Title: Pacific Offering
Author: Tom Mahony
Publisher: Casperian Books
Genre: Commercial fiction
Pages: 188 pages
THE SCOOP Pacific Offering
, Tom Mahony's third novel, is part Thelma and Louise
, part Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
, and part Midnight Express
. Longtime surfer buddies Beck and Parry head south of the border in search of the much-anticipated "swell of the decade" and Beck's lost love, Elena. Their journey starts with them getting robbed by banditos
and goes downhill from there.
The impetus for their adventure is a letter Beck receives from Elena. Perry "accidently" throws it away before Beck can read it. Beck waxes nostalgic for what was and could have been (if only in his mind) and off they go trying to recreate past adventure and romance. While my first thought was, "letter from ex-girlfriend--obviously he's going to discover he's a dad," Mahoney doesn't settle for that clichéd story. When Beck finally meets up with Elena, there are still some surprising twists to the tale.
Mahony's vivid descriptions put the reader in Baja with Beck and Parry, whether in the desert, ocean, a small village, or a Mexican prison. The action is realistic and the situations, though spiraling increasingly out of control, never seem contrived. Beck and Perry are well-developed characters, both flawed, but still appealing. Some of the other characters are a bit thin, but most only have brief cameos in what's ultimately a story about the nature of friendship.
This is definitely a fast-paced read, but at times it's too fast. Some of the predicaments Beck and Parry get themselves into are resolved too quickly to be entirely satisfactory. I would have liked Mahony delve deeper into both the situations and emotions of the characters, particularly the jail scene and when exploring the trip's impact on Beck and Perry's eroding friendship, as well as in Beck and Elena's relationship.
AND THE SURVEY SAYS...
This road-trip-from-hell story is a fast-paced and exciting adventure that will appeal to surfers and non-surfers alike. Anyone who's dreamed of tracking down a lost love or returning to the carefree days of their youth might be dissuaded from doing so, but can experience the thrill vicariously through Beck and Parry's journey. While there are adult situations and themes, they never get too graphic. Pacific Offering
is suitable for both adult and young adult readers.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Get it on AmazonAbout the Guest Reviewer: Lynne Hinkey is the author of the tropical misadventure, Marina Melee. Visit her at www.lynnehinkey.com
In the realm of Paranormal steaminess, The Forever Girl
does not disappoint in turning up the heat. This romance is centered around twenty-two year old Wiccan protagonist Sophia. From the onset it is clear Sophia is not an ordinary girl with her mental static, her reputation as the town witch and her bad luck at being around whenever strange deaths occur. Then, if things weren’t weird enough for her, she begins hearing voices, dead people and animals with sulfur-green eyes that glow in the dark. Ominous signs abound. So then the next logical progression? Enter the vampires.
Okay, so in this book they are not called vampires, but elementals. They have some creative new powers and a mythology that stems back decades. Sophia finds herself wrapped up in all this when her friend Ivory takes her to a mysterious night club. There she encounters Charles, the sexy and mysterious dream guy who of course is a paranormal creature, one she is extremely attracted to. Now the question is, how can she uncover the secrets of her past, while managing her feelings for Charles and staying alive against the forces that seek to destroy her and her love?
Buy the book to find out. The Forever Girl
has many striking similarities with Twilight
. Critics have pounced on this, calling it a rip off. However, sales alone indicate that Hamilton is merely tapping into a fad that people want. Women want the sexy and dangerous love interest; the kind, but troubled damsel in distress; and the evil, fanged antagonist. Sure, this story is similar to Twilight
, but I think that is what most readers find appealing. While reading I found myself making connections between Twilight
and this story, but it did not detract from my enjoyment. Hamilton is a clear professional. You won’t find errors, weak subplots or stilted dialog. This book reads like any you would pull off a store shelf. And the passion between Sophia and Charles? Stephenie Meyer has nothing on Hamilton. A word of caution: while the sexual references are tasteful and by no means pornographic, this book is not intended for children. It is written for “New Adults” a burgeoning category that seeks to entertain the 18-30 crowd. And those 18-30 year-olds have not been disappointed.
