Torn (The Dothan Chronicles #1) by Charissa Dufour – My Review!!

Torn – My Review!!

Torn Cover

I wanted to get back to fantasy books and picked Torn (The Dothan Chronicles #1) by Charissa Dufour. It’s nice to come back to my favorite genre. Read on for my thoughts! Note that the author advises the following: Due to scenes of intense violence, reader discretion is advised.

Synopsis (from the author):

King Wolfric Eberhand battles the last nation to stand against his raging armies. With help from the deadly knight, Sir Erin Caldry, he hopes to conquer the land of Dothan once and for all. Using his wealth and power, he has formulated the perfect plan to finally take their rich land. What he doesn’t realize, is the youngest Dothan princess is currently a slave within his very own castle walls.
While out visiting the remote estate of a relative, Princess Bethany Kavadh is kidnapped by slavers. Bedraggled and weary, she finds herself sold into slavery. To her horror, she soon discovers that her new owner is none other than her family’s worst enemy, King Wolfric. To fight her rising despair and to keep what little sanity she possess, Princess Bethany begins to fight back, sabotaging the efficient running of the House and function of their Armies.
But what happens when they realize her true identity?
Will they ransom her for the wealth of her nation?
Will they keep her as a slave? Or will they inflict an even crueler punishment?
The only things for certain are: The war between two nations will escalate, and one young princess’s life shall forever be TORN.

What I liked:

I liked Bethany’s toughness, resilience, and her attempts to sabotage her captors. I also liked that her actions had consequences – both good and bad. Caldry was a good character. The family of the King was perfectly despicable in their treatment of each other and others. The story itself intrigued me and kept me involved in the tale. The harsh treatment of the slaves and the indifference of the slaveholders was intense at times, so be prepared. Overall, though, Torn was a good read!

What I didn’t like:

The biggest complaint I have about Torn was that it was much more of a romance than a fantasy novel. Not in a bad way, but it didn’t have the fantasy elements I hoped for in the book.

Overall impression:

Torn (The Dothan Chronicles #1) by Charissa Dufour was a good read! Bethany’s trials as a slave and her efforts to impede the King’s military conquests made for an entertaining novel. I thought it was more romance than fantasy, and the treatment of Bethany was difficult to read at times, but I truly enjoyed it. Read it and let me know what you thought!

My rating:

4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

Connect with Charissa Dufour:

Visit Charissa Dufour’s Amazon Author Page or her Goodreads page to find out more about Charissa and her many books! While you’re there, consider leaving a review or a comment (and maybe pick up a book or two).

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Lights Out (Lights Out #1) by Joey Paul – My Review!!

I decided to dip my toes into the dystopian genre for my latest read and chose Lights Out (Lights Out #1) by Joey Paul. Read on for my thoughts!

Lights Out Cover

Synopsis (from the author):

Ever since the war ended, the United English Cityships have had equality. The rules are clear. You are born, you live and the day following your sixtieth birthday, you are sent off for your final sleep.

Lock is a firm believer in the system. It means that everyone is truly treated equally. It’s only when she checks in an attendee who claims to be younger than her chip says that Lock starts to realise there may be someone gaming the system.

The problem is the corruption goes higher than Lock could even begin to imagine. As her belief in the world she lives in starts to crumble, Lock finds herself wanting justice for those who have gone before their time.

Can she do it? Or will they silence her before she can get the word out?

What I liked:

Lights Out was an interesting read and there are many things in it that could apply to today’s world.  However, that is not the focus of my review. Lock, our protagonist, is a good character. There was ample diversity in the book and I liked the idea of everyone treated the same. But, as with most “utopian society” ideas, it really isn’t fair. The mystery is who makes the decision and how can it be stopped? And, does society even want it stopped? No spoilers from me, so you’ll just have to read it to find out!

What I didn’t like:

For me, the story dragged in a few places and it took a while to get to the heart of the story. Some of the characters were a little underdeveloped (Chris, for example), and there was too much repetition in the characters’ mannerisms.

Overall impression:

Lights Out by Joey Paul had many good elements. Lock’s character was good, the storyline intriguing, and the mystery behind who was gaming the system added a nice touch. If you enjoy dystopia, read this one!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with Joey Paul:

Find Joey Paul on her Amazon Author Page or her website and discover this prolific author and her many books (and maybe pick up a few). While you’re there, please consider leaving a comment or a review!

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Sizzler by Wolf Schimanski & B. J. Tiernan – My Review!!

Sizzler – My Review!!

Sizzler Cover

I read Standing on a Whale by B.J. Tiernan a while back and enjoyed her style of writing. I ran across Sizzler by Wolf Schimanski and B.J. Tiernan and decided to try it and read a little paranormal thriller genre. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

When Lexi-Jo Lyman, a Freelance writer, and Herbert Duvane, a mysterious computer technician, find themselves caught up in a bizarre takeover of the tranquil city of Margate, Florida, the heat is on. Personalities and behaviors are changing in the locals against their will, and no one can figure out why. Crime, murder and promiscuity are on the rise, and the gentle city is in utter chaos.

Looking through some curious journals, Lexi-Jo and Herbert discover that the only hope to extinguish the gripping phenomenon is to recover a lost amulet in the Everglades — the key to the hostile invasion. An expedition is set up, and the search for the amulet is on. Staggered by the dark web that is closing in all around them, Lexi-Jo and Herbert realize they are in way over their heads and reach out to Kellie Sierra, a Margate detective, for help. Will it be too late, or will they crack the dark puzzle that is threatening their lives and tearing the city apart?

What I liked:

I enjoyed the premise of the book. The idea of spirits controlling the actions of humans and drawing power from their evil behavior hooked me. I also liked the way the authors handled the sex and violence. It had an almost cozy mystery feel to it. It was there, but it wasn’t front and center in your face. Herbert and Lexi-Jo are good solid characters, Teddy is a nice distraction as they kid that helps them, and Toni and Ghost made great characters to dislike. Overall, a paranormal thriller that will keep you entertained!

What I didn’t like:

Despite the good things about Sizzler, I had a couple of issues. First, the relationship between Kellie Sierra and Lempke was stereotypical. Secondly, there were slow spots that I skimmed.

Overall impression:

Sizzler by Wolf Schimanski and B.J. Tiernan entertained me. Nicely crafted characters, an interesting paranormal twist, and lots of intrigue kept me reading. There were a few slows spots and the interaction between Kellie Sierra and Lempke was predictable. If you like paranormal thrillers, though, read this one!

My rating:

4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

Connect with B.J. Tiernan:

Find B.J. Tiernan on her Amazon Author Page or her Goodreads page. Stop by and visit, leave a comment or a review, and maybe buy a book or two!

Connect with Wolf Schimanski:

Find Wolf Schimanski on his Amazon Author Page and his Facebook Author page, too! Visit to discover his Meter series and maybe pick up a copy!

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The Lost Colony of Roanoke, The Dare Stones, and Georgia!

Most people know about the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the mystery surrounding it. But, did you know the story has a Georgia connection?

The Lost Colony of Roanoke Dare Stone

What we know about Roanoke

Let’s recap what we know. A group of English settlers landed at Roanoke Island North Carolina in 1587 in an attempt to establish the first permanent English settlement in North America. John White led the expedition.

In 1587, White returned to England to procure more supplies for the colony and planned to return in 1588. However, the Anglo-Spanish War delayed his return until 1590. When he returned, he found the fortified settlement abandoned and the word Croatoan carved into the palisade. He assumed that meant the colonists abandoned Roanoke for nearby Croatoan Island. However, as the ship attempted to visit Croatoan Island, a storm forced the vessel to return the England.

