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Featured Author: David Z. Hirsch

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David Z Hirsch is the pen name of Maryland physician and author of Didn’t Get Frazzled. He graduated from Wesleyan University, received a medical degree from NYU School of Medicine, and completed an internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins Bayview. Despite all that, he has never stopped writing and, even more surprisingly, scribbles quite legibly. If you’d like to read his official (fictional) bio, check out his author page on Amazon. It is completely and amusingly absurd.


  1. When did you start writing? I’ve always enjoyed writing but it wasn’t until college that the idea of writing a novel burrowed into my brain and refused to budge. After medical school, I decided to get serious about completing a novel and spent the next decade or so working on it. That project ultimately failed, but I learned quite a bit in the process and started a new novel that would eventually become Didn’t Get Frazzled.

  2. What is your inspiration? Moments that are surprising, emotional, or surreal inspire me. They tend to be the most fertile soil for fascinating stories.

  3. How did you come up with your stories? Many of the stories are based on my own experience, although the book is a work of fiction (despite the assumptions of several reviewers!) While I felt obligated to be true to the emotions of my medical school experience, I allowed imagination and flights of fancy drive the details.

  4. Where is your favorite place to write? I write at my desktop computer at home. Not very exciting, I know, but I’ve tried writing in more exotic locals and learned that I focus better at home.

  5. Do you plan your stories before starting? I create a basic outline to prevent the story from lurching into a ditch but otherwise let my characters have free reign. One of the great joys of writing is to let your characters surprise you.

  6. When did you first consider yourself an author? While I’ve always felt like a writer, I never really felt like an author until I saw my book on Amazon. Holding the paper version was pretty cool, too.

  7. Do you see writing as a career? Writing is my avocation. I know that’s blasphemous to say among writers, but I take my writing as seriously as everyone else. I’ve just accepted the financial limitations.

  8. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Figuring out the genre of my own book, apparently. I’ve promoted Didn’t Get Frazzled as medical fiction or commercial fiction and then I win an award in the Humor/Comedy category.

  9. What was the hardest part of writing your book? First drafts. Once I have something on paper – no matter how feeble – I enjoy editing it to a shine.

  10. Can you share a little of your current work with us? My current novel is a magical fiction middle grade novel called Jake, Lucid Dreamer, which I plan to publish under my actual name (secret identity to be revealed!) It couldn’t be more different from Didn’t Get Frazzled. I realize that this is the opposite of what marketers recommend in building a brand, but I have to write what I’m passionate about or else why bother? I’m looking at an early 2018 release and I cannot wait to introduce Jake to the world.

  11. Do you have advice for other writers? Follow your passion and persevere against all odds. If you’re going to fail, you might as well fail doing what you love. And hey, if you don’t fail, even better!

  12. Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers? Thank you, thank you, thank you. Being able to share my joy, rage, and laughter with complete strangers is the beautiful and fundamental wonder of novel writing.

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Read our review of Didn’t Get Frazzled by David Z. Hirsch, M.D.

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How we review

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Welcome to Bona Fide Book Reviews, where we promise to say it like it is. This might be our blog, but we’re writing it for you, the reader. We post in the hopes of guiding you and preparing you. A negative post doesn’t mean the book is bad. It just means we didn’t care for it. Don’t let that scare you off. We hope that a positive post will encourage you to read the book, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll love it as much as we did.

Here is a guide on how we review.

  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It changed our worlds
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It blew us a way
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It was good, but it wasn’t our favorite
  • ⭐️⭐️ – It wasn’t great, but the author really tried
  • ⭐️ – It was so bad we wish we had a time machine so we could go back and unread it

We also comment on:

  • The genre and general reading age
  • The level of sexuality
  • Whether there was graphic language
  • Did we cry and if so, how much
  • If it is part of a series, which book and whether it is a stand-alone
  • Level of character development
  • How hard did we laugh

We also do not guarantee that there won’t be spoilers. These are our honest reviews of these books and not solicitation. The reviews are written in first-person, but it’s a collaborative effort.

We promise to never let an author sway our opinions through any forms of badgering, guilt-tripping, or gifting. We stand strong against the current, for you.

Thank you and welcome to Bona Fide Book Reviews.

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Amazon Review Bias

It has been brought to our attention that there are coerced reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Amazon will remove reviews that are not in the author’s favor. We stand by our promise for honesty and will never review a book that is pressured from the author and even if our reviews are taken down from Amazon we do rate and review on Goodreads. This blog is for you, the reader, and not a way for authors to promote their books in a dishonest fashion.

