Random Book Review Roundup- #3

Welcome back to another random book review roundup! Now that the holiday season is nothing more than a distant sight on our rearview mirrors, it’s time to get back to reading and reviewing some awesome indie and self-pubbed works. My apologies for missing December as things get pretty hectic during those times and my available reading time was nearly non-existent as a result.

This month I’ve listed three great reads all deserving of five stars in their own right. If you’re interested in the works of these talented authors, give them a look and see if anything whets your appetite. In most cases, reviews are posted here, Amazon, and Goodreads. Links are almost always supplied below each submission to author pages or the reviewed work specifically. Read for the love of it and keep writing if that’s your thing, you never know who is reading your work!

Side note- I’m trying to post monthly but may not always be able to what with my own pursuits, but I will try. I wanted to get these reviews up for January before I beta read a book from another awesome author, and its one I’m excited about jumping into! Without further ado, here are the reviews…

In the Time of Standing Stones: A Legend of the Carolyngian Age (Legends of the Carolyngian Age Book 1) by Joseph S Samaniego

Epic and sweeping fantasy adventure.

In the time of Standing Stones, Samaniego’s first book within his Legends of the Carolyngian Age, fantasy adventure takes center stage in this epic offering. With in-depth character customization and expert-level details, Samaniego wastes no time letting his readers know that they are about to embark on an expansive journey of the ages into a vibrantly detailed world with an ensemble cast of heroes and villains that radiates high fantasy and the timeless feel of stories and movies of the past.

While the mode of good versus evil is evident within Samaniego’s work, he takes his readers well beyond the trope with a rich history that includes swords and sorcery, crafted faraway places, myths, legends, and top-rate threats among warriors and kings. As it stands, Book 1 of Legends of the Carolyngian Age, is deeply and finely crafted. It offers a rewarding read-through with enough twists and turns to keep it well-paced and enjoyable throughout from the start of this journey into Samaniego’s world. It is definitely worth the read for fans of Clash of the Titans, Lord of the Rings, Beowulf, and many more.

The love of history, the attention paid to the realms of fantasy, and the finely crafted understanding of mythology are equally evident in Samaniego’s work. Readers enjoying one or all of those areas of interest will be hard-pressed to find another series that expertly weaves all three within its pages.  

Link:  https://www.amazon.com/Joseph-S-Samaniego/e/B078Z3SNQT/

KLS-9 (The Eden Evolution Series Book 1) by Leigh Grissom

Non-stop thrill ride.

From the start of Grissom’s first book of The Eden Evolution Series titled, KLS-9, readers will instantly know that they are in for a treat, even if it comes blood-soaked and angry. Hitting a fast pace right out of the gate, Grissom delivers a twisted pounding tale of shadows and conspiracy, dirty decisions, and the changing dynamic of escaping the past while maneuvering through the future all the while catching readers up to the sizzling backstory already in progress in small digestible snippets. Never letting up, readers are taken on a deadly journey within a world of revenge, psychic powers, greed, the gray area between right and wrong, and good versus evil.

Cleverly crafted characters set the stage in a future-like dystopian world of superpowers, corporate wants, military needs, and the human experience of feasting on the scraps left over. Self-worth and cash value streamline as technology mingles with bounty hunting flair and survival dabbles between nightmares and reality as Grissom’s main character, Kerry Sheridan, struggles to maintain, escape, and understand a past that quickly comes back to haunt her. Joined by a memorable supporting cast, Grissom expertly displays her descriptive talents regarding the locals and locales within Horizon, the fictional city of lost souls, seedy nightlife, and second chances making it feel real and drawing readers into its depths instantly as the dirty travels hand and hand with the clean representing every facet of nearly any society.

With unrelenting action and brief moments of emotional realness, Grissom portrays a strong female lead with moments of brutal truths and honest feelings while showcasing the driving force of a woman pushed too far, stretched too thin, and holding a grudge. Combining science fiction, action, and suspense into Grissom’s first part of her series, KLS-9 is sure to entertain readers craving a devilish mix of all three with its subtle nods to Battle Angel, Blade Runner, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Does not disappoint!

