Book Review: Lawless by Janeen Ippolito

Having previously been introduced to Janeen Ippolito’s writing in her short story, “Superhero Publicist”, in the “Hall of Heroes” anthology, I jumped at the opportunity to request and receive a free copy of “Lawless: the Ironfire Legacy” for the purposes of a review.

The characters really brought this book to life for me. The tangled weave of Kesia’s past and the challenges she faced drew me into the world of Sekastra. I loved the bond between Kesia and Zephryn, but, in the beginning, I also secretly rooted for the tide to turn in favor of Captain Windkeeper. I was torn between which of the two suitors I favored more for her.

While the romantic triangle makes for some interesting situations and dialogue, romance is not the focus of this story.  The real source of conflict is a long-time war between two cultures that had once worked together. Twists and turns paired with excellent world building, Lawless is an engaging story filled with tension and intrigue.

I look forward to reading more of Janeen Ippolito’s skillfully woven and wonderfully inventive tales in the future.

The Story

The salvation of humans and dragons lies within a convicted murderer.

Dragonshifter Kesia Ironfire has one goal—to redeem her past by serving the cruel dragon Pinnacle as a soldier in the dragon-human war.

Then a rogue mission to spy on a new airship explodes into sickening green smoke. The same mysterious green smoke that was present the night of Kesia’s crime. When her dragon overlords deny any involvement, she and her tactical partner Zephryn Nightstalker try to investigate–and are sentenced to death.

Still searching for answers, Kesia and Zephryn flee to the human military capital, where Captain Shance Windkeeper has been furloughed after the destruction of his airship. Eager to discover what–and who–blew up his vessel, he agrees to help Kesia and Zephryn infiltrate High Command. In exchange, Kesia must pretend to be his betrothed so Shance can escape an arranged marriage. If only she knew what ‘betrothed’ and ‘arranged marriage’ meant.

But human social customs are the least of her worries. Dark secrets surface as Kesia delves deeper–secrets that challenge the facts of her crime and undermine the war itself. Less

Author Bio

Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She writes quirky writing resources and speculative fiction with monsters, misfits, and mushy stuff. She’s also an experienced teacher, editor, and author coach, and the Fearless Leader (president) of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, food, and making brownie batter. A lifelong misfit, she believes different is beautiful and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her two websites: and

Book Review: Gregory and the Grimbockle by Melanie Schubert

Melanie Schubert’s debut novel, Gregory and the Grimbockle, releases on November 9th. Aimed at ages eight and up, it’s a heart-warming tale of adventure that underscores the hidden connections binding us all.

My ten-year-old son and I read this book together and I am so very glad we did.

The adventure begins when Gregory discovers the Grimbockle and his cockroach steed.  Revealing a secret world within our own, the lovable Grimbockle takes Gregory along as he carries out an important task.  But neither them, nor their worlds will be the same in the end.

While the characters drew me in, it was the focus of their work, exoodles, and the underlying lessons revealed through the characters’ experiences that had the biggest impact on me (and my son too, I believe).  This is one of those rare books that embeds itself in your heart.  It has changed the way I view the emotional bonds we have with one another.

Truly a delightful tale.  My son and I loved this book! And our exoodles grew reading it together!  We were honored to have the opportunity to read and review a free advance copy of “Gregory and the Grimbockle”.

One final thought, if you plan to read this book in a classroom setting, I recommend you check out the Gregory and the Grimbockle soundtrack.  It would be a great way to transition students when it’s time to read.

The Story

Ten-year-old Gregory is about to find out that the enormous mole stuck straight beneath his nose is not just a mole, but is actually a humpy crumpy portal of skin that hides a creature called the Grimbockle.

What’s more? The Grimbockle is just one of the many strange little creatures called Bockles tending to the mysterious threads that connect all humans from one to the other. It is a very important job and one that has long been carried out with incredible secrecy…

…that is, before tonight.

