Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kristen S. Walker's: "Small Town Witch" (Fae of Calaveras #1) (4/5 stars)


Walker's "Small Town Witch" is a very imaginative supernatural tale told through the perspective of the burgeoning teen witch: Rosamunde. Walker's prose entranced me very quickly.

Walker's world is one where humans, supernatural denizens and those blessed with magic mix and mingle on a daily basis. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and knew"Small Town Witch" was much better than other teen paranormal books within the same vein.

 The novel reads like a slice of life/coming of age tale set in a supernatural world. The medley of characters reminded me a little of the anime "Soul Eater", and I think Walker's work would be phenomenal if it were adapted into an anime.

By the second chapter, I knew the world of the story and the characters within it are quirky, yet dangerous. I was on the edge of my seat: the impending conflict of the novel was going to rear its head at any moment, and I wanted to see Rosa rise to the challenge and grow as a character. Unfortunately, it took some time for the novel to get to that point.

My only criticism of "Small Town Witch" is that the first 50% of the novel is too focused on setting the foundation of the novel. Readers are overexposed to the world and the characters, with very little interjecting conflict. Once you read the whole novel, you are able to remember the subtle hints Walker gives to indicate there is something amiss in Rosa's life. I just think that its too understated. Much of the first 50% could be streamlined or adjusted to bring what is actually going on to the forefront. I know I'm being vague, but I don't want to spoil the plot because it is well written; it just needs a little reorganization to accentuate the main conflict.

I highly recommend this novel for teens that are seeking a unique, wonderfully told paranormal tale.
I'm about to read the second installment in Walker's Fae of Calavaras series: "Witch Hunt". I can't wait!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hello Everyone!

Happy holidays! Am I back? I would like to be. I'm going to start playing catch up, one review at a time. Whenever I get out of the weeds I will start accepting new requests tentatively. I apologize for the drastic delay. Do not fret. I have not forgotten about any of you. I know what that feels like: I have at least fifty reviewers that promised to review my work, but never did. And, as bleak as it seems, when I say I'm going to review your novel, it will happen. And when it does, you will be emailed. I just wanted to post a brief update. I wish you all the best!

Shannon Houff's: Spring Blessings (3/5 stars)

Shannon Houff's "Spring Blessings" is an urban fantasy tale full of action and promise.

Unfortunately, it falls short in it's current state. 

Overall, the work reads as if it is still in beta stages. It has many interesting aspects, characters that are like-able and a unique expression of fantasy: allusions of pop culture, theatre, literature and classic fantasy denizens. However, there is no substantial story. The episodic nature is so nebulous, it is hard to latch onto what is important. When I say "important", I'm referring to what each character wants and needs and what the overarching scenario is that drives them to self-actualization. This is a short work of prose, which means all of this needs to be established quickly. It just didn't happen quickly enough for me.

I also felt like the novel is straddling audiences. At first I felt like it would make a great young adult novel, but with the violence, romance and language it is better suited for adults. I think the next revision should bring this novel off the fence. The romance scenes could have been more erotic without being porny, and the action could have been a bit more visceral. 

I tried my best to read between all of the faults and just enjoy the story, and did, but I can't give this work more than three stars in it's current state. 

I truly think a meticulous, non-biased edit will do wonders for this novel. There's something amazing here, but readers shouldn't have to try so hard to find it. I recommend this novel for lovers of fantasy and paranormal novels with light hearted, humorous narration.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Louise Nicks's: "Soren: the angel and the prize fighter" (5 stars)

"Soren: the Angel and the Prize Fighter" is an impressive debut. I absolutely loved every character, the UK setting and the strong narrative voice.

Beau Tolson is a main character you can really empathize with. Her daily struggles are heavy indeed, even for someone as stalwart as she. Readers will fall in love with this character. She is a versatile, compassionate individual with a gladiator’s fighting spirit. She is haughty without being belligerent and always comes through for her loved ones, no matter the cost: even if her sacrifices threaten to make a martyr of her.

The introductory chapters bring readers up to speed with Beau's hardships, how she plans on surmounting them and how her proactive attitude affects those in her inner circle. Paranormal aspects present themselves soon after, presenting questions of Beau's origins and how that knowledge will change her life forever.

Action, suspense, romance and intrigue are pumped into the novel through Beau's characterization: much like a heart propels blood through our veins. Louise did a phenomenal job of making Beau feel essential and alive. I feel anchored to her life, invested in the plot and wanting to experience more of it because of Beau Tolson alone.

