Reviews 2

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Stargazer Lilies or Nothing at All

Stephen Lomer

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

I’m not really sure what to make of Stargazer Lilies or Nothing at All, and that’s not a bad thing.  Whenever I go to a restaurant, I never feel like I get enough variety in my food.  That’s why I go to the buffet.  That’s exactly what Stephen Lomer has set up here, a literary buffet.

Stargazer Lilies is a collection of short stories from a variety of genres.  One moment I was in a baby shower and the next I was fleeing from killer robots.  This was a big surprise to me, and I’m happy to say a pleasant one.  It’s not easy to write in multiple styles, but Lomer mastered it beautifully.  I found myself drawn in whether it was a pulse pounding moment or a calm anecdote about life and death.

I’m not really sure what to compare this to, but I’d recommend it to lovers of any genre.



David Kummer

Rating: 3 Shrimps!

She.  It’s a simple word, but knowing it’s the title of a horror novel immediately evokes a feeling of unease.  And that’s what David Kummer has accomplished in his novel.  The story follows some of your standard horror tropes, a group of kids in the near past battling an unspeakable evil in a small town.  Simple, but enjoyable as Kummer slowly builds the tension.

I enjoyed Kummer’s choice to start with two mysterious men meeting in a café in the present, then throwing the story back to the 1990s.  Growing up in the 90s myself, this was a fun nostalgic kick for me.  Kummer did a good job of throwing in plenty of creepy moments (yeah, not going to look out my windows at the street light anymore…but that’s just asking for trouble anyway).  I was challenged a bit by the abundance of description, but this wasn’t a deal breaker for me and the story was well crafted.

I’d recommend She for any of those (crazy) It lovers out there.


The Little Big Ebook on Social Media Audiences

Cendrine Marrouat

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

Navigating the land of social media can be a tricky, perilous, and time consuming task.  There’s profiles to be managed and marketing to be done, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on when things go wrong.  Every blog owner and social media savant could use a guide to help them navigate the pitfalls and tips of the trade of doing business in the online world.

Thus Cendrine Marrouat steps onto the scene.  The Little Big Ebook on Social Media Audiences (whew!) is an easy to read, well organized guide on how to build an honorable online business or blog.  I found its tips to be helpful as a blogger myself and the case studies really brought things down to earth.

I’d definitely recommend Cendrine Marrouat’s guide to anyone with a public online presence.


Priceless Penny

Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

Do you love dogs?  I actually don’t really (cat person here) but it’s hard not to love Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf’s Priceless Penny.  This sweet puppy was born with an unusual look and a badly mangled paw.  Kramer-Theuerkauf makes it easy to relate with Penny as she struggles with fears over how others view her and whether she will find a place to belong.

I found the art in Priceless Penny to be stellar and really enjoyed the various dog characters.  Penny is a heartwarming tale (maybe tail?) of a dog searching for a home that any kid or adult (or even cat lover) can enjoy.  I look forward to seeing more in this series.

I’d recommend Priceless Penny to any animal lover out there.


Death by Diploma

Kelley Kaye

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

Being a new teacher is one of the world’s hardest jobs.  You’re managing the hopes, dreams, performance, bad days, drama, and safety of dozens of smaller humans (taller if it’s high school) all while trying to figure out life yourself.  Throw in a bit of murder and you’ve got Emma’s first few days on the beat.

Death by Diploma is a fun cozy mystery.  Kelley Kaye did a great job of weaving two storylines together, one of Emma navigating the jungle of being a high school teacher for the first time, and the other of solving a death that occurred in the school.  There are plenty of twists, but what I really enjoyed was the characters and the feel good tone that the story is written in.  Sometimes you have to suspend disbelief with some of the character interactions, but never in a bad way.

I’d recommend Death by Diploma to anyone who enjoys a good light hearted comedy or mystery.


The Young King

Barbara G. Tarn

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

I kind of struggled with The Young King.  On one hand, Barbara G. Tarn is a superb writer.  Her descriptions are vivid and she keeps the story flowing.  But on the other, The Young King began with an intense and graphic rape which was very hard for me to read through personally.  Thus the struggle, which is what the young king Roshan experienced over the course of the story.

