Monday, November 29, 2010

The Spy's Demise by Jim Wygant

Article first published as Book Review: The Spy's Demise by Jim Wygant on Blogcritics.

Throughout the “80’s” during the cold war, both Super Powers had agents, as well as counter agents, feeding information both real and fabricated. Valery Sevastoposky came to Washington D. C. to work in the Soviet Embassy as a case officer. His job was to hang around hoping to encounter someone with value as an asset to the KGB. It became a game getting bits and pieces of information, sometimes through greed, other times given due to a certain ideology. Most of what was learned had little of significant value in comparison to the amount of time entailed in the retrieval. There was one exception to this, a mole in the CIA known only as Badger. Valery was his handler though his years in Washington, but when he was sent back to Russia that duty fell on others of the KGB.

In the “90’s” everything in the Soviet Union began to fall apart. Beginning with Gorbachev, and moving on to Yeltsin, things began changing quickly. For months Valery could see that things were not going well for the KGB, and he prepared himself. Making his escape just before the coup of both the military and the KGB, setting up a broken trail so as not to be followed, he made his way back to the Washington D.C. area to start a new life. His journey leads him to Little Odessa, and he begins working with the Russian Mafia. It is here that he meets the man known only as Fungo on the streets, who becomes his best friend and confident. Beginning his new life calls for a new name, and he has prepared himself well, he is now known as George Seevast.

Little Odessa has quite a reputation and during his tenure working in the area, George has been approached first by a police officer, looking to get information on Little Odessa gang network, fighting amongst themselves leaves some heinous crimes on both sides and the police are anxious to solve the murders. He is also approached by the FBI who has tagged him as a former Soviet spy which he denies, leaving him in the sights of both organizations.

Living under the radar he has had no concerns with the previous entity known as the Badger, but now that he has had contact with two different agencies it creates concerns for George. The Badger is high up in government; George knew that rather then risk exposure, Badger would kill him. It all comes down to a phone call, one directly to him from Badger. Has George escaped his country only to be hunted down and terminated here on American soil? Will he be able to use his new contacts to help him dig up Badgers identity before it is too late?

Jim Wygant takes us back to a time when worry and fear were the daily meal of the day. The two largest superpowers fought for supremacy trying at all costs to outdo the other. He has introduced a plot, one that could have very well played out in this time in history. Valery, now known as George, has worked and believed in the KGB his entire career. In The Spy’s Demise, you follow the trail of an Ex-KGB spy and learn about him, not as a product of the Soviet Union but as a man. He is initially almost invisible, not much of a personality, but as the story unfolds his personality changes and grows stronger. As he begins to use his background to unlock the secrets of the Badger, he again takes on the role of a spy. His entire goal now is to flush out this mole to save his own life, and to close a channel that is long past due. He uses his new resources in the FBI and the Police more as a sounding board, having difficulty getting anyone to believe him.

The plots and plans he puts together are cagey and imaginative, but he is in a new country on his own, going up against a top government official. His life is in danger at every turn. You have to admire his tenacity, and hope that he makes it though.

I enjoyed the book, though it started out slow for me. The beginning was filled with a great deal of detail, but as soon as George left Russia, I began to get interested in what he was doing and where he was going. As he grew and gained more character the book just took off, keeping the pace tight and fast.

This would be a great book for a Book club riddled with information about a time in history that most Americans are very familiar with.

Rating 4/5
The Spy's Demise

This book was received as a free copy from the Author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spiral X by J.J. Westendarp

Article first published as Book Review: Sprial X by J.J. Westendarp on Blogcritics.

Contest, for a free e-copy of this book. Please leave a comment below. I will draw 5 lucky winners on December 15th for a free download of this book from the Author, available from Smashwords. The down load is available until December 31st but can be extended if necessary. Good luck. Please also leave email addy so you can be notified.

Cheryl Erickson is a Hunter. In the shadowy underworld of Dallas, Texas, a world unbeknown to most humans Cheryl hunts and dispatches both Demons and Vampires. She has gained a reputation and has many friends in the business, and her territorial clear rate is one of the highest. Unlike many of the Hunters she does not have a day job, having inherited a very lucrative business when her Father died. It is run by others and leaves her the time necessary for her task. She shares her home with Virgil her best friend, an amazing geek with technical savvy that helps her to stay out of harms way.

While she deals strictly with Demons and Vampires she has found that there is a new drug, Plast that is making its way on the scene. This is something she would normally leave for the DEA, but it has fallen into her territory and seems to be handled and distributed by Vampires or their feeders.

As she sleeps off her recent nights work, she receives a call from her mentor known only as Cho, one of the best trainers in the business. He needs to speak to her and is on his way over. As she answers the door the lifeless husk of Cho, is thrown aside and a Demon attacks her, nearly getting the job done.

As Cheryl tries to find the clues to the death of Cho, and the reason for the attack, she finds that a contract has been put on her head. She is directed to find the one man that can help her known only as the Reverend, as she continues to race against time in a deadly game of cat and mouse. She finds that she has help in places that she could not imagine, and at the same time she is being betrayed by a friend. Will she find the Reverend and the answers before it is too late? There is a new and dangerous kind of vampire in her territory, will she be able to find them and stop the distribution of Plast before the Hunters lose their edge?

Buffy, Vampire Slayer move over, there is a new girl in town.

J.J. Westendarp is a new author to keep an eye on. In Spiral X, he has put together a great story filled with an exciting cast of characters. While stories of Vampire Hunters are the norm of the day, Westendarp has taken the theme and twisted it to a whole different level. The twists and turns throughout the entire book keep you reading and engrossed, trying to second guess the story. Cheryl, the heroine of the story is a personable and charismatic person, believing in good, and yet having to step out of her bounds to find answers. She is alternately horrified and then angered the by death of her mentor, the one man who has made her the Hunter that she has become. That anger is what drives her, because with the death of an old family friend, she begins to lose hope, wondering if this is the right thing, second guessing her entire life.

When she meets the Reverend, her whole world takes on another twist, one that you just do not see coming. There is such simplicity to the story and yet, the interactions of all the characters create a complexity that keeps you reading long past lights out. I would also like to say that I believe that we could all do with a friend like Virgil, her best friend since Kindergarten. They have each others backs at all times, and their friendship creates an extra depth in the story, already rich with both suspense and surprises.

I really enjoyed this book and I hope that J.J Westendarp has plans to make it a series. I would like to see more of these characters, they are genuine and exciting. I started this book and could not put it down, the plot was great with twists and turns that kept you turning the pages. This is a great book for those that are interested in this particular genre but it is written in such a fashion that any one that just likes a good story would enjoy it. The author makes you believe in a world, deep in Vampire lore and those that hunt them.

This would be an interesting book for a book club, I would think the twists in the story would give everyone something to discuss, and the perspective of the writer is just a bit more unique, something that is always welcome.

Rating 5/5
Spiral X

This book was received as a free e-book from the Author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tender Touch by Tanya Stowe

Posted first on The Romance Reviews

Tanya Stowe has written a wonderful historical fiction which ties in with both the gold rush days as well as the war on slavery. She has taken a time that touched the lives of so many, and made a story to touch the hearts as well. It takes a powerful writer to find something so beautiful in some of the harshest years in history. Once I started it, the story just jumped out at you and it was difficult to put down. Ms Stowe is a master storyteller.

Lacy Butler and her sister Mattie have been traveling with their gambling father since their mother died. When he happened to win a cabin in Harperville in a card game, he immediately moved his daughters in and then disappeared. Mattie had moved into town for a job and to help feed the minors while Lacy was just fine up on the mountain by herself. She is a natural healer and when she had not been able to heal her own mother, she withdrew from both God and man. She is stubborn and contrary, and has gained a reputation for being quite ornery. She wears men's clothes and had learned to take care of herself.

When she tries to sabotage the new water flume for the mine, she runs into more then she bargained for.

Royce Darnell is in charge and he is determined to not let the damage of their food stuffs scare them off from the job they are doing. As he begins to track the guilty party, he heads into the night determined to make them pay. He does not anticipate the weather and finds himself deep in trouble. He lost his way and frost bite begun to set in. He prays that he will be safe. As he loses control and slides down a slippery slope, he temporarily loses consciousness. Upon awakening, he finds himself being dragged to safety by a small man, muffled against the weather. Making it to the cabin in the woods and settled into the warmth of a bed, Royce only vaguely remembers his night. A tingling warmth, a flash of light and then a deep and resting slumber.

Awakening in the morning, he finds that not only is his rescuer a woman, but the very woman who sabotaged the camp. Before he can delve any further, a rescue team shows up, and he assures Lacy that he will not turn her in; she had after all saved his life. There is something about Lacy that intrigues him, and he knows that something happened during his night in her care. He has healed too rapidly and the frost bite should have left some ravages, but there is nothing. He is determined to find her secret and get to know her better. She is not what she seems and with all her bravado on the outside, there is more to her that she keeps hidden away.

As the war on slavery breaks out in the East, the factions for both sides are settled here in this small mining town. Anger, fueled by fear and alcohol, pit townsman against miner, and it will take Lacy and Royce working together to soothe the savage feelings and save their home. It will take all that Royce can do to get Lacy to let God take some of her burden and offer her the strength to heal those most in need. Will they be able to save this small mining town, or will the war on the East coast cause a rift that will tear the town apart?

Tanya Stowe had created a small historical town in the midst of the gold rush in California. She has peopled it with characters and personalities familiar to that time and place in history. The personalities of her cast of characters are alternately charming or just plain mean. Lacy and her sister have been adopted by a few of the elderly ladies of the town and have been well cared for. Lacy is a stubborn young woman and wants no part of what she considers her curse.

When she meets Royce and is forced to save him during a blizzard, sparks begin to fly between them. They are both stubborn, but deeply caring people. While they fight the attraction between them, it is a bright and glowing thing. Lacy had given up on God, and has found that people do not understand her healing power. In the past, some of those close to her turned away, considering her a freak. She is afraid, because if Royce ever sees this part of her, she knows that he too will look at her differently.

As they are thrown together more frequently, Royce realizes that this is the woman for him. As he begins to court her in earnest, he soon finds that she has a secret. Will he learn what that secret is, and will he be able to still see her as she really is. Will this be the deep and abiding love that they both dream of? As danger strikes and Lacy's very life is at stake, will love find its way, and will their faith see them through?

The love is a strong and steady heat, flaring up throughout their courtship; Lacy has finally realized what she may have been missing all these years as she hid herself away in the mountains. Royce is learning that appearances can be deceiving, and has learned he needs to look beneath the surface to find the heart and depth of love.

This is a marvelous and heartwarming story set in a time and place in history, with just enough background to make it fun. The beginning of war on slavery while being fought in the East has a long and dangerous effect on each and everyone set in this sleepy little town in California.

Rating 4/5

This book was recieved as a free e-book through the Romance Reviews. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the the material.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pandora's Succession by Russell Brooks

Article first published as Book Review:Pandora's Succession by Russell Brooks on Blogcritics.

After the death of his fiancé, CIA operative, Ridley Fox makes a decision to hunt the killers. Blaming his own ineptness, knowing he should have understood that danger, he goes in deep to uncover their plot and gather his revenge at the same time. The Arms of Ares which he knows as a terrorist group as well as the murderer of his fiancé has set in motion a plot to gain control of the world. He has received information that they have come into possession of a biological weapon called Pandora. In receiving the intelligence necessary to track down one of the labs he is not only compromised but also captured by the killers. Rescued by the wife of one of the biologists involved in the experimentation and later killed, he finds that Ares has infiltrated many of the top organizations of the world, including British and Russian intelligence. Fox tries to secure more information and learn if there are more labs or facilities working on the project but she is killed before he gets the information.

As he communicates within his organization he is also introduced to a Dr. Marx, one of several other Biologists in the CDC with knowledge of the Pandora organism. What he learns causes him and his superiors alarm; this weapon can destroy the world as they know it. In the hands of the Arms of Ares, the entire world is in danger. Following the leads and tracking the sources Ridley Fox, known as a renegade in his organization, finds himself in a position to view the result of this weapon first hand when one of his only friends is killed in action, during a raid on one of the facilities. The organism feeds on DNA and so far they have not found a way to stop the process. They must find a way of destroying Pandora before it can be used to create worldwide devastation.

As Fox is drawn deeper into the dregs of the terrorist organization dealing with and experimenting with Pandora he discovers that there are other groups also after the same organism, each with their own agenda and plans which in either case are not acceptable. He also finds that different factions of the government also have operatives in place working behind the scenes to help bring the danger of Pandora to a close. As he races against time to find the answers, more and more people are being killed. There is more at stake then anyone imagines, and the Arms of Ares as well a group of cultists, lead by the man known to Fox only as the October man, will do whatever it takes to be the one to control Pandora.

What Fox finds is that as each plan is breeched and every action compromised, there is a mole in his own organization as well as those in both the British and Russian intelligence. As bodies continue to drop he finds himself on his own, having to depend on a woman from his past who has no reason to help him. Through an unintentional missed meeting she was almost killed and blamed her current situation on him. But she too understands the importance of stopping Pandora before it can be used. Will they be able to find a way to protect the world from Pandora? Can they do what no one else can?

In Pandora’s Succession, Russell Brooks brought to life the very real worry of biological warfare and the possibility of what that would look like in our world. He has developed a group of terrorists, with no care of the human side of their business, but just who or what will bring the highest paycheck. He has then thrown in a group of zealots, a cult, interested in cleansing the world and setting themselves up as the new world order. He has taken different parts of our current history and used that madness to build a more cataclysmic horror, a picture that even the evil of those original perpetrators may not have dreamed of.

The story is fast paced and the characters very real and solid, capable of hurts and emotions, and as human as they could be. While Fox appears to get out of many situations that would seem to be impossible for a normal man, given the circumstances of each and with the thought behind each escape, Russell Brooks makes it seem both likely and possible for this to happen. There is a great deal of technical and biological information throughout the book guiding you though, giving you a great understanding of the science behind the story.

I really enjoyed this book, it was innovative and yet a bit reminiscent of the current events of the world now and in the past. It gives us both insight and motivation into how differences come into play within the different countries of the world. I found it both interesting and exciting, with just enough human emotion to keep it real.

Rating 4/5
Pandora's Succession

This book was received as a free e-book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my own reading and understanding of the information.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Blogger Hop
"Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!"

Answer: I am most thankful for my family, I have the most wonderful children, and grandchildren, a husband that can't be beat and my extended family while not as close as I would like, we all love each other. I am also thank full to have gained a whold bunch of new friends through blogging, there is a reason for everthing.


Now for the Follow Fun!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Unwanted by Daniel L. Carter

Article first published as Book Review: The Unwanted by Daniel L. Carter on Blogcritics.

The Unwanted begins with a series of bombings, which include children in the death toll; the FBI is investigating them. At each scene, it is the deaths of the five children, always five, which weighs heavily on Nick Catlin’s conscious. He is the lead agent on the case and is disturbed to find children involved in any way. Why always five and why include children at all? Nick intends to find the underlying cause of these bombings, and even as he is talking to his partner, they have to respond to another scene. This is an extremely new bombing, and something has happened, while almost everything is the same as in the other scenes, there are two woman from the group that have disappeared, as well as the children, all five of them. As they arrive at the new scene, the site is not as organized; the job appears to be hurried and seems to lack the finesse of the other bombings. One of the bodies recovered is that of a police officer, bringing even more problems into play. How far does the information leak go, will they be able to control the information in order to catch a killer?

Nick and his team race against time hunting a cruel and sadistic killer, murdering both witnesses and children to hide his motives. Nick is in deep, it is imperative to find the answers to these killings and to stop the murder of the children. Their suspect is a geneticist, full of anger towards the U.S. He blames them for the death of his family, and while he remains hidden, his henchmen are out creating havoc and destruction. What is it about the children, that put them at risk and at odds with this killer?

The FBI are operating against a cold and calculating mind, with knowledge of their every move, able to cut them off at every opportunity. Nick finds himself drawn into the madness, struggling with his own demons, and as he begins to see improbable things, he worries that his very investigation is at risk. Is what he has seen an experiment or has Tibon Agha, their suspect, engineered a mutant army?

As he tracks down the missing children, he finds more then he has bargained for. The children have far exceeded the size and abilities of other children their age and there is something both unnerving and yet special about all of them. Each has developed different characteristics and abilities. They have been raised with God and have a heavy belief in prayer, and when they are finally found by Tibon and his crew, they must come together and rely on each other and their belief in God, to not just save themselves and their adopted families but the country itself. In addition, as Nick fights for his own life, he too must rely on the help of these children, for it will take skills and abilities, far above what he and his team are capable of to stop Tibon and his mutations.

In The Unwanted, Daniel L Carter has developed the very world of today, yet covered it with a sheen of other worldliness, seeming to set up a futuristic place rife with possibilities and powers. The characters are well developed each with characteristics that are unique and all with an old-fashioned sense of love and caring. Their mutations put them at risk and yet they have survived far longer then predicted. It is the current consensus that they have only lived to their current age due to their closeness and belief in both God and prayer. Religion is a part of this story, and woven throughout the entire frame of the story structure; the work would not survive without it. It is not pushy or an effort to foist religion, it is just an intricate part of the story giving it a unique edge. The children are charismatic and extremely different in their personalities, and each has a strength that makes them unique. The nurse Janet Renard, one of the two that escaped with them becomes their pseudo mother, with her family their extended family. This is a well-written story, staying true enough to science that it is somewhat plausible. Daniel's writing brings to mind the Maximum Ride series, by James Patterson. The characters come off the page and are just young enough to be lovable. They have problems and phobias as well as anger and other personality traits that make them much like you and me.

Daniel has created a wonderful story full of surprises and human emotions. The book is fast paced and interesting, often leaving you tense and uncertain, but always rooting for the children, hoping they can overcome the hardships they endure as their bodies begin to change. He takes a page out of science to create a fiction that one day may actually be one of our headlines, and while you feel uncomfortable at how the children came to be what they are, they did not choose to be this way, and you are with them, feeling their dreams and really liking their character and personalities. This story is unique and the characters solid making a strong foundation for a faith based science fiction. This is a truly remarkable story.

Rating 5/5
The Unwanted

This  was received as a free e-book from the Author. All opinions are my own based off my independent reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Zan Gah and The Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman

Article first published as Book Review:Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman on Blogcritics.
After rescuing his brother Dael, from the fierce Noi tribe that had captured and tortured him for two years, Zan Gah feels like he may finally be at peace with his life. He falls in love with the beautiful Lissa Na, a young Noi woman who helped in the rescue. But Dael is not the young carefree boy from their youth. He had changed, the torture had made him into a different man then he had been. There was anger and distrust, which haunted his very soul. Lissa Na continued to love him and was the only one that could soothe his soul. They married and when she died during childbirth, it brought out another side of Dael that was vindictive and spiteful. He hurt people and he hated his twin brother Zan Gah with a vengeance. He developed a group of followers who found his intensity and propensity interesting and exciting. He no long wanted to be a twin, so he shaved his head and tattooed his face to make himself different. His followers were right behind him, finding everything his did fascinating. This is a story of a damaged young man, his life and times, as well as his interactions with those who loved him.

In Zan Gah,and the beautiful country, Allan Richard Shickman has brought you a story of change and upheaval. What happens when an entire culture moves their clan and families? How do the changes manifest in the people of the time. For some the change is not so hard but for many the differences are brutal. He also takes you further into the lives of Zan Gah as well as his twin brother Dael.

Zan Gah had grown during his search for his brother. He was thrilled to have him back in his life, but it did not take him long to realize that Dael was not the brother he remembered. Zan Gah, is a cautious but enlightened man, he marries a young woman that many in his tribe would not consider. She is a hunter which is not acceptable in his clan and yet he admires her for her prowess. He continues to love his brother and try to help him to overcome his anger and rages, even though at times Dael is quite cruel. Zan never gives up on him, always remembering his brother when they were young; Dael was the funny one, the dreamer. He was well loved by all. Zan could not and would not give up on his ideal of who his brother was. When they find during a scouting, that the dreaded wasp hunters are gone, they group together to move their clan to the beautiful country. This is one of the few times that they will ever agree on anything.

Dael is a young man, embittered by the time and treatment that he received by the Noi tribe. They were cruel, subjecting him to all forms of punishment and torture, feeding him food not fit for animals. That he actually lived through this time for two years is a testament to his strength. His only relief during this time was when the young Lissa Na would stop by and speak with him. She found him fascinating, and grew to love him during this time. He relied on her soothing voice and her caring ways to help him make it though the worst of his torture. They were married once he was rescued and it appears that although he would occasionally have a flair up, life was good. When she died unexpectedly during child birth Dael became unhinged. He was everything and more of the very devil that the Noi had thought him when he was their slave.

This is a story of pain as well as hope. Understanding how Dael has come to be who he is does not make it any more palatable. He is an unpleasant young man and very easy to dislike. And yet there must be more to who he is as he has his own group of followers, willing to lay down their lives for him. He had a beautiful woman who loved him and left her own family for him. The story is intriguing but brutal. As it continues to develop you can only wonder and worry as war arises with the Noi. How will they cope and will things ever be as they were?
This is the second book in this series written with an eye to change. It must have been a brutal time and place and Allan Richard Shickman has spared no feeling with his descriptions of both the beauties and the atrocities. This book of the series is far more brutal and descriptive of the tribes and their clan wars. It brings to life the haunted realities of what captivity can create. I would recommend this book as it brings to a close ,the story of Zan Gah and his tribe. It is a wonderful thought provoking read and would make a good discussion for a reading group or book club.

Rating 4/5
Zan-Gah: And the Beautiful country

This book was received as a free copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kiss Me, Kill Me by Maggie Shayne

Reviewed first on The Romance Reviews

Sixteen years ago a child was born. Sixteen years ago a young woman who had just given birth to a baby was found murdered. The child was never found and the murder was still in the books. In Shadow Falls, sixteen-year-old children are disappearing, one by one. When the first one, Kyle, is found dead, Carrie Overton, the local doctor, begins to panic. She has a secret that she has been keeping for sixteen years. As she races against time to help the police find the kidnapper and murderer, she fears for her own son's safety.

Carrie Overton is a loving and well-liked doctor in the small town of Shadow Falls. She is also a mom and a wonderful parent to her son Sam. Carrie also acts as mother to Sam's girlfriend, Sadie. Sadie comes from a broken home and has had to care for her mother all her life. She is tough and resilient, a strong young woman to the core. But she has become a part of Carrie's extended family.

Carrie has a secret that has been with her for sixteen years. Sam is not her real child. She could not have children. She ran into Sam's real mother on the first night she came into Shadow Falls to begin her career as a doctor. The young woman's car was pulled over to the side of the road. When Carrie pulled over to offer assistance, she found the woman in labor, just ready to deliver. This would be Carrie's first delivery in her new job. Once the baby was born, a boy, she checked to make sure that the mother was alright, tucked her coat around mother and baby and went to the nearest home to contact an ambulance. When she found no one there, she returned to where she had left the young woman and her new baby in the car, only to find the car gone. As she got out, she saw her coat on the ground. Wrapped in her coat, with a note asking her to care for him was the baby, Sam.

Carrie made a decision at that time to keep Sam and to be the best mother ever. It was one of the most unethical things she had ever done, forging a birth certificate as well as claiming him as her own, but she never looked back, and he was her son in every other way possible.

Sam is smart and fun, he has put himself in harm's way in the past to help save someone he did not know, but was well rewarded. He is well-respected for a young sixteen year old and has many friends. He is sports-oriented, loves to camp, and absolutely loves his mom. The other person in his life is his girlfriend Sadie, a girl much like his mother, to be honest—tough, with a core of steel, but also wonderful and compassionate.

Gabriel (Gabe) Cain is a drifter, a musician, with the standard look. He has long hair but is quite handsome. He, like everyone else has just heard the news that a woman who was murdered sixteen years ago had been misidentified at the time. He has come to Shadow Falls with a secret of his own. He is free-spirited and a wonderful, kind man. He first meets Carrie at a sports event where she is watching her son play. One of her son's friends has an asthma attack and he volunteers his help.

The area is rife with tourists, and the police have their work cut out for them. Lining up volunteers for searching for the lost boy proves to be providential. Everyone, including many of the tourists turn out for the search. It is one of these tourists, Ambrose Arthur Peck, who finally finds the body of young Kyle. He is so traumatized by it that he is almost inconsolable. Being a tourist in Shadow Falls has just become a terrible disadvantage. Everyone is being looked at with suspicion, but no one more so than any stranger in town.

As the action heats up, Carrie and Gabe are drawn together. Neither of them are the other's type, and yet they begin the slow dance of attraction. Respect turns into a smoldering and cautious tension between them, but they are both holding a secret. Carrie wants to entrust her secret to Gabe, but she is afraid to entrust this secret to just anyone. When Sam's girlfriend Sadie disappears, Sam becomes inconsolable. Gabe steps in to help. His logic and free thinking style seems to be the only thing keeping Sam from the brink, who is petrified that Sadie will be found dead just like his friend Kyle. As the tension and longing continue to scorch the pages, the action and suspense continues. Who is taking the children? Not even Gabe is free from suspicion.

In Kiss Me, Kill Me, Maggie Shayne has delivered an extremely fast-paced, action-filled suspense, filled with romance and longing. The characters are so well developed you get a great visual as they come into their part of the play. The tension and longing between Carrie and Gabe is heartfelt and intense. As each new action plays into the story, they have to continue to rethink their values. Carrie is ready to offer it all to Gabe including her secret, but is afraid. There is more going on in the little town of Shadow Falls, and they have to strengthen their bond of trust because without that, they may miss the signs. And as everything she holds dear comes into danger, she must find the strength with Gabe at her side to protect what is theirs at all costs.

Maggie Shayne has created red herrings at every turn, sending the reader in different directions. Just when you think you know what is happening, another twist to the story turns your direction. But through it all you feel the strong, yet also fragile love, testing its wings, looking for that one sure word or action that will set it in stone. To the very end, there are surprises, a powerful love story and a marvellous mystery, set with an ending that will leave you fulfilled.

Rating 5/5

Kiss Me Kill Me
This book was received as a free e-book copy from Net Galley. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

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Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan

Article first published as Book Review: Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan on Blogcritics.

A home and family are tragically destroyed by the unintentional suicide of a son. In a cry for help and an attempt to get attention, he slits his wrists, believing he would be found and rescued. His mother, Megan, feels her shame to the bone; her work had always come first. With the death of her son, her marriage also crumbles. Everything is disintegrating around her. Leaving her work to spend some quality time with her daughter and to pick up the pieces, she makes a decision to get away, and a friend recommends the small town of Moonlight Creek, a beautiful lakeside town as a place to go for healing and to strengthen their relationship.

Moonlight Springs is everything she had heard, beautiful and remote, small and restful. But was it really? There is something lurking in the shadows. Megan is a bit spooked in the beginning, but is really enjoying the time spent with her daughter. She has met a few nice people in the area and her daughter Jenna has also met a dreamy boy. Someone she can relate to and spend time with. As they leave their cabin heading for the local grocer, to stock up on food, Megan finds there is even more about this town that makes no sense. The grocery store that she stops in has only shelves and shelves of water available. Every kind of water you could imagine, but only water. As they stop at the local bar for a bite to eat, they find Giselle, the owner to be very friendly. They learn that Jenna’s new friend Mark is Giselle’s son. The bar is empty but, the floor is wet and full of puddles. Giselle only smiles and apologizes, she has just finished cleaning.

As Megan and Jenna head back to their cabin they discuss the oddities of the quirky little town and laugh about the absurdities. Although Megan finds it all a bit eerie, It seem as though every where she goes she feels as though they are being watched. When to do run into any locals, while friendly they are not exactly outgoing, and they too seem to stare a bit too long. Brushing this off as just the effects of small town life Megan is determined to build a strong relationship with Jenna.
Megan is one of the women of the world that should not be a mother. Her entire life, until the death of her son is wrapped up in her work. It is what makes her come alive and she is only really happy when she has a new project. She loves her family but her work makes her life complete. In a last minute effort to make things right she has quit her job and is determined to become the kind of mother that her daughter Jenna can relate to. She wonders if it is too late to repair the damage to her marriage as well, but for now that is on the back burner. She knows the feelings are still there, but the distrust and disillusionment is also in the way. Jenna is her main concern and she is willing to do what it takes to rebuild a relationship that she never really had. If that means going to a small town for some alone time with her, then she is more then willing.

Jenna is a sweet girl. She is still hoping that her parents will get back together. While she really loves her mom she is also a bit angry at her. On the day of her brother’s death she had called her mother several times with concerns about him, but her mother would not take her calls. She was too busy with her work. Jenna too needs to find some time to rebuild a trust that needs to be inherent in a parent child relationship

In Drowned Sorrow, Vanessa Morgan has crafted an extremely creepy story. The town of Moonlight Springs, while a beautiful and restful place on the surface, has dark and dangerous currents known only to the inhabitants. It is a kind of a cult, but not like anything you have ever imagined. This is the kind of story you often find in a Koontz or King novel. I began reading it and was alternately annoyed at how Megan was portrayed and really not liking her persona. I could feel that the story would be one that would not be comfortable to read. I put it off for a bit, and then one night took the plunge. What I would have to really reiterate to you is, do not read this book at night. I was appalled at the extreme horror of the story and while there was a bit of, that is just weird; it still was able to pull me in with the intricate and well thought out creepiness. The ending was so uncomfortable I could not sleep for the rest of the night.

If you love a horror novel this would be one for you. I am not really a horror fan, and it is a book like this that reminds me of why that is. Vanessa Morgan may have found her genre, and how someone could have this kind of nightmare roiling around in their imagination just never ceases to amaze me. And while I am not a horror fan, I do know when a book is gripping, and this is that at its absolute. Reading the nightmare as it unfolded, and even understanding that I would not like the outcome, I could not put it down. Once I was in, I was hooked.

I would recommend this book for those that love the horror genre. I do not think it would be a book for teens, so even if your teen loves horror, you may want to read it for yourself first. I will be passing this book on to my sister who really loves this kind of thing, and she will be the one to read it over and over. This will make her library of macabre books. So if you have the fortitude for horror, here is the book that will bring it home, my recommendation though, lock the doors, have some friends over, just for company, but do not read this after dark.

Rating 5/5 for horror
Drowned Sorrow

This book was received as a free copy from the author. All opinions are my own based of my reading and understanding of the material.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Her Reluctant Bodyguard by Jennette Green

Published first on The Romance Reviews

This is an intense and suspenseful story gripping you right from the beginning. Alexa is a new author and has just published a best seller based off her childhood friendship with a legendary chef, Pricilla Blake The book is an autobiography which rockets her to instant fame. She comes into contact with one of her idols on the set of the Today show, both there for a taping of interviews. As she is …gawking, one of his body guards waives her off. He is a small man but very intense. She is star struck and when she runs into the very man she adores, famous pop star Colin Radcliffe, her nervousness causes her to babble. Her fist comment is about how tall he is and he asks her if she has a problem with tall men. In her babbling she comments that she likes tall men better then short men, as they remind her of munchkins. As she tries to control her mouth, she notices the body guard from earlier, and is horrified at the thought that he might have overheard her comments.

Colin has been pushed by his agent to have his autobiography written and he has decided to have her be the writer. Because he is leaving on a tour of Europe he needs her to travel with him in order to facilitate the research. Initially she is unprepared and blurts that she is a Christian woman and that there would be no fringe benefits. Instead of being angered he is amused and assures her that he will be on his best behavior. His bodyguard, who has now been introduced to her as Jamison is not so amused. He shows a cold dislike and keeps a sharp eye on her.

Within a few days of reaching their destination, Alexa finds that the time she will have with Colin for research, will be brief. His time is not his own, and he assures her that his secretary Eve will be able to fill her in on much of her questions. Eve however appears to also have a problem with her, and while Colin is around is kind and helpful, she becomes angry and spiteful when they are alone together.

Within a few days of reaching England she receives her first death threat, warning her to leave and to stay away from Colin. This is usual business for a famous Rock star, but he is very concerned and assigns her a body guard, one of his own. To her dismay, it is Jamison the very body guard that treats her so coldly.

As the intensity of the threats and the attempts on her life began to become real, she has to learn to rely on a man that she does not like. He is blunt and opinionated and treats her as though she were a fool. She is just contrary enough to push his buttons and the sparks fly from the very beginning.

Alexa is a beautiful young woman, just reaching her potential but with a deeply damaged psyche. She does not trust easily and has only been in love once in her life, it ended very badly. She knows that God has a plan, but she too has a plan. A list of what she is looking for in the perfect man. Colin fits her list to a tee. His only drawback is that he is not a Christian. But he is kind and handsome, and she may be willing to overlook this shortcoming. On the other hand Jamison is just the opposite of everything she is looking for; he is short and brooding, opinionated and rude. He is a Christian and while they are thrown together for her safety, she begins to form a sort of bond and trust of him. She still finds him very annoying and continues to challenge him at every opportunity. He has rescued her on several occasions and she now trusts him with her very life.

Colin is a man who is used to getting whatever he wants. And he wants Alexa. He is used to women throwing themselves at his feet and he is not used to having to fight for what he wants. He wants to settle down and find just that one woman, and he thinks that Alexa fit’s the bill. He is a very nice man, but has been spoiled a little by his fame. He is searching, but Alexa is starting to seem to slip away.

Jamison is a man on a mission. He is the bodyguard of a famous Rock star and he has just been put in charge of guarding a woman he considers a prima dona. He is still hurt from overhearing her comments about small men, so has a pretty low opinion of him. He finds her extremely attractive but fights that attraction with a vengeance. They continually squabble and argue, each trying to out do the other. The ever present danger draws them together and as spend time together he finds that she is not women he thought she was. His heart is taking a dangerous turn. Even if they find the suspects that are trying at all costs to kill Alexa, he knows her heart is with Colin. He is stubborn and proud and will not bend.

This is a great story; the characters are bold and bright, well developed and likable. While Alexa feels that Colin is perfect for her, it is just an infatuation of a woman for her idol. Her feelings for him are absolute milk toast compared to her dealings with Jamison. At every turn, you can feel the passion smoldering, and through many misunderstandings and hurt feelings you hope that at some point they will realize they are meant for each other. The danger is intense and well written and the attraction between the two is aflame.

The author has built a suspenseful story, full of surprises. As the dangers keeps on unfolding you learn to love each of the characters, their flaws as well as their courage. Why is Alexa being targeted, and will Jamison and Colin find the answers before it is too late? The game is afoot, as they say, but love conquers all.

Rating 4/5
Her Reluctant Bodyguard

This e-book was received through The Romance Reviews from the publisher. All reviews are my own based off my independent reading and understanding of the material