Indie Book Reviews

Genres

Adventure

  • Book Review: “Their Names Were Many” by Peter Martuneac

    This is the third book in the “His Name Was Zach” series. Be warned, I can’t really talk about what happens in it without spoiling aspects of the first two books. After helping to inspire a revolution against a tyrannical government, Abby, our protagonist, has retreated into the desert, living alone with only her guilt […]


  • Book Review: “Her Name Was Abby” by Peter Martuneac

    I ended my review of the previous book in this series with the words, “Martuneac is a promising author. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work.” Zombie apocalypse books aren’t a genre I normally read, but the characters and writing in His Name Was Zach were strong enough to hold my attention and make […]


  • Book Review: “Fortune’s Fool” by Henry Vogel

    This is a science fiction adventure story, but not the sort that Vogel usually writes. Most of his books, such as his Scout series, feature upstanding, chivalrous heroes on noble adventures. Fortune’s Fool is different. It’s darker and grittier, and less romantic. (In the literary sense.) Whereas most of Vogel’s protagonists are honorable, duty-bound types, […]


  • Book Review: “Bounty Hunter Stex” by Vesa Turpeinen

    This is a short story I heard about thanks to Lydia Schoch’s weekly list of free speculative fiction stories. The cover caught my eye immediately. Look at that beauty! Anyway, the story itself is very short. It’s about a ten-minute read. But Turpeinen packs a lot into those ten minutes. It begins with the title […]


  • Book Review: “Hart for Adventure” by Henry Vogel

    Back in May, I wrote about Vogel’s Scout’s Honor, the first in his sword-and-planet Scout series. Hart for Adventure is a prequel to that series, and it fits in well. It follows Terran scout Gavin Hart, who crash lands on a world that appears deserted, finding only the overgrown ruins of an alien city. Hart […]


  • Book Review: “The Fugitive Heir” by Henry Vogel

    I recently reviewed Henry Vogel’s Sword & Planet book Scout’s Honor. While browsing his other works, this book caught my eye because it appeared to be more traditional spacefaring sci-fi, which is one of my favorite genres. And it features a pair of likable characters going on adventures, another premise that I like. Matt Connaught […]


  • Book Review: “The Adventures of Sarah Ann Lewis and the Memory Thieves” by Joshua C. Carroll

    This is listed as a children’s book, which is not something I’d normally read, but this bit of the description caught my eye: “rural sci-fi thriller full of spies, mad scientists, 1980s nostalgia, alternate dimensions, strange new friends, suspense, and mystery.” Well, that sounded like something I would like. And I was not disappointed. Yes, […]


  • Book Review: “Scout’s Honor: A Sword & Planet Adventure (Scout Series Book #1)” by Henry Vogel

    I love classic science fiction. It may seem corny to some, but there’s a wonderful charm to those vintage pulp stories of science fiction’s Golden Age. Scout’s Honor is a flawlessly-executed homage to that era. Conventional wisdom about judging books notwithstanding, this is one case where the cover tells you exactly what this is: a […]


  • Book Review: “Panama” by C.S. Boyack

    I love weird westerns. Maybe this isn’t technically a western, given that Panama is at approximately the same longitude as West Virginia, but in every other respect, it fits the bill. It’s got cowboys, ghosts, witchcraft, and plenty of good old-fashioned gunfights. Ethan Stafford and Cooper Hexum are U.S. marshals sent by President Theodore Roosevelt […]


  • Book Review: “Fascination” by Kevin Brennan

    I’ve seen the name Kevin Brennan praised for years by many authors I admire. Carrie Rubin, Audrey Driscoll, Phillip McCollum, and after this post by Mark Paxson, I realized I could postpone it no longer: I had to read one of his books. The testimony of the four listed above cannot be ignored. Fascination lived […]


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


Dystopia

Fantasy

  • Book Review: “Sailing to Redoubt” by C. Litka

    If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably already heard me sing the praises of Litka’s books many times. In fact, there are a few people who, I’m delighted to say, I’ve introduced to his work and who have also become serious fans. (Litka-heads, maybe? We’re still working on what to call ourselves.) […]


  • Book Review: “The Witch of the North Pole” by Snow Eden

    As I think most of you know, Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. But even I can go for a good Christmas tale. So naturally, a Christmas book that brings a witch into the picture is going to get my attention. This book tells the story of Cinnamon Mercy Claus, who unexpectedly finds herself […]


  • Book Review: “Never Die” by Rob J. Hayes

    This is the sort of book I rarely read: a fantasy-quest type of story. But it came recommended by Peter Martuneac, so I figured I would give it a try. Am I ever glad I did! This is a fantastic tale of adventure set in an ancient Eastern kingdom known as Hosa. The book begins […]


  • Book Review: “The Dream God” by Brendan M.P. Heard

    This is a deeply strange book. It is set in an alternate future in which the Roman Empire still exists, and has evolved into a starfaring civilization. There is also a strong mystical element involving something called the Godstream, which is evidently some powerful, magical energy which grants great power. And of course, as in […]


  • Book Review: “The Fall of Alla Xul” by Andrew Rakich

    There I was, poking around one of my favorite YouTube channels, when I saw this video. “Hmm,” I said to myself, “Full audiobook? That implies the existence of a non-audiobook of same.” So I went to Amazon and, behold, there it was. So, what is The Fall of Alla Xul? Well, it’s presented as a […]


  • Book Review: “The Teddy Bear’s War” by Alex Cross

    I heard of this book thanks to Lydia Schoch’s review. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as it looked like a children’s book. But it’s not a children’s book, not exactly. It is true that it is about a child’s toy, and one of the major characters is a child. But the book has a […]


  • Book Review: “Beneath The Lanterns” by C. Litka

    Truly, the more I like a book, the harder it is to review it. I don’t want to give you my second-hand summary of the plot or the setting; I want to take you into this world to see it. Like previous books of Litka’s that I’ve reviewed, Keiree and A Summer in Amber, Beneath […]


  • Book Review: “The Untangled Cassie Black” by Tammie Painter

    This is the third and final book in the Cassie Black series. If you’ll recall my review of Book Two, I didn’t want to go into too much detail for fear of spoiling Book One. And so now, I face the same problem doubled, because to describe the setting of this book risks spoiling the […]


  • Book Review: “Perseus Kills His Grandfather” by Richard L. Pastore

    This is a re-telling of the Ancient Greek myth of Perseus, son of the God Zeus, and his quest to slay Medusa. It’s told in a light, witty style, which readers of Pastore’s first novel, The Devil and the Wolf, will certainly enjoy. Along the way, Perseus meets with various other of the Ancient Greek gods, […]


  • Book Review: “The Uncanny Raven Winston” by Tammie Painter

    It’s always tough for me to review sequels. I don’t want to say too much about previous entries, for fear that someone who hasn’t read previous books will stumble upon the review and read spoilers. On the other hand, I can’t talk much about what happens in this book without referencing the first book, The […]


  • Book Review: “The Undead Mr. Tenpenny” by Tammie Painter

    This book begins with a clever hook: the protagonist, Cassie Black, is shocked when the corpses at the funeral home where she works start coming back to life. She quickly learns the reason for this sudden re-animation is that they have “unfinished business.” At first, she’s able to help put them to rest, but when […]


  • Book Review: “A Summer in Amber” by C. Litka

    I’m not sure where to begin with this book. Perhaps a good way to start would be to define what kind of book it is, but you see, there are layers to it. You could approach it in a number of different ways. One avenue would be to say it’s a romance. The protagonist, Dr. […]


  • Book Review: “An Assortment of Rejected Futures” by Noah Goats

    This is a collection of short speculative fiction stories that deal with complex concepts–the existence of God, the nature of reality, human relationships–as approached by everyday people. Goats has a knack for writing characters who are instantly relatable. Although this is in many ways a stylistic departure from his earlier books, which are primarily comic […]


  • Book Review: “Liars and Thieves” by D. Wallace Peach

    This is a fantasy novel set in a world where elves, goblins and changelings (shape-shifters) are perennially maneuvering against each other. The main source of conflict is the precious gems which are used for all manner of magical purposes. The three factions are not at war, but rather a state of uneasy peace which is […]


  • Book Review: “Cowboy Karma” by Hank Bruce

    This is a collection of four short stories, each set in rugged western landscapes, and each with an ironic twist to them. I learned about it from Pat Prescott and had to check it out. I love weird westerns, and these tales fit the bill perfectly. Each one is a short but memorable concept: An […]


