Christoph Fischer

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Christoph Fischer

  • A Burnished Rose on Jan. 12, 2013

    “A Burnished Rose” by Christine Keleny is a marvellous historical novel about Rose Krantz, a young woman from Wisconsin who decides to forego a married life in order to join the American effort in World War 2 as a nurse. The book is incredibly well researched and detailed, particularly in the area of army life abroad. Whether it describes the drafting procedures, the journey across the Atlantic or the camp life in the desert, the author clearly has taken her time to get the background completely authentic which allows us to trust her and ease into the story. As a matter of personal taste I found that the amount of description and detail occasionally got in the way of the story but that only shows how eager I was to find out what was happening next in the story. The plot itself is solidly set up, the various characters are given a lot of time to establish themselves and come alive in our imagination. Rose joins the army in order to see the world – not just out of patriotism - and so she enters her new life with some naïve notion about what lies ahead of her. What she sees in the various theatres of war and how she perceives life in the army then becomes all the more real and shocking to us. I found it difficult to settle into the story at first as it seemed to begin rather oddly with her return home to Wisconsin to attend to her sick mother. Not having read the previous book in the series I was a little confused as to where the story was going as explanations about the characters and Rose’s past seemed confusing. I am very much an impatient and plot driven reader and was eager to get to the more dramatic parts of this war time story and once Keleny got to it I was more than satisfied with the result. The descriptions of the war in North Africa and Italy were amazing and utterly captivating, the group of soldiers and nurses were well-chosen to illustrate the variety of experiences different people had in these trying circumstances. As a fellow writer of historical fiction I have to applaud the author for her great skill and particularly for her vast knowledge. It has been a great pleasure to read a book about the ‘European’ War from an American perspective, with such an attention to detail and such thoughtfulness and through the eyes of such a wonderful character. I am looking forward to the next book in the series to find out what our heroine experiences next.
  • Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona on Jan. 15, 2013
    (no rating)
    “Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona” by Henry Martin is a difficult and an emotional read but one well worth your time. The main character Rudy is down and out in Barcelona after he has been robbed and raped. Without passport and money and unwilling to ask his parents to rescue him he gets stuck with homeless people, backpackers and seedy world of drugs and crime. The writing is superb, reminiscent at its best of Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski with their raw emotions and heartfelt honesty. The dark tone, the anger and the bitterness of Rudy feels towards life, his parents and all other people of authority however were something I had to get used to, at times I found it challenging and uncomfortable but at closer analysis I understood that given the life circumstances of Rudy he has little option but to feel that he is a victim. Once he has hit rock bottom there is no one to help him. Like so many people, I did not want to be reminded of the existence of so many whose harsh everyday reality is just like that of Rudy. It is a raw and uncomfortable read at certain moments but a great thought provoking one. The story is not all doon and gloom however and not without flirtations, suspense, action and hope. As Rudy stays in Barcelona he also grows up and overcomes some of his personal issues. This is a story of a backpacking holiday gone wrong, it is about the thin dividing line between fine and not so fine, personal freedom and many other issues I invite you to check out for yourself.
  • Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona on Jan. 15, 2013

    “Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona” by Henry Martin is a difficult and an emotional read but one well worth your time. The main character Rudy is down and out in Barcelona after he has been robbed and raped. Without passport and money and unwilling to ask his parents to rescue him he gets stuck with homeless people, backpackers and seedy world of drugs and crime. The writing is superb, reminiscent at its best of Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski with their raw emotions and heartfelt honesty. The dark tone, the anger and the bitterness of Rudy feels towards life, his parents and all other people of authority however were something I had to get used to, at times I found it challenging and uncomfortable but at closer analysis I understood that given the life circumstances of Rudy he has little option but to feel that he is a victim. Once he has hit rock bottom there is no one to help him. Like so many people, I did not want to be reminded of the existence of so many whose harsh everyday reality is just like that of Rudy. It is a raw and uncomfortable read at certain moments but a great thought provoking one. The story is not all doon and gloom however and not without flirtations, suspense, action and hope. As Rudy stays in Barcelona he also grows up and overcomes some of his personal issues. This is a story of a backpacking holiday gone wrong, it is about the thin dividing line between fine and not so fine, personal freedom and many other issues I invite you to check out for yourself.
  • Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona on Jan. 15, 2013

    “Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona” by Henry Martin is a difficult and an emotional read but one well worth your time. The main character Rudy is down and out in Barcelona after he has been robbed and raped. Without passport and money and unwilling to ask his parents to rescue him he gets stuck with homeless people, backpackers and seedy world of drugs and crime. The writing is superb, reminiscent at its best of Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski with their raw emotions and heartfelt honesty. The dark tone, the anger and the bitterness of Rudy feels towards life, his parents and all other people of authority however were something I had to get used to, at times I found it challenging and uncomfortable but at closer analysis I understood that given the life circumstances of Rudy he has little option but to feel that he is a victim. Once he has hit rock bottom there is no one to help him. Like so many people, I did not want to be reminded of the existence of so many whose harsh everyday reality is just like that of Rudy. It is a raw and uncomfortable read at certain moments but a great thought provoking one. The story is not all doon and gloom however and not without flirtations, suspense, action and hope. As Rudy stays in Barcelona he also grows up and overcomes some of his personal issues. This is a story of a backpacking holiday gone wrong, it is about the thin dividing line between fine and not so fine, personal freedom and many other issues I invite you to check out for yourself.
  • The Palaver Tree on Jan. 18, 2013