Link : https://www.amazon.com/Leigh-Grissom/e/B075PL5TST/

The Beauty of Decay by Lisa De Castro

Hauntingly beautiful and deceptively complex.

Deeply moving, Castro’s poetry covers the entire human experience more in 24 pages than most books of greater length. At the first read-through, many readers may be taken aback by The Beauty of Decay’s lack of additional pages, additional offerings. It is shortly thereafter that the magic and wonder of skillful exposition by Castro begins its unpacking within our fragile minds as it blossoms into recognition, understanding, and touching interconnected sentiments that resonate within each of us.

The Beauty of Decay does what it is intended to do under Castro’s masterful guidance and that is, enlighten while comparing and contrasting, relate while differing, and finally, caress the soul. Showcasing aspects of death and birth, Castro weaves a poetry offering that appears simple at first glance but tugs at the very fabric of our existence the longer it is left to steep within us. Placing items, views, thoughts, and processes into life as coexisting cycles, as ends, as beginnings in every aspect of the cosmos, The Beauty of Decay is that in every way and will stay in the mind and heart of all who venture among its timely and powerfully depicted pages.    

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-De-Castro/e/B078KQ4KJC/

Happy Reading,


Random Book Review Roundup- #2

It’s the November roundup of recent book reviews! Although I read all the time it seems, I wanted to get this fresh-baked set of reviews out and about before the holiday season descends upon us all with its madness and merriment. All reviews are also included on Amazon and Goodreads while being listed here as well so take a chance, read a new favorite or simply gloat with pride, you deserve it!

I’ve also included the star rating even though it’s not entirely necessary. I find it an antiquated tradition and only opinion but hey, where would we be without a star system determining our satisfaction, or lack thereof, a person’s writing worth? To me, everyone should be sitting at 5 stars just for doing the damn thing, but I digress. I won’t post links as you’re all internet sleuths and can find your way without the hand holding. Without further ado, read on, keep writing, keep creating, keep being you and enjoy!!

Stories for a Storm Filled Night (The Storm Series-The Short Stories) by Alan Scott–4 stars

Scott’s detail to character development takes center stage in this collection of short stories related to his series, The Storm Series. Not having read those previous offerings, Scott details exactly where and when his offered short stories take place within his fantasy world weaving a tapestry of continuity on an expert level. Leaving no stone unturned, readers are treated to closer inspections, darker findings, and greater introspection of his created world and the characters that live there.

Although reading Scott’s Storm Series would increase reader satisfaction and overall understanding of the timeline of events detailed within his collection of short stories, it is not a requirement. Each story offers up enough information and, based on Scott’s assistance with how each story fits into the grand scheme of things, readers will no doubt enjoy the ride of uncovering and learning more about his creations.

Masterfully weaving short stories that display how life, events, and situations can shape us, Scott beautifully shows the aftermath as well perfectly placing these “one-shots” into their respective timeline. A fantastic addition for anyone who has read the Storm Series or plans on it, or for anyone who enjoys in-depth characterization in a short story format that blends flawlessly with larger works and within this offering as well, you cannot go wrong. Good read all around!    

Chainsaw by John Bender –4 stars.

Gives good mullet.

In Chainsaw, Bender delivers a rollercoaster ride of redneck humor and blood-soaked visuals that dives deep into backwoods hilarity while going full-tilt duh in all the right spots. More fun than pass the cousin at a hillbilly reunion, Bender pulls out all the stops and pushes the envelope on toilet jokes, dirt road mentalities, and gory splashes of ineptitude.

At its heart, Chainsaw can be seen as two good ‘ole boys trying to better their positions in life while the powers that be continue to push them down. In a clash between the have and the have nots, greed meets stupidity, and Bender makes it all explode firework-style with displays of vulgarity in all the right spots in this fast-paced comedy horror short read.