The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter

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This is an interesting story. At first I had difficulty with the slow pace, but soon it seemed natural to the time, place, and the depth of despair and pain the people endure and exude. Even their surroundings – dust, dead vegetation, no living animals except for the occasional bird – drag them down.

Bill and Tobe are the best of friends and brother-in-laws. Bill’s sister died many years ago and perhaps that loss helps keep them together. Tobe has a tendency to disappear for long periods of time, but he always comes home, sharing his adventures with Bill. They exist in a village with a small population in an abandoned part of their country, where people who want to still live their own lives hide from the government, rather than be imprisoned.

Bill has days of thirst and hunger, accepting this as part of his way of life. Food is scarce and water even more so. Food usually means hunting kangaroo – a very dangerous endeavor. Water is brought in from an individual who is lucky enough to have water on his property. It has been a long time since the military visited this area. Known as the CRP, or Creeps as people prefer to call them, they are generally viewed as killers and it is rare for anyone to survive their intrusion. These poor people’s lives consist of surviving day by day, oppressive heat, and lots of dry dirt. The economy is only what they are able to make of it, and some try to live off the land, such as it is. It is hard not to admire these characters.

One night, several people see strange lights in the sky. Bound to their small patch of earth, they have no idea as to what would cause something so odd. Tobe, who has always led Bill – even as boys – decides they must investigate. Bill, although, would just as soon stay home, but he has never refused one of Tobe’s adventures, so he packs his canvas bag. Having lived in a deserted land for so long, all they fear is dying at the hands of the Creeps. What they had not planned on was being captured.

The author brings to life a fascinating landscape which cannot be ignored, mostly because it engulfs everything and everyone in a manner that I saw as total control – no escape from its hardship, nor relaxing from the stranglehold. You know – not just by the book’s title – that there will never be the relief of rain, which gives hope to those who suffer.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – This is definitely dystopian. Anyone who enjoys reading this type of story will probably enjoy the challenges this book presents. It is appropriate for older teens and adults.
  • Level of sexuality – Mild.
  • Is there graphic language? Nothing distracting.
  • Did I cry? I was more than a little sad over their struggling existence with the heat, dust, and dead vegetation.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Is this part of a series? No.
  • Level of character development – Bill’s eyes were opened for the first time to the reality of being Tobe’s friend. In the past, he was able to put aside his questions, but he shows real maturing when he finally acknowledges that he cannot ignore his new take on Tobe.

I felt like I suffered right along with Bill and Tobe in this fascinating tale, and I happily award it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

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Fortune’s Rising by Sara King

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This book is about those who have and those who don’t. The native population of this planet are enslaved. The conquerors are basically a military society. Those that live in slave camps are forced to work in caverns collecting eggs from strange blobs called Shriekers. The eggs, once processed, have the ability to give a person unbelievable intelligence, as long as they continue to ingest them. One fearful aspect of these slaves’ lives is that if they do it long enough they lose their minds.

The slaves are constantly harassed by the guards – from the moment they get up until they go to sleep. Many of them are broken people, knowing they will die in the mines, for no one is ever released and no one ever escapes. Although, there are a few with stubborn hearts and minds, whose goal is to fool the military machines and escape. Of course, the story is about some of those brave individuals.

It is also about one of the territories in the wilderness that is home for some of the people who are able to avoid the military in every way possible – afraid for their lives, their families and friends, and the small villages they live in. Often these homes and the people are totally demolished if a team of soldiers find them. Everyone knows a rebellion is on the slow burner and it won’t take much for one to begin.

This book is a great read. There are several characters who strive to survive and, if possible, improve their lives. They have horrendous interactions with the enemy, and they rescue and protect each other. There are times where the story is actually somewhat light-hearted in the midst of the daily challenges having to be met. I will admit that they didn’t seem to take place among the enslaved.

