Beers in Heaven by Ford Forkum

Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.

Beers

That said, here is my honest opinion of Beers in Heaven by Ford Forkum, a gently comic look at the afterlife which I finished reading last Sunday.

Characters: Beers in Heaven tells the story of 20-year-old Zack Preston and his struggle to make sense of his life and adapt to Heaven after an untimely death.

Zack is a sympathetic, though slightly alienated character. He meets the phenomena of life and after life with a kind of resigned skepticism. Here, he talks with Stan, an “orientation guide” in Heaven, after just having relived an unpleasant episode in his life.

“So how far along are you with recovering your memory?” Stan asked.

“I can remember everything up to the time I graduated high school.”

“Good job. It must be a relief to finally remember who you are.”

Zack shook his head. “Well, I’m aware of what went before, but it doesn’t really comfort me.” He pondered for a few seconds. “Now that I think about it, there are lots of things I would rather not have remembered.”

“Yeah, I know. Everyone has experiences like that. But the bad times help make us who we are. You know that saying— anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”

“So I’ve heard, but I don’t necessarily agree unless, by some twist of logic, things like phobias and post-traumatic stress are considered strengths.”

Stan shrugged and tilted his head. “But it’s all over now, so who gives a crap, right?”

“It doesn’t feel like it’s over. I just experienced it!”

Not all of Ford’s characters get physical description. Perhaps Zack, as an “every man” in some sense doesn’t need any. But Stan gets some description ~ he has “thin brown hair” and tinted glasses, and wears a red Hawaiian shirt. His cohort, Lucy, is a “glamorous blonde woman.”

One of my favorite characters is Woobles, the talking giraffe:

Standing at only around eleven feet tall, the creature appeared oddly refined. The pattern of spots on his hide looked unnaturally uniform, and its hair brightly colored and soft. But its most remarkable feature by far was unmistakable self-awareness in its eyes.

Ford’s characters, all of them quirky, are mostly defined by their dialogue, including God.

“Well,” God said, frowning and crossing his arms, “excuse me for having trouble keeping up with billions of requests all day, every day! It’s a damn miracle I can get anything done at all!”

Of course, God gets some physical description.

Suddenly, a blinding light flashed before them all, with such overwhelming intensity that nothing could be seen beyond the mausoleum but pure, white light. When the light subsided, they saw him.

It was God.

It took everyone’s eyes a few seconds to adjust. Looking directly at God at the wrong time can be like staring straight into the sun through binoculars.

Plot: Zack Preston’s after-life threatens to become as dysfunctional as his life.

Setting: Heaven is the setting — a sort of resort community spread across a series of clouds set in the firmament. It seems to be run like a benevolent but slightly dotty corporation.

What I thought could be done better: I would’ve liked more character description. Certainly, Zack, as the protagonist, should get a little description. Does he have a perpetually quizzical expression, perhaps? I’m sure Ford, as he wrote, visualized Zack. It’s a stronger story, imho, if he shares that visual.

Likewise with Amber, the angel. She’s described as wearing “professional business attire,” and that’s something, but awful little. Does she have red hair and green eyes? I don’t mind using my imagination to see the characters, but in my ‘umble, it’s the author’s job to give the reader something to work with. I’m aware that not everyone shares that opinion, so I offer it here FWIW.

What I thought was good: I loved the gentle, quirky humor. Ford has a sharp sense of the ridiculous, but expresses it in ordinary, prosaic terms, which points up the absurdity. Here, a newly created and as yet nameless Woobles tries to decide on a name for himself.

The giraffe belched up some cud and began to chew on it. “Hmm,” he thought. “How about ‘Girafferty?’ No, that’s too generic-sounding. Besides, I shouldn’t derive my name from my species; people wouldn’t take me seriously. How about ‘Gerry Rafferty?’ No, that’s still too ‘giraffy.’ I need something distinctive and original.”

He swallowed his cud and began to rotate counterclockwise as he drifted along. “How about…’ Poobar Balubu’?’”

Just plain silly, but I had to laugh — “Poobar Balabu.” I’ve been referring to one of my dogs as Poobar Balabu all day. And I’m dying to use the phrase “too ‘giraffy’” in a conversation, but don’t believe I’ll ever get to, outside of a conversation about this book.

“That’s a nice coat, hon, but maybe a little too giraffy?” No, I guess not.

I knew I’d enjoy Beers in Heaven right from the beginning. In the Foreword, since the book has “God” as a character — and you know, and Ford obviously knows how people can be about religion — he has this great disclaimer:

This book is a work of fiction, and all characters and people mentioned are not based on real people or things. These facts must be given special consideration because there is a supporting character in the story referred to as “God.”

To deflect potential accusations of blasphemy, the aforementioned character is not intended to be the God. The character is instead a fictional god who also happens to be named God. The role this fictional character plays is the all-knowing and omnipotent creator of the universe, the one whom people communicate with in their prayers.

Now that that’s out of the way, readers of all religious persuasions can enjoy this book knowing that their personal deity isn’t being made fun of.

Ford also fills the narrative with puns and plays-on-words. In the Prologue, for example, as he describes God’s troubles with trying to create life, which evidently is tricky, even for God, there’s this little gem:

“Damn it!” he whined. “Why is life so hard?”

Dialogue is snappy and fun. This passage, where Zack first learns from a minor Heavenly official named Max that he’s died and gone to Heaven is, I think, reminiscent of Monty Python:

“This may be somewhat difficult to accept, but you’re dead.”
“Excuse me?”
“You’re dead, as in deceased. Kicked the bucket. Or, in the parlance of political correctness, you’re ‘mortally impaired.’”
“What? I’m not dead!”
“Yes, you are.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Indeed! Then why don’t you check your pulse?”
Zack checked his pulse with his left hand, and then his right. He checked his neck and placed his hand on his chest. “I don’t have a pulse.”
“I hate to be an ‘I-told-you-so.’”
“But If I’m dead, then how am I standing here talking to you?”
“You’re in Heaven.”

I can just hear Eric Idle and Graham Chapman doing this bit. In its combination of attention to detail and imaginative whimsicality, Beers in Heaven is also, imho, reminiscent of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

But I also found a touch of profundity in the book. As Zack ponders the meaning of his short life, I thought of Socrates’ observation that “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Overall: Beers in Heaven is a lovely, light amusing read. It pokes gentle fun at certain tenets of Western religion, but always, I thought, with a certain kindness and respect. And as offbeat as this satire is, who’s to say that it’s not close to how Heaven really does operate? Not me.

