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

Milestones!

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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The Set Stealer by Jonathon McElhaney – My Review!!

The Set Stealer – My Review!!!

The Set Stealer Cover

It’s time to head back to the fantasy realm. This time it’s The Set Stealer by Jonathon McElhaney, a book from a fellow Georgia author and one that showed up in my Amazon recommendations. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

A Set is a gift. A power that one can bring from within themselves and manifest to change the physical world. Everyone has at least one, ranging from the mundane to the all powerful. That is, everyone except Kayla. But when her father is murdered in front of her, Kayla is sent on a collision course with destiny as she is forced on an adventure to discover not only who killed her father but who she is. Searching within herself, Kayla must find her own power – even without a Set to protect her – and save not only herself but the world she loves.

What I liked:

Overall, The Set Stealer was a good story. I liked Kayla’s character and her quest for knowledge. The pace of the story was good, and there was plenty of action with plenty of blood and violence to go along with it. The training sequences interested me, and the final battle added an interesting twist. If you enjoy dark fantasy, add this one to your TBR list.

What I didn’t like:

At times, especially in the battle scenes, the book seemed more like a superhero battle than a fantasy novel. I would have liked to have more information on exactly what a set is and why the sets manifest themselves so differently in each person. Lastly, The Set Stealer could have used another pass by the editor.

Overall impression:

I liked the book! Good characters, lots of action, intrigue, and Kayla’s quest made for an enjoyable read. On the downside, my biggest issue was the book could have used additional editing. However, if you like action filled fantasy, read this one.

My rating:

3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 stars)

Connect with Jonathon McElhaney:

Find Jonathon McElhaney on his Amazon Author Page or his website. Visit, look around, and maybe pick up a book for yourself! While you’re there, please consider leaving a comment or a review.

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The Case of the Tattooed Buttocks by Alan Hardy – My Review!!

The Case of the Tattooed Buttocks – My review!!

The Case of the Tattooed Buttocks Cover

I’m not a big fan of cozy mysteries. Given that, I’m not sure how The Case of the Tattooed Buttocks (Inspector Cullot Mystery Series #1) got on my Amazon recommendations, but with a title like it has, I had to add it to my TBR list. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

A DETECTIVE/MURDER MYSTERY LIKE NO OTHER…

Following the murder of a sexy, blonde bombshell (and, soon after, the bloody, gruesome, shocking murder of yet another sexy broad), ex-Inspector Cullot is called in to team up with his old side-kick, Detective Sergeant Watkins, to investigate the baffling crime. Together they set about solving the mysterious deaths at Bounderdales, the opulent mansion of the oil magnate, Henry Barble. A small group of the rich, decadent, sophisticated and ultra-sexy are staying at the mansion. What secrets are each of them harbouring? Who are the guilty parties? And what is the dark secret from his own past which causes Cullot’s frequent moments of dark despair? Why did he leave the Police Force? Did he jump, or was he pushed? Why does he now work in a department store, in Ladies Underwear?

The police constable first on the scene of the initial murder, PC Blunt, is ready to record every detail of the case, and assist his colleagues in their work. But what is his own past..? Is he as half-witted as he seems? What about gorgeous, sexy blonde bombshells, Stephanie and Gloria? And louche, limp-wristed Anthony Newhome? And Barble’s son, Oswald? And Barble’s demure, bespectacled secretary, Abigail? And ex-movie star, Janice Butler? Are they all who they say they are, or are some of them involved in a deadly game of murder and revenge? How are these murders linked to the unsolved Night-Club Hostess Murders which took place two years earlier? And, most puzzling of all, what is the meaning of the tattoos on the gorgeous buttocks of the assembled ladies? Thrill to the suspense, the heart-ache, the twists and turns, the laugh-a-minute of this hilarious, baffling mystery. Get ready to follow the roller-coaster plot, with one surprise after surprise, and scintillating word-play and sparkling dialogue between the marvellous host of characters. Will you be able to work out who did it? A detective/murder mystery like no other…

What I liked:

The Case of the Tattooed Buttocks was an interesting read. Lots of quirky characters, plenty of humorous moments, and a murder made for a good story. Add to the plot the backstory of Inspector Cullot, his interest in ladies undergarments, his dark episodes, and fun plays on words, and you have many elements of an entertaining novel.

