Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cork Town by Ty Hutchinson

Article first published as Book Review:Cork Town by Ty Hutchinson on Blogcritics.

We often hear of cover-ups in crime and politics, but what happens when the two coincide. When innocent lives become the fallout of corruption, who really wins? Who is there to unveil the truth?
In Cork Town by Ty Hutchinson, we are introduced to the darkness and depravity of a cover-up that seems to be rooted in the past. When a serial killer begins copycat killings in Detroit, Agent Abby Kane is dispatched with her partner, from their home office in California. Known for her ability to find the truth, she is nevertheless confused. Everyone in the precinct seems to shy away from talking about the first crime spree, the one that is being copied. When trying to find answers, she runs up against a solid front of denial.  Finally allowed to visit with the original killer in prison, she only learns that he is guilty of murder and bank robbery, but even he insists that he didn’t do any cutting. Yet many of his victims were cut, including his girlfriend. Her visit only adds further questions, leading her back to some form of cover-up and a swift move to justice. But why?
When the original perpetrator is found dead in his cell, and executives of the auto industry begin turning up dead, she is at her wits end. Like being in a pinball machine, she hits bumpers in every direction she turns, spinning her off into other tangents. Trying to keep her home life separate, she finds herself trying to deal with both, but with little success.
Can she find the answer to the darkness that buries the truth before other lives are lost? Is the secret too entrenched to discover. As bodies continue to turn up, she races against the clock in an effort the stop the madness. Who can she trust when the house of cards begins to tumble and all avenues are a dead end?
Hutchinson has brought us another hero, a short of stature, but long of brass female agent. She is fun and feisty, fiery and bold, but also just beginning to realize what family means. Endangering herself is not just about her any more, but what it would mean to her children.  While a bit absurd, her continued texting in the middle of danger, is cute and just a little distracting. But she seemed unfazed and able to handle the small annoyances it brings.
When she realizes she has fallen for her partner, the story heats up a bit but disappointment and heartache are only a few pages away.
If you enjoy action, and a bit of savagery, you will enjoy Abby Kane, the agent in charge. Cork Town gives us background and a bit of history, along with a seriously disturbed killer. The red herrings are plenty, and the action is continual, keeping you deep in the pages.
This would be a great book for a book club. Abby Kane is a new hero to be watching for. I look forward to her further exploits. 

Rating 4/5

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

Givaway entry for The Tartan Shroud by Ken Dalton

The Tartan Shroud Book Summary:
A bulldozer unearths a young girl’s body on a golf course in Scotland but for some reason, Fergus Murray, the top crime officer in Tayside seems unwilling to pursue the case. Fergus contacts Willow Stone, his American cousin and pleads for help. Willow, Pinky’s favorite ex-wife, calls in all her chips and convinces Pinky, Bear, Flo, and Ettamae to go to the small Scottish town of Pitlochry to help her cousin find the killer. Along the way the American’s come across a forester with a wonky eye—haggis—the occasional bad weather spring day—various Scottish policeman all named McSomething—mutton pie—a near new, sixty-year-old Austin Taxi—a bathroom that could double for a freezer—the nearly indecipherable Scottish accent—many glasses of whiskey and beer—ancient records—a broadsword—and a real Duke! Ride with Bear, Flo, and Henry during their final mad dash across Scotland to try to stop the murderer before he kills again inside the hallowed halls of Blair Castle.

Ken Dalton's Bio:
Ken Dalton was born in 1938 at Hollywood Hospital. He grew up with his parents, his older sister, Pat, and younger brother, Richard in Los Angeles. The year 1938 informs the quick reader that Ken’s older than a lot of people, but younger than some.

In a turn of bad luck, the dreaded Polio virus found Ken.

At the end of World War ll, Ken’s family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming for a year where he learned how to live through snow blizzards, avoid walking through the large pile of coal in the basement, and how to survive life as an Army Officer’s brat on a base called Fort Warren.

