Author Archives: sirsteve

Raven’s Peak

cover

By Lincoln Cole

Cole

https://www.amazon.com/Ravens-Peak-World-Fire-Book-ebook/dp/B01FVEZ6G2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503345808&sr=8-1&keywords=raven%27s+peak

Plot

Okay. May I begin with a rarity? Usually, I start with a short blurb about what I read as the plot. Sometimes, I’m disappointed because what either the author has sent me as a description of the book or what I read on Amazon does not adhere to the actual contents. In this case, may I submit the Amazon blurb:

A quiet little mountain town is hiding a big problem. When the townsfolk of Raven’s Peak start acting crazy, Abigail Dressler is called upon to discover the root of the evil affecting people. She uncovers a demonic threat unlike any she’s ever faced and finds herself in a fight just to stay alive.

Abigail rescues Haatim Arison from a terrifying fate and discovers that he has a family legacy in the supernatural that he knows nothing about. Now she’s forced to protect him, which is easy, but also to trust him if she wants to save the townsfolk of Raven’s Peak. Trust, however, is something hard to have for someone who grew up living on the knife’s edge of danger.

Can they discover the cause of the town’s insanity and put a stop to it before it is too late?

The above is what attracted me to the book. The disappointment was that the above blurb is mostly untrue. The actual is: Abigail spends a lot of the book rescuing Haatim and tracking down a connection to her mentor who saved her at the beginning of the book. Yes, Haatim has a secret and yes, he does ‘team up’ with Abigail, but it’s a reluctant team up. They don’t even reach Raven’s Peak until page 128 of my epub version which has 205 pages. And it’s not even in Raven’s Peak proper that the weird stuff is happening.

Some of this is explained, but if I had known this was the plot, I might have passed.

Characters

Arthur Vangeest: demon hunter

Frieda: brown hair

Abigail Dressler: early 20s, black, brown eyes, scar on cheek

Haatim Arison: sister dead

George Wertman: overweight

Not much description of anybody but Abigail. Abigail comes off as a bit cynical, tough but her constant attitude of not answering questions became a bit irritating. Haatim plays a good counter to Abigail in that he’s a complete wuss. I can understand naivete, it was a little difficult to accept he doesn’t know which end of a gun to point at somebody. He changes near the end, but still is a weak character. Not enough of Frieda ‘s involvement in the book to care about.

Dialogue

For the most part, okay. Characters have distinctive voices, including the demons.

Writing

The issues I had in this category were:

Repetitive descriptions of Abigail. Once you have a character established, the reader doesn’t need to be reminded that she’s black with brown eyes.

As mentioned above, I had a problem with the plot. Also as mentioned the bad stuff doesn’t take place in the town of Raven’s Peak, but in a campground…an hour away? Really? An hour?

Another aspect of the story I couldn’t accept: Out in the woods near this campground is the original location for the town of Raven’s Peak, with structures still standing. After years and years, nobody has come across this site? No hikers? Lumber companies? Surveyors? It isn’t discovered until a twelve year old boy wanders away and gets lost and he finds it?

Another weird thing: When Abigail and Haatim go to the site Abigail finds a guy-the lone survivor of a group of campers-doing something strange in the church. Then she walks away to call Frieda for assistance? Really? She doesn’t inquire as to what the guy is doing? Doesn’t recognize the supernatural woo-woo going on? Doesn’t recognize that the guy might have problem? She’s going to go away and call to see what needs to be done?

My main issue was that this was a shorter book than most and I expected to get to the main plot as told by Amazon sooner than we did. It took a long time to rescue Haatim from his first supernatural encounter then another long section of recovery and escaping Arizona. Then, when I thought they were off to RP in Tennessee, they divert to Colorado to torture a demon for information. Then off to another scene to make another connection to Abigail’s mentor. Finally, they reach RP, or rather the campground.

I don’t mind subplots, but the incident at RP turned out to be the subplot and if it hadn’t for the incident with these campers, I don’t think Abigail and Haatim would have found anything. They certainly didn’t obtain any concrete information in town about previous incidents of ‘something weird going on.’

There was repetitive phraseology in the action sequences:

Example (not in the book but only an example): He shot, causing the other man to fall back.

The repetition was an action following by an ‘ing’ word the action resulted in. This type of writing was over used.

Clean book otherwise, with no grammar/punctuation/spelling issues but I am going to have to drop it from the original intent of Camo to:

Yellow Belt

Yellow

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Hounded

cover

By Matt Ziselman

Ziselman

http://mattziselman.com/

Once again, I deviate from the usual mystery/thriller reviews to bring you a book I thought was pretty special. I hope you won’t mind too much.

Plot

How the lives of three dachshunds influence the perspective of their owners. That’s what Hounded is all about: looking at the actions, reactions, and personalities of dogs and relating them to the life of Matt Ziselman. He begins the book by sharing the story of how he met his first pet, a German Shepherd, as a young boy. Then he jumps to his current adult life, married with children and the trio of canines in his household. Baxter, the 25 pounder; Maya, the emotionally scarred older dog; and Molly, the happy-go-lucky vicious licker. In every chapter he discusses the quirks, habits, and eccentricities of the dogs. These include: Molly’s eating of poop, Baxter’s attempts at dominance over the others, and Maya’s phobias about the front entrance, hall, and stairs. Then Ziselman will relate these doggie dos to particular instances within his own life. He’ll discuss, upon more than one occasion, his parents’ death, his own brand of OCD, and how he shouldn’t worry so much.

This is not your typical let’s-talk-about-my-special-pet book. I love animal books and learning about the pets in people’s lives. Ziselman, however, sets out to give us, and himself, life lessons. In fact, he calls them Daschund Life Lessons. At the end, however, he changes those to Life Reminders. The circumstances, personalities, and decisions he discusses in Hounded are those to which many people can relate. We’ve all done similar things, have similar quirks. And with a discussion of dogs, you can’t go wrong.

Characters

Baxter: 25 pound dachshund, stares a lot, acts dominant, but is not

Maya: adopted from is assumed but not outright stated, a puppy mill, emotionally scarred, apathetic, has phobias

Molly: happy-go-lucky, the boss, intense licker

Of course there is the author himself whose list of characteristics would pretty much spoil the book and be too long to mention. His wife and daughter are also included. I enjoyed listening to the dogs’ quirks and lives and hearing about Ziselman’s life was interesting in its own way.

Dialogue

Since this is a certain type of non-fiction book, there is little dialogue. I listened to the audio book so the narrator used a different voice to reflect the author’s daughter. Which is fine. Same with the author’s wife.

Writing

He blends well humor and serious, tear-jerker material. At first, I was a bit put off by his use of profanity, but it works. So, buyer beware, that this is not a children’s doggie book. This is for adults. I listened to the audio version which added the extra nice quality of hearing a narrator’s inflections which further brought out the humor. I did want to hear more about the dogs and not so quickly moving to the author’s dealing with an issue in his life. But that’s what the book is about. It doesn’t center on the dogs, it shows how a dog’s life influences a man’s thoughts on his own life. The subject matter gets a little risque or male-oriented when he discusses dog farts and Baxter’s apparent disregard that he’s neutered. Still a well written, well thought out book. His use of language is excellent.

My ranking:

Brown Belt

Brown

Quick Kick – Tuskers

cover

By Duncan McGeary

author

https://www.amazon.com/Tuskers-1-Duncan-McGeary/dp/1941987192/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479206080&sr=8-1&keywords=tuskers

Plot

Barry had created a little piece of paradise in his southern Arizona backyard—until the javelinas came. 

His battle to rid his property of the wild pigs soon escalated into war. Too late, he realized these weren’t ordinary animals. They were something new, something meaner and smarter. These pigs weren’t just at war with him; they were at war with the human race. 

And the humans were losing.

My Analysis

What a great concept for a movie flick. I would love to see this on the screen. It’s just believable to be “Hey, this could happen.”

There are several characters around which the story revolves, each having their own adventure and problems with the pigs.

This is a trilogy (What?), so what could books 2 and 3 hold in store.

This gives some very basic information on the origin of the super pigs and there are typical, “Yep, he’s dead” scenes.

I think reading the book might have been better than the audio, just because the imagination might have been better encouraged.

My rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

When The Reaper Calls

When the Reaper Comes - Cover art

By John L. DeBoer

John's author photo

https://www.amazon.com/When-Reaper-Comes-John-DeBoer/dp/1625264712/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502933616&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=when+the+reaper+calls%2C+deboer

Plot

Terrorism is center stage. Two members of a security company team up with the NSA to stop a terrorist from killing a rock star. It’s a game of chess and out-thinking the opponent and the stakes are deadly.

Oft seen plot with just a bit of a twist this time where the main characters aren’t military (although they are former SEALS), or a lone hero going into action guns blazing. Plus, the terrorist is home grown.

Characters

Adam Taylor: 38, former SEAL, works for Global Security Guardians

Mario Martinez: former SEAL, works for GSG, parents dead

Peter Crandall: NSA analyst, knows Arabic, homosexual

Amira Bahar: NSA analyst, long black hair, dark brown eyes, Muslim, has a brother

Barbara Plaskin: works in the counter terrorism department for the FBI

Yusuf Khouri: 30, parents were professors, attended Fairleigh Dickenson U., and Wroxton College

I thought the characters, with the exception of Yusuf, were pretty good, well developed. Some good camaraderie between Adam and Mario. There was good interplay between the good guys.

As for Yusuf – the Reaper. Well, when I saw the title, I thought “Ooh, evil guy coming up.” When I started in on this, Yusuf was the bad@$$ terrorist. As the story moved along, though, he had to contend with a couple of terrorist yokels who, if they were honest with themselves, would rather have sat at home eating Cheetos and watching Netflix. They didn’t come across as all that scary. Which, in turn, brought down Yusuf’s nastiness because he had to constantly keep these other two on the mission. He was a good baddie, but not scary Reaper bad.

Dialogue

Pretty good. Distinctive voices. Conversations didn’t wander.

Writing

A bit of profanity. Chapters and scenes headed by a combination of time/location/day.

This book was clean in that I didn’t find a grammar/punctuation/spelling error and I was impressed with that. Kudos to whoever edited this.

I thought the action was pretty good, some good drama, a bit of a twist at the end that could have gone another way and still worked.

I did enjoy the chess game. Each side seemed to think ahead and plan accordingly. Yusuf was pretty good at coming up with Plan A, then B, then C, then D, and so on each time he was thwarted from the previous. The GSG guys and the NSA kept always thinking, “Well, what if Yusuf does this, then we’d better plan for that.” So, that was interesting.

My main issue with this book is that it set up the climax way in advance, then spent a huge chunk of the book leading up to it. That final day dragged on and though there were plan changes and clues and deliberations, and scenarios, it seemed forever before things started speeding up.

The climax could have been a bit more intense, but I enjoyed the determination of the terrorists.

So, what about rank. This may surprise some people based on the issues I had with this, but I did enjoy not having to slog through errors and hard to read sentences and misspellings and POV problems. And it was a decent story, all in all, despite some of the aforementioned problems. Therefore, keep those in mind, but still have a good read on a book I’ll give a:

Purple Belt

Purple

The Witches Of Wildwood

coverBy Mark Wesley Currant

https://www.amazon.com/Witches-Wildwood-Horror-Stories-Jersey/dp/1936828499/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502066620&sr=8-1&keywords=the+witches+of+wildwood%2C+curran

Plot

Wildwood, New Jersey and the surrounding area are home to strange events, creatures of the night, and evil. Welcome to a collection short stories all centered in and around this town…and enter if you dare.

The Girl In The Attic: Who is the enigmatic woman in the attic…and why must she die?

Dante’s Inferno At Castle Dracula: A fireman’s past haunts him at another fire.

Neptune’s Revenge: A musician is mesmerized by the lead singer of a band.

Night Of The Wildwood Dead: A sailor on a whaling ship experiences horror from Haiti and sees it brought to Wildwood.

Captain Harvey’s Seafood Palace: What do you do with an infamous food critic who loves to trash restaurants?

Showdown At Angelsea: A stranger challenges a veteran/bar owner to a duel.

The Fortune Teller Machine: An arcade features an old favorite.

Jersey Devil: A wealthy man confronts one of the best known monsters of the East coast.

Werewolves Of Dennis: What happens when a late night radio talk show hosts criticizes the wrong person?

Swamp Beast Of Grassy Sound: A WWII vet and a mysterious creature from the swamp.

