Month: September 2015

Review of ‘Rise of the Jinn’

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Fleeing from the Taliban, a young Afghani girl finds a strange lantern. Rubbing it, she frees a Jinn who grants her three wishes. Her third wish, that everyone on earth, at the age of 17, be granted three wishes, unleashes the Jinn upon the world with disastrous consequences.

Clover Grimwood, a chubby girl with red hair and freckles, and a beautiful but selfish step-sister, learns on her step-sister’s seventeenth birthday just how much of a disaster the presence of the Jinn can be. When Razul, the top dog in the Jinn hierarchy shows up to grant the birthday wishes, he turns Clover’s world inside out.

I received a free copy of William Turnage’s Rise of the Jinn in exchange for my review. Though aimed at a YA audience, this is a book that can be enjoyed by anyone who likes fantasy, adventure, and humor, because, despite the deadly seriousness of the subject, and the events depicted in the book, it is also quite hilarious in places. The author does a fantastic job of showing teen angst and immaturity cheek by jowl with the perfidy of a race of beings determined to bring humanity down a few pegs.

Be warned, the next time you find a tarnished old lamp, think twice before you rub it. I give it four stars.

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Review of ‘Seconds to Disaster’

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If you fly frequently, Seconds to Disaster by Glenn Meade and Ray Ronan is a must-read book. Beginning with the tragedy of Air France flight 447, which plunged into the Atlantic on a flight from Rio to Paris, the authors detail how a combination of bad luck, bad decision, insufficient training, poor regulation, and pursuit of profits at the expense of safety puts thousands of lives at risk, and how they have contributed to the death or injury of an uncounted number of airline passengers. I say uncounted here because the authors point out that injury to infants who are not ticketed, but flying in an adult’s lap are not counted.

After reading this well-documented account of the worldwide airline industry, you’ll probably be afraid to ever fly again. Fortunately, the authors have included advice on how to increase your safety when flying, although, they’re the first to admit—accidents will always happen, and unless something is done to bring airlines under more effective control there will be more rather than less.

This book reads like a suspense novel, unfortunately, it happens to be true. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Cargo’

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Former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in an attempt to rescue the daughter of a friend who has been taken by human trafficker Victor Wang. Leine is betrayed and falls into Wang’s clutches herself. Stuffed into a container on a ship bound for Africa, Leine encounters Derek, a poacher who has also run afoul of Wang, and is being taken to slavery or death himself. If Leine is to survive and rescue the kidnapped girl, she will have to form a partnership with a man who represents the very evils she is determined to fight.

Cargo is another Leine Basso thriller by author D.V. Berkom, and it has all the elements of past books in this series, with the added dimension of human and animal trafficking. You’ll be literally on the edge of your seat as Leine and Derek face not just Wang and the triad, but a murderous band of local guerillas who put no value on human life. If you’ve enjoyed Leine’s adventures in the past, you’ll absolutely love this one. Berkom shows her amazing skill as an adventure writer in this book. Don’t miss it! I only have one criticism. Leine is supposed to know how to speak Thai, but in an encounter in Bangkok, she says, sawadi kap, which is wrong, A gender-based language, women say, sawadi ka. Other than that one little cultural/linguistic slip, though, I have nothing but praise for this book.

I received a free copy of Cargo in exchange for my review. I forgive the one linguistic gaffe and give this book a resounding five stars!

Review of ‘The Devil Will Come’

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Exploring Rome’s ancient catacombs, archaeologist Elisabetta Celestino discovers a strange pattern of astrological symbols that seem to point to a previously unknown pre-Christian sect. The Vatican, however, refuses to support her research. Ten years later, when a cave-in damages a vault that Elixabetta was exploring, events come to light that could challenge long-held religious beliefs, and she is called back to continue her research.

The Devil Will Come by Glenn Cooper is a chilling suspense novel that spans events from 1st-century Rome to the present day in Europe, taking the reader on a whirlwind ride of intrigue and suspense. An extremely well-written book with only one fault; the author does a lot of scene switching without warning that can, at first, be jarring, but in the end seems to work.

Despite the scene switching, though, this was a hard book to put down. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘7 Days Juicing Weight Loss, Detox and Cleanse: Discover How to Improve Your Health with 7 Day Juice Fast Diet, Detox and Cleanse Recipes Program’

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7 Days Juicing Weight Loss, Detox and Cleanse: Discover How to Improve Your Health with 7 Day Juice Fast Diet, Detox and Cleanse Recipes Program

I approached John Miller’s 7 Days Juicing Weight Loss, Detox and Cleanse with the same degree of skepticism I have for most books that promise fantastic results in a short period of time. Miller’s book introduces juice as a way to jump start your metabolism, flush toxins from your system, and lose weight.

Written in simple, easy to understand language, it does offer some pretty good recipes for making fruit and vegetable juices. It should, however, be viewed carefully and its advice followed with caution. For one thing, it suggests removing the fiber from fruits and vegetables which takes away one of the essential elements for regularity and colon health. He offers some alternatives to this, but they’re not as effective as natural fiber found in many fruits and vegetables. Another recommendation is to buy all organic items, which is healthier, I suppose, but depending upon where you live, could be quite expensive.

Some really good ideas in this small book, but I can’t really recommend that a reader jump in and adopt the whole thing—at least not before consulting your physician. Maybe some of these recipes to replace lunch or supper would achieve the results, maybe in a longer time, but more safely.

A well-written book, but given the topic and my misgivings I give it three stars, with a caution, ‘Buyer Beware!’

Review of ‘Moon Signs’

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Kathleen Williamson wants a quiet retirement, but her older sister, Andrea Flinn, wants excitement. They are in Canaan Valley looking for old paintings, but Andrea is looking for a killer.

For an exciting bit of mystery fiction, nothing beats Moon Signs by Helen Haught Fannick. A fantastic bit of writing, with interesting, fully-formed characters in a quaint setting so real you can smell the magnolia blossoms. As the two sisters prowl their grandparents’ old hotel, they find more mysteries than the missing paintings. This is a book you don’t want to miss.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Dark Web’

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When a family is torn apart by the inexplicable death of their son, and the discovery that he has been connected with players in a dark online world, Detective John Swift is called in to investigate. Swift finds more than he bargained for as he is immersed deeper and deeper in the Deep Web, a shadowy region of the Internet where unimaginable dangers lurk.

Dark Web by T. J. Brearton is a first-rate thriller that explores the heights of spine tingling suspense and the depths of dark human despair. The author includes just enough technical detail to keep the reader in the loop without data dumps, spending most of the story exploring the journeys the characters take as Swift races against time to untangle a web of real and virtual crimes.

Don’t start this book if you don’t have enough time to finish it in one sitting. I promise you, once you start, you won’t be able to put it down. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Unallocated Space’

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When someone hacked into the electronic gaming machines of SPACE, the largest casino in the world, eccentric digital forensics expert Sam Platt was hired to find the hacker and put a stop to it. Once he starts working, though, Sam finds an even darker, and deadlier, secret beneath the complex and no one seems to want to put a stop to it. Sam’s sense of justice forces him to soldier on, though, and when Ukrainian mobsters kidnap his daughter in an effort to force him to stop, it becomes personal. They soon learn that Sam Platt is not someone you want to have angry at you.

Unallocated Space by Jerry Hatchett is the first book in the Sam Platt thriller series, and it’s filled with enough explicit action scenes to satisfy the most hard-core thriller fan. This is not a book for the faint hearted. The violence is graphic and explicit, the language is raw and uncensored, and the sex is no-holds barred. Hatchett writes with an authority and deft hand that surely ranks him up there with the best writers of this genre. This is definitely an author to watch. Five stars, Hatchett and keep up the good work!

Review of ‘The Blue Zones Solution: by Dan Buettner | Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People’

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Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones Solution is an expansion of research into regions of the world where people live a hundred years or more, the so-called Blue Zones.

Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review of Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones Solution by Eureka Books is a fulsome analysis and review of the book with a critique not only of the book itself but the author’s writing style. This in depth analysis goes into some detail on each of the book’s main theses, pointing out the lack of solid science to back up the author’s claims, and the often contradictory stands he takes in different places in the book.

The analysis of the section on how to create Blue Zones is the most valuable thing about the Eureka book because it points out, perhaps even better than the author does in his full work, the challenges faced in the modern world by people who want to reintroduce a pre-industrial life style in an area that is dependent on technology—especially the automobile.

It would have been helpful if this book had contained a few more resources or references a reader could use to further evaluate Buettner’s book, but despite that lack, it provides a solid basis for deciding whether reading the whole work is worth the effort. This is the next best thing to reading the book itself.  I give it four stars!

