Book Review – West Running Wild  by Gem Stone

Book Review – West Running Wild by Gem Stone

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Book Review – West Running Wild (West Series Book 1)

by Gem Stone

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Book Review by Josh Grant
Diabolic Shrimp Reviewer

Lions and tigers and…love interests? Oh my.

West Running Wild by Gem Stone is your typical ‘boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy has to take care of a billion animals’ story.  Marcus is smarmy and self centered (and a little bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to nonhumans). Cathy is a strong willed woman with a big heart. When Marcus’ father dies and leaves him the company (with a creative and fun catch), it sets the two of them on a crash course towards each other.

I love Stone’s humor and her diverse sprawl of characters.  There wasn’t a chapter where I didn’t smirk at least a little.  Her writing flows well and the dialogue is excellent.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but relate a bit with Marcus (I’m not exactly a huge animal lover myself).  It was fun to watch the journey both characters took and there were some very heartwarming moments.

I don’t typically get into romance, so this was a fun step into a new genre for me.  It’s a feel good tale of trouble and triumph great for any romantic comedy lover in the room.  Bonus points if you just happen to love animals.

Diabolic Shrimp  – a collaborating for honest reviews

Book Review – Black Lord of Eagles by Ben Blake

Book Review – Black Lord of Eagles by Ben Blake

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Book Review – Black Lord of Eagles

by Ben Blake

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Book Review by Rodney Strong

The Ashir are a comfortable people, confident in their history, structured in their society, and most of all absolutely sure they are the only people.  Until the Thrain cross the Ashir’s borders, and everything they thought they knew is turned upside down.  The Thrain have a mission, and it’s not peaceful.

The Ashir’s one hope is the Kai.  Kai is the Kamachi, chosen servant of the god Viraca, but to save his people he must overcome his own doubts.

Ben Blake has done an outstanding job of creating the world his characters inhabit.  There are clear historical correlations between the simple Ashir who worship many gods and place no value in gold and the Aztecs, while the more technologically advanced Thrain stand in nicely for the Spanish.  That’s not to say this is a historical tale, it is definitely fantasy.  For me it felt like an early Raymond E Feist book, with the expansive world.

I did wonder about the need to include magic in the book, it’s a minor thing, but the tale would have worked just as well without it and the inclusion of a magician seemed a little forced.

There were a few places where long descriptive passages slowed down the action, which was distracting for the reader, but again these were minor over.  The other very minor thing is that the book was clearly written as part of a series, and was left on a cliffhanger ending.  While this keeps readers interested for future books, a slight tweak could have concluded the book while still leaving things open.

A great read and I look forward to reading more from this author.


Book Review – The Cuban Affair  by Nelson DeMille

Book Review – The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

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Book Review – The Cuban Affair

by Nelson DeMille

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Book Review by Joni Dee

A Predictable Yet Enjoyable New DeMille

I’m having a hard time deciding whether I liked “The Cuban Affair” more than I was disappointed by it. On one hand, it’s a brand-new Nelson DeMille, an author I grew up reading his novels, and full of action. Moreover, its free from the over-exhausted John Corey (thanks g-d!); On the other hand, it’s cliché-stricken, and unsophisticated.

Daniel MacCormick, Mac, is a veteran US Army officer, who nearly lost his life in Afghanistan, now running his own charter boat and wasting his life away in Key-West. He is approached by the lovely Sara Ortega, along with her compatriots, a Cuban-American bunch, who are asking him to lead a mission to retrieve Sara’s grandfather long lost bank money (60 mil dollars – aren’t the notes old and revoked??) along with deeds to communist-confiscated Cuban property. All this is set to take place while his first mate, Jack (another veteran only from Vietnam), is to wait for them at sea with their boat, symbolically named the Maine. The Maine has been chartered to participate in a “Fish for Peace” tournament which takes place in light of the warmer US-Cuba relations, labelled “the Cuban Thaw”.