  • Book Review: “The Gossamer Power” by Abbie Evans

    This is the sequel to The Gossamer Globe, which I reviewed here. It’s a fantastic book, and I’ll keep the plot synopsis to a minimum because I would not want to spoil the first book. Gossamer Power follows Lucia, Kailani, Ms. Battenbox, Jevan and other characters from Globe, as well as introducing some terrific new […]


  • Book Review: “The Spellbound Spindle” by Joy V Spicer

    This fantasy novel begins with a group of magical beings known as “gem elves,” who are betrayed by one of their own, Marlis, who has become a servant of a dark goddess named Gadreena.  Marlis slays one of the elves, and flees into the mortal world. There, she curses a child. The curse mandates that […]


  • Book Review: “A Feast for Sight” by Tammie Painter

    This is a short story set in Painter’s world of Osteria. Osteria is a sort of post-apocalyptic setting in which many of the Ancient Greek and Roman traditions and beliefs have been revived. A Feast for Sight is a story that fits this setting well. It deals with three oracles, who tell their clients the […]


  • Book Review: “The Gossamer Globe” by Abbie Evans

    The Gossamer Globe is a very unique book. It has elements of many genres, from political thriller to swashbuckling adventure to biting satire. And the author combines all these in clever ways to make something very original. The book tells the story of a woman named Lucia Straw, who is being elected as the first […]


  • Book Review: “The Adventures of Sarah Ann Lewis and the Memory Thieves” by Joshua C. Carroll

    This is listed as a children’s book, which is not something I’d normally read, but this bit of the description caught my eye: “rural sci-fi thriller full of spies, mad scientists, 1980s nostalgia, alternate dimensions, strange new friends, suspense, and mystery.” Well, that sounded like something I would like. And I was not disappointed. Yes, […]


  • Book Review: “Moon Goddess” by Joy V. Spicer

    Moon Goddess is about a young woman named Lamorna who is forced to flee her home with her infant brother, pursued by the soldiers of the lord who holds sway in the region. With the guidance of a mysterious wise woman, Lamorna is aided by spirits and manifestations of an ancient goddess, whose followers and […]


  • Book Review: “Testing the Waters: (A Mythic Short Story)” by Tammie Painter

    This story is a mystery; but not in the typical “whodunnit” genre; rather, it’s a mystery of what is happening in the little town of Port Athens. It’s a fishing town, and one of the fishermen, Eli P. Marin, has come back with a trident, which sets all the town on edge. Soon, everyone in […]


  • Book Review: “Hyperlink from Hell” by Lindy Moone

    This book… This book… I mean to say, folks: this book! Sorry, I’m having a bit of trouble getting started. Where exactly to begin is not obvious here. Normally I give a book’s genre, and then maybe an outline of the plot. What genre is Hyperlink from Hell? I have no idea. The story begins with […]


  • Book Review: “Assassin’s Heart” by Isabella Norse

    Assassin’s Heart is a romance in a medieval fantasy setting. The protagonist, Lillie, is a woman raised from a young age to be a ruthless assassin by an organization known as the Va’Shile. When we meet her, she is undercover as a palace servant, and all the court is awaiting the naming of King’s heir—whom […]


  • Book Review: “The Cursed Gift” by Joy V. Spicer

    The Cursed Gift is a fantasy novel about a young woman named Leah, a warrior in training and daughter of the King of in a place called Orenheart. Leah’s day-to-day life of combat drills, horseback riding and the drama of being young and in love is disrupted after brigands attack her family, and a mysterious […]


  • Book Review: “The Raven and Other Tales” by Joy V. Spicer

    This is a collection of ten short stories, many of which are inspired by myths, fairy-tales, folk-lore and poetry. Sort of like Angela Carter’s retellings of well-known stories, Spicer cleverly re-invents these classic tales, telling them in a new way or from a new perspective. All the stories are enjoyable and interesting. My favorites were the […]


  • Book Review: “Of Patchwork Warriors: (Being Vol.1 of the Precipice Dominions)” by R.J. Llewellyn

    I don’t read a lot of epic fantasy. But when Audrey Driscoll recommends a book, I pay attention, regardless of genre. Of Patchwork Warriors begins with a glossary of terms used in the world of the novel, which is called the Oakhostian Empire. These include amusing words like “kerfluffeg” and “blimping,” a mild obscenity, as […]


  • Book Review: “The Devil and the Wolf” by Richard L. Pastore

    How to describe The Devil and the Wolf? I could tell you that it deals with questions like whether humans are innately good or evil, what it means to have a soul, and that it deconstructs and reimagines many classic aspects of mythology and religion. But that makes it sound like pretty heavy stuff. Like […]


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


Historical Fiction

  • Book Review: “Imperial Passions: The Great Palace” by Eileen Stephenson

    I’ve been waiting for this book since I read the first book in Stephenson’s Byzantium series back in 2018. And was it ever worth the wait. After setting the stage in The Porta Aurea, with the rise of the Emperor Isaac, Stephenson has events play out in dramatic fashion. It may seem odd to describe […]


  • Book Review: “This Shall Be a House of Peace” by Phil Halton

    Before I actually review the book, I have to share the story of how I found out about it. Recently, Peter Martuneac introduced me to the book website Shepherd. While reading about Shepherd and its founder, Ben Fox, I came across this interview Fox did with Phil Halton, which led me to poking around Halton’s […]


  • Book Review: “Burke and the Bedouin” by Tom Williams

    This was the first Burke book I heard of, but as it’s the second in the series, I had to read the first installment, Burke in the Land of Silver. I loved it, and eagerly anticipated reading this one. A bit of background: Burke is like a Napoleonic-era James Bond. (I actually think he’s more like […]


  • Book Review: “Perseus Kills His Grandfather” by Richard L. Pastore

    This is a re-telling of the Ancient Greek myth of Perseus, son of the God Zeus, and his quest to slay Medusa. It’s told in a light, witty style, which readers of Pastore’s first novel, The Devil and the Wolf, will certainly enjoy. Along the way, Perseus meets with various other of the Ancient Greek gods, […]


  • Book Review: “Forgiven: A Historical Novel” by Geoff Lawson

    I picked this book up because it is set during the Boer War. How many books do you hear about set during the Boer War? I mean, of course, this isn’t the only one, but compared to the seemingly-endless army of books set during, say, World War II, it’s a relatively exclusive club. Come to […]


  • Book Review: “Penelope’s Pleasure” by Deborah Villegas

    This is a Regency romance. Regency romance is a super-popular genre, which is why I made it my business to find a lesser-known indie Regency romance with only a few reviews. Because that’s how we do things here at Ruined Chapel. To be clear, this book is more in the Regency Historical sub-category, in that […]


  • Book Review: “Burke in the Land of Silver” by Tom Williams

    This is a historical fiction novel set in the Napoleonic era. It follows British lieutenant James Burke, who is in Argentina as a “confidential agent.” A spy, in other words. While there, he assumes different identities of varying nationalities to worm his way into a position where he can learn the latest news. With Napoleon’s […]


  • Book Review: “Cowboy Karma” by Hank Bruce

    This is a collection of four short stories, each set in rugged western landscapes, and each with an ironic twist to them. I learned about it from Pat Prescott and had to check it out. I love weird westerns, and these tales fit the bill perfectly. Each one is a short but memorable concept: An […]


  • Book Review: “A Feast for Sight” by Tammie Painter

    This is a short story set in Painter’s world of Osteria. Osteria is a sort of post-apocalyptic setting in which many of the Ancient Greek and Roman traditions and beliefs have been revived. A Feast for Sight is a story that fits this setting well. It deals with three oracles, who tell their clients the […]


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


  • Book Review: “Napoleon in America” by Shannon Selin


  • Book Review: “Imperial Passions – The Porta Aurea” by Eileen Stephenson

    Imperial Passions is a sweeping historical novel told from the perspective of Anna Dalassena, who at the beginning of the tale is a 14-year-old orphan girl living with her grandparents. Over the course of the novel, she grows up, marries, becomes a mother, and through it all is witness to many major events during a […]


Horror

  • Book Review: “Crow Bones” by Nicola McDonagh

    This short story collection came recommended to me by Lorinda J. Taylor, so I knew going in it would be good. And it lived up to my expectations. The stories are all weird, unsettling, at times disturbing, at other times very funny. In short, an excellent blend of moods. Each story is based on a […]


