Category Archives: Indie or Self Pubbed

Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware by Cristyn West

Plain JanePlain Jane by Cristyn West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Detective Nicole Usher is desperate. A serial killer is stalking women and has killed over a dozen. These women are special to the killer but Nicole and the rest of her department cannot determine why and have no way of stopping the killings. The killer likes brunettes. Plain, shy and unassuming brunettes are stalked then mutilated for a trophy the killer covets.
No one can know the mind of a killer, unless you are a genius profiler with a talent for doing just that.
Nicole knows that Kent Harbinger can help catch the killer and despite a tragic history she shares with him, she calls him to help.
Kent Harbinger seems as twisted as the killers he catches and although he is ranked as one of the top FBI profilers, his unconventional techniques have rewarded him a long-term stay at an asylum.
His presence in the investigation creates pain for Nicole and resentment in Nicole’s partner and lover but despite this she knows there is no other way.
Kent is the key character in this story despite the fact that Nicole is written in as the protagonist. His method of hunting the same victims as the killer helps him to guess the next target but he seems as mad as the killer. Stealing whatever he needs, breaking into buildings and stalking women are only some of the acts Kent commits during the investigation and Nicole is left to answer for him to her captain and partner. Kent seems to have no conscience and treats Nicole with apathy to the point that the reader cannot fathom a previous romantic relationship between the two.
I hated him and wavered on whether to give this story a three of four star rating. The author pushes the envelope on what the reader will accept in a main character who is supposedly on the side of good and I struggled with this.
Then I remembered something important. The best thing an author has ever done for me as a reader was to make me feel. To create emotion, good or bad, as I immerse myself in their creation. I was immersed in Plain Jane. I wanted the characters to do MY will and when they didn’t the author forced me to understand why. What does it take to get into the mind of a killer? What must you become if you want to catch what most don’t understand?
Ms. West caught me off-guard and that doesn’t happen to me often.

If you enjoyed Silence of the Lambs or the work of Jeffrey Deaver, you will enjoy Plain Jane.

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Bad Luck Cadet by Suzie Ivy

Bad Luck CadetBad Luck Cadet by Suzie Ivy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun read! As a forty-something in the process of reinventing my life, it was an inspiration to read about Suzie Ivy’s leap into law enforcement at a time in a woman’s life when things should be set and stable. Kids grown, career stability, confidence and a peace in your life. At least that’s what I thought.

After reading a recruitment ad for the police academy, Suzie decides she won’t take empty-nest syndrome lying down. It doesn’t matter that she has just recovered from hip surgery or is forty pounds overweight and in her forties. She is determined and her enthusiasm is refreshing.

Enlisting the help of a friend, Suzie begins to train for the enrollment deadline. With a family mostly less than supportive and the local police sergeant obviously unconvinced Suzie is a good candidate, she aces through the initial tests required for recommendation to the academy.

Eighteen weeks away from her family and a training instructor that would give Viggo Mortenson in G.I. Jane a run for his money, Suzie uses humor and heart to tell her story.
We are introduced to fellow trainees and become immersed in everyone’s journey to graduation or wash out.

As Suzie struggles to keep up with her team she discovers a closeness and camaraderie unlike any other.

Bad Luck Cadet is heartwarming and humorous and highly recommended by this forty-something reviewer.

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Bill The Vampire by Rick Gaultieri

Bill The Vampire (The Tome of Bill, #1)Bill The Vampire by Rick Gualtieri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would love to say something extremely witty in my opening line for my review of Bill The Vampire. After all, it’s been since June since I have posted a review and Rick Gualtieri has waited an unforgivable amount of time for it. I read Bill The Vampire months ago and i’m still freaking giggling about it. I don’t giggle much. Laugh, well yah. A good deep giggle? Not too often, hence, I treasure anyone or thing that causes them.

Bill has been added to my favorite list and belongs there. Even though life circumstances kept me from writing, I kept Rick’s book in the forefront of my mind as the first review I would write when it was possible.

Bill is a geek, as you can surmise from the book cover and summary to follow. Awkward, self-deprecating, and goofy. I connected. I have a huge crush on geeks of all types. There is no truer and more exciting group of people you will ever encounter. They are heart-felt and honest in their pursuit of all things labeled geeky and i’m one of them.

Rick Gualtieri get’s it and his portrayal of an unlikely vampire is dead on, (pun intended). Smart and goofy, Bill takes us on his journey through a dangerous world of supernatural killers but stands back with the rest of us as we see hilarious stereotypes, vampire posers and a trashy heroine who treats Bill like crap, leaves him for food then uses him for her own purposes. Tramp with a heart of gold?

As characters are so important to me, I focused on all of them and was rewarded with unique and entertaining personalities from the vampire leader, Night Razor to his steriod-raged cronies, I was thoroughly involved and turning pages like the wind.

Bill The Vampire contains the mind of a geeky dude, the heart, mostly, of a street-tough vamp chick and the ego of a wannabe Vampire Master. A hilarious string of events when all are combined and an unexpected conclusion that has you cheering and giggling.