So just like it sounds, this is a typical head-on mission, in a head-on combustive situation. Mac is a regular “no-bullshit” DeMille protagonist. They all drink all the time, and we in for a treat, 80s/90s at their best (only set in 2017).

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy “The Cuban Affair”. It’s “what you see is what you get” adventure novel. No sophistications and no innovations. You like Mac, you root for him, you hate the Cuban guide/chivito (informant) and you laugh from Richard Neville, the DeMille-like author (also with a pretty younger wife) who joins the group in Cuba, probably like DeMille and his wife did a couple of years ago (I saw the photos on his website, not a stalker!)

But the first few chapters of “The Cuban Affair” really had me expecting more – maybe something that will live up to “By the Rivers of Babylon” or “Charm School” which were DeMille’s golden novels. The more “The Cuban Affair” dragged-on, the more it became predictable, with a predictable action scene at the end a predictable conclusion. Issues that surfaced during the novel were tied loosely and a few (microscopical) plot-holes were recognisable.

I enjoyed the novel, but I set myself up for more. I’d recommend it only if (like me) you are a Nelson DeMille fan. ***½

Book Review : Least Wanted by Debbi Mack

Book Review : Least Wanted by Debbi Mack

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Book Review – Least Wanted

by Debbi Mack

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1 Blogger Review

Julia Wilson
Christian Bookaholic


Reviewed by Julia Wilson

Film Noir In Novel Form

 Least Wanted by Debbi Mack is a contemporary crime thriller. Written in the first person from the point of view of a lawyer, the novel is very reminiscent of the old Philip Marlowe films starring Humphrey Bogart. I definitely read with a black and white picture in my head!

On the surface, seemingly unconnected crimes keep popping up. As the body count rises the reader tries to keep track of all the ins and outs in this fast paced crime thriller.

The novel deals with the awful topics of drugs, child porn, girl gangs and violence. Being born in poor neighbourhoods means some do not stand a chance. Poverty and crime seem to go hand in hand.

Not all crime is out on the streets, cyber crime is a modern day phenomena.

Least Wanted was a gritty, realistic read that would make an excellent film noir movie.

A complex read and not for the faint hearted.

I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

Originaly Posted on the Christian Bookaholic


Book Review – Troy’s Possibilities by Rodney Strong

Book Review – Troy’s Possibilities by Rodney Strong

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Book Review – Troy’s Possibilities: Nothing Is Straightforward When Anything Is Possible

by Rodney Strong

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2 Reviews

Joni Dee
BookGobbler Admin
Brittany’s Pages


Book Review by Joni Dee

Ah! So Many Possibilities!

When I picked up “Troy’s Possibilities” I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was written by an unknown author, his debut novel, with a blurry description. Is it sci-fi? Drama? General fiction?

I don’t regret giving this book a chance, I have found a profound drama, which leaves you thinking deeply about the meaning of things and your own course of life. However, even after reading it – I can’t seem to be able to label it, which is maybe a good thing, but sadly may get other people to ignore it.

The idea in the heart of the novel is not original, we have seen it on the silver screen with “Sliding Doors”, “The Butterfly Effect” and even old “Groundhog day”. Although the way it’s manifested in Troy’s Possibilities is quite unique:

Troy gets to live choices he had made as alternative routes for his life. The problem is that he can’t control it. In fact, in a sense it controls him: he could be living a full life of years and years, not knowing if it’s real life or a “possibility” that will end with him blinking back to 2016, when he is in his early thirties. While it can be a blessing, Troy’s mentions numerous times that when you get this “do-over” you cannot control what the other person does, so even if you do everything right, and the other person chose differently – the future would be different. A good thing if the love of your life vanishes to Australia in a possibility; a bad thing if you are married to your high school sweetheart with a child and poof you are whisked back to your parents’ house when you’re fifteen, only now she doesn’t feel the same.

