<![CDATA[Underground Book Reviews - Magazine]]>Fri, 27 Nov 2015 09:04:57 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Miller Time: It’s Time We Got Serious]]>Fri, 27 Nov 2015 14:00:05 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/miller-time-its-time-we-got-seriousPicture
Don't look for Renee here! Read her latest installment of "Miller Time" on our new website, UBR 2.0. 

While you're there, browse our growing catalog of Underground Certified authorsbooks, and literary service providers

If you are an indie author, what are you waiting for? Join UBR today. Subscribe here, its free and easy. 

<![CDATA[Pitch Perfect Pick: Ice Cream Man]]>Wed, 25 Nov 2015 14:00:06 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/pitch-perfect-pick-ice-cream-manPicture
At Underground Book Reviews, we get excited about high-quality books. With Pitch Perfect Picks some of those books rise to the surface. Ice Cream Man is our weekly PPP winner.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

Lacey Stamford is just like anyone else, doing her best to make the most of her life. Until one hot spring afternoon, when a simple, harmless decision changes it all.

Now, thrust suddenly into a world she’s never known, this single mother of two must face the impossible: a force so evil, so unpredictable, it could destroy millions.

Aided by her ‘gifted’ son and the incomparable neuroscientist Sebastian Cannery, Lacey must plunge headfirst into the unspeakable. A dark underworld of deceivers, corrupters, and cold-blooded conglomerates.

The choice is hers: endanger her children and the new love of her life… or risk the very fate of humanity itself…


<![CDATA[Interview with David Rawding]]>Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:00:02 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/interview-with-david-rawdingClick here to read Candi Sary's interview with David Rawding, author of TAKING ON WATER, on Underground Book Review's new website.  Our review of his novel kicks off this week's issue, featuring our Pitch Perfect Picks, and another installment of "Miller Time".

While you're there, browse our growing catalog of Underground Certified authors, books, and literary service providers

If you are an indie author, what are you waiting for? Join UBR today. Subscribe here, its free and easy. 
<![CDATA[Review of Taking on Water by David Rawding]]>Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:59:35 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/review-of-taking-on-water-by-david-rawdingRead this review on our new website, UBR 2.0!  Picture
Find out more about this book and the author on UBR 2.0! 

The Rundown
Domestic violence and drug trafficking set off the action in David Rawding’s novel Taking on Water. James and Maya Morrow live in the small coastal town of Newborough, New Hampshire, a community with an ongoing drug problem. James is a social worker. He also volunteers at the town’s recreation center where he meets Kevin Flynn, a teen who shows signs of being abused. James spends some time with the boy’s father, Tucker, to investigate the possibility of abuse. He clears Tucker of suspicion and an unlikely friendship forms.

Maya, a Newborough detective, also becomes involved with the recreation center when a boy dies there of an overdose. Maya is determined to get to the bottom of it, but the good detective and the well-intentioned social worker find themselves up against the wrong kind of people.

Rawding thoroughly brings the small town to life with his descriptions of lobster fishing and coastal living. He conveys an authentic feel to the bar where the local fishermen hang out. The novel’s setting is vivid and charming. Rawding takes great care with his wording, and crafts detailed sentences. He is clearly a skilled writer when it comes to language, but often times loses the story in heavy details.

The first half of the book unfolds slowly. Scenes are over-described at times and the story is not very fluid. The power of the sentence seems to trump storyline and pace. The characters are interesting, but not always realistic. Given their disturbing and tragic roles, they are at least memorable. Action picks up in the second half of the book and the storyline is much stronger than the first half. The second half contains enough intrigue, intensity and dark plot twists to keep readers turning the pages. Once immersed, readers will want to know what happens in the end.

The Recommendation

Taking on Water is for those who enjoy a novel that takes them so deep into a setting that it feels like they’re actually there. Readers with enough patience to get through a sluggish first half will find a captivating finish.

The Rating

3.5 Stars (out of 5): Pretty good. For the right audience, this could be great. Sure, there were some issues, but it was still worth the read.

Click here to buy and  learn more about the author.

<![CDATA[Pryal Style: Writing What You Know, the Journalism and Blogging Edition]]>Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:00:03 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/pryal-style-writing-what-you-know-the-journalism-and-blogging-editionby Katie Rose Guest Pryal Picture
In my first novel, Entanglement, the hero (Timmy) and heroine (Greta) end up working together in a niche company owned by the hero, called Pacific Production Lighting. Pac Lighting owns hundreds of stage lights, thousands of meters of cable, multiple lighting control boards, meters and meters of truss, motors to hang the truss from event spaces, and more. When Greta first enters Pac Lighting’s warehouse, she’s awestruck by the huge space and the huge amount of gear.

