James Masters

Smashwords book reviews by James Masters

  • A Luminous Future on June 24, 2012

    This memoir “A Luminous Future” starts off with a bang, and instantly we are thrust into a world in the past where a young boy watches helpless as his father is dragged off into the night. The next chapter is dated over fifty years later, as that same young man is now celebrating the birth of his own grandson. The magic in this story lies in what happened during those fifty years, and how one young boy grew up in the shadows of communism and how that shaped his existence. In a way, this biography serves to pull back the iron curtain a bit, so as to experience the life under Stalin’s regime. It is strangely at odds with itself on many levels, and that in of itself is the paradox of communism. For example, the government gets mad and harasses people who work hard, saying that they are “exploiting” others, yet that is what they themselves are doing. They set these impossible goals for the workers to reach, and when they can’t they are punished even more. It’s frightening to read how a tyrannical government can influence the lives of its most vulnerable citizens, but despite it all, Teodor Flonta is such a success story on many levels. It’s almost like he singlehandedly defeated Stalin and his comrades, only because he never allowed them to beat him, and lived to tell this glorious tale. This is definitely one of those “don’t miss” books that belongs on every shelf.
  • Return of the Crown on Feb. 03, 2013

    This was a fine read that I enjoyed. It tells the story of a girl named Ravyn who is sort of “expelled” from her home and her mother and father (the king and Queen) are presumed dead, even though they are really just in a frozen magical state (under a spell) from the queens evil (and I mean EVIL) sister Zelera, who assumes the role of ruler of not just the lands of Aigerach, but the whole world. But Ravyn has other ideas, and she, along with her trusted advisor Connor and best friend Blade (and magical creatures) plan to take back the crown and save her parents. But the evil empress wants Ravun dead, so there is plenty of peril and tension along the way. I enjoyed the ride and can see this being a big hit with teens and middle schoolers, but I will confess that I am well into my forties and though it was great.
  • The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky on Aug. 07, 2014

    Great! This was a top-notch novel from beginning to end. The author creates very clear and strong scenes that makes us feel like we are really there. I think this is a real strength of this particular author to make us the reader think we are part of the story and seeing everything through the characters eyes. The book moved at a steady pace and carefully revealed only what we need to know to keep the story progressing without killing the intrigue. Each chapter ending made we want to continue on more. Read most in one day.
  • Thadius on Sep. 19, 2014

    Interesting, captivating, and well-written. “Thadius” by Lawrence Boarer Pitchford is the story of two men (and several other characters along the way) who get plucked from their life from an old friend who writes them telling of the murder of a young girl. They make their way across the land(and sea) to see what they can uncover and along the way the story unravels more mysteries and twists and turns. I liked that it wasn’t easy to figure out the ending because I was surprised when I realized who did it and why. I think the beginning was kind of slow, but once they leave on their journey the pace picks up, and there is some pretty good action along the way. There were a lot of places where the action was really tight and focused, but sometimes it seemed to drag a bit and some parts felt unnecessary. But all in all I’d say it was an entertaining and memorable read, and it seems like the ending leaves the door open for more stories about Thadius and Dominus in the future? If so I’d be happy to read them.
  • Connecting the Dots: Man, God, Angels, and Demons on Sep. 08, 2015

    at first I confess to being a bit wary when picking up this book by Dave Shaw, “Connecting the Dots…” as I was concerned that it might be written with a very specific target audience in mind, those who strongly believe in Christianity. Now I have no problem with people with these beliefs, and I feel people should practice whatever feels right and true for them. I consider myself more “spiritual” than “religious”, but I am on board with the “good” and “Evil”, “right” and “wrong” and seeing how we are all tested and challenged in life and how best to overcome and explain our difficulties. I read with an open mind and heart, and as I was reading, I found it to be applicable in all aspects of life, and to just about anyone who was reading it. Yes, it pertains to the Christian view of God and a persons’ life in accordance with his relationship with a Christian God according to Scripture. But there are many profound observations made and lessons taught that really cross any spiritual boundary. There is much discussion on Biblical elements, but the author(s) bring a fresh, new spin on it with personal insights and anecdotes relating to real-life experiences that we can all relate to. A positive, moving message that should be heard.
  • Flight of the Black Swan on Oct. 25, 2015

