Friday, September 23, 2016

Killdeer Winds by Aaron Michael Ritchey


Genre: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic/Adventure/Young Adult

Description:
It is the year 2058.

The Sino-American War has decimated several generations of men, and the Sterility Epidemic has made 90% of the surviving males sterile.

Electricity does not function in five western states. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana are territories once again. Collectively, they are known as the Juniper.

It is the most dangerous place on Earth.

Cavatica Weller and her sisters have one chance to save their family ranch--a desperate post-apocalyptic cattle drive across a violent wasteland. Having escaped from Denver, the Weller family will have to face the worst of the Juniper’s outlaws, the Psycho Princess. And still an inhuman army dogs their every step.

The mystery deepens—who is the lost boy Micaiah and why would the richest man on earth spend billions to find him? And will Micaiah’s secrets tear the Weller family apart?”

Author:
Aaron Michael Ritchey was born with Colorado thunderstorms in his soul. He's sought shelter as a world traveler, an endurance athlete, a story addict, and even gave serious thought to becoming a Roman Catholic priest. After too brief a time in Paris, he moved back to the American West and lives semi-comfortably with three forces of nature: a little, blonde hurricane, an artistic tornado, and a beautiful, beautiful blizzard.”

Mr. Ritchey’s Long Live the Suicide King was a nominee in BigAl’s Books and Pals 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards under the YA category. For more information about Aaron Michael Ritchey please visit his website.

Appraisal:
Killdeer Winds is a rip-roaring dystopian adventure, with a Wild West flair, that will have you on the edge of your seat during the whole book. Everyone’s resolve is put into question, relationships are tested, secrets are revealed, and then everyone dies. (Just kidding.) Maybe…

Tensions run high as the plot twists and turns. Wild risks are taken as the cattle drive is now being led by Cavatica, and she is only sixteen years old. She is forced to match wits with the crazy Madelines, the Wind River Tribe, and the Vixx Sisters’ army of biologically altered soldiers. All while trying to come to terms with a budding new love, that flipping New Morality Code, and family turmoil. It’s an out of control emotional roller-coaster ride as each new battle adds more complications.

Killdeer Winds is not a relaxing read by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve never read anything like this story before. It’s a thought provoking adventure that will grab you by your throat as well as your heart. And just as you think everything is going to work out, things go to hell in a hand-basket. Yep, of course there is a cliffhanger ending.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
Killdeer Winds is book two in The Juniper Wars series. It is necessary to read the first in the series Dandelion Iron.

Format/Typo Issues:
I was given an ARC to read before the book was published and cannot comment on the finished book.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin


Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Reprise Review: Strange Academy by @TeresaWilde



Genre: Paranormal Romance/Mystery/Urban Fantasy

Description:
Determined to uncover the secret behind her eccentric aunt's mysterious death, Sadie Strange, a quirky substitute teacher with a Master’s degree in comic book superheroes, takes a job at isolated private school Strange Academy. Her biggest obstacle? Haughty hottie Lorde Gray, the chemistry teacher who looks down his Roman nose at her as he tries to get her fired.”

Author:
By day, Teresa Wilde is a mild-mannered technical writer, but by night (and lunch hours, and weekends) she's a digital Sheherezade, weaving tales of strange and wondrous places and people. Strange Academy is her third first novel. She is currently working on a Regency Urban Fantasy, plus the sequel to Confessions of a Teenage Demon Magnet and the next book in the Strange Academy cycle. Check out her blog. Ms. Wilde also publishes erotic romances under the pen name Teresa Morgan.

Appraisal:
This book caught me a little off guard; I assumed by the cover it would be a light-hearted funny read. And it was that, but it was also so much more. Ms. Wilde did a wonderful job building her characters and exploring their backgrounds so we understood why each one was the way they were. Knowing the psychological makeup gave her characters depth and a more human quality making it easier to identify with them.

Sadie has denied who she really is her whole life because she wanted to fit in and be normal, unlike her strange Aunt Pippa, her witch mother, and her psychic older sister. She also has no idea why Aunt Pippa has recommended that she take over Pippa's classes at Strange Academy after her death. However she is determined to find out how and why Aunt Pippa died so unexpectedly. The whole campus is on alert to keep anything magical from Sadie as long as she is there and she seems more than willing to turn a blind eye or find logical, mundane reasons for anything she cannot readily explain. She is smart, logical to a fault, strong-willed, and witty. Sadie has also built walls around her heart after falling for the wrong type of man one too many times. So when she meets Lorde Gray at Strange Academy she instantly dislikes him because he is exactly the type she is known to fall for.