Book Summary: There are reasons we fear the night.
He isn’t one of them.

Meet Bill Ryder: programmer, gamer geek, and hopeless dweeb when it comes to women. All he ever asked for out of life was to collect his paycheck, hang out with his buds, and eventually (someday) ask out the girl of his dreams.

However, then Bill met Sally. She was mysterious, aggressive, and best of all…smoking hot. Bill never stood a chance. Before he knew what was happening Sally had lead him to his death, and that was only the beginning of his troubles.

Now Bill awakes to find himself an undead predator of the night. The only problem is he’s still at the bottom of the food chain.

He’s in way over his head, surrounded by creatures more dangerous, better looking, and a whole lot cooler than he is. Worst of all is the dreaded Night Razor, a master vampire who just can’t stand him. He gives Bill a 90 day deadline to either prove himself or meet a more permanent kind of death, and the deck is definitely stacked against him.

But Bill isn’t exactly average. A vampire like him hasn’t been seen in over five centuries. He’s got a few tricks up his sleeve, unlikely allies to help him out, and an attitude problem that makes him just too damn obnoxious to quit. He may just pull it off… if he doesn’t get his teeth kicked in first.

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The Boat by Christine Dougherty

The BoatThe Boat by Christine Dougherty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Boat by Christine Dougherty is definitely not your average zombie story, although it has zombies. It isn’t your average Post-Apocalyptic story, yet there is a plague that causes death and zombies, creating a Post-Apocalyptic environment. Which also makes a great setting for a Survivalist story, though not your……wait for it….average Survivalist story.
See, Christine just doesn’t do average, ever, and decided to write a fast-moving, horrific, nail-biting, zombie plague story of survival set two months after the aforementioned apocalyptic event. With a twist.
A really bad twist.
I am not surprised. I met Christine last year when she asked if I would review her novel The Devil Stood Up. As most of you know, I love me some good Horror and was thrilled to accept a copy for review. I eat Horror and Suspense for breakfast, one awesome reviewer on GoodReads, Stephen,…, asked me in a round about way, what kind of book would actually scare me. I really didn’t have an answer, until Christine Dougherty. Turns out I couldn’t finish The Devil Stood Up. It disturbed the hell out of me and I had to put it down. For the first time ever I had to write an author and humbly apologize for being a wimp and not finishing their book. The writing was excellent but you couldn’t make me pick it up again.
Instead of throwing rocks and laughing at me, Christine apologized and even asked for another review on her Urban Fantasy novel
Born Lucky (The JD Chronicles). I loved it.
I love the versatility Christine brings to the table. The Boat isn’t overwhelmingly scary but it is very good and original and I urge lovers of Horror, Suspense and Urban Fantasy to check out this exciting author!

Book Summary:At the end of the world, the undead aren’t the greatest threat to those who have survived.

A deadly plague brought on by an experimental AIDS drug called Lazarus sweeps the country. Lazarus, named so because it brings patients back from the brink of death, has the unfortunate side effect of bringing the dead back to life. A handful of survivors have made their way to water where the walking dead–called ‘sinkers’–are less of a threat. These battered and traumatized survivors have colonized a super yacht (Flyboy), a tugboat (Big Daddy), and a weekender yacht (Barbra’s Bay Breeze). As they wait for more survivors and organize a voyage south to a warm climate, they unintentionally bring aboard a monster who might be the end to them all.

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Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith

Alison WonderlandAlison Wonderland by Helen Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first thing I noticed about Alison Wonderland was the contradictory reviews on Amazon.
Now, I made sure not to read the actual reviews, a very bad practice for reviewers in my opinion. (I am big on opinions, I know.) I did, however, notice the Star Ratings. Fours, twos, fives, threes… it was odd. Having corresponded through email with Helen Smith, I knew her to be articulate and very interesting so I was confused with the ratings I saw.

So I began to read. And read, read some more, remember I missed dinner, and read while I ate dinner. I was delighted! Helen Smith’s writing style is enchanting in it’s vibrant colors, neurotic characters and flamboyant plot-lines. It’s like listening to that wonderful friend, the one who travels all over the world; wears bohemian mixed with designer clothing; has friends with yachts and still can’t wait to regale you with her stories, talking non-stop into the night with bottles of wine piling up on your coffee table.

I can see where some would get confused if they tried to take the characters too literally and too seriously. Helen Smith is very clever in that she weaves many “Easter Eggs” into most aspects of the story. It’s like falling into the rabbit hole and discovering brilliant people who aren’t quit what you expect and scenes filled with double-entandre. I loved every minute of it.

Please do not misunderstand me, this is not a bizarro read in which nothing makes sense and you have to re-read every chapter to get it. In fact, it flowed for me and I became lost in the story. In fact, the story is very straight forward. (Smiles)

Alison Temple has hired an all woman investigative company. She wants to confirm that her husband is not cheating on her. She eventually becomes an investigator at that very office. Once she has become experienced her boss sets her on a very secret assignment and the adventure begins.

