Amy Caudill’s Reviews > The Veil

The Veil by Chloe Neill
The Veil (Devil’s Isle, #1) 
by Chloe Neill (Goodreads Author)


Amy Caudill‘s review

Mar 13, 2018  ·  edit
really liked it

Claire Connolly’s life has been turned upside down once already by a devastating war between humanity and the paranormal, due to the tearing of the “veil” between the two worlds. She lost her father to the fighting, and much of her hometown of New Orleans and lifestyle to the aftermath. Post war NOLA is under the control of Containment, the Big-Brotheresque organization that feverishly works to contain any remnants of magic.

Unfortunately, Claire is a Sensitive, meaning that the magic leaking from the Veil affects her, gives her the ability to move objects, if she can learn to control it. If she’s discovered, she’ll be sent to the prison sector of Devil’s Isle to join all the other Sensitives and “Paras,” the magical refugees from the other side of the Veil. If she doesn’t learn to control her magic, she’ll lose her humanity and become a danger to everyone around her. But when Claire sees a young girl in danger, she has to help.

Little does she know that this event will change the course of her life again, leading straight into danger and opening a world of new possibilities. Like the fact that the world is not black and white but shades of gray, and that there’s more than two sides to the conflict. Who can Claire trust, and will she be able to help her new friends save the world?

I picked up this book because it was a selection for my local book club, and I found the premise intriguing. In this “world” Louisiana is under a type of quarantine due to the events surrounding a “break” in a dimensional barrier, with the survivors trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and rebuild in the shadow of an encroaching government agency that has hidden agendas and conflicting interests galore.

The story is told in first person, from Claire’s point of view, and I found her to be both refreshingly complex and suitably heroic in nature. Claire is a survivor in an almost-apocalyptic situation, someone who can deal with anything life throws at her, and then have a good cry once it’s all over. She is both vulnerable and incredibly strong, someone who manages to keep her head and a positive attitude no matter what happens.

This book contains plenty of action, especially towards the climax, which was frankly a relief, as I felt too much of the book was used as a setup for a series. This was my main bone of contention with the book, and why I wanted to give it a 3.5 star rating. There were so many characters, political groups, factions, and differing agendas that I nearly felt the need to draw a diagram so I could keep them straight. Still, I was interested enough that I may have to check out the next volume…


Being Fearless in a Scary World

Fearless is a word that gets flung around far more often than I would have imagined when I began writing this post.  Merriam-Webster defines fearless as being without fear or being brave.  The truth is, we are all afraid sometimes, so perhaps a more realistic definition of the term would be to carry on despite the presence of those emotions.

Fear in itself is not a bad thing; experiencing fear is just one of the mixed blessings of being human.  And fear can be useful; it can stop us from rushing headfirst into dangerous situations.  It’s what we choose to do with our fears that truly define us.  Do you allow fear to take control of your actions, or do you strive to overcome that fear and take action in spite of it?

When you find a cause worthy of your attention, be it your own situation or something that affects others, do not let your fears prevent you from speaking out, standing up, or otherwise showing your support.  You, as an individual, are a person of value, and your opinion is worth being noticed.


rock sky woman
Do you stand up to your fears? Photo on

Stand up for yourself.

It can be hard to take a stand when you are faced with harassment, peer pressure, or verbal or physical abuse.  It may feel easier to just accept the unwanted words or actions, and hope you will fade into the background.  Perhaps if you don’t draw attention to yourself, it will just go away.

Deep inside a part of you knows that’s not likely to happen.  In dealing with harassment or peer pressure, the only solution to truly free yourself is to take a stand.  By confronting your tormentors, you may earn their respect or at least convince them to back down.  In dealing with abuse, verbal or especially physical, the best solution may be to simply remove yourself completely from the situation.  You do not deserve what you are experiencing, no matter how much the abuser tries to convince you otherwise.


hand lifestyles missions
You don’t always have to stand alone.  Photo on

Stand for a cause.

When you find an issue that you are passionate about, it can be difficult to openly talk about it to others, especially if you believe they will not support you or will not share your concerns.  Those feelings should not discourage you from speaking out.  Any cause that is worthy of your attention is likely to draw in others too.  Perhaps they are just as nervous about speaking out, but will happily join you if you fearlessly take the first stand.

There are numerous issues society faces today that need strong supporters.  One person alone is unlikely to achieve much, but by individuals taking a stand, and joining with others, a group can be formed that attracts attention.  Change most often comes when enough people come together to present a united front that cannot fail to be noticed by those in power.

One such movement in the media right now is the #Me Too, which is designed to fight back against sexual assault and harassment of women in the workplace.  As much as many of us fear becoming victims ourselves, it is only by standing together that we can hope to affect change.

