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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.

New Release: Power Struggle by Paige Fieldsted

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Power Struggle is Now Available!!

I gave up on love twenty years ago. These days I only want hot sex. Jameson Beck is experienced, confident, and sinfully sexy— a perfect distraction from the murder trial taking over my life. But now I’m expected to work with him every day and ignore his never-ending advances? Yeah, right. I can’t keep my distance, not even with Jameson threatening everything I’ve worked for over the past ten years. And he’s making me want the very thing I’d sworn off: love.

Olivia Roberts, the blonde bombshell. She’s hot, feisty, and isn’t afraid to talk dirty. She fights me at every turn, but that only makes me want her more. Too bad she’s the one person standing between me and the partnership I’d do anything to get. Olivia makes me question it all. I thought my career was enough. I thought I didn’t need love. But now I don’t think I can live without it. Or her.

Available here on Amazon

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White Water, Black Death by Shaun Ebelthite

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At first, I was convinced right along with the characters that there is a terrorist attack on the cruise ship, the Symphony. It opens with a janitor and it is obvious that he is unwell, especially when he vomits into his mop bucket and then continues cleaning. It’s very  curious, not to mention beyond disgusting, that anyone would do this. Right off the bat, I thought this was a bad omen.

Geneva Jones, a past journalist and current editor of CruiseCritique.com, is on board to get the biggest story of her life. Rachel Atkinson, CEO for the cruise line, is celebrating the birthday of the line, and her son, Aaron, is on board, as well. She has promised Geneva a private interview. Geneva is not a fan of the CEO, who she finds to be a little too cagey and her avoidance of questions leads Geneva to be suspicious of her motives. For now, Geneva is going to enjoy herself and make friends (I.E. usable acquaintances).

Aaron is in college and doesn’t know why his mother insists he be on this cruise. He is bored to tears and his high hopes of forming a closer relationship with her is not happening. Rachel has always been an at-arm’s-length type of mom, trying to do what is right while not getting too close. Aaron knows in Rachel’s eyes, the cruise line is always first. Happily, Aaron has met Sarah, who is near his age and has a baby. He likes babies, or at least Sarah’s, and he thinks he has made a friend.

There are lots of interesting characters in this book. The plot is complex, but very engrossing. I quickly became attached to the players, especially Geneva. Her greatest joy is searching for the weakness in Rachel’s armor. Geneva’s gung-ho attitude encourages her to risk the chance of discovery in several sneaky situations, and she seems to enjoy pulling Aaron along behind her, Sarah consequently following.

It looks like everyone in this story has something to hide. Rachel is resigning her position. Richard, her COO, is hoping to stab her in the back – metaphorically speaking – and steal her position with her company. Aaron wonders why Rachel adopted him from Uganda when he was ten. Even several of the employees have their hands full. Lots and lots of secrets.

Readers who enjoy mysteries will certainly enjoy this book. There is a lot of danger that leads to a lot of questions. This was a fast read, because I could hardly put it down.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – I shove this book on the shelf of Mysteries and claim the reading age to be mostly adult, since it is quite a winding tale.
  • Level of sexuality – There are a couple of scenes where it is left pretty much to your imagination.
  • Is there graphic language? Not anything that bothered me.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Is this part of a series? No.
  • Level of character development – Aaron was the only one I felt needed a little bit of maturing and I think he got that by the end of the story. The others couldn’t have gotten any better.

I award this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

South of Main Street by Robert Gately

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Henry Wolff is a middle-aged man who sees the world as a child, or maybe it is just that adults see him as one.  Actually, he’s an example of what can happen when a young man goes to war and comes home mentally injured as a result. Henry’s wife, Mary, has just passed away and, although Henry is fully aware of this, he is only able to communicate to others through his seemingly immature ways. He makes jokes at odd moments, makes observations that are completely off topic, leaving others speechless, and often seems detached from reality. He is quite capable of holding a conversation, but often doesn’t truly see the purpose as to why he should. What people frequently miss is the absolute kindness that is in Henry. He misses Mary greatly and occasionally speaks to her, but others, including his two daughters, Robyn and Sharon, don’t recognize that he grieves just as much and even more than they do.

What Henry is unaware of is that Sharon is certain that he can’t take care of himself, since her mother had dealt with that burden for many years. Robyn is positive he can, and is trying to change her sister’s opinion of their father. Unfortunately, Sharon has filed with the courts to declare him incompetent, and the hearing is in a few weeks. Although Henry is aware that his daughters have some conflict, he doesn’t catch on that he is at the heart of it. Robyn explains that until this is resolved the court has decided he will receive an allowance of twenty dollars a day and she will make sure his bills are paid. Their family has always lived moderately, even though Mary was quite wealthy. Now, her money has gone to Henry and Sharon doesn’t see why she and Robyn shouldn’t divide the estate and be able to get on with their lives in financial comfort.

Without Mary to keep him home, Henry begins to move about the town, meeting and greeting people. Everyone knew Mary and her odd husband; she was active in the community, while he was fairly well corralled at home. He meets Dixie – a drug addict with dreams of a future – his neighbor’s son, Danny, whose spirit is crushed by an absentee mother and a drunk, abusive father, and homeless Joe, who lives under a bridge. Soon, Sharon and Robyn begin to see withdrawals from Henry’s bank account. Sharon wants an accounting and Robyn is aware that he is probably giving money away to his new friends.

This is a story not only of Henry, but also how kindness and understanding can change lives, even a whole town. It is incredibly obvious that Henry’s mind is damaged, but his utter enjoyment of people is still intact, and perhaps enhanced by his mental state. I was intrigued with him and couldn’t guess what he would do next: swing from a tree next to his house, facilitate his moving from the second story to the first just to pick up his mail, or acknowledge his neighbor before he climbs back up his tree, just because he knows his talent for tree-climbing annoys her for some reason he can’t fathom and doesn’t care to. The townspeople consists of the usual observers, participants, gossips, and are so very interesting. I couldn’t anticipate where this story was going, but I knew Henry was having quite an impact. I don’t believe I fully disliked any of the characters, even Sharon, who I found to be rather self-serving and a bit overly firm in her beliefs on life. Sometimes, Henry sounds like a book on self-improvement, but it’s sort of comforting to have someone tell us it will be alright and to just stay the course. I believe most readers are going to enjoy this book immensely and come away feeling it was well worth their time.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Contemporary for older teens and adults.
  • Level of sexuality – None.
  • Is there graphic language? Not really, although Dixie considers herself the epitome of foul language.
  • Did I cry? No, but there are some sad situations.
  • Did I laugh? No, but there are some smile-provoking scenes.
  • Is this part of a series? No.
  • Level of character development – Overall, there is a lot of maturing in the characters.

I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars, because it confirms my belief that there can be good in this world.

Available here on Amazon

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

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