Month: February 2017

Review of ‘The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide to Business Basics’

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The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide to Business Basics by Karen Barnes is an overview of how to successfully run an online business. Like the author’s other Savvy Solopreneur’s guides, this brief book offers practical advice to anyone who wants to operate a business online. While it’s designed primarily for start-ups, it is also useful for the entrepreneur who is already engaged in online selling of goods or services.

As you begin this book, remember that it is just an overview, and while it provides sage advice that can be implemented in your business, to get the most out of it, you should follow the author’s links to more in depth information.

This is a valuable addition to any entrepreneur’s reference collection; a definite value-added tool that you’ll find yourself referring to often as you grow your online business.

I give this outstanding little overview four stars.

Review of ‘Blood Work’

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In 1978, Ted Bundy, one of America’s most vicious serial killers, cut a bloody swath through Florida before he was arrested, convicted, and subsequently executed. Around the same time that Bundy was making his way through Florida toward Alabama, and his date with the executioner, Janet Leigh Lester, had been crowned Miss Valentine in her town pageant and Queen of the high school Sweetheart Dance. On the way to meet her boyfriend, she disappeared, and when her blood-filled car was found, was presumed dead. Prison chaplain John Jordan’s father, Jack, sheriff in a neighboring county was called in to investigate her disappearance because the local sheriff’s son was her boyfriend, and thus, a suspect. Though Jack cleared the boyfriend, and was convinced that Janet was one of Bundy’s victims, decades later, retired and seriously ill, he begins to have second thoughts, and is relentlessly pursuing this coldest of cold cases. Seeking to establish a better relationship; with his often distant father, John agrees to help him investigate.

As the two men begin retracing old leads, they face the unfortunate racial history of this part of Florida, family relationships that are beyond dysfunctional, and a mysterious stranger who is threatening Jack in an effort to get him to drop the investigation.

Blood Work, by award-winning author, Michael Lister, is another chilling and evocative tale in the John Jordan series that will keep you on the edge of your chair from page one. As the two learn more, things come to light that have been kept in the shadows for decades, and finally lead to a conclusion that I will not even hint at in order to avoid spoiling this fascinating book for readers. Suffice it to say, like John, you will be shocked to the core at the ending.

I’ve read several books in this series, and I have to say, this one is the best by far.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘The Wrong Side of Goodbye’

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After being unfairly pushed out of his job at LAPD, Harry Bosch is doing occasional work as a PI and also as an unpaid reservist with the San Fernando Police Department. When one of the richest men in California hires him to find someone who ‘might never have existed,’ the child of his  relationship with a young Mexican cafeteria worker over fifty years ago, Harry has to balance this with his determination to catch the Screen Cutter, a serial rapist who has been terrorizing women in San Fernando.

Deeply involved in both cases, memories from his past come back to haunt him.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly is a fascinating story with what I like to call a parallel plot; two separate crimes with related elements, both of which bedevil the protagonist as he struggles to sort the clues he uncovers into the appropriate basket. The tension and drama in this story is as thick as L.A.’s smog, and it moves in a dogged pace, suitable for a middle-aged detective, until at the end it breaks into a sprint that will leave you winded.

I received this book as a gift. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘A Necessary Kill’

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I want to paint a picture for you. Imagine ‘The Over the Hill Gang,’ The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight,’ ‘Rambo’, and ‘Mission: Impossible;’ not in sequence, but all smashed together. Sound like a crazy picture? Believe me, it is, and it’s just what you get when you read A Necessary Kill by James P. Sumner.

The world has been devastated by nuclear attacks, and everyone has been led to believe that they were the work of terrorists. But, legendary hitman, Adrian Hell, knows the truth. The American president was the mastermind behind this dastardly operation, and Adrian has information that points an accusing finger. Because of this, he’s being hunted by the CIA and FBI, with orders not to apprehend, but to kill.