Lorde Gray was a character that was hard to like at first. He was egocentric, overbearing, and controlling. The perfect alpha male type. But as the story develops and we get to know more about his history he becomes quite swoon-worthy. However he has a lot of pride and Sadie becomes quite adept at challenging his pride which was fun to watch.

Most of this story deals with the teachers and administrators of Strange Academy instead of the students, so the theme is more adult oriented. Although two of the students in Sadie's class have a larger role than most. Sterling, Lorde's eleven year-old nephew, and Carmina, a Non (a human without a talent/power) who may never have talents, develop an interesting friendship that challenges the House of Gray. Sadie and Carmina also develop a relationship being the only two Non-talented humans at Strange Academy.

Woven through this story of challenging relationships is the mystery of Aunt Pippa's death which twists and turns with every clue that Sadie follows. It is an important element of the story and impacts Lorde Gray and Sadie's relationship in ways that will surprise you. Their dialogue is entertaining and believable. I loved taking this journey of self-discovery with them and found the book hard to put down until the wee hours of the morning.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
The story contains adult language and sexual situations that some may find offensive. I found the sexual situations tastefully written and enjoyed them.

Added for Reprise Review: Strange Academy was a nominee in the Paranormal Romance category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran November 28, 2013

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 95-100,000 words


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Softpaw (Smilodon Pride Book 1) by Osiris @Brackhaus and Beryll Brackhaus



Genre: Urban Fantasy/LBGT/Erotic Romance

Description:
Connor’s life used to be the dream of any cultured werecat. He spent his days in Paris’ gay quarter with comfortably little real work, playing the piano, surrounded by art, fine food and good friends. Now, a feral vampire preys on the prostitutes of ‘his’ quarter, killing the boys of the Marais, one by one.

When Connor invites a newly arrived hooker to stay on his houseboat, the last thing he expects is Michel to be a member of the Brigade Criminelle - a troubled, hunky rookie cop sent undercover to explore Connor’s connection to the murders, picked mostly because he had been a boy of the Marais himself, not so long ago.

Hiding their true natures becomes a problem for both when their initial attraction becomes much more than they ever thought possible. But in order to bring down the serial killer and maybe have a chance at making their relationship work out, one of them will have to take the first, critical leap...”

Authors:
Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus are a couple currently living their happily-ever-after in the very heart of Germany under the stern but loving surveillance of their cat. Both of them are voracious but picky readers, they love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, they write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of their happiness with their readers.

Beryll: An artist by heart, Beryll wrote stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word and the driving creative force of the duo.

Osiris: An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of the team. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.”

Appraisal:
Michel Dupont has a dubious past; he has fought his way back from sex, alcohol, and drug addiction with the help of his arresting officer, Capitaine Thierry Plouescat. Despite Plouescat and Michel’s rough start, Plouescat had become like a father to Michel. As such, after many months of rehab and therapy, Michel has recently graduated from E’cole Nationale de Police at the top of his class.

As his first assignment, Plouescat proposes to send Michel undercover as a male prostitute in Marais. Straight into the pit he has pulled himself out of to get close to Connor Acothley, their prime suspect for the serial killings happening in Marais. Connor, who plays the piano at Chez Chantal, a small but respectable gay pub, likes to think of himself as a sensitive, cosmopolitan, educated soul whose job it is to protect his small corner of gay Paris.

Both Michel and Connor are fully developed intriguing characters. I really liked them both. Connor’s Native American background and love of art drew me in. Michel’s physique made him captivating, his struggles and sharp mind made him likable once you set his ego aside. Neither Connor nor Michel fully trust each other, and this hampers both of their investigations. Their sexual attraction becomes its own story arc and adds a dimension with complications as we are allowed insight into both of their inner thoughts.

I generally love knowing what is going on in the characters heads; however, this time it separated me from the emotion. Sensations got lost in the translation of the action. Weird, huh? So don’t read this story for the sex. Instead enjoy the story for the twists in the plot and the paranormal elements. There is much more going on here than the reader is aware of until the end. Obviously, this book is setting up a series, which I think has promise. Hopefully, Connor and Michel will stop obsessing about sex and go with the flow. It should be interesting to see how this all develops.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
Southpaw is book one in the Smilodon Pride series. This is book meant for adults, it depicts male prostitution, rough and explicit sex, as well as colorful language with several F-bombs.

