Book Review: Dream Student by J.J. DiBendetto

Book Review: Dream Student by J.J. DiBendetto

513I73KXyoLSpolier Free Summary: The Heresy Within by Rob J. Hayes is a the first book in The Ties that Bind series.  A knife for hire, a female blade master, and an Arbiter (religious traveling wizard), collide while pursing parallel paths to a common goal.  Two of them hate each other. Two of them are attracted to each other. The rest of the world wants them all dead. Their common enemy is someone who’s learned the dark secret of where the arbiters gain their powers, and why they have to guard that secret so closely.  This was my July 2017 Book Cover of the Month winner.

(CONTENT WARNING: This is dark, graphic and sexually explicit. Only for adults.)

Character:  In a story about a group of antiheroes, the trick is to give each of them a degree of sympathy. I think the arbiter (Thanquil) and the knife for hire (The Black Thorn) are fascinating character studies. Their flaws are real, and Thanquil’s core desire is admirable even if his job forces him into so brutal situations. I wasn’t such a fan of Jezzet, as her character seems oddly submissive for a blademaster, but I can say that submissiveness is a character arc she works with, so while I wasn’t a huge fan, I at least understood it was intentional.  This story bounced around with these characters quite a bit, and that got confusing and frustrating in the early chapters.  However, once I had everyone figured out, I could follow the story and connect better with each character. I’ve encountered this same problem in my writing, but I feel both I and Hayes made the right choice. The cost of confusion is worth the reward of sympathetic characters.

Description: Having been as long as it’s been since I read it (May 23), I remember less about it than I’d like.  The good news is I remember I didn’t feel overly burdened with minute details (something I don’t appreciate about some fantasy). What I do remember is actually wanting a bit more detail here or there. Not another 100,000 words of detail, just a bit more here and there. For instance The Black Thorn is burned, but I don’t remember much detail about the burns. It sort of reminds me of what people tell me is the blemish on Samantha’s face in Ready Player One which turned out to be quite minimized in the movie (I still liked the movie for the record).  What I mean is I know he’s burned, but I’m not really sure how badly.  Those little details are things I think I would have liked.

Thanks for reading,


Announcing the July Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the July Book Cover of the Month!

Hello everyone,

We’ve just wrapped up another month. It was simply a historically amazing month. It did so well, I’m pinching myself trying to make sure I’m not dreaming. My goal for this is exposure for authors. Yes, I get some exposure as well, but I’d rather get exposure through helping others get visibility than any other way. This month made me hope we’re reaching a new level.

We had 9,787 votes this month. That’s far and away a new record! Thank you so much! For a moment, I thought we were actually going to crack 10,000.

One cover pulled away early; another surged late (big time), but it wasn’t enough to catch this month’s winner.

The July Book Cover of the Month is…



Asunder by L. Steinworth! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Steinworth received 784 total votes. I’d put her as the early favorite to win the Book Cover of the Year Bracket in December.

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan came in second, so Sullivan gets a shot at next month’s title. Hopefully he gets the same support. Usually, 30 Finals votes will get a win.  Sullivan had 64, so he’d be the very early favorite. Also, Sullivan has been in several of these brackets. He’s come in second a few times. I think he’d like to get a win.

But for now, let’s look at this month’s winner!



Alden knew life in the Shadowen Thieves Guild would cost him greatly, but when their next mission means abducting Princess Mayli Drake of Ammos, the price is too high. Defying the guild, Alden sets out to return Mayli safely home in hopes of restoring peace with the kingdom of Brimley. Mayli feels as though her life has torn asunder after being taken captive. However, if she is to survive, she must come to trust the renegade thief loyal to her mother’s killer. As Alden pleads for Brimley’s innocence, Mayli begins to question what she thought she knew about her kingdom’s enemies.


I’ve added Asunder to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought JuneMayAprilMarchFebruaryJanuaryDecember’s book.

Here’s Steinworth’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about her and her work.

Steinworth actually designed this very cover herself.  There’s a video of some of it somewhere, and I’ll try to link it.

The August Book Cover of the Month is coming along, and that contest will launch Sept. 1.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading


Your July Book Cover of the Month Update

Your July Book Cover of the Month Update

With just seven days left in this month’s bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing.

As I type this, we have 5,575 votes so far. This is on pace for a historic month.  At this moment (about 8:45 p.m.), this month’s bracket is only 546 votes away from breaking the all-time record for most votes in a single month. It’s simply an amazing show of support for some nice book covers.  Thank you all. Here’s hoping that record gets shattered.

by L. Steinworth is in the lead at the moment.

Most Voted on so far: Asunder has the most total votes so far with 480. She’s had 57 voters send her all the way through to the winner’s circle, which gives her a respectfully commanding lead by the halfway point.

Least Voted for:  Mercy Point by Anna Snoekstra. This cover has 67 votes.  I typically hope to see each book getting at least 100 votes. I think it’s a nice cover with good use of color and contrast.

Asunder has a pretty commanding lead in every round, but there area few books that could steal things with enough support.  The first is Dream of the Navigator by Stephen Zimmer, which needs 34 voters to push it all the way through to the finals to pass Steinworth.  The other cover that’s in striking distance is the current runner up, Spell Smoke by SM Reine, which only needs 38 voters to push it all the way through to the finals to take the lead. Given that 337 unique individuals have voted so far, it’s not too far fetched to think another 40 could support one of those covers and completely change this bracket.

51psQMVIhULA quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final.  As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.

This will be the only update for this type of bracket. I hope the record does get broken and that I see voters lining up to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible.  You can vote at this address!

I’ll announce the winner is just seven days!

Thanks for reading,


The July Book Cover of the Month Begins!

The July Book Cover of the Month Begins!

July_Cover_CollageHappy first everyone! As is now officially tradition here on my blog, it’s time to start a new book cover of the month competition.

A Guiding Light by Susan Copperfield returns for her third try and joins 31 brand new covers this month.

You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.

As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.

If you are the author, let’s remember to be good sports! 1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.

Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.

A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.

I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,