Lost Child / Billy (books 84 and 85)

Lost Child / David Story

synopsis – A little girl, on a Christmas tree trek with her brother and daddy, is lured away with a magic pine cone by the Devil so that he may steal her soul. But never fear, the Jesus-God-Angel swoops in to save the day. With the help of the girl’s family and some random church employees, the Jesus-God-Angel teaches everyone a holy lesson in faith, and that you shouldn’t call the police when your child goes missing. Not because the police will beat you down, but because the police aren’t the Jesus-God-Angel. You just gotta pray to the Jesus-God-Angel.

reaction – A very heavy-handed Christian theme. Almost no character development, and a predictable ending. A chore to read – like a Hallmark holiday special, but with even less depth and originality. I kept hoping for a redeeming twist at the end, but predictably, it didn’t come. Maybe because I just didn’t pray.

recommendation – Only my in-laws would appreciate this bag of bleached circus peanuts. Nobody else in any other universe would glean a molecule of enjoyment from this nonsense-in-any-genre book.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Lost-Child-max-adventure-Novelette-ebook/dp/B00H0M7LFI


Billy / Shaun Whittington

synopsis – A dad turns into a hero when he saves most of his son’s classmates from a deranged, knife-wielding killer. But now the hero has PTSD and turns into a zero. Can this anti-social drunk who watches too much TV turn his life around? Can he learn to live with his hero-turned-zero fame? Maybe all he has to do is willfully remember the day he turned into a hero instead of trying to forget.

reaction – A very awkward read. As a rule, I try not to review books by the number of grammatical errors, but dayum. Being familiar with PTSD, I somewhat identified with the main character. The hero / zero journey was suspenseful enough to keep me wading through the sentence salad rambles. A random, wandering read with an anti-climactic ending.

recommendation – I suppose some people in some universe somewhere would find this book worthwhile.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Billy-novelette-Shaun-Whittington-ebook/dp/B00BBE4WM6


Contagion / Worm’s Hierarchy (books 82 and 83)

Contagion / Joseph J. Bailey

synopsis – The nanoswarms are here… They’re contagious. People are dying. But one is not dead. One finds that others are not dead. Is one’s love alive? Will one survive? Will one’s love survive? The survival information is steaming, getting stronger, getting even more philosophical. Yes, the artificial intelligences will save the day. Unless they’re infected by the nanoswarms…

reaction – Sparse, stark writing, matching a sparse, stark storyline. Lots of over-arching questions listed throughout. The reading of this particular style got easier closer to the end of the story. A few esoteric descriptive passages that left me feeling inundated. Overall, a personable account of a nanopocalypse from the perspective of a human survivor. For fans of nanopocalypses.

recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Contagion-Joseph-J-Bailey-ebook/dp/B00NGNSFH8


Worm’s Hierarchy / T.S.

synopsis – A painter, commissioned by the Church, struggles to survive and thrive in a society cursed with the human condition. His best friend is charged with helping him dupe the Church, and charged with saving his life by ending it. In the meantime, the painter enjoys the company of prostitutes, beds his landlord’s abused wife, takes pity on his landlord’s ill-fated daughter, and endures the spite of his clueless landlord. A futile existence in a futile journey…

reaction – An odd little book with a tongue-in-cheek subtext. A confusing storyline with confusing sentences. A few times I found myself re-reading paragraphs, or backtracking to try to figure out who was saying what to whom, or try to follow what was going on. But at the end of the book, I appreciated the comic tragedy.

recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Worms-Hierarchy-Novelette-S-T-ebook/dp/B00P5AB30Q


Kill School / The Apology (books 80 and 81)

Kill School / Gregory Lynn

synopsis – A goblin defends himself from workplace violence, and inadvertently kills another goblin. After he is sentenced to death, his master offers him a deal – take your punishment, or go to kill school. Back to institutional education it is! In kill school, the goblin cops some mad kill skills, but will he end up killed anyway? After all, it’s kill school…

reaction – A humorous first person goblin recollection of a life-and-death adventure. Sparse character development, and sparser setting description. The storyline seemed cobbled together. The narrative writing style was cute, but the long, drawn out strategic battle scene at the end was a bit weighty for the rest of the book. A quick read aimed at pre-teen fighting goblin fans.

recommendation – I guess some people would find this book worthwhile in some universe somewhere.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Kill-School-First-HemoGoblins-Novella-ebook/dp/B00N0G2B3K


The Apology / Essa Alroc

synopsis – An ugly duckling loses weight, gets a nose job, turns into a blonde bombshell, and lands a rich husband. So now, life is good, right? Hold on – the bombshell’s high school bully has a change of heart and decides to apologize to his former target. Throw in the revelation that the rich husband is a sadistic murdering mob boss. And the former ugly duckling is somehow, er… still in love with her former bully. What? Wait, it gets better. The bully has also loved the duckling all along. And one more thing – the only person to get them out of this mess is a schizophrenic exotic animal activist. And the animals she rescues poop out diamonds. So, what could possibly top all that? Heh, hold on to your hats…

reaction – The story started out fun and flirty, but by the end my eyes had nearly rolled into the back of my head. The events and actions were so implausible, the story dipped into the fantasy genre. I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Too many loose ends swept under the rug, and the deus ex machina was glaring. The story had an interesting premise, but in the end, it was one hot mess of a book.

recommendation – I guess some people would find this book worthwhile in some universe somewhere.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Apology-Essa-Alroc-ebook/dp/B00AHI5R8K


The Walls of the Castle / Animal Kingdom (books 78 and 79)

The Walls of the Castle / Tom Piccirilli

synopsis – Kasteel is a prisoner of the Castle. He grieves the death of his son, the collapse of his marriage, and the hopelessness and guilt which rule his life. He survives inside the Castle walls, subsisting on stolen food and meds, sometimes befriending the other prisoners, sometimes getting the beat-down from the Castle wardens. But also within the walls are the secrets of life and death, and of redemption. Can Kasteel find the will to unlock these secrets and escape to the outside world?

reaction – A poetic, dreamy tale of a lost soul searching for a way out of life’s tragic misfortune. The Castle was a powerful and compelling fortress which just happened to present as a mega hospital. The twists and turns of the Castle corridors and secret passages were reminiscent of the industrial institutions of the modern world, and seemed to echo across the Jungian tragedy of the human condition. Highly recommended for those who appreciate poetic, yet straightforward and modern prose.

recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Walls-Castle-Tom-Piccirilli-ebook/dp/B00BAKBC0G


Animal Kingdom / Iain Rob Wright

synopsis – A dad on the cusp of a divorce takes his young son to the zoo. But what should be a fun father-son bonding time turns into a blood and gore fest as the imprisoned animals mysteriously escape from their enclosures and rip the humans apart. Father and son get lucky and join a small band of human holed up in one of the zoo’s buildings. Now all they have to do is wait for help to arrive. No such luck. Turns out almost all the non-human animals in the world have decided to go on a shred-and-eat-humans spree. Time for plans B, C, D, E…

reaction – I admit the scenario of imprisoned animals escaping and putting the smack-down on their human wardens held some appeal. Their methods of escape, however, weren’t explained. Neither was the trigger point. Stereotypical characters. Lots of slashing and burning of animals, both non-human and human. A predictable ending. Overall, the story had the appeal of a late night B movie.

recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit or miss book.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Animal-Kingdom-Iain-Rob-Wright-ebook/dp/B005OLBD0Q


Submerged (book 77)

Submerged / Cheryl Kaye Tardif

synopsis – Marcus is a recovering drug addict who sees the ghosts of his dead wife and son, and is also a 911 operator. Rebecca is a recovering battered woman and mother in the throes of a divorce. When she is run off the road with her two children in the backseat, he is their only chance at being rescued from a slow, watery death. But the hero’s work is far from done. Now Marcus must save Rebecca from attempt #2 on her life. Will his ghostly wife help him save Rebecca again?

reaction – Strong suspense and intriguing characters. I enjoyed the straightforward treatment of the flawed addict and the back-and-forth scene changes between Marcus and Rebecca. But the further I read, the more annoyed I became with the inappropriate flirting between the rescuee and the rescuer while the actual rescue was taking place. Who calls 911 and flirts with the operator while they’re about to drown in a river? A number of long, drawn-out conversations and an implausible sting operation toward the end. Read this if you’re into sappy romances with no sex scenes.

recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this float and sink book.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/Submerged-Cheryl-Kaye-Tardif-ebook/dp/B00BJ64OHY


House 23 (book 76)

House 23 / Eli Yance

synopsis – Joseph has it all. He lives in a beautiful house in a well-to-do neighborhood. Being wealthy, he doesn’t have to work, and can devote all his time to pursuing his passion of painting. Or watching TV. Or sleeping in and lounging around all day, that sort of thing. Too bad he’s a miserable wreck. See, his ambitious and successful wife was murdered in that house. Now that he has all her wealth, everybody in town thinks layabout Joseph did it, even though he was cleared. One day his new neighbor knocks on his door… and she looks exactly like his dead wife. Things start to look up. But things aren’t always what they seem…

reaction – I felt a strange sympathy for Joseph, even though he seemed to be a perpetually simplistic, “poor me” character. Yes, his wife was murdered, but at some point you move on by necessity. Perhaps I am harsh. After his dead wife’s lookalike showed up, the story got a bit mundane. Happy people doing happy things. The climax was a long, drawn out fight fest in which the characters somehow kept on fighting with multiple serious injuries. Then the conclusion left a lot of unanswered questions. Overall, an open-ended book with several unexpected twists.

recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/House-23-suspense-mystery-thriller-ebook/dp/B00BHIYY5Q