For comic book fans out there, indeed, for readers as well as writers of any genre, what would you do if you suddenly found yourself facing a villain from the story? Yikes. For that is what happens in Black Hat Blues.

Scratch, a comic book villain, is a wicked, murdering sorcerer with an inflated ego. He travels the multiverse conquering different realms out of, it seems, boredom.

Mark, the creator of Scratch, is an elderly, obsolete comic book artist. He finds his work inspires more vilification than praise these days from a culture with different standards, expectations, and viewpoints.

When Scratch suddenly finds himself in the same existence as his creator, using the villain’s own words, “Reality swirls.” Mark wonders if he’s going mad, and it’s all in his head. Scratch wonders if Mark is living his fantasies through him.

I wasn’t sure about the book when I began. It seemed scattered, constantly toggling between different points of view, dimensions, and storylines. But as I read, I found myself chuckling at the dark, scathing humor, even while feeling semi-outraged. The author touches on all aspects of life, at the heart of which seems to be the turmoil of aging and the increasing inability to relate to contemporary ways of thinking. It reminded me a little of Gulliver’s Travels in its clever, satirical wit.

Written in a unique style that seems to break all the rules of writing, it could be confusing for some. But It’s funny, brazen, full of surprises, and strangely relatable. In the end, you realize it could not have been written any other way.

Good read.


Book Review: Operation Bluebird, by Harry Old

Operation Bluebird by [Harry Old]

Right from the beginning, we are given a secret, a deception, possibly a betrayal. “It isn’t true,” she says, leaving us with questions – what isn’t true? Carrie is in the hospital while her family rushes to her. What happened? Why?

The story is one of addiction and the accompanying delusions. The temptation, the trial, the enjoyment, the complete surrender, and finally the denial, because to admit would be to go mad. Carrie goes undercover as Cara to infiltrate the world of a Korean crime lord/casino owner and his sons. She is eager to prove herself and to seek revenge for a woman thought to have been murdered by them. But as time goes on, she begins to lose herself in the glamor, even falling in love with the degenerate son ridiculed by everyone. It’s the classic attraction to the “bad boy,” the need to change them, and in the process perhaps validate oneself. A part of her might even identify with this man and his desperate need for approval.

I was engrossed from beginning to end. The author skillfully builds up the tension between what is real and what is not, the struggle between Carrie and Cara, leaving the reader wondering if she will ever come out of it. All the while we are immersed in detailed, almost poetic descriptions “a Dorian Gray of a building that hid its twisted heart behind a glamorous façade” (LOVE IT!) that spark the imagination. Every character is well-developed with distinct, multi-layered personalities. Sometimes you hate them and sometimes you feel for them. The plot is full of surprises and twists that make us question whether Carrie/Cara is doing the right thing or not, culminating in the tragic ending which brings us back to the beginning.

Great read. Highly recommended.


Searching for Sarah by Phillip Vega

The sudden death of Tom Ruiz’s sister, Nina, leads him to the discovery that she was gay. Having been under the impression they were close, he is dumbfounded. Her last instructions are for Tom and her girlfriend, Sarah, to have a non-traditional funeral for the woman who led a non-traditional life. But Sarah is nowhere to be found.

Tom begins to read Nina’s journal in an attempt to get to know the sister he thought he already knew, and find the mysterious Sarah. The journal takes us back in time to when Nina first found she was attracted to women and the sexual adventures that followed.

The premise of the story was intriguing, which was well maintained throughout the book. I had not read an LGBTQ novel before and was eager to see where it went.

I was a little disappointed, however. The characters of Tom and Nina are well developed, but I found their ongoing melodrama a little tiresome. Tom goes on for too long about his grief at the death of his sister in the beginning, and again when he finds out she was gay, to a point where I started skipping over it. One doesn’t need to read pages and pages of the same thought to get the picture. The same with Nina’s first-time attraction to a girl and the ones that followed.

Nina’s relationship with Sarah was described mostly in terms of them jumping into bed together and left me feeling it was all about sex. There was nothing about the deep understanding that can exist between people of any gender, soul mates. I felt we never really got to know Sarah. She was described as the love of Nina’s life, but we never really went past her looks and her prowess in bed.

Good twist at the end. All in all an enjoyable read.


Book Review: 14 Steps to Happiness, by Kristian Hall

Having suffered from depression and anxiety myself, I was very interested in this book. It lays out a step by step program with summaries at the end on how to cure yourself of this disease along with very informative discussions on how our emotional health is related to the mechanics of the brain and the body.

It’s an easy read with a personal touch. The summaries are great to go back and read when there’s no time to go through a chapter again. Sometimes I found it to be a little repetitive, but that is probably necessary to make information stick. Learning about the author’s own trials and miseries makes it almost feel like you are talking with a friend, which is more encouraging than a conversation with a complete stranger to whom you are just a paycheck, and whose office you leave feeling like you got nothing. After all, we learn more from our peers than anyone else, right? Moreover, his desire to help others suffering from depression is free of the arrogance and judgmental attitudes found in so many, and rings true.

The most important advice, I thought, was the one to take baby steps to recovery. Growing up with an overachieving parent who expected everything to be perfect right away, I can attest to the fact that that approach fails. I was also excited to read the “Eat Yourself Happy” chapter, because I turn to ice cream when I’m feeling sad. But alas his advice followed that of other health experts and left out my favorite tranquilizer from the list of foods that help depression!

14 Steps to Happiness, by Kristian Hall


Book Review: Trust a Few, by E.M. Swift-Hook

Trust A Few: Haruspex Trilogy: Part One (Fortune's Fools Book 4) by [E.M. Swift-Hook]

Brilliant writing, intriguing characters and story! A must read!

The story begins with a convict, Avilon, who is released from a program known as the Specials. He has no memory of who he was before his arrest, and is literally a blank slate, a child learning about the world. My interest was sparked immediately. Right from the beginning, before his release, there are also hints of a genius level intelligence, and superhuman physical strength and endurance. Genetic enhancement is brought up. I couldn’t wait to find out more about him.

After he is released, he goes in search of the only friend he has, another convict, Jaz, who was released before him. Along the way he meets other people, the deliciously alien Durban Chola, who has an impressive command over the powers of the mind, and Charis, a young woman who teaches him things. The speed at which he assimilates and interacts with new information makes us wonder again, who is this man?

This was my first time reading sci-fi, and I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. Being a romantic and an artist, I have always relied on visuals, as in a movie, to carry me through these technology-centered stories. But the author’s brilliant use of words, which painted intricate and vivid descriptions of the world she crafted, had the same effect. There were several WOW moments. It reminded me of The Fifth Element, a movie which also made me go, WOW!

The well-developed, multi-layered characters all face challenging choices, mainly of whom to trust, to be expected in the mob warfare setting. Different groups or coalitions all spying on each other and killing ruthlessly in mafia manner in their battle for control. How much would you do for someone you considered a friend despite the fact that they might not be honest with you?

The writing was gripping though a little wordy at times. I would catch my mind wandering, then return to the book, going back a few pages to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. It also needed another round of proofreading. There were misplaced words and punctuation throughout that were unworthy of the brilliant writing.

I would have liked to have seen more of Ignatius, a setting which had the potential to generate some characters of interest, and also the world of Sarava with the future data program which made predictions from data to control future issues in the world.

I was a little disappointed at not finding out more about Avilon’s past by the end of the book. I might have to get the first one to fill in the blanks!

If you are into sci-fi, read this book. I’m not usually into sci-fi and I loved it.


Review of Owl Manor by Redheaded Book Lover!

Thanks to redheadedbooklover for an awesome review!

“Owl Manor is a phenomenal, addictive piece of fiction that left me shocked and astonished. Never before have I read such a unique, imaginative, enthralling piece of literature; Zita Harrison, the author of this exciting novel, is incredibly talented because she knows just how to capture her reader’s imagination from the very first page. As I read this book, I struggled to put it down, so much so that I found myself reading it into the early hours of the morning thanks to Harrison’s incredible talent to hold the reader’s attention. Already I would implore you book lovers to read this book because it is incredibly unique and unlike anything you have read before!”

Read more at:

Owl Manor – The Dawning, Zita Harrison

$2.99 for Kindle at