Friday, January 23, 2015

Review: DANIEL THE DRAWER by S.J. Henderson

Daniel is a witty, frank, and precocious boy with a wild imagination. Then a magical pencil allows him to draw anything to life. This reminds me of the lovable story, Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Daniel and Annie embark on a crazy adventure. Sometimes the things Daniel came up with were too far-fetched and silly. For example, SAP (Super Amazingpants)???? Fighter of Crimes of Fashion? Of course, not all drawings worked out.

A great, fun story for kids! A quick and easy read!

My rating: 3.5 stars

Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: POPPY’S THREE MEN by Sophie Sloane

“And as I grudgingly entered the shady side of my twenties, I started to perform a full-on examination and analysis of the men I had ever crushed on, lusted after, and messed over. My dating life comprised primarily of three men: Dax, Mike, and Simon. These three men were completely different types of men, ranging from intellectual and sensitive to good-looking and bad mannered.”(5)

This is a story of one young woman’s journey through the dating world, and only one of them took the cake—the wedding cake. The reader must guess who, out of the three men, ends up being the groom. It’s like that Ryan Reynolds movie, Definitely, Maybe, a story about a guy who tells about the three girls he dated and makes it a game for his daughter to guess who her mother is.

As a teenager, Poppy is a giddy, overzealous, boy-crazy kid. I could almost hear her screeching in my ear every time she got a text message from Dax. Annoying! Although that little text mishap, A.K.A. the “Freudian slip,” was funny. Fortunately, she kind of grew out of that silly phase….sort of.

In each chapter, we get a glimpse of each guy and the experience Poppy had with him. For instance, we had a “Meet the British Parents” scenario with Simon, leaving Poppy to endure the snooty, haughty attitude at a fancy dinner and to wear the American dunce cap during a game of Scrabble. I really did think the Brits were making up words. Another chapter told the tale of a mood killer when “Lumber Jack” Mike took Poppy on a camping trip and he mistook her for a cougar, throwing her to the muddy ground while she was in her underwear.

The overall story is not written in sequence; it’s all in sporadic segments. We go from a dinner disaster with Simon, to a rendezvous with Dax, to a fight with Mike, to a meeting with Simon, and so on. It’s not at all confusing, but it can be disconcerting. 

Still the question remains: Is it Dax, Mike, or Simon?

Quirky and humorous, this story is an enjoyable tale of the love entanglements of a hopeless romantic. A fun and quick read!

My rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


This is a glimpse of what a L.A. night club bouncer sees--it is 21 true tales, to be exact. Each segment is something else in the life of a bouncer. They’re not really stories, but more observations you’d hear from a stand-up comedian.

“What’s important to know is this, when it comes to fights, men in L.A. are like dogs in L.A. Only the little ones start shit.” (8) True dat!

Filled with a wry and witty humor, tales are quick and enjoyable, albeit very risqué at times. I wasn’t too familiar with some of the terms used and, of course, had no idea what they meant (something tells me I wouldn’t want to know.) And, like I said, these are not stories, so the writing is unimpressive.

Like Seinfeld, this is the book about nothing. I didn’t always get the jokes and some of the stories were better off not being heard (seemed unnecessary and really disgusting,) but an okay first effort. 

My rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: WRITER’S BLOCK by M.P. Witwer (short story)

Jane has been plagued by writer’s block—a horror I, as a writer, know ALL TOO WELL. I could feel the bitterness and frustration every time Jane tore through another version of that manuscript. GRRRRR!

So what does she do to fix it? She moves away from it, gets some distance from it, escapes it. But even though her body may be in paradise, her mind was still on that dreadful story she couldn’t finish. But, of course, she ended up finding another distraction: a cat!

Of course, the best part was finding out the cat’s owner was a charming and caring man.

This was a quick and sappy romance that you can get through in 5 minutes. Hardly worth it, really. It was strangely typical how the pets ended up having the same name. Seriously, what are the odds of that?

For me, the most inspirational part was Martin’s statement: “Write what you want to write.” (200) Sometimes writers get lost in the aspiration for fame and fortune, never once remembering the main reason they got started in this whole writing thing—fun. And, of course, that got Jane’s butt into gear.

This is actually a good reminder for any writer struggling with the block, even if the story did end a little too predictably.


My rating: 3 stars

Monday, January 5, 2015

Review: BENEATH THE BLAST by Jeff Rorik

The new reality show, Beneath the Blast, is poised to be the next big hit. Ten volatile contestants will be confined to an underground bunker for one month, during which they will compete physically, mentally, and socially in an attempt to win the one million dollar prize.

