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I am re-posting this book review on a book that deserved more recognition than it got.

Light Bringer by Pat Bertram, an author who has done so much over the years to help developing authors.

 

When strange things happen people go to Chalcedony.  But what is so special about the little town?

Helen Jenks’ life changed with a drive home on a snowy night.  That change came in the form of an infant girl, who she calls Rena, which she finds abandoned on her doorstep.

It becomes immediately apparent that Rena is not your usual kind of abandoned-on-the-doorstep baby.  There is something special about the child.  Helen soon finds herself living on the run with the child, but on the run from who or what?

And that is where her story ends and the real story begins.

Philip Hansen opens his door to unexpected guests, Agent’s Derrick and Hugh from the National Security Agency.  Philip immediately suspects they are there to discuss the books he’s been checking out at the library.  He sounds borderline crazy-guy conspiracy theorist, but Philip quickly shows himself to be no crazier than anyone else who thinks aliens are visiting Earth.

With a little help from an unlikely source, Philip escapes the two agents, who aren’t who they claim to be, and finds himself drawn involuntarily on a path not of his choosing.

Becka Johnson, baby Rena grown up and with a new name, returns to Chalcedony thirty-seven years after her adoptive mother found her.

Becka has decided it’s time to find the answers to her lifelong questions that center around “who am I?” And she believes those answers can be found in Chalcedony, Colorado where her life started on a snowy night on a stranger’s doorstep.

In a financial bind, Jane Keeler finds herself in Chalcedony searching for her sister George Keeler.  Instead of finding her sister, she discovers an empty house, ransacked office, and abandoned car.

Georgy’s apparent wild ways make things difficult for Jane as she finds herself drawn by the need to investigate this mystery and learn her sister’s whereabouts.  Only no one seems to believe her or to even care.

When the trio converges on Chalcedony with no knowledge of each other, things immediately take a turn for the strange.

Philip Hansen arrives to find himself thrust into the arms of Becka Johnson, literally, when he’s dropped off at her doorstep.

Things soon heat up for Philip and Becka when the strange things happening to each of them grow in intensity with their proximity, leading them forward on an adventure of discovery.

Jane is pulled into the strange events surrounding Philip and Becka, finding herself drawn into the midst of a bigger mystery than she’d anticipated.

In Light Bringer, Pat Bertram weaves a fascinating tale of a group of people connected by events in the past, beginning before they were even born, who are inexorably drawn together for the culmination of what was started so many decades before.

In drawing out the strange events linking these three, I also had the impression that the small town of Chalcedony, Colorado hides other secrets that could very well find themselves revealed in another tale entirely unrelated to this story.

Light Bringer is published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC.

Something apart from the story that you might find interesting is this excerpt from Light Bringer (Page 217).

There are three details in particular that will have a sense of familiarity if you have read Pat Bertram’s More Deaths than One.

Hugh & Keith in are in a conference room in the underground bunker going through files taken from George Keeler’s house

Excerpt:

Hugh lifted one transcript out of the file.  “Here’s an interview she did with Bob Noone.”

                “Who’s he?”

                “You know.  The weird guy.”

                Keith laughed.  “That narrows it down.”

                “He’s the artist, the one you thought seemed like a chameleon.”

                “Oh, him.  His work sure mesmerized you.  I could hardly drag you away.”

                Hugh shuddered, remembering that a monstrous thing had seemed to lurk in the depths of the painting, pulling him in, captivating him in the archaic sense of the word: taking captive.  He realized he’d been captivated in the same way by this place, the source of that dreadful hum.  All at once he felt glad not to have found the source.  Perhaps some secrets should remain unknown.

                “What did he have to say?”

                Hugh started at the sound of Keith’s voice.  “He spouts the same rubbish as everyone else in that ridiculous town.  Listen to this.  ‘I didn’t move to Chalcedony until the late eighties, so I don’t know anything about the UFO flap, but if you want my opinion, it would have been a mind control experiment.  Government is a beast without conscience, and when it teams with conglomerates, it can and will do anything.  Even control us as if we were robots.’”

