Book Review: Roses in December

OMG Bookworms! I go to Ireland tomorrow. I am so freaking excited. I did a lot of reading this week to get my OWLS in for the Magical Readathon. So far I have completed Defense Against The Dark Arts and now having completed this book, I have completed Herbology. Speaking of this book, it is called Roses in December: Haunting and Macabre Tales by Matthew De Lacey Davidson.

The book Roses in December lying on a blanket

Synopsis: Roses in December is a short story collection which defies categorization. Some of the stories are haunting – others are deeply troubling.

A man receives a religious vision in his ordinary back garden; a nuclear physicist in Australia experiences a great surprise where he least expects it; a duct-tape salesman unsettles his faithful customer; Voltaire does not put his best foot forward; someone makes a grim discovery upon waking up in a prison; a psychiatrist does his best to treat a political extremist; a nineteenth-century photographer goes about his usual (and highly unusual) business; and a wealthy neighborhood in Montreal becomes the scene of an immense and avoidable tragedy.

This book was too short. I loved it and wish there was more of it to consume my time. It has over 20 short stories in it and they are all so different yet exciting. Some of them are super eerie and when you are finished you are like “heck yes, I love when they leave it with such an ominous tone”.

The last one is very sweet and I believe the author wrote it about someone very special to him. It is about life and how it moves on but we always stay connected to those that are close to us, be it family or not.

You will not get bored reading this book as each story is only 4-5 pages each and the book itself is only around 115 pages. I find that I am a big fan of short story collections and will continue to find more of these to read. Especially dark, thrilling ones.

If you like short stories then I suggest picking this one up.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and Book Depository or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by the author to read and give our honest review.


Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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Book Review: The Warrior Heir

It’s about time I bust back into the world of……FANTASY! I started a new series that was recommended to me by my boyfriend (yes, I am bisexual if you didn’t know…surprise). The first book of the series was called The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima and I loved it. I feel like I have been reborn into the world of books. Either that or I read a lot of duds so this one brought me back up to good standards of books. I probably just missed fantasy because it has been so long since I have read this genre.

The Warrior Heir book on a bookshelf

Synopsis: Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great – until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game – a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind – he’s one of the last of the warriors – at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

This book was a really great start to a series. The main character Jack reminds me of Percy Jackson and the series seems to have that kind of vibe going for it. I love anything to do with magic so it was nice to jump into a series with a lot of promise.

Honestly, the book started right away with a pretty intense action scene and I had decided to just read a little before bed. 100 pages later and now 2 am, I finally decided to go to sleep.

The book even caught me off guard at points which I loved. I hate when a book is too predictable.  The magic system that is built in this series is really cool. There are different types of magic users and they all have their own special sets of skills. Wizards are the all-powerful ones but then there are sorcerers, enchanters, and warriors that each have their own unique abilities. The warriors are very rare and the different wizard families will pit them against each other in battle. The winning wizard family gains control over the society if their chosen warrior wins in battle.

It reminded me of the Hunger Games as well (which is a good thing) in the sense that young teenagers are put into a fight to the death situation that they don’t really have any control over.

I can’t wait to dive into the second book in this series because I am not ready to be done with this magical world the author has created and the wonderful cast of characters that she has built up and fleshed out. Did I mention that all the characters are very well fleshed out?! Because they are! The only character I found slightly annoying was Jack’s aunt Linda. She just bothered me for some reason.

I have to read a couple of other books but I know I will be thinking about this series in the back of my mind until I jump into the next one. All in all, if you like fantasy or any of the series I have mentioned above, then give this one a chance.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from my boyfriend’s bookshelf and read it because I wanted to (and he wanted me to as well).


I recently uploaded my Booktube Newbie tag video so check it out below if you are interested. I would love it if you subscribed but that is completely up to you!

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Book Review: The Last Straw

Hey bookworms. I am busy over here getting ready for my trip in less than 2 weeks now but I still have had a little time to read. I recently finished The Last Straw by Ed Duncan so read below for the review.

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Synopsis: When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

This book was just alright for me. I would classify it as an in the middle book because it was fast paced which I liked but it wasn’t very descriptive and I found it jumped from scene to scene quite quickly.

