Jesse Thomas

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Jesse Thomas

  • Crucible of Dust (The Clockwork Ascendancy - A Steampunk Saga) on May 21, 2012

    Hammond Flynn is a man who has some demons to face (literally). As a former Knight of the Order of the Penitent Blade, he watched as everyone he knew and cared for were destroyed by an evil supernatural power. Unable to stop it or save his men, he lives his life in guilt and despair until he is summoned to the side of the town’s most powerful criminal mastermind and is forced to do his bidding. But Flynn runs into something even more powerful and sinister than the shady mobster who sent him on the mission to his former friend’s lab. What happens there is more than anyone could’ve expected, and forces Flynn to fight one last time. Will he be victorious? Or will his demons beat him once and for all? I thought the plight of Flynn and his need to do the right thing and somehow redeem himself if only a bit in his own eyes made him a sympethic hero and one we could root for. I appreciated that the author filled us in on the details of his life and past traumas without weighing us down, but at times I felt too much attention was given to certain things that didn’t really matter and maybe not enough to what really did. Maybe this was my own personal thing because I feel like I wanted to know more about the story BEFORE the story, and as it was told it just kept making me want to know more. But this is a good thing because I really want to read more and feel this piece only whetted my appetite.
  • A Luminous Future on June 09, 2012

    Great book about life in a Romanian village under communist rule. History buffs will get a kick out of all the details and descriptions that only could be given by someone who really experienced these events first hand, and the way the author expresses the different ways the fascist dictatorships affected various lives. When we study Communism and its effects in school, we only think of the submissive workers united under a totalitarian government. We don’t think about the young boy who is denied his proper praise for doing a job well done in classes, because his father had the audacity to hire on a few men. It’s this humanizing of a way of life many of us can never fully understand is what makes this such a powerful and brilliant book. You owe it to yourself to read and experience this incredibly sad, loving, and uplifting world for yourself.
  • When Earthlings Weep on June 24, 2012

    Sometimes a dream is just a dream. And sometimes that dream is telling you that you are a time travelling alien who is destined to destroy the universe. Awesome, huh? Well that’s just what is happening to Mickey Thorn in Michael Barnett’s novel “When Earthlings Weep”. The title of the book comes from a poem that was actually my favorite part of the whole book. (It was brilliant!!) The story jumps around a lot from event to event, place to place, and I sometimes found myself a bit disoriented as to what exactly was happening and why. There were some editing glitches, nothing too major but enough for me to notice. Maybe it just needs a good proofreading again. The plot was very original and interesting, I thought just some parts were perhaps a bit too complex for my personal tastes. I tend to get frustrated when reading if there are too many characters involved, but I don’t feel like I really understand them all that well… that happened with me here a few times. But the ones I had figured out I thought were explained really well, and I was curious to see everyone’s fates. The conclusion was satisfying and not forced, and I can say with all honesty that despite a few flaws I had a good time reading this book, and think the author is mad creative
  • Angels Gate on Sep. 08, 2012

    "Angels Gate” by Andrew Rafkin and Louis Pagano is a fascinating and compelling look into the seedy underside of Los Angeles drug trade in the 80’s. I feel like this book should be made into a movie! It had it all! The story tells of four friends who want to move to Costa Rica, so they embark on a risky operation of smuggling drugs. They do that for a bit then move on to something bigger…much bigger. But in order to accomplish the heist they must navigate through some pretty tricky landmines in a dangerous world. I could not stop reading until I knew how it ended. Although I have to say that while it was action packed with great twists and turns, sometimes I felt that the story really slowed down with too much needless actions/dialogue…just stuff that didn’t really add anything to the story. It wasn’t too bad, but the book is so long already it really didn’t need any “filler”. But an excellent book, one that I most definitely recommend!
  • Return of the Crown on Feb. 02, 2013

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “Return of the Crown” by Millie Burns follows in the tradition of fantasy-quest literature, this time the fate of the world rests in a young princess named Ravyn who is coming into her magical powers during her 16th year. She needs to rescue her parents, the King and Queen of Aigerach from the curse of the queen’s older sister, Zelera. Zelera is skilled in the Dark Arts (Bad magic), and the King and Queen (and everyone else) practices the Light Arts (Good Magic). The theme of good v. evil is very front and center in this novel, and there really isn’t much middle ground. I read this in a few nights and it was great right up until the final showdown. Looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.
  • Corkscrew Ridge on March 01, 2013

    this is my favorite type of book to read – take an imperfect hero (or heroine)—none of these cookie-cutter types, thank you very much—and take them out of their element and see what happens. Steven King is great at this, and while “Corkscrew Ridge” by Ron Winter is light years from being a macabre horror story, there were the elements of reaching within one’s self and discovering weaknesses and strengths that were not there before that I enjoy reading about. Sometimes it is hard to transition from one relationship to another, and sometimes we don’t know when to take chances. In this novel, the hero Paul has taken it upon himself to buy a farm that is in serious disrepair. In a way it matches his feelings about life, and he goes about trying to improve both. While this book was not without its faults, and it could probably benefit from a round of proofreading, I’d have to say that I liked it and would read more from this author in the future.
  • The Hunt for Elsewhere on April 26, 2013