By the age of sixteen, after eleven years of operations, therapy, and braces, Ken’s luck changed dramatically when he met the girl of his dreams at a party. A few years later they married, produced three wonderful children, and settled into a happy life in Southern California.

In 1966, Ken, who worked as a technician for Pacific Bell, and his family left Southern California for the green hills of Sonoma County where they bought a home in Sebastopol surrounded with apple trees. A few years later, Ken and Arlene built a new home on three and a half acres. They raised cows, pigs, and learned how to build outstanding fences. While their children grew, they hosted two exchange students, Eva Reimers from Sweden, and Tanja Wuttke from Germany, both of whom are still loved members of the Dalton clan. Also during those years, Ken was promoted to management at Pacific Bell. He eventually ended up responsible for all the central offices, sixty-three, in an area that covered five counties.

In 1977, Ken, Arlene, Bob Wiltermood, and his wife Norma, designed, built, and operated a 2000 case winery named Pommeraie Vineyards. They produced award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. However, after Bob died, the winery was sold. Ken and Arlene moved to a hilltop in Healdsburg.

With the winery gone, and time on their hands, Ken and Arlene started to perform with the Camp Rose Players. Twenty years and forty productions later, both are still acting and singing.

Life was good. All Ken had to do was learn some lines and bow when the audience applauded.

Then, ten years ago, Ken started to write. His first article was published in Golf Illustrated in August 1996. More golf articles followed in national and regional magazines including Golf Magazine and Fairways and Greens.

After a two-year stint on the County Grand Jury, Ken felt the need to begin his first novel.

Now, after a decade of struggle to learn the craft of writing, Ken has become the publishing world’s latest overnight sensation.
Enter below to win a copy of the Tartan Shroud. The Drawing is done through Tribute Books. Good luck, you will enjoy this work.

Rafflecopter GIVEAWAY HTML embed code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends February 1st, Stay tuned for an indepth reveiw on January 9th.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Linked by Emma Hill

You can never go back. One of the lessons we learn as we grow older is that even as we wish for the past, even returning to the roots we left there, we find change. Is it because the place has changed, or is it that as we get older, we outgrow the trappings of our former years and move on?  We do not always realize that home is where we make it, not in what once was.
In Linked by Emma Hill, we are transported to the life of Matt Clevene as he leaves his lavish business in England, and heads home to Australia to visit his uncle. Reminiscing about life as it has changed; his uncle shares the harrowing details in the death of his nephew a few years before. Hearing the details are tough, he has already lost both his parents and has finally let go of his anguish.  His foray to visit his uncle causes him further surprise as he soon realizes that along with the background information about his nephew’s death, he is realizing that his uncle was much closer to his mother than he imagined.
As he takes it all in, he also notices a new neighbor in the house next door. His uncle has only the best to report about the woman that lives there, but warns Matt that she is a recluse.  Something about her strikes his interest and he intends to meet her.  Ready to delve further into the mysteries and find out what he can about the past, he is stunned by the sudden death of his uncle.
As he waits for the autopsy, and tries to make sense of the tangles of life that have closed around the bowels of his family, he finally meets the neighbor Sarah. As elusive as his uncle described, he is smitten. Every step of the way he makes the wrong turn, and within a very short time, his business is under scrutiny and close to being closed, and people around him are beginning to die. There is something at play that he does not understand, but can he find the secret before it is too late?
Hill has given us an interesting mystery with just a hint of paranormal.  While it does not come into play in this work, we have an inkling of something that is happening that we are not privy too.  The first of a series, there is an interesting plot in play that makes you want to hear more. Both a romance and a mystery, the story is interesting.
The interplay between characters however is rather stiff at the beginning, and while some of the characters come through clearly, the development could use just a bit more on the others. Beginning somewhat slowly the story broke through and the interest ratcheted up, creating a stronger interest.  The romance between Matt and Sarah was stilted, but it may well have been planned that way. The author has set it up neatly to continue on to the second of a series, but I felt a bit let down as the story wound down.
The work is interesting, and with further development could be a strong and fun series. If you enjoy romantic mystery and light reading this will fill the bill.  
Rating 3/5
This book was received from the marketing assistant. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Conneticut Tragedy

As with others, I listened to the news, not understanding what I was actually hearing. Who would target young children in such a cowardly action. Who would take the lives of those who have just barely begun to live?

