The Golden Age of Everything by Richard Moore

The Golden Age of Everything by Richard Moore
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (36 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

One billion years in the future, Ritch Speerat seeks psychological help for his nightmares. On his way to his therapist, he meets The Hortboy. Ritch shares with The Hortboy his love of ancient history, specifically an age one billion years in the past which he calls ‘the golden age of everything’. The Hortboy is charmed by this age and shares it with everyone he knows. It soon goes viral.

Ritch’s therapist informs him that there are three ways to cure him of his nightmares: suicide, murder, and The One True Law. Ritch, a good guy, chooses The One True Law. Ritch must retrieve The One True Law, overcoming many obstacles, and expose the source of his nightmares to its justice. Maybe his unique knowledge of ‘the golden age of everything’ will help him.

On his journey Ritch encounters giant pizza-delivering rodents, enchanted roadways, weird spells, strange magic items, golden skyscrapers, a singing/dancing army, ghastly demons, villainous cannibals, multiple One True Laws, a pot smoking dragon, and a group of frat boys, all of which come together like water in a funnel.

A study in contrasts, The Golden Age of Everything juxtaposes: mature psychological issues with sophomoric humor, emotional abandonment with serendipitous friendship, beautiful dreams with terrible nightmares, girl parts with boy parts; you get the idea.

Written with the structural vigor of a sonnet, the calculated efficiency of a computer program, and the offbeat humor of a freak, The Golden Age of Everything is sure to enhance the golden age that is your life.

Ritch isn’t exactly a typical fantasy hero. That’s okay, though, because this isn’t a typical quest.

As soon as I learned about Ritch’s sad backstory, I felt a great deal of sympathy for him. Figuring out what his life had once been like made it much easier to understand who he’d become by the time the first scene in this tale began. He had serious reasons for behaving the way he did, and I couldn’t fault him for his flaws at all once I realized why they’d developed in the first place. They made sense, and I probably would have acted the same way if I were him.

There were so many run-on sentences in this story that I had a hard time following what was happening in it. Many sentences could be interpreted in more than one way, and others were difficult to understand no matter which way I read them. While I enjoyed the plot itself, all of these errors were pretty distracting. I would have felt comfortable choosing a higher rating if this wasn’t the case.

Mr. Moore had a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that shone through many of the scenes in this book. I’d usually never expect to laugh at something that has so many dark themes running through it, but I couldn’t help but to chuckle at this one. There were multiple moments that were both funny and horrifying at the same time.

I’d recommend The Golden Age of Everything to anyone who likes satirical and irreverent science fiction.

Hacking IT by Kimberly Dean

Hacking IT by Kimberly Dean
The Hackers, Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (163 pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Some secrets are never meant to be uncovered.

Independent software developer Kylie Grant is on top of her game in the world of IT. She has loyal clients, a good reputation, and a prestigious membership in technology giant Afire Industries’ small business accelerator. Things are going well until she stumbles across an innocuous issue with the lighting in the building where she rents space. When she digs into the problem, she discovers something unexpected–a hack.

The incursion doesn’t affect her, but Kylie leaves enough clues to fix the problem. That earns her a visit from Luke McAllister, Afire’s chief security officer. Luke is handsome and rugged and everything that Kylie likes in a man, but she soon finds that he is blaming her for the security breach. Before long, the two are on a collision course, but also secretly looking at more than each other’s digital footprints.

When a fluke accident sends Kylie to the emergency room, Luke fears that the beautiful developer is in danger beyond the online world. Little does he know that she is also hiding a secret that threatens to jeopardize their now sizzling relationship. Can Kylie fix Afire’s problems without falling victim to the hacker? And can Luke learn to trust her and keep her safe before their enemy strikes again?

If you are in need of brief escapism as I was when I read this, then I definitely recommend this book. This is a quick, fun and easy read. I don’t know anything about computer hackers therefore I was intrigued with the synopsis, especially with the mention of the heroine having a secret.

