Hills Of The Silent Cries



By Viel Nast




Tomald purchases some land for farming. Upon arriving, he begins work but is haunted by screams…in his mind.

And…that’s about it. Yep, a guy who is haunted by screams that occur in on this new property, but in his mind.


Tomald: laborer

And…that’s about it. Yes, there is a sheriff, a landowner, and some military guards but Tomald is the main character. Not a lot of physical description of him.


Not much. Problems here include incorrect punctuation and incorrect capitalization on tag lines. “I’m going to the store”, He said.


This was a very short story and the third in a series of shorts about this fantasy land. However, the map at the beginning of the book was not necessary as not much of the land was seen in the story.

There was a time problem I didn’t quite understand. He leaves a bar to go to the manor house which is a four hour trip. After being told to come back the next day, he returns to the bar, then the next day returns to the manor house and gets there before dawn. This is a four hour trip each way. So, what time did he leave the bar, return to the bar, and did he leave at two in the morning to go back to the manor house? This supposing this land has the same length of days as regular earth. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to camp outside of the manor house?

This biggest issue I had was there was no explanation of the screaming. This was to be a nod to H.P. Lovecraft and that is why I accepted the book for review. There was a bit of history in the book about the area where Tomald has his property and a long time line at the end about this fantasy world but no mention of elder gods or anything related to Lovecraft’s mythos. And having no explanation left me wanting a lot more.

This was not much of a tale and for something to be in the vein of Lovecraft, I was disappointed.

My Rank:

White Belt



The Gargoyle

White Sky, WT2

By Chris Slayton

Chris Picture



Elijah Fortune is just trying to live his life in his brother’s tech company. However, his brother, Victor, is the notorious vigilante known as the Gargoyle, and he’s cleaning up crime in Chicago. When tragedy strikes at a gala, Eli is forced into his brother’s role. Can he handle the new hero status? Can he justify the violence? Who is behind the recent crime wave and what does it have to do with his mother and his family’s history.

Another superhero emerges. I kind of like him. He’s tough and doesn’t screw around. He makes decisions and has to live with the consequences. The plot is a bit intricate and revolves around the Fortunes so it stays personal.


Francis Wallace: bodyguard, former cop

Elijah Fortune: adopted, knows martial arts

Michael McGrady: cop, dad was a cop

Lizzy Flower: homosexual

Victor Fortune: Eli’s brother, knows martial arts, homosexual

A few other characters. Reggie, a baddie named the Judge (whose identity wasn’t difficult to figure out, but that’s okay). Some good standard characters. I would have liked to have known more physical descriptions, especially Victor, Eli, and Lizzy, the three main good guys. Do they look like comic book superheroes? What does Reggie look like? A weasel? A rat? The typical gang member?

Here there are problems. Wrong punctuation on tag lines. Periods instead of commas. Capitalizations on tags. It’s not, “I’m going to shoot you,” He said. No capital H. These mistakes are throughout the book.

Otherwise, voices are okay and so are conversations.


Profanity. Misspellings. A lot of ‘ly’ and ‘ing’ uses. Actions causing other things to happen. The ‘ing’ is overused because of this. The action scenes should be portrayed through short sentences, not long ones where multiple actions take place.

Several times there is a misnaming of the hero. Is his name The Gargoyle, with a capital T on the? I’ve seen that only in one other series of books. The Shadow. Grant wrote The Shadow all the time. It’s okay, but I don’t know if it works in this story. It’s not The Batman, it’s Batman. Gargoyle, the Gargoyle. This happens when the baddie The Judge comes into the story.

Otherwise, the writing could have been tighter with some of the issues mentioned above and I have to lower the rank because of the mistakes to:

Camouflage Belt


The Alien Diaries


By Glenn Devlin




When Colin Brayton (wait, what is his last name? Awesome!) is hired to appraise a wealthy man’s book collection, little does he realize what’s in store for him. He’s sent to a remote house in the woods, accompanied by a Madeline Prentice, who is not the friendliest of associates. The biggest thing, though is what he discovers in a diary from the late 1700s. A teenage girl in the midst of a family upheaval, is adopted by a family who has some strange ways about them. They use technology that is far beyond imagination. Who are these people? What abilities do they possess? In the middle of the Revolutionary War, with the British coming ever closer, what fantastic adventure awaits. And how will it affect Colin and Madeline?