  • Book Review: “A Dark Genesis” by Cheryl Lawson

    This is a sci-fi horror novella. The setting is a ship on a deep space voyage, which is temporarily knocked off course by a collision with an asteroid. I can’t say too much more about the plot, because this is a short book, and if I say much, I’ll spoil everything. All I’ll say is […]


  • Book Review: “The Last Photograph of John Buckley: A Ghost Story” by T.J. Brown

    Normally, I’d hold off on reviewing a ghost story until October rolls around. But I read this after Lydia Schoch recommended it, and it was so good I couldn’t wait to share it with you all. The book is about a man named Peter, a World War II veteran who is an expert on retouching […]


  • Book Review: “Their Names Were Many” by Peter Martuneac

    This is the third book in the “His Name Was Zach” series. Be warned, I can’t really talk about what happens in it without spoiling aspects of the first two books. After helping to inspire a revolution against a tyrannical government, Abby, our protagonist, has retreated into the desert, living alone with only her guilt […]


  • Book Review: “The Bone Elixir” by Carrie Rubin

    This is the third book in the Benjamin Oris series. I’ve reviewed the previous installments here and here. If you haven’t read those books yet, be warned that there are certain plot elements of this I can’t discuss without giving away information about the earlier books. The Bone Elixir begins when Ben Oris learns he […]


  • Book Review: “A Ghost and His Gold” by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

    It’s not easy to categorize this book into one genre. It has historical fiction, horror and psychological thriller elements. The book begins with a couple, Michelle and Tom Cleveland, moving into their new home in South Africa. For a housewarming party, they play with a Ouija board. Soon after, strange things begin to happen to […]


  • Book Review: “URP-113” by M.D. Parker

    This is military sci-fi blended with horror. It has a bit of Starship Troopers, a bit of Doom, a bit of Aliens, and is altogether an intense experience. It’s a short story, only about a 20 minute read, but is it ever action-packed. The main character is Lyn, a mercenary who is part of a […]


  • Book Review: “Richard Rex & the Succubus of Whitechapel” by Seth Tucker

    If you described this book to me, I’d have said it sounded too clichéd. A mysterious monster killing people all over Whitechapel, and a private detective hired to track it down? It all sounds too much like a mashup of Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula for me. But Lydia Schoch recommended it, and […]


  • Book Review: “Dark Magic” by Tom Williams

    Dark Magic is a novella about two groups of magicians: the “Maestros of Magic” and “The Carnival of Conjurors.” The latter begins making a sensation with some truly spectacular performances that seem unbelievable to the Maestros, who investigate and eventually discover that the secret of the Conjurors is in fact real black magic. What follows […]


  • Book Review: “Her Name Was Abby” by Peter Martuneac

    I ended my review of the previous book in this series with the words, “Martuneac is a promising author. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work.” Zombie apocalypse books aren’t a genre I normally read, but the characters and writing in His Name Was Zach were strong enough to hold my attention and make […]


  • Book Review: “Abby: Alone” by Peter Martuneac

    “Harrowing” is the best word to describe this fast-paced short story that serves as a prequel to the novel His Name Was Zach. The book is told in first-person, from the point of view of the title character, a young girl whose normal life is interrupted in horrific fashion. As befitting an introduction to the […]


  • Book Review: “Book of the Elder Wisdom: An Eldritch Mystery” by R. Walter Dutton

    I heard of this book thanks to Joy V. Spicer’s review of it. Naturally, since I’m always interested in neo-Lovecraftianism, I picked it up. The book takes place in 1984, when the narrator stumbles upon a bloody backpack belonging to someone named Jared Palmer at a strange site in a remote part of the desert. He […]


  • Book Review: “American Chimera” by H.R.R. Gorman

    H.R.R. Gorman has a wonderful book review site I recently discovered. I urge my readers to check it out, because Gorman reviews all sorts of books, including lots of indie titles. Gorman has also written a novel, American Chimera. I am reviewing it here, and you will note I am doing it in a slightly different style–that […]


  • Book Review: “His Name Was Zach” by Peter Martuneac

    This is a post-apocalyptic zombie book. I should state up front: I’ve never really cared for the whole zombie genre. I saw Night of the Living Dead as a teenager and it didn’t seem remotely scary. I’ve played many video games with zombie-like enemies, but I never relish the levels that involve fighting hordes of […]


  • Book Review: “An Assortment of Rejected Futures” by Noah Goats

    This is a collection of short speculative fiction stories that deal with complex concepts–the existence of God, the nature of reality, human relationships–as approached by everyday people. Goats has a knack for writing characters who are instantly relatable. Although this is in many ways a stylistic departure from his earlier books, which are primarily comic […]


  • Book Review: “Cowboy Karma” by Hank Bruce

    This is a collection of four short stories, each set in rugged western landscapes, and each with an ironic twist to them. I learned about it from Pat Prescott and had to check it out. I love weird westerns, and these tales fit the bill perfectly. Each one is a short but memorable concept: An […]


  • Book Review: “Tales from the Annexe” by Audrey Driscoll

    This is a collection of short stories by Audrey Driscoll, author of the Herbert West series, a brilliant re-imagining of H.P. Lovecraft’s amoral scientist. The first seven stories in the collection all tie in with the series. It’s probably not necessary to have read all the books to enjoy them, but I’d say at least […]


  • Book Review: “Angel: A Short Story of the Un-Dead” by Jason H. Abbott

    This short story is a modern tale of un-dead horror. I won’t spoil exactly what type of monster is involved, but readers will probably be able to guess. There’s a clever twist on some classic mythology that enables three high school kids to do battle with an ancient evil. There are elements of dark comedy […]


  • Book Review: “A Thousand Yesteryears” by Mae Clair

    A Thousand Yesteryears is a crime thriller, set in 1982. A young woman named Eve Parrish returns to her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Eve, and everyone in the town, are still haunted by the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge 15 years before. Eve’s father and her best friend Maggie Flynn were among […]


  • Book Review: “All The Colors of the Dead” by Alex Vorkov

    I picked this book up after Kevin Brennan blogged about it. I assumed it was about a planet of zombies or something. I don’t like zombie stories much, but I figured I’d give it a whirl. My initial impression was kind of off. I was picturing explorers being chased by zombies on a remote planet, […]


  • Book Review: “Summer’s Over” by Em Leonard

    I’ve had this book on my TBR list for some time, but it was Lydia Schoch’s review that motivated me to read it. I wish I hadn’t waited so long—this is a fantastic collection of creepy short stories centered around California amusement parks. Let me give you an idea of the strange and disturbing worlds the […]


  • Book Review: “Terror Beneath Cactus Flats” by Seth Tucker

    I love Weird Westerns. So as soon as I read Lydia Schoch’s review of this book, I knew I had to check it out. And it’s everything a story set in the Weird West should be: cowboys, prospectors, gunfights with shotguns and six-shooters, and of course, manifestations of supernatural horror, which I won’t describe in […]


  • Book Review: “Hannah the Huntress: Blood Legacy” by Saul Bishop

    This is a fast-paced, supernatural horror adventure laced with film, TV, and literary references. Hannah and her friends are teenagers in a small-town that is abruptly attacked by monsters of every description–zombies, vampires, witches etc. Fortunately, they are assisted by the wizard Merlyn Morningstar and Hannah’s mother Sarah, both of whom have seen a thing […]


  • Book Review: “Harvest: A Short Story from the Pumpkin Patch” by Jason H. Abbott

    Harvest is a short story that packs a lot of content into few words. It tells the story of a man named Edgar, who, due to some very evil circumstances, has been given a pumpkin for a head–and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As Edgar is grappling with this horrible situation, a woman […]


  • Book Review: “Hyperlink from Hell” by Lindy Moone

    This book… This book… I mean to say, folks: this book! Sorry, I’m having a bit of trouble getting started. Where exactly to begin is not obvious here. Normally I give a book’s genre, and then maybe an outline of the plot. What genre is Hyperlink from Hell? I have no idea. The story begins with […]


  • Book Review: “The Witch Under the Mountain” by Audrey N. Allison

    When I was a kid, my dad would tell me stories while I would play on my swing-set. Most of his stories were funny, but I remember some were scary—I recall in particular one about a vampire that he told me at sunset one evening. Our house was across the street from a cemetery, and […]


  • Book Review: “She Who Comes Forth” by Audrey Driscoll


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


  • Book Review: “Jersey Ghost Stories” by Erren Michaels and Noah Goats

    A terrific read for anyone who enjoys good scary stories.


  • Book Review: “Islands of the Gulf Volume 1: The Journey” by Audrey Driscoll

    Earlier in the year I read Audrey Driscoll’s terrific re-imagining of H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West–Reanimator short story, The Friendship of Mortals. So I was eager to read this second book in the series, which sees West changing his name, his home, and most of all, his personality. The book begins by retelling certain parts of Friendship […]


  • Book Review: “The Friendship of Mortals”, by Audrey Driscoll

    A must-read for Lovecraft fans


Humor

  • Book Review: “A Cozy Alien Murder” by Zachary Shatzer

    This is actually the 2nd book in Shatzer’s “Cozy Murders” series. The 1st book is the only one of his I haven’t reviewed yet, because it’s a Christmas-themed tale, and I’m saving it for December. But, you can read them out of order. I like cozy stories. I even like Hallmark-esque Christmas-themed cozy stories. That […]


  • Book Review: “Sorcerers Wanted” by Zachary Shatzer

    Zachary Shatzer’s books never fail to make me laugh out loud. They’re absurd, over-the-top, fast-paced and hilarious, and Sorcerers Wanted is no exception. The best way to describe it is, imagine a spoof of Harry Potter and all the Potter clones that followed it, but done with the sensibility of the movie Airplane!, only in […]


  • Book Review: “9 Lovers for Emily Spankhammer” by T.J. Brown and Kaleesha Williams

    The great comic novelist and book lover Noah Goats once told me, “Books lead on to books, and sometimes in strange ways. They all seem to be connected somehow.” This is a good example. After reading T.J. Brown’s excellent ghost story The Last Photograph of John Buckley, I looked to see what else he had […]


  • Book Review: “The Story of John Warbly and the Crabcakes, America’s Favorite Band” by Zachary Shatzer

    Earlier this year, I reviewed Zachary Shatzer’s The Goose Finder, and said it was one of the funniest books I’d ever read. So when I saw he released a new short story, I eagerly pounced on it. And yes, if you liked The Goose Finder, you’ll like this too. As with the earlier book, I […]


  • Book Review: “McGorgol and Hockney at the Guano Island Hotel” by Audrey Noah

    This is a classic mystery, in the vein of Agatha Christie. We have a brilliant detective, Professor Edwin McGorgol, and his not-so-brilliant, but good-hearted sidekick, George Hockney. There’s a hotel full of suspects, snobbish rich types, a femme fatale, and an escalating series of crimes that put the pressure on them to solve it before it’s […]


  • Book Review: “The Goose Finder” by Zachary Shatzer

    There is of course a powerful recency bias that is well-documented, but offhand, this may be the funniest book I’ve ever read. It’s certainly up there. Even when reading a really funny book, I rarely laugh out loud. I laughed out loud multiple times per chapter reading this. I could try to give you a […]


  • Book Review: “The Harbinger of Gloom Street” by Lindy Moone

    Recently, during a chat with the Writers Supporting Writers group, I was talking about Lindy Moone’s novel Hyperlink From Hell. I asserted that as far as I knew, that was the only published work by this author. Well, clearly I don’t know very much. I thought I remembered looking for other works after reading Hyperlink. […]


  • Book Review: “The Untangled Cassie Black” by Tammie Painter

    This is the third and final book in the Cassie Black series. If you’ll recall my review of Book Two, I didn’t want to go into too much detail for fear of spoiling Book One. And so now, I face the same problem doubled, because to describe the setting of this book risks spoiling the […]


  • Book Review: “Perseus Kills His Grandfather” by Richard L. Pastore

    This is a re-telling of the Ancient Greek myth of Perseus, son of the God Zeus, and his quest to slay Medusa. It’s told in a light, witty style, which readers of Pastore’s first novel, The Devil and the Wolf, will certainly enjoy. Along the way, Perseus meets with various other of the Ancient Greek gods, […]


  • Book Review: “The Uncanny Raven Winston” by Tammie Painter

    It’s always tough for me to review sequels. I don’t want to say too much about previous entries, for fear that someone who hasn’t read previous books will stumble upon the review and read spoilers. On the other hand, I can’t talk much about what happens in this book without referencing the first book, The […]


  • Book Review: “Mars Madness” by Jodi Bowersox

    I didn’t know what to expect from this book. It’s a romance, but obviously in a sci-fi setting. The premise is that a company has created a lottery, the winner of which will receive a trip to Mars. Recent divorcee Katrina buys one ticket, largely to appease her daughter Francesca. Francesca has been lobbying her […]


  • Book Review: “The Undead Mr. Tenpenny” by Tammie Painter

    This book begins with a clever hook: the protagonist, Cassie Black, is shocked when the corpses at the funeral home where she works start coming back to life. She quickly learns the reason for this sudden re-animation is that they have “unfinished business.” At first, she’s able to help put them to rest, but when […]


  • Book Review: “An Assortment of Rejected Futures” by Noah Goats

    This is a collection of short speculative fiction stories that deal with complex concepts–the existence of God, the nature of reality, human relationships–as approached by everyday people. Goats has a knack for writing characters who are instantly relatable. Although this is in many ways a stylistic departure from his earlier books, which are primarily comic […]


  • Book Review: “The Gossamer Power” by Abbie Evans

    This is the sequel to The Gossamer Globe, which I reviewed here. It’s a fantastic book, and I’ll keep the plot synopsis to a minimum because I would not want to spoil the first book. Gossamer Power follows Lucia, Kailani, Ms. Battenbox, Jevan and other characters from Globe, as well as introducing some terrific new […]


  • Book Review: “The Gossamer Globe” by Abbie Evans

    The Gossamer Globe is a very unique book. It has elements of many genres, from political thriller to swashbuckling adventure to biting satire. And the author combines all these in clever ways to make something very original. The book tells the story of a woman named Lucia Straw, who is being elected as the first […]


  • Book Review: “The Joke’s on Me” by Laurie Boris

    This is a literary novel about a woman named Francine “Frankie” Goldberg returning home to Woodstock, NY after a stalled career as a stand-up comic and agent for a Hollywood actress. Returning to her family’s Bed & Breakfast, now operated by her older sister Judith (“Jude”), Frankie finds herself confronting a number of unresolved issues […]


  • Book Review: “Testing the Waters: (A Mythic Short Story)” by Tammie Painter

    This story is a mystery; but not in the typical “whodunnit” genre; rather, it’s a mystery of what is happening in the little town of Port Athens. It’s a fishing town, and one of the fishermen, Eli P. Marin, has come back with a trident, which sets all the town on edge. Soon, everyone in […]


  • Book Review: “I Put Pants on for This?” by Jackson Banks

    In my opinion, everyday life is one of the hardest things to write about. It is, by nature, something that is not exciting, so it takes a skilled writer to make people interested in reading about it.  Jackson Banks is such a writer, and I Put Pants on for This? is a delightful collection of short […]


  • Book Review: “Hyperlink from Hell” by Lindy Moone

    This book… This book… I mean to say, folks: this book! Sorry, I’m having a bit of trouble getting started. Where exactly to begin is not obvious here. Normally I give a book’s genre, and then maybe an outline of the plot. What genre is Hyperlink from Hell? I have no idea. The story begins with […]


  • Book Review: “Delightfully Twisted Tales: Fire, Fangs and Brimstone (Volume Two)” by Nicky Drayden

    These stories are ideal for when you just want something quick and light. After reading some long, emotionally-charged novels, I find it’s a perfect change of pace to read one of Drayden’s weird tales. My mother told me once that in ancient Greek drama, after the heavy tragedies were over, they would close the evening […]


  • Book Review: “Delightfully Twisted Tales: Close Encounters of the Worst Kind (Volume One)” by Nicky Drayden

    After reading Lydia Schoch’s review of this book, I just had to give it a try. It’s a collection of four very short stories best described as “weird sci-fi comedies.” Each story starts out with an unusual premise, and just lets things play out from there. What do I mean by an “unusual” premise? Well, […]


  • Book Review: “The Witch Under the Mountain” by Audrey N. Allison

    When I was a kid, my dad would tell me stories while I would play on my swing-set. Most of his stories were funny, but I remember some were scary—I recall in particular one about a vampire that he told me at sunset one evening. Our house was across the street from a cemetery, and […]


  • Book Review: “Pads For His Throne” by Olli Crusoe

    I heard about this short story thanks to Lydia Schoch’s review. I encourage you to read her take as well, because she’s much better at writing these things without spoilers than I am. But I’m going to try anyway, because I enjoyed this tale quite a lot. As Lydia notes, there are few stories that […]


  • Book Review: “The Devil and the Wolf” by Richard L. Pastore

    How to describe The Devil and the Wolf? I could tell you that it deals with questions like whether humans are innately good or evil, what it means to have a soul, and that it deconstructs and reimagines many classic aspects of mythology and religion. But that makes it sound like pretty heavy stuff. Like […]


  • Book Review: “The Unpublishables” by Noah Goats

    The first thing to know about The Unpublishables is that when you open it in the Kindle reader, you need to make sure and scroll back to see the epigraph. At least for me, Kindle wants to launch right into Chapter 1 without showing this important front matter. But you don’t want to miss this […]


  • Book Review: “Say Uncle” by Noah Goats

    You ever flip through the TV channels and see infomercials for all sorts of bogus products? These can be pretty funny to watch until you realize there are people who fall for it. Say Uncle is a comic novel about a young man named Toby who works at a company that churns out just such […]


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


  • Book Review: “Incomplete Works” by Noah Goats

    I saw this book after reading Jersey Ghost Stories, which Goats co-authored with Erren Michaels. One of the reviews of Incomplete Works likened it to John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, which in my opinion is one of the greatest comic novels ever written. I decided to give it a try, although I doubted […]


Literary

  • Book Review: “Permanent Position” by Sid Stark

    This is the second book in the Dr. Rowena Halley series, the first of which I reviewed here. This one picks up right where the first one left off in following the career of Rowena Arwen Halley, the Russian language Ph.D. struggling to navigate a brutal academic job market as well as her own desire […]


  • Book Review: “Telling Sonny” by Elizabeth Gauffreau

    This is a literary novel about a young woman named Faby who lives in Vermont in the 1920s. Faby is obsessed with vaudeville acts that come to town. Every year, she attends with her sister and relishes watching the different acts. One performer in particular who catches her eye is a dancer called Slim White, […]


  • Book Review: “Occasional Soulmates” by Kevin Brennan

    This is a novel with layers. Superficially, it’s a “chick lit” relationship novel. The narrator, Dr. Sarah Phelan, says as much in the first chapter. This layer is a classic romance of a woman falling in love with a man who at first seems to be Mr. Perfect, but who has hidden Byronic depths. The […]


  • Book Review: “3/Chicago” by Zoe Keithley

    This is a collection of three short stories set in Chicago. I’ll be reviewing them in the reverse of the order they appear in the book. “Annie Doesn’t Mean Any Harm” was my least-favorite story in the book, which is not to say it was bad. On the contrary, it was quite good. Keithley writes […]


  • Book Review: “The Dime” by Mark Paxson

    Mark Paxson has often said that he writes in order to see things from other perspectives. The Dime is a great example of this. There are three main characters: Sophie, a teenage girl, now in a wheelchair after the car crash that killed her parents; Lily, her sister, who has been her guardian since turning […]


  • Book Review: “Aamrgan” by Cliff Hays

    “Aamrgan?” you say. “What kind of title is that?” Well, it’s an anagram of anagram. Nifty concept, isn’t it? It’s a good brain-teaser that sets the stage for what’s to come. Aamrgan is a short book, but it contains huge ideas. It was originally going to be a novel, until the author began contemplating the […]


  • Book Review: “An Assortment of Rejected Futures” by Noah Goats

    This is a collection of short speculative fiction stories that deal with complex concepts–the existence of God, the nature of reality, human relationships–as approached by everyday people. Goats has a knack for writing characters who are instantly relatable. Although this is in many ways a stylistic departure from his earlier books, which are primarily comic […]


  • Book Review: “The Joke’s on Me” by Laurie Boris

    This is a literary novel about a woman named Francine “Frankie” Goldberg returning home to Woodstock, NY after a stalled career as a stand-up comic and agent for a Hollywood actress. Returning to her family’s Bed & Breakfast, now operated by her older sister Judith (“Jude”), Frankie finds herself confronting a number of unresolved issues […]


  • Book Review: “Calmer Girls” by Jennifer Kelland Perry

    This is a Young Adult novel, which is not a genre I typically read. It’s probably unfair of me, but I have a stereotype in my mind of what a YA novel is, and generally speaking, they aren’t something that interests me. But this one was recommended by the great Carrie Rubin, and so I […]


  • Book Review: “Hyperlink from Hell” by Lindy Moone

    This book… This book… I mean to say, folks: this book! Sorry, I’m having a bit of trouble getting started. Where exactly to begin is not obvious here. Normally I give a book’s genre, and then maybe an outline of the plot. What genre is Hyperlink from Hell? I have no idea. The story begins with […]


  • Book Review: “Shady Acres and Other Stories” by Mark Paxson

    This is a collection of short stories. If you read Mark’s other collection The Marfa Lights—and you should have, especially since this fellow said to—this will feel like picking up right where you left off. My mini-reviews of each story: Shady Acres: This story is the longest in the book, and interweaves the life stories […]


  • Book Review: “Eternity Began Tomorrow” by Kevin Brennan

    I have seriously dialed back the politics on this blog. New readers might not realize that at one time, this blog was almost purely political. But I said good-bye to all that when I realized that (a) I wasn’t changing any minds, (b) book reviews are way more popular and (c) way more fun to […]


  • Book Review: “The Calling of Mother Adelli” by Zoe Keithley

    This is a dark book, about flawed psyches, crises of faith, and unhappy families. It tells the story of a nun, Mary Agnes Adelli, who teaches at a Catholic boarding school in Illinois. One of the students under her charge is a rebellious girl named Helene, who feels abandoned by her father, a doctor who […]


  • Book Review: “Nola Fran Evie” by Britt Skrabanek

    Nola Fran Evie is a story about four women, each trying to make a difference in the world. The three title characters are all players in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, organized in the 1940s. The three starred for the Racine Belles, until the league folded when taken over by businessman Harvey Shaw. The three women […]


  • Book Review: “Fascination” by Kevin Brennan

    I’ve seen the name Kevin Brennan praised for years by many authors I admire. Carrie Rubin, Audrey Driscoll, Phillip McCollum, and after this post by Mark Paxson, I realized I could postpone it no longer: I had to read one of his books. The testimony of the four listed above cannot be ignored. Fascination lived […]


  • Book Review: “Charlie and Pearl” by Tammy Robinson

    A couple weeks ago, my friend Mark Paxson (who is a fantastic writer himself, BTW) wrote a post recommending four indie authors. Tammy Robinson was one of them. Mark suggested I start off by reading this book to get a sense of her work. I figured from the start this might be the furthest outside […]


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


  • Book Review: “Oblivion” by Hank Bruce

    A very interesting book, full of experimental, New Age ideas.


  • Book Review: “Islands of the Gulf Volume 1: The Journey” by Audrey Driscoll

    Earlier in the year I read Audrey Driscoll’s terrific re-imagining of H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West–Reanimator short story, The Friendship of Mortals. So I was eager to read this second book in the series, which sees West changing his name, his home, and most of all, his personality. The book begins by retelling certain parts of Friendship […]


  • Book Review: “Tiny Shoes Dancing” by Audrey Kalman

    Tiny Shoes Dancing is a beautifully-written collection of short stories, most of which are about people struggling to connect emotionally with one another, or even with themselves. Most of the short story collections I’ve read are loosely tied together by a character or a place or simply a genre style. This one is tied together by […]


  • Book Review: “Ocean Echoes” by Sheila Hurst

    A love-letter to the ocean, written with respect for its dangers and fear for its fragility


  • Book Review: “Human Sacrifices” by Patrick Prescott

    Pat Prescott is a long-time reader, commenter, and great friend of the blog. (My very first follower, actually—dating back to my pre-Wordpress days.) So, I feel a little sheepish that it took me this long to read his novel, Human Sacrifices. It’s an extremely ambitious book—a blend of various genres, with elements of horror, of […]


Mystery

  • Book Review: “Permanent Position” by Sid Stark

    This is the second book in the Dr. Rowena Halley series, the first of which I reviewed here. This one picks up right where the first one left off in following the career of Rowena Arwen Halley, the Russian language Ph.D. struggling to navigate a brutal academic job market as well as her own desire […]