At readings, audience members often ask me how I know so much about such a unique business. I seem to know an awful lot about stage lights and cable and such. Did I just do a lot of research?

Sort of. My husband owns a company called Atlas Stageworks Lighting, which he formed way back in the early 2000s. Its original name, in fact, was "Atlantic Lighting and Sound." See the acronym there? AT(lantic) L(ighting) A(nd) S(ound)—Atlas.

To create Timmy’s company, I just used the preexisting database in my head (and in my husband’s head) to write what I knew. I put the company on the West Coast instead the East Coast, and Pac Lighting was born. That’s how you use your expertise in your fiction.
But if you’re an author, you already knew that.

Right now, I want to talk to you about how to use your expertise in other kinds of writing, writing that might even make you money as a freelancer. I’m talking about freelance journalism and blogging.

Step 1. Make a list of your expertise.

I’m going to go out on a skinny limb and guess that all of you have either professions or hobbies that you are super knowledgable about. You have vast amounts of information in your brain about niche subjects. That’s because everyone has something that she or he is really geeky about. You’re a carpentry geek. A pottery geek. A knitting geek. A backyard farming geek. A bitcoin geek.

You need to start by making a list of the things that you are geeky about. Here are some questions to get you started:

(1) What are you an expert in?
(2) What do you read about for fun?
(3) What could you write about as an expert with little extra work on your part?

As you jot down your areas of expertise, start jotting down possible topics that you might want to write about. These are areas that you might have researched recently to solve a problem in your own life, or areas that you wish you knew more about.
Here are some examples of hobbies paired with possible topics:

(1) Your backyard chicken coop. Possible geeky topics: Designs of coops. Heirloom chicken breeds. Best kinds of feed. How to sell your eggs to local restaurants and at farmer's markets.

(2) Your compost bin. Possible geeky topics: Designs of bins. How to use your compost. What to compost and why. Composting debates. When your neighbors hate your compost bin. What to do if you have pets. How to keep pests away.

(3) The deck you built for your home. Possible geeky topics: Best materials for certain parts of the country. Nails vs. screws. Composite vs. wood. Deck design features.
(4) Parenting. Possible geeky topics: Everything.

You topic doesn’t have to be a hobby though. It can also be your profession. Some people don’t know that I’m trained as a lawyer and am licensed to practice in my home state. That means that whenever some public legal SNAFU arises in an area in which I’m interested, I research it and pitch a story on it. A lot of you have professional experience in other areas: Advertising. Sales. Production lighting. Whatever it is, add your professional expertise to your list. If you can break your professional expertise down into sub-categories, that’s even better. You’re aiming to make as long a list as possible.
After you make your list of expertise and possible topics, you need to figure out who would be interested in reading what you have to say about these areas. Remember: Every single interest in this world has an industry behind it that serves that interest. Furthermore, that industry has literature. Furthermore, that industry has companies, and those companies have writing needs. You just have to find your targets.

Step 2. Find your targets.

I have a question for you. When you were building your deck/chicken coop/compost bin, did you read any magazines or blogs to learn about the best way to go about it? Do you still? Those specialty magazines and blogs need people to write for them. They need you to write for them—they just don’t know it yet.

Thus, your next step is to come up with a list of target publications for each of the areas of expertise that you listed in Step 1.

Don’t forget to look at trade magazines. If you recently had to help your heirloom chickens through some health problems with the aid of your veterinarian, you could pitch a story to a veterinary or small farming trade magazine.

Then there are company websites. You could look for in-house blogger or copywriter jobs. Websites like freelancingwriting.com post links to jobs like these. There are twitter feeds with similar resources.

Once you’ve compiled your list of targets to go with your areas of expertise, it’s time for Step 3.

Step 3. Find your angles.

Your job is to find new things to say about your areas of expertise. The only way to know what other people are already saying is to read what’s out there. Once you’ve read what’s out there, you can figure out new things to say—that is, new angles.

After you’ve done your research in an area, start brainstorming. This is really the time to not hold back, to let your brain free. Write down every crazy idea for a story that comes to your head. You want to have ten so you can pick the best one.

(But you might end up publishing all ten, so don’t lose track of them.)

