Sara Smolarek


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Smashwords book reviews by Sara Smolarek

  • The Flower Bowl Spell on March 04, 2012
    (no rating)
    The Flower Bowl Spell is one of the best books I've read by an indie author. I am a voracious reader, so I have many books under my belt to compare this to. Olivia Boler achieves a nice balance of detail within this book. She does an excellent job of bringing life to her characters and their environment, without going overboard. For a change, I wasn't left thinking "Yeah yeah, enough about his eye color - get on with the story!" On the other had, nothing was omitted or skipped over so I was left wondering "How did they get from Point A to Point B?" The plotline is a refreshing change from so many others of this genre I've read lately. It keeps you guessing, while is also keeps moving forward. No slow spots to work through. The extended description above gives an accurate "feel" for the story, and I won't spoil it for you by giving anything away. One problem I often encounter with indie writers is a lack of technical skills - poor grammar with run-on sentences, incorrect word usage (exceptance vs acceptance, no vs know), punctuation errors (Let's eat, Grandma. vs Let's eat Grandma.), and bad spelling. You'd think some people never heard of spellcheck, much less a proofreader. Those kind of things are very distracting, and I've deleted books without finishing them because some were so badly done. None of these things were an issue wth The Flower Bowl Spell. Ms. Boler knows her stuff! I honestly tried, but couldn't put The Flower Bowl Spell down until I finished it at 3:00 a.m. Ms. Boler - you are responsible for the dark circles under my eyes! On a practical note: I initially chose this book because it is a substantial full-length novel at a budget-friendly price. I look forward to reading her next work - Perhaps a sequel?
  • Unleashed: Tail One on April 02, 2012

    I must start off by saying that I do not normally read short stories. I like to really get "into" the books I read, and shorts usually don't give me enough time to do that. This was an exception for me. I read the blurb and was intrigued, and I was hooked by the second page. Unleashed: Tail One is a short story told from three points of view: a detective investigating a death, the neighbor's dog, and a kitty that has slipped over the edge into post-traumatic stress-induced psychosis. The detective is a bit of a bumbler, the dog does his job as protector, but the cat is the star. She tells her story with dark humor, and lets us know in no uncertain terms that she believes in payback! I greatly enjoyed this author's writing style. It's different from anything I've read lately, and a very refreshing change. I look forward to reading more books by Ms. Lopez!
  • Dance Of The Chupacabras on April 08, 2012

    ‘Dance of the Chupacabras’ by Lori R. Lopez isn’t the easiest-to-read book I’ve ever picked up. Honestly, it took me a little while to get “into” it. (I knew what a Chupacabra was because I saw that episode of ‘The X-Files’, so I was good with that.) Once I got going though, I found this book is unique, like nothing I’ve ever read before. Funny? Yep. Filled with suspense? Yes. Nail-biting Are-They-Going-To-Make-It parts? You betcha. Make ya cry? Uh huh. How about laughing out loud? Most definitely!!! Ms. Lopez has an obvious love of words – all kinds of words, all kinds of languages. You will learn new words because if the right one doesn’t exist for what she’s trying to say, well then, she’s gonna make one up! The author doesn’t just tell the story, she also talks directly to you. She talks to the characters. They answer her. Ok, I confess – I answered her a couple of times too… She writes prose, but then frequently blends in marvelous poetry so skillfully that you’re reading rhymes in your head before you realize it. The main story is about a pair of brothers unknowingly tasked to find a little girl who they don’t know is missing, and in doing so will save the world as well. How are they supposed to find someone they don’t know is missing you may ask? Good question, but I’m not going to tell you in this review. Now throw in the little issue of being lost themselves, and it’s REALLY a problem! Both Mayan and Aztec gods, rulers and lore play major parts. You know the Mayan calendar that says the world is going to end 12/21/12? It’s part of the story too. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, (or maybe the point of the cactus needle would be more appropriate for this book). There are plots and sub-plots galore, but they’re not done in such a way as to get you as lost as our hapless heroes. Quandries are resolved, questions are answered, and wrinkles are ironed out so that in the end ‘Dance of the Chupacabras’ is a very satisfying read.
  • Zombie Fallout on April 25, 2012

