“Vampire Boy” by Aric Cushing

vampireboyVAMPIRE BOY

Aric Cushing
Grand & Archer (2016)
ISBN 9781929730049
Reviewed by Evan Weldon (age 14) for Reader Views (10/16)

“Vampire Boy” by Aric Cushing is about a vampire named Alex living in a world of magic and monsters, separate from the world of humans. Alex, from the moment of his birth, is surrounded by a prophesy that states that he will one day be the only hope for saving both the world of men and monsters. In the meantime, Alex is sent to a school for mythical creatures where he will learn everything he can about the Dark World that he inhabits. At this school, he will meet and befriend many other creatures with whom he will have incredible adventures.

My favorite character is a gargoyle named Otis. Otis is strong and loyal throughout the book and one of Alex’s best friends. Otis is always eager and willing to help Alex during their adventures while also being an easy character to connect with. Each of the characters was distinct with unique personalities that made the book fun to read.

I would recommend “Vampire Boy” by Aric Cushing to all people who like fantasy and monsters. It was sometimes hard to keep track of all characters in the book but I still felt a certain connection with them. Overall, it was a fantastic read and I finished it in one very enjoyable session. I definitely look forward to reading the future books in this series!

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“Elephants in the Room” by Charlene Wexler

elephantsintheroomELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM

Charlene Wexler
CreateSpace (2016)
ISBN 9781523471966
Reviewed by Ben Green for Reader Views (10/16)

I was genuinely excited to check out “Elephants in the Room” by Charlene Wexler, for the most part, because collections of short stories in book form are rare these days, and I always wonder why so few people try to write them. “Elephants in the Room” is a collection of well over 40 short stories. The stories appear to be chronologically ordered, and cover topics and events from the different stages of life. It seems they are based primarily on the author’s life, though it is sometimes hard to be sure.

Wexler’s experience and ability as a writer is clear throughout each story. The writing is superb and the book is well organized. It is clear the author put some serious effort into the writing and the actual book itself. The cover has its own well-done artwork and the production value of the book alone is obvious. All of this makes the review of the actual subject matter even harder, because even though Wexler abilities are clear, the content is somewhat lacking, at least for anyone who is not yet a senior citizen. I don’t mean that some younger folks won’t find something of value in the book, but overall there is very little that would be relevant. The stories are mostly just stories. Something about the book felt constantly familiar, but it took me quite a while to figure it out. The writing style and stories themselves reminded me of the stories I would find in Reader’s Digest as a kid. This was a nice nostalgic feeling, but ultimately I would expect to find stories like this on a blog and not in a book.

Other than the Reader’s Digest explanation, the best way I can sum up this collection is that this is a book best suited for family and friends of the author as a fictional collection of shared history. In that context, the book ultimately succeeds, mostly because Wexler really is an excellent writer. Beyond that “Elephants in the Room” may find a scattering audience among die-hard short story fans, a few grandparents, and those who enjoy the wholesome story-telling style of Reader’s Digest. Overall, I give “Elephants in the Room” by Charlene Wexler 3 out five stars, since the writing and book quality are exceptionally well done and it clearly is a labor of love.

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“Never Give Up” by Jenny Maher

nevergiveupNEVER GIVE UP

Jenny Maher
Outskirts Press (2016)
ISBN 9781478759140
Reviewed by Christine Watson for Reader Views (10/16)

“Never Give Up” by Jenny Maher is a powerful story of courage and survival. This memoir of a brave woman who suffers unimaginable challenges, and not only survives, but also maintains a positive attitude, sends a potent message for all of us to keep life in perspective. She also reminds the reader that each of us needs to be our own advocates and fight for we want and need.

Ms. Maher’s struggles begin early in life, growing up with abuse in her childhood. She, along with her parents, suffered from mental illness, which exacerbated the abuse. The author shares her loneliness and depression that lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. She has a run-in with the police and ends up being shot in the face. While trying to recover, she is put in jail. Later, she finds herself a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down, with no family or support to help her through this difficult time.

This book discusses in detail the struggles of paralysis, learning to find any kind of independence possible, and the mental battle of staying positive during the process. Ms. Maher turns to God, and finds peace through prayer. Her determination to gain independence is inspiring, and reminds me to keep fighting through my personal challenges, particularly when it is difficult to see positive results.

While the story is incredibly inspiring, the book needs serious editing. The grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and word usage is very poor. It was clearly not edited prior to publication. I recognize that there are typos and errors in most books, but the lack of editing in this book is a significant distraction.