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Jeff Russell The Girl Who Watched Over DreamsLife for Kat (Doctor Katrina Hammond) is not turning out the way she envisioned.  Despite her misgivings, she agrees that her mother going into E.D.E.N.’s perpetual sleep program is the best choice for her mother, who is suffering from chronic rheumatoid arthritis.

Engulfed with sorrow over her loss of her mother, plagued by doubts about the program, and uncertain about the science and the quality of life her mother will have in a forever dream state, Kat agrees to take a job at E.D.E.N. This, at least, allows her to be near her mother and watch over her.

Soon after taking the job at EDEN, Kat is approached by a reporter, Morgan Brewer, who is investigating EDEN.  Distrusting his role as a reporter and suspicious his interest is only a pretense to get information from her to use against her employer; she unwillingly turns to him when she has no other options.

It doesn’t take Kat long to become suspicious that EDEN is not the idyllic sanctuary promised for the faceless residents of their perpetual sleep program.  There is something darker happening behind the scenes of EDEN, and Kat’s inability to let it go pulls her deeper into that secret.

Jeff Russell creates a believable character in Kat, a recent graduate doctor of Neuroscience.  She is grounded by her newness to the field, filled with enough self-doubt to add to the challenges she faces, and likeable.  As she presses on with her clandestine investigations over her suspicions, she is pulled in opposing directions.  She doubts her own suspicions, becomes newly suspicious of her employer, convinces herself EDEN really is helping, and becomes disturbed again by her discoveries at EDEN.

Jeff Russell does not overburden his medical thriller with technical descriptions, keeping the story flowing and compelling.  I read this story in less time than I usually do, laying back and putting off the things I really should be doing so I could keep reading.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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THE WIND GUARDIAN CoverI received a free copy of this book in exchange for reviewing it.  It took a bit of time to get through this book with trying to read it over the busy and highly distracting Christmas season.  The terrorist action plot is not my favorite genre, but I have no regrets in taking the time to read The Wind Guardian.  This is an honest and unbiased review.

The Wind Guardian is the first Frank Scozzari book I have read.  If you are looking for a terrorist threat action story that is driven by the characters and does not get lost in the details then you will enjoy this book.

This story is set in the comfort of a United States nuclear power facility where years of living comfortably safe leaves bored security officers with a lackadaisical attitude towards their jobs and the painstaking planning and work that goes into the security of the plant.  Despite the best efforts of their supervisor, John Harkin, to keep his security officers alert and performing diligently to their by-the-book routine, some of his staff continually take a careless approach to their jobs, sneaking off for illicit rendezvous and naps.  The reason for their jobs, threat of terrorist attack, is a world away for our characters.

In The Wind Guardian, Frank Scozzari brings the self-absorbed lives of two characters, newly enamored lovers and co-workers, Cameron and Grace crashing down in a seeming unstoppable catastrophe.  Other developments are in play while Cameron communes with nature in the “bone yard”, a protected archeological and burial site of the native Chumash, who he came to feel an affinity with, and Grace and he focus on trying to find ways to communicate on the shared open radio channel and meet up on the job.  The pair makes the most unlikely of heroes, and are thrust in the center of events by their own selfish choices to put their mindless lust and an obsession with each other worthy of teenagers over their duties.

While Frank Scozzari pauses in the action to fill the reader in on the workings of the nuclear facility and the bureaucracy, planning, routine, and weapons behind keeping it safe, he does it expertly without bogging down the story in the details.  If anything, the tedium of guarding the plant and all the details that ago into it is a good set up for what is coming.  The obvious tedium of the characters jobs and their lack of interest in performing them makes the events that unfold, and how easily, more believable.

Frank Scozzari brings home in a realistic way just how easily the safety we take for granted can be taken away.

The Wind Guardian by Frank Scozzari is available through various online retailers.