    I received "The Palaver Tree" by Wendy Unsworth in exchange for an honest review. It is probably one of the books submitted to me for a review that I was looking forward to the most. The subject matter of charity work and life in Africa is right up my alley and I have also had several short and long trips to Africa to take even more of an interest. The book follows several women, some in the UK and some in Africa, and their connections with each other. Each of them has their own personal background which Wendy Unsworth builds up carefully and with great detail. It was this set up that made me feel a little restless during the first part of the book when I wanted to know where the story was going. We jump from one character to the next as each story unfolds, which I personally found initially difficult to get used to. However, given the way the lives of the women are connected I could not suggest a better way of handling the plot and the time put into the establishment of the four women really pays off later when the plot accelerates. Fortunately I soon managed to settle into the flow and got drawn in completely.I don't want to spoil the story by giving too much of the plot away. The school and its student run into a lot of problems, from funding and political troubles to personal dramas of both the students and the teachers. It is a great insight into the real life of charity work and the many obstacles that can get in the way of good and honest people. Because we care so much for the main characters we get to experience these issues much deeper than we would from a newspaper article or a TV report. The writing is smooth and easily flowing, the story is less linear or predictable than my review might suggest and the descriptions of the landscape and life in Africa are beautiful and precious. This is a great book.
  • Coffee, Cigarettes, and Murderous Thoughts on Jan. 31, 2013

    "Coffee, cigarettes and murderous thoughts" by Henry Martin is a rather good selection of short stories with a broad range of darker themes and often raw emotions. There are not too many happy endings, I warn you, but that is not what good writing necessarily is about. It is about changing the reader's perspective and stimulate a thought process, something that Martin does masterfully. Be it seemingly deluded ramblings and fantastic threads of thoughts, disturbing insights in to the mind of a murder or just mundane scenes - they take you to the edge of your comfort zone and confront you with extremes and with the banal. The stories are a great exploration of the human psyche in all its forms. Not my usual cup of tea I found myself strangely drawn in. Some stories are even quite humorous (Mr. D.I.Y.) but to my own surprise my favourites were the more obscure ones. The book ends with the words: I exist. This book is a reflection of the many I's that there are. It is powerful, pulsating with life and provocative but definitely worth reading.
  • Coffee, Cigarettes, and Murderous Thoughts on Jan. 31, 2013

    "Coffee, cigarettes and murderous thoughts" by Henry Martin is a rather good selection of short stories with a broad range of darker themes and often raw emotions. There are not too many happy endings, I warn you, but that is not what good writing necessarily is about. It is about changing the reader's perspective and stimulate a thought process, something that Martin does masterfully. Be it seemingly deluded ramblings and fantastic threads of thoughts, disturbing insights in to the mind of a murder or just mundane scenes - they take you to the edge of your comfort zone and confront you with extremes and with the banal. The stories are a great exploration of the human psyche in all its forms. Not my usual cup of tea I found myself strangely drawn in. Some stories are even quite humorous (Mr. D.I.Y.) but to my own surprise my favourites were the more obscure ones. The book ends with the words: I exist. This book is a reflection of the many I's that there are. It is powerful, pulsating with life and provocative but definitely worth reading.
  • St Viper's School For Super Villains. The Riotous Rocket Ship Robbery. on Feb. 14, 2013

    "The Riotous Rocket Ship Robbery" was given to me by the author Kim Donovan in exchange for an honest review and I only reluctantly accepted it since I am a grown up and felt unsure I could review a children's book. I am glad I agreed because this book was a lot of fun and took me back to childish pleasures. As the title of the series already gives away, we are in the world of super heroes and super villains. Inside a volcano lies St Viper's School for the latter group and our heroes Demon, Stretch and Wolfgang (amongst others) are in their first year training for world domination. While they are forming their friendships they have to defend themselves against the older bully Chill and his gang, attend classes by Doctor Super Evil and get out of a hairy situation involving said Rocket Ship. It feels like the author has had as much fun writing this lively and humorous book as I had reading it, the illustrations are brilliant and I have no doubt that the team will be able to produce a large number of instalments for this lovely series. At a time when books like Harry Potter have influences consumer's expectation this is a great addition to what I am sure most children would like to read. May I add to this last sentence that I am not at all a fan of Harry Potter but I am of St. Viper's.
  • A Few Men Faithful: A Kavanagh Story I on Feb. 14, 2013

    "A Few Men Faithful" by Jim Wills is the first of the Kavannagh stories, a series of books about the conflict between the Irish and the English. This book is a competent, well balanced and informative work of art.It deals with the establishment of the IRA in addition to the IRB and it focuses on the years before and after the 1921 Treaty that separated the Southern Republic and the Northern Irish part of the UK. The story revolves around Daniel Kavannagh and his involvement in the fight against the British but it touches the lives of many other fighters and their families, love interests and the clergy. Through this we get a clear picture of the various positions that different parts of the Irish population took in the battle - and the reasons behind them. There is a preamble to the book in which the extent of the suppression in Ireland is described, a wise choice for any writer of historical fiction, since it relieves the story teller from feeding historical facts through the dialogue of characters who would already know those facts. Instead we learn about the organisation and lack of coordination of the gradually splitting Irish brigades/ army, the dangers they went exposed themselves and their families to, the endless series of assassinations and executions, hunger and civilian life at the times. As native German I learned a lot from this book but never felt talked down to or taught something. The history could also be seen as the background for the love story between Daniel and Sophia, which runs as parallel story to the political part of it. I personally enjoyed the political part the most for the objective and factual way the conflict was described, particularly the third part of the book when the Irish fighters split over the treaty, which of course bears relevance up to the presence. This is a great achievement.
  • St Viper's School for Super Villains. The Big Bank Burglary. on March 14, 2013

