Monthly Archives: October 2015

One Before Bedtime


By N. S. Johnson



What treasures does a strange man in a small town have for some special children? An old man waits for his lost dog on Christmas Eve. A graveyard of planes that are ready for one more flight. A birthday party turns extra special for two of the guests. A recluse and his love for animals. A music lover gets the last note on a fuddy-duddy. A wannabe movie producer gets his chance to be with a legend…maybe. A harried teenager seeks the ultimate resolution. Bullies learn their lesson. Strange happenings at a New England inn. What happens when personal electronic device becomes too personal? A man tries to move on after his wife is sent to prison. What happens when an atheist goes to heaven.

Thirteen stories with a little mystery, a little drama, some speculation, some Twilight Zone-esque twist. Some of the stories are pretty good and some I didn’t quite understand. Some seemed to end abruptly and I wondered what happened next.


Silas Keebler: lanky, pale, black hair, drives a van

Buff: a B52 Stratofortress bomber

Ted Thayer: late 50s, health insurance executive, owns two Basset hounds, widower, has a sister

Todd Thompson: 24, handsome, dark hair, brown eyes, works in a brokerage firm, father an attorney

Caleb: picked on by bullies

Kathy Watson: owns a Porsche Boxster, married

Kyle Rand: ex wife in prison, has a daughter, writer

I’m not sure why, but a few stories have main or supporting characters with the last name of Thompson. I can see once, but why more than once? Some good surface stuff of characters. Personalities came through.


As did most of the voices. Tight conversations as needed.


No profanity except for some hell’s scattered in the last story.

I found no errors in grammar/punctuation/spelling. As mentioned, some of the stories had some twist, although many were predictable. These were more Twilight Zone light rather than Tales From The Crypt horror. Some are short, others not so short. Some could have been drawn out more to add more tension and greater impact.

My Rank:

Green Belt



Twice As Fatal

Design 23

By R. Weir




Denver PI Jarvis Mann is back in action. Case #1: his landlord wants evidence of her husband’s shenanigans. Mann finds the husband is into some shady street deals. Case #2: an officer friend can’t find his college football playing son. A couple of heavies and blackmail are involved.

Knowing Mann, he won’t stop until he finds the answers.

Another PI story. I like this one because it involves two cases, which, as an author writing a story with a PI handling two cases I was interested to see how this one was arranged. How much time does an author give to each storyline (supposing, of course, they don’t connect farther into the book)? The author does a good job of keeping the different lines separate and not leaving the reader wondering, “Hey what about…?”


Jarvis Mann: mid 30s, private investigator, drives a Ford Mustang

Kate Tanner: Mann’s landlord, married with children, owner of a beauty salon, 40s, 5’7”, long black hair, tattooed, owns a Harley and Toyota RAV

Jack Tanner: 51, Kate’s husband, 5’10”, 200 lbs, short red and graying hair, drives a Ford Ranger

Melissa Diaz: Mann’s girlfriend, brown hair, green eyes, legal assistant in a law firm, exercises, mother is an attorney

Bill Malone: black, police officer, married with a son and daughter

Constance: Nicknamed Raven, black/red hair

Dennis Gash: senior in high school, black, football player, 195 lbs

Marquis Melott: owns a strip club, drives a Mercedes, black, bald,

Too many characters to list but a few. Good cast. Good variety of personalities. Typical bad guys who show up in these stories. Girlfriend and cop are expected cast members, too. A few physical descriptions. I’d like more about Mann (tall, thin, short, fat, balding, mole on his left cheek), something so I can get a mental image. It would help me be closer to the character.


Several characters speak without using contractions. Sometimes it’s okay, but it is noticeable and not necessarily how some people speak.


First person from Mann’s POV.

Reading this and getting to about a third of the way through, I wondered, what now? It seemed like he wrapped up the cases in short order. But no, they linger. And, surprisingly, the story didn’t drag. As mentioned above, enough switching from case to case kept everything moving. Action was good.

There was even an interesting wrinkle at the end that was amusing.