Hacking IT began with a prologue that set the stage as well as hooked me into the story. Sparks went off immediately when Kylie, the heroine, met Luke, the hero. Kylie was a lady with sass and brains. Luke was the hero every girl dreams of. Well, at least my dreams. I love a strong man who will do anything to protect and love me. Together Kylee and Luke make for the perfect diversion to my boring life.

The story was written well without any flaws and I loved the ending. I have to laugh because I thought the story was over and I was content. However, the author wasn’t quite done with me. I loved that surprise.

There is a small cast of characters that were well developed and I look forward to meeting them again in the next book in this series.

I will add that the suspense/mystery was well scripted and implemented throughout the love story but it turned out to be who I suspected, therefore I was a tad disappointed that it was that easy to figure out. I would have enjoyed more of a twist on that aspect.

I also need to mention to those who are sensitive to what happens in the bedroom. I typically don’t read books with swear words especially when they are making love. So this is that warning to those who may not like that style. I had no issue skimming over after the second love scene.

Over all, this is a book that I am comfortable suggesting to a friend to read. I am excited that book two, Love Hack, is already available to purchase.

Company Ink by Kat Colburn

Company Ink by Kat Colburn
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (245 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Office intrigue takes on a whole new meaning in this story of love, friendship, and the secrets hiding in plain sight…

The Company has a rule about falling in love on the job.

I’ve never been one for rules. But I need this one. I need this rule to remind me why I can’t be with Dani Wallace.

I need this smart little foul-mouthed fighter by my side more than I need her in my bed. I need her to close this massive deal. She thinks it holds the key to her escape from cubicle hell and another shot at the life she always wanted.

But there is more riding on our success than she can possibly ever know.

So I’ll keep my hands to myself and my secrets safe for one more day.

But now I can’t stop wondering what my best friend has on beneath her conservative suit. I can’t stop imagining the things that sharp mouth of hers could do to me if I leaned back in my chair and unzipped my pants. And I can’t stop pushing our flirting too far.

I’m trying to remember the rule. But some rules are made to be broken.

A love story! That is what sums up this story for me.

Dan and Dani have a workplace romance. Their relationship has instant chemistry that builds up to more. Company Ink is a great for readers who want a slow romance. I loved reading about them getting to know each other better. They are such different characters. The author did a wonderful job with her hero and heroine.

Almost more than half of the book had little to no kissing, and no extra-hot sex scenes which I love, so it made it a bit difficult for me to read, especially since I’m not used to that. It was also a little difficult to get over the fact that their names are Dan and Dani. They’re just too similar and it didn’t work for me.

Overall, the plot was simple with a climax that surprised me. Company Ink is a wonderful read for whenever you are in the mood for a slow-moving romantic romance.

Vic Boyo Doofus Detective by Milo James Fowler

Vic Boyo Doofus Detective by Milo James Fowler
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, HIstorical
Length: Full length (150 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Two murders. One detective. Half a brain.

1931, New York City: Detective Vic Boyo may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but that doesn’t stop him from solving cases as only he can. With a little luck and a whole lot of gumption, Boyo sets out to find the murderer of a local cop. Problem is, Boyo’s more interested in a gorgeous femme fatale accused of killing her husband. She’s destined for the electric chair, but Boyo’s got a hunch she might be innocent. And nobody gets in the way of Boyo’s hunches, not even Vic Boyo himself.

What can I say about a detective story that calls the detective a “doofus”?

This is set in the 1930’s and you have to love some of that terminology to enjoy it. You know, it was the era where a blower was a telephone and a heater was a gun. It is a classic mobster versus cop book. This book has to be read with a sense of fun in mind. That’s actually what it is…sort of a true spoof. Don’t get me wrong, it is a mystery and it does involve a cop and a beautiful lady that needs saving.

