Editor. Web master, runner, teach ESL, love to solve problems, teach budgeting and personal finance handling. Editor of books For Honor and Gambit For Love of a Queen by Kat Jaske.
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Smashwords book reviews by Donna Jaske
- Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman
on Feb. 07, 2010
Bush’s war, ghosts, Edgar Allen Poe, Civil War fighters. Amazingly, these all combine for a fascinating tale with a character we’ll remember, flaws and all. Bernheimer skillfully introduces Mike Ross, the not so balanced hero, and has created a ghost story that almost makes you want to believe in real ghosts. This is great storytelling that goes beyond just the “action” to give the reader a fulfilling story, “real people”, and a hint of the next adventure to come. Donna Jaske, editor of For Honor and other books by Kat Jaske.
- Benny Plays the Blues
on Feb. 12, 2010
After you read the e-book, it’s worth buying the print copy just to enjoy the beautiful cover artwork. You’ll definitely want to keep this on your library shelf.
Why is Benny playing the blues? Is it the father he lost, or the crazy, mixed up relationship with his new girlfriend, or maybe the gangster out to kill him, or the cops trying to arrest him?
Benny wants only to play the saxophone and to enjoy his music, but he ends up almost dead and becomes the prime suspect in a murder/jewelry heist. The story alternates between his music performances and his travels from Vegas to New York to Paris and more as he tries to avoid the cops and the bad guys while attempting to clear his name.
Every mystery has the beautiful woman, and Benny finds himself drawn to the mysterious Brenda who is much more than she seems. Some days just staying alive is the best you can do.
This is a story for the reader who enjoys a quick, easy read and a look into the backstage of the music business.
Donna Jaske Editor www.forhonor.com
- Orphan Records
on April 19, 2010
Some books are just made for certain readers. This is a great book for those who love action-packed adventure. The bonus is that it also has something for computer game players because the game players in this story, on a world level, find their game somehow becomes the real world.
I like how the opening pages very succinctly summarize the two world nuclear wars that essentially destroyed civilization, but they don’t waste time on the details of the horrors of the wars. We all know about that:
Hatred lit the sky with fire in the Holy Lands of the Middle East. It is still not clear who launched the first volley, but the debates over who owned what religious relics ceased. They no longer existed.
Andy, in the new world, is caught gaming at work:
A particularly gloomy supervisor pointed out that gaming was not for responsible vanguards of the (new) nation’s record-keeping complex. “Break time is over Andy,” he said in a dull voice. “You’ll never save the world with those silly games.”
He could never have been more wrong. Let the games begin.
I like the book cover and the tie-in of the title to the orphan records found in the vast computer system.
- When The Stars Walk Backwards
on Nov. 28, 2010
This is good entertainment for the low price. Give it a try. The story begins with Mac Brennan and a group of scientists preparing to join a colony on a far planet after the 20-year war ends.
They find only Bryce alive on the planet, with a computer as his protector. Or is the computer trying to kill him? The unexpected tale starts to unfold. Aliens who communicate using colors. Monstrous bird/animals attacking in the night and killing anyone they find, and the hero who is always taking showers. I was not able to figure out how the book title connects to the story, but maybe that's part of the mystery.
- Annalea, Princess of Nemusmar
on Dec. 17, 2010
Excellently-written, engaging story told mostly from the point of view of pirate Captain Crockett. That he loves his adopted daughter, Annalea, is unquestioned, and he would give his life in a heartbeat to save her. The reader quickly gets into the "pirate talk" language used and feels sympathy for the pirates in spite of their fighting and killing. Read this book for an excellent and scary description of the terrible practice of the slave trade and for a gut-wrenching "you are there" experience of what it was like to be a captured slave. It makes you vow that this should never happen again. The pirates and their community of family try to establish a normal life, between pirating escapades, in their community at Nemusmar, but fate is not going to leave them safe. Follow the action as it seems as if they all must perish, and Annalea will lose her life and her "Papa." You'll like the adventure. I wish some of the story would be presented from Annalea's point of view some of the time, but maybe that happens in some of the following books.
Here's an excerpt from the slave-trading section of the story:
"Well, I'll not be asking you to share a confidence you hold with the Lord," the captain remarked. "But share with me, if you would, the experience of your transport to the Americas."
"Even as a sea dog, an' da cap'n of sea dogs, d'aint no ways ya kin know of it," Mam' told the captain. "Mebbe if ya was keelhauled 'cross da ocean ya'd know da mos' of it, but...."
Mam' stopped at that, and sat staring at the table for several moments. Her eyes were fixed, but there was no sign her spirit still was there. The captain wondered if Mam' stopped breathing.
Then, just as suddenly as she stopped talking, she started again–'most as if she was unaware she'd ever stopped. "An when dey drug us down dat hol', it was like da bowels of hell!"
Mam' described how the women were dragged and shoved into the hold of that ship, each one screaming and wailing - probably less from physical pain than from the private fear that tormented each individual mind. As Mam' put it, they were all going to hell, but each one's voyage must be
different and personal, in the mind. Below decks, her visions of hell were confirmed.
The women were being stacked and chained bare-skinned against rough-hewn planks and beams. Every possible space in that great ship's hold was packed tightly with human cargo. Yet again being mishandled like some errant dog, Mam' was being hauled along by the scruff of her neck. The white man carrying her stopped in front of a woman who was
chained lying on her back, with her shoulders lifted and the nape of her neck pressed against the bulkhead . . .
- Time Watchers: The Greatest of These
on March 16, 2011
Robert York is a time traveler and he is going back to prehistoric times to the Stone Age "just to observe and study the inhabitants of Kent's Cavern." And we all know how that's going to work out, right? Humans seem to be humans no matter where or when they are.
Robert saves the life of one inhabitant minutes after his exit from the rainbow portal. So much for not messing with the timeline. Then he proceeds to insinuate himself into the everyday life of the people and to promptly fall in love with his host. This well-written story is a story of love with a little time traveling thrown in and it's just made for readers who like the emotions and interactions and historical details rather than lots of action.
Things get more interesting as Robert returns to the 24th century and his love tries to follow him, only to end up in the twenty-first century. Punishments happen for not following rules, and Stone Age girl is befriended by Nikki of 2006 who has her own way to live life, including rescuing total strangers. A little comedy and drama take place as Future Big Boss sends back thugs to force the girl back to the caves, Nikki fights them off with a shoe, and Robert (again) breaks the rules and gets his friends to help him jump to 2006 to find his love. You'll be glad you invested the time in this book, which begs for a sequel with some of the same characters.
- Project 334
on June 20, 2011
After a nuclear war that destroys most of their civilization, the planet of Ahran organized itself around a religion that turned its faith to the stars and interpreted natural electromagnetic noise from space as messages from their creator. All this so they could have peace and survive, and it worked well for some time. Jara faces an unthinkable dilemma when she cannot figure out how to translate the messages she receives during the course of her job and make the translation suit the enforced religion. Is she a failure? Unfaithful? Deserving of punishment?
Jara is torn between seeking the truth or remaining faithful to what she is told she must believe, even if she must lie. And the survival of the refugee visitor from planet Earth depends or her actions. Tom Wilson is alone on his spaceship and he has recently awoken from cold sleep. In his confusion and his attempts to land on an alien planet where he might have hopes of survival, he accidentally transmits his diary entries to the alien planet, and to Jara.
This reader found the story engaging and hurried to keep reading to learn how the conflicts would be resolved. It did seem that the ending was too abrupt and there should have been a little more story surrounding the final scene. But it still is an enjoyable read, and the author does indicate there are more books.
- For Honor: An Adventure of What Might Have Been
on Aug. 30, 2011
Thomas is perhaps one of the most skilled spies France has ever had. The scene opens with Thomas and his teen son fleeing across cold wasteland from Prussia to France with documents that will reveal an insidious plot to overthrow King Louis XIII. They find temporary refuge from the bitter winter, where it is decided that Erik will help young Christophe get back to France, safely, they hope. ——Excerpt: In Thomas’ hand was a collection of papers. “Take them,” Thomas told his son. “Anything at all that is found on me will condemn me, and I have every intention of coming back to you alive and well. Watch my estate until I return.” Langeac, Christophe knew his father meant, as it always had been the most precious of his father’s holdings, at least to Thomas, regardless of its humble size compared to his other numerous holdings.——
They are both being pursued by their enemy and death would follow their capture.
As the adventure progresses, we find the musketeers embarking on a mundane mission for the king about the same time as Thomas’ daughter, Laurel, now in possession of the documents, decides to go on her own to seek help and try to apprehend the traitors who have imbedded themselves into trusted positions in France.
In 17th-century France, we all think we know how that is going to turn out—a beautiful young woman alone, a marquise, riding across the country and searching various inns along the way. But when the musketeers happen onto the scene where Laurel is caught up in a sword fight for her life with some brigands, and seems to be winning, we soon realize nothing is as we expect, and the mundane mission is no longer that.