There’s one constant that seems to return to Troy’s existent, in whichever possibility he is, and that’s Cat. Is she for real? Is she part of a bigger scheme that the universe holds for Troy? Is she the sun for his moonlike measurable existence? And if so, why is it so darn complicated?

Again, I enjoyed “Troy’s Possibilities” and the idea that stood behind it. It doesn’t lack problems though: at times I wasn’t sure whether the author himself got confused from what’s real and what was just a possibility, referring to things that should not have happened. Also, the multiple futures Troy had, in which he lived a full life – weren’t convincing enough, at least not as much as the shorter scenarios that took hours or weeks. Moreover, while I was hooked in fully in the first third of the book, I felt like it lost momentum as the storyline dragged on, to a somewhat predictable ending.

Having said all the above I liked the clues that the author planted towards the conclusion, I liked the characters – they were very complex and I could easily identified with Troy, and I liked the rich world of metaphors and language. “A thousand quips formed and died on my lips” thinks the protagonist and I couldn’t identify more, being an aspiring author myself.

I also liked a cute recurring scene where Troy helps this old couple chose something, between the husband’s choice and the wife’s, I found it a playful way of demonstrating Troy’s problem that each “future” can turn differently if one person chooses a bit differently.

For a debut novel, Strong has done a good job, and while it doesn’t lack issues it is a good read that will live you thinking. Hence why I decided to rate this book 4 stars, and to recommend it.

Britanny's Pages Book Review by Brittany

Wonderful story of hope and love

Wow. All I can say is wow. When I got this book, I was not expecting the epic tale that would I would be taking. I’m still sitting around just thinking about the whole book and having a difficult time writing this review.

Troy’s Possibilities is the story of Troy, a man in his early twenties working at a bank and spending his time with his flatmate Emily. He keeps to himself, no matter how Emily tries to push him out into the world to start living. But Troy is haunted. His life is interrupted by possibilities. These possibilities happen in the blink of an eye, Troy has lived hundreds of lives all with different outcomes. Troy is trapped by his ability and unable to really live life. Until Cat knocks on the front door and everything changes.

I really cannot express how much I really loved this book. It has so many good themes and elements. It was written beautifully and the story really flowed.

Troy’s Possibilities is a story about life. Troy has the ability to see how life MIGHT turn out. Unfortunately, it’s not the future. Each possibility is based on Troy’s decisions and the decisions of other people. He might save someone in one possibility, but in reality that person decided not to go to the same place Troy was. Life does have a lot to do with your own, personal decisions, but at the same time other people’s decisions affect you.

It’s a story about family. Because of everything Troy has seen, it negatively affects his relationship with his mother. Troy loves her so much, but he’s seen her suffer in so many possibilities. His dad has a hard time accepting this ability, and writes Troy off as mental. It’s sad to see his parental relationship crumble. Emily is Troy’s roommate and best friend since forever. She acts like a sister to him and tries to get him to live life.

It’s a story about love. Love has so many different possibilities. There are so many decisions and outcomes that could happen in a love story. But when you fall in love, it’s not only destiny, it’s also hope.

Troy’s Possibilities has filled my soul with hope. Definitely a book that has made me pause and reflect on all the possibilities not just in my past, but my future as well.

Troy’s Possibilities gets 4.5 stars.

Originally Posted on Britanny’s Pages

Book Review – The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Book Review – The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

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Book Review – The Golden House

by Salman Rushdie

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Book Review by Joni Dee

All that Glitters is Not Gold – Brilliant New Book by Rushdie

I normally start a book review with an introduction, but since Salman Rushdie needs none, I’ll get straight to the plot: Powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden immigrates with his three adult children into a grand mansion in downtown Manhattan. They arrive after a catastrophe had occurred to them in the “old country” which is forbidden to name.

The narrator, and ultimately the unintended protagonist, is their Manhattanite neighbour and family confidant, René. He takes upon himself to tell the chronicles of the “Golden house”, and in a sense becomes the family historian, who is much involved in shaping their story.