If you play this right, you will be in possession of a burgeoning freelance journalism and blogging career. After all, you will have identified areas of expertise that you already possess. (These are called your “beats,” by the way.) You will have identified places that want to publish work you can write. You will have come up with tangible writing projects. (You need to “pitch” these story ideas now.) You are already a writer who can put words together well, so writing good copy won’t be a problem for you.

Step 4 in this process is learning how to pitch story ideas and interact professionally with editors. My advice on this front is to take a short online course (tell them I sent you) or to hire a writing coach to work with you on your first few pitches.

You are now on your way to making money "writing what you know" in venues that aren’t your books. Writing books takes a lot of time—years, usually. Writing short pieces, especially online, is fast, and often satisfying, work, and a great way to balance out longer projects.

Katie Rose Guest Pryal

Katie Rose Guest Pryal is a novelist and freelance journalist living in Chapel Hill, NC. She reads all the time—and all kinds of books—from Booker Prizers to indie urban fantasies. She is the author of ENTANGLEMENT: A Novel and LOVE AND ENTROPY: A Novella (both with Velvet Morning Press). She is active on Twitter (@krgpryal), Facebook, and her blog, katieroseguestpryal.com.

Visit Katie Rose Guest Pryal‘s website.
<![CDATA[Pitch Perfect Pick: The Opener]]>Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:30:01 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/pitch-perfect-pick-the-openerPicture
At Underground Book Reviews, we get excited about high-quality books. With Pitch Perfect Picks some of those books rise to the surface. The Opener is our weekly PPP winner.

Beneath the gleaming new economies of South-East Asia there exists an underworld of transgression, vice and rampant corruption.

Abandoning a recession-plagued America for the easy money of Asia’s lucrative but highly illegal boiler room industry, Don Rouse must navigate through a sordid world of drug addicts, deviants, prostitutes and professional con men in order to achieve his lifelong dream of making it big. But his world is suddenly turned upside down as the police show up and his boss goes missing. After a chance meeting with the alluring but enigmatic Jessica, Don is plunged into a high stakes mystery that could very well put an end to his criminal career and perhaps even his life.

From the fleshpots of Bangkok to the gritty streets of Manila, John Triptych’s debut novel sheds a new light on the little known world of organized international crime.


<![CDATA[Review of Between Lions and Lambs by N.T. McQueen]]>Mon, 16 Nov 2015 11:36:50 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/review-of-between-lions-and-lambs-by-nt-mcqueenRead this review on our new website, UBR 2.0!  Picture
GENRE: Literary
WORD COUNT: 80-100k 

The Rundown

Between Lions and Lambs explores the life of Ezekiel Clemens, the world’s most influential and famous evangelist, through his own memories and through the eyes of his “handler” and best friend, Gerry. The family dynamics of Clemens’ childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father–who also happened to be a respected preacher–have formed Clemens into a demon-haunted preacher running from himself and his past.
As the story delves into the past, it sheds light on Clemens’ relationship with Gerry–a brother surrogate who keeps the ministry running smoothly despite Clemens. The ties that bind them, forged from separate and shared past tragedy, have served as both salvation and detriment, particularly for Gerry. With dedication that is initially unfathomable, he cleans up the preacher’s many messes, and neglects his own young family miles away. As their past stories converge, we see that Gerry’s choices are not made as a victim of Clemens, but through a debt of loyalty long since paid.

McQueen’s strengths in telling this tragic tale is that he makes the reader care about these two men, even when they aren’t particularly likeable. The story’s twists, turns, and intrigue show clear mastery of plotting as he seamlessly weaves parts of the past and present into a complex and believable whole.

Yet, that was barely enough to keep me reading. The novel is, at best, a first draft. Rife with technical flaws from typos to grammar abuse, this book in its current state is a chore to get through. With myriad echoes in paragraph after paragraph, incorrect or imprecise word usage, it’s difficult to find any flow in the reading. While a thesaurus would have helped to eliminate the echoes, it needed to be thrown out in the many instances where it was apparently used without a dictionary to check and see if the selected word was used correctly or had nuances that made it inappropriate. . Even more unforgiveable and harder to tolerate were the numerous homophone errors: their/there/they’re, your/you’re, lead/led. Not once, not a few times, but over and over again.

The Recommendation

The appeal of Between Lions and Lambs is in the flawed and very believable characters and the tragic tale of the making–and breaking–of evangelical preacher Ezekiel Clemens. The multitude of basic English-usage and writing errors, however, leaves the reader feeling somewhat abused by the author. He clearly cared more about publishing than writing, or its essential partner, editing. Readers who don’t mind reading something closer to a first draft than a publication ready story might enjoy this, but don’t expect any polish in the story’s telling. It’s not there. Four stars for an intriguing plot and interesting characters, but one star for the poor quality of the writing, averaging out to 2.5.