The Witches Of Wildwood: It’s a quartet of witches against one lone preacher.

Some of the stories were pretty good. Others were predictable. I thought all, except for some problems-discussed later-were well written.

Characters

A lot of them, but I’ll highlight a few:

Gracie: late 60s, landlady, has daughters, smokes

Cody Myers: teen

Veronica Martin: blonde, 16, spiky hair, pierced nose, short

Vince: smokes pot, plays guitar

Gus Harvey: former TV star, owns a restaurants

Belmus K. Fritch: food critic, 30s, wears glasses

Just a taste. I thought all of the characters were well thought out, well-developed, and none resembled another. A pretty good cast in the stories.

Dialogue

For the most part well done. Some good accents, distinct voices.

Writing

Profanity in a couple stories. A couple incorrect words and some misspelled words.

Two continuity problems:

In on scene, Gus drives an Impala and a couple pages later, the car changes to a Lexus.

The second one is in the last story and I have to set up the scene. Wilkes is a preacher determined to kill the witches- Ali, Jaz, Zoey, and Maya. After a chase, the four women capture Wilkes and hang him from a set of chains in a boathouse. They cut off his big toe, then leave. I guess I have a small issue with the mindset of the women thinking Wilkes would die of blood loss. It’s a possibility, but they went off to celebrate without making sure. Anyway, Wilkes escapes, subdues Ali and hides her in the trunk of the car. He’s there too, waiting for the other three. When they do return, Maya stays in the car while Jaz and Zoey investigate the boathouse. Maya opens the trunk and out pops Wilkes. Wilkes takes care of Maya but Jaz and Zoey attack him. There’s a fight and Wilkes kicks Zoey away while still holding Jaz’s wrist. He retrieves the gun and points it at Zoey…as Jaz runs at him from the boathouse. Here’s the problem. How did Jaz get back to the boathouse when Wilkes was just holding onto her wrist?

Now, this book has been published for several months. I was sent a Proof copy, so I hope that these errors have been corrected along with the spelling/incorrect words and everything is fine in the published copy.

My rank:

Green Belt

Green

Paradox

webparadox

By Ted Weimann

webTed

https://www.amazon.com/Paradox-Fascinating-Anomalies-Ted-Weimann-ebook/dp/B071HR33ZJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501508634&sr=8-1&keywords=paradox%2C+weimann

Once again, I accept a book that is out of my usual genre. It’s a rare occasion that I do this, but every now and then something will strike an interest, and science can be fun sometimes.

Plot

Presented is a book of science fun and education with some interesting ‘paradoxes’ that are discussed and, for the most part, solved. Included in this book are discussions on: why would a smaller brain be more intelligent than a larger brain? Diet and weight gain. Black holes. Can something go faster than light? Time paradoxes. Climate change. Math fun.

I thought this would be a quicker read with shorter chapters and much more entertaining segments with a lighter atmosphere. This was more in depth than I realized. Now, that is not to say it wasn’t enjoyable or educational. I learned a lot, disagreed with some of it.

Characters

Well, here I had a problem because unless you want to consider the Earth, the planets, black holes and the universe characters, there weren’t any. The author did mention several scientists and professors from various universities in the discussions. I started writing them down, but the list became very long. I think it’s good to have a several references and people who have done experiments and studies in the various topics.

Dialogue

Again, because this was educational material, the only dialogue came in the form of quotes from some of the scientists and professors listed. The dialogue can be said to be from the author himself because the book is presented in a narrative type fashion. Not ‘let me tell you a story’ but more as a lecture to either a small or large group.

Writing

Titled chapters and titled segments within the chapters.

Misspelled words and incorrect words. (The egregious example was near the end when an experiment was discussed a video was shown of six people on screen were passing around a basketball. In the middle of the video, a person in a gorilla suit enters the scene, stays for about ten seconds and then exits. Viewers were asked to count the number of passes by a certain subsection of the people. The interesting thing was a lot of people didn’t see the gorilla. The author used guerilla in later sentences. I watched the video and I saw the gorilla, but didn’t not see an armed solider enter the scene. Lol)

One thing that cut my overall enjoyment was some of the in-depth usage of math and formulas. I didn’t understand them. I may have understood, for the most part, some of the concepts but the math confused me.

