E-Jipped Cover

By Mike Uva

Mike Uva Photo



How did ancient Egyptians evolve? How did they build the pyramids? Did they have help? From a modern day mobster?

Okay, for plot that involves time travel, I think this is an amusing little tale. The premise is good, however, problems abound in this book.


Tony Gilette: owns a strip club, 30s, olive skin, black hair, drives a Cadillac

Albert Taylor: has a Ph.D, mid 30s, brown hair

Jessica Daluisia: 30s, has a Ph.D

There are other characters. Some are okay. Tony is the protagonist. There’s a Pharoah that could have been better described and shown to be the royalty that he was supposed to have been. The Egyptian girl doesn’t seem Egyptian and when angered, sounds like a pissed off American. Albert and Jessica, except for their first short scene together, spend the entire book in meetings. The discussion in those meetings ties in with what Tony is doing, but I lost interest in those meetings and the lengthy dialogue. Speaking of…


All of the conversations are in italics. Why? Missing quotes for most of the dialogue. Individual voices do come through, except in the meetings mentioned above, where all the Egyptians sounded alike.


Profanity. Titled sections

Major problems here.

The entire story is in present tense which is fine, but not for the flashback scenes or those that happened in the past (and I’m not talking about the time travel scenes). With regards to the former, the author didn’t need to title the flashback scenes Flashback. The reader will understand and these plus other scenes could have been written so much better and stronger without the title telling the reader, “Hey, we’re doing a flashback now.”

Small time continuum problem (and not with the time travel stuff). In the beginning, it is present day. A picture of the three pyramids outside Cairo is mentioned. The next scene is set six years before, but it mentions the picture ‘seen earlier’.

A lot of telling and very little showing. Nothing close and personal with any of the characters. The narrator is very distant.

Things ‘can be seen’, as if there might be an obstruction, but there’s not and no indication that there might be. Some repetition (A light can be seen outside the house coming from the bathroom). This is weak writing.

Lots of misspelled words, missing or incorrect punctuation and capitalization errors. Specify ages. ’30s’ for everybody gets a bit redundant.

The time machine is cool (although there are hints of Stephen King’s 11.23.63 in the process), but never is it explained who built it, where the parts came from, why the guy has it or how he has it in his bathroom, what the innards look like, does anybody see anything at the other end, etc.

Scene problem: Tony flips a towel to another guy and does so with his gun. I’m assuming he caught the towel on the end of the barrel and tossed it to the man. A few sentences later, Tony pulls a gun a presses it to the guy’s forehead. Two guns? He certainly didn’t put the gun already out back in his pants.

As mentioned, the meetings in Egypt were long and included officials who didn’t do anything. Albert and Jessica were wasted characters because they didn’t develop. Nothing was mentioned of what happened to them.

This was a short story but it might have been stretched to include more details. A lot of weak writing, too many errors and the only thing that saved this from the lowest rank was an amusing plot.

My Rank:

Orange Belt


The Meanderings Of Ruby Stewart


By Monica Handy

Monica 12



Ruby Stewart works her way up through the ranks of an advertising firm, encounters obstacles on her way, and finds romance.

Short story. Basic plot. I thought, however, the author’s creativity to push a perfume ad was pretty good.


Ruby Stewart: black, 45, secretary

James Claiborne: a senior partner in a Chicago advertising agency, around 6’4”, slender

Isabella Vanderpomb: owns a perfume business, black hair

Madeline: Ruby’s future immediate boss (after the first chapter or so), 60, pug nose

Alondra Ventura: owns a beauty salon, Puerto Rican

I think is a nice cast with, surprisingly, enough information to get a picture of each, and roles each plays. If I were to give a fault, I would have thought Ruby tolerated a racist boyfriend far too long.


Good voices and words and sentences written in those voices. Again, if I were to give fault, Claiborne gets a bit wordy. Not long sentences, but his ‘boss’ nature falters in a few places.


No profanity. A few punctuation errors, a capitalization error and a misspelling.

First person from Ruby’s POV

Chapters are titled and although some of them are days of the week, there is more time passage.

The only real problem I have with this, other than it being a short story (and here it could have been fleshed out a bit more for some more details), is the internal dialogue from Ruby. Maybe this belongs in the above section but I don’t feel like cutting and pasting so I’ll keep it here.

First off, I will give credit to the author for having Ruby explain that she has these lengthy pieces of dialogue. They are part of her personality. This gives a bit of credence to when these pop up, which is are often. However, I don’t think some of them work to the story’s advantage. I’d say about 60-40 giving the working internals the majority percentage. There was one particular scene where the dialogue ran on and on. This clearly didn’t work. Others could have been told by the ‘Ruby narrator’.