Format/Typo Issues:
I noticed a small number of proofing errors in the file that was submitted for review.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 75-80,000


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Reprise Review: She’s the Boss by @LisaLim8



Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit

Description:
The Devil Wears Prada meets The Office. Twenty-something Karsynn is now a boss, but she's not so much The Devil Wears Prada as she is The Angel Wears Payless. With a brighter career, things should be going better for her, right? Wrong. There's now a new director at the office, Carter Lockwood, and he's brought his reputation for wreaking havoc amongst the ladies. Karsynn prides herself on being the only one impervious to Carter's good looks. In fact, she takes great pleasure in blowing on the embers of Carter's hostility.

Karsynn thinks Carter is arrogant and obnoxious. Carter believes Karsynn is an ignorant, sassy spitfire. Once they start working closely together, they discover first impressions can be deceptive. Karsynn may be winning the battle against Carter, but will she lose the war? And more importantly, will she lose her heart?”

Author:
Lisa Lim’s debut novel, Confessions of a Call Center Gal, was shortlisted for “Goodreads No Young Adult Best Chick Lit Reads” and featured on the Wall Street Journal online.

For more, visit Lim’s blog.

Appraisal:
She’s the Boss largely takes place in the same call center as Lim’s Confessions of a Call Center Gal, but with a focus on different characters and no need to have read the prior book to easily follow what’s happening in this one. Humor abounds, with idiot customers (the characters may have to pretend that the customer is always right, but I don’t have to), and the normal hijinks you’ll find in any office full of young, energetic people.

The main character, Karsynn, is, as the book description says, a “sassy spitfire.” As a relatively new supervisor, she’s finding her way, learning how to balance the demands made on her from above with supervising those people who were recently her peers and are still her friends. Anyone who has gone through this balancing act will empathize with her experiences.

It would be fair to describe She’s the Boss as Chick Lit, as it has all the elements of that genre, primarily the humor in the situations the protagonist faces as she grows as a person. But the book is also being described as a “Romantic Comedy,” and has all of those elements too, with a potential love interest who is unappealing in many ways, yet Karsynn is unaccountably drawn to him. Categorize it however you want. What’s important is it’s a read that won’t leave your funny bone alone.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
Some adult language and situations.

Added for Reprise Review: She’s the Boss was a nominee in the Chick Lit/Women's Fiction category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran May 6, 2013

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words


Monday, September 19, 2016

Ghost of a Chance by @EjDivitt #Kindle



Genre: Urban Fantasy/New Adult

Description:
No one told Jenny Chang she is descended from a long line of supernatural protectors. When her father is murdered, the mantle of Protector passes to her. Suddenly thrust into the world of the dead and beholden to Zhong Kui, the King of Ghosts, Jenny struggles with new powers and new responsibilities. As she tries to find her way, Jenny must face an old evil that is loose in the world and uncover a secret buried in her family’s past.”

Author:
EJ Divitt lives with her husband in a house they plan to live in forever. She enjoys curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea, can often be found singing along with the radio and has a brown belt in karate.

She has multiple nonfiction titles available including: Daily Writing Prompts To Spur Creativity, I'm Engaged! Now What? and Things Every Goddess Should Know.”

Learn more about Ms. Divitt on her website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:
Ghost of a Chance is the story of a small, dysfunctional family of Chinese heritage who have the dubious honor of being supernatural Protectors. The mantle of Protector is passed to Jenny Chang at her father’s untimely death and she has just graduated from high school. She is also completely unaware of her heritage due to her mother’s fear. As such, dramatic consequences arise to complicate the plot.

As a supernatural protector, Jenny is essentially a ghost whisperer and it is her job to help ghosts pass over to the next realm when their progress is impeded. Sometimes it can be as simple as passing messages along to remaining family members. However, the crux of this story is about an evil shadow creature who is snatching souls before they go into the light. With each soul this evil grows stronger.

Ghost of a Chance is told through Jenny’s eyes. The problem I encountered is the author tells us every single move Jenny makes as she moves through her day, detail that is not moving the story forward. There is way too much telling rather than showing. Granted there is a lot of back-story that needs to be established, but mundane details slow the story down and cause a disconnection between the reader and the characters.

There are certain elements of the story that work well and show promise. The overall plot is unique, but things fall apart in other areas. I would suggest joining a fantasy author writing group for constructive feedback and aim for middle-grade age group for readers perhaps.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
Ghost Of A Chance is the first book in the Ghost Protector Trilogy.

Format/Typo Issues:
A small number of proofing issues.