Unsure how to react I can only send my prayers and love to those who are in the middle of this unbelievable moment of madness and despair. The pain and fear suffered by those parents who had to wait to hear if their own child or loved one was safe had to be dreadful. The joy and relief on one hand, or the grief and disbelief on the other. How do you prepare for such a tragedy? There is no answer, because there is no conceivable reason to believe this could happen.

In the time of year where families draw closer, to have such an abrupt and unacceptable shooting take place and to target those who have offered the least offense to anyone, creates a heartbreak for the entire country and the world. The pain and fear of those affected will last a lifetime, for those present and the families of all that were there today. The world stood still for a moment, a breath of time, and in that instant many lives were changed forever.

Please send your love and prayers to those who are suffering and for those who were lost today. Mourn with those who lost everything they had planned for, for we have all lost something today in the midst of this tragedy.The joy of freedom is fickle and can be wiped away in a moment--today we had such a moment.

My condolences to the families to all of those affected. My prayers are with you all.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Fart that Saved Christmas written by Jacob Morningside and illustrated by Nadja Andrasev

Article first published as Book Review: The Fart That Saved Christmas by Jacob Morningside, Illustrated by Nadja Andrasev on Blogcritics.

If you are looking for the lighter side of Christmas you will find your wishes in The Fart that Saved Christmas; An Adults Tale written by Jacob Morningside and illustrated by Nadja Andrasev. Written In the style of  Dr. Seuss, Morningside has written a fun tale of the woes of fate that linger behind the lives of Santa and his not always so Merry crew.  When the reindeer decide they have had enough and call a strike, it seems that everyone will take sides.
Listing their grievances including those having to do with Santa’s weight to his wife intruding in their home life and to the Elves mocking them, they are loud and boisterous with their concerns.  As Santa understands the nature of their thoughts, he is not about to step down.
He becomes belligerent to the point that the reindeer have concerns for his very safety.
This is a fun look at the lighter side of life, a chance to meet the darker side of Santa. The rhyming is satirical and at times sophomoric. The challenges and charges fit the stories and as the reindeer begin to see the error of their complaints the course changes for all involved.  But can they diffuse the situation before it is out of hand.
If you enjoy humor and are looking for that special gift for the holidays, this does the trick. Short and raunchy it will tweak your funny bone, launching you into an explosion of laughter and fun. A treat to pass around at your holiday parties, the humor is contagious.
Watch your guests though as they may begin to have ideas of their own in how to enliven a party, that may not be consistent with that of your neighbors.
Can’t find a gift for that adult that has everything? This may be just the fun to try on.
Jacob Morningside's Facebook:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

The Fart That Saved Christmas blog tour site:

The Fart That Saved Christmas Book Summary:

The behind the scenes story of what really happened "The Night Before Christmas."

It's Christmas Eve. The reindeer go on strike with a list of demands for Santa, the elves and Mrs. Claus. Santa gets "loaded" and threatens to cancel Christmas, fire the deer and divorce Mrs. Claus. But, just when all seems lost, Christmas is saved by a timely fart.

Jacob Morningside's Bio:
Born into a body inhabited by multiple muse personalities, I create stories by stretching the "normal" beyond the boundaries of the absurd. The result is a worm-hole ride to the Far Side. I love a good story — so, I wrote one. Enjoy it with my wishes for a happy holiday season.

Price: $4.99
Format: Ebook
Pages: 40 illustrated
Publisher: Publish Green
Release: September 6, 2012

iBookstore buy link ($4.99):

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tortured Spirit: Book Four in the Jake Helman Files Series by Gregory Lamberson

Article first published as Book Review: Tortured Spirits: Book Four in the Jake Helman Files Series by Gregory Lamberson on Blogcritics.