So, a quick read, well thought out plot. Good characters and character development. A story where the good guys, er, gals, win.

I’m giving the rank I am because of the minor errors (with a short story, these need to be caught) and the internal dialogues that don’t work for me, but it is not a bad story and I liked it.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt


When Memories Come Calling

Ebook Cover r1

By Tom McDonald

Tom McDonald


As with a few other similar stories, I offer this to future writers seeking reviews. Please do not infer that the inclusion of this book is opening me to regularly reading this genre. It is not. This one happened to catch me on a good day and the exception was it sounded intriguing to me. Just be aware, I have turned down others and will do so again. But, you never know…


The author shares memories of growing up in the Appalachians in the 50’s and 60’s. Short anecdotes about his family, getting a piano, riding a moped in the mountains, a randy donkey, whistling, sneaking smokes and watermelons, and many more.

If you want easy to read and enjoyable stories, this is the book. Nothing deep or philosophical although it brushes against some issues. Some amusing stories, but I think the majority of them will touch upon your own personal memories of childhood because a lot of these are what many kids experienced.


Father: drove a Packard, carpenter, small stature, smoked

Tom McDonald: 6 siblings, former Navy, former teacher, attended the university of Alabama, married with 2 children, color blind

Mother: played piano, siblings, used snuff

Grandfather: blue eyes, carpenter, widower, pipe smoker

Mary Ellen Lindsey: Tom’s aunt, 8 siblings, mentally disabled, smoked

Daughter: played basketball and baseball in high school and basketball in college

George: a donkey

Margo: Tom’s wife

A nice cast of amusing and interesting characters and I think the author had just the right amount of information for each. No long diatribes, just the high points.


For a memoir, there isn’t a lot of dialogue, but some the snippets of words do show the personality of the characters. There is an amusing exchange between Tom and his wife in one of my favorite stories about beavers and beepers.


One misspelled word that I found. Otherwise, good solid writing. Easy read. No ‘high brow’ language. No profanity, although it is referred to. Illustrations and photos.

My two favorite stories are the one mentioned above and George, the donkey, which is why I including George as a character.

Of course, I couldn’t be completely familiar with his youth since I’m younger, but some of it resonated. And it’s not all about his youth. There are stories of his marriage and his children.

A good book, a good read, and a good one for sharing.

So, as to ranking. As with many others, it comes down to the ‘likeability factor’. I had a ranking in mind about half way through, but by the end changed my mind. With many of the low ranked stories, I can’t wait to reach the end. With this one, I was content just to see what the next story was. So, this went from Green to:

Purple Belt


No God In Tannam


By Jimmy Macram



Tim Landry is a cop who steps over the line to get the job done. In this story, he’s up against the mob. Who blew up a building? Who murdered a gangster? He’s also contending with his wife who hires the same P.I. he hired to follow her. Trying to hold off dissension in his own ranks, heat from above, and avoiding the tempting attractive bad girl…Landry is in a fight for his job, his life, and his city.

A classic good/bad cop against bad guys. This one is complex with a lot of angles and I had a bit of a problem following all of the connections. Part of the problem was that this was a shorter novel than most and could have been fleshed out to give more ‘story’ to the large cast.


Tim Landry: detective, married with children, 34, 6’2”, ran track in high school

Stephen Fitzgerald: Assistant District Attorney, 6′, black hair, 32

Donovan McCullough: 6’4”, 29, cop, almost 250 pounds, brown hair, bearded

Shaun Peters: Private detective, blond

Derek Bailey: cop, black, 6’4”, married, large frame

Several other characters, some of them with fewer descriptions than others. I thought the characters were fine. Each had a definite role and didn’t blend into each other. I thought characters worked well together.

The problem with characters was that one was introduced halfway through the story, then worked into the main plot and I didn’t think that worked. I also thought that some back story on more of the characters or more definite involvement in the main plot would have worked. There was back story alright…and that led to more problems.


Not too bad. Some good voices, good interplay, especially between Landry and Bailey. The ‘baddies’ had some good voices.


Profanity. Titled chapters. Some punctuation errors. Shaun was spelled Shawn at first, then Shaun the rest of the time.

The ending was good, but I don’t think the conflict between Landry and his wife was succinctly handled. She all but dropped out of the story in the last third of the book. Ditto with Peters.

