Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Mine


The Mine by John A. Heldt

Reviewed by Julia Flowers writing as A. T. Weaver

Finally, I’ve been given a book to review in a genre I know and love.

“In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.”

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It took me a while to get into this story. At first it follows the normal ‘time-travel’ format. Someone from the current century enters some type of vortex and ends up in another time and place. Although Joel Smith may still be in the same place; it’s fifty-nine years ago, when the rest of the world was at war and America had yet to enter it.

The author’s attention to the clothing, attitudes, and sights of a bygone era is nothing short of spectacular. From his descriptions of the cars to the dresses (and hats) of the women of a pre-war America he paints a picture straight from the pages of history. He’s paid special attention to the locale of Seattle and the style of buildings and businesses.

Joel’s struggle to keep from altering history is evident when he meets his grandmother and wonders about the fact she is dating a man not his grandfather. He uses his knowledge of future events, particularly sporting events, to increase the wealth of himself and his new friends.

I was soon caught up in Joel’s anxiety as he falls in love and debates what to do. I was kept on the edge of my chair. I couldn’t decide if I wanted him to stay or bring Grace back to this century with him.

The ending pleased me very much.

I was glad to see this is the first of a series and look forward to reading the other books.

John A. Heldt


John A. Heldt is a reference librarian and the author of THE MINE, THE JOURNEY, THE SHOW, and THE FIRE, the first four novels of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage time-travel series. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, he is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at

1959 – True story

When I was in high school, I worked as a car-hop at a root-beer drive-in called the Frostop. The Frostop was located on the highway about a mile outside of my home town. One of or favorite pastimes when the lot was slow was waving at the cars we knew and at the big trucks that drove by.

One Friday night, one other girl and I were on the curb. It was a slow time and we had split the lot with her taking one side and me the other. It was about ten o’clock when this rusty, ratty-looking old farm truck pulled onto the lot on Shirley’s side. She didn’t want to wait on it so I took it. I wasn’t paying any attention to the two male occupants of the truck as I walked up and asked if I could help them.

“Yeah. Do you have a hammer?”

I looked up into the most beautiful pair of eyes I’d ever seen. (Now remember, I was 16 years old.) I cannot remember the color, only that they were light and had a dark ring around the iris.

Well, he had a coconut he wanted to crack. By this time, Shirley got a glimpse of what was in the truck and sashayed out to ‘help’. She took the coconut and broke it on the concrete curb – it was rotten.

So Joe (that was the driver’s name) asked us when we were scheduled to work again and we told him Sunday afternoon.

When Sunday afternoon rolled around, the boss had me inside washing dishes when a brand-new, 1960 white Chevy Impala with baby-blue interior, wing-shaped rear fenders and twin antennae pulled onto the lot and Joe asked for me.


He had been driving his dad’s truck Friday and picked up his new car on Saturday. He and I dated for a couple of months.

One day he asked me why we girls never waved at him any more. I told him, “John T. got a car just like yours. We can’t tell if it’s you or him and none of us want to wave to him.”

Joe went home and turned his antennae backwards so we could tell who was who. (I don’t think John ever caught on.)


Attended kickoff for NaNoWriMo. Looking forward to starting See You In The Morning on Friday.


Cover for Christmas anthology due out in December. Includes Josh’s Christmas Angel.

Christmas Delights 400x600


Precog in Peril

Three of SwordsKnight of WandsLightning Struck Tower

Review of Precog in Peril by Theo Fenraven. Reviewed by Julia Flowers writing as A. T. Weaver

 One usually reviews one book at a time, however I find myself unable to separate these three. In most series, any of the books is able to stand alone. This reminds me of the old serial movies of my childhood (Tarzan, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, etc.) where every week the same three words appeared at the end. “To be continued.”

These three words appear at the end of each of the first two books. Although the author mentions the previous books in subsequent books, I would recommend reading them in order.

I have to thank a friend for lending me the first book. As soon as I finished it, I had to purchase the second and third.


Gray Vecello has a gift, a gift he doesn’t want. He is able to see the future. When his grandfather dies, he leaves Gray not only his houseboat, but instructions to find friends of his and learn to use his gift.

Grandfather also left a surprise on the houseboat in the form of a young man named Cooper Key who, unbeknown to himself, also has a gift. Cooper was kicked out of his home for being gay.

It isn’t long before the two are sharing not only the boat, but the only bedroom.

They also discover Grandfather left something else…a fortune in heretofore undiscovered paintings in the form of Tarot cards painted by a famous artist.

The three books are filled with intrigue and danger as nefarious people try to use Gray’s gift for unscrupulous ends.

If you’re looking for a fast-moving, attention-holding read, I can wholly recommend Theo Fenraven’s Precog in Peril series.


 Theo Fenraven is a writer of m/m romance, mystery and adventure. He is also an accomplished photographer.

He can be found at:

Other books by Theo Fenraven:

A Silence KeptBlue River

The Blue ParadisePhoenix Rising

Marcus does it again.


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The Satyr’s Song by A. J. Marcus. A review by Julia Flowers writing as A. T. Weaver.

Marcus has done it again. He has used the backdrop of the Renaissance Faire to bring to life a group of people the public sees only as entertainers.

Adrian (Dio) Mylonas is a musician. He finds music in everything he hears. When he loses his job as a concert flutist with the Dallas orchestra, a friend suggests he sign on at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival wearing the costume of a satyr and demonstrating flutes and ocarinas at the ceramic shop. He soon becomes part of the ‘family’ of performers.

Ed Costa runs the elephant and camel ride. A job he took over after the death of his father. Along with his brother and his five-year-old son, Eddy, he travels to fairs in Texas to help pay for the feed for his animals. He’s been lonely since the birth of Eddy and his twin sister, Trina. Ed and their lesbian mother separated the twins when they were babies. He is overjoyed when the mother and daughter show up at Scarborough.

Dio has never had a relationship that lasted over a week or two. When he and Ed meet, sparks fly and he wonders what it would be like to settle down. He hears the murmuring of the mother elephant to her calf and transforms it into a song.

When animal rights people invade the world of the fair, the group pulls together against the outsiders.

Although there is rather graphic sex in the book, it is tastefully done and incidental to the story, not like some I’ve read where the sex is the primary story.

I understand Marcus has several more books planned in this series and look forward to them.


A.J. MARCUS has been writing to pass the time since high school. The stories he wrote helped him deal with life. A few years ago, he started sharing those stories with friends who enjoyed them, and he has started sending his works out into the world to share with other people. He lives

in the mountains with his extremely supportive lover. They have a lot of critters, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and rabbits. When not writing, A.J. spends a lot of time hiking, trail riding or just driving in the mountains. Nature provides a lot of inspiration for his work, and keeps him writing. He is also an avid photographer and falconer; don’t get him started talking about his birds because he won’t stop for a while.

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A J Marcus

A gay Harry Potter? Why not?

Familiar Path by A. M. Burns reviewed by A. T. Weaver


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At the beginning, Familiar Path seems all too familiar. A young person reaches a certain age and strange things happen. Sounds like Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. However, that is only the beginning. From there, it branches out to an enjoyable read for young people.

Lugh McNeal doesn’t know he was named for a Celtic God or that his birthday falls on the Pagan holiday of Lughnasadh.

He and his mother just moved from sunny Florida to Steamboat Springs, CO. after the death of his father.

On his fifteenth birthday, he wakes to an overwhelming urge to go to the river. There with the aid of a local teenager, Wyn, he rescues a gray kitten that was thrown into the raging current.

It turns out the kitten is the offspring of a cat belonging to the owner of a local magic shop who turns out to be his father’s sister of whom Lugh had no knowledge. She informs him his father was a Magus. She also tells him the kitten is apparently his familiar and that two of his littermates have been killed.

Lugh is surprised to find he has family he never knew including a cousin, Abby, who is his age. His Aunt Catherine and Abby begin teaching him how to harness his newfound powers and abilities.

As Lugh bonds with Bran, the kitten, they uncover a group of Shadow Magi who are out to destroy the Magi of Light.

It was just a year ago Lugh told his parents he thought he liked boys more than girls. He feels an attraction to Wyn but isn’t sure of the other boy’s feelings.

This is an exciting, delightful book and I look forward to reading more about the adventures of Lugh, Wyn, Abby and Bran.



A.M. Burns lives in the Colorado Rockies with his partner, several dogs, cats, horses, and birds.

When he’s not writing, he’s often fixing fences, splitting wood, hiking in the mountains, or flying his hawks.

As of January 2013 he is the president of the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group:

 More information can be found at:!/AM_Burns

Dead Boys


Review of Dead Boys by Michael Penkas by Julia Flowers writing as A. T. Weaver

I have to admit it’s hard to review under 10,000 words without any spoilers. But, here goes.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book of short stories by Michael Penkas. I certainly didn’t expect to be transported back in the Twilight Zone of the early 1960s. These tales of the supernatural had me on the edge of my seat and left me questioning my sanity and beliefs.

From a mother searching for peace after the death of her son to a man grieving for his dog, the author weaves eerie tales of death and the afterlife.

“They’re not hard to find, if you know where to look. In the back of a pub after happy hour. In a dorm room between semesters. In a dog park after sunset. In a hospice room on Christmas Eve. Dead boys. Michael Penkas brings you four stories about the dead who refuse to leave and the living who refuse to let them go”

Although it fits in the realm of supernatural and eerie, I didn’t see a connection between Wet Dog Perfume and the theme of Dead Boys, unless it is the fact the dog was male.

If you are into the supernatural, you can’t beat this book. It’s a good read for a rainy afternoon or night.

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Michael Penkas moved to Chicago in 2004 and soon after became a member of Twilight Tales, a small press and weekly reading series. His first published story, “Parable of the Lazy Rooster,” appeared in the expanded edition of Tales from the Red Lion in 2007. He currently has over a dozen published stories.

Following the dissolution of Twilight Tales in 2010, he became part of Cult Fiction, a writers workshop and seasonal reading event. His stories were performed at five events before the group was put on hiatus in late 2011.

Currently, Michael Penkas is a regular participant at the Top Shelf Books (Palatine) open mic event, Tamale Hut (North Riverside) reading series, the Bad Grammar (Chicago) reading series, and the Gumbo Fiction Salon (Chicago). He is the website editor for Black Gate.

You can find Michael:

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