  • Book Review: “He Needed Killing Too” by Bill Fitts

    This is a sequel to He Needed Killing, which I reviewed here. If you enjoyed that book, you’ll like this one, too, because it’s more of the same. Once again, retired university IT professional James Crawford is hired by the provost to investigate a murder on campus. And like He Needed Killing, the charm of […]


  • Book Review: “He Needed Killing” by Bill Fitts

    This book starts off with the death of a university administrator at a retirement party. A retirement party for a staff member who isn’t there. Not physically, anyway–James Crawford is the guest of honor, but he is monitoring the events remotely. As an IT manager, he is able to watch as his boss abruptly collapses […]


  • Book Review: “Campus Confidential” by Sid Stark

    Having a PhD probably sounds pretty glamorous, right? You think of a PhD as a scientist in a lab making amazing discoveries, or maybe, if they’re in humanities or social sciences, as someone sitting comfortably in a nice room full of books, poring over the Great Texts of their field. Yeah, well; if Campus Confidential […]


  • Book Review: “A Thousand Yesteryears” by Mae Clair

    A Thousand Yesteryears is a crime thriller, set in 1982. A young woman named Eve Parrish returns to her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Eve, and everyone in the town, are still haunted by the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge 15 years before. Eve’s father and her best friend Maggie Flynn were among […]


  • Book Review: “The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter” by Morgan Mayer

    I’ve never been on a cruise. I probably never will now–I was a germaphobe even before the pandemic hit, and I’m guessing the industry won’t be as popular for the foreseeable future. But for some reason, I’ve always liked stories set aboard ships, and reading this book was a perfect way to take an imaginary […]


  • Book Review: “Sweet & Sour: (Jade Stone P.I. Book 1)” by T.L. Dyer

    This is a fun, humorous detective story. I say it’s a detective story rather than a mystery, because while there is some mystery-solving that goes on, it’s not like there’s a wide cast of suspects or a number of motives explored. No, this story is about the fun of reading Jade Stone’s witty narration as […]


  • Book Review: “Hyperlink from Hell” by Lindy Moone

    This book… This book… I mean to say, folks: this book! Sorry, I’m having a bit of trouble getting started. Where exactly to begin is not obvious here. Normally I give a book’s genre, and then maybe an outline of the plot. What genre is Hyperlink from Hell? I have no idea. The story begins with […]


  • Book Review: “Number Seven and the Life Left Behind” by Mayumi Hirtzel


  • Book Review: “Houses on the Sand” by Noah Goats

    I don’t usually read mystery novels, but I enjoyed Goats’s comic novel Incomplete Works so much that I gave Houses on the Sand a try in spite of the different genre. And it turned out to be just as good—indeed, maybe even a bit better, because it has as much wit as Incomplete Works, but also […]


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


  • Book Review: “One Night in Bridgeport”, by Mark Paxson

    One Night in Bridgeport is a legal thriller that follows Jack McGee, a law student who is sent to Bridgeport, California to deliver some papers concerning the purchase of some land by a large corporation. While there, he decides to have a one-night stand with a local woman, Lea Rogers. (Who, though McGee doesn’t realize […]


  • Book Review: “Surreality” by Ben Trube

    Surreality is a “hardboiled” murder mystery with a modern twist: much of the mystery takes place in the eponymous virtual online world. Suspended Columbus Police Detective Keenan is tasked with investigating the virtual murder of Franklin Haines, one of the creators of the online game “Surreality” at the opening of his new virtual casino. You […]


Poetry

  • Book Review: “Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog” by Sue Vincent

    I love poetry–especially rhyming, metrical poetry. I’ve learned over time to appreciate blank verse and the like, but in my heart, I’m always going to be a sucker for a good old rhyming couplet. To illustrate: while most people would probably say T.S. Eliot’s greatest work is The Waste Land, give me Old Possum’s Book […]


Romance

  • Book Review: “Date Night on Union Station” by E.M. Foner

    Okay, I cheated a little on my plan to broaden my reading horizons this month. This is a science fiction book, which is very much my standard fare. But it’s also a romance; trust me! And it’s something of a milestone because it’s the first book I’ve ever bought because of an ad. For years […]


  • Book Review: “Penelope’s Pleasure” by Deborah Villegas

    This is a Regency romance. Regency romance is a super-popular genre, which is why I made it my business to find a lesser-known indie Regency romance with only a few reviews. Because that’s how we do things here at Ruined Chapel. To be clear, this book is more in the Regency Historical sub-category, in that […]


  • Book Review: “Second Chance Romance” by Jill Weatherholt

    I have to start this review with some context: I started reading this book shortly after doing some beta reading for a friend of mine. The book I was beta reading was an extremely dark, harrowing story about terrorism.  While it’s a great story, it was nice to be able to turn from that world […]


  • Book Review: “Forbidden Kisses” by Sha Renée

    I don’t read a lot of romances. Even less do I read modern romances. On those rare occasions that I venture reading any romance, it’s usually in a historical or fantasy setting. But this book caught my eye because it’s a modern military romance. I’d never heard of a military romance before. But, we have military […]


  • Book Review: “Assassin’s Heart” by Isabella Norse

    Assassin’s Heart is a romance in a medieval fantasy setting. The protagonist, Lillie, is a woman raised from a young age to be a ruthless assassin by an organization known as the Va’Shile. When we meet her, she is undercover as a palace servant, and all the court is awaiting the naming of King’s heir—whom […]


  • Book Review: “Virtually Yours” by Isabella Norse

    I don’t typically read romances. But this short story is a romance between videogamers. There aren’t enough books about the world of gaming, and as a veteran gamer, the unique concept attracted me. It’s a short, light read. As is always the case with romantic comedies, the central dramatic challenge is how to keep two […]


Science Fiction

  • Book Review: “Our Friends Upstairs” by D.N. Meinster

    I saw this book in Lydia Schoch’s weekly thread of free books a couple weeks ago, and it looked interesting. You all know the famous warning about judging and covers, but what can I say? This one caught my eye. I advise you to study it for a moment, and think about what kind of […]


  • Book Review: “A Dark Genesis” by Cheryl Lawson

    This is a sci-fi horror novella. The setting is a ship on a deep space voyage, which is temporarily knocked off course by a collision with an asteroid. I can’t say too much more about the plot, because this is a short book, and if I say much, I’ll spoil everything. All I’ll say is […]


  • Book Review: “The Copernicus Coercion Book 1: Code Critical” by G.J. Scobie

    There I was, thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be nice to read a cyberpunk book right about now? And then, thanks to a timely retweet from the incomparable Carrie Rubin, this book came to my attention. It was like it was meant to be. The Copernicus Coercion is a cyber thriller about two hackers, Brock and […]


  • Book Review: “The Dream God” by Brendan M.P. Heard

    This is a deeply strange book. It is set in an alternate future in which the Roman Empire still exists, and has evolved into a starfaring civilization. There is also a strong mystical element involving something called the Godstream, which is evidently some powerful, magical energy which grants great power. And of course, as in […]


  • Book Review: “A Night on Isvalar” by C. Litka

    This is a classic space-opera style adventure. The protagonist, a starfarer or “starfer” named Riel Dunbar finds himself with a night of leave on his homeworld of Isvalar, a world home to an active nightlife. He meets up with another starfer, an adventurous soul named Cera Marn, and is quickly swept up with the roguish […]


  • Book Review: “Fire Ant” by Jonathan P. Brazee

    Another book I picked up through Lydia Schoch’s weekly Twitter thread of free books. This is a military sci-fi novella, and military sci-fi is one of my favorite genres, so of course I had to check it out! The book tells the story of Floribeth Salinas O’Shea Dalisay, a deep-space pilot exploring an uncharted system. […]


  • Book Review: “Fortune’s Fool” by Henry Vogel

    This is a science fiction adventure story, but not the sort that Vogel usually writes. Most of his books, such as his Scout series, feature upstanding, chivalrous heroes on noble adventures. Fortune’s Fool is different. It’s darker and grittier, and less romantic. (In the literary sense.) Whereas most of Vogel’s protagonists are honorable, duty-bound types, […]


  • Book Review: “American Chimera” by H.R.R. Gorman

    H.R.R. Gorman has a wonderful book review site I recently discovered. I urge my readers to check it out, because Gorman reviews all sorts of books, including lots of indie titles. Gorman has also written a novel, American Chimera. I am reviewing it here, and you will note I am doing it in a slightly different style–that […]