What I didn’t like:

My biggest complaint is the book tried too hard to be funny. The constant correction of PC Blount by Watkins (and others), along with the too frequent mispronunciation of his name failed to move the story forward. Cullot’s mysterious musings got old quickly, too. Lastly, the meandering path to solve the mystery made it difficult to follow.

Overall impression:

I was optimistic about reading The Case of the Tattooed Buttocks. Sadly, the book disappointed me to a degree. The book had some neat elements that I enjoyed. Despite the good parts, I tired of the characters constantly correcting PC Blount and the mispronunciation of his name. In addition, the path to solving the mystery meandered a little aimlessly. Lastly, the excessive effort at humor detracted from the story. Perhaps the intent of the book was to poke fun at the cozy mystery genre. All told, if you enjoy racy cozy mysteries, read this one and decide for yourself!

My rating:

3.5 Stars (Rounded to 4 stars)

Connect with Alan Hardy:

Find The Case of the Tattooed Buttocks and other books by Alan Hardy at his Amazon Author Page and his Goodreads Author Page. Give them a visit! While you’re there, consider leaving a comment or a review, and maybe buy a book or two!

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Blood Relic (Paranormal Peacekeepers #3) – My Review!

Blood Relic (Paranormal Peacekeepers #3) – My Review!!

Blood Relic Cover

I read the first two books of the Paranormal Peacekeepers series by Lucretia Stanhope and thoroughly enjoyed them. I added Blood Relic (Paranormal Peacekeepers #3) to my TBR list a while back and finally got a chance to read it. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

When a string of dead witches points to the illegal practice of making relics that eternally drip with magic blood, Alice is called to go deep into the vampire underground. The mission plants her as the lead on a military targeting squad, serving a branch of the PPK she despises. To reject the task means the blood of witches on her hands. To succeed means her and Amarok will never be simple ambassadors again – if they ever were.

With her and Amarok one step closer to serving the military division of the PPK, she finds comfort in her new, albeit temporary, partnership with the vampire Matthias. While balancing their own evolving relationship, Matthias prepares her for what she will see in the blood dens.

Once she steps into the seedy world where ruthless vampires pay to play with magic blood it is quickly clear that everyone underestimated the vampires’ cravings. Can the power she keeps hidden from her keepers save her life without changing it into a life of service not worth living?

What I liked:

After reading the first two books, Alice is like an old friend that you are eager to catch up with and find out what she’s been doing. Amarok and Matthias make great foes and love interests for her, and Alice’s growth into a complex woman continues. Lots of action and intrigue with this one and many twists and turns kept me interested throughout. If you like dark fantasy, Blood Relic (Paranormal Peacekeepers#3) is your kind of book!

What I didn’t like:

Despite the action, there were a few slow parts in the book. In addition, Alice’s quandary over who she loves got a bit repetitive.

Overall impression:

I enjoyed Blood Relic (Paranormal Peacekeepers #3), though not as much as the previous books. This one is quite a bit darker, with more violence and blood, and delves deeper into sexual situations that the other books. Overall, an entertaining read for dark fantasy fans!

My rating:

4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 stars)

Connect with Lucretia Stanhope:

Find Lucretia Stanhope on her Amazon Author Page or on her Facebook page. Discover more about the Paranormal Peacekeepers and her other books (and maybe buy a few). While you’re there, consider leaving a review or a comments!

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Rings of Polaris Collection by Paul Alan – My Review!!

Rings of Polaris Collection – My Review!!

 

Rings of Polaris Cover

Science fiction shows up in my recommendation occasionally and when they do, I take a good look at the blurb before committing. Rings of Polaris Collection by Paul Alan looked good and I added it to my TBR list. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

Masterfully crafted by Paul Alan, the ‘Rings of Polaris’ series fuses science fiction, dystopian fiction, and action – in an adventure giving Arthur C. Clarke a run for his money.
Readers are invited to strap in with Jason and Rebel Lexis on a mission across the vast wasteland that was once Earth to the surface of Mars. While nobody will deny science fiction’s timeless popularity, both readers and critics are currently crying out for wholly-unique new narratives that don’t succumb to recycling of the “same old” concepts.