A fascination of sorts exists and has for many years about the advent of zombies and other various creatures. Even those that do not believe in the idea that such things exist often find a bit of time to view the various movies for the sake of the horror they often evoke or the book for a spot of disconnection from reality.

In Tortured Spirits by Gregory Lamberson, we follow the exploits of his main character Jake Helman, a private investigator that is deep into the lore of such things. An ex-cop, he finds that his profession as an investigator is more than he bargained for in many different ways. Having already been in serious battles with an army of demons, zombies and a variety of other types of creatures, he is now on a quest to save his best friend.
What he doesn’t expect is that Maria Vasquez, his best friend’s partner, has her own plan. That is to join him and find out what is going on in the mysterious life of Jake.  Only knowing that her partner has disappeared, she knows that Jake knows the answer. But she is unprepared for what she finds.

Putting aside her skepticism, she joins forces with him in his attempt to find the one person who can help him in his goal to return his friend. There is a catch; he must first rescue her husband. The danger in this task is palpable, but she is the only one who can help him. Her husband, a political refuge, is being held on an island that is a law in itself. Darkness covers the area, and the inhabitants live in constant fear of retribution, but Jake and Maria have no choice.  Can they break into the prison and rescue the prisoner, escape with him back to the states and still live to tell the tale? Do the rumors that abound about the creatures that live there, hold any merit?

Lamberson has delivered us a hero with strength and an ego. His exploits remind me much of the character, Jack Reacher, of Lee Child fame. The difference is in the dangers they face, one more human and the other the stuff of nightmares. The ability to blaze through the sequences hold a fascination, and when Maria Vasquez joins in, the going becomes a higher caliber.

While Helman is the main character, in this particular episode, Vasquez with her personality and ability to get out of tough situations steals the scene time after time. The action is fast and deadly, with unexpected twists and turns that keep you reading far into the night.  Be assured that you will keep the lights on and the slightest noise will give you a start.

There is richness to the action that takes you there, and even with the advent of zombies and demons, you can visualize the events. The color is clear and the action sucks you in. If you love action packed thrillers full of creatures and characters that you only dream about, this would be a book for you. If you find this to your liking you will be interested to note that it is a part of a series of books featuring Helman, known as The Jake Helman Files. Be prepared for a wild ride into a world much different than the one we now know. Or is it?

Rating 5/5

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

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Article first published as Book Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver on Blogcritics.

Can the beauty of nature distract us from the reality of what changes in her behavior can mean in our world? One of the most beautiful of nature’s creatures is the butterfly, majestic and noble, with a grace that captures the hearts and souls of many naturists. A Change in the migration patterns of these beauteous creatures would be an anomaly to the science world, but could bring about misunderstanding in the community that becomes their home.
In Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver we are taken into a place in Appalachia where a rare and concerning change in behavior of the monarch butterflies has changed the behavior of a family and a town.  The lives of the Turnbow family become inextricably linked with the migration as the butterflies choose to settle on a part of their property that has been slated for clear-cut.
Dellarobia Turnbow feels like an outcast in her family.  Caught up in marriage at an early age she still finds herself craving that something more.  On her way to an assignation that will change her life, she feels a chill of premonition of how this will affect her life. The thought of her children and her marriage, create sadness, but the excitement pulls her.  Heading into the wilderness area of the property owned by the family for generations, one that has been slated for clear-cut; she is startled by the vision of the sky in flame. The orange color broils and twists, in a show of beauty and danger. To her, this is a clear sign that she cannot resist. Turning and making her way back to the life she now lived, she felt the vision was a sending from god.
Not sure how to move forward though, she finely tells her husband that he needs to walk the area, and make sure that his father is doing the right thing with selling the timber off.  After pushing in this direction, she is finally vindicated when he acquiesces and follows her up into the mountain. The discovery of the butterflies is interpreted as an act of god, and turns the town on their heads.  The influx of entomologists and the involvement of the news turn the countryside into a place of curiosity.
This is a beautiful piece of work describing the changes made with global warming, and how the effects of weather disturb the natural progression of the seasons.  As the changes evolve, so does the Turnbow family begin their own evolution.  A family entrenched in their beliefs, they move inexorable towards a truth that life must change.
To stay the same in beliefs and work in their own little place in the world does not change the tides of nature. Kingsolver gives us a story full of heart, and heart ache, delivering the tribulations of a family in denial and crisis. She uses the advent of beauty to bring out the depth of secrets lodged in a family mired in lies and pain. The truth of nature seems to guide her characters to their own truths, and a healing that is necessary. 
Will the migration actually create the ending for these beautiful creatures and as well as the end of a family held together by deception?
The Flight is an interesting take on global warming, but it also takes you into the personal lives of a family that has hidden much of their pain and existed in a vacuum of hope that tugs at your heart.
If you enjoy finding the beauty in nature, and the overcoming of personal turmoil, you will enjoy this work. The description of the event is amazing and beyond the scope of expectation.  This would be a great work for a reading group or discussion group.
Rating 4/4

