Toxic Train by Jennifer Oberth

Toxic Train

Toxic Train

by Jennifer Oberth

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Short Story

Four Stars

Ella Westin is a young newlywed on a train ride with her new husband, Joe, meeting new people and trying to enjoy what should be a peaceful journey. However, with her typical luck, Ella must solve a murder that occurs right before her eyes. Poison hides somewhere on the train, waiting to eliminate anyone who uncovers too much of the murderer’s plot. Can Ella protect her hapless husband, Joe? Can she fool her fellow passengers long enough to prevent another murder and stop the culprit?

Jennifer has created an exciting mystery with an interesting surprise. Ella’s unique personality and approach to life in a time where women held second-class status gives the tale a modern feel.

I haven’t read any other books in this series, but I could still enjoy the story and understand the characters and plot without that background. Hints appeared to previous adventures, which interested me but didn’t detract from the story at hand.

I was surprised and disappointed to find almost no character or scene description in Toxic Train. Too much description is a problem I see most often, but I do need enough to know roughly what characters look like, how old they are, and how to distinguish one from the other. Jennifer’s characters managed well with scant description, which is an accomplishment, but the missing scenery gave a hasty and dry feeling to a tale that could have had so much more richness to it. Without any description, the story lost its historical feel and blended into any other time period. A large part of my enjoyment in reading historical fiction is the transport to another time and the things I learn from it.

I’m not one to try to guess “whodunit” before the story ends, but I’m also not one to ignore the possibility. I didn’t guess ahead of time, and I enjoyed the surprise and the ensuing adventure that the killer’s identity prompted. Toxic Train is a fun and entertaining read with some good challenges to convention to make the reader think, fun setting, and interesting mystery.

I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

Buy on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/166124

and Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Toxic-Train-Ella-Westin-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0086O20Q4/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1392245816&sr=8-6&keywords=jennifer+oberth

Advertisements

The Ball Washer by Lance Manion

The Ball Washer

by Lance Manion

Genre: Adult, Humor, Short Story Anthology

Five stars

The Ball Washer is a collection of short stories beginning with some lighthearted tales and then delving into very personal, graphic, and sometimes shocking themes. Some stories tell of boys who can erase the universe with paint, and others read like a masturbation recipe.

Not often do I come across a work that I admire, but don’t really enjoy. The Ball Washer is that book. As a parent of two boys, I have my fill of off-color jokes and disgusting humor. You can understand why I wouldn’t want to read it in a book, or really hear it at all, anywhere. In a home where flatulence passes as music in more than one person’s opinion, I just can’t enjoy it.

On the other hand, Ball Washer is incredibly well-written and cerebral for all its baseness. The contrast is rather fantastic. Lance takes the very graphic and often embarrassing parts of life and opens them wide for all to see. That is a kind of bravery in writing that not many authors can claim. The tales consist of some choice malarkey as well as a tongue firmly in cheek. A reader will discover such quotes as: “Originating in Kashmir, velvet painting is an ancient technique embraced by early religious leaders, and to this day many early works hang in the Vatican.”

My only non-personal criticism for the book is that it seems entirely too long. After six or seven stories, I checked to see how many more stories I had, and found I hadn’t even made it halfway through. At 74,000 words it could have easily worked as at least two separate anthologies, in my opinion. When I looked through some other anthologies available online, the only comparably-sized one was an anthology of novellas.

A few epically long sentences appear through the narratives. Nothing in them appeared incorrect; just don’t try to read the long ones out loud without first sitting down in case of an oxygen-deprivation nap.

I couldn’t finish The Ball Washer, both because of the length and the subject matter. I made it halfway. That doesn’t mean it won’t have merit for other readers, and one definitely gets plenty of well-written stories for their money. For me it provided TMI, but you just might LOL.

Buy on Amazon

Ariel’s Dream by Tahlia Newland

Ariel’s Dream

by Tahlia Newland

Genre: Short Story, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Five stars

Fifteen-year-old Ariel has a nightmare that somehow keeps intruding on her waking life; a shadow being that won’t seem to disappear even after she wakes. A simple trip to the beach with friends becomes a mind-stretching experience, and the monster seems to strengthen with her fear. How can she defeat it?

Tahlia Newland’s short story delivers her fantastic supernatural realism, but with an added chill factor of a tighter blend with reality. Ariel’s scary dream pushed into real life is just the sort of thing that everyone fears a little. The story’s added message of facing up to life’s fears reinforces the themes of her Diamond Peak series and connects it to Don’t Shatter Me. Ariel’s Dream is a quick, fun read with a little added story to fill in the series. Is that Nick we saw there with the six pack abs and the golden glow?

Ariel’s Dream is free for Kindle!

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Scribd

Run by Tahlia Newland

Run

by Tahlia Newland

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Short Story, Action/Adventure

Four Stars

Run is a racy prequel to Newland’s Diamond Peak series, filled with all the angst Newland suggested haunted Nick in Lethal Inheritance. Nick, struggling to advance up the mountain and kill demons, loses his resolve and attempts to escape his life there. He tries to start anew in the mundane world, but soon learns that he can only go through the motions.
Run is a quick, meaning-packed read full of action and emotion. Nick’s inner demons reveal themselves in a time before he “got it together” to become the romantic hero of the series. This story also fits well as a flashback anywhere in the series if you haven’t read it first. It does contain a sex scene, unlike the main series’ first two books. I wouldn’t call it erotica though. Run will pull you in to the Diamond Peak series wondering what happens to Nick. Newlands fantastic transformations make emotions into creatures, giving us a fresh perspective on our own hearts.

Smashwords
Sribd
Kobo
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Apple US
Apple UK
Apple AU

Flash Bites by Krista Bunskoek

Flash Bites

by Krista Bunskoek

Genre: Short Story Anthology

Story 1: Freedom!

A teen girl, the child of the country’s best technology experts, escapes her strict boundaries. Using her wiles and her knowledge of her parents, she foils the top-of-the-line surveillance tech to gain her freedom.

Story 2: List for Love

Gillian is afraid of growing old alone. She has decided that after age 30 she will no longer be able to find the true love she longs for. Her last effort to find the man of her dreams is a dance class. How will she fare in her final try?

Story 3: A Day in the Life

What is it like to be a “loonie”, a Canadian one dollar coin? Well this is a story about just that.

Story 4: The Missing Part

A mechanic makes a fatal error during a break job on a young woman’s car. How does he reconcile his mistake?

Story 5: Day Job

Jenny is a spy completing a covert mission. She saves the day in time to make dinner for the hubby and kids.

Story 6:Domestic Bliss: 2022

Bill is a happy househusband in 2022 who downloads dinner instructions and tries not to think unauthorized thoughts.

Review:

Krista’s stories were all short, but filled with meaning and imagination. Her writing style is fresh and edgy, with characters you can feel and engage with in just a short narrative. Each story held an important message. Will you be able to see them? My favorite was the last one because it combined peaceful life with the sinister. Themes of freedom, secrecy, yearning for purpose, and responsibility make these stories packed with purpose.

Buy on Amazon

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/flash-bites-few-short-short/id471779666?mt=11

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Flash-Bites-few-short-short/book-4D0laxQRtUK7c-geIRxt-g/page1.html

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/bunskoek?keyword=bunskoek&store=ebook