 

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Paladin Book 1 The Evil Within the Woods.jpgBefore I get into the review, I received a free copy of this book from the author to review.  That said, this is an unbiased review.  I only review books I have actually read, and only give an honest review.

 

If you read Fitzgerald’s other book UnAlive and are expecting a similar read, you will be disappointed.  Kevin Fitzgerald’s UnAlive is a zombie apocalypse adult genre.  Paladin is a middle year’s animal tale gentle thriller.

 

Similar to stories like Watership Down and the Secret of NIHM, Paladin is written from the point of view of the animal characters, specifically the rabbit whose story is central to the plot.  Unlike the other stories, however, the human characters of Paladin are active characters in the story, rather than being some vague aspect of the animals’ world.  This adds a depth to the story in that you are bound not just by the fate of the rabbit, but also the fates of the people who saved him.

 

Paladin starts with the rabbits of the “warenne” sensing a coming change and danger.  I won’t give away what happens, but a catastrophe does happen, bringing the story from the introduction of the wild rabbits to the meat of the story.  This, the first book of the Paladin series, is Paladin’s story, a young rabbit of the “warenne”.

 

Paladin finds himself a home with a boy, Joshua, and his father, Theo.  Their pleasant life does not stay that way for long.  Theo’s onetime employee, Lou Lyons, has other plans for Theo’s business, and a self-invented grudge to avenge, putting Paladin in the center of his revenge.

 

Paladin is a children’s story.  I would place it around middle year’s grades.  The drama surrounding Paladin will appeal to kids who still like stories about animals, but this story is more than about an animal with a human-like sentience.  You are also drawn into the lives of the human characters, whose own drama Paladin is the center of.  In the end, you are left waiting for book two to find out what comes next as Paladin is thrown into the next chapter of his adventure.

 

Paladin Book 1: The Evil Within the Woods by Kevin J. Fitzgerald is self-published and is available on Amazon.

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temptaion.

Tempting, isn’t it?

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You think, if only I can get enough reviews of my book to push the rating up, then my sales will go up.

And you are right.  But the problem can be in getting those reviews.  The stats on how many people who read your book will leave a review are abysmally small, less than five percent.

And, the reviews you do get can work against you.  Too many five star reviews will leave potential readers suspicious.  If you only have five star reviews that will definitely make them wonder.  Your best chance of making more sales from your reviews is to have a mixed bag of reviews.  Some fives, fours, and even the odd three star review.  After all, who is going to believe that every single person who read your book absolutely loved it?  Even the biggest name authors have their detractors who trash their books in reviews.

But, getting those reviews can be so hard that you can find yourself stuck with a scathingly bad review and very few positive ones to counter it.

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cryOr, like millions of writers languishing in Amazon obscurity, you could be sitting there with none or so few reviews that even you have trouble finding your own book on this and other sites.

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This is how there came to be a market for paid reviews.  As tempting as it may be to go down that road, there may never be any turning back.

Paid for reviews will always be suspect.  After all, you did buy the review.  Who buys a bad or mediocre review?  No, you want good reviews for your money.

No one will believe a paid for review is a true and honest review.  They certainly won’t believe it is unbiased.  Anyone with the money can buy positive advertising, which is all a paid for review is.  It’s also a poor choice in advertising spending.

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Once you gain a reputation for using paid for reviews that reputation will stick to you like “the cheese touch” in Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  All reviews on your books will be suspect.

And now, you have another reason to avoid paid for reviews.

Amazon has begun taking legal action against the use of paid for reviews.

Amazon does make it very clear in their guidelines that paid for reviews are not allowed.

They also do not allow overfriendly reviews.

We have all heard stories about Amazon having a dislike for people reviewing books of authors they know and are connected with in any way.  So, authors doing review swaps tend to get their reviews of each other’s books removed by Amazon.  Review swaps may be a popular way to get reviews in exchange for giving reviews, but are limited in where they can be used.

Amazon does also say on their review guidelines that family members and close friends are not allowed to leave product reviews.  Perhaps this is rightly so, since their reviews would obviously be biased.