It was an interesting concept and I haven’t read many novels with hired killers pitting up against each other before so that was fun. There was a lot of conflicts and it showed a part of the underground/black market business side that is not normally viewed by the reader. I’m not sure how to classify Rico. I feel like he is an antagonist with a heart because he kills people for his job but in this book, he doesn’t want to hurt a teenager.

I will say that the book did have some hard-hitting sections of racism and how people dealt with it. It was kind of sad to see how the color of one’s skin affected some of the characters in ways that it really shouldn’t. We are all humans regardless of skin color and I would never judge someone based on that. But I see how the author did this to make some of the characters have that bad moral side to them.

This was the second book in a series but you could read it as a standalone because the author makes sure to catch you up on everything that happened in the first one. They refer to it quite often and it helps with the plot.

Overall, it was a quick read. If you like the crime genre and want a fast read for commuting to work or just a break from some heavier, more intense books then give this one a shot.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in physical format to read and give an honest review.


My latest video talks about my review of Armada by Ernest Cline and I refer to this book at the end. I also have a giveaway on right now until Thursday so make sure to enter!

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Book Review: Drift by Clare Littlemore

We have another review from Sara! She was so excited to find out that this author reached out to us again to review the next book in her series. Sara read the first two book in this series and absolutely loved them so let’s read on and find out how she felt about the third adaptation. It is called Drift by Clare Littlemore.

P.S. Sara makes really cool little yarn creatures as a hobby. You can check out her Etsy shop called Adorkable Little Crafties!

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Synopsis: Quin believed that a life away from The Beck would make her happy. But when a cruel twist of fate forces her to leave sooner than planned, she struggles to come to terms with her new reality. Haunted by memories of the people she left behind, she finds herself wishing she was back in Patrol, with Cam by her side.

Cut off from The Beck, the escapees carve out a new existence on a small island. Tentative bonds are formed, but as disputes surface and rebellion is threatened, Quin quickly realizes that their new home isn’t the sanctuary she had imagined. And when one of her fellow citizens is willing to go to desperate measures to save those he loves, he puts the entire community in danger.

As they hatch a daring plan to save themselves, Quin is faced with a terrible choice: protect her friends or follow her heart.

Drift is the third in the Flow series, which follows Quin as she battles to forge a new life in unfamiliar territory without the man she has come to depend on.

This novel is an excellent sequel in the Flow series. I love how it picks up right where Break left off, with Quin and her friends traveling away from the controlling Beck society to their safe haven of fellow resistance citizens. This novel is about the struggle of the newly situated citizens and their attempts to develop their society and make a life for themselves in their new home, called the Crag. They are met with other groups of people, struggles between the citizens for power, and then a drastic illness.

This is an exciting and captivating read. I love the world that Littlemore has built, and I love seeing how it develops beyond its initial boundaries, both physically and emotionally. The characters are well developed and relatable, the interpersonal struggles are well formed without being cliche, and the struggles they face make it feel like a survival novel alike to Hatchet and more of this genre.

Again, Littlemore leaves us with quite the cliffhanger. I can’t wait for the next book! I eagerly awaited this one and I’ll eagerly await the next, as I can’t wait to see what happens with this small, strong society trying to recover and rescue the Beck from the Governance. The world feels so huge and well developed, and we’re so invested in the lives of the citizens who remain in the Beck. The exploration of this world Littlemore has created is so fun.

This series really belongs with the young adult dystopian heavy hitters like the Hunger Games and Divergent. I’ll definitely be recommending it to any young adult fans, both teen and older. Another success! I can’t wait for the sequel.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author to read and give an honest review.


I also released a new video onto book tube recently so feel free to watch it here and make sure to like and subscribe if you like it!

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Book Review: The Fourth Courier

Hey bookworms! I have another review! It has been a while but I have been working on reading, making videos and planning a trip so that is why. This time, I read an advanced reader’s copy of The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith.

The Fourth Courier (Arcade)

Synopsis: It is 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, and the communist era has just ended. A series of grisly murders suddenly becomes an international case when it’s feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union. The FBI sends an agent to help with the investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

I quite enjoyed this book. It is a nice feeling when an author sends you a book to read and you have no idea what you are going in to but then find yourself caught up in this web of mystery and intrigue.

The characters were well fleshed out and they had just enough backstory to let the reader know all the details they needed to for the story to progress.

There is a heavy influence of LGBTQ+ in this book which I wasn’t expecting from this type of genre but I must say I am happy in the way it was used and glad that genres are branching out and including this type of representation.

I felt myself wanting to know what would happen next and kept myself up late at night to just get through the next chapter…..and then the next one…..and so on. This made me pretty tired at work for a couple days as it was a recurring situation :P.

Polish is also a part of my ancestry so it was interesting to read a book that was set in Poland. I had never really thought about the country or what it looks like over there but the book gave me a pretty good visual image of the economy and what it takes to survive day to day in such a place.

Overall, it wasn’t perfect. It had its little flaws where I would questions a character’s decisions sometimes but it was a solid novel with an intense sequence of events and I would be happy to read more by this author in the future.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author to read and give an honest review.

The author also provided us with an interview he conducted. Check it out below to get to know about him a little bit more.

Timothy Jay Smith (S#1)

THE FOURTH COURIER: AN INTERVIEW WITH TIMOTHY JAY SMITH

You have a new novel coming out, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland. What’s it about?

The Fourth Courier opens in the spring of 1992, only four months after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A series of grisly murders in Warsaw suddenly becomes an international concern when radiation is detected on the third victim’s hands, raising fears that all the victims might have smuggled nuclear material out of Russia.

Poland’s new Solidarity government asks for help and the FBI sends Special Agent Jay Porter to assist in the investigation. He teams up with a gay CIA agent. When they learn that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb is missing, the race is on to find him and the bomb before it ends up in the wrong hands.

My novels have been called literary thrillers because I use an event or threat—a thriller plot—to examine what the situation means to ordinary people. In The Fourth Courier, Jay becomes intimately involved with a Polish family, giving the reader a chance to see how the Poles coped with their collective hangover from the communist era.

How did you come up with the story for The Fourth Courier?

The Fourth Courier book goes back a long way for me. In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and Solidarity won the first free election in Poland in over sixty years. In the same year, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced new cooperative laws in the Soviet Union, which was an area of my expertise. I was invited to the Soviet Union as a consultant, which led to my consulting throughout the former Soviet bloc, eventually living for over two years in Poland.

At the time, there was a lot of smuggling across the border between Russia and Poland, giving rise to fears that nuclear material, too, might be slipping across. While on assignment in Latvia, I met with a very unhappy decommissioned Soviet general, who completely misunderstood my purpose for being there. When an official meeting concluded, he suggested we go for a walk where we could talk without being overheard.

I followed him deep into a forest. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted. Finally we stopped, and he said, “I can get you anything you want.” I must have looked puzzled because he added, “Atomic.”

Then I understood. In an earlier conversation, there had been some passing remarks about the Soviets’ nuclear arsenal in Latvia, for which he had had some responsibility, and apparently still some access. While my real purpose for being there was to design a volunteer program for business specialists, he assumed that was a front and I was really a spy. Or perhaps he thought, I really did want to buy an atomic bomb!

Have you always been a writer?

In the sense of enjoying to write, yes. I actually wrote my first stage play in fourth grade and started a novel in sixth grade, but I didn’t become a full-time fiction writer until twenty years ago. The first half of my adult life I spent working on projects to help low income people all over the world. I always enjoyed the writing aspects of my work—reports, proposals, even two credit manuals—but I reached a point where I’d accomplished my career goals, I was only forty-six years old, and I had a story I wanted to tell.

What was the story?

For over two years, I managed the U.S. Government’s first significant project to assist Palestinians following the 1993 Oslo Accords. One thing I learned was that everyone needed to be at the negotiating table to achieve an enduring peace. So I wrote a story of reconciliation—A Vision of Angels—that weaves together the lives of four characters and their families.

If anybody had ever hoped that a book might change the world, I did. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to bring about peace in the Middle East, but I’ve continued writing nevertheless.

The Fourth Courier has a strong sense of place. It’s obvious that you know Warsaw well. Other than living there, what special research did you do?

Warsaw is a city with a very distinctive character. It’s always atmospheric, verging on gloomy in winter, and the perfect location for a noir-ish thriller.