You can find The Forever Girl here.
You can find Rebecca Hamilton here. If you enjoyed this review you can follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow Katie French on Facebook and on her website.
When I saw the cover art for The Scourge
at the bottom of my own novel's
“Customers who bought this item also bought...” page, I knew I wanted to read it. The haunting description of Fennel, a sightless girl who must be the water bearer for her people during the time of the scourge drew me in. The scourge are basically zombies-- humans turned flesh-eaters who attack the healthy, turning them sick as well. For some reason the scourge do not attack the sightless, so Fennel is tapped to take an agonizing walk down to the water through the throng of fleshies everyday.
Then enter Peree, a tree-dwelling hunter, who has been given the task of being her keeper. Peree is her eyes while she slips through the masses of sick ones. Fennel's people and Peree's people live in an uneasy alliance. Yet, somehow these two find an instant connection, one that worries both of them. Groundies and Lofties do not mix. Fennel agonizes over the bond that grows between her and Peree.
When the scourge doesn't leave after a few days as expected, Fennel's people get desperate. Fennel volunteers to search for the Hidden Waters supposedly buried deep within the safety of their caves. Peree slips away to guide her. The two embark on a nail-biting journey through pitch-black caves where they are tested to the core of their being.
I was instantly jealous of the premise of this novel. What can be more terrifying than walking into a mob of flesh-eating monsters with no sight? Henley is a master of upping the terror, bringing us in to Fennel's haunting journey to the water hole. And here's the amazing thing, Henley cannot employ any visual imagery. No visual imagery! It's amazing. I was expecting the book to flounder and die in a sightless world, but no. As a reader, I got used to wandering around a world without vision. Somehow Henley uses surrounding sounds, smells and touch to make a world as vivid as any with sight. I was in awe of how easily she accomplished something that even master writers would not attempt.
I went online to look for a publisher for the novel. I was sure because of the quality that it had been picked up by one of the big six. However, I was surprised to learn it is self-published. There are gems out there in the self-published arena and this is one of them. I highly recommend this book to fans of speculative Young Adult fiction. You won't be disappointed.
You can find The Scourge here.
You can find A.G. Henley here. If you enjoyed this review you can follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Katie French on Facebook and on her website.
TITLE: Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
AUTHOR: Adam M. Johnson
GENRE: Humor, Historical Fiction
Princess Alethia may be the smartest of the King’s offspring, but that doesn’t mean she is going to inherit the throne. Instead, she is going to be married off to King Otto so that her father can reap the rewards of their union. Complete with cross-dressing princes and quick-witted stable boys, Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
is the comic tale of a princess’s attempt to escape her arranged marriage. The schemes that Alethia and her companions dream up are off-the-wall, but due to the stupidity of their foes, they get out of one impossible situation after another.Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
was a fun read, but it wasn’t much deeper than that. In nearly every situation the smart “good guys” outwitted the stupid “bad guys” simply by playing off their extreme gullibility. The comedy was almost slapstick, and I had to remind myself numerous times that I was past suspension of disbelief and simply along for the ride. Still, I loved the strong and able-minded Alethia and rooted for her and her companions until the very end.
My biggest issue with the novel was the number-one self-publishing scourge: Adam needed to hire a professional editor. I usually forgive the self-published author for a typo or two, but Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
had more than its fair share of misplaced punctuation and missing letters. Additionally, Adam would have benefited from tightening his prose, and any decent editor would have helped him boil down his words.
I sincerely hope that Adam will consider releasing an updated version of Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous -
one that has been combed over by an editor. Once that is done, fans of Dave Barry silliness and Monty Python slapstick will enjoy Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
. Until then, I suggest waiting to read Adam’s next novel, which will hopefully be more carefully honed than his first. Although Adam does not market his novel as young adult, the content is perfectly acceptable and may appeal to a younger generation.
Please note: since this review was written, Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
was edited and updated. The new version should be much cleaner than the original.
