How could you not like a book and a series featuring a female protagonist with the humorous/sexy name of Lucky O’Toole? So Damn Lucky is the first I’ve read in Coonts’s romantic mystery series, but it won’t be the last. The third novel(after Wanna Get Lucky, and Lucky Stiff) continues Lucky’s adventures in Las Vegas as the Head of Customer Relations at the mega-casino The Babylon. A typical night for her can involve any number of things, from an aging Midwestern couple trapped in a sex swing to a temperamental French chef who’s determined to make Lucky catch fire.

Besides dealing with the “normal” events and scheduling of conventions at The Babylon, Lucky also has her hands full doing the same sorts of things at the aging Grand Dame of Las Vegas casinos, the Athena Resort and Casino. Recently having discovered that her boss, Albert Rothstein (also known as The Big Boss), is her father has not made her life any easier, and is one more secret she wants to keep closely guarded. She is in charge of seeing that events like a Star Wars and Star Trek convention goes off without a hitch, and the final show of “the forty-year run of the Calliope Burlesque Caberet,” featuring the famous but aging magician, Mr. Dimitri Fortunoff.

What to do when there is a “hitch,” though, like when an escape artist/magician tragically dies inside of Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Cell, after having received numerous death threats? And, what if the paramedics who come to take the escape artist to the hospital aren’t really paramedics, and the body, itself, semingly vanishes into thin air?

As if dealing with this magical mystery wasn’t enough, Lucky also faces romantic and personal challenges. Her hunky boyfriend is touring with a rock band in Europe, leaving her very lonely, and very horny. Temptation taunts her in the form of other handsome men she encounters, like a newly-hired French chef and Dane, a tall tExan who works for the Gaming Commission. Will she succumb to the temptation, or somehow find the resolve to remain faithful to her boyfriend?

Also, Lucky’s mother is back with the Big Boss, and is pregnant. The Big Boss wants her to give up control over her whore house, and she is reluctant to do so. When the Big Boss asks Lucky to be the go-between, and talk her mother into giving up the house of ill repute, will she honor his request?

The troubleshooting Lucky O’Toole loves her cars as fast as her men, and her car of choice in So Damn Lucky is a Ferrari. Besides the challenges I already mentioned, Lucky has to deal with things like settling a disute over a limited-edition, gold plated golf club that its owner chucks into a water hazard. It’s then retrieved by a caddy, who claims it as his own; but, the man who threw it into the water hazard suddenly has a change of heart, and demands it back. It’s a case that would pose a quandry for Solomon himself, but it’s a cinch for the intrepid Lucky O’Toole to figure out an equitable solution.

So Damn Lucky by Deborah Coonts is a fun, fast-paced, page-turning read. It’s a novel that combines the thriler/mystery and romance genres, with a generous dose of humor laced throughout. Whether you’re already a fan of the Lucky O’Toole series, you definitely will be once you’re read So Damn Lucky. It can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, which is another plus, but I would recommend that you check out the entire series, as I plan to do. It’s a novel that gratiously gives you all of the fun of Las Vegas without ever leaving your house! Add it to your reading lists today.


William Wallace of Braveheart fame is one of Scotland’s most renowned historical figures. Despite this, though, and a movie made about his life, little is known about the facts of his life. The account that was made into the movie the epic poem “The Wallace,” by Blind Harry, was written more than a hundred years after the events it details. Author Jack Whyte compares Wallace’s life to that of Jesus’s, “…in that both emerged from obscurity at a late age – between twenty-seven and thirty – and each had a short, brilliant, meteoric public career that ended in execution. No one really knows what either man did in the years before he stepped into public scrutiny…” Still, certain facts and surmises have been recorded, and – though Whyte’s book The Forest Laird (A Tale of William Wallace) is a historical novel – he has researched his subject very well, and it shows in his exciting, page-turning novel.