    I love to read. I read a LOT. I read books in a wide variety of genre. I confess a preference for the paranormal and horror, so why have I not come across Mark Tufo’s books before? Zombie Fallout is the first in a series and begins just after the plague starts. It is written in the form of a journal, which is narrated by the main character, Michael Talbot. Mike is forced to become the Man of the Hour when an untested H1N1 vaccine turns thousands into the walking dead. He’s healthy, he’s strong, he’s a former Marine, he’s got a good dose of common sense, and he has a sense of humor which helps in the sanity department. Being a touch paranoid, uh, I mean being a survivalist, he is prepared. He just never quite expected that he needed to be prepared for zombies, but he can adapt on the fly. Relying on his training and skills, Mike sets out to do whatever he can to save his family, friends, and as many of the still-living as possible. Along the way, Mike meets quite the variety of characters, both heroic and vile. His cause is aided in unexpected and sometimes unexplainable ways by those you’d assume to be a liability rather than an asset. Ryan Seacrest lends a hand, in a unique way. People who could be of great help show their worst side, and choices have to be made. Somewhere along the line Mike also figures out that these zombies may be dead, but they’re not quite brain dead. I found Mr. Tufo’s writing style to be refreshingly “real”. By that I mean he writes the way ordinary people talk – at least how people with Michael Talbot’s background would talk. Is the grammar and sentence structure perfect? No. Would your grammar and sentence structure be perfect if you were dodging zombies? Probably not. Mike’s wife and sons make what I’ll call “guest appearances”, taking over chapters when Mike is occupied elsewhere and unable to keep us up to speed on what’s happening. These chapters are written in an obviously different style, which to me proves Mr. Tufo’s intent. At any rate, Zombie Fallout is an easy read. Gory? Yes, but it wouldn’t be a zombie story without some gore, right? It’s ok though, the sense of humor throughout brings balance to the blood and guts. This isn’t the kind of story that’ll give you nightmares, but it IS the kind of story that’s going to make you want to read Zombie Fallout 2 right away!
  • Zombie Fallout 2: A Plague Upon Your Family on May 02, 2012

    If you are reading this review and you haven’t already read the first book in the Zombie Fallout series, you really need to find it and start there. Just sayin’. If you have read the first book in the series and are here looking at Zombie Fallout 2, then you’ve already been bitten. Pun intended. It’s too late for you. You’ve already succumbed and become (da da da dum…) a Zombie Fallout Fan! Mark Tufo’s series about the effects of an untested Swine flu virus (no disrespect meant to any hogs who might be reading this) is addictive. It must also be contagious, because everyone I told, and who went on to read the first book, couldn’t wait to read the next. Michael Talbot’s second journal continues on right where the first left off, and takes you through a hair-raising quest to find a safe haven in the midst of the madness. Just like the first book, you will cringe. You will laugh. You will cry. (Ok, maybe just us girls will cry. You guys can pretend you got something in your eye.) I won’t provide any spoilers cuz I’m not that kind of gal. But, I will say you’re gonna want to read this if for no other reason than to find out what busted nuts, mini vans, McDonald’s drive-thrus, hairless tails, and winters in North Dakota all have in common! Read on, ZF fans – and maybe while you’re at it you should go ahead and get Zombie Fallout 3. I know I will!
  • The Lycaning on June 27, 2012

    A little bit of horror + a little bit of paranormal + a little bit of romance = another excellent short story from the mind of Lori Lopez! I have to be honest, short stories are not usually my "thing". I like developed characters and well-explained plots, and most shorts just can't carry that off. Then, I discovered Ms. Lopez's stories. She has full-length novels that are amazing, but her shorter tales are equally well-done. With her gift for words, she deftly makes you aquainted with her characters by telling you what you want and need to know in order to make you care about them. She makes you think of questions as you're reading, and then succinctly gives you the answers to those questions. The Lycaning holds true to this style. You'll find yourself rooting for the main characters. You'll fear the worst, and then comes the twist...
  • Thrill of the Hunt on Aug. 04, 2012

    Slade Carver is a buff, virile, down on his luck former big-game hunter, turned ranch hand. Looking for a way to make some badly-needed cash, he accepts a job tracking down a beast that’s been killing livestock. He soon find out there’s more than meets the eye to this job, and it comes with excellent fringe benefits. The summer heat turns into heat of another sort, and somewhere along the way the tables are turned from hunter to hunted… Author Jeffrey Kosh steps outside his usual realm of the horror genre, and plunges deep into erotica. Not satisfied to lay a simple tail, uh, tale of mere sex, the author mixes sultry imagery and throbbing body parts with a thriller's storyline that keeps the reader hot, bothered, and guessing who or what is coming next. Be aware that explicit descriptions and sexual suggestiveness are worked throughout! Excuse me, I need to go take a cold shower now…
  • A Werewolf in Office Clothing on Feb. 25, 2013

    Naoko Smith has gone where no one else has gone before. What if werewolves are a little more wolf than human, more than popular paranormal romances have led us to believe, especially when it comes to mating? A Werewolf in Office Clothing introduces us to Col and Bryony, and takes place in England. It explores how a were keeps his inner wolf in check, and what happens when he finds a mate that's good about letting him out to play! In the beginning, this short story can be a bit hard to follow. British and Irish vernacular can throw a reader off, if you are expecting this to have been written in the U.S. But, if you enjoy a bit of fun erotica, and are open to situations alternative to the mainstream, you just may enjoy it! Kudos to Ms. Smith for working in an important topic as well - safe sex - in such a way as to not be distracting to the kinky pleasure!