Review of ‘Code Blood Red’

Scott Belgrade is a rebellious health teacher at Middlesex High School. He ended up there after being hounded out of his previous teaching job for putting students before politics. Ali ‘The Cat’ Armeni appears to be an unassuming math teacher, but in reality is a terrorist mole for an outfit that is determined to destroy Middlesex.

Jeffrey Belanger’s Code Blood Red puts these two on a collision course. Witty, fast-paced dialogue and pithy, on-the-mark narrative description mark this breathtaking thriller that will have you alternating between holding your breath in dread or gasping in horror. There is action enough for the most rabid action junkie, but at the same time, Belanger does a credible job of fleshing out the mental and emotional map of his characters.

The story could well have been taken from today’s headlines, and will leave the reader wondering about what really goes on behind the brick walls of academia. I finished a free review copy of this book in one sitting – and look forward to seeing Belanger’s next offering.

A piece of advice: if you’re prone to heart problems, you might want to avoid this book – it’s guaranteed to put a strain on your ticker.

A solid four-star book!

Review of ‘The Living Image’

LA fashion designer Sabrina Miller wakes up in a tanning salon and comes face to face with a nude version of herself.  Not just a double, but an identical copy of herself, a clone who has been enhanced by a scientist. Thus begins a wild journey of terror as Sabrina and Eve (the name she gives her double) find themselves fleeing the US Government, the CIA, and the Japanese – all of whom want Sabrina out of the way, and Eve for themselves.

The Living Image by P. M. Richter is a thriller with a decided twist. Gritty dialogue and crisp action scenes will keep you flipping pages as you cheer Sabrina and Eve on in their headlong flight from danger. I received a free copy of The Living Image for review, and thoroughly enjoyed its blend of fear, humor, and emotion. The perfect book to curl up in front of a fire with. An easy four-star rating for Richter.

Latest Buffalo Soldier Novel Free For Kindle April 22 – 26!

Get the latest in the Buffalo Soldier series, Battle at Dead Man’s Gulch, free for your Kindle or Kindle app, April 22 – 26.

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http://www.amazon.com/Buffalo-Soldier-Battle-Dead-Gulch-ebook/dp/B00J8GEX3C/

First Sergeant Ben Carter and his detachment are dispatched to the western part of New Mexico Territory to track down a band of renegade Apache who have bolted the reservation. After days on the renegades’ trail, they’ve come up dry, until they encounter them in the mountains south of Santa Fe. After a brief skirmish, the renegades elude Ben once again. Hot on their tail, Ben and his men are faced with life and death decisions – they discover a grisly scene indicating that the Apache are not the only deadly perils awaiting them in the shadow of the mountain. 
Nor are they only ones in danger. At Dead Man’s Gulch, they come upon a small detachment of the Sixth Cavalry, a white unit stationed in Arizona Territory that has been chasing its own band of renegades, only to find itself trapped and in danger of being annihilated until the Buffalo Soldiers of the Ninth Cavalry come to their rescue.
Ride along with the Buffalo Soldiers as they face death, danger and discrimination on the western frontier.

Review of ‘The Perfect Game’

Kyle Vine is about to make the biggest mistake of his life. A professor, he is about to secretly meet one of his students, a girl not much older than his daughter. Before he can take that fatal step that could mean the end of his teaching career, however, something happens that threatens even more – his life. The young girl, Allie Shelton, suddenly collapses. Kyle sees a strange man in the vicinity, but doesn’t immediately connect him with the incident.

The Perfect Game by Stephen Paul is a mystery with a touch of the supernatural that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the last. I received a free copy of The Perfect Game for review, and am not at all hesitant to admit that it’s one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a while. Paul skillfully combines razor-sharp dialogue with chilling narrative to keep the reader guessing as he unfolds more twists, turns, and folds than an origami sculpture.

Paul’s pacing is superb, as he dangles clues, makes you think you’re on to something, and then yanks the rug out from under your feet – only to set you back on the clue trail with a vengeance. The Perfect Game is just about that – nearly perfect. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Doppelganger’s Dance’

The Doppelganger’s Dance by Libi Astaire, a free copy of which I received for review, is the second Ezra Melamed mystery I’ve read. Astaire writes in a style that was common in English cozy mysteries in the late nineteenth, a style that is very appropriate for her characters and setting – London’s Jewish community in the early 1800s.