Good job Ford!

Coming up
Fat Assassins by Marita Fowler
A Kiss at Kihali by Ruth Harris
Bones of Odin by David Leadbeater
Blood Pool by Jan Ryder

And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses on Amazon or Smashwords ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!

AG

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No Strings Attached by Lily Bishop

Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.

Strings

That said, here is my honest opinion of No Strings Attached by Lily Bishop, a classic character-driven romance which I finished reading earlier this week.

Characters: Lovely blonde admin assistant Laura Todd has aspirations of moving up to marketing consultant with the help of a newly minted masters degree.

Wealthy, handsome businessman Fox Thornton is on the rebound from a failed relationship that ended just short of marriage.

Though standard chick lit characters — handsome, powerful man; beautiful, but down-to-earth woman taking care of her younger sister — Fox and Laura generate real chemistry together, in part because of author Lily’s snappy, but authentic dialogue.

Here they are at a first romantic dinner together:

All that mattered was the here and now and the way her nerves stood at attention. She twirled one curl around a finger, feeling Fox’s hot gaze on the cleavage created by her suit jacket.

“So you were going to tell me about the name Fox.” Laura sat back and slid her shoe back on, hoping to move the conversation back to something neutral.

“I hated my name as a child, so I gave myself a new one.”

“And your mother didn’t object?”

“Of course she objected, but she could see my point.”

“Why? What was your name?”

He looked around, as if to verify that no one could hear him. “Marion.”

“Marion?” Laura asked, dumbfounded. “But that’s a girl’s name.”

“Or an old family surname from way back. Marion Scott Thornton.”

Laura tried to contain her humor, but the giggles burst forth. “Get beat up much in elementary school?”

In keeping with steamy romance tradition, Fox and Laura are attractive. Lily does a nice job showing each from the other’s point-of-view. Here’s Fox, falling for Laura at first sight during a blackjack session at the casino where they first meet.

He blamed his losses on the gorgeous blonde at the end of the table and her sexy silver dress. How could he leave with her if she made no effort to leave?

Her hair reminded him of wheat in summer and it curled around her shoulders with a devil-may-care attitude. Her eyes shone like dark amber whiskey and glowed with an inner fire when she smiled— which was often— and frequently in his direction. She leaned forward and he caught a glimpse of a little dark hollow between her breasts. He stifled a groan.

No Strings Attached features other characters you’ll recognize from the hallowed halls of romantic literature, such as the insightful and influential parent and the reckless sibling who creates plot complications. Lily draws them each well enough that they seem more like old friends than standard “types.”

Plot: Shortly after their chance meeting in Vegas ignites into a night of passion, by strange coincidence, Fox and Laura find themselves drawn into an embezzlement investigation — with Fox as the investigator and Laura as a possible suspect.

Setting: No Strings Attached features settings in a luxury Vegas hotel, a yacht, a company office, and a resort island, among other locations. Lily gives each its descriptive due.

I’m retired Navy, so I loved the yacht:

“Nice ship. I like it,” she said offhand, still thinking he walked behind her.

“It is, but that’s not it. She’s over here,” he said. Laura looked up and her jaw dropped at the size of the yacht behind him. Rising three stories from the pier, it dwarfed all of the other ships.

“You said it was a yacht, not a cruise ship,” she mumbled.

He took her hand and helped her across the gangplank to the main deck, a vision of crisp white paint and burnished brass, sleek lines and smoke-tinted glass. They followed the spiral stairs up to the sundeck, and Laura stopped, stunned by the view of the marina and beyond to the high-rise hotels on Miami Beach.

“How many staterooms?” she asked when he stood beside her.

“Six, plus the crew quarters. Would you like a tour?”

“I’d love one.” When would she get the chance to be on a ship like this again? He led her to the state-of-the-art bridge, with its deep leather seats and computerized displays.

While Lily doesn’t overdo the settings, she gives enough description to let readers see the scene.

What I thought could be done better: Normally in this section I like to stick with objective points such as grammar or clarity issues — things that I can actually pull from the text as an example.

Lily’s writing is clear and the grammar is good. All I really have is subjective — just one guy’s opinion. Here it is. And I hope this isn’t a spoiler.

At one point in the narrative, Fox kidnaps Laura, hoping to isolate her and get the truth out of her. This section is as well-written as the rest of the story, and enjoyable to read, but seemed over the top, based on the persona Lily has created for her male protagonist.

However, this is Lily’s story, and if that’s what happens, then that’s what happens. I could just as easily argue that Fox acts irrationally in kidnapping Laura because his normally shrewd judgement has been shredded between love, desire and suspicion based on having been betrayed previously by a fiancee.

If that’s the case, it might’ve been set up a little better, so that when it happens, the response is “Oh yeah, I should’ve seen that coming,” rather than “Wait a minute, where’d I put that jar of Suspension of Disbelief, because I need a dollop now.”

Of course, anyone can say “the plot should’ve gone this way or that,” so I’m not really sure it even is a valid criticism, but it’s about the only thing that made me pause for a moment in this otherwise fast-paced and seamless story.

What I thought was good: As I’ve already mentioned, No Strings Attached is a fast-paced seamless, classic piece of chick lit storytelling. Not my first choice in reading, but I believe that reading outside my favorite genres from time to time makes me a better writer.

Characters are well-defined and mostly (see previous section) believable. Lily describes her settings well, giving reader imaginations plenty to work with. Love scenes are steamy without being vulgar.

One of my favorite moments in the story is when Laura reports to work after returning from Vegas — only to find her lover sitting with the boss.

“Nice of you to join us, Laura,” Lloyd said. She barely suppressed a shudder at his sarcastic tone.

“I’m not going to repeat everything, but in case you haven’t heard, Vaughn Bruce is no longer with us. You’ll be working for our interim director, Fox Thornton. I’m sure he will fill you in after we finish here.”

Time stopped. Laura’s head shot up like a cat who had just heard a dog. How could she have missed him there beside Lloyd, larger than life? When she first glanced in that direction he had blended in with all of the other men in white dress shirts. He stopped flipping through his report and watched for her reaction. Everyone else faded away as the memory flashed between them.

