R. Weinstein lives in central New Jersey with her husband, daughter and two pesky rabbits, Cream and Double Stuf. When she isn't writing, she can be found painting, cooking, or at her day job: teacher, moderator, and coach.
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Blood Moon (Redstone Series #2)
Members of the Thunder Clan bring devastating news to the Redstone Pack. With vulnerable young pups to protect, Nashoga must decide whether to face this threat or risk the pack's destruction. If Nashoga and the pack take a stand, The Prophecy of Blood Moon may be the key to their survival...or their demise.
Seventeen-year-old Regina Kanellis's life seemed like it was back on track after a devastating tragedy...until she was uprooted and relocated halfway around the world to Rhodes, Greece. When Regina and her cousin Kostas explore the temple ruins one day, they vanish.
Dexter By A Nose
Ever since Dexter was born, he has been picked on because he is a half-breed and dreams of becoming a great race horse. Everyone knows that only thoroughbreds can race, but against all odds, a kind trainer sees something in Dexter that he does not see in the other colts and trains him to race. Dexter has the speed, but can he come to terms with who he is and believe in himself enough to win?
Serafina Jones had an ordinary life until she met the new transfer student, Michael. Now her world's been turned upside down as she struggles to find her own identity as well as discover Michael's. When tensions arise at home and around the country, Michael may be able to ease them...or could he have been the cause? To Serafina he seems so perfect, but could Michael really be too good to be true?
Thomas Avery is an exceptional butcher. The only thing is, he's blind and does it all by touch. As business starts booming, Thomas becomes suspicious of his boss and uncovers a sinister secret.
Nashoga: Book 1 of the Redstone Series
Nashoga, the alpha of the Redstone Pack, has been run off. While in exile, Nashoga meets Buck, an elk with an attitude, and the two are thrust into a dire situation. Will the two be at each other's throats or will they learn to work together to defeat this new threat? Will Nashoga reunite with his pack and his love? Only time will tell in this story of power struggles, love and friendship.
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Smashwords book reviews by Rebecca Weinstein
- High School Yearbook – The Drama (third in the high school series)
on July 03, 2011
A truly excellent read. I can honestly say I could not put this down. The commitment and determination Cherie shows as editor of her yearbook is authentic. This story gave me many chuckles as it was very true replication of the everyday ins and outs of the yearbook room, including all of the drama--as a yearbook advisor, I can attest to it. If I were to write a book about my experiences, this would be it--but I've been beaten to it!
High School Yearbook-The Drama is a great read for current or former yearbook staffers and advisors, or anyone who went to high school! True to its name, there is plenty of drama, twists, and turns throughout. With all that drama, you have to wonder...how can Cherie possibly finish the yearbook on time?
- India Was One
on July 10, 2011
India Was One was an interesting glimpse into aspects of an Indian couple's life together, both in their native India and in the United States. Although the opening of the story had a great hook, it took around another two hundred and twenty pages to get back to the good content. That's not to say that the rest of the book wasn't good content, it was; it just didn't belong in the middle of the story.
Let me explain. The story, in a nutshell, is boy meets girl, boy marries girl, couple goes on a honeymoon, move to the United States, and then something bad happens home in their native India. They return, are separated, and must find their way back to each other. Sounds like the premise of a good story, right? That's what I thought too.
Unfortunately, much of the flow of the story is interrupted by a lot of unnecessary explanation. Don't get me wrong, I love to read and I love to learn, and I learned a lot about India, its people, and its customs. But the explanations did too much to disrupt the flow of the story and could have been woven into the story a little better. If not, then they could have been cut out of the main story and possibly been added as a glossary and appendix. That is something not all too common in fiction, however it has been done before.
I was hooked by the very first page, but was disappointed about the extreme gap in the plot. I will say, however, that as soon as the major plot picked up again toward the end, I was instantly concerned for the well-being of the main characters. There were some parts within the story that were very descriptive, one in particular being the wedding events, although the writing in the beginning and the end was much better detailed and constructed. There was a lot more emotion written into the ending, and because of this, I cared much more for the characters at the end of the story than at the beginning or middle.
In all, I thought this book had a great premise and it taught as well as entertained. However, the teaching part needs to be seamless when woven into a story, and not outright explanation. I think this author has seen and experienced much of the world and has some great stories to tell. I look forward to reading more of them.
- Trapped on Draconica
on July 27, 2011
I was really excited to read this story. It should have been right up my alley. I mean, it had Manga-style illustrations and was a fantasy adventure story. Like I said, it should have been right up my alley, but it wasn't. That's not to say that the novel was terrible; it was not. In fact, Wright has created an interesting new world for the reader and populated it with diverse creatures, and the plot of the story itself was enough to keep me reading. I commend him for his creativity. Now here's the hard part, explaining what I didn't like about this novel.