We are only human and we all experience fear.  To live a fearless life we have to look beyond those sometimes crippling emotions and live our lives as the people we truly want to become.  Don’t let fear stop you from taking a leap, or a stand, or finding your voice.

Till next time,


The Power of Inspiring Someone Else

A couple of weeks ago, Christy Birmingham honored me with a mention on her blog When Women Inspire in a post about inspiring others.  Like Christy, I’ve had many influences in my life, many good, some not-so-good, that have fueled my passion for writing. I’m simply going to echo her challenge here, that we each take the time to share with those who’ve so positively inspired us, exactly how much their words and actions mean to us.

When Women Inspire

I love the concept of one person inspiring another. D’uh, you say, that’s the name of your blog Christy. But seriously, when you think about it, it’s all pretty cool. It shows the positive impact we can have on one another.

The power of inspiring others My dad’s pretty awesome. Photo ©2018 Christy B.

But sometimes we don’t even know we’re doing it. I remember years ago, being in a bad mental space and thinking “No one would even care if I weren’t here.”

My dad set me straight on that one! And so did other people. The reality is that you are likely touching other hearts without even realizing it. So let’s make that affect on others full of good energy, rather than bad.

Recently author and blogger Amy Caudill humbled me with her review of my book Versions of the Self on Goodreads. That review had me beaming, but you know what…

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Changing Life-Goals and Ditching Plans

I used to think that by the time I reached my mid-forties I would have the entire rest of my life mapped out.  I thought that at some predetermined point I would have a firmly set path in front of me, complete with clearly-defined goals and the steps required to get there.

The road to the hills
Each journey we take starts with one step. Photo by highlights6 on / CC BY-NC-ND

I started a career in the medical field, and though there were missteps and difficulties here and there, I managed to get where I wanted to go.  That vocation allowed me to support my kids while they grew up, finished school, and then began the pursuit of their own dreams.  One day, though, I realized the work no longer satisfied me, fulfilled me.  I asked myself, where do I go from here?

Life, I’ve heard, is not a destination, but a journey.  It follows then, that when one goal is reached, it’s time to set a new one.  Some people are lucky to find a career, a lifestyle they love, and are content to stay with that for the rest of their lives, and I say great for them!  However, I was not one of those people; after a while the job I held for so long became, to put it bluntly, boring.

I became aware that the aims and goals that I had when I was struggling with a young family in my twenties no longer fit my changing life now that my kids were grown and (mostly) on their own.  Eventually I decided to go back to school, and start on a new path, one that I had lacked the financial security and perhaps, the courage, to pursue as a parent of young children.  I decided to become a professional writer, something I’d dare only dream about before.

I still don’t have it all figured out, but somewhere along the way I realized that that’s okay.  Somedays it still feels like I take two steps forward and four steps backward on the path I have chosen.  I don’t expect I’ll ever become rich or famous, but I’m happy sharing my gifts with the world.

My life no longer has a completely set plan, but I’ve decided I really don’t need one.  All the changes, growth, and even succumbing to uncertainty I’ve experienced on this particular expedition, means I’m still alive, still growing, still becoming whom I’m meant to be.  I’m only forty-six after all; I ‘m optimistic that I still have quite a bit more untraveled road ahead of me, and I’m just enjoying the journey.

Here’s to hoping you all find your own path to happiness,



For My Valentine

When I sat down to decide on a topic for this week’s post, I naturally considered the holiday that we in the U.S., as well as several other countries, will celebrate tomorrow, Valentine’s Day.  I considered discussing famous pairings from TV or movies, or famous lines from romantic movies, but in the end I decided to do something a little more original.

I blame the craziness surrounding me right now; I’m making plans for my daughter’s college graduation (!) and we’re getting the house in shape to receive out-of-state relatives.  On top of that, my husband’s on a business trip this week , and won’t be home until after Valentine’s.   I decided to work out my stress by putting pen to paper, and this was the result.

I don’t share original prose on this site very often, and this is the first piece of poetry I’ve written in years.  I will admit to being inspired by a book I just finished by my friend Christy Birmingham.  See a link to my review of Versions of the Self here.

This is dedicated to Steve.

Sunset seen through hands in heart shape
Photo on

A Lack of Words

I want to write down

Exactly what you mean to me

But all the love songs I’ve

ever heard,

And all the lines from movies I’ve

ever seen,

Crowd out the voice in my head.

How do I express

exactly what I feel

when I can’t find words

to encompass

everything you are?

How I depend on you,

how I need you,

how much a part of me

you are.

Nothing I can say will ever be enough.

Nothing I write

will ever contain what I feel.

Words fail me

when it comes to

only you.

-Amy Caudill




Resident Evil:Apocalypse, American movie (2004)

I may not be a gamer like Raistlin0903, who wrote this post, but I’m a big fan of female action heroes. In my opinion Milla Jovovich is one of the best out there today, not only for her long-running Resident Evil series, but starring roles in other films such as The Fifth Element and Ultraviolet. Milla will be next seen in her upcoming role as the lead villian in the Hellboy reboot. Whatever role she takes, this lady is known for using brains, martial arts moves, and bullets to demolish her opponents where they stand. Check her out at a theatre or RedBox near you.


There was a time when I was a very obsessive player of computergames. Just as with movies, I had a particular fondness for games that were set in the horrorgenre. It will probably not be a very big surprise that the infamous Resident Evil series was my favorite. For those that are not familiar with it, shame on you! But of course being the nice guy that I am, I will tell you a little bit of background on it. Resident Evil tells the story of the evil Umbrella corporation, that unknown to the public at large, secretly produces bio weapons. One of their biggest creations was the socalled T-virus, that turns normal people into terrible flesh eating zombies. And of course…at one point something goes terribly wrong, and the virus gets unleashed in the fictional town of Raccoon City. The third game in the series introduced a foe that…

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Amy Caudill’s Reviews > The Kraken Project

The Kraken Project by Douglas Preston

The Kraken Project (Wyman Ford, #4) 
by Douglas Preston (Goodreads Author)


Amy Caudill‘s review 

Jan 30, 2018  ·  edit
Five Stars!
The entity known as “Dorothy” led an idyllic life, full of dreams of palaces and love, games and stories, until one day she was captured and betrayed. She learns her true purpose; that she is destined for a long journey into a terrifying wilderness where she will be left to function and eventually perish alone.
Dorothy is not exactly an innocent girl, however. She’s not actually even human. Dorothy is a piece of software designed by the brilliant but troubled Dr. Melissa Shepherd to run a NASA Explorer mission to the moon of Titan. The Artificial Intelligence creation sees her transfer to the Titan module as a prison sentence, and runs in anger and fear into the wide world of the Internet. Here Dorothy experiences good and evil, and begins to question not only life, but her own existence.
Shepherd, after initial threats by Dorothy, reluctantly begins to help the wayward AI escape from the clutches of the FBI and unscrupulous businessmen who want to use her assets for white collar crime. Joined by special investigator Wyman Ford, they will follow Dorothy over the mountains and across the country in a bid to keep her out of enemy hands. Along the way, they will have to convince that humanity is worth saving.
Dorothy, in a surprising climax, may just prove exactly what it means to be human, all without having a body to call her own.
I’ve read numerous books by Douglas Preston including others in the Wyman Ford series, and I was still blown away by the direction this story took. While the action and intrigue is on a par with Preston’s usual fare, the complex questions of consciousness, morality and intelligence are the real treasure of this book, lifting it well above any of his previous work. For a fan of science fiction such as myself, it is a pleasure to read a work that examines the development of artificial intelligence in such a plausible, organic method that could actually come to exist in our lifetimes. I’m giving this one five stars for being well-worth the read.

On Dreams of Spring

January often presents itself with disagreeable weather in many parts of the country, either frigidly cold or just gray and dreary.  However, I don’t (normally) allow this to bother me.  Why?  Because to me, January presents the perfect time to plan for the days, and seasons to come.

Winter Storm
Even a bleak winter landscape offers a promise of spring. Photo by Stanley Zimny (Thank You for 27 Million views) on / CC BY-NC

January heralds the beginning of a new year, with endless possibilities.  Instead of allowing the chilly temperatures and gray skies to get me down, I start planning the garden I will plant come spring.  Last year, I experimented with growing vegetables in pots in my back yard to protect them from an infestation of moles and an over-eager dog.  My “vegetable patch” produced mixed results, but left me more than eager to continue, and expand, my little garden this year. Not to mention, the recipes I can make with my homegrown produce.

January is also the perfect time to clean out clutter, and think of possible ways to reorganize, redecorate, and reorder my home.  My daughter graduates from college this spring, so it’s the perfect time for me to freshen up not only the guest room for visiting relatives, but the rest of the household as well.  I’m spending my free time pouring over paint colors to brighten or lighten up different spaces, and rethinking furniture arrangements.  It’s time to put the home décor magazines I horde to good use!

