Book Reviews

Review: The Punishments by J.B. Winsor

The Punishments by J.B. WinsorAn Orwellian thriller – The heart-pounding story of a family after electing a demagogue and fundamentalists who adopt Biblical Law for moral punishments.

The economy sucks. Robots keep eliminating middle class jobs. Terrorism is a constant threat. The CIA and FBI can’t stop terrorists. The bureaucratic IRS needs to be shaken up.

Angry, fearful voters elect a narcissistic demagogue President and fundamentalist congress. The CIA, FBI and IRS are organized into a super-department, the Department of Virtue, with a mandate to bring the nation back to its Christian roots. Virtue’s director institutes Biblical Law punishments as an example to those who break the commandments. Only two US Senators — and one mysterious woman — can prevent a disaster.


I wanted to like this book. I really did. The plot—an America ruled by Christian fundamentalists and biblical law—was ripe with possibility. Unfortunately, The Punishments failed to live up to it. There is at least one scene that borrows heavily from a scene in George Orwell’s 1984 (if you’ve read it, you’ll recognize the similarities instantly). I found that a bit annoying as it threw me out of the story I was reading, but it happened very early on, so I was willing to overlook it.

What I couldn’t overlook was the predictable way the story advanced. The one twist that actually surprised me a little wasn’t enough to impact the way I felt about the story overall. Something else that bothered me was there was too little ‘show’, and far too much ‘tell’ in the writing. Towards the end, it felt like I was reading a lists of actions and reactions, rather than losing myself in a story.

I was greatly disappointed because I felt it could have been so much better.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Boulder Digital Publishing, LLC in exchange for an honest review.

Author: J.B. Winsor

Title: The Punishments

Published: 5/23/2016 by Boulder Digital Publishing, LLC

Rating: ★★


Book Reviews

Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry



In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.



This is the best zombie apocalypse book I’ve read, so far. Highly recommended to other readers who enjoy this type of book! I’m looking forward to reading book two in the series.


Author: Jonathan Maberry

Title: Rot & Ruin

Series: Rot & Ruin #1

Published: September 14, 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Rating: ★★★★★


This (brief) review was originally posted on Goodreads on December 20, 2014.


Book Reviews

Review: 1984 by George Orwell


‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . .

Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.

I was so looking forward to reading what I expected would be a really great book… and got this drivel instead. How disappointing. This is the first “classic” I’ve read that I absolutely hated. Total waste of time.

Author: George Orwell

Title: 1984

Published: June 8, 1949



This (brief) review was originally published on Goodreads on May 26, 2015.




Book Reviews

Review: The Hour Glass Witch by Alisha Paige


The Hour Glass Witch is a Romantic Altered History Time Travel Tale with a splash of Greek Myth.

Travel back to the Salem Witch Hunt when a wicked glance could have you hanging from the gallows, convicted of lustful witchcraft! Accused of being a witch, Clio, the Muse of History is thrown in prison by a former lover from another life. To escape the gallows, she flees back in time, to the Italian Renaissance, where she becomes a courtesan for a famous Italian painter, living a life of luxury while pining for her lost love. Her favorite god and good friend, Dionysus, is living it up in Tuscany. He invites her to a wild party at his palace where she runs smack-dab into her destiny, only to be separated once more by the Queen of Gorgons. While the sands of time run out, she travels to Hades to face the hounds of Hell in search of her love. Can she salvage her one true love, please the gods and save the lost souls of Salem?

Meh. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it, either. The story started in the middle, rather than the beginning, a far as I was concerned. Had it begun at the actual beginning (Pierus meeting and falling in love with Clio, rather than Aphrodite, who wanted him for herself), going forward from there, it would have made for a far richer story, one the reader could become emotionally invested in. The short memory sequences that gave glimpses into Clio and Pierus’ past weren’t enough. I wanted to know all of their history, not be given tiny peeks of it! I wanted to see the event that later angered Aphrodite so greatly… the things that led up to that moment, as well as the thing itself… so that I could easily picture and understand her fury (perhaps even sympathize with it, to a certain degree?) which wouldn’t make the cursing of Clio seem like such an arbitrary thing. It would have meaning behind it, and not seemed a convenient, one-dimensional plot point.

What was there, was enjoyable to read, don’t get me wrong. I just wish I’d been able to read the whole story that was available to be told, rather than the middle of it. That complete story, I’m sure, would have earned a five star rating from me.

Author: Alisha Paige

Title: The Hour Glass Witch

Published: February 17, 2011

Rating: ★★


This review was originally published on Goodreads on March 18, 2015.


Book Reviews

Review: Into the Darkness by V.C. Andrews


As lovely as one of the precious gems at her parents’ jewellery store, Amber Taylor is shy and introspective–qualities misread by others as being stuck-up and superior. Facing a long, lonely summer working at the family shop, Amber’s world lights up when the Matthews family suddenly moves in to the house next door, a property that has stood neglected for the longest time.

And when she meets Brayden Matthews, Amber soon becomes infatuated with this handsome, quirky young man who seems to know her innermost feelings almost before she does, who takes her places she never knew existed in her small town. Their connection is electrifying, unlike anything Amber’s felt before. But as quickly as he appears, Brayden vanishes into the darkness. And finding out the truth about him will push Amber to the edge of madness.

I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed reading this book. That’s pretty rare anymore… the main reason I continue to buy and read V.C. Andrews’ novels is because I started buying them a long time ago, and want to have a complete set of them, whether I really enjoy reading them or not. (Silly, perhaps… but when I start things I like to finish them.)

I was, naturally, expecting more of the usual, long stale formulaic storytelling that has been going on since Ms. Andrews’ death, via the ghostwriter. Imagine my surprise to see that it didn’t resemble the usual tale at all! I could honestly say, for the first time in years, that this story’s mystery kept me guessing all the way through. I had suspicions, but as it turned out, I was thinking in the wrong direction. (And that’s about as close to a spoiler as I want to get, so I’ll say no more.)

Was it the best book I’ve ever read? No. I’ve read far better. Still, I’m going to give it a four star rating because I did ‘really like it’. It was refreshing after reading the same old tired story presented in (very slightly) different ways for the past twenty years.

Author: V.C. Andrews

Title: Into the Darkness

Published: February 28, 2012 by Pocket Star

Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plusThis review was originally published on Goodreads on July 31, 2012.