Monthly Archives: April 2013

In the Shadow of Elvis – Perils of a Ghost Writer by Rico Austin


shadow of elvisRico Austin has done it again, serving up a double shot of reality. His new book, In the Shadow of Elvis, Perils of a Ghostwriter, chronicles his adventure ghostwriting for John Dennis Smith (aka Johnny Starr) the legitimate – illegitimate son of the late great Elvis Presley.
Like My Bad Tequila, Rico’s award winning novel of his early life, In the Shadow of Elvis, Perils of a Ghostwriter is more than just a story about writing a book. It’s a story of love, fear, friendship and understanding. It makes the reader laugh loudly, giggle or shed a silent tear.
Rico Austin’s laid back style makes reading his book easy – but the emotions and situations he explores are anything but simplistic. A chance encounter with someone in San Francisco may have changed his life forever. But even that black cloud doesn’t get him down. He soldiers on with an indomitable spirit and unwavering faith that few people have.
In the Shadow of Elvis, Perils of a Ghostwriter, is a journey through Rico’s life and an in depth study of his emotions and thoughts. It is a book I will long love and you will too.
Incredible. Marvelous. Rico.rico austin
5 Golden Acorns (and 5 Shots of Tequila!)
© Dellani Oakes

Escape Velocity – The Anthology Edited by Geoff Nelder and Robert Blevins


escape velocity anthology cover“Escape Velocity” is a diverse selection of modern science fiction stories. The stories are as unique and varied as the authors, each reflecting a different aspect of society.

As it is an anthology, it’s very difficult to give an in depth review of characterization and style as I usually do. Instead, I’ll discuss several stories I felt were most outstanding. This is in no way a reflection on the others. All are well written with interesting premises that warrant exploration. I have been an avid sci-fi reader since I was a child. Therefore, the stories I’ve chosen reflect my personal tastes.

“Birthright” by Ian Smith is the first that really caught my eye. It’s about a teenage girl cast in a difficult role as a protector. She does her duty and moves on to her next assignment. I was impressed with the story’s unique perspective and straightforward readability.

“Auditory Crescendo” by Geoff Nelder explores the use (or abuse) of a young man injured in an explosion. Experimental surgery leaves him with the ability to hear from a great distance. How like the government to exploit that. The story leaves the reader wondering just what he will do with his ability. Will he use it for good or ill?

“Caveat Emptor!” (Buyer Beware) by Bec Zugor presents a compelling ethical and moral issue. In this world, talent transplants are made by taking cells from a highly talented artist or musician, a patch is cloned and put into the subject. What the company doesn’t say is that certain personality aberrations can also be transplanted—with disturbing results. The climax adds new dimensions to the words, “Buyer Beware”.

“First Class” by Barbara Krasnoff is a lighthearted story of a young woman stranded on an alien world when the star cruiser she’s on meets with an accident. At first terrified by her surroundings, she learns to cope and even makes friends with the natives. It’s a charming story about finding ways to get along.

“Heaven as Iron, Earth as Brass” by Richard J. Goldstein is an amazingly powerful tale. It shows the reader that some people would rather die for their hate than learn to live without it. This story is a deeply moving social commentary.

“Galactic Collision” by Magdalena Bell is a wonderfully expressive poem about outer space. I enjoyed the images she created with her words. It is the only poem in the anthology and well worth being included.

“Scream Quietly” by Sheila Crosby was one of my favorite stories. Told by way of letters from the perspective of a young woman in 1849 England. This story depicts the intricacies of alien contact and space/ time travel. It’s a wonderfully heartwarming tale with a great twist at the end.

“Hole Card” by Robert Blevins is a somewhat disturbing look at how a witness from the Roswell crash is treated and interrogated. It puts in clear focus attitudes toward aliens, as something to be dissected and experimented upon.

“Chester” by Karl Bunker is a lovely story of a man and his pet alien, Chester. Despite popular opinion to the contrary, Hexapod owners know that their alien companions are loving, faithful and kind. The gift they give their owners on dying could very well save humanity. This is a beautiful depiction not only of trust, but of redemption.

“Borrowed Time” by Gustavo Bondoni leaves the reader wondering if all that transpired was as a result of some sick, ethereal joke. Has Hawthorne undermined humanity because of purposely bad advice? The reader is left to determine this for himself.

“Escape Velocity” is an excellent anthology of sci-fi stories for any science fiction lover. Its amazing variety has something to please every reader. I highly recommend “Escape Velocity”.

5 Golden Acorns

© Dellani Oakes


Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Save the Lemmings is N.I.C.E.


save the lemmings coverSave the Lemmings by Kai Strand is a wonderful young readers book about a teenage inventor, Natalie. She’s not exactly a social misfit, but Natalie lives in her own well pressed, pastel and pleated world. She’s very bright and loves to tinker around and invent things. She’s been working on a special item, the Texty-Talky. The device is an overnight sensation.

Suddenly, Natalie finds her life spinning out of control. Everyone wants interviews, commercials and a piece of the multi-million pie. All Natalie wants is to get on with her life and spend time with her friends.

Unfortunately, a nasty practical joke turns Natalie into a media sensation. The press have a heyday, and everyone shuns her. It’s at that time that Natalie decides to take control of her life once more and faces adversity head on.

Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards (N.I.C.E.) is a sweet, caring person. She’s also naïve and doesn’t see the bad things in someone’s character. That gets her into trouble when she trusts the wrong person. We’ve all known someone like Natalie, generous, friendly, flighty and trusting. She’s so perfect, it’s a little disgusting, and she has no idea that she’s completely clueless.

However, there is a strength in Natalie that no one realized was there, including Natalie herself. She faces the problems that invade her life and confronts them with great ingenuity. She perseveres and takes her life back.

I loved this book. It is more than a story about one girl’s success and adversity. It is a true social commentary without being a social commentary. Everything that Natalie goes through is completely believable. Similar things happen all the time. A person makes one judgement error and instead of being America’s Darling, she becomes a social pariah. Even the people she most loves and trusts lose faith in her, but she gets it back.

This is a great book for young teens through adults. Natalie’s struggles can give someone hope and courage that they can overcome their weaknesses with a little faith and quick thinking.kai strand

5 Golden Acorns!

© 2013 Dellani Oakes


Eldohr Adventures – Search for the Lost Kingdom by T.L. Wood


eldohr adventures by tl woodEldohr Adventures – Search for the Lost Kingdom by T.L. Wood is a wonderfully crafted, stirring adventure for young readers.

Eldohr is a land of myth and magic where kings and queens reign and dragons soar, terrorizing the countryside. Because of these dragons, Princess Zara of Castlegrove and Prince Elrick of Greengate, lose their parents.

Price Elrick and Princes Zara lose their parents on the same day. After the death of his parents, Prince Elrick is raised to be bitter, selfish and greedy. Zara who is a loving and caring person, has a secret, one which makes her invaluable to the dragon. Because of this secret, Alibastizor kidnaps Zara and keeps her locked up so that she may add to his treasure.

The magic of the dreaded dragon, Alibastizor, is formidable. He captures Princess Zara and it is up to the selfish Prince Elrick to save her. With the help of magical creatures, and his own sharp wits, Prince Elrick must find Princess Zara and save her from Alibastazor’s clutches.

Originating as a bedtime story she told to her children, the Eldohr Adventures have become a series of wonderfully crafted tales that parents and grandparents can share with children. Independent readers will enjoy reading the beautifully illustrated book on their own.

Search for the Lost Kingdom is a thrilling read for children and adults. The pictures Wood paints with her words are vibrant and colorful. The story brings the reader into the world of Eldohr where anything is possible.

I greatly enjoyed Eldohr Adventures – Search for the Lost Kingdom and look forward to the next book in the series, Quest for Windsoar.

Five Golden Acorns
© Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Draçian Dance – Nicole Izmaylov


dracian dance coverSarah Lynn Loque is the daughter of an explorer. Unfortunately, her father, James, disappeared on an expedition. In his absence, her mother has died. Left only in the care of her fussy uncle, Richard, she’s traveled to the New World from their home in United Kingdoms of the West.

Excited to be on her first expedition, she gets angry with Uncle Richard for keeping her grounded in camp. She sneaks away one night with only her friend Daniel for company.

The New World is nothing like her home. A jungle world, it’s full of strange plants and dangerous animals. As she and Daniel make their way through the undergrowth, they come across one of these creatures. In the ensuing confrontation, they are separated and Sarah Lynn is taken by—dragons!

The Draçar, as they call themselves, are a fascinating species. Fully sentient, they communicate by telepathy. Although they haven’t the weapons and tools that humans have, they are still quite advanced. Sarah Lynn is stunned by their culture. Çele, the leader of the Tribe of the Winding Rose, assigns her care to a young male Draçar, Tag’ren. They become fast friends and have many adventures together.

Sarah Lynn is an exceptional girl. She’s bright, well educated and curious. She is, in effect, a born explorer. She embraces the new culture, learning everything she can about it. She also learns to view her own people in a very different light.

Tag’ren is also an exceptional person. The young Draçar is kind and gentle, though he has the skills and instincts of a fierce warrior. In many ways, he and Sarah Lynn are exactly alike. In others, completely different. Their friendship develops throughout the book, making them close friends.
“The Draçian Dance” is a sweeping fantasy as amazing as the Draçar themselves. Nicole Izmaylov has sprinkled just enough real history into her novel to make it believable, but at the same time takes the New World and makes it her own.

“The Draçian Dance” is perfect for middle grades on up, making it also a great read for adults. The characters of Sarah Lynn and Tag’ren are wonderfully well rounded and believable. Their actions speak loudly about overcoming differences and finding friendship.
I highly recommend “The Draçian Dance” for any lover of fantasy.

Five Golden Acorns
© Dellani Oakes
Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Donations to Clarity – Noah Baird


donations to clarity coverTed Carp is a mental patient in an asylum. His therapist, Domino Chipolte, says he’s paranoid, schizophrenic and delusional. Maybe he is. Or maybe he really does smoke cigarettes with Bigfoot.

“Donation to Clarity” is delightfully humorous book that never intentionally takes itself seriously. Noah Baird’s style puts me in mind of great satirists like Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and Douglas Adams. His sarcastic approach is entertaining and refreshing.

The characters in “Donations to Clarity” are amazingly creative. There actions drive the story forward as they bumble through their lives. Most of what they accomplish seems to be more than half accident, the rest—a complete accident.

Sheriff Flan Paan is an Indian (Not Native American) Elvis impersonator who claims to be The King reincarnated.

Deputy Winston O’Boogie is a Julian Lennon impersonator and the two have a friendly rivalry during karaoke nights.

Patch, Earl and Harry run Southern Tier Bigfoot Tours. They dress up in a Chewbacca costume and con tourists little knowing that Bigfoot lurks in the woods.

Roy & Jeff belong to SRO – Sasquatch Research Organization.

Ted Carp and his lunatic buddies – Lyle, Montgomery & Don lend an unexpected hand.

Echo Clyne is a reporter who’s trying to be a serious journalist.

And finally, The Men In Black. Surely they need no explanation or introduction?

Thrown into circumstances which are puzzling at best, these characters suddenly cross paths with one another—with often disastrous, though humorous, results.

I highly recommend “Donations to Clarity” for any reader who needs a good laugh.

Five Golden Acorns
© Dellani Oakes
Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

The Displaced Detective – At Speed by Stephanie Osborn


displaced detective at speedSherlock Holmes like you’ve never seen him before – in modern America. Through an accident with Dr. Skye Chadwick’s Tesseract machine (told in The Displaced Detective – The Arrival) Holmes ends up in our reality. A fictional character in our time stream, in his, he is very real.

Asked to assist in an investigation, Holmes puts his cognitive abilities into high gear to find the master mind behind the sabotage of the Tesseract device. At the end of The Arrival, they have found several of the conspirators, but their leader and a few members remain at large. It’s up to Skye and Holmes to find them.


Stephanie Osborn has truly captured the essence of Sherlock Holmes and lovingly depicts him as a man with strong passions. He adapts well to the present, but much of the Victorian Gentleman remains. With the love and support of Skye Chadwick, he manages to find his way in a sometimes puzzling world.

Skye Chadwick is as fascinating a character as Holmes. She’s complex, brilliant and confuses the hell out of Holmes on more than one occasion. She is the perfect counterpart to Holmes.

This fast paced novel draws the reader into a world where the improbable is possible. I greatly enjoyed The Displaced Detective – At Speed and highly recommend both books to any readers who like a great mystery and adventure. Fans of Sherlock Holmes will enjoy seeing their hero brought to life and updated.

Five Golden Acorns
© Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Diary of a Murder – Jean Henry Mead


diary of a murderDana Logan and Sarah Cafferty are two of mystery’s most unlikely investigators. Both in their middle years, they share a home and an appetite for crime detection. When they get word that Dana’s sister, Georgi, has died unexpectedly, they travel from California to Wyoming in their RV.

Immediately upon arrival, Dana is struck by inconsistencies in the story surrounding her sister’s death. The pair decide to investigate. This resolve is strengthened when Sarah falls ill at dinner, from what appears to be a near fatal allergy. Could it be something more?
Spurred by this incident, Dana contacts the state authorities when she discovers that the county sheriff is her late sister’s brother-in-law.

While going through Georgi’s things, Dana discovers her sister’s diary. This proves to be an invaluable tool, leading them to other clues.

Diary of a Murder is a well crafted, fast paced novel. Jean Henry Mead beautifully captures the wily intuitiveness of her two senior sleuths. I highly recommend this book for any lover of mystery. Five gold acorns!

Five Golden Acorns
© Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival – Stephanie Osborn


displaced detective arrivel coverDr. Skye Chadwick is brilliant, dedicated and committed to her pet project – The Tesseract. It’s purpose? To observe alternative dimensions. As such, the group adheres to a strict hands off policy.
During one such viewing, Dr. Chadwick finds herself unable to adhere to the hands off directive. Jumping into the scenario, she breaks apart two combatants. One tips out of the Tesseract ring and into the future. The other tumbles over a cliff, dying at the base of the waterfall.

Enter Sherlock Holmes. Due to Skye’s interference, Holmes is hurled into her reality, his own closed to him forever. Unable to return to his dimension, Holmes must adapt to ours.

The game’s afoot when the base security finds that a spy ring plans sabotage somewhere on the base. Wisely, the base commander asks Holmes to investigate. Skye, who is working with Holmes to acclimate him, tags along, helping with the investigation. And therein lies a tale….

Skye Chadwick is a wonderful, caring person. A scientist, she is a stickler for detail. Like Watson in her skills with weapons, she is also like Holmes in her deductive reasoning and observational skills. She is the perfect counterpart to the ‘modern’ Holmes.

Stephanie Osborn artfully brings the character of Holmes into the 21st Century. Her depiction of his Victorian mores in modern times adds great depth to his personality. She lovingly brings Sherlock Holmes alive.

I highly recommend The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival to anyone who loves a good sci-fi/ mystery. I look forward to reading the second book in the series The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed.

Five Golden Acorns
© Dellani Oakes
Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.