Book Review: Chickenshit: Everything you need to know but would rather not (Fantasy)

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Chickenshit: Everything you need to know but would rather not

By Thomas Garber

If you’ve ever been told to “wait for it” then you’ll love reading Garber’s book!

Chickenshit: Everything you need to know but would rather not, is a hilarious take on fairy tales, fables, and legends as adapted and perhaps fabricated by the author and his son during long rides to and from doctor’s appointments containing a proclivity to have a wise old man, in this case, it is a chicken, who appears and plays a role in all the stories. The Wise Old Chicken is sometimes portrayed as the main character, other times as a narrator or commentator that seems to be the one to enlighten, educate, and reveal a penchant for truth and morals. Each story is a read-alone tale with humor for a more mature reader; leave Aesop’s Fables for the kids!

As a whole, Chickenshit is a series of tales taken from old tales and half-tales in which the lesson to learn leaps out in a natural, often anticipated ending by the reader. The author gives the impression that one is reading a well-known story while adding silly twists and comical turns to enhance each one. In some of the stories Garber has taken real-life situations and changed them into animal tales and fables as one might expect to read in a children’s book but gives each story an adage and lesson from The Wise Old Chicken. The hilarity of each tale can be foreseen in the title, like The Tree That Couldn’t Fly and The Mushroom Who Loved Bobby Pins. The tales begin almost childlike but each one contains a bit of common sense, which the chicken usually identifies. Most of the adventures are humorous simply because they are what I might describe as sarcastic tales pointing out common sense. 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars because it is light reading, fun, and although seemingly nonsensical, makes so much sense! A few of the tales were a bit long, making the reader anxious to just get to the end, but even in stories like this, you want to finish it just to see what role The Wise Old Chicken plays in the story. I would definitely recommend this book. 


Find the book on Amazon and Goodreads

Author’s Note

I wrote the stories in this book to be unusual and fun. The idea to do this emerged from an incident of horror. No doubt my own subconscious reactions played a part.

Five years ago in Knoxville, my younger son David, aged 40, was unconscious after a traffic accident. A fire broke out inside the car and spread rapidly. The windows were up, the doors locked. He spent several minutes breathing flames.

Bystanders tried desperately to help. One of them finally smashed the window and reached into the fire to open the door from the inside so they could drag David free.

When my wife Anna and I heard what had happened our son had already been flown to the Vanderbilt Hospital Burn Unit in Nashville, 180 miles from Knoxville. We drove there straight away. David was in an induced coma, intubated and connected to a myriad of tubes and wires. The doctors gave us little hope; the inside of his lungs had been burned too much.

They wanted us to talk to him. So we did that. We stood on either side of his bed talking to our dying son. I never felt more helpless in my life. His wife, Stephanie, did the same in our absence and stayed by his side for weeks.

He survived!

His voice has been radically affected, and he will likely always need access to oxygen. But he is alive, and he can laugh, two things I hold equally dear.

Over the next year or so he had many appointments at Vanderbilt. He and I made the 360-mile round trip in a day. On one of these drives back to Knoxville we set the stage for the stories in this book.

Book Review: “The Happiness Triangle” (The Equilibrist series: Vol. 1)

Erasmus Cromwell-Smith

“The Happiness Triangle” is a must read by an author who has proven that dedication and faith lead to works that are truly touching and unforgettable. 

“The Happiness Triangle” by Erasmus Cromwell-Smith is a combination of storytelling, poetry, memoir, and life lessons. I was instantly drawn in with his writing and the story he tells. As I, along with every other living being, am constantly dealing with change and the mental consequences of this instability, there were many proclamations that touched base with me as they were either similar to what I was hoping to feel or an indication of where my head needed to go to find peace and happiness in a world that is unforgiving and often isolating. The first was at the beginning of the book: 

“So, in life, you must juggle to be in balance, but to be able to do so, you will need to learn and practice endlessly as both will give you the knowledge, experience, and self-confidence to execute impossible things fearlessly. P 28

It is as though Cromwell-Smith was writing directly to me with genuine caring. The poetry, the story, and the lessons presented throughout this entire text are meaningful and bring thoughtful consideration that can be experienced by anyone, at any time of their lives. The writing in its entirety is straightforward and honest, impacting my life from the very beginning all the way to the last page! 

“Balance is one of the foundations of happiness. But as important as balance is, the true message lying underneath this writing is about inner freedom” p 32

“No matter what others think, to dream is to contemplate life through magical magnifying glasses” p 36

“love yourself, love others, and love life, and all of it will be magical, or rather, a magical miracle for you” p 66

“Because even in the face of great tragedy and hardship, through the loss of everyone and everything, nothing or no one can deprive you of your ability to hope,” he replies. Pg 105

“you need to treasure and learn from your past, but never be a slave to it. Too many of us live ‘ever after’ consumed by things that no longer exist, things that are otherwise long gone, but still linger in the tortuous, masochist, and narrow, very narrow corridors and labyrinths of our minds,” p 122-123

Rest assured that the key to solving it is to never detach but rather be absolutely immersed in your life p 203

I give this book five stars and insist it be read with an open mind and an open heart to reap the benefits of Cromwell-Smith’s insight. 