Adrian, though, is not an easy target, and he’s determined to see the truth come out. His mission is to kill the man responsible for the largest mass murder in human history, even if it means sacrificing himself to achieve it. Adrian organizes the oddest team imaginable to accomplish this impossible mission: an over-the-hill smalltime mob hitman, a female assassin so crazy she’s been confined to a mental institution from which he must spring her, and an illegal arms dealer who doesn’t like field operations. With this ragtag crew and with the combined might of the security forces of the world’s most powerful country out to stop him, the odds are definitely not in his favor.

As they get closer to their target, though, he learns that the nuclear attack was just the prelude to an even more macabre and Machiavellian plan, one that affects not just his life, but the lives of every being on the planet. Any sane man would quit, but Adrian and his band are no longer in it just for the money—they’re out to save the world.

Death isn’t exactly funny, but you won’t be able to help laughing occasionally as this unlikely crew goes up against power in encounter after deadly encounter. As you make your way through this story, you’ll alternate between laughter and chills, because, as improbable as it sounds, there’s an eerie ring of credibility to it.

I give this book four stars.

Review of ‘Shipwreck: the Strange Fate of the Morro Castle’

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On September 8, 1934, the luxury liner, S.S. Morro Castle, just hours from the port of New York, caught fire. Of the 566 passengers, officers, and crew aboard, 134 perished in the disaster. Inaccurate media coverage and missteps by investigative agencies abounded, swinging wildly from speculation that it was an unfortunate accident to a deadly plot by Communists. In Shipwreck: The Strange Fate of the Morro Castle  by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, an exhaustive examination of surviving documents and media coverage, as well as interviews with some of the survivors and their families, the reader is treated to an alternative answer. The S.S. Morro Castle disaster was the work of one man, a deliberate and meticulously executed plot by chief radio officer, George White Rogers.

Sounding more like a thriller than nonfiction, this book pieces together the final days of Morro Castle in a compelling narrative that, while it probably couldn’t stand up in a court of law, leaves no doubt that this deadly disaster wasn’t part of some Machiavellian Communist plot, but was the work of one deranged psychotic who had little regard for human life, and who was striving for recognition and attention. At the same time, it shows how individuals and organizations, even government agencies, can be misled in an atmosphere of fear and conspiracy theories. With the attention today being given to ‘fake’ news, it’s instructive to see that this isn’t a new phenomenon, but something that has been with us for a long time, and how people with over-large egos and sociopathic tendencies can manipulate it to the disadvantage of society.

A fine bit of investigative reporting to which I give four stars.

Review of ‘Motown’

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In the 1960s, Detroit was in transition. The auto industry was raking in big bucks, but was threatened by a consumer advocate who was calling GM cars ‘death traps,’ and the city’s black population was chafing at the discrimination they suffered, reflecting the mood throughout the United States at the time. To add fuel to the flame, organized crime was moving to displace the black criminals from their traditional turf. Into all of this was thrust Rick Amery, a former cop who had been forced off the force by trumped-up corruption charges. Rick is hired by another former cop, now working as security chief for GM to find dirt on the consumer activist, while Quincy, a boss in the black numbers racket, is facing off against the son of the former Italian mob boss who was deported back to Italy. In the background of this swirling storm of chaos is Lew Canada, head of a special police task force that reports directly to Motown’s mayor who has national political ambitions.

Motown is the second book in the Detroit Novels series by Loren D. Estleman. While the main human characters carry the story well, the true main character in this drama is the city itself, and how it fares in a time of tumultuous change. The roles played by the recalcitrant auto industry, and its blind adherence to an outmoded business model, politicians reluctant to embrace the changes that are inevitable, and the dying social mores of a society that kept certain people on the lower rungs because of race chronicle the death and partial rebirth of one of America’s most vibrant cities.

This story moves with the pace of a super-charged engine running on high-octane fuel, and will keep your interest from beginning to end.