What I liked:

Rings of Polaris had the interesting characters, cool, technology, and galaxy-altering intrigue that I enjoy in science fiction novels. Jason and Rebel Lexis fill the characters’ role nicely, especially Rebel Lexis’ emergence as an almost human syn. Jason has enough baggage to allow him to be a brooding hero. The tech on the ships was a bonus. With plenty of action, a touch of mystery, and a bit of time travel, the book entertained me!

What I didn’t like:

I thought the book could have used another round with an editor. I usually don’t comment on particular words or writing style unless it throws me from the story. In Rings of Polaris, the word ‘albeit’ was overused and, after the first couple of appearances pulled me from the story. In addition, I felt there were some rambling parts that didn’t connect with the story as a whole.

Overall impression:

Rings of Polaris Collection had some excellent good sci-fi elements. Good characters, solid technology (including the syns), and the intrigue all make for an entertaining read. Sci-fi fans will enjoy it!

My rating:

3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 stars)

Connect with Paul Alan:

Find Paul Alan on his Amazon Author Page and his Facebook page. When you visit, please consider leaving a review or a comment and maybe pick up a book or two!

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The Scholar: The Genoa Chronicles, Book 1 by J.J. Anders – My Review!!

The Scholar: The Genoa Chronicles, Book 1– My Review!!

The Scholar Cover

I admit that I’ve not really listened to an audiobook in its entirety until I received an Audible gift certificate. I chose The Scholar: The Genoa Chronicles, Book 1 by J.J. Anders and narrated by Marnye Young as my introduction to audiobooks. Read on for my review.

Synopsis (from the author):

Anna is clearly different from others. With obvious physical differences and powerful abilities, she’s never quite fit in…anywhere. Having no knowledge of her parents, she sets out to discover her true origin. On the run for most of her life, she’s become a master at eluding capture, even a little cocky, you might say. When a sticky situation forces her hand, she hitches a ride with a wizard, who whisks her away to another world where, according to him, she’d been exiled from as a child. This new magical place seems oddly familiar as Anna discovers powerful enemies and treasured allies on her quest for answers. The dangerous journey thrust her headlong into the arms of Kriston, who finds himself caught between sworn-duty and insatiable curiosity.

What I liked:

First, I liked the story. Anna had some great adventures and met many interesting characters and creatures. The rock trolls were my favorite, though the huge horses were a close second. Secondly, I enjoyed Marnye Young’s narration. The various voices she used impressed me.

The book has many of the classic fantasy elements like a quest, cool creatures, adventure, and a touch of romance. The Scholar: The Genoa Chronicles, Book 1 moved along briskly and had enough action to keep my interest. Overall, a good book.

What I didn’t like:

I didn’t find the audiobook format to be a favorite. While Marnye Young did a great job narrating the story, I missed putting my own imagination into the story. The story itself, though entertaining, seemed a bit disjointed to me and jumped around more than I liked.

Overall impression:

The Scholar: The Genoa Chronicles, Book 1 audiobook was entertaining and beautifully narrated. Although I didn’t enjoy the audiobook as much as I would an ebook or physical copy, it made a couple of flights enjoyable. As far as the story goes, it’s a good one! If you like fantasy, give this one a try!

My rating:

4 Stars for the book

5 Stars for the narration

Connect with J.J. Anders:

Find J. J. Anders on her Amazon Author Page or her website. While visiting, consider leaving a review or a comment, and maybe buy a book or two!

Connect with Marnye Young:

Find Marnye Young on her website, check out the books she’s narrated, and maybe pick one up for your listening pleasure!

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Making History by Bruce Polky – My Review!!

Making History – My Review!!

Making History Cover

 

A friend recommended Making History by Bruce Polky and I added it to my TBR. Read on for my thoughts about this sci-fi novel. 

Synopsis (from the author):

One little decision can get you killed, or something worse.

Dav jumps from planet to planet in Safe Space selling computer hardware, whether people need it or not. His life starts to fall apart when his Personal Assistance Device crashes. Like every citizen of Safe Space, his PAD’s been his ID, wallet, phone, and more, from the time he was six years old. Without it he can’t travel, can’t work, can’t even buy lunch!

Under Government law, every citizen must carry their PAD at all times, and any modification is illegal. Leaving it unattended will set off alarms, even calling it bad names will get you fined, or result in a visit from the Protectors.