The action scenes were well written but felt terse at times, but it's just because I'm an action junky more than likely. Louise is more than capable of captivating readers with her action scenes, and shouldn't be afraid to extend them, especially the important ones.

Louise has a good handle on integrating romance into her paranormal drama as well. Beau's budding relationships did not feel cheesy or trite. They expand her character and what is at stake in the novel.

All and all, "Soren: the Angel and the Prize Fighter" is fantastic. If you love paranormal romance, read it. If you are looking for a unique universe populated by warring angels and demons, read it. If you enjoy well sculpted main characters that grip you by the wrist and demand your attention and your readership, well, you know what to do.

I see a bright future for this series. Five stars.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Aleks Srbinoski’s: "Destiny Defining Success" (5/5 stars)

            Success is a word that is often defined by the eye of the beholder. You can look at someone and see they are supporting themselves, or their family, sitting comfortably in the middle-class and say that is the image of “success” and imagine how happy that person is. But, what if they aren’t? What if such comfort is not what success is at all? Aleks Srbinoski’s “Destiny Defining Decisions” explores not only how to become a successful entrepreneur, but how to find the courage to discover yourself and a career that truly fits you. Such a discovery marries success and passion: true, fulfilling bliss.
            He relates his message with fervor and purpose. He is straightforward, easy to comprehend and well organized. His work includes eleven interviews conducted by Aleks himself centered around one integral question: what was the thought process behind the best life-changing decision you have ever made?
            These eleven success stories involve people that fought through factors in their lives to find the inner strength to sacrifice, turn a deaf ear to naysayers (sometimes including themselves), and look beyond an ocean of turbulence and failure to live those life-changing decisions. Readers will see that even these business leaders, best selling authors, freelancers, executive gurus, and fearless leaders of persuasion, speaking and marketing all had something in common to overcome: themselves.
            A few pages into the book I had the distinct impression that it was not written just for those interested in business. Finding your passion and the confidence to execute it is a concept everyone needs to learn about. “Destiny Defining Decisions” was inspirational for me on many levels. As an author, a father, and a hopeful entrepreneur I feel like I have gained volumes of insight from the 129 pages Srbinoski has provided.

            This is a must read for everyone who hopes to be something more than they are now. Indie authors, this includes you. Take the time to read what Aleks has compiled here. The information contained in “Destiny Defining Decisions” is nothing short of life changing. Five stars. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Steve Justice's: "The One" 5/5 stars

Steve Justice's The One tells the story of an unnamed, discontent professor who desperately wants to feel like he is living his life rather than just submitting to the whims of others. 

Through the professor's thoughts and actions, Justice expresses the unpredictable and irresistible passions of love and what it can drive a desperate man to do. 

The professor's frame of mind is gradually overtaken by his need for appreciation, affection and companionship. His decisions reshape his responsible, conservative mindset into one of wild, almost masochistic abandon, making him a hazard for himself and anyone who gets in the way of his wants. 
I urge readers to read beyond the chauvinistic, narrow minded personality of the professor and view the brilliance behind the scenes of Justice's work.

This novel is meant to be enjoyed as a psychological thriller. 

The effects of jealously, tragedy, more than a decade of unfulfillment, and a lackluster marriage, congeal in the mind of the professor over the course of the novel and bring his characterization to life. 

Past the mid-point of the novel, I read not for the plot (though it is well told and well constructed) but to understand the professor's changing psyche, and to observe how his transformation would affect his life and the lives of those he holds most dear.

For readers looking for a thrilling, literary read, this novel is definitely "the one". Okay bad pun... but seriously, Steve Justice's "The One" will satisfy your needs for a fresh literary voice. Coupled with the excitement of how the professor's search for romance is going to conclude and if all his efforts are going to leave him better or worse, this is a novel you do not want to pass up. Five stars.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Elizabeth Rose's: Lost in Apple Grove 4/5 stars

Elizabeth Rose's "Lost in Apple Grove" tells the story of a woman named Esther Mathers, a dedicated family woman, a veteran of war time America, and a general inspiration in terms of her diamond hard character. 

Rose builds Esther's characterization throughout the work, leading the reader through a series of flashbacks derived from Esther's dementia. 

Music, objects, smells and situations serve as catalysts for her memories, and as lost as she is in her own mind and in the physical sense, I had the distinct impression her journey was somehow bringing her closer to herself and her estranged family.

Through her memories we also are introduced to many members of her family. Their tumultuous life seems to have cut their family ties, and Esther's escape may be what they need to come back together. 

The makings of a very emotional and suspenseful story are within the pages of Lost In Apple Grove. There are many places in this draft that leave me desiring elaboration. 

Sometimes the draft felt rushed. Scenes constructed from Esther's memories were set up very well and felt integral to the story because of how Rose meticulously penned them. Other scenes and characters were blurred in my mind's eye, and I'm not sure if this was meant to be symbolic, as if the characters perceptions were not as honed as the memories of Esther. 

As a whole the work is full of thematic elements that I readily picked up on. If more attention were given to the draft, this work could easily become a praised literary novel. I recommend this novel for those looking for an interesting, literary read.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Scott Spotson's: The Four Kings 5/5 Stars


Scott Spotson blends fantasy and political drama in his novel "The Four Kings", creating a present time sci-fi/fantasy universe unlike anything I've read before.

Spotson shoves his readers into his world and binds them with cords wound of solid world building and characterization, and a unique magic system as epic in scope as his vision of our Earth forever transformed by magic.

After reading the first ten pages of "The Four Kings", I realized that I was reading a novel that was in a class of its own, not just a work of prose but a work of art. In a matter of hours wizards dismantle modern government as we know it all over the world, and leave everyone wondering what their intentions really are. This central idea and it's decisive execution is sure to flabbergast readers. As for myself, the first chapter propelled me into a reading frenzy. I nearly read the entirety of the novel in a single sitting.

I find it hard to comment on specific aspects without giving the plot away. I will say that his decision to make his main protagonist a human who chooses to apply for the job of "Supreme Liason", that is, the human population's direct ambassador to the wizards now overseeing every aspect of their lives, was brilliant. This human, Amanda, represents the human population physically and metaphorically. Readers will empathize with Earth's fears and hopes through her experiences with the wizards, sharing their triumphs and shortcomings that redefine what it means to be human.

I have always considered fantasy as the genre I can relate to the most, and thus I have read quite a bit in my lifetime. If you enjoy fantasy, read this novel. Skeptics of fantasy and sci-fi may find themselves wondering what they have been missing after the first chapter of "The Four Kings".

I highly recommend this novel for anyone yearning for a unique read to sweep them off their feet and of course, lovers of fantasy and sci-fi. Five stars.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bringing Authors Into the Classroom by Benjamin Dancer

I teach writing to high school students. But I don’t see myself as a high school teacher. My job, as I see it, is to mentor young people as they come of age.

I’m an Advisor at Jefferson County Open School in Lakewood, Colorado. I’m the English teacher. But the kids in my classroom are looking for more than English. They’re looking for meaning. They’re looking for something real.

Right now I’m teaching The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I use the text to teach the kids to read. I use the ideas in the book to teach them to think. And the story Pollan tells about food...I use that as a guide for our own educational adventures in the food chain. Like Pollan does in the book, we visit farms. Food markets. I bought the kids McDonalds then drove them to a feedlot with a 100,000 head of cattle that filled our nostrils with the stench of feces and urine. The poop was piled twenty feet high by tractors. The cows were covered in it up to their spines. Our lungs were singed from the ammonia.

I had the kids eat the burgers and take it all in.

Later in the semester I had the students interview their oldest living relatives. Out of that interview, the students brought traditional recipes to class, and we prepared meals together.

This week we’re discussing the ethics of eating. I have them justify it: their choice to eat, which is to say their choice to kill. I do this because I want them to be on solid moral ground. I do this because I want their bodies to be well.

Why? Because I’m their English teacher. It’s my job.

I also facilitate a writers’ group. Because I believe kids need mentors (more than just me), I partner with Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a Denver based community, to bring local authors into my classroom.

We meet at lunch every Wednesday, the writers’ group. This is a very committed group of writers (some students have graduated and still participate in the group via email from college). They take their writing seriously and provide one another with thoughtful, constructive feedback.

Once a month, we have a guest author. The guest author actually reads the week’s submission and critiques it, along with the rest of us. Imagine being seventeen years old and having your story critiqued by a published author.

After the critique session, we invite any interested student in the school to a craft talk with the author. After which, the kids get an opportunity to interact more openly. They get to ask questions about the writing process. About inspiration. About how to get published.

What’s really happening is that relationships are being developed. This is the secret to education. They can pass any law they want at the state or at the federal level. They can mandate testing. Or they can sell our schools to corporate enterprises. None of that will fix the problem we have with education in America.

