Monday, December 05, 2011

Tyburn By Kevin Grote

About the author - courtesy of an open source search on Google

Kevin John Grote was born in Latrobe, PA. His family moved to Southern Maryland in the late 1960's. He graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. Kevin served as an Engineering Officer in the Coast Guard on several cutters.. After the Coast Guard, Kevin went to work at the Naval Ordnance Station in Indian Head, MD. Kevin worked for the Navy, until his retirement from Federal Service. Kevin has a US Patent, and has authored many technical papers on electronic design, software engineering, and information systems.
Kevin has been an avid reader his entire life. His favorite authors are Sir Walter Scott, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O'Brian, and James Fenimore Cooper.
Kevin grew up in an area steeped in the French and Indian War. This series of novels (Letters of Fire and Sword) will be an homage to that conflict and the struggles in the wilderness.


It is the unmistakable sound of the hammer of a flint-lock pistol being pulled back to full-cock.
“Stand and deliver,” orders a voice again from the woods nearest the road, “Your money, gentlemen, or your life? It matters not to me, gentlemen. Please raise your arms. Keep your hands where I can see them.”
A horseman moves out of the shadow of the trees and into the road, blocking the coaches’ progress.
The coachman wrestles with the idea of reaching for his shotgun.
His hand slides down beneath the seat..........
After dark in 18th Century England, it a dangerous time.
Honest folk avoid the roads at night, and lock themselves in as the sun goes down. Both in the countryside and the great cities.
Strangers are feared and avoided.
Predators roam unstopped. Only the most desparate or well-armed venture out at night. Footpads, highwaymen, thugs of every shape and size, patrol the roads and streets. Lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting victim.
Lawlessness is rampant. The abuse of low-priced Gin plagues the lower classes, adding more misery to those least able to afford it. Those addicted are turning to crime in desperation.
There is no organized police force.

That is the blurb guys.  Here is the stunning cover!

And here is the review by my guest blogger Denise Jones.  Thank you Denise.

I can't praise this book up enough, I just loved it! The charactures, the
story......I could almost imagine I was actually there.
The research done for this book is fantastic, brings back the atmosphere so
well of those times gone by.
I certainly will be reading more by this author!
I give it a well deserved 6/6  Brilliant read!

LS The Beginning by Kelvin O'Ralph

LS The Beginning an e-book by Kelvin O'Ralph.

What a sweet whimsical book. This is an old fashioned love story the likes
of which I have not read in years. Its also a paranormal YA / New Adult
read. Although the two main characters Stephen and Lisa have super powers.
The one commands over fire the other ice. It is the love story that mostly
sticks with me.

The writing is excellent. Pacing is fine and the author goes through a lot
of trouble building character. The book is written from a male point of
view. You read the story and experience everything through the eyes of
Stephen. That is the one thing that gave me pause. I stopped reading the
book because something bothered me and made me feel uncomfortable while
reading. At one stage I gave up reading the book for two days. When I
returned to the book I realised what exactly it was that I found so hard to
read. It had nothing to do with the male point of view. Instead it had to do
with the respect Stephen and by proxy Kelvin shows to all females.

I know we all are told we are worth it. But somehow reading how much respect
Stephen has for females, from his mother to Lisa and several other strangers
and friends in between caught me unawares. Once I realised that I had
trouble reading a book due to the fact that the male lead has so much
respect for woman gave me several moments of pause. But I picked up the
story where I left it and continued together with Kelvin and Stephen and
Lisa in a journey into the unknown.

At the end of the book you know a few things.
Lisa and Stephen have super powers and they are not alone.
Lisa's life is in danger through a threat posed by another male who also has
super powers.
The books name LS the Beginning is not explained. LS is something that will
become apparent only in the third book in the series.
Stephen will do anything for Lisa.
Men believe in true love and some men show their respect for women.

I loved the fact that by the end of the book no real answers has come forth.
Questions has been asked and certain story lines have come to a conclusion
but in such a manner that you feel comfortable is finishing the book whilst
looking forward to the next book in search of answers.

I really enjoyed the book after I got over my own preconceived notions and
feel I owe the author a word of thanks. It is seldom that a fictional tale
has served to broaden my mental horizons. Thanks Kelvin - because we are
worth it!

I give this book a 5 out of 5 rating

Please see blurb of this book on Goodreads. Smashwords, Amazon etc.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Willow Cross The Dark Gifts Birthright

So here is the book blurb via Goodreads
Throughout the ages, druids have passed down a prophecy from one generation to the next. A girl, born of a witch clan, will become vampyre and spark a war that will divide the vampire nation. This young woman will either save humanity from vampire reign, or be the end of it. Although she’s never heard the prophecy, and doesn’t believe in witchcraft, Liz Markum is that woman.