The Rating

2.5 Stars (out of 5): Needs work. This book has promise, and with the help of an editing team, it could easily be reworked into a professional manuscript.

The Links

Barnes and Noble : 2.99
Amazon e-book: $1.99
Amazon hard copy: $14.99
Find it on Goodreads
More about Between Lions and Lambs on UBR

The Reviewer

Lynne is a marine scientist by training, a writer by passion, and a curmudgeon by nature. Visit Lynne Hinkey‘s website.

<![CDATA[Author Spotlight: Jillian Green DiGiacomo]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2015 13:00:02 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/author-spotlight-jillian-green-digiacomoPicture

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we're continuing Author Spotlight Thursdays. If you are an author and like what you see, go to 
 our Author Spotlight form for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! 

Please welcome Jillian Green DiGiacomo!

If you had a writing motto what would it be?
Sometimes I write books. Sometimes I don't.

Where do you draw your inspiration?I’m not a particularly disciplined writer. I don’t write every day or sometimes every month. But when I have an idea and it grows larger than something that I can hold together in my mind all at once, that’s when I start writing. My children’s book, OFF THE WALL, started with the thought “Do we see ourselves how the world sees us or does the world see us as we see ourselves?” That transformed into a poem about a little girl who changes every time she looks in her bedroom mirror. CODENAME CUPCAKE started with the image that is still included as the opening scene of the book: I had a vision of a woman sitting between two pregnant women at the back of a bus. That image “gave birth” to a stay-at-home-mom-superhero-spy novel.

What is one interesting fact about you?
I am one of the top 7 or 8 dancers in my Zumba class at the YMCA.

Have you learned anything from the self publishing process and would you do anything differently next time?
I am learning to trust myself. I am learning to put myself and my work out into the world and feel proud. Indie publishing means getting up every day and looking for new places to share my novel. This means that, every day, I must affirm to myself that my work is worthy and my audience is out there waiting to read what I have written.
Next time, I won't wait so long to trust myself.

What has been your most successful marketing strategy?
I now have 27 Twitter followers so I expect that to translate into thousands of sales (now that my mom is on Twitter).

What is the best kept secret you have found in regard to indie publishing?The best kept secret of indie publishing is that indie publishing is (contrary to what I'd expected) extremely empowering. Of course it is frightening to be completely in charge of everything: I found my own editor. My daughter designed my book cover. And now I am doing all that I can to publicize my book. But, as it turns out, participating in every aspect has given me a greater understanding of the process and the business of publishing. The more I do, the more I learn and the more I learn, the more empowered I feel in what has often felt like an elusive and exclusive industry.


CODENAME CUPCAKE is the story of Molly Peterson, frazzled suburban mom who takes her first day “off” from full-time parenting to visit New York City. When she witnesses a crime in progress, Molly’s mommy instincts kick in and she instinctively grabs the gun out of the would-be criminal’s hand, just as she would take any dangerous object away from a child.
With that, her life changes forever.

Recorded by a bystander’s iPhone, the “hero mom” video goes viral and Molly becomes an instant, albeit reluctant, celebrity.  But the real fun begins when a super-secret spy agency recruits Molly. At first she is thrilled:  super powers! An “enhanced” mini-van!  Secret tunnels from New Jersey to Manhattan spy headquarters! Life is great!

But then she is given her assignment:  to infiltrate the PTA at her son’s elementary school. She must join every committee and volunteer at every event in order to be in the building enough to find out why Midwood Elementary School is getting chillier and chillier, discover who is behind the dangerous cooling trend, and prevent a potential calamity.

Molly is completely on board for the spying part.  It’s the PTA part that she dreads.
CODENAME CUPCAKE is a hilarious send-up of parenting, PTA moms and dads, PTA avoiders, spy novels, and comic books. Readers will cheer for Molly as she grapples with both the ordinary and the outlandish in her new life as a super-mom.


<![CDATA[Pitch Perfect Pick: Dissident]]>Wed, 11 Nov 2015 13:30:01 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/pitch-perfect-pick-dissidentPicture
At Underground Book Reviews, we get excited about high-quality books. With Pitch Perfect Picks some of those books rise to the surface. Dissident is our weekly PPP winner.

