[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Runs Good — No Reverse’ by Mike Hershman

‘Runs Good – No Reverse’ by Mike Hershman
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5
Finished on August 20, 2017
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $.99 on Kindle

Pressured by his girlfriend into buying his first car, sixteen-year-old Mike Sills purchases a beat-up Nissan that has no reverse. Together with his two friends, Fred and Karen, Mike is determined to replace the transmission and get his car in tip-top shape. The title describes the car, and also the boys –and a girl named Karen.

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

When I was first asked to review this, I thought it might not be up my alley because it was about cars, and I am not a car person (I am 32 years old and have never had a driver’s license), but it is so much more than a book about cars. This is a sweet, simple, story about life, and those are often my most favorite kinds of stories. 

As Mark works on his Nissan, we watch him grow. We see his friendships evolve. We see him mature in his relationships with girls. We see the sort of man he’s going to become. The Nissan is only a backdrop for those things – a catalyst sometimes, but mostly it’s a backdrop.

Hershman writes about being a teenager well. Even Stacy, the not-so-nice girlfriend, whom he could have written in a much snottier light, he handles in a true to life way but with tenderness and truth. Being a teen is bewildering and difficult, but somehow most of us get through it okay. 

This is charming, easy to read story. Pick it up and give it a read, even if you don’t drive! 

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Horror: 10 Short Tales’ by Christian Jensen

‘Horror: 10 Short Tales’ by Christian Jensen
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5
Finished on August 20, 2017

There are things in the shadows, things with sharp teeth and jagged claws, things that want to tear you into bite sized pieces and swallow the tasty parts whole. They are the stuff of nightmares, legends, and obscene promises.

I have assembled ten tales of demons, monsters, and ghosts here, read them at your own risk. In my world no one lives happily ever after.

My best friend bought me this book at a horror convention several months ago, perhaps even a year ago, and I have only just now gotten around to reading it. I apologize for not having a cover image for it. I could not find it anywhere online. In fact, there is pretty much no trace of this book anywhere online. I had to create a Goodreads listing for it so I could log it in my catalog.

This is a collection of ten gruesome horror stories. They are graphic, sexual, and violent. They aren’t for the faint of heart, for sure. They border on erotica in some cases, which I guess isn’t surprising once I started googling this author and discovered his body of work is primarily horror erotica.

The collection includes the stories:
– Finding America
– Bring Me The Children
– High School
– Momma Needs To Eat
– Peeping Tom
– Perfidia
– Timing
– Masterpiece
– Ren
– Mary Beth

There are several typographical errors in the manuscript. So many that I began to grow distracted when I can typically overlook such things. Perhaps this is why the book is nowhere to be found online? I don’t know.

I did not purchase this book, but I would have bought it for the story “Peeping Tom” alone. It is a great story. The others I could give or take (“Masterpiece” is pretty good, too, though), but “Peeping Tom” is an excellent story. I actually exclaimed, “Dang. That’s a story,” aloud when I finished it. 

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Mooreeffoc’ & ‘One Pulse: Cradle 2 Grave’ by Tetiana Aleksina & Tony Single

‘Mooreeffoc’ by Tetiana Aleksina & Tony Single
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/3
Finished on August 19, 2017
$.99 on Kindle

Mooreeffoc. The act of seeing the ordinary in a new and unexpected light. 

Imagine, if you will, two ordinary mortals meeting in an ordinary café late one ordinary evening. What isn’t ordinary is that two gods are pulling their strings behind the scenes. Only those gods know why. 

But who governs the gods? Who dares make puppets of the puppet masters? The truth may surprise you. 

This contemporary fantasy tale is the first collaboration of Ukraine’s Tetiana Aleksina and Australia’s Tony Single. They are the minds behind the popular prose and poetry blog Unbolt.

N.B. This book contains obscene language, so it isn’t recommended that you read it to your children at bedtime!

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a uniquely written short story. It’s told from three different points of view and uses language and style not many readers may be familiar with. I found myself having to slow down a few times to make sure I was fully absorbing it. It also did not help much that the ebook edition I was provided was weirdly formatted (I don’t hold that against the authors, however). 

It reads like a written modern art piece. One that won’t be appreciated by many, even most, and I’m not sure I’m one of them. The guts of the story I get, and I like, but the style just wasn’t my cup of tea. I respect Aleksina and Single for breaking the mold and creating something of their own.

‘One Pulse: Cradle 2 Grave’ by Tetiana Aleksina & Tony Single
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/3
Finished on August 19, 2017
$1.99 in Kindle | $4.50 in Paperback

Once upon a time, two self-proclaimed writers decided to have a poetry battle. What do you think remained when the smoke cleared? No, not innocent victims but a strange boy and girl, the Grim Reaper, a handful of poems with survivor’s guilt, and a book called One Pulse: Cradle 2 Grave, a bizarre rumination on life, love, and death. With pictures! It’s brought to you by Tetiana Aleksina and Tony Single, the same perverted minds behind the popular poetry/prose site Unbolt Me. (Are you sure you still want to buy this?)

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

This is an illustrated collection of poetry written in an alternating format by Aleksina and Single. 

I definitely do not consider myself qualified to judge anyone’s poetry, as poetry is extremely subjective, way more so than prose, I believe. Personally, these poems were not for me. Aleksina’s poems were more my speed, but not by much. The illustrations are very cute, though!

I like the concept of two poets dueling, and the topics written about in this book are intriguing. Perhaps these poems will be more your style than mine. 

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Sins of the Mother’ by Evan Bond

‘Sins of the Mother’ by Evan Bond
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5
Finished on August 18, 2017
$1.99 on Kindle

In this second installment of the Ethan McCormick series, eight-year-old Desmond disappears from his home without a trace in the middle of the night. Desperate for answers when they believe the police aren’t doing enough, the parents turn to Ethan in hopes that he’ll be able to bring their son home. Desmond’s trail leads Ethan on a dark and terrible hunt, one more treacherous than he could have ever imagined. 

I have yet to read the first installment but, even so, I still thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Now, I absolutely must read the first!

This is a captivating and well-crafted thriller. From the very start, we are thrown right into the action and mystery when young Desmond is taken in the night by a silent, white-masked intruder in the night. Throughout the rest of the novel, the twists and turns Bond takes the reader down are never ending in their intrigue. The pacing is extremely well done, and there’s nothing in this novel that feels limp or overdone. 

Bond has created a loveable hero in Ethan McCormick. He is both smart and tenderhearted. His past keeps him on his toes but doesn’t hold him back, and he fights for what he believes is right. 

Bonds other characters are just as well-crafted, too. They may play second fiddle to McCormick in the title, but it doesn’t read like it. They are just as vibrant and alive. They jump off the page like real people with real stories and personalities, and it’s easy to get absorbed in them. 

I very much look forward to reading the first book and all of them that follow. If you are a fan of crime dramas and thrillers, you should absolutely pick this series up. 

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘The Haunting of Barry’s Lodge’ by Annie Walters

‘The Haunting of Barry’s Lodge’ by Annie Walters
⭐️⭐️ 2/5
Finished on August 10, 2017
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $.99 on Kindle | $10.33 in Paperback

Alfred, a wanna-be author who has struggled to get his manuscript on paper for years, is given the opportunity to go to the secluded Barry’s Lodge for a week by his father-in-law to finally finish his book. But when he gets there, he discovers there won’t be much time for writing because there’s something very, very wrong at Barry’s Lodge. Something wrong and murderous, and Alfred will have to solve the mystery to make it out alive.

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

This book was a struggle for me to get through, honestly. The writing is flat, and there was nothing about these characters that made me want to keep reading about them. I saw the “twist” coming from a mile away, and the paranormal aspects made little sense. A lot of things about this story made little sense.

I wanted to find something to like about this story, but perhaps it just wasn’t for me.

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘I Have A Friend On Jupiter’ by Celine Rose Mariotti

‘I Have A Friend On Jupiter’ by Celine Rose Mariotti
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5
Finished on August 7, 2017
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $2.99 on Kindle | $9.99 in Paperback

Carlos and Indiana, two young friends from Arizona, while on their summer vacation, discover a website that reportedly can connect them with pen pals from outer space! Enthralled the two friends send off emails and hope for the best. A few days later, they get messages back from Mannie and Kossie, two young aliens from Jupiter. 

They are all interested in learning about life on their respective planets and, eventually, Mannie and Kossie plan a trip to Earth to visit Carlos and Indiana. But not everyone on Earth is as welcoming to the aliens as the kids. 

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

This book is billed as a young adult novel but, in my opinion, that’s inaccurate. the writing is simple and juvenile. I feel like this reads as more of a middle-grade novel. 

That being said, it’s a charming story with some decent educational information about space, Jupiter, and America. My one qualm with the information given is that Mariotti states “In the USA, we speak English.” I know this is a controversial topic, but in the USA, people speak a variety of languages. There is no official language of the United States. It could alienate a lot of American children who speak other languages at home with such a statement. 

The friendship between Carlos and Indiana is sweet and endearing. It sets a good example for kids. They are well-behaved, polite, and kind to each other. Mariotti also touches on some deep topics with Carlos being an orphan, and Indiana being a support system for him. 

The alien plotline of this book felt rather flat to me – like there could have been much more to it. The real substance of the story was in the relationship between Carlos and Indiana. What alien story there was, a lot of it was repetition.

Overall, this is a sweet little read that parents can be comfortable letting their children enjoy without fear of anything inappropriate or disturbing. 




Honestly, I think the whole “don’t pay the writers” thing boils down to the notion that everybody thinks they can write. It’s the old saw about the novelist at a cocktail party having to hear someone say, for the millionth time, “I’d love to write a book someday.”

Someone–Stephen King? Pretty sure I saw this in a Stephen King foreword–once said they’d like to say to a brain surgeon, “Boy, I’d love to do brain surgery someday.”

We treat “the ability to put words into a sentence” like it’s just the same as “the ability to form a coherent narrative that engenders a variety of emotions within the reader and puts them in a scene and shows them what they didn’t see before”.

And that’s like me drawing a stick figure and saying I’m an artist.

Writers are constantly devalued because everyone thinks they have a book in them and don’t realize the level of skill and commitment it takes to finish even a short story, much less a whole book. 

This goes well beyond fandom, but man, I would’ve hoped fandom would know better.


Also like this notion that writing is not a form of art? Stop that. Writing fiction is a form of art. A good book is like any other form of artwork. It stirs your emotions, it makes you connect to something, it fills some deep need inside you. It makes you feel things or opens your mind, or something.

It’s not art in the same way a painting or pottery or a marble sculpture is, but it is art none-the-less and deserves to be respected as such. Writers are artists, and it takes a lot of practice and effort to be able to write well.

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Tongues’ by Sam Joyce

‘Tongues’ by Sam Joyce
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5
Finished on August 4, 2017
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $4.99 on Kindle | $78.61 in Paperback (What the hell?! Why?)

Journalist Catherine Cobb comes to the East Texas town of Elena where she quickly finds herself fighting for her life. Elena is overcome with something sinister. Citizens who were previously peaceful folk are now murdering each other in brutal and horrific ways. Catherine discovers at the root of it all is a group of neo-Nazi’s, her own government, and a terrifying occult ritual. She must not only save herself but the very world itself. 

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a chilling novel with some truly disturbing scenes. It is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. It deals with heavy topics (neo-Nazis, brutal violence, black magic, and some graphic sex scenes), but it’s a horror novel, so you should maybe expect such things?

This is Joyce’s debut novel, and he does it well. There’s one scene, towards the beginning, with a mother and her two daughters, that is so creepy it actually gave me chills. My only complaint about this novel is that I wish there was more focus on what happened to the people of Elena and less on the chase because the fall of Elena was the most gripping part of this story.

Carmen is a captivating character. Joyce does a lovely job with the dichotomy of self in Carmen. His descent into chaos is near brilliant, and it kept me reading. 

‘Tongues’ seems to end with a set up for a second novel, and I hope that is the case because I would love a continuation of this story. I hope Joyce keeps writing. 

What a blessing it is to love books. Everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that give such substantial and unfailing returns as books and a garden.

Elizabeth von Arnim (via bookmania)