Working with her maker, Michael, and the remaining members of the warring Vampire Council, Liz must defeat the darkness inside her, and learn to become more than a killer vampire. She must become a vampire killer

Here is the book cover via Facebook
Here is my review.  But what ever I say, I cant stress enough what a brilliant read this is.....

The Dark Gifts Birthright by Willow Cross.

In the beginning Liz meets with Michael. He bites, she turns vamp. Quite Bram Stoker like for three or four pages.
They meet up and fall immediately irreparably in love. Quite Twilight like for the next 15 or so pages.
Then the good the bad and the ugly rears their ugly little heads and from here on out its different to any Paranormal / YA / or New Adult book I've ever read. Minerva, Gregoria, Jenna and about 60 other characters join the cast to make this book totally amazing.
I was struck with the amount of research that must have gone into writing this book.
For those of you who follow my reviews you will know that I refrain from making technical judgements.
This will be the exception.
Willow has a rare ability for pacing and introducing an array of characters in rapid succession. But never does she use this fast level of pacing and her cliff hanger chapter endings to get out of character development. By the time you are finished with the book you really hate the bad guys and absolutely love the good guys.
By this time you also know that I don't rehash the story of the book in a brief synopsis. Usually I don't since I feel that the authors blurb or my own will get the reader of this review a good idea of what the book is about in essence. In this case I can't do it at all even if I wanted to.
Her fast pace, introduction of evil and saint like characters left me feeling like a child playing hide and seek. You don't want to be found out but you can't resist peeking from your hiding place to try and see what is coming next.
For those romantics out in cyber land - do not fear. This book is filled with romance and not only the romance between Michael and Liz bit also some other less predictable characters.

As I read the book I was filled with the idea that this book is a ken to watching a master Persian carpet weaver undertake another master peace.

I loved the fact that almost all things known to go bump in the night were mentioned in this story and that the symbiotic and discordant life styles of these dark creatures were explained logically and believably.

I give this book a 6 out of 5 star review. I will not only recommend you buy it and read it yourself, I would proudly gift it to my friends. Oh no wait. I already gifted it to my friends. That's simply how good this book is. I can't wait to start on the rest of the books authored by her.

I need to thank Denise Jones for correcting my spelling and grammar errors and for translating South African English to real English.  Thank you Denise.....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lifting the Wheel of Karma by Paul H Magid

This is an unusual review for an unusual novel.

It started a few months back when I browsed through Bees Knees reviews for a nice
interesting book. I came upon Lifting the Wheel of Karma by Paul H Magid and
liked the blurb. I signed up and minutes later received a notification that the
author will get in touch for a review. That is when it hit me. As a Christian, I
believe that I am always protected and that information and a difference in
opinion or point of view can't harm me. That said. How do I review a book that
might be in complete juxtaposition with my own belief system without offending.
With time I got to know the author a lot better and decided that such a good
noble man could never be an author whom would actively and purposefully offend

By the time I received his novel I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I was so
excited and all my previous trepidations were gone.

I started to read his book, this novel but I gave up on reading it, and started to live it instead.
 It is not a book and it is not a novel. It is a profound spiritual journey. A very personal journey which the reader under takes with Joseph, Lahiri and Billy.  The trinity in my
point of view. 

Joseph undertakes a journey to India to receive a miracle cure from a Sage named
Lahiri. He has been fighting his own demons from the age of five and tragic
circumstances left his body as broken as his mind and subsequently his spirit.
He asks his brother to accompany him on this spiritual journey.

In India he finds Lahiri. The miracle cure however is not to be found without
extreme effort. Joseph, wrapped up in his own life and problems does not notice
much of the goings on around him.

It is soon apparent that Joseph is not the only person fighting inner demons.

Billy, Joseph older brother is according to me one of the unsung heroes in this
journey. He carries the burden of standing by impotently as he and the rest of
Joseph's family watches Joseph fight a battle he thinks he is fighting alone.
Typical of humanity, Joseph has convinced himself that his fight against his
inner demons are a solitary act and that it touched none but him.

[It might interest the reader to know that at this stage me and the author had
A difference of opinion.  He felt as if Joseph had a very good understanding of
what his family was going through.  He mentioned that Joseph left implicitly
with the aim to spare his parents and brother some further grief.

Although I concede with Joseph having some understanding of the anguish
his family must have undergone, I perceived Joseph as only partially and peripherally
aware of the suffering they went through due to his inner battle and later
his very real physical battle for survival.  It is amazing to read a book where
the author can relay a story in such a manner that I as a reader felt I could differ
from the author himself based on my own life experience]. 

