Dustin Reviews: The Leaving by Gabriella West

The Leaving by Gabriella WestAt 15, Cathy Quinn is an intelligent misfit living in 1980s Dublin. As the book opens she discovers that her charming older brother Stevie, who’s gay, is falling in love with the one boy in school whom she likes. Over her last two years of school, Cathy struggles with her repressed, unhappy family, coming to terms with her powerful attraction to her best friend Jeanette, and leaving Ireland. “The Leaving” is a realistic yet lyrical look at adolescence and first love.

Above all, the novel offers a wry, raw look at growing up in the conservative, recession-plagued Dublin of the 1980s, when homosexuality was still taboo, and being different was not tolerated.

The Leaving was an interesting read, however, I had mixed feelings about it. There were a number of POV issues that caused me to have to backtrack to more clearly understand the points of views. At times it seemed Cathy was somewhat repetitive and maybe the manuscript could have been trimmed down. It’s not an “epic” tale, more like a slice of “in the life of Cathy”.Still, I wouldn’t dismiss The Leaving, I’m sure there are many folks who would find this story charming and enjoyable.

About the author

Gabriella WestGabriella West was born in Santa Barbara, CA in 1967. In 1969, her parents moved to Ireland, and she grew up there, studying English Literature and Italian at Trinity College, Dublin.

She earned an MA degree in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University in 1995.

She’s published two well-reviewed novels. “Time of Grace” (Wolfhound Press, 2002), the story of a passionate love affair between a young English governess and a maid, is set in Ireland against the backdrop of the 1916 Easter Rising. “The Leaving” (2011) is a semi-autobiographical look at a rebellious adolescent girl coming of age in Dublin in the mid-1980s.

She often reviews indie/small press books on her blog, http://gabriellawest.net. Her day job is proofreading and editing. (http://editforindies.com)

The Leaving is available at: Amazon


Print Length: 232 pages
Publication Date: Shaggy Dog Publications (July 7, 2011)
Language: English
Published May 30th 2011 by Smashwords

4 out of 5 stars


Dustin Reviews: The Nose Knows by David Hudnut

The Nose Knows by David HudnutImagine a romantic comedy combined with the humor of Family Guy, The Simpsons, and Mad Magazine, with a little King of the Hill thrown in, and a dash of Robot Chicken.

Calvin Dunkley has trouble meeting women. But he desperately wants to find true love. Luckily for Calvin, every Friday the beautiful Claudia Aranda comes into the grocery store where he works. He’s been planning to ask her out for months. It took that long to get his courage up, because Claudia is gorgeous.

Unfortunately for Calvin, the mutant nose hair he discovers sprouting from his nostril like a rabid rattlesnake has other ideas…

Relive the frustrations of young love. The laughs always come with a few tears, but everyone knows romance comes at a price. If you like schadenfreude humor and giant squids, this is your bag.

The Nose Knows is a fast paced, zany, off-the-wall, short read that will delight readers who enjoy Seth MacFarlane’s (Family Guy) type of bizarre humor.

About the author

David Hudnut

Author, illustrator, and musician David Hudnut is devoted to telling stories that excite, inspire, frighten, motivate and most of all, ENTERTAIN READERS EVERYWHERE.

His newest works,


are 4 tales of suspense designed to evoke our emotions in a world saturated with meaningless distraction. These stories will make your heart race in fear, or swell with compassion, or make you laugh out loud. This is rock-and-roll writing.

Turn off your cell phones, log off of your favorite social networking websites, and start reading! His stories will make your eyes bleed with tears of laughter, sadness and TERROR…

David has also worked as an illustrator for the entertainment industry for the past 15 years. In the process of creating many thousands of drawings, he realized that contrary to conventional wisdom, a word is worth 1,000 pictures. And now as a writer, he is learning that a noun is worth 1,000 adjectives. With that in mind, he asks that you imagine what a single noun can do.

Website: http://davidhudnut.blogspot.com

Tags: comedy, comic-fiction, humor, humorous, laugh-out-loud, laughter, romantic-comedy, trouble-meeting-women, twilight-zone

The Nose Knows is available at: Amazon


Print Length: Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 75 pages / Print 95 pages
Published: April 10th 2013 by David Hudnut (first published February 14th 2012)
Language: English

4 out of 5 stars

Dustin Reviews: Joshua by John S. Wilson

Joshua by John S. WilsonHe had to keep moving, that the man instinctively knew. He had to get away, from the rioting, the lawlessness, the killing. Away from the brutal gangs that ruled the highways. Then there was the boy that he found along the way, an orphan with no place to go. He couldn’t leave the child behind; that would be murder. Together they had to make their way across the razed landscape of post collapse America, west to where there was safety, a chance to begin again. If only they survived the journey.

Excerpt: Man had quickly degenerated to the animal instincts of the species and numerous bloody examples could be seen anywhere one looked. For many there were no more limits in this new world as it had only been the law that kept them from robbing or killing or raping each other, and the law was now gone. Only anarchy remained. Rotting murdered corpses littered his street like so much uncollected garbage. The smell was something of nightmares. It was like some bad science fiction movie but all too real. If it had been a movie the man would have found it laughable and changed the channel.

Excerpt: All around the nation it was the same. The rioting and killing started in the densely populated urban areas but quickly spilled into the suburbs and then out into the countryside, the blood following the line of the highways like water obeying gravity. The mob ruled and the mob wanted blood. Now they would have it.

Every once in a while you run across a read that stands out from the others, a story that shines – Joshua was that and more. This quick paced tale is fiction, but there are a number of parallels with our own current real world that makes this book come to life, sorta like it is foretelling the very near future. An uneasy feeling crept through me as I continued to read.

The main character: Man captivated this reader as his values and perceptions evolve as he maneuvers through a new world of lawlessness and animalistic drive for survival. Man goes (on foot) in search of his remaining relatives. Dead or alive, he has a desire to know what has become of them. Along the way, he makes a promise to a dying woman to care for her three year old child, Joshua. At first, Man only sees Joshua as a helpless boy, but a bond of dependency for survival quickly develops between them. Together, they cross the devastated country in search of answers and attempt to stay alive.

Emotional and heartbreaking are some of the words that best describe this story. Joshua is a disturbing tale yet brilliantly told.

About the author

Over the years John S. Wilson has found himself with various titles, truck driver, warehouseman, security guard, air marshaller, insurance salesman, real estate agent, bottle inspector, assembly line worker, forklift operator, stock boy. Now with this book he can add another to that list, author.

Joshua is available at: Amazon


Length: 324 pages Kindle Edition / 322 pages Paperback
Publication Date: Published April 6th 2012 by Createspace
Language: English

5 out of 5 stars

Dustin Reviews: The Twenty Dollar Bill by Elmore Hammes

6723195Follow the path of a twenty dollar bill as it is stolen, given, spent or otherwise passed from person to person, traveling from place to place. No bombastic explosions, steamy sex scenes, political intrigue or cosmic encounters. Just slices of life from the people you walk by every day – glimpses into how ordinary people interact, how they think, how they feel and how they love. A contemporary novel exploring every day interactions and relationships.

The Twenty Dollar Bill was an extraordinarily engrossing fast read. The novel is written in mini-vignettes each are a brief description of the individual who currently posses the twenty dollar bill. I started reading and I didn’t want to put the story down. Each mini-tale is unique and as interesting as the one before. I found myself reacting emotionally to the mini-stories from anger, sympathy and once (or twice), on the verge of tears.

About the author

Elmore Hammes has published several novels, including The Holmes & Watson Mysterious Events and Objects Consortium: The Case of the Witch’s Talisman (middle grade mystery/fantasy), The Twenty Dollar Bill (contemporary fiction) and The Cloud (science fiction). His short stories have recently appeared in The First Line and Espresso Fiction.

The Twenty Dollar Bill is available at: Amazon


Print Length: 180 pages
Publication Date: November 22nd 2007 by Kanapolis Fog Publishing Emporium
Language: English
ISBN: 061514716X

4 out of 5 stars

Dustin Reviews: Pike Place by Marilyn Howard Tschudi

2557684When the Johnson family wanders into a new coffee bean shop with a naked-mermaid logo and a strange-sounding name, little do they know what Starbucks will someday become. The year is 1971, and Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix has just died overdose — just months before the first Bumbershoot music festival. Written in the voice of a ten-year-old girl, Pike Place begins in the town of Richland, home of the Hanford nuclear plant and the Manhattan Project. When the family moves into the “Seattle City Limits,” the kids explore the city on foot and mini bikes. But then the unimaginable happens: one day, one of the Johnson children disappears — magical play lands become forbidden woods, suspicion clouds every interaction, and even Pike Place Market itself stirs up feelings of uncertainty and fear. Pike Place is a story of innocence and innocence lost. It is a quest for what was — for closure, for reconciliation, for a return to a place that only exists in the memory.

Actually Pike Place is told in the voice of a twenty-five year old who recalls her memories of when she was ten. At first, I was having brief WTF shock-waves at the words and phrases little ten year old Bobbi was using to relate her story. No ten year old child would know some of those words, they were too “grownup”. (It’s not till way later in the novel that this issue is resolved with a simple explanation.) Other than that little issue, I found Bobbi (ten year old girl) to be funny, witty and sometimes a brat, but always a young girl. Her observations and reactions to her perception of her world were classic of an inquisitive child. I found myself getting lost in my own childhood memories.

In my opinion Pike Place is an excellent YA story with a real lesson for the reader to grasp.

About the author

Born and raised in the state of Washington, Marilyn has also lived in Cleveland, São Paulo (Brazil), New York and Raleigh – where she lives today. Marilyn is a graduate of New York’s Barnard College and founder and president of Architexture Home Center, Inc. Pike Place is Marilyn’s debut novel.

Award-Winning Finalist – 2007 National Best Books Awards

Finalist – 2008 Indie Excellence Book Awards

Best Novel of the Year – 2008 Premier Book Awards

Honorable Mention – 2009 Beach Book Festival

Honorable Mention – 2009 San Francisco Book Festival

Runner Up – 2013 Great Northwestern Book Festival

Pike Place is available at: Amazon


Print Length: 176 pages
Publication Date: August 17th 2007 by Quarrystone Publishing Co.
Language: English
ISBN: 0615144551

4 out of 5 stars

Dustin Reviews: The Fridgularity by Mark A. Rayner

The Fridgularity by Mark A. RaynerChill out. It’s only the technological singularity.

Blake Given’s web-enabled fridge has pulled the plug on the Internet, turning its owner’s life – and the whole world – upside down.

Blake has modest ambitions for his life. He wants to have his job reclassified, so he can join the Creative Department of the advertising firm where he works. And he wants to go out with Daphne, one of the account execs at the same company. His fridge has other plans. All Blake knows is he’s at the center of the Internet’s disappearance, worldwide economic and religious chaos, and the possibility of a nuclear apocalypse — none of which is helping him with his career plans or love life.

The Fridgularity is the story of a reluctant prophet, Internet addicts in withdrawal and a kitchen appliance with delusions of grandeur.

Although The Fridgularity is a work of fiction, it may give a glimpse into our future when (and if) computers begin to take control. The characters (on the most part) are believable and the vivid images of twenty-somethings lost without access to their social networks is a scary concept. Humor is provided when Blake internally mulls over the characters he encounters and gives them humorous nicknames. Blake reminds me of Noah York’s off-the-wall comments in Leave Myself Behind by Bart Yates.

The story moves along at a nice pace, however, there were a few scenes that bogged down in the last quarter of the novel. Overall, The Fridgularity was an enjoyable read with the right balance of drama and humor. This novel was an eye opener to what may someday be our future.

About the Author

Mark acquired his super-powers on the day he was bitten by a radioactive baboon.

His grandfather had taken him to a petting zoo near Mark’s home town of London (the other one, in Canada) and the ten-year old had been delighted to discover that there were monkeys. The only thing that would have made him happier was the presence of pirates, but the pirate petting zoo had been forced out of business earlier that year because of all the hook-related litigation.

Shortly after his mauling by the red-assed, Old World monkey, Mark began to exhibit his new super-powers. First mimicry, then copious hair growth, and finally, the storytelling. All three powers drove his family crazy.

Despite these gifts, he survived the 70s and 80s. (In fact, he is still pleasantly surprised that he was not vaporized in the mid-80s, though he never took the threat of global thermonuclear war personally, despite his encounter with the irradiated primate.)

Since then Mark has explored many storytelling media; the theatre, radio, print, and of course, the web. He’s had several plays produced, more than two dozen short stories published, and he has written two novels: THE AMADEUS NET (ENC Press, 2005), and MARVELLOUS HAIRY (Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink, 2009).

His own tale is currently set in his hometown of London, Ontario (Canada). He shares a home in Old South with his furry faux-progeny: Milo and Max, two Siberian maniacs. He also works as a freelance writer and web consultant, and he teaches at The University of Western Ontario, in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies.

Author website: http://markarayner.com/

The Fridgularity by Mark A. Rayner is available at: Amazon


Print Length: 412 pages
Publication Date: Monkeyjoy Press (November 5, 2012)
Language: English

4 out of 5 stars

Happy International Children’s Book Day

International Children’s Book Day
April 2, 2013

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day has been celebrated all over the world, aiming to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

The celebratory day is co-ordinated by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), a non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing children and books together. Activities include writing competitions, announcements of book awards and events with authors of children’s literature.