Book Reviews

Book Reviews: Fire Angel by @jandsmatt Sign of the Green Dragon by @cleemckenzie Hero Lost by @TheIWSG #IWSGBookClub #IWSG #BookReviews

We’ve changed things up with the IWSG Book Club, featuring a books from members and pre-approved craft-books (meaning one of the moderators had read this book and found it useful).

Learn more here.

About the Book

A malicious serial killer is out for revenge in Paradise. Using fire as his weapon, he strikes at random, and the bodies are piling up.

Criminal profiler Jake McKenzie has returned from Afghanistan minus a leg and afraid to trust his instincts. When the police ask for his expertise in identifying the killer, he agrees knowing this is his chance to prove he can still do the job.

Sixteen years ago, fiercely independent Alexis Michaels escaped an abusive uncle and a deadly fire to become one of the country’s top fire and arson investigators. Her uncanny ability to put herself in the arsonist’s place is the skill they need to find this maniac. She reluctantly accepts the assignment and returns home to lead the hunt for the killer, knowing she will have to confront the unpleasant memories.

When Jake discovers that his new partner is the girl who haunted his dreams all these years, he finds himself enthralled, but memories of his dead wife make him doubt his emotions. Alexis has few pleasant memories of Paradise, but Jake is one of them. Undeniably drawn to him, she longs for a deeper relationship but believes he isn’t ready to move on yet.

Until they catch the killer, they must set aside their conflicted emotions and work together. The clock is ticking, and the killer has made it clear: Alexis is next. 

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

I liked the premise and read the first four chapters. But the jumping of POV in the same scene, the forced familiarity between the hero and heroine, all the extra baggage from their past (they’re both so damaged in so many ways), and all the telling instead of showing bogging everything down – so much telling each other what’s going on, how they knew each other, and other stuff that’s essentially info dumping – made me roll my eyes and bored me to tears that I just couldn’t read further. And calling a moose a monster just irritated me.


About the Book

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side. 

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

I finally got around to reading this book and enjoyed the wisdom imparted.

“You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.”

“The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s to write what you like”

“You’re only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with… If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.”

This book is an absolute gen that should be in every writer’s library.

4 unicorn star rating

About the Book

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption! 

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

There are stories included that don’t fit the premise of ‘hero lost’ and the anthology needs proofreading (e.g. ‘lessons’ instead of ‘lessens’ being one of many errors I picked up on). Also, using night mode means the titles don’t show – as I do most of my reading in night mode, this is highly inconvenient. Now for each story on its own:

The Mysteries of Death and Life by Jen Chandler

An interesting tale of Death who needs the kindness of a stranger – whether he realises or wants it or not. Rich worldbuilding and some interesting twists. 4 stars

The Silvering by Ellen Jacobson

I liked the premise of the guardians and priests using rules steeped in myth to control everyone. Not a very satisfying end, though. 3 stars

Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight by Renee Cheung

I liked the twist of the dragon’s curse. Not sure I liked the tech involvement, though. 3 stars

Sometimes They Come Back by Roland D Yeomans

So much fun to read! This is what I expected when I read the blurb. I liked the use of various myths, history and a touch of magic. 5 stars

The Wheat Witch by Erika Beebe

I stopped reading as the Lord’s name was used as an expletive. Not cool. DNF.

The Last Dragon by Sarah Foster

An interesting medieval-esque tale of oppression and fighting for freedom. The title actually has more than one meaning. 4 stars

Mind Body Soul by Elizabeth Seckman

A cute romance. But not sure how it fits with the theme… 3 stars

Captain Bulat by Olga Godim

An interesting story of finding something lost – just not what the finder thought she was looking for. 4 stars

The Witch Bottle by Sean McLachlan

Not a good short story – jumping POV so much was irritating at best. And the premise wasn’t all that interesting. I’m not sure how it fits the theme of ‘hero lost’ at all – there were no heroes. 2 stars

The Art of Remaining Bitter by Yvonne Ventresca

A dystopian (utopian?) tale of how feelings are taken away and replaced with blissful emptiness. No idea how it fits the theme… 3 stars

Of Words and Swords by Tyrean Martinson

I liked this story. It delivered on the anthology title and I liked the use of words and actions together to slay the beast. 5 stars

Breath Between Seconds by L Nahay

A recap of events before whatever happened to the MC when the story started. Meh. DNF.

3 unicorn star rating

About the Book

Following on the heels of Lisa Cron’s breakout first book, Wired for Story, this writing guide reveals how to use cognitive storytelling strategies to build a scene-by-scene blueprint for a riveting story.

Story Genius is a foolproof program that saves writers from penning hundreds of pages only to realize that something’s not working and they have to start again. Informed by story consultant Lisa Cron’s science-based insights into how story structure is built into the architecture of the brain, this guide shows writers how to plumb the nitty-gritty details of their raw idea to organically generate a story scene by scene. Once writers reach the end of Cron’s program, they will have both a blueprint that works and plenty of compelling writing suitable for their finished novel–allowing them to write forward with confidence.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

Wow! This is the book I would recommend to anyone wishing to be a good writer.

As the author explained things – things I already did without knowing the how’s, why’s and names of it – I just started to feel overwhelmingly awesome and blessed. “So that’s why this book I wrote was so much better than that one!” was my “aha!” moment. Though she gave examples throughout, I measured all her advice against my own work and walked away with a new understanding – and appreciation – of my own writing process.

My favourite advice from this book:
“Because, just like life, story is emotion based.”
“We don’t turn to story to escape reality. We turn to story to navigate reality.”

For those who need a blueprint to create their story blueprint, the author provides that (with examples!) too.

An excellent resource that should be on every author’s shelf.

5 unicorn star rating

About the Book

Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

After six months in a new school, Sam’s finally fitting in. He’s the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam’s guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. Inside, a bony hand clutches a map with a note, promising treasure.

With Joey and Roger, Sam sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure. When some puzzle pieces start to make sense, the boys become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb.

Sign of the Green Dragon gets a high five for fantasy, fun and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you’ll love this story. As one reader says, this book, “has more twists than a dragon’s tail.”

Order now to jump into the adventure.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

Not being able to access each chapter individually from the drop down table of contents is inconvenient.

I’m not too keen on what the boys are planning – the sensible side of me is screaming that something horrible is going to happen, not to mention the implications of running away from home and lying to every adult they know just to win a baseball game. But I’ll try really hard to suspend disbelief (and my sensible side) and continue past chapter one.

Using night mode (my preferred setting) the chapter numbers can’t be seen (e.g. chapter 2). There are some typographical issues (words running together, dialogue not starting a new paragraph but set in the middle of an existing paragraph, etc.). There are also empty pages at the start/end of each chapter.

My biggest problem with the book is the message imparted in chapter one: it’s okay to lie to adults and run away from home when you don’t get your way. And though Sam does think about how lies beget more lies, it isn’t as powerful as the original message and the chance of adventure that follows it.

As for the story, it’s cute. There are some issues (e.g. they go to meet someone to learn something from them, but never get around to asking their questions, despite having the opportunity). And there are no consequences for running away, quite the opposite. The boys are clearly close and the adventure brings them closer. The dragons are cool. But some things the boys do seem a bit forced to make the story happen or to raise the stakes (e.g. going to Cordelia). I did like the treasure hunting aspect and all the clues they had to solve.

But, I won’t recommend it to a child to read because of that central theme of it’s okay to do whatever you please because there are no consequences (except, apparently, if you’re the bad guy).

2 unicorn star rating

About the Book

Art for the sake of art is important. Writing for the love of it, or to create something beautiful on the page, is absolutely worthwhile and critical to expand the sum of human expression.

But I’m not here to talk about creativity or the craft of writing in this book. My aim is to take the result of your creativity into the realm of actually paying the bills.
˃˃˃ To take you from being an author to running a business as an author.

I was a business consultant for 13 years before I gave up my job in September 2011 to become a full-time author-entrepreneur. I worked for large corporates and small businesses, implementing financial systems across Europe and Asia Pacific.

I’ve also started a number of my own businesses ”” a scuba dive charter boat in New Zealand, a customized travel website, a property investment portfolio in Australia as well as my freelance consultancy. I’ve failed a lot and learned many lessons in my entrepreneurial life and I share them all in this book.

In the last six years of being an author, through tempestuous changes in the publishing world, I’ve learned the business side of being a writer and I now earn a good living as an author-entrepreneur. I’m an author because it’s my passion and my joy ” but also because it’s a viable business in this age of global and digital opportunity.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

There are so many gems in this book – to list them all might be copyright infringement!

“Did you create art today?” and other such questions helped me to further define my business and creative goals.

This book contains (almost) everything an author (new and experienced) needs to know to run their author business – things like marketing and mindset are separate books.

As a long-time reader of Joanna’s work (fiction and non-fiction) I appreciated her candour in how she envisioned and changed her business goals over time.

There are loads of extra resources at the end and many book recommendations to help one become a successful authorpreneur.

A must-have on every Indie author’s bookshelf.

4 unicorn star rating

What do you think of these books? Have you read them? Have you read anything by these authors? What are your thoughts on book clubs? Check out more reviews for these books on our Pinterest board.

*FYI, my reviews are my honest opinion and if something bothers me, I tell it straight. How else will anything change? My opinions are based on being a voracious reader and book buyer, not an attack on the author.*

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