The Goldens are everything you could dream of, and in a sense their appeal pulls René into their world: They are socialites, rich and influential. The house is packed with intrigue and mischief, of brotherly rivalry and everything takes a turn to the worst upon the introduction of Vasilisa, Nero’s second gold-digger wife.

Rushdie does well to tackle to significant subjects of our everyday lives through the narrative of the Goldens, and the introduction to their world, as examples:

  1. The constant struggle of East and West. The old country of the Goldens and modern Western Manhattan life are constantly on an axis of strife. Full with Eastern idioms and concepts, with a terrorist act that sets the motion of our tale, he subtly plays the strings of the Clash of Civilizations. It is very apparent with the allegory of the old tale of the appointment with death in Samarra, vis a vis Manhattan and Mumbai (deliberately referred to as Bombay throughout the novel, the old degrading Western mispronunciation).
  2. The folly of the latest American elections, along with criticism of the elected president, is constantly in the background. The Goldens arrival is shortly after the inauguration of Obama – a time when they are established at the apex of the NY society. As the family starts crumbling down, the narrator describes the madness of Gotham, who is falling to the flute of the coloured hair candidate represented by the green haired Joker. The more vulgar he gets the more they like him.

However, the Batman reference is not the only cinematic allegory. René being an aspiring filmmaker, and the son of two professors intellectuals, means that he incorporate many literary, pop culture, and cinematic references as he tells his story. This is a brilliant way of getting the reader to identify with the scenes, and painting a vivid image of them. We also encounter many allegories to popular folk tales such as Baba Yaga and Vasilisa, Vasilisa with the Golden Tress, and more as another way of spicing up the civilization bridge. While throughout the pages the author spares us nothing of his criticism of many aspect of the American life “Guns were alive in America, and death was their random gift.”

In a way, by actively getting involved with the Goldens, René is not just telling his tale but is in a voyage to self-discovery. “The trouble with trying to escape yourself is that you bring yourself along for the ride.” Tells him Apu, one of the brothers, before he embarks on his own catastrophic journey. It seems like René will discover this soon enough himself.

This is a brilliant novel, seems very different than anything Rushdie has ever written, but not shy of his usual opinionated self and social criticism (“Lies can cause tragedies, both on the personal and the national scale… Telling the truth can also cost you what you love” René recalls he had told Apu in one of their talks, this is apropos the 2016 elections). If one word of criticism is due to the novel itself, is that it’s too long, many of the monologues are overstretching, trying to convey a point which has already been taken. Nonetheless – shining 5 stars!

Book Review – The Path of the Child  by Sojourner McConnell

Book Review – The Path of the Child by Sojourner McConnell

by Julia Wilson 0 Comments

Book Review – The Path of the Child

by Sojourner McConnell

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2 Bloggers Reviews

Julia Wilson
Christian Bookaholic
Joni Dee
BookGobbler Admin


Reviewed by Julia Wilson

Of Isolation And Hope

The Path Of The Child by Sojourner McConnell is a powerful contemporary novel which I really enjoyed. It was a compulsive read which drew me in from the start as I put on my ‘Mom and nurturing’ hat.

The novel is two-fold, dealing with a child and her mother. Told in the third person from various viewpoints, the reader gets to intimately know the characters.

There is the voice of mental illness. I found this a powerful chapter as the voices played their part. They seemed to empower the person as their will took over.
Another area discussed was love and care. A child needs to be nurtured. My heart just broke. “She had been told all her life that she ‘wasn’t worth the effort.’ ” Every child matters. No child asks to be born. Whatever the circumstances of conception, children need love and care.