    I did not really know what I was getting into when I started reading this book, but the description sounded interesting and the writing pulled me in from the opening pages. I think I expected some sort of “milo and Otis” story (great movie…see it if you haven’t already), but what I got was far more emotional, thrilling, and shocking. It really was a great read, but I felt the pacing was inconsistent at some parts, like it started off with a bang and then slowed down for a while. I just wonder how this will play out with the teens and pre-teens who like a more action-filled read. There is plenty of danger and peril along our hero’s journey, but often it is all too quickly resolved without any prolonged tension. But really this was just a minor thing that I thought would really elevate the book, but it was still quite good and I’m glad I read it. Would love to read more from this author in the future.
  • Legio XVII: Roman Legion at War on June 13, 2014

    I am of mixed feelings of, “Legio XVII: Roman Legion at War” by Thomas Timmes. But fist off I pay my deepest respects to the author, a 28 year Army Veteran. He has a great talent for this genre and I was thoroughly impressed with the level of research and descriptions that went into this novel. It was superb. However, I found the pacing to be uneven, and even quite slow at times with longer chunks of ‘telling’ narrative text that ground down the speed. The beginning started off quite slowly in my opinion, and it wasn’t later (about 50% in) where I felt fully invested. There was too much of a ‘detachment’ there that made it hard to connect with any one particular character and root for them or care about their fate. We see things through the POV of Manius at first, however he isn’t a sympathetic character that we are identifying with… he is just more who we are ‘watching’. So for me there was definitely an emotional element lacking from the book. However, other than that, I found the writing to be tight, vivid, confident, and strong. There were some minor editing things, but nothing too terrible that prevented my enjoyment. I feel like this is one of those books where just describing it won’t do it justice. You need to read it to fully experience it for yourself. Be warned – you are in for quite a ride, and one you won’t soon forget.
  • The Sense of Touch on Aug. 22, 2014

    I’m not a big “short story” reader, if fact I don’t think I’ve read any since college, unless ones in magazines count. But I heard good things about “The Sense of Touch” and gave it a shot. I’m so glad I did! In fact, I may have found a new favorite way of reading, because I don’t have a ton of free time, and I always have to sneak in fee moments here and there. So it’s cool that I could finish each one in one sitting and then come back later to read another without having to worry where I left off. There were good descriptions and each story was pretty interesting and original. The writing/editing was solid.
  • Prisoner Prodigal Pawn on April 02, 2015

    A compelling read, and one that will definitely appeal to fans of thriller/mystery/action novels. Robert Sparkman infuses a unique blend of family, multi-culturism, intrigue, corruption, and shocking twists. The story itself was fairly even-paced, but I thought the beginning was a bit slow until things started to pick up. The practice of the characters constantly saying each other’s name in conversation was annoying and unnatural-sounding, but other than that they flowed well and moved the plot forward nicely, sparing us of the dreaded “telling” that so many authors tend to do. We feel like we are a part of the book and I recommend for fans of thriller/suspense who’d like a new twist.
  • Flight of the Black Swan on Oct. 26, 2015

    Another terrific installment in the “Birds of Flight” series by J.M. Erickson. This one wastes no time and starts right off with action. Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop until I’d finished the whole thing, which I did in one evening. J.M. Erickson has a gift for writing these intriguing interweaving plotlines that keep you hooked, but don’t get too far-fetched or convoluted, which can happen frequently in this genre. Many of our fave characters are here: Burns, Daniels, Anderson, etc… and the pacing is solid throughout. So many great characters with their own storylines, curious to see where the series goes next! One of the better written and more interesting ones I’ve come across in a very long time. Highly recommend.
  • Falcon: Birds of Flight on Oct. 26, 2015

    I only recently discovered this author, and am happy that I did! Originally I only planned on reading this book, but upon realizing it was part of a series, I borrowed the first three from a friend’s Kindle and dove on in. My review is for the fourth book only (Birds of Flight: Falcon) It was the perfect continuation of the events of the preceding books that keeps you reading into the wee hours of the night. For the most part I thought that the author did a fine job of fleshing out the characters, although at times they could feel a bit ‘stock’, and I had trouble distinguishing one personality from another. There is quite a bit of head hopping from one character to another, and while this does serve well to provide a broader perspective, at times I found it confusing if I’d set the book down for any period of time. The ending of this (before the lengthy prologue that is basically a lead-in for the next one, “Black Swan”) was satisfactory, and I liked how everything was resolved. Overall a very exciting and intelligently series that I’d recommend to any Brad Thor, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, or Vince Flynn fan.
  • Gol on Dec. 29, 2015