Rating: *** Three stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin


Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

Friday, September 16, 2016

Blame The Goth Girl Vol. 1: In The Beginning There Was Bauhaus by @BettinaBusiello


Genre: Urban Fantasy

Description:

Onyx can smell evil. No one; not even werewolves, wendigos, or vampires, can hide from her once they've committed a crime. When Onyx’s paranormal investigation of a local haunting triggers the death of a divorced mother, she is cut short by the provocative Detective Elliot Stevens. Now she must either tempt Elliot astray from his clean-cut, straight-edged path or change her apathetic ways and learn the truth about who and what she is — before what she doesn't know can kill her.”

Author:

Bettina Busiello is a dreamer by nature with an eccentric sense of humor. She spends most of her waking hours either spinning yarns, venturing online games or cuddling her cat October. She lives in Vermont where she is surrounded by enough fresh air to make her slightly high (which explains a lot).”

Learn more about Ms. Busiello at her website, follow her on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Appraisal:

I have to admit, I am torn. Blame the Goth Girl is an interesting story with many intriguing characters, which Ms. Busiello has crafted in her own unique way. This is not a cookie-cutter urban fantasy. Her fantasy world is much like our own, so suspending disbelief is easy to achieve. There are point-of-view shifts, through well-labeled chapter headings, between a few different characters. I enjoy this type of story-telling; it gives me a perspective I otherwise wouldn’t have. Also, knowing the thoughts and feelings that are going on in whomever’s head gave me the chance to identify with them on a personal level.

Onyx, the main character and our Goth girl, is snarky, relatively down-to-earth, and street smart. However, she finds herself in foreign territory when she begins to notice otherworldly creatures around her. She fancies herself as a paranormal investigator, when she is not running her porn store, even though she has only had experiences with ghosts. While that sounds interesting, I found myself wishing for more character development with her. Onyx is not flat though, but her past is more a mystery so far.

I enjoyed the witty dialogue and the vast array of creatures, along with a few humans. The plot is captivating as we learn how this world works right along with the other players. It seems there is more to Onyx than even she realizes.

But then…

No, no, no, just NO! You can NOT end a book with NO resolved issues! Endings like this are not considered a hook, it’s like slapping the reader in the face. Where is the cliff-hanger warning in the blurb? It shows a lack of respect to your readers, and will get you dropped like a hot potato for the scathing burn they are left with. What were you thinking, Ms. Busiello? This is not a good way to gain a base of faithful readers.

No, I’m not kidding. The book ended abruptly, and left me in frustrated disbelief. For that reason alone the book lost stars. To tell you the truth, I seriously considered rating this book two stars despite how much I liked the story so far.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:

In The Beginning There Was Bauhaus is the first book in the Blame the Goth Girl series and ends with a major cliff-hanger. There is one oral sex scene and several F-bombs within, so if you are sensitive to either of these you should find another book.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant proofing issues.

Rating: *** Three Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Reprise Review: The Rapist by Les Edgerton @HookedOnNoir


Genre: Crime/Thriller

Description:
Meet Truman Ferris Pinter, a self-confessed rapist and murderer, currently residing on death row, hours away from his execution.

Author:
Les Edgerton is the author of fifteen books. He is an ex-con and served two years for a single charge of burglary, reduced from 182, two strong-arm robberies, an armed robbery, and a count of possession with intent to deal. Today, he's completely reformed. Prior to this Les served in the U.S. Navy as a cryptographer during the Cuban Crisis and the beginning of the Vietnam War.

After making parole, Les obtained a B.A. from Indiana University and then received his MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Vermont College. He teaches workshops nationwide on writing. Born in Texas, Les now lives in Indiana with his family.

You can learn more about the author at his blog.

Appraisal:
If you’ve read the author bio you’ll probably appreciate that I approached The Rapist with a degree of trepidation – Les Edgerton is one scary dude. In addition the subject matter would probably be difficult. The cover, of a woman’s face, eyes sightless, is haunting.

And I was right, it isn’t an easy read. It’s one of those stories you push away after finishing it, then pull it back again and look at it in a whole new light. Clearly Edgerton likes to jolt his readers. In fact, afterwards I felt a bit grubby having been in the mind of the main character, Truman Ferris Pinter, for so long.

Socially inept (a gross understatement) and incredibly self-important, Truman is a strange guy. At the outset we meet Truman in prison, he’s on death row having been found guilty of the rape and murder of a young woman. Through the initial part of the story Truman admits and even justifies his actions in a quite unique voice. He feels morally justified in his actions because of who she is and who he is. He is a class above.
Here’s an example from the outset:

He will inhale you, devour you, eat the pulp of your soul and spit out the husk. Behind his eyes lies nothing save the fevered light of unholy candles.

