The Harmony of Truth on First Light

20493853First Light by Michelle Frost (showing recent cover)
Goodreads | Amazon

Note: This review is based on the copy we received from the author.

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board here to share its thoughts on First Light by Michelle Frost.  Before diving in, here is the blurb via Goodreads:

On the harsh militant world of Sindorus, where even colours are considered sinful, three people living very separate lives are about to have those lives change forever. As deceptions are torn away, and ancient secrets brought to light, they each must struggle to find the missing pieces to the puzzle…answers that will unlock their true destiny.

First let’s look at the thoughts of the Harmonious One, Ms. Harmony Kent.

April 2014 Spotlight: Harmony Kent

Sindorus is a harsh militant world. Daen is an exception to the norm … a northern female brought up knowing how to read and write, and make her own decisions. Idrith chose monastic life young, when tragedy struck his family. Aztar, in his quest for the approval of his father, sets his sights on becoming the youngest Zah Har Controller ever. The Zah Riel has built this society and its religion based on secrets and lies. Pilgrim Harmion has a mission that will change everything.

I found myself hooked by this book straight away. There were some slow bits where my attention wanted to wander, but on the whole, it was a good read. The author has a fantastic imagination, and is obviously at home in the fantasy genre.

emoticon-sadUnfortunately, the book has been let down badly by appalling spelling, punctuation and grammar. A lot of these mistakes are basic, and would be weeded out with even a perfunctory proofread. Words have been confused, such as using ‘taught’ for ‘taut’, ‘past’ for ‘passed’, etc. There are lots of words missing, and lots left in where they want removing. There are also clumsy sentences, such as the following: “He picking up the dragons, holding them out in his hand.” And “… perhaps they some kind of escort for his bride, …”.

The narrative is full of comma splices, introductory clauses left without commas, split infinitives, and commas in strange places. The writing is extremely passive in nature, and the action is delayed time and again by the insertion of ‘began to’ and ‘started to’. On one notable paragraph, I counted four ‘began to’ formulations, one after another. There were also a lot of filter words. All of which distance the reader from the characters and the action.


I spotted a number of plot holes and inconsistencies—some of which could be down to spelling errors/missing words/etc. While others are more obvious contradictions to what has been written previously.

All of this is such a shame, as this has the potential to be a brilliant book. In the end, I had to make a concerted effort to ignore (over and over) the errors, and attempt to just read. Sometimes it took a while to work out what the sentence should say.

Harmony’s Verdict:

If this book was edited and proofread, I would give it an easy top star rating. However, as it stands, I cannot give it any higher than 4 out of 10 stars using The Review Board’s rating system.

I feel the need to restate here, that this author has an excellent imagination and her book has some great potential. It is simply the lack of editing or proofreading that has let this down so much.



Now, lets see what the truth says, Mini Truth that is:

Truthful Takes

When I first started this book I had high expectations. I mean, after having seen so many great reviews and so many great things having been said, especially the claim that it was an “Award Winning Author” (per the cover), I thought to myself “Thank God, finally a good book!”


Well, lets just say that things didn’t quite turn out the way that I’d anticipated. I suppose the best way to start is by telling you a little bit about the characters and the plot line.

There are three main characters in this story, each one from the same world, but different ways of life.  There is Idrith who is angry at the cards that he has be dealt in life. Then there is Aztar, who is a military man that has a great burden to bear, and finally there is Daen who is a female brought up with a sliver spoon.

The world is called Sindorus and it is a place without color as color is illegal, and anyone who uses things of color is considered an outlaw and is then condemned by the law–sometimes to death.

So, while I thought that the premise of the story was interesting and intriguing, I am sorry to report that things were not as expected.

Following you’ll find my Pros and Cons:

I’ll start with the Pros since there are not many to be had.

  • The story idea. I find that the premise is pretty unique and potentially a great basis for a fantasy story. There was something about the story line that was otherworldly and reminded somewhat of The Last Air Bender. Not sure why that was, but I guess that’s the direction my imagination went in.


Well, that was about it with the Pros. Shall we move on?

