Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Search for Suffering’s End: A Beacon Novella, Book 1

Title: The Search for Suffering’s End: A Beacon Novella, Book 1
Author: Gary Batta
Price: $12.00, print; $3.78, download
Genre: Fantasy/Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-84728-885-1
Publisher: Gary Batta through Lulu
Point of Sale:
Web Address:

The year is 2010 and no one knows when the Suffering began; nor can they find a cure. The most telling symptoms are: pain in the left arm and right leg; a sense of falling down; a feeling that their family is not real; and a severe thirst and hunger that no amount of food or water can satisfy. No one has died from the Suffering…until now.

Detective Hoyt Bodry is retiring in a month from the Hood River Police. Boosting only two crimes a year was a pivotal reason why Hoyt and his wife, Darla chose this quiet place for after his retirement from the force. However, that quiet is disrupted when Jolene Robbins is found dead, of an apparent suicide.

The Search for Suffering’s End: A Beacon Novella, Book 1 is an intense though compelling mystery that opens with murder. Jolene Robbins has the Suffering and because she hangs from a noose the police assume it’s a suicide. However, when Hoyt examines the wounds on her arms he quickly deduces that it’s murder; the complex symbols were cut into her arms with expert surgical precision As soon as the second murder occurs the Oregon State Department sends a forensic team to help Hoyt investigate. The investigation suffers a blow when a forensic scientist succumbs to the Suffering, and then Hoyt’s First Officer admits to battling the disease as well. Devoutly religious, Hoyt holds to stanch Bible convictions that has him wondering if God is punishing those who are not strong in belief; giving credence for his immunity to the Suffering. His speculations are refuted when the replacement scientist admits to being an atheist, but is not afflicted with the disease.

As the body count rises, more clues are revealed but none place Hoyt closer to capturing the murderer. Though one clue is clear, the killer targets only those who do not revere God, and when Hoyt receives a letter from the killer, he’s right; “I can get to you, Detective Bodry. But our faith protects you. -Suffering’s End.” However, the killer, again, lashes out at Hoyt, causing him to question his God for the first time in his life. When this case is over will Hoyt’s salvation remain unyielding?

I thought this story refreshing as it’s characters are more mature, growing older and readying for retirement, although genuine too. Hoyt’s unbendable religious beliefs seem heartless when encountering those with the Suffering; showing no compassion or acceptance that the Bible speaks of. Even when Lucy, whom he highly respects, confesses to having the disease, he cannot put aside his prejudices. The secondary characters are just as strong, supporting Hoyt as the suspenseful plot moves along. Lucy’s compassion shines when interacting with another who has the Suffering. Darryl Marin is stoic though methodical and focused on detail as he reveals critical clues overlooked before. The Search for Suffering’s End is quite engaging and more so when ending with a cliffhanger.

Rating: 10/10

Reviewed by Pamela.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

POD People Currently Closed To Submissions

Hi folks, Dawno here, the submissions coordinator for POD People. We're going to close to further submissions for a while and get our current queue of works out to reviewers.

If you've sent an email, you'll be getting a response from me soon letting you know of the status of your inquiry. Thank you for being patient.

'Mr. Touchdown' by Lyda Phillips

Title: Mr. Touchdown
Author: Lyda Phillips
Price: $23.95 hardcover, $13.95 paperback, $6.00 download
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 0-595-35900-0
Publisher: iUniverse
Point of Sale: iUniverse

In Memphis, Tennessee, four Douglass High School black teenagers are chosen to desegregate the all-white Forrest High School. Selected for their high academic marks and respect to discipline, Eddie, the only male, also excels in athletics. Little Rock’s attempt at integration brought out the National Guard and Federal troops, which still lingers in the minds of the people. Hopefully, Mr. King’s “tough-mindedness and tender-heartedness” hymn can keep these four teens safe as they walk into hostile territory.

As a young adult work of fiction, frankly, I hold this novel, Mr. Touchdown in high esteem and marvel at its thought-provoking theme. Ms. Phillips writes an authentic historical based story encompassing only part of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960’s. She shows how black schools are precluded from receiving appropriate funds in purchasing books and equipment. When the teens attend open enrollment and are given a tour of their prospective classrooms, they’re astounded by the resources available to their white counterparts; microscopes sit on the tables while colorful periodical tables and anatomy charts hang on the walls.

Also depicted is the use of the coarse “N” word (I don’t say it so I won’t write it) and judging blacks as dirty and inferior. I cringed when their counselor puts on a false cheerfulness while attempting to enroll the youths in classes that are far below their academic standing; only to be caught later washing her hands over and over in the girl’s bathroom. Making the read more convincing, the author captures the black students’ fearful anxiety while attending their first day of school, amidst glares and cruel comments. As they attend classes the Forrest students ostracize the teens by not speaking to them and even ignoring their mere presence.

However, the Douglass teenagers are not the only victims in this tale. Two Forrest students befriend the black teens, whereas only one experiences the shunning and harassment; eliciting sympathy and awareness for the Douglass students ordeal. In addition, their friendship incites an attack that hospitalizes one black youth.

I highly recommend Mr. Touchdown as an appropriate book for young adults that bestows some authentic historical value in the guise of fiction. The characters are formidable in maintaining the plot’s brisk momentum. Although, used sparingly and not overly offensive, the dialog does contain some cuss-words but nothing an average pre-teen to pre-adult has not heard before. I would allow my twelve year-old to read this story. The publisher, iUniverse chose Mr. Touchdown for their Editor’s and Reader’s Choice Award symbol, which it rightly deserves.

Tidbits about the author: Lyda Phillips has won awards in journalism and has written screenplays, novels, and more young adult pieces. She has been published in The Washington Post and Business Week, and holds degrees from Northwestern, Columbia and Vanderbilt universities. Lastly, the idea for Mr. Touchdown stems from her personal experience when in 1965 her all-white southern high school integrated.

Rating: 10/10

Reviewed by Pamela - read about her here

Friday, February 09, 2007

Writer's Digest Contest for Self-Published Authors

Win $3,000 in cash
Gain national exposure for your book
Catch the attention of prospective editors and publishers

Writer's Digest is searching for the best self-published books of the past few years. Whether you're a professional writer, part-time freelancer, or a self-starting student, here's your chance to enter the only competition exclusively for self-published books.


* Mainstream/Literary Fiction
* Genre Fiction
* Nonfiction
* Inspirational (Spiritual, New Age)
* Life Stories (Biographies, Autobiographies, Family Histories, Memoirs)
* Children's Picture books
* Middle-Grade/Young Adult books
* Reference Books (Directories, Encyclopedias, Guide Books)
* Poetry

ENTRY DEADLINE: Tuesday, May 01, 2007