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Revenge of the Mad Scientist by Lara Nance

Article first published as Book Review:Revenge of the Mad Scientist: Book One by Lara Nance on Blogcritics.

A bit archaic yet eminently popular, Steam Punk is a genre of writing all on its own. Full of inventions or the possibility of inventions from the early 19th century, writers have taken to using the backdrop for novels of adventure and mayhem.
In Revenge of the Mad Scientist by Lara Nance we are introduced to a world of steam power and gaslights, one of differing nations vying for supreme power and the creation of chaos. When the Lord High Minister of Urbannia is kidnapped just as their country is on the verge of signing a peace agreement, blame is laid to rest on Gandiss, the very country in question. The kidnapping is handled during the celebration of the event, directly after the Minister’s daughter, Lady Arabella is introduced to the Lord of the realm in question.
Once the kidnapping comes to light, Lord Ismatan is rushed away by his men for safety reasons, but not before he assures Arabella of the innocence of his country. Giving her a ring to wear and use in case of need, he disappears before he can be arrested for the deed. Arabella is the only one who believes that Ismatan is innocent while all suspicion falls directly on him and his country of Gandiss.  Knowing her father’s life is in danger, she realizes that she must be the one to react.
Her faithful servant and her young charge, a boy she rescued from abusive behavior because of his difference, become a part of her retinue in her quest to find her father. It seems to be the only solution to head off a war between the nations, and Arabella is well aware that no one else is looking in the right direction.
As she finds the captain of a Steam airship that is willing to take her to her destination, she unintentionally sets into motion a series of events that will change the lives and destinies of all involved. She herself is kidnapped by slavers and escapes with another only to find that her fellow abductee is related to Lord Ismatan of Gandiss.  The coincidences continue to pile up as danger falls around the small group that is beginning to grow.  After the crash of her hired aircraft, fate puts another complication in her life. The only ship now available seems to be run by the man who left her at the altar years before.
Can she trust her fate and the fate of her father to such a ruffian? She knows she has no choice; her father’s life hangs in the balance. Can this band of misfits rescue her father and put a stop to the war that is now brewing?
The genre of steam punk is exciting and interesting. Nance does a great job of modeling the circumstances and describing the machinery and inventions that I find very interesting. In some novels the events of the story overshadow the background, yet Nance continues to interject with the variety and description of the steam punk props, whether it is the machinery, the clothing or the other interesting gadgets that strike our interest. At the same time she weaves a story that moves forward with purpose.
Interspace the entire event with knives and guns that also set up visuals, the novel moves at a smooth pace. There is certain believability about many of the modes of weapon and transport, much like those that carried the likes of Jules Verne on his fantastic voyages.

Nance also delivers on characters that have flaws but draw you in to their issues and problems. You find yourself cheering as they find ways around the foibles that exist.  If you enjoy Steam Punk you would enjoy this world. It is a fascinating journey into the unknown, and has the ability to take you there.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder

Article first published as Book Review: Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder on Blogcritics.

Known as the King of Beers, Budweiser was not always the brew we know it as today. Just before and a short time after prohibition, Budweiser like many other beers of the time was bitter and weak. Only after the Generation of Anheuser-Busch and their involvement in the repeal of the laws of prohibition, was an all-out effort made to take a brew and make it stand out from the rest.
In Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder, we follow the years and history behind the brew, and yet the story cannot be complete with the family and the foibles that were a part of this small kingdom.  The year 1933 is when prohibition was abolished and the golden years of Budweiser and the reign of the Anheuser-Busch family.  
Adolphus Bush, a German immigrant, worked diligently to save up enough money to open a brewery supply company. His fortunes changed when an early customer, Eberhard Anheuser came into the brewery though a defaulted loan. When Adolphus married Anheuser’s daughter Lilly, the dynasty was set, although there was no way of knowing this at the time. Adolphus became very involved in the brewery and became the first brewer in the United States to pasteurize his product, giving it a longer shelf life without fear of spoilage.  He built rail ice- houses to move his product giving him the ability to move his beer longer distances. He also began buying up some of the local taverns giving his beer an undisputed home. All of this helped them to become the nation’s first national brand of beer.  
Prohibition was brutal for all breweries and Anheuser-Busch was no different. The family though held the ear of the president and was very involved in the political arena. With the death of Adolphus, August Sr. took the reins of the company.  Never giving up the fight for the repeal of prohibition and their fortunes dwindling, they continued running the business and keeping people employed though the worst of time, making a name for themselves.
Bitter Brew, though is about the family and their lives, and their interaction in the lives of others. In the golden years after the beer wash changed using a new recipe, the business became about the people that worked in the breweries and the business. We follow the ups and downs of the family itself but also that of friends and workers.  There was something magical about being involved in the Budweiser family; a caring and reaching out to those that were a part.
This is then also about the ending and the changing of the guard, and the difference of a company that had been a part of the American landscape and involved in the backdrop of the prohibition era. Looking back at the heartache and heartbreaks, like looking backwards from a kaleidoscope, where all the disjointed pieces still fit together within the whole, and how the changes of venue no longer held the same heart.
If you are interested in history and the growth of a dynasty, you will enjoy this material. I found it quite fascinating reading, and felt sadness in the pit of my stomach as I neared the end. The story includes so much, including the commercial success and personal growth to the beginning of the Clydesdale as the mascot of the company. It also delves into the darkness of both privilege and power.
A marvelous book for the library, this would also make a great reading club or discussion group addition. It is full of heart and feelings as well as the ending of a Golden Age.
Rating 5/5
This book was received free from the Publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Books To Die For Edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke

Article first published as Book Review:Books to Die For edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke on Blogcritics.

An avid reader for most of my life, I find that my taste is very eclectic. However, as far as I can remember mystery novels have been just that one step ahead in my heart. Can it be that sense of fair play, or the fact that in most cases the responsible party has to pay? I am not sure of the fascination, but I am told that passion is worldwide.  Having my own favorite mystery writers, based on their own thoughts and stories, I have often wondered what it is that guides them. Who were their own mentors and favorite authors?
In Books to Die For Edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke, the mystery is solved (so to speak.) Filled with history and references to the best works of mystery fiction, such as those of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, John Lecarre, and many others, we not only learn more about these fascinating novels, but we are given the opportunity of that view through the eyes of our favorite authors today.
Each chapter is dedicated to a particular novel, one considered to be exceptional for many reasons, including those that have changed the face of how works are written and accepted by the public. As we delve into each of the books, we find them narrated by one of today’s mystery writers.
What I find fascinating is that not only is the work broken down and deciphered in a way that helps you to understand the thoughts behind the scenes and characters, we are also give the opportunity to know more about the person behind the book. Often that in itself is the great mystery.
Who would not want to know about the life of Poe or Dickens, what is was that drove them and the realities of their lives outside of writing. I some cases writing is the life of the author, but for most they were a very well connected and busy group, with ties to many different types of work. Some were tortured and tormented within their own mind, but each has a fascinating story.
I was impressed at the depth of the knowledge and research that went into each piece and really appreciated the spin that took me back into the history of some of these all-time favorites. I would be remiss in mentioning that the authors narrating and breaking down these world greatest mystery novels  are also considered the most well-known and respected Mystery writers of today.
The list is varied and the author’s works are also considered some of the best. Such greats as Karen Slaughter(apt name by the way,) Jeffery Deaver, Joseph Wambaugh, Kathy Reichs, and Declan Burke to name a few, put their spin on works that have withstood the test of time.  
If you are a fan of mystery, this is a must have for your library. One of a kind, this work is full of nuances and ciphers, brilliance and mayhem, and it is all broken down in such a way that I find myself wanting to go back and read the works described–with a different mindset.
This would be an excellent work for a reading group, and even more for a discussion group. The information and background is exceptional, and how this formed the writers and helped them to pen some of these important and brilliant works would be great fodder for discussion.
Rating 5/5
This book was received free through the authors publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Primary Fault by Sharon Kae Reamer

Article first published as Book Review: Primary Fault by Sharon Kae Reamer on Blogcritics.

Family connections are often the only way we have of staving off fear and loneliness. When those closest to us pass away, we often look further into our background to re-assert further connection. The information or result is not always what we expect or even believe.
In Primary Fault by Sharon Kae Reamer, we are taken into the strange and surrealistic world of Caitlin Schwarzbach. Leaving Texas after the death of her mother she arrives in Cologne, Germany to be near her brother.  Gus is a seismologist and Caitlin is put quickly on the defense as he disappears. When he is accused of sexual assault, she knows she must find the answers. Throughout her life her brother has been her hero and there when she needed him. She loves him and is indebted to him for saving her during an accident in which she became seriously injured, and struggled to survive. Now it is her turn to return that debt.
As she meets those closest to him in his field, she finds herself drawn to his friend Hagen. Using Hagen’s resources as well as those of Gus’s other connected friends she actually finds more mystery than answers.  As visions begin to distract her, and her own life becomes forfeit, a dangerous new game has begun. The dark and pagan background of the area seems to create a thinly veiled parallel world, one where darkness claims rule. Making deals with the deities of this realm seem common place in the visions and dreams that Caitlin is now experiencing.
When Gus is accused of murder and captured by the police, Caitlin realizes that she is now in control of his fate as he was once in control of hers. Can she find the answers to free him, before death finds her?
Making friends with Gus’s erstwhile neighbor as well as a columnist who has fallen for her brother, she begins to find strange and haunting answers to the disarray in which they find themselves.  When Hagen disengages almost totally with her on a rudimentary level, he still professes to want to help her clear Gus, who by all accounts is a good friend. Can she set aside her heartbreak from this known rake, in order to clear her brother’s name?
Reamer has created an intricately webbed reality where science and magic dance in a semblance of chaotic order. Belief is suspended and darkness descends, unknown and unseen by those not involved in the geologic community. The telling is fun and exciting, and the unusual passion that runs beneath the scenes is captivating and spellbinding.
Add to this a cast of characters that are extremely likable in some cases, and truly evil and deadly in others, you have the makings of a seriously ingenious work of adventure. The tale is often just a bit overwhelming, and the scenes, especially those of seismic proportions make you look for a chair to sit down before you fall down.
If you enjoy the occult, paranormal adventure, romance, police procedural, suspense, murder and many mixtures of each, this is the work you are looking for. Well-spaced and easy to read, Primary Fault would be a great addition to your library.
This would also be a great novel for a reading and or discussion group, full of interesting and unique events to discuss and argue about.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blue Violet by Abigail Owen

Article first published as Book Review:Blue Violet by Abigail Owen on Blogcritics.