Marsy, a black-market tech, can fix his machine, but her work has attracted the worst possible attention. Marsy is dragged off by the Protectors, kicking and screaming till the last. Dav gets out, but the Protectors know who he is and that is not a good thing. His new PAD is much more than he expected. Through it, he gets a glimpse of what lies behind Safe Space and the rigid control of the Government. Everything he has always known about life is challenged. If the Protectors find him, they will remove him for what he has discovered. He must learn to work with the new capabilities of his upgraded PAD to survive, but this device plays by its own rules, and it could kill him even faster!

His only option is to hunt for Marsy. She can tell him what this damn thing is, and maybe together they can uncover what the Government is hiding.

Or maybe humanity’s whole future has already been decided.

What I liked:

First, I liked the story! A nice mix of science fiction and dystopia with a few little twists along the way kept my attention. Samuel (our resident computer inhabiting Dav’s PAD) was an entertaining character. Dav himself was a good character, too, though I liked Samuel better. Marsy and Garth added nice background, but the story revolved around Dav and Samuel. The discoveries Dav and Samuel made and government control of everything showed the dystopian side of the book. All told, a fun and entertaining novel!

What I didn’t like:

For me, the science fiction wasn’t futuristic enough. Yes, the PADs were cool, but from a technology perspective, not much different that tablets and phones available today. The space travel was cool, but the habitats, again were not so futuristic.

Overall impression:

Making History by Bruce Polky entertained me! Dav and Samuel’s adventures and the secrets they uncovered made for an interesting and thought provoking book. While it could have been heavier on the science fiction, the story kept me interested. If you enjoy sci-fi with a nice mix of dystopia, read this one!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with Bruce Polky:

Find Bruce and his book on his Amazon Author Page. While visiting, consider leaving a comment or a review and maybe pick up your own copy of Making History!

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The Black Fox: Run for Your Life by Gordon Bickerstaff – My Review!!

The Black Fox: Run for Your Life – My Review!!

The Black Fox Cover

A while back, I read the first of Gordon Bickerstaff’s Lambeth Group Thrillers, and gave Deadly Secrets 4 Stars. When The Black Fox: Run for Your Life appeared in my recommendations, I added it to my TBR. Here is my review.

Synopsis (from the author):

Zoe Tampsin is resourceful, smart and Special Forces-trained, but she has been given an impossible mission.

She has to protect scientist, Gavin Shawlens, from assassination by the CIA, and discover the secret trapped in Gavin’s mind that the CIA want destroyed.

As the pressure to find Shawlens escalates – the CIA send Zoe’s former mentor to track her down and her fate seems sealed when he surrounds Zoe and Gavin with a ring of steel. With each hour that passes, the ring is tightened, and the window for discovering Gavin’s secret will shut.

Zoe is faced with a decision that goes against all of her survival instincts. If she is wrong – they both die. If she is right – she will discover the secret and become the next target for assassination.

Run for your life…

What I liked:

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I like thrillers. The Black Fox: Run for Your Life has all the elements for a great thriller. Lots of action, plenty of plot twists, and a large-scale conspiracy blend to make this an excellent read! Zoe is a great character, a believable operative, and her talents are fully on display in the book. Gavin plays a central role as the pair struggle to stay alive and solve the mystery of why the CIA wants him dead. No spoilers from me, so you’ll just have to read this one to find the answers!

What I didn’t like:

I had a couple of complaints about the book. First, Gavin was such a weak persona in this book compared to the first book of the series. Secondly (and admittedly this is personal bias as a former submariner), the submarine parts seemed a bit farfetched.

Overall impression:

The Black Fox: Run for Your Life entertained me from start to finish. With tons of action, good characters, lots of plot twists, and an interesting finish, I enjoyed it. If you like thrillers, try this one! 

My rating:

4.5 Stars (round to 5 Stars)

Connect with Gordon Bickerstaff:

Discover Gordon Bickerstaff and his book on his website and his Amazon Author Page. While you’re visiting, consider leaving a comment or a review. I know Gordon Bickerstaff will appreciate it!

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Standing on a Whale by B. J. Tiernan – My Review!!

Standing on a Whale – My review!!