    I was given this book as a gift by the author and having reviewed the first book I was grateful and keen to read more. The first book was highly entertaining and great fun and this one is not much different. Being the second in the series it can build on the already established characters and the set scene, which Donovan took full advantage of. This is a playful and rewarding read about young rascals on their way to become super-evil. The title gives the main plot of the story away but thanks to the many colourful characters there is of course much more to the book and much more is happening. My personal favourite sub-plot concerns Doctor Super Evil and award ceremonies for super-powered persons. If you are young at heart you will love this as much as your kids.
  • Philly MC: A Kavanagh Story II on March 25, 2013

    "Philly MC" by Jim Wills is the second in his Kavannagh series. Having read the first book I was quite surprised by this second instalment, but it was a very pleasant surprise. In a series of books I often expect to see repetition and the same formula but in this book Wills has not only changed time and place, he has also taken on a new concept. In Philly MC he focuses much more on just one man and his inner torment, making this a brilliant character study and a rewarding experience. Jack's moody personality was as interesting as the setting, a very authentic portrayal of the 1960s, which admittedly I know only from Television, but it seemed very real and right. Having started his series with historical fiction with a lot of issues dictated by the setting, this book is much more playful and shows a great versatility and an admirable ability to keep the reader interested with less props. A great book.
  • Sudden Death (endorsed by James Patterson & Clive Cussler) on April 09, 2013

    When I started "Sudden Death" by Michael Balkind I expected a straight forward murder mystery set in golf circles. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a bit more to the book. First of all I have to say that I loved the setting, since I have many golf playing friends and neighbours who follow the sport closely and so I have become familiar with the tournaments and the expressions. All that is peculiar and odd about golf players is brilliantly depicted in the portrayal of the main character and drawn into the sports world most tension and suspense seemed to be coming from the games, the teams and the rivalry instead of murder. The title character is hunted by the press and has a hate for all things paparazzi and is widely hated for his temper. He receives a death thread and so we wait for the execution of this death foretold. When I found on my kindle that after twenty percent there was still no sign of this murder I was starting to get restless, expecting a murder at any given moment and at every corner and became to appreciate the suspense of a death foretold. I naturally cannot tell you when the murder happens, how and what happens after, that would be spoiling the fun, but rest assured that this book will keep you on the edge of your seat in any case. Besides the tension that permeates the book there is also some surprising depth to the way some characters develop throughout the book and the main characters are backed up by an excellent supporting cast. I am very glad I picked this book.
  • Dead Ball (the sequel to Sudden Death - Endorsed by John Lescroart) on April 09, 2013

    "Dead Ball" by Michael Balkind is the second in his series about golf player Reid Clark. This time round the murder happens right at the start and the victim is Bob Thomas, Reid Clark's best friend and Chief Financial Officer of The Inner City Sports Foundation and AllSport. During the investigation we find that the victim's life is not all what it was meant to be and the number of suspects is so big that several threads need to be followed up: The wife, his former mistress, business partners, accountants and a van that has been spotted near the crime scene. Reid assists in the investigations, which leave you guessing to the very last minute. This is a great whodunnit mystery, unpredictable, entertaining and fast paced. After the first instalment where we were waiting for the murder to happen throughout the book, this is an excellent counter-part / sequel and shows the author's versatility and skill. The setting at AllSport makes for a colourful setting and if you have read the first book already you will appreciate Reid Clark becoming a more positive figure, if you haven't you will still be able to appreciate the book on its own for the suspense and the great writing. A solid performance by Balkind.
  • Gold Medal Threat on April 11, 2013

    "Gold Medal Threat" by Michael Balkind is a murder mystery set at the Olympic Games in Australia. There is a minor connection to Balkind's previous novels in that Casey, one of the main characters is the son of Reid Clark, detective and sportsman in previous Balkind novels. Reid Clark runs a sports club called AllSports and some of the athletes at the Olympics have trained at that club back in the US. Not long before the Olympics Casey and his friend Johnny overhear by chance parts of a conversation between two assassins about a murder plot aimed at one of the gymnasts. However, our heroes do not know which one of the athletes is targeted and they are not certain they could identify the assassins. The book becomes a battle against time to identify the victim and the murderers before it is too late. This is aimed mostly at the young adult market but has is just as enjoyable for grown ups. I am far from the target age group but really loved the book. Balkind loves his sport and proves this with the knowledgeable description of some of the sports events. The story moves along in a great pace, as befitting to young adult novels this book is less dramatic than its predecessors and more of a fun and adventure read then a gruesome or terrifying thriller. Having said that it is still great suspense, cleverly plotted and just like Balkind's other books entertainment. The boys also get close to two young athlete girls, adding more interest and spice to this already colourful great book. "Gold Medal Threat" confirms the author's versatility which was already shown in is second book, "Dead Ball", which so decisively was written in a different style to "Sudden Death". This must be my favourite book of the three published so far as it is at times very playful and light hearted. The ball is back in Balkind's court to show where his writing takes us next. I will be waiting in anticipation. A well deserved 5 stars out of 5.
  • Shooter in a Plague Year: A Kavanagh Story III on April 26, 2013