Ezra Melamed, a wealthy Jew in London, is more than just the head of the Jewish community – he is also something of a philanthropist and amateur private detective. The main – and most interesting – character, though, in this story is the narrator Rebecca Lyon, daughter of the community clockmaker, who is at the center of every significant event.

When Rebecca’s father is asked by Melamed to go to Leeds to escort the widow Salomon back to London, Rebecca goes along, and they find themselves, as is the norm in this series, in the middle of strange and sometimes threatening events.

Astaire’s descriptions paint a picture of society as it must have been during the early 1800s, and her dialogue just sounds credible. If you’re a fan of cozies, I can strongly recommend The Doppelganger’s Dance. If you’ve not read one before, this is probably a good place to start.

Review of ‘Lucky Dogs’

If you like mysteries, you’ll like Lucky Dogs by Jason Krumbine. If you like science fiction, you’ll like Lucky Dogs by Jason Krumbine. Lucky Dogs is both, with a healthy dollop of humor thrown in for good measure.

Alex Cheradon, a 30-year-old private detective with a strange crew of associates, is now working out of Las Vegas. When he’s asked by Peter Perkins to help when a con man scams Perkins out of a priceless family heirloom, Alex and crew have to fight not only gangsters but werewolves, et al.

Krumbine puts more fun, action, and mayhem in a short novel than you’re likely to find in longer works, and he leaves you panting for more. Great dialogue, detailed descriptions, and non-stop giddiness mark this third volume of the Alex Cheradon series. After you’ve read it, I strongly recommend you rush out and get volumes one and two, and keep an eye out for the next one in the series.

Four stars to Krumbine for Lucky Dogs.

Turning the Page: Author Spotlight – Kimber Leigh Wheaton

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Shadow Fire

Light Chronicles Book 1

 

Kimber Leigh Wheaton

 

YA Fantasy Romance

 

AmazonB&N * Kobo * Smashwords * Goodreads

Blurb

 

Ashlyn – a free-spirited teenager whose peaceful life is shattered when the village elders honor her with a perilous quest to recover a stolen relic.

 

Zane – a jaded mercenary, torn by his undeniable desire for Ashlyn and the dark secret that could make her hate him forever.

Delistaire – a malevolent sorcerer driven by an insatiable lust for power.

All three are bound together by an ancient relic supposedly infused with the power of a Goddess.

Shadow Fire – adventure, passion, secrets, and betrayal

As Ashlyn and Zane race to stay one step ahead of the evil lurking in the shadows, their passions are ignited and their bond strengthens. But will they find the relic before Delistaire? Or has their entire quest been orchestrated from the very beginning by a madman in pursuit of ultimate power?

Each installment of The Light Chronicles is a standalone story.

Praise

“This book contains monsters, magic, majestic creatures, and a evil guy that wants to destroy the world. If you love hot guys…..Zane is all that plus a few tricks up his sleeve. Just read it!” Venture ~Amazon Reviewer

 

“Adventure, magical creatures, fun characters, and romance make this book a perfect read for all ages.” James Luby ~Amazon Reviewer

 

Favorite Quotes

 

The villagers will be awaiting my return, skulking in the shadows, desperate to catch a glimpse of the walking dead girl. ~Ashlyn

 

After all, love conquers nothing but fools. ~Delistaire

 

Perhaps you shouldn’t have chased the poor pirate all over the ship shooting light daggers at him. ~Zane

 

How would you like a tour of this grand vessel, my angelic beauty? I’ll show you my favorite trysting spots. ~Taranis

 

About the Author

Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a YA/NA author with a soft spot for sweet romance and is a member of Romance Writers of America.Author

 

She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs and four cats. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals. Her house is filled with dragons, though she does lament that they are the porcelain, non-flying variety.

 

Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, videogames, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!)

 

Her debut novel, Shadow Fire, is the first book in The Light Chronicles series. Watch for book two, Stolen Moon, a standalone sequel, coming soon.

 

 

Author Links:

http://www.kimberleighwheaton.com

cymberle1@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/Cymberle

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7885752.Kimber_Leigh_Wheaton

https://www.facebook.com/KimberLeighWheaton

http://onceuponayabook.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/onceuponayabook

http://www.pinterest.com/Cymberle/

 

Teasers

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Review of ‘Chasing Mercy’

The summer that Mercy graduated from high school was marred when her family was killed in a tragic auto accident. Then, at their funeral, Mercy sees a mysterious figure in black that no one else can apparently see. Later, she meets her new neighbor, Kit, who does a blog about paranormal phenomena. Together they try to understand what Mercy has seen.

