Monthly Archives: July 2016

Fade Out

Fade-Out Cover

By Mike Uva

Mike Uva Photo


A film crew’s latest project and lives in danger when they find themselves trapped in a hostile Middle East country. Can they use their skills to escape?

Interesting plot and I like the premise and the creativity.


John: assistant director, Australian

Peter Miley: director, white hair in a pony tail, 40s, tanned, South African

Bob: booking agent, Chinese-American

Kim: part of the film crew

Several others, most without last names or descriptions and they were lost in the shuffle. Didn’t quite understand the multitude of different ancestries because they didn’t add to the story and weren’t a factor in the plot. Several of the film crew sounded alike and I found it difficult distinguishing roles.


Ditto the last sentence in the voices. Even the Arabs didn’t sound Arabic. All the conversations were in italics. Why? Tag lines that can’t be tag lines. Jihad nods, “…” Nods is an action, not a verbalization. One tag had a character screak. I don’t know what that means. The tone of voice is mentioned a lot when the scene itself should relate that.


Titled sections which, for the most part, weren’t needed. Especially when one section is titled Hotel-Evening and the only sentence is: The crew vans pull away from the hotel that evening.

Present tense.

Distant narrator. Mostly telling and no showing. Action and drama abound, but there are no emotions or tension or pain shown.

What country are we in for most of the book? It’s never mentioned, although I assume it borders Israel since their air force comes into play late in the book.

No real descriptions of scene or setting

Weak writing: He speaks with a South African foreign accent. Well, it wouldn’t be foreign to a South African. The word ‘foreign’ isn’t needed.

Weak writing: something ‘can be seen’ as if there was obstruction but no indication that there was.

My Rank:

Yellow Belt




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