My reading experience was challenged by some disbelief in one chapter when a naked woman climbed down a steep cliff to find a gun. There was no way to protect herself or to carry this gun back up the cliff. Being a woman, I could not quite get past the image of a naked lady scaling a cliff. Another interesting note was the mechanical soldier. The pilot of this machine kept referring to it as “the soldier”. I continually watched for a person and wondered where was this soldier he was talking about. It is a strange-looking thing, standing on two appendages, well-armored, two arms, and various weapons arrayed upon it. The top half opens and the bottom half is filled with gelatinous goop. The naked human sits down in the soup and proceeds to hook up to the machine by various portals in his body. Soon, the top closes and the human begins to breathe goop and function as a part of the mechanical soldier. As I contemplate this, my response is “Eww”. However, I am totally impressed with an author who can think up such a soldier, but not so much by the naked woman clinging to the mountainside.

I did not find this to be a sweet, easy read, but a fascinating sci-if without being so far out I had to slog through to the end. I was disappointed when the book ended and wanted to go straight into the next. I decided not to focus on individual characters, because this is truly a fantastic read – higher reader involvement on every level. I read this in four days, even though it is a staggering page count of over six hundred pages.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – I decided to label it science fiction, but there are probably several other genres that it could fit into. The age is more adult, just because of the length and involvement of the story.
  • Level of sexuality – There are some flirtatious innuendo, but overall there is not much action.
  • Is there graphic language? Some, but it did not distract me.
  • Did I cry? No, but I felt sadness at certain times.
  • Did I laugh? A bit. There were scenes that deserved it.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, the Outer Bounds series.
  • Level of character development – It was interesting to see the characters develop. I did find that there was believable maturing in many.

Since I was intrigued by the story and totally entertained by the characters in one way or another, I give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ shiny stars.

Available here on Amazon

Workman’s Complication by Rich Leder

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This is a super entertaining book! It is the story of Kate McCall, who basically will only admit to being a way off-Broadway actress, never mind the dog walking or being an apartment manager for a bunch of quirky people. At this moment, she is Farina LeBleu, star of Blood Song and Dance and vampire extraordinaire. Too bad her fangs make her sound as though she’s from another planet. She’s never done much acting beyond commercials that are only watched by insomniacs. Kate is informed that her father, Jimmy, has managed to be murdered by having both eyes shot out of his head. Always knowing her father was a do or die private investigator, Kate had feared this day for a long time.

When Kate attends the reading of the will, she finds her father’s interesting take on life in evidence. Jimmy leaves his blue suit to his cousin, in hopes he will one day get a job. His Volvo goes to his drunken Uncle Mike, although the keys are left with his wife. The house in the Pocono’s goes to his fishing addicted brother, Kevin. To his oldest daughter, who believes money is all there is to life, he leaves all his money, of course. To Kate, he leaves a box and an urn with what little of him there is left. Kate grabs her box and urn and heads home, wondering what she is going to do with her inheritance. The box can always go in the trash, but what does one do with an urn full of ashes?

Kate happens to be the live-in manager of a five-story walk-up brownstone, which she refers to as ‘The House of Emotional Tics.’ Her tenets consist of what you would call ‘different’ people. Edie wears evening gowns and her husband, Ray, likes to speak of the great results he gets with Viagra. Al Cutter complains of a backed up toilet and having to fill Gatorade bottles as a consequence. There’s also a Chinese assassin, who lives in the basement and does the maintenance. Unfortunately, he doesn’t deal with toilets. That is just the tip of the iceberg. There is plenty more for the reader.

This book is made to entertain and it succeeds from the very beginning to the very end. I found Kate to be a deep character with a sense of humor that doesn’t end. Even though she is shaken by the death of her father, she is constantly involved with her tenants and their strange ideas of how life should be lived. They are basically good people who are more than willing to help her find out who murdered Jimmy. I would not change a single one of them, even though she finds them to be a pain in her backside occasionally. I think Kate is right where she needs to be. People fill her life with their love and care, and she reciprocates by desiring to embellish the lives of everyone she comes in contact with.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Comedy/Suspense. Can these two be mixed? Reading age is adults, just because there is a lot of story.
  • Level of sexuality – Low.
  • Is there graphic language? Not so much that I noticed.
  • Did I cry? Certainly not.
  • Did I laugh? I certainly did.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, the McCall & Company series.
  • Level of character development – Kate is a deep character to begin with. I don’t think she or her supporting cast need any help.

Naturally, this book has ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

Available here on Barnes & Noble

A Bargain in Silver by Josie Jaffrey

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I really enjoy storylines that are very different and unique. So, right up front I’m going to let you know this one is about vampires. Usually vampires don’t hold my attention, what with all the blood drinking and stuff going on, but this is not the typical vampire tale. (Still drinking blood, just a little more sophisticated about it.) They call themselves The Silver, because of the silver streaks that appear in their eyes, and they are a vicious group just about ready to take over the world. Then there are The Weepers, who are zombies with red tears running down their faces, and they enjoy munching on humans when they can catch them.

Emilia works at Parker’s Bar, where she and the other employees have become as close as most families. They let her know it is not a wise idea to walk home at night, but she informs them that she can make her own way. Of course, in the darkest area of the street, Emilia is frightened out of her wits when she is cut off by three strangers inside of a construction tunnel. One of them is a large man with blood around his mouth. What is that about?! Just as she is certain that she is looking death in the face, she is rescued by a very handsome man named Drew. He explains to her that she was almost attacked by Weepers and the best part…they like to eat people. Eww. As he tries to draw her away to a safe place, she refuses to budge and prefers to argue and demand answers, even as the streets fill with Weepers. Since he has the strength to rescue her from three scary monsters, I am unsure as to why he simply stands there and waits for the Weepers to get closer and closer. She’s looking rather obstinate and not too smart. Lucky for her, he has the patience of Job.

Eventually, Drew convinces Emilia that they will be much safer at his apartment. He lives in a very, very expensive building on the 10th floor. They hike their way up to his place, leaving her out of breath and exhausted. How about half dead? By the third floor most of us would be looking for the elevator key, but yes, there is a power outage. Once in the apartment, Drew brings her to the television and tells her to watch and listen. (No power outage? Or does he have a backup generator?) A very authoritative Silver introduces himself as Solomon and proceeds to tell the human population that to survive in the new social order they must do the job assigned to them and provide a monthly donation of blood. In return, the Silvers will provide for all their needs, such as health care, food, and housing. Emilia is utterly shocked and hardly capable of thinking, but moments later she is showing her strong will once again. She spots Drew on the stage with Solomon and wants to know just who he is and what she is doing in his apartment. It doesn’t take Drew long to convey his personal thoughts about Emilia (Could it be love?) and then it is up to her to decide what she is doing with him.

In time, Emilia meets Solomon and he shows interest in her. She is afraid of them both and wonders if there is a way to escape. She has a special place in this new society, though. While others are basically slaves, she is treated with care and continually speaks her mind without forethought. She questions everything and constantly makes demands, never recognizing that other women would not last long with her attitude. Even when her escape plans culminate with the deaths of three friends, she still does not soften her attitude or recognize the danger she is in.

The story is quite interesting with the a difference in the relationship between the Silver and the humans. There is a lot of action in some chapters, but then there is a slowing of the pace in the middle. Also, there is a certain amount of ‘cookie cutter’ story when it comes to the perfection of the Silvers and their out-of-this-world beauty. It’s a staple of vampire storylines and romance novels. After a few slow chapters, the story starts gaining speed again and rolls on to the end. Those who enjoy romance will like this one. Those who like vampires will absolutely enjoy the unique take on these bloodsuckers. However, I think the author had a real chance to develop a much larger and more interesting story if she had involved characters that were actually out in the slavish society, trying to survive.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Fantasy/Romance for older teens and adults.
  • Level of sexuality – There is certainly a lot of thought on the subject, but the characters have a long way to go if they’re going to have any kind of real relationship.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No. At times, I think Emilia was meant to be entertaining, but fell short. Or maybe I don’t know funny when I read it. (Yes, I do.)
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, and I admit that if the sequel were to land on my desk, I would probably read it just because I am insatiably curious on ‘unique’ takes on generic storylines.
  • Level of character development – The characters did not change and Emilia started as a spoiled child and it ended with her as a spoiled child. It would have been wise for her character to give maturing a try. I thought even Drew, the macho man, could have used at least a touch of strength when it came to dealing with his darling Emilia. The wringing of hands did not add to his character and only served to make him look weak.

I award this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

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This book came highly recommended by many people and when I read the blurb I was intrigued. What followed was horror disguised as romance. Maybe I’m special – or have seen and experienced real life – and that is why I can see the dark truth hidden in this story geared towards young adults who will not recognize it, but I feel I have a duty to let others know what this story is really about: domestic abuse.

