Month: July 2015
Review of ‘Slimmer’
Sandy’s new boyfriend, Donald, is constantly on her back about how much she eats. She loves him, so when he gives her pills that he tells her will keep her from gaining weight, she jumps at the chance. Unfortunately for the both, the pills have some unusual side effects.
If you want to know what they are, you’ll just have to read Regina Puckett’s extremely short book, Slimmer. Puckett writes with a deft touch and a wicked sense of humor, and you’ll enjoy this story despite a few typos that intrude in strategic places.
I liked the story, but because of those typos, I give it three and a half stars.
Review of ‘The Last Prophecy’
Everyone is after Ana Martin. The police want her because she’s being framed for a murder she actually did commit, and a government agency is hunting her down because they suspect she just might be more than ‘human.’ When the great grandmother of her friend, Maria, comes to England, it brings Ana even more trouble. Fortunately, she finds a group of fae hunters who are reluctantly willing to help her. But, what is the last prophecy everyone keeps talking about, and just how is Ana involved? The answer to that question could save her life—or save humanity.
Lyneal Jenkins’ fourth book in the Ana Martin series, The Last Prophecy, kept the saga of Ana Martin going, and kicked it up a notch A woman who possesses the power of the Siis, an alien race with superior powers, Ana is being watched by the Siis, some of whom probably want her dead; hunted by the fae, a malevolent bunch who just want blood, and her own government. Jenkins manages to balance a touch of humor among the many spine-tingling episodes that mark one of the best books in the series.
You’ll find yourself sitting forward in your chair, rooting for Ana and her friends as they race to survive. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. The Last Prophecy has not yet been released. I received a free pre-publication copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Oh, and by the way, I give it five stars.
Review of ‘Frozen Flame’
There are many who want Ana dead, and they’re not all exactly human. For starters, there’s her husband, Nathan, a crooked cop put in jail because of her testimony: he’s out now, and looking for her. There’s a force that is hunting the Siis, the race of superior beings who walk among humans. And, there are the Siis themselves: some of them have shown an unhealthy interest in Ana. So, she flees England for the United States to hide with her friend Maria’s family—noted witches—only to land in even more trouble.
The third volume in Lyneal Jenkins story of Ana, Frozen Flame, which I received a free copy of in exchange for my review, was a delight to read. Jenkins manages to keep us interested in Ana’s fate, while ratcheting up the tension and worsening the odds against our heroine in each book. She even manages to insert a bit of humor in the midst of some pretty gruesome—at least, scary—scenes.
This is a series that will keep you reading. I give it four stars and a big thumbs up!
Review of ‘Deadly Crossing’
A phone call interrupts Tom Dugan’s planned evening with his girlfriend, Anna Walsh. Two of his old Russian comrades are seeking his help to find the niece of one who is thought to be the victim of a Russian mob’s human trafficking operation, and has been brought to the UK.
Tom, with help from Anna, who is an agent with MI-5, and his business partner, Alex Kairouz take on the challenge, and quickly find themselves, as well as their family and friends, in the crosshairs of a group for whom nothing is taboo—and hard on the trail of a trafficking operation that spans the globe, from Russia to the UK to the shores of the U.S.
Deadly Crossing by R. E. McDermott is a first-class thriller, with just enough technology to satisfy the geeks who are also fans of the genre, but mostly with a look at the human dimensions of a plague on the world—the trafficking of men, women, and children. McDermott takes the reader into the minds of the perpetrators, those who risk all to bring them down, but more importantly, he lets us see what the victims of the heinous crime feel. Not a book for the squeamish, but one that once you start reading, you’ll be unable to put down.
A solid five star novel!
Review of ‘Malevolent’
When an unidentified dead blonde is found in a Tampa parking lot with a brand on her hand, Tampa police Lieutenant Carl Kane is put on the case. He soon learns that they’re on the trail of a serial killer who is experimenting, and when they finally find a victim who hasn’t died, there’s a message for Kane, and the case becomes intensely personal. This is Malevolent by E. H. Reinhard.
An interesting book—written in two different points of view, first person when we’re in Kane’s head as he tracks the killer, and then in third person when we see the world as the killer sees it. Before reading Malevolent I would have dismissed this technique as gimmicky and probably impossible to effectively pull off. Reinhard surprised me, though—he did it. By the one-quarter mark in the book, I was no longer really noticing point of view—it just seemed natural.
A police procedural, it goes into a bit of detail on how the cops work: normal for the genre, and I assume accurate, having no knowledge of how Tampa PD works, but not so much that those of us who want to focus on clues and red herrings are turned off. It did not disappoint. I give it four stars.
Review of ‘War Against the Mafia’
Several years ago I read several of the books in the Executioner series by the late Don Pendleton, but I’d never had the chance to read the inaugural book until now. War Against the Mafia tells the story of Mack Bolan, a Vietnam War vet—a sniper with more than 95 confirmed kills to his credit—who is sent home on compassionate leave when his father kills his mother and sister (and seriously wounds his younger brother) before killing himself.
When Mack learns that Mafia loan sharks were what drove his father to such desperation, he vows to get revenge. What he starts, though, is an all-out, no-quarter war with the deadly organization.
While this first story doesn’t have the polish of the later books, it is still a riveting read, chocked full of raw emotion, graphic violence, and a few scenes of graphic sex. More importantly, however, is the voyage the reader is taken on inside the mind of a man who willingly decides to go down a path to his own eventual destruction in the never-ending battle of good versus evil.
Each of the books in this series can be read as standalones, books that established a new genre of action novels at the time of publication, but reading this volume helps to put the Executioner in proper perspective.
Like the others in the series, it’s one that once you start you won’t want to stop until the end. While I gladly give five stars to the subsequent books in the series, I give this one four stars – heck, folks, he was just getting started.
Review of ‘Till Death Do Us Part’
When Jim Preston married his wife, Kinley, it was the best day of his life, but then, Kinley became terminally ill. Till Death Do Us Part is a short book (too short even to be called a novelette) by Massimo Marino that will leave you in tears. In a few words, Marino gives us a profound look at love and devotion. It’s a short book, so I won’t write a review that’s longer than the work being reviewed, I’ll just say – READ IT!
I give it four stars.
#Writer Beware – World Class Magazine, pay-to-play alert
A heads up on a real money-making scam, originally posted in Writer Beware:
Review of ‘Into the Fire’
When Jim Benson, head of the Civilian Security Agency (CSA) is killed, it’s left to his second in command, Adam Rede to lead the only thing standing between the people and the notorious Syndicate. But, Rede must also protect Abbey, Jim’s daughter, who becomes a target of the Syndicate, and the only way he can do both jobs is by recruiting Abbey, something he’s loathe to do.
In Into the Fire by F. J. Gale, we follow the tense and dangerous actions of a dedicated band of people who must defeat a merciless enemy. At the same time, they must also fight the enemies within. A gritty story, with graphic violence and strong language that some might find not to their liking, but the author portrays situations in a realistic manner—that’s the way life goes, folks.
Twisting plot lines and murky motivations abound, with enough action to completely satiate action junkies. I give it five stars.
Review of ‘Hacker for Hire’
Ted Higuera is an ace computer tech who is trying to deal with his celebrity after saving a cruise ship from a bunch of terrorists. When the computer security firm he works for is hired to hack the most secure computer system in the world, he finds not only his skills challenged, but his life in danger.
In Hacker for Hire, the second book in the Ted Higuera series, by Pendleton C. Wallace, the author treats us to a rip-roaring ride through the world of corporate greed and computer espionage—with a big dose of bloody mayhem thrown in for good measure. You’ll find yourself sweating as you wonder if Ted can find the bad guys before they find him.
Might have more tech stuff than the non-IT types like reading, but hang in there. It’s worth the wait. I give it four stars because once I got past all the technical stuff, I enjoyed the wackiness of it.
Review of ‘American Terrorist: Where is the Girl?’
As an African-American man, Carl Johnson had been previously hassled by the cops, so he thought he understood racial profiling. But, when the daughter of a high-profile figure is kidnapped and government authorities who have the incident on tape identify Carl as one of the kidnappers, a nightmare begins that he’s afraid he might never awake from.
Carl has the misfortune of being an exact double of a notorious drug dealer who was involved in the kidnapping. Agents from a shadowy counter-terrorism arrest Carl and subject him to eleven days of torture designed to break mind, spirit and body. But, their plans backfire. Although somewhat broken in body, Carl finds within himself a reserve of strength that he never knew he possessed. Then his torturers make a deadly mistake—actually two—they let him go, and then they run an operation that gets his son, Mark, killed.
Now, Carl has two aims in life: the first is to get the people who took everything from him; the second comes later—he will find the missing girl and return her to her family. His initial success in striking back at his tormentors earns him the title, ‘The American Terrorist,’ not a sobriquet that’s a guarantee for a long life.
There are some books that you should never start reading unless you’re sure you have time to finish them. American Terrorist: Where is the Girl? By Jeffrey Poston is one of them. I started this book last night at 9:00 pm, thinking I’d read a couple of hours, put it away, and finish it today. I reached the last sentence at 1:00 am—unaware of the passage of time.
Great writing. Characters come alive, reaching out from the page and smacking you on the kisser. Dialogue is so realistic you can feel the spittle spraying your face as they sputter. And, the descriptions are so vivid, you smell the sweat of fear. Within an expertly crafted adventure/thriller is also a discourse on government over-reach, the arrogance of power, and the dangers of using what our government euphemistically calls ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques – in other words, torture. Not only does it risk damaging the mind and body of the victim, but it serves to dehumanize the one who applies it—and it makes more enemies, at a time when they are definitely not needed.
This was book number one of two, and I’m planning to read two as well. Just one question: will there be a number three? Five Stars!
Review of ‘The Unhappy Medium’
It’s rare to find a thriller that is also funny—often the humor makes the thriller part seem campy, or the thriller part causes the humor to fall flat. The Unhappy Medium by T. J. Brown is, fortunately, that rare combination of a thriller that will chill your blood, while you’re laughing so hard at the funny parts you’re likely to wet your pants. In fact, some of the thriller parts might just have the same impact.
Dr. Newton Barlow is a scientist who also happens to be cool enough to be a TV personality. A rational, believe only what can be proven type, he incurs the envy and wrath of the buttoned-down science establishment. When he lets himself get hooked up with greedy business types, he is finally rejected, and then ejected from real science. Down on his luck, he turns to his mentor Dr. Alex Sixsmith, but unfortunately, that worthy dies before he can make contact. Now, ordinarily, that would be the end of the story, but it isn’t—it’s just getting started. You see, Sixsmith contacts Newton, or at least his ghost does. Hyper-rational Newton has trouble accepting this, but when he finally does, he finds himself hip deep in a battle to rid evil from the world, and keep it penned up in Purgatory until it can be expunged.
This book has some parts that are definitely not for the squeamish. Graphically described acts of violence will cause you to look over your shoulder every time a floor board creaks. But, hang in, because the laughs will also come, and you’ll be glad you toughed it out.
I was disappointed when it ended. Not that the ending wasn’t competently handled; I just wanted to read more of Newton’s adventures, so I’m hoping the author is paying attention and will start on the next one—soon!
Five stars for a great comic thriller!
Review of ‘Reckless’
Mia Kazmaroff has a ‘gift’ that is sometimes a curse—she can tell the story behind any object, person, or animal she touches. When her brother, Dave, a detective with the Atlanta Police Department, is found dead in his condo, Mia knows that it wasn’t from natural causes, but she has no hard evidence to take to the police. Her only hope is to seek the help of her brother’s former partner, Jack Burton. There’s just one problem: Jack is the prime suspect when it turns out that Dave was deliberately administered an overdose of Ecstasy.
Reckless, the first book in the Mia Kazmaroff mystery series by Susan Kiernan-Lewis is a finely written mystery that follows Mia and Jack as they try to determine the identity of the killer before Mia becomes the next victim—and, at the same time, stay out of jail.
The author knows her stuff when it comes to pulling the reader into the story, with enough plot twists to keep you on your toes from page one. The thing that is most endearing about this book, though, is the interpersonal byplay between Mia and Jack as they discover, to the dismay of both, that their feelings for each other go far beyond just trying to find Dave’s killer.
Looking for a mystery that will have you hooked—get this book immediately, turn on some smooth jazz and pour yourself a glass of wine, and prepare to be entertained.
I give it a resounding five stars!
Review of ‘Murder is a Family Business’
Porter Wyler wasn’t a handsome man, but his wife, Yvette suspected he was cheating. So, she hired her best friend, Lila Alvarez, CEO of Discretionary Enquiries, Inc., to follow him and get the dirt on him. The condition, though, was that it be kept in the family, so Lila sends her daughter, Liana ‘Lee’ Alvarez to tail the suspected cheat. Things turn really sour when Wyler is killed, and Lee, because she finds the body, is caught up in the investigation, and is even considered a person of interest.
Murder is a Family Business, the first book in the Alvarez Family mysteries series, follows Lee as she delves into why a nonentity who made Danny DeVito look tall, dark, and handsome would be gunned down near a supposedly abandoned warehouse in San Francisco. Her efforts to solve the case are complicated by the fact that DI is not a gumshoe operation, but a sophisticated computer crime investigation service. Fortunately for Lee she has the help of her computer genius brother, Richard, and the support of a domineering, but loving mother to get her through the rough spots—of which there are many in this taut mystery that is also laced with humor a la Sue Grafton. Lee is no Kinsey Milhone; she comes from money; but, she is just as dogged in her pursuit of the truth, and I think I’ve found a new heroine to moon over.
A book that you’ll find impossible to put down. I would give it five stars (in fact, wanted to), but in all fairness, there were a number of typos and missing words that should have been caught in editing, so I’ll give it four instead, and wait for the next one, which I’m sure will catapult into the five-star firmament..
Review of ‘Homecoming’
Paranormal investigator Finn McCoy is a handler, that is, he is often brought in to ‘handle’ things when others muck them up. For years he has avoided his home town of Shallow Springs because the very things he’s devoted his life to handling are there in large numbers. But, when his nemesis, Sheriff Bob Lyle calls for his help—more than the normal number of people have started disappearing from the sleepy little mining town—he has no choice but to go home again.
With Amanda, the newfound love of his life, Finn goes back to Shallow Springs, where he finds that the Fey have become emboldened, and now, instead of taking the occasional lone wanderer in the woods, are actually threatening the town itself. What Finn finds shocks him to his very core, and unless he prevails, Shallow Springs and all its inhabitants will cease to exist.
Homecoming by Scott Langrel is a paranormal thriller that will . . . thrill and chill you. Langrel masterfully uses the language in a way that will keep you on the edge of your chair, and have you flinching at every sound in the dark. Amazingly drawn characters and nonstop action makes this the perfect book to curl up with—in a brightly lit room.
I’d give it six stars if I could, so I’ll just settle for five!
Review of ‘Stealing Destiny’
I received Stealing Destiny, book 1 in the Immortal Obsession series, by J.D. Selmser, free in exchange for my review. Stealing Destiny is the story of two beings, Damien Douglas, a man who does not believe in God or the afterlife, and Zahir, an angel—both of whom fall in love with Destiny. When Damien dies(?) in an auto crash, Zahir occupies his body and mind and for a time steals Destiny from him. In doing so, though, he becomes mortal. Determined to get his life and his woman back, Damien finds himself caught up in a war between and among immortals and is forced to change his views of many things.
An interesting paranormal novel that touches on the issue of religion, though not with a heavy hand, and in a credible way, as Damien reassesses his views on the nature of religion and God. Also, an effective study of what love and passion can do to anyone—man or angel. Destiny, though she appears seldom, and then only late in the story, is the central character; the one around which all revolves.
Effectively told from alternating points of view, Zahir and Damien, it will keep you reading. At times the relationships and chain of events becomes complicated enough to cause a reader to pause and re-read some passages, but then, it’s a complicated subject, and I think the author handled it well. I’m looking forward to reading book 2 to see what happens to the characters. This book won’t please everyone, in fact, I imagine it displeases many. But, the author has made a good start on what could be an interesting series.
There were quite a few misspellings and missing words–not enough to make it impossible to read, but too many to ignore, so I’m giving it three and a half (or maybe three-quarters) stars.
Review of ‘Eye Spy’
Eye Spy: A Sojourning Souls Story by Kevin J. Hallock is a chilling tale of Stephanie and Christopher Campbell, two survivors of a vicious attack that killed their parents. Christopher (CJ) has become a recluse who is afraid to leave his house except when he sojourns in the bodies of hosts, so he and Steph help their friend, Sheriff Paul Howard solve crimes.
Hallock has written a book that combines the best of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery in a story that will keep readers turning the pages. The characters are compelling and easy to identify with—even sojourner CJ—as we follow their actions and innermost thoughts. Steph is perhaps the character most easy to sympathize, and identify, with. Loyal to her brother, she also has a wild streak that wasn’t completely extinguished by the brutal assault. But, she keeps it in check in deference to CJ and his demons.
The supporting characters are also interesting. From the sheriff who is willing to risk his job in order to support the children of his dead friend to Father Rodney, an investigator for the mysterious VSA, who is determined to find and control all Out of Body Masters (OBMs), we encounter characters that are both bigger than life in some ways (due no doubt to the genre), but who remind us of people we’ve met. The most interesting, and at the same time troubling, character is Cecil, the OBM serial killer who is the main focus of Father Rodney’s search. He is the cardboard villain for most of the book until he encounters CJ on the ferry from Apple Island. Cecil’s attempts to communicate with CJ, and his frustration and anger when CJ is unable to respond make him real at that point. It would have been better if there’d been more of Cecil’s backstory, but the lack of it doesn’t hurt the book.
The plot, really the eventual merging of two parallel stories, is fascinating. On the one hand, there’s the conflict between the Campbells and Doris Morris, the owner of the Apple Island Casino. An effective combination of humor, greed, and mystery actually makes this the most interesting of the two stories. The other story—Father Rodney’s search for Cecil, and Cecil’s deadly flight across the country to Apple Island, is a chilling tale that has some graphic scenes of violence that are not for everyone. The subplot, the actions of the messianic cult and its pedophilic leader, are also graphically disturbing. But, all of this comes together to create a mixed genre story that will keep you reading.
On the mechanical side, this book is extremely well edited and laid out, and the cover signals what the story is about without giving anything away.
I give this book five stars!
Test Cover Design for WIP – Buffalo Soldier: Mob Justice
I’m currently working on a new Buffalo Soldier novel that involves Sergeant Ben Carter and his men getting caught up in the prejudices of a small town in New Mexico Territory, when a man has been falsely accused of murder, and Ben must reconcile his duty of aiding law enforcement when requested with his sense of justice and right. Below is one of the cover designs I’ve come up with. Comments are welcome. Chapters I’ve completed are being posted at http://www.wattpad.com/story/42692455-buffalo-soldier-mob-justice so if you want to see the story behind the proposed cover, pop over and give it a read. Comments on the cover design are also welcomed.
Review of ‘The Dream Jumper’s Promise’
Tina Greene’s husband, Hank, is presumed dead in a surfing accident off Maui, but she is unable to accept the fact, and is haunted by eerie dreams that she can neither understand nor explain. When a former lover, James Dunn, returns to Maui and informs her that he has the special ability to ‘read’ dreams, her already chaotic life takes a dangerous turn.
The Dream Jumper’s Promise by Kim Hornsby is a chilling tale of love, betrayal, and other-worldly happenings that reads like a paranormal mystery. The author paints a vivid picture of what goes on inside the mind during dreams, with a ghost added for good (or bad) measure. In addition to all of her other problems, Tina has to deal with a domineering mother who is willing to go to any lengths to ‘protect’ her only surviving child.
The dream sequences and James’ encounters with Hank’s ghost are masterfully written and heighten the suspense as Tina gets closer and closer to the truth. The resolution of Hank’s death will, I promise, catch you completely by surprise as the author so skillfully weaves characters, living and dead, into a narrative that has all the hallmarks of an outstanding paranormal mystery.
I give this book four stars.