This is the type of book that begins with a list of characters, well actually pages of characters. Although I have read and enjoyed many books like this there are enough characters listed to scare you off. I actually had no problem keeping Fowler’s characters straight. They each seemed to have their own personality. It’s just not a wonderful beginning and I hope people don’t put it down because it seems overwhelming.

This book is not at all hard to read but it is different. To enjoy it, you need to step into a slightly different world, one of watching an old-time TV show. It’s not hard to imagine it in black and white. It is narrated by the detective, Victor Ignatius Boyo, and he is a detective that is actually in good standing with and works for the local police department. It’s really good for a few good laughs.

The Streets of Nottingham by Auckly Simwinga

The Streets of Nottingham by Auckly Simwinga
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Short Story (70 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A tragedy will echo through history and force the world into chaos once again…

Eons ago, a betrayal rocked the heavens. Grief overwhelmed the mother of creation, driving her to madness when the god-king banished Caelemon to the underworld. Leading to the sundering of the world which would come to be known as the Breaking. Only a tiny village, located at the edge of the world survived the breaking, and for hundreds of years it remained forgotten. The villagers now pray to the mother seeking her mercy and protection, but she’s as cold and merciless as the black stone statue which she was carved out of. Her supplicants haven’t realized it yet, but they are about to. In the worst possible way.
The Streets of Nottingham by the talented author Auckly Simwinga is a page-turning work of spellbinding fantasy and myth, a magical and fascinating first-person tale narrated by an adventurous and mysterious character only identified by his first name, Adam. It is a story that fans of fantasy will enjoy reading, because Adam goes on a quest that everyone thinks is impossible. There are gods and goddesses, wraiths, and creatures called demauglers, which are sort of like werewolves, but with bones showing here and there, as if they were zombie werewolves with attitudes.
While The Streets of Nottingham by Auckly Simwinga is a work of fiction that deals with tragic topics, it is also filled with joyous moments and hope, and readers will find themselves rooting for Adam, hoping that he succeeds in his noble quest. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, I highly recommend that you check out The Streets of Nottingham today!

Sometimes the most important wisdom in the entire world can be found in scrolls so old that no one remembers precisely when they were written.

One of the things this tale excelled at was exploring the difference between the heroic myths that a society gradually creates about their gods or god-like figures and what those individuals may have really been like in the past. Even the most well-meaning society can create legends about their heroes that give distorted messages about what that person or entity stood for, and this effect only becomes stronger over long periods of time.

I found it difficult to follow the plot because of how little time the narrator spent explaining what was happening in it. This world’s physics, geography, and history were completely different from our own. The limited information that was provided about it was helpful, but I would have loved to have many more details about how it all worked so that I could better imagine what was happening when everything began to fall apart.

The ending was nicely written. It fit the themes that had been explored earlier on in the storyline, and it also gave the characters the closure they needed to move onto the next chapter of their lives. I liked the fact that it left plenty of room for a sequel while also working just as well if this is the only glimpse of this universe that is ever written. It isn’t easy to strike that balance, but Mr. Simwinga did well in this area.

The Streets of Nottingham should be read by anyone who likes the high fantasy genre.

The Nevada Escapists’ Club by Jane Lark

The Nevada Escapists’ Club by Jane Lark
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Suspense
Length: Full Length (339 pgs)
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Rose

Zac senses the connection he has with the single stranger within minutes of their meeting. She, like him, sought a place to escape. But she isn’t running anymore. He is. Ali falls into a holiday affair with a troubled young man. She would never choose a man like him if she was at home. So what will happen when the Las Vegas fantasy is over and her sunglasses tinted view of the world returns to reality? She is supposed to forget everything. It was meant to stop there…

This story revolves around Zac and Ali, two wounded souls who find themselves members of a sort-of club, The Nevada Escapists’ Club – those people who find themselves in Las Vegas trying to escape from the reality that is their life. Some people go to Las Vegas for fun, but others because they can’t face what is going on in the real world. But can two such wounded souls help each other or will they bring each other down?

