Monday, August 3, 2015

An Excerpt from Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

Summary: Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother has lost her teeth, and her best friend is killed by her own father. Life in The Hollow in West Virginia isn't great. But Lacy Dawn has one advantage—she's been befrended by a semi-organic semi-robot (DotCom, alias Buddy) who works with her to 'cure' her parents. Buddy wants something in exchange, though. It's up to Lacy Dawn to save the universe.

From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:
            …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
            I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me? 
            “Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods. 
            Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
            I will always love you guys. 
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.   
            Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 
            Jenny looked to the left of the path.
            There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 
            She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
            “All right, you mother f**ker!”
            “Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."
            DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.   
            "Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.
            “Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
            “You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
            Stay between them.
            “Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.” 
            “You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce. 
            “MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
            Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
            He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.   
            “DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
            Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.  
            “Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.” 
            I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
            “Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”      
            Jenny's left eye twitched. 
            DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…    
            …(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
            "He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
            “What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
            “Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
            Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
            "What's that?" Jenny asked. 
            She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
            “But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
            “Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
            “Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more…. 
            It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on herThat's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thingHell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby. 
            “What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
            “I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
            “My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said. 
            They both glared at him. 
            "Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said. 
            “Okay, Mommy.”
            “I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her. 
            “I love you too,” DotCom said.
            Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.   
            Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….

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Dog Horn Publishing
Impress Books
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Monday, June 29, 2015

4 Stars for I'm Still Here

Author: Kathryn R. Biel
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Review by: Nancy Pennick


It started out as an ordinary day for Esther Comely-Cox, if you consider simultaneously totaling your car, smashing a Ho Ho in your face and meeting a handsome doctor ordinary.
Estranged from her family over her sister's mental illness and death, Esther can't help but feel alone. And when Esther hears the voice of her twin sister who committed suicide seven years ago, she begins to question her own sanity, leading her to wonder if anything is what it seems. Searching for answers, Esther must confront her past while looking towards a new future—one in which she is finally accepted.

Through humor and heartbreak, Esther learns that blood does not mean family, that absence does not make the heart grow fonder and that silence can speak volumes.


Esther Comely-Cox has many strikes against her. First, there’s her wild red hair. She feels her last name sounds like a porn star--which her mother made her hyphenate after she married. Finally, she’s on her own, estranged from her family and now divorced. The story starts with a car accident and that’s how Esther meets Dr. O. K. Cole. By his nickname, you can see there will be misunderstandings. Esther is used to fending for herself and resists the help of the doctor. She finally confesses to having a messed up family. Her parents are hippies and named most of their children after characters in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Her twin sister, Aster, disappeared seven years ago and Esther assumes she’s dead. Although she says she’s okay with her situation, you can tell she’s not. Ester longs for family and stability. Nothing comes easy for her.

I almost stopped reading this book and am glad I didn’t. I would’ve given this five stars, if not for the beginning which seemed to drag. That’s only in my opinion. I’m glad I stayed with it. There is humor and drama in the story. The characters are well-fleshed out. By the end I was rooting and cheering for Esther. The final scene brought tears to my eyes. Through all her ups and downs, she stayed strong. Many would’ve fallen apart by the treatment she received from her family and the physical injuries she had to overcome. She had many brothers and sisters but felt alone. I was so happy when Esther found a true partner in O.K. And like in all good books, something happens to break them apart. But O.K. doesn’t give up, he fights his way back into Esther’s life. I’m Still Here is a very good book with real-life issues. I recommend giving it a try.

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Blog  (More vendors listed on her site)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Meet the Author of Detour Trail

Guest Post by Joy V. Smith

I did a lot of research for my frontier novel, Detour Trail, including the history of the Oregon Trail; and I learned a lot about mules too because one of my main characters is a mule named Jake, who helps my heroine, Lorrie, along the way. One of my first sources said that mules were mostly black so I made Jake black 'cause I wanted to be accurate. Later I learned--and I have the pictures to prove it on my Western Style board on Pinterest--that they could be the same colors as horses. After all that's in their genes! On the other hand, making him too splashy might detract from the story. Hmm. I wonder what readers would think?

I also learned that mules are smart, good jumpers, and can do just about anything a horse can do. And they have their own magazines and celebrations. (See my Pinterest board for a few examples.) However, I suspect that Jake is a bit mythical, but I like that in a character. Lorrie can count on him, and her friends, when trouble looms on the trail. From ambushes and blizzards to building and working and starting a settlement, Lorrie, Jake, and her companions move steadily forward to forge a new future in the west.

Note: I read The Oregon Trail: An American Journey by Rinker Buck since I'm interested in the history of the trails--The Oregon Trail is not just one trail, by the way. I was truly surprised by the fact that one of Buck's three mules was named Jake, and he was the most trustworthy and even tempered of the three. I recommend Buck's book both for the history included in it and as a modern day adventure.