Sure, it’s a great adventure story, but it’s more about the people the reader meets and comes to love or hate. Impetuous, headstrong Laurel insinuates herself into the tight knit musketeer group of Aramis, Porthos, Athos, and D’Artagnan, and soon proves herself quite valuable in their quest for the traitors. Soon Aramis and she can’t decide if they are attracted to each other or not, and we don’t need that complication when their lives are in peril on a daily basis. You’ll love the human interactions as well as the excitement and danger of the story, and at the end will feel you have acquired some great new friends—along with saving France.
- Call Me Ishmael
on Aug. 31, 2011
Ishmael is rescued from his sinking boat by a goddess of a woman–and Niles–and he promptly falls in love with her as this fantasy adventure begins. Thinking he is still in his normal universe, he heads for home. It was when the truck came out of nowhere and slammed into his, and then the other driver got out and held a gun to his head where he supposed his brains were that we see Ishmael has this weird sense of humor and things are going from strange to very strange quite quickly.
Think of this as a story full of one- and two-line quips from a stand up comedian, and you are enjoying it. Every disaster that befalls him is met with a joke, and somehow he survives traveling to other dimensions, fighting off the assassins who are trying to kill him for who knows why and, of course, saving this universe. Take an enjoyable break from reality with this entertaining story.
- The Wandering Island Factory
on Sep. 04, 2011
This is a nicely written story engaging enough to keep me entertained during my plane flight home.
Jason is working on a floating machine that builds boats and islands out of lava, and he spends his days off with his internet-found girlfriend. He is the most developed character, but still we don't really feel we know him.
Should we carbon-tax companies out of existence because we are worried about global warming of a part of a degree, or do we try to counteract the unemployment and the much larger effect caused by solar storms. For sure, Jason has no control over the issue, and he just struggles to move from one job to another. One thing we learn, again, is that politicians are never the people to actually try to define and solve a big problem.
Our characters find themselves caught up in a major world catastrophe where most of the solar ice melts, and they opt to live on their little floating island and survive by fishing, and later trading with land-bound groups of refugees. It was hard to experience the characters emotions because it always seemed we were at a high level and just observing. More dialogue between the characters and more attention to the feelings of the people during the scene would help the reader to feel they are part of the story and to experience the emotions better. I would give this book a 3.4 star rating, a little above average.
- The Ghost Of A Flea
on Sep. 21, 2011
At first he is going crazy, imagining things, remembering it wrong from the morning encounter with his wife to when he comes home that night. But is Roger really losing it, or is he the object of a cruel and sadistic plot? And why would they want to destroy him? The mystery deepens as we follow numerous characters in a complicated story. At times there is more telling than showing, and I don't always "see" what's happening or really feel the emotion that should be there. It does seem slow at the beginning because too many words are spent describing looks and mannerisms. Weaving these descriptions into the story over many pages would help the reader to see and know the character, rather than having to study and memorize all these details from one page. For example, instead of "Gideon was not a physically attractive man. Forty-one and thirty pounds overweight (. . . too many more descriptions), it might read "Gideon dripped sweat as he moved his very obese—even fat, one might say—body the short distance across the room to his chair." Then, have more conversation before the next description. This is an interesting book for readers who like mysteries, murder and lots of clues to sort through. I would give this a 3.7 star rating.
- See Night Run
on March 10, 2012
Cop Thriller Makes for Memorable Characters
Night Hume is a cop, a wannabe social worker, protector of the downtrodden, and saint to the masses. He is also a fool and a hopeless romantic who may very well lose his job, his lifelong friend/cop partner, and even his life if he doesn't stop doing stupid things just on principle. This man, with whom I was privileged to spend a few hours over several evenings, has fallen in love with the lady, and I do mean lady, he was supposed to have arrested. The sting needs to happen and the confiscation of her home, the "essentially orphaning" of her daughter, and the death of her daughter all must happen in the name of the law. And Night does not question the law he enforces—until today.
- Deadly Gamble: The First Charlie Parker Mystery
on March 18, 2012
Charlie is a likeable accountant, and Stacy asks her to investigate the loss of her Rolex watch. The investigation quickly turns into a search for a murderer. Charlie’s brother runs an investigation business, but Charlie’s dog helps her more with the sleuthing than he does. It’s written in the first person (I opened the door and saw Stacy. . .) and is a very linear story with almost no surprises along the way. Too soon in the story the reader suspects who the murderer is but has to drag herself through more pages of I did this and I did that. This is an easy read for younger readers, but I don’t think they are the target reader. Give it a try if you want some easy entertainment.