Because the answer is this: teaching is about relationships. Kids need mentors. It’s that simple. They learn from the people they trust.

What happens in this guest author program is magical. Kids begin to see themselves as writers. They develop authentic relationships with authors in the community. They have consultants.

At my school, every student completes a Career Exploration Passage. It’s one of six rites of passages each student undertakes to graduate from high school. In the Career Exploration Passage, as the title indicates, students explore a career. The project involves an internship, research, consultants, a series of interviews, a resume. And eventually the student maps out a path to his or her chosen field.

The beauty of the curriculum at the Open School is that the students I work with get to consult with actual professionals. They get to interview our guest authors and develop relationships that will last long after high school is over.

To make all this work I went to our school’s Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) and asked for $50 a month to bring local authors into the classroom. The parents on PTSO generously supported the program, and they also asked me to consider ways to raise money to pay for it.

It was a reasonable request on their part, responsible even, but I had to think about it. What could I do to help support my own program?

Meanwhile, I went to Lighthouse Writers Workshop and told them what our PTSO was willing to do. Lighthouse generously matched my school’s contribution.

So we had $100 a month to bring local authors into the school. Not much. But money communicates value. By paying authors what we can, we let them know that we value their profession. Their work. Moreover, writers are hungry, and, so far, the guest authors have been grateful for the gig.

This week we’re hosting Caleb Seeling, the publisher at Conundrum Press. Caleb also writes graphic novels.

Then it finally came to me a few weeks ago: how to raise money for the program. I had a book release pending for my literary thriller Patriarch Run. It occurred to me that I could donate the April proceeds to PTSO and, in that way, raise money to support the guest author program at the Open School.

Which is what we’re doing. It’s a good book. It’s a good cause. And we’d welcome your support.

If you’d like to know more about our amazing school (there have been many books written about it), let me know. And if you’d like to learn more about me or my stories, you could drop me a line about that, too.

Thank you for finding me,

Benjamin Dancer


  Benjamin is an Advisor at Jefferson County Open School where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. He wrote the novels PATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. He also writes about parenting and education.

Patriarch Run is a thoughtful and character driven literary thriller. Think of it as Jason Bourne meets Good Will Hunting.
Billy discovers that his father might be a traitor, that he was deployed to safeguard the United States from a cyberattack on its military networks. After that mission, his father disappeared along with the Chinese technology he was ordered to steal–a weapon powerful enough to sabotage the digital infrastructure of the modern age and force the human population into collapse. 
Against a backdrop of suspense, the story explores the archetypal themes of fatherhood, coming of age and self-acceptance through a set of characters that will leave you changed.

Amazon Review:
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Emily Giles on March 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Amazon Verified Purchase
Patriarch Run opens on the gruesome scene of a recent bombing, with a man who doesn't know who he is. We learn his name, and the reader is swept along as Jack evades capture by a multitude of determined pursuers including American and Chinese agencies. What makes the situation even more tense is that Jack, because he remembers almost nothing of his past, does not know what he has done. Neither is he sure who--if anyone--is on his side. Because his instincts are those of a trained and hardened Special Forces operative, it becomes clear that his ability to remember his past actions is critical. We are as blind to his past as Jack himself is, and as we witness Jack's actions--at turns ruthless and unexpectedly kind--we struggle to determine if Jack is a good guy or a bad guy. During his fast-paced run from would-be captors, his life becomes entangled with those of the wife and son he deserted years ago. What makes the plotline thrilling is the action that keeps us on the edge of our seat. What makes the title transcendent of the genre of thriller is the book's wisdom, compassion and heart. Never have I read a book simultaneously as thrilling and as beautiful. The characters have complexity and guts. The storyline has depth, creativity, and social relevance. The prose is starkly beautiful. As I read the book, I found myself comparing Benjamin Dancer to writers of such popularity and stature as Tom Clancy, Cormac McCarthy and John Steinbeck.