I had left Warsaw several years before I decided to write a novel set there, so I went back to refresh my memory. I looked at it entirely differently. What worked dramatically? Where would I set scenes in my story?

It was on that research trip when all the events along the Vistula River came together for me. There was a houseboat. There was Billy’s shack, and Billy himself whose “jaundiced features appeared pinched from a rotting apple.” There were sandbars reached by narrow concrete jetties and a derelict white building with a sign simply saying Nightclub. Fortunately, Billy’s dogs were tethered or I wouldn’t be here to answer your questions.

My main character is an FBI agent, and I didn’t know much about it. A friend, who was an assistant to Attorney General Janet Reno, arranged a private tour of the FBI’s training facility in Quantico. That was before 9/11. I don’t think that could be done now. Maybe for James Bond himself but not for a wannabe writer.

If I was going to write a novel about smuggling a portable atomic bomb, I needed to know what a bomb entailed. Weight, seize, basic design, fuel? How would a miniature bomb be detonated? So I blindly contacted the Department of Energy. I explained what I wanted and was soon connected to an atomic expert who agreed to meet with me.

We met on the weekend at a Starbucks-like coffee shop in Rockville, MD. We met in line and were already talking about atomic bombs before we ordered our coffees. He had brought basic drawings of them. He was an expert and eager to share his knowledge.

Can you imagine having that conversation in a café today, openly looking at how-to schematics for building an atomic bomb while sipping skinny lattés?

You’ve mentioned ‘scenes’ a couple of times. I know you also write screenplays. Do you find it difficult to go between the different formats or styles?

The sense of scene is crucial to my writing. It’s how I think about a story. Before I start new work, I always have the opening and closing scenes in my head, and then I ask myself what scenes do I need to get from start to finish.

I think it comes from growing up in a house where the television was never turned off. My sisters and I were even allowed to watch TV while doing homework if we kept our grades up. Sometimes I joke that canned laughter was the soundtrack of my childhood. I haven’t owned a television for many years, but growing up with it exposed me to telling stories in scenes, and it’s why my readers often say they can see my stories as they read them.

For me, it’s not difficult to go between prose and screenplays. In fact, I use the process of adapting a novel to a screenplay as an editing tool for the novel. It helps me sharpen the dialogue and tighten the story.

In your bio, you mention traveling the world to find your characters and stories, and doing things like smuggling out plays from behind the Iron Curtain. Was it all as exciting as it sounds?

It was only one play, and yes, I confess to having an exciting life. I’ve done some crazy things, too, and occasionally managed to put myself in dangerous situations. Frankly, when I recall some of the things I’ve done, I scare myself! By comparison, smuggling a play out of Czechoslovakia in 1974 seems tame. But I’ve always had a travel bug and wanted to go almost everywhere, so I took some chances, often traveled alone, and went to places where I could have been made to disappear without a trace.

It sounds like you have a whole library full of books you could write. How do you decide what story to tell and who will be your characters?

I came of age in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, so I developed a strong sense of social justice. That guided my career choice more than anything, and when I quit working to write full-time, it was natural that I wanted my books to reflect my concerns. Not in a “big message” way, but more in terms of raising awareness about things that concern me.

For example, take Cooper’s Promise, my novel about a gay deserter from the war in Iraq who ends up adrift in a fictional African country. It was 2003, and in a few days, I was headed to Antwerp to research blood diamonds for a new novel. I was running errands when NPR’s Neal Conan (Talk of the Nation) came on the radio with an interview of National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb about a project on modern-day slavery. It was the first time I heard details about human trafficking, and was so shocked by its enormity that I pulled my car off the road to listen.

I decided on the spot that I needed to find a story that touched on both blood diamonds and trafficking. When I went to Antwerp a few days later, I visited the Diamond District as planned, but also visited a safe house for women who had been rescued from traffickers.

In The Fourth Courier, you team up a white straight FBI agent with a black gay CIA agent. Even Publishers Weeklycommented that it seemed like an ideal set-up for a sequel. Do you plan to write one?

Probably not. My to-be-written list is already too long.

I’m close to finishing the final edits on a book set in Greek island village, which is more of a mystery about an arsonist than a thriller. I’ve already started a new novel set in Istanbul about a young refugee who’s recruited by the CIA to go deep undercover with ISIS. I’ve never written a novel set in the States but I have the idea for one.

To date, my books have been stand-alones with totally different settings, characters, and plots. I try to write what I like to read: smart mysteries/thrillers with strong plots and colorful characters set in interesting places. I suppose like me, I want my stories to travel around and meet new people.

You’ve had gay protagonists or important characters since your first novel over twenty years ago when gay literature had not yet become mainstream. How would you say that affected your choices as a writer, or did it?

Friends warned me that I shouldn’t become known as a gay writer because it would pigeonhole me and sideline me from consideration as a serious writer. At the time, I think the general public thought gay books were all about sex and more sex. Of course, already there were many emerging gay literary writers; it was more stigma than reality.

The world of thrillers and mysteries is still largely uninhabited by gays. Hopefully I am helping to change that. I also hope that my novels expand my readers’ understanding of homosexuality in the places where I set them. In The Fourth Courier, the gay angle is key to solving the case. In my other novels, too, the plot turns on something gay, and the way it does is always something that couldn’t have happened in the same way anywhere else because of the cultural context.

What do you want your readers to take away from The Fourth Courier?

What motivated me to write The Fourth Courier was a desire to portray what happened to ordinary Polish people at an exciting albeit unsettling moment in their country’s history. I hope my readers like my characters as much as I do—at least the good guys. The people are what made Poland such a great experience.

The Fourth Courier is my thank-you note to them.


I also released a new video onto book tube recently so feel free to watch it here and make sure to like and subscribe if you like it!

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Breakeven Books: Booktube Edition!

So I did a thing! Remember that Youtube channel we talked about last week? Well, I uploaded my first video to it and I am very excited.

I would really apprecite it if you guys would check it out! Feel free to leave comments or tips on booktube. Obviously I am pretty new to this whole making videos thing so any tips and feedback is welcomed.

Anyways, short but sweet post. I will be hitting you up with some more book reviews soon. Talk to you later bookworms!

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Giant Book Haul

So this weekend started off with a little shopping at Chapters and I went a little crazy. I bought a bunch of books for my giveaways that I like hosting. I have been thinking about the giveaways and how much fun they are to host so I think I will start doing them weekly. This is more of an update post to show you guys the giant pile of books and to also let you know to be prepared for awesomeness! I will be starting a giveaway tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled.

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I’m currently doing a buddy read with Joe Martin for Armada by Ernest Cline and am also reading Lure by Jeff Marschall. Which means there will be 2 more reviews coming at you soon.

I also created a Youtube page where I will start doing video reviews so if you haven’t already, you should g subscribe. I believe I will have my first video up sometime this week. Anyways, talk to you later bookworms!

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There is a new book on the block that I am promoting. This one is called Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi. Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. You can get it here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1785358766/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

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Kobo Canada

Book Review: Justice Gone

Review Time! Rounding off the week with another great book. This one was called Justice Gone by Nicholas Lombardi Jr.

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Synopsis: When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

Another legal thriller that really kept me on my toes. Right from the get-go, this book grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. It was about a war veteran that is wrongly accused of the murder of three police officers and the ensuing legal case that is played out in court.

Right away, you are drawn to Tessa Thorpe’s compassionate character. She really cares for her clients and works with them to overcome their PTSD (overcome may not be the best word, more like manage and deal with their PTSD). She gets caught up in a case where one of her clients is accused of murder and does everything she can to help.

I really like that this book isn’t afraid to voice how veterans are treated once they come back from war. In most cases, they are treated poorly and often have a hard time readjusting to society or attaining another job. These men and women should be honored in the highest regard for protecting our countries.

The best character by far was Nat Bovine (the defense lawyer). I’m not sure if the author intended to do this but he reminded me of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil because he was a blind lawyer that was very good at his job. All of his witty remarks were a nice touch too.

The ending was quite a shock. I thought I had it all figured out just to be thrown for a loop. This was a good thing because I love when the author can have me thinking one thing and then completely prove me wrong.

Overall, this was a great legal thriller with a steady pace that didn’t let up from start to finish.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can find the author on their website and buy this book on Amazon or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

Kobo Canada

Book Review: The Afters

Two days in a row that we have Chris Connors reviews! He is a very fast reader. This one is called The Afters by Christopher O’Connell and it is the first book to a series.