What would you do for love of country?

In a new America where almost no one can be trusted, Caroline Gerard lies unconscious in a government hospital as others decide her fate. She is a political dissident, wanted for questioning by a brutal regime that has come to power. As she recovers from her injuries, all she has are her memories of a rich and beautiful past.
What does it take to heal a broken heart?
As Caroline clings to life her thoughts drift to before the regime, when she was a rising star in the House of Representatives, widowed, and raising two precocious children. She remembers her unexpected attraction to fellow politician (and known playboy) Jack McIntyre. Jack captures her attention with his rakish grin, disarming attitude, and dry wit, and soon their friendship blossoms into much more.
Who can you trust?
Under the new political system, Caroline doesn’t know what to believe, even her own vivid memories. Is the life she led real, or just a mirage? Is Jack truly the one to help her move on? Or are they just pawns in a political power play?
The Bellator Saga is a six part series. Each full length novel ends in a cliffhanger. For readers 18+. This saga contains adult situations, including non-gratuitous violence, explicit (consensual) sex, psychological and physical trauma, and an oftentimes dark and gritty plot.


<![CDATA[Review of Eli’s Heart by Susan Moore Jordan]]>Mon, 09 Nov 2015 13:43:31 GMThttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/magazine/review-of-elis-heart-by-susan-moore-jordanRead this review on our new website, UBR 2.0!  Picture

GENRE Coming of Age, Drama, Literary, Romance

AUDIENCE Adult, Young Adult

WORD COUNT 120-140k  

The Rundown

It is the mid-1950s. Sixteen-year-old piano prodigy Eli Levin meets the love of his life, fifteen-year-old Krissy Porter. They begin writing to each other, but mail is spotty since their letters seem to be mysteriously intercepted. After Krissy attends one of Eli’s performances, their relationship takes a turn for the worse when her letters to Eli are returned to her. With communications cut, Eli and Krissy assume their relationship is over and the two go there separate ways.

Three years later and both attending different colleges, Eli learns that his manipulative mother is the one responsible for their break up. Eli reconnects with Krissy. After several discussions the two lovebirds plan to get married, much to the dismay of Eli’s mother. As deep as their love and commitment is for one another, a major concern is Eli’s health. Diagnosed with TOF (Tetralogy of Fallot)— a type of congenital heart defect, Eli has been told that he may not live pass the age of 30. Taking their chances and hoping to cheat premature death, Eli and Krissy decide to make the most of their time together “until death do us part.”

Jordan creates an endearing story of romance and family dynamics in her second novel. The inspiration for her imaginative character, Eli Levin, is based on “the good memories” of her teenage friendship with Samuel Sanders, a “brilliant teenage pianist born with a congenital heart defect.” Jordan captures Eli’s musical genius while taking readers behind the scenes of a man who not only struggles for autonomy from his overbearing mother, but also with the fact that his life could be cut short at any moment. To further complicate matters, Eli can’t bear being apart from Krissy.

Unique to Jordan’s novels is how she tightly interweaves music into her character development. A long-time vocalist, Jordan dedicates her writing on “the power of music in the lives of the characters” in her books. In the case of Eli’s Heart, Jordan infiltrates her third person narrative with an array of classical music. Indeed, the lovers get caught up in the nuances of each masterful work, and that only deepens as their relationship continues. Combining the above elements, Jordan keeps her plot flowing by constantly alternating character scenes. Although there is a bit of predictability in the plot, readers will be surprised by Eli’s Heart closing, which ends on a spiritually stirring note.

Fans of Nicholas Spark novels looking for similar romance themes will be pleasantly surprised with Jordan’s latest novel. One does not need to be a connoisseur or aficionado of classical music to appreciate the depth of relationship between Eli and Krissy. On the plus side, for those who are way into this musical genre, Jordan includes and rich list of suggested recording discussed in Eli’s Heart, as well as specific recordings by Samuel Sanders. Undoubtedly, a great read that comes highly recommended.

The Recommendation

5 Stars (out of 5): Highly recommended. This book did exactly what it set out to do, with originality, style, and maybe even a twist. It stands out next to popular, traditionally published novels in its genre.

The Links

Amazon e-book: $3.99
Amazon hard copy: $12.55
Visit the Official Website
Find it on Goodreads
Like it on Facebook
More about Eli’s Heart on UBR

The Reviewer

Anita Lock is a woman of many hats: a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a long-time educator with degrees in Music Education and Library Science.
Visit Anita Lock‘s website.