Interesting plot, using diary entries (liberally set in scene), and going between the past and the present to tell the story. Of course events connect (no spoiler there) and while there is an interesting twist, there are unanswered questions…or rather questions to which I didn’t catch or understand answers.


Kate Arendall: 14, has two brothers, mom dead, father gone

Mrs. Dunn: Kate’s guardian, tall, protruding nose, tavern owner

Issac Wilson: British, wiry/thin frame, brown eyes, ponytail

Colin Brayton: owns a 2006 red Silverado, book appraiser and book store owner

Asher Bradford: tall, gray hair, scar on chest

Samuel: black, Asher’s CEO

Madeline Prentice: works for Asher, parents deaf

There are several other characters that come into play once Kate and her brothers are taken in by the new family. There are a lot of characters to keep straight, but I think everybody is pretty well established. I did enjoy the budding romance between Colin and Madeline. Back story for Madeline might have been a bit long.


Fine. Madeline’s voice comes through. Of course, the dialogue is modernized for the 1700s rather than how they actually spoke, but that’s okay.


Okay. Pretty clean throughout. No profanity, no sex scene although there is kissing so there’s a nice romance.

Questions. I will try to ask these without playing spoiler to what happens in the book, but keep in mind if you read it, I didn’t see the answers. Maybe they weren’t there, maybe I missed them.

1. Why did Asher hire Colin in the first place. I read the entire book but didn’t find the original reason for Colin’s employment.

2. How did Colin have a copy of Kate’s diary at the book store and finds another copy?? at the house?

3. Why did Colin and Madeline have to wear period clothing and eat period food and use period technology? That I wondered throughout the book. I never did find an answer.

4. Asher and Samuel know the danger is close and gave Colin only 30 days to finish the job. Again, why the job in the first place and what did he hope to accomplish? Did Asher expect Colin to find and read the diary? To gain what?

5. Why did what Kate discovered in the 1780s wait so long to return?

6. The people in Kate’s time acted and sounded as if they came from the future and I didn’t understand why they didn’t use futuristic things that weren’t more futuristic than even from Colin’s time.

I did think Colin’s encyclopedic knowledge of when certain things were invented/discovered was a bit much. All these factoids called up by memory?

There is a reason diary stories or letters stories don’t work a lot of the time. It’s because readers don’t want to read diaries or letters to get a story. They want a story. So, I thought there were too many diary entries that went on too long. I enjoyed more the interplay between Colin and Madeline solving the mystery. Yes, the diaries helped, but, for me, they were a bit long.

However, a good story, some mystery, some nice action…and of course the main character shares my surname.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Quick Kick – Pale Horse Coming


By Stephen Hunter




Mississippi, 1951: The last place any sane man wants to visit is Thebes State Penal Farm. Of the few who make the journey there, even fewer return.

But when an old friend disappears inside Thebes, ex-Marine and Arkansas State Police Sgt. Earl Swagger takes a personal interest in the case. As he infiltrates the prison, what he experiences defies his wildest nightmares — a savage world where death is the only salvation. As tough as he is, Swagger barely escapes with his life — and his mind — intact. But he’s not going to stay away for long. Recruiting six of the hardest, deadliest gunmen ever known, bloody vengeance is soon at hand. Because Earl Swagger is going back to Thebes.

My Analysis:

I wasn’t sure about this at the beginning. I listened to the audio and the southern accents the narrator does are good, but almost over the top. I almost gave up on it, but glad I let it continue for awhile. It turned to to be a darn good story, powerful in the cultural references and attitudes of the south at that time.