    In "Shooter in a Plague Year" Jim Wills returns to the Kavanagh family once again, the third instalment of this inspired series. After "A Few Men Faithful", which was set in Dublin around 1916 - 1924, and "Philly MC", set in the US in the 1960s, his third book takes us into the future. Chris Kavanagh is a sniper for the IRA in Belfast in 2018, just a few years ahead, where in a worst case scenario the opposing forces in Northern Ireland have become more radical rather than moderate. Unwilling to share or negotiate violence flares up again. With no helpful interference from the US or Britain all of Ireland is left to fight it out on their own. Interspersed in the story are segments about the history of Ireland, told by way of relating the fate and involvement in the conflict of several of the Kavanagh men over the decades. These segments were incredibly informative and helpful to understand the origins and complexities of the existing differences and to understand how torn families and loyalties are as the Kavanagh family does not stand entirely united behind the IRA and it demands and practices. The author does a splendid job at explaining where the points of conflict between the opponents stand and how easy it is for politicians and paramilitary groups to disagree and find the answer in violence. I was reluctant to delve into this book, being one about a conflict that is ongoing and has still a lot of sensitivity attached to it. Wills does well in portraying the situation and views of both camps. By taking the views and the situation to an extreme this is provocative and rewarding in many ways, leaving me with not so much an answer as a better understanding. The book is well written, tension and plot move smoothly and the dialogue is also well done, particularly where the different accents need to be emphasized phonetically. A thriller as much as political novel this is a gripping read. After "Philly MC" it is also a great move in the context of the series. There are some vague connections to the stories of the other books but in essence the members of the Kavanagh family are all individuals, as are all people of Ireland. By going into the future Wills teaches us just as much about the presence as he does with the actual historic information.
  • A Hard Gemlike Flame: A Kavanagh Story IV on June 08, 2013

    "A Hard Gemlike Flame" by Jim Wills is the fourth novel in the Kavanagh saga and this time the author has turned his talents on to the genre of romance in the broadest sense, although it is yet again a tale of morals, concerning trust, honesty and deceit. Frustrated Mick Kavanagh gets a break in advertising through Cathleen Murray, a wealthy and powerful woman, who hires him and falls for him at the same time. They come from different worlds and both fear the strong attraction and bond between them. Can they find common ground with him coming from such a poor background? Can his disapproving parents prevent their union? Erotic, full of literary quotes and ideas on what it means to be Irish Mick is truly Irish and teaches Cathleen about it as they embark on their affair and the turbulences that their young relationship undergoes. There are several interesting side characters that add to the plot and make the story complex and interesting. The book is a surprising addition to the saga but it certainly freshens and livens up the selection in the series so far. As history fan I was personally a little disappointed that the series is more contemporary, but the choice is well in line with the authors previous frequent changes of direction and thematically it complements the other books in the series very well.
  • Of Words and Water - 2013 on July 02, 2013

    "Of Words and Water" is an impressive anthology of short stories and poems, all around the theme of water, a charitable project for WaterAid. The pieces chosen cover a broad range of approaches, they are poetic, poetic prose or use more modern language; some are more symbolic, others more direct and literal. The editors did an excellent job at compiling a huge variety of unique styles and ideas on the subject. Whether we experience the power of ocean waves or have a comparatively safe swimming pool as setting, a flooded house, a woman's water breaking or snow in an unusual location - the collection as a whole hits home the importance of water, its many shapes and forms and its all permeating importance. Water is needed everywhere, water is life. The book can be downloaded for free, a donation for WaterAid is suggested.
  • Paulie on July 18, 2013

    "Paulie by M.A.Myers is a terrific horror story that had an amazing impact on me and made me imagine all sorts of noises and creeks in the house. The story is well set up in a way that what seemed just like a harmless family story turns into full blown nightmare. Myers wastes no time in setting the scene before the horror unfolds from what seemed ignorable parts of the story. It moves at a fast pace and is a very powerful read. A very well written and scary story that will please all fans of the genre. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
  • Rest Inn Peace on Aug. 08, 2013

    "Rest Inn Peace" by Bonnie Bernard is a hilarious cross between humour and horror, you just could not make it up unless you were Bonnie herself. The book is full of magic creatures who come to stay at the Rest Inn Peace, which is an Inn , not a motel. Since the death of the former Innkeeper Selma the place is in danger of being shut down. Selma's grandson, Corbin (or Cobra like he would prefer to be called and not snakeman as he is nicknamed at the Inn!) takes over together with his 12 year old daughter. Corbin has just been released from prison, has many issues and refuses to acknowledge anything remotely magic, although that proves difficult in Rest Inn Peace. Bernard has created an amazing cast of creatures that populate the place: Billy the Fairyman, a family of Yeti's, Vampires, werewolves, Zombies, trolls and a "flamboyant disco ghost" to name a few. As the book states: The creatures who reside in it are 'badass bitches'. The book is full of great on-liners, hilarious dialogue and witty observations. I hate to use the phrase in a review but I laughed out loud many times and hope I will remember the crazy metaphors and word creations. With much love to detail and imagination the book is spiked with delights. The rooms and the creatures have some very odd and most original and entertaining names. There is some chemistry with the Inn Manager Regina or Reggie, but Cobra still wonders whether he should stay at all. Then there are murders and Cobra learns that the magical realm is nothing to play with. This is great fun to read although I must warn you - if you haven't guessed it yet - there is some fair amount of swearing and strong language. This is a solid and original idea that works really well. There are some serious moments, too. Cobra has had substance issues and so has his ex-wife and so it is just as well that he is so far from human civilization. A big fan of Bonnie Bernard's other books I found this even better and look forward to the next mad but genial creations she comes up with. Hugely enjoyable!
  • Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant on Aug. 23, 2013

    "Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer: And Her Parable of the Tomato Plant" by Marsha Roberts is a very moving and entertaining read. In over 30 short stories Roberts takes us through her life: The good times and the bad; challenges to her family, such an accident to her sister, family issues that need to be resolved, her own physical, personal and professional set backs. What makes these stories special is the author's spirit throughout them. Never the whiner, moaner or victim the book is full of motivation, determination and faith in herself and in the God she believes in. The stories are written in a voice I loved listening to, not just because I can relate to so many references to the times and situations mentioned. Roberts memoirs to me are an encouragement to believe in yourself, to have faith and to make the most of your potential. Her God is helpful and kind and should not offend the sensitivities of agnostic readers. The inspirational message that shines through her life story is above religion, the tone is warm, loving and pleasantly understated and most of all, it is a very enjoyable and pleasant read.
  • Hunted (Talented Saga #3) on Sep. 04, 2013