The two major things that brought this book down in rank were:

1. Present tense. It was present throughout the entire book. This book was a lot of THEN and NOW story, which is fine. I have a book the same way. However, I use present tense in the NOW sections and past tense in the THEN sections. I think that would have worked here. With present tense being throughout, I lost a bit of when the scene was taking place. The time passing in the story was difficult to follow, especially when there was a lot of THEN story. Specific dates would have been an immense help in keeping the time line straight.

2. This book took a very distant omnipresent POV. Very distant. A lot of telling what was going on instead of showing. I was very far from the characters. Ditto with setting. Never did we get in close to emotions or pain or fear. It was clinical in the telling and I didn’t feel anything for the characters. I wanted to despise Landry for the heel and cheat he was and root for him to catch the bad guy. But I didn’t because there was no feelings from him. Ditto with his wife. Her emotions never were shown.

I think the author has some good characters to use. He has a good story to tell. He has sequel potential, but unless we see some personality innards from the characters, the stories will be flat and emotionless and these are not characters to waste.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt


Resort Isle


By Paul Sekulich

Paul 7-20-04 2 - cropped



After a detective’s family is killed, he works hard to elect a district attorney to the U.S. Senate, in the hope that a new form of detention for criminals will be introduced. Put these people on an island off the coast of California. No guards, no gates, and the rules are their own. What happens when the detective is sent to the island?

I was intrigued by this book because I was expecting a lot of good adventure and action. I a was somewhat disappointed. Not completely, but a bit.


Frank Dugan: homicide detective, married with 2 children, former Marine, drives a black Ford Bronco

Marty Dimino: district attorney, drives a gray BMW 340

Charlene Stone: 30s, dark eyes, Phd.

Rico Guzman: drug lord, smokes cigars

A few other characters. Not enough physical description of anybody. Good variety of baddies and good guys.


Not bad. Some voices come through although I could have wanted a bit more distinction between Frank and Marty.



Very difficult to judge time passage until later in the story. The time passage between the beginning and about the time Frank is on trial was almost impossible to tell. Some reference would have helped.

The writing itself was pretty good. No misspelled words or punctuation or grammar errors.

The story was pretty good. My disappointment was in reference to the title and the blurb. Here you have an island where a lot of the really bad criminals are going to be placed. Then you have the inevitable point where the good guy is trapped on the island. Great! That’s what I wanted. In reality, the action on the island is reserved for the end of the book, within the last 60 or so pages (on my Nook edition). And it was constantly interrupted by other scenes back on the mainland.

I didn’t experience a whole lot of danger or suspense or real action. It never seemed as if the protagonist was ever in mortal danger, either by wildlife or humans. Sure, you knew the good guy wins, but injure him a bit, put some emotion in. Frank’s relationships with sharks was interesting, but could have have been played upon more. There was a pretty good chase scene with the cops and some bad guys, but all through that scene I kept wondering when we’re going to be to the island.

One graphic murder scene.

As mentioned, good book, but I wanted more. This is the first in a series, so there’s time for more in future stories.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Pigeon-Blood Red


By Ed E. Duncan




When a valuable necklace is stolen, Rico must retrieve it for his gangster boss. He tracks the thief to Hawaii, but complications arise and what started as a simple payback mission, turns upside down.

This reads more like a suspenseful soap opera with various characters throughout. I think the author does a good job of mixing enough back story into what is a shorter novel than most.


Richard ‘Rico’ Sanders: over 6′, dark eyes, works for a gangster, curly black hair, 4 siblings, parents dead

Jerry: smokes, works with Rico, pale, sandy brown hair, 3 older brothers

Jean: prostitute, red hair, dad dead, divorced, 3 sisters

Robert McDuffie: owns several stores, married

Evelyn McDuffie: Robert’s wife, black svelte

Frank Litvak: gangster, overweight, late 40s, balding

Paul Elliott: attorney, widower

One of the problems I had with characters is I think some of them were black but that didn’t come across. No, they don’t have to have stereotypical characteristics, but when I made a mental picture, I pictured several of these characters as Caucasian. A character who had a definite influence on the story was introduced too late in the story and I felt that part was forced. As if the author thought: Wait, I have to throw in one more piece of plot. I think this character should have been brought in earlier, especially since the reason for his later inclusion was shown near the beginning.


Pretty good. Some voices tried to come through. Many books have average conversations and voices and I think this one fits in with those.


Profanity. Book separated into Parts.

For the most part I think this was solid writing. As mentioned above it had more of a soap opera feel to it especially since there was omnipresent POV. Rico was the only character I felt close to. Jean a little bit, but not much.

One thing that stood out that struck me odd was (no spoiler, just more details of the plot): Litvak gives Rico a valuable necklace. Robert steals the necklace. Hence the chase. However, I didn’t ever figure out the reason gave Rico the necklace in the first place. Litvak had had it stolen and I assume was going to have Rico give it to a fence, but this wasn’t clear. And for Rico to be so nonchalant about handling and carrying the very expensive piece of jewelry wasn’t quite believable.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Ruffian: The Story Of A Jockey


By Beverly Harrison




Syd Paul, a female jockey, is attacked during a race and tragedy results. She finds herself racing for the finish line and for her life as she’s involved in a scheme to make sure certain horses don’t win. Who’s behind the race fixing? Joe McQueen, detective, is on the case, but can he be there when it’s down to the wire and the photo finish may mean life or death. Ain’t no horsing around in this book.

Okay, I will admit to being a Dick Francis fan and so I was intrigued by this one. I like the premise. It’s a simple plot with lots of action, some dirty deeds, and no lack of horses.


Sydney Paul: jockey, 30ish, strong, 5’2”, long dark hair, drives a mini Cooper

Maria: Syd’s valet, Hispanic

Stevie Pike: Syd’s agent

Joe McQueen: police detective, blue eyes

There are few others and I like the variety of the cast. Syd’s quick with a movie line and I like her spunk. Joe could have had a bit more ‘character’ rather than playing the handsome cop. I would have like to have seen a quirk or two. I didn’t like McQueen’s supervisor who needed some smoothing out of the rather rough edges.


For the most part okay. However, now we start running into problems. During Syd’s second kidnapping (sorry to play a bit of a spoiler here), the conversation she has with the kidnapper isn’t believable. After going through a horrendous and terrifying first kidnapping, instead of showing that she’s scared out of her wits, which would be natural, she’s having a “Don’t you think you’ve made bad life choices” talk with her abductor. And he’s buying it, sort of.


Profanity and almost too much from the board of directors.

First person from Syd’s POV.

The problems multiply here with: missed punctuation and capitalization errors. The biggest problem I found that became very annoying is with tense. Most of the book is past tense, but Syd breaks into present tense a lot. And not just when she’s thinking. For instance: Mary walked down the street. (Past tense) I must remember to buy some milk. (Present). This works because she’s thinking about it. But there are too many cases where the author abruptly switches to present tense and it clearly doesn’t work.

As mentioned lots of action, including a graphic kidnapping scene. Good climax with the final race.

However, to be fair, I can’t overlook the mistakes. Clean up the writing and I’ll be back for another adventure with Syd.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt


Semblance Of Guilt


By Claudia Riess




Ellen Davis is a divorced journalist who tries to make a living by running a society column. When she meets the Clarkes they seem like the perfect couple, but trouble brews. Soon, Davis discovers a possible affair had by the husband and later she is accused of being a mistress herself, and of murdering the wife. Meanwhile, she’s also trying out a new romance with a police lieutenant. Will the romance survive or will Davis be convicted?

I thought the premise was pretty good, but when I got into the book, I discovered some disappointments.


Ellen Davis: reporter, divorced, 5’4”, 37, BA, auburn hair, hazel eyes, drives a Honda

Pete Sakura: Japanese descent, police lieutenant, widower with a son

Graham Clarke: lean, 40s, administrator at Columbia, drives a Jaguar, light brown hair, beown eyes, wears glasses, degrees in philosophy and administration

Sophia Clarke: Greek descent, Graham’s wife, 30, black hair, brown eyes

Anna Mangione: married

There are a few other characters that stand out, Ellen’s defense attorney for one. I didn’t feel close to Ellen and I didn’t feel too much emotion emoted…if I’m allowed that phrase. Also, Anna wasn’t as much of a loyal friend as I might have expected.


Conversations were okay. I think a few voices came through, Sophia’s for instance.



The problems I had with the book were:

– It was difficult judging time passage, at least in the first part of the book.

– Sorry to play a bit of a spoiler, but the dead body doesn’t show up until 11 chapters in. Way too long for a murder mystery.

– There was no discovery of the dead body. One scene ended with Ellen running away from the house and the next had the cops on scene investigating the crime. I think this relates to the time issue a bit.

– No real tension throughout. No danger for Ellen. She went to trial and although I enjoy a good courtroom battle, there wasn’t anything for me to get excited about. The defense attorney was a disappointment and didn’t really seem to care about the case, other than keeping Ellen in her place.

The major problem was the climax…because there wasn’t one. The book ended with a 20-30 page, drawn out, lengthy confession and nothing more. I expected tension, danger, not a long explanation that could have been so much more exciting.