Chasing Mercy by Stacy Claflin is a fast-paced paranormal fantasy that keeps the reader guessing from the first page to the last. Some of the dialogue seems forces and a bit trite, but Claflin does a fairly good job of moving the action along to a surprise ending that will please lovers of the genre.

I reviewed a free advance copy of this book, the first in a planned series. Not at all bad for a first novel. I give it Three Stars.

Review of ‘Death in Sioux Lookout’

Chris Allard is a disgraced social worker who finds himself unemployed in Toronto, so he reluctantly accepts a job in the isolated community of Sioux Lookout. Once there, he finds murder, but more importantly, a lot about himself.

Death in Sioux Lookout, by Richard Schwindt, is the first in a trilogy that was first published twenty years ago. Schwindt has a keen eye for detail and fully develops his characters and their locale. While there is probably more development of minor characters than is absolutely necessary, and the book has a few distracting typos, it is nonetheless an interesting read. He knows how to keep the reader guessing until the very end – not as satisfying unfortunately as I was led by the first half of the book to expect, but not a deal breaker.

I received a free review copy of the book, and despite the few glitches mentioned above found it a credibly written mystery. I gave it three stars, but if I could, I’d add another half star for a fairly well done tale.

Interview with Author DV Berkom

DV Berkom is the creator of the Leine Basso and Kate Jones thriller/mystery series. Here she talks about her writing career.

 

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  1. How did you get started writing?

I’ve written short stories since I was a kid: the earliest one I can remember was an illustrated tome on the joys of housework when I was seven (yes, I was into satire even then J). It wasn’t until 2005-6 that I tried to write a full-length novel. “Tried” is the operative word here. I finished it, thought it was great, and sent it out to publishers and agents, gathering a bunch of form rejections. Once I got over my disappointment I decided to try again. And again. I learned how much I didn’t know by writing and re-writing, attending workshops and classes, etc. The one thing that became clear to me was that I had a LOT of work to do before I could even consider submitting. I’m still learning, which is one of the many things I enjoy about being a writer.

 

 

  1. What motivates you?

Money. (LOL. Just kidding. Publishing is so not the business to be in if that’s what motivates you J) In all seriousness, my main motivation is to entertain readers. I want them to finish one of my books and immediately want to read more. I want them to feel as though they lived the story with the characters and were able to escape into another world for at least a while. That’s what I like to have happen when I read a novel. I’m always so grateful when a reader lets me know how much they enjoyed my books.

 

 

  1. What is your favorite genre, and why?

Crime and suspense. I’m fascinated by what makes people do the things they do, especially when it’s outside the norms of polite society. But I also need fast-paced action and minimal description in what I read and write, or I’ll get distracted. I LOVE to write action scenes—probably because I love to read them, and I really enjoy writing dialogue—both elements that move the story along at a good pace. That’s not to say I don’t read slower-paced books—I do—but my absolute favorite genre is suspense.

 

 

  1. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Everywhere! News stories are particular catalysts for my overactive imagination, as are vivid dreams, but a snippet of a conversation, or someone on the street, or an online article, are enough to get the hamsters in my brain running…For instance, Bad Spirits and the Kate Jones Thriller series came out of news reports about the escalating violence in Mexico due to the rise of the drug cartels. Yucatan Dead was in response to the homegrown militias forming there. Serial Date was the result of a vivid and seriously freaky dream I had. And Bad Traffick was inspired by a documentary on child trafficking. A One Way Ticket to Dead, the latest Kate Jones novel, has some news references, but it grew in a more organic way from what had happened in the rest of the series.

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  1. What are you currently working on?

I’m currently writing the third in the Leine Basso thriller series. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Leine’s head, and it’s been interesting getting into her character again. I re-read both Serial Date and Bad Traffick to refresh my memory and to help me get back into that specific voice. It’s also a point of view shift for me, as the Kate Jones books are all first person and Leine Basso’s books are all in third. Both POVs have their challenges, and both have their strengths. I especially like to be able to tell the story from another character’s POV. There’s a little more freedom than with first person.

 

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I’ve also been working on the audio versions of Cruising for Death and Bad Traffick. Cruising for Death has recently been made available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes, and I expect Bad Traffick to be in a couple of weeks. Serial Date and the Kate Jones Thriller Series (Vol. 1) are already available in that format. Both narrators are fantastic, and both ‘got’ the characters. I can’t really ask for more than that!

 

 

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years, regarding your writing?

Good question. I hope to have several more books completed, with a solid reader base for both existing series. I also expect to start another series in the near future. Beyond that, I have no idea. As long as I’m still writing and people are still reading my work, I’ll be one happy author.

 

 

  1. Anything you’d like to say to my readers about writing?

The only thing I’m certain of in this business is if you want to be a writer, or if you want to continue to be a writer, then write. That’s it. Keep writing, keep learning the craft. Learn from your mistakes, and for heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to make them, either. One more thing: keep the faith. Because I can guarantee you will wonder at times why the heck you’re writing and possibly even consider giving up. Don’t. Take a break, come back to it when you’re ready. But Don’t. Give. Up.

 

 

 

Social Media & Buy Links:

 

Website: http://www.dvberkom.com

Blog: http://www.dvberkom.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page:

US: http://amzn.to/oMUb1Z

UK: http://amzn.to/pBwClD

iBooks Artist Page: http://bit.ly/PN01XJ

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/dvberkom

#IWSG: Engaging all a Reader’s Senses

InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’s another first Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Insecure Writer Support Group post. Hope this bit on engaging readers’ senses will help all you up and coming scribes out there.

 

PUT YOUR READER FULLY IN THE PICTURE

If you want readers to identify with – and hopefully love – what you write, you have to engage them in the story. This of course means having characters with whom readers can identify and snappy dialogue that moves the story along. Another element of the story, though, that should not be overlooked is the setting. Giving readers a good sense of time and place puts the characters and their witty dialogue in a frame that will help with a reader’s effort to become a part of the story. Every tale takes place somewhere, and how you describe that ‘somewhere’ is important.

Setting can be described in detail – as some authors do – or sketchily. I tend to the latter. Which road you take is up to you, but if you engage all the reader’s senses, she’ll go along for the ride.

Sight

A room, a house, a town, whatever; what does it look like? Is it neat or messy? Gloomy or well-lit? You can use visual descriptions of the setting to help set the mood for your story, or even foreshadow events in the story. By letting your character(s) react to what the scene looks like, you can use it to give the reader clues to them as well.

Sound

Do the floorboards creak? What about the sound of wood settling in the cool of the evening air? The sounds of traffic or birds singing? You don’t need to go into excessive detail. A few words about the sounds in a particular setting tell the reader where they are.

Touch

This sense is often overlooked in describing settings, but used properly it can do a lot to help establish the setting in a reader’s mind. The smooth hardness of a metal door knob or the silkiness of a linen bedspread can evoke memories for some readers – or, more importantly, for your character as he or she navigates the setting.

Smell

Think back to your childhood. Remember the smell of bacon frying early in the morning, the pungent, sweet smell of the trees in a pine forest? How about the dusty smell of a closet, or the talcum that your favorite aunt sprinkled on her ample bosom?  Everything has an odor, and describing a few of the main smells of a place will help to make it unique.

Taste

You probably think this is reaching, but think again. Think about how your mother’s cooking tasted as compared to the same dish at the local greasy spoon.  How does your food taste when you’re angry or upset? I’ll wager not the same as when you’re happy. While description of taste is character-specific, when done in conjunction with a particular setting it can be extremely effective in establishing mood or motivation.

If you want to see how setting is used effectively in fiction, check out the works of some of the masters.  George Orwell in 1984, for instance, opened with “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  Another excellent example of describing setting is from William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury, “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.” As a final example, here is Sinclair Lewis in Babbitt, “The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

The streets of a city have a life of their own. This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is Street Life. I spend a lot of time documenting the highways and byways that I encounter. Choosing one that shows the week’s theme was a challenge, but I hope this strikes a chord for viewers as much as it did for me when I took it. This couple biking on a Copenhagen street in December says a lot about the city, and its people to me. The man with his challenging smile, and the woman giving him that look that wives tend to give husbands who go all macho on them, says it all.