She blinked, trying to get her bearings. Why was he here? Seeing him in Miami felt wrong on so many levels, as if she had joined a meeting in progress with a space alien. She broke eye contact and looked down at the pad in her lap. The blood rushed out of her hands until they felt like ice.

That is a true “Yikes!” moment. Did you catch the line “Laura’s head shot up like cat who had just heard a dog.”? Lily’s writing is filled with strong similies like that. “The evening flew by like a missile with a hard lock on its target.” is another.

Add plenty of active voice and vivid verbs, and the story transcends “romance” and just becomes a good story. Plenty of romance in James Bond novels too, by the way.

Speaking of the Bond books, No Strings Attached also has some nice passages about cuisine, here, a Caesar salad:

“What are those?” she asked, unsure about the dark brown strips that looked like mushrooms that had turned.

“Anchovies.”

Laura gulped. “I’ve never seen anyone add real anchovies,” she said after a minute, skeptical.

“Then you haven’t had a real Caesar,” Fox teased as Kirby plated the salads, topping each with thick, crusty croutons. He grated fresh Parmesan cheese for each of them.

The salad was a work of art, but would she like it? She pushed the lettuce around with her fork, looking for wayward anchovies, still hesitant to take a bite. The anchovies apparently disappeared into the dressing, which covered everything. If she didn’t like it, she would be stuck. Maybe she should have asked for it on the side. She took a bite and her eyes widened.

I particularly liked the story’s themes of trust, communication and loyalty. If Fox and Laura had only trusted and communicated with one another a little more, they’d have avoided a lot of heartache. Of course, then there wouldn’t be any story.

Overall: Despite Fox’s wealth, and Laura’s beauty, Lily has created characters I could relate to. I’m not sure I would’ve ever kidnapped the lovely Anita, from back in my old school days, but she did make me crazy, and that’s a fact.

Sexy, emotional and with well-described locales from boardroom to bedroom; from luxury yacht to corporate jet, No Strings Attached is a deeply satisfying classic romance. Though entertaining, it explores some important themes — the most important, of course, being love.

Good job Lily!

Coming up
Beers in Heaven by Ford Forkum
Fat Assassins by Marita Fowler
A Kiss at Kihali by Ruth Harris
Bones of Odin by David Leadbeater

And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses on Amazon or Smashwords ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!

AG

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Brett gets Hammered by David D’Aguanno

Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.

Brett

That said, here is my honest opinion of Brett gets Hammered by David D’Aguanno, a tongue-in-cheek private-eye murder mystery which I finished reading earlier this week.

Characters: Self-confessed “unscrupulous bastard” Brett Cornell narrates this character-driven story (and the character is Brett) of an attempted frame-up that ends in murder. Brett’s an over-the-top jerk, conceited, rude and arrogant, heading up a cast of unsympathetic characters. Brett’s perspective on things is like a slow-motion train-wreck — you can hardly believe the god-awfulness, yet you can’t look away.

I don’t mean that the writing is bad. On the contrary, once I got the gist, in the first few pages, of just how horrible Brett is, I found it great fun. Brett is well-drawn — just utterly lacking in any kind of inhibition. Or tact. Or compassion. He makes up for it with plenty of nerve, however.

Here, Brett meets potential new client Tammy Rankin at a restaurant. Brett immediately orders two beers. You go Brett! But Tammy’s boyfriend Jerry takes exception:

“What the hell do you need two beers for?”

“Well, one of them I’m gonna drink,” I told him easily as I turned in his direction and flashed a toothy grin at him, “and the other one I’m gonna throw straight into that fat, ugly face of yours. That answer your question, bonehead?”

My “character triangle” consists of what characters say, what they do and what they look like. Author Dave offers all three with Brett. Of course character descriptions come via Brett’s perspective. Here’s his view of Tammy Rankin, who with her wimpy, over-weight, alcoholic brother Andy, hire Brett:

I mean, Tammy Rankin already looked damned hot, sitting there with those magnificent knockers of hers barely contained within the confines of the flimsy white blouse she had on. Tammy Rankin would also look really, really hot with my bod’ pressed right up against hers, I’m sure. But even hotter would be the sight of Tammy Rankin forking over a few thousand dollars to Yours Truly after she’d sealed the deal with me by taking a few brisk rides on the good old Cornell Express, and whatever else my sharp but devious mind could come up with while I was in her company.

Brett’s own appearance is that of a blonde adonis with “fantastic looking buttocks” — according to Brett, of course.

We also learn, through the story’s action, that Brett isn’t scared of anyone or anything, can take and deliver a punch, and can solve a crime — if he thinks there’s something in it for him.

Other characters are well-drawn, though a bit two-dimensional in keeping with the farcical nature of the book. Larger-than-life Brett seems to upstage them all, however.

Plot: Tammy Rankin and brother Andy hire Brett to frame their father’s trophy-wife Vanessa for their father’s death by heart attack, since their father left Vanessa the family fortune. Local law says convicted felons can’t inherit, so if Vanessa goes to prison, the money goes to Tammy and Andy. Brett sees the job as a way of bilking the Rankins, until an actual murder by stabbing intrudes on his scheme — in his own apartment, while he’s away.

Setting: Brett’s tale of his own awesomeness takes place in Birchwood, Rhode Island in general, with a lot of it in the Rankin’s mansion. Alas, Brett’s self-centered perception leaves little room for anything else. Here’s his take on the mansion:

The Rankin mansion looked almost exactly the way I’d pictured it – the kind of place I expected to park my very own butt in in about four years when I became independently wealthy and could afford to do nothing all day but recline wherever the hell I wanted to and have the most delectable women on hand to service me twenty-four/seven.

What I thought could’ve been done better:
Perhaps in keeping with the story’s farcical nature, the characters are largely two-dimensional. The women seem like bimbos, the men jerks, with Brett the biggest of them all. Once I turned on the “suspension of disbelief,” I had a fine time with this tale, but as a fellow writer I think Dave may have missed an opportunity by keeping his characters entirely in the shallows.

I particularly needed that suspension of disbelief in the beginning. Tammy and Andy, considering hiring Brett for what sounds like a job requiring utmost skill and subtlety, get full exposure to Brett’s buffoonish behavior, and yet go forward.

I felt lack of setting details were another missed opportunity. Even though Brett is what he is, that doesn’t necessarily preclude sarcastic observations on the scene, while giving readers some color and orientation.