Five stars!

Review of ‘A Million to One’

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In One in a Million by Tony Faggioli, Kyle Fasano is given a chance at redemption. He is the millionth, which means that by sacrificing himself, he creates the opportunity for a million souls to be called to repent. Some will answer the call, but some will not.

In A Million to One, the journey continues. In hell, Kyle struggles to learn what his true mission is, while Detective Napoleon Villa, a man who believes in heaven and hell, has volunteered to accompany the Gray Man to hell to find him. In the meantime, back on earth, Villa’s partner finds a case that is somehow tied to Fasano; a serial killer who heeds the voice of the Other, and Fasano’s wife is fighting off demons who seem determined to destroy what’s left of her family.

The reader is taken on a whipsaw journey between hell and hell on earth as the forces of Good and Evil battle for dominance, a journey that will leave your blood chilled and have you shrinking from every shadow.

I received a free copy of this book.

I give this one four stars.

Review of ‘Faery Dust’

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Arthur ‘The Hat’ Salzman, the gangster wizard, is back and as bad as ever. When the elf, Elion, breaks the wards to his house and offers him a job; steal the Raeth Naeg, Beowulf’s legendary belt, for which he’s willing to pay the princely sum of a million dollars, Arthur’s reluctant, but you don’t say no to an elf, who also happens to be one of the Fallen, an elf who has been exiled to the land of the humans.

In Faery Dust by Al K. Line, the second book in the Wildcat Wizard series, Arthur has to deal with an enigmatic, but extremely powerful, elf, said elf’s jealous siblings, a teenage daughter who is a witch in training, and Vicki, his new, untrained sidekick. Like the first book in this series, the reader is treated to a  hero who is often anything but heroic—he kills a thug who abused his daughter and feels no real guilt about it, does some pretty gruesome things to other beings who get in the way of the completion of his mission, and worries when his favorite hat is vandalized.

If you like your paranormal story to be bloody and bloody funny, you’ll love this book. For readers who like their hero to be flawed, but still principled, it’s all there in Faery Dust.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book.

Another five-star offering.

Review of ‘Dead Lemons’

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After losing the use of his legs in an auto accident, Finn moves to the far south of New Zealand, as far south as you can go without ending up in Antarctica. In the smuggler’s cottage, he meets his strange neighbors, the Zoyl brothers, and learns of a young girl and her father, missing and presumed dead for decades—and, it’s all somehow connected to the Zoyls. In therapy to come to grips with his disability, Finn becomes obsessed with unearthing the mysteries of the past, a search that puts his life in danger.

Dead Lemons by Finn Bell is an intricate mystery that opens with Finn fighting for his life as the Zoyls endeavor to kill him, and then switches back and forth as it details how he unfolds the intricate puzzle of the former whaling town’s deadly past. The tension is palpable, and the details of history and culture the author skillfully weaves into the plot put you in the middle of the action from start to finish.

The denouement caught even this avid mystery reader completely by surprise. This one will give you chills.

I give this book four stars.

Review of ‘Heirs (Book One): Secrets and Lies’

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Heirs (Book One): Secrets and Lies by Elleby Harper is book one of a trilogy that follows the lives of the members of two dynasties; Maizent, heir to a glamorous European throne, and Charley, daughter of the President. Set mainly in 1985, and switching frequently among the many characters, it follows Maizent and Charley in their love affair that is threatened by secrets from their mothers’ pasts.

The prose is okay, and the colorful history and setting are described well. The cliff hanger ending, though, is a bit disappointing. It’s as if the author is using book one to prime readers for the following books, but it leaves too much unanswered to really pique my interest.

I give it good marks for the author’s ability with prose, but can only give it three stars for the weak ending.

Fur and Feathers

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I like taking pictures of just about everything, but animals and birds are my all-time favorites. I’ve photographed animals of all types everywhere I’ve traveled, across the United States and during my travels abroad, and I’d like to share some of them with you. Antelope (not sure of the species) in the savanna of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. A bird pauses after drinking from a fountain at Tswalu Resort in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. A stork in the grass at the edge of the taxi way of the airport in Arusha, Tanzania. A lone goose in a shaded woodland in Kleve, Germany. A vervet monkey in Zimbabwe. Water bird on lily pads in a Zimbabwean lake. Elephants in Zimbabwe.

Source: Fur and Feathers

Step into spring with free e-books!

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To celebrate the arrival of spring, each week in March I’m offering a Kindle version of one of my books free. The first will be Buffalo Soldier: The Piano, one of the best in the Buffalo Soldier series, which will be available March 1 – 5 for Kindle or Kindle apps.  To see the other books available, check out my publisher page on Facebook, where you’ll also find other book-related information. To get The Piano, click on the link below on or after March 1.

https://read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B01G43PQC8&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_tDfQyb7TVFP23&tag=freeflowofide-20

Review of ‘Gun for Hire’

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Denver PI Reed Ferguson is asked by his friend Darcy Cranston to talk to her boyfriend who she suspects is cheating on her. When he meets the man, Reed gets the feeling that something is amiss, so he stakes his apartment out to get to the bottom of it, and finds that there is definitely something afoot.

Gun for Hire by Renee Pawlish is a short story about a PI who has a thing for old noir movies and classic rock. It follows Reed as he and his not-too-bright friends, Ace and Deuce, trail the errant boyfriend who has gone out of town with his ex-girlfriend. What they discover, though, is more than just a little action on the side, and is classic Reed Ferguson.

Action, suspense, and humor are the hallmarks of this series, and it’s all in this story. It doesn’t add anything new to a fan’s knowledge of the hero, but makes for entertaining light reading.

This one is good, but not one of the author’s best. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Pursuit’

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Doc is a professional hit man for the Organization. He has a contract to find and kill renegade politician Paul Bradley, but he has a problem; half the Organization wants Bradley dead, but half, led by his brother Jimmy want him interrogated. As Doc struggles with his confusing mission, the bodies start piling up. As if he doesn’t have enough problems, Doc has to deal with the women in his life. One is his ex-wife, and the other is Connie, a tough gal who is withholding information about Bradley from him. His solution would be to kill them, but Doc has never even hit a woman, much less killed one. In the meantime, Bradley has taken up dog racing and he leads everyone on a merry chase until the big race of the season when everyone comes together in an explosive and bloody encounter.

Pursuit by John McAllister is a complex novel. It gives us a look at events as they unfold through the eyes of a number of characters. The main two characters, though, are Doc and Jimmy who struggle with their positions within the Organization and issues of mutual trust. Seldom have I liked a story where the principal characters are bad guys, but these two are a notable exception. They demonstrate that even the bad guys can sometimes have redeeming character traits.

If you like British mystery, even though this story is set in Ireland, you’ll like Pursuit.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Fountaincorp Security’

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Dorothea Ohmie is a decorated Marine and a paroled war criminal. She’s starting a new job as a provisional recruit with Fountaincorp Security’s special operations unit. Her first mission, though, goes off the rails when the space station her unit is assigned to secure is infested by people turned to zombies by illegal nano-tech experiments. They rescue the one survivor, and find themselves hip-deep in corporate espionage, high-level corruption, and human trafficking on a galactic scale. While Dorothea struggles to save the young girl, she is also consumed with the desire to get answers surrounding her own kidnapping and abuse when she was a teenager.

Fountaincorp Security by Watson Davis is a star-busting romp through space, as she and her buddies go up against the Family behind the trafficking operations, while having to contend with bureaucratic and political maneuvering by their own organization.

Think Rambo meets Darth Vader and you’ll have an idea what this story’s like. The hero is flawed, but indomitable, and you wouldn’t want to be on her bad side, believe me.

I received a free copy of this book.