    "Hunted" by Sophie Davis is the third in her Talented Saga and is another strong book by this talented author. Set in a world where children with special talents (telepathy for example) are trained in the Agency, our heroine Tala is assigned to assist in a talent testing project. The Agency is under constant threat by its enemies and Tala in particular is a target. All the while there is Tala's slightly complicated love life, beautifully set up in the previous books and portrayed delicately and in a pleasantly understated way. The romance segment is a particular strong point in this book, as are some other conflicts Tala experiences. With some unexpected secrets being uncovered the suspense and the pace keep the reader glued to the book. This is a very entertaining read, Davis knows how to keep the series fresh and exciting, this is not a repetition of formula. Some issues remain open for the next book to come. Tala has grown a lot since the first book and is now a stronger character from the first book. It is fun to watch a character and a series to grow when it is done so well. The book contains references to sex but is suitable for mature teenagers and should please the fans of fantasy and supernatural/ paranormal books. I am looking forward to the next book in this elegant and well written series.
  • Captivated, A Talented Novella (Talented Saga #3.5) on Sep. 06, 2013

    "Captivated" by Sophie Davis is as much a teaser as it is splendid bonus material for the Talented Series by this very talented author. It consists of four shorts that take us back to where Talia and Erik - the two main characters of the series - meet, and to some other key moments of their relationship and the plot of the series. As pointed out in the blurb, you probably need to know the series for full enjoyment and to avoid spoilers. The book is as well written as the rest of the series and offers some fresh perspective on the romance and the plot of the series, not least because two of the stories are told from Erik's perspective, while the rest of the series isn't. For lovers of this series the book will do wonders, taking us back to the previous parts of the series instead of rushing ahead with new material. It can be frustrating to wait for the next full book in the series but the author is giving us new material enough for me to feel I have had another good fix of the characters and the story. Now please bring on Book 4!
  • A World of Verse on Sep. 07, 2013

    "A World of Verse" by ASMSG Authors is a magnificent showcase of new and established talent in the world of rhymes and verses. The collection covers a huge range of themes and types of poetry, even pieces by the same author may vary in style and content. Thoughtfully but without rhyme Alan Hardy is first up with his wonderful musings about the life of an old lady, while later on for example Peter Watson Jenkins delivers a great 'Sonnett' in more traditional style of verse; Andy Szpuk chooses amongst others war and a dirty motel for his powerful and concise poems; some authors write more cryptic or in staccato (B L. Ronan, Teresa Garcia), others sound like rhythmic short stories with full sentences and a story to tell (Laurie Miller Kazmierczak - check out her 3rd Thought, it is amazing, as is Muriel Cyr's heartbreaking 'For Marcel Giroux' and Ollie Lambert's inspired 'Oscar Wager II'). Other favourites of mine were Ian Bradley Marshall's tribute to his mother and 'Anyhows', a great reflection on conscience; James Amoateng's take on men, Karena Marie's sad love poem to a fallen soldier and Lucy Pireel's short and poignant 'woe',. Although the steps of this amazing bunch of writers do not match the selection of talent is overwhelming and I could have picked quotes from almost any writer in this anthology. I have read some novels or short stories by some of these authors and am amazed at their versatility. If you like poetry then this is a guaranteed and rich source of great materials so look no further.
  • The Changeling (Weald Fae Journals, Book 2) on Oct. 02, 2013

    “The Changeling” by Christopher Shields is the second in his wonderful series about the Waeld, a place for the Fae, which has a young woman, Maggie O’Shea, as their steward. Not usually big on Fantasy and Fairy stories I was taken by surprise by the beauty and strength of the first book that captured me with its sweet magic and loveliness. Since said book ended with a cliff-hanger of sorts I had to get the second book right away and move it up my tbr pile of books. As the title lets on, in this book Maggie has to deal with a Changeling, a Fae that has taken the place of her brother Mitch, a hostage / blackmail situation which was created to force Maggie to give up her role as the Steward. Maggie’s position within the Fae is no longer undisputed but her unique qualities make her not easily disposable. Stronger than she was even in the first part of the book Maggie is however a force to be reckoned with and while she fights her corner in the Fae world she is also part of the human world with Prom nights, girlfriends and romantic feelings. The book is well written, tightly edited and has some very enjoyable and particularly strong dialogues. The characters have now all come into their own, become more complex and so fill the several plot lines perfectly. My favourite character is predictably Maggie’s dear Fae friend Billy with his rather profound philosophical ideas about love, but there are plenty of other well developed ambiguous and possibly deceitful characters that make this a rather gripping and engaging read. Although you can guess from the title of the forthcoming book where the story might go it never becomes dull for a minute. Again I must point out the playfulness and joyful writing, yet, once the parameters of this particular fantasy world have been established the story never deviates from it and remains within these confines believable and consistent, an absolute must for me that distinguishes Shields from many of his peers. This is great fun, cleverly and carefully written with impressive skill and obvious love for the characters and the story. A must read for all fans of the genre.
  • The Aetherfae (Weald Fae Journals, Book 3) on Oct. 02, 2013

    "The Aetherfae (Weald Fae Journals, Book 3)" by Christopher Shields is a magical and epic fantasy story for young adults and young-at-hearts. In Florida with her family young Maggie suffers an attack by a group of hostile Fae, led by her nemesis Ozara. In this beautiful fantasy world that Shields has created are great and memorable characters, such as love interest Gavin and Maggie's loveable father to name a few. There is also a Seelie Council which acts to protect human kind from evil, but struggles with betrayal and the murder of some council members. The book contains a variety of wonderful magic, such as astral travel and the rather clever use of the elements in fights between our heroes. As a casual visitor to the genre I was in awe of the imagination and broad spectrum Shields covers in this book, a far cry from more repetitive and inept works in the genre. On the run from her enemies Maggie travels to Europe but eventually has to stand up and fight in a great show down. Although the book is the third in a series it works well as a stand alone creation. Highly recommended.
  • The Rekindled Affair on Oct. 07, 2013

