Overwatch by John Mitchell

Romance, murder, blackmail… What more could you ask for?

Genre: Suspense/Romance
Length: 368 pages

Synopsis: Jackson Scott has gone through severe physical and mental trauma while in the Army. Because he was so good at what he did, the Army still wants him to stay. But he just wants to get away from it all and ends up in Three Forks on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. He settles in to a simple life, quite a change from his Army experiences, and everything seems to be going okay.

Life seems to take a turn for the better for Jackson. He meets Meagan Harrison, a former up-and-coming corporate attorney in Seattle. Unfortunately, she lost her husband and has returned home to live with her father. There is an attraction between the two of them that continues to grow throughout the story.

But they must deal with the sinister side of Three Forks. Jackson- and by association, Meagan and her father- ends up on the radar of Buzz McAllister when Buzz’s younger son crashes his car and blames it on Jackson.

Buzz has the judge and sheriff in his pocket along with various other people and cooks up a plot to use the accident to get some property he desperately wants. He will do almost anything to get what he wants, including blackmail and murder. He sets in action a series of events that affects multiple lives, putting some in jail and another in the hospital. And that’s only part of it. He’s just a bad dude. He demoralizes people, uses the sheriff to get away with breaking the law, and even blackmails the judge.

I’ll leave it at that so I don’t give away too much of the story.

Cover Art: Knowing that the book is set on the Olympic Peninsula, I wish the cover had shown more of the scenery. It is such a beautiful area! But it did bring back memories of exploring parts of the peninsula. And the rain. The last time I was there, it was raining. I still remember looking over at the mountains from Victoria, British Columbia. Impressive.

With the fire being such a large part of the cover, I first thought of firefighters and fires before I read the book’s description. But, there is only one physical fire in the book that is outside a fireplace or grill, and that’s when a lightning bolt hits a tree.

My Thoughts: The book is divided into three parts by the author. I tend to not mentally divide books into parts, but this one had pretty distinct changes. The first portion of the book was like a romance. The rest was more like a suspense. In a way, it kind of makes it difficult to categorize the book. It’s not all romance and it’s not all suspense.

Rating: 3.5 stars


The 6th Horseman (The Extremist Edge Series: Part 1) by Anderson Atlas

It leaves you wanting more…

Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Length: 388 pages

Note: I am not your normal reader of zombie books, so realize my rating could be lower than what other reviewers would give this book.

Synopsis: What would you do if you were dissatisfied with your life? How far would you go? What if you were given the opportunity of a lifetime or the opportunity for revenge? Would you take the opportunity or say no because it sounded too good to be true?

The characters in this book must deal with the consequences of the choices they made regarding those opportunities. Ian, Ben, Isabella, Tanis, Hana, Markus. Each made the decision to say yes. Each was as much victim as instigator. The book follows them through New York City and beyond as they deal with death (and zombies) all around them and as they search for survivors of the virus. Follow them as they discover who Zilla really is (I didn’t figure it out until the characters did!) and work their way to the new ‘Eden’.

Cover Art: I’m not so keen on this cover, but that is MY personal taste and has nothing to do with the actual drawing. It makes me think more horror than what is really in the book or, at least, more graphic violence. It makes me shiver to look at it. The cover also makes me think ‘sick and twisted.’ And I just realized, that’s a pretty apt description of Zilla. LOL. With that said, I am a fan of Anderson’s art. You should take a look at some of the other drawings he has done!

My Thoughts: I typically do not read books with zombies (or zombie-like creatures) in them. In fact, one of the first zombie books I read was by accident. Yes, by accident. This time, it was intentional. But, I must say, it was so much more than a ‘zombie’ book. It was almost as if the zombies were an afterthought. Yes, there were zombies everywhere, and there was interaction with the zombies. But, the main characters fascinated me. I wanted to know what made them tick. Why did they do the things they did? I suppose that if you are a zombie person, the zombies would fascinate you more than the main characters.

I did find it intriguing how the zombies evolved over the course of the novel. At first, they were pretty mindless and did what zombies do. Then, you see that they do have intelligence and can learn and set traps. This makes for an interesting spin in the book and has you wondering how much these zombies will learn over time.

While I was reading the book, I decided to look up Swindler Cove and some of the other places that are mentioned in the book. I wasn’t sure whether they really existed or not. Well, they do exist. To me, it just made the story that much more real knowing the places really are in New York City and not just in someone’s imagination.