You will love her friend Taron who is just plain nuts and lovely. Her neighbor Jeff, who is madly in love with her, is an inventor of crazy but useful things. The relationships are refreshing and funny and believable.

This is a smart story. Fantastical and fun. A decadent read that I loved and strongly recommend to contemporary, urban fantasy, mystery and the curious! Just kick off your shoes, lay back and open your mind, then open the book…..

Here is the Summary from GoodReads but I warn you, it doesn’t do it justice. When Alison joins Mrs Fitzgeralds Bureau of Investigation as a private detective, her new job takes her on a series of loosely linked adventures involving an abandoned baby, a transgenic animal and secret tunnels under The Thames. She travels from London to the seaside town of Weymouth and back again with her new best friend Taron, a girl with a hundred candle smile. But someone is betraying her. Is it Taron? Is it Jeff, the sweet-natured inventor who writes her poetry? Or are there darker forces at play? ‘Only occasionally does a piece of fiction leap out and demand immediate cult status. Alison Wonderland is one.’ The Times

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The Siren of Paris by David LeRoy COVER REVEAL!

The Siren of Paris will be released on 6.14.2012 for Amazon Kindle and this story looks to be amazing!

David LeRoy has allowed me to reveal his beautifully done cover in anticipation of the release.

The Siren of Paris is Historical Fiction with suspense and action and looks to be so much more than that. I can’t wait to read it.

  Synopsis; French born American, Marc Tolbert never thought he would be trapped in German occupied France when he returned to Paris in the summer of 1939 for art studies. After surviving the sinking of a British evacuation ship, he returns to Paris to live out the war. While helping smuggle downed airman through the Paris underground resistance, his life is plunged into complete darkness when he is betrayed by his fiancée, turned Gestapo collaborator. He is then forced to struggle for his soul in the “fog and the night” of Buchenwald as he struggles with the not just the cost of his trust to himself, but all the others who trusted him who were arrested as well.

David LeRoy has also supplied us with some information about him as well as his Facebook page. Please check his page for more information.

Bio/ Author background: My undergraduate degree is in Philosophy and Religion, which has served me well in a number of jobs from selling women’s shoes, to working in complex telecommunications positions. But, I am finding it is also very helpful with writing fictional stories. I traveled to Europe in the summer of 2010 to study art, and I became fascinated with the French Resistance in the South of France. I decided when I came back to the states to look into writing a book about some American trapped in France during the war and would become apart of the French Resistance, maybe fighting in the mountains, blowing up trains and being really James Bondesque. There are close to forty books now behind me in researching this time period. I even have one book in French that tells me every detail of collaborators in Paris during the war broken down by districts. The truth is far more dark, tragic and often sad regarding members of the Resistance. They were often ordinary people, and usually very unlikely, who ended up paying with their lives for very simple acts of resistance. But that is rarely the story people have in their minds. From this research I have developed the characters and plot of The Siren of Paris. This is my very first book, and as a new writer, it is hard work. I have a very high respect for anyone who writes fiction. My hope is that this story is not just a great page-turner, but also something that causes people to think, reflect, and be very grateful that they never face what Marc faces in this story.

 I have a facebook page for The Siren of Paris, so be sure to stop by and give it a like. The date of the release corresponds with the anniversary of the fall of Paris to the Germans. It will be 72 years on June 14th, 2012.



Dark Steps by Martin Pond

Dark StepsDark Steps by Martin Pond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Martin Pond’s collection of short stories begins with Waiting Room. A young boy told he must face a coming-of-age test that all face yet no one talks about. No one in his school knows what this test is or why everyone has to take it but everyone knows how important it is. Martin Pond puts the reader in the waiting room with him. We sit next to him as he is ushered into a small room, all white, and waits for his test to begin. The musings of this boy combined with the dystopian atmosphere Pond creates very quickly put me in a state of suspense. I dreaded the outcome of this story but couldn’t read it fast enough.

Dream Feed, the second in the collection feeds on every parents worst nightmare. Throw in the creepy feeling of the paranormal and you wont use a baby monitor ever again.

Each story that follows is just as compelling and I enjoyed every one. My attention was captured and I appreciated each twist and turn Martin Pond took me through. I have not had a story with so few words have so huge of an impact before. Every story felt full, well rounded and complete despite their length. Pond uses words more efficiently than anyone I have ever read. I did not feel cheated when the story ended so quickly.

Each story puts its character into a dire situation and begs the question, what are you gonna do now?

Here is the summary:A teenage boy waits to take a sinister test he may or may not pass; a new father hears a strange voice on his daughter’s baby monitor; a poisoner’s best-laid plans go terribly astray; an enigmatic man gets as close to death as he can; a young boy wonders why Christmas just doesn’t feel right this year; after the year from hell, a man is driven to extreme measures; a dying man reveals a black secret to his son; and, after four years in limbo, a man’s life starts to unravel…

Martin Pond is brilliant and I cannot imagine a full length novel from him that would not blow my mind. I highly recommend Dark Steps to anyone who enjoys a twisted tale!

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