    "The Rekindled Affair" by Peter John is a short but humorous and witty account of a couple reunited after 45 years. When she left him she broke both their hearts and when by chance the two meet again, they go on a proper date, 45 years late and with bodies that also have aged 45 years. This short story is very entertaining and very likeable for its great portrayal of mature love, unafraid of taboos yet not patronising or voyeuristic. The lovers are interesting characters and carry the story easily. A charming read.
  • A World of Terror on Oct. 08, 2013

    "A World of Terror" contains many different worlds of terror, it is in fact an amazing cross section of all types of horror: it contains werewolves, haunted school buildings, ghosts, flesh eating monsters and dead trees to name a few. Bringing together a large ensemble of writers the pieces are naturally written in a broad variety of style which makes this a inspiring reading experience. The stories range from more classic horror settings with wooden chests, dead trees and the devil to modern ones with gps systems and Zombies Anonymous. I was impressed with the versatility of some authors whom I know from their excellent writing in other genres,one even in children's books. Credit is due to the skilled editing that has compiled this entertaining anthology in a way that never bores. The flow is perfect from the first story to the last. There is great psychological terror in "Millie" and a well written modern take on Frankenstein in "The Perfect Woman". This is a thrilling showcase of writing talent that has something good and scary for every fan of horror.
  • Road Rash on Oct. 22, 2013

    "Road Rash" by Bonnie Bernard is a great thoughtful and funny short story about life after death. Wayne Wright dies in a motorcycle accident and awaits his judgement day in a rather unusual setting. Wright is a rough guy with a filthy mouth but maybe just possibly with a good enough heart to avoid the worst. As usual Bernard spices her writing with plenty of great phrases and wordings, and her characters are reliably funny and entertaining. This piece is a little more serious than some of her other works as it addresses the issues of religious beliefs about the afterlife not just with passing comedy but with some deeper thoughts along the way, satisfying all of her readers: Those who are there for the puns and the writing style and those who wonder about the moral aspect of the story. The ending was unexpected and added to the thoughtful tone of the story. This is a hugely enjoyable take on multicultural and multi-denominational America and the world,a musing on what heaven and hell are and who gets to judge what who deserves.
  • Betty Badass on Nov. 09, 2013

    "Betty Badass" by Bonnie Bernard is a clever and entertaining short. As the title tells us it follows a rather strong female protagonist named Betty - after a Flintstone character (which is not the only reason why she wants her father dead). Confident, sexy and operating on no longer blurred lines of illegality she is a likeable character with a bigger heart than you'd think but also a strong taste for revenge. She is taking care of her brother and that dictates her actions. Told with sarcasm and wit the story moves to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Despite the humorous tone there is a more thoughtful touch of morals and Karma and family ties.
  • My Name on Nov. 09, 2013

    Excellent story with an unexpected twist. To short to say anything more but totally worth it.
  • When I Was German on Nov. 15, 2013

    "When I Was German" by Alan Wynzel is a bitter sweet childhood memoir of a young man growing up in his own private war zone that is the marriage between his German mother and his Jewish father in America during the 1960s and 1970s. It is a moving tale about a child caught in the parent's volatile relationship, the clash of their cultures and personalities and the resulting identity issues for the young men brought on by conflicting ideas and role models. Wynzel's perception of the Jewish and the German cultures is a very interesting perspective and one that benefits particularly from being told by the point of view of an adolescent. His childhood fantasies, his perception of films and comments about Germans in the US (particularly about the 1976 Munich Olympics hostage drama) and the descriptions of the family holidays in Germany are insightful, heart breaking and thought provoking. Beign German myself and living abroad - even twenty years later than this book's story - I can relate to many of the author's experiences. Wynzel does an excellent job at describing his experiences realistically and honest, making this an engaging and compelling page turner for me. This is an interesting and unique life story that deserves to be told and read.
  • A World of Joy on Nov. 30, 2013

    "A World of Joy" is a remarkable collection of short stories with the common theme of the holiday season. We know that this period represents different things for different people and that is marvellously reflected in the careful selection of the included stories. The first Christmas without a loved one or a Christmas under dire financial circumstances are just two examples of stories that go beyond the appearance of father Christmas and angels. Humans can find themselves in that season in all kinds of situations and not every Christmas is necessarily a happy one. But the anthology has a much more positive note and many stories covering the classic magical themes of the season. Thankfully the editors have put together a rounded selection which covers a great many aspects of the holiday experience and is sure to have something palatable to offer for anyone. X-mas is all about togetherness, about joy, hope and celebrations. This Anthology pays tribute to this motto with wonderful stories about the human condition and about Santa, mistle toes, magic surprises, family and love. For better and for worse. Christmas is what you make it and the ASMSG authors have made it a World of Joy. It is no surprise to me that ASMSG anthologies are frequently topping the download charts and Listopia lists on Goodreads. The quality of their formatting, cover choices, editing and writing is consistently high and has brought some very talented writers to my attention. In true Christmas-spirit the stories a free to download, so enjoy the gift that is A World of Joy.
  • Atlas on Jan. 16, 2014

