Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE EXPERIMENTAL NOTEBOOK II by @Virgilante #Shortstories

Today’s Team Review is from Terry, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Experimental Notebook II by C.S Boyack


The Experimental Notebook II by C S Boyack

4 out of 5 stars

A selection of ‘speculative fiction’ short stories. I’ve never been quite sure exactly what speculative fiction is, and presumed it to be writing whatever you want regardless of what ‘the rules’ say or what is currently in fashion or an accepted genre.  I think all writing should be like that anyway, so I imagined these stories would work for me; also, I’d read good reports of C S Boyack.

I’ll start by saying that he’s an artful and intelligent writer with bags of talent.  As is always the case with short story collections, some of them are weaker than others, and some are extremely good.  My favourites were Magpies, Practical Geology and The Parade Wave, all of which are on the extremely dark and slightly comedic side, and will merit a second read.  Others, such as a vampire one, didn’t interest me so much, and with some of them I felt they were lacking a denouement; I’d come to the end and think, ‘and?’.  Sometimes, the dialogue was a bit information heavy and unrealistic; there are other ways of setting the scene other than have one person express to another exactly where they are and why (like they wouldn’t already know that) ~ BUT: in each one the writing is great, I couldn’t fault that, and this made them all enjoyable to read.

A solid 4*; I’d definitely read more by this guy.

Find a copy here from or available free from Kindle Unlimited


Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE PLAYGROUND by @Virgilante #Horror #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Karen, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Karen has been reading The Playground by C.S Boyack


Book Description

The hottest toys of the Christmas Season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except, the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power. To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for more mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

My Opinion

This book introduces Tommy Fazio, seemingly a ruthless and greedy business man with a plan. Three different plot lines – cleverly built – guide you through the story; meet Chloe, Gina and Clovis – be intrigued.

With The Playground, C. S. Boyack provides three cleverly elaborated plot lines, each of them drawing you deeper inside the story. I was drawn into the plot lines right away – very close to the respective protagonists; sometimes a creepy sensation. Each of the plot lines ‘felt’ different; resulting in a very intense story. I had a great time reading The Playground. It is a very enjoyable read. This is for you if you like paranormal/supernatural stories with a streak of horror, very likeable characters and food for thought.

This is a book to read again. Highly recommended.

Find a copy here from or

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE PLAYGROUND by C.S Boyack @virgilante #Fantasy #Thriller

Today’s Team Review is from Babus, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Babus has been reading The Playground by C.S Boyack


This supernatural fantasy thriller essentially describes three different vignettes: a six year old girl, Chloe, who wants the hottest toy out, a Playground Doll. A doctor who works with terminal patients and a muscle man who is for hire to criminals as an enforcer. These three different parties eventually merge into the main plot which is about a ruthless businessman, Tommy Fazio, who has created the Playground Dolls and their network, which works via WiFi for dark, dangerous and mysterious means.

However, for Tommy to achieve his ultimate goal he needs to get his hands on some software which will take the Network Dolls to the next level, but his programmer has gone missing and has taken the software with him so he hires Clovis to track him down.

Dr Grace Greybill, is happily taking care of terminal patients, when she is engaged to look after an old man, who seems fit and resides in a grand mansion. However, nothing is as it seems with her new patient and she finds herself taking on more than just the role of his physician.

I am not a huge fantasy reader and thrillers which incorporate fantasy are rather hit or miss with me, but I found this one easy to get on board with, mainly due to the fact Chloe and Clovis’ stories were easy to get on-board with. The real leap in faith came when I was reading about Dr Greybill and the grey-haired professor who passes on his vocation to her. I found this aspect of the story more challenging but ultimately, despite some vague details, easy to meld into the story as a whole.

This thriller is chilling in part and reads very much like a horror, so it kept me entertained overall, however, it felt like I was reading the prequel to a much more involved novel that is yet to come.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE EXPERIMENTAL NOTEBOOK by C.S Boyack @virgilante

Today’s team review comes form Judith, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Judith has been reading and reviewing The Experimental Notebook by C.S Boyack.


I enjoyed this collection of short stories and flash fiction. In The Experimental Notebook C. S. Boyack   presents an intriguing and fascinating mix of fantasy, science fiction and ghost stories. He has a unique and enjoyable writing style, juxtaposing believable characters and straightforward plots for the reader, even when fantastical.

Threaded with understated humour, most of the pieces are of the ‘twist in the tail’ type; surprising yet satisfying and guaranteed to bring out a whole gamut of emotions in the reader. If I had to choose I think my favourite would be the fabled The Soup Ladle of Destiny. But there is something for everyone between the pages of this book.

There is also an unusual part where the author speaks to the reader which I enjoyed and motivated me enough to look for his website. He seems to be a prolific blogger whose posts are as thought provoking as this collection of stories.

So– great cover, well-written stories with rounded characters, great dialogue, a brilliant sense of place in all; to my mind, proper short stories. And, although these are not the genre of stories I would normally read this is one collection I would recommend.

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WINNER and Runner-Up of the Fantasy Sci-Fi 2015 Book Award #wwwblogs

Winner Fantasy Sci Fi

The 2015 Fantasy Sci Fi Golden Rose award went to

Barb Taub and her Book One Way Fare

Barb and one way Fare

Meet Barb

In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them consulting with her occasional co-author/daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

Catch Barb on Twitter @barbtaub or follow her blog for some brilliant posts.

One Way Fare published by Hartwood Publishing

Superpowers suck. If you just want to live a normal life, Null City is only a Metro ride away. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, become parents, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes.

Null City is the only sanctuary for Gaby Parker and Leila Rice, two young women confronting cataclysmic forces waging an unseen war between Heaven and Hell. Gaby and her younger brother and sister are already targets in the war that cost their parents’ lives. Should they forsake the powers that complete their souls and flee to Null City? Meanwhile, Leila has inherited a French chateau, a mysterious legacy, and a prophecy that she will end the world. Gaby and Leila become catalysts for the founding and survival of Null City.

It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Find a copy here from or

The Silver Award went to John Privilege and his book The American Policeman

John and The American

Meet John

Not one to shout about himself, John hails from just out side Belfast, there’s very little to be found about John, but you can find him chatting on Twitter as @BeardyJohn

The American Policeman

After everything, there is peace. The Collective took London away from the gangs that terrorised the city after the plague and the slow terror of the Breakdown. The blood on the streets has dried. There is food, water and good housing. Everyone has work. But the meek have not inherited the earth. On a bitterly cold night a woman is brutalised and murdered, shattering the fragile calm of the city. The investigation of London’s first murder in two years falls to Inspector Timothy Conlan and the District team of the New Metropolitan Police. Tim ‘Con’ Conlan serenely navigates the harsh new London. He is dedicated, conscientious and smiling. Around him society is broken. People are traumatised, fearful and wracked with guilt. Now the dark, empty spaces of the city are being stalked by a monster. Con must find and catch a killer who seems to know his every move. At the same time, there is something rotten at the core of the new government. In the very heart of the Collective, massive lies are being spun. There are rumours of war, whispers of betrayal. The Collective is harsh, relentless and utterly unforgiving. The problem for Con is simple: find the killer; stay alive.

Find a copy here from or

Final Congratulations to all our nominees in this category

Dylan J Morgan with THE SICKNESS

C.S Boyack with WILL O’ THE WISP

Rewan Tremethick with FALLEN ON GOODTIMES

Celine Jeanjean with THE VIPER AND THE URCHIN

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Experimental Notebook by C.S Boyack @virgilante

Today’s team review is form Karen, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Karen chose to read and review The Experimental Notebook by C.S Boyack


My Opinion

This anthology comprises twelve different stories, taking you on twelve very different trips; some will make you happy, some will make you sad, others will make you wonder. There is one thing that they all have in common: They are unforgettable. I cannot tell you more about this anthology as it would spoil the fun of reading it yourself.

With The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack, C. S. Boyack presents us with twelve little gifts. Each story is skilfully elaborated, has its own great flow. Ernest Hemingway once stated “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” C. S. Boyack shows this masterly with every story – he created living people instead of mere characters. I was drawn into the story right away – very close to the protagonists. I could easily envision the characters and locations. I had a great time reading The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack. It is a very enjoyable read. This is for you if you like adventures with a humorous streak, very likeable characters to cheer on their thrilling trip, surprises and food for thought – all packed in micro-fiction and short stories.

This is a book to read again. Highly recommended.

Find a copy here from or

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Experimental Notebook by C.S Boyack @Virgilante

Today’s team review comes from Barb, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Barb chose to read and review The Experimental Notebook by C.S Boyack


My review: 5 out of 5 stars for The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack

Encyclopædia Britannica says:

The short story is usually concerned with a single effect conveyed in only one or a few significant episodes or scenes. The form encourages economy of setting, concise narrative, and the omission of a complex plot; character is disclosed in action and dramatic encounter but is seldom fully developed. Despite its relatively limited scope, though, a short story is often judged by its ability to provide a “complete” or satisfying treatment of its characters and subject.

They could be talking about any story in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack. These stories are the heirs of O. Henry and Twain and Lovecraft. They are perfect little worlds, each with its own unique twist ending. They don’t match each other or add up to a completely balanced meal. Instead they are the tapas of literature, the small plates you sample and move on.

From the sentimental Mom in Jack O’Lantern, to my personal favorite, Lisa—the “concept robot with artificial intelligence and emotions software”—in Bombshell Squad, to the chillingly humorous entity in Transference, each story is pared to the bone to provide only the barest details that will build its little world, show you what’s to be found there, and then (usually) twist it all at the end.

I’m delighted to give it five stars out of five. Sure, this is a short review. That’s partly because it would be an absolute crime to say anything more and spoil each story’s surprise, but also because my only complaint is that I want more! My recommendation to each of you is that you stop reading right here and download The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack immediately. Each story is the perfect length to read over lunch, on the bus, in the dentist’s waiting room, standing in that grocery line that you always seem to choose the longest one of. Then, as soon as you’re done reading it, please let me know which is your favorite. I guarantee you’ll have trouble choosing.

Find a copy here from or

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Experimental Notebook by C.S Boyack @Virgilante

Today’s team review comes from Bev, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Bev chose to read and review The Experimental Notebook by C.S Boyack


Review The Experimental Notebook


This is a most intriguing collection. Reminiscent of Poe’s ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination’ with a hint Asimov. The genres range between science fiction, fantasy and paranormal. They are dark for the most part, which I like, but each story is highly individual. There are robots, ghosts, and a fearless little girl who lives near a forest making cabbage soup when she’s not ridding the village of monsters (The Soup Ladle of Destiny is my personal favourite, and the funniest of the stories). All the stories have a twist. Mostly these are unexpected – although you do catch the mindset of the author after reading a few. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the stories, though. It just made me wonder what was coming up. In the middle of the collection, the author includes an ‘intermission’, where he addresses the reader in person. I must admit that this is the first time I’ve come across such an approach. But C. S. Boyack (Craig – if you visit his Amazon Author Page) has an engaging style, and I find the personal touch here adds to my enjoyment of the stories. It made me click on his author page!

There is an excerpt from one of his YA novels (Will O’ the Wisp) at the end of the collection. I read this too. Another charismatic set of characters and a glimpse of an intriguing plot.

I recommend this author. He’s a real spinner of yarns.

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Will O’ The Wisp by C.S Boyack @Virgilante #YA #Ghost #Bookrview

Today’s team review comes from Barb, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Barb chose to read and review Will O’ The Wisp by C.S Boyack


My review: 5 out of 5 stars for Will O’ the Wisp

I want to tell you all about this great book I just read. It’s about a girl whose family has been systematically picked off for generations by… [Crap! Spoiler.]

Maybe I could just say that C. S. Boyack’s Will O’ the Wisp is about a girl who discovers that her legacy from her murdered uncle is… [Darn! Again with the spoilers.]

Okay, let’s try this. Patty Hall is a fifteen-year-old high school freshman in the mid-1970s. She and her two best friends are the outcasts at Burkeford High. Laura was the tallest girl in their junior high, while Petey (“Just Pete now. We’re in high school and it’s time to grow up”) is one of the few black students at their Virginia high school. Patty herself has worn leg braces all her life, leading to the nickname Quacking Boot.

Like any coming-of-age story, Patty has conflicts with her mother over the braces—and of course, just about everything else in her life. She taunts her stepfather Rick with “I’ll bet my dad would’ve helped me out.” Her brother can’t help because he’s fighting in Viet Nam. Her two friends are moving away from her socially, with dates for the Homecoming dance. So she dreams of becoming an astronaut, freed from weak legs in the weightlessness of space—even though she realizes that all the astronauts were products of military schools that don’t accept women.

But this isn’t just a tale of angst-ridden teens overcoming handicaps and prejudice. When Patty and Pete stumble on a group of college students partying in the woods, they’re horrified to see one of them attacked by a glowing ball of light. As more deaths target her family, Patty’s search for information about the weird light becomes tied to her research into local and family history for the freshman report, her high school’s critical first-year assignment. She learns that her family has always seen the strange lights, which they call Will O’ the Wisp. She also starts to put together the untimely and unusual deaths of her father and almost all of his family back to Reverend Jonathan Hall, an early settler from more than three hundred years earlier. But Patty’s research becomes much more urgent when she realizes that she, her family, and her friends are also targets.

So far, all of that—glowing orbs of light, infected victims coughing up gallons of mucus, victims drowning on dry land—sounds like tales you’d tell around a campfire to scare your friends. But that’s where author C. S. Boyack changes the equation. He takes the Judy Blume-meets-Stephen King mashup and turns each trope upside down.

  • Coming of age? Yes, there is the obligatory experimenting with drugs, fighting with parents, and all-important pivotal combat moment. But (it is the seventies, after all) the magically/ pharmaceutically-enhanced trip helpfully reveals a solution Patty couldn’t have found on her own. Her battles with her mother are tempered by Mom’s obvious if (through teen-aged lenses) overprotective love and concern. (“I wanted to talk to Mom, but I didn’t want her to think I wanted to talk.”) And some of the most lovely scenes in the book involve Patty’s growing bond with her stepfather Rick. His quiet support takes the form of teaching her to drive, challenging her physically, and then publicly acknowledging her achievements until she finally realizes what he means to her. “Rick wrote me out a permission slip, and it was legitimate. He was my father now.”
  • Hero’s journey? Most interesting to me is the way Patty does a lot of this in reverse—she fights most of her battles in her own hometown, and with her own internal resources. That’s not to say that there isn’t one HELL of a fight against the Big Bad. But leave it to author Boyack to make that all about the seventies. I don’t know if those who haven’t lived through that decade could possibly enjoy Will O’ the Wisp as much as I did, but I have to say that I can remember our first microwave. We thought we were The Jetsons, and didn’t realize that we were dedicating a disproportionate share of countertop real estate to something that really wasn’t going to excel at much more than reheating coffee for at least another twenty years. I absolutely loved it that the witch’s spell was reheated in the microwave, and that Patty’s “skyclad” invocation was the Mashed Potato and the Swim danced to her transistor radio.
  • Ghost Story? Oh, trust me—it’s good. But [curse you, spoilers!] you’ll have to get that part yourself.

If it was just the ghost story, I’d give this three stars for chills and some good suspense. But the way Patty grows over the short term of the story from a typical, whiny, self-centered teen to a… [damn! Not again..] I-can’t-tell-you-what-but-I-loved-it!, combined with the lovely touches that were so perfectly mid-1970s, makes this a five star read for me. If you like coming-of-age YA, or know a reader who appreciates a good ghost story, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Will O’ the Wisp.

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Book reviews in magazines I write for in August #bookreviews

The following books made it to Fleet Life magazine this month.

FL Aug 15

For the online edition go to load the online directory and turn to page 28.

The Family Trap by Joanne Phillips

Rise Of The Enemy by Rob Sinclair

Old Town Nights by Linda Lee Williams

Swamp Ghosts by Marcia Meara

Country Affairs by Zara Stonely

The next set of books made it into the August edition of The Elvetham Heath Directory,

EHD Aug 15

The online edition can be found at load the online directory and turn to page 22

Big Men’s Boots by Emily Barraso

The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

Will O’ The Wisp by C. S Boyack

Dream On by Terry Tyler

From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe by Robert Leigh