Buy it on Amazon.com
Find it on Goodreads If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
I have to add a disclaimer this week: Richard Hacker, the author of the crime thriller Toxic Relationship
, is a friend of mine. Originally, Richard was slated for our Emerging Author series, but I moved him to the mainline review for two reasons. First, Richard is pretty much fully emerged as Toxic Relationship
is now published via Champagne Books.
Second, since I’m familiar with Richard’s talent from our Author Salon collaboration, I knew anything by him was a sure bet. With that said, I wasn’t disappointed.
takes place in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville, Texas. It’s the story of Nick Sibelius, a down-and-out private detective hired to find the missing daughter of a local pastor. Instead, he stumbles into a vat of messy intrigue. Junior, a local farmer, has turned his property into an illegal toxic waste dump. People who stumble onto his land have a tendency to disappear. Of course, the plot isn’t that simple. Along the way Nick contends with a host of bad guys, not so bad guys, and a beautiful woman with toxic secrets of her own. There are also kidnappings, “The Rupture” (you just have to read it), clues, gun fights, car chases, more clues, car crashes, deadly fires, Nick’s unusual office assistant, and evil dentistry. Intrigued? You should be.
is more than standard crime-fiction fare. First, it’s funny. Not grab-your-gut-and-roll-over-laughing funny, but a comfortable shade of subtle, light humor that makes you crack a smile or snort every few pages. Most of Toxic’s
laughs are courtesy of Junior, a “good ole’boy” gone bad. Anyone who has lived in rural America knows a Junior. I know several and can recommend the novel for Junior’s antics and internal
Junior is just one of several well-written characters Hacker creates around his hero. This author excels at changing points of view without losing the reader. He leverages this to quickly build character depth and keep us turning pages. He often shows these secondary characters through Junior’s point of view. However, we get so much Junior that Toxic
almost becomes a novel about him and not Nick. The book goes noticeably long stretches before cycling back to Nick. As a result it feels like Nick is there to support the secondary characters and not the other way around. However, since this will be a series, I assume there will be ample time to further develop Nick Sibelius.
Hacker doesn’t present Junior, or anything about rural Texas, with stereotypical disdain. He treats Central Texas like a relative, perhaps like a well-intentioned half-brother you love but also know is nuts. You love him, craziness and all. If you’ve ever spent time in Texas, and love it like I do, you’ll catch yourself nodding and smiling as Hacker masterfully weaves his plot through the cultural fabric of the Lone Star State. In fact, I wish he would have injected more Texas flavor into the novel, but I suppose he’s saving it for the Nick Sibelius books to come. Toxic Relationship
reaffirms my belief that anything by Richard Hacker is a safe bet. It’s a smart novel chocked full of great characters and light humor. With full Texas flavor, Toxic Relationship
is anything but toxic and recieves 87 out of 99 cents. 99 cents of Richard Hacker links:
Richard Hacker's BlogBuy Toxic RelationshipFollow Richard Hacker on FacebookFollow Richard Hacker on GoodreadsIf you enjoyed this review follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook, Twitter
and subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Brian Braden on his blog, Facebook and Twitter and buy his
book, Carson's Love.
Title: The Duke Don’t Dance Author
: Richard G. Sharp Genre:
Historical Fiction Pages:
262 Summary: The Duke Don’t Dance
is a sophisticated novel that follows the lives of seven characters through four decades. It opens with Frank’s funeral and then Sharp takes the reader back in time to follow their careers, marriages, divorces and the challenges each of the characters face. Sharp intertwines a chalk load of history throughout the book using crisp rich dialogue. The theme of the novel centers around what Sharp refers to as the ‘silent generation.’ Sharp’s silent generation refers to those born in the 1927-1945 with his novel focused on the 1960’s through the early 1990’s. The author attributes this generation, his generation, with inventing rock ‘n roll, starting the movement towards racial equality, opening doors to sexual revolution and feminist awakening. Each character is unique; each has their own agenda and each comes to realize that agendas aren’t always something they can make happen. Quotation:
(in regards to finding the words The Dukes Don’t Dance
found written above a urinal)
"As Sam had suggested, the phrase must be the words of the prophets—or at least a prophet—proclaiming the non-existence of God or the unresponsiveness of any divine being to the supplications of mortals. No matter what you ask or pray for, The Duke will not dance." Opinion
: There is little doubt that Sharp is a gifted writer. But following seven lives over a span of forty years, The Duke Don’t Dance
needs a lot more much information for the reader to connect. I feel the book was hurried and incomplete. With the kind of talent Sharp has, it seems a sin to rush through forty years when there’s so much to tell. I wanted to know more; more of who each one is, more gut-level raw emotion and more of how each faced their individual challenges.