The production crew is well aware that their hands are going to be full running the show, but when it comes to light that they too are unable to leave the bunker or contact the surface, the situation becomes far more dangerous. They are faced with a dilemma: do they risk their jobs by calling off the game, or allow the rivalries and infighting to continue?

My thoughts: The game: a subdued version of Survivor. Everyone is competing for the million-dollar prize. But who will win?

What’s interesting about this book is that it’s not really a story but a reality TV game show you’re reading. Told in the various perspectives of the contestants and the TV crew, Beneath the Blast presents the game on and off the cameras, relaying inner thoughts of alliance, strategy, and the fierce determination to win at all costs. Each short chapter focuses on a brief summary (thoughts and/or actions) of each character. There may have been a few too many characters too keep track of. In fact, sometimes I forgot some of them and I had to try to remember who was who. I also thought that the rules of the game were a tad complicated. You complete tasks and win tokens, which you can use to buy necessities, but you must decide whether it would be worth getting these necessities?

The game itself was not as riveting as I expected it to be. I would’ve liked it better if it had more of a Fear Factor element, including tasks like jumping off a mountain or eating live scorpions. The plot seemed compelling, but the execution fell flat.

My rating: 2.5 stars

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: FIRE SIGN by M.A. Petterson

A beautiful forensic engineer hiding a tragic past reluctantly teams up with a troubled cop to stop a serial arsonist targeting churches.

Dr. Anja Toussaint believes that her own dreadful youth foretells who the arsonist is and the shocking motive behind the fires. But Detective Gil Dolan stubbornly sets his sights on a white supremacist previously convicted of arson and just released from prison.

Unfortunately, when Anja blocks his efforts the arrogant cop sets his own plan into motion that leads them both into a fiery trap.

* Please note: Fire Sign is a novella and about one quarter the length of regular novel.

My thoughts: There is an arsonist that is burning down churches, and the case was set to locate and convict.

Starting off in the 1st person POV, the story relays the investigation process, which involved police protocol and forensic evidence. Not very stimulating. I didn’t even know who was telling the story.

It started off okay with the fire in the church, but the excitement of a good thriller was weakened by a complex plot and a stagnant pace.  The writing was rudimentary.

I just couldn’t quite get into it.

My rating: 2 stars

Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: WARM HEARTS IN WINTER by Helen Pollard

How desperate would you need to be to take a P.A. position to a complete stranger in a remote cabin surrounded by nothing but snow and mountains? Suddenly I’m seeing images of Jack Nicholson from The Shining.  Not too enticing for me.

And why would a writer need a personal assistant? I mean, how lazy is the guy? Abby was right: it did sound like he needed a babysitter.

In any sense, Abby takes the job. Of course, when she first gets to the cabin, she was freezing cold, wet, bruised (from her fall in the snow,) and exhausted. Misery, party of one, please.

I was impressed how forceful Jack was when he insisted that she not drive off in the middle of the night in search of a hotel. Was she nuts? It’s dark and snowy—you won’t be able to see a thing! But with disregard to her stubborn poutiness, he laid down the law and said: “You’re staying and that’s that.” Now that’s a man.

Mainly the tale revolves around two people with nothing to do but look at each other and talk. Of course, there was no doubt that there would be some lovey-dovey feelings there. In fact, it got a little sappy at times. And with nothing to do out in the woods, it got a little boring. The intriguing twist was cabin fever settling in, making the two anxious and disgruntled in the midst.

Still, there was something there. “She wore simple clothes, never primped at her hair, and rarely wore any makeup….Abby was the opposite, almost unaware of her attractiveness, and of course Jack found that attractive in itself.” (57) I like guys that like plain girls—girls that are just the way they are. Although I don’t know how I’d feel to know that I reminded him of his dead wife. Now the thriller book, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurie, is coming to mind. At one point, I thought Abby was actually being haunted by the dead wife with the silent phone calls, dark figures, and strange noises that kept happening at the cabin. But that just enabled the two to get even closer.

The story is well-written and describes the snowy scene vividly. Well, of course, you’re going to describe nothing but snow. That’s all there is! I don’t think I’d be able to take all that snow—I’m a Cali girl, after all. Story is full of emotion—mainly heart-ache that predictably turns to love.

This is a warm, fuzzy, little romance that’s supposed to melt your heart.

My rating: 3.5 stars