Wendy Justice

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Wendy Justice

  • Edge of a Dream on March 19, 2012

    Well-Written, Enjoyable Read, - Liked It! This is the story of a couple who fled war-devastated Sarajevo to make a new life for themselves in Philadelphia, PA. The marriage soon founders, though, as Josef takes off for Las Vegas, abandoning his family in search of easy money. This leaves Rija, her mother and their young daughter to fend for themselves, encountering hardships common to the immigrant experience. Rija takes a job cleaning offices. Money is tight, but she's determined to provide for her family and improve herself. When she isn't at work, she's attending classes to become a paralegal, and cares for her mother and daughter. One day, Josef shows back up at the door, driving a stolen car and on the run from some gambling debts. Rija reluctantly takes him back, but the tenuous peace is soon shattered as Josef searches again for easy money, this time working for the Russian Mafia. Josef weaves together an assortment of lies and half-truths that doesn't fool his wife, who eventually realizes that she must make a choice between the much-needed money and support that Josef provides versus the peace of mind and her own chance at the American dream that she could attain without him. I had trouble putting this book down! I felt that I was right alongside this family, in their apartment and involved in their decisions. The character development is excellent. I wanted to hold Rija's hand and yell at Josef. This is a very impressive first book and the author shows real writing talent. It's even well-edited with almost no grammatical errors - impressive for an indie book. I will definitely be watching for more books from this author. Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book to read and provide a fair and honest review.
  • Project Moses - An Enzo Lee Mystery Thriller on April 06, 2012

    This was a good thriller with a tight – and all-too-possible plot – interesting characters and plenty of action. The story is about a company that ostensibly researches and manufactures genetically modified agricultural seeds to improve the quality of the food supply, but chooses to use their technology for a sinister – and infinitely more profitable – cause. Enzo Lee finds himself in the middle of this plot, trying to uncover the truth while evading a host of characters who would much rather see him permanently silenced. Together with Sarah Armstrong, the niece of a murdered judge, Enzo stubbornly refuses to drop his investigation until the truth about AgriGenics is uncovered. This book was entertaining from the beginning until the very end, with numerous unexpected twists and turns that kept the plot evolving with every page. Mr. Lowe has done a great job writing his first book. I consider myself to be a picky reader, always on the alert for typos, grammatical errors and loose ends. Other than one or two very minor typos, there really isn’t a single thing wrong technically with this book. Recommended! I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for writing a fair and honest review.
  • Project Moses - An Enzo Lee Mystery Thriller on April 06, 2012

    This was a good thriller with a tight – and all-too-possible plot – interesting characters and plenty of action. The story is about a company that ostensibly researches and manufactures genetically modified agricultural seeds to improve the quality of the food supply, but chooses to use their technology for a sinister – and infinitely more profitable – cause. Enzo Lee finds himself in the middle of this plot, trying to uncover the truth while evading a host of characters who would much rather see him permanently silenced. Together with Sarah Armstrong, the niece of a murdered judge, Enzo stubbornly refuses to drop his investigation until the truth about AgriGenics is uncovered. This book was entertaining from the beginning until the very end, with numerous unexpected twists and turns that kept the plot evolving with every page. Mr. Lowe has done a great job writing his first book. I consider myself to be a picky reader, always on the alert for typos, grammatical errors and loose ends. Other than one or two very minor typos, there really isn’t a single thing wrong technically with this book. Recommended! I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for writing a fair and honest review.
  • Dangerous Barter: A Novella on April 10, 2012

