Dearth Of A Nation


By Garman Lord


There are three candidates running for president. When one of them is assassinated in a most unusual way, a group with the title of Commandos, undertake the investigation.

Okay, that’s the plot. The plot as mentioned in the blurb I received made it seem as if there was going to be more political satire from the politicians themselves. This book has caricatures of real people, but the blurb doesn’t even mention the Commandos. It mentions the President so that’s where I thought this book would be going. It didn’t. In fact it focuses on only one of the candidates and that’s not how I perceived the story line to go.


Usually, I would make a list of some of the main characters with a bit of description and maybe some background, depending on the amount of information given. In this case, the author decided to list the individuals in the Commando groups with extensive descriptions at the beginning of the book. Basically, the original five were supernatural in origin and being this is book five of this series, their origin is just mentioned without being heavily delved into. There are a few others that have joined the group throughout the series.

The big problem here is that all of the characters sound and act alike, even those who aren’t part of the group. There isn’t one mature adult in the whole bunch. This may be fine for a YA book, but there are adults, supposedly serious minded adults in this one, but nobody acts like one. With the blend, I couldn’t get into any of them.

As mentioned in the plot section I thought the President was going to have a bigger role but he shows up only in one or two minor sections.

There is a some humor in the characters, but it’s overdone and becomes tedious as the book moves along.


This book is 90-95% dialogue. There is very little action. It’s all somebody talking. For the most part all of the conversations are done after the action and the investigative parts have completed. I can’t count the number of debriefing sessions the commando group had after they had gone out and found the evidence.

Every character and I mean EVERY character who has any prominence in this book has loooooooooong monologues. And each one takes a looooooong time getting to the point. Seriously, a character will speak for pages. And every character does this.

So, every character sounds like every other character. From the teenagers to the Secret Service Agent to the presidential candidate.

Because of this, reading this was exhausting. Constantly I was yelling at these characters to “Get on with it!”

Every character speaks with several quips of attempted humor. There are numerous quotes and phrases from other well known books. That became old hat, too, after awhile.


Titled chapters.

There is a ‘prologue’, but it is not a proper prologue. It’s a longer blurb.

There were some places in this book, I simply could not comprehend. Chapter 14 was one such place.

It became very difficult to find the actual mystery and keep up with the latest ‘clue’. The climax was not dramatic or tension filled. The question as to the reason behind the method of the murder was asked several times but if there were any clues to throughout pointing to that reason, I missed them. During the climax one of the commandos just explains the reasoning and I had to go back and read it twice because I missed it the first time.

I was also a bit uncomfortable with the ease or the acceptance level from the adults (who should have been more serious-minded) with the constant teen talk about sex.

No action because of the dialogue dump.

I know, I know, this is satire, this is humor, this is apart from reality, this is a skewed and unrealistic story. I understand and maybe I’m not understanding the concept behind it. Maybe it’s me but I didn’t get it and I glad to finish it feeling very tired after it was over.

The only reason this isn’t getting the lowest rank is because there were no misspelling/grammar/punctuation errors.

My Rank:

Orange Belt


Breach Of Consciousness


By Peter Castillo



Marco Torres has lived all his life with a special ability. He is a novice telepath. As an adult, he meets others of his kind and soon they’re involved in a murder mystery.

I expected a lot more from this plot. It wasn’t a very long story and moved quickly. Although the premise was fine and promising, it lacks oomph.


Marco Torres: former Navy, struggling writer, tattooed

Marie Sutton: blonde, deciphers handwriting

Vicky Donnelly: long dark hair, fit, has a sister

Daniel Santiago: 40s, average build, mustache

Rebecca Santiago: Daniel’s twin sister

A few others. The characters are fine, distinctive. A shorter story means one doesn’t get to delve too much into back story but there was a bit of information here and there to get a flavor of the characters.

One thing I was interested in, was how did Marco make a living. He must have had some savings left over from the Navy because he didn’t work at any paying job.


Pretty good. Daniel has a good voice as does Marie and her mother.


1st person from Marco’s POV.

As mentioned this was a shorter story and the first part of the book was rushed through to get the reader through Marco’s childhood and onto being an adult. I think some slowing down would have helped the story, show more experiences with his talent. How else did it manifest itself when he was in the Navy? Examples? Adventures?

Unfortunately, there was little tension and danger shown in this story. Even when Marc and the Santiagos are surrounded by a gang I didn’t feel the danger. Without playing too much of a spoiler, the Santiagos have the power to ‘take over’ another person’s body for awhile. I thought this was cool, and there were several instances of this. However, there should have been more danger, more risk.

The author, at the beginning overuses the term ‘brain farts.’

All in all, this needed a bit more fleshing out. Cool cover, but it doesn’t really represent the low thriller inside.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Beth’s Book


By Tim Woods


An author struggles with writer’s block, an agent who reminds her she’s past deadline, a brother addicted to drugs and alcohol, a possible new romance, a son who says he’s bi-sexual and is trying to reconnect with his father.

Okay. That is how I saw the plot. That NOT the plot that was given to me. Direct from Amazon, here is the first line of the blurb about this book: What happens when fictional detective, Katie Shields, not only takes psychic possession of her author, but also starts to treat her creator as a suspect in a crime?

So, I’m thinking I’m going to read some supernatural tale and was very disappointed when it turned out not to be anything of the sort. If there was a ‘possession’ I missed it.


Beth Shepherd: 49, author, owns a cat, has a son, twice divorced, wears glasses, played volleyball at UCLA, has two brothers, parents dead, drives a Mazda Mia ta M-5 convertible

Stephen: Beth’s brother, 48, thrice divorced

Julie Sawyer: 38, black hair, former Olympic swimmer, fit, owns a bike shop

Here’s my take on the characters. I didn’t care. Beth’s only likeable quality is the car she drives. She’s depressing. She’s depressed about her ex husbands, her son even talking to her second ex husband, her friend’s constant fitness challenges. Her agent is on her. Then when she gets to New York, another friend is pissed at her and that wasn’t seen until Beth arrived. This woman has everything going against her I stopped rooting for her and caring about her long about page 50 (epub version).


Voices are distinctive. Not much else to say.


She spends most of the time brooding (shown in back story) about her two ex husbands, reading motivational quotes to help her get writing again (which don’t seem to help), arguing with her brothers, and finally, finally, at just past the half way mark does Katie Shield, the fictional detective start ‘talking’ to her. Not through possession as hyped, but through Beth’s internal dialogue that she’s writing. She writes scenes with her brother and the detective. She writes her ‘conversations’ with Katie, either on her computer or in her head. She takes her character in a drastic left turn to be able to finish the book.

There is some profanity.

Time passage was an issue. I found it difficult keeping track of time. Early on, she arrives home and in the next chapter she arrives home. Did a day pass?

Again, I just didn’t care. This went on and on with her writer’s block and brother problems and one more problem on top of another.

I hope this is an issue only with the epub version but all passages that were to be italicized were underlined.

Just when I thought things were to wrap up and Beth could start putting her world back together, there is a revelation that concerns her and her brother. The problem with this revelation is that is wasn’t hinted at during the entire book. If it was, again, I missed it.

So, how do I rank this? A fail, in my opinion, in regards to what I consider false advertising of the plot (again, maybe I’m not deep enough to catch the possession angle).

The like-ability aspect plays a part and one can see where I stand from the comments above.

It was clean, no errors (other than the underlined stuff).

The rank I choose is based on my enjoyment of the novel with regards to the clean writing.

My rank:

Camouflage Belt


Old Dog, New Tricks


By Marie-Yolaine Wiliams


When Boscoe’s owner dies, he’s taken to a shelter. But Boscoe is an older dog. Will he find a new forever home?

I took this book because I love animals and I adopted my cat from a shelter. When I saw the request for a review I grabbed it at once. I think this plot is just the right one for showing young people that older animals are worthwhile companions, that they are loving and want a chance to enjoy a good life.


Mr. Pickett: 100 years old

Boscoe: 11 year old Basset Hound

Max: 8, collect baseball cards

You don’t need too many more characters to make a story a good one. Just the basics. They are simple yet complete.


Not much dialogue but the conversations are important to the story. Don’t worry about voices in this book. If you’re reading this to a child YOU make the voices distinct.


I like a book that isn’t afraid to share the truth. People and animals die. Yes, it’s sad but the point is to make life worth living for people and animals.

I chose this book knowing what it was and knowing that I would like it, even though I also suspected-correctly I might add-that it would choke me up and get me glassy-eyed. I often think of my previous dogs and miss them.