Billy's constant support is however a testimony that the act of observing can be
An equally painful and isolating experience. Billy however never gives up on

Not only Joseph and Billy is fighting an unseen terrible force but sometimes the
savior turns out to be the one in need. This is definitely the case in this
journey. Were Joseph not so caught up in his own suffering he might have noticed
the suffering of those around him.

This journey tough me two very valuable life lessons. Although the book itself
is set against Eastern mysticism and Greek mythology the basic construct of all
religions soon become apparent. With relief I found that I need not defend a
different belief system to that of my own, rather I find myself overjoyed to say
that this journey has made it clear that the basic religious constructs of all
religions is echoed in the Physicians creed - first do no harm.

I seldom read a book twice. I simple feel that my memory of a story is of such a
nature that no real need exists for me to read any story twice or more when the
world is full of other great stories to be read. In Lifting the Wheel of Karma
this is however not the case. I feel the book has many other journeys it will
take me on if only I am willing to get on the ride. A ride I'm looking forward

The story is beautifully written with a precise and linear construct line
throughout. The facts in the books are carefully researched and are interjected in
such a fashion that it serves to fill your journey with the same riches as that
of Indian spices and colorful Saris.

I again find myself with an inadequate rating system. On a scale from 1-5, I give this book 6 stars.
This is a book I will recommend to everyone and which I would gift to anyone with
pride and the knowledge that I helped them on a personal journey of their own.

It is impossible to read this book and not walk away with a feeling of coming
full circle. I, now am left wondering what my Dharma might be.
I hope that this book will get you dear reader to wonder about that as well,
What is your Dharma in life?
I asked:
How long did the research take and how much of it do you do yourself?
Paul replied:
Okay, so, first...research. This took me twenty-five years. No kidding. I knew nothing significant about India when I started and it would be fair to say that I have read 50 or more books on India. I had to learn so much about India in so many different areas, because I knew my novel needed to be accurate -historically, culturally, mythological, and even socially. India's history goes back over 5,000 years; I sought out sources of information that went all the way back to the original Indus Valley settlement.

I asked:
Have you been to India? If so share some of your impressions.
Paul replied:
After decades of research I finally visited India several times, even living there for several months, which was an adventure in many ways. I immediately connected with India in so many ways. Certainly it's completely different to my experiences of living in the U.S., but that was also a good deal of its charm for me. Expanding my horizons by seeing how other people live is always a priceless adventure to me.
I asked:
Your blurb says it is a mix of Greek mythology with Eastern mysticism. I found a lot of parallels with Christianity and shared belief systems. Was this intended?
Paul replied
o    The Greek Mythology connection is in the sense that I believe there are supernatural forces that affect, influence, and ultimately guide the course of our lives and journey, in the same way that Greek Gods interacted with humans, changing the course of their lives and of humanity, for example, in the way that Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals, thereby changing the course of least according to Greek Mythology.

There are most definitely familiar patterns of Christianity in my novel, as well as eastern philosophy. I believe this is because all of the great religions of the world have common foundations -love, forgiveness, healing, and redemption.
I asked:
Do you believe in reincarnation?
Paul replied:
o    As for reincarnation, I most assuredly do believe in it. For me, it explains a great deal...but I don't want to give too much away.
After all is said and written, this is a must read for all.  I can't recommend it enough!
I again want to thank Denise Jones for all the trouble she has to go through to get this to sound as if I can speak the English language!  Thanks Denise.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trivia day one

So here is THE first trivia question. Remember to respond and to vote for your favourite response as well:
Superman has kryptonite
Spiderman has bug spray called Doom
Were you a super hero what would be your kryptonite, what would lead you to your doom.
You have approximately 24 hours. The person with the most votes goes into the draw. Now go......

Energy by MJ Schutte

Energy by MJ Schutte.

Energy is a novel written within the fantasy genre.

I give this a book a 6/5 star rating.
How and why?
Simple.  Not only would I recommend this book to any fantasy reader. I would proudly buy it as a present for my dearest friends. Thus the 6 star rating.

Book synopsis:
Energy is the story of the boy next door.  Brighton, the hero of the story together with his one true love, Lillian. He was brought up in a secluded farming community cut of from the outside world. It takes the loss of Lillian to get Brighton to leave his childhood home to try and find her.

In her stead, he learns that what he is capable of, by means of the manipulation of energy, is not normal. In fact in a world where a select few can take energy from others by will, Brighton is truly exceptional. He need not take energy by force from other human beings. The Supremes and their offspring, the dark ones lead him back to Lillian and his first battle with evil.

But only in death comes true understanding of how to use his ability.

I loved the story of Brighton with Lily and their friends and foes. Velvet and Mischief, mother and son Panthers play such a large role in the story that it is unmistakable that MJ Schutte not only has a passion for nature and wild life, he has an uncanny ability to share this passion with his readers.

