Category Archives: Fiction

A Trap for the Potentate by Atamanov

This is book 3 in the Dark Herbalist series with Amra, the goblin herbalist, and his plotline testers. Continuing after book 2, Amra has turned his sights to defeating the challenging quest to go to the end of the river Styx – a challenge that no group of players have yet won. Along the way, several plotholes open up very wide as Tim has to deal with real world enemies as a local gang takes out a hit on him and he loses his girlfriend early in the book when she completely disappears from the story. The ending – and so far there isn’t a fourth book, but it can’t possibly be done – is far too quick and leaves a lot to be desired.

A Trap for the Potentate
Dark Herbalist #3
by Michael Atamanov
Magic Dome Books
January 2018

Now that I’ve read three LitRPG books, all from Michael Atamanov, I’ve decided on two important conclusions: First, I really don’t think Atamanov is doing a good job writing a story. It’s completely possible that the fourth book will solve many of the outstanding issues, including, importantly, why Amra wins at everything. But I’m not sure that’s the case. He writes women like caricatures of Instagram models. They are there to be beautiful (every woman is) and interested in him (every woman is), while whining and complaining (every woman does) the whole time. There isn’t a three dimensional character in the book. Maybe his AI online girlfriend, Tiesha. Maybe.

Second, I like LitRPG and am totally feeling the itch to play RPGs. I’ve started another author’s LitRPG and am looking for others. There has to be a good LitRPG author and story. I’m a huge fan of Sword Art Online (season 1, especially), so I know this is possible.

If there is a fourth book, I’ll read it just to see if things wrap up. But I have low expectations right now.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Stay on the Wing by Atamanov

This is book 2 in the Dark Herbalist series with Amra, the goblin herbalist, and his plotline testers. This story picks up right where the first one ends with Tim (Amra’s player’s real name), his sister, his girlfriend and friends playing an online VR MMORPG.

Stay on the Wing
Dark Herbalist #2
by Michael Atamanov
Magic Dome Books
June 2017

In part two, other players who watch Amra’s video stream become upset that Amra, a small, weak new player, somehow gets a unique flying mount in the game so the game company decides to put the mount up for grabs to any player who can hunt and kill Amra. The majority of the book is the story of Amra running from the other players, including a large portion of the book where Amra becomes a pirate captain with an orc army. Like the first book, Amra continues his long trek towards awesomeness as just about everything works out for him.

The first book in this series was my first experience in LitRPG or GameLit a sub genere that tells a story through the perspective of a game player – usually a VR player in the near future. Books like Ready Player One or other books with VR as an integral plot device aren’t the same thing as LitRPG. The focus on LitRPG novels is the game playing and RPG leveling aspects. In fact, in this series, the plotline tester aspect of the books was all about the company showing people that playing a goblin herbalist was fun and worthy of their time. The story is constantly interrupted with skill updates, character leveling, experience, game notifications, and other aspects of RPG gaming that gamers know and appreciate. I’m not sure other readers will understand as well or appreciate things. The biggest thing that non-gamers need to know if that the vast majority of how this “game” goes is wrong. No one wins as much as Amra does. Nothing goes wrong for him. Nothing. Even when he makes a mistake the game somehow adapts what he did and makes it a win for him. Real games as grind, loss, playing, fun, loss, grind and loss.

I bought books 2 and 3 at the same time. Otherwise, I’d likely not finish these fun but vapid stories.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Hawaiian Discovery by Brunstett and Brunstetter

Ellen Lambright is a young Amish girl working in a Bed & Breakfast owned by her friend Mandy and husband Ken. Ellen loves her work and has dreams of someday owning her own B&B.

The Hawaiian Discovery
by Wanda E. Brunstett & Jean Brunstetter
Shiloh Run Press
June 2018

Everything is going great until Ken’s father, who owns a chicken business in Hawaii, becomes seriously ill and they travel to Hawaii to help his mother. Unfortunately his father passes away and they are forced to stay in Hawaii.

Things are rough, but they are coping. Ken goes surfing with his friends and is attack by a shark, leaving him seriously injured, close to death. In order to pay his hospital bills, they are forced to sell the B&B, leaving Ellen without a job.

Ellen feels she must help her friend Mandy so she goes to Hawaii. Mandy has hired a young man, Rob Smith, to help Ellen take care of the business while Ken is healing. Soon they become friends, but Ellen is certain he is hiding something, he is so secretive. Ellen begins to have feeling for Rob, but knows this can’t happen because he isn’t Amish.

By accident Ellen over hears a telephone conversation between Rob and a member of his family. He was speaking in Pennsylvania Dutch. Why is he denying he is Amish? Ellen is very disappointed and feels now is the time to return home.

Rob, whose real name is Rueben Zook, comes to Indiana to visit Ellen. Will her dreams of marriage and owning a B&B become a reality or remain just a dream?

I really enjoyed the book and recommend it to readers of all age.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury

Imagine a world where there is so much information coming at you that you just can’t handle it; you decide that it would be better to simply avoid information that doesn’t make you happy. The world in this book is that world. And so is the real world, or at least it seems plausible that we are heading there.

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
1953

In recent years we have seen a louder and louder call to silence critics or people we don’t agree with. From de-platforming on college campuses, to blocking and banning on social platforms, to campaigns to fire people from their jobs for things they have said outside of work, to trying to get books banned, to making speech illegal if we find it hateful, we are definitely on the road to more censorship, rather than less. Bradbury provides this world for us: a world of happy thoughts (or else) and complete control by a police state that regulates not only how we relate to others but entertainment and learning as well.

Bradbury was ahead of his time in more than just the call to be wary of totalitarianism. His ideas of wall sized screens (instead of TVs) and interacting with those actors directly was prescient. The idea that we would, as a society, choose to burn ideas (books) on our own, that we would self-medicate (ala Brave New World) and that only true freedom would be outside the system all stay with the reader long after the book is over. I’ve read this book before and, while the story isn’t great, the points the author makes are true and definitely worth being reminded of.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Hayes

The book’s title is, unfortunately, accurate.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant
by Drew Hayes
REUTS Publications, LLC
July 2014

The book is a collection of stories that introduce the characters, one by one, and show some adventures that work out because they do. I almost didn’t finish the book. I set it aside and didn’t come back to it while I read several others. I did finish it and when I was done I couldn’t see myself reading more of this. But there are three books in the series. Three utterly uninteresting and unadventurous books.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

You’re Gonna Love Me by Hatcher

Samantha Winters and Nick Chastain had been dating for several months. Nick is a brilliant professor at Organ State University and an adrenaline junkie. Samantha liked everything organized and safe. She is afraid of everything. She witnessed her father being killed in a skiing accident.

You’re Gonna Love Me
by Robin Lee Hatcher
Thomas Nelson
December 2017

When Samantha learned that Nick planned to go on a kayaking trip to Colorado on his spring break, this was all she could take. Harsh words were spoken, and Nick walked out. This ending their relationship. Samantha tried to apologize by email to Nick but he didn’t answer.

Two years later Samantha moves to Thunder Creek, Idaho to care for her grandmother who had been thrown by a horse and broken her ankle. Later, at the hospital, Nick comes to visit her grandmother. Samantha was speechless. How did Nick know her grandmother, why was he in Idaho, and why wasn’t he teaching at the University?

Over the course of weeks Samantha and Nick become friends. She learns the planned trip that had destroyed their relationship had almost ended Nick’s life. He can no longer teach and has opted for a quiet life in Idaho.

Will Samantha let go of her fears, trust that Nick is a change man, and will she and Nick recapture the love they once knew?

I highly recommend the book to readers of all age. A well written, entertaining book. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Love Letter by Hauck

Chloe Daschle had a sneak peek at a script written by Jesse Gates about a love letter, written during the Revolutionary War, by Jesse’s 6x great-grandfather Hamilton Longfellow to Esther Kingsley. Chloe was successful in being cast as Esther and thus the journey began. The chemistry between Jesse and Chloe is highly charged.

Love Letter
by Rachel Hauck
Thomas Nelson
June 2018

Sir Michel is a very strong supporter of the English King and a Tory. He disapproves of Esther’s love for Hamilton, but she is determined to marry him.

At the battle of Cowpens, South Carolina, Hamilton is seriously wounded and almost lost his life. This battle turned the tide for the American Colonies that ended the war. Esther visits Hamilton in the hospital, but he rejects her. He will not left her be tied to a cripple. Hamilton soon realizes his mistake and writes the famous love letter to Esther, but Esther doesn’t receive it. She has returned to England.

The Daschles has come in possession of the famous love letter written to Esther from Hamilton. Could Esther Longfellow Hobart be Chloe’s 6x great -grandmother? The same Esther that loved Jesse’s 6x great-grandfather.

This is a well written story of love and courage during a difficult time. Just maybe generations later true come can unite two people deserving the love that Esther and Hamilton shared.

Highly recommended.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Extracted by Haywood

Imagine a time machine. Then imagine checking out the future and everything looks great. Then you look again and the world has ended. Why and how? You aren’t sure so you go back in time to the moment of death for three heroes who you plan to send in time to figure those things out. Of course, there is another group of shadowy, deadly people trying to stop you.

Extracted
by R.R. Haywood
47North
March 2017

It’s not exactly original, but it works in a way. The book drags in the middle and only at the end did I realize that this whole book was only the set up for a series. As much as this book had going against it, I’m inexplicably interested in the next one. Maybe I have unresolved questions or just want to see if anything happens. But I do. So that’s a positive.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Solace of Water by Younts

Delilah Evans has just buried her son in Montgomery, Alabama and moving to Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania. She has little faith in the fresh start her husband believes they will have in their new home. Deedee’s, as she prefers to be called, grief and doubt is overwhelming. She blames her daughter for the boy’s death.

The Solace Of Water
by Elizabeth Byler Younts
Thomas Nelson
June 2018

The move to Pennsylvania is not what they expected. The colored and whites are still segregated even though there isn’t any signs as there were in Montgomery. Deedee doesn’t help matter as she shuns the women in her husband’s church. However, an unlikely friendship develops between Deedee and Emma, an Amish lady. Emma had rescued Deedee’s son when he ran into bees in the woods behind her house. She had also became friends with Sparrow (Birdie) – Deedee’s daughter.

Emma had a secret. Her husband, a deacon in the Amish Church, is a drunk. If the people knew, they would be shunned and kick out of the community. Her son Johnny knew her secret and he is rebelling against she and his Dad.

Things became so bad for Birdie that she attempted suicide on several occasions. She refused to eat and started cutting her body. Her last attempt brought Deedee to her senses.

Will Deedee and Birdie resolves their problem? Will Emma and her husband reveal their secret? Read the book to learn the answers.

The Solace Of Water reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race and custom.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of Deedee, Emma and Birdie. Highly recommended.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Wee Free Men by Pratchett

I’ve been a fan of Pratchett’s from the time I read him for the first time; in fact a fan from page one. That book was Going Postal. Not only was it part social commentary and (a large) part comedy, but it was brilliantly written. When Moist finally gets the stone free from his cell it comes out with a “slightly inappropriate” twinkling noise. It’s been more than a decade and that scene is etched in my memory.

Wee Free Men
by Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins
July 2006

Since then, I’ve read many more of his books. The Colour of Magic and early books are good enough, but the guards and capitalism series are where I really latched on. I really wanted to read his last book – ah, that hit me in the feels just now – but I didn’t want to until I read the other Witch books with Tiffany Aching. So I started with this one.

It’s one of Pratchett’s children’s books. The difference, in my opinion so far, is that there isn’t as much commentary and even the hints about sexuality aren’t there. Otherwise, it’s still fun, comedic, adventurous and definitely worth reading. I’m looking forward to the next three so I can finally get to the final book. Looking forward and dreading.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.