Review of ‘Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review of Plunder and Deceit by Mark R. Levin’

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Key Takeaway, Analysis & Review of Mark R. Levin’s Plunder and Deceit by Instaread is about what Levin calls a threat to American democracy by an executive branch run amok.

While the book makes a really simple grammatical error when it uses the term ‘the United State’s, it is nonetheless a comprehensive review of the book. It goes into some detail on the author’s views that the problems in the country are almost solely the fault of an executive branch that has usurped too much power, spent too much on social programs, which has caused an $18 billion national debt, and rendered the congress ineffective. While the author heaps praise on Ronald Reagan, he puts most of the blame on the Obama Administration, betraying his obvious bias.

Without being judgmental, this review clearly shows the one-sided nature of Levin’s arguments. It would, though, have been an even better analysis if it has pointed out the weakness and bias of his arguments. For instance, the review fails to point out the role that congress plays in expenditures, congressional reluctance to touch social programs, the percentage of the national debt that should be attributed to often out-of-control defense spending, etc.

This is an analysis that would have definitely benefitted from more references or resources, not just the two that were included. And, more should have been said about the clearly partisan slant of Levin’s book. In fairness, his association with previous Republican administrations were pointed out.

On the whole, it wasn’t a bad review, it just didn’t go far enough. It did, however, warn me off Levin’s book, so I’m thankful for that. I give this book three stars.

Review of ‘Daring Greatly by Brene Brown: Key Takeaways, Review & Analysis’

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Daring Greatly by Brene Brown: Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review an Instaread summary of Brown’s book is a most useful introduction. It looks closely at Brown’s thesis that being vulnerable is not a negative but a positive condition that people should learn to take advantage of. The review of the author’s style, points out that she uses her professional authority, personal anecdotes, and an informal writing style to effectively get her points across to lay readers.

Like other Instaread summaries, this is an unofficial, independent review, making it a trustworthy guide to the work being reviewed. In fact, this is such a thorough analysis, one can get most of Brown’s points without ever reading her book—of course, after reading the review, I would recommend it.

One of the best Instaread books yet. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘A Dream Unfolding’

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Hannah Anderson is married to the man of her dreams. When her husband’s brother gets in trouble with the law, the town turns against them, and they decided to move to Arizona Territory. The way is difficult, and enroute, her husband is killed in an avalanche, leaving Hannah to fend for herself.

When Will Colter’s father dies, leaving his Texas ranch to Will’s older brother, Will decides to take his cattle and move to Arizona to start a new life.

The two paths cross as they face the many trials and tribulations of life on the new frontier.

A Dream Unfolding by Karen Baney is a moving story of two people who through strong faith find their way through life’s perils, and in the process find each other.

A fairly interesting novel, it is often hard to tell which character’s point of view the author is writing, and there is an overuse of characters’ names which is frankly a bit distracting. It’s also a bit too wordy in places, providing information and details that add little or nothing to the story itself.

The author shows talent, and with more experience will be turning out some top-flight work. This one, though, is not quite there yet. I give it three stars.

Review of ‘Witch Hunt’

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After a decade of marriage, Leigh Hawthorne learns that she has married into a family of witches. When a firebrand, Preacher Cody, starts a global witch hunt, Leigh is forced to take sides – she must choose between her family, or running for her life.

When Leigh decides to stand by her family, witches and all, the battle is well and truly joined.

Witch Hunt, book 1 in the Witch Hunt series by Devin O’Branagan, is a chilling look at what can happen when people’s emotions are manipulated by external forces. The author paints a frightening portrait that could very well be of some of our current-day politicians in Preacher Cody. A book that is part paranormal, part political thriller, Witch Hunt will cause your blood to run hot and cold by turns as the author takes you on a journey that you’ll not soon forget.

I give it five stars!

Review of ‘Desolation: Stories’

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Ken Broskey’s Desolation Stories is a fantastic collection of horror, fantasy, and science fiction short stories, each a bit further out than the one before. The 19 stories in this collection are definitely not for the faint of heart or those with sensitive dispositions, for they contain graphic violence and profanity.

Broskey is a master of the short form of fiction, starting each story on an eerie note, building to a crescendo, and bringing the reader down for a bumpy landing. This is a collection of stories that lovers of the various genres will appreciate. Spot-on dialogue, believable characters, and credible environments that seem as real as the world we think we inhabit today.

Don’t miss this book. Five stars for a master craftsman.