    An impressive level of complexity and character development for a shorter book. Although “Flight of the Black Swan” is shorter than the first 4 books of the series, it still delivers an action-packed entertaining read that had me glued to my Kindle (as usual with these books). The only thing I wish was different was if there could have been even a brief recap, summary throughout to refresh me of some character/situations, because even though I’ve read the previous books, it has been some time and I forget some details. But I still really enjoyed it, and this series continues to impress me as a whole. Recommend.
  • Falcon: Birds of Flight on Oct. 25, 2015

    Splendid! I love when a book takes me by surprise and keeps me on my toes, not being predictable. I like the fast pace and quick action, and how the author J.M. Erickson did an excellent job with conveying the worldbuilding through the dialogue and actions of the characters and no boring dense narrative prose. The writing overall is quite strong, there were only minor editing or formatting errors, nothing significant. These books are meant to be read in order in the series, so be prepared for quite a ride with a dynamic, fascinating cast of characters. Cool how it combines real life events and people with the events of the book… makes it more realistic, I think. Curious to see where Rachael takes it in “Black Swan”. An excellent series, thus far.
  • Not Black and White: From The Very Windy City to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on May 02, 2016

    lately I’ve been in a rut of putting down books and not picking them up again because I lost interest at one point and just never continued. This was definitely not the case with this book, “Not Black and White” by G.A. Beller! From the very beginning of the book we are drawn into this seedy political underworld and the action flowed seamlessly from one page to the next, and was unpredictable and shocking enough to make me just *have* to see what would happen next. Not formulaic or cookie-cutter at all, even though there are plenty of “familiar elements” necessary for a political action thriller. I was impressed with Beller’s writing style and will look for more works from him in the future
  • Friend & Foe on May 02, 2016

    I really enjoyed this story and could not put it down. As I read this book I really began to care about the characters and was anxious to see how things would turn out for them. I thought sometimes the narrative went on too long though and would have liked to see more forward progression through dialogue instead of just reading about everything. And sometimes I didn’t feel like we needed to know “everything” about ‘everything”… beaning sometimes I felt there was too much backstory for the characters and events and felt like overall the focus was looser than I like. I prefer to have books have a more distinct arc, and I don’t feel like this one really did. But I did enjoy it for the writing and the characters and would recommend to others.
  • They’re Conning You! Who Are ‘They’, and What Are ‘They’ Planning? This is the Real Story of Our Past, Present and Possible Future. on Aug. 11, 2018

    Funny how few books there actually seem to be on so many of these topics… and this is such important information! I am still in college and it’s just not normally the type of book that I gravitate to for ‘fun’, but I thought there might be something useful I could learn anyways and I was so right! It is eye-opening and very compelling – it is clear that the author knows what he’s writing about and has done in-depth research (and has detailed and comprehensive appendices at the end to prove it). Provocative and bold, this book is not just for academics or scientists or political gurus, but for anyone who wants to know what is REALLY going on ‘behind the scenes’ and how different it is from what “they” are telling you. Everything from the JFK assassination to Twin Towers to Extra-Terrestrials, Antarctica and “Deep State” governments… Peter Senior has created an impressively comprehensive body of research and theories that can definitely get people’s attention, whether you are a ‘skeptic’ or a ‘believer’. I could definitely see the truths behind much of what he was saying. The main concern I had was that while he presented lots of great information and shocking revelations, I was left with the feeling of like “okay, now what am I supposed to do with this info?” So in that regard it is a little frustrating, but I guess it is better to know than to not know. I like that it challenged the traditional narrative and put things into new perspective.