Ali is a successful barrister who discovers that her perfect life is not what she thought it was and leaves England for Las Vegas to put some distance between her and her cheating husband. She’s lived through a lot before this marriage and so her reactions to discovering his unfaithfulness is certainly colored by that.

Zac has his own set of issues he’s trying to escape and, from the first time he and Ali meet, senses they have a lot in common and wants to find out more about Ali.

The Nevada Escapists’ Club starts out like a holiday romance…. boy and girl meet while on vacation…they discover a connection that takes them beyond the holiday. Yet, there are darker undercurrents that the reader discovers and twists that take it out of the romance element. Yes, there is romance, but there is so much more. Jane Lark looks into how our past influences in so many ways our present. Can we really escape being the people that our past has formed us to be.

There were some niggling editing issues that keep this book from being a full four, but that’s the editor in me. The main characters are well-drawn and their story is definitely a page turner. I was able to read the book in just a couple of nights because I was so drawn into their story and wanted to discover how they were going to overcome the issues they were facing.

Good job, Ms. Lark, on facing some tough issues face on and showing that there is hope for the abused to rise above it.

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A Swing And A Dare by Kasey Belle

A Swing And A Dare by Kasey Belle
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (135 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Navy SEAL Jack Claiborne and Veterinarian Abby Sutter have been best friends since the day they met on a school playground at the age of seven. Both have been secretly in love with each other since the opposite sex magically no longer had cooties. Both too scared of losing the other and their lifelong friendship to admit it. When Abby is attacked, Jack is forced to face reality and admit, by allowing fear and what-if’s influence his decisions, he’d failed them both. He realized whether he made it “official” or not, losing Abby meant losing his heart. It meant a lifetime of never knowing the deep, unbending, and unconditional love reserved for soulmates and that was unacceptable. With the help of his teammates, Jack launches the most important operation of his life. The objective: To acquire Abby and a happily ever after for both of them. Failure is not an option, neither is death.

When Annabeth’s dad moved them both she hated being the new kid at school, but meeting Jack and becoming friends with him helped shape her from the small, scared little girl she was into the strong and capable young lady she became. Abby and Jack had an almost life-long friendship and while they both loved each other dearly, neither wanted to take the step from friends to lovers in case their closeness couldn’t survive the change. But when Abby survives a dangerous ordeal, Jack feels compelled to take the plunge. Can they shift their relationship from being just friends to being everything to one another?

I found this to be a funny, romantic and very sexy friends-turn-into-lovers style of story. I enjoyed both Jack and Abby’s characters, finding them multi-layered, interesting and believable. I also am quite a sucker for a friends-to-lovers story and this one didn’t disappoint.

There is a near-rape scene at the start of the story that I found a little shocking and which took me by surprise. The prologue was very sweet and a little funny and so jumping directly from that into the almost-rape was quite jarring. While certainly not lurid or overly-graphic, it’s a serious scene along with the after-effects (hospital, doctor and police questions etc) and considering the prologue is quite light and happy I really felt that a little more time blending the story from that idyllic “childhood first meeting and becoming friends” scene into Abby being assaulted by a co-worker would have made the transition far less jarring. I have to admit though, after the shock of the opening scenes I felt that the story settled back down into a happy, mostly light-hearted friends-to-lovers style of story like what I was expecting. I enjoyed the banter and camaraderie between Abby and Jack and felt they had a good connection and when they started to admit their feelings for each other I thought there was good chemistry between them.

I also enjoyed how there were small snippets of flash-backs to Abby and Jack’s childhood growing up together. I could understand how this time-jumping back and forth might not be every reader’s cup of tea – some will love it as I did and others I can believe will find it jarring and annoying. Personally though I felt the flashbacks helped make the story better and showed me more depth to the solid and life-long friendship between Abby and Jack.

