Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett

Exodus 2022

by Kenneth G. Bennett

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal

Four Stars

Joe Stanton has big plans on his vacation to the little island town of Friday Harbor, Washington, and they don’t include hallucinating and getting kicked out of his hotel. Unfortunately, that is what happens and the strange symptoms start him on an unwilling and sometimes unwitting path to something amazing and unknown. What being wants to communicate to or through him and why? How does the dubiously ethical Sheldon Beck know about it and what does he plan to do about it? Will Joe even survive this strange communication when others before him didn’t?

The story style of Exodus 2022 jumps between the main character and the people…or things focused on Joe and his unique ability to connect with the mysterious unknown intelligence. Kenneth’s Writing has a cool, businesslike feel with an obvious knowledge and passion about the sea and its science in the writer. He obviously researched his subjects and took great care that they represented reality in an otherwise fantastic tale.

I have to disagree, though, with the nature of the relationship between Joe and Ella: even in a very liberal church, I don’t think an Episcopal priest could get away with taking a vacation with his girlfriend. I would have liked to experience more of the intense emotions of the characters, especially at the beginning, rather than just hear that they felt them. It gave a calculated tone to the story where it could have provided more heart-racing moments.

Exodus 2022 draws the reader in as the story unfolds the mystery Joe’s unique mind reveals. His danger and the ruthless nature of Beck, his team, and his family in their pursuit of the unknown creates an increasingly thrilling read.

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Viking Myths by Thor Ewing

Viking Myths:

Stories of the Norse Gods and Goddesses

By Thor Ewing

Genre: Mythology, Religion,

Five stars

From the surreal tales of the beginnings of everything to the humorous antics of the gods, people, and creatures, anyone can enjoy Viking Myths: Stories of the Norse Gods and Goddesses. Whether you like heroism or bizarre pranks, this collection has something for everyone. Does Loki shave a goddess bald? Why yes. Does he fix it in a fantastic manner? Of course! Thor dresses in drag, Loki becomes the mother of a horse, and Odin trades his right eye for godly wisdom. Grab a really big glass of ale and enjoy Viking Myths. Thor Ewing presents a straightforward telling of the intricate and bizarre myths of the Norse gods. He uses plain language and tells the stories in an understandable progression, considering the wildness and interconnected nature of the stories. I enjoyed the inclusion of the plain translated names of people, creatures, and objects that shed more light on the deeper meanings of the names. The bizarre symbolism of so much of it makes me want to know more about the unique way of thinking of the culture. Thor’s retelling truly kept the magic of the tales alive while bringing clarity to their meanings. I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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Bet on Black by Kenrya Rankin Naasel

Bet on Black:

African-American Women Celebrate

Fatherhood in the Age of Barak Obama

By Kenrya Rankin Naasel

Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, African-American, Anthology

Five stars

Bet on Black: African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood in the Age of Barak Obama begins with an excerpt of Barack Obama’s Fathers’ Day speech and adds in a little quote before each story in the collection. The inspirational stories that follow come straight from the hearts and lives of black women who tell about the strong fathers in their lives. Some are grandfathers, some husbands, and they represent the strong black men who embodied fatherhood and commitment in spite of struggle and hardship.

President Barack Obama is often thrust into a purely political section of media and our minds. Our critical culture examines his success and failure and forgets his humanity and the enormous symbolism for many people looking to him not just for political leadership, but as an example of manhood and success. His example and wisdom as a father show a side of him often overlooked.

Bet on Black highlights these aspects of our president through the stories of other strong black men. It takes the high ground and gives rightful recognition to men who stayed true to their children through hardship, and in a society where they get none, where they earn scorn instead of praise, and where they live in company with many who didn’t choose to care about fatherhood.

I applaud, first, the gathering together of so many women to give credit where it is due and greatly needed. Also, I loved to hear the struggle and faithful fight these men fought to father their daughters and granddaughters.  It isn’t easy and thanks don’t always come. Mostly, I loved the positive reinforcement and vital role these fathers played in the lives of successful, strong black women. A woman can be strong on her own, but the support of a father makes it a partnership and a joy instead of a battle.

Any man who truly loves his daughter can find encouragement and vindication on these pages. Any daughter can learn about the blessings she has perhaps overlooked, and about the man she must demand as he father of her own children.

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

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The Wrong Stuff by M.T. McGuire

The Wrong Stuff

K’Barthan Trilogy: Part 2

By M.T. McGuire

Genre: Humor, Science Fiction, Adventure

Five stars

The Pan, our fearless hero, has rescued the girl…well, almost, and now he has to finish the job. Like any good adventure, everything just grew more complicated. The Pan has saved Ruth, well…sort of. Now he has to keep Ruth the Chosen One saved and out of Lord Vernon’s clutches until they find the one destined to be her true love and ask him to please choose someone else. Snurd chases with laser and missile fire ensue, and several very bad, sometimes stupid choices (Sheesh, Ruth!) result in disaster; glorious disaster. Can Pan somehow woo Ruth, the chosen one, to forgive the trashing of her beloved London or the destruction of her life and any possibility of regaining it? Can he keep her out of Lord Vernon’s clutches long enough to find this mysterious new religious leader and get him to un-choose her? Will she let him? If he can, will she consider The Pan as an alternative?

MT McGuire has triumphed with another delightful installment to the K’Barthan trilogy. The Wrong Stuff is anything but wrong. Every good part of the first book, which I adored, has continued without any loss of awesomeness. Seriously, I LOVE it. I love the uncomfortable bumbling and the beautiful chivalry of the tale. I love the reality mixed with outrageous and hilarious fantasy. Don’t forget the awesome, goofy, delicious characters – I loved them all, even the bad guys (loved to hate). Even the side characters ooze the smooch-ability of the main characters.

Occasionally an author struggles with a second story and either loses the focus or can’t live up to that first glorious tale. MT didn’t fall victim to either problem. The story didn’t end with this book, and I didn’t want it to end, but I knew it was time and I just had to keep my cool until the next one comes out. (I get to read it before you do! Neener!) The story takes you out of words on a page and puts you there with this beautiful, outrageous tale.

You have to read this story and if you haven’t read the first one, I will have to pinch you, because it’s free on Kindle. The K’Barthan trilogy is the kind of writing that gets me excited about reading and inspires me to write!

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

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

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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

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.

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