The Cons:

  • My biggest peeve was the length of the chapters. Each chapter ranged from 20-30 pages, give or take one or two. WHAT?! Um… #NOPE! That’s just flat out exhausting.
  • The there was the pacing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize that books sometimes have to take their time in order to establish a firm and believable plot. But, seriously? After the 3rd chapter, which was approximately 60 pages in, I was absolutely frazzled. Tuckered out, even. I was anxious for the story to get into the full swing of things. But, well, let’s just say it didn’t happen.


  • Then there was the problem with the cover. Now, I realize that this is probably just a “ME THING”, however, I truly believe that a cover should reflect the content of the story. In the process of reading and doing research on this book I realized that there are three different covers. My problem? None of them actually matched the content of the story.

Cover 1

firstlight-paperbacknewestcoverPaperback version

Cover 2

First_Light_CoverCover presented with TRB Request for review

Aaaand, cover 3

20493853Newest electronic cover

Really? *insert side eyes and crooked mouth here*

  • My last problem with this book was something that I did not notice right off the bat, but now I realize why. I was so worn out from the writing style, that I completely missed the syntax errors. It was just one of those things I suppose. So, here is my question… “Award Winning” really? Makes you wonder who is giving out the awards.

Truthful Verdict: 5 TRB Stars

In all truth, I am not trying to be mean. I’m just calling it like it is. While this book had the potential of being a great and creative story, due to the lackluster delivery I am unable to give this story more than 5 TRB stars. Which is a crying shame because after the first few chapters, when I was actually interested and impressed by the story I was rating it at an 8. It says a lot when a story drops that many digits by the end. Not good at all.

You see, I was so excited by the initial thought of this book, and impressed by the first two chapters, but after that it all went down hill quickly.

That’s just my truth.

So, after tallying up the score from the Harmonious One and Mini Truth, First Light by Michelle Frost has earned 4.5 out of 10 TRB Stars.

Thank you for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment.  Have a terrific day!

TFTS: Unleashed Speaks on P.F. Chang’s (Princeton, NJ)

Name: P.F. Chang’s
Location: Princeton, NJ
Address: Market Fair Mall (3545 US Hwy 1)
Date: September 14th
Time: Between 7-9 pm

Hello everyone!  Unleashed here!  Not sure if many of you know this but I just recently celebrated a birthday.  I treated myself to one place, which I will speak about a little later (and in a separate entry).  A few days later, my Sweetie took me to P.F. Chang’s and I wanted to share my dining experience with all of you.

My following rating will be based on these factors (rated from 1 to 5) and then divided to give my overall score.

Quality of Drink
Quality of Food

Ambiance (5): It was a bit crowded than anticipated for a Sunday night (Sept. 14). Despite the noise, we were seated in an area that was quite intimate.  I liked the overhead lamps, the low candle lighting and the exterior.  It was great that I did not have to wait for long: we were seated right away, even without a reservation.

Price (3): Although the food was delicious, one is paying more for ambiance than portions.  Don’t expect to come here and spend less than $40-$50 for two people.  That isn’t including the drinks, unless you get water (which is free).

Quality of Drinks (5): My husband suggested that I try the White Zinfandel.  I did not realize that the brand was actually a blush but once I gave it a sip, I was in love with it–fruity but not overbearing.  My husband indulged in the red Sangria, followed by the mix of Kettle One vodka and cranberry.  He felt the bartender did a wonderful job at portioning of alcohol, which says a lot since my husband is picky about his alcoholic beverages.

Quality of Food (5): We decided to get the P.F. Chang’s for two $39.95 special.  Both of us ordered the egg drop soup, along with the fried dumplings.  My husband opted for the beef lo mein while I got the chicken lo mein.  For dessert, I chose the tiramisu and my husband got the cheesecake.

The only complaint was that there weren’t more dumplings.  The presentation was great and was finished in no time!

Service (5): I’m not sure whether it was because it was so crowded but we experienced phenomenal service on this visit.  There were actually three different people serving our table but each one was very knowledgeable about the dishes and the type of alcohol available. Stopped by without being overbearing to gauge our enjoyment of our food and drinks. (I’m not a fan when servers stop by too often)


So taking all of those factors into account and dividing by 5, it gives an overall score of 4.60, which rounds up to 5 on The TRB Non-Book rating scale. I would definitely go here again.

Thanks for checking out The Fame and The Shame installment of The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share and subscribe.  Have a great day.

TFTS: Unleashed Speaks on Rho Ristorante Discoteca

Name: Rho Ristorante Discoteca (formerly KatManDu)

Address: 50 Riverview Plaza (off Rte 29) Trenton, NJ

Hi everyone!  Unleashed here.  One of the things I did to celebrate my recent birthday was to go out for a little eating and live music shortly after I got off work on Friday.  I wanted to share my experience at this particular location.

Date: Friday, Sept. 12th
Time of Arrival: 7:30 PM, then stayed on for the live band

Note: This review is for Friday’s All You Can Eat Buffet and the Club only.

This was the first time I’ve stopped here since it has been Rho Ristorante Discoteca. Before I attended it when it was KatManDu.

The best way I can do this review is to compare it to my former experiences at KatManDu–just to see who (in my opinion) did it better. When I did go to KatManDu, I would usually go on Fridays (because of the live band), with Saturdays being a close second.

Overall design, I do like the look of Rho, particularly the outdoor area–more welcoming and conducive to live band play during the summer.  I do wish the seating were more comfortable, since I couldn’t sit at the bar or table for long periods of time due to the lack of cushioning.

Food wise, I prefer the KatManDu ambiance.  There used to be more selection with the All You Can Eat Buffet.  The price increased (from $5 when it was Kat to $10 with Rho) but the variety as well as the quality of the food didn’t quite stand out.  The Riesling I had to drink was nice, and the bartender was friendly.

The live band was terrific and they had a great rapport with the crowd. Yet it wasn’t particularly crowded like it was back in the KatManDu days.  By around 10:30, the crowd that was there started dwindling down.


Overall Verdict: 4 out of 5 TRB Stars (based on the ratings other than books scale)

This spot has potential and I’m definitely opening to coming back to Rho.  Maybe next time I’ll try it during normal hours to get the full spectrum of the food.

Thank you for checking out The Fame and The Shame edition of The Review Board!  Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment.  Have a terrific day.

Wordsmith Andi on The PITS

thePITSThe PITS by Greg Smith
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board here to share its thoughts on The PITS by Greg Smith.  Before diving in, here is the blurb via Amazon:

After nearly 20 years serving in the Marine Corps, Captain Kramer thought he’d been prepared for anything life had to throw him. He returns from deployment to Afghanistan with a new dog, Shadow. The ugly sport of dog fighting was one experience Kramer wanted to leave behind but back in Oceanside, California he and Shadow are drawn into a struggle to oust local gangs involved in the bloody sport. Kramer and Shadow’s activities capture the attention of the FBI who quickly enlist their help in an operation to bring down a major crime lord based in Florida. Captain Kramer, USMC and Corporal Shadow, USMC soon find themselves in their deadliest fight ever.

Now, for this special solo review: Wordsmith Andi

The Wordsmith Weighs In

In “The PITS” Smith drops his readers right into the heat and dust of the Afghanistan desert territory, immersing us in military life on the battle front. We meet the two main characters, Captain Kramer and his canine companion Shadow, amid descriptions of the aftermath of a car bomb. Reading this passage brought up a lot of fond memories of my military days as Smith writes from a place of personal experience. While I never saw combat I easily related to Kramer’s affinity for animals and his sudden inexplicable attachment to a stray pup of unknown breed.

As the story continues Smith explores the character of Kramer via his previous relationship with a childhood dog, Rusty. He shows us a man who loved his childhood dog as a brother, the barriers of species proving no obstacle for familial love and loyalty. We watch as Shadow grows and so too the budding friendship between dog and man. Shadow, a tan dog the size of a small horse, seems to have a temperament suited perfectly to military life, complementing Kramer’s life to perfection. It is a proud moment when Shadow officially becomes Corporal Shadow.

When Kramer’s team comes under ambush fire and both man and dog are seriously injured, Smith makes a smooth transition to civilian life while the Captain heals and recuperates from his ordeal. While out and about with Shadow, Kramer is accosted by a group of college kids who mistakenly associate his scarred appearance and Shadow’s presence at his side with dog fighting. After a few tense moments the situation is averted and Kramer is quickly educated in the group’s cause to wipe out dog fighting in the area. As an advocate for humane treatment of animals Kramer is appalled and drawn to the cause, both for the sake of the animals and in looking to protect his new compatriots using his unique skills as a Marine.