Although readers may feel the grisly and crude are over the top, most will find themselves laughing as well as holding back their lunch watching this created train wreck play out within the pages. The characterization, while not as deep as the well that tried to eat Baby Jessica in the late 80s, was well placed and thorough enough that readers can visualize, if not smell what Bender is giving us. There was some head-hopping and odd switches to narration in a couple of spots which can lead to confusion, but readers enjoying Bender’s cruise through the backroads and woods will no doubt easily breeze right past the stumbles.

True to the feel of the first few pages, Chainsaw never deviates from its deliverance of speedy trailer park trash calamity and the trench ass greasiness of bad decisions, bloodshed, and mans’ never-ending quest for money and anything with boobs. It works, even with some flaws. Although a hard three on the star rating, the shock value and moments that had me laugh aloud while reading it tipped it into a 4-star rating due to the pacing and overall enjoyment which, in the end, is what it’s all about. Bender’s work brings with it so many elements that work well together that readers will be more forgiving of any downsides they may find. Funny, gross, crude, horrifying, and rude, it’s a quick jaunt into debauchery on many levels and well worth the price of admission.

It’s Joe Dirt meets the Dukes of Hazard sipping moonshine on a back porch with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and the Squidbillies while Smokey and the Bandit plays on a dirty old television in a run-down cabin in the same neighborhood as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is an amalgamation of many things and Bender offers as many referenced nods as imaginable during the run of his offering while remaining original and fresh. Much like Aunt Ella-Mae’s potato salad after it sat out for 4 hours in the sun at a family picnic, Chainsaw delivers and stays with you long after the last flush. Good stuff if you’re into it!

Boredom & Bedlam: A Supernatural Comedy Short Story Pairing by Joel Spriggs— 4 stars.

Having not read Over a God’s Dead Body, Spriggs’s first book in his Wrong Gods series, I wasn’t sure what to expect in this short story involving characters Jake and Esmy but in the end, it was well worth the read. Comedy takes center stage as magic and mayhem run amok after boredom decides to stir the pot resulting in hilarity during this short read.

Consisting of two separate quick tales, Spriggs expertly crafts a fun romp in two completely different scenarios involving his characters that give readers a taste of magical life outside his main series while highlighting how power can sometimes cause more problems than solve. An enjoyable zippy read that is sure to entice those new to Spriggs’s series as well as delight readers of the first book with a one-shot offering that explores his characters in a new light and continues the fun he has brilliantly created.   

Unseen by Rebecca R. Pierce— 5 Stars

A deceptively short read that brings creepy depth.

Pierce does more with the seventeen pages of Unseen than most could ever imagine in this short read horror offering. Weaving the past and present in a smoky haze of confusion, Pierce creates a world of shadowy mystery that takes readers on a slow walk into terror while leaving subtle hints at her true intentions until readers have arrived at their final destination. Masterfully bringing growing tension, Pierce delivers her horror short free of extensive amounts of gore choosing to offer readers a more classic approach with just enough blood to get the job done which blends beautifully with her created vibe. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes and, while Pierce certainly showcases this thought, it’s the cleverly detailed scenes, overall mood, and sadistically hidden truths that are revealed that give Unseen its final punch that will haunt many a reader for days.

If you’ve managed to read this far, congratulation and much love. Also, I like cookies and have a sweet gummy fetish if you’re wondering what I like for the holidays. *winkwink* Lastly, thank you to the awesomely talented authors I read from this month and I look forward to not only future work from you all but from the entire writing community.


Random Book Review Roundup- #1

I like to read. I do, when I’m not writing. Many times, especially in the past, I would read a work by another indie author or self-published writer and leave a huge dissertation in review form on Goodreads and Amazon as well on here on my blog. I loved doing it, I enjoyed detailing how I felt, the read, the depth, the work, and the creativity of fellow writers for all to see. It also took quite a bit of time away from my own goals and pursuits. Now, things have changed.