And this is Truman describing himself. Whilst awaiting his sentence for death in a matter of hours time (which adds another layer of tension) he recounts the situation which put him there and we learn about Truman’s life and experiences – some of which are strange – before he goes through a personal change. I won’t say more, you’ll need to discover these for yourself.

Should I feel sorry for Truman? Really I shouldn’t, but eventually I became drawn to the oddball. It was a strange experience.

The writing is very sharp, the prose as rich and wealthy as a billionaire. I stayed up late for three nights in a row to finish The Rapist, only going to bed when I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open, it’s that compelling a story.

I haven’t picked up anything quite like The Rapist before. I probably never will again.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
A rape scene but not overly graphic.

Added for Reprise Review: The Rapist was a nominee in the Thriller category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran November 17, 2013

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Approximate word count: 45 -50,000 words


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Touching Charlotte by @LynHornerAuthor


Genre: Contemporary/Romantic Suspense/World Mythology/Magical Realism

Description:
Tristan is a former NYPD cop turned celebrity pastry chef and author. Bereft by the death of his fiancée two years earlier, he has no desire for a new romance, until a gorgeous redhead catches his eye at a stuffy Park Avenue Christmas party…Charlotte is a Guardian of Danu charged with protecting one of seven valuable scrolls handed down through time by her ancestors. She works as a nurse-companion for a disabled girl, living in a lonely mansion on Long Island’s Gold Coast…

Like all of the Guardians, Char possesses a unique psychic gift, in her case the empathic ability to absorb other people’s emotions, especially through touch…So begins a romance complicated by Char’s responsibility for her young charge and her sworn duty as a Guardian. Surprise guests and evil enemies threaten to destroy their one chance for happiness. Will Tristan overcome such obstacles to win his lady? Can she trust him with terrible secrets?”

Author:
Lyn Horner is a baby boomer born in San Francisco, California, raised in Minnesota and now residing in Texas with her husband and an ever-changing band of cantankerous, beloved cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn first worked as a fashion illustrator in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and later as an art instructor for Art Instruction Schools… After quitting work to raise her children, she took up writing to save her sanity. This hobby quickly morphed into an obsession with historical research and plot building.”

Learn more about Ms. Horner by visiting her website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:
Charlotte Dixon has an empathetic gift which has caused her to seclude herself from most of society after she completed her education. She is now working as a live-in caretaker for the mentally - and physically - challenged daughter of a politician who cares more about her career than for her own child. Not surprisingly, Charlotte has become a surrogate mother to thirteen-year-old Marilee, who has the mental capacity of a three-year-old.

Tristen Jameson, a former police officer and now pastry chef, is able to nurture Charlotte while offering her protection. If only she would lower her walls long enough for him to touch her. Trust is one of the most important themes woven into each of the guardians’ stories. Tristen’s sexual desire for Charlotte leads him to follow her, more or less by blind faith. Charlotte’s crumbling protective walls are heart-warming as her feelings for Tristen grow.

I am loving the way Danu, mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann, is pairing her guardians up with mates who complement and support them. I am finding this added element for each character enthralling.

Touching Charlotte moves at a nice, steady pace, the characters are all well-developed, and the banter is also realistically engaging. The twists in the plot are unexpected as certain elements are exposed. Tension for the impending war is rising as the evil that seeks the scrolls for their own gain is becoming more evident. I am excited to meet the remaining guardians. I hope I don’t have to wait too long.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
Touching Charlotte is book four in Lyn Horner’s Romancing the Guardians series. Each book builds on the previous stories, so I would recommend reading them in order. There are explicit adult sexual scenes, but no inappropriate language.

Format/Typo Issues:
There were a small number of proofing issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Reprise Review: Ball Machine by @SimonJTownley



Genre: Science Fiction

Description:
Rosa Rodriguez, the only woman among a team of technical geniuses, yearns for a partner to match her at tennis. None of the nerds can comply, so she persuades them (in a very unique way) to help her build a tennis-playing android. The story follows the android’s journey as he develops physically and mentally until he’s finally faced with a very human decision.

Author:
Simon Townley has somehow scratched a living as a freelance writer for nearly twenty years.