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Synopsis: It’s the end of the world as we know it and Charles Gilbert Billingsworth the VIII feels just fine. Not only is he surviving the zombie apocalypse, but he’s also enjoying it too. But Charlie’s idyllic life as a daydreaming zombie killer takes a turn when he finds two lost children. One of whom is hiding an amazing, powerful secret. Meanwhile, Kalila Trout is on a quest for revenge. The only survivor of an attack by the warlord known as King George, Kalila’s vengeance is only stopped by his distinct advantage in numbers. When King George kidnaps one of Charlie’s children, Kalila finds an unlikely ally to help her get the closure she needs. But even if Kalila and Charlie manage to make it out alive, a new race of zombie might ruin everything they are fighting for.

What a good read! A real page-turner, if such a cliché can still be used for e-books. Christopher O’Connell’s writing reminded me of Chuck Wendig’s writings as found in his post-apocalyptic book series, Double Dead. He channels some of the best of Wendig’s qualities in his writing; O’Connell has a knack of rounding out his characters in your imagination without the need for long descriptive paragraphs that interrupt the story; the pace of the action is enough to keep you hooked, but not so repetitive that is like an interminable Hollywood car chase; and the dialogue/internal monologues are tinged with dark humor and witty wordplay without taking away from the realism of post-apocalyptic life.

Charles/Charlie/Chuck is a tough, resourceful, smart and likable character, who finds himself better suited for life in the apocalypse. As an aside, I wondered if Chuck’s name was a homage to Chuck Wendig himself given the similar styles?

Connell also handles backstory flashbacks deftly, inserting them into the main narrative at points that feel like natural breaks in rhythm, while still maintaining the tension of the plot.

Given how well-plumbed the zombie apocalypse genre is it is hard for writers to breathe new life into some of the tired old tropes. No matter what an author writes there will be someone who has already at least partly covered it. Chuck’s rules for staying alive reminded me a bit of Columbus’s rules in the movie Zombieland (2009). Some zombies are capable of intelligent thought and organization (I Am Legend movie remake); however, like any good author, he finds the small things that make the world his. E.g. his zombies aren’t dead or undead—they’re alive, feel pain, and can die from regular wounds. Such a small difference, but it seems to alter the novel in a way that is his.

The story eventually leads to a big showdown, which had me e-flipping through the pages fast as I could read. There is then a secondary climax after the resolution of the first. I thought perhaps some of this could have been written into a second book rather than trying to cram it into the last 15% of this book. However, I learned that this is just Book 1 so this exciting development from the second showdown will continue on with Book 2.

If this first book of his is typical of what he can do I’m hoping he’ll make a bigger name for himself like the way other writers (e.g., John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire under her Mira Grant name, and the aforementioned Wendig). A hearty 5/5 stars for this book and I hope to see much more writing from Christopher O’Connell.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.


There is a new book on the block that I am promoting. This one is called Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi. Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. You can get it here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1785358766/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

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Smarthome, Inc.

Book Review: Toxic Waters

We have another review come in from Chris Connors! He has been very busy but he put some time aside to read a book that he has been meaning to for a while and then review it for us. This one was called Toxic Waters by David Ferguson.

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Synopsis:
In the tradition of Clive Cussler, comes a new novel of suspense and adventure set on the big water of the Great Lakes. Erin Franklin will do what it takes to take down Mid-Con, a waste management company that has been playing fast and loose with the law. An environmental crusader, known in the industry as the Iron Maiden, Erin doesn’t know what she is getting herself into this time when she is discovered hiding on Mid-Con’s property. Judge Franklin has his own bone to pick with Mid-Con. They are up on new charges and back in his courtroom again. Willard Reiger, the owner of Mid-Con, has had enough of little miss eco-crusader sniffing around his business, not to mention the latest trumped-up charges of illegal dumping. Having built his company from nothing, he is not about to let anyone take it away from him. He will do what it takes to keep it.