The voice of neglect really upset me. “She wanted someone to know she existed.” Everyone wants to be noticed. No one wants to live in isolation.
The novel was about roots and a search to belong. A need to know who you are and your heritage, so you can move into the future.
The tongue is a powerful weapon. It can build up or tear down. Both cases apply to the novel. To witness a blossoming and awakening into a world of love was beautiful to behold. “She knew love existed in  books; she was just realising it existed in life too.” This I think is one of the most powerful phrases in the whole novel, encompassing both isolation and hope.

As an avid reader, I loved all the references to books. Many I had read and they awoke memories in me.
Kindness is vastly under-rated as a quality but we all need kindness. Little acts of kindness can produce smiles and swell hearts.
Friendship and families are presented in the novel. The love and care is beautiful to witness. The gentleness, like handling a delicate flower, really comes across to the reader.

thought The Path Of The Child was a unique and powerful book. I could empathise with all the characters. There were some very beautiful moments that have left hope in my heart, with the promise of a new tomorrow.

A wonderful read.

I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

Originaly Posted on the Christian Bookaholic


Reviewed by Joni Dee

The Path of the Child by Sojourner McConnell Book Review

I must admit that “And the Path of the Child” is not my go to genre. Being a thriller reader, I always expect the worst in any novel: when is the next twist, when is the next accident or death, and thus I find “regular life” fiction normally dull. Having said that, this is by no means my view of “And the Path of the Child” which showed me, how a rough, “everyday” life, can be painted in vivid colours.

Alabama good girl Melanie has never been loved by her mom. In fact, she is regularly neglected and as a result became a wall flower, as both her mom and schoolmates disregards her. She has no other family, and never knew her father or heard of any relatives.
This all changes when kind-hearted Rob takes an interest in Melanie, and helps her break free from the shackles of her hard life, on the path of discovering her family and roots.
We learn about her mom’s past, and embark on a new voyage along with Melanie.

This is an interesting novel, with complex characters and an ambiguous ending: it is happy and has a tang of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Christmas Carol” but it is anything but plain straightforward (no spoilers here).

If you like general fiction, you will enjoy “The Path of the Child”. If you like “Christian Fiction” or stories in which humans, with their flaws and misjudgement or their kindness and good nature, are the centre, you would love it.

Book Review – The Redcroft Journals: The Missing Journal by KY Eden

Book Review – The Redcroft Journals: The Missing Journal by KY Eden

by Julia Wilson 1 Comment

Book Review – The Redcroft Journals: The Missing Journal

by KY Eden

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2 Bloggers Reviews

Julia Wilson
Christian Bookaholic
Rodney Strong
BookGobbler Top Reviewer


Reviewed by Julia Wilson


The Redcroft Journals: The Missing Journal by K.Y. Eden is the first book in a thrilling new YA fantasy series. I am much older but I really enjoyed it, getting caught up in the action from the start.

Inheriting a house from an elderly neighbour means a pair of teenagers get far more than they bargained for. Bound together, the pair must right the wrongs of the past, searching for clues and artefacts along the way.

The novel shows that life is a spiritual battle that we do not understand. The realms are easy to tap into if you know what you are doing. There are good spirits and bad demons. The clue is knowing who to trust.

I am not usually drawn to fantasy novels but this is a real cracker. I read it, totally engrossed in the action and cannot wait for the second book. The ending is perfectly poised to continue the tale.

The characters are well drawn, realistic and likable. The reader wants them to succeed in their task and ‘feels’ bound to them in their quest.

The Missing Journal has an unusual plotline that gripped me from the start. I cannot wait to read the subsequent books.

I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own

Originaly Posted on the Christian Bookaholic


Reviewed by Rodney Strong

Nice set-up for future books and an enjoyable read!

When old man Bernie Watts dies he leaves more than just his physical possessions to village children Zak and Natalie. He also leaves a mystery that involves time travel, other realms, missing journals, and monsters.

Over the course of the book more questions are raised than answered for the two main characters, which nicely sets it up for future books. Zak and Natalie are well defined, as is the village and its other inhabitants. Zak’s family, including the annoying older brother Adam, will be very familiar to a lot of readers, in particular the bickering that’s common between siblings.