    The beautiful, but pale Laura Brenton is separated from her handsome and very wealthy husband. Michael writes romance novels, and Laura has lived lavishly on the money while having an affair with a 25-year old man (a little younger or "decades younger" than she is, depending on who is telling the story). Laura meets with Michael to collect his signed copies of their divorce papers, while plotting to have the entire estate all to herself. Michael, however, comes to the meeting with a rose, some champagne and the desire that they reconcile - though he remembers to bring along a little “insurance” just in case that doesn't happen. When any chance at reconciliation fails, both Laura and Michael are determined to come out of the relationship as the winner-takes-all. What I liked about this book: 1) It had a nice cover; 2) It was short - it took about an hour to read, and I was happy not to have wasted any more of my time; 3) I learned how to work many of the features on my new Kindle as I made notes and highlights of all the typos, grammatical errors and editing mistakes - an impressive number given that the book was so short. What I didn't like: 1) Sentences flowed poorly. "Laura took a few steps back and stopped in front of the looking glass. Laura turned around and she moved closer to the mirror while gazing at her reflection in the looking glass." As she examines herself, she notices a few lines around her eyes, which upsets her greatly. She then looks "at her pale nearly flawless yet pretty complexion with a smile." She "tosses back her hair" - not once but three times in two pages. 2) Commas are missing, typos abound ("No. Not not yet," Michael says at one point. Later, Laura says "It will all be mine off course.") 3) Word usage is downright strange in places. For example: "She closed her eyes and shook her head before taking a deep breath and opening her orbs" and "the young woman collapsed to the floor atop her spine." 4) Bad writing, no editing. She tells Michael "And I'm not your wife," but nine sentences later, she says "I am your real wife..." Michael is called "the handsome man" again and again through the book - we get it, ok? Michael "focused his sight on the large black door that lay embedded in the wall a few yards away from him." (aren't doors generally embedded in walls?) Michael always "snatches" the pen, usually while "gazing" at the rose. The writing style, overall, was immature and sloppy. Someone fell "with an audible crash." A "tiny vial" shatters into "thousands of tiny fragments" (must have been very tiny...) 5) Even if grammar and bad writing don't bother you, the lack of character development and any pretense of depth to the story should be enough to deter you from purchasing this book. The author gives us no reason at all to identify with either Laura or Michael, and the suspense is so poorly developed that it evokes nothing in the reader. Without writing a spoiler, I'll just say that the ending is totally unrealistic and unnecessarily gruesome. Don't waste your time with this one. I was given this book in exchange for writing a fair and honest review.
  • Hammerhead on May 27, 2012

    I loved this book! Try to think of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and American Psycho combined into one personality, and you can get the idea behind Hammerhead. Martin is intelligent, charming, very likeable and convincing. He justifies every one of his murders so well that the reader is sure to agree that he made the world a better place. More than a book about a serial killer, though, this book focuses on the absurd and bizarre, with plenty of humor thrown in the mix. It was well-written and a fun, quick read. Recommended!
  • Pit Stop on July 18, 2012

    Running from the law, Glen’s car barely makes it across the state line before it runs out of gas. He walks to the nearest gas station – a remote one staffed by one young boy. Seeing no adults around, he assumes that Tim must be alone – and there’s a truck out back that would give Glen and Marla the ride they need. Glen makes a couple of purchases and even tips the boy, hoping to get the keys from Tim. However, Tim may be young, but he’s not gullible, and Glen makes the mistake of underestimating this boy, whose job it is to run the store and make sure that his father isn’t woken… Mr. Guzo has done a remarkable job telling this story in just 3,700 words. It’s well written and suspenseful with just the right amount of surreal. However, perhaps a few more words would have made the story a bit clearer. When I got to the end, I found myself scratching my head and asking myself “so who is Marla?” I was given a free copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for writing a far and honest review.
  • All The Way Gone on Sep. 20, 2012
    (no rating)
    I’ve never worked in law enforcement, but I imagine that this book was reasonably accurate in telling what it would be like to be a New York cop. In that respect, it was an OK book. The plot was loosely constructed around a businessman, Jack, who was jogging one morning with his wife, who mysteriously disappeared moments after Jack decided to run ahead and meet her at the end of the park. After finally deciding to take the missing persons report seriously, the police initially made Jack their top suspect. Jack doesn’t help matters when he tells no one at work about his wife’s disappearance and philanders about – certainly not typical behavior from a distraught husband. What bothered me about this book was the terrible editing and grammatical errors that seemed to get worse as the book progressed. The word “it’s,” for example, is a contraction of “it is.” The author consistently used an apostrophe whenever the possessive form of the word, “its,” would have been correct. Then there was “they’re” and “their,” “loose” and “lose,” “then” and “than,” “quite” and “quiet.” Even worse was the use of “and” as a complete sentence – “I wanted to pull my hair out from all these errors. And.” Finally, the typeface alternated between serif and sans-serif, which seemed to have no purpose other than to distract the reader. This is all unfortunate, as it could have been a decent book if the author had either engaged the services of an editor or looked critically at his work (though authors are usually poor editors!) If an edited version of this book is released, then I would give it 4 stars. In its current form, it’s a 2-star book. Disclosure: I was given a copy of All the Way Gone in exchange for writing a fair and honest review.
  • Human Instincts on Nov. 21, 2012