Excerpt from Patriarch Run:

Rachel never rode over the summit of the mountain because of the treacherous nature of that trail. It was against all rational judgement that she found herself on it now. At tree line the horse climbed over the ridge, stepped out of the spruce forest and onto the packed scree that made up the trail from there to the tundra. The mountainside below them gave way completely to granite cliffs.
The trail snaked along the top.
At the highest point among the cliffs, with nearly a thousand feet of empty space beneath the hooves of Old Sam, Rachel spotted two figures several hundred yards in the distance. She talked to the horse. Said she couldn’t be sure, but it looked to be a man and a bristlecone pine.
 The horse walked on.
“Watch your step, Old Sam.”
As they closed the distance, Rachel recognized him and saw that he was untying a rope from the gnarled tree.
“You couldn’t have picked a better view.”
Regan had looked at her once when he first heard the hooves on the scree, then he went back to his rope. Now he looked up at her face. Looked the horse over. Then he studied her eyes. She had divined his purpose.
He looked away. “Yeah, it’ll do.”
The two knew each other, but had rarely had cause to speak.
“I don’t mean to meddle, but it seems to me that the rope is ill conceived.”
Regan finished retying the rope to the tree, tested the knot and asked, “How so?”
“Too much length, and the wind, along with your own momentum, will lacerate your flesh against the rock.”
He looked over the edge. “That occurred to me as you were coming up. I shortened the rope.”
“Not enough length, and it’ll be slow and painful.”
He studied the coil of parachute cord on the ground and said with very little inflection. “It looks about right to me.” Then he walked over to a granite boulder.
“Seems you’ve thought it through.”
He sat down and pulled off his right boot. “We’ll see.”
Rachel reached behind her and took out a water bottle. Drank. She offered the bottle to Regan with a gesture.
He put out his lower lip and shook his head almost imperceptibly.
She capped it and put it back.
“Mind if I ask you a question?”
“Go ahead.” He pulled off the other boot.
“Why the rope and the cliff?”
“I don’t follow.”
“When I was a kid, coyotes killed my dog. I heard the fight, but by the time I found her in the dark, they were already feeding on her guts.” He took off both socks and stood up. “They pulled her insides out through her anus.” He stepped over to the precipice and surveyed the valley.
“How old were you?”
Rachel nodded her head, which he didn’t see.
“With only the rope or only the cliff, I’d be left for the coyotes.”
“But this way it’s only insects and birds.”
He spun to face her, his widened eyes betraying surprise–or maybe alarm.
“Birds always eat the eyeballs first,” she continued. “Must be a delicacy to them. The insects just want a womb for their maggots. A nutrient-rich source to give their young a good start.”
Regan fidgeted with the socks in his hands.
“You could’ve picked a high branch.”
He looked distracted, as if he was still digesting the other image. “I thought of that.” He walked over to his boots, unbuttoning his silk shirt.
“A bear could cut the rope.”
“It seems you’ve thought it through.”
He took off his shirt, folded it and set it on a rock. “We’ll see.”
Rachel looked back over the trail. “Well, I best be goin’.”
She turned the horse, “Those are some fancy clothes.”
“Yeah.” He took off his belt. “The boots alone cost me eleven hundred dollars, and that was before tax.”
“I suppose it’s fitting.”
“It seemed that way to me, too, down at the house. But after being up here, I don’t think so.”
“How so?”
He wasn’t looking at her anymore. “I think I’ll be more comfortable without them.”
“What are you going to do with those eleven hundred dollar boots?”
He carried the clothes over to the bristlecone tree, put the boots on top of the folded shirt, the socks inside the boots and the belt around the boots. “Come back and get ’em if you like.”
“Well, I best be gettin’ along.”
“You know my place?”
“I know it.”
“We’ll be sittin’ down for supper around six. Sirloin and potatoes. If you have a mind to, you’re welcome to stop by.”
He picked up the loose end of the parachute cord and started tying a hangman’s noose. “I appreciate that.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

K.W. Benton's: Over Cast 3/5 stars


"Over Cast" by K.W Benton is a paranormal romance tale told from the point of view of G.J. Gardener. As a whole the story is very interesting. Benton draws from a number of well known paranormal phenomenon to create a fantastic setting for her characters to dwell in. 

My favorite aspect of this novel is how Benton veils the paranormal part of her universe and gradually introduces G.J. and her readers to it. Although, I do think the hints at the beginning of the novel are a bit subtle. "Over Cast" has great potential but lacks the definition required to fully attain that greatness.

There are multiple things that cause this clot in the overall delivery of the plot and narrative. Foremost, the plot is extremely non-linear. I feel like every chapter is episodic and does not add up to form a solid narrative. 

Benton does a good job progressing her characterization and makes it seem like every character deserves a place in her tale. 

Her protagonist has a little bit too much airtime when it comes to sharing her thoughts and feelings about her past life and the present. A lot of her dialogue and narration could be distilled to increase the overall drive of the narrative.