Abby is our main girl and she is someone who I tried very hard to like. She has a secret past that has her hiding (don’t all romances have someone with a deep, dark secret?) and wary about starting a romantic relationship. So, she runs off to college to make a fresh start. Unfortunately, this particular place of higher education is actually just an extension of high school and the book reads like it. In the same manner of the majority of young adult romance, the bad boy sees her and immediately must own her. The sad part is that she barely puts up a fight. She allows this man to control her and dictate how she lives her life. Time and time again, he abuses her and she forgives without fail and lets him walk all over her again. She never lacks for excuses for his bad behavior.

Travis is the campus bad boy who looks like Adonis and acts like Narcissus, only with a heavy dose of hidden insecurity. He’s a street fighter and takes a new woman, or three, to his couch every night. (Important Note: Even he subconsciously recognizes that his behavior is despicable, which is why he refuses to have sex with these desperate groupies in his bed. The filth stays on the couch and possibly in his blood. A smart woman would have him tested before ever going near him.) That is until he spots Abby. Like a dog with a bone, he’s not giving up on this stunning little lamb. When circumstances provide the opportunity to stay in his apartment and then ridiculously never leave, he forces her into his bed – “just to sleep”. Don’t be fooled by his noble declaration. He goes out of his way to make her uncomfortable in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in the living room, on campus, literally everywhere. She stubbornly stays in his apartment, even though he allows her no privacy and crams the emotional abuse down her throat. He also throws temper tantrums like a drunken toddler and doesn’t see the harm in that. For some inexplicable reason, he cannot understand why she is hurt by what he does and instead lashes out in anger, which happens a lot, and you can guess how he behaves when another man enters the picture.

What could have been an interesting, yet unoriginal, story was deeply disturbing. From the get-go I recognized Travis for what he truly was and found Abby’s inability to accept it and blindly falling for his tricks appalling. One of the most memorable moments was when they had a squabble and instead of acting like a big boy, he races off to a bar, where he gets wasted, and then brings home not one, but two, women and then proceeds to have an orgy loud enough to wake the neighbors. Abby’s response is to lay in HIS bed and cry and listen to the hours of moaning and screaming going on in the living room with the man she is falling for. Needless to say, he apologizes and swears it meant nothing, so she lets it slide. This hefty book continues in this fashion and never gives up in its quest for a happy ending. But, in reality, how can a man who refuses to fully acknowledge his abuse for what it is and a pitiful woman who condones his despicable behavior ever have a happy ending? The author made it seem like happily ever after, but it’s honesetly a story that millions of women live and regret deeply every day – smothered by an obsessive husband who keeps her on a tight leash and makes her believe she doesn’t deserve better.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – It is supposed to be a romance and is meant for young adults, but I would never advise my own daughters to read it, no matter how old they are.
  • Level of sexuality – Very high and at times repulsive. Nothing like listening to a raging orgy of wasted people rather than having the self-worth to walk right out the door, to make your stomach churn.
  • Is there graphic language? Heaps.
  • Did I cry? No, but it was touted as a spectacular “good cry book”. I have no idea why.
  • Did I laugh? Not at all.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, apparently there is a second book, which is the same story told from Travis’s perspective.
  • Level of character development – I didn’t see much. The main characters were unlikable and weak. Weakness is not a bad thing and is a necessary element for a good story, but they didn’t overcome anything and evolve, which would have made them relatable and strong characters. The side characters were just as sorry. It seemed that nobody was ready to be an adult, but they were taking on the responsibilities that come with college living – booze, illegal fighting, lots of sex with random strangers, and the occasional class. I’d toss the petty gossiping into the mix, but that felt more high school and actually suited them just fine.

When this book arrived in the mail I couldn’t wait to tear into it. In the beginning, I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters, but I had high hopes that things would turn around. The book is massive, and my patient wait for them to become something better turned into dread over the fact that this book is a statement for women, telling them that it’s okay to accept a hot man’s abuse and scary obsession. What could have been a powerful testament to a man turning his life around and a woman loving and helping him change, turned into a how-to book for abused women. While the writing is undeveloped and immature – think more along the lines of something for a sixteen-year-old – it is the message that forces me to give this ⭐️ dismal star. There are thousands of people who love this book, but the likelihood of them being a reader who completely overlooked the nasty truth is extremely high, and I’m relieved to see that there are also thousands of women who know how damaging this book is. If you’re looking for a strong heroine who matures into someone you can respect, read Gone with the Wind. If you want someone who will eventually end up wearing long sleeves to hide the bruises, this is the book for you.

Available here on Amazon

Available here on Barnes & Noble