Review of ‘Keith Ramsbottom: The Emperor Strikes Back’

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In AD 60, Britain is occupied by the Romans. In the little village of Effluvium, Keith Ramsbottom, erstwhile leader of SORE, Scourge of the Roman Empire, along with his hapless friend, Horace, and the slave girl, Pulchitrude, is determined to eject the hated Romans.

In Keith Ramsbottom: The Emperor Strikes Back, by Scott Pixello, Keith and Horace must learn to be gladiators to save Pulchitrude from a forced marriage to Simon Cowellius, an envoy sent from Rome to check up on Paulinius, the governor of Effluvium. To make matters worse for everyone, the rebel princess Boudicca is still giving the Roman legions fits, and Paulinius’ wife has decided to pay a visit to Britain.

If all this sounds like a mouthful, trust me, it is. In this second book, or episode as the author calls it, in the Keith Ramsbottom series, he once again weaves modern cultural references (did you notice Simon Cowellius?) and language together with ancient history to create a story that is rib tickling funny. There were a few annoying typos throughout the book, but not so many that they detracted one iota from the funniness. I will, though, be forced to lower my rating until Keith expunges those dreaded typoliums from the arena.

Sorry, only four stars for this one.

Review of ‘Girl Fights Back’

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Emily Kane is an unassuming high school student, and a rather colorless martial arts expert, more comfortable with the boys in the dojo who are her only friends.  When a trained assassin attacks her during a college visit, she learns that her family has secrets that pose danger to everyone she cares about. When her father and uncle are killed, she decides to fight back. Using her martial arts skills she discovers that she has an amazing talent for violence, and that there’s a military experiment gone missing that poses a danger to everyone, and she’s not sure which bothers her more.

Girl Fights Back by Jacques Antoine is the first in the Emily Kane Adventure series. It introduces Emily and her family secret, and in a series of well-crafted scenes takes the reader through Emily’s discovery of her fighting skills and the lengths to which governments will go to protect—or obtain—deadly secrets. Pithy dialogue and expertly written fight scenes showcase the author’s skill and keep the reader guessing from start to finish.

An adventure that will be enjoyed by readers from teens to wish-they-were-still-teens. An enjoyable five star read.

Review of ‘The Cypress Trap’

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The past catches up with Owen Meeks while he’s on a fishing trip with his wife, Rayanne. The two of them are trying to cope with the death of their son, Connor, two years previously, but without telling Rayanne, Owen has texted his best friend, Daryl, to join them. Then, they find themselves being stalked by a murderous group of teens who are demanding that Owen return an object he took fifteen years earlier from another friend of his, Grover Lott.

The Cypress Trap by J. D. Gatlin, is a taut thriller that follows them as they fight for their lives, against human attackers and the swamp itself. Between the teen gang, a killer dog, and the alligators, you’re left wondering at times if anyone will be alive at the end of the story.

The author writes with a sure hand as he describes the terrain and its perils, and has created a compelling cast of characters. The killer dog that the teens used initially to attack Owen and Rayanne was reminiscence at first of Cujo, but in the end was one of the most interesting characters. It was interesting how the author deftly wove the paranormal aspects of the rabbit’s foot into the story without making too big a deal of it. The machine-gun pace of language in some parts was a bit jarring, but not overly distracting.

The ending of the book caught me completely by surprise—always a delight when reading books in this genre. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘How to Keep Writing Your Book’

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All writers struggle, and there are hundreds—nay, thousands—of advice books for them. But, How to Keep Writing Your Book by Natasha House is a how-to book for writers with a difference.

Written in a chatty style, often with nonstandard language, House’s book feels like the author is talking to the reader one-on-one. An indie author herself, and still relatively young, House demonstrates a wisdom beyond her years in this book. A nice-to-have addition to any writer’s reference collection.

I give it three and a half stars, and look forward to even more from this young author in the future.

Review of ‘Embryo 4: Catch Me’

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A sniper is killing couples and leaving taunting notes for the NYPD saying, ‘Catch Me.” The killer then focuses on Doctors Jill Raney and David Levine, and their adopted son Jesse, the Miracle Baby.

When the killer shoots a pregnant Iraq war vet, killing her unborn child, the case becomes personal for Jill and David, and they are determined to get him. But, will he get them first?

Embryo 4: Catch Me by J. A. Schneider is a horrific tale of a demented man who kills for sport, and a family determined to end his spree once and for all. The author weaves medical knowledge and in depth trips into the human mind into a thriller that will have your heart pumping until the last page. A first-rate thriller that you won’t be able to put down.

A four-star novel!