P.S. Swindler Cove is definitely worth a look (Sherman Creek Park). And, I am looking forward to reading the sequel!

Rating: 3.5 stars

disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

A Vanishing Glow (The Mystech Arcanum, Vol. I & II) by Alexis Radcliff

Political intrigue, civil unrest, unlikely allies…

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
Length: 346 pages

Synopsis: There are so many different minor story lines that I could not do justice by trying to write my own synopsis. So, here is the official blurb:

“It is an Age of Revolution, an Age of Industrialism. Constructs, living men who are as much brass and steel as they are flesh, man the factories and wage the wars of a ruling elite who gorge themselves on the fruits of the common man’s labor. Mystech, a brilliant fusion of magic and machine, gives rise to a new class of privileged inventors and merchants even as the country festers with wounds from decades of internal strife.

Only one man holds the promise of a brighter future: Nole Ryon, the crown prince. When his childhood friend Jason Tern answers his call for aid, the two of them set out to fight for the change their country needs in order to survive, even as shadowy foes frustrate their efforts. But soon, Jason and Nole’s idealistic mission of hope becomes a furious manhunt for a political murderer as the nation balances on the precipice of a country-wide civil war. Can they cut through the threads of intrigue to discover their true enemy before everything is lost?

Sweeping from the ancient cities at the heart of the nation to the dusty edges of the war-torn frontier, A Vanishing Glow tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and assassins, friends and lovers, who come together in a time of epic struggle. Here a brave officer risks everything to win back his estranged father’s respect; a brilliant young engineer attempts to atone for her sins; a war-weary commander tries to pick up the pieces of the life he lost; and a man touched by the gods struggles to prepare a nation for the coming of an ancient evil which only he can see. In the dying light of a once-prosperous society, amid twisting plots, suffering and betrayal, lost love and shattered dreams, all must fight for what they hold dear. Who will taste the fruits of victory and who will lie bloodied on the ground in the light of a vanishing glow?”

Cover Art: The cover is interesting in that the man looks like he’s not sure what to think of his mechanical hand. It’s like he can’t believe it’s his hand. I can just picture him flexing the mechanical fingers and thinking, this really IS my hand! After I’ve read the book, I’ll have a better idea if that is the case. Okay, so the man on the cover is Jason Tern. He doesn’t start off with a brass arm, but does end up with one.

The background is the town of Adaron, the capital of the Federation of Ghavarim. With it being in the background and done in light, neutral colors, it’s harder to see the details. It would be nice if it had been just a little bit darker because it looks like it shows the disparity between the classes with all the factories and what appear to be residences of the wealthy.

I must say, though, it’s nice to see a cover where the character is how you picture him based on what you read in the book- the blue uniform, the mechanical left arm, dark hair…

My Thoughts: Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to keep all story lines straight. The main story revolves around Jason and the people he comes in contact with. The other secondary story revolves around Nilya and who she interacts with. I kept hoping through the book that Jason and Nilya would meet, but they don’t. That would have been a nice way to tie their stories together. Instead, one of the bigger characters at the beginning of Nilya’s story makes an appearance near the end of Jason’s story.

There also isn’t any confusion with names. You won’t find characters referred to by their titles in one chapter and then by their names in the next. If the character is called by their title, the author does a good job of making sure you know who it is, and you don’t have to sit there thinking, is Lord So-and-so Eddie, Pinky, Yoda, or Han?

Notes: I have not read much steampunk, so I don’t know if the books I’ve read in the past have been typical of the genre or not. I say this because this book doesn’t have as much of the steampunk flavor as the others. This book is more about politics and civil unrest and less about all the gadgetry associated with steampunk.

Rating: 3.5 stars

disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Gingerbread by Victor Davis

Genre: Definitely not a bedtime story
Length: 32 pages

Synopsis: Do you take the dare or not? That’s what Arainy had to decide. Did she want to stay the good girl who followed all the rules? Or did she want to go with Eddie and break in to the candy factory?

Arainy chooses to take the dare, and after dinner, she and Eddie sneak in to the candy factory. All those sweets and temptations! They find candy canes and taffy and gingerbread and so much more! So much they can indulge in! The gingerbread brings back happy memories for Arainy as she digs in and stuffs herself.

After a little bit, the Candy Man makes an appearance and tries to catch them. The two try to escape, but Eddie gets caught. Here is where the story gets interesting and a little freaky. Arainy offers to take Eddie’s place and the punishment.