Standing on a Whale Cover

I’m not sure how I found Standing on a Whale by B. J.Tiernan, but after reading the blurb, it intrigued me enough to add it to my TBR list. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

Recluse Lance Stavros is a successful doctor who runs his own practice, but on the inside, he’s basically high-functioning human wreckage. He was born into a loveless home that lacked the nurturing to help him develop an ability to cope with life’s challenges. Now Lance is forty-seven, and the only reason he’s survived the past four decades without taking his own life is cowardice.

As hopelessness overcomes him, and he’s finally finding the guts within to pull the trigger on his existence, a house call pulls him out of the deadly spiral. It will turn out to be the call of his lifetime.

Lance becomes a live-in medic for a controversial mystic and lecturer who irks the Greek government—and becomes an assassin’s target. Amid this new and curious world, and a reignited past romance, Lance battles his cowardice to investigate who is trying to kill his employer, and he’s about to uncover more than he bargained for.

What I liked:

Standing on a Whale was an interesting read. It was a curiously entertaining cross of philosophy, religion, and political commentary set against the backdrop of Lance Stavros’ personal crisis. Hadden, as the mystical philosopher, added a nice character. They mystery of who Hadden’s would be killer was, and the twists and turns surrounding it kept me guessing. Lastly, Lance’s budding romance with Kavita (and its many twists and turns) completed this enjoyable story.

What I didn’t like:

My only criticism of Standing on a Whale was that some of Hadden’s lectures had a preachy feel to them. Other than that, good stuff!

Overall impression:

I enjoyed Standing on a Whale by B. J. Tiernan. From Lance Stavros’ crisis through his transformation, the novel leads us down a twisty path to redemption. What more can you ask of a book?

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with B. J. Tiernan:

Find B. J. Tiernan on her Amazon Author Page. While you’re there, leave her a comment or a review and maybe pick up a book or two!

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The One Discovered (Chronicles of the Diasodz #1) – My Review!!

The One Discovered – My review!!

The One Discovered Cover

I love the way fantasy can move in so many different directions. It can be classic epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and even have a bit of the paranormal in it. Such is the case with The One Discovered (Chronicles of Diasodz #1) by Yvette M Calleiro. Here is my review.

Synopsis (from the author):

How do you choose when both options have dire consequences?

Sofia is a 17 year old who is quite content with her life. She has a caring boyfriend who also just happens to be her best friend since birth. She has a loving mother. She is successfully completing her last year of high school and enjoys her part-time job. She can’t imagine wanting more from her life…until Ar’ch (pronounced Ar-rick) enters her dreams, sparking a burning flame inside of her that she can’t seem to extinguish nor does she want to.

Ar’ch is a Diasodz (Die-ah-sodz), a species created by the Goddess back when God created humans. Diasodz were made to heal and protect humans, but when the Diasodz turned their backs on helping humans and left Earth to live in their own world, the Goddess abandoned them. Since then, their powers and their very lives have been fading. A prophecy foretold that a young girl born on Earth would be the Diasodz’s savior. Ar’ch and his brother, Angel, travel to Earth to retrieve her and bring her back to their world before her death day in order to save their kind. Ar’ch knows the drill: find the target, capture her, and safely bring her home. But what happens when the target captures his dormant heart?

Choices create action. Actions have consequences. When faced with the truth, what choice will Sofia make? Will she be able to accept the consequences that follow?

What I liked:

The One Discovered was a nice read. Written for young adults, I nonetheless enjoyed it. First, the book has solid characters. Sofia and Rafe make a good couple, and Ar’ch’s intrusion into her dreams and her life make for interesting conflict. The story hints of other powers at work, though Rafe and Sofia are ignorant for the most part.  Follow their adventures and see if Sofia comes into her powers!

What I didn’t like:

Despite the fact that Sofia and Rafe are a couple, their lack of physical attraction seemed out of place. In addition, Sofia’s repeated swoons over Ar’ch got a bit repetitive. A better explanation of what Ar’ch and Angel are would help, too.

Overall impression:

The One Discovered (Chronicles of the Diasodz #1) was a good read. Filled with a nice blend of fantasy and paranormal and good solid characters, it’s a book I recommend to anyone who likes the genre!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with Yvette M. Calleiro:

Find Yvette on her website or her Amazon Author Page. While you’re there leave a comment or a review and check out the rest of her books (and maybe buy a few)!

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