I think the writing was on target, clean, concise, and poignant.

On the few occasions I read children’s books, I find it difficult to rate them. It comes down to like-ability and if I would recommend it to children I know.

This one is a definite yes to both.

My rank:

Brown Belt


Super Mia And The Good Luck Duo


By Marie-Yolaine Williams

Once again, before I start in on this review, I must let you know that normally, I don’t accept children’s books. Just as I don’t accept YA or fantasy and most sci-fi…unless the book catches my interest. This one did. This one and another one by the same author. Please don’t send me requests for reviews for these genres because 99% of the time I will take a pass.


A dumped greyhound is befriended by a stray cat. They both are rescued and taken to a shelter where they meet the manager, Mia. Mia discovers that, after the two animals have been at the shelter for awhile, some amazing things happen.

I liked simplistic plot where characters are introduced and there are animals involved at a shelter and a happy ending for all.


Baggins: black greyhound

Evader: nicknamed ‘Vader’, black cat

Mia: animal shelter managers, suffers from M.S., blue eyes, blonde, Greek

Anouk: French, shelter assistant.

Interesting duo of humans and they share a bit of each culture. There are ‘interviews’ with two dogs at the end of the book, shelter adoptees that are pretty good.


Okay. A bit of a distinctive voice from Vader and the two dogs at the end.


A somewhat longer children’s book but not too long for boredom to set in. Could have used more pictures as there were pages without any pictures. A good message given for people to adopt animals from a shelter.

My Rank

Purple Belt




By Dennis Green



Travis Becker is a police investigator who is at a low point in his life. His partner is dead, his girlfriend has left him and he’s afraid he is soon to be unemployed. Then he discovers that there are other dimensions with other Trav Beckers, where his partner isn’t dead and his girlfriend hasn’t left him… What’s a guy to do? He’d better get things straightened out because he’s soon to meet a corpse…named Trav Becker.

Too cool an idea. It may take a scorecard to keep all the players straight, but I think this is an excellent plot worthy of study and, well, numerous possibilities.


Travis Becker: police detective, smokes, 31, black hair, drives a Mustang, father is dead

Sam Markus: particle physicist, spiky red hair, 5’5”, 140 lbs.

Leon Martin: police Captain, 50s, grey hair, wears glasses, master swimmer, tanned

Adam Yount: 23, Trav’s partner, thin, curly blond, blue eyes

Morgan Foster: blonde, psychic, owns a cat

A nice array of characters. There are some good baddies and I won’t mention the other Travs and Sams because that would be too confusing.


Good conversations. Some of the mechanics and techno-ese did become a bit difficult to follow but I didn’t mind and I was able to catch up.


Some profanity. 1st person from Trav’s POV.

There were some irrelevant Interludes. I had to re-read the first 2 before I understood them.

Trav speaks of his dad and his dad showing up at the end was…a bit too convenient. Especially since he wasn’t included previously in the other dimensions.

The action was good and the good twist near the end was not seen but looking back, I should have realized something was going on that didn’t quite jive with Trav’s attitude.

I enjoyed this book and would gladly read the sequel. Where the author goes from here, only he knows.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


The Word


By Hubert Crouch



1. A radical fundamentalist church protests at a veteran’s funeral. The parents hire attorney Jace Forman to sue. Forman hires a private investigator, Jackie McLaughlin to gather evidence.

2. McLaughlin also is involved in helping a reporter who is being terrorized because she is about to release a story on a shady lawyer, Cal Connors, and how he manipulated several medical lawsuits.

3. Connors, who runs a firm with his daughter, is involved with kickbacks to an insurance guy to settle some other cases.

Did you make the tenuous connections? I could have added a fourth with dealing with the problems of accepting the kickbacks. I thought this book was going to be mainly focused on the radical church case with the reporter as a sidekick. Unfortunately, until the end, the case is rotated around the burners along with two or three other plots with subplots sprinkled throughout.