To begin, the novel is told from the third person omniscient point of view. Not that it is a bad thing, but that point of view, being told from the viewpoints of multiple characters, can be very difficult to pull off correctly. Although it can provide the reader with a broader view of the plot or even the world created within the book, in this case, it caused a lot of confusion. It was, at times, dizzying to say the least, when the point of view quickly shifted from one character to the next, to the next, to the next, within the very same scene.
Now let's talk about characters. The story opens with Ben's adventure with his mates, having just alleviated a convenience store of its cigarette packs. After a short police chase on foot, Ben disappears and reappears on what he will find out is Draconica. He meets two characters of this world, two of four sisters endowed with special powers and who are called Dragonkin. I liked where this was going, as dragons and dragon lore are an obsession of mine. There are many more characters we meet along this journey, including a friendly and cowardly tiger with a lisp, macho warrior Kalak from a neighboring state, the other two Dragonkin, and of course, the enemy who is trying to take over the world and take custody of Ben, the child from another world.
What bothers me most about these characters is that they seem rather flat. Ben, who you would assume is the protagonist as the novel begins and ends with him in his native London, is the least complete character of all. He begins as a teen who gets caught up in the wrong type of crowd, he's somewhat whiny, uses way too much modern lingo and references to popular culture, is always in need of being rescued by someone, and by the end of the book does not go through enough of a transformation of a character to be believable. In essence, I feel that Ben was returned home almost exactly the same as when he left. So what was the point of his story then?
The other characters are equally flat. Like Edward and Bella of notable fictional romance fame, Daniar and Kalak, are drawn inexplicably to each other. He is an empty, blood thirsty warrior. She is a kind, warrior Dragonkin. That's it. There's not much more to them. He's a jerk, and she likes him. They're not very deep. In fact, the character who seems the most fleshed out, is surprisingly, Zarracka, the black sheep Dragonkin. I will get to her later. But first, let's talk about the length of the story and subplots.
For a first novel, this one is incredibly long. There are too many unnecessary interludes, exchanges, subplots, etc. that do nothing to drive the plot and could be cut out. One, for example (spoiler alert), is when the tiger finally is reunited with his mother, and then she dies. This was completely unnecessary, both for the tiger to be reunited with his mother, as well as the fact that she dies. The outcome of this is that the tiger becomes frustrated with his companion, Kalak, for being a jerk, which we all already knew anyway.
The final issue I would like to point out here, is both a strength and a weakness. Through Wright's collaboration with artist Alexis M. Centeno, he has created a unique look to his book. The Manga-style illustrations are frequently placed throughout the book, and Centeno has created some fantastic illustrations that truly bring the story to life. Its weakness, however, is that when limited to the formatting of an ebook such as the one I perused, the illustrations become tiny renditions, and therefore are an injustice to the artwork. I am sure that in printed form the illustrations can be viewed in all of their beauty, but for an ebook format, the author may want to look into correcting this issue. I would love to see them in their full size.
Let's get back to Zarracka, the black sheep Dragonkin. Like I stated previously, she was the most fleshed out character of the story and she wasn't even a main character! Her personality bled through the pages, her motives were clear, and her interactions with her sisters as well as her cohorts were well written. Coincidentally, the strongest part of this novel is an emotional exchange between Zarracka and her goody-two-shoes sister, Daniar, where we learn what made Zarracka who she is. I commend the author on this exchange, as it is such a strong moment for this character.
If I were the author, at this point, I'd feel that the reviewer is picking on me and my book. I hope that the author realizes that I say these things in a hope to help him continue to improve his work. I feel that it is a good story at its bare bones, but needs a lot of help to be a complete novel. His strength in the treatment of the exchange between Daniar and Zarracka is to be commended, but I only wish that the rest of the characters and exchanges were treated in much the same way, with the same thought and effort put into them. I recommend that the author continue to rework this novel, and always remember that our projects are a continually evolving labor of love.
- Dark Blonde: A Mike Angel Private Eye Mystery
on July 27, 2011
Novel Noir, you have met your author! Fears' novel chronicling the adventures of Mike Angel, private eye, was gripping from beginning to end. I hate to use a cliché here, but I have to. If you want a page-turner, this is the novel for you. I had a very difficult time putting this novel down, and Fears has made a fan of me.
What's so great about this book? In a word: Voice. Fears has perfected the voice of Mike Angel, the former NYC police officer-turned Chicago PI, and it oozes with noir magic. From the first sentence, I felt as if I was watching a film noir, in fact, Dark Blonde would be perfect for that. If you have not contacted an agent in Hollywood yet, Mr. Fears, I suggest you do so.
Mike Angel is a womanizing investigator, a character flaw that actually makes Angel that much more believable, and in my opinion, charming. I could not help but chuckle as he oogled everything that came at him in heels. Fears' treatment of Angel made his character so real that I felt as if I was right there with him.
Fears' story not only has a strong voice, but also great twists, turns, hooks that kept me wanting to know more, and an incredibly unexpected plot pivot at the end. Dark Blonde was a fantastic and absorbing read and I highly recommend it to fans of mystery, drama, film noir, or anyone who just really wants a great read. As an author, Fears has much to offer, and I look forward to seeing more from him.