Other supporting characters such as Thomas, Adri and Brac are portrayed in such a manner that the reader can easily put titles to them such as my uncle, my sister etc.

The characterization of Brighton and Lilly is brilliant. MJ Schutte has a rare and true talent in that he can realistically age his characters. Upon first meeting Brighton and Lillian they are 16 and 13 respectively. The dialogue between them and other characters are indeed what one would expect of a 16 year old boy and a 13 year old girl. By the end of the book we leave the characters at the age of 21 and 19. After all they have been through and all they have experienced the childhood naivety is gone.

In the start of Energy I kept thinking of Brighton as being smart in a dumb kind of way. By the final battle in Energy Brighton has matured and his battle is against himself and his own sense of morality.

Any reader of Energy will soon fall in love with the world and the characters within the book. I was left with the impression that MJ Schutte truly loves this world and its inhabitants and that for him it’s not a creation or a product of his imagination but a story told of friends loved dearly.

MJ has a truly unique and fresh story line as well as writing style. He breaks with many a tradition in the fantasy genre. His defiance of tradition in this genre alone makes this a journey I would reco

Sorry guys, I did not realize I was this nosy.  I would have removed some of these questions but since I wanted to know the answers, I decided that you may want to know the answer to some of these questions as well.

I asked:
You break from several traditions pertaining to Fantasy. So here is my one and only question in this regard.  - Your time line in Energy is really fast paced, much more than what I as a reader is used to in Fantasy. Brighton and Lilly is put in several different scenarios and their lives play of more in "real time" than in fantasy time. Personally I found this a delightful change. What made you decide to break from tradition in this way?

MJ’s answer:
Although I love fantasy, I am also a realist. Things like time and distance have to make sense.
This is actually a small part of the "reality" of Energy. In my heart, I believe in magic but my logical mind says that it has to come from somewhere. Nothing can come from nothing.
If a wizard is going to do something magical, the power or energy to do that has to come from somewhere.

I asked:
Your love for nature and balance is clear through out Energy. What inspired this passion for nature?

MJ’s answer:
It probably comes from my parents. They love nature even more than I do! I am currently involved in a project with my sister called "Save Rhinos Today". It's a Face book page dedicated to fighting rhino poaching and raising money by means of a book auction for this noble cause.
The address is

I asked:
What for you personally, is the scariest part of being an author?

MJ’s answer:
Putting my work out there and hoping the readers will like it.

I asked:
What is the single wildest thing (which you can share with us) that you have ever done?

MJ’s answer:
I went on holiday with a very good friend, Louis, when I was 18. We did not book any accommodation or have a specific plan in mind. We simply got in his Mini and drove. Some nights we slept on the beach or under an airplane wing, some nights we simply slept in the little car! We went down the Sani Pass (the Border between Lesotho and South Africa) with almost no brakes. At the top there is a sign that states "Four by Four vehicles only".

It was truly an adventure to remember!
I asked:
If you then what you know now, would you have started writing earlier in life? 

MJ’s answer:
Honestly, I don't think so. I had to live through certain things, good and bad, to be the person I am today. I learnt the hard way to follow my dreams means a lot of hard work and
sacrifice. If I had written Energy ten years ago, I may have given up before the book was finished.

I asked:
Your second book "Birth of a Wizard is already with your editors. How many books do you plan to write in this series?

MJ’s answer:
From the start, I planned to write three books in the series. As soon as Birth of a Wizard is released, I am going to start writing the final book.

I asked:
Is there more Brighton’s and Lilly's dancing around in your imagination?  Can we expect another fantasy series by the soon best selling author MJ Schutte?

MJ’s answer:
Writing is something I enjoy immensely. Although I have not thought about more books once the Energy series is done, I cannot see myself never writing again.
Yes, I will continue writing as long as readers continue to read my work.

I asked:
If you could teach your children one lesson only. What would that lesson be?

MJ’s answer
Integrity. Always follow through on promises you have made.

I asked:
Describe for us your idea of the perfect day?

MJ’s answer
Writing 5000 words, having ice cream with my children and falling asleep with my wife in my arms.

Useless information:
Anybody that knows me knows that I love what I call useless information. You know the type. That information that would cost you the $1 million dollar question type of useless information: so here is a bit of useless information pertaining to two of my favorite characters in Energy - Velvet and Mischief. In real life they are cats living in the Schutte household. Velvet is apparently the queen of the neighborhood and no dog would dare to take her on in a one on one fight. Mischief is the house cat and scared of her own shadow!!!! Imagine that. Especially if you've read Energy!
Oh and ps.  I will be terribly remiss if I dont thank Denise Jones.  She checks my spelling and grammar on all of these reviews for me.  Any mistakes is mine.  I tend to send her a review to check and then when I get it back I change this sentence or add that.......
Thanks Denise.