Also, many sentences rambled and the point seemed to be lost in too much verbiage. Again, I feel this could have been remedied by giving the novel the time it deserves.Recommendation:
Recommended for those who make up the ‘silent generation,’ readers who would like to know more about this era, or for those who would enjoy reading the first book of who I feel is an up and coming author.
Rating: 3.5 starsLinks:Order it on AmazonTheDukeDontDance on FacebookRichard Sharp on GoodreadsRichard Sharp on TwitterIf you enjoyed this review follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.
Welcome to The Short Fiction Review series here on UBR. This month I’m reviewing three very different pieces of short fiction by self-published and traditionally published writers.
Lamppost by Malcolm W. Keyes
Lamppost, a sci-fi novelette by Malcolm W. Keyes (a mysterious pseudonym of a published speculative fiction author), takes the reader on a thoughtful exploration of the human soul, a mind-blowing ride though the multiverse and, along the way, we get to blow up evil aliens.
This is the story of Jonah, a military starpilot who mentally fuses with his spacecraft to become a single entity. Exhausted from a career of battling universe-devouring machines, Jonah is burned out and must take drugs to fulfill his duties. Depressed and strung out, it is duty that gives Jonah his only reason for living. He is unable to form normal human relationships. Eventually, Jonah is ordered to seek counseling. With his counselor’s help, Jonah finally finds himself and connects with a childhood sweetheart, Ariel. In her he finds love and a new reason to live. Just when he is able to feel human
again, Jonah is ordered on the mission of a lifetime, a mission to save the universe.
Lamppost is Darkstar meets Top Gun with a little of The Last Starfighter thrown in. The writing is fast and clean, sophisticated and yet simple. It’s difficult to pigeon-hole this book, and that’s the way a good story should be. Lamppost by Malcolm W. Keyes gets 88 out of 99 cents.
In a needed departure from science fiction and fantasy, Alias Dragonfly
is a historical novel set during the Civil War. From the onset one realizes that the author, Jane Singer, knows her stuff when it comes to documenting actual events that took place in our nation’s capital over a hundred years ago. The scenery comes alive with raw sights and sounds of battle and of those civilians living their lives within the bounds of war. Add to this a fifteen-year-old female spy and you have all the makings of a page-turner that educates as well as entertains.
The story centers around Maddie Bradford, a spunky tomboyish lass with a photographic memory. Maddie and her father travel to the nation’s capital so that her father can fight for Lincoln’s army. Maddie is left to stay with her stuffy and proper Aunt Salome as her father rushes off to war. Worried about her father’s safety and determined to make her own mark, Maddie soon uncovers a world of secrets, spies and intrigue. And she can’t wait to jump right in.
Maddie joins a gang of Pinkerton spies and uses her powers of observation to help them uncover a Rebel plot to destroy the very army for which her father fights. There is also a love story as Maddie falls for the daring reporter Jake Whitestone, though it often takes a backseat to the drama of runaway slaves, bullet dodging and false identities. The book ends rather abruptly leaving us with more questions than answers, but I know more loose ends will be tied up with the next book in the series. There are many more Rebel plots to uncover and I am sure Maddie is up for the job.