Author Bio

Melanie Schubert is a scriptwriter and songwriter for the New Zealand performing arts company, Gobsmacked. She lives in a small, cosy apartment with her beloved husband Filip, a shelf of books and a peculiar assortment of Japanese paraphernalia. For as long as she can remember, she has been staring out of windows, losing herself in daydreams, and pursuing her belief that she must carve out and follow her own path in life.

Illustrator Bio

Abigail Kraft is forever nine years old, believes in magic, and likes to draw pictures. She has decided, a childish spirit is her favorite avenue to creativity, so she fills her days with music, family, giggles, daydreams, and animated movies. Then (in true, childish fashion) she cries, grumbles, and sighs her way through unpleasant work, and shows her mom as soon as she’s made something she’s proud of. Most of all, she loves her Creator, who gave her a super fun life and promises her eternity in the most funnest place of all.

Composer Bio

Jared Kraft is a composer for film and media. His passion for music began with experience through listening, moved to expression through piano and eventually arrived at creation through composition. He finds his purpose and inspiration in his perfect Savior, his loving wife, and his wonderful family, and will always value the timeless phenomenon in which organized noise is translated into a universal language.

A Somewhat True Tall Tale: Trip to Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska –

The front half of a chopped-up, orange Volkswagen beetle sat on the front porch of the Hollywood Candy shop. Protruding from the wall across from it, a five-foot tall nose inhaled the delicate fragrance of the flowers filling both sides of the path.  Keagan and I stepped up to the door, careful to steer clear of the giant nostrils, lest a sneeze might be forthcoming.img_8596

Outside, the red brick building, cobblestone road, and vibrant plant life created a vague country charm that beckoned passersby.  But inside, oh, yes, inside the store eclectic collections of pop culture, novelties, and antique toys transformed the old industrial building into a fun-house, a maze of pathways, little rooms, and hidden passages.  The candy was merely an added bonus in the midst of the wondrous world.

Keagan snaked around bodies and chairs in the crowded, vintage dinner before sliding through a narrow opening and darting around the left.  He halted just around the corner. I nearly bumped into him before noticing he had gone still, staring wide-eyed at a large, spinning candy cane. It was a portal to the North Pole.

“There isn’t time, Keagan. We must find the hippo.” He bowed his head, turned, and shuffled down the corridor, deeper into the heart of the shop. I trailed behind.

We continued to search the store, past the PEZ dispensers playing pin-ball, winding around piles of furniture, and peaking in each alcove before finally discovering the hippo. It was now a severed head hanging on the wall, a shadow of its former glory.img_8595

“It looks like we are too late. The ringmaster has had his revenge and left the hippo here for all to see.”

“But don’t you see, mom,” Keagan said, reaching out to touch my hand. “This is exactly where the hippo should be. Everything needed to save him is here.”

“The other half of him is missing. He can’t be saved.”

“Yes, he can. We’ll fill him up with sugar. Sugar makes everything better.”

Mad-Lib Style Poetry

We homeschool.  Last year, our son did Mad-Lib style poetry with his vocabulary words resulting in some interesting poems.  Hope this one brings a smile to your face as it did ours.

I go forward, after stopping.
I proceed.
You weren’t easily approached.
You weren’t accessible.
You break away from me.
You secede.
Your tummy could be subjected to a series of actions that yield change.
Your tummy was processible.

Update: If you’re interested, you can download the details about the approach we used here: MadLibsStylePoetry (pdf).

Release Announcement

I’m excited to announce the release of my young adult sci-fi horror story, The Warehouse Tour.

Last fall, the Writers of the Future Contest awarded The Warehouse Tour an Honorable Mention in the third quarter of 2016.  This fall, an expanded version of the short story will be available on Amazon.  Look for it on October 7, 2017.

About the Story

If someone you loved vanished in a haunted warehouse, would you go in after them?

Jill Baker’s brother disappears from a haunted warehouse tour.  The police believe he ran away, but Jill knows better.  Unable to convince them to keep looking, she investigates on her own.

Will Jill find her brother or will she be the next to go missing?

An Amazon Kindle short read releasing on October 7, 2017.  Available for pre-order.