I decided to give this edition of "Over Cast" 3 stars. I urge lovers of young adult oriented paranormal romance to give this novel a try.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Scott Spotson and Sue Publicover's: Delusional 3/5 stars

Delusional by Scott Spotson and Sue Publicover is a romance blended with intrigue and a helping of the paranormal for good measure. The two lead female characters, Wendy and Patricia, propel the heated conflict of the novel.

 Wendy's characterization is the most alluring aspect of Delusional in my opinion, but of course discussing it would spoil the heart of the plot. I empathize with Wendy the most, and her potential as an antagonist kept me interested and reading. There are many aspects of Delusional that make the novel engrossing, but the flow is constantly bogged down by overwriting. In Delusional's case, there are instances where I can readily see why the authors would deem it necessary as a tool to express personality, but when it prevents narrative fluidity, other methods of character development should be explored.

 Spotson and Publicover show their potential with Delusional, and I recommend it for readers looking for a unique romance.

 While I enjoyed the novel, overwriting really clouded up the quality of the prose, therefore, I rated Delusional at 3/5 stars.

The Edmond Sun covers: From Heaven to Earth

Ideas flow onto a page for Sherrod Wall.
“From Heaven to Earth” is his first novel of “The Faith of the Fallen” series of a supernatural tale of God’s weakening and eventual death.
Paranormal entities in the universe want to take over his throne. Characters are thrown into a tailspin caused by a power vacuum, Wall said.
“I try to focus more on the emotional conflicts that go on with all the characters as well, not just all the action that usually comes from a war of that magnitude,” said Wall, who will turn 30 Sunday.
Interacting with humans are angels, demons and half-breeds. Readers will find they have existed at all times on earth, Wall said. Supernatural connections with mankind leave humans unknowing that some of them are from the bloodline of angels and demons.
“It mostly takes place in present day, but I have a lot of flashbacks that explain different mind-sets of the characters,” Wall said. “It just tries to get to the heart of who they are so readers can empathize with them throughout the whole book.”
“From Heaven to Earth” is the author’s first book to be published. Wall is in the editing process of a sequel to the novel titled “From Earth to Hel.l.” However, he traces his journey as a novelist to the time he was a 4-year-old in Houston, scribbling fantasy short stories about dragons, knights and wizards.
“Fantasy has always been one of my favorite genres,” he said.
Wall knew he was a writer in the fifth grade when a teacher encouraged him to share his writing. So Wall would sit down with this short stories and read to his class.
“I was really nervous about it,” he recalled. “I think that’s when I knew because everyone was always so interested in what I had to say. I didn’t think it was that interesting. I thought it was just having a good time.”
Wall now approaches his writing style with being as minimalist as possible with dialogue and descriptions to achieve balance, he said.
“That way, I’ll always have fluidity with the whole book,” said Wall, who in 2007 earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Studies in from the University of Central Oklahoma.
He tries to be meticulous with his choice of words, in order to be as precise as possible. Wall’s writing surprises him at times as characters develop unforeseen story lines.
“That’s probably the most interesing aspect of writing for me and probably the thing that makes it most exciting,” Wall said. He lets the lives of his characters seemingly come to life by making their own judgement calls.
“What’s natural for them or what’s not breathes a lot of life into the book value that we wouldn’t expect to be there at certain points,” Wall said.
Wall wants to be successful for his family. He and his wife Brooke live in Edmond with their four children including Karoline, Colin, Alex, and David.
The 532-page book is a product of Ensenada Publishing and is available on Amazon Kindle Edition for $2.99. Physical copies of “From Heaven to Earth” will be available in two to three months at Barnes &Noble Booksellers.

For more information on the author and "From Heaven to Earth", search "From Heaven to Earth Sherrod Wall" on

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shannon Hill's: Aesop's Twist 5/5 stars

Shannon Hill did not just retell Aesop's fables. He has reincarnated them. This review is for his adult collection, Aesop's Twist, but I feel I must comment on both volumes as a whole before I talk about Aesop's Twist specifically. 

His collection of fables would make Aesop himself proud. Hill has punctuated each fable with his own humor, while staying true to the methodology and language of Aesop's original work: preserving and respecting a historical work, while at the same time making it his own.

As an author I cannot imagine how hard a task like that must be. I am very comfortable with creating my own worlds for my characters to frolic in, but I don't think I could ever have the skill or the audacity to retell such appreciated tales.

Well, Shannon Hill does have the skill required for such a daunting task. 