    Dr. Deanna Nichols is a geneticist in a post-apocalyptic world. Only a few million people are alive, after the war and subsequent release of a deadly virus. The human race was saved by a vaccine, but the vaccine had an unanticipated side-effect. In order to save the human race from extinction, Deanna is sent to a secret military prison in the arctic, where a small group of prisoners exist who had never been vaccinated. Her job is to collect DNA and somehow, the human race will be able to survive and thrive again. Tom, a convict, has taken over the prison. Working with the former prison staff and other convicts, life here is tenuous at best. But he is willing to assist Deanna with her mission, recognizing the importance of her success. This book takes place in the near-future and happily, has absolutely no zombies, flesh-eating monsters, werewolves, space aliens or other silliness. It's suspenseful and moves along at a good pace - though it certainly could have been much longer. It was generally well written and well edited (though "orientate" is not a word!). I enjoyed reading it, though I was never clear on why Deanna was chosen to go on such a dangerous mission, given her own value to mankind, and I thought that MacKenzie's character could have been developed a bit more thoroughly. It's a good book for those looking for a quick read and realistic post-apocalyptic fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for providing a fair and honest review.
  • Abraham Lincoln's Lie on March 29, 2013
    (no rating)
    As the book description states, this is a fun book if you're a liberal; probably not so enjoyable if you're aren't. However, the author brings up some interesting scenarios of what it would be like if the USA split into two countries - the "red states" and the "blue states." The blue states, called the Progressive States of America, or PSA, took up a government based on progressive causes - same-sex marriages, legalized marijuana, right-to-die laws, enhanced science and research and so on, while the United States of Ronald Reagan, or USRR, outlawed abortion, gun control, education became based on the bible, labor rights and unions were abolished, etc. One flaw in the story is that there was no middle-ground. You had to choose which side you were on - the far-left or the far-right. Of course, most people fall somewhere in the middle, though we do tend to lean towards one ideology or the other. In any case, it was a fun book to read. What if both sides could pursue their agendas without any political opposition? What would it be like in five, ten, twenty or forty years later? The book could have benefited from a bit of editing, especially in the last 25% or so. But it was a relatively minor flaw - overall, it was well-written and held my attention though the end (which was a little bit creepy, but you'll have to read the book to find out why!) If I could give a half star, I would rate this book as 4.5. I won a copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for agreeing to write a fair and unbiased review. I have never met the author.
  • American Liberation Front on April 28, 2013

    The American Liberation Front is an interesting book of speculative fiction. Los Angeles suffers massive casualties as a primitive but effective nuclear bomb is detonated by an unknown terrorist group. Those who survived the LA bombing flee to safer havens, including two brothers, Nick and Shane, whose parents were both killed in the attack. Safe in San Francisco, they attempt to live a normal life as the American economy suffers greatly and a general radicalization of American politics takes place. It is never known who actually attacked LA, but Americans want revenge and the government wastes no time setting off a massive nuclear attack in Iran. Shane is against the government’s actions in Iran, while his younger brother attempts to join the army to take vengeance against those responsible for harboring terrorists. He’s rejected because he’s too young, but his thirst for revenge continues unabated. Nick and Shane find little common ground now, as Shane attends college and meets up with a leftist group while Nick wants to take whatever steps are necessary to avenge the perpetrators. Eventually, Nick decides to move in with his uncle, the governor of Ohio. The story gets more interesting as Nick’s uncle eventually rises to power as the leader of the new far-right Progressive Conservative Party. Bough sees the political advantage of having his nephew with him – a young man who lost both parents in the LA attack. He asks Nick to be his right-hand man, giving speeches and campaigning on his behalf. Then, the unthinkable happens. Americans are fed up with the fallen stock market, fed up with massive unemployment and terrified of another terrorist attack. Bough promises to make Americans safe again and make America great again, by whatever means necessary. Not bound by the politics of Democrats or Republicans, he’s the underdog, but when elections are held, Nick’s uncle is elected president and his party wins a majority in both the house and the senate. The Procon Party has free reign to promote their agenda – and they do. Nick remains at Bough’s side, while Shane continues his work as an influential member of the opposition. The character development in the book is very good, the plot is complex and all-too-possible, and the writing is top-notch. I found that I had to keep reminding myself to relax, it’s only fiction. I recommend this book to those with an open mind who are interested in exploring a “what if” scenario. This book is very entertaining and a pleasure to read. I would definitely read another book by this author and recommend it to others. I had the honor of being given a free copy of this book in exchange for agreeing to provide a fair and unbiased review. I have never met the author, nor do I know him/her personally.
  • Curse of The Salute on July 20, 2013

    I do appreciate the effort that the author put into writing this book, but I couldn't get through it. It's in desperate need of a good editing - for example, to emphasize a word or a sentence, one should use either descriptive words ("No!" he shouted) or italics - but resorting to using capital letters, though a common way of "shouting" in an email, is not proper writing for a book. Even if I could ignore the constant misuse of capitalized words, the story fell short. There were too many contrived conversations, and situations that really stretched credibility. I finally gave up at about the 30% mark. If it wasn't for the constant references to smoking and the occasional use of four-letter words, this might have been a good enough YA book, but for my tastes, well, I'll give this author a miss next time around.