A master of this is George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman series. Flashman, king of all unscrupulous bastards, nevertheless gives colorful and vivid, if cynical and humorous takes on the times and places of his own adventures with wars and women around the world in Victorian times.

What I thought was good: First, I liked the verbal, muscular writing.

In my overwhelming concern over him not being able to see what was inside my trunk, I had my eyes zeroed in on the rear of my car, and I watched the trunk door bob back open as Mullins pulled my arm away from it. Then in the next second, he nailed me with a powerful right cross, and I hit the cement, butt-first. “Get back up, loser,” Mullins snarled down at me.

Verbs are the muscles of writing, and strong, active verbs can take the place of description. For instance “he nailed me…” — Dave really doesn’t even need to write that the right cross is “powerful” — the verb does that alone, since a feeble right cross wouldn’t be able to “nail” Brett.

Even the trunk door doesn’t just open. It “bobs” open.

Note the good attribution — “Mullins snarled…”

I also enjoyed know-it-all Brett’s frequent mistaken metaphors and confused allusions.

I must confess that I’ve never hesitated to re-enforce my standing as a supreme unscrupulous bastard, figuring that if Alfred Schwarzenhammer got to be known for his muscles and Franz Sherbet got to be known for his ice cream, then I – Brett Cornell – ought to be known for something besides my big incredible, uh, personality – right?

I liked most the way Brett disassembles every relationship and social gathering, Marx Brothers and Three Stooges style, with his smug idiocy. He suffers no fools, except for the biggest one of them all, himself.

And there is, also, an interesting murder mystery involved. Who killed the young woman in Brett’s apartment, and why? And can buffoonish Brett solve the case before the murder gets pinned on him?

Overall: Brett gets Hammered is classic anti-hero, wildly over the top, written with snap and broad humor. Though I needed a touch of forbearance to fully enter Brett’s world, I found this journey into the egregious vastly entertaining — and even finished with a grudging admiration for how Brett handled things in the end.

Good job Dave!

Coming up
No Strings Attached by Lily Bishop
Beers in Heaven by Ford Forkum
Fat Assassins by Marita Fowler
A Kiss at Kihali by Ruth Harris

And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses on Amazon or Smashwords ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!

AG

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Super Born by Keith Kornell

Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.

SuperBorn

That said, here is my honest opinion of Super Born by Keith Kornell, subtitled Seduction of Being, classic superhero lit, sub-genre superwomen, infused with humor and a touch of sex/romance.

Characters: Much of Super Born shares first-person narratives between its two protagonists. Allie is the mysterious “super born” super heroine of the title. Logan is the man obsessed with finding her.

Both characters bring humorous, self-deprecating charm to their accounts making them likeable and accessible.

Here’s Allie, blonde, 30-something, single-mom and part-time accountant learning of her new powers in the opening paragraph of Super Born.

The first clue came the day I innocently jumped to get a bowl off of a high shelf. This was not a big leap, mind you, just a little hop. But I found myself chest deep through the ceiling and into my upstairs neighbor’s kitchen. Amazingly, my first reaction was to wonder how my neighbors got a new refrigerator and stove out of our cheapskate landlord. And was that a new dishwasher? Mine barely worked.

Okay, I immediately like this character, and not the less after seeing her through the eyes of Logan, a somewhat shlumpy everyman in this initial encounter.

There sat a luscious, long-haired blond, early thirties, with shining gray eyes. “My God!” I was startled. “Where did she come from?” … Then, as the tension between us built, her eyes suddenly flashed right at me, blue, then green, like the rotating light of a lighthouse. I had never seen anything like it. Then her eyes flashed at me again. My jaw dropped a bit, and I remained speechless for a long, thrilling moment. Holy beaver balls! I thought. Did that really just happen, or was that another trick my imagination was playing on me, like the time I thought I actually paid my rent on time?

As you can see, there’s a bit of physical description. Not as much as I like, but certainly enough to give reader imaginations enough to work with.

Keith does a fine job bringing his characters to life through their first-person narratives.

Plot: When Allie suddenly finds herself with super-strength — enough to hold a beer truck over her head with one hand, super speed and the power of flight — she rescues an airliner in trouble — she decides to use her powers to help others. She wears a black jump suit and Zorro mask and fights crime as the B.I.B. — the Bitch In Black, keeping her identity a closely guarded secret to protect her friends and teen daughter Paige.

Logan, obsessed and infatuated with Allie following a chance encounter in a bar, devotes everything he has to finding her again.

Meanwhile, organized crime is out to kill Allie, and someone or something even more dangerous has her in sights as well.

Setting: It’s Scranton, Pa., yep, home of the “The Office,” and while being prosaic for superhero tales more often set in metropolises like, well Metropolis, or New York, or L.A., is completely fitting for this blue-collar super-heroine story.

What I thought could’ve been done better: Main characters, Allie, Logan and a few supporting main characters, including Carmine the crime boss, all advance the story through their own first-person perspectives. And they do it in character, always well-defined.

The problem is that the change of narrator comes with no warning. One minute, we’re immersed in Allie’s point-of-view, then there’s a new chapter which might continue with Allie, or suddenly switch to Logan or Carmine.

I tended to carry the previous chapter’s POV into the new one, with nothing to tell me otherwise, until the narrative gave me a “waitaminute” moment.

Keith draws his characters clearly enough that it’s plain within a paragraph or two — sometimes a sentence or two — who the new POV is. But why have even that small amount of cloudiness?

Simply including the narrator’s name before or after the chapter title could easily improve the clarity of the read.

I did spot a few typos in the book — certainly no more than any professionally published title would have. Nowhere near the level many of us indie authors contend with, however.

What I thought was good: I really liked the straight-forward way Keith delivers the tale. Here’s Logan telling us what we’re in for in the second chapter:

Even now, just thinking of her absorbs every feeling and thought in my head and hardens my… resolve. There was the way the sun glistened in the various shades of blond of her hair, the way the moonlight shimmered off her lips before that kiss on the rooftop, the way her whole face smiled before she laughed, her sarcastic humor that always left me guessing, and the way her skin glowed wherever I touched her as we flew over the city that night. Yes, mine was the ol’ boy meets superwoman, boy loses superwoman, boy spends rest of his life (and money) searching for superwoman story. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times before. No? Well then, this is your lucky day.

Dialogue is snappy and advances character. Here, Allie makes excuses to cover her absence with her teen-age daughter Paige, after rescuing an airliner in flight with blown-out engines (loved that, too).

“Where were you, Mom?”

“I did leave the office at five. But I had to deliver some papers to Mr. O’Brien, the office manager. The battery on my phone was dead. That’s all. I never got your calls.”

“That was hours ago, Mom.”

“I went for a walk in the park. I had a rough day.”

That’s when she surveyed my ratty hair, torn clothes, and the smell of jet fuel that surrounded me. Her face changed.

“The park at night? I warned you not to go back to The Banshee! The guys at that bar are losers!”

I had had enough.

I walked away down the hall toward my bedroom, “All the guys in this town are losers! And I wasn’t at The Banshee. That’s Thursday. They have Thirsty Thursdays, half-price drinks.”

“Not funny! You never care what I have to say!”

Of course, I loved the action. Here, Allie rescues a hostage from mobsters.

He circled away and looked for his opening to strike. “What the hell you supposed to be, some kind of witch?”

I stopped moving. “Let’s get it stright. It’s not witch… it’s bitch,” I said, unleashing a front kick that easily powered through his attempt at a forearm block.

The kick must have surprised the thug immensely. But the pain of being sent through the two-by-fours and siding of the old house must have been worse. By the time he landed in the snowy yard, he was unconscious.

I looked at the hole in the wall— cold air and snowflakes were now swirling through it— and then to the window two feet away, wondering how I could have missed sending him through the window as planned

As a beer-drinker, I especially liked the prominent role beer plays in the tale. Characters knock back lots of bottles at a time, and beer tricks zip around through the city, and even fall from the sky.

I also enjoyed the story’s unique superpowers origin explanation, which I won’t try to recreate here. I’ll just say that instead of experiment gone awry or other standards of the genre, this one involves the Superbowl.

Overall: While Super Born doesn’t break any new ground in the superheroine line, other than the interesting origin, its treatment is lively, witty and entertaining. Characters are likeable — even the villains.

Super Born has positive themes of making the best of who we are, and of never giving up on love folded into a fun, action-packed, kick-ass adventure. Great story in general; required reading for fans of superheroine lit.

Good job Keith!

Coming up
Brett Gets Hammered by David D’Aguanno
No Strings Attached by Lily Bishop
Beers in Heaven by Ford Forkum
Fat Assassins by Marita Fowler

And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses on Amazon or Smashwords ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!

AG

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The Highlander by Zoe Saadia

Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.

Highlander

That said, here is my honest opinion of The Highlander by Zoe Saadia, an adventure-romance set among the highly evolved native American tribes of pre-Columbian Mexico.

Characters: The Highlander‘s title character is Kuini, son of his mountain tribe’s warlord, here described as a boy about 10 years old ~ Tall and lean in frame, the boy looked strikingly outlandish, wearing a loincloth and a short cloak, his broad jaw-line adorned by a line of tattoos, his lower lip pierced, sporting a glittering turquoise stone, his eyes large, widely spaced and wary.

This description comes courtesy of Coyotl, also 10, heir to the throne of a lowland lakeside empire, right before the two get into a fight as prelude to an improbable but lasting friendship.

Other significant characters are Coyotl’s half-sister Iztac, and an enigmatic unnamed personality referred to only as the “Aztec Warlord.”

Zoe does a fine job with characterization. In fact, The Highlander could be described as character-driven. As shown, she uses physical description to advantage in portraying her characters, but also action and dialogue.

Here’s Coyotl’s and Kuini’s first meeting on a sunbaked hillside.

Coyotl gasped, at a loss for words. He stared at the broad, now smirking face, longing to punch it until it lost any trace of contempt. He could fight well enough, trained to use his fists as well as his weapons, yet the boy was armed with a knife, carrying it with an easy confidence of someone who knew how to use it.

The boy laughed. “Hey, don’t turn all red on me. You might faint. Here, have some water.”

The flask offered to Coyotl was dusty and made of skin. He eyed it with disbelief. “I don’t want your water!”

The boy shrugged, eyes flickering with more mischievous derisiveness.

“You know what?” cried Coyotl. “I’ll take your water, but not before I beat you so hard, you will never be able to take it back!”

The smile widened. “You will never manage as much as to make me sway! Not even with my hands tied behind my back!”

The boy took out his dagger, and Coyotl tensed, watching his opponent’s movements alertly, ready to evade the blow, or maybe to run.

“You, calmecac boys, are soft,” said the boy, placing his dagger carefully behind the rock, not in an easy reach. “They are supposed to train you to be great warriors, but all they do is pamper you and make you feel good about yourselves.” He came back to the trail and stood there, legs wide apart. “We, on the other hand, are fighting and hunting as soon as we can walk straight. So who do you think will win this?”

Now, with no dagger in sight, Coyotl felt his heartbeat calming. Watching the boy closely, he calculated his movements. Although tall, the boy was lean and not that well-muscled. He could take him, especially by surprise. Make this one fall, then go for his throat and don’t let him slip aside.

Zoe gifts her characters with bright life through physical description, dialogue and action.

Plot: During a surreptitious but eventful visit to Coyotl’s lakeside city of Texcoco to see the sights, Kuini, now on the brink of manhood, accidentally runs afoul of the authorities, falls in love with Coyotl’s half-sister Iztac and finds himself trapped in Texcoco in the entourage of an enigmatic but powerful visiting Aztec warlord. The story of love, adventure and coming-of-age takes place in the shadow of looming war between Coyotl’s city-state or “altepetl” of Texcoco and a powerful neighboring tribe.

Setting: The Highlander takes place largely in Texcoco. Zoe offers some nice glimpses of the markets, temples, palaces and gardens of this pre-contact city. Here, Kuini visits a Texcoco market, where he first meets Coyotl’s sister Iztac, who, though a princess, has managed to slip away from her keepers.

Feeling better by the moment, replete with food and a spicy drink, he strode along the main road, eyeing stalls with colorful materials and jewelry, mats with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and the low tables of the food owners. This altepetl was something he could not comprehend.

He lingered beside a pile of cloth, marveling at the rich coloring. If he dared, he would touch it to make sure it was real.

A tall, slender girl in a plain maguey blouse and skirt brushed past him, halting next to the colorful pile. She picked a brim of the deepest turquoise and eyed it dubiously.

“It’s nice,” she said. “Nice touch. Are these Mayan cloths?”

What I thought could’ve been done better: Here’s another one of those indie books where I really have to stretch to find something that could’ve been improved. So here it is.

By the nature of its subject matter, there are a lot of strange names and terms in this book — “altepetl” is one. You might be able to pick up intuitively what the terms mean — the richness of Zoe’s writing makes this an option. But I felt a glossary would’ve been helpful. Even better would have been if the glossary had phonetic pronunciations, so that readers could “taste” some of the more exotic names of people and places.

Lack of such a glossary did not limit my enjoyment of Zoe’s fine book.

I did have one slight “hmmm” moment early on, when Coyotl and Kuini first meet. Coyotl tells Kuini that he’s the son of the emperor. Kuini responds with what seems to me to be a 20th-21st century “No way!”

And Coyotl responds to that with “Way!” A little too contemporary, imho, for pre-contact civ. There was only that one instance, though.

Although we get nice glimpses of localized settings, such as the market previously noted, I would’ve liked to get some overall views, perhaps of Texcoco seen from the hills above, or what the wild mountain ranges of Kuini’s people look like.

I wouldn’t have minded some more details of the menu, either. Zoe gives glimpses of the food of the time, such as tortillas stuffed with avocado (yum), but imho, missed an opportunity to show off in more color and detail an important aspect of a culture which she obviously loves.

What I thought was good: I feel Zoe covered all the bases with The Highlander. She nailed character physical description as I’ve mentioned. Here’s Iztac, as first seen by Kuini.

As she pondered her answer, he studied her face. Shaped in a sort of rectangle, her wide, sculpted cheekbones narrowed toward her gently pointed chin. A beautifully carved, perfectly polished, wooden mask, with a generously applied layer of copper, and two large obsidians for eyes.

Also as mentioned, though vast, spreading panoramic descriptions were absent, I liked the details of setting, such as in this temple.

The temple was dim, all its shutters closed against the brightness of the outside. Kuini stood there, blinking, his eyes having difficulty adjusting to the semidarkness. He watched the curtained niches and the damp, stony tiles of the floor, his ears pricked.   The heavy stench of stale blood, typical for the temples, enveloped him.

“The heavy stench of stale blood…” love it.

Zoe’s writing style is accessible. She uses vivid verbs and active voice, and goes easy on the adverbal description. Here, Kuini makes a dash for freedom:

The freedom of the open road beckoned, but some of the warriors guessed his intention, and two of them already waited on the other side, their swords out. He rolled away in time to avoid the touch of the sharp obsidian, the sword crashing the dusty ground. Springing to his feet, he leaped backwards, only to collide with another warrior. The blow in the side of his head sent him reeling, but he managed to keep his balance, leaping aside to avoid another one.

Dizzy, he tried to see where the warriors were not present, but the obsidian spikes seemed to be sparkling everywhere, reflecting the fierce midday sun.

Zoe does an equally good job with dialogue and scenes of romance.

Overall: Zoe weaves countless details of place and time and people into the colorful fabric of a strange, but reality-based story. Though there might have been a little more “big picture” description, The Highlander is still a wonderful, exotic tale of a strange, and long-vanished culture. Yet, despite the exotic, it’s filled with Faulkner’s eternal verities of love, honor, pity, pride and compassion.

Or in the words of the words of the famous song:

It’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
As time goes by.

Good job Zoe!

Coming up
Super Born: The Seduction of Being by Keith Kornell
Brett Gets Hammered by David D’Aguanno
No Strings Attached by Lily Bishop
Beers in Heaven by Ford Forkum

And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses on Amazon or Smashwords ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!

AG

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Convergent Space by John-Paul Cleary

Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.

Space

That said, here is my honest opinion of Convergent Space by John-Paul Cleary, a science fiction epic that takes place among the stars and worlds of interstellar space.

Characters: Convergent Space follows the perilous adventures of its Earthling heroine Ronelle, and her symbiotic “companion” Necessity, a sentient palm-sized flying mechanical device.

As Ronelle and Necessity crisscross the galaxy, they encounter an imaginative assortment of alien beings, including Phlegars and Tronans, and Nerferites — denizens of the doomed planet Nerfery.

John-Paul describes his aliens well. Here’s Crimp, rescued from Nerfery by Rone, Necessity and their traveling companion Tihn Forlihn, who they picked up during a visit to a Phlegar burn ship.

He was a striking figure. His hair was black and coarse like an animal’s and his face was bright scarlet. He was very thin and was much taller than she was, with long spindly arms that ended in oversized seven-fingered hands. He had no eyelashes or eyelids.

John-Paul does a better job describing aliens than he does with his human characters. Rone has short dark hair, and is described by another character later in the book as pretty, but that’s about all we get for physical description of Rone.

However, the characters’ action, dialogue and backstories, main to minor, are all good.

Here, Rone and Necessity talk about the new set of orders that launch them on their adventure:

Necessity chuckled. ‘So we get off this floating fish bowl after all.’

‘You’re pleased about this aren’t you?’

‘Come on Rone, it will be fun. You don’t have to look on it as The Search. It’s just another adventure. A chance to see more of the galaxy, a bit of excitement.’

‘I’ve seen the galaxy. That’s not what I want anymore. People’s lives are affected and for what?’

‘We’ll be careful.’

‘You know that’s not always possible.’

‘Well I’m looking forward to it.’

Rone shook her head. She and Necessity may have been together since birth, led the exact same life and had virtually all the same memories, but somehow they had become very different people who wanted very different things. Maybe it was because Necessity was a machine, a sentient machine but still a machine; whereas she was a woman, a humanoid female who’d been denied the normal life any woman could expect and whose overriding aim was to snatch (and hold onto) the few precious snippets of normality that came her way.

Plot: Rone, an archeo-soldier on extended leave, gets orders to rejoin “The Search,” an all-consuming effort by planet Earth to prove that Earth’s military did not cause “The Great Wave,” an interstellar tsunami of destructive energy that wrecked much of the galaxy 200 years before. On her quest through the galaxy, she encounters all the beauty, oddity and deadly danger of a journey through a galaxy swarming with intelligent and sometimes malignant life.

Setting: The galaxy. I know that doesn’t exactly narrow the field. John-Paul’s epic takes us from the inside of alien spaceships to the starscapes of far-off worlds, both inhabited and desolate. His settings are as much a main character of the novel as any of the protagonists.

Here, on their way to rescue Rone and Necessity from the bad guys, Tihn and company stop off at an unnamed planet, home of a long-dead terrorist society.

It was dark. It was arid. It was lifeless, cold and bleak. Sharp peaks of slate-grey mountains clawed up from the surface into the cloudless black sky like angry talons grasping for some motive to their existence beyond simply a perpetual display of austerity. Down on the surface itself, the mountain ranges bounded desolate dust bowls. Untouched virgin sands stretched for hundreds of miles from the base of one mountain range to another and had drifted into long grey swirling dunes that begged to be walked on and touched and explored.

Note the description using verb and simile — “Sharp peaks of slate-grey mountains clawed up from the surface into the cloudless black sky like angry talons grasping…”

He also uses personification with the mountains, like angry talons “grasping for some motive,” and dunes “that begged…” Makes for vivid colorful scenes.

I like stories that take me to unusual places and show me wonders. Convergent Space does in virtually every paragraph.

What I thought could’ve been done better: First, there are a few typos. Not many. Not like some indies I’ve read. Certainly not enough to spoil the read. But who needs any at all?

The story begins with a vivid battle scene on an alien world. It’s well-written, colorful and action-packed. I feel it has a minor clarity issue in that it takes many pages for John-Paul to reveal that the combatants are humanoids.

The descriptions of actions and weapons are great, but it is a world not Earth, so what kind of creatures are at war? Turns out they’re humanoid, but why make the reader wonder for so long? Minor issue, and again not a deal-breaker. After that first scene, John-Paul does a good job orienting the reader to exactly who and what is conducting the action of each scene. Clarity wasn’t an issue anywhere else.

This next point could really be argued with. I’m arguing with myself about whether or not it’s valid, in fact. But it occurs to me, and I can’t easily dismiss so I’ll mention it — even though I’m a touch uncomfortable with it since it’s so subjective.

First, I’ll state again, I really enjoyed this book. But I think without a love-interest, it didn’t have all the dimension it might have. Most great epics have at least an element of love, science fiction or otherwise, from Star Wars to Dr. Zhivago. I come to this conclusion from watching James bond movies and reading the books. Hardly chick-flicks or chick-Lit, but in the end, deal with love, the most powerful and profound of emotions.

On the other hand, one of my favorite film epics, “Lawrence of Arabia,” did not have an element of love. So, just an observation. Valid observation? I’ll have to leave that to you.

What I thought was good: Tons. First, if I didn’t make it clear in the Characters section, the characters are rich and spectacular. Yes, Rone might’ve had a little more physical description, but for the rest, John-Paul brings alien life-forms into lavish life.

The writing is wonderful. Vivid, colorful and action-packed, the story has a lot of active voice, vivid verbs, simile and metaphor.

Here’s an excerpt from the opening battle sequence I mentioned earlier.

There was a deafening bang, louder, deeper and longer than all the earlier explosions put together. There was nothing to see at first then the city itself came alive. It stirred like an animal stretching after a long sleep. Everything was moving, sliding and pulling away from everything else. The city wall was crumbling away and a few buildings toppled, sending great clouds of dust into the air. Then the city split right down the middle. The two halves started falling away from each other in slow motion.

A collective gasp went up from the soldiers on the battlefield like a crowd in a sports stadium. They watched powerlessly as the last city on Mera-Mar – their one great prize, their raison d’être – began to crumble.

That brings me to the next thing I liked — the combination of epic scale and personal experience. Rone’s quest spans the galaxy. There are space battles encompassing light years of distance, and enzymes that destroy all planetary life.

There are also more personal dangers like tiny waterborne organisms that devour anything organic, like people. And although John-Paul is adept at presenting giant space battles and planetary-sized catastrophes, he’s just as good with bickering characters.

Overall: Convergent Space is a splendid, imaginative romp through the galaxy. If it lacks a little in the romance department, the characters are still engaging, the pace is quick, and the stakes are as high as they can be.

And if it’s wonders you seek, like I do, you’ll find them here.

Good job, John-Paul!

Coming up
The Highlander by Zoey Saadia
Super Born: The Seduction of Being by Keith Kornell
Brett Gets Hammered by David D’Aguanno
No Strings Attached by Lily Bishop

And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses on Amazon or Smashwords ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!

AG

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What You See by Ann Mullen

Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.

WhatYouSee

That said, here is my honest opinion of What You See by Ann Mullen, a murder-mystery romance that takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Characters: Jesse Watson, a 31-year-old woman suffering a low-level identity crisis, narrates this quirky tale of finding one’s self by trying to find someone else who has literally gone missing.

Ann does a nice job with her characters. We get all three dimensions — what they say, what they do and what they look like. Here’s Jesse:

Thirty-one… no life… no man… no babies… no career… a liar… a dumpy duplex apartment… a piece-of-junk car… and breasts the size of plums. The worst part was, I couldn’t even get drunk. I take Zoloft, the wonder drug of the year 2000. I don’t want to go there right now. That’s another one of those tales I don’t want to relive just yet.

I have to think positive. Isn’t that what the therapists tell their patients? I wandered into the bedroom and looked into the mirror. “Well, on the bright side,” I said to no one in particular, “I’m not bad looking. Okay, I might have one or two crow’s feet, but who doesn’t at thirty-one? I have good skin, my blue eyes sparkle, and on a good day, I only weigh 115 pounds, which is perfect for my 5’5’’ height. I have long, straight, bottled red hair. I don’t have a big nose or funky teeth. I have a great personality sometimes. What more could a man want?

Ann wastes no time plunging her mildly depressed, though somewhat snarky heroine into a mountain adventure with other well-drawn characters including her new boss, a Native-American private-eye named Billy Blackhawk (who nearly steals the show from protagonist Jesse), and handsome cop love-interest Cole James.

Also helping to frame the story are Jesse’s supportive parents, dysfunctional brother and sister, an adopted German Shepherd, and some unpleasant heavies and crazies.

Plot: Fed up with a do-nothing life in Newport News, Va., Jesse takes her roommate’s abandoned dog and moves in with her parents in the real-life town of Stanardsville (pop. 476 in 2000 when What You See was written), not too far from Charlottesville.

Jesse gets a job as assistant to local Private Detective Billy Blackhawk. In helping Billy get to the bottom of things, with all the associated legal problems and physical dangers, Jesse realizes she may have found her calling — if she can stay alive and out of jail to pursue it.