Conservation Officer Rick Webb still doesn’t understand why Judge Franklin dismissed the case against Mid-Con. The evidence was ironclad; it was a slam-dunk. Frustrated by the setback, Webb is looking forward to a vacation on Water Baby, a classic sailing yawl and his pride and joy. His first mate is Heywood the cat; otherwise, he is on his own. But his vacation is cut short unexpectedly when he is unwittingly drawn into a fight for his life — and for the purity of the pristine water of Lake Huron. When he realizes that the fates of two innocent people are at stake, he uses all his know-how and his guts to set things right. Non-stop action, tight pacing and believable characters make this an excellent read for anyone wanting to escape into a nautical adventure sprinkled with romance. Because of its setting and authentic descriptions, this story really delivers for sailing and boating enthusiasts and lovers of nature.

Erin Franklin will do what it takes to take down Mid-Con, a waste management company that has been playing fast and loose with the law. An environmental crusader, known in the industry as the Iron Maiden, Erin doesn’t know what she is getting herself into this time when she is discovered hiding on Mid-Con’s property. Judge Franklin has his own bone to pick with Mid-Con. They are up on new charges and back in his courtroom again. Willard Reiger, the owner of Mid-Con, has had enough of little miss eco-crusader sniffing around his business, not to mention the latest trumped-up charges of illegal dumping. Having built his company from nothing, he is not about to let anyone take it away
from him. He will do what it takes to keep it.

David Ferguson, the author, is a retired conservation officer who has written a few books. This, I believe, is one of his first ones. I bought this book because I’m happy to lend some support to a former conservation officer (having worked with a few in the past), and I admire people who continue to take on new challenges (writing a book) especially in retirement. The story is set in places that I know fairly well, the overall premise is one I’ve come across in real life (illegal dumping of toxic waste), and it has
some authentic sailing descriptions (I used to sail) with a good portion of the action taking place on—or involving—a sailing vessel.

So I really wanted to like this book, and I did, but the story and the characters didn’t grip me. I found the romance contrived, the woman stereotypical, the foreshadowing heavy-handed, the characters lacking depth, and the villain and his henchmen almost cartoonishly written. The plot device that set the whole thing in motion seemed implausible given the bad guy is a successful executive of a large company. He
would know that kidnapping and extortion (of a judge) would not end well given the number of potential witnesses and the numerous ways things could go wrong, things that were so far out of his control that he wouldn’t even know if they occurred or not.

You’re not going to gamble your life, freedom, and company with that many unknown and uncontrolled variables, especially when you’ve gotten to where you are by being in control and careful. I was reluctant to write this review so for over a month I haven’t. Then last night I read a book by a published author. The book itself receives glowing reviews, testimonies, and blurbs for several pages in the front; I didn’t like that book. The characters seemed shallow, the people stereotypes, the tragedy contrived, and the unraveling of the main character cartoonishly bad. And I thought David Ferguson writes nearly as well as this author who has a few published books and a professional editorial and publishing team behind him. Ferguson should be proud he’s writing at the level he is and has done so without an editorial team.

His book does have some gripping scenes where you have to keep reading because you want to find out what happens next. The sailing scenes were written well enough that in my imagination I could feel the boat moving and hear the creaks of ropes and wood. His descriptions of the surroundings also painted themselves in my head. I think the only weak areas come from Ferguson’s dialogue or internal monologues. Those are the parts
that feel as if they’re written by an earnest teen. Dialogue is often a weakness with many beginning authors, and in some cases with established authors who now write best sellers with minimal dialogue. They move the plot forward through narrative descriptions with some terse commentary rather than whole scenes of dialogue that highlight their weakness in this area. Ferguson may have improved his dialogue writing in later books, or he may have switched to the style with which he feels comfortable and in which he does well (narrative descriptions). His first book is by no means a “bad” book. It has received some five-star reviews so there are people who enjoy his work.

My lack of enthusiasm for the book could just be due to my personal preferences (there are prolific best-selling authors whose work I also don’t enjoy for the same reasons I didn’t enjoy this book).

I give this book 3/5 stars with the caveat that this is more of subjective rating than normal; other readers, especially ones who like the style of Koontz and Lustbader, may enjoy this book immensely.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was read by Chris and he chose to read it because he wanted to. 


There is a new book on the block that I am promoting. This one is called Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi. Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. You can get it here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1785358766/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

40398725

GeekBuying.com