There are plenty of other wonderful characters – Jack’s SEAL buddies in particular – and I’d happily read more stories about these other delicious men. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s happy, slightly snarky/sassy writing style and overall I really loved this book. A solid read with plenty of action, conflict and tension and just enough delicious heat to spice the romance up this is a well rounded book and an author I plan to keep an eye out for.

First Crush, Last Love by Elizabeth McKenna

First Crush, Last Love by Elizabeth McKenna
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (314 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Back in high school, Lee Archer had the power to make Jessie Baxter’s cheeks flush and her heart race. But the popular athlete never wanted to be more than just friends. Ten years later, after a failed marriage and with her journalism career on shaky ground, Jessie’s come home for her high school reunion–and Lee still has the power to make her knees weak and her pulse pound.

Lee’s teenage years were filled with more trauma and drama than anyone guessed. Though his damaged past has helped make him a successful police detective, it’s hurt every relationship he’s tried. But seeing the grown-up, stunning Jessie might just change his commitment-phobic mind.

Jessie’s psycho ex-husband had her convinced no one would ever love her, but Lee is ready to step out of the friend zone and into her heart. Can she learn to trust again before she loses her chance to turn her first crush into her last love?

Elizabeth McKenna’s novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the joy of finding true love at last.

He was her First Crush and they were each other’s Last Love.

Jessie and Lee are both characters who are realistic and down to earth. The plot engaged me and I was invested in the characters and their story.

The book started in their teenage years and showed the crush, as well as the love they have for each other as ‘just friends’. Their romance or relationship does not start right away as much as I would have wanted it to. They part ways after graduation.

For me the hardest part to read was the story afterwards. Not because I did not like it but because Jessie’s relationship with her ex was not all sunshine. Ten years after high school, both Jessie and Lee came out of these times with a whole lot of pain, lessons and friends, but they matured as well. The author did a great job in engaging me with her characters.

The plot was not an overly complicated one, but it’s one that flowed smoothly to the end.

I have to mention the best friends of these two. I have questions about them and their own relationship. They sound so great together, I want to know if they ended up together!?

First Crush, Last Love transported me back to my teenage years! It was a roller coaster ride of emotions for me and is an easy recommend to other readers.

Luska by Will Robinson

Luska by Will Robinson
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (478 pages)
Rating: 3 stars
Review by Peony

The caretakers of the galaxy, the Idrix, are destroyed by an unknown force, breaking down the order that had dominated humanity for nearly a millennium.

Eidi is a unique, precognitive student, who lives on the divided planet of Luska and knows that their future is full of death and destruction, but can she stop it?

Sreiwa is a fanatical spy and assassin who helped enable an invasion of her own planet and becomes a pawn in the deadly intrigue of a Byzantine and brutal culture.

Sellen is an Idrix soldier who escaped the destruction of his fleet only to find himself in a jungle hellscape where his only salvation is in the form of a sworn enemy.

Cigva is an enigmatic AI who joins Eidi to struggle against shape-shifting, mind-controlling deities, nightmare simians, deadly parasites, and a surprising, tyrannical foe from her home planet of Luska.

The real danger lies in the showdown that is taking place between a long-dormant alien race called the Spearfinger, and the anti-alien, god-like Eth, where the ramifications of their confrontation could decide the future of the galaxy and the direction of humanity.

Will Robinson fills the need for a dramatic space opera with his pulse pounding Luska, an exciting adventure with action, a little bit of romance and the depth you’ve been pining for. Part of Robinson’s Spearfinger series, of which more books are the come, the Luska universe already contains three thrilling stories to wet your apatite about Wil’s expansive world building. It can be hard to find a sprawling novel that tries to build a world like Tolkien or Martin, but Will definitely takes aim at the stars.

When embarking on a space adventure, there are certain things the genre brings to mind. You as the reader will come to expect complex characters with a diverse set of motivations that equates to far more than just good or evil. On top of that these sorts of stories usually include organizations and families with their own problems and motivation to deal with. Does it sound like this is a description of a genre? It is, but it also perfectly encapsulates what you can expect when you dive into this novel. The sheer number of characters and groups and the different ways they rub up against one another will make the world feel living and breathing and quickly illustrate the time, love and care that Robinson put into crafting it.