Setting: Blue Ridge Mountains. Here I must make a conflict of interest disclaimer. In my college years and beyond, I hiked this area extensively on the Appalachian Trail along Skyline Drive to the north and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the south. I hiked it, photographed it and camped it in all seasons and all weathers, with friends and solo.

So unless Ann had written an illustrated travel guide, there’s likely no way she could have rendered this setting close enough to my own perspective to make me shut up about it.

That said, Ann does a decent job rendering individual settings, like here, when Jesse visits policeman Cole’s home for a first date.

Cole’s house was a two-story, A-frame. It had a porch that appeared to go all the way around the house, and come out in the front, with a wide set of steps down the middle. To the right and left of the house were clusters of trees that blended in with the rest of the woods behind it. Mountain peaks lined the horizon. His small parking area in the front was graveled, and the only automobile parked there was his Jeep.

So what did Gar want in terms of description? How about “the great green ranges stretched to the horizon, holding close their mysterious treasures of trail and peak and brook and beast…”

Of course, then it’s a different book, so I’ll get back to the fine book Ann did write. To her credit, she put in some good close-up and personal description of these woods.

It was an arduous journey creeping through the tangled mass of vines, trees, and rocks that seemed to be everywhere I walked. One of the things I’ve learned about the mountains is you never have a shortage of rocks. They were everywhere you looked.

Yup, that’s my Blue Ridge. Though Ann didn’t spend three-quarters of the book endlessly describing the mountains as I would’ve liked, she does render setting more than well enough to put readers in the scenes, with the expertise of someone who knows and loves these mountains.

What I thought could’ve been done better: Just two things, both minor. I’ll start with the minor-est.

Athena the German Shepherd could’ve been physically described a little better. In fact, from the rendering of her personality, which is excellent, I thought she was a collie-mix.

Yes, I’m a dog nut. As you can see, this book pressed a couple of my buttons.

My other observation has to do with attributives — the “she said,” “he retorted” lines that tell a little about how the dialogue was spoken. “Tell” is the operative word here, as in “show don’t tell.”

Good dialogue, and that’s the only kind in this book, rarely needs attributives other than “said.” The statement itself should give the reader an inkling of how it’s said, without the writer having to slow things down by telling you.

And if the reader thinks that the attributive doesn’t necessarily match up with the statement, then a false note is sounded for that particular reader. Better — and old school — is just to use an occasional said and let what the character says speak for itself.

Here’s an attributive-heavy passage.

“I heard that!” I hissed. “If you were talking about me, you can forget it. I can’t even cook.”

“You two stop it!” Mom fussed, standing at the counter behind us frying up chicken in one of those big, electric deep fryers. “Just boil the eggs for the potato salad, and try to behave yourselves, or get out of my kitchen!”

“See,” Billy leaned over and whispered. “You’ve gone and ruffled her feathers.”

“Just be quiet and help me,” I groaned. “How do you fix boiled eggs? I know you have to do it just right, or they turn out gross.”

He reached down into the cabinet by my legs and pulled out a pot, filled it with water from the sink faucet in front of us, then sat it on the stove.

“Just turn on the gas,” he instructed. “You do know how to do that, don’t you?”

Here it is without the attributives:

“I heard that! If you were talking about me, you can forget it. I can’t even cook.”

“You two stop it!” Mom said, standing at the counter behind us frying up chicken in one of those big, electric deep fryers. “Just boil the eggs for the potato salad, and try to behave yourselves, or get out of my kitchen!”

“See,” Billy leaned over and whispered. “You’ve gone and ruffled her feathers.”

“Just be quiet and help me. How do you fix boiled eggs? I know you have to do it just right, or they turn out gross.”

He reached down into the cabinet by my legs and pulled out a pot, filled it with water from the sink faucet in front of us, then sat it on the stove.

“Just turn on the gas,” he said. “You do know how to do that, don’t you?”

It’s just a minor point, and only one person’s opinion, in a book with a whole lot to like, which brings me to the next section.

What I thought was good: I felt as though Ann really did her homework. She includes the interesting details of the legal issues — hurdles, really — that P.I.s encounter in their investigations. Those details give the book a solid grounding that make the narrative just that much more believable and compelling.

Some might call it cliche, but I liked how Ann respected the P.I. novel tradition of the cops telling the P.I. to “keep your big nose out of police business.”

The difference is that the cop telling Jesse this is also her love-interest. He has to choose between his affection for Jesse and his responsibility as a policeman. Jesse has to choose between her affection for Cole and her loyalty to Billy.

I also liked how Ann keeps the occasional danger and violence real.

Billy was the first to react. “Son, you don’t want to do this. You need to step back, put the gun down, and let’s talk about the situation.”

“You’re trespassing on private property,” he raved. “I could shoot you right now and nobody would say a word about it.” He raised the gun.

In two quick steps, Billy lurched forward and grabbed the shotgun, but not before Jay had a chance to get off a shot. I heard a blast and then fell to the ground. I felt a burning sensation in my shoulder and realized I had been shot. The pain was ungodly.

“You’re a maniac! You shot me!” I screamed. “Billy! Help me!” Blood was running down my arm. I grabbed my shoulder and looked up at the two of them. I don’t know which one was more frightened— Billy, or the kid who had shot me. I was terrified.

It’s not super-heroic. It’s just messy, painful, scarey and all the more real for that.

I’ve already mentioned how much I like the characters. I’ll just add to that by saying I thought Jesse was a true gem — vulnerable, conflicted, insecure, complaining; yet tenacious, resourceful and brave — in short, like many women I know.

I particularly liked the way Ann shows how working to unravel the mystery of a girl’s disappearance helps Jesse solve her personal mystery of just who she is.

Since this is an indie book, I think it’s also worth noting that it appears professionally edited and proofed.

Overall: What You See is a well-crafted and well-rounded mystery-romance with compelling characters, each with their own set of problems, and their own agendas. Ann’s characters cover the spectrum from loving parents to demented villains.

As Jesse narrates her tale of how she and Billy work to discover the fate of the missing girl, she also shows life, death and love, with all their squalor and glory, pain, triumph, mistakes, hopes and fears.

Good job Ann!

Coming up

Convergent Space by John-Paul Cleary
The Highlander by Zoey Saadia
Super Born: The Seduction of Being by Keith Kornell
Brett Gets Hammered by David D’Aguanno

And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses on Amazon or Smashwords ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!

AG

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