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Bruce's Reads


Visitor - David  S. Reynolds "Visitor" is a brief story about two friends who encountered each other earlier in life and have now come together a last time. I'll say no more for fear of spoilers. The writing is smooth and the story flows well. However so many details could elaborate and enhance this tale, as well as give it a sense of logic which unfortunately it lacks in several places. It felt to me, as a reader, that only part of a short story was told.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, is one of those stories that grips and does not let go. My daughter loaned me the book, and in a note indicated that I might want to keep it for a while in case I got “bored”. We also have the movie, but she said I couldn’t watch it until I finished the book.

The book was wonderful, one of those that I believe will likely stick with me the rest of my life. It introduces Augustus (my favorite character, by the way), who used his wit and charm to the highest level, in the middle of darkness and despair. It is a story that brings hope in the terrible places of pain, pain, and yes, more pain.

I enjoyed the sarcastic wit shared between the friends, smart wit but with the purpose of humor, empathy and love. I also appreciated the realism and the author’s avoidance of the cliché in serious life situations as these.

As I neared the end of the book, I began feeling all the inevitable downturn of sadness that comes with stories such as these. My daughter (quite the one for giving excellent advice), said “Dad, just hurry up, rip the scab off and finish the book”. Well, it wasn’t as dark and bleak at the end as it could have been, so there really was no ripping. It was a satisfying ending, filled with optimism and hope.

And now I get to watch the movie.

I heartily recommend this book to readers across the entire book-loving, genre-reading landscape.

An Unsound Premise

An Unsound Premise - Karen   Fields An Unsound Premise, written by Karen Fields, is a rather light-hearted, fast-paced whodunit sort of story with some light romance. It begins with a good setup of characters and a fairly straightforward story, but soon it evolves into a more complex tale. Our hero, Ellen, works as director of an employee relations department but immerses herself in her boyfriend's world of a detective. The story creates a good suspense and delivers a good climax. I recommend An Unsound Premise for those enjoy light mysteries. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Nine Horizons

The Nine Horizons - Mike Robbins The Nine Horizons, written by Mike Robbins, recalls the journeys of a young man. He travels to various countries while working in different projects. But neither his work projects nor the author himself are used as the main focal points; rather the people, the wildlife and the land share the limelight of the story.

This is an extraordinary book. Through his life, the author gained insights from his unique experiences that I will likely never have in my lifetime. He writes in a way that is so detailed I feel I am there experiencing what he goes through. I can almost feel the humidity in the air, see the despair on the faces of the people, and embrace the beauty all around—both natural and manmade.

I suppose one could use this as simply a getaway type of read, in which the reader would never even have to leave the house to experience the rich flavors of his adventures. But it also might incite others to break away from the routines of life and set sail for adventures of their own.

I was sorry the book ended. Most reads typically don’t influence me this way, but that’s what happened with this adventure. I do hope Mr. Robbins continues his lifetime quests and writes them down for others to enjoy. Having a journalist background coupled with a sense of adventure, Mr. Robbins has made this book a treasure. I heartily recommend this story for readers across all genres and age groups.

I sincerely appreciate a copy of the book (which he provided in print, by the way) in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.

Iron William and the Lost Prophecy

Iron William and the Lost Prophecy - Michael  Gardner I received a copy of this book for my honest review.

This is a fast action prequel to another longer book (Iron William and the Carpenter's Tears). If you are new to this adventure I suggest you start with this one first, as it provides some background for adventures that follow. It's written in what strikes me in the style of the Indiana Jones movie adventures. There's not a lot of character development, there is some dialogue, and there is a lot of action, which propels this story forward.
For those readers who enjoy fast action adventure, this is a recommended read.

Through the Fire

Through the Fire - Michelle Irwin Through the Fire, by Michelle Irwin, is a young/new adult fantasy romance mix. It gives a first person account of our main character, and all the things she discovers—what she is, who she loves, as well as her struggles and losses along the way. It’s Book 1 of Daughter of the Fire Series, bringing a fast-paced and action filled enjoyable romp to what looks like a very promising series.

Although this is not my normal book of choice, I absolutely loved it. Irwin deftly creates the modern real world as well as the fantasy one. Her use of first person character was excellent, and I felt I really came to know her and care about her life and those around her. Where suspense was needed it was top-notch and I could not put the book down. The romance part of this book should attract those who enjoy love stories, but it also caters to the fantasy lovers just as much.

I highly recommend this book and give it a hearty five star rating. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Dark Matter Tiding

Dark Matter Tiding - Chance Maree Dark Matter Tiding, a book written by Chance Maree, is an interesting mix of drama and science fiction. Our main character, Camera Hence, is an engineer working with drones. When unfortunate circumstances arise that end up in the deaths of a community of people, Camera takes things into her own hands. She then must leave her former life and she settle back on the family farm, trying to save her ranch from debt collectors and self-acclaimed vampires.
Dark matter is an interesting concept woven throughout the story, in that this unseen material affects humans. Sometimes the force of the matter increases in waves, contributing to the declining of human civilization. Camera has to deal with her own struggles with this matter, as well as put up with those who have all but fallen under its influence.
Chance Maree has written a story unlike anything I have read before. I enjoyed reading about a different type of threat to humanity, as well as watching the characters rise above—or decline under—the influence of dark matter.
I recommend this story to those who enjoy modern day drama and sci-fi adventures. I received a copy of this book for my nonreciprocal review.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens This is an exceptional story that I hope will enchant readers for many years to come. I've seen a few movie versions but this is the first time I remember ever reading it. I especially appreciate how many of the older, outdated phrases and words were explained in the the ebook version.

Sal, Captain of the Baby Guards

Sal, Captain of the Baby Guards - Jennifer Reinoehl I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I gave it a four star rating. The story is a delightful tale of innocence and imagination. Our main character takes it upon himself to guard his home, and does it dutifully, though his efforts are not always appreciated.

The story should appeal to very young readers who are aware of some danger elements, without being frightened by them. By the end our hero has found what he has hunted so thoroughly, and is rewarded by accomplishing the great feat of slaying his adversary and protecting his family. Or so he believes.

I heartily recommend this story for young children.

A Bright Power Rising

A Bright Power Rising - Noel Coughlan I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and give it a three and a half star rating.

A Bright Power Rising is an epic fantasy story involving humans, elves, intertwined religions, saints, politicians and much more. There are a number of subplots in the story, but the overarching plot deals with a leader of elves who issues genocide on humans and other elves who do not share their worldview.

The story is reminiscent of Catholic and other religious overtones, as well as black-hearted politics. Several well-developed main characters carry the story well. This book immersed me into another world and had enough detail to keep me engaged. Though the tension and suspense evaporated midway through the book, and the climax (trained soldiers of war vs. common folk, barely trained) seemed highly unlikely (to my way of thinking), the story was a pleasant read and not a chore. Retaining interest in a long story requires a good amount of skill, which I believe the author has shown. I recommend this to lovers of fantasy who enjoy strong human societal elements mixed with action scenes.

The Pursuit of Perfection: And How It Harms Writers

The Pursuit of Perfection: And How It Harms Writers - Kristine Kathryn Rusch The article called "Perfection" that Kristine wrote is a game-changer for me. It helps me to think more like a reader and less like a critic when I read stories. It nudges me along to keep writing, keep getting better, and not to look back. Her insights to the past and present views of writing, and how they have shaped the consciousness of present writers are outstanding.

I appreciate the honesty with which she writes this short book, and I highly recommend it to all writers, newbies or those with a long career behind them.

The Reaper's Opus

The Reaper's Opus - Zach Tyo I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I give it a five star rating.

The Reader's Opus is one of those books that has stories you can tell around a campfire. Do you remember growing up and wishing you knew a good ghost story to tell? This book has a few that would put a few chills down the spines of your listeners.

Each story is short, but long enough to give you sensory detail that you feel like you are there. They are well written, well thought-out stories intended to entertain, but not offend with gratuitous detail. It lacks the excessive gore found in many stories today, but instead is written on a higher level, and left me with stories that are memorable.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.


Awakening - Jeremy Laszlo I liked this book, a solid adventure type for your kids, I would say 12 and up. The author put together a clean story with good characters and a solid premise. I liked the close relationship
between the siblings, and how they were able to work together in unknown circumstances and unfamiliar settings.


Wonder - R.J. Palacio "Wonder" really works well in touching the human heart. Here we have a child with an unfortunate condition but he is surrounded by loving family and gains new loving friends.
Written in a narrative style, the author brings in different characters and we learn of them as they write from their viewpoints, including that of August, the main character.

This book targets younger readers and the author does a nice job of making the characters believable and relatable, although not all of them are "good" or "kind". However, the book works well for adults as well, serving a nonjudgmental reminder of how we as human should treat one another.

I recommend this book to readers of all ages.

No Time

No Time - R. Jean Mathieu I received a copy of this book for my honest review, and rate it as three and a half stars.

"No Time" is a detective-type, whodunnit story, in this case who did it to the main character, Gooch. It's written in a first person, detailed and relaxed style, mixed with Spanish words in the text (it is an English book). We are introduced to the people Gabriel (Gooch) works with, and the fantasy element this story brings, is time travel. The time travelers in "No Time" are those who keep order in their time traveling universe, and are ready to discipline those who are not.

The detail in certain parts of the book help to bring the story alive, since going from 2014 to earlier times in the 1900s can be challenging. The story will keep the reader interested in learning what is going to happen. Several potential suspects are raised, and the trick is to see if you can guess the right one. The ending had a nice twist I definitely did not see coming.

Grammatical errors are obvious throughout, and this Kindle version had annoying huge fonts and bolded words at the beginning of each chapter. With some cleanup work, the book would read more smoothly.

I could imagine this developing into a series of other books. I would recommend this to those who enjoy and mix of murder mysteries and time travel stories.

Danger at Come-alive Cottage

Danger at Come-alive Cottage - Wendy Unsworth A copy of Wendy Unsworth's "Danger at Come-Alive Cottage", was given to me in exchange for my honest review. I rate it as a solid four stars.
This short children's tale continues Kellie Culpepper's adventures when she is summoned to her Aunt Kitty's. Joined by Aunt Sillime, the trio, along with other introduced characters, experience another batch of silly, funny adventures. This time, there is a way that Kellie can contribute and help to save Aunt Kitty's house.
This light hearted tale will delight young readers, as well as adults reading bedtime stories to their children or grandchildren. I sensed a lot of joy poured into this episode and, sure enough, the plot delivered soundly.
Recommended for young children and those young at heart.