Reviewing Indie Authors One Book at a Time

Archive for the ‘5 Star’ Category

Guest Review – Mackie T.

Please welcome our young guest reviewer, for the first time ever, the one and only – Mackie T.!

Book: How Santa Changed
Author: Karl Steam
Awards: Readers’ Favorite – 5 Stars

Mackie Rating: 11 Stars!

I liked when Santa found the reindeer. I also liked how he got fat at the end of the story by eating too many cookies. That was so funny! But now Santa has a magical tummy to eat all those cookies left for him on Christmas Eve.

See you again next time!



About the Book

Santa wasn’t always a jolly old fellow. He was young and made plenty of mistakes too. But most have forgotten this part of his life, the part that explains so much. Few have heard the story of how Santa changed.

About the Author

Karl Steam is a children’s author, illustrator, and motivational speaker. Some of his works include Purple Pup, How Santa Changed, and Bear Woke Up. He resides in the Lakes Region of the Upper Midwest, with his wife and four children.

Karl enjoys fishing, camping, and traveling. A road trip to North Carolina is currently at the top of his vacation wish list.



The Bug Boys – Stewart Hoffman

bugboysAlex and his friends are typical kids. They go to school, have trouble with math, and try to stay out of trouble with teachers and parents. They certainly didn’t suspect that a field trip to the village colliery would change their lives and introduce them to life from another planet.

In this can’t-put- it-down kids’ adventure, Alex and Ian become the Bug Boys, a duo with bug powers that they want to use to fight crime – if there was any crime in their small village. We witness that boys can be studious, impulsive, vengeful, and empathetic. And alien life not come in a form we can readily imagine. The creativity and unique traits in this book make it a delight to read. As an added bonus, footnotes to the reader add comic relief.

5 Stars – Superheros, aliens, bullies, and a stop to corruption.

Playback Effect – Karen A. Wyle

pbe-kawPunishing the perpetrators of heinous crimes is an ethical struggle that continues to be controversial, even in our advanced social age. In this thrilling page-turner, the reader witnesses a method that uses special recording devices to collect the memories of those injured at the scene of the crime, and these recordings are played back in the mind of the convicted criminal.

But how will this method affect an innocent man accused of the terrorist crime in which his own wife is critically injured?

Probing into the depths of pleasure, pain, and empathy, Playback Effect pulls the reader into the heads of the main characters with an easy flow, connecting each scene to form and complete the mystery.

5 Stars


The Grey Forest – Maureen A. Griswold

grey-forest-griswoldThis collection swells with well-written, thought-provoking narratives of the lives of the everyday characters. Griswold lends captivating language to describe the daily situations both ordinary and out-of-the-ordinary and, in the process, touches on social and political issues.

Each story blends realism and symbolism into a consumable packet and creates a feast of meaningful literature I am so often starving for.

5 Stars




Vick’s Vultures – Scott Warren

Offering up insights into alien points of view, Scott Warren wields a mighty pen to create this electrifying tale of humanity’s role as a “lesser empire” in the whole of the galaxy – lesser in size and technology but not in gumption.

For the most part, other races of the galaxy don’t even know humankind exists, let alone feel threatened by them. Those races aware of humanity know they are a force to be reckoned with; they will fight for survival when the need arises but are just as eager to make alliances as it suits them.vv-sw

Scavenging tech from the wrecks of alien battles, Captain Victoria Marin and her crew known as “the Vultures” are in the business of bringing home anything and everything for human scientists to study and attempt to reverse engineer. Humans are hundreds of years behind in most technology needed for space flight. In their favor, however, they are ahead in computer security and infiltration – other species don’t rely on computers to make important calculations – and they are experts at infantry combat, something other space-faring races have long forgotten.

Each chapter brings and exciting new twist to the story and delves deeper into the personalities of the characters, not alien and human.

5 Star – Engrossing and imaginative tale of the galactic space race.

Published by Parvus Press LLC

Available on




Refusing Excalibur – Zachary Jones

re-zSimilar to the premise of Battlestar Galactica, Earth is the lost world of origin of the entire human species throughout the galaxy. Once an advanced culture colonizing space and booming with amazing technology, Earth is now lost to space and time. But the other humans remember the stories, and artifacts of the so-called “First Civilization” circulate among the upper-class families. In this time, a thousand years after the jump gate to Earth has closed, the ruling family of one planet sees its duty to reunite humankind and declares war on those who don’t concede. Yet another man loses his entire planet to war and shifts about the worlds seeking vengeance.

Our protagonist, Victor, is the product of a world at war with an enemy for decades, an officer in the space-faring navy who took the lives of his enemies for the good of his own people. Quite possibly the only survivor of his planet, he turns to a life of mercenary work, killing for money and seeking out the opportunity to exact revenge upon the man who ordered genocide. Throughout the story, his PTSD wrestles with his desire to change the galaxy.

Excalibur is a First Civilization relic, a ship of profound technological ability with an AI guardian known only as “the old man.” The AI seeks out someone to fly this beacon of strength with intentions of ending the lethal division of the human-inhabited planets by reuniting all humankind under a common power.

5-Star – For fans of sci-fi colonization.



The Dreaming – Barbara Wood

TheDreamingBarbara Wood uses meticulous research and elegant writing to create novels with believable characters and realistic settings that transport the reader to exotic countries and far off times. The Dreaming takes us to Australia in the Victorian Era, when Darwin is an upstart scientist and Jules Verne is writing his inspiring novels.

Young Joanna Drury of colonial India has lost both parents within days of each other and has made a promise to her mother to go to Australia in search of answers to the woman’s missing history. On her own and with only a tattered and water-stained deed to guide her, Joanna arrives in Australia looking for an obscure piece of land on a continent that has not yet been completely mapped. She carries with her a few belongings and a haunting set of dreams.

Joanna’s character is one you hope will prevail through a strong sense of sheer will, but I found that it was more the idea of keeping a promise that kept her going despite tremendous obstacles thrown up in her path. She might have given up on her pursuit of finding out her mother’s past if not for the pleading of her dying mother and the pressure of the confusing nightly images.

Each character introduced in this novel is written with purpose, whether it is to further Joanna’s goal, to define the history of Austalia’s native people and its colonists, or to block the young woman from finding the truth. The author’s rendering of character and setting exhibits extensive time and energy to get the details precise. Having recently completed a course on Australian literature, I was not disappointed by the interweaving of Aboriginal beliefs with the invasion of the white man into their lands creating a subtext of cultural destruction.

Sharyn Doolan offers her voice to this audiobook and adds to the enjoyment of the novel with her talented voice.

5 Stars – Elegantly writing and well-researched, a novel that takes you back in time.

From Cherry Hill Publishing and available on Amazon.







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