Hunter doesn’t hold back on the racism so expect profanity. Book broken into titled Parts. I enjoyed the two main characters or Sam and Erle. Where Erle finds his Magnificent Seven cohorts isn’t explained.

The story is laid out fairly well. There’s a lot of time for mental images and just enough of the bad guy characters to make it enjoyable.

This is part of a series and I’ll be interested to hear another Erle Swagger tale

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Conan The Indomitable


By Steve Perry




Traveling together, Conan and Elashi encounter Harskeel who demands Conan’s sword. The pair escape only to find more danger on their trail the next day. They end up in an underground world pursued by not only a witch, a wizard, and their servants, but by Harskeel, who will not give up his quest.

As with the Doctor Who review some time ago, I wasn’t going to review a Conan story, but I found this one a bit different than the others I’ve read. I like the adventure, the underground world and it’s denizens. Of course, it’s what one would expect from a Conan story with lots of fighting and action.


Conan: hails from Cimmeria, resorts to thievery to get by, muscular, blue eyes, black hair

Elashi: from the Khauranian desert, beautiful but a fighter

Lalo: expert in martial arts, lives under a curse where he can’t stop making fun of people, his three brothers are dead, straw colored hair

Harskeel: from Loplain, hermaphrodite who is actually two persons fused into one by a curse, reddish brown hair

Katamay Rey: wizard, lives in the Grotterium Negrotus (Black Caves)

Wikkel: half again as large as a man, one eye, hunchback, long arms, Rey’s servant

Chuntha: witch who lives in the Black Caves as Rey and battles him for dominance, kills men by draining their life during copulation

Deek: Worm Gigantus, Chuntha’s servant, speaks by rubbing coils over the earth, three times as long as a man’s height, thick as a barrel, white

Tull: around fifty, gray beard and hair, stranded in the Black Caves

I really enjoyed these characters. Besides the main pair, the monsters are wonderfully evil. This story allowed my imagination to conjure up these characters, to see them in my mind. I enjoy a story so much better when I’m able to do that.


Good voices. Deek’s speech is a lot of stutter, but what do you expect from a large white worm? I also like the interplay between Elashi and Conan.


Thanks to Robert Howard for inspiring other authors to write adventures. This one is full of action. Perry stays true to the character of Conan. I think there is one mild use of profanity. The sex is implied and subtle. The action is not drawn out. As I mentioned with the characters, my imagination was set free and if I can follow a story with mental images, I know it’s good writing. I enjoyed the subtle humor. Some other Conan stories have vast armies fighting each other and strategies and action all over the place. Those are fine, but this one kept it simple with Conan and Elashi (with the addition of Tull) fighting and fleeing a group of baddies. Sure, there was a battle at the end, but parties who fought were made up of the monsters, which was pretty cool. Each chapter brought a new challenge which makes for a good story.

My rank:

Brown Belt


Facing The Storm


By Jennifer Brooks




A super storm has devastated the east coast and half the country is picking up the pieces. A group of survivors huddle together in a cabin coping with upcoming winter, food shortages, and the most dangerous enemy – survivors who are out only for themselves. Meanwhile a citizen militia out to help the general population has its own problems with a schism from within.

The premise is good. Yes, there are problems, but the basic plot is good. While the focus is on the group at the cabin and the militia, there are various scenes of other people coping with their new lives.



Taylor: 16

Steve: Megan’s boyfriend

Susan: Taylor’s mom

Harry: Susan’s husbands




Tom: owns an SUV

Here’s the major problem of this story. There are too many characters. There are more in this book than I listed. A lot more. The problem with this is I got hit with so many characters in the beginning chapters that I lost track of them, who they were. No physical descriptions, no last names, not much background information and with so many there was no focus on any major hero/heroine. Tom and Wade and Taylor and Bryan ended up playing the bigger roles and the others got lost in the shuffle. Plus, the interlude characters in other parts of the country were seen once and never seen again.