While I do love leaving long reviews, it ends up being less than required, or even feasible when it comes to overall algorithms or whether or not it equates to a sale. Authors love to see a review, two sentences are perfect, sometimes more, sometimes less. I’m like a slot machine when it comes to words. For a quarter, you may get more, you may get less. Overall, I want you to know I’ve read your work. I want others to know I liked it or didn’t without the long-drawn-out literary critiques. You get to see it, it will still make you feel a certain way, but this route ends up being less time-intrusive for me and still comes to the same conclusion. You rock, you created something awesome, and now others will know too. Give yourself pats, give yourself the hugs. You’ve earned it.

In the future, I will try to do a “roundup” of a few of the books I’ve read over the past couple of weeks and place their reviews in the blog post as well as leaving them on Amazon and Goodreads. You get the stars, I get to clean out my TBR pile without outlining and producing a ten-page review. More people get read, more writers get recognition. You may find your book next to another genre in the roundup, it’s simply the placement of how I read them or however they loaded up when I put them in the blog after reading. No worries. You may have questions. I have answers and respond well to savory, sweet, and salty in equal measure. *wink wink*

Listed below are the reviews as seen on Amazon and Goodreads. If you find yourself interested give these authors a chance and pick up their works, you won’t be disappointed and you may ever find a new favorite. No pressure. Much love and keep writing, keep reading!!

The Valley by Mike Salt—

A stress-relieving trip to a cabin with friends to enjoy the fresh air among the great outdoors quickly spirals into a supernatural hellscape under the devilish mastery of Salt’s writing proving that sometimes getting away from it all can kill in the most sinister ways. Bringing memorable characters to life and pushing them into deadly situations among a shifting landscape of terror is par for the course in The Valley.

As the chills ramp up so does the danger as Salt’s characters are hurtled into a ghostly mind-bending mystery that slinks from the shadows and brings with it unrelenting fear. Questions arrive with answers as death eagerly awaits around every twisting corner and turn. Although not focusing entirely on one character’s experience, Salt manages multiple viewpoints and experiences with skill choosing to push his readers into the heart, soul, and panicked decisions of those we can affectionately call, his victims. In spots, the quick cutaways to other characters could have felt bumpy, but Salt easily manages to quickly corral any possible confusion.

Forests and valleys can be dangerous places even for experienced hikers and nature lovers, under Salt’s direction it becomes even more so in this enjoyable fast-paced supernatural horror read.

Rain on a Tin Roof: A Romance Novel by Sandra A. Sigfusson—

Sigfusson delicately dances through Rain on a Tin Roof with skillful flourishes that promise new readers something enjoyable while providing enough standards within to please regular fans of the genre. With the characters of Virginia and Luke, Sigfusson demonstrates her ability to provide well-developed characters that are easily relatable, realistic, and in-tune with their emotions and fallible natures.

Hinting at fate and instant attraction, Sigfusson’s control of her world and that of her character’s heartfelt choices and tough decisions will no doubt have readers enjoying and connecting with her characters throughout. Every moment a chance, a sliding door to our future and one that we are led through and into with gentle touches and a guiding hand.

With enough romance to book a spot on the Hallmark channel and enough steam to fill an evening on HBO without going full smut, Sigfusson creates a realistic world where wants, desires, and the pull of temptation meet life’s daily grind. Something for every reader, be it new to the genre or a regular, Rain on a Tin Roof is a winner and hits every note.

Patrick F. Johnson’s Cheap Book: Aliens Versus Vampires Now With Mermaids by Patrick F. Johnson—

Even if the title clearly details what readers can expect within, Johnson delivers even more with this sci-fi, horror, fantasy mash-up novella. Packing humor, horror, thrills, spills, and even a little pew-pew into this shorter work, Johnson takes readers on a deftly created fast-paced ride through a tightly focused plot with fun and innovative characters that are relatable in some aspects and completely off the wall in others. Great read, instantly memorable, and desperately screaming for a sequel, Johnson’s “Cheap Book” is a steal!

The Flash Fiction Fridays Project: 2020 Anthology by Emily Larkins—

Well written, this anthology is a heartwarming experience that centers on inner and outer conflicts and the emotions that orbit our everyday lives. Each offering within Larkins’s collection is a stand-alone experience that brings with it memorable characters and situations that move the spirit and speak volumes of the human condition, the struggles, the love, and the inevitable passing of time. Enjoyable, heartfelt, truthful.