Detour Trail
The Oregon Trail an American Journey
My Western Style board

Thursday, April 23, 2015

4 Stars for Aizai the Forgotten (The Soul Wanders)

Reviewed by Kelly Michelle Baker (Guest Reviewer)


Seventeen-year old Wolfdon dreams of travelling to Aizai, a forgotten realm connected to our world by invisible sol-lines. He begins his search as a “word-warrior” in his hometown in France in the late 17th century, hunting for rare books that mention Aizai. One obscure book, by the philosopher Paulo de la Costa Santamiguero, has given him a lead to start his journey—to go to the northern coast of Spain where a portal to Aizai supposedly exists.

With a noble horse he borrows from an astrologer and armed with a strange magical device, Wolfdon travels to a place that surpasses even his vivid imagination, with walking statues, animals with glowing gems of power, beautiful towers and misty valleys, and Aizians whose magic is innate to their souls. He meets many peculiar characters, from the cryptic Philosophers of the Eastern Empyrean to beautiful Aizians and dark magicians.

Though death and danger loom ever near, nothing can dim the brightness of Aizai kindling within Wolfdon’s heart. Yet as he strives to discover Aizai’s secrets and fate, a frightening truth becomes perilously near, and may cost Wolfdon everything, including the future.


Armed with what he’s read in books, the story follows Wolfdon—a boy in search of an alternative world to our own called Aizai, where he delves into the philosophies of time travel, good, evil, and life itself. While commonplace fantasy at face-value, his journey is painted vividly through the author’s rich prose. The beautiful writing, which is becoming increasingly rare in the young adult genre, absorbs us into a clever place split between reality and the mystical. Like the cryptic setting she creates, Harris is equally deceptive, writing like a seasoned author when she is, in fact, just debuting.

The author’s greatest strength is world building. Along with the protagonist, you see the structures and hear the sounds through a literary instrument reminiscent of Niel Gaiman. We begin in France, real France, then slowly descend into an ethereal community. But unlike most fantasies, the reader is introduced to magic along with the protagonist, accentuating the suspense (in a similar fashion to Harry Potter’s training in wizardry). The non-magic elements give equal intrigue, as they ground the story into something recognizable, touching on Catholicism, familiar cities, European history, etc. It’s incredibly well-researched and was a learning experience.

Harris’ second strength is in her characters, which are diverse and not without depth. Wolfdon isn’t stone-faced in his bravery. Rather, he’s curious and all around good-natured. He’s an ambitious fellow and you want him to succeed.

One criticism (and it’s small) is how descriptive the author can be. She is not wordy, but rather dwells on the physical environment. For some readers, like myself, this is part of great storytelling. However, others may find it a bit overwhelming.

“Aizai The Forgotten: The Soul Wanderers” is a sophisticated and intelligent read promising more stories to come. It is deserving of a wide readership, and I hope she will inspire other burgeoning authors.

Author Info:

Reviewer Info:

Name: Kelly Michelle Baker


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

5 Stars for HORRORSTOR

Author: Grady Hendrix
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense - GhostsReviewed by: Nancy Pennick

Summary: Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.


Amy, the main character in HORRORSTOR, works at ORSK while attending college. She’s the typical disinterested employee who rolls her eyes at the company’s rhetoric. Basil, her gun-ho younger boss, follows all the rules and recites policy to all that will listen. Strange happenings occur overnight. When the crew shows up for work each morning, the employees find broken or stained items. Basil decides to stay overnight to find the culprit and asks Amy to work a night shift along with another employee, Ruth Anne. They find two of their co-workers already there, ghost hunting. .It turns out the store has been built where an old prison once stood. The ORSK store is haunted. Needless to say, they have an interesting night.

A few weeks ago, my son, who works at Barnes and Noble, brought home HORRORSTOR. He sees the latest and newest books coming into the store and found it to his liking. The cover caught my eye, but I knew better. I don’t like reading anything creepy or about ghosts. Still I couldn’t resist flipping through its pages. The book is set up like an IKEA style catalog and the store in the book, ORSK, is a carbon copy. Still intrigued, I told myself I could stop reading if I didn’t like it. I liked the fact the book was set in Cleveland. I could picture the store off I-77 and recognized the TV station mentioned in the book.

HORRORSTOR is part satirical and part horror. I think the author equated the prison to working in retail. It would be rated on the lighter scale of the scary spectrum. I enjoyed the book. I’d recommend it for an interesting read. Book in hand would be better than digital. It’s fun to look at the pictures and read the made-up names for the furniture. So I guess I’m tearing apart my genre theory. Try going out of your comfort zone. If you don’t like the book you choose, you can stop reading. But you may keep reading, and find the book stays with you. Not because it scared the crap out of you, but because you can’t stop thinking about what a clever story it was. Isn’t that what all good books do?