With so many characters individual voices also became lost. Again, the main four I mentioned seemed to have goo voices. Conversations were good, but there was a lot of it. A lot of description of the situation at the time and where everybody stood and supplies and tips to survive and while that might be necessary, again, it became too much to try to grasp.


I didn’t see any spelling/punctuation/grammar errors.

The interlude scenes with the other people around the country felt like filler because except for one character with technology skills, who is inferred to be a major help at the end, the others weren’t relevant to the main story.

There wasn’t a lot of tension in the book. An incident with Chloe falling into the river. Some arguments between militia members. The climax was a let down because it was a big build-up and quick ending. I had to go back a re-read the sentences that, basically, said – …and then the fight ended.

I didn’t get a sense of real disaster looming the next day. Yes, one of the characters had had problems with nightmares from an incident before this story happened (maybe book one, since this is book 2), but it was there and not mentioned but a couple more times.

Unfortunately, this book was character heavy (too many) and action light (not enough).

My rank:

Camouflage Belt


Fish Farm

FISH_cover 512x512

By Walt Sautter

walt website pic



A group of thugs are committing extortion in a back country small town. A group of sixty something guys, all of whom have been shafted by the system, the law, or otherwise, decide to do something. How do they get rid of the bodies is the question. What happens, though, when the plan to take care of a group of bad guys gets extended to take revenge on an individual?

For the most part, I think the plot is good. How it played out could have been better. I thought more of the side characters could have been more involved and it might have been interesting to see a group of punks go up against a group of guys past middle age who use their intelligence and guile. Part of of that happened, but not enough of it to bring the story up a level.


Jack: widower with daughter, late 60s, fit, a bit of gray hair, smokes cigars

Petey: drives a ‘92 Pontiac, 68, balding, portly

Larry Fine: burly, ex military, white pony tail, scarred cheek, has a dog, runs a fishing operation

Hal: tall, black, limps, ex military

The main guys, except for Larry, don’t have last names.

I thought the personalities and backgrounds were fine. As mentioned above, though, I thought everybody would be more involved. Jack is the main character and he does most of the work, the scheming. Yes, Petey and Larry help. Hal is sort of left out of the picture. The trio, with Larry as a clean up guy, could have made for a cool team, but they weren’t used that way. Then other characters got into the mix.


Pretty good. Larry’s voice comes through. Conversations stay on track. A bit of story telling, but they don’t run long and have relevance.


Lots of profanity.

Written in present tense. I don’t mind a story in present tense, but the problem is…the word is. When one writes in present tense, descriptions and actions tend to overuse the present form of to be. He is walking. He is sitting. Stuff is hanging on the wall. When this word is used, ‘ing’ words also get used. With present tense, the author must be aware of this and find ways around it. More ‘s’ at the end of verbs will help. He walks. He sits. Stuff hangs… To constantly fall back on ‘is’ gets old and becomes weak.

I mention this because this story uses a lot of is phraseology.

This is a relatively short story and it could have been longer with more scheming and planning and then bring in the extension of the plan to include a personal revenge.

There is an interesting twist at the end that I didn’t coming. This serves as a ‘climax’ of sorts, because otherwise, there was none. The final battle between the guys and the thugs didn’t happen and the aftermath of the thugs wasn’t mentioned. Did they disband or continue their extortion?

A quick read.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Quick Kick – Breakdown


By Jonathan Kellerman




Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware meets beautiful and emotionally fragile TV actress Zelda Chase when called upon to evaluate her five-year-old son, Ovid. Years later, Alex is unexpectedly reunited with Zelda when she is involuntarily committed after a bizarre psychotic episode. Shortly after Zelda’s release, an already sad situation turns tragic when she is discovered dead on the grounds of a palatial Bel Air estate. Having experienced more than enough of L.A.’s dark side to recognize the scent of evil, Alex turns to his friend LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis for help in finding out who ended Zelda’s broken life.
At the same time, Alex is caught up in another quest: the search for Zelda’s missing son. And when other victims vanish from the same upscale neighborhood, worry turns to terror.
As Alex struggles to piece together the brief rise and steep fall of a gorgeous, talented actress, he and Milo unveil shattered dreams, the corruption of a family, and a grotesque betrayal of innocence. With each devastating revelation and damning clue, Alex’s brilliant mind is challenged as never before—and his determination grows to see a killer caged and the truth set free.