But who is to say that a simple review swap, or someone connected on social media, even has a close enough relationship for it to bias their review?  The majority of the people I am connected with through social media are near strangers, connected through shared interests and author groups and little more.

Read Amazon’s guidelines for reviews.

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ostracisedGiving paid for reviews also will damage your reputation as an unbiased reviewer.

You should also take note that some countries do have laws regarding paid for reviews, including the United States.  A paid for review is required to state that it is a paid for advertisement, even when it is on a blog or a review on a sales site like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

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No matter how tempted you may be, if someone offers to give you a paid review of your book, you should politely decline.

The same if someone offers to pay you to give them a review.

It just isn’t worth it in the long run to ruin your reputation both as a writer and a reviewer.

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There is one distinction to note.  While money, gifts, and other financial incentives definitely do count and must be disclosed, giving reviews in exchange for free books can be a grey area.

Typically, receiving a free book in exchange for reviewing it is not considered a paid for review.  However, it is recommended to note whether or not you paid for that book or received it free in exchange for a review.

This is where you should tread carefully.  If all of your reviews are for books you received free in exchange for a review, this gives the assumption that you expect benefits (i.e. free books) in exchange for giving reviews.

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What does a woman who runs a fertility clinic do when she desperately wants to birth her own child, but is unable to produce the necessary eggs?  She uses a donor, of course.

LJ Sellers The Baby Thief.

Jenna McClure is single and feels time is running out to have a child, so she visits a fertility clinic.  Unfortunately for her, she is the perfect donor for the doctor, Elizabeth Demauer.

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Elizabeth convinces a non-practicing fertility doctor and cult leader to kidnap Jenna so she can harvest her eggs.  Doctor David Carmichael runs his own commune of women who he is impregnating with his own sperm while illegally testing fertility drugs on them.  The depraved doctor finds himself unable to resist his sexual urges towards his captive, adding to the drugged nightmare Jenna suffers through at their hands.

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With no real family or friends to report her missing, Jenna’s only hope is Eric Troutman, a reporter she just met before being kidnapped, and who fell immediately in love with her after one night together.

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Despite the appearance that Jenna has simply blown him off and made herself scarce, something her co-workers were not surprised about, Eric was so smitten with her that he could not accept anything other than her being kidnapped.  He refuses to stop until he finds out what happened to her.

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I think I would have preferred Jenna finding a way to escape on her own, rather than needing a man she just met and spent one night with swooping in to rescue her.  But, that’s just me.  Jenna does have to bravely survive everything her captors put her through and endures through her own personal strength.

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This story has elements of romance and thriller and had enough of interest to keep me reading to the end.

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You will have to read it for yourself to find out the more interesting  thriller scenes.

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I received this book as a free download when the author was doing a giveaway and this is an impartial review.

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Baby Thief by L. J. Sellers (Spellbinders Press) is self-published and is available on the author’s web site, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

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David Pereda Twin Powers book coverTwin Powers starts with the kidnapping of ten year old Stephanie while on vacation in Cuba with her mother and twin sister by a mysterious stranger who appears to be an Arab tourist.  Her mother, Sonia, is given a message from a street vendor who happened to be there.

 

  “He said to tell you that this is payback,” the old man said, his voice cracking.  “That you would never see your daughter again.”

This leaves Sonia and the authorities wondering who could possibly have a grudge against her that they would kidnap her daughter to punish her for.

From there the reader is pulled along as Stephanie’s estranged parents, along with a professional assassin called in by the Cuban government, try to learn the identity of the kidnappers and track Stephanie down.

As the drama unfolds, suspicions shift, and they discover that a human trafficking ring has kidnapped the girl.  The deeper they go into the world of Middle East human traffickers, the more it begins to look like there is something more than sex slavery behind the kidnapping.

In Twin Powers, David Pereda has created a world of international intrigue that runs deeper than the story initially suggests, centering on the kidnapping of a child.

Twin Powers by David Pereda is published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC, and is available on their web site, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

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