Ezekial Shaw: assumed name, pastor, long stringy hair, brown hair, beard

Jace Forman: attorney, attended U. of Texas, 40s, has a son, widower

Leah Rosen: reporter: 26, attended U. of Texas

Darrin McKenzie: paralegal for Jace, has a sister, 36, divorced

Eugene Hanson: short, balding, 50s, daughter dead, married

Janice Hanson; Eugene’s wife, gray hair, dark eyes

Jackie McLaughlin: P.I., former cop, wavy brown hair, brown eyes

Cal Connors: attorney

Christine Connors: attorney, Cal’s daughter

And more characters. A typical cast of sleazy lawyers, a preacher, a lawyer, reporter. Nothing unexpected. Good guys and bad guys.


Considering the number of characters, I kept each one separate. Even Darrin and her sister. Dialogue never strayed, kept to the important stuff, moved the story along. Lots of dialogue, as expected, in the court room scenes.


Book is divided into Parts. However, no page had Part 1 so I didn’t know it was broken into parts until Part 2 showed up.

As mentioned above, I was a bit disappointed the church case wasn’t the main focus. I was looking for a good gritty court room battle with lawyers arguing and investigators turning up last minute evidence and witnesses galore. This read more like a soap opera and it was difficult, at times, to keep the characters and stories straight.

One major problem with this story is time. It was very difficult keeping track of time passing because very few references are made.

I discovered this problem during the beginning chapters. Briefly summarizing:

Chap. 1: the reporter goes home to find her home has been invaded and she has been left a ‘gift’. I read this as her going home at the end of the day. Okay. Maybe, maybe not, it doesn’t tell the time.

Chap 2: the Hansons show up to Forman’s office to discuss the case. I can’t see this happening at night so it must be during the day.

Chap 3: the Connors discuss their sticky matter with the insurance company cases. Apparently this is at lunch time because that’s the way the scene reads. It could be supper, though

Chap 4: back to the reporter. Now it’s 1 a.m.

Chap 5: Jace meets with Jackie. Here’s where I became a bit confused. Is it the next day? Same day? He’s in a different town, so…

I’m not sure which chapter has Christine visiting New York but, again, it doesn’t say when. How many days have passed. The next time we visit the reporter, weeks have passed. Really? With nothing going on in the court case? By the time court is in session for the trial, six months have passed. Fine, but it would have made the story so much better knowing the time frame. Again, a bit soap opera-ish in the way the author handles time.

Clean writing, minimal profanity-maybe two or three instances. Good story(ies) but maybe focus on one or two.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Big Flies


By Keith Hirshland



Leland Davis is on a quest to find the secret behind his dad’s life. Who was he? How did he become the man he was? Meanwhile, Chester, his dad, is shown in his early years, developing into something he himself wouldn’t have dreamed.

So we have a man after his fathers life and the father’s life. It thought the premise was fine, but the story itself was half interesting and half confusing.


Leland Davis: wealthy, owns a dog, drives a Wagoneer, parents dead, 6’2”, blue eyes, brown/black hair

Chester Davis: Leland’s dad, faux travel writer, thief, blue eyes, took martial arts, liked safecracking

Donald Thompson Richards: Nickname is Snoshu, short dark hair, brown eyes

Denny King: bar owner, dad was a cop

There were a couple more characters and the cast was interesting. I would have liked to have seen more of Donald’s personality come through or at least resonate stronger because I liked him. He had a unique personality. Denny and the girl at the end were also unique.


Again, Donald’s shows up with a good voice. There were Mr. and Mrs. Landers and I liked how they spoke.


The book is divided up into the past and present with the headings of These Days and Those Days. Those Days showed the life of Donald and Chester and how they grew up and what they became.

The author attended the James Patterson class on short chapters.

So, now the problems. How to do this without playing spoiler. About half way through I understood the beginning of the book where it listed three notorious unsolved crimes. I thought the premise of the story and Chester becoming who he was very interesting.

I did have difficulty knowing the passage of time. The book doesn’t tell the ages of Chester and Donald when they had their adventures. It only explains how they grew from children to young men, but the specifics on time didn’t go well for me.

One major confusion was that a major portion of Leland’s These Days scenes…weren’t real. I won’t tell anymore but that didn’t settle well with me. The author tried some coincidence type stuff at the end and that didn’t work either. It happened too quick.

Because of this the story fell apart and became confusing. Leland visits the site of his father’s death but there didn’t seem to be anything relevant in that. He learns who and what his father was…but how he discovered it wasn’t explained. It it was, I missed it. Because of this, Donald’s story didn’t fill out like it should have.

