Posts Tagged ‘book review’

CHINA2Book II: The Cascade Preppers 

Paperback: 252 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 8, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1500157244

Kindle: ASIN: B00KV27ZZA

The life of Graham and his newfound family (from The China Pandemic) continues. But life is anything but ordinary and mundane.

It is now winter in Graham’s camp, bringing bitter cold and snowy conditions. Without daily weather reports, snow falls unexpectedly. New skills have been acquired – such as ice fishing and tanning hides – along with new neighbors.

The Cascade Preppers just across the Skagit River escaped the onslaught of the pandemic by reaching their encampment before being exposed to the virus.

They are cautious neighbors. Just because they escaped the pandemic does not mean they are immune to it. Survivors of the pandemic are carriers of the virus.

Which means face-to-face contact with any of Graham’s camp is off-limits.

This does not preclude communication between the two camps. On the contrary, all are congenial when contact is restricted across the river or via radio.

When pandemonium breaks out with missing members of Graham’s camp – including Graham himself – as well as a fire at the Prepper camp, they realize they may need each other for survival.

Again, Shaw doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the nasty side of survival in a world where even an old lady has gone mad. The kids in Graham’s camp are growing up more quickly than usual because they have to for their own survival.

Even the possibility of a pregnancy is a threat. Will the baby carry the virus? Will it survive full term? Would it reach adulthood? Should any pregnancy after the pandemic be aborted?

These questions were not issues before the pandemic but now must be posed in order to consider the survival of everyone.

It is especially gripping when everything begins happening at once: Disappearances, fires, potential threat of the virus entering the Prepper camp and a new arrival make for page-turning excitement.

The story itself could be a primer for survival: things necessary to stock up on, skills lost in this technological society that may come in handy should disaster strike, how to hunt wild game, all skills that may one day be re-established to ensure survival of man (and woman) kind.

Invest in this series. You may learn something that will one day keep you alive.

Another good read by A.R. Shaw.

Visit A.R. Shaw’s website 

Or purchase The Cascade Preppers here

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info 


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CHINABook I: The China Pandemic

Author: A.R. Shaw

Paperback: 278 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 4, 2013)

ISBN-10: 1494368552

Kindle: ASIN: B00H06NGFS

Apocalyptic scenarios come in all shapes and sizes and a variety of dynamics.

The story of The China Pandemic opens with Hyun-Ok searching for a guardian for her five-year-old son, Bang. Hyun-Ok has already lost the rest of her family to a strain of the H5N1 virus accidentally unleashed by the Chinese. She herself is dying from the virus and must find someone to care for her son.

She chooses Graham who seems the most stable of those left in town.

But Graham has also lost his family, most notably his wife Nelly and their unborn child. When Hyun-Ok approaches him, he has just lost the final member of his family; his father. But he reluctantly agrees to care for the young boy.

Only about two percent of the world’s population survives. Those survivors are now carriers of the deadly virus. As survivors, Graham and Bang are carriers of the virus.

As the dangers in the town where he lives continue to grow, Graham feels it would be safest to reach his family cabin on the Skagit River.

He and the boy – named Bang – are off to a rocky start. They pick up twins Macy and Marcy, and a German Shepherd police dog names Sheriff, along the way. When they reach the cabin they find it already inhabited by Tala, a Native American woman suffering a miscarriage, and an old black man named Ennis.

I will leave the premise there so as not to divulge too much.

If you think this is like Stephen King’s The Stand, think again. The Stand has a degree of mysticism: people compelled to meet an old black woman in the middle of nowhere for no reason any of them could fathom.

There is no mysticism here. But there is plenty of stark reality.

On the upside (if there is one) of a pandemic is all the electricity, water and cars still work. Until a human is required to flip any switches to keep the electricity and water running.

Shaw depicts reality with compassion while still gripping the reader with fear. In any post-apocalyptic situation, crazies run amuck and Shaw doesn’t pull any punches with the dangers lying in wait for those unprepared.

Her characters are vivid; most people could relate to them as they each recover from their losses and go about building a new family. Achieving a degree of normalcy after such an event is a day-by-day trial and error experience. They work and learn together how to survive.

If you read closely, you could learn what is needed to survive just about any apocalypse.

There are errors, but the story is compelling and well-written. This book is a good read and well worth it.

Visit A.R. Shaw’s website 

Purchase The China Pandemic here 

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info 

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Author: A.W. Daniels

Paperback: 246 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing (July 30, 2013)

ISBN-10: 1491231084

Kindle: ASIN: B00EGDWB86

If you could choose your child’s eye color, hair color, physical, mental and intellectual disposition, would you?

What if someone else chose all that for you?

This is exactly what happens in A.W. Daniels’ Genetically Privileged.

Joe and Mary Christiansen tried to have their own child. Due to complications during the pregnancy that would endanger the lives of both mother and child, that child had to be aborted. The remains of that abortion are confiscated by Dr. Gabriel.

A little later down the road, Joe and Mary visit the fertility clinic where Dr. Gabriel works. It turns out that Dr. Gabriel is a good friend of Joe Christiansen. With invitro fertilization Dr. Gabriel succeeds in helping his friends have a healthy baby boy.

The questions begin when their son, Justice Christiansen begins showing remarkable aptitude at a very young age. Like saying his first word at five months old.

Genetic engineering is a much-debated topic, as it should be. DNA is a frightening and heavily responsible technology that should not be taken lightly.

But Dr. Gabriel is not a madman. He seems to be sincere in his desire and effort to end suffering in the human race through genetic engineering. It’s the other people involved who wish to take it to another level the reader needs to worry about. privileged

That’s where I will leave the synopsis, not wanting to give away too much of the fascinating story line.

Daniels deftly explains the scientific aspect of genetic engineering without getting the reader too bogged down in technical terminology. The author weaves a tapestry among the characters whose lives are entwined long before Joe and Mary move to the little town of Bethlehem.

It is a fresh approach to the subject of genetic engineering where the engineering is already occurring with plans for expansion. The changes are noticeable and, at times, a little dangerous.

It’s one of those books that leaves you thinking about the ramifications of the process. And what might happen should someone take it upon themselves to implement the engineering without it being public knowledge.

Genetically Privileged is a good read, especially for those with particular interest in the process of genetic engineering.

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

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Book Review: Spare Change

Bette Lee Crosby

Print Length: 280 pages

ISBN: 0983887918

Publisher: Bent Pine Publishing (November 11, 2013)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

I’ve come to expect surprises from Bette Lee Crosby’s books. Spare Change is no exception and certainly no disappointment.

Meet Olivia Westerly, a fifty-eight year old woman who falls in love late in life. She marries Charlie Doyle and they whisk off to Miami Beach to celebrate their honeymoon. Unfortunately, the honeymoon is cut short when Charlie dies of a heart attack.

Enter eleven-year-old Ethan Allan Doyle, Charlie’s only grandson. When Ethan witnesses murder, he strikes out with the hope of living with the grandfather he’s never met. Instead he meets his newly-widowed grandmother who isn’t prepared to take care of this roguish boy.

Crosby’s characters are sometimes quirky, sometimes frustrating and always authentic. Their personality traits are sometimes endearing and sometimes off-the-wall. For instance, Olivia is superstitious: she has a phobia of the number eleven. So when an eleven-year-old knocks on her door, she is immediately skittish about the number as well as the boy. Ethan, raised without discipline and hardly any attention, curses randomly and with passion and has little trust of this stranger.

Crosby deftly weaves the story introducing the characters in a way that doesn’t make the outcome obvious. It keeps the reading interesting when you don’t know where the story is going until you get there.

What I enjoy most about Crosby’s writing is she gives us intimate glimpses into the characters by dedicating a chapter to an individual character’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions. It’s a wonderful technique and Crosby handles it with finesse.

I enjoy a well-written tale where characters undergo changes, for better or worse. Spare Change fills the bill.

Find Spare Change here.

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at http://www.penspen.info Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

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Book Review: The End

G. Michael Hopf

Print Length: 408 pages

ISBN: 1478195487

Publisher: Plume (October 30, 2013)

Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

The title is The End but, in truth, it is the beginning.

On December 15, 2014, civilization as we know it comes to an end. Surviving the ordeal is the beginning.

Mr. Hopf paints an incredibly realistic picture of what could happen if this nation were struck with an Electromagnetic Pulse as well as nuclear strikes. He skillfully tackles every aspect of daily life: community, military and political.

On the community level, we are focused on the neighborhood of Rancho Valentino, close to the city of San Diego. As civilization breaks down in the weeks after the initial attacks, the reader is witness to neighbor turning against neighbor in the quest for survival. Gordon Van Zandt’s first priority is to ensure the survival of his family, no matter the cost.

On the military front, we witness General Barone as he and his Marines go rogue. Contradicting orders to help with clean up on the East coast, Barone heads his men and an amphibian ship to California so they might find their families. Going against orders pits Americans against one another and Gordon’s brother Sebastian Van Zandt gets caught in the middle.

In the political arena, with Washington, DC wiped out by an outright nuclear attack, Speaker of the House Brad Connor is now the new President. Connor isn’t accustomed to giving orders but he toughens up fairly quickly.

The government has its own hard-wired Internet system in an attempt to preserve a functioning government and to keep abreast of events. Of course, the government has hidden bunkers across the United States to also ensure a functioning government.

Mr. Hopf’s depiction is realistic: grim but realistic. In all fairness, the situation would be much more grim were attacks such as these actually perpetrated upon the United States. People killing each other over a scrap of food or a drink of water; vigilantes taking what they want; drug cartels and other enemies of the United States attacking and taking over: Losing our humanity in an effort to survive reduces people to hardly anything more than barbarians.

The illustration of the breakdown of society represented here should be a wake-up call for everyone in this country. Not only those in power, but for all citizens.

Which is why I recommend this series as a must-read for every citizen in this country. Preparation for events such as these should be mandatory for every citizen because when the poop hits the fan, it’s going to be every man, woman and child for him/herself.

Arm yourself with knowledge so you won’t be caught unaware. Invest in The New World series by G. Michael Hopf.