I would recommend “Never Give Up” by Jenny Maher, once edited, to anyone looking for inspiration by someone who has been through obstacles most of us will never encounter, and still sees the good in life. Ms. Maher is a person for each of us to emulate, learning from her courage and strength, both mentally and physically. Thank you for sharing your story!

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“The Hum” by Sharon Mikeworth

thehumTHE HUM

Sharon Mikeworth
River Nation Publishing (2016)
ISBN 9780692734636
Reviewed by Ben Green for Reader Views (10/16)

“The Hum” by Sharon Mikeworth is an excellent horror/thriller that takes a very simple phenomenon known as the Hum and turns it into a terrifying entry point for an out-of-this-world thriller. The simplicity of the initial problems, combined with Mikeworth’s ability to create believable characters that are just normal people dealing with normal problems, makes “The Hum” one of those titles that draw you in from the first few pages and keeps you interested all the way through the story. The author wastes little time before jumping right into the story, and while it may seem like there should be more build up, the pacing of “The Hum” is actually perfect and reading it quickly becomes addictive.

“The Hum” follows Lee Bennett, the man who can hear the Hum. Lee becomes interested in what the Hum is and begins investigating. Lee soon finds other phenomenon related to the Hum and very quickly begins to question his and everyone else’s safety, and even his sanity. The real question is whether Lee is finding more because he is looking for it, or because it is looking for him. This page-turning thriller might be the best Indy book I have read so far this year. Another excellent thing about “The Hum” is the character development. I found myself actually caring about what happens to them both in relation to the Hum and in everyday life.

My favorite part of “The Hum” is how it constantly leaves you guessing and creates legitimate misdirection. This is something a lot of author’s attempt, but Mikeworth actually excels at doing. The other thing Mikeworth does well is she constantly reminds the reader of the human element of the story. Lee and his wife are human, and even though the world may be going to hell, they still have real personal issues.

In conclusion, I cannot say enough good things about “The Hum” by Sharon Mikeworth. The bottom line is if you’re a fan of the horror genre and enjoy fast-paced Sci-Fi styled stories that push what can be considered believable, then the “The Hum” is a good choice. Mikeworth does a great job keeping the characters and setting believable while at the same time drawing the reader into a world where almost anything is possible. The one fear I typically have with this type of genre and story is that the ending or conclusion will be a cop-out. In the case of “The Hum,” Sharon Mikeworth quells this fear and does not disappoint. I strongly recommend this book.

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“The Wasp’s Nest” by C.R. Norris


C.R. Norris
Outskirts Press (2016)
ISBN 9781478769682
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/16)


In “The Wasp’s Nest: Book I of the Wasp Chronicles” by C.R. Norris a group of high school band students, sharply dressed in their band uniforms, suddenly find their world shifting as they are sucked through a rift in time. This rift takes them far ahead into the future where everything is different and this isn’t a good kind of different. Along with having to adjust being suddenly pulled away from everything dear to them, the teens also have to fight to survive in this hostile world. Initially, their uniforms cause them to be mistaken for soldiers from an enemy camp. This makes for some tense situations, as they find themselves being chased by new enemies and strange, hungry creatures.

Chris is a very resourceful young woman who soon finds herself in training to be a soldier, in a place known as Tojoba, with a group called the Taders. Chris quickly learns to overcome her desire to be defiant and focuses on becoming a skilled soldier. She also develops some new intense relationships. When she graduates from this program, she finds herself off on more adventures. This includes an important assignment to deliver a very special object. This assignment will take the reader into the second story in this series, which means that the suspense will continue.

Bruce, another survivor in the group of the rift travelers finds himself not doing so well when he is rejected for soldier training by the Taders. He has to learn how to survive in the wild, while others around him are dying. His journey takes him down a much different path than Chris’s experience. After making it through some of the most dangerous places on his own, he assumes a fake identity when he is taken to a place where your identity matters. Knowing that he cannot tell the truth about how he got there, he has to be resourceful. Bruce has some interesting experiences with the people at this place, but soon finds himself kidnapped, and is once again off on another unique adventure.

I really enjoyed reading “The Wasp’s Nest” by C.R. Norris. The author has a very creative imagination that takes the reader on a unique journey. Even though the characters are in their teens, adults will also enjoy this story and appreciate the creativity that went into building it. As it is a first book in a series, I am delighted to know that the journey does not end with just one book. Highly recommended reading for all fans of Sci-Fi.

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“Prairie Dog Town” by Karl A. Bacon

prairiedogtownPRAIRIE DOG TOWN

Karl A. Bacon
CreateSpace (2016)
ISBN 9781535044769
Reviewed by Ben Green for Reader Views (10/16)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Prairie Dog Town’ by Karl A. Bacon on Blogcritics.