There is a very real risk when trying to make a story this dense. From a reading prospective there can be a lot to absorb and without a clueless outsider to ask the questions for you in the story, there may not be a way to know and understand all the aspects of the world. Luska does have a lot going for it with a complex and evolving world, but this comes at a cost. With a whole host of dense reading, names and places that you’ll have to memorize, if can start to resemble homework. Some people, especially those familiar with epic tales will be excited by this, but for those who are not, the effort does pay off eventually.

Realism is another key factor when writing these sorts of stories, actions have to have reactions that make sense or the whole universe falls apart. That is probably one of the aspects of the grand adventure stories with copious world building that garners them the most praise and failure to do so the most scorn. There are lots of times in this book with a great deal of high tech that decidedly low tech solutions are used instead. Solutions that we wouldn’t even consider using in our pre space age civilization, so the times when it comes up in this story are especially jarring. There are other examples where the actions or motivations do not make a great deal of sense, but no spoilers. You’ll just have to decide how high a standard you hold up to realism in a fantasy or sci fi setting.

However you feel about reading epic space operas, there is one thing that this book conveys without a doubt. The sense of relief and satisfaction when you finish this book is quite unique in that not only do you get a wildly interesting world, but the sense of embarking on your own adventure to finish it. You’ll trudge through the arduous journey with the characters, you’ll struggle as they struggle through sections of tension and tedium, empathetic of their plights. If you decide to pick this book up, there will certainly be that pay off when you finally put it down. Book two isn’t out as of this writing, but there is a lot to enjoy here and with the two accompanying novellas already.

Angelica by Clabe Polk

Angelica by Clabe Polk
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full length (400 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

A long time ago, Angelica Vicetti did some very bad things with some very bad men. Now she’s built a new life for her family, far from Las Vegas. Now it’s all about to come crashing down. Angelica Vicetti of Las Vegas has become Angela Cassetta of Poplar Bluffs, just outside Atlanta, Georgia. She’s built a successful real estate agency, and the son she rescued from Vegas when he was a youngster is now a high school baseball star and destined for great things. But the mob bosses in Vegas who forced her underground haven’t forgotten about her. A string of hit men come to town to kill her, but each time she saves herself and her son, with the help of her friends and Mike Eiser, a local Sheriff’s detective who has seen far worse. Then things get even more complicated, when one of the hit men changes his mind and becomes strangely important to Angela in a whole new way … and a team of Federal agents come to town and ratchet up the odds. Suddenly, sleepy little Poplar Bluffs is awash in blood. Angelica will have to take it all the way to the edge and beyond – into murder, kidnapping, and lying to the Feds – to save herself and her son. But … can she survive the fight for her family’s freedom?

Did you ever think you’d like to run away and start all over? What if it became a reality, a frightening one?

Angelica, the title of this book, is the lead character in this series written by Polk titled “The Detective Mike Eisner Series”. She really got swept into the wrong crowd of people and while you might think that’s each individuals own business, it’s different when you have a child.

This is a really good storyline; lots of action and action written so that you can “see” it; in other words so that you can follow and understand. Truly Crime Fiction involving a lot of mob type characters and also the best cop of course…Detective Mike Eisner and his soon to be wife. At least all of the couples around are hoping they will tie the knot. It was very amazing to me that Polk could involve so many of the good guys and the bad guys in this story, and yet make them be very clear to the reader. When an author is good at writing dialog it is quite an accomplishment and I think that is the key here. I think this author happens to be very good at writing dialog and without our realizing it, a good book and a good story has passed and we’re sad it’s the last page.

This is listed in his book as the 4th book in the “Detective Mike Eisner Series”. There are 5 titles in the series in his book. Let’s hope Clabe Polk is working on number 6.