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Friday, April 10, 2015

3.5 Stars for 314 (Widowsfield Trilogy) by A.R. Wise


Alma Harper has been trying to forget what happened in Widowsfield 16 years ago. She has a good life as a music teacher now, and might rekindle her relationship with her one true love. However, the number 314 haunts her, and threatens to bring her back to the day that her brother disappeared. When a reporter shows up, just days before March 14th, Alma realizes that her past is coming back to haunt her. What happened on March 14th, at 3:14, 16 years ago? No one but The Skeleton Man can remember.


314 starts with a unique twist on the theories behind whole populations of people disappearing under mysterious circumstances. My favorite, and maybe partially because I am a North Carolina resident, is Roanoke Colony of North Carolina where pilgrims disappeared leaving only a message reading Croatoan on a tree. The word Croatoan could refer to Native Americans, or maybe some horrific evil embodied in human form, or maybe it was a disease, incurable and dying with the last of the Roanoke Colony. In any case, this was my line of thinking when I first started 314, a mystery only a skeleton man could solve. He was like my Croatoan, so naturally; I’m intrigued.

However, 314 did not fully flesh out its mystery and it ended with a gigantic cliffhanger with way too many loose ends. I needed a little closure. I probably won't go onto book two, even though I genuinely liked the characters. The romantic element between the main characters, Alma and Paul held sweet, believable detail. Paul's stubble worthy beard and slight inner tube around his middle felt nostalgically real. He’s the guy that forgets to make a new pot of coffee in the morning, but you love him anyways. I understood Alma being in love with him. The creepy concept was another plus - a skeleton man who controls kids and whose approach is signaled by chattering teeth and a green fog. Again, he was like my Croatoan.

Dean Koontz did a similar book about a whole town disappearing in his book, Phantoms, but Koontz wrapped his complete theory in one book rather than three, further his characters were cookie-cut, but this didn’t bother me. They worked for this book. Further, Koontz did his research on lost civilizations, and tied up every loose end brought to the pages.

With Wise, I didn't understand a major concept, like how would one incident affect a whole town? Or why would a government like group step in to try and recreate a tragic incident? These were questions that should have been addressed more in book one for me to continue on to book two.

The last time I became this frustrated with a book series was James Dashner’s Maze Runner series, where I read the first two books, and never moved on to the third. With that said, a lot of other folks did move on, and have with 314 as well. It can be found at Amazon with over 500 five star reviews. So, this book may be the book for you, its certainly creepy enough for a horror fan, and the characters are ones you’ll like.

WARNING: This book contains graphic content that may be objectionable to some readers.

Amazon Kindle
Barnes and Noble Nook


Monday, March 23, 2015

5 Stars for Covert Exposure

Title: Covert Exposure (A Nick Spinelli Mystery Book 1)
Author: Valerie J. Clarizio
Genre: Mystery, Romance Suspense
Reviewed by: Nancy Pennick


Detective Spinelli’s life is tossed sideways when he is reassigned from the Homicide division to assist in the Child Services division of the Social Services Department for the holiday season. From the beginning, Spinelli and Caseworker Shannon O’Hara generate their own kind of fireworks, causing more than the normal workplace stress. They both have their own philosophies for dealing with the clientele. However, the forces of nature have their own plan for Spinelli and Shannon.

Shannon moonlights as Santa Claus’ little helper at the mall, and when Santa and an elf turn up dead Shannon appears to be next on the killer’s list. Spinelli is placed back on homicide and goes undercover as Santa to help capture the killer. He catches a great deal of grief along the way but will he capture the heart of his little Santa’s helper as well?


Due to a well-earned retirement, Nick Spinelli is a homicide detective without a partner. He has his cases wrapped up and his boss sends him upstairs for the holidays, to help out in the social services department. There he meets and falls for Shannon O’Hara, the woman he’s assigned to work with. Still, he’s not too thrilled having to go on cases with a social worker and lets it be known. Shannon also moonlights as a Santa’s helper at the mall. Santa is murdered and Nick joins in with his homicide detectives to solve the case.

Handsome Nick Spinelli falls for the beautiful and sweet Shannon. She’s not like other women who immediately fall for him. I think he sees her as a challenge at first, but the more cases he goes on, he sees her gentle nature and caring attitude. Nick has a past which keeps him rough around the edges. He ends up playing Santa at the mall to help solve a murder, but also to keep an eye on Shannon. During this time, he learns a lot about himself and lets his guard down. Then the criminal investigation picks up putting a few of the characters in danger. The story is a nice mix of romance and crime fiction.

Covert Exposure is a fast, enjoyable read. Ms. Claizio has two follow-up books in the series. It will be interesting to see what Nick and Shannon are up to next.

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