Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review of Jennison-Smith's KENDRA

Review of Kendra
Written by S Jennison-Smith

Review by R. Murry

Kendra at first sight is a normal man with a loving wife, children, and family to deal with on a daily basis.  Like many a man he is bored with his day to day routine, living it for the sake of his family.  He lives in a world that is peaceful, fruitful, and complete – no worries other than appeasing the spirits around him.  It’s called The Bosom.

Mr. Jennison-Smith’s Kendra is not of the ordinary spirit.  We find out in the first chapter that he is a half angel who can move from one place to another in a blink of an eye, using his concentrated thought – a father’s gift.  He moves from his peaceful place to earth at will.

On earth, he is a general and champion of a king during the biblical genesis period where Abraham walks the streets with his wife Sarah - One encounter Kendra has on a journey there.  Having read the Bible, I understood the reference.  A non-reader of the Bible may get a little lost. 

However, the author brings us back to the main story after these historical trips, that being Kendra’s human need for adventure and loyalty to his earthly king.  His heavenly spirit side, in this case his Bosom existence, is put on hold to fulfill his human need for escapades.  This is against his wife’s wishes – another sub plot.

The bad guys, an earthly cult is out to kill Kendra, because of his powers and the damage he has inflicted on their kind.  These evil ones have brought war against Kendra’s king and earthly subjects. 

Kendra with his powers can go back and forth to the Bosom, and does make many trips to see his loved ones and rest from his self-proclaimed earthly duties.  The war begins.  At the request of his king, Kendra devises a plan to defeat the overwhelming enemy.   To what end, you’ll have to read the novel.

Mr. Jennison-Smith slowly feeds us information of simple and clear prose.  The reader will not get lost in the names or who’s an angel and who’s not.  He carefully and cautiously involves the reader and brings him to a somewhat anticipated conclusion.
All in all, I’d say the read was enjoyable given the biblical references.     

Purchase at Amazon at

Interview with Stephen Jennison-Smith

Interview with Stephen Jennison-Smith
author of Kendra

Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I have been married for 24 years and we have three children and two grandchildren so far.  I have written 12 books, 9 of them published on the Kindle. I like science fiction and used to be a big fan of fantasy.
Do you remember the first story you wrote?
The one I remember is when I was in junior school at the age of nine or ten. We had to write a descriptive story based on a Famous Five tale we had heard previously. The teacher commended me for saying that Timmy the dog walked with, ‘padded footsteps.’
Were you inspired by someone or something?
I had a dream.
What do you like about writing a story?
Being able to finish it and tie up all the loose ends. Or to leave the readers with enough of a mystery to make their heads hurt. It depends what I am writing.
Can you tell us about your book?
Kendra, the Nephilim, is a good half angel who lives in the Bosom of Abraham and teleports to  earth and  befriends  the descendants of Shem and fight in their battles.
How did you come up with the story?
I had a dream, which I wrote in a diary, of a half angel, who looked a bit like Jonathan Creek, who lived on a chunk of rock suspended between heaven and earth. The story has developed from there for the past five years.
What genre best fits for the book?
I call it dark Christian fantasy but it doesn’t sit well in a few of those genres. It is Old Testament at the minute and only dark because it describes the violence and evil in a kind of OT way.
Are you working on something new at the moment?
The seventh book in the Arth series and the second book of Kendra called ‘The Twenty Four’. I also have two other projects that need proof reading and/or illustrating.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Write. Right?
Which authors inspire you?
I have read ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ as well as Asimov, Michael Moorcock, C.S.Lewis and Alan Moore graphic novels.
Where can people go to read your work?
or samples and some shorter finished work on Wattpad
Where can people find you on the internet?
Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Low's Thick as Thieves Reviewed

Review of Thick As Thieves
By Neil Low

Reviewed by R. Murry

Mr. Low’s writing of Alan Stewart’s becoming an adult is persuading, where you cannot feel for the character and his plight.   Moving through each fast pace chapter after chapter, the reader is involved and can emphasize with the illegal decisions Alan makes through happenstance – one primary choice after another.

His father, a union detective in Seattle, Washington, is murdered.  This is the starting point of Alan’s self-imposed resolution to avenge his father’s brutal killing by local thugs.  In his quest, he investigates the comings and goings of his father, leading him to the union’s door.