The Dare Stones

One of the few clues about the fate of the Lost Colony of Roanoke is tied to the Dare Stones. The Dare Stones are inscribed pieces of stone found in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The first stone (known as the Chowan River Stone) was found by Louis Hammond in 1937. Hammond brought the stone to Emory University and asked for help interpreting words on the rock he claimed to find by the Chowan River in North Carolina. Thanks to our friends at Wikipedia, here are the inscriptions on the stone (both sides are inscribed):



The opposite side reads:


While the authenticity of the Chowan River Stone has never been established, Hammond tried to sell it to Emory University. The institution declined, so Hammond sold it to Emory Porfessor Haywood Pearce, Jr. with backing from Brenau University (owned by Pearce’s father)

The Dare Stones and Georgia

The connection doesn’t stop with the Chowan River Stone, however. After Brenau acquired the stone, they offered a reward for additional stones. And they got them! Many of the stones were provided by a stonecutter named Bill Eberhardt. Eberhardt claimed to have found stones in Greenville County, SC (13 of them). With the Chowan River Stone regarded as Dare Stone #1, the Eberhardt stones were numbered 2-14. Isaac Turner of Atlanta found Stone #15 in Hall County, GA.

Eberhardt continued to uncover stones and added stones #16-24 in 1939. This group was allegedly found in Habersham County, GA. I could detail other finds in Fulton County, Ga (near Eberhardt’s home) but you get the drift. Stone #36 was found by William Bruce of Atlanta (also found near his home). All told, Haywood Pearce received 48 Dare Stones.

Scientific Consideration

In 1940, a conference looked into the stones’ authenticity. The conclusion seemed to support the claims, but the report also said that it was still under investigation.

Haywood Pearce sent an article to The Saturday Evening Post, but the article triggered an expose article challenging the Dare Stones’ authenticity. The expose uncovered the fact that Eberhardt, Isaac Turner (Stone #15), and William Bruce (Stone #36) had known each other for years. After these facts and many others surfaced, Dare Stones 2-48 were considered fakes.

The Dare Stones Today

All 48 Dare Stones remain in Brenau’s possession, though only Dare Stone #1 (Chowan River Stone) is on display. Louis Hammond remains an enigma since researchers couldn’t find any information on him.

The debate continues on the original Dare Stone. Scholars weigh in on both sides of the argument, so unless additional information surfaces, we’ll likely never know the truth. You can see the stone with permission from the President’s Office at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA, but as I understand it, Brenau owns all rights to any photos or videos of the stones.

So there you have it. The Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Dare Stones, and the Georgia connection. There is much more to the story, so I encourage you to do your own research. If you do, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest and let me know what you find out.

Shadowed by Death by M. A. Adler – My Review!!

Shadowed by Death – My Review!!

Shadowed by Death Cover

I’m trying to expand my reading preferences, and I found Shadowed by Death (An Oliver Wright World War II Mystery #2) by M. A. Adler. I’m usually not any kind of historical fiction reader, but I liked the blurb. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

San Francisco, 1944. Sophia Nirenska, a Polish resistance fighter who survived the Warsaw ghetto uprising, finds safety in California until someone tries to kill her. She insists political enemies want to silence her, but homicide detective Oliver Wright, on medical leave from the Marines, believes the motive is more personal. He and his German shepherd, Harley, try to protect Sophia, but she insists on doing things her own way—a dangerous decision. 

Oliver guards Sophia as they travel from an Italian cafe in Richmond to communist chicken farmers in Petaluma where her impetuous actions put them both in mortal danger. 

When Oliver rescues a girl and her dog who are running for their lives, he discovers the dark secret at the heart of the threat to Sophia, a secret with its roots in Poland. When he does, he is forced to choose between enforcing the law as he knows it and jeopardizing Sophia or accepting a rougher kind of justice.

Shadowed by Death accurately portrays the fears and troubles of the communities of northern California as they bear the burdens of World War II and celebrate the gift of finding family among strangers.

What I liked:

World War II novels are sometimes difficult reads, especially when the story deals with horrific events like the Warsaw ghetto. M. A. Adler did an excellent job of working the events into the story and using it to explain Sophia’s motivations. Sophia and Oliver are great characters, but my favorites are Harley and Blue! I also appreciated the research work into the blind eye turned by the world to Russia’s atrocities.

What I didn’t like:

There wasn’t much to dislike about the book. If I had to pick something, there were a couple of slow spots. Other than that, no complaints from me!

Overall impression:

Shadowed by Death was an enjoyable read despite the background subject matter. Good characters, intriguing plot, plenty of twists and turns, and a satisfying conclusion kept me involved and interested. If you like historical mysteries, read this one!

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with M. A. Adler:

Find M. A. Adler on her Amazon Author page or her website. Visit, find out about her books, maybe buy one or two, and consider leaving a comment or a review!

Connect with me:

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Milestones – or a Few Accomplishments over the Last Seven Years!!


Milestone the first:

Today’s post marks a number of milestones! What milestones, you might ask? The first significant milestone is that August 12 marks seven years since The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian publication date! Since that day,  The Carnelian picked up an Indie BRAG Medallion and a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal. I’ve published the other three books of the series, attended many festivals and books signings, spoke at schools, and learned more than I ever thought possible about writing. I’ve met amazing authors, reviewers, and book promoters. I keep writing (can you believe three WIPs?) and hope to publish my fifth book (the start of a new series) in 2020.

The Carnelian Cover Milestones

Though I haven’t hit the bestsellers list yet, I am eternally grateful to each and every person who took the time to read one or all of the books. My favorite author moment came from a teacher (and former classmate). She told me she struggled to get a student to read. When she told the student she knew an author (me), and maybe he would read my books. I sent her a set. She reported back to me that he loved them and has become a voracious reader! That makes it all worthwhile!

Milestone the second:

I also celebrate reaching the 15,000 Twitter follower milestone! Writing The Gemstone Chronicles made me aware of the various avenues of social media and, after trying most of them, settled on Twitter as my main social media platform. I know it isn’t a huge following, but I continue to grow it and I hope I’m providing some assistance to other authors out there.

Milestone the third:

The final milestone I’m marking is that this post is my three hundredth blog post! That’s right! This blog started on August 12th, 2012 to announce The Carnelian’s publication. What a long but interesting journey it has been! I’ve written posts about my books, book promotion sites, gemstones, duct tape, conspiracy theories, and many book reviews! I’ve even slipped a few posts about submarines and my time in the Navy. I like to post my book reviews and maybe give a fellow author a bit of exposure. I hope my posts reflect my rather eclectic interests both in the different genres I review and the occasional foray into my hobbies and interests.

As always, I’m humbled and grateful for everyone’s continued support and for the readers who’ve taken time to read my books and read and comment on my blog posts. Though I can’t thank all of you personally, please know how much I appreciate you and will try to continue to provide enjoyable content!

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Pandora Syndrome by April Wahlin – My Review!!

Pandora Syndrome – My Review!!

Pandora Syndrome Cover

Pandora Syndrome: Stories of Ithiria popped up in my recommendations not too long ago. Though I’m not a vampire story fan, I read the blurb, and added it to my TBR list. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author):

After being shot outside a club on her twenty-first birthday, Pandora Todd, aka Dora, finds herself in the bed of a handsome stranger with a pair of snake-like fangs. Now, instead of a hangover, Dora wakes with an intense hunger for blood and the strange ability to control all things dead, a distinctly un-vampire trait. Unfortunately, just when Dora grows accustomed to the vampire aspects of her eternal life, she finds herself targeted by a rival necromancer. Soon, Dora becomes wrapped up in a plot that will shape her past, present, and future.

What I liked:

First, I enjoyed this book! April Wahlin did a great job of taking vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other horror denizens and made them more human than monster. It was an interesting way to make the story different from others. Seen through the eyes of Dora, the story follows her transition from new adult to vampire – something she doesn’t particularly like to be. Pandora Syndrome also handles Dora’s relationships with other supernatural beings in a humorous and entertaining way. All told, a fun read!