- The Gingerbread House
on April 13, 2012
Captain Kynan Brice on Olinda doesn’t much like Brock Marsden. Probably hates him, or admires his skills? But that doesn’t stop him from rudely waking Marsden and demanding he come out at once and talk. Marsden is a detective with special talents, should we say? He has done numerous DNA modifications to take on the abilities of alien races, and his latest addition to his DNA arsenal includes the ability to “see” things by scent, not sight.
This latest mystery involves a villain who murders from afar by somehow changing a person’s DNA such that they morph into some type of monster so fast it kills them. Imagine standing there minding your own business, then being hit by the beam and seeing your arms turning into claws and your legs disappearing from under you. Not a pleasant way to die. And, Marsden needs to solve this crime fast before he becomes the next victim.
I give this book a 3.7 star rating. Brock is an interesting character, and strange, but the reader can still admire him. The story is creative and interesting. I lowered the rating on this book because there are too many typos, even for someone willing to forgive. Every 5 pages or so there is a typo that distracts enough from the story that the reader loses some of her concentration. The author should have someone else edit this book and clean up the mistakes. Then it will deserve a 4.4 rating.
- Lifetime Theory
on April 22, 2012
It starts out with the main character talking, but takes many pages before the reader knows the character’s name or if it is a male or female talking. We finally learn that it’s Steven who is losing his roommate, or is it his girl friend, to Chris.
Then Stephen dies.
EXCERPT: . . . I slowly sat up on the floor, leaning back against the kitchen cabinet. I could hear crying coming from the other room. I knew it was Jessica. I knew I would have a lot of explaining to do. . . .
That’s when the reader knows that there is something extraordinary going on. And the rest of the book resolves the mystery.
This story is written in the first person, not my favorite style, because it limits the author’s flexibility in story telling. Partway through the adventure, the story switches so that everything is from Aiden’s point of view, even as he meets with Steven. It becomes a little confusing on who is talking. Soon the scene has both Steven and Aiden speaking from their point of view. Finally, it keeps switching scenes and the reader has to try to keep track of who is talking.
There are too many typos and word use errors for the reader to stay focused on the story. Almost every couple pages there is a word problem that distracts. This book needs some serious editing, and then the story itself may become enjoyable.
- Righting Time
on July 04, 2012
Time Travel Adventure Makes the Impossible Seem Real
These great characters are so interesting and full of surprises. This story is about the impossible, but Kat Jaske makes it all seem so believable.
The story starts when one of the main characters is murdered in France in the year 1641, but that is not the way history remembers it. Konrad has accidentally been yanked from 1641 to our near future, by time travelers in the far future. Get your brains around that. He promptly proceeds to change history from that point on so as to create a disaster in the far future.
Excerpt: The nearly thirty-year-old woman scarcely lifted her head and fixed her indigo eyes on Keith. "I wasn't quick enough." . . . We have a major time disturbance manifesting in the field," she said, her voice remaining lifeless." . . . Right now there was still some infinitesimal window of opportunity to try for correction and containment.
Now the adventure begins. They barely have time to grab a few parcels and dash for the time chamber before their reality collapses. Now their future depends on what they can do in 1641 to make time right. And Laurel and the musketeers are going to be in the middle of the action again, that is if they can be convinced to time travel to 2060. The author skillfully guides the reader through the many scenes change with action in the past and action in a future date. You really get to know the characters even more than you did from the previous two books, and you are amazed as Laurel's new powers emerge. It's easy to see the movie in your mind. I don't think you will be able to put the book down when your bedtime arrives.
- Soul Identity
on Aug. 04, 2012
“These guys have been tracking soul identities for almost twenty-six hundred years. They have examples of identities repeating eight, ten, and even twelve times over the centuries. If you like reincarnation, you’ll love Soul Identity.”
What are these identities? They are complicated measurements of various characteristics of both eyes. As far as they can tell, only one person alive in the whole world has that identity. Only after you die, could another person be born with that same identity. The company exists to search for the same eye/soul identity appearing over generations, and to keep money from one person to be passed on to a later person born with the same eye identity. Needless to say, there is lots of room for corruption and power grabs, and lots of good excitement in this book.
The editing is almost flawless in this story. I can’t quite give it 5 stars because it’s a very simply written story lacking in sufficient character building that would help the reader to know the people. There are no changes of scenes and the story is totally linear because it is written in the “I” format: “I sat down at the dining room table this time. I moved the shotgun to the side and opened the folder.” All the I’s get a little annoying, but they are softened when there is dialog between them. The sample at the end of this book of a coming book has the prologue written in the story-telling/third person style and it is very well written and interesting . . . until it gets to the first chapter and switches back to the first person format.