The story for me recovered when Tarn guided the narrative towards Roshan wrestling with the traumatic event that happened to him.  Here he seeks the help of a former enemy warrior Kirit who saved his life in the first place.  Together the two walk through differing views on sexuality and find love and healing in each other.  All around, Tarn is a great writer and I’ll be interested in checking out some of her other Silvery Earth stories.

I’d recommend this one for any Game of Thrones fans out there.


Bellyache a Delicious Tale

Crystal Marcos

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

As a kid I used to dream of going to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or shrinking down and getting trapped in Candy Land.  Now that dream has come true with Crystal Marcos’ Bellyache a Delicious Tale.  Young Peter’s Papa owns a candy shop and brings him along to help out for a day.  Predictably, Peter isn’t just a pumpkin eater as he secretly goes to town pilfering some of Papa’s sweets.

The real magic of Bellyache comes when Peter is sucked into a mystical world of candy people and animals.  It was fun to see what Peter would discover next, and to see how he moved through his moral journey.  Bellyache is well wrapped with enough imagination and action to keep anyone interested to the very end.

I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the Phantom Tollbooth or Alice in Wonderland.


The Alliance The Evox Chronicles Volume 1

Chris G. Wright

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

I will admit, I’m a sucker for sci fi.  I fall even harder for post apocalyptic stories and the dismal gray of dystopian dramas.  And when you put all that together, you get a perfect nuclear storm that has me hooked chapter after chapter.  That’s exactly what Chris Wright did with The Alliance: The Evox Chronicles Volume 1.

I enjoyed following Ethan (my favorite) and the variety of other characters through their intense journey.  Wright does a fantastic job of never letting up the pace.  There’s always a twist or character shift to keep things interesting.  Wright has the perfect balance of description and character development as well.  I never found myself getting bored and the characters were very likeable.  I look forward to reading more from the Evox Chronicles.

I’d recommend this to any sci fi fan, especially those who enjoy stories like Mass Effect.


The Chronicles of Nether

Adeleke Kayode

Rating: 3 Shrimps!

You can invite me on a magical walk through an enchanted realm and I’ll say yes any day.  Adeleke Kayode’s The Chronicles of Nether is certainly one of those enchanted places.  Partial dragons.  Warriors with special armor.  The Chronicles of Nether is filled with magic users of all sorts.  Unfortunately, our main protagonist Albinus struggles on this front.

Being a nonmagic user in a world with wizards makes for a rough journey for Albinus.  Still, he adapts with the help of some unlikely allies like Jenko and Lily to find his true calling.  I particularly enjoyed Albinus’ sarcasm and the action and creative magic that ensued along his adventure.  I was a little challenged by the back and forth of his thoughts and narration, but the creative world made up for it for me.

Those of you who love magic and monsters, this one’s for you.


This is How it Begins

Joan Dempsey

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

Millions dead.  Entire lives left shattered or smoldering in the wake of a storm of hatred.  Such was the scene of the Holocaust, an unforgettable event burned into the psyche of the world, even nearly a century later.  Or was it unforgettable?  Joan Dempsey brilliantly shows how we could easily find ourselves back in the fields of the reaper with her novel This is How it Begins.

This is How it Begins is a rare gem that spoke to me on multiple levels.  As Dempsey followed the story of Ludka, a Holocaust survivor, and her family in modern times, I found myself drawn to every character.  Dempsey has a subtle approach when it comes to character emotions and storytelling that made everything very realistic.  Nothing was ever over the top or underwhelming, but just right.  I don’t want to ruin any of the interesting and heartfelt twists of the story, but how Dempsey shows the slow build of hatred and what it takes to stand against it in modern times kept me intrigued (and a little teary eyed) to the very end.

I’d recommend this to anyone who loves the great classics like Number the Stars or To Kill a Mocking Bird.


Confessions of a Light-Skinned Ho

Andrea Berry

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

Andrea Berry brings many dark experiences to bear in Confessions of a Light-Skinned Ho.  Going through her life, Berry lays down many struggles from fighting to pay rent with two kiddos to the real heartbreaking face of prostitution.  This isn’t a story for the faint of heart, but it has heart and some glimmers of hope.  This one’s good for anyone looking for something realistic and meaningful.

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