I give Watson four stars for this one.

Review of ‘Carrie’s Gift’

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Award-winning author Michael Lister is best known for his John Jordan mystery novels, evocative stories about a chaplain in the Florida prison system. In Carrie’s Gift Lister demonstrates clearly that his talents transcend the mystery genre. Ethan is back home twenty years after his high school graduation to deliver the eulogy at a classmate’s funeral. The only thing he really wants, though, is to be alone with Carrie, the lost love of his life.

Lister writes this sad romance with the deft touch of a poet and the skill of a master mystery writer, taking the reader on a profound journey into the human heart and mind. This story will bring tears to your eyes.

I received a free copy of this book. I give it five stars.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

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One of America’s greatest poets.

Espiritu en Fuego/A Fiery Spirit

Many years ago when visiting my Mom’s hometown of Dayton, Ohio I went with my Aunt Helen James to visit Dunbar house which was the home of Celebrated African-American Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. It was a fascinating visit and I highly recommend visiting this as well as many other African-American Landmarks in the United States.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/paul-laurence-dunbar

poet

Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Born on June 27, 1872, Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African-American poets to gain national recognition. His parents Joshua and Matilda Murphy Dunbar were freed slaves from Kentucky. His parents separated shortly after his birth, but Dunbar would draw on their stories of plantation life throughout his writing career. By the age of fourteen, Dunbar had poems published in the Dayton Herald. While in high school…

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STEAMFUNK WILD WEST: Black Lawmen and Outlaws in the Age of Steam!

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STEAMFUNK WILD WEST: Black Lawmen and Outlaws in the Age of Steam! We continue our League of Extraordinary Black People Series with an in-depth look at those who enforced – and those who gave the f…

Source: STEAMFUNK WILD WEST: Black Lawmen and Outlaws in the Age of Steam!

Review of ‘Promise You Won’t Tell’

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PI Dani Ripper has a crazy list of clients, which is okay because Dani’s a bit on the wacky side herself. She’s just waiting for the perfect case, when 17-year-old high school student, Wiley Freeman comes to her office claiming that something might have happened to her at a sleepover she attended at a friend’s house.

Dani takes the case pro bono, and finds herself up to her eyeballs in the strangest case she’s ever had.

Promise You Won’t Tell by John Locke is a wacky mystery that follows along as Dani turns over rock after rock, uncovering dirty laundry and secrets aplenty, with an ending that will smack you between the eyes like a Louisville slugger.

I give this book four stars.

Review of ‘Burke’s War’

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On his way back home to Chicago from Washington, DC, as his plane is landing, telecom CEO Bob Burke sees a man strangle a woman on a rooftop near O’Hare Airport. The problem is, no one believes him. Burke, already in a struggle with his soon-to-be ex-wife for control of his company, finds himself having to fight the Chicago mob, crooked local cops, an over-zealous U.S. attorney, and a psychopathic doctor to put things right. The average guy would give up in the face of such odds, but the former Ranger and Delta Force commander is not the average guy, and he never gives up. When people he cares about are threatened, it becomes personal, and the bad guys find out just how stupid it is to mess with Bob Burke, especially when he calls on his old special ops buddies for help.

Some people might find it hard to believe that a passenger on an airplane could see someone on the ground clearly enough to identify them. Having made many landings at the old Hong Kong airport, where planes wove between high-rise buildings on the final approach, I can assure you it is possible, and for someone trained as a special operations observer, credible. I can recall landings in Hong Kong where I was able to see the buttons on laundry hanging on balconies, or what people were eating for supper. You don’t see it for long, but if you’re trained, you can see long enough.

Burke’s War by William F. Brown is a knuckle duster of the first order, with bad guys falling like ten pens at a championship, and enough knock-down action to satisfy the most hardcore action addict. If you like thrillers where the good guy goes up against impossible odds, you’ll love this book.

I give Williams four stars for this first book in the series.