What I didn’t like:

I only have two minor complaints about Pandora Syndrome. First, the story moved a little slowly in places. Second, the cliffhanger ending. I know, personal preferences, but that is why they are minor complaints.

Overall impression:

April Wahlin did a good job with her characters, the story, and building a supernatural world superimposed on Los Angeles. A few slow spots and the cliffhanger ending bothered me a little, but not enough to knock the rating. If you like supernatural stories, read this one!

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with April Wahlin:

Find April Wahlin on her Amazon Author Page, Goodreads, and her website. Check out her books (and maybe buy one or two), and leave a comment or a review!

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Area 51, The Raid, and Even More Mysterious Military Bases!!

Area 51, the Raid, and even more mysterious military bases!

Area 51 Sign

My readers know that I enjoy a good conspiracy theory. I’ve even mentioned a couple of my favorites in previous blog posts about The Knights Templar and Rosslyn Chapel. But, as evidenced by the large number of people who expressed interest in storming Area 51 (a PRANK post on social media), it seems I’m not the only one who likes to ponder the what-ifs of the conspiracy theories.

Not to distract from the Area 51 takeover, but there are other bases as equally mysterious as Groom Lake. A couple are near Area 51, but the others are scattered around the country. Some are familiar names and others are shrouded in secrecy. Let’s start with Area 51.

What will people find if they do try to storm Area 51? Let’s examine what we know.

  • The site was unacknowledged until 2013, when the CIA admitted it existed
  • The official names of the area are Homey Airport (KXTA) or Groom Lake
  • According to declassified documents, the site was built to assemble and test the U2 spy plane
  • Area 51 has a 12,000 foot runway (commercial runaways are usually 6000 – 8000 feet long)
  • The nearest public access is about 26 miles from the base (long walk across the desert for those who want to storm the citadel)
  • The “camo dudes” are the contractors who patrol the perimeter of the area and they take their jobs seriously
  • Deadly force is authorized

Things suspected at Area 51 (among others):

  • Alien spacecraft (from Roswell and other crashes)
  • Alien remains
  • Reverse engineered technology
  • Super secret aircraft
  • Alien Landing base
  • Development of weather control
  • Development of time travel and teleportation
  • Tunnels leading to other DUMBs (Deep Underground Military Bases)

If the Area 51 Raid happens, one would assume the USAF (or the CIA or the aliens) would move any objects, materials, bodies, etc. before the storm troopers arrive. Since the stuff would be gone, I’m not sure why anyone would do it (again, this was a PRANK).

Other Mysterious Bases:

Area 51 Map

Seriously, though, there are a few other bases that rival (or perhaps exceed) the mystery surrounding Area 51. Area 52 is near Groom Lake (at the edge of the Nellis Range). It intrigues conspiracy theorists for the experimental aircraft rumored to fly there. Also know as Tonopah Test Range (TTR), some say a clean nuclear device hollowed out a cavern under the base that is home to up to 25,000 troops. It supposedly has an underground high speed rail system as part of its infrastructure (possibly to move the aliens around to other sites without exposing them to the public).

Dugway Proving Ground is another secretive base. Located in the Utah desert, the base is used to test biological and chemical weapons defense systems (according to Wikipedia). For conspiracy theorists, Dugway may house some of the spacecraft and technology previously stored at Area 51 and may even operate its own alien spaceport.

My favorite secretive base, though, hides in plain sight. Wright-Patterson AFB (WPAFB) is just outside of Dayton OH and was the home of Project Bluebook. Project Bluebook and other iterations of the project investigated UFO reports from 1947 until 1969. in 1976, the files transferred to the National Archives in Washington DC. Barry Goldwater supposedly asked Gen. Curtis LeMay if he could have access to the secret UFO room at  WPAFB. Gen. LeMay allegedly told the Senator that he could not and not to mention it to him ever again. Many believe WPAFB is the home to most of the UFO information, technology, and remains and that Area 51 is a red herring to distract people from the true repository.