    brilliantly crafted and written, “Gol” by author J.W. Webb is the first in a thrilling new fantasy series that I will definitely be following through (The Legends of Ansu). This world is wholly conceived, and I was pleased with the level of character development. The plots are complex and intelligent, yet quirky enough to keep you guessing. There are several big reveals that continue to shift the dynamic of the storyline in unexpected ways, something that even a jaded reader like myself can fully appreciate and still be shocked by. This is great because nothing I hate more than predictable clichés. I would also like to commend the level of professionalism in this novel, from the cover, to the formatting, to the editing and the drawings – all top notch. Looking forward to more great stories from J.W. Webb and will be recommending to my friends.
  • The Shattered Crown on Feb. 21, 2016

    4.5 stars Another fantastic read by J.W. Webb. The plot was relatively simple but the pacing was decent, with adequate action and elements of danger and mystery, and the book just flew by very quickly for me. I have mentioned before that I’m not particular about prose in general, and I appreciate the lovely manner of storytelling that was employed by the author. Reads almost old-fashioned, except for the frequent use of coarse language (especially the f bomb) which while it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, for some reason just feels oddly out of place while I’m reading. Almost like breaking character. Like the first book “Gol”, it definitely had a ‘darker’ tone and had greater stakes at hand, and an unexpected ending to the climax. All in all, the series is showing great promise to get better and deeper as it progresses. I am ready for book 3!
  • Friend & Foe on April 30, 2016

    at first I admit I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into in deciding to read this book. Because admittedly I do tend to lean towards the paranormal/fantasy elements of literature because I enjoy the make-believe parts. And a book about prisoners? The Middle East? Soldiers? Not my usual fare. But I was intrigued by the writing sample and the way that I felt an almost immediate connection to not only the characters (especially Joe and Ben), but with the way that Nik Olsen was writing them, and I found myself just wanting to read more… and more… and more… and I couldn’t believe it when I realized I was totally hooked, and even totally enjoyed the exciting war scenes! But seriously, I felt transported to another world just by experiencing the lives of these incredible characters who are so true to life and authentic, yet unlike any I’ve met before. Really glad I took a chance on this one…
  • The Lost Prince on June 07, 2016

    good ol' Fantasy, at its best! In some ways I could see hardcore fans casting off “The Lost Prince” as derivative, unoriginal, or full of tropes.*shrug* I kinda liked that. I read Fantasy because I enjoy it. Not every single book needs to be genre-shattering. Sometimes I do enjoy the whole epic-quest of good and evil in the search of a grand adventure. Course, it helps that J.W. Webb does it very, very well. The writing quality of all his novels never fails to impress me, and I'm eager to continue the series and see how the world-building and characters end up! We end on a precipice of sorts, and we feel the whole series has been leading to the events in the next book (although some major events did get resolved in this one…) Recommended for anyone who likes Fantasy and most of its tropes. Magic, monsters, swords, taverns, hijinks, that sort of thing. These books are quite hefty, but I'd even recommend them for someone looking to break into the genre.
  • Earth Angel (Angels and Seers: Book One) on June 07, 2016

    I am of somewhat mixed feelings on this novel, “Earth Angel” by Stephanie Woods. On one hand it is very creatively written with some of the most interesting and unique characters I’ve read in a long time (which says a lot), and I liked how each of them had their own unique set of circumstances. But on the other, at times I felt almost like this book was too much at once, and seemed to lose focus of the arc and kept going off in different directions. I feel like it would have been better if it were shorter and more focused, with fewer subplots. It seemed to take a long time for any real inciting incident to happen (other than Lucy ruminating over losing her fiancé), and there was far too much telling narrative in the beginning, where we should have more engagement and dialogue. But that is just my opinion, other people may disagree. Needs some light proofreading. But it is a good story with an original plot and interesting characters, and I can see fans of YA paranormal/fantasy liking it. The chemistry with Sam and Lucy was really hot and I enjoyed their relationship. The supporting cast was decently fleshed out, and it does make the reader want to see how it will play out in the next one. Recommend for mature YA/NA fans of paranormal romantic adventure.
  • Not Black and White: From The Very Windy City to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on June 07, 2016

    I read a lot of books in this arena, so this is a genre I’m fairly familiar with. Although “Not Black and White” lacks the extreme detailing and depth of others I’ve read, nonetheless, it was an engaging novel that held my interest and made me think. I enjoyed the various POV’s Beller employs to show us the different motivations and ramifications of the unfolding course of action, and how the storylines weave together in a tension filled climactic ending. This author crafts an authentic, engrossing novel that haunts you long after you are done, and makes you questions how much is real. Looking forward to reading more from G.A. Beller.