Smith clearly knows his subject material and is as passionate about it as Captain Kramer. It was this obvious passion that carried the story and ensnared my attention. Throughout the book Captain Kramer and Corporal Shadow see quite a bit of physical action and combat. Smith’s skill in driving a plot forward through a perfect balance of action, dialog, and information delivery gives us a well paced story, keeping us turning the page in order to find out what will happen next.

Due to a wealth of personal experience Smith’s characters ring true to life, his attention to the details precise and riveting. It wasn’t long before I became invested in the outcome of the book. “The PITS” wraps up well in the end and leaves ample room for a continuation of the Kramer and Shadow’s story.

10starsWordsmith (and TRB) Verdict: 10 out of 10 Stars

A compelling, informative read on all fronts, and beautifully edited, “The PITS” earns a full ten star rating.

Thank you for stopping by The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment.  Have a great day!

Mr. Controversy Excavates the Layers of Ike Pius

Ike-PiusIke Pius
Ike Pius Foundation
Amazon Author Page
Smashwords Author Page

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board here with our second author spotlight for September, Ike Pius.  This interview was conducted by our very own Mr. Controversy.  Let’s see what he finds out while exploring the writing layers of Mr. Pius.

1. At what age did you discover your love for writing?
I think I started writing at about 16. And they were war memoirs.

2. What did you first write, and did it give any indication that writing was the path to traverse?
I started with poems. I do not know exactly why I started with poems but I remember a particular poem I wrote to a friend when his father died. I also remember that he showed it to some friends and I became popular in class. The poem highlighted the young boy’s plight, and guaranteed him that he was not alone in this world.

3. How important is it to you to have extra eyes on your work, in order for your art to flow flawlessly?
It is very important. It could affect the acceptance of your writing. Some reviewers could bash the hell out of your writing just for a misspelling. Trust me, I know!

4. Who or what inspires you to write in the style that you write?

Sunset at Dawn by Chukwuemeka Ike

Chukwuemeka Ike. I read his book Sunset at Dawn. The book is a story highlighting the Nigeria-Biafra war, and the little known genocide that took place in Nigeria during that war. It was satirical, and very brilliant! The book was however, banned from circulation in Nigeria-a thing which I found depressing. That book shows that it is possible to laugh at/or during a war. I immediately started playing with the idea of doing something similar, but of course, in a contemporary way.

5. I noticed on your Amazon Author page that you have two more books available. Would you like to describe them a little to us all as far as what they are about?

Check it out here.

Sure! The first one: “The Paradise That Was” is a contemporary story about life in Nigeria, especially as it relates to religious conflicts which almost always have political undertones. The book looks at things through the eyes of a man who becomes religious for material gain at a time of deep political trouble. He gets rich, but loses everything shortly after.

The second one “Hunting Down Mr. Right and Keeping Him” explains itself. Anybody who wants to check it out may do so here.

6. I enjoyed reading your book “Bomber Boy”! Seeing the times in which we are living, how do you believe that your story would impact your readers?

bomberboyCheck it out here.

First, I hope Bomber Boy will make readers laugh. But after that I really hope it will help them reflect on the happenings in the world today but if the reader is African, I hope that the book will help them to ACT. Africa just cannot cope with being turned into a battlefield of religious warfare.

7. Do you think and/or believe that your surroundings gave you a bit of insight into writing “Bomber Boy”, and has it given you an understanding of what is going on currently in the events that are unfolding around the world?
I would not call myself an expert in the subject of terrorism, but yes. I think it has given me some insight, especially as I had to do some research while writing.

8. Do you have any books that you keep close to your person that you enjoy reading often?
I read the Bible. But there is one book I have read even more than the bible it would be Gaius Julius Caesar’s “The Conquest of Gaul”.

9. Do you have any other writing projects that you are working on currently or in the near future?
I am working on a charity project right now– The Ike Pius Foundation. Maybe it will help me atone for all the evil I have done in my life. *laughs*

10. What advice would you offer to writers, young and old, who are looking to make a name for themselves?
It won’t happen unless you bend down and write. Every moment counts, so better get started.