He is the author of the acclaimed slipstream / speculative novel Lost In Thought and has written a range of cross-genre novels for both adults and young adults, including prehistoric fiction series A Tribal Song - Tales of the Koriba. The first novel in the series, The Dry Lands, was published in 2012, with the second, In the Rattle of the Shaman's Bones, scheduled for release in early 2014. His dystopian sci-fi thriller Outlivers, again written for both adults and young adults alike, was released in autumn of 2013.”

Learn more on Mr. Townley’s website.

Appraisal:
As Al recently pointed out, the purpose of a review is to help others decide if a story is appealing to them. So, I’ll start with a negative. If you don’t understand and enjoy tennis and soccer, you probably won’t enjoy this book. But before you skip to the next review, I do recommend taking a look at another work by this author. I read and reviewed Lost in Thought last year and loved it (and not a soccer or tennis ball in sight).

Disclaimer over. This is a terrific read. Gosh, Mr. Townley can write his little socks off. Lean, terse sentences move this tale along at a blistering pace. Crazy concepts presented so succinctly that even wild stretches of the imagination seem not just possible, but obvious—of course these geniuses could build a totally lifelike android in a couple months—duh! Of course his penis would work (now if that doesn’t get you clicking download from Amazon, I don’t know what would!)

The story, or rather the character arc, because this is all about Vitas, the android, is full of subplots and interesting secondary characters (I particularly enjoyed Ng), but never confusing. In fact, the book’s full title is: Ball Machine - the Inside Story of the Lies, Seductions and Sporting Triumphs of the Android Vitas Rodriguez. I think that describes the plot very nicely. Until the very last page, I didn’t know how things would finish for Vitas. I did enjoy the ending, but it’s a credit to the author, that I would have enjoyed the other alternative, too.

Highly recommended--a very unusual and fascinating read.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
Added for Reprise Review: Ball Machine was a nominee in the Speculative Fiction category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran February 7, 2014

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words


Monday, September 12, 2016

The Last Three Miles by Kathleen Rice Adams @DisorderlyWords



Genre: Western/Historical/Romance

Description:
When an accident leaves Hamilton Hollister convinced he’ll never be more than half a man, he abandons construction of a railway spur his lumber mill needs to survive.

Believing no woman shackled by social convention can be complete, railroad heiress Katherine Brashear refuses to let the nearly-finished track die. The magic of Christmas in a small Texas town may help them bridge the distance…if they follow their hearts down The Last Three Miles.”

Author:
Kathleen Rice Adams: “Descended from a long line of Texas ranchers, preachers, and teachers on one side and Kentucky horse thieves and moonshiners on the other, award-winning author Kathleen Rice Adams had no choice but to become an outlaw. Maybe that's why in her stories, even the good guys wear black hats.

For the past thirty years, she's stayed two steps ahead of a lynch mob as an award-winning journalist. She also has ghost-written or edited several nonfiction books.

A Texan to the bone, when Kathleen's not being a nuisance she bows to the whims of the Hole in the Web Gang -- a herd of tiny but enthusiastic outlaws with four legs.”

For more information please visit Ms. Adams’ website.

Appraisal:
After a railway construction accident that leaves Hamilton Hollister in a wheelchair, possibly for the rest of his life, Ham is ready to give up his legacy. With only ten more miles of track to be laid, Dr. Oliver Madsen refuses to let Hamilton wallow in self-pity. Without the completion of the railway spur Hollister Lumber, as well as the small town of Hollister, Texas, will be doomed. It’s easy to understand why Hamilton deems the railway project too dangerous to complete; the accident has left him scarred physically and emotionally.

Enter K.M. Brashear, railroad heiress from New York, who along with Oliver refuses to let the nearly finished track die. Katherine is not your everyday delicate heiress, she is intelligent and capable enough to handle the job. Hamilton is quick to dismiss her and order her back to New York. However, she is on a mission to prove to her father she is as competent as any of her brothers. With Oliver’s help Katherine takes command of finishing the railway and overseeing the lumber mill. Katherine defies the social norms for women of her station and does her best to win the respect of the employees in her determination to finish the railroad by the deadline. But her methods could cost her everything she comes to care about.

I found the story-line realistic and well-paced. The characters are well drawn with distinct personalities. Their banter and dialogue is also believable and engaging. I had to chuckle when Hamilton had to admit he had been out-stubborned by Katherine’s progressive attitude. The twist near the end was shocking but conceivable and heart wrenching. I found myself captivated by this novelette as Hamilton realizes he has met his match in more ways than one.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
This is a steamy read but not inappropriate.

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 11-12,000 words.