What do you think?

There you have it! My take on the (PRANK) takeover of Area 51 and a few other mysterious military bases. There are others that we could look at, but the real question is what do you believe? Are aliens among us? Do we reverse engineer their technology and then release it gradually over time (like the famed Men In Black)? Leave a comment and let me know!

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The Traveling Man (The Traveler’s, #1) by Michael P. King – My Review!!

The Traveling Man – My Review!!

The Traveling Man Cover

Every now and then, I like to read a crime thriller. I ran across The Traveling Man (The Traveler’s, #1) by Michael P. King and put it on the TBR list. Here is my review!

Synopsis (from the author):

In a life-and-death contest among criminals, even the most cunning may not survive…

The Traveling Man and his wife have built a life for themselves conning criminals and getting away scot-free. But when their latest scheme to sell contaminated land goes south, they find themselves in a cat-and-mouse game with the crime boss who’s turned the tables on them and the partners who’ve betrayed them.

Are you ready to take a walk on the wild side?

What I liked:

The Traveling Man was a fun read! Lots of action, plot twists, great cons, and betrayals kept me guessing what was coming next. Add to the mix the innocents caught up in the game, the oddly ethical bent of the Traveling Man, and it’s a winning combination.

What I didn’t like:

Despite the good parts mentioned above, the book did bog down a few times as The Traveling Man and his plans fell apart. I had issues with some of the dialogue as well.

Overall impression:

The Traveling Man (The Traveler’s, #1) was an enjoyable read. The cons were flawed enough to be believable, the characters’ amoral enough to pull off their scams, yet Rob (the title character) had an ethical side. If you’re a fan of crime novels, read this one. Please note there is sex, violence, and strong language.

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with Michael P. King

Find Michael P. King on his Amazon Author Page and his Goodreads Author Page. While you’re there, check out the rest of his books (and maybe buy a couple) and leave him a comment or a review!

Connect with me:

I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Find me, say hi, and let’s connect! Don’t miss a post, either! Subscribe to the blog! If you liked the review (or if you didn’t), leave me a comment!

Bump Time Origin by Doug J. Cooper – My Review!!

Bump Time Origin – My review!!

Bump Time Origin Cover

I read all of Doug J. Cooper’s Crystal Series and enjoyed them immensely. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I added his new book Bump Time Origin to my TBR list when he released it. Here is my review!

Synopsis (from the author):

On his twenty-fifth birthday, Diesel Lagerford is visited by a twenty-six-year-old version of himself. His look-alike spins impossible tales of their shared future, claiming they have dozens of “brothers” from parallel timelines who can visit each other using a T-box, a machine they bankroll with lottery winnings. He introduces Diesel to the incredible Lilah Spencer, the T-box operator, and Diesel falls head-over-heels in love. But during his travels across timelines, Diesel learns that Lilah will soon die under suspicious circumstances. Devastated, he joins his brothers in a race to save her. Can they solve the mystery of her death before it’s too late? And will their unusual solution play out over time in the ways they had anticipated?

What I liked:

As with the Crystal Series, Bump Time Origin was a well-written and entertaining read. I enjoyed the different take on time travel and the conscious effort to alter the time continuum. Diesel and Lilah were good characters, and the relationships between the brothers added a lot to the story. Ciopova (the AI) made the perfect amoral character. I won’t go into that (no spoilers), but if you like sci-fi and time travel books, read this one!

What I didn’t like:

I appreciated Doug J. Cooper’s efforts to keep the Diesels straight, but it will still a little difficult to follow at times. Other than that, not much to complain about with Bump Time Origin!

Overall impression:

Bump Time Origin was a well-written piece if sci-fi! With an interesting take on time travel, romance, and great AI, read this one!

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with Doug J. Cooper:

Discover Doug J. Cooper and all of his books on his Amazon Author Page or his website. Visit, check out his work, and maybe buy a few for yourself!

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I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Find me and say hi! If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog!