Dustin Reviews: ‘Simon’s Choice’ by Charlotte Castle

'Simon's Choice' by Charlotte Castle“But Daddy, who will live with me in heaven?”

Doctor Simon Bailey has everything a man could ever want.

Then his beautiful daughter is diagnosed with Leukemia.

He can almost accept her impending death.

He can almost accept the fact that he will have to live without her

But he cannot stand the thought of his little girl having to face death alone.

He answers her innocent question in a moment of desperation, testing his marriage, his professional judgment and his sanity to the limit.

As cracks form in Simon’s previously perfect family, we wonder, as do his loved ones … will he really make the ultimate sacrifice?

Combining poignant moments of both humour and pain, ‘Simon’s Choice’ is a penetrating account of parenthood at the sharp-end.

Simon’s Choice, what can I say? The story was a roller coaster of emotions with characters (for the most part) were engaging and believable. Simon openly tells his story as he deals with a terminally ill daughter and how that plays into his changing life. Charlotte Castle has written a moving and touching story that anyone who has had to deal with the loss of a loved one can relate.

About the author

No available information

Simon’s Choice is available at: Amazon


Kindle Length: 302 pages
Publication Date:
July 13th 2010 by Taylor Street Publishing (first published July 10th 2010)
Language: English

4 out of 5 stars

Per the USA Federal Trade Commission disclosure policy (http://ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm) governing endorsements and testimonials: the above mentioned book was purchased by this blogger for the sole purpose of ‘reading enjoyment’. This blogger was not paid and/or did not receive money, favor(s) or gift(s) by the book author, publisher, agent, or anyone promoting or receiving a profit from the above mentioned book. This review was done so voluntarily to share views of the book with other readers and potential readers. 


Dustin Reviews: Ravage: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel by Iain Rob Wright

Ravage: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel by Iain Rob WrightFIRST PEOPLE GOT SICK. THEN THEY GOT VERY SICK..

Nick Adams is just a normal guy. He loves his family, appreciates his home, and covets his car. But he absolutely hates his job. Which is what makes it so difficult that not a single customer has come by his store today. It seems as though there’s a bug going around, something that has come out of nowhere and is keeping people at home. Still, it’s probably nothing to worry about. People get sick all the time.

And besides, things are finally starting to look up. Nick’s first customer of the day has just stumbled through the door…


It won’t be long before Nick’s entire life is turned upside down, sending him on a frantic journey through a ravaged world that will ultimately lead him 500 feet upwards to a hilltop amusement park. Is it the last safe place on Earth, or are the monsters at the top of the hill even worse than the ones below?


Ravage: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel was a disappointment after reading Sam: A Novel Of Horror and Suspense. Maybe my expectations were too high to enjoy another Iain Rob Wright horror. The true horror were the missing words, poor spelling and punctuation which tore this reader away from the story way too many times to have given this book a higher rating. The story was good except for the unbelievability factor that none of the characters had apparently ever seen a zombie movie or read a zombie novel. It wasn’t until nearly halfway into the novel before the characters finally suggested the word “zombie”. Even with the countless WTF moments, Mr. Wright kept this reader’s attention so I could see how the story ended… or was that “the end”???

Iain Rob Wright

About the author

Iain Rob Wright was born in 1984 and lives in Redditch, a small town in the West Midlands, UK, with his cocker spaniels, Daisy and Oscar, his fat old cat, Jess, his many tropical fish, and the love of his life, Sally. Writing is the passion that fills his life during the small periods of time when he isn’t cleaning up after his pets.

Horror is his beloved genre. His inspirations range from Brian Keene, Stephen King, and Richard Laymon, to J A Konrath and Terry Pratchett.

You can speak to him at: iain.robert.wright@hotmail.co.uk

or read his regular blog at: http://iainrobwright.blogspot.com/

His official website is: http://iainrobwright.com

Ravage: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel is available at: Amazon


Kindle Length: Kindle Edition,1st edition,435 pages
Publication Date: May 22nd 2013 by SalGad Publishing Group
Language: English

3 out of 5 stars

Per the USA Federal Trade Commission disclosure policy (http://ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm) governing endorsements and testimonials: the above mentioned book was purchased by this blogger for the sole purpose of ‘reading enjoyment’. This blogger was not paid and/or did not receive money, favor(s) or gift(s) by the book author, publisher, agent, or anyone promoting or receiving a profit from the above mentioned book. This review was done so voluntarily to share views of the book with other readers and potential readers. 

Dustin Reviews: ‘Rhubarb’ by M.H. Van Keuren

'Rhubarb' by M.H. Van KeurenMartin knows every desolate mile of Eastern Montana’s highways. As a traveling salesman, his only companion is talk radio, especially Beyond Insomnia with Lee Danvers. Its reports of the paranormal keep Martin entertained—and hopeful that there’s more to the universe than selling screws and nails to far-flung, small-town hardware stores.

A bright spot in Martin’s routine is the complimentary breakfast at a motel in Brixton, a junction town well past its sell-by date. But it’s not the watery coffee, day-old pastries, and pre-mixed waffle batter he loves. It’s Cheryl, the housekeeper who sets out the breakfast.

The townsfolk guard Cheryl jealously from the likes of Martin—who, to be fair, has more noble intentions than most. But Cheryl has room for only one man in her life, the ailing stepfather who raised her. As much as Martin dreams of rescuing Cheryl from her minuscule town life in the middle of nowhere, she steadfastly refuses to be in need of rescuing.

Martin’s chance comes when Cheryl’s car breaks down and he stops to give her a ride. To thank him, she bakes him a rhubarb pie, and he works up the courage to ask her out on a date. She agrees—but then she’s gone. Left town for a guy she met on the Internet, or so everyone says.

But Cheryl’s stepfather doesn’t buy it. He blames Martin for her disappearance, sending Martin on a search for the truth. What he uncovers about Cheryl’s family and Brixton’s history is far weirder than anything he’s ever heard on the radio. Especially if it’s true that Cheryl’s salvation lies in discovering a long-lost secret recipe for rhubarb pie—which might just be the best, and the most dangerous, pie in the galaxy.

Rhubarb was a delightfully cute read, a pleasing balance of drama and humor. There was just the right amount of humor to make it a light read, and not feel cartoon-ish. The characters were, well, let’s just say not always who they seemed to be, yet they were interesting and well developed. I have to admit, normally I’m not a big fan of science fiction, but the synopsis was intriguing and I just had to read this book. I’m certainly glad I did. (and I love rhubarb pie)

* the ominous theme music from the television program Twilight Zone
swells in the background *

M.H. Van Keuren's Goodreads Author Page

About the author

M.H. Van Keuren quit a perfectly good job to devote his life to writing science fiction. He’s a former convention center manager, and once upon a time graduated from film school. His first novel Rhubarb was released in April, 2012 .He lives in Billings, Montana, with his wife and two sons.

Find his blog at mhvankeuren.blogspot.com.

Like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MHVanKeuren

Rhubarb is available at: Amazon


Kindle Length: 360 pages
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012 (first published April 1st 2012)
Language: English

4 out of 5 stars

Per the USA Federal Trade Commission disclosure policy (http://ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm) governing endorsements and testimonials: the above mentioned book was purchased by this blogger for the sole purpose of reading enjoyment. This blogger was not paid or did not receive money, favors or gifts by the book author, publisher, agent, or anyone promoting or receiving a profit from the above mentioned book. This review was done so voluntarily to share views of the book with other readers and potential readers.

Dustin Reviews: ‘A Masque of Infamy’ by Kelly Dessaint

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00030]A Masque of Infamy is a raucous story of teenage rebellion. But instead of “What d’ya got?” fifteen-year-old Louis Baudrey knows exactly what he’s fighting against

After moving from Los Angeles to small town Alabama in 1987 with his father, his younger brother and Rick, a friend of the family, Louis tries to fit in at the local high school, but the Bible-thumpers and the rednecks don’t take too kindly to his outlandish wardrobe and burgeoning punk attitude. At home, he defies the sadistic intentions of Rick, who rules the household with an iron fist. As Louis begins to lose all hope, he stumbles upon indisputable proof that will free him and his brother from Rick’s tyranny. But just when he thinks his troubles are over, he’s locked up in the adolescent ward of a mental hospital, where he must fight the red tape of the system to realize his dream of being a punk rocker.

A Masque of Infamy was not what I had expected, but in a very good way. The characters were well developed, the descriptions amazing and a story line that made me laugh and angry at the same time. I even got misty eyed a couple of times. My one (tiny) concern was that the story is told by Louis, a fifteen-year-old boy who at times (during his narrations) spoke in a college-level vocabulary. Other than that, many times it felt as if Louis was in my presence telling me his tale of woe.

Kelly Dessaint author of  'A Masque of Infamy'

About the author

Kelly Dessaint was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, the sculptor Irina Dessaint. Graduate of the welfare system and universities of Alabama, he has lived and traveled all over America since he left home at fifteen. A veteran of the small press, he currently publishes the zine Piltdownlad.

Author web site:http://www.kellydessaint.com

A Masque of Infamy is available at: Amazon


Kindle Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: April 9th 2013 by Phony Lid Books
Language: English
ASIN: 1930935331
ISBN13: 9781930935334

4+ out of 5 stars

Happy National Authors’ Day

National Authors’ Day
November 1, 2012

This observance was adopted by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1929 and in 1949 was given a place on the list of special days, weeks and months prepared by the US Department of Commerce. The resolution states in part: “By celebrating an Authors’ Day as a nation, we would not only show patriotism, loyalty, and appreciation of the men and women who have made American literature possible, but would also encourage and inspire others to give of themselves in making a better America.” It was also resolved “that we commemorate an Authors’ Day to be observed on November First each year.”


What I’ve learned from self-publishing

It’s been one year since I self-published my first novella. Boy was that an adventure and a half. Just months earlier I had written my first short story (Storm of Passion). The overwhelming positive feedback and encouragement I received from readers prompted me to write an expanded version of the original short story. Mind you, I had no prior writing experience or training, yet, I boldly went where I had never gone before.

The first draft of the manuscript was sent off to a small group of Beta readers who volunteered to give their feedback on my story, grammar, punctuation, etc. Their comments came back and I could barely make out the actual manuscript from their too numerous to count comments. I sifted through their notes and I made revisions to the manuscript. After reading my revised work, I created cover art for the book cover and then formatted the manuscript for submission to Amazon and Smashwords.

Already, I had learned some valuable lessons and more would follow:

  1. Importance of patience

    Take the time to do it right to my fullest ability. Don’t rush.

    My novel Auf Wiedersehen~Journey to Goodbye is the perfect example. It’s been three years in the making and it’s still morphing and improving as each day passes. This is the fourteenth re-write, the core story has not changed, but the manner of how the story unfolds has changed dramatically. Patience I tell myself – Rome was not built in a day.

  2. Importance of relying on the kindness of others

    I could save myself time and frustration if I do it alone, but the final outcome is more rewarding if I recruit outside help. Beta readers for example, they were wonderful. But they had not been in total agreement with their generous comments and suggestions during the Storm of Passion Beta read. I took from the experience the comments I was in agreement and revised the manuscript of my first novella.

  3. Importance of editing & proofreading

    Ok, here’s where I learned the valuable lesson about the importance of proper editing and proofreading. After the novella (Storm of Passion) was published, the reviewers comments were focused on the lack of and need of editing and proofreading. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how to structure a proper sentence, my punctuation skills suck and I can’t spell worth a ding dong. But through my many flaws and inadequacies, I was still able to get the gist of my story across to most readers.

    An author friend told me that there are three kinds of writers:

    1. The technical writer: an individual that has the training and proficient skills to write professionally, but they aren’t as creative as a storyteller.

    2. The storyteller: an individual that can mesmerize his/her audience with endless stories, but can’t write a proper sentence if his/her life depended on it.

    3. The technical writer AND storyteller: an individual who possesses BOTH talents (like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling), but this kind of extraordinary talent only comes along once in a blue moon.

    So, I’ve accepted the fact that I can weave a yarn (in fact quite a few) but lack the technical training and ability. There are lots of folks in this world that are more than willing to assist, if only I ask.

  1. Importance of formatting

    Formatting a manuscript for self-publishing can be a chore and a headache. I read all the manuals and help hints and guidelines before I began my various forms of formatting for self-publishing. I applied all of the knowledge I had absorbed and began the online manuscript submission process. Overall, they came out ok, there were a few minor glitches I was unable to rectify.

    Recently the importance of proper formatting slapped me in the face (big time) as I read a self-published book on my Kindle. The text was all over the place, and not on just that page but the entire book. It was difficult to follow the story and especially the witty dialogue. I limped through the rest of the book, just because I was drawn into a wonderful story. Had the book been better formatted, the read would have been much more enjoyable. After all, isn’t that what a reader wants, an enjoyable read?

  2. Importance of believing in myself

    I’d have to say that the most important lesson I’ve learned is to believe in myself and to follow my dream. From the start, I realized that I had to block out the little voice inside me, the one that said I couldn’t do it. Because I ended up doing it! I had self-published my first book.

    I had considered the suggestions and comments from Beta readers and took what I deemed the better of the advice and applied it to my writing. I never compromised my story, but willingly listened to the advice along the way. Ultimately, that advice vastly improved my story.

    After the Beta read of my second novella Masked Identities, one of the Beta readers advised me to trash the whole manuscript as it was nothing but sheer crap. Sure, the comment stung, but I wasn’t about to let one person’s opinion squash my story. After all, for each story read, each individual reader will take away a different opinion. This particular comment had only been one person’s opinion. I forged ahead and self-published the manuscript. As of this writing, Masked Identities has two 5-star reviews posted on Amazon and additional 5-star reviews on other review sites.

  3. Importance of setting a goal

    Right from the start, I was determined to write and publish my stories, because I had tales to share. I wasn’t writing for fame or money, I wrote to tell my stories. Sure, my books haven’t graced the best-seller lists, nor have I received huge, whoppin’ commission checks, but that wasn’t my goal. I enjoy weaving my tales and hope that one or two readers will be whisked away from reality for a few minutes and settle into the fictional world I create in the form of a written story.

    Pulpit To Porn, my current WIP is just that kind of novella.

  4. What have I learned?

    More than I could have ever imagined. I’ve traveled to places and periods in history where it would have been otherwise impossible. I’ve become intimately acquainted with colorful characters living within my imagination. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve cheered. I’ve told my yarn.

    That’s the reward of self-publishing …

Dustin is Interviewed by Barb on Creative Barbwire

Holy Cow! I’ve been interviewed by Barb from Creative Barbwire. Here is the original interview posted on Sunday, May 27, 2012 on Creative Barbwire:

Sunday Interview

Because I don’t have any free excerpt I’d like to share (OK, maybe next week I’ll post one, if you ask nicely! ;-) ), and because I know I have two more coming up in July, I’ll use Sundays to post authors’ interviews – whenever I read something that makes me curious enough to contact the author, that is. I won his novella Masked Identities at the Hop against Homophobia and because I liked… ehm… the excerpt after the novella, I sent him my usual writerly questions and he kindly played the game… so, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dustin Adrian Rhodes! (must give his blog address, I love the header! ;-) )

B. Where do you live and write from?

D. I live and write from fabulous Austin, Texas – the music capital of the world. I’ve called Austin my home since 1984.

B. When did you start writing?

D. Spring of 2010 I challenged myself to attempt something I’d not done before: write a novel. I penned the first draft of Auf Wiedersehen and I continued to write. Seems there were more than just one story floating inside my head.

B. Cool! It’s never to late to start! As long as you don’t quit, of course! ;-) What genre(s) do you write?

D. I started in M/M Romance but I’m moving into GAY LIT. I’m one of those bizarre writers who has a story to TELL and not consumed with the idea of writing just to SELL a story. I’ll be a starving writer for the rest of my life. LOL.

B. Where do you find your inspiration?

D. All of my stories begin as a dream. I watch the story unfold on the back of my eyelids as I sleep. As soon as I’ve written down the scene or scenes I’d dreamt the previous night, the projectionist will move onto the next scene(s). If I don’t record everything in proper detail, I’ll continue to dream the same scene(s) repeatedly each night until I’ve documented the entire dream in detail.

B. Allow me 30seconds of envy. In spite of writing genre fiction, I could never make believable the stories I wrote from dreams. I had to stopo doing that, LOL! So, kudos for managing this! Do you put yourself in your stories?

D. Yes, I’ve put myself in my first novel (Auf Widersehen~Journey to Goodbye), it’s closely based on my last relationship. My second novel (Outed By Anger) is based on my own coming out in a small Oklahoma high school. Both manuscripts are WIP’s.

B. Do you have a specific writing routine?

I write when I get the time and it also depends on my dang dreams.

B. I follow inspiration, so I guess at least in that we’re similar, LOL! Outliner or improviser?

D. I write the first & last chapters, then I “wing” the chapters in between.

B. Interesting method! Fast or slow writer?

D. I write first drafts fast, but I also do numerous re-writes which is where I take my time. Auf Wiedersehen is currently in it’s lucky 13th re-write.

B. Ouch. Please don’t get stuck in rewriting hell. Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

D. I self-published my latest novella (Masked Identities) in Dec of last year http://MaskedIdentities.dustinadrianrhodes.com

It’s a contemporary hetro story wrapped around a gay Victorian story (1890 London). A college girl has recently broken up with her since high school. To clear her head, she visits her grandparents and discovers a book she had not read in her grandfather’s library. The Victorian story sparks some similarities to her relationship with her now ex-boyfriend. She realizes she has made a terrible mistake with her ex and decides to try to make an attempt to salvage the relationship.

I had two endings and couldn’t decide which I liked best, so I kept both endings. The reader can decide which ending suits ‘em best.

B. Unfortunately, I couldn’t care less for them, so I can’t help you choose. :-) Hope you’ll write more about Sebastian and Ambrose instead! ;-) Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

D. Storm of Passion (my first novella) and Masked Identities were self-published. I’d like to see if I can’t get my current WIP novel traditionally published. Why? I’m relatively new to the writing game and I’d like to experience everything I possibly can. My WIP novel may be the last (or near the end) of legacy publishing as we know it, digital and self publishing is slowly draining the lifeblood out of legacy publishing and traditionally printed books. Hopefully that day will never come, but I’m not waiting around to see if it does… I’m gonna see if I can’t get published in the old fashioned way.

B. Well, good luck! Remember to let me know, as that teaser chapter really hooked me! [added note: the teaser chapter can be read online at: http://JourneyToGoodbye.dustinadrianrhodes.com] Any other projects in the pipeline?

D. Well, I mentioned both of my current WIP novels, and I’ve begun writing my next novella (Pulpit to Porn). Marc, a young minister must decide which is more important to him, his family or his religious convictions. He’s always been close to his family and he’s just become an uncle for the first time. His special needs nephew is being raised by his elderly parents and his single-mom sister. The nephew requires expensive medical attention which the family is unable to afford. Marc must decide if he will help his family financially and possibly jeopardize his career as a clergy. Faith and family become a serious internal struggle for the young minister.

B. What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

D. In addition to the WIP’s, I’ve outlined 6 additional novels. Although each storyline is a stand-alone, many of the characters reappear with a few years passing between each story. If read in order, the novels could be considered a “series”, but that’s not my intention. I’ve developed a deep connection with these characters and they’ve got some interesting story lines between them.


B. Whoot! Well, happy writing then!

Have a great Sunday everyone!

* * *

Please visit Barb’s blog: Creative Barbwire. Tell her that Dustin sent ya!

*** This blog post is a repost originally posted on
Creative Barbwire
 on Sunday, May 27, 2012 ***
Thank you Barb for allowing me to share our interview with my blogsters