I enjoyed the story, and the world the author has created. However it felt like the book could have benefited from a good edit as there are some formatting issues, and patches where sentence structure could have been tightened.

All in all though, an enjoyable read.


Book Review – Illegal by John Dennehy

Book Review – Illegal by John Dennehy

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by John Dennehy

I must admit that when I saw “Illegal” in its crowd-funding days on an American crowdfunding platform which I don’t want to mention by name, I never made much of it. See, I’m not big on memoirs. After I’ve learned that this American Crowdfunding Publishing firm had deicded to give “Illega”l the boot (in a very non-affable manner) I’ve decided to give it a chance. And boy am I glad that I did!

John Dennehy recalls from memory and scribbles, the account of his life in Ecuador as an “Illegal gringo”, during days in which the country have seen turmoil and citizen unrest, coup d’etat and more. He has been living in the heart of it all, a privilege kid from the states, who decided (post 9/11 and the growing nationalism Iraq war) to start a clean slate.

John teaches English in a few Ecuadorian institutes, falls in love with the beautiful Lucia, and become one of the locals in the city of Latacunga, a relatively unknown and un-touristical place.

The writing is virgin, if not naive, which makes this novel so endearing. John account of events is interesting, in a way which will hold you by the collar and literally would not let you drop the book (or Kindle Device). The author emphasizes throughout the novel the difference between reality as he sees it and common perceptions in the US, by publishing the State Department’s travel warnings in regards to countries such as Ecuador and Colombia. We also grow with him, and see how he evovles and get disillusioned with the romance of revolution, connecting the sites in the end of his story to the same nationalism he had fled from, in the states.

A must read for anyone with an open mind, for travel lovers, for “mochileros”, and for even for fiction lovers like myself! 5 stars without any doubt.


Book Review –  The Candidate (Newsmakers #2)  by Lis Wiehl

Book Review – The Candidate (Newsmakers #2) by Lis Wiehl

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The Candidate (Newsmakers #2)

by Lis Wiehl

I’ve been given the opportunity to read and review Lis Wiehl & Sebastian Stuart’s second Erica Sparks novel: “The Candidate”.
As a lover of political thrillers, I must say that this novel disappointed me, I will explain why soon after the summary of the plot.

Sparks is a rising star in GNN, a fictional CNN like network, after apparently exposing a shocking plot related to Nylan Hastings GNN’s tycoon owner, in the first book (I have not read the first book of the series so excuse me if this is a poor account of the events).
In “The Candidate” the rising star covers the presidential campaign, with the elections only a few weeks away. With a catastrophe hitting the democratic summit, it looks like Sen. Ortiz – the movie star like war hero – is on his sure path to the presidency. But in Erica’s opinion something’s amiss: is it Ortiz mechanic like conduct? His wife Celeste who seems to be holding a tight leash? or the Ortizes’ all mysterious advisor and fried Lily Lau? While struggling with her own personal life: custody of her daughter and distance relationship with her fiancée, Sparks will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the case!
In short (why I was disappointed): The characters are weak, I could not relste to anyone, especially not to Erica Sparks, not to mention the bond villain like Lily Lau. The plot is farfetched, and highly implausible. The writing is too fast paced for my liking and lacks needed imagery. On the bright side: it’s a gripping tale, which would make a good Hollywood movie someday.
I was especially put off with the recurring references to the first novel, I deemed it unnecessary to establish Spark’s current stardom, nor was I impressed with Sparks love-life: she “falls” for one of her daughter’s friend’s dad, then takes back her alleged cheating fiancée… uncharacteristically.

I awarded the novel 2 star, which is somewhat lower than my usual ratings, and had it not been flowing and thrilling despite its problems – It would have gotten an even lower score. Lis Wiehel is a very talented writer, and I feel that the pressure of publishing a second Sparks book in due deadline took the better of her here.