My Fragile Heart – A Bad Book Review – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by John Peragine

As the date of the launch of my novel, Max and the Spice Thieves, approaches I have been seeking and receiving reviews. Every time I see a new one in the mailbox, I cringe a little before opening it. I brace for the worst and hope for the best.

There is a certain amount of courage that is needed to send your “baby” out into the world, not only to be read but to be judged. On purpose, no less.

Before I was a full-time writer, I was a symphony musician. Since I was a boy, I played the flute and had many years of lessons and education. By the time it was performance time, I would have rehearsed with the orchestra for two or three weeks. As I sat down, I still worried about missing a cue or hitting a wrong note. As the piccolo player, there was no hiding in the orchestra. If I played at the wrong time or missed a passage, it was very obvious. 99.99 percent of the time, I played well, but it did little to help me reduce my stress for the next performance.

Sending a book out, and having someone read it, is my live performance. When I finished a piece with the orchestra, the conductor motioned with his hand, I stood up, and there was applause. When I type “The End,” there is no such applause or feedback, and so reviews take the place of the applause.

How To Protect Yourself

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior (Omen Of The Stars 5) By Erin Hunter – From Rachel Poli’s Blog

Book Revew: Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior | Omen of the Stars | Erin Hunter | Book Blogger | Blogging | Reading Books |


With a divided StarClan driving a treacherous rift between the four warrior Clans, the spirits of the Dark Forest are gaining strength. Ivypool’s role as a spy becomes more dangerous with each passing day, and Dovewing is haunted by nightmares about the mountains.
Then an outsider appears in ThunderClan’s midst, spreading discord and pushing the Clans farther apart. As tensions mount and Clanmates turn against one another, the warrior cats will be forced to choose whose word they can trust–before it’s too late.

My Review:

Book Cover |

The book cover matches the rest of the series. It highlights a cat who’s important to the current book and series as a whole. I had guessed who the cat was on the front cover, even though that cat is no longer listed as one of the characters.

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Book Review – The Hat by C.S. Boyack

The HatGoodreads Synopsis:

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

My Review:

I so enjoy reading anything written by C.S. Boyack. He has a talent for merging historical, supernatural, mystery and humorous genre elements in his writing. These elements are then woven into a seamless story that carries the reader late into the night saying, “Just one more chapter”.

The Hat is no exception to this. Think Thelma and Louise where Thelma is a landscaping waitress named Lizzie and Louise is a hat. It’s not just any kind of hat, however. It’s powers are magical, but also useful.

Told from the perspective of 20-something Lizzie, Boyack excels at telling the reader what she is experiencing with a sense of humor that masks underlying fluctuations between confidence and fear. Lizzie’s character is engaging, but so is that of the hat. Not since J.K. Rowling brought us the sorting hat in the Harry Potter series has a hat been so entertaining.

Boyack’s incarnation of the hat, however, has many talents. I won’t spoil the plot elements of the story here, but I will  say, If you read this novella, you will not be disappointed by any aspect of it except that it is over so quickly.

Boyack mentions that Lizzie and her hat companion might be worth bringing back at the end of the book in his notes. I second that thought enthusiastically.

So, a tip of the cap to C.S. Boyack for The Hat. I truly believe that his work is on the verge of discovery from a much larger reader market.

Review – John Howell’s Circumstances of Childhood

Circumstances of Childhood final front

Goodreads Blurb:

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

My Review:

If John Grisham, Dean Koontz, and Dan Brown got together and decided to collaborate on a book, Circumstances of Childhood would be  the result. The book has three distinct components that John Howell blends together seamlessly.

First, there is the friendship that blossoms out of tragedy between Greg and Keith. This part of the book is reminiscent of John Grisham’s YA Theodore Boone series or Stephen King’s The Body (inspiration for the movie, Stand By Me). The book then transitions into more of a Dean Koontz vibe with some other-worldly interaction that is very poignant and fascinating. It then transitions into a fast-paced courtroom drama ala Grisham. This part of the book had me on the edge of my seat. This is then followed by some Dan Brown type computer forensics and good old-fashioned hacking intermingled with more spiritual aspects.

This is a well-rounded book that compelled me to write an email to John while sitting in the Atlanta airport reading the book to tell him I was enjoying it. I look forward to John’s next effort. This was a worthy follow-up to his John J. Cannon trilogy.

You can get more details on the book from John’s Fiction Favorites site.

Indie authors, do you read work by other indie authors?

Over the past two years, I have done book reviews sporadically on my blog. Mostly the reviews were for detective/mystery novels by well-known authors. As an indie author, I avoided reading work by other indie authors. I made some exceptions early on reading books by Nicholas Rossis and my good high school friend Nick Davis. Both of those reading experiences were positive.

Lately, I read works by John Howell, an author and blogger well known to many of you. I enjoyed reading his work and I believe the reviews I posted resulted in some positive exposure for John.