    "Atlas" by Benjamin Smith is a solid and well written thriller that takes place not too far into the future. Science has advanced and in the tradition of forensic and technologically enhanced crime investigation the book offers a lot of new gadgets and methods for Detective ehm Inspector Victoria Rhodes and her team. Set in San Francisco and Northern California the story offers familiar places, some of them still as we know them, some modernised. For example there is a dome for the filthily rich with total segregation from the poor, run by the controversial Atlas corporation. I liked the set up very much for its realistic and plausible character - too many futuristic thrillers go overboard, Smith has introduced just enough to make this an interesting different world, yet keep relevance to present time humans. The chemistry between the investigating Inspector and her counter part in the Atlas Corporation regarding a double murder works extremely well. Theirs is not a screwball type "taming of the shrewd" chemistry, there is depth and a horrifying link to their past that gives this much more bite and substance. The story itself is well plotted and paced with enough action, turns and suspense to keep you glued to the kindle and should prove a winner with fans of the genre. This is a full hearted and well accomplished effort that deserves a place amongst the first in its field. This is really good stuff and - fortunately for us - only the first in a series.
  • MJ Magazine March — Created By Authors for Authors on March 15, 2014

    "MJ Magazine March - Written by Authors for Authors" by Fran Lewis is yet another amazing collection of information for writers: Tips on how to write, on screen writing, grammar and on research issues are amongst the many useful and well written articles. There are comprehensive features on authors Robert Dugoni and Allan Topol and many more reviews and interviews with authors. Fran Lewis is a tireless reader, reviewer and supporter of both, independent and traditionally published literature and with such an amount of expertise and huge catalogue of book reviews under her belt she effortlessly fills the numerous pages of this colourful and rich managzine - with the help of many equally reputable contributors. I am a big fan of her issue section, which, on this occasion, tackles bullying and medical concerns. It shows the more serious and concerned side of the editor. The magazine is dedicated to Fran's late sister Marcia Joyce and the personal touch adds to the beauty of this well rounded labour of love. I couldn't name a better literature magazines.
  • Papap's Teeth on March 23, 2014

    "Papap's Teeth" by Danielle DeVor is a great short horror story with a dose of sentiment and nostalgia and a few very hairy moments. What is in grandfather's wooden box and how will it affect Sara's life? I can't tell you, but I will say that DeVor understands perfectly to reel you in with her touching story about a girl's curiosity and fascination, setting the scene of a regular family and the only slightly odd grandfather. Before you know it the disturbing secret is out. The horror creeps subtlety up on you. The persepctive of the young girl is done very well, which helps to make Sara's discovery even scarier. A great idea well executed. Very enjoyable.
  • A World of Worlds on March 31, 2014

    "A World of Worlds" by ASMSG Authors is a great anthology of diverse and well-crafted science fiction and fantasy stories, ranging from sophisticated futuristic and technological writing to fantasy fare of other-worldly creatures and even vampires. Spaceships, electric goggles, militaristic tones and humour – the anthology seems to cover a very broad spectrum of the genre. Strong writing and tight editing proves the authors as a league of highly talented and diverse craftsmen. Grey mouses appear in every story but else the stories are all different, unique, inventive and enjoyable. Highly recommended.
  • Just Between Us- Inspiring Stories by Women on April 01, 2014

    "Just Between Us: Inspiring Stories By Women" by Selena Haskins and other wonderful writers is a very touching and quite inspirational selection of short articles about personal and important moments in the authors' lives. I had the pleasure of reading fiction by almost all of the authors in this book before and so the stories had an additional impact on me, seeing the real women behind the fictional stories they have published elsewhere. What I took with me from this book is the need to be true to myself, as the opening story so importantly relays. Each story has its unique and personal message, deep and meaningful lessons learned from life. It shows how we can learn from every life and from every experience. The women in this book are not only sharing these precious musings, they are sharing them for free as a gift to us all, and they are received with great thanks by this reader.
  • The Maebown (Weald Fae Journals, Book 4) on April 19, 2014

    "The Maebown" by Christopher Shields is the final part of this beautiful fantasy series about young Maggie, whose personal journey takes her from being a steward in the first instalment through a sequence of personal growth to finally become a Maebown. The world of Fae has undergone serious changes and has re-grouped in a seriously threatening way, leaving Maggie and her allies to face a strong and overpowering Alliance of Seelies and Unseelies. The beginning of the story takes us from France to Germany, the beautiful alpine foothills near Austria (my place of birth, so forgive me being partial here) where it is decided to meet Ozara and the Alliance head on. Before that happens Maggie gets to learn the one last missing skills. It involves the recurring theme of controlling the elements, something that I particularly enjoyed and which comes to a wonderful conclusion in this novel. The clans need to regroup and accept the 'human' amongst their midst before the ultimate battle at the Weald to settle the fighting once and for all. Maggie is such a likeable, sweet protagonist whom it was a pleasure to watch growing up in the series. Shields has written fun and highly original characters with some great storylines. I don't read much fantasy but this series has been a real treat for me with its charm and endearing writing style. A wonderful tribute to magic, goodness and creativity.
  • Crimson Shadow: Forbidden Dance on April 20, 2014

    “Crimson Shadow: Forbidden Dance” by Nathan Squiers is, simply put, paranormal fiction at its best. It is filled with fast paced action, credible and complicated romance and deep and intense characters that won’t fail to involve you emotionally in their struggles and victories. The book includes a variety of species and gangs: animal packs, vampires, humans and mythos who battle with or succumb to their instincts to fight, kill and dominate. Xander, a young Vampire living with a pack of therions, carries his troubled past in his heavy heart, on top of the burden that living as a Vampire is for him. He is a man with great moral values and his letters, written for his lost love Estella, show us the depth of his emotions. Hunted down by their enemies he and his friends are forced into action, setting in motion the action part of the book. The novel works on many levels: it is of great entertainment value for fans of paranormal and vampire stories because of its original and creative, unique world. It is written in excellent prose and has some very engaging characters, way beyond what many, lesser Vampire novels try to get away with. I like it when emotions run deep and Xander brings a certain quality with his values of friendship and self-control and with his passion. I have read almost all of Squiers work and can recommend all of it full heartedly. This is an author with huge potential and an amazing back catalogue already. Highly recommended.
  • Suicide Song on April 22, 2014