  • Book Review: “Ruins of Empire: Saturnius Mons” by Jeremy L. Jones

    Oh, my sci-fi loving friends, what a treat we have today! I hardly know where to begin. Should I start with the excellent cast of main characters? Maybe so. There’s Viekko Spade, the Martian warrior with a white hat and a long braid, and two 1911 pistols. He’s a classic pulp protagonist–a hard-drinking, hard-living, rough-hewn […]


  • Book Review: “Mars Madness” by Jodi Bowersox

    I didn’t know what to expect from this book. It’s a romance, but obviously in a sci-fi setting. The premise is that a company has created a lottery, the winner of which will receive a trip to Mars. Recent divorcee Katrina buys one ticket, largely to appease her daughter Francesca. Francesca has been lobbying her […]


  • Book Review: “Lost in the Red Hills of Mars” by Jackie Hunter

    Lost in the Red Hills of Mars is an adventure book. The protagonist, Celine Red Cloud, is a teenaged girl born in a Martian colony. Her father is missing and presumed dead on an expedition in the Red Hills on the other side of a huge crater. Celine and her Earthside grandmother both sense that […]


  • Book Review: “Red Gold” by Ian J. Miller

    This is a hard science-fiction novel about an expedition to settle on Mars in the year 2075. The novel begins on a dystopian Earth, where society is collapsing and the super-rich leaders of large corporations live sheltered lives, away from the rest of the desperate populations. David Gill is head of a food production company, […]


  • Book Review: “Keiree” by C. Litka

    They say not to judge a book by its cover. In general, this is probably good advice. But when the author of the book is also a gifted painter who creates his own covers, I believe it is necessary to make an exception to this rule. For in this case, the cover is not just […]


  • Book Review: “Date Night on Union Station” by E.M. Foner

    Okay, I cheated a little on my plan to broaden my reading horizons this month. This is a science fiction book, which is very much my standard fare. But it’s also a romance; trust me! And it’s something of a milestone because it’s the first book I’ve ever bought because of an ad. For years […]


  • Book Review: “An Assortment of Rejected Futures” by Noah Goats

    This is a collection of short speculative fiction stories that deal with complex concepts–the existence of God, the nature of reality, human relationships–as approached by everyday people. Goats has a knack for writing characters who are instantly relatable. Although this is in many ways a stylistic departure from his earlier books, which are primarily comic […]


  • Book Review: “All The Colors of the Dead” by Alex Vorkov

    I picked this book up after Kevin Brennan blogged about it. I assumed it was about a planet of zombies or something. I don’t like zombie stories much, but I figured I’d give it a whirl. My initial impression was kind of off. I was picturing explorers being chased by zombies on a remote planet, […]


  • Book Review: “The Man Who Found Birds Among the Stars, Part Three: Bird of Prey” by Lorinda J. Taylor

    Reviewing a sequel is always difficult, because the deeper I get into a series, the more spoilers from previous books there are that I have to be careful not to reveal in summarizing the plot of the latest installment. I won’t dwell too much on plot elements here. Let it suffice to say that Capt. […]


  • Book Review: “The Huralon Incident” by E. A. Wicklund

    I hardly know where to begin with this review. There’s so much I love about this book, from its well thought-out and detailed futuristic world-building, to its treatment of how the history of present-day Earth is reconstructed in the distant future, to the way it blends political intrigue, action, romance and just a dash of […]


  • Book Review: “Tumble” by Lydia Schoch

    Tumble is a short story about a young woman named Elle Winterson. Elle has lived a sheltered life, homeschooled, in a small rural house. She has no memory of her mother. Her father is the only other person she knows. Other than occasional trips to town, she is cut off from the outside world. But […]


  • Book Review: “Hart for Adventure” by Henry Vogel

    Back in May, I wrote about Vogel’s Scout’s Honor, the first in his sword-and-planet Scout series. Hart for Adventure is a prequel to that series, and it fits in well. It follows Terran scout Gavin Hart, who crash lands on a world that appears deserted, finding only the overgrown ruins of an alien city. Hart […]


  • Book Review: “Fan Plan: Meteor Strike” by Patrick Prescott

    2020 is a perfect year to read this book. Lately, we’ve been getting a practical demonstration of Murphy’s Law in action, as well as the importance of preparing for a major disaster, and Fan Plan is an alternative history of just such a disaster: a meteor strikes the Yellowstone Caldera, setting in motion a chain […]


  • Book Review: “The Fugitive Heir” by Henry Vogel

    I recently reviewed Henry Vogel’s Sword & Planet book Scout’s Honor. While browsing his other works, this book caught my eye because it appeared to be more traditional spacefaring sci-fi, which is one of my favorite genres. And it features a pair of likable characters going on adventures, another premise that I like. Matt Connaught […]


  • Book Review: “IHU” by Cliff Hays

    This is a short science-fiction story. Like Hays’ short story Dual Void, it packs a lot of complex philosophical and scientific ideas into a few words. It begins with a professor of astronomy who specializes in Big Bang Cosmology lecturing to an Astronomy 101 class, and proceeds to take the reader on a whirlwind ride […]


  • Book Review: “Scout’s Honor: A Sword & Planet Adventure (Scout Series Book #1)” by Henry Vogel

    I love classic science fiction. It may seem corny to some, but there’s a wonderful charm to those vintage pulp stories of science fiction’s Golden Age. Scout’s Honor is a flawlessly-executed homage to that era. Conventional wisdom about judging books notwithstanding, this is one case where the cover tells you exactly what this is: a […]


  • Book Review: “Binary Boy” by L.E. Henderson.

    Binary Boy is a short story about a young boy named Devin, raised by two intelligent machines aboard a spaceship. All the rest of the ship’s crew, including Devin’s parents, have been killed by a virus sweeping the ship. Devin alone survived, thanks to his having been sealed away as part of his recovery from […]


  • Book Review: “Small Print” by G.J. Scobie

    Small Print is a collection of four sci-fi short stories, all premised around the ways in which advanced technology can disrupt the lives of organic life forms. In “Data,” a skilled hacker’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he finds out more about his employer’s use of data than he would have liked. In […]


  • Book Review: “Vokhtah (The Suns of Vokhtah Book 1)” by A.C. Flory

    I’ve known about this book for a few years, but I kept putting off reading it because the premise seemed so forbidding. It’s set on another planet—Vokhtah—and the characters are all aliens. Well, alien to us, I mean–they are the creatures that evolved on Vokhtah. Not a human to be found, is my point. It’s […]


  • Book Review: “The First Protectors” by Victor Godinez

    The First Protectors is a fast-paced military sci-fi novel. One night in the New Mexico desert, Navy SEAL Ben Shepherd encounters a crash-landed extraterrestrial being, which endows him with nanomachine augmentations to turn him into a nearly-invincible super-soldier.  The alien also imparts the history of its species, the brin, a race that fought a brave […]


  • Book Review: “The Secha” by Dawn Trowell Jones

    The Secha is an ambiguous and somewhat disturbing short science fiction story. The Secha are a race enslaved by another species known as the Bakkens. Although initially the female Secha narrating the story seems resigned to the Bakkens’ treatment of her and her species, gradually it becomes apparent that the order of things she seemingly […]


  • Book Review: “The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, Part Two: Wounded Eagle” by Lorinda J. Taylor

    This was a tough review to write, because this book is part two of a series, and part one ends on a massive cliffhanger. The majority of part two is therefore about the protagonist, Captain Robbin Nikalishin, dealing with the repercussions of that cliffhanger. I don’t want to get into the specifics of plot, for […]


  • Book Review: “Dual Void” by Cliff Hays

    Dual Void is a very short story that I would describe as experimental fiction. It is written from the point of view of an artificial intelligence named “Kes” that is achieving self-consciousness. Despite its brevity, the story deals with deep, complicated ideas. Many of the concepts Kes considers are drawn from the world of computer […]


  • Book Review: “The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars: A Biographical Fiction Part One: Eagle Ascendant” by Lorinda J. Taylor

    This book is a science fiction coming-of-age tale that tells the story of Robbin Haysus Nikalishin, who from an early age dreams of voyaging to the stars. Set in the 2700s, on an Earth that has been remade after a series of catastrophic wars. A new government has arisen, as well as a new set […]