Thanks so much for your time, Ike!  It is greatly appreciated. 

Thanks to all who have read this interview and visited The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment.  Have a terrific day!

Truth Unleashed on The Fourth Season

thefourthseasonThe Fourth Season by Dorothy Johnston
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Greetings!  The Review Board here to share our takes on The Fourth Season by Dorothy Johnston. Before we dive in, let’s check out the blurb provided by Amazon:

Blurb: When the body of young female environmental activist and science student, Laila Fanshaw, is found floating in Lake Burley Griffin, private investigator Sandra Mahoney’s life is turned upside down, not least because her partner, Ivan, was in love with Laila. Ivan is a suspect and has no alibi for the time of death. A further strain is put on the relationship when another suspect, who worked in the Federal Environment Department, wants to hire Sandra to help him clear his name. Sandra has to weigh up her desire to learn the truth against her children’s needs. Only six-year-old Katya is Ivan’s natural child; adolescent Peter has a different father. But both children are deeply affected by Laila’s death and Ivan’s reaction to it. Added to this, Sandra’s friend in the Federal Police, Detective Sergeant Brook, is absolutely against her involvement in the case. It takes all of Sandra’s ingenuity and courage to steer herself, and her family, through the dangers that lead to an eventual unmasking of the truth.

blackdividerTo add her take, here is Mini Truth:

The Fourth Season was assigned to me by The Review Board for a read and review. Upon having read the blurb and prior reviews of this story, I was looking forward to digging in. I was really excited about it, as it had some rave reviews, and being that it is in a genre that I enjoy, that made the anticipation double fold.

However, upon jumping in, I was unfortunately let down. While this story has all of the makings of a great book, I felt as though it was not achieved. In the following summary, I’ll share with you my opinion on the pros and cons of this book.

Let’s start with the pros:

1. The writing was fairly good; as in the spelling and grammar. There were very few mistakes, although some were present.

2. The introduction to the story–the initial hook–was alluring. Here is a snippet:

The story I’m about to tell begins and ends by water. It concerns two murders, one following a short time after the other. The mornings after these murders were similar, with heavy dew on the brown grass, an appearance that seemed remarkable after a relentlessly dry summer.

3. The presentation was clean and pretty. I enjoyed the sleek look.


Unfortunately, that was all I enjoyed about this book. It’s really sad to say that while I genuinely wanted to like it, I didn’t. The cons, in my perspective, far outweighed the pros. Here they are:

1. Maybe this is just a “me thing”, but I truly think that the first chapter should have been a prologue. It was far too short and to quick to give any real information. All it served was to establish a premise and did it so quickly that it barely gave the reader an idea of what was going on. I think that that’s the job of a prologue.

2. While typos were few they were present. Here are a couple of them:

Page 3, paragraph one. “Peter should have been in bed as well, but he had a swag of maths homework…” that should have been “math”. Singular, as opposed to plural.

Page 38, paragraph five. “Owen closed his eyes in order better to recall their features.” I believe it should have been “to better recall“.

3. There were also some sentences/phrases that didn’t make any sense to me. Here are one or two examples:


Page 37, paragraph 2. “When I told her the date and time, she stared at me and went pale behind her make-up.” This doesn’t make any sense to me, because if a person it wearing makeup, how can you tell if they’ve gone pale or not?

Page 31, paragraph 2. “Don said he wished, oh how he wished he’d run a red light, speeded down Northbourne Avenue, copped a parking ticket.” My problem with this phrase, for example, was that it should have been written in dialogue form as oppose to narrative.

That leads me to another one of my cons…

4. There was way too much narrative in this story, and not nearly enough dialogue.

5. Descriptive prose were very vague, at best. There was nothing that really told the reader what anything looked like. Here is a great example:

I logged on to my provider’s website, checked my mail and sent off a few messages, at the same time glancing round the cafe, noting how many booths there were – twenty-three, packed close together. The cafe was in the middle of Civic, open long hours. It had to be staffed by more than one person.

In all of those words, all I really got was that she was in a cafe and there were 23 seats. Like I said, pretty ambiguous.