My Analysis

I have listened to most of Kellerman’s books. I don’t recommend reading them. I urge you to listen to the audio books. John Rubenstein does an excellent job of narrating. Good voices and he really brings me into the books.

With Kellerman and the Alex Delaware novels, if you read enough of them, are pretty formulaic but not in the traditional sense. What I mean is that he starts out with a simple mystery and two or three CDs in, you find the case has expanded to cover not only left field but the entire ballpark.

There’s more detecting and clues being reveled than actual action. It’s low tension, but still very enjoyable.

I think Kellerman’s talent is bringing in real human drama and emotion. He doesn’t overwhelm you with psychological talk but strives to bring in the humanity. A bit of humor here and there to keep you from going too deep.

I’m always up for an Alex Delaware novel.

My rank:

Blue Belt


Term Limits

Term Limits

by Vince Flynn

Vince Flynn



It’s budget time in Washington and it’s politics as usual. Blackmail, coercing, threats. But into the mix comes murder. Three career politicians are killed in one night and a threat to kill more if the government doesn’t get its act together comes the next morning.

Micheal O’Rourke, freshman representative; Skip McMahon, FBI agent; and Stu Garrett, Chief of Staff are all players in this game of politics turned deadly.

I think Flynn writes a timely plot. This was written in ’97, but could easily fit into today’s world. He hasn’t come up with something brand new, but I always enjoy a goo political thriller.


Stu Garrett: U.S. President chief of Staff,

Micheal O’Rourke: 32, freshman U.S. Representative, younger brother is his chief of staff, graduated from the University of Minnesota, played hockey at the university, ex Marine, earned the Silver Star, handsome, family is the timber industry, knows judo, has a sister and another brother, parents died in car accident

Skip McMahon: FBI Special Agent, large frame,

Brian Roach: 26 year FBI veteran, currently is the director,

Mike Nance: National Security Advisor

Bridget Ryan: NBC intern

Liz Scarlotti: O’Rourke’s girlfriend, reporter, black hair

Pretty standard cast. You have the clean cut guy and the dirty politicos. Good basic information on everybody.


Voices stand out, especially since I listened to the audio version. Conversations stay on point.


Chapters are headed by time. Action is non-nonsense, to the point and quick. There are no real surprises, but just a well written book that is an enjoyable read.

My rank:

Blue Belt


Quick Kick – The Woods

Cover of Woods

By Harlan Coben




Paul Copeland, a New Jersey county prosecutor, is still grieving the loss of his sister twenty years ago—the night she walked into the woods, never to be seen again. But now, a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to the disappearance. The victim could be the boy who vanished along with Paul’s sister. And, as hope rises that his sister could still be alive, dangerous secrets from his family’s past threaten to tear apart everything Paul has been trying to hold together…

My Analysis

First off, I listened to the audio and enjoy, for the most part, Scott Brick as narrator. He does goo voices, good tonal quality, and his voice holds onto you.

For Coben, he likes these something-happened-in-past-and-now-I’m-going-to-slowly-reveal-it plots. They take awhile to develop and usually there is a secondary plot that may or may not connect to the main.

In The Woods, there is a court case that Copeland is trying. I was more interested in that case than finding out what happened to his sister twenty years before. At least a lot of the times I was. There were clues to the past mystery sprinkled hither and yon and there were a few twists and surprises. A few times I figured out what the development was before it was revealed.

The ending was a little blasé. It tied up the pieces and just…sort…of…drifted to…the end.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. Sometimes I think Coben doesn’t quite know what to do at the end of these types of mysteries and just…sort…of…well, you get the idea.

Still, worthy of:

Blue Belt