Find The End here: http://amzn.to/1wf4EKf

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at http://www.penspen.info Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

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Start Prepping Now

Book Review

The Long Road

Michael Hopf

344 pages

Publisher: Plume

Sold by: Penguin Group

Post-apocalyptic scenarios fascinate me. I find the indomitability of human survival against overwhelming odds oddly hopeful.

Michael Hopf gets into the action in The Long Road pretty quick.

Even without the advantage of having read the first entry in the series – The End – I had no difficulty catching up and understanding what had happened and what was going on. Mr. Hopf deftly wove the backstory of the first book into the second, thus enabling the reader to follow the story without lengthy explanations or the absolute necessity to read the first book.

The characters are rich and vivid. I had no trouble empathizing with the good guys and despising the bad guys. And the bad guys are truly detestable.

It is a race against time for survival as what was once America continues to break down into a primitive, apathetic, lawless and frightening world in which to live. And with three sanctions vying for power in this post-apocalyptic land, it’s anyone’s guess what the country will look like once the dust has settled.

The intensity of the action and drama had me glued to my seat: I actually read the entire book in one sitting, reluctant to take a break to even refresh my cup of tea. It is rare that I am so compelled to read a book that I don’t want to break away from it to refresh my tea!

Yes, the book could use some editing, but that can be said about the books of Dean Koontz, James Rollins and countless other tomes coming out of traditional publishing houses these days. I have developed a degree of tolerance for errors because that isn’t going to change anytime soon. The errors in the book are few so it doesn’t interfere so much with the reading experience.

The only drawback, of course, is that now I need to acquire the third book to find out what happens next. Several cliffhangers were included (no spoilers!) and inquiring minds must know. The fourth installment isn’t due out until 2015, so I have a little time to catch up.

The scenarios painted in The Long Road are grim but very realistic. It’s easy to visualize those events actually occurring should our nation be attacked on the level depicted in the book. With the current state of the world and people being people, I am surprised something like this has not already occurred.

Although when I view the 6:00 news, I wonder just how far off those events truly are.

With those words, I’m going to start prepping now.

If you’re interested, check out G. Michael Hopf’s Amazon Author Page where each novel in the series is listed. http://amzn.to/1vWDEiA

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and ebook formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle is a fictitious account of an EMP attack. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 Follow her on Twitter @penspen, visit her website at http://www.penspen.info or follow her blog www.mytuppence.weebly.com Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

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No one is immune to a bad book review. So, at some point in your life, you’re bound to get one.

Getting book reviews for your latest tome is important. It’s also nice when they’re positive; nicer still when they gush with praise.

But getting a negative book review is considered a stumbling block; a “black mark” if you will.

First of all, don’t allow the negatives to get to you. It is the opinion of only one person. You’ll never know why she or he really didn’t like your book. You can only read what was written about it.

Instead of seeing that negative review a stumbling block, look at it as a stepping stone.

Was the criticism constructive? Were there any points made that you should seriously consider? Was any aspect of the criticism helpful?

For instance, “didn’t like the characters” is vague and not useful. But something like, “Sally was weak and a whiner; she didn’t measure up to the hero’s image at all,” is more specific. It tells you that you may need to work on those characters. It could also tell you that the reader missed the point of the character but it isn’t your job to explain that.

My favorite negative response is, “Too wordy, too long” (a verbal review).

Admittedly, my initial response to this is akin to Mozart’s in “Amadeus”: I use exactly the number of words required, no more, no less. But that is my writer’s ego talking.

But part of me agrees with this. I love words. I love the works of Dean Koontz and Stephen King, both authors who weave words very well. And perhaps, subconsciously, I attempt to emulate them. But I also realize that I need to work on writing more succinctly. I need to be more aware of the words I use and do some “tightening up” especially when it comes to descriptions.

Most reviews will be more general in nature and rarely be specific. Most people who read the book know only that she or he likes it or doesn’t like it. And that may be all the review says.

Objectivity is the key in reading book reviews. The reviewer isn’t reading the book as you wrote it. Each person is reading from her or his own perspective which will be different from your own. Since each reviewer did not write the book, none of them will have the “inside scoop” on what is vital to the story. You present them with the story and it is up to the individual to take from it what she or he deems vital.

It may have been vital for you to create Sally as a whiner. Apparently that didn’t appeal to that one reader. And that’s okay. It does not reflect negatively on the reader or on you. It merely means that his character didn’t appeal to this reader. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Just like every person you meet isn’t going to be a person you like, so every reader isn’t going to like all your characters.

Responding to book reviews, whether good or bad, is never a good idea. Those responses could come back one day to bite you in the derriere whether they were good responses or not.

And responding to a negative book review in an attempt to justify your writing is in poor taste. It undermines your confidence in yourself as a writer. Even if the reviewer attacks you on a personal level, let it go. It isn’t worth getting entangled in verbal jousting with someone whom you’ve never met.  And continued contact with someone, especially in this day and age, could very well result in an unpleasant, unwanted meeting.

Take the bad book reviews with the good. And celebrate that you have more good reviews than bad ones.

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