Review of “The Italian’s Inexperienced Mistress” by Lynne Graham

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Angelo Riccardi is the grandson of notorious crime family head Carmelo Zanetti. When Zanetti is dying, he summons Angelo to his bedside to tell him the awful secret of his family, including the fact that his late mother had been swindled by English fraudster Donald Hamilton and then dumped. Although he has always been on the right side of the law, his Italian heritage surfaces as he vows revenge on Hamilton.

But then, he meets Gwenna, Hamilton’s daughter and sparks of all kind begin to fly, more so when he includes her in his web of vendetta.

I have to begin by confessing that I’m not normally a fan of romance novels. Too many ripped bodices and heaving bosoms, exquisitely beautiful maidens and unbelievably handsome swains for my taste. But, Lynne Graham’s The Italian’s Inexperienced Mistress is not your usual cloyingly described sex scenes interspersed with a few paragraphs of purple prose narrative. I mean, it has a lot of the obligatory coupling, grappling, and heavy breathing, enough in fact to satisfy fans of the genre. But, it is also a novel of high intrigue, suspense, and not a small amount of humor. Part Cinderella, part Great Gatsby, Angelo’s adventures, Gwenna’s inner turmoil, and the path of their relationship will keep you turning the pages.

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The Thinker – 21st Century Version

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The Thinker
The Thinker

Photography: Full Moon on the First Day of Summer, 2013

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Obscured by wispy clouds.
Obscured by wispy clouds.
The full Monty.
The full Monty.
Behind and above the rooftops.
Behind and above the rooftops.

Daily Prompt: Island of Misfit Posts

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Never tried this before, but I did this one, and it was fun.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The World Through Your Eyes

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Actually, this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is the world through my eyes, but you’ll have to use your eyes and your brain to determine what my view of the world is.

My view of politics.
My view of politics.

You can have everything but my chicken.
You can have everything but my chicken.
The way I feel sometimes.
The way I feel sometimes.

Interview on “Until You Walk the Path You Don’t Know Where it Goes”

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Internet radio personality Theresa Chaze will be interviewing my tomorrow on her BlogTalk radio show, “Until You Walk the Path You Don’t Know Where it Goes.” This will be my third time on her show, and we’ll be talking about my recent books, what life’s been like since I retired from government service and went into writing full time, and my writing habits, among other things. Theresa’s shows are always fun and interesting, so you won’t want to miss it – and, I’m not just saying that because I’m on the show.  Check the following link for air time and other information:

http://theresachaze.blogspot.com/2013/06/charles-ray-author-vietnam-veteran.html

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

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Okay, I’m a little late – actually, a lot late – with this challenge. This week’s photo challenge is curves. Check it out, and if you’ve a mind to, give it a shot (no pun intended). I went through my thousands of digital photos trying to find the one that best illustrates the theme. I couldn’t make up my mind, so I decided to go with more than one. I’m not sure if you agree with me, but here’s my offerings:

The gentle curves of doorways looking out into a garden.
The gentle curves of doorways looking out into a garden.
Curves overlaying curves in this well in a Cape Town inn's courtyard.
Curves overlaying curves in this well in a Cape Town inn’s courtyard.

A curving pathway.
A curving pathway.

Review of “Manhattan Transfer” by John E. Stith

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Manhattan has been stolen! Not a person named Manhattan, nor the drink, nor some objet d’art with that unlikely name. No, the island – the whole freaking island of Manhattan – has been sealed in a transparent dome, dug up, and lifted off the earth.

When it reaches its destination (?), the people inside the dome can see other domes containing other cities. Then begins a frenetic effort to survive, determine their circumstances, and hopefully, escape.

John E. Stith’s Manhattan Transfer is science fiction in the epic style. With aliens aplenty, mind-boggling technology, and puny humans who must somehow prevail against impossible odds. Told from multiple points of view, Manhattan is a story shown primarily from the point of view of Matt Sheehan, a former soldier, who was riding the subway to his new job when the train was sliced up. He finds himself taking the lead in efforts to get out of the predicament the city’s residents find themselves in. After some searching, they find the abducting aliens, an arachnid-like race they call Archies. The question then becomes, are the Archies the dangerous predators they appear to be, or is there something else at work.

You’ll have to read the book to find out, and, I assure you that you’ll be shocked. This is sci-fi as sci-fi was meant to be. A story told on a grand scale through the efforts of individuals to make sense of their environment. Heroic deeds; and some acts that are less than heroic. The characters, even the aliens, are believable; the technology is described in a way that makes you want to believe; and, the action is consistent with the environment Stith has created.

If you like science fiction, don’t miss this book. If you’ve never read science fiction before, make this your introduction to this genre. You won’t be disappointed.

Review of “Ryann” by Paul Dorset

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Ryann, by Paul Dorset, is a pithy novella about Ryann, a slave, or sclava, in the castle of Lord Cala, who seeks to earn enough coin to buy her freedom. Taken as a sclava after her parents died, she must labor from dawn to dusk, and suffer the unwelcome attention of the lord’s evil son, Master Bramwell.

One-by-one, Ryann watches her friends die at the hands of Bramwell, a spoiled scion of the lord of the manor, who must struggle with his own demons. Finally, Ryann realizes that there is only way out for her, she must duel with Bramwell.

The action, as she prepares for her fateful encounter, is non-stop and the emotions are raw and nerve-jangling. Although written for a young audience, Ryann will also appeal to older fans of the genre. This is a well written short piece that can be read in one sitting, and at the end will leave you wanting more.

Review of “Iron Bonds” by Billy Wong

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In Iron Bloom, author Billy Wong delighted and entertained readers with the tale of Rose, a reluctant warrior, and the warrior Finn, as they went on a quest seeking magic – the one thing that frightens Rose. While it was a good book, I felt it needed some maturation and seasoning. Well, Wong is back with Iron Bonds, the second in what could be a trilogy, or even more, about Rose the indomitable warrior, Finn, who is now the modern world’s only mage, and the scholar Derrick, as they try to find the lost art of spell casting. Of course, the problem is, Rose, who by now is all alpha female, is itching to get into the fight that is plaguing their country – and, naturally, her alpha instincts win, and she’s off to battle.

Wong has matured in this second book. Like a marathon runner, I think he’s found his pace. But, he also demonstrates the ability to do even more. Crisp dialogue, nonstop action, and enough human drama for two seasons of ‘Peyton Place,’ Iron Bonds is everything a good slash and burn fantasy novel should be.

My hat’s off to Wong for a tale well told. A solid four-star book.

Free e-Book! “The White Dragons”

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Summer is almost here. Get a HOT book free for those hot days inside reading. The White Dragons, a novel of international intrigue, is free for Kindle June 17 – 20. Don’t miss out!

http://www.amazon.com/The-White-Dragons-ebook/dp/B00BO6MHPK/

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Review of “Heaven 2.0” by Scott Haworth

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Mike Kepler is an extractor, working for the Taipei Corporation, a religion-based organization from the far future that has access to time displacement technology. Mike’s job is to ‘extract’ people from the ‘Dark Ages,’ that is, the ages before TC’s time, just as they ‘die,’ and take them to the future, where they will be judged for placement in heaven or hell.

Now, all that is a mouthful, but it’s the only way to introduce Scott Haworth’s Heaven 2.0. An extremely well written, and funny book, at the same time it nails the tyranny of religion and the mindless formulaic behavior of corporations to a tee. As Mike wrestles with the moral and ethical implications of his work, he also has to deal with his feelings for Gabby, his mentor when he began working as an extractor.

You’ll thoroughly enjoy following him through his experiences working solo in the Dark Ages. Some of the conversations between the newly ‘dead’ and the angels as they call them are both touching and hilarious at the same time.

Haworth knows his subject, and has a master craftsman’s ability to convey it to readers. If you only read one book this month, this should be it. Five stars, only because I can’t give it six.

Review: “12 Months of A Soviet Childhood: Short Stories: by Julia Gousseva

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Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! (Photo credit: Rinoninha)

In Twelve Months of a Soviet Childhood: Short Stories, Julia Gousseva has written twelve captivating tales that capture a slice of life in the now-defunct Soviet Union. She begins with winter, the dreariest, yet the most colorful month in Moscow, with its New Year’s parties and colorful New Year trees. She then takes us, month by month, on a journey that she calls fictional, but must be in large part autobiographical. We see things through the eyes of a child, unvarnished and without adult filtering.

A captivating collection of tales, as I said; but, the book has some near-fatal flaws. First, the sans serif text is a bit on the difficult side to read. But, the ragged and inconsistent indentation of paragraphs is by far the most distracting. This is a potentially great collection of short fiction that could reach that greatness with a bit of judicious editing.

I’d love to give it four or five stars, but alas, the formatting flaws drop it down to really two and a half.

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Review: “Dracula in Dior” by Scarlett Stoker

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English: A screenshot from Dracula Italiano: U...

After reading Scarlett Stoker’s, Dracula in Dior: The Ultimate A-Z Fashion Guide for the Undead and Those Who Wish To Be, I will never look at vampires or vampire movies the same way again. A tongue (or fang) in cheek guide to vampires on everything from ‘must-have’ fashions to the appropriate perfume for the undead, this book is hilarious.

It starts slow, and maintains that pace for all of a page, and then it kicks into overdrive, but in a Mercedes-Benz kind of way, not like a monster truck. You find yourself speeding along at triple digit miles per hour without even realizing that someone’s smashed the gas pedal to the floor.

I seriously doubt that Scarlett Stoker is the author’s real name – how weird would that be? – but, whoever she is, she’s a comic talent to be reckoned with. This was, so far, my favorite read of the year, and if I could, I’d give it six stars – but, I’m limited to five.

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Golf on the Cheap in the Washington, DC Area

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Spectators watch golf match at Columbia Countr...
Spectators watch golf match at Columbia Country Club, Washington, D.C. area 1910-20. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Yahoo! Voices article on budget golfing in the DC area:  http://voices.yahoo.com/article/9892352/come-washington-dc-area-golf-not-government-12170787.html?cat=16. Check it out.

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