My rank:

Camouflage Belt


Kindred Intentions


By Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli




Somebody is killing London lawyers. When Amelia Jennings goes undercover at an attorney’s office, she finds herself in a gun fight in the waiting room. Soon, she’s kidnapped, but rescued by Mike Connor, who also had a hand in the opening battle. Who is he? What’s his story? Can Mike and Amelia survive when they become the hunted? Can Amelia fight her feelings of attraction?

Nice premise and it doesn’t hurt that the action starts on page one. A romantic suspense with action throughout.


Amelia Jennings: cop, brown hair, son is dead, divorced

Mike Connor: wears glasses, blue eyes, former covert operative

Yep, that’s right, two characters. Okay, there are a couple others but who cares? The others aren’t involved long enough to make an impression. Actually, I wasn’t impressed by the main characters because they aren’t described very well. Amelia is attracted to Mike but that was a given. His attractive nature isn’t shown. Neither is Amelia’s. I don’t ‘see’ enough of them in a mental image to get close to them. Part of the reason for that is below.


A lot of non-contractions during dialogue. Enough so that it felt wrong.


Here is where the problems really show up. First off, there is profanity. Now, I don’t mind it in a story if it’s necessary and natural. In this book, however, I don’t think the F word is needed and whenever used, sounds forced.

This is a shorter book (my pub file was only 145 pages) which is fine, but this story could have been longer and drawn out.

There were several ‘ly‘ adverbs.

Way too many sentences started with ‘She’. There are entire paragraphs where ‘She’ starts every sentence.

Which leads me into the next weakness: too much telling and not enough showing. There’s action, but hardly any emotion is shown from Amelia. It’s distant narrator when it should be inside-her-head-narrator showing injuries, fear, exhaustion, lust.

This weak writing of telling is prevalent throughout with such sentences as:

– He pushed her in a rude way.

– He arranged her hair behind her ears with a caring gesture.

– He cleared his throat in a forced way.

Getting back to the length of the book, the explanations were near the end, but with a longer book, they could have been drawn out more, hinted at, foreshadowed. Some of them didn’t make sense. Amelia is kidnapped, questioned by the bad guys, is knocked unconscious, and wakes up in an empty room out in the middle of nowhere. The explanation for this is told, but it doesn’t make sense because of the ‘coincidence’ of Mike showing up soon after. There is a twist to the plot that is interesting, and even though there are no misspelled words, there are some punctuation flubs. I thought of Camouflage, but taken as a whole, I have to drop this to:

Yellow Belt


Beliefs Can Be Murder


Dudley Lynch




In the west Texas town of Flagler, things are heating up. Sheriff Whorter is facing: FBI agents tracking a mysterious container that was shipped to the United States; murders at the three Christian universities; a massive fire; and a break in. What do these all have to do with three Middle Eastern college students and a plan to build a massive new religious community nearby?

What an intricate, multi-faceted story. FBI on page one and it doesn’t let up from there.


Helen Briggs: Sheriff’s aid, prim, 60s, widow

Patrick Kane: FBI agent

Luke Whorter: Sheriff, attended Yale and has a divinity degree, father was a sheriff

Sawyers Tanner: Chief deputy; graying hair, overweight, mustache, late 50s

Malachi Jepp Rawls: professor, 5’4”, bowlegged, injured leg, uses a cane, widower, drives a white Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Luke isn’t described as much as some of the other characters, so I didn’t get a good picture of him. However, he works well with the other cast members. Good personalities although the development between Luke and the female agent could have been a bit more detailed throughout. Also, more details on Luke’s past, failed relationship could have helped.


Conversations do not wander afar and when there is side stuff, those are mostly narrator telling. Good voices.


Right up front, I’m going to say that this was solid writing from page 1. I kept looking for errors or mistakes or weak points, but didn’t find any. Very good use of words to add depth and to not have the reader skim over places. Explanations were concise and didn’t go on for pages. Action had good tension although (okay, a bit of weakness here but minor) some extra drama and emotion might have been inserted.

The book is separated into Days with quotes at the beginning of each day. No profanity, which was surprising for a Texas cop story, despite the religious aspects. These weren’t preachy, but did reference Christianity.

POV is first person from Whorter.

So, as to ranking. I hovered between two ranks and tried to compare what I’ve given past books that have earned higher rankings. Maybe it’s because I enjoyed this one after weeks of reading stuff that left me wanting something substantive, or maybe it’s just good writing and a good story. Probably a combination of all three.

My Rank:

Blue Belt



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