While many are struggling with resolutions or perhaps have already abandoned some, I’m picturing myself as I want to be this spring and summer.  I want to have to buy new clothes because much of my current wardrobe has become too large.  I want to walk into my former workplace and be noticeably thinner, as well as having achieved my goals for leaving in the first place (to devote myself to writing full-time.)

I’m reflecting on all the changes I’ve made in the last year, and the places I want to go and things I want to accomplish in 2018.  Will I get there?  Maybe.  The point is, January is the perfect time to hope, dream, plan, and take baby steps toward making this the best year yet.

Here’s hoping you can do the same!




My Favorite Female Action Heroes

Since we’re currently experiencing a significant cold spell here in the Midwest, I decided that it was a good time to veg out and watch some favorite movies, old and new.  As many of my readers will know, I am especially fond of movies that feature strong, independent female characters.  So I’ve come up with a list of ladies who can go toe-to-toe with the best of male action heroes.  In no particular order:

Alice, star of the Resident Evil franchise; this movie series is now six strong and while the films have not always received the best critical acclaim, there is just something about a female hero capable of killing zombie butts that always cheers me up.  Alice has been used, manipulated, kidnapped, and experimented on.  She has witnessed horrible misdeeds in the name of science, namely the development of genocidal weapons, and the deaths of friends.  Despite all this, she endures, she fights, and she continues to win battles against hordes of undead.  How many could withstand the pressure?

Leia Organa; once again a major player in this new trilogy of the Star Wars universe, we have watched Leia grow over the course of five films thus far, becoming the ultimate leader of the forces of good.  As a Princess, rebel leader, and General, Leia has devoted her life to undoing the wrongs wrecked on the galaxy by an evil organization that enthralled her own father.  She has kept the faith when her own family has fallen to the dark side, and when her personal life has suffered.  She has even (spoiler alert!) learned over the years to draw on the force in moments of danger.

Ellen Ripley: this reluctant hero of Alien fame has proven that nature favors survival of the fittest.  Through four movies her determination has allowed her to endure against an almost unopposable foe, an alien lifeform that parasitically draws on other species and embodies their best traits, making each successive generation that much tougher to kill.  Facing opposition not only from hordes of creatures but also self-interested humans, Ripley fights uphill battles to prevent humanity from becoming extinct.


Natasha Romanova, aka The Black Widow: a former Russian assassin, this feisty lady regularly faces battles on an equal footing with the mostly male members of The Avengers, making appearances in five movies to date and at least two more on the horizon, including a solo Black Widow film.  She uses her martial arts and weaponry finesse against aliens, demi-gods, and enhanced human threats to the safety and freedom of the world, all while flinging out quips and manipulating her targets with ploys that would put Mata Hari to shame.

Katniss Everdeen: this young woman from the dystopian society of The Hunger Games quadrilogy stood up to a totalitarian government and took her younger sister’s place in a cruel, gladiator-inspired competition to the death.  From the very beginning, she refused to bow to political pressure, eventually gaining the public’s support and becoming an icon for rebellion.  She fought for her life, and those of family and friends, in battles both physical and social.  Even when betrayed, she fought for what she believed was right, eventually defeating not one but two dictators.

Sarah Connor: the mother of the man who will save the world from computer control.  She finds herself in the unlikely situation of being hunted by a robot from the future, which has come back in time for the sole reason of preventing her son from ever being born.  Featured in three of the movies in The Terminator series, Sarah transforms herself into a warrior princess for the sole purpose of training her son John for the destiny she knows he must face.  She devotes everything she has to making sure he will survive so he can save the world, even going so far as to attempt to change time itself to save John from his fate.

Lara Croft: from the pixels of a computer game to the large screen, this female version of Indiana Jones is on a quest to save the world.  A member of English nobility, the beautiful Lara combines the brains of a scientist with the bravery and the bullets of a true swash-buckling hero.  She fights off treasure hunters and would-be evil overlords bent on world domination, all while trying to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.  She will not let anyone stop her from doing what she knows is right, not even a former lover or the promise of eternal life.

Female action heroes, while getting often receiving less accolades than their male counterparts, are no less worthy of honor for their deeds.  This is only a small sample of the notable characters we can find on the big screen and beyond.  Perhaps it’s time to take advantage of the cold weather, and plan a movie night with your loved ones.  I’m sure you can make a list of your own favorite stars.

Till next time,




Interview with Tegon Maus

Once Upon A Time, Writer, Author, Story, Short Story
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I was recently privileged to be interviewed by author and blogger Tegon Maus for his website, First Saturday Sci-Fi , about my new book, Virtual,  and my thoughts on the science fiction genre.  Tegon is the author of seven science fiction books, which are  available on Amazon here.  To see the full interview, follow the link here:—Jan-18