    "Suicide Song (Songs)" by Wand Hartzenberg is a most beautiful and thoughtful short story about a young man's last moments on earth. The author zooms in from afar with mesmerizing observations about the night sky and a dark memory before homing in on that moment, throughout using great metaphores and scene setting. The writing is atmospheric and bittersweet while the setting is described in excellent detail. It is the perfect close up of the surrounding of th emoment to come. The scene was so captivating I felt as if it were me in that room. The afterword is almost as important and breath taking as the story itself when the author explains about her connection to the man. This truly touched me deeply.
  • Connor (Book1) on June 12, 2014

    "Connor" by Dormaine G. is a quirky but also dark fun read for young adults and those still young at hearts. Connor is a long suffering and somewhat cynical teenager with a good sense of dark humour and with guts. As middle child she might feel left out but she has a special gift and soon finds others who share her supernatural talents. During her supernatural adventures she remains herself, a student, a daughter, a sister and a regular girl, which is what I loved most about this book. The adventures are exciting but she does not become superwoman or suddenly completely perfect. This 'realism' within the parameters of the genre is very well placed and makes her a very relateable character. The book ends at a good point but leaves some more mysteries to be solved for the next book. A great set up for a promising series, and very enjoyable.
  • Summer Shorts on June 17, 2014

    "Summer Shorts (The Indie Collaboration Presents Book 5)" by various authors is an accomplished selection of shorts. They differ in style and theme and show a wide range of talent. SOme of the authors I am already familiar with from previous anthologies and individual works. The collection starts strongly with a tale about a tree and witchcraft, moves on to imps and rockstars, dark or funny but always well edited and perfectly entertaining. An enjoyable and beautiful summer read that I can heartily recommend.
  • Erin the Fire Goddess: Torment on Aug. 04, 2014

    "Erin the Fire Goddess:Torment" by Lavinia Urban is the third and in my view the most enjoyable in the series. Erin is back at school for her final year, heart broken over Sean's betrayal and since everyone knows about her ability to create fire, she is branded a witch and avoided by many. As she bravely faces school and her love rival Louise she comes very much into her own, learning to control her power more and be more confident throughout. The relationship with her sister is stronger than ever and she begins to wonder - like everyone around her, whether Sean might be under a spell and turned away from her because of it. The author has become more playful and confident, this book is great entertainment value for young adults.
  • Erin the Fire Goddess: Betrayal on Aug. 04, 2014

    "Erin the Fire Goddess: Betrayal" by Lavinia Urban is a nice follow up to the first book in the series. Back at school, our heroine Erin has a slightly easier time than before. She is happily in love with Sean and is also making friends with some other kids with super powers. Far from a regular super hero again the focus is on the emotional development of the characters and their relationships and their coming of age. There are some mysteries to be solved though and life is not completely free of complications: Jealousy comes in the way of love and some secrets are to be revealed. After a long build up the story takes some surprising turns at the end and leaves you breathless and amazed. Like its predecessor the book does a great job at portraying teenage angst and problems, the use of super powers is incorporated in a simple way and does not lead to revenge or comic strip quality but aides the entertainment value and the plot development in other ways. Since some parts of the plot remain unresolved it will be interesting to see where the next instalment will take us.
  • Erin the Fire Goddess: Jo's Story on Aug. 06, 2014

    "Erin the Fire Goddess: Jo's Story" by Lavinia Urban is a short novel that complements the series in a creative and inspired way. Taking the spotlight of Erin we get to meet Erin as a side character in Jo's story. Jo is a great character whom I hardly remembered from the series and it took a while for me before everything fell into place. Urban is a master at writing for young adults and older readers. Imaginative, warm and sensitive she gives her characters substance. With fairies, witches and otehr fantasy elements the book is great fun. A great way to continue the series and add more dimension to it. This series goes from strength to strength.
  • Erin the Fire Goddess: Changes on Aug. 13, 2014

    "Erin the Fire Goddess: Changes" by Lavinia Urban is another great instalment in her unique and wonderful fantasy series about Erin the Fire Goddess. The series has its own blend of fantasy elements and supernatural powers (witches, curses and much more) and benefits from a set of well developed characters. Far into the series 'Changes' deals with exactly that - changes - both, internally and externally. Growing up, coming of age, developing powers and changing youself - these themes work well after the author put in the groundwork in her previous books. What goes on between Erin and Sean and their friends is sensitively written, thoughtful and entertaining. With differing viewpoints we get a multitude of perspectives, a technique which the author successfully maximised with "Jo's story", the 3.5 segment of the series. Way beyond a one-hit wonder and with detailed care for all characters this is a great addition to the series. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
  • Why I Do Robots Not Men 1 on Aug. 22, 2014

    "Why I Do Robots, Not Men 1" by Delilah D'lishus is a surprisingly entertaining and well written short story. Part of a serialisation this is just the beginning of a longer whole and tells us the story of Jessica, who in 2036 decides to replace the ex-boyfriend who has left her with a deluxe robot - satisfaction guaranteed. While on the surface predictable this explicit erotic story about the sex between woman and robot has a lot of thought put into the dynamics of emotion in sex and in a purely functional relationship. Having chosen the book for its silly title and because it is free I was not just entertained but impressed. Jessica is honest to herself and the reader and it did make me wonder also about the refined algorithms that exist already and how long it will take before men can create such machines - or, when humans will start to behave like machines to please each other. The initial selfishness of Jessica's purchase changes as the relationship between her and the robot does. A fun start to a series that has promise and potential for more but which will still find plenty of fans of erotica for women. Very well done.