Christine Bialczak 2022

Book Review: Judge, Jury, Executioner

Judge, Jury, Executioner by Mitchell Jones is a love story mixed with tragedy, where loving someone more than life takes on new meaning. Nathan has finally found his dream girl. He can’t believe that this beautiful girl actually wants to talk to him tomorrow, a trip into the coffee shop he never imagined turning out so well. Anna seems to fall in love with Nathan just as easily. Both individuals believe in working hard, so meeting Anna’s parents who are extremely rich does not excite Nathan or bring him any expectations, except Nathan’s father does seem genuinely accepting of his daughter’s new love. Anna’s mother is another story.

Nathan and Anna have become completely intertwined and when Anna comes home from her work party battered and shattered, Nathan knows something bad has happened and that he is the one who must try and fix things for his Anna. It doesn’t take him long to figure out what must be done to the people who have hurt Anna so badly; all while losing Anna to the depths of her own silence and suffering.

When Nathan has taken care of the problem he reluctantly tells Anna what he has done, hoping to bring her vibrant, fun self back to him.

I gave this story four out of five stars for its “to the point” plot and easy readability. I wish I had learned more about Anna, as she seemed to be an interesting character with many facets, but we don’t learn much more than what is recounted by Nathan. This is definitely a story that could be added to and made into a novel of some length, pulling the reader in despite its shorter length.

©2021 CBialczak Book Review

Book Review: When You Find Me

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When You Find Me by P.J. Vernon is a twisted, complex mysterious thriller that will keep you guessing and shock you at the end.  

Gray has gone home with her husband Paul, to Piper Point, the home she grew up in, to spend the holiday with her sister and mother. Unable to admit that her drinking is out of control, Gray has too much to drink and kisses her old boyfriend at the bar. Paul is furious but that is all Gray can recall; and now Paul is gone.  

The plot weaves through Gray’s binges and the introduction of Annie, the woman who might know what happened to Paul and why. Gray doesn’t know who Annie is but is willing to do anything to meet with her, to hear the truth.  

I give this story four out of five stars for its twists and turns, intriguing plot, and surprising conclusion. Vernon has found a way to keep the plot vague enough to keep the reader guessing and the characters evolving to keep the story moving. This is a must read if you want a surprise ending with a full bodied, suspenseful plot.  

Gathering Dark: Book Review


Gathering Dark by Candice Fox is a fast paced, keeps-you-guessing, suspense thriller featuring a main character who has been put into the worst scenario possible and who is now trying to deal with it and get her life back. Then the other main character is a cop who is also put in a bad situation, but her situation just keeps getting worse.  

Blair was going to be a new mother when she was convicted of murdering her neighbor.  
Jessica is the cop who put Blair away ten years ago for the murder. Now, Jessica is being questioned by her coworkers but also begins questioning herself in Blair’s murder case. Had she jumped for a conviction without really looking at the evidence? Is she just looking for false clues to make herself feel justified? There are many other players in both women’s lives and some of them are more powerful than others. With each new chapter you are brought closer to these women, but your understanding of the truth gets more skewed. 

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a slow read at the beginning trying to organize who is who, as the chapters alternate between Blair and Jessica. Although the plot seems somewhat predictable, the author has thrown in enough loops to make you question who is really at fault here. I would recommend this book to readers who like reading about the twists and turns of truth and suspense.   

Book Review: Anger is an Acid

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Anger is an Acid is the third book in Michael Clark’s series of ghost stories. This final tale is one you won’t be able to put down until the last page! Tim wants his girls back and can’t bear to lose anyone else in the process. It takes all he has, to not succumb to death as his heart is breaking at the thought of losing his two beautiful daughters.  

Tim and Holly are tired of Mildred and her murderous antics. With the news of Mildred Wells now gone public, staying out of the public eye is nearly impossible. Clark introduces some new characters to thicken the plot of the dangerous situation Tim and Holly are in, making a ghost story that is so believable and haunting at the same time. Just when you aren’t sure how the author is going to pull off another step in the plot he does so seamlessly, and you continue to be engaged. Without spoilers I’d say the ending is a good one and you will definitely be happy reading to the very last page.  

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars for a book that is written in such a way that it is so realistic that even if you don’t believe in ghosts, you will still fear for Tim and Holly and wonder what Mildred Wells is going to do next! If you start with book #1 there is really no downfall to the series, however as a stand-alone book there may be loose ends that are confusing to a reader started with book #3.  

©2021 CBialczak Book Review

Blood Contest: A Story of Power, Sex, and Murder (Jersey Murder, #1)

by P.K. Abbot (Goodreads Author)

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Blood Contest by P.K. Abbot, is a fast-paced mystery/thriller involving a high level official and the death of his son; the murder which occurs in front of his two grandchildren.  

The murderous plot is based on international and political affairs but does not delve too deeply into either of these topics, mainly focusing on finding the killer and motive. This author has created believable and interesting characters who you get to know right away. Using first names and last names interchangeably did make reading a bit confusing at first, until you had all the characters in your head with first and last name. I think I would have done better with an actual list of characters, like those in a play manuscript to eliminate the confusion and allow me to focus on the plot.  

The plot was well developed, and you felt like you were there with the characters. All of the character involvement makes sense and adds a “true to life” feel to the book. The author ties up most loose ends by the end of the book, helping to explain each character’s involvement.  

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, as there was a loose end that left me wondering. Once I picked this book up, I had a hard time putting it down, as I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. There really aren’t any spoilers in the book, as the author has weaved such a tangled web you are constantly being surprised with events throughout the story. It was definitely worth reading.

Christine Bialczak (2020)