In inventing those parts of the story, I wanted to be true to the spirit of her life and create the fictional Anna’s life in a way that was respectful to the memory of my friend. I wanted to do right by her."

IndieView with Adam Ingle, author of Necessary Evil and the Greater Good

"Once I gave up control most of it was easy. Sometimes there were hard choices, or hard times letting things happen that I knew needed to happen. Mostly I just went along for the ride and found it went much easier that way."

IndieView with Amy Flint, author of Shadows in the Mist

"While the lead character has the ability to see ghosts, she is sceptical of the fact. Training as a parapsychologist, and becoming a paranormal investigator allows her to explore what she and other people think they see."

IndieView with Jayra Almanzor, author of Stygian Rift

"I got the idea from a lesson at school about how the world’s population is increasing significantly (there are more births than deaths). I thought to myself, “what would be a possible last resort for this issue?” and came across the idea for Stygian Rift."

IndieView with Anonymous-9, author of Bite Harder

"Fed up with hit and run drivers in Los Angeles, Dean Drayhart becomes a vigilante. The twist is that he’s a paraplegic in a wheelchair and he has a trained service monkey do the dirty work."

Allirea’s Realm, Coffee and Conversation with R.G. Cordiner

"As a primary school teacher, I found that there were not that many books that were easy to read aloud to my class."

Indieview with Reviewer Malka Ahmed of Contemporary Books

"My favorite kind of characters are the ones that promise to me that they will tell me everything and reward me for sticking alongside them in their journey. These types of books are the ones that transform you, and that’s what I am always on the hunt for"

IndieView with Catherine Bell, author of Rush of Shadows

"One character wouldn’t know the whole story, and I thought an omniscient voice was inappropriate."

IndieView with Ariel Pakizer, author of Iron and Glass

"The moment I understood the characters, their story unfurled like a flag in a gale breeze. I knew how everything and everyone connected."

IndieView with Pete Barber, author of Love Poison

"I’m a late blooming writer. Not because I didn’t want to write earlier in life, but because I was too busy putting bread on the table."

IndieView with Nick Vellis, author of Dig Two Graves: Revenge or Honor

"Unpredictable plot twists are what I enjoy reading so I put quite a few into my debut novel."

IndieView with Rebecca Chastain, author of A Fistful of Evil

"Does your brain try to sabotage your sleep time and keep you awake thinking about all the things that need to get done the next day? (Or that you should have done today? Or that you wish you’d done differently today?)"

IndieView with Shauna Roberts, author of Claimed by the Enemy

"The variety of reactions people had to their losses fascinated me. Some people were frozen and unable to do anything. Some gave up, thinking New Orleans could never recover from such a blow."

IndieView with Russ Hall, author of To Hell and Gone in Texas

"Once the action starts it’s just a matter of hanging onto the characters’ shirttails as they rush pell mell along into the jaws of increasing danger."

IndieView with Terry Baker Mulligan, author of Afterlife in Harlem

"At times I struggled with how to write about a President Hillary Clinton, when Hillary Clinton was actually running for the office."

IndieView with Sarah Lane, author of The God of My Art

"I also wanted to grapple with the old question of where the balance lies between freedom and responsibility and between necessity, fate, and a lack of choice."

IndieView with Marina Raydun, author of Joe After Maya

"This is a murder-mystery/suspense novel, but, on a larger scale, it’s about self-acceptance, the importance of being true to one’s self, and the danger that looms when these things aren’t there."

IndieView with reviewer N.M. Sotzek of On Writing

"There’s nothing worse than reading the same story with the same characters over and over."

IndieView with Henrik Rohdin, author of The Forbidden Army

"Some people I have encountered that I dislike eventually have some of their traits written into the villains, but nobody is a direct caricature of anyone real."

Allirea’s Realm, coffee and conversation with BigAl

"Does getting kicked out of the first class cabin for most of a flight from Cincinnati to Salt Lake count?"

Indieview with Thomas Medonis, author of Lost Reality

"Sculpting the most random subjects together in order to educate and entertain is what I pride myself most in."

Indieview with Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper, author of Populatti

"Whenever I’m out, I tend to pay attention to these things and then file them away for just the right book or scene."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Flushed / Joseph Mulak

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Joseph Mulak is the author of several short stories, many of which are collected in Haunted Whispers. Flushed is his first novel. He lives in North Bay, Ontario with his four children and is at work on a new novel.

Ivan ekes out a living playing poker for low stakes at his local casino. He’s a disappointment to his parents. His wife, frustrated by his reluctance to accept responsibility, has left him. The story follows Ivan over the period of a few weeks as a series of unexpected events cause him to reassess his life.


This novel grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go. I read it in two late-night sittings. On the face of it, it’s difficult to define exactly what gripped me so strongly. The pacing is laid-back—just like the main character. There are no explosions or near-death experiences. But the way Ivan reacts to external events is so believable, and so typical of a man, that I found myself smiling and nodding my way through the story.

Ivan is a million miles from marriage material. He loved his wife, so he did try to conform to how society expects a husband to behave. But his married life was a constant struggle between his selfish (lazy? immature?) personality, and his innate desire to please his woman.

As the author throws curve balls at Ivan (and there were a couple of doozies), his response always stays true to his character. To me, that was the magic in the story—it stays true to life and to Ivan throughout. Even when there were opportunities to give Ivan and the other characters an easy way out, the author resisted, and that truth shone through—kudos, Mr. Mulak. This was an unusual story, and a lot of fun to read.

Format/Typo Issues:

Not enough to distract. The story is listed as romantic suspense. I think it fits better in the contemporary fiction category.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Monday, December 15, 2014

Love is not free. The price is 99 cents. / Rudolf Kerkhoven

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Humor

Approximate word count: 90-85,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Rudolf Kerkhoven lives in the South West of Canada, near Vancouver. He’s the author of three novels as well as the co-author with Daniel Pitts of four “choose your own adventure” novels.

For more, visit Kerkhoven’s website.


“ … a darkly comedic romantic-drama. Mathematically brilliant but socially anxious Xavier Dekker has developed uCupid, a 99-cent phone application that purports to flawlessly match people with an ideal mate anywhere around the globe. Xavier's estranged younger brother, David, is a new father and downloads uCupid as a lark, not because he's unhappy with his marriage. But unbeknownst to him, his wife has done the exact same thing. And soon everyone will download uCupid. And soon everyone will be madly in love. So, then, what is the problem? How can so much love cause displeasure? And just what is Xavier keeping secret about this 99.97% flawless app?”


Xavier, the brother of the protagonist David, is the stereotypical computer nerd. He’s socially awkward and sometimes too logical by normal standards. I’m afraid I saw a bit of myself in Xavier at times. :) I even thought uCupid, his phone app to match people with their “soul mate,” wherever they might be, sounded like a great idea. The right data, analyzed the right way, can solve any problem, right? I’d sure like to think so.

Of course, where Xavier (and I) fall short in our theory is that the typical human isn’t as logical as Mr Spock would like us to be. Human emotions and, yes, love is largely about emotions, aren’t always so logical. Love isn’t free … is funny, dark and thought provoking, with explorations of themes involving family, our obsession with (and sometimes over reliance on) technology, and yes, even love.


Adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reprise Review: Maisy May / Naomi Kramer

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: YA

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Aussie Naomi Kramer may have the distinction of having the only book in the Kindle store in Greek, at least the only one of which I’m aware. Her novella DEAD(ish) is available in a Greek language edition as well as English. In addition, she has a sequel (in English only) called (technically) DEAD. Coffee addict Kramer has two kids and lives in Ipswich, just up the road from Brisbane.


Maisy May Dickens is a typical teen girl, if you consider an ex-druggie turned religious mother, no dad in sight, and a thing for fast cars as typical. At least she has a sense of humor.