Good read, stand-out PI story.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Remotely Unplugged

Remotely Unplugged Cover

By Andrea Perno

author headshot1


The year is 2103. Technology is there for everyone to plug into. Civilnet will help you with your job, tell you when you’re in danger, and even suggest conversation starters. It helps control your diet and matches you with the correct mate. Practically anything known is attainable and Civilnet is there to help and everyone is content. Sarah, though, is not content, not happy with her job and is having other problems. Memory problems. She can’t remember her childhood or her parents. She can’t remember certain events. And she’s making decisions that go against Civilnet. Doctors and family don’t know what to do to restore her fully to Civilnet. So, after an assault upon her she is given a ‘vacation’. She is sent to a ‘resort’ where’s she ‘unplugged’. The resort, though, isn’t what she bargained for and what she discovers about herself and her world may change everything.

This is a little sci-fi, a little thriller, some suspense. I usually don’t review sci-fi, but this intrigued me enough to give it a chance.


Sarah: 41, works in waste management,

Elizabeth: Sarah’s sister, has a blue steak in her dark hair, ultramarine eyes

Jeff: Sarah’s husband, doctor

Silvia: middle aged, stubby round nose

Adam: tall, thin, white eyebrows

Randy: thin

William: southern accent, blue eyes

Nobody has last names. Sarah sometimes sounds younger than 41. There are some interesting characters that reflect the nature of the story, that show the nature of man vs. technology.


Some of Sarah’s phrasing sound present day (a reference to the Hulk; ‘no shit Sherlock’). It’s okay, but in the future, the common phrases would be different. Otherwise, William’s voice comes through well.


First person from Sarah’s POV. Present tense. Profanity.

There is a character who shows up in the latter half of the book and my problem with him is who he is revealed to be. Who he is is fine, but he wasn’t mentioned before this so I didn’t get to enjoy the ‘revelation’. This was a surprise character with no previous reference in the story.

The ending was…different, but again, the twist was only referenced a few times (if I’m understanding it correctly) but I didn’t understand the connection between the reference and the ending. Now, again, maybe it’s just me and other readers would be able to say, “Got it.” right away. Maybe that’s why I don’t read this type of sci-fi very often because I want to enjoy the story without having to try to understand ‘the bigger picture’.

Having said that, however, I’m not saying it’s a bad story. It is well-written with no misspelled words, maybe a punctuation error near the beginning. Descriptions were detailed enough I followed right along in my head. Action was good.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Fatal Eclipse

Fatal Eclipse - High Resolution - Version 2

By Dermot Davis



The problem starts during his wedding. Jonathan Dabko doesn’t feel right. About the wedding. About his wife Maria. His troubles will increase during the next few weeks to where therapy is needed and he begins to make rash choices that may drive him deeper into trouble if he doesn’t find the solution. However, he isn’t the only one with problems. A killer is on the loose.

This is a ragtag story with lots of angles with everybody having problems with events from his or her past. For me, it was a little bit difficult with spokes of-well, not necessarily subplots, but delving into personal problems-coming in every so often from each character. I didn’t quite understand the inclusion of the murders other than just to have another subplot.


Jonathan Dabko: 32, parents dead

Maria Gianini Dabko: 24, Jonathan’s wife, parents gone, brown-green eyes, suffered from depression as a teen, has a brother

Peter Wynne: Dabko’s friend

Philip: Maria’s ex boyfriend, record talent scout

Loraine: Philip’s girlfriend, musician

Barbara Evans: psychiatrist, 30s, dirty blonde hair

Bill Lanioff: Barbara’s psychiatrist, father was a farmer

Almost every character in this book has problems that are touched upon throughout. Some problems are solved and others aren’t. One thing I found troubling with Peter is that much of his history isn’t known. Therefore his actions came as a surprise. There was no explanation of why he did what he did. He was an otherwise normal person. Part of the problem lies in the fact that this delves into character a lot, but not deeply enough to get a strong hold on them, other than possibly Jonathan. There are no connections between many of them so the problems, say from Evans, only make me see she really isn’t credible or trustworthy as a doctor.


I think Peter’s voice comes through well. Conversations don’t wander off too far.


Some of the internal thoughts of some of the characters that switch to present tense aren’t natural. People don’t think like that, in lengthy sentences. Better to use the narrator and go third person close.

Sometimes the POVs within a chapters. I can see the attempt at omnipresent viewpoint, but sometimes the POV and scene shifts, especially near the end, are jolting.

This was a mental story with lots of internal thoughts and sorting through issues. Taken as a whole, I think the story lacks oomph because of the disjointed subplots. There is no resolution for Evans and the ending doesn’t make sense. How and why did Jonathan go to Peter’s house? Should it not have been his old house? I guess what saved this from going any lower was the fact there were no misspelling/grammar/punctuation errors. But it was close.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt