Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Shattered by Valerie Davisson

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Shattered,' A Mystery by Valerie Davisson.

Life often changes without notice. What may have been the direction set in place can be changed in an instant without permissions or notice. It is how we react to that change that defines who we become.

In Shattered by Valerie Davisson, Logan McKenna has lost her husband, their business and her own self-worth. Her job is in jeopardy and she struggles with her future. Making a decision to help her best friend from high school, she agrees to help out at their booth at the Otter Arts Festival. Her friend Thomas is a Native American artist and each year they bring their current examples to the booth for sale. The area is beautiful and it is just what Logan needs to get her life on track.

When a young artist is murdered she finds herself looking for clues and following the trails of dishonesty and distrust that come to light. Can she have been wrong about her friend, is it possible that he is the guilty party, or is he just caught up in the backlash?  The law has set their eyes on him as a suspect and do not appear to be looking in any other direction. She decides it is up to her to delve into the darkness and find out what really happened before the murderer kills again.

Can she live with the truth she finds, or is her life about to change again forever?

Davisson has given us a murder and mystery that pique your interest. What could possibly be behind the death of an arts festival worker? As with all walks of life, Davisson has found a niche in which to create chaos and mystery, as well as drama and crime. Her characters are quite real and have the flaws that make them likable. As the red herring continue to circle throughout the telling, you are drawn to the vulnerability of Logan, yet her strength as well.

Prior to her involvement in this death, she had only ever seen a dead body once before. Davisson takes us into the thoughts of her protagonist as she fights her battles separately, that of her friend but also the one she holds in her own psyche.  By creating this fissure Davisson has created a more charismatic and believable protagonist, one that you are drawn to.

If you enjoy life and mystery you will find yourself immersed in this book.  Once begun it is difficult to put down. Logan McKenna is a strong character and I am not surprised to see she will be back as a series character.

This would be a great book for your library as well as for a reading group. There is a great deal of subject matter that would make for great discussion.

Rating 3/5

Three Days to Forever by Lauren Carr

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Three Days to Forever,' A Mac Faraday Mystery by Lauren Carr.



In Three Days to Forever by Lauren Carr, we are finally zoned into the wedding of the year. Mac Faraday and Archie Monday have finally gotten their calendar set. Family and friends have set aside the time to honor this huge social event and Mac’s daughter as well as his best friend’s son are all a part of the festivities. With just a short time till nuptials, there is suddenly a sinister presence forcing its way into the heart of the occasion.  

As a professional band of assassins begin their assault on a group of wedding guests which include Mac’s daughter Jessica, his best friend’s son Murphy, his soon to be mother-in-law as well as his dog Gnarly, Mac helps the small police force try and find the clues behind the attack before it is too late. 

Trapped and fighting for their lives, suddenly danger is more real and Mac must help to find a way to save his family and guests. Archie is unable to help due to injury, but Mac presses forward, for even as they eradicate the first danger, he must find out what has set off this chain of events and put a stop to the continued threat of death to his family and friends. Can he help decipher the clues before it is too late? 

Carr has continued on with her series involving Mac Faraday and his soon to be bride, Archie Monday. She has added to his group of friends by introducing family members that are just as real and robust as those of her initial group. She continues on the vein of romance and danger, creating sparks of both to keep your interest lit and flaring. From the annoying to the amazing she finds the right attitude with her characters, creating both chaos and a sense of humor. 

Including Gnarly in the scenes gives us that depth of feeling that creates both fear for his safety as well as honor for his courage and bravery. His antics always seem to add a touch of humor in even the most dire of situations. 

If you enjoy action and adventure as well as mystery and romance you will find this work is just the thing. Think danger and espionage and you will find a trickle of that danger that weaves throughout the story. Carr continues to keep us enthralled with her protagonist, and yet each character is strong enough to stand on their own as well. 

This would be a great work for a reading and discussion group. The depth of feeling and mystery would be sure to keep the dialogue open. 

Rating 4/5

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Vanishing Girls,' By Lauren Oliver.



Having a younger sibling has both its ups and downs. When all is well there is a quality of closeness that helps to make us who we are. When that closeness dissipates for whatever reason, there is a fear of never finding the niche that will bring back that intimacy. 

In Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, we are tumbled into the lives of two girls who are not just sisters but best friends. Nick cannot remember when Dara was not there.  Always in her young life, Dara was there, and always the same question, “want to play?” Life for them both was an interaction of deep love and respect.  Outside themselves, only Nicks friend Parker, and Dara’s friend Arianna are included into the fold of that closeness.  As they both grow older, Nick is the good daughter, and Dara is a great deal wilder. Choices in life are often what takes away the familiar and gives us only a ghost of the past. 

The accident changes everything.  Nick doesn’t remember what happened, but she was driving and Dara has been unable to forgive her. The scars remind Nick every day, and the silence from Dara is almost more then she can bear. The embarrassment from the scars and her lack of knowledge of the cause of the crash make her avoid those she cares about.  She need Dara more than ever but does not know how to reach her.  When Parker comes back into the picture, she is ready for his advice. But what about Dara, Parker had begun dating her, but why was he now acting like it never happened? 
Can she trust him as she used to when they were younger and before she understood her feelings? 

As Nick starts searching for answers, and continues to try and find a way to reconnect, Dara goes missing. When Nick begins in earnest to move forward and try to help find her, she reaches an impenetrable wall. She can feel the difference, and suddenly everyone is looking at her oddly as well. Is Dara gone for good and what is her part in the disappearance?  She feels like she should know the answers but cannot break the barrier in her mind. Is it too late to bring back all that is lost?

This was a startling work of mystery and drama. There was so much real life awkwardness and the feeling of closeness that develops as children that is was easy to get lost in the pages.  You begin to become involved in the nuances and feel the urgency of Nick’s concerns.  The characters are so real that you almost see them as the story evolves.  And that too is a strange and dangerous situation. 

The mystery and sadness permeate, saturating your own belief of the final outcome. Yet Oliver then takes a decidedly strange twist giving us an answer to just how human we are when it comes to feelings and family. 

If you enjoy mystery and romance, with a twist of mind games and behavior you will find this work the one you are looking for. Once you begin you step into the shoes of the characters you will find it a hard book to put down.

This would be a great work for a reading group or book club. The nuances create a great deal of controversy and dialogue. 

Rating 5/5
 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cookie's Case, A Tug Wyler Mystery by Andy Siegel

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Cookie's Case,' A Tug Wyler Mystery by Andy Siegel.

Many things bring people together, common goals, interests and attraction. However sometimes it is basic need that is the culprit. Need is not the greatest of ties for when need dissipates so does the attachment in many cases.

Tug Wyler returns in Andy Siegel’s, Cookie’s Case.  With Tug’s background in getting his clients insurance settlements he is intrigued when he meets Cookie, a young dancer that wears a metal head brace. The fact that she is still dancing disturbs him and yet, it seems to be a part of who she is. Her beauty and grace, especially with such an unattractive device attached is amazing and he finds himself a bit smitten.

When he is introduced to her friend, an elderly Doctor, he finds the relationship a bit odd. The Doctor provides a medical procedure called a spinal tap to help her with pain, and the symbiotic relationship seems to work for them in a strange and unnatural way. When he discovers a conflict of interest with her attorney, her boyfriend, and the doctor and hospital where her surgery was done he offers to take over the case. He has no idea of the depths of cover-up he is soon to be involved with.

There is something that worries him about the case, and as his investigation begins in earnest, he begins to untangle a web of deceit full of holes. Yet even as he finds evidence of possible neglect during surgery, even his own specialists have doubts, for all the evidence points in conflicting direction. Can he get his client the money to help her regain her prior life, before she hurts herself any further?

When he is fired from the case it only tweaks his curiosity further. What nerve has he touched and how can he save his client from her on decisions. He knows there is more to what is going on in her life, and many of the leads seem to tie to her protector. Can he find the answers before it is too late. L

Siegel’s characters are a great mix of needy and diabolical. His protagonist in the form of Tug Wyler is a fun and energetic man, always looking out for the money, but hiding a heart that is not necessarily in his best interests. He really cares about his clients, and is like a bulldog when he gets hold of a case.

Cookie is a fun and brave character, and her protector is just a bit creepy, but it is hard to decipher why he creates that feeling for he has nothing but care for Cookie.  To create that type of character and to have you questioning yourself takes skill.

If you enjoy a fun and slightly bizarre mystery you will find Tug Wyler the guy to follow. His investigations are both interesting and often funny, but he delivers the goods. The medical drama is also well written and you will find yourself immersed in a strange and fascinating story of need.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club with lots of questions and decisions that would keep the dialogue going for some time.


Rating 4/5

Friday, February 6, 2015

Coit Tower by Ty Hutchinson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Coit Tower', An Abby Kane Thriller by Ty Hutchinson.

Ty Hutchinson has given us a satisfying end to an  Abby Kane, FBI case, that has spanned several years and a multitude of continents. As Abby and her cohort track down a killer willing to kill from the obscurity of the internet, they find themselves in the middle of the game. Acting out the different parts of the game and dressing the kill as requested to win, Abby has now found that she is the final scene. Thinking she was tracking from obscurity herself, she now finds that she has been set up, and must put an end to the madness before she and her family perish.

As she moves forward old friends become suspect, and old enemies become friends. Danger lurks around every corner. Abby must find a way to head off the attacks for they are now on her own home turf. As she sends her family away to safety, she is uncomfortable. Always where she has been able to keep an eye on them, she is lost when they are so far away. Even contact is prohibited due to the possibility of being able to track her calls.

As the teams come against her, she is able to find a way to shut them down, yet in her heart she knows there is real danger to her family. Can she find the secret to the questions before it is too late for them all?

This is a great finish to a case that has spanned several books. Hutchinson has given us a shady crime lord and an exceptional protagonist with unexpected flaws. She is determined and strong but carries her heart of her sleeve. His vision of a game of murder is conceptual and quite possible given the ability to hide to some extent behind various servers through the net. Hi characters are eminently likable and easy to visualize.

With his unusual sense of humor, Hutchinson creates fun in his suspense, something that keeps you involved and turning the pages. His mystery is succinct and plausible, and you will find yourself liking his unlikely hero in the form of Abby Kane.

If you enjoy mystery and suspense with a dose of humor and heart you will find his series to be a great addition to your library. There is a satisfying gratification when the good guys win out for it isn’t just about Abby Kane but her family and friends as well.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club. The use of computers as a conduit to crime is interesting and very plausible, likely to create a great deal of dialogue.


Rating 4/5


This book was received from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material,

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Nanovision by Paul T. Harry

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Nanovision,' A Technological Thriller by Paul T. Harry.


In Nanovision by Paul T. Harry, we are introduced to the subject of nanotechnology or nanomedicine, the medical application of that technology. 

A devastating murder and betrayal leaves one person dead and a young teen without both his father and vision due to the fire used to cover up that murder.  Daniel wakes up in the hospital with no vision and no memories. He doesn’t remember his life before his pain and has nowhere to go. 

Yet upon further search, an aunt that has cut off ties long in the past is located. She is involved in the field of Nanomedicine and works in research. Not sure she is capable of taking on such a tragic young man, she nevertheless does her best. Ethyl Santini is raising her granddaughter and leads a very busy life of research in a nanolab where she is at work on regeneration. The testing of animals has proved to be extremely workable, and she has been able to save many that would not have lived otherwise. 

In her heart she knows that she must help Daniel, and while she had not been aware she had a nephew, she is up to the challenge. Armed with her granddaughter’s approval she brings him into her family. Aware that while to the outside world he has been declared dead, there are concerns that he may still not be safe. 

The fit is perfect and Ethyl is thrilled to find Daniel so likable and as he bonds with her younger charge life seems to be just right. Yet now her lab is in trouble and she is uneasy about her own research. Knowing she could be ousted at any time, she does the unimaginable. She puts together a new formula for her own nephew. With his agreement, they begin a series of doses to see if nanotechnology can help his eyesight. None of them are prepared for the changes.  

As Daniel’s regeneration begins, his memory resurfaces, as well as anger at the death of his father and the assault on himself. Heading back to his home he is after the very man who changed his life. Judy, The FBI special investigator that followed the crime and found his aunt is notified and she begins the hunt to find him, for she knows more about this crime then he understands. Can she locate him before he finds those responsible? She is very aware that if he comes upon them first, he will not survive for they have been in the business of death for a long time. With his sudden disappearance, can she find him before it is too late? 

Harry has given us characters that are interesting and likable. His use of technology is an interesting foil and creates a plausible storyline. The action and undertakings seem very real and are much like some of the crimes we see reported in the news, yet he takes us on a rocky journey of home and nanomedicine. 

His interpretation of the reactions as Daniel’s blindness recedes is amazing and the action and interplay is sharp. You find the possibilities for exciting and strange. He has given us an intriguing thriller full of danger and excitement, and threaded it with the possibility of medical miracles. 

If you enjoy action, mystery and suspense with just a touch of the unbelievable you will find this a great book for your library. Once you begin, plan on a full day of reading, this work is difficult to put down. 

Rating 4/5 

This work was received from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Leaving Before The Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller


Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Leaving before the Rains Come', A Memoir by Alexandra Fuller.


In Leaving before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller, we are given a lesson of difference in background and thoughts, as well as how those very differences can pull people together or rip them apart. Alexandra comes from a background many simply would not understand. Born of very diverse parentage in Rhodesia’s war torn landscape, she knows both the beauty and hardship of the land. With a British father and a Rhodesian mother, she is raised with varying dynamics.  While her parent’s background is in no way alike, it is their love of Africa that keeps their own love alive. In a land where death and weapons are an everyday reality, Alexandra has built her own personality off her perceptions and happenings in a country of both beauty and death.

Falling in love with an American she leaves her home to make her life with her husband in America. It is here that she falls in love a second time with another land and its beauty. Yet for her Africa is the essence of who she is, she is wild and untamed like much of the life she left behind. Her husband is very different in manner from her own, calmer and more refined.

While it is this very contrast that draws her and makes her feel safe it is the differences that also ultimately destroy the fragile bond. The presence of such basic upbringings is unable to hold the tenuous bonding of such diverse backgrounds and feelings.

There is an essence of bravery to put your life and perceived failings on paper and in front of people who may judge you harshly. Yet Alexandra seems to find her own peace by the sharing of her pain. Not surprising in a way, she has struggled and survived in a deep and harsh environment, and liberty has a different meaning. To take the pain from inside and move it to the outside gives a different freedom and you can feel the healing as you move through her words.

Her experiences and words give you a look into a country that many have only heard of. The descriptions help you to visualize the abundance and depravity, the pain and the joy that exists, with the looming sense of death just often inches away. She helps us to understand how your heart can stay in touch even in the most hazardous conditions, and yet she also describes another type of beauty in her adopted county.  The comparisons are interesting, and while the dangers lurk in both countries, there is far more fear and frenzy in that from her homeland.

If you enjoy reading of differing cultures and backgrounds and find interest in what creates the fissures between human beings you will enjoy this work. The rawness and beauty of Africa, a country most only come close to in the news, comes to life in the pages of Fuller’s words.

Rating 4/5