- The Zygan Emprise: Renegade Paladins and Abyssal Redemption
on Aug. 09, 2011
The Zygan Emprise is not one, but two stories: Renegade Paladins and Abyssal Redemption. Which, when you think about it, both of these novels have been released in paperback and set at a much higher price, so getting both ebooks for only $0.99 is some major bang for your buck. Now let's get to the story.
The Zygan Emprise follows Shiloh Rush and William “Spud” Escott in their adventure around the universe, from Earth to Zyga and even back in time. In their adventures, they brush up against significant characters and events in man's history (or prehistory), and the author does it seamlessly. Shiloh, Spud and their friends race to uncover the destructive plans of Zyga's ultimate nemesis, Benedict. As they do, they discover that not all of their friends are loyal and Benedict's plan is more than what it seems. I could gush on about the story, but I don't want to give away any spoilers. It's too good. I had a difficult time tearing myself away from this incredible imaginary world. You'll just have to trust me and make the time to read it yourself.
If I could have any complaints about this pair of novels, it'd be only two, and very minor. I almost feel like I'm picking. At the beginning of Renegade Paladins, it's a little confusing until a few pages into the story. It's just the way that the author has set up the story. It shoots back and forth between a few scenes, and none of it makes much sense until you get a little further in. If you're one of those readers who gets easily confused and gives up, don't. Trust me, it's only a few pages and you'll get it. And believe me, the rest of the story is worth it.
The other complaint I could make is that the secondary characters aren't adequately described. I get that one of them is a giant crab-like being, and one was kind of a cloud something or other, but to tell a good story is to know all the players in that story, and I just didn't know them. I wish the author had given these secondary characters as much love and attention as Shiloh and Spud, or nearly as much. It would've made them all the more real. The storyline is so fantastic, there's so much going on, and introducing these fantastic populations from other worlds, it just doesn't give them justice to not fully describe them.
These two, minor complaints aside, the Zygan Emprise- Renegade Paladins was a wonderful book. I look forward to reading the next one, which fortunately for me, is sitting right here on my ereader.
Updated on 8-9-11.
Okay, now that I have had the opportunity to read Abyssal Redemption, let's get to it. Does anyone remember Ghostbusters II? How about Transformers II? Caddyshack II? Well, as sequels go, Abyssal Redemption falls short of its predecessor, too. That's not to say that it's a terrible read; it's not. It just did not live up to expectations.
Having invested a lot of emotion into getting to know Shiloh Rush and “Spud” Escott in the first novel, I was curious to know where their adventures would take them. I was happy to see that the secondary characters who had been so overlooked in the first novel were much more fleshed out in this one, and I commend the author for having done so.
I don't like to pick on ordinary formatting, but that's one of my major gripes with this novel. There were so many typos it was distracting. In a sense, I feel that this novel was rushed to get done, not only because of the lack of proofreading, but also with the plot. It's just not as complex as the first novel.
However, one thing that the author is very good at, which was also accomplished in the first novel, is putting a different spin on historical events. I really enjoyed the trip back to Golgotha. Without giving up any spoilers, the idea was well-crafted, and may have more than a few devout Christians up in arms.
A great loss is never wanted, but almost always necessary in good fiction. This loss, although a necessary part of the plot, was too great for Shiloh, and I feel that her reaction to it was not believable. She had no real time to grieve. She moved on with her life much too quickly.
These small points aside, I enjoyed reading Shiloh and Spud's adventures, and am curious to find out where they head to next. As series go, this second in the Zygan Emprise left many unanswered questions to pique my curiosity, and I look forward to the next one. Let's just hope it's not like Return of the Jedi.
- And Come to Dust
on Aug. 15, 2011
I've read a few stories of war, enough to have a grasp on the human situation during wartime. Although, none of the books I have read have garnered my sympathies as much as this one. It's a love story, a story of camaraderie, and a tragedy all in one. This is the story of Drake, a young American soldier, who, against strict anti-fraternization order, falls in love with a German named Klara. It's more than a love story, though. It's a glimpse into the psyche of the soldier at war. As a veteran of war, Mr. Bacigalupa has firsthand accounts of what war is like, and the state of mind of the soldier after one's been in hell for too long.
While there is not a lot of action to this book—it's uncanny when you think about it, a book about war with little action—there's a lot of emotion. My grandfather was a veteran of World War II. He fought in the Pacific, and although he told me a few stories, he never told me what it truly was like. This book showed me the ins and outs of occupying a village, the boredom, the loneliness, the way the trauma of the bloodshed a soldier had already seen could eat away at his sanity. All of this could only be accomplished by someone who had truly been there and experienced it.
Simply written, it's simply great. If there's anything that I did not like about this book, it would be the end. I wanted more. Please tell me there is more somewhere. And if not, Mr. Bacigalupa, get writing!