The Forest Laird (A Tale of William Wallace) begins with a cousin of Wallace’s, the first-person narrator, Jamie (or James), visiting William at Smithfield Prison where he awaits his execution to both talk with him and to hear his last confession. James and William fought together against the English under King Edward, and we read about their early life, and learn where William’s initial hatred of the English began. His parents and sister were brutally killed, his sister’s head cut from her body by a sword. He was only eight, and the soldiers of King Edward then raped both of the boys. They escape, but are pursued by the soldiers for upwards of thirty miles. It is no wonder that, after this happened, Wallace was filled with a hatred for the English and a desire to gain revenge against the people who had wronged him and his cousin and who had murdered his family.

The Forest Laird (A Tale of William Wallace) details both Wallace’s victories and his defeats, his highs and his lows, much as the movie Braveheart does. The research the author’s done, though, reveals even more facets to William’s character, and it’s interesting to see him viewed through his cousin’s sometimes idolizing and sometimes condemning eyes. He’s shown druing his fugitive days, when he was considered to be an outlaw, through his meteoric rise as his people’s hero and patriot, and the eventual falling off of his followers due to both defeats at the hands of the English and to the changing times and attitudes of the Scottish royal families. Wallace’s exploits, daring escapes, and adventures are described in vivid page-turning detail. It’s sad as one reads to know, though, the gruesome fate that awaits the fictional Wallace, as it’s the same one that befell the historical one: to be hung, drawn, and quartered by the book’s end.

William Wallace’s life is told with a new, invigorated force through Whyte’s words and colorful descriptions. The next two books in his Guardians trilogy will be about men who were two other cornerstones of Scottish freedom, Robert, the Bruce and Sir James (the Black) Douglas. I know very little about these men, though I’ve heard of their names before. Scotland has had a long and a proud history, and it has always seemed to me to be a mystical, almost magical kind of country. If The Forest Laird (A Tale of William Wallace) is any indication, the novels to follow will be ones I’ll be anxiously awaiting reading/reviewing. I’d highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves reading historical fiction and who’s a fan of the movie Braveheart. Add it to your reading lists today!


The World’s Most Beloved Pterodactyl (Or is that terrier-dactyl)You asked for it, my adoring public, and you got it! At last, my third novel in my series, The Case Files of Lily and PAWS, has made it to ebook format, and will soon be in paperback, exclusively at Amazons WORLDWIDE! I will give the links to the USA and UK stores, but it’s available at ALL Amazons. In the USA, d/load it at: amazon.com/dp/B00960RFRQ while in the U.K., d/load it at: amazon.co.uk/dp/B00960RFRQ

What can you expect to read in Lily Solves Them All? The unexpected, that’s what! Lily gains a new arch-nemesis, Professor Polynesia, who is bent on exposing Lily and PAWS as being, as best, second-rate detectives. Will Lily, her “owner,” fourteen-year-old Celeste, and PAWS rise to the occasion and take her challenge to solve 7 difficult cases using the methods of 7 of the world’s best-known detectives of literature and the Silver Screen; or, will she and her freinds hand their heads in shame, and give up being detectives forever? What do YOU think?

There are more characters, more cases, more friends, and more foes than ever in this third book. There are copper automatons (Can you say “steampunk”? I knew you could!), evil Leprechauns, werewolves, a mad scientist called Dr. Chronos, vampires, witches, ghosts, aliens, and much, much more!

The 7 detectives Lily must use the methods of (I altered their names) are Sherlock Bones, Nero Wolf, Colombo, Miss Marvel, Hercule Parrot, Sam Specter, and Inspector Bluessaeau. The cases are Lily’s and PAWS’ most challenging yet, and include some of the most page-turning and humorous cases so far! I invite you all to partake–it is not a requirement to have read the first two ebooks/paperbacks in the series, Lily, Unleashed & Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts of Summer; but, hey, I’m maybe a tiny bit biased–they are great, too, and I hope you read all three, as well as my awesome Great Gatsby-influenced ebook/paperback, My Brother The Zombie (The Zombie Revolution: Book One). What’re ya waitin’ for?


Part murder mystery, part science fiction time-traveling tale where realities bleed into each other, like in Philip K. Dick’s SF novels, The Man From Primrose Lane is a quirky, suspenseful read that will haunt your dreams for years to come. Its melding of different genres has caused some critics to react, at least in part, unfavorably towards James Renner’s debut novel, while others, who seem to “get it,” have given The Man From Primrose Lane glowing reviews. Why is this? Is The Man From Primrose Lane a great novel, which you’ll want to add to your reading lists; or is it one you would be better off avoiding, at all costs? This review will attempt to answer those questions, and help you decide if it’s worth your hard-earned dollars to buy it.

I think it’s a good thing to read what several reviewers have written about a book before you decide to buy it. You run the risk of having a couple of spoilers revealed, but you might read about a book you’ll fall in love with, which you would never have known even existed, if you hadn’t read the review. But, also, you will not be (hopefully) disappointed as much as you might otherwise be with the purchase of a book, because you will know ahead of time if it’s a book that will appeal to you or not.

I’ll admit, right from when I heard the title of this novel, I wasn’t all that sure I’d like it. The Man From Primrose Lane is not a title that told me much about what the novel is about, other than it will deal with, on one level or another, a–duh–man from Primrose Lane. But, what sort of a man? Will he be the main character, will the novel be mostly about his life, will there be a mystery involved? I had a lot of questions about the novel, just from having read the title–though, it’s not a bad title–it just didn’t really tell me much about what the book would be about.

Just as you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover, I found out that you shouldn’t always judge a book by its title, either. I really enjoyed Renner’s The Man From Primrose Lane, but don’t get it if you’re only a fan of mysteries, or are only a fan of science fiction, or you probably won’t get into the book very much.

Who is the man of the title? He is an odd man, who has a penchant for wearing mittens, no matter how warm or cold it is outside. He has the reputation of being a street person, though he has a house, with a closet full of boxes of mittens. Learning why he enjoys wearing mittens is one of the mysteries of the novel you’ll find out as you read it.

Why would anyone want to brutally murder such a man, who may seem to be, on the surface, anyway, harmless, if eccentric and reclusive? He is murdered at the very beginning of the novel, his fingers cut off of his hands while, apparently, he’s still alive. Was it a madman who killed him? A serial killer? Or, maybe someone who had been victimized or wronged by the man in the past?

Enter the author David Neff, who is asked by his publisher to write a book about the “Man with a Thousand Mittens.” Neff, a widower with a four-year-old son, Tanner, becomes the main focus of the novel, the main protagonist of this schizophenic (in a good way) novel. He’s written a bestselling book, The Serial Killer’s Protégé, about the convicted serial killer Ronil Brune and his rommmate, Trimble (the actual murderer), so his publisher thinks that Neff would be a good choice to write a book about the murder of the Man with a Thousand Mittens.

Neff’s book is about the series of murders of young, innocent ten-year-old red-haired girls that was blamed on Brune, who was executed 10 years ago. Through some “haunted letters,” he discovers, Neff learns that the actual murderer was Brune’s roommate, Trimble. The murders followed the hibernation cycle of the cicada. Somehow the identity of the Man with a Thousand Mittens.” holds the key to the ongoing series of murders. Though Brune didn’t commit the murders, he is far from a saint, and his spirit tries to possess Neff’s body. Can Neff figure out the information he needs to prevent the murderer from striking again?

Neff is romantically drawn to the character of Elizabeth, a moody and mysterious lady, who eventually becomes his wife. But, at least in part because of Neff’s obsessive drive to prove that Trimble was the real murderer, and the psychotic episodes Neff has until his therapist prescribes a strong medication, Elizabeth commits suicide. We also read that Elizabeth had a twin sister, who was one of the girls who were abducted and killed.

In the second section of the book, Neff goes off his meds, contrary to the advice of his therapist. It’s four years after the murders that Neff has written about in his bestselling book, and it’s when his editor assigns him the job of writing about the “Man with the Thousand Mittens.”

Then, in the third section, Dave’s character splits in two and half of him travels to the year 2036. Is he going insane, or has he (a part of him, anyway) actually traveled forward in time? Could it be that there’s a second serial killer? Good advice Neff could have used: Beware of peculiar black cats and black eggs.

The Man From Primrose Lane is a fascinating debut novel, and I look forward to reading and reviewing more books from James Renner in the coming years. It is a tangled mix of story lines that is somewhat tricky to keep up with, but if you like novels that cross and blend genres in very inventive ways, The Man From Primrose Lane is one you’ll want to add to your reading lists. Check it out today!


The history of World War II and the question of why an entire nation would fall under the spell of a fanatical fascist dictator like Adolph Hitler is one that is endlessly fascinating. Hitler’s Priest, by S.J. Tagliareni, a former Catholic priest, explores this topic with a thoughtful and extremely well-researched novel based on actual historical figures and depictions of events that shaped the entire world.

Meet Hans Keller: he is an atheist, and a highly intelligent man with an eidetic memory who catches the eye of the Third Reich’s Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels. He has been had-selected to be a mole, infiltrating the ranks of the Vatican’s Catholic hierarchy in order to exert influence upon their decisions, thus playing a key role in the shaping of the Nazi’s concept of a new Germany. He attends the same classes and undergoes the same training as anyone studying to be a priest does, at the Gregorian University in Rome. But, instead of focusing on the next world, Hans instead focuses on “his relationship with the Fuhrer and the lofty goals of this world.”

Goebbels understood that the four years Keller would spend in the seminary was a large expense in terms of time, even though the potential gains could prove enormous for the Third Reich. That’s why he devises a way for Hans to be a help even before the four years are up, through a person he has visit Keller who gives him specific tasks to perform: Erich Hanke. But, what happens when Hans finds his thoughts become more clouded and his morals starting to crumble is something that Goebbels did not anticipate fully, and Keller, himself, had not thought possible would happen: Hans begins to question the morality of the role he is supposed to perform, as Hitler’s priest.

It is easy for people of today to think to themselves that there is no way that they would ever fall under the sway of powerful, hypnotic leaders like Adolph Hitler and Goebbels; but, imagine that you are living in a country where such rulers hold sway. You are only told things from one point of view, and become indoctrinated from an early age in the beliefs and teachings of the Third Reich. With only a very narrow world view presented to you, and the troubles your nation facing blamed upon one race of people, who hold beliefs different from yours, it likely would not be too difficult to see that a hatred could develop within your bosom for the other race.

Being brought up under such a regime would be a terrible thing, as the only “truth,” you would be exposed to would be that of leaders with a definite agenda, bent on ruling the entire world, and molding it to their wills. You would either need to go along with their agenda, or be steam rolled into oblivion, thrown into a concentration camp along with the Jews, Catholics, and gays, or anyone who had a different viewpoint.

Salvatore J. Tagliareni, the author of Hitler’s Priest, writes with great authority on the subject. He was a Catholic priest himself, and one of his mentors was the psychotherapist Viktor Franklwho lived under the Third Reich. Frankl had everything taken away from him, his family, his homeland, his job, and his freedom; yet, he did not hate those who had treated him that way.

There is an enormous cast of characters in Hitler’s Priest who add their POVs to the plot. Each one is interesting, and we get to see how various people who were involved in either the regime of the Third Reich or who had lived under it, felt. The chapters alternate between these people and their POVs, and reading about them helps give the reader a fully realized portrayal of how the various players involved viewed their roles.

As examples, we read about the real-life, historical brothers, Stefano and Severio Pittelli, and how their courage “changed lives on both sides of the Atlantic.” Also, we read about people like the Roman Catholic, Karl Hunsecker, the German ambassador to the Vatican who lived in Rome. Though Karl is a member of the Third Reich, he feels morally conflicted, and expresses his opinions about the direction that Germany is headed towards in its treatment of the Jews to Cardinal Pietro Agnelli. There are many, many more examples of people who the author writes about and fleshes out in detail in Hitler’s Priest. They help make history come alive for the reader.

Hitler’s Priest by S.J. Tagliareni is a page-turning book whose characters will live in your thoughts long after you finish reading it. You will be entranced by the author’s depictions of the characters and events that led up to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich, and will want to keep reading until late into the night. I have read many historical accounts of WWII and the Third Reich, but often, you don’t really gain a complete understanding of how it was like to have lived during that time unless you read a novel about people who lived under the regime of the Third Reich, like the great novels The Boy In Striped Pajamas and The Book Thief. If you loved reading those novels and others about the Third Reich, or you’re a history buff, you’re sure to want to add Hitler’s Priest to your reading lists today!


Though I don’t ordinarily read novels in the chick lit genre, it’s certainly not because I believe there’s a lack of very talented authors who write in that genre. It’s more that I have my preferences, and usually stick to them, for better or worse.

Groom and Doom: A Greek Love Story and other well-written chick lit novels are making me reassess my preferences and prejudices, towards the genre. That’s because brilliant writing is brilliant writing, no matter what the genre might be. The chick lit genre is definitely no exception. Like a Shakespearian Comedy, which involves one or more romantic entanglements and marriages, Theresa Braun’s novel also has moments that bring smiles and some that tug at your emotions and might cause you to shed a few tears.

The first-person narrator is Angela. At the beginning of Groom and Doom: A Greek Love Story, she is at her place of employment, the metaphysical shop The Dragon’s Lair, discussing with a friend and fellow employee details about her love life, leading up to her eventual relationship with the man who she would marry, Stavros. When the handsome Greek man Stavros came into her life, though, Angela knew she was destined to spend her life with him in married bliss. Their dating and the romance that blossoms between them, the love notes nad poems he sends her, makes you think as you read that Angela’s discovered her perfect match, and that they will get married and live, like in the fairy tales, happily ever after.

The author, Theresa Braun, writes in a very descriptive, poetic way. especially when describing Stavros or the beauty of countries like Greece. Here’s one example of how she initially interacted with Stavros to whet your appetites to read more from this fantastic author:

Waiting for him to speak, I drank in his perfectly chiseled face. I resisted my constant impulse to squeeze the end of his nose with my two fingers–it was squared off at the end, just a little bit. I always thought it was the oddest thing to fixate on.

Unfortunately for Angela, problems in the form of her father-in-law, Georgius, raise their ugly heads and make her come to the realization that she was not going to live out a fairy tale sort of romance. There is a foreshadowing that her married life will not be all wine and roses when, in Crete before the wedding, a tarot card reading shows that she and Stavros might experience some turbulent times ahead of them.

Stavros has a deep connection with his family, and he feels he must put them first, even before Angela’s wishes and desires. She doesn’t even have control over the wedding ceremony. What should have been one of the happiest days of her life is tainted by Stavros’s over-controlling father-in-law. She even has nightmares and the traumatic fellings that Georgius causes interfers with what should have been a romantic honeymoon in Venice.

Usually, the stereotypical person who is the bane of one spouse or the other is the mother-in-law. This novel turns that stereotype on its head, as it’s the father-in-law who is the domineering one who interfers with the couple’s happiness. Reading about how he behaves reminded me somewaht of how Michelangelo’s father treats the great artist and sculpter in the Irving Stone novel, The Agony and the Ecstasy. Like Stavros with his father, Michelangelo felt a great responsibility towards his father, like he owed him a debt; and, Michelangelo’s father took full advantage over him, sponging off of him for years.

Groom and Doom: A Greek Love Story by Theresa Braun is a page-turning novel that will heat up the libido. Stavros is the ideal man of chick lit novels, but he has a fatal flaw that Angela discovers when it’s too late to do anything about it. Or, is it? If you’re a fan of the chick lit genre, I strongly urge you to check out Theresa Braun’s Groom and Doom: A Greek Love Story and add it to your reading lists!


Indie authors deserve our respect, because they are at the vanguard of the direction literature is going in, and has been going in, for several years now: ebooks. This year, over half the books that adults buy and read are ebooks, and the number is growing. There are many very talented Indie authors writing novels, nonfiction, and poetry that rival the best books written by traditionally published bestselling authors.At the risk of leaving many of these authors out, a handful of them (besides myself) are Teodor Flonta, Regina Puckett, Vonda Norwood, Douglas Wickard, Scott Bury, Daniel Kemp, and…the author of the novella I’ll discuss in this review, Messages from Henry, the talented and inimitable Rebecca Scarberry. Besides being a great author, she’s a fantastic friend of authors, too. You can Tweet her at http://twitter.com/Scarberryfields

What is Messages from Henry (Click the title to buy it from Amazon for a mere 99 cents) about? It’s about a normal person, the first person narrator Tammy, who is placed in an extraordinary situation that involves saving her older neighbor, Evelyn Bury, from a ruthless kidnapper.

The novella opens with Tammy and her cat, Cinnamon, enjoying a peaceful day on the porch of Tammy’s house. That changes when Henry shows up. Who is Henry? One of Evelyn’s favorite Rock Pigeons. Though Tammy knows Henry, and sees him fairly often, it’s somewhat odd that he has flown to her out of the blue. He has a note attached to one of his legs. Rock pigeons are fantastic homing pigeons. Tammy removes and reads the note, and reads the ominous words: “Help, kidnapper is going to kill me.”

Tammy notifies the police right away and tells them of Henry’s arrival with the note. Both she and Evelyn are widows, and Tammy has developed a friendship with and feels an obligation towards her neighbor. She hopes that Henry will bring future messages, and that they will help her and the police rescue Evelyn before the kidnapper makes good his threat to kill her.

Tammy gets a series of notes that lead her and Sheriff Kincaid closer and closer to discovering who the kidnapper is, and towards saving Evelyn. Who could want to kidnap and murder such a sweet elderly lady? Who would benefit the most? Maybe her grown-up son, Scott, who has suffered large gambling losses and who could use the ransom money? Who else would have a good reason, if not Scott?

Besides its fast pace and twists and turns, I got a kick out of reading names I recognized that Rebecca uses in her novella, the names of some of the Twitterverse’s most recognizable authors. For instance, there’s the aforementioned Douglas Wickard, who, in Rebecca’s story, is a four-year-old blond-haired boy. Also, there’s Scott Bury, who is Evelyn’s gambling-addicted son in the novella, but a great author of mysteries and thrillers in real life.

Are Tammy’s efforts successful in rescuing Evelyn, through the help of Henry’s messages from her? Is Scott the kidnapper? I’ll never tell–you will have to read this superb novella yourselves to find out! I look forward to reading and reviewing more from Rebecca Scarberry in the coming years. She’s a terrific author and a wonderful lady!


You can now purchase Lily, Unleashed as a paperback for just $8.99!  It’s published by CreateSpace, an Amazon company. In the next few days, it will be at Amazon, as well, which will give you another place to purchase my debut novel. For now, though, you can read about Lily’s adventures as the leader of PAWS with her 13-year-old “owner,” Celeste, by buying it at CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/3923421


If you are a fan of fantasy novels and puns, you are probably already very familiar with the Xanth series of books by the esteemed and talented author Piers Anthony. If you have never read any of Anthony’s novels, you owe it to yourselves to check them out. At times, Anthony gets a bit carried away, perhaps, with his puns; but, they are always relevant to the context of the storyline, and fit in well with the action, adventure, and very cool and personable characters he creates.

The puns extend even to the titles of the Xanth novels. For instance, Well-Tempered Clavicle (2011) is the thirty-fifth Fantasy novel in the Xanth series, following Knot Gneiss. The first novel in the series, though, doesn’t have a pun in its title; it is called: A Spell for Chameleon.

The demon Xanth plays a very important role in the series. He is not always one of the main characters, but characters often refer to him, and have been influenced by him. He is not, generally speaking, an evil demon; but, he is actually liked and even admired/respected by many inhabitants of Xanth.

Knot Gneiss, the novel right before Well-Tempered Clavicle, is one example where I’d say Anthony may get a little carried away with puns. I enjoyed reading it, but when you read about a character called Wenda who has violent mood swings and then read that her swinging on her favorite swing, a “Mood Swing,” was the cause of her mood swings, seems to me to be carrying the whole premise a little too far.

Picka Bone is one of the protagonists in Well-temered Clavicle. He and his sister Joy’nt are skeletons (the offspring of Marrow Bone and Gracew’l Ossein) who share a portion of a soul that has made them have a conscience and help others. Still, Picka Bone believes that he and his sister are living a rather dull life, guarding–mostly strolling around–the grounds of a cemetery. They are doing so at the request of two ghouls who desire a break from guarding the cemetery.

Their lives are dull, that is, until three animals show up, a bird, a dog, and a cat, named after the parts of a speaker: Tweeter, Woofer, and Midrange. They are not afraid of the skeletons, and Picka Bone saves Woofer from where he is trapped. This seals their friendship, and the two skeletons are talked into going on a quest with the animals in search of an adventure.

Woofer, Tweeter and Midrange were in the previous novel, Knot Gneiss. They are from Mundania, and are the Baldwin family pets. They’d heard they could escape getting older in Xanth, so they had decided to move there. As a side benefit, they are gaining new magical abilities. Joy’nt’s magical scroll enables the animals to communicate with the skeletones, and vice-versa.

Other interesting characters that I liked in Well-Tempered Clavicle are Princess Dawn and her sister Eve, who are sorceresses. and Mumfrey, the Good Magician. Mumfrey has five and a half wives, and he grants people answers to their questions if they can find the solution to three challenges he presents them. There is also an invisible giant who joins the three animals and the skeletons. They believe that Picka Bone has a hidden talent, and they journey to ask Princess Eve for help in finding out what the talent is.

The problem is that when they arrive at Castle Roogna, they learn that Princess Eve is away, visiting her husband’s realm. Hades. The adventurers decide to ask Eve’s sister, Princess Dawn, if she will help them. She is available, and what’s more, she fortunately has a free pass that will take them to Hades and allow the entrance to it.

They have many humorous adventures on their way. The plot of the novel changes to one where Princess Dawn is looking a suitable husband, but the animals and the skeletons still play a major role in the plot.

As in all of the Xanth novels, Piers Anthony’s chapter titles are one more reason I am a fan of his writing. Examples include: “Knucklehead,” “Granola,” and “Rules of Engagement.” In the ebooks I have written, I also try to engage my readers by thinking up clever chapter titles. Whether or not I am halfway as good at it as Piers Anthony is a subject of debate, but I always like it when authors try to intrigue their readers right from the very beginning of each chapter, from the title of it onwards, to make them want to read more.

Well-Tempered Clavicle by Piers Anthony is a funny, pun and fantasy-filled addition to the Xanth series. Anyone who loves the Fantasy genre, whether you’re a long-time fan of the Xanth series or are new to it, is sure to enjoy reading this novel. Anthony dedicates his novel to his daughter, who passed away while he was writing it. I am looking forward to reading the next installment, The Luck of the Draw. The Xanth series has legions of fans around the world; check out Well-Tempered Clavicle to find out for yourselves why!


If you’re a fan of tales of the macabre, and you dig reading Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, then you will also want to check out Frank G. Poe’s collection of tales and poems titled Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales for the low price of $10.95 for the paperback edition. If you click on the title, you’ll be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. Elsewhere at this site, I reviewed the second book of Poe’s tales, Star Child and 13 More Twisted Tales, which is another page-turning collection of delightfully twisted tales and poems.

What do you get when you buy this book? Is it one worth your money, one that would make a great addition to your personal library? As with Star Child, in the introduction, Frank relates some details about his past, and his near-death experience as a result of his MS, which blinded him temporarily, as well. He battled back from being bedridden, and then in a wheelchair, to currently, when he can walk with the use of a cane. Frank can trace in his lineage as one of his ancestors the famous author, Edgar Allan Poe, and he relates in his introduction that he is actually Poe reincarnated. Whether this is true or not, you can decide for yourselves; but, the tales are fascinating gems which Poe might, if he were alive today, have written.

Does this mean there are poems similar to “The Raven,” or “Lenore” in this collection? Or, stories like “The Masque of the Red Death,” or “The Pit and the Pendulum”? No, but Edgar used an archaic way of expressing himself, to help build the atmospheric mood of his writing. I would imagine if Edgar was alive today, he would write in the vernacular of this age, and perhaps go for shock value to attract the attention of his audience, as Frank does; so, is Frank Poe the reincarnation of Edgar? I’ll just say his short stories and poems are good in themselves; the Edgar Allan Poe connection certainly can’t hurt his own chances at garnishing fame & fortune.

As the title suggests, you get fourteen short stories in this collection: “Raven Wings” and 13 more. And, you get to read 6 twisted poems that Frank has penned for your reading enjoyment. I will only touch on a few of these, to give you an idea what subjects are included in this collection. They’re all good, though, and I’d say worth your time and money. A couple of reviewers mentioned they found some of the tales to be “lewd” and “crude,” and they are, to a degree; but, they are relatively tame compared to many other short stories/novels I’ve read. Controversy and shock–Edgar was known for it–so, Frank shouldn’t, IMO, be overly criticized for doing it himself. Stephen King’s short stories, for example, are often much more violent, lewd, and crude, but are still–generally speaking–very cool, fun tales to read.

The cover of Raven Wings is kind of odd in itself, and I wondered what it was depicting until I read the first story, “Raven Wings”. It’s a tale of a Goth girl who gets into masochism, like having hot melted wax dripped on her body during sex, etc. The only way she can experience pleasure is through pain, and when she cries, and her mascara runs, the result resembles raven’s wings. She eventaully requests that the narrator of the tale chokes her out; and, who is he to refuse? The trouble is, it’s kind of difficult to know when enough’s enough when it comes to choking someone….

“The Spider and the Fly,” is a captivating tale of tangled webs, love, sex, and capturing prey. What happens when a male spider realizes what his fate will be, but still desires to have sex with a female spider? Is there a way to satisfy his urges and live to have sex another day? Perhaps a fly called Sushi will enlighten the spider Domino on the secret to sexual happiness–or, is he doomed to lose his head?

“New Vampire bible: Genesis II” is a quirky little gem about the origins of vampires upon the Earth. It’s a retelling of part of Genesis, and the relationship Adam had with his supposed first wife, Lilith. In the tale, it’s a relationship sanctioned by God, that resulted in the creation of the first “sanguine” vampires–ones which drank blood. The humans that resulted from Adam’s and Eve’s couplings were also vampires, but “pyschic” ones. Due to a terrible apocalyptic war, the Vampire Nathan’s coffin gets filled with blood, he manages to break out of his coffin, and discovers that he is one of the last living beings on Earth. Some will find this tale to be sacreligious, as it refers to God as the “Great Vampire” and mentions Christ’s vampiric heritage; it’s still a fascinating story, however you might feel about this retelling of Genesis, incorporated into a tale of Christ’s Second Coming.

I’ll briefly talk about three of the poems. The second poem in this collection (the first being “Modern Day Ghost”) is called “Card” and is about credit cards and how they are ruining the lives of many people who abuse them. It also gets into America’s international debt crisis, and how Americans have been told that spending helps by “Stimulating the economy.” Frank often includes pop culture references in his tales and poems, and this one is no different: in it, he mentions Conan the Destroyer, Don Knotts, and George Bush.

“Cosmic Butterflies,” uses the metaphor of butterflies having been transformed from caterpillars to describes how humans are similar, in that we experience a second, spiritual existence and transformation after we die. One line I liked in this brief poem is: We don’t begin to live until we die,/And transform into Cosmic Butterflies.”

The last poem I’ll discuss is “The Rocker Squeaks”. It’s a poem about a father rocking his newborn baby, but as with all good poetry, it’s more than that. The imagery Poe uses is very expressive, and he paints a picture with his words of ripening papaws that raccoon will: slip/Into their watering mouths. It’s another poem that involves transformation, as poe writes that the father’s: callous hands transform/Into velvety butterfly wings/By touching the infant’s cushiony skin.

Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales by Frank G. Poe is a collection of macabre tales and poems I’d recommend to anyone who loves reading suspenseful, quirky tales. They will attract your attention, and hold you spellbound. It’s a collection of tales and poems you’ll want to add to your reading lists.

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