Cover Art: My first impression of the cover was what is it? Is it the scent of gingerbread wafting up and forming a face? Does one of the characters look like that? Was the smiley face intentional or unintentional (do you see it?)? I’ll let you know after I’ve read this short story. Be right back!

Hmmm… Think I might need the author’s take on the cover. This is part of what I emailed:  I figure [the cover’s] probably not the scent of gingerbread wafting into the air making designs and smiley faces. This is how he responded:

“Haha. I’m a terrible artist. I went through a period years ago where I tried to get better. That’s a charcoal sketch (one of the better ones) I found in one of my journals. After writing the story and looking around for cover art, it jumped out at me. So, yes, I guess it is intended to be a representation of the Candy Man, but the picture has existed long before the story.”

I’m glad he has a sense of humor. 🙂

My Thoughts:  I read this story before bed. I’m thinking that might not have been such a good idea; I didn’t sleep very well. Someone, please remind me not to do that again!

The story is well written and leaves room for interpretation- especially about how Arainy is punished. It was kind of freaky not knowing for sure what happened to her.

Notes: This is a dark retelling of Peter Rabbit.

Rating: 3.5 stars

disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

The Descendants (Evolution of Angels Book 2) by Nathan Wall

Genre: Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thriller
Length: 220 pages

Notes: Normally I put the notes near the very end of my review, but I felt it necessary to place it near the beginning for this book. Why, you ask? The author notes that the universe he created was originally going to come alive in the form of a comic book. I do not know how much of that comic book feel he put into this book, but I’m thinking there was just enough to bug me. It doesn’t matter if there are fun characters and action; I just cannot stay focused on reading the book. I don’t know if it is the writing style or what, but it quite possibly influenced my rating some.

If you like angels and supernatural beings, you could easily like this book. So please, don’t let my review influence you that much, if at all.

Synopsis: Emma Brighton and Jonas Reid are in for a wild ride involving some not-so-human beings. The stage is set in the prologue when Emma and Jonas are injured by the Ourea (an elemental knight) when they were at a murder scene investigating the death of a teenage girl. Fast forward three years. Emma and Jonas are no longer investigating crimes; instead, they are looking for explanations and the Ourea they met in the past. Nobody had believed them in the past, but present events back up their story of something inhuman visiting (and possibly living on) earth. Unfortunately, Jonas stops making appearances in the book (you will find out why when you read the book). So, continuing with Emma, her story intersects with the Ourea (Athos) once again, while at the same time she is interacting with “Descendants.” But this time, Athos teams up with Emma so that he can save his creator and father, Zeus. Continue reading

The Unlikely Adventures of Race & Cookie McCloud by Tom Hoefner

Genre: Adventure/Comedy
Length: 112 pages, 111 pages, and 111 pages

Synopsis: This is another review where I am using the official blurb for the books. It’s worded so much better than I could do and also gives you a feel for the writing style of the serial tale.

“A superhero with anger management issues! A living stone idol with a love for pop-culture trivia! Fist-pumping vampires! These are but a few of the nefarious (and ridiculous) challenges facing awful private investigator Race McCloud and his teenaged niece, all-star spy-in-training Cookie McCloud, as they scour the globe in search of their missing secret agent family. Stuck together by Cookie’s parents under the pretense of ‘babysitting’ (who is sitting for whom is left largely unclarified), the pair find themselves the target of special forces who are out to capture Cookie and KILL RACE! With nowhere left to turn, they seek the aid of Green Suit Jacket Man, the night-stalking vigilante that Race has been hunting for six months and that Cookie finds in one night. With the hero’s reluctant support, the dysfunctional duo are off! To find Cookie’s parents, spies of a Bond-ian sort! To find Margolis McCloud, a tomb-raiding treasure hunter! To find Nyte McCloud, a monster slayer and practitioner of badassery! Through it all, our two heroes must figure out why the military is so hellbent on capturing Cookie, how to act like partners and, most of all, how to be a family.” Continue reading

Fort Applegate and the Battle at Wounded Knee by Brian Wu, Ph.D.

Back, you germs! Back!

Genre: Children’s
Length: 64 pages

Synopsis: Nolan Applegate is a young boy who is out looking for the perfect place for a fort. He explores the forest behind his house and reaches a stream. The stream is shallow enough that he could walk through it and only get his waterproof boots wet. But, like most of us have done in the past, he makes it a game to get across the stream without getting wet.

It is on the way back that the “Battle” begins. Nolan slips on a rock while crossing the stream the second time and lands in the stream. He skins his knee and bacteria get into his body. The rest of this cute story is about how his body goes about attacking the germs and how he helps his body fight off the germs.

There is a glossary of six terms at the end of the book. The author has done a nice job of making the terms understandable for young kids. For example T-cells are explained in this manner: “Created by the Thymus gland, these cells devour bacteria.  Nolan describes these as his body’s Navy.” Continue reading

Awakening (The Alventia Series Book 1) by Laura Greenwood

Length: 54 pages
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy

Synopsis: Awakening is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with some twists. Princess Keira of Alventia grew up hearing about a princess who was doomed to sleep for 100 years when she turns eighteen. She never really believed in it until it happened to her. She pricks her finger on a spindle and falls into a ‘waking’ sleep, where she knows what is going on around her. As the decades pass, fewer and fewer people come to visit. And somehow, she turns into a vampire. We don’t know for sure if this is part of the original curse or not. With not many years left of her curse, she is kissed awake by Phillip, the son of the Dark King, the one who made the original deal with the Queen who desperately wanted a child. Her castle became desolate while she was sleeping, but this is okay because she goes with Phillip to his. The rest of the story has her interacting with the Dark King and Hansel and Gretel and learning more about her curse and what she has become. Continue reading

Will The Real Albert Speer Please Stand Up? The Many Faces of Hitler’s Architect by Geetanjali Mukherjee

Length: 41 pages
Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Synopsis: The author takes us on a short trip through the life of Albert Speer, but focuses mainly on the Nuremberg Trial and later evidence of deceit during the trial. The third paragraph of the official blurb gives us an idea of where the author is going to take us on this journey.

“In the years since the trial, biographers have been fascinated with the life of Speer, and have attempted to understand the man behind the enigma. The reason for the fascination is as much for his proximity to Hitler and the regime as it is for his actions at the end of the war. Were they justifiable? Was Speer’s biggest flaw his ambition and his turning away from obviously inhumane acts? Or did Speer manage to pull off the ultimate conjuring trick, convincing the court of his unintentional involvement, all the while wholeheartedly supporting the Nazi regimes’ treatment of those they oppressed?” Continue reading

The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh

Hold on to your hats for a quantum ride!

Length: 294 pages (paperback)
Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: Brady and Felix are two brothers whose lives will forever change when they venture over the chain link fence that surrounds the neighboring property. The No Trespassing signs posted along the fence are like neon lights saying, ‘Look over here!’ What twelve-year-old boy (Felix) could resist that temptation? And what about the blue lights Felix is sure he saw?

Felix and his older brother, Brady, send in a drone to explore the property, and the drone is inexplicably knocked out of the air. This is when we start getting introduced to the unusual cast of characters which includes Nova, Achilles (my favorite), Thorn, and Nyx. And that’s just on this side of the quantum door. And the boys still don’t know what the quantum door is!

Just wait until you check out the other side!

Cover Art: The cover and inside illustrations were done by Ben J. Adams (check him out at benjadams.com). My favorite illustration of them all is the one below, of Achilles. I just want to meet him and touch him! Doesn’t he just glow?


Back to the cover art! I’m one of those people who prefers more color on my books. Bold, contrasting colors tend to catch my attention the most. That being said, this cover still does a good job and has an otherworldly, eerie feel to it. It captures the essence of the first part of the book quite nicely.

My Thoughts: For some reason, I am finding it difficult to form my thoughts into words and sentences. So, if my thoughts seem a little abrupt and don’t flow from sentence to sentence, that’s why. Oh, my very first thought when I read the title was Schrödinger’s Cat!

I found the book entertaining and well written. The landscapes and characters were easy to picture in my mind (but I wish there had been a few more illustrations). I thought the author did a really good job giving personalities to the various characters like AJ, Achilles, and Thorn. But, I felt that the main characters could have been developed a little more than they were. You don’t need to know science to enjoy this book, which can be good or bad. There is science introduced and science used, don’t get me wrong, but I think the author could have taken advantage of the opportunity to teach readers a little bit more. In my opinion, it’s never too early to get kids interested in science and math.

Notes: This book is aimed at younger readers (10-14), but older readers can certainly find it entertaining and worth a read.

Rating: 4 stars

disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review