The author does mention at the beginning that the discussions go off tangent many times. This is true. He does work his way back to the original point, but sometimes the tangents are surface relative.

I was ready to dive into a disagreement over the climate change chapter, but the author handled it well.

I would like to point out that despite his assertion that .9999… is equal to 1, if you have 99.9999… of something, you still don’t have the entire something. There is a miniscule portion missing. Lol. Plus, with his earlier discussions about space and travel and such, I wonder how he would feel about travel in a straight direction in space, his destination a certain planet thousands of light years distant…and going .999…% in the correct direction. That small percentage should have him missing that planet.

Anyway, I have to downgrade the rank because of the constant misspelled and wrong words, but otherwise it is an interesting discussion on various topics and makes for good conversational topics at a party of eggheads…or with your intelligent friends. Lol.

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

The Rain

The Rain(EBOOK)

By L. A. Frederick

https://www.amazon.com/Rain-Government-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B071PB9BX9/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500412715&sr=8-1&keywords=the+rain%2C+frederick

Plot

I’m going to start off this review by saying there are so many things wrong with this book, I really don’t know where to begin. I’ll put some issues here in the plot category but some may belong in the Writing category. Maybe putting and * next to them as I move through the plot will help.

So, some chemical in the rain over New Hampton causes some people to mutate (turn different colors, unlock various super human or inhuman abilities). *However, some people already have special abilities that weren’t caused by the rain and have had them for years. Not explained.

A reporter wants to know the inside scoop on what the government is doing about this and especially what a Doctor Zhirkov has to do with it. *Nothing is explained how everything started, what the reporter was writing about, the origin of her story, or how she discovered Zhirkov’s name.

The mayor obsesses over ridding New Hampton of all criminals and wants Zhirkov to cure his son who, apparently, has a mutation that makes him a bad guy. *This isn’t explained either so I was lost when it concerned the mayor’s son. The mayor doesn’t seem to do much else, either, in regards to his job.

Then there’s a guy who plays an avenger, killing criminals. *Not sure where he comes from and I don’t understand his role other than to upset the mayor.

There’s sort of a P.I. who works for Zhikov and tries to find out about certain people in whom the doctor is interested. *Apparently, the doctor lost track of some of these special people after he discovered them years before.

And, of course, Zhirkov, who works out of a run down lab, doing experiments with some of the more-than-humans, including one who appears to be immortal. *Where he started, his background, and several other aspects of this part of the book isn’t explained either.

*This was a hodge-podge of characters affected either before the chemicals in the rain or after it rains, or by stepping into a fresh water puddle. Characters try to either survive or find answers or both.

Characters

Jack Whitlock: brown hair, blue eyes

Evaline Thornton: reporter, a bit over 5’, long blonde hair, late 20s, mother dead

Ivan Dash: mayor, has a son, grey white hair

Alexander Zhirkov: 60s, thin white hair, hook nose, wears glasses

Aurora: dark brown hair and eyes, tan

Several other characters and I liked nobody. Part of the way some of these people described is vague. Zhirkov is described as being mid to late 60s. Pick one. In fact, pick a specific age. The only way this works is if his age were being guessed at by another character, but that’s not how it’s written. Zhirkov is too enigmatic, tries to be too sly. Dash is a loon. Evaline has no spine. There’s a Doctor Fattal who is supposed to assist Zhirkov but doesn’t seem to accomplish anything other than asking a lot of questions and being confused. Another character is called the Homeless Man. His scenes are filled with: “Who am I?” questions, and he ends up being a worthless character. Too many characters to keep straight.

Dialogue

Dash yells a lot. Many characters have internal dialogues that don’t work. As for voices, nobody really stood out. Tag lines that aren’t tag lines. Punctuation errors on tag lines. People scream a lot. Scream is a word that should be used sparingly.

Writing

Profanity. Titled chapters.

Just about any mistake there is to make is made. Errors on: punctuation, grammar, misspelled words. Some chapters are present tense and some are in past tense with no rhyme or reason why. Tense problems within chapters.

The major problem is the author uses passive language throughout the book. Examples of descriptions: The man is six feet tall. He is wearing a shirt. Water is covering the street. The night is dark. The men are running. The man has a hook nose. This type of description and writing is used (if I may err here) constantly. This type of writing makes the book difficult to read because the narrator is distant from the character. Is and Are are usually followed by and ‘ing’ word which words show up a lot.