I was disappointed after it was revealed that pages and pages of story didn’t actually happen. And from then on I tried to find a point to the whole thing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt


Haven Of Evil


By Melvin Rivers


After a flood takes their home, Kevin Wilson and his wife Sandra find a rental place in the small town of Havenville. However, there’s a history to their house and death and demons await all who come to live there.

Fairly typical haunted house, demons, ghost-y tale. Nothing real original. Low level scary stuff.


Kevin Wilson: Unemployed, drives a Taurus, former reporter

Sandra Wilson: Library assistant, 33, Kevin’s wife, has an Associates Degree in Library Technology

Frank: drives a pickup, gray scraggly hair

Marge Crabtree: realtor, drives a Mercedes

Joy Springs: librarian, 30s, red hair, freckled, drives a VW Beetle

Nate Hill: reverend

Katherine Ford: Sandra’s mother, light complexion, greying hair

There is another character but to give a description of him would play spoiler. It was a disappointment that Marge didn’t have a bigger role since she was a main character in why the Wilson house is haunted. She shows but in a few scenes but I thought should have had a bigger role. Not too much description for a lot of the characters, including Kevin.


Katherine’s voice was distinctive.

The main problem here was the internal dialogue by several characters. Shown in italics, but too lengthy. People don’t think in longer complete sentences that run on for paragraphs. The narrator, being in close, should have told the thoughts.


This is a shorter book and a relatively quick read. Profanity.

This could and maybe should have been a longer book because there could have been so much more ‘story’, more horror.

No emotions were shown or else glossed over. We don’t see Kevin frightened or Sandra scared. Kevin acts as if the visitations by the demons are nothing to get overly worried about. At least that’s the way much of it comes across.

The twist at the end with Kevin’s friend was okay but might have been stronger had there been something to be scared about. The demon visits to several characters weren’t at all scary and the conversations tended to turn young adult. “Who are you?” “Why don’t you turn around and see for yourself.” Yeah, not very frightening.

I guess I just wanted more of everything. More action, more emotion, more scary stuff, more twists, more originality, more guts to the story.

My rank:

Yellow Belt


Full Ratchet


by Mike Cooper



Silas Cade is not your ordinary financial auditor who investigates company fraud. He’s the guy you call in when you need some serious juice. Former special operations Cade gets in, finds what needs to be found by whatever means necessary. In Full Ratchet, Cade’s latest job takes him to Pittsburgh to look into some hinky bookkeeping by a small company that makes seismic detectors. Cade works his way through the company in short order to find the problem but afterward is followed to his motel. And his residence in Manhatten is broken into. Cade is now a target and to save himself, he has to find out the truth behind curtain. Russian mobsters and an attractive assassin, however, want a different outcome. Oh, and let’s not forget one other issue with which Cade had to contend…his long lost brother.

Sometimes, you just need a bullet ridden, explosive, car crashing story and this one fills the bill. Cade’s CPA work hides in the back seat in short order as Cade runs into problems from the get-go. I like his style of ferreting out the wrong-doers in the Pittsburgh company. This story throws Cade into a puzzle and he has to work his way through the minimal clues to find the answers. While avoiding guns aimed at him at nearly every turn.


Silas Cade: financial auditor, owns a Sig Sauer P226, grew up in New Hampshire, foster child, former military, lives in NewYork

Dave Ellins: Cade’s older brother, foster child, owns a welding shop, race car driver, was in prison for auto theft

Harmony: blonde, assassin

There’s not much details on the characters. A little background on Cade and Ellins, but that’s okay. You’re not here for deep emotional issues and a character driven story. This is an action thriller, so the characters stay, relatively, surface. I like Cade’s slick, cynical attitude. He’s knowledgeable and his past military experience comes through. Ellins I also like because of his driving skills.


Pretty standard. Cade’s voice as well as his friends come through pretty well. Conversations stay on point and aren’t lengthy.


First person from Cade’s POV. Profanity. Some good cynical humor. Fast action, minimal descriptions just to get you into the picture without going into long details. The book reads like Cade is telling you a story of what happened last week during a car ride you and he are taking. Quick points, then moving on. I thought a bit about this because my original inclination was to give it a blue, but because of the different type of story (I mean, a CPA with a gun, for heaven’s sake), I’ll bump it up one rank to:

Brown Belt