Jun 13

Charlie Flowers: Blood Honeymoon

 Amazing action from the king of spies….


Riz and Bang-Bang are back! That’s what the product description screams, and what can I say? It’s been too long! The first Riz book broke new territory as a brand new entry into a genre of books that was becoming–for want of a better word–jaded. James Bond yadayada… Yes, we get it, spy books… Harry Palmer and his glasses… Pass me the boredom box…

Wait! No, give me that book… Blood Honeymoon? I guess it will just be another of those same old spy books. Actually, this is pretty good… No, this is excellent!

Riz broke new ground because it took a new situation and an old concept and melded the two together. What could have been very bad is actually very good.

Now, we come to the latest addition in the cannon and what can I say?

A wedding! Riz and Bang-Bang are getting hitched and nothing can possibly go wrong, can it? As it turns out, someone is emulating the ripper. Oh man, bye-bye Bang-Bang‘s wedding. Now it’s time to get serious.

When people finally get sick of seeing James Bond, Harry Palmer and the other dudes getting it on in the 60s world of the cold war, they will look for a new kind ofspy novel and Riz will be waiting. Charlie Flowers writes with fluency; he writes like a man who feels his characters, and I notice one lady in a review above complaining about the language. Well, frankly, these people do talk like that and they aren’t going to be gentlemen about it. Riz and Bang-Bang fight the bad guys and sometimes “darn it” doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Excellent book from an excellent writer! We need more Riz by Flowers!

Jun 10

Ellen Mae Franklin: The Unseen Promise

Ellen Mae Franklin has turned in a winner with her first effort. Let me rephrase that. Ellen Mae Franklin has turned in THE fiction winner of the year with her first book “The Unseen Promise.” Why?

It’s all very simple really! This is fantasy fiction that will give you a kick in the ass and keep you rooted in its pages until you have soaked up every word. The story? Let me start by telling you about that…

The book is set on the alien world of Tarkeenia. It’s a world where everything happens–the good, the bad and the ugly. In many ways, it compares to our own world. Nothing is beyond the realm of possibility and morals, beliefs and attitudes change in a second. The research Ellen has put into making her creative world real is astounding. You really do come away believing that Tarkeenia is a real place. It also astounded me that she took such jaded and overused creatures and gave them fresh light. Think you know a dwarf? Hell, you don’t know ELLEN MAE FRANKLIN’S dwarf! Think you know about fantasy? Think again… She gives a brand new definition of the wordand you will not come away thinking that this is a million miles away from reality- trust me!

So, what drew me into this book? I guess the thing that really got me was that Ellen has such a dynamic writing style. She is really one helluva talented writer and I cannot rave about this one

On the downside–yes, there is a SLIGHT downside to this one–it is her first book and I would like to see how she progresses. I think by the time we get to the third volume of her Tarkeenia books, the world will really know how special Ellen is as a writer.

Want to travel to those exotic lands? Try Tarkeenia. You won’t regret it!

Visit Tarkeenia TODAY!

May 29

A Note About Reviews…

I have been asked many times what constitutes a “FIVE STAR REVIEW”… What makes a book THAT special?

The truth is it takes more than just a criteria or a grade. It’s something that you need to feel from a book. A FIVE star book has to be well written. It has to be a great story. It has to be completely enthralling. It has to be something that people will just go crazy for…

At Novel Ideas we don’t usually write anything less than FIVE star reviews. I refuse to pan a book or degrade a book that many others may see as a FIVE star read. I refuse to break the authors dream to bits. Therefore, any book that is less that FIVE stars is returned to the writer, and we ask them to submit it when they feel it is a FIVE star book…

We believe that every writer has the right to know why we feel their book isn’t a FIVE star read…. We are happy to privately tell them why the book didn’t make the grade… But, we won’t do that publicly…

So, if you submit your book to Novel Ideas and you find an email in your inbox with a returned payment… Please don’t be upset! Re-submit later on and you may just get yourself on here…



May 02

A Sufi’s Ghost- Mark Biskeborn

sufisghost2What did I expect from A Sufi’s Ghost? Well, I expected it to be a great read–I always have that expectation from Mark Biskeborn–and I expected it to be action-packed. I expect a lot, don’t I?

Let me start by asking you as a reader what you thought of his last book, Mojave Winds? Now, don’t tell me you didn’t read it! That one was a slam dunk! Luckily, I am here to help you correct that small error. Mojave Winds was a great read and now, A Sufi’s Ghost is an even better read. Why? Because the writer has grown? Perhaps. Gotten better? Perhaps. Mainly because this is a top-notch action writer writing what he knows best– a rollickingly good story.

So, what actually happens? Well, I ain’t telling you… Okay, I will! I WILL! Just hold your horses and don’t keep pestering me! Larry Larson, after leaving the army, decides to be a bounty hunter. This in itself is a great thing! He finds himself in the Saudi desert… He…. nah, I am not telling you any more…

Okay, well let me tell you that this is a story that takes you through the secretive world of Saudi Arabia, religion, politics and a world we cannot see as Westerners.

 Just the words bounty hunter and Saudi desert should have you digging around trying to find the Amazon account password to buy this one.Then we come to a Biskeborn essential, he throws in a beautiful partner in crime, Carmen, and you will find yourself looking for the nearest camel to have your very own Harem Holiday.

What about his writing? Well, let me just tell you this first. Mark Biskeborn has really researched this book wonderfully. He has taken the time to paint a picture of a country, a desert seldom seen by most in the western world. He has researched all the nuances that could have made this book come unstuck. In short, he has written a book that I believe in and you will, too.

Yes, I have been raving about this one a lot. What can I say as a negative? Well, his writing style tends to wander sometimes, but then again, A Sufi’s Ghost itself is about wandering the desert. I do believe Mark Biskeborn has a fascination with the desert, you know? His last book Mojave Winds was set in the Nevada desert. Hey, Mark? Next time can we have a rollicking underwater adventure instead? Until then–go read this beauty by the man who could be the next king of the action writers…

 Click here to read an interview with Mark Biskeborn and learn more about the man behind the writing.



Apr 30

The Gift Part 2- Mike Trahan


Mike Trahan wrote the second instalment of his spellbinding biography- The Gift: Part 2, finally! I was given a pre-release copy to read and review. What can I say? Not only is it one of the most fascinating books I have ever read, it has topped his first book “The Gift.” (Click here to read my review of Part 1.)

Hard to do? Well, yes, the first book was one of those biographies that kept the reader turning the pages. The mounds of 5-star reviews it received pretty much proved that it was a slam dunk from the start. Now, I was one of the first guys to review that book and frankly, I loved every moment of it. I learnt about myself, as well as about Mike Trahan.

Who is Mike Trahan? Mike is one of those guys from Texas you instantly want to share time with. He has stories, experiences and memories that most people will never attain. He was a pilot from the get-go, he went to Vietnam, came back and settled down with his family and became the ultimate family man. He doesn’t brag, boast or beg. He has a very conservative attitude towards the people he spends time with. Mike Trahan is a man you don’t mess around, but you can be sure if he likes you, he will be there for you.

All of this comes across clearly in his book. He has a way of making you feel like his best friend as he pours his life story out for you to read. He is talkative, jolly, friendly at times, but always with a hint of seriousness– any man who witnesses war will have that streak of seriousness. This book is about the Vietnam War- Mike tells it as he experienced it.

This volume has a harder edge to it than the first instalment. We are taken from Texas to a living hell. We are taken on flights that must have terrified and missions that honoured a country. We are told a love story, we are taught about the true meaning of a patriot. Mike Trahan pours his heart out with emotion, vigour and beauty as we are taken with him on a voyage of destruction and re-birth.

This book is another 5-star volume. You can’t afford to miss this one. If you do then you will be missing a part of history you can’t find elsewhere.

The Gift: Part 2- Coming Soon!


Apr 24

The Gold Slaves by J.W. Northrup


Jgoldslavesimmy Northrup has written a book called The Gold Slaves (or as I like to call it- “The Golden Slaves”) because his character development is so strong. What can I tell you about the debut novel from this great writer? Well, to begin with, when Jimmy approached me to write this review I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting to be asked to review this book. I think Jim could just tell how desperate I was to spread the word about it and gave in. Let me tell you a little about it.

The book itself is a politically-themed story of a brainwashed people who believe that by working hard they will reach heaven. The ignorant and enslaved people of “Space” believe that they are working together to benefit the gods and take their place in heaven….

In true sci-fi fashion, things are more sinister than they seem. J.W. Northrup has written a book that will turn on your thought-provoked brain cells, and soon you, too, will be wondering–just wondering–about the way our world is going.

J.W. writes fluently with a strong and detailed method. He has a completely individual style, one that shines through even on this his first novel. Some of you may find this book a little high brow. That’s the name of the game, unfortunately. Many of you will marvel as J.W. writes his way through a totally fascinating tale of political proportions. Will the slaves ever realise that they are actually slaves? Will they realise they are not working for the gods? Will they realise that they are actually being used? Treated as… Slaves?

Well, I can tell you that things get more complicated when two of the brainwashed miners find their way to the surface. The dilemma is…

What do they really know about freedom?

I think this novel will probably be the first in a long run of bestsellers for this writer. He has a style that can certainly find its way onto the big screen and this book is a prime suspect for that treatment.

Will this be a teenage sensation or a successor to “Fifty Shades of Whatever”? I doubt it. But is any serious author really after that kind of attention? Jimmy writes with the style and poise of a man with skill. He makes educated and fully-felt swoops with each new line.

Let me stop raving! Go buy the book; and yes, it is intelligent. Is that a bad thing?

Enjoy it!

The Gold Slaves is available through Amazon and through the publisher’s website.

Mar 23

Covert The Not Known by Jerry Nedwick

I am a child of the nineties. I was not around when Vietnam was at its height and I only know of the war through history lessons, movies and books. When I picked up this book I didn’t know what to expect. Would this be a patriotic cry from a warrior of the conflict? Would this be an anti-war rant by a long lost hippy? Would this be a favourable account? Negative?

Groundbreaking book from an American hero

Covert The Not Known tells us not of the facts we read in books, it tells of the reality. The dirty, gruesome truths that are in essence the facts of war. This is not Audie Murphy in To Hell and Back or John Wayne in the Green Berets. This is a  book about a man who was almost destroyed by what he saw and thrown to the very ridge of madness by what he had to live with. Covert is powerfully written from the heart and almost like a therapy session for the writer. I think this book could well be the ultimate document about the Vietnam War.


The book opens with Jerry, a rebellious youth, who lives a troubled life in Fort Worth, Texas, finding his way to a recruitment station. With ease he then finds himself thrown into the world of the military. I found myself drawn into the story almost from the get-go. The truth of the matter is very different to the patriotic cries of history. Jerry became a Marine and served with honour– that is one of the many truths in this book. The other truths are that he became damaged, disregarded and dismissed with personality disorders. He suffered immensely because his country felt the need to fight a war it thought it could win but ultimately lost. This book at times is distasteful, gruesome, but ultimately honest and I believed every word Jerry wrote. I think anyone considering joining the forces should read this book. I think anyone who utters the word “war” or “invasion” in a positive or glorified way should read this book. Wars do not make people great. They destroy the men and women who are sent to fight them.

I think anyone considering joining the forces should read this book…

Jerry wasn’t destroyed. He was strong enough to pull himself around with the love of his wife. He lived a fulfilling and successful life and he managed to at least put some of this stuff behind him. That is the redeeming feature– he lived to tell the tale and made a success from his life until the very end. I believe that this book could be a very powerful motion picture. I think it has the makings of a very honest film about a war people seem to regard as a joke in the modern age. In my life, I have only read one book about Vietnam with the same powerful rhetoric. That book was called A Rumour of War. It was a bestseller and told the truth. This book is called Covert The Not Known. It is just as powerful and it tells even greater truths. I think Jerry did the world a huge favour writing this one. Perhaps one day we will learn from it.



Mar 23

Slipping on Stardust by Gordon Osmond

Gordon Osmond is an enigma in many ways. He has reinvented himself many, many times over the years, and it is with nothing less than a great pleasure that I write a review for his debut novel Slipping on Stardust. I could of course, be nothing less than compulsively in love with this book. I could sit here and say I didn’t understand it– I did– many will not. Is that a slur on Mr Osmond? Not at all. It is a sad fact that the use of educated English has dropped significantly in recent years. I do not think the dragon and vampire dwelling teenage readers will ever quite understand the kind of writing presented here. What we have here is something resembling a classic.


Now, you may be wondering why I say ‘resembling’? Well, frankly, the word classic has been thrown around so much it has tarnished the very notion of the word. Gordon Osmond writes like a professional writer. He writes with flair and purpose and his characters are almost written for the screen.


Let me tell you about the plot before I start boring you with the details. What is the damn book about, right? Well… Imagine a movie star arriving in your neighbourhood. Your quiet, slow and usually comfortably boring neighbourhood. What would happen if he came to star in a local production? How would the town react, even if the star was ageing, over-the-hill, how would he be treated? How would the local amateur actors and actresses take to that? Throw in with care some key ingredients like sexual confusion, scandal, suicide, kidnapping…

You have found yourself with a story to remember.

Gordon Osmond has in many ways written something resembling the Hollywood classics. This isn’t a blockbuster. You will not find Sly Stallone running around in any movie adaptation of this book. It relies on plot and characterisation. In many ways, I was picking out actors for the roles as I learned more about the characters. I could see a part for Burt Lancaster, I could see a part for Dick Haymes, I could see a part for James Mason, I could see so many different nuances of Hollywood in its finest era. If this book had been written back then, it would have been a fine movie. Of that, there’s no doubt.

However, let me return to the point I was making earlier. This book is going to stump many people. Gordon Osmond writes with such eloquency and style- it is true that he writes like Oscar Wilde- but ask the younger generation of book readers who Oscar Wilde is and they will probably admit they have no idea.

Osmond is the King of Hollywood knowledge.

Will Slipping on Stardust be the teenage favourite? Probably not. Does Gordon Osmond care? Probably not. Do I care? Not at all, because this book is full of merit. Do his readers care? Not one jot. This book is bestseller material.

Want to go read something really cool and new and interesting? Yes? Okay, go buy this one guys!


Mar 14

The Night of the Cossack by Tom Blubaugh


My latest review is for a book that has recently started to climb again in sales. Night of the Cossack is the first and current published effort by Tom Blubaugh.

When I first opened the Kindle publication of this book I didn’t know what to expect. The idea of writing about pre-revolution Russia came to Tom, apparently when he discovered that his grandfather had been a Cossack. I kept this in mind as I got to the first page of the first chapter.

The book opens with two brothers, Nathan and Israel Hertzfield, startled awake to find that their village is under attack from the Cossacks. The action packed start doesn’t dim… The action keeps rolling and rolling as the story of Nathan unfolds. Blubaugh has written an efficient and fast paced action adventure story for kids of all ages. The characterization is strong and the reader grows to know Nathan as a character. Nathan is a well developed character who always wants to do the right thing. That said, I think the fact that this book is a fictionalized attempt to create a back-story for his grandfather has made him biased towards the character of Nathan. Is that a bad thing? Perhaps, if you want a character who is multicoloured rather than just black and white.

Blubaugh is a creative writer who without doubt has talent, but sometimes one does find oneself wondering how this book could have been better. I think it could have done with more edge, but then this is a book that will be enjoyed by pre-teens who aren’t in love with the trolls and goblins that seem so popular right now.

What does happen to Nathan and Israel? What do the Cossacks do with them? Where do they end up? Why did the Cossacks attack? All these questions and more spring to mind. The book does ask many questions from the first page… You definitely find yourself turning the page to find out the answers, and I think that is one of this book’s strongest points. It is a page turner and you will want to finish it.

I have interviewed Tom Blubaugh twice (click here and here for those) and I find him to be engaging and honest. He is a deep thinker and that comes across in the book, too. Perhaps he hasn’t written with a plan in mind, but subconsciously he has developed the characters and given them purpose. I found all the characters had purpose and all acted quite realistically, without the wooden behaviour some writers use.

I will give Tom great credit for researching his subject thoroughly. The Cossacks are historically close to fact, the Okhrana, the troubles faced by a young Jewish boy living in an anti-semetic country; this book takes on the facts of the Russia we may have forgotten as history has moved on. The character of Nathan is always the Jewish boy trying to escape and Tom almost turns out his heart on some pages with poignancy and suffering. It is clear to me as a reader that this is the story that he has always wanted to write.

I will say that one thing that really frustrated me was the way Tom ended the book. There are few resolutions and the book leaves you with ‘what ifs,’ ‘what could be’ and ‘what happened?’

It was almost as though Nathan Hertzfield just disappeared from my life…

All in all, this is a pretty good romp through the Russia of the Tsars and it will delight many people around the world as it has already. I also think it is a good first attempt and shows signs of what may come from Tom Blubaugh later.




Mar 11

EXCLUSIVE! Refugees From the Emerald City by David Alvin

Sometimes an exclusive comes along. Today is one of those days. David Alvin is a prolific writer who has seen a steady rise in his sales since he wrote his first book. Today, he is more of a powerhouse than ever. His latest book is called Refugees From the Emerald City. I was able to snag a Q and A with David and THEN managed to get a copy of the book for review! See! Don’t say I am not good to you!


Q) Hi David! Great to meet you for this exclusive. So, can you give my readers a rundown of what  Refugees is about? I’m sure it would come better from you!

A) Hey, Nick! Sure…What if the Nome King and his armies had conquered Oz? And let’s assume all the fantasy stories you read as kids (and probably still do read as adults, heck) ARE true, somewhere?

It helps if you’ve read L. Frank Baum’s sixth Oz book, “The Emerald City of Oz,” but it’s truly not required — simply put, the Nomes and their evil allies dug an underground tunnel and got to the Emerald City, destroyed it and enslaved its people, and spread out over the land of Oz.


Enter David Garrett, a noted children’s book author who comes to Miami and is attending a symposium on the 100th anniversary of “The Emerald City of Oz” (so the novel’s set in 2010). He arrives at the hotel, but no symposium. In the process of finding out who got him there, he runs into Jamie with whom he graduated high school and is now a nurse in Miami. Then he meets Dorothy who escaped the Nomes. Then Guph, the general of the Nome army who after years and decades of successful conquest is finding himself — well, finding that something’s .. not … right.

Enter the Reapers, characters drafted from failed versions of their to-us-fictional worlds where evil and darkness triumphed and introducing David, Jamie, Dorothy, and Guph who are asked to believe in more than they ever have and act in less than they’ve ever known … to get their histories right.

Q) Fascinating stuff! This book has been quite a long time in the writing. Is it the book you’ve always wanted to write?

A) I’ve always wanted to write an Oz book, but I must admit Refugees was not quite what I had in mind.

I wrote this over a month in 2010 for National Novel Writing Month, so I had the general plot in mind for at least a year. I wanted its release to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the book it takes off from.

For a few reasons that didn’t happen according to plan, but you know life … pure and simple, how do you and I relate to the revelation in our own time that there’s a lot more to reality that what we have experienced before? How DO we interact with our favorite characters when they’re flesh and blood and otherwise in front of us, not pixels on a screen or words and pictures on a page?

It’s almost like Emma Swann’s epiphany in the TV show “Once Upon A Time” when SHE finds out that stories that she always regarded as fairy tales had/have a distinct reality of their own. That, and she’s part of the story.

So are we.

Q) As a writer you are rather prolific. Is it always your intention to draw a reader in as part of the story? That seems to be one of your themes.

A) Well, you do want your readers to think “hey, this could be happening where I live, or someplace I imagine” (the ten dollar word for that is “verisimilitude”) and having a common touchstone of a childhood memory can’t hurt …

I can’t say I ALWAYS write that intention, but it bleeds through the more you commit to a story. I believe it has worked very well.

Q) The big question! Is this your best work to date? Be honest!

A) For its chosen subject? Yes!

Q) Good to hear, David! Now for all your fans out there– have you got anything on the go as we speak??

A) Let’s see … “Victory,” the concluding novel of a superhero fantasy trilogy that’s the last chance to save the world in on its final pages now … “The Persian Trilogy” a Bible study of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther written along the lines of “The Burning Bush …” that you’ve previously reviewed . Those I KNOW are cooking!

Q) Cooking crazily I’d say, David. Thanks for your time!

A) Not a problem, Nick!


Review: Refugees From the Emerald City

David Alvin is known for writing long tomes. His previous works have included “The Burning Bush Wants to be Your Friend,” for example. Now, I sit and wonder to myself– what do I think of this latest book of his? Well it’s both good AND bad I’m afraid. It’s a great story, but I do think it could do with some improvement. However, let me get to that bit later.

Let me ask you a question. Have you read Frank Baum’s sixth book “The Emerald City of Oz”? You did? That’s great– you are going to love this book. You didn’t? You may find yourself puzzled like me. For all you guys and girls who haven’t read the Baum book– it happens like this. The Nomes take over the Emerald City and then take over Oz. Everyone gets enslaved and a bad moon rises. It’s crisis in the world of make-believe. Now you are fully equipped to go and read this book by David Alvin.

Without giving any secrets away, this book is a journey into an alternate reality. The story will help you wile away a few hours and leaves you with some satisfaction. David weaves a story that will be of interest to some of you– but for many of you– like me– you can find your eyes wandering off the page and looking for the latest cereal box to read. That said, if you give the book a chance you will get into it. I guess it all comes down to your love for Oz. Do you believe that you need a journey in Oz? I think if you do then you will be totally drawn into this book.

Not to be too negative– David writes well and he writes with definite strokes of talent and love. He creates characters who are interesting and he has a great way with dialogue. He creates vivid fantasy characters and makes them talk, walk and jump off the page. At times he is long-winded, however; and a reader can find themselves losing track of what was said– back up two pages and find that nothing was said. I think the book could have been shorter and more concise. However, don’t let the long-winded paragraphs drag you away from the characters who are fantastically crafted. I just found it hard to get to the characters sometimes with all the flourishing descriptions and happenings taking place.

What do I think of the concept? I think it’s great and I think David showed real respect to his favourite childhood writer. I do believe that this book will be too much of a trawl for kids, but I think a lot of adults will pick this up. Bestseller? Maybe.. Cult classic? More than likely. Movie? Maybe… An achievement for David Alvin? Certainly. Be proud of it, David, but please, next time say what you want to say in less time. The rest of the book works so well. I do believe that Refugees is this writer’s best work to date… Long live Alvin!


Older posts «