The strength of this book is the heavily accurate historical detail. Singer reports that each character was researched down to the buttons on their shoes. Many lived and breathed during the Civil War. I could smell the gun smoke, hear the cannons in the distance and feel the grit of the city. This makes it an excellent book to educate school-age children. I could imagine history teachers around the country pairing this novel with their lectures on Lincoln and maps of his battle fields. The one sticking point I had was that I never did learn to love Maddie as I should. She was often reckless and rude for little reason that I could detect. She was brave and fearless almost to a fault, but I never got the sense for that deeper goodness we long for in the characters we love. That being said, I am sure Maddie will develop over the series, making her someone we will root for and follow throughout her adventures. The book is definitely worth the read for all you can learn about a turning point in our country’s history and more fun than a History Channel documentary.
You can find Alias Dragonfly here.
You can find Jane Singer here. If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Running From BeigeAuthor:
: Best friends, Suzy convinces Connie to toss the apron, put away the pots and pans and run away from home. Tired of overbearing ‘good old boys’ husbands, just like Thelma and Louise, they hit the road to try and reclaim who they once were. During a three day women’s conference for abused women, the two meet Karen who is trying to escape an abusive husband who will kill her if he finds out where she is. Sharing a motel room, the three share their hopes, disappointments and dreams. Together, they learn to laugh again, experience the joy they’d thought they left behind long ago. When the conference ends, each are faced with a decision; should they go back home or begin a whole new life? Each woman makes a different choice. As their friendship grows, Running From Beige
is a reminder that if we aren’t here for each other, we lose something very important in life; the power of sisterhood.Quote
: Is this really all I amounted to after being a good mother and obeying wife for twenty years? Just a drab pile of clothes? When you are treated like you’re worth nothing, you really do begin to believe it. A loose pile of ugliness with no spine, unable to stand up on its own. Once I cross this one point, there is no turning back. This is my ticket to freedom. This is my ticket to everything. This is where I make it or I don’t, where I find out who I am.Opinion
: Running From Beige
is a great title for this book. Beige is blah, beige is safe, beige camouflages the real color that expresses how we feel inside. The novel has powerful, intimate moments sandwiched between the pages. There were times I felt the dialogue could dig a little deeper to express the heartfelt emotions, but overall a well thought out and emotional story. During the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, wives poured through books on how to make their husbands happy, or how to keep him at home, and television series such as Mad Men
was more real than some would like to admit. After decades of redefining who women are, the ‘stronger’ sex may want to think about downloading books such as Ms. Marie’s to avoid miscommunication. I look forward to reading future works of this fresh, new novelist.Rating:
4.5 out of 5 starsLinks to follow Terri Marie:Terri Marie's website
Terri Marie on Goodreads
Running From Beige on Amazon
If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
AUTHOR: Chris Mendius
PUBLISHER: Anything Goes Publishing
GENRE: Urban Fiction
Laden with sex, drugs and violence, Spoonful
is a look into the life of a heroin addict. The main character, Michael, is a low-life with potential, and I started the book with high hopes for redemption. While Chris Mendius’ writing did not captivate me, the dialogue was real and the scenes were almost too believable. At times funny and most of the time shocking, each chapter ended with a cliffhanger that goaded me to keep reading.
However, the cliffhangers were quick fixes: once the scene was resolved, another disconnected plot element sprung up. Halfway through the book, I began to get bored. Sure, the stories were entertaining, but it was the same thing over and over again. Although each chapter ended on a page turner, the plot simply did not develop.
That’s when it hit me: Spoonful
is entirely too real. Being addicted to drugs isn’t a fantasy, it isn’t pretty, and it goes nowhere. It makes smart people act stupid and the only thing that matters is the next fix. The plot meandered similarly: all that mattered was the next chapter, not the overall plotline. The book was one long downward spiral. If that’s what Chris Mendius was going for, he succeeded.
Nevertheless, I found myself slightly disappointed when I finished the book. I wished that it had been shortened and condensed to portray a single plotline, and although I rooted for Michael throughout, I never completely connected with him.
If you’re ready for an intense trip that leaves you unsatisfied and asking for more, pick up Spoonful
. Or, you could just shoot up and experience it for yourself. Spoonful
might be the safer option, though. It goes without saying that this book isn’t suitable for a younger audience.
LINKSSpoonful on AmazonAnything Goes Publishing If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.