This led me to approaching the reading of work by indie authors in a different light. I’m going to continue to read and review work by indie authors as another outlet for helping the community. I am going to lay out some ground rules, however:

  1. I will not have a set schedule for reviewing indie works
  2. I will not accept requests to review books. I want it to be spontaneous and something I continue to enjoy
  3. If a book is not at a a certain level of quality in terms of formatting, story telling, grammar, etc., I will likely not finish it and will not post a review.

I really want to continue to help indie authors and I think posting negative reviews will defeat that purpose.

Anyway, I’m already in the process of reading an indie author’s book and will be posting a review sometime this week. Hopefully some of you who do not generally post reviews will emulate this process and pick up one of my books or another indie author that needs some exposure.

If you have thoughts on this, please let me know.

Review – A Study in Scarlet

A study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet is the first Sherlock Holmes novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I recently did a feature on Doyle on this blog and, being the book nerd that I am, I’m going back and reading all of the Sherlock Holmes pieces again.

This book, like many of the Sherlock Holmes stories, is told from the perspective of Dr. Watson, Holmes companion and assistant. In this tale, we see when the pair met for the first time and see the formulation of Watson’s opinion of Holmes grow from thinking he is very odd to outright, unabashed admiration for his abilities.

This novel unveils the uncanny deductive abilities of Sherlock Holmes from the very outset as he tells Watson exactly where he has been and what he has experienced. Watson is amazed and believes that Holmes is guessing until he unveils his logic. Doyle has a way of unveiling this logic that makes the reader think that the process is simple and obvious once it is explained.

As expected, much of this story takes place in London with vivid descriptions of the streets of this magnificent city during the time period contemporary with Doyle’s own experience. What I did not expect in this novel is a section that reads like an old style American western.

As Doyle does in many of his tales, once caught, he lets the criminal tell his tale. In this case, the murderer talks about his experiences dealing with the Mormons migrating to Salt Lake City. The descriptions and the action are as good as any wild west tale written by American authors. I did not expect this, but it was very enjoyable. Doyle was masterful in describing the landscape and the trials and tribulations of these migratory religious pilgrims. He even weaves Brigham Young himself into the story.

Overall, this was an excellent novel and a fantastic introduction of one of the most beloved figures in the Detective/Crime genre.

Look for more reviews of Doyle’s work in the coming weeks. This one gets five out of five pizzas.


Reviews Are The Lifeblood of Authors


As many authors will attest, reviews are one of the most important gifts that readers can bestow upon us. Yes, buying our books is a great thing, but giving us feedback about the books that you’ve read is much more important.

When I buy products on Amazon, because I can’t see or feel the product beforehand, I relay on reviews from other people that have purchased the product to guide me in my purchase. This is true of books.

Reviews also help authors get recognition from Amazon and other venues. They help with ranking and placement in ads.

Your reviews don’t have to be essay’s. You can simply select the number of stars as a rating and leave one or two words. Of course, the more constructive feedback you give, the better it is for the author. We always want to improve our product for future readers.

Recently, I did a sale on my new book, Blood OrangeThe response was great. I’m asking now, if you took advantage of the sale and you were one of the many people that downloaded it, please leave an honest review when you’re done. I have the same plea for my other work.

Your feedback is welcome and greatly appreciated.

Book Review – Missing You by Harlan Coben

I have really enjoyed Harlan Coben’s books over the years. “Tell No One” and his Myron Bolitar books are classics with a number of twists and turns. Even his YA Mickey Bolitar series has been enjoyable.

This book, however, did not live up to his usual standard. The story is told from the point of view of a late thirties/early forties female NYC detective. The telling of the story from this point of view seems disingenuous and even chauvinistic, but not realistic. The female POV is not consistent and cliched in many spots.

He weaves a story about his main character’s father being killed in with the disappearance of her former fiance and the disappearance of several wealthy people via a dating web site into a single conclusion and it feels forced and predictable. The usual Coben twists and turns are not present. This one feels like he phoned it in.

Not every book from every author can be a winner. I am willing to read Coben’s next book to see if he rebounds from this effort. I truly hope that it is an improvement.

Only a mere two out of five pizzas for this author from whom I expect more.


Book Review – Finders Keepers by Stephen King

I thought this was a great book. Stephen King has made a venture into the detective/mystery drama flawlessly with this trilogy. Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and his upcoming 3rd book in the trilogy take place in the same universe with some loose ties in the person of retired police officer turned detective Bill Hodges.

This one centers on unpublished manuscripts that were stolen during the murder of a reclusive author. They are forgotten when the criminal, a fan of the author’s earlier work, goes to jail. The books are rediscovered by another fan many years later and the struggle to determine what happens to them is central to the story.

King excels at this genre without the use of horror, supernatural elements, or excessive violence. I am liking his venture into this genre and look forward to more.

I both love and hate Stephen King for crossing over into the detective/crime genre. This is my favorite genre and he makes it look easy. For those of us  that struggle with the twists and turns of writing in this genre, I hate him. I also love the books and will read the next one in the trilogy, end of watch, when it comes out.

King’s character of Bill Hodges is inspiring as the retired officer. In this book, we find that he has improved his health and has seen success as a P.I.

I give this book five out of five pizzas.