“Prairie Dog Town” by Karl A. Bacon is a fast-paced piece of historical fiction set during the American Civil War. The narrative follows the story of Stanley, a “former” Union soldier, turned slave/prisoner, who was wounded in battle and trying to make his way back to his love in Tennessee.

This is the second book in the story and I want to admit up front that I have not read the first one. That being said, reading the second book first did not seem to detract from the experience and Mr. Bacon has done a great job ensuring the second book functions well enough as a stand-alone story. The story begins with Stanley as a prisoner on a Confederate riverboat; however, as luck would have it, the riverboat meets with disaster and Stanley is able to begin his journey back to Tennessee, albeit briefly, before he is waylaid again. This time, Stanley finds himself living in an underground shelter and working in a military hospital providing for wounded soldiers.

The author’s chosen backdrop of the American Civil War is well created, probably because it is a time period in which Mr. Bacon has been dedicated to since his youth. At times, it seems a bit romanticized although there are moments, particularly in the field hospital, that are a bit gruesome and reality seems to seep through. Overall, however, the setting holds up well and any soft sell of events seems to be due to the author’s passion for the time period as well as his ability to make the story easily consumable. Speaking of consumable, the font is large, the chapters are short, and the story progresses at an excellent pace, which allows the reader to easily lose track of time while reading.

Karl A. Bacon’s “Prairie Dog Town” does justice to both Indie authors and historical fiction by recreating one of America’s darkest moments in a way that is inspiring and entertaining. The only downside I found was, while the story itself is interesting and the book well written, the main character felt somewhat flat to me. Stanley, a man left for dead by his comrades, enslaved by his enemies and is now free and seeking out his long-lost love, while reflective, also seems passive in his own story and almost approaches his imprisonment on the riverboat and subsequent escape with a laissez-faire attitude. At one point, Stanley is told that if God wants him to be reunited with his love in Tennessee then eventually he will be. This seems to be his whole approach to everything. By Chapter 26, I still found myself having difficulty connecting with the character and unfortunately, it never got any better. The rest of the story, however, makes up for the character development and I found myself approaching Stanley less as an important part of the story and more as a set of eyes taking in the action around him.

To conclude, Bacon’s “Prairie Dog Town” is a good read for anyone interested in the time period. It would make an excellent companion for a long flight or rainy day and I don’t think it would disappoint anyone who is a fan of historical fiction. I give it an unusually high rating on my scale, 4 out of 5 stars.

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“The Illusion” by Patrick Garry

theillusionTHE ILLUSION

Patrick Garry
Kenric Books (2016)
ISBN 9780983370352
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (10/16)

In “The Illusion” by Patrick Garry, we follow Luke Sellmer, a man on his way up in the world, in all areas of his life. A savvy investment banker with an impressive reputation, he is soon introduced to the world of the wealthy, acquiring elite clientele through his future father-in-law. His bride-to-be, Lauren, is fashionable, and well connected, the perfect partner. Luke has come a long way from the paltry existence of his upbringing and there’s no turning back now. Or is there? As is often true, not everything is as it appears, and Luke carries within him a number of secrets. Unwitting circumstances expose Luke to betrayal, murder, and social scandal, any one of which could bring his carefully crafted world crashing down.

I enjoyed reading “The Illusion,” an entertaining and fast-paced mystery/thriller. The characters really drove the story home for me. Fully developed and realistic, I found them all to have distinct characteristics and formed a bond with each one, whether I liked them or not. I actually flip-flopped in my opinions of the main characters as the story developed and the characters evolved. I felt sorry for Luke during his childhood, cheered his rebellion against his family, admired his determination for a better life, was outraged by some of his character defects and exasperated by some of the choices he made throughout his life. And that was just Luke’s character! Character development is definitely the strong suit in this drama.

The manner in which the story unfolded was a bit irregular, and the chapter titles threw me off, as they didn’t seem to have a consistent theme. For instance, the first chapter is titled Thursday, Courthouse Waiting Room, while the second chapter is simply titled, Vince Gullin. But hey, I figure there is a reason for everything, and as I read, I could see the intention in presenting the story in this manner. I quickly fell into a rhythm and found the unique style to be insightful and creative.

“The Illusion” by Patrick Garry is sure to draw fans of multiple genres. The excitement, high-society dysfunction, obsessive stalker-type relationship drama, murder, and intrigue will keep readers engrossed to the very end.

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