Too many details on unimportant things, when summation would be better.

Repetitive words and phrases: Jack washes his hands. Finishing, he reaches for a towel to dry his hands. Finishing, he throws away the towel. Also, people gawp too many times in this book.

Many things ‘begin’ and ‘start’ and these words tend to beget ‘ing’ words.

Nonsensical sentences.

Question: Zhikov uses only women guards at his facility. Why? This question isn’t answered but only men are affected by the rain or have extra powers, so this could be logical.

Question: Jack spends many days and nights out on the streets or in the wilderness. How does he survive? Food? Water? His experiences aren’t explained.

Question: Does it seem reasonable Zhirkov has seen these special abilities passed on but can’t remember how? He’s been studying these people for decades.

Problem: Darkmore is first shown wearing a hood and a mask. But, he gives Fattal a look with black eyes. How can anybody see the man’s eyes if they’re covered by a mask? If there are eyeholes in the mask, I that should be clarified.

– Another character’s name is the Shifter. I didn’t understand him but he has a cat. In one scene, the man dons a tracksuit. Then the author writes: The cat’s eyes stare knowingly at the tracksuit; it has not been worn in years. Really? The cat knows how long it’s been since the man wore the outfit?

This entire book was a mess with very weak writing, which made for a difficult read, and made little sense. Any action had no tension. There were no like-able characters, and the ending confused me because I missed the part of how it came to be played out as it was. 

My Rank:

White Belt

White

Vessels

VesselscoverFinal

By J Man

https://www.amazon.com/Vessels-J-Man/dp/1521298254/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499737201&sr=8-1&keywords=vessels%2C+j-man

Plot

The TREE corporation, manufacturer of much of today’s items we use everyday, has developed and released something brand new, something every household is expected to want and use. But what is the truth behind this new invention?

When I read the blurb, I thought this would be a fascinating sci-fi thriller. Unfortunately, the blurb didn’t reveal the multitude of problems and weaknesses in the plot and other aspects of the book.

Characters

Here’s the first problem. The characters. Almost every chapter introduces a new character.

Chet, Mary, Andreea, Pamela, Clare, and others. Chloe is the only repeat character shown and she’s a technician doing tests in the lab on the new invention.

So, I had to wait until the end to understand the role of all these characters…and even then I wasn’t sure about all of them. Because, for the most part, a new character was introduced, nobody really developed, not even Chloe. Because of this, I couldn’t care about anybody or get close to them. I couldn’t make the connections to the story or the reason for their inclusion…until, like I said, at the end. Sort of.

Robert is the CEO of TREE but his last name isn’t mentioned until the end…I think. And his character was never developed so his voice and actions were confusing.

Dialogue

Because of the many characters nobody really stood out for voices. Dialogue and conversations, for the most part were banal and blah or vague. Capitalization errors on tag lines. “I’m going to the store,” He said. No capital He.

Writing

Titled chapters. Short book. A bit of profanity. Each chapter is first person from that chapter’s character, which didn’t work for me and was too confusing.

Misuse of semicolons and run-sentences that commas should not have separated.

As mentioned above, I didn’t understand almost anything about this story throughout the read until the end when I had to think a bit.

Nothing was developed. No action. No detecting. No one person or a team figuring it out and putting it all together. At the end, it’s the cop talking to whom I assume is Robert and laying it all out for him, and, apparently the reader. Then the book ended. Just…ended. No resolution, no aftermath, no nothing.

This book’s chapters were based from a timeline that started at the convention with the big announcement of the new product, then proceeded through scenes before and after the convention. The lab tests before the convention with Chloe didn’t make sense and seemed to go nowhere and had no resolution or what happened after their apparent failure. What decisions were made to be ready for the big event?

So, to conclude with a bit of repetition. This book was confusing, did not develop properly, weak writing, a weak plot that seemed to bounce from place to place with no solid connections. If I hadn’t been reviewing this book, I would have given up a few chapters in. And if I may make one last comment: the book’s cover does absolutely nothing to attract a reader.

Giving a rank to this book was not a difficult decision:

White Belt

White

When The Sky Falls

cover

By Joseph Bendoski

https://www.amazon.com/When-Sky-Falls-Joseph-Bendoski/dp/1520951590/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499483766&sr=8-1&keywords=when+the+sky+falls

Plot

It is 1988. Do you remember the scare Orson Wells gave America broadcasting War of the Worlds? That was considered a Sky Fall Event. William Stephenson has spent his life studying Sky Fall events, including the most recent in Portugal. The CIA is interested in this latest incident and sends in a team to help and learn from Stephenson. But is everyone’s motives true? Who put the latest Sky Fall event into motion and why?

As a premise, I think it’s pretty good. But the way it was laid out was…well, I find it difficult to explain. Really. I didn’t know what to make of it. Something seemed off, not totally left field stuff, but just leaning just shy of plum. Let’s see if I can delve into it in other categories.

Characters

Jay Nichols: works for the CIA

Trevor Benson: Nicknamed Costly. Works for the CIA

Silas Cooper: black hair, smokes cigars, works for the CIA

William Stephenson: Thin grey hair, average looking, wears hearing aids

Okay, there are a few other characters named Alvero, Jones, Alice, and Casey. They’re all CIA but they’re all a bit weird and, like I said…off. I didn’t know whether Alice was a total whack-job or cleverly clever. Jones was enigmatic and I didn’t understand the role of Casey.

There is an afterward to the book that mentions William Stephenson was an actual person who was a spy in WWII. The character in this book is loosely based on the real man.

One problem I had with these characters is I didn’t understand them. They were introduced and they did things and then I never felt the follow up with them. Just my opinion here. Nichols is a newbie agent, yet seems to turn pro pretty quickly, within months.

I just never was able to grasp any of the characters or feel close to them. The Afterward mentions in an earlier version that Nichols was actually named Nickels. There is one time that I caught the second spelling still in there.

Dialogue

Because Alice was so different, her voice came through well. So did Silas’. I didn’t have any problems with dialogue other than sometimes I didn’t quite understand the purpose of some of it.

Writing

Profanity. Titled Chaps and chapters are headed by quotes from Stephenson’s book.

Misspelled words and run-on sentences. Some sentences would have worked better with a period and separated.

To be honest, I enjoyed the anecdotes/small excerpts from Stephenson’s book at the beginning of the chapters more than the story.

I tried to grab onto some thread but found it difficult. There are a few twists here and there but, and I hate to be repetitive, the whole book seemed off, shaky, not on solid ground, hard to fully comprehend what was going on, and the reasons for it.

Take a chance or don’t. I just don’t know about this one.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt

Camo

The Case Of The Invisible Souls

TheCaseofTheInvisibleSouls

R. Weir

SONY DSC

https://www.amazon.com/Case-Invisible-Souls-Jarvis-Detective-ebook/dp/B071SJPFTZ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498598688&sr=8-1&keywords=case+of+the+invisible+souls

Plot

The homeless in Denver are disappearing. Well, they’re accepting offers from strangers and never seen again. Didn’t they understand the rule about not accepting rides from strangers when they were children (okay, that’s not part of the plot. I’m having fun here). When private investigator Jarvis Mann accepts the case to look into the disappearances, he runs into trouble almost from the beginning. But that’s the nature of Mann’s cases.

For a short story, it’s a good plot. Very well laid out and presented. It might have made for a longer story, but for what it is, it’s pretty good.

Characters

Jarvis Mann: private investigator, drives a Mustang

Parker Turner: homeless, former military

Louise: silver hair

Brandon Sparks: construction company owner, 50s

Samantha: pastor, black, muscular, former military, tattooed, lavender/blonde hair

Some good characters. Jarvis might have been given a bit more background, but if you’ve read the previous books in the series, you would know.

Dialogue

Characters don’t speak in contractions. Not so much as other books, but enough to notice, but this is common with Weir’s novels. A couple ‘ly’ adverbs on the ‘he said’ tags, but not enough to get upset about.

Writing

Clean, no errors that I could see. No profanity. Pretty straightforward with some insight on the homeless issue. I have enjoyed several Mann plots and this one is no exception.

Yeah, pretty short review this time, but when there aren’t any major issues to point out, it’s just a matter of saying this is a good book and I wish more of my review books were as good.

My Rank:

Blue Belt

Blue