Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Does the title lead you to believe this book is quirky? Well, that’s what I figured and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I’m forced to admit that it’s almost too quirky for my limited intelligence. Although extremely well written and intelligently plotted, this novel was difficult for me due to the cyber/sci-fi blend of jargon—almost as if half of it was in a foreign language. However, readers who are up to speed with this genre will love it, and for the rest of us? Why, there’s plenty of mystery, murder, spooks, good old detective work and even a little sex. In fact, when you pick up this book, fasten your seatbelt, because you’re in for a thrilling ride filled with page-turning adventure in the q-verse—a digital and primitive, half-cyber, half-real world of primordial computer code and digitally constructed beings.

Harmonica is the q-verse handle for Harry, a remarkable woman protagonist and the supreme hacker. How does she know she is ‘self”? Because she thinks. Whoa, heavy. Gig is her boyfriend. Sort of. Along with a “neurotic online transvestite who sublimates his fears with alcohol” these colorful characters don many disguises as they investigate a murder, together and separately. Disguises? Skins is the author’s word. We get tortoises, chameleons, vampires, dragons, rabbits, and body-builders. And the default skin? Human. They can even hack into each others’ bodies. Like I said, quirky. Sublimated, there’s a wonderful ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feel to all of it (in fact Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum skins are featured).

Regardless of the genre and jargon, good writing should make the reader feel immersed in a conflict filled, make-believe world. Believe me—the author’s exemplary literary skills deliver plenty of tension while his vivid sensory descriptions and crisp, scene-setting narrative put us right there in the q-verse. His unusual characters leap right off the page and the rush to climax is satisfying. Throughout, I admit I was confused at times but never off course, even with my limited cyber-knowledge. Unfortunately, nowhere on the book jacket or inside is a bio of the author, R.J. Astruc so I can’t tell you anything about him (or her). However, I can tell you this: here’s an Australian writer who is extremely intelligent and talented. Fans of the genre should look forward to anything written by R.J. Astruc.

A Good Read, by reviewer: Jan Evan Whitford, Allbooks Reviews Int.

Published by: Dragonfall Press ©2004, 2011

ISBN978-0-9806341-4-3, Trade paperback,

365 pages

$19.95 Australian

June 2011

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Review of While I Was Learning to Become God

Author: Roxana Jones

Roxana Jones weaves a well-written narrative about the life of Sybil Vaughan and her own journey in While I Was Learning to Become God. Sybil and Roxana share portions of their lives in a uniquely written account. Ms. Jones weaves a beautifully written story, which includes spiritual beings, guardian angels and the heroines’ search to transform their lives. This transformation comes to light as Ms. Jones eloquently tells Sybil’s story while intertwining her own spiritual awakening. We can all relate to the path taken because it encompasses life and day to day living.

The author, along with Sybil, takes the ordinary strife of life and makes it into a lovely tale of mercy, forgiveness and grace. While I Was Learning to Become God is not only a story of two women’s journeys, but the story of reaching beyond and through and around reality, to stretch the imagination and let the spirit soar.

On page 124 of the book, Ms. Jones writes, “She got up the next morning with a strong desire to awaken, But not to wake up physically; she already knew how to do that perfectly. Rather, she wanted to awaken in the sense that the image had asked her to the night before.”

It is the author’s desire that the reader will receive a message of hope and change. She hopes to make a contribution of new and positive beliefs. The author has accomplished her goal!

I recommend While I Was Learning to Become God to anyone wanting to delve deeper into harnessing their spiritual power or to anyone wanting an entertaining read.

Reviewed by: Donetta Garman, Allbooks Review

While I was Learning to Become God

Roxana Jones

Publisher: Balboa Press

ISBN: 978-1-4525-3257-8

List price: $17.95

June 2011

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: The Fossil by David Brookover

Just because we have evolved and developed over millennia, we still must relearn some things that have been lost to time. Early man may have been wiser than we are willing to believe. This story began with the discovery of a skeleton in a cave near a desolate stretch of the shore of Loch Lomond in Scotland. Nothing about this discovery is like any other known to present day man. Three Americans are drawn into the investigation when British Intelligence discovers it has a mole and gruesome murders start to occur. The three Americans are an FBI agent, a Florida sheriff and an eccentric psychic from the bayou country of Louisiana. A motley group they are, but it is a trio of fast friends with quick minds and true loyalty to each other.

The author, David Brookover, has written an even better book than his previous work, “Demon Key” that was described by this reviewer. This book is gripping and fast moving. The author provides just enough detail to give the reader enough to outline a picture, but not enough that it impairs the imagination of the reader. Too many authors don’t trust their readers enough to only guide. Mr. Brookover doesn’t dawdle in his telling of this story. He spends just enough time to make the reader curious for more of the story.

The style is brisk, but not so much that the reader is left wondering about loose ends. The entire book fits together into a nice, ghoulish little package. The twists and turns, even though unexpected and unpredictable, are perfectly fitted into the weave of the plot. The work is easily readable without being overly simple and the readers are treated with respect.

David Brookover is the author of four previous novels including the aforementioned “Demon Key.” This reviewer is hopeful for many more, as long as the style is as fresh and readable as “The Fossil.” This book is highly recommended for reading and passing along to friends.

Reviewer: John Helman, Allbooks Reviews Int.

Title: The Fossil

Author: David Brookover

Publisher: Curlew Press

ISBN: 978-0-578-07064-3

Pages: 316

Price: $17.95 US