He resolves that they are not the culprits, after kind, honest encounters with Mr. Brinkman, the union’s boss, who turns out to be a critical key in Alan’s development into adulthood.  And here is where he meets Vic, his father’s ex-partner, who becomes Alan’s mentor in street smarts, sex, crime, and murder – all on a higher moral standard than the real criminals that are out to get them.

Of course, there is money involved.  Greed and power are the motivators of the thugs’ leader, who is one of Seattle’s finest and can’t shake his Prohibition persona.  In those days, the moral ground was falsely taken by the police.   He is after thousands of gold certificates that he believes Alan’s father McAlister and Vic have – an another subplot that brings about the clashes of the law against the union.

How does this unravel?  Does Alan avenge his father’s murder?  Well, I’ll let you read the exciting collision of good vs. evil – not legal vs. illegal. 
Mr. Low does leave you hanging in a right way on a couple of minor points so you’ll read this sequel.  It’s on my book-to-read list.  Alan Stewart’s transition from young man to a young detective is a story that is a must-read for Law and Order lovers.  


Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview of Neil Low, 

Interviewed by R. Murry

Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a career police officer, having joined the Seattle Police Department as a cadet at age nineteen, forty-five years ago. I’ve risen through the ranks, making captain about eleven years ago. I still love police work, figure I’m contributing to society, and I currently serve as the Night Commander, which means I’m in charge of all police emergency services when all the other brass are in bed—like being a battalion chief at a fire department. I’ve been interested in writing since reading Joe Wambaugh’s New Centurions, when I returned from Naval Service in Vietnam. After reading Wambaugh’sa stories, I vowed that I would write someday, but first I had to go out and gather experience and then learn to write. I did just that. I went back to college in 1995 and graduated cum laude from the University of Washington Bothell in 2003.
Do you remember the first story you wrote?
While in Vietnam I lost my lucky hat, when it fell overboard, off the ship I was on. I dramatized the telling of this non-event to my mother, implying that it was a best friend who had died at sea. She was completely taken-in by the story and didn’t find out until the very end of the letter that it was just my blue cap I was missing. She told me I had a writing talent worth pursuing.
Were you inspired by someone or something?
When I first read Joe Wambaugh’s New Centurions and The Blue Knight, I was impressed that here was someone who understood police officers and could tell our story, something people wanted to hear, if told well. Joe was an active L.A. police sergeant at that time, with a Masters degree in English. I had read detective novels before this, but I think Wambaugh was the first to capture what real police officers dealt with when working the street. It was much grittier and true to life than Adam 12 or Dragnet had ever been. Later, when I went back to college, a professor encouraged me to write a paper on Raymond Chandler and his crime fiction novels, and that was the spark that changed my whole perspective on what and how I wanted to write. I had been a police detective for several years by then, and I was very impressed with Chandler’s style and his craftsmanship in telling stories. I decided to emulate him while telling my own stories. He continues to be my inspiration. I think I’ve read or own everything he’s ever written.
What do you like about writing a story?
When I first started writing, I enjoyed the storytelling process. I write organically, meaning I do not use an outline; I let my characters tell me their story. But as I say this, I know that I have a built-in boiler plate, knowing what is necessary for a criminal case to go to trial. For a novel to be complete enough for publication, it has to meet the same standards as a case for prosecution. All the leads must be followed, and the facts have to logically point to a satisfactory conclusion.  I love sitting down at the computer with the hint of an idea and then typing out what I’ve learned by paying attention to my characters interacting with each other. BUT—this is only part of the fun. I have since learned that there is a lot of pleasure to be had in the rewriting and polishing of the novel, if you are into craftsmanship. I appreciate the creation of a well-turned phrase, and I love adding foreshadowing and alliterations, as well as metaphors and similes. I love the feedback I get when a fan/reader tells me how much they liked my story, and they quote a passage back to me. Makes me feel like Raymond Chandler. This is probably a good point to mention that I have an art background and am a very visual person. I try to write so my readers see what I see, appreciating the detail that makes a story feel real to them and me.
Can you tell us about your book?
THICK AS THIEVES is at its heart a revenge story. Young Alan Stewart has lost his private detective father, who dies in his arms, following a beating, and Alan vows revenge for the murder, even though he’s not yet sure who did it, why they did it, or how he will possibly achieve his goal. As fate would have it, Alan gets hired by his dad’s former employer when he turns twenty-one, and he starts uncovering details of his father’s shadowy life and then learns who killed him. Fate intervenes again, and Alan has a chance to exact revenge on the same men who killed his father--at the exact place where they dealt their death blows to him, while he also protects a friend and mentor, who has helped him become a detective. There is also a factually accurate tie to the Lindbergh kidnapping, which drives this plot forward, and there is a very angry corrupt police official who desperately wants what Alan has found. Blackjacks, beatings, machine guns, pistols, secret passages, ransom money, dark secrets, car chases, and lust.
How did you come up with the story?
While working on another story, involving a vault burglary, I started doing the back story on two of the main characters, which took me away from the outline I was working with. While fleshing in Alan Stewart, I added information a friend had told me about concerning the death of his dad in the 40s, dying of injuries suffered from a beating at a union meeting. When I asked him if the police caught whoever killed his father, he said, “I think it was the police who killed him.” Since we were both police sergeants at this time on the same department, I asked how that could be, and he told me, “It was a different era back then. We had corruption like we’ve never seen in our careers!” Before long, Alan’s back story stretched to eight chapters, and of course it begged the questions: Who killed Mackie Stewart and why? So I followed my instincts and went with the story, letting my characters explain what happened to them. I felt like I was merely the recording secretary of a story being told by ghosts.
What genre best fits for the book?
I write noir murder/mystery.
Are you working on something new at the moment?
THICK AS THIEVES led to a sequel, SIGN OF THE DRAGON, and I’ve followed that with UNREASONABLE PERSUASION, and UNHOLY ALLIANCE. My fifth in the Alan Stewart series is DEADLY ATTRACTION, and it’s due for release mid-November.  All five have been published by Kristen Morris of Tigress Publishing (Seattle and L.A.) who has been a joy to work with. She’s been very active in the book designs, promotions, editing, and concept development.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Learn as much as you can about writing. Read Stephens King’s On Writing, Robert McKee’s Story, and everything else you can find on your craft. I started reading Writer’s Digest, and now read blogs on writing. And as Ray Bradbury has already said, I urge would-be writers to start writing and make it a habit. Bradbury suggests starting with short-stories, completing one a week, which is what he did, and it’s also how Stephen King honed his skills. I also took every college class I could find on writing or literature, because it is all about learning your craft. I’ll also reiterate what other authors have said: If you want to write, you need to read. Read everything you can and expand your taste in reading. Educate yourself.
Which authors inspire you?
I started with literature and read that before popular fiction, so let’s start with that: Mark Twain, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, and O. Henry. Moving to crime fiction, I started with The Hardy Boys as a kid, reading every one of their mysteries. And since then, it has been Joe Wambaugh, James Elroy, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, among others. Currently, I’m on a Michael Connelly jag, reading everything I can of his. He does a particularly great job of capturing courtroom drama. Having spent a lot of time in court as a detective, I’m impressed how an outsider can gain such keen insight into how the “system” works/doesn’t work, while explaining it in an entertaining manner.
Where can people go to read your work?
My novels are available in print, and all bookstores can order them through Partner’s West Distributing. Or, they can order them at discount through my website:  I’m also available on Kindle at:
Where can people find you on the internet? 
Face book, under Neil Low, and
Twitter: @TheMasterThief
Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
For would-be writers, I would encourage them to make their stories as perfect as they can before trying to submit their work. There really is no such thing as a perfect first draft that comes as a gift from the gods. Everything authors write can and should be improved upon. A writer has an implicit duty to do this before submission. Make it as tight as possible, and if they’re still serious about submitting their work or publishing it electronically, hire a professional editor to go over it first. I would also urge authors to search out the right publishing arrangement that works for them, helping them create something they will be proud to see on a book shelf. Personally, I’d be concerned about a company that just wanted to slap a cover on the first draft they saw, having no marketing plan, and leaving the writer disappointed with a garage full of books s/he can’t sell. If your followers have technical questions on writing, detective work, or publishing, they can contact me through my website, or message me at Twitter, providing contact information. As long as I’m not overwhelmed, time permitting, I’d be glad to answer their questions.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review of Space Orville

Review of: Space Orville

Reviewer: R. Murry

Jeff’s imagination took possession of my mind from the start of this space odyssey.  He invents characters, places, words, and scenes that could only have been produced with much time and effort.

Colors will pulse, turn into a glowballs, become liquid blankets, and smooch to name a few ways they are used.  Objects exist but you can’t see them; and they chuffled, wheebling, and merbled.  As you can see, he makes up words that flow well in the situation they're put, and make you laugh, because of their usage.
Space Orville, a sixteen year old, is out to catch the bad guy Bizmo while a host of characters are after the Weezle Bums.  They come together to search for the villains.

For me to try to describe the characters would do discredit to Mr. Whelan’s superb effort.  There’s NeutroFuzz, Space Orville’s side-kick who performs what Orville describes as amazing tricks, and then there are the General, Commander, and Ivan.  Lidweena and her Spoonies, Zabooka, and Miles are also contributors in trying to find the universal criminals.

We visit the land of the Reality Free Zone, Andorica, Narvosis and Selador to name a few.  I know I missed one or two, because there are many interesting places in Mr. Whelan’s universe of conscious,
subconscious, and dreams that we as humans traverse.  Examples are: Miles hands Space Orville the Fog Napkin, an instrument of life or death, saying, “Remember, that’s a lot of time you’ve got on your hands.”  Zabooka says to Space Orville’s group, “…You may not know which way you’re going, but that won’ stop you from getting somewhere.”

There are gadgets that are mind boggling.  And again, for me to describe them would be fruitless.  I’ll just say you will enjoy seeing hearing, and watching what they do through Mr. Whelan’s colorful and descriptive prose.

Purchase at .     

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review of The Desolate Garden

               The Desolate Garden         

By Danny Kemp

Reviewed by R. Murry

“Me, being the irrepressible confident soul that I am, I figuratively dived into the ruck and went searching for the ball.” is a quote of the Honourable Harry Paterson at the beginning of this character-driven suspense who-done-it novel.  Moreover, it was not the butler who did it, as in many an English murder story alludes.  As you can see by the spelling of honorable, I had to use an Oxford dictionary to read this book. Just kidding, the story is written that any non-Englishman could follow without trouble.

For those Americans, like myself, “Diving into the ruck,” is a rugby term meaning getting down and dirty, taking the ball and running with it, which Harry attempts to do in the investigation into the murder of his father.  However, he is sidetracked by his chauvinistic ways.

The other main character in this novel interwoven with killings, espionage, money laundering, family lineages, is Judith Meadows.  She is the unlikely government investigator brought in to solve the main crime, which turns into unraveling a book of offenses that crisscrosses international boundaries.  So it may seem.

Who is the instigator of the crime?  That is what Judy and H. are spending their brain power on trying to figure out.  They become familiar with their communications to the point that H. thinks he is falling in love.  Mr. Kemp’s dialog between these two leads one to believe that we have a love story in the making.  His characters fit well together – their wit and sarcasm have you expecting a marriage in the making.

Things are more complicated in Mr. Kemp’s tales of the haves against the have-nots in politics, money, power, and greed. You have to be quick of mind to follow the plot and all the intriguing individuals that make up this journey through a world of decadence and corruption.  The effort is well worth spent.

The novel ends with a surprise that not even Lord Harry Peterson or Judith Meadows would have conjured up.  The enemy is closer than you think.

Superb writing and suspense building are the reason I give The Desolate Garden a Five Star rating. Purchase at:
Any of the thirty-nine internet sites listed here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Legacy Forgotten by Nicole Hill

Review of Nicole Hill's

Legacy Forgotten

Reviewed by Author R. Murry

“Relax,” Camelita told her (Ailis,) “The answer will come to you.  Most of the time the answer we see most is the one we cannot find.”

This is the premise of Legacy Forgotten.  Kenneth, a vampire, is looking for his place in life, even though he has live hundreds of them.  Monolo is destroying the world is the center of.  Ailis is coming of age in strength and wisdom as a women leader.  All these main characters are looking for something that is right in front of them, but they can’t grasp it.

They are all interwoven into finding what is important to them.  And that turns out to be a Legacy Forgotten, which is found through conflict that is foiled by sanity of women’s love for an ideal – somewhat a love story.

Vampire lore and legacy, I have little knowledge of.  Ms. Hill makes it clear in an entertaining way to a novice like me through her literary descriptions.

All I all, I enjoyed the adventure into yore, but give Ms. Hill’s effort Three Stars, because the story was somewhat difficult for me to follow for one who has limited knowledge in Vampire oddities.  However, I believe the book would be a welcome addition to a blood sucker’s library. 

Purchase at  Kindle: