CK Book Reviews

The Secrets to Success!
August, 2015

The Soldier's Secret
Historical Fiction, Military Romance

This book delivers. The Soldier’s Secret is a historical fiction/military romance story that pulled me in right from page one. When her brothers leave home to serve in the war, Emma, unable to just stand by, takes it upon herself to go undercover and enlist in order to find them and somehow ensure their safety.

“Emmett Hawkins” holds her own fighting alongside the soldiers, and with her future husband by her side she maintains her search and her own desperate fight for survival. The story will most definitely keep you moving! The characters are believable, the storyline is entertaining and the character loyalty starts when you start the book!

I do not normally gravitate to books from this era however this book kept my interest from beginning to end. Without one hiccup, The Soldier’s Secret took me back to the 1860’s where I settled in immediately!

Something else that stood out for me about this story was the pace. Heather flawlessly transports you back in time, gives you full character detail, scene descriptions, and has a million moving parts, all while keeping up the pace. My interest never dipped in any of the 19 chapters.

If you’d like to be entertained, get to know some new folks and appreciate the hard times of our past, get this book and give it a read. You won’t be disappointed. The story fills your imagination and almost plays out in front of you at the same time. Great read!

Get the book here and enjoy!

See this review on Amazon here

A CK "Book Review Interview" featuring Scroll Back and Gary Stimson
July, 2015

“Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he
lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is in darkness.”
- Scroll Back     

Scroll Back
Historical Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
By: Jay and Steven Stamatis

Gary is an engineer in Colorado and is reading all the time. I truly appreciated his time and what he had to say about Scroll Back. I hope you enjoy the information he shared!

The story:

What is one word you would use to describe this book? Why?
Well, I actually have two words and they are "thought-provoking".

Honestly, I can’t think of any other way to describe it. It’s an amazing story that makes you look inward and while reading it, it gets you thinking and you actually “feel” something.

This story is packed with information, what is a brief summary of this story in your own words?
In brief, this book takes us back in time, through a few different characters, to find a piece of truth that we do not know today. Scroll Back is challenging in that the reader is left with his/her own thoughts regarding what they believe, or their desire to believe at all. It’s an excellent historical thriller that will peak anyone’s curiosity into a subject known across the globe. It’s where religion as well as science get us to the truth.

This brings me to the fact that this book clearly involves religion. There could be a misperception that this book is meant solely for a religious-based audience. What do you feel is true and not true about this?
Interesting and delicate question, let me take a shot. (Gary smiles)

With religion as the platform for the story this book definitely fits the religious audience in the sense that with believing comes a desire for more knowledge and validation around religious truth. For the non-religious audience this book fills the desire to find the solidity and backup of any belief.

Truth in history is handed down and we often accept the stories told to us. Not that they aren’t true, but many times it leaves us with even more questions and a desire for just a bit more.

Scroll Back has some unique settings and delivery. Can you familiarize potential readers out there of some of the variety and how that worked for you?
This one’s easy! (Just a bit of excitement here!) Scroll Back is “on the move” and I loved that!

Some stories are all action or all scifi, while some are pure drama or philosophical. This book has it all. Moving through the stories in the minds of the characters and their travels was a ride!

When the book starts out in a futuristic coffee shop, that’s a bit curious right there. Then to find yourself in a remote cabin, a wheat field, scuba diving and then on a dig in Mexican pyramids was an awesome treat you wouldn’t expect! With how smart the book is though, you actually are not surprised by any of that either.

Yes, this book definitely has time and travel. With the many transitions between time and situations, can you tell us about that and how they flowed for you?
Let me put it to you this way. If you are looking for an easy read for pure entertainment, I can tell you this is more than that. You actually have to pay attention!

When I was reading this, paying attention was an easy thing to do though because of how it was written and how awesome the story is. The book does move around and travels through time on many occasions however it is all so interesting and flowed so well, I found myself glued to it.

This book is “smart” and very well written!

Characters and purpose:

In Scroll Back we have two characters on a similar path yet coming from different sides, what do you think of the dynamic between the two?
The set up is very “real world” even though we are dealing with a bit of fantasy here. The dynamic between a seeker of truth versus someone looking for the cash at the end of an expensive expedition was flawless, and very much like how I would see this playing out. Without giving anything more away, I can tell you that as you get to know the characters, character loyalty plays a definite role.

How did you feel about Peter Mandes and the history and knowledge he holds?
I thought he was brilliant! Being a seeker of knowledge myself (Gary is a long-term scholar and a detailed engineer), I felt like he was a guy I’d like to know! If I could beam up to that coffee shop I would definitely have some questions of my own for him!

How did the secondary characters work for you during the read? Serve their purpose? Too much or too little?
The authors do have characters you meet off and on and throughout the story and to me, they were very well placed and introduced. Each of them plays a role and serves a purpose but in no way do they get in the way of the main story or the main characters. When you meet a new character, or group of characters in Scroll Back, they are also interesting and the interactions make total sense. And between all the characters involved there is someone everyone might relate to!

For who do you hold the most allegiance?
I am older soul and I’d say Peter. He is exactly how I could see myself in the future especially if I held the knowledge he has. I respect him and like I said, I’d love to sit with him for a while myself.

The topic of religion:

In the book, they talk about the structure of church rituals as a way to continue handing down the teachings vs. it being more of a direction for the uninspired. This is a bold question or thought being presented...what, if anything, did that spark inside of you? 
Wow, great question Christina! Okay, let’s see if I can explain.

How I see it is that there is (and we feel) a void to some truths we accept because they may not be the whole story and deep down we know this, yet we still accept them. For instance, we could talk about losing faith in religion and yet still go to church, while on the other side, people connect to their religion on a whole different level and want to go all the way. This can apply to anything we stand for and believe in.

People in general seem interested in the history handed down to them but for some, the words and stories alone are not enough. They want more. They need more. Although there is satisfaction on many different levels in what we believe in, the stuff we feel really good about has full back up. Validation. This is the same challenge and mission within Scroll Back.

How did Scroll Back inspire you, religious or otherwise?
Well, it’s inspiring overall.

From a religious point of view, this book may just help someone who feels they have lost their faith, find it again. Same with someone who has lost a piece of themselves. Maybe they will search just a bit further. That’s how I took it.


What is your recommendation for this book to other readers?
I can tell you this…there is a feeling around this book and when you are done reading it, it sticks with you. There is obviously a lot out there to read, and I do read a lot, but this book really stands out.

I can’t see how anyone would leave dissatisfied. And I for one feel smarter. (Gary laughs)I know, I’m laughing at myself Christina, but seriously I feel like I gained something by reading this.

I’d tell anyone, let this book take you on a ride and see where you end up. If you want to feel giddy with curiosity and get inspired, read Scroll Back.

Want more information?
Get Scroll Back here on!
See the Scroll Back novel debut here!
More on the father & son team here

Kids taking on adventure!
Scott Collins
November 14, 2014

Get settled in with your kids by your side because this adventure is for everyone! Not knowing what to fully expect, I was immediately drawn to the trials of the kingdom and the issues now in front of these children. Mixing these challenges in with this world of fantasy was well thought out and very well put together.

The Kingdom of Castiglias lived in peace for quite some time. The scepter was an extraordinary gift to the king and his men after coming to the aid of others in a time of need. It became the source for all that was good. Only now, what was a solid kingdom under the great king had become a settlement for the decidedly “elite”. King Rai had been a nobleman but now the kingdom is falling under Argyle’s rule and all that was, is being destroyed.

Separated from their parents, Daniel and Aidan have been on their own for some time. Daniel is the older brother faced with the threat of being taken like his parents. Argyle’s men are on their way. How will his little brother Aidan take care of himself and survive? Well, little brother or no, Aidan has some ideas of his own. What happens when they are confronted is a true test of courage. Argyle is not one to mess with, and where a child would seemingly have no chance, these two take the challenge, and face their biggest fears.

The two boys soon meet up with another interesting pair. Along with Lilly and Olivia, these young brothers set out on a mission not only to survive but to restore what is right in the kingdom. This is no easy task as Argyle’s men are relentless, and even the land itself is full of evil surprises. The kids take the gifts they have been given and set out to succeed. These gifts, along with their ability to stick together, prove to be their greatest defense.

Scepter is an action-packed, enchanting tale full of crazy plant life, dragons, bears, fairies and more! I left the story feeling rejuvenated through the strength and energy of these young heroes and heroines!

Whether you are an adult, a parent or a young reader yourself, this is a fun story and a great break from the real world!

Dark lust and more
Illicit Corruption
Heather Osborne
September 1, 2014

Illicit Corruption is a well thought out story that is anything but shy in its reach. 

Christine, like so many, has been living an existence provided to her that is unsatisfying to say the least. Just about at the end of her rope, she seeks more and will do anything to get it. With complete disregard of her current situation, Christine takes a chance on a new opportunity for the excitement and adventure her life has been lacking. Without realizing it, her "more" has been someone else's desire as well.

With freedom comes handcuffs, with erotica comes stifling and with a new love, comes emptiness. You learn, along with Christine, what can accompany the edgy lust she desired and so quickly turned to. What I loved about Heather Osborne's expression of this unique set of circumstances is that she is bold and daring in how it all plays out.

For me, this dark and sexy thriller lacks only in the fact that it leaves you wanting more in between all that is going on. I felt the story had the opportunity to be much "bigger" than the shorter book, novella pages would allow. 

Taking note of the erotica, this story is also a thriller. Volume one pulls you in and is crazy entertaining and comes with a strong and unexpected ending. I am happy to know the story continues as I do want more and am looking forward to the next volume.

Creepy fiction, full of wit!
Stories for the Dead of Night
The Seven Fates Writers
August 31, 2014

I have to hand it over to The Seven Fates Writers! The stories will no doubt catch you by surprise. 

I will say the title threw me off a bit as I was thinking more along the lines of the "simple scare" or "short story horrors" but in the end this did not stop me for a second from moving from one story to the next. I was not disappointed.

In Stories for the Dead of Night there is a good variety of styles and authors, and they kept my imagination and curiosity on the move. The stories range from ghosts and murder all the way to spoiled little children. You have mothers, husbands, witches and zombies. Need I say more? 

And on top of the fact that there is an awesome assortment of tales, these authors took the typical "campfire stories" expectation to another level by throwing in their clever wit. They are smart, creative and unique. 

This collection gives you a bit more than what you might think of from a book of creepy short stories.

Let the sunshine in!
Partly Sunny
Terry Lee
August 28, 2014

Partly Sunny starts out with more of a bang that you might expect, and you find yourself right in the middle of entertaining chaos. The diverse set of characters fall into a wide range of backgrounds and personalities that come together from all different directions. I would not be exaggerating to say, these colorful characters keep you moving and engaged from beginning to end!

The main character, Darcy, finds herself asking the questions of Who am I? and How did I get here? Fast-paced and fashionable, Darcy seems to have the perfect set up from her job and her friends, all the way down to her address. On the inside, however, she is still looking for some of the missing pieces. Terry Lee was excellent in orchestrating a unique journey for an unsuspecting Darcy, leading her to the discovery of what those pieces are.

I instantly felt a draw to Fountain Oaks apartments which is where the real insight in the story unfolds. (And as an added bonus, I have a new found desire to take a trip to Houston and see The Galleria!)

I left the story feeling calm yet excited knowing life has even more to offer and it may not be as far away and as complicated as I thought. This story is a fulfilling five stars and will take you down a fun route that reaches a much deeper point.

True Patriot
A Sense of Duty
Ava Armstrong
July 31, 2014

Being someone that has a lot of respect for our military, Sense of Duty grabbed my interest. After reading this I can say that the cover is telling and the title is perfect in all ways. Ben is very dedicated to freedom and although he is a number one protector above all things, he is tested on many other levels as well.

There is a sense of "right" among all things and it is our choice, and ours alone, what we do about it. What we are willing to do, stick to and fight for, is harder than it seems at times, when different situations present themselves.

Ben is a Navy SEAL and is a hero. Upon appearances, he could have it all but his dedication to his beliefs has taken a lot from him that people do not see. The people in Ben's life and that are crossing his path in Sense of Duty fit into a wide spectrum of morales. Lara is one of those people and over time, he has come to want and need her as a part of his life. She also appears to have all doors open to her and when the two come together the reader is pulled between a hope for the two of them together and a hope for each of them as individuals. They become heroes in a new sense as they fight for all that they believe in.

There is real life in this book. There are real feelings and very real obstacles, many of them eye openers ranging from a government level to personal emotions. I enjoyed the great characters and each of their challenges!

I'm looking forward to reading more about Lara and Ben as they move forward in Book 2: Loving Lara -- Dark Horse Guardians "Encountering Evil".

True Love in proper form
Harbour of Dreams
Sonya Dodd
July 17, 2014

When I was reading this book, I could smell the air by the ocean and wanted to be there on the daily walks with Sophia. I can also say that after putting the book down, upon reading it, I've missed being right there in it.

I enjoy reading romance and love the ones with a kick, and Sophia is a girl that gives this book that kick. To endure the tragedy and loss that comes her way, on top of the fact that she had also lost herself, is much more than someone should have to take. What I admired, was her determination to go for what was right. Her family, her daughter, her husband and even her own rights, never miss a second of her attention.

From shootings and servants to oceanside estates, the surprises are always just around the corner. The reader can uncover Sophia's life, as she does, in a world where elite money and manners meet the working class. Between the two worlds, love has no boundaries, as Sophia and Robert show us through the strength they have between them.

This was a smooth and comfortable read and each time I picked up the book, it was like a little escape into the world of romance, hardships and the fight for love.  

Take me on an adventure!
Coyote in Provence
July 2, 2014

If you want to travel and meet interesting people with backgrounds you won't find down the street, then head to Provence and spend a couple of days with the Coyote! There is never a dull moment. This book took me places and they went beyond the obvious hike to France. One minute you are living the dream and the next you are on the run. There are beautiful people, artists galore and I'd take that quaint little town anytime!

Aside from feeling like you're having a great day in France, the reader is also watching, listening and constantly solving, with every turn unpredictable.I'm hoping for more in this series. The ending left me a bit torn and I wanted just a bit more.

This is a great book if you are looking for an escape with a mystery. Settle down on a patio and if you're into food and drink, I'd recommend a good cheese plate and a chilled bottle of wine to go with your sitting. This was indeed an enjoyable read!

Unexpected fun!
Dirt Nap Collection
May 24, 2014

Grabbing this fun short story was a good idea. On to Dead Anarchy I say! I'm not usually a fan of zombies but this was a new twist on the least for me. I really liked the simple handlings of living among the dead in this little town. And the fact that, being just what it is. Live it and go on, zombies or no.

The light sense of humor and the wit through the whole thing was entertaining. The turns and new directions in the story also catch you because for a short story, there is some good, big story type twists in there.

And Roam? I can definitely say that guy has some endurance and I am excited to see where it all goes. In summary, it's a BIG little story and a fun read! And for what it's worth...I might go for the bottled water today…

Happy Camper
Red River (after Tent City)
May 23, 2014
5.0 (Great combo of Tent City and Red River)

First off, this book goes hand in hand with Tent City and although Red River had been the one that caught my eye, reading them both is a must and I’m glad I that I went for the full story!

Dani is definitely in a predicament and a choice by her and her family, takes her into the unknown wilderness and an unknown future, leaving the story wide open right from the start. She soon finds herself alone with the responsibility of her friend and her younger brother but they are soon to find others in similar situations. Through this, they find strength (and enemies) in numbers. Unlike some stories where you can predict “the big stuff” or figure out “the big fight”, Kelly leads you through this tale keeping your curiosity pleasantly elevated.

The story is easy to follow and full of realistic surprises that you do not expect. It is a fun read that draws you in and makes you want to be a part of it. And in an awesome way, it half leaves you feeling like you are missing out on the big action by being just the reader! Dani has it all though and is a natural leader as she hides from The Council, is the protector of the Golden Child and seeks out hope among struggle, love triangles and the powers of advancements.

I also have to say that outside of the story itself, the author was excellent in her explanations of things, specifically Dani’s views. As Kelly explains some of the character thoughts and things going on throughout the story, she does it with a pure delivery that hits home. It reminds me of things one might think, but often times does not say out loud. Great stuff!

I say, have a read and have some fun! I do recommend this book!

Clever wit and my kind of fun
Mel Goes to Hell
April 1, 2014

Humph...the hardest thing for me about reading this was wanting to read more! Very nice. The fact that it was not a full read did throw me off at first, I’ll admit...I had to take a second look. After diving in though, it was worth the tease!

First off, I liked the familiarity of the job interview. I have been on interviews just like that! It made me laugh. The Tube (commute), the preparation, the lookback...all hit home. Thinking about how stressful and foreign a new company can be I just loved the humor right off the bat and her viewpoints of the process were definitely fun for me!

Secondly, I like that there is clearly more to come from Mel...and HELL! Aside from her humorous viewpoints, there are enough hints of an interesting past and present situation, for her and the company itself.

Beyond experiencing my own "slight" nostalgia of the work force and the atmosphere around it, I found myself being pulled into the creative story that was building here, and wanting more of it.

HELL...too funny, Lucifer...I love it. Already I can see this will be of twisted interest to me and I will definitely be reading on as it comes out!

Plain awesome.
The Man Who Cast Two Shadows (A Mallory Novel)
March 7, 2014

This is full on mystery fun! I happened to run across this book and immediately knew that it was my kind of story! This book had so many "perfect" characters that the jumps between them and among them kept you interested and amused. 

The book moved at a great pace and definitely does it's job of keeping you interested throughout the read and to the end. It reminded me of a game a Clue and looking suspiciously at the different people and pondering if anyone of them might in fact be the one "whodunnit". Simply put, I loved it and would read more of Carol for sure!

Intimate View
Secret Understandings
Morris Philipson
March 7, 2014

This book pulls you in on a deep and personal level into the mind of the main character. The detail was magnificent through the character's eyes and thoughts and gave me a level of intimacy during the read. I was drawn into the topic and enjoyed the perspective from the one, single point of view. 

For me also, however, I did find that the numerous letters and writings by Shelagh became distracting in number. 

Personally, I would have felt the story more deeply through her experiences, views and thoughts versus her words to others. 

Overall though, I was very attracted to the writing that held a keen sense of etiquette and the level of which it held my interest. Once I started reading, I did have a hard time putting it down!

Love and Truth
The Duke of Deception
Geoffey Wolff
March 5, 2014

This read was a bit painful, I'll admit...but I'm so glad I read it! Did it keep you on the edge of your seat? No. Is it filled with suspense, action or outright heartache? No. It is, in fact...truth. Blunt, laid out, to the point...truth.

This read can be hard to maintain as is the real truth itself in our own lives. Although I questioned if I wanted to finish the story, I was compelled to complete it through the life and words of the author, as they represented real life and real feelings.

Struggling with who we are and being consumed by what we should be for others is a subject we can shy away from if asked as the people we know continually tell us how great we are. 

It takes on a whole new meaning when you walk a life in this story and can fast forward to the future and it's outcomes. To take a pit stop, face truths and see things in a blunt delivery. I would challenge a friend to read this story. Face it, read it and take the great things it can give you.

Makes you think!
The Maze Runner
James Dashner
November 13, 2013

I loved this read and how concentrated I felt while reading it. Greenie's journey is awesome because it's as unknown to him as it is to the reader so you get to share in his travels right along with him. I can definitely see how this is a series.

You really do want to go further with it and it makes me want to read more about it! 

The Maze Runner is one of those books that has longevity...when you are done reading it, it sticks with you and your mind. Love it!

More please!
The Forest Bull
Terry Maggert
November 11, 2013

I could have read a lot more of this story should it have continued, although the ending was perfect! This book was a fun read and reminded me of a movie at the same time. The visuals were strong and I could see everything so clearly as I read it, I felt very "present" the whole way through. 

The characters come to you as if speaking to the elite but are so real and comfortable, you could plop down with them on your front step and have a chat over a cold one. They keep you interested, they are intriguing and are reliable.

And then, because I love a good and twisted adventure, the sense of uneasiness and awe as it all comes to a close was nothing but awesome...hats off to the author on that one!

An eye opener...a great read!
In The Beginning
Abby L. Vandiver
November 4, 2013

For me, this book expresses how we all can feel unsettled at times. Something is off. Is it just a bad day? It reiterates that whatever that feeling is on a day-to-day basis, we need to be open to the fact that it could stem from the greatness of our surroundings and our place in it all.

Who are we really in the big scope of the universe or the galaxies? And how does our arrogance get to a point where it can replace the true possibilities and the plain truth itself? Has it just simply replaced the idea of acceptance altogether?

This book takes these questions and more and reaches out and grabs you from the inside. It spins the reader right back into their own head and thoughts. Throughout the story I found myself mindful of my chuckles as well as my times of surprise and disbelief. A great read for those willing to be open-minded and with that, it all unfolds in a real story that gets you thinking!

I most definitely suggest this book. It is the kind of story you cannot just explain to someone, you really need to read it for yourself.

A good ole mystery!
Murder Takes a Dare
Jada Ryker
November 1, 2013

I was taken in by the character, Marissa Adair. She is all things in one and her life spans a wide range of experience.

The story's setting was unique for me compared to other reads and I liked how the author could swing this mystery in that particular environment. I liked how each character was very much alive and the balance between actions and internal thoughts was well thought out. 

This read overall reminds me of a good and straightforward old time mystery. Like a game Clue the reader is putting together little hints that the author has intertwined and dangled within each scene.

I did find myself getting a tad lost in some of the detail that did not pertain to the overall story, while reading and sifting through the keys to the mystery. In the end, however, it all comes together!

A fun read and looking forward to more Adair!

More than you would expect
Beneath the Willow
Gemma Farrow
August 27, 2013

This book for a short read, gave more than what you would come to expect from the shorter stories. You start to "feel" as you start to read the first page.

This book takes you on a journey that I, as a reader, did not expect. The story is true to it's words and twists on "the heart".

Although taking you through one, major event, it also provides reflection on the different levels that this story offers.

Reading Beneath the Willow filled my desire for a good tale as well as touched my own inner thoughts on the thing right in front of me. 

If you are looking to quench your thirst for fun madness and read from a deeper perspective, I'd suggest Beneath the Willow.

This book was a great journey!
Alive and Alone
W.R. Benton
August 27, 2013

I was touched by the child's determination and his wanting to stick with it and fight for the right reasons. 

I also liked the respectful references to the military as I respect that too, very much.

For the younger reader, things were explained in a way that was very comprehensible (as was confirmed in reading this with my eleven year old).

The stories of survival in this world can be endless but to describe it in this way, from a child's perspective, with a slight level of gentile along with the hard hits, one after the other, is hard to accomplish. Well done!

This book was heartfelt and real with regards to sticking to your guns and staying strong. A great read for me and to have shared with my daughter!

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