Coming around again.

It’s been a minute. It’s been nearly 2 years of head-scratching and uncertainty about where, what, and how the hell I was doing. I’m sitting here still shaking my head about how I started this writing journey way back in 2017 with the first book of The Keeper Chronicles. Through the years I grew, learned how to write better, handle the self-publishing requirements, navigate cover design, and managed some minor advertising. It’s been a ride, it’s been a learning experience.

I was all gung-ho in 2020 having penned three novellas on my new superhero series, The AOA or The Agents of Ardenwood. I had finished three rough drafts in 2019 after completing Frayed Endings closing the book on The Keeper Chronicles. I was excited going in this direction as it not only focused on superheroes but centered on Becca Byers, the plucky protagonist with a feisty side. A new experience, a different take on superheroes for me.

I was thrilled to introduce her alongside so many others within Ardenwood, the fictional town where it all shakes down. It had my heart, my interest, my desire to steamroll her story. The fire was lit, the potential was there, and I was ready to burn. I got all three novellas ready to roll and started the process of rapid-fire publishing. The game plan, one new novella in the series per month. I knew I could handle it, I was already three months ahead. The next one, Episode 3 didn’t need to hit until April 2020 so I got cocky taking an abundance of pride in my accomplishments. I got busy, I got it partially done. Then, just like the world outside my window, Covid slammed on the brakes and rocked my universe to the core.

Everything changed, life altered. Working from home was difficult, finding writing time when you’re in the same room with your husband doing the same thing was hell on both of us. As the days lingered on and a pandemic systematically reconfigured our entire lifestyles, writing fell to the wayside for me. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t daydream, I couldn’t dialogue to myself to work on scenes. It was everything I had worked for, gone. We were healthy, we stayed safe but it came with a cost as writing is never easy especially when you can’t get around to it.

During that year and a half, I spent a great deal of time going over The Keeper Chronicles. I edited, I fixed even more, I deliberately cut with a wide swath what didn’t work, what didn’t add or increase the value of the work. It was something I could do that didn’t require quiet, something I could pick at until I was happy with it. I knew better, I did better. I slimmed all five books down, made them easier to digest, and managed to squeeze them into one collection, one paperback edition to add to the ebook offerings. It came out like a college textbook, size, and girth-wise, but I was proud, and still not entirely back on track.

2021 rolled around, the shaky new world we wandered into came with hints of vaccines, opportunities. Safely, we ventured back into cohabitation, if only by dipping pinky toes into society when and where we could without going overboard. The hubs went back to work and, after days of depression for him being gone having had a hip pal every minute of the day for nearly 2 years, I sat down and promised myself to start writing again. I told myself to do something, anything and I did.

The words, much like a splinter buried deep in tender skin, were a pain to pull free. Honestly, if I managed 10 words a day, it was a miracle. Speaking of miracles, it got better, more words flowed, the drive trickled back, energy started to light the dusty cobwebbed-covered lights inside. I learned to dance around the slow days, embrace the busier ones, and put more words down than I even thought possible. Soon, I marveled at having finished The AOA, Episode 3. I sent it out into the world, the longest incubation period of any work I have ever done and a heftier birth than previous ones within the series. Still, I was proud, a father that found a way and another book that had found feet and wandered into retail.

I think about the struggle and laugh, I smile about it, I keep it sitting idly in the back of my head. We all struggle as writers, some more than ever, some for many different reasons, but struggle we do. Finding mojo takes time, sometimes the muse refuses to come out of hiding. Sometimes she’s a whisper of a sentence, sometimes a broken dam and a subsequent flood. She’s a fickle pickle, always has been, always will be but if you give some love, take baby steps, she’ll come around again. She’s like an old carousel slowly turning in an abandoned park, the faintest sound of music in the background under flickering lights. Everyone gets a ride eventually if they find their way there, sometimes you just have to wait, buy a ticket, enjoy the show. Clap for the others, carry on for yourself.

I’m happy with the ways turned out, I would never want to do it over again. Now, as I sit and smile after having released Episode 4 of the AOA into the wilds of book retail hell and having successfully plotted somewhat and outlined both Episodes 5 and 6 to efficiently end Season 1, I’m proud of myself, proud of my achievements. I’m glad I’ve been allowed this opportunity as we’ve all seen and learned that nothing is promised, not a single day is given, and that every day should find us learning, growing, loving, laughing, and, on those odd days when our muse decides to play along, writing. Much love.

Below, the covers of both Ep. 3 and 4 as done by Thebookkhaleesi.com. I wanted a simple cover and multiple colors. She’s amazing and I could not be happier. Check her out if you’re in the market for a cover and then check out my work at https://www.amazon.com/Kester-James-Finley/e/B073YG5YCQ

Random Book Review- Calibration 74 by William F. Aicher

Recently finished and reviewed. If you like your read on the surreal side of life with flourishes of driving narration and free-form poetry that teeters between light and dark, life and death, this will be an enjoyable and memorable read. Don’t miss it.

Review follows image, enjoy!

Five stars!

Thought-provoking and surrealistically gripping.

In Calibration 74, Aicher delivers a powerful offering that draws readers into a world behind the façade, to the inner workings of the mind, and a life exposed. One part musings of a mad man and two parts surrealistic-like fever dream, Calibration 74 deftly takes readers by the hand and leads them deeper down the literary rabbit hole forgoing standard storytelling.

At its start, Aicher showcases his ability to spark interest with his opening narration of a man obsessed with numbers and embroiled in a quest for a door leading to salvation, renewal, life. Within Calibration 74’s few first pages, we soon learn this will be no simple task and that our experience will be anything but typical for the novella’s duration as Aicher masterfully blends free-form poetry into the mix breaking down the barriers of outside versus inside, and the drive, the force behind a man’s moving parts.

Combining pacing that features scattered thoughts and blurry visions of both past and present experiences, Aicher allows his readers to experience the dark gritty corners of a man’s troubled and fractured mind before delivering sharp flashes of poetic justification that pulls back the curtains of meaning and encourages deeper philosophical inspection with his created revelations. As readers draw closer to Aicher’s crafted end of Calibration 74, what we know and believe versus what is imagined and false blur in expertly detailed snippets of realization that will leave many on a course of retrospection unpacking and comparing all that was offered.

At times psychologically illuminating, Aicher delivers a brave presentation on how the mind works when dealing with life, processing trauma, circumventing reality, and living with past and present conflicts. Its poetic flourishes flawlessly meld with a college course on abnormal psychology and will push and pull your mind and emotions in every direction equally. Troubling, endearing, comical, and abrupt, Aicher’s work is a giant onion consisting of layers hiding meanings hiding deeply rooted scars of clarity. With references aplenty peppering his prose throughout involving literary, musical, and cinematic offerings, Aicher’s expert foray into a world behind the eyes is broken and beautiful, raw and untouched, eroded and used.

As it reads, Calibration 74 feels like an old radio in a dark basement being manually tuned. Snippets of music fight through the static, the squelches, the talking, the silence. Readers will hear bits and pieces forming visual cues and directions in their mind only to be lead away on another course by the master of the dial until we are left with the knowledge we so desperately crave, to the ending we so rightfully deserve.

If one is searching for a run-of-the-mill simple read, Calibration 74 is very unconventional in that regard and does its best work for those looking for something different, something lasting and memorable. A feather, a knife, a heart pleading, a mind steering a body, Calibration 74 is a beautiful and broken mosaic expertly collected into a glowing tapestry once completed and viewed from afar.

Within a moving gallery of creation, every reader will interpret Aicher’s work differently, will find a connection within themselves among the jumbled art pieces of his storytelling that reflects personas both bright and damning. Weaving through man’s inner turmoil, desire, escapism, conflicts, and personal constructs set adrift among a brackish ocean of reality and fantasy, Calibration 74 will stay will you long after the final page.

Review was posted on Amazon and Goodreads, check it out! Keep reading, keep writing!

Until next time,