I love Maisy May. I'm talking about the character, but obviously, the same good feelings extend to the book as a whole. In many ways Maisy is a typical teenager with typical teenage problems. She's working at making the transition from kid to adult. Like almost every high school kid, there are teachers she doesn't like, cliques she clashes with, and adults she'd rather avoid. Sometimes her Mom is great and sometimes she wishes she'd just go away.

What sets Maisy apart is her sense of humor. She sees the funny side of everything. She recognizes the absurdity of so many experiences in life. Her internal dialog had me laughing out loud almost constantly. Most importantly, even when her life takes an unplanned and traumatic turn, she keeps laughing. This novella is the first of a trilogy. I'm eager to see what the next installment of Maisy's life brings.


Although aimed at an older YA audience, as someone well past that age I found this book both entertaining and thought provoking. Don’t let the YA label scare you off. There is a small amount of profanity, sexual and religious themes. Kramer is Australian so expect some Aussie slang.

Format/Typo Issues:

I read this prior to starting the blog, however I believe there were very few, if any, issues at that time.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lucien's Mate (Soul Mates Book 1)/ Diana Persaud

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Erotica/ Paranormal

Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


“Diana Persaud is a self-published author of erotica. She has written numerous erotic novellas and is currently working on a half dozen more.

Diana has a degree in science from Stetson University. She gave up teaching to pursue her dream of being a writer of romance novels. The inspiration of her first erotic novella, Lucien’s Mate, came from her own experiences.”

If you are interested check out her website dedicated to Lucien and his pack. This site is for over 18. I did find an interesting poston her blog about feminist erotica, I thought I’d share that link also. :)


“From the moment Lucien, Alpha of the Last Hope Werewolf pack, sees Lanie, he knows she is his. Overtly sexual by nature, Lucien pursues Lanie, undeterred by the fact that she is Human and their union is forbidden.

When she encounters an Alpha Werewolf determined to have her, Lanie is flattered and confused. The unworldly, innocent Lanie is terrified of her intense desire for Lucien.

Lanie soon discovers the patriarchal nature of Werewolf society and begins to question Lucien’s motives. Is the lustful Lucien only intrigued by the idea of sex with a Human or is he interested in something more? Can this modern woman tolerate the old fashioned notions of Werewolf culture or will their cultural differences keep them apart?”


This story had an interesting premise, one a little different from other shifter books I have read. I enjoyed reading both points of view in this novella. Traditionally we get this with regular romance books, not so much with fantasy stories that contain romantic elements. Lucien is not your typical Alpha male either. I liked that he was willing to change his outlook on the accepted norms of the pack when Lanie challenged him. I understood that he was only willing to do so to ingratiate himself with Lanie so she would accept him as her mate. But still, he was willing to listen and consider her feelings on the matter.

Lanie is a human, her brother was a turned werewolf and has since mated, so she was vaguely aware. She is a head-strong feminist, out-spoken, and not afraid to challenge conventions with Lucien or any other werewolves. However, she is totally na├»ve about pack politics. Ms. Persaud has developed her own unique werewolf existence and rules in this story which I appreciated. I enjoyed reading about her world and it wasn’t all about sex. While mating between a werewolf and a human in other stories may not be all that uncommon, it is forbidden in this world. Lanie fears Lucien’s attention to her is only a novelty and the desire to have sex with a human, so she runs. Lucien senses that Lanie is his mate and is trying to seduce her with words but when she runs, well he did give her fair warning that his wolf likes the chase. So let the games begin, except Lucien is not playing games.

As I said earlier this novella has an interesting premise but I found problems in the execution of the story. What dialogue there is in this story is good, however there is a lot of telling not showing. There were also a lot of repeated lines or facts that I found annoying. I do believe the story would benefit from additional editing to streamline and tighten up the prose.


This erotic novella contains graphic language and graphic sex that may be unsuitable for some tastes.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no proofing issues.

Rating: *** Three stars