6. The writing style is very bland and boring. There wasn’t anything really exciting or engaging about the writing style.



As the matter of fact, it was so unemotional that I kept falling asleep. It took me twice as long to read this book as it would’ve taken me otherwise, simply because it kept boring the life out of me.

7. Many times there was too much going on in one chapter. Too many people being involved into the mix. So much so that I kept confusing Ivan for Don and vise versa.

8. The characters in the book all seemed to have been written using the same template. There was nothing that helped my mind distinguish one character from another because they all sounded exactly they same.

9. Do to the fact that the writing was so unattached, I found myself having a very hard time connecting or identifying with the characters. By the end of the book, I really didn’t care too much about any of the characters, if I were to be completely honest.

10. It read more like a very long, drawn out drama instead of a suspense.

Long story short, as much as I wanted to like this book, I was very let down. I’m sorry.

Truthful Verdict: 5 TRB Stars


Last but certainly not least, the Unleashed One:


Unleashed Speaks

The best way to discuss my views on The Fourth Season is to divide it into pros and cons, similar to Mini Truth:

Smiley Face

  • Setting appears well researched
  • Understanding of Sandra’s plight in relation to Ivan: It’s hard when you discover that your husband has all these feelings and desires for another woman.  How can one put the personal feelings about that aside while objectively trying to solve the case?
  • Great job in the set up of the initial ambiance of Laila: The intensity of feelings that emerged from each person (particularly the men) in response to her death set the tone.
  • Lovely maturity and strength in the two children: At times, they acted more like adults than the actual adults in this work.
  • Sentences not overly long or too complex: The beauty in the sentences being in this way is that it cuts down on the possibility to excessive punctuation and misplaced modifiers.  The writer recognized that less can be more and did terrifically with the balance.
  • Slight to no indicators of spelling errors or tense inconsistencies: The Fourth Season was pleasing to the eyes in terms of this.

The blurb and quite a few of the pros gave The Fourth Season potential to be a stirring read.  However, there are some things which stagnated that achievement for me.




  • Case of the I-ganza:  That is my way of saying too many I`s were being used.  I don’t disagree with the use of first person to make the reader identify with the main character’s plight.  However, the use of too many I’s, particularly in every sentence (with quite a few segments), makes it feel a bit sing song like.  Restructuring of sentences will cut down on this.
  • Very narrative heavy: I would have prefer a bit more balance between dialogue and narrative.  The dialogue that was provide seemed a bit disjointed and dry.
  • Didn’t have a chance to really connect with a lot of the characters: I wanted to gain more insight as to how interwoven they were with Laila as well as how certain people were individually, such as Sandra, Ivan and the children.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that this is the fourth book in the series yet I was under the impression that it could stand alone.  With that being said, I needed to know enough information so I didn’t feel like I was robbed of the chance to get to know the key characters.
  • Pace felt a little too slow for a mystery
  • Writing had all the components but feels disjointed-seems very “matter of fact”: What I mean by this is that I wanted to be shown the emotions, particularly of Sandra, Ivan and the children, rather than it being told or conveyed through dialogue.
  • Think the reader misses out on the chance to solve the mystery with Sandra: A lot of the mystery component was told to me rather than my going on the journey with Sandra.
  • Wanted more physical description of Laila along with the impact she had on so many people’s lives
  • None of the men fascinated with Laila seemed to have their own personalities; they seemed drafted out of the same obsessive hypersensitive mold .
  • The cover, although beautiful, does not quite match the inside content.

Unleashed Verdict: 5.5 out of 10 TRB Stars

As a reader, when partaking of a mystery, I like to be an active participant in unraveling the clues and for the discovery and conflict to guide me through each and every chapter.  I love being shown rather than told. There was so much emphasis in the emotional dissimilation of the men in response to Laila`s death and the delicate shredding of the bond between Ivan and Sandra that it took center stage over the mystery component.

If you like a work where you don’t have to dig for the answers or more focused on the internal turmoil of the investigating parties themselves, The Fourth Season could work.  For those who want more proactivity, this may not be the read for you.

After adding the individual totals and dividing by two, The Fourth Season gets 5 (actually 5.25) out of 10 TRB Stars.

5stars5 out of 10 Stars

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment.  Have a great day!