Aesop's Twist is written perfectly for an audience of 18+. Hill's prose is rich with well-placed elevated vocabulary. Every image he illustrates is thus rendered a little bit sharper in the mind's eye. It's how reading becomes preferable to watching a movie. While I do love movies, nothing is as visceral or cinematic as prose projected by an author who has mastered his craft. Every tale retold in this collection is evidence that Shannon Hill exudes that kind of excellence. As I did with Aesop's Ghost, I gave Aseop's Twist 5/5 stars. 

Shannon Hill's: Aesop's Ghost: 5/5 stars

Shannon Hill retells Aesop's fables by paying homage to the originals while breathing new life into them. His collection for ages 9+, Aesop's Ghost, features 31 stimulating tales. I recognized a few of his selections from when I first heard them as a boy. I don't have much criticism to offer, as most of the tales were very accessible. In this case my step-son Colin and his younger brothers, Alex and David assisted me with this review. Their only qualm was with the vocabulary in some instances, but honestly helping them discover new ways of perceiving the world starts with new words.

Hill's prose is clean, confident and witty. He relates Aesop's morals in a way that is readily explainable without a jarring prompt. (ie the moral of this story is...) I highly recommend this retelling of Aesop's fables for parents seeking engaging reading materials for their children, nine and up. Based on my children's interest, its readability and my own scrutiny; I gave Aesop's Ghost 5/5 stars.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ken C. Ping's: Once in a Blue Moon 4/5 stars

Whenever I read collections of any kind, I always try to find the link between each installment. In other words, what the overarching concept is and whether or not it is expressed successfully. Once in a Blue Moon seems to focus on an individual's sense of belonging and purpose. By the end of the collection, I felt satisfied. This is largely because of the final installment, the title short story, Once in a Blue Moon.

Once in a Blue Moon is enthralling and enchanting. His characterization of the mythological made this installment my favorite of his three short stories instantly. Ping's prose spoke with sincerity, passion and confidence. His descriptions seem to explore themselves, delving into the subtle art of stream of consciousness. Ping is very gifted at expressing his settings, characters and ideas in this way. It gives his writing a certain signature. The quality of the writing is flawless in this installment. While the longest of the three tales, it moves with a deliberate fluidity. In short, it mesmerized me.

I gave Once in a Blue Moon 5/5 stars.

The Mother's Day Gift, the second story in this collection, changed the pace nicely. I appreciated how easily he shifted his style and narration to accommodate the main character of the story, a 6 year old boy. The boy muses about his relationship he has with his mother and wants more than anything to show his appreciation for her. What he learns about his relationship threatens to change his perception of his mother and his life in general. Ping expresses the love shared between the mother and son genuinely, again with the use of stream of consciousness from the point of view of the boy. Upon finishing this story I felt a certain afterglow, like I would when finishing a phenomenal poem.

I gave The Mother's Day Gift 4/5 stars.

This brings me to first installment presented in this collection: Of Sand and Castles. As a whole this story is underdeveloped. I have a soft spot in my heart for feudal tales. I ate, slept and breathed Arthurian romance and anything involving kings, their ladies and their knights as a boy, and felt very excited at the story's start because I knew it was headed in that direction. Unfortunately it did not meet my expectations.

Descriptions are muddy in most areas: I have a very hard time picturing the characters and the setting. While there are places in this tale where Ping could develop his characters to illustrate their obligations as princes and their disdain for being so cloistered, he fails to do so in this story.

Ping attempts to utilize language and sentence structure in his narration to draw readers into the time period and setting of his tale, and while I understood that; he only succeeds in bogging the narration and the whole of the story down.

As in his other stories, there are moments that display his talent. Without a doubt I know, with more development, Of Sand and Castles can be as memorable as the other stories presented in the Once in a Blue Moon collection.

In its current state, Of Sand and Castles received 1/5 stars.

As I said before, I felt satisfied by the end of the collection and decided to average my three ratings together. It comes to an average of 3.7 stars, which I rounded up to 4.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

John Heldt's: The Mine 5/5 stars

There are so many wonderful aspects within the pages of this novel. I don't know where to begin. I guess that's a good beginning as any: I'm at a loss for words.

The Mine sets a high standard for the romance genre. Its sci-fi undertones provide enigma and wonderment. I really have not read anything like it before. H.G. Well's, The Time Machine, was the best time-traveling novel I had read and my favorite sci-fi tale. I would dare say that this novel equaled what I felt when I finished that classic. My mouth hung open. My skin tingled. Simultaneously the hairs on my arm stood up. Heldt's prose holds that kind of power over a reader, as if some kind of mystical energy is channeled through his words as they are read and processed.

 Reader's will fall in love with Joel, one of The Mine's major characters. His sense of humor lights up every scene he is in. Joel's characterization fits the romance genre perfectly. I cannot say much about his character's progression without spoiling the plot, but I can say that his decisions throughout the novel are believable and make him a very dynamic character.

Heldt always provides well-thought out descriptions of his characters, using similes and metaphors to bring their most unique qualities into focus. His rendering of 1941 must make readers feel as if he, himself went back to the time period, took extensive notes and returned with the barebones of The Mine in hand. Indie authors: read The Mine if you are planning on writing anything romance related. Heldt will show you how its done.

I recommend The Mine for readers who enjoy thrilling romance novels: this one will take your breath away.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Keith Yatsuhashi's: Kojiki, 5/5 Stars


Mr. Yatsuhashi has a created a work of art with his novel Kojiki. Readers are eased into the waters of his intricate universe and its hierarchy of gods, goddesses and their Guardians. In this way, Yatsuhashi creates a sense of mystery and awe as he unveils his stunning world gradually, delivering one cinematic visual after another. I found myself re-reading portions of the novel to simply savor his imagery.

His characters are built with complexities and nuances that make each of them unique and integral to the overall narrative. His ability to make his multitude of characters relevant to the plot and memorable really impressed me.

With fluid, visceral action scenes, larger than life characters and language that never fails to render his enchanting visuals sharply in the mind's eye, Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi deserves 5 stars.

I highly recommend this fantastic novel for lovers of fantasy and action, and for those who want to be swept off their feet and taken places novels have never taken them before.

Kojiki is suitable for ages 12+. Read it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Henry Martin's: Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona, 5/5 Stars

Henry Martin's "Escaping Barcelona", the introductory novel of The Mad Days of Me trilogy, thrilled me from the start. I believe the best plots, whether told off screen or on, are those that are aware of their epicenter. In other words, what drives the story and the event that introduces it. Martin gives readers this event before the close of the first chapter, and while being vague is cruel, writing a review full of spoilers would be crueler still. Martin is a master of his craft, and that is all you need to know.

"Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona" met and exceeded my initial expectations. Martin draws his readers in with alluring imagery of Barcelona: a city whose skin shines with an irresistible beauty, obscuring the living contagion beneath. Rudy is pulled beneath her skin and into the darkest pits of the city. He survives any way he can, holding his optimistic outlook like a shield and prays it does not rust in the presence of the filth that seeks to permeate his very soul every day.

As a narrator, Rudy was extremely reliable. Sometimes first person novels can be annoying because you find yourself wanting something the narrator is not giving you. This is not one of those cases. Rudy's concise descriptions of the city, his enemies and friends, his mindset and of himself are well crafted. I was very impressed with the literary techniques employed by Mr. Martin. Imagery, parallelism, similes, metaphors, stream of consciousness, and well placed anecdotes are just some of the mechanisms turning inside this novel.

With every twist of the plot, Martin thrusts Rudy deeper into the dregs of Barcelona. I believed at some points he was purposely thinking of ways to make Rudy's darkest moments bleaker still, just to see how his characterization would develop. I am just happy there are two more novels to read after this one.

As a side note, Martin's "Escaping Barcelona", is the first Indie novel I have ever read. The first chapter hooked me deeply and yanked me into the universe of Indie prose. I felt chained by suspense throughout the last 80 pages and anxiously awaited the fate of his main character. Sweat covered my hands and iPhone. I had to shake cramps from my hands before beginning this review because I had been gripping the phone so tight, highly anticipating the climax and conclusion.

 All and all a very impressive, inspirational ride. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. I recommend this novel for anyone looking for a solid literary novel with great characterization.

It begins with a bloom...

Hello everyone! I'm Sherrod and I hope to post a multitude of reviews for your reading pleasure as requests come in. I have wanted to do this since my paranormal romance novel "From Heaven to Earth"  was published last year. As I searched high and low for reviewers and had little or no success, I decided very quickly that I wanted become a part of the indie community, not only as an author but as a reviewer. I have other plans in the works that will expand upon this blog and enhance the services I will provide for indie authors who are looking for exposure. I know from experience how impossible it may seem some days, wondering whether or not someone you've submitted your hard work to is going to follow through with their review. Novels deserve to be treated with respect, and I when you decide to submit here at The Wallflower Review that is what you will receive. I hope to positively influence the indie community and plan on doing everything I can to meet that goal. This is the beginning of something beautiful.