 

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Unintended Consequences

The Djinn, Shabaz, sat in front of the cave entrance, playing a song on his flute made of whalebone. The song was sad – oh so very sad. But then, Shabaz was sad, so what other song would one expect him to play.

A social creature by nature, Shabaz had been self-exiled in the Dismal Mountains for a long time – cut off from other creatures, especially the humans, who were so droll and funny. He had doomed himself to live the life of a hermit for all eternity. And, eternity is a long time for a creature like Shabaz who can never die unless someone wishes it for him; and with no one around to make three wishes that was extremely unlikely to happen.

Now, you’re probably asking why a creature so fond of companionship would chose to transport himself away from contact with others. The tale of that fateful decision is brief, simple, and yet – tragic. Shabaz, a supernatural creature; superior in every way to all other creatures – or so he told himself and anyone else who would listen – had made a mistake. Not just a simple mistake either. He had made the worst mistake a djinn could make. He’d fallen in love with a mortal.

That mortal was Kali. Kali was not a princess. Nor was she the daughter of a rich merchant. Kali was an orphan. A serving girl in the palace of Sultan Origami. Not the most beautiful of the sultan’s serving wenches, she had never come to his notice. Shabaz had been in the sultan’s employ for a fortnight, while that portly worthy mentally wrestled with his third and final wish for Shabaz to grant, when Shabaz’s eyes fell upon the shy wraith of a girl lurking in the shadowy corner of the palace. A being who had lived more years than he could remember, he’d never noticed the human women before. Now, though, he could not tear his eyes away from this small figure. He drank in every detail. Her slender, oval face, the color of rich tea filled with milk and honey; long, lustrous black hair that hung down to the small of her back; the gentle curve of her waist; her dark eyes, like two inky pools into which he felt he would fall and drown. He could not take his eyes off her.

At first, Sultan Origami did not notice. But, Shabaz could not hide his distraction forever.

“What ails thee, djinn?” the sultan demanded.

“It is naught, sire,” Shabaz replied. “I fear I have a touch of indigestion.”

Shabaz felt a twinge at the base of his skull. It was forbidden for a djinn to lie, but if the sultan knew what was truly on his mind, it would not go well for the young serving maid who was the object of Shabaz’s attention.

“How can that be, djinn? I thought creatures such as thee had no need of sustenance.”

“Ah, your majesty,” Shabaz said. “Perhaps it is a headache, for I did not sleep well last night.”

“But, djinn,” the sultan said. “It is said that those of your kind do not sleep, nor are you prey to the ails that befall we mere mortals. What truly troubles thee, djinn?”

Now, Shabaz was in a pickle. His existence revolved around the number three in more ways than one. Not only was he required to grant three wishes to whomever rubbed the lantern to set him free, but if he transgressed the djinn code three times, he would be exiled into the Place of Darkness to loiter forever in a realm lacking sight, smell, or sound – the djinn version of hell. The only thing in that place, other than the djinn condemned to linger there, was the Hound of Darkness – a creature that made no sound, but who lurked near the condemned, and breathed its fiery breath upon their skin constantly. Shabaz shivered at the thought.

But, the sultan had asked him a question. He must answer, but he could not answer. What was he to do? Shabaz had never fallen in love before, but the moment he layed his eyes upon Kali, he was smitten; his heart beat faster, his palms became sweaty, and his mouth was as dry as the great desert. Now, he knew the meaning of the word ‘lovesick,’ for he felt as if he would shrivel up and be blown away by the next breeze. The sultan, though, was jealous of his possessions, and Kali, like the other serving wenches, was such. If he knew that Shabaz has set his eyes upon her, he would destroy her rather than allow such a thing. That, Shabaz could not allow. At the same time, he could not tell the fat monarch a lie – that third lie would cause Shabaz to vanish in a puff of smoke, to be immediately transported to – he couldn’t even think of the name without shivers running up and down his spine.

What to do, oh what to do? For all his powers, Shabaz had never been a great thinker. But then, he’d never really had to think before. He was a grantor of wishes, and the mortals he had encountered in his long existence hadn’t been the brightest bulbs in the onion patch – so, he’d never been tested overmuch. A bag of gold here, a harem of beautiful girls there – nothing he couldn’t handle with a simple snap of his fingers. The biggest challenge had been pushing the often dimwitted types who would rub a rusty lantern out of curiosity in the first place to get on with making the three wishes so that Shabaz could go about enjoying his respite from the confines of his lantern. Each time he was freed, and granted the three wishes, he was given a year of freedom in the mortal world – a year he took full advantage of. Rather than answer the sultan, he snapped his fingers, transporting himself to the mountain.

Now, he wondered what would come next.

Review of ‘Connor’

Sasha Esquibel, aka Connor, is a fifteen-year-old high school student with a secret. Not your usual teen secret – Connor has a special power. And, she is not alone. There are others like her. Some are her friends and allies, and some her mortal enemies. As if this is not challenging enough, she is blessed with boringly normal parents (who are not her actual parents), a popular older sister, and a bratty little brother.

Dormaine G’s Connor is a science fiction story for young adult readers that is really two books in one. The first part introduces us to Connor as she discovers her special power, while the second part takes us on her adventure to survive this discovery. Interesting descriptions that show the problems that teenagers have to live with, and a pretty good ear for dialogue mark this as a good read. I would call it a great read but for the too abrupt transition from part one to part two, and the introduction of so many new characters in the second half without any hints early on of their impending arrivals.

Okay, I’ve pointed out what I think is a flaw in what is otherwise a truly entertaining story with more twists than the roller coaster at Coney Island. The author does a good job of switching between humor and horror (well, not exactly horror, but some pretty dark and dangerous stuff). Calls to mind my own teen years.

This book, I believe, foreshadows Dormaine G’s potential as a writer of paranormal and sci-fi for young adults, so keep an eye out for the next offering.

Review of ’2039′

In 2014, the United States is perhaps at a crossroads. Extreme partisanship has created what amounts to gridlock in Washington, DC, and the fallout of paranoia from 9/11 continues to threaten our personal liberties. What, you might ask, will the country look like in another quarter century? In 2039, industrialist turned author Martin Shapiro extrapolates the future based on what is happening now.

The story of Jonathan and Ida Kadish, well-to-do Jewish citizens of a United States that has become what amounts to a police state, where personal liberty is a thing of the past, and every aspect of a citizen’s life is controlled by an impersonal, uncaring state bureaucracy. Shapiro paints a dismal picture of a possible future in a gripping story of one family’s desire to live life on their own terms. One doesn’t have to agree with Shapiro to enjoy this story, which is replete with details – many eerily similar to, or projections of, current trends.

A compelling tale of what could happen if you fall into the category of the type of person who ‘wonders what’s happening.’

Four Stars to Shapiro for a work of dystopian fiction that sets a high bar for alternate future novels.

Review of ‘Line of Succession: The Price of Power’

Line of Succession: The Price of Power by Michael Vandor is the story of power and politics in Washington, DC, and the toll they inflict on those who play in the game. Vandor writes from an insider’s perspective; as a former congressional aide, he knows first-hand how power can corrupt.

When Congresswoman Kathleen Canfield is selected by the president to be his running mate for re-election in the wake of a scandal involving his first VP, she finds herself neck deep in intrigue and machinations that threaten to not only ruin her family, but could cost her life.

The story line is compelling, and Vandor describes the behind-the-scenes working of power politics with laser-like precision. He takes us inside the minds of the players and places them in settings that are all too real for anyone who has worked in Washington.

I received a free review copy of Vandor’s first effort, and I look forward to his future offerings.

Review of ‘Loreen on the Lam’

I’d pretty much thought the down-home southern story had been done to a fare the well, until I received a free review copy of Marietena Zuniga’s Loreen on the Lam.

Loreen Thigpen, a 41-year-old convict escapes from a women’s prison in Houston, Texas and steals a country music star’s tour bus to get back to Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee to see her mother who is dying of cancer. On the way, she encounters Tilly Davis who is running away from her abusive cop husband; Buffington Splatt, a deaf Bible salesman who is more than he appears to be; and Sister Sarah, a nun with a history. While this is a mystery, with enough violence and suspense to keep you reading, guessing, and wanting more, it is also first-rate humor, with laughs on almost every page.

Zuniga has a master ear for the southern dialect without resorting to strange spelling or overuse of punctuation marks. You can hear her characters speaking as if they were sitting next to you. But, it’s not just their speech that makes them credible – she nails mannerisms with Annie Oakley accuracy.

Hop aboard the tour bus for the ride of your life.

Four Stars to Marietena Zuniga!