  • Book Review: “Vander’s Magic Carpet” by Patrick Prescott

    Imagine this: a story about a brilliant scientist in Albuquerque who is mad at the world, and uses his intelligence to get back at it. Yeah, yeah, I know; you’re probably thinking, “That’s an outline of the show Breaking Bad.” And yes, that is true. It’s also the outline of Vander’s Magic Carpet, which my […]


  • Book Review: “Hasuga’s Garden” by Frederick Anderson

    Hasuga’s Garden is a strange and dream-like fantasy novel. It follows a woman named Alanee, who is taken from her small village to the sprawling and mysterious “Consensual City,” the seat of the government, ruled by the mysterious “High Council,” which includes the enigmatic Lady Ellar, the lecherous Sire Portis, and the telepathic seer, Sire […]


  • Book Review: “We Are Legion (We Are Bob)” (Bobiverse Book 1) by Dennis E. Taylor

    I don’t often review widely-read books, as you may have noticed. I like seeking out hidden indie gems. This book has over 2000 reviews on Amazon, so it’s not really hidden. But it came recommended to me by not one, but two friends whose tastes run along the same lines as my own, so I […]


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


  • Book Review: “Miira” (Innerscape: Book #1) by A.C. Flory

    Miira tells the story of Miira Tahn, a dying woman who enters a virtual world where she can live in a perfectly realistic simulation of health and youth. However, the medical team tasked with performing the procedures necessary to prepare her for this are not all to be trusted, nor is the corporation overseeing it […]


  • Book Review: “Waiting for Earl to Die” by Lydia Schoch

    I’ve been following Lydia’s blog for some time now, but I just recently read this entertaining collection of her short stories. Most of the stories have some science-fiction or fantasy element to them, and usually involve some unexpected twist or surprise ending. I won’t write about any one of the stories in too much detail, because […]


  • Book Review: “Ocean Echoes” by Sheila Hurst

    A love-letter to the ocean, written with respect for its dangers and fear for its fragility


  • Book Review: “The Seneca Scourge”, by Carrie Rubin [Warning: Spoilers!]

    A very well-paced thriller that successfully combines fairly plausible depictions of medicine and viruses in the first half with science-fiction elements in the second half.


  • Book Review: “Surreality” by Ben Trube

    Surreality is a “hardboiled” murder mystery with a modern twist: much of the mystery takes place in the eponymous virtual online world. Suspended Columbus Police Detective Keenan is tasked with investigating the virtual murder of Franklin Haines, one of the creators of the online game “Surreality” at the opening of his new virtual casino. You […]


Thrillers

  • Book Review: “Our Friends Upstairs” by D.N. Meinster

    I saw this book in Lydia Schoch’s weekly thread of free books a couple weeks ago, and it looked interesting. You all know the famous warning about judging and covers, but what can I say? This one caught my eye. I advise you to study it for a moment, and think about what kind of […]

  • Book Review: “Ill Intent” by Geoffrey Cooper

    Another excellent entry in the Brad Parker and Karen Richmond series of medical thrillers. (See my other reviews here, here, and here.) This one begins with a post-doctoral researcher receiving a note at her late uncle’s funeral, which contains shocking information from the deceased. But before she can act on it, she is murdered, and […]


  • Book Review: “The Bone Elixir” by Carrie Rubin

    This is the third book in the Benjamin Oris series. I’ve reviewed the previous installments here and here. If you haven’t read those books yet, be warned that there are certain plot elements of this I can’t discuss without giving away information about the earlier books. The Bone Elixir begins when Ben Oris learns he […]


  • Book Review: “The Doormen” by Victor Godinez

    This is a fast-paced thriller. It starts out as a police procedural muder mystery set in the near future, when technology has begun to dominate our lives even more than it does today; a world where the sky is thick with drones and almost all cars are operated by AI. Officer Dan Harper and his […]


  • Book Review: “American Chimera” by H.R.R. Gorman

    H.R.R. Gorman has a wonderful book review site I recently discovered. I urge my readers to check it out, because Gorman reviews all sorts of books, including lots of indie titles. Gorman has also written a novel, American Chimera. I am reviewing it here, and you will note I am doing it in a slightly different style–that […]


  • Book Review: “Bad Medicine” by Geoffrey Cooper

    What I like best about Geoffrey Cooper’s thrillers are how they provide a window into the politics of research institutions. I’ve noted this about his earlier Brad and Karen novels, Nondisclosure and Forever, and if you enjoyed those novels as much as I did, you’ll be glad to know that Bad Medicine is more of […]


  • Book Review: “A Thousand Yesteryears” by Mae Clair

    A Thousand Yesteryears is a crime thriller, set in 1982. A young woman named Eve Parrish returns to her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Eve, and everyone in the town, are still haunted by the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge 15 years before. Eve’s father and her best friend Maggie Flynn were among […]


  • Book Review: “The Bone Hunger” by Carrie Rubin

    This is the second book in Rubin’s Benjamin Oris series. Oris is a medical resident in Philadelphia, working as an orthopedic surgeon. His strange experiences in the series’ first entry The Bone Curse are behind him, and he is well on his way to a successful career in medicine, as well as having a pleasant domestic […]


  • Book Review: “Forever” by Geoffrey M. Cooper

    This is Geoffrey Cooper’s best thriller yet, and if you’ve read my reviews of Nondisclosure and The Prize, you know that’s saying something. All his books are gripping page-turners that offer fascinating glimpses into the politics of academia. Forever includes all these signature elements, but the plot is even more layered, and consequently, the mystery even […]


  • Book Review: “Hyperlink from Hell” by Lindy Moone

    This book… This book… I mean to say, folks: this book! Sorry, I’m having a bit of trouble getting started. Where exactly to begin is not obvious here. Normally I give a book’s genre, and then maybe an outline of the plot. What genre is Hyperlink from Hell? I have no idea. The story begins with […]


  • Book Review: “Eternity Began Tomorrow” by Kevin Brennan

    I have seriously dialed back the politics on this blog. New readers might not realize that at one time, this blog was almost purely political. But I said good-bye to all that when I realized that (a) I wasn’t changing any minds, (b) book reviews are way more popular and (c) way more fun to […]


  • Book Review: “The Kitchen Brigade” by Laurie Boris

    I admit to suffering from dystopia fatigue. I love the classics of the genre, like Nineteen Eighty-Four, but the last decade has seen so many bleak future/post-apocalyptic/totalitarian government-type stories that it takes a lot for me to pick one up. But after reading Lydia Schoch’s interview of Laurie Boris, I had to give The Kitchen […]


  • Book Review: “Nondisclosure” by Geoffrey M. Cooper

    Nondisclosure is a terrific, fast-paced thriller. When a student at Boston Technological Institute is assaulted, Dr. Brad Parker and investigator Karen Richmond are assigned to work together to find the perpetrator. But what they uncover is a confusing, sometimes seemingly contradictory set of facts. When the crimes escalate further, they find themselves struggling to unravel a […]


  • Book Review: “My Father’s Fire” by Phillip McCollum

    My Father’s Fire is a well-constructed and clever mystery novelette about a man uncovering dark secrets from his family’s past. If you’re already familiar with Phillip McCollum, all I need to say is that this is a classic example of his work: a fast-paced story which packs a lot of developed characters and plot into […]


  • Book Review: “On the Other Side of the River” by Noah Goats

    There are a couple of small things to note before I get to the substantive part of this review. First, there’s a smattering of typos and spelling errors in this book. I know firsthand that this is practically inevitable in indie books–my loyal readers alerted me to some in my own work when it was […]


  • Book Review: “52 Stories in 52 Weeks” by Phillip McCollum

    You can get the book here. I also blogged about Phillip’s work earlier this year here.


  • Book Review: “The Prize” by Geoffrey M. Cooper

    The Prize is fast-paced and easy to read. If you like medical thrillers, or really thrillers in general, I recommend giving it a try.


  • Book Review: “The Bone Curse” by Carrie Rubin

    A gripping and fast-paced thriller.


  • Book Review: “The Seneca Scourge”, by Carrie Rubin [Warning: Spoilers!]

    A very well-paced thriller that successfully combines fairly plausible depictions of medicine and viruses in the first half with science-fiction elements in the second half.


  • Book review: “Eating Bull”, by Carrie Rubin

    Whereas most thrillers are normally easy to forget once you have learned How It All Works Out, this one gives you a bit more to think about.


What's your stake in this, cowboy?