Monthly Archives: March 2014

Two Short and Interesting Tales

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 Caitlin Invisible by Ben Bamber

For some reason, the spare room, which is under construction, holds great fascination for Caitlin. She can’t keep out of it. Nothing her parents do or say makes any difference. Is it something about that room that keeps her safe when the aliens abduct her family, only to return them later?

“Caitlin Invisible” by Ben Bamber is a slightly disturbing, highly thought provoking look at alien abduction. It leaves us with the question, Why are some chosen and others remain invisible? These questions haunt Caitlin and her parents, especially her mother.

This well crafted story ends with an interesting twist leaving the reader with more questions than it answers.

 Handful of Stars – Mark Iles

Connor is a problem child. Constantly running away and getting in trouble, he’s become difficult for Miranda to cope with. Called yet again to the facility where he lives, she finally has a frank talk with him. What she finds out surprises her.

Miranda discovers that Connor isn’t like most children. He’s not from around here. She doesn’t immediately believe what he tells her, but eventually comes to an understanding. With Miranda’s encouragement, Connor strikes out on his own once more, searching for his family in earnest.

“Handful of Stars” is a tenderly depicted story of loss, fear and acceptance. It is the very definition of a leap of faith.

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Kizuna – Fiction for Japan

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Kizuna is an amazingly diverse collection of short stories and poems from around the world. They range from traditional Japanese folklore to out of this world sci-fi and horror.

The selections are quite short, making this an easy book to pick up and read in snatches. Each story leaves the reader thinking about it, even as they wonder what the next holds in store.

One thing which makes Kizuna highly unique is that the authors contributed their work free of charge and are donating proceeds from sales to quake relief in Japan.

I urge everyone to pick up a copy to support this effort. You won’t be disappointed. With over 70 short stories and poems, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Five Golden Acorns

© Dellani Oakes

Outpassage Will Knock Your Socks Off!

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outpassageOutpassage – Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Dennis (Det) Cox is a soldier. He believes in his own abilities. To say that he believes in truth, justice and the American way might be pushing it a little. But he’s a man of honor and fights with all he has to protect his own.

Paige Barnett is a corporate of the highest order. Her boss, Raymond Godfrey (God), is the head of IST, the most powerful corporation on Earth & beyond. Paige knows how to play the system, but finds herself in hot water when she raises too many questions about incidents on a distant planet, known only as X-31A.

Paige’s life changes dramatically when she meets Det Cox on a blind date arranged by a dating service. Both are drugged and shanghaied, transported to another distant, mysterious planet, X-66B. There, Paige meets Freedom Ayoub and a wide variety of other people who preach about redemption, resurrection and the holy way. Things go from bad to worse when Det’s soldiers are told to put down a revolution on X-66B, using any means possible.

Outpassage, a new offering by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, takes the reader back to the roots of off-world sci-fi adventure. It’s full of intrigue, action, political power plays, as well as redemption, resurrection and the holy way. A thrill ride from start to finish, this book moves forward with the force of a freight train, leaving the reader begging for more. I hope that the Janet & Chris plan more books, making this into a series. They have laid the groundwork for more amazing books with Det and Paige at the helm.

The dialogue in Outpassage is snappy and keeps the story moving. It is also used as a very effective characterization tool. Each character has his or her own voice. Det Cox is hard bitten, all business and slightly paranoid. His words are peppered with sarcasm and cynicism. He’s a soldier, pure and simple. He takes nothing at face value and believes only what he can definitively prove.

Paige Barnett is a cultured, well educated, rich woman. Her pampered existence comes to an end, but she doesn’t falter or give up in the face of adversity. If anything, it makes her more determined to find her way home and bring justice to the deserving. She can be diplomatic, but she knows when not to be. She might freak out a little when the bullets fly, but she doesn’t let it get her down for long. She always bounces back, more determined than before.

Freedom Ayoub is an enigma. He takes Paige under his wing, helping, guiding and protecting. His gentle determination encompasses the other three main characters. His is a fascinating character study and I hope that he will be explored more in other books.

Allie Frickey, Det Cox’s Corporal, is pure soldier. She’s as good at what she does as Cox is. She does her best to protect him and their charges, Paige & Freedom. She is bold and tenacious, much as Paige is.

I greatly enjoyed Outpassage and highly recommend it to those who like a great sci-fi tale that doesn’t include Vulcans or androids or phasers – oh my!

Five Golden Acorns © Dellani Oakes 2014

To Buy

Outpassage Trailer featuring music by Chris Morris

House Guest by John Paul Allen

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“House Guest” is great story! It’s creepy, thought provoking, disturbing. It will make you shiver, pull the covers over your head and search your closets — WELL!

John Paul Allen captures the secret fear we all harbor, someone uninvited in our home. Skillfully told, the narrator is clearly delineated. The characterization is strong, the story well paced.

This is an excellent Pre-Halloween read! I highly recommend it for anyone who likes to be just a little bit scared.

Five Golden Acorns

© Dellani Oakes

About My Reviews

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Dellani Oakes with glassesI’m rather disgusted with some of the book selling sites. Without any warning, they remove my reviews. I have resposted them, but they take them down again. For some reason, they think I am a professional reviewer who is paid for her reviews.

Not true! I don’t charge anything for my reviews. Authors send me copies of their books asking for reviews or I buy a book, pick it up in the library or find it for free on-line. I read and review it. I love to read and, as an author, I know how important reviews are.

Paid reviews aren’t reliable. You might get a great review from it, or you might get a rehash of your back blurb. Most of the authors that I know can’t afford to pay for reviews. I have never charged, nor will I ever charge.

I do give my honest opinion. I will never trash a book. I will say what I don’t like and give a lower rating, but I will never pull a book apart or trash the author’s confidence. There’s no need for that. Hurting someone’s feelings, over a piece of art that they have struggled over, is the worst kind of harassment. Besides, I may hate it and think it’s the worst thing I ever read, another person may think it’s great.

What you see on this page are my opinions, or those of the other reviewers I have allowed to post on my site. None of us are “professional reviewers” as defined by book selling sites. We aren’t paid. We do this for free, from the goodness of our hearts, because we love to read and like to help other authors.

All that being said, I want to assure readers that you will get honest, open reviews about the books we read. Authors will get the same. We strive to post honest opinions, without crushing an ego.

Fran Lewis is a reviewer who posts on my site.

Fran Lewis is a reviewer who posts on my site.

karen vaughan

Karen Vaughan is a reviewer who posts on my site

Full Bloom: My thoughts

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Full Bloom: Mark T Greene

 

 

Take the simple bud of a flower like a rose and watch it as the pedals begin to flourish. Watch how it appears so fresh, beautiful and fills the air with its magnificent scent. Some people bloom or flourish at work. Some flourish or bloom as parents but what happens when something takes over your mind, body and soul and causes you to flourish or bloom in a different way? The petals on this rose would begin to wilt. The life that was once alive and filled with hopes and dreams has now fallen prey to a condition that affects how you feel or act. With a flower you might be able to replant it or water it. With a person you cannot. What happens when your mind is taken over by a mood disorder that is caused by chemical imbalances within your brain? This results in moods swings that go back and forth like a pendulum that cannot seem to find any balance or place to stop. Going from manic highs and lows this disorder has a name. As you will learn when you read this enlighten, honest and based on the author’s real life experience with Bipolar Disorder, the harsh realities of what happens when you cannot control how you act or feel and have to come face to face with yourself as you slide down a dangerous slope hoping to find your way back up. Full Bloom: Mark Greene: A must read!

 

The introduction sets the tone and explains what he experiences. Have you as the author begins his story “ felt your eyes moving around in their sockets, or your legs all tingly..?” Speaking with his primary doctor he gave him a multiple-choice test, which alerted him to the fact that he is depressed. So, he did what so many doctors do prescribed Prozac hoping that this would change his life. But, add liquor and the outcome just might be much more dramatic. Using this strong medication and whiskey as his medication of choice he soon learned this was the wrong road to success. Finding Sue Joseph a therapist who wanted to help him and Dr. Pile a psychiatrist that cared and was good just might help him go back up the slope but first you need to learn more.

 

Look in the mirror. Whose face do you see?  Look again! Do you recognize the person? Bipolar as the author states in sentence on of the first chapter “replaces you with an unrecognizable twin.” Imagine not realizing who you are or being able to discern what is real and what is not!  Like a flower that is now in full bloom and flourishing, bipolar does the same. Flowers are multiple colors but imagine seeing yellow, orange and other colors so vividly that you have to cover your eyes while driving because you cannot see the sun, separate what is real or not and your perception is off. Buying over 200 dollars worth of magazines and newspapers and finding himself driving to where he lived as a child remembering events in his life but what he describes next is a cross between what is real and what is not. Meeting a girl that he calls Shannon and telling about her life we wonder whether what happens to him because of her really did. Yet, the picture of this young girl with her icy stare and her cold eyes lets you know that what she did and what he experienced would set off a chain of events even more devastating. He found himself after leaving her alone in the street without his clothes and then taken in by a man who claimed he was supposed to be at a hotel on stage. Read the encounter and understand the final outcome as you wonder what really happened when he winds up beaten up and in need of medical help. In a hospital and handcuffed and becoming a ward of the Abbot police he found himself treated as a criminal. Placed in a hospital to help him he meets and describes some people that will allow readers to understand others with mental disorders and how Mark finally decide to take a different route. With the support of his wife he found his way to talk to his therapist but not venturing past the mailbox outside of his house. Like a jamboree or dances or a kaleidoscope of colors he could not separate or defuse his emotions, as he knew he was hurting himself, his family and even more abusing pills. In one simple moment in time something changes and he realizes that he needed to do something fast or become a permanent victim of this disorder. Take the journey up the slope and read what he does and how he gets his life back on pages 47-49 when his flower and his life are in Full Bloom. But, there is much more to his story as part one might seem positive now read what part 2 titled Fake It! Till You Make It!

 

When someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder they experience lows called depression. But, sometimes this depression becomes so unbearable and life becomes too hard that as you will read within the remaining pages of this memoir how the author explains his solution. Wanting to take his own life seemed to be the answer as he reminds readers that he worked for an insurance firm, was going to New York and left without leaving a note or any warning to his family. Wanting to learn more I researched this disorder and learned that there are ten signs that everyone should be aware of: Great Mood, inability to complete tasks, depression, irritability, rapid speech, trouble at work, as with our author abuse of drugs and alcohol, flight of ideas, erratic behavior and sleep problems. This overview as you read more about his trip to NY you will learn that he even brought a revolver and hoped to use it on himself. Confession stemmed from different directions as you read his reasons for wanting to end his life and finding his own release. “How could I get beyond having to fate it till I make it?” Did anyone even him know the real him? Told in author’s voice anyone whose family member has been diagnosed with this disorder will learn a lot from reading this book. Liquor and Vicodin do not mix. Reminding himself of his successes and failures at work dealing with insurance sales just part of the reason for his downward spiral. Relating how he was voted Rookie of the Year in 1999 at his insurance firm and being promoted to sales manager. One statement sums it up: “What a great life it is to never ever feel secure! But, a break down was in his immediate scope or future and his trip to the hospital a startling and illuminating experience. But, first let’s learn more about his thoughts as he takes his cell phone and smashes it, finds himself wanting the attention of a young girl in a bar when you read what happens and the lesson he learns on pages 62-64. Check out the photo understand. Finding himself in the Economy Lodge he takes readers along with him on his journey to finding death but instead getting admitted to a mental hospital. People were suicidal or addicted to drugs or alcohol. Everyone there had problems but what would he do to solve his? Read what he wrote as we once again learn that he was handled roughly by the police and finding himself writing about a childhood memory that will help readers understand him even better. Listen to his voice hear his words: “I’m bored, suicidal, maybe, bipolar, they say-did I mention bored?” Read about his experience and the people that were there and the turning point when his parents come to visit. Read or just a vision as he describes a young girl sitting on a wooden chair by a window telling him about herself you wonder if meeting her will make it worse. Seems dangerous, unstable and playing a game that he could not quite grasp her meaning of. Would this be his last stay in the hospital? Will he finally realize that the world needs to know him as well as him himself? He concludes with a very important poem: Damsel in Distress: After reading the final pages of story two you decide who he is writing about and why! “ Who was this damsel in distress?” A story of fear, hope, love and the desire to decide between life and death. Bipolar disorder does have to rule your life you can get control. Find out what happens to Mark by reading this five star book. This is a valuable resource for anyone diagnosed with this disorder to understand why they need to get help and seek the out the right treatments. Like a flower that you hope will never wilt stay in Full Bloom so do we hope that the life of this amazing and talented writer and author will always blossom.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Retribution: my review

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Retribution: Anderson Harp

 

 

 

One man’s family is obliterated on a flight that would take more than just their lives. Terrorists often feel that they win when they blow up a plane. All too often the other side looks to retaliate and the war is waged and the final body count rises. A lone pilot flying over the Atlantic loses control of the plane and dies for her cause. A huge white ship came out of nowhere. The “rust of the ship and its dark ore cargo had been camouflaged by snow and ice, making the vessel nearly invisible.” The lone pilot prayed to Allah but in the end her words be heard.

 

United States Embassy, Doha, Qatar, where Maggie O’Donald has just received an email from Riyadh. Tired and weary she and her partner Pat Stuart would face something they never expected. Information in e-mails coming through that were being sent she thought to present her with information for some reason but what? Something odd struck her and then her whole world would change as she removed her Glock from her draw and along with Pat remained at the window where she saw a lone figure and then everything turned black.

 

 

 

Colonel William Parker is a dangerous man. His family killed in Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland. A bomb tore through it and everyone was killed. William Parker would seek justice for his parents but someone else would change the tide first. A simple phone call would bring him out of retirement and back into the fold of the CIA as Agent James Ford Scott enlists his help. Parker’s team, the ANGLICO team had been awarded two bronze stars and a purples heart for service in Iraq. This next mission would change not only his perspective but the end result could bring death and devastation.

 

 

 

One bomb that would change it all the composition is Semtex according to Scott. As the victims are counted one in particular is of interest because somewhere in the recesses of Maggie’s mind is the name of a person who was her contact and whom she cannot remember. Questioned and asked many times Maggie’s mind is devoid of her recent memories and the Brain Traumatic Injury just might be permanent.

 

 

 

A successful mission in Korea and millions of dollars paid to Parker, Scott was going to enlist his aid and the budget and resources were unlimited. Wanting to know why the target was, who was involved and why would they want a retired operative to come out of retirement were the questions of the day. Except: the important one is WHY! Maggie O’Donald is more than just a friend and the link to an operation called Intekam was the clincher. One Saudi named Yousef al-Qadi was his target. His purpose a Jihad that would take millions of lives if not stopped.

 

 

 

What is planned will make you shudder and the end result could not only kill those involved in the mission along with the target but if not handled the right way many innocent victims too. As the plot unfolds and we learn more about the mission Scott reveals information about a reporter named Sadik Zabara. A powerful journalist who was offered a position with Al-Quds who now has a meeting with Yousef. As the plan unfolds we learn more about each player and Parker begins to formulate his plan and his team. Take a black cargo hole of Pakistani airline freighter and place something within a weaving machine. But, there is something else within this object that if not controlled will take out an American city and much more. Learning more about the Muslim’s we find out that Yousef’s niece was killed in a retaliation bombing sending him on his path of revenge. What could the Center for Disease Control do in order to stop this man? What was Parker’s plan?  Retribution: punishment that is considered to be morally right and fully deserved. But, just how far will Parker and the CIA go to get this? Intekam: “Farsi for an equal and just revenge.” Iran Air Flight 655 went down killing 290 innocent victims one of whom was Yousef-al-Qadi’s niece.

 

 

 

There is much more as the author relates information of previous mission referred to as Lockerbie and names those involved and where the Semtex came from and who the person’s relation to Yousef. Hear his voice and know that he will stop at nothing to create this jihad, killing Americans and sacrificing his own.

 

 

 

When this reporter was taken and placed in a safe place, his wife and young infant niece stowed away with Parker the dye is set and Parker is going to become Zabara and the rest remains to be unfolded as we learn his plan. Wanting the best infectious disease doctor was the start as the author takes readers inside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and we learn about a deadly virus and its implications called: Neisseria Meningitidis. The research into this disease was extensive and the deadly virus would infect victims causing either brain damage that was permanent or those that were lucky not to succumb to this might lose limbs. Some, if lucky might become deaf but most would need treatment that would be so aggressive from powerful drugs that would have to be on hand and readily available. To learn more about this virus, what it does and how it is spread you need to read Chapter 12 to understand the seriousness of what Parker has planned if this virus is unleashed.

 

 

 

The author reminds us now of Maggie O’Donald as we enter her hospital room, hear the many questions she is asked and learn more about the injuries to her mind. Yousef-al-Qadi was responsible for the death of Parker’s parents and would kill many more if Parker does not stop him first. His cover in place, the phones needed and two articles planted as if written by Zabara, Parker is about to go into deep cover with no backup, endless resources and hopefully a team that would come through.

 

 

 

But, the reader begins to wonder who can be trusted even within his own organization as we learn more about James Ford Scott a CIA agent who has enlisted Parker’s talents to foil the operation that Yousef has already set into motion. Contacting Clark Ashby a court reporter and someone close to Parker was his lead to getting his attention and the message he sent even more. But, just what are his real motives and will he really protect him? Questions asked and some answers not given as Parker hesitates before agreeing. A jihad that would make all others look like a sunny day in May and an end result that would kill millions. We continue as we learn more about Sadik Zabara as Parker assumed his identity, is writing for the Al-Quds newpaper and hopefully will get that face to face with Yousef.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet his team: Kevin Moncrief, Enrico Hernandez and Army Captain Mark Furlong as they discuss the mission. But, no one realizes that their movements are being tracked and someone is following them. A terrorist who has stolen an Islamabad nuclear weapon but Parker has to come up with a way to stop him and using a highly dangerous and contagious strain of a communicable disease is his method of choice. Ripped right out the headlines you might say when we had that Anthrax scare, Retribution is a sober reminder that we need to stay alert and even more vigilant.

 

 

 

Within the novel there is much violence and other forms of retribution as our main antagonist takes readers to the House of Saud and has the Prince kidnapped, tortured and buried alive to prove to his father what happens when he is crossed. CIA Deputy Director Robert Tranthan wants answers from Maggie and although warned not to push her too far he disregards the nurses orders and proceeds. Information lodged within the deep recesses of her brain would help them when dealing with the House of Saud and the upcoming elections. But, the Secretary, as he is referred to is smart, has his own network called the Black Swans as the author reminds us of the lone pilot at the start of the novel and her fate is about to be sealed.

 

 

 

One Chechen named Umarov, Yousef and the secretary, so powerful and so diabolical their actions will make you cringe. But, all the questioning in the world by Tranthan cannot restore her memory as yet and the information she had imparted to a nurse when she was lucid was passed off as ramblings.

 

 

 

The plan is carefully outlined by the author as we learn just what Yousef has planned in order to create what he envisions is as new Muslim state. Entering the hospital room of the King of the House of Saudi, we hear the voice of the secretary. One side he shows allegiance to the King and on the other to Yousef. Torn between both which way will he go as readers learn that someone hiding in plain sight is more than just a traitor and lives that are supposed to prevent what this man has planned are in danger by someone they are supposed to trust. A death within the hospital is about to be hidden and the safety of many in more than just danger as Yousef plans to take down the communication system and computers in the US and Canada hoping that no one will notice where the real bomb is going to explode and what now that he stole the two nuclear cores will be in it as one young girl with a limb comes flies her last flight.

 

 

 

Parker’s life is in danger if his team fails. The team’s rules apply, Parker’s friend Gunny on board, no special treatment given just what the end result will be remains to be seen as the author although shares what happens to Zabara’s family, the bomb that took out so many and those behind it.

 

Terrorist attacks are the norm not the unusual and the intricate planning and the nature of how these terrorists are able to inflict the devastation on so many innocent people is blood curdling to say the least. Two nuclear cores that if released would wipe out Chicago in a heartbeat. A plan so diabolical and one man who would risk it all to save so many. With the plan in place and meeting with Yousef what Parker does will stupefy readers as he takes on piece of gum, chews it and infects himself with a deadly virus that takes immediate hold of him. But, just what he does to Yousef and those with him will allow readers to know to what lengths he would go to in order to save lives. With his team in place, the virus overtaking him and his life in danger will he manage to escape? An ending so riveting and a story so terrifying you won’t be able to put it down until you learn the final fate of each member of the team and whether what Yousef has planned is stopped. Anderson Harp gives new meaning to the word: Retribution: Which side gets theirs? Read it to find out!