Walking the razor path between fear and danger is often deadly. If you were the one who witnessed a horrible act, and had to hide from life, what would that look like? Could you find a strength and courage to return to the everyday cycle of life?
In Blue Violet by Abigail Owen, we have the opportunity to meet just such a soul. Ellie Aubrey moves to Colorado, knowing that she has made a move that will put her in a spotlight. When she meets a unique group of friends who too are hiding, they began a slow dance around trust. They too have something to fear.
What Ellie does not expect is the feelings that occur as she meets Alex Jenner. Even as she tried to sort the emotions from the mix, she is smitten. But what of him, he initially seems to care but then cuts himself off.
As Ellie continues to watch over this unusual group, she is interested to see that each has a different type of gift. None of them seem very skilled with what they have, but each is different. When Ellie’s brother tracks her down, they find that her biggest fear is about to come true. They are being hunted with a stealth and cunning that she has seen before. Can she warn her friends and family before it is too late? Will they understand why she has lived a lie, and trust her judgment?  How does Alex Jenner fit in the equation?
Owen has given us characters to care about. Their unusual abilities and life cycle are interesting and the history of their being is unique. Known as Svatura, her world is exciting with challenges of both danger and the need to learn what is before them. Blue Violet is the beginning of a series about this clan, and looks to be very enticing.
The protagonists are quite deadly, and yet Elle has the power to keep the worst at bay. As you delve deep into the mystery of this strange and insular group you are mesmerized at the bravado of the last survivors of a brutal massacre. Family is such an important concept and Owen has taken it a step further to absolute acceptance.
This is a fun novel and would be an excellent addition to your teen’s library. Romance, danger and magic are filter around a centuries old pact. Young and old alike will enjoy the magic, and the yearning of a special love shines a light all its own.  If you are a believer watch for this series to continue and learn more about the Svatura and their lives and abilities as they find the strength to move forward.
Rating 4/5

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Shadow Man by Mark Murphy

Article first published as Book Review: Shadow Man by Mark Murphy on Blogcritics.

I have heard it said that everyone has a twin, someone somewhere that looks like them that would confuse their own family. A doppelganger is the word often used to describe this phenomenon. What happens when that other someone pretends to be you? Or what if instead of a doppelganger, someone who is a whiz at disguise decides to impersonate. How long would it take those closest to you to know? If this person had an agenda, one to set you up for horrific deeds, how would you fight what looks to be so real on the outside?
In Shadow Man by Mark Murphy, we are drawn into a psychological thriller that details a strange, yet surreal killer. A man who can choose at will to become someone else.
When Malcolm King finds his perfect life beginning to fall apart he does not anywhere to turn. He sees a shadow at every turn, mocking and terrorizing him. When he finds he is the prime suspect in the murder of a rival, he is not sure what to do. All of a sudden his perfect life, his medical practice and his family are in the balance. Who is the figure hovering in the shadows, the Thin Man as he begins to see him more? Is he the killer, the one creating the nightmare that is now a part of Malcolm’s life? When he is warned by a good friend that the police are ready to make an arrest, he decides to run for his life. There is not one shred of proof that he is innocent.  
As he tries to disappear, he finds he is in trouble–there are police everywhere. As the Thin Man steps out of the shadows to offer assistance, can Malcolm trust him. He must find a way to clear himself of these fictitious charges. As the Thin Man tells his own story, Malcolm has to make a choice. He must trust him or be branded a murderer for life.
Can this stranger be the savior of his sanity and his life? Time will only tell as the killing becomes even more brutal. When his family disappears, and another friend is attacked, he forms an uneasy alliance with a man he does not know or trust. But what else can he do?
Murphy has pulled the monster from our nightmares and put him into our daily life. This strangely twisted mind is walking among us, with no one the wiser. His crimes are horrific and the way he is able to create chaos is mind numbing. You can feel a chill as you step into the mind of Malcolm and the terror he is living becomes your own.
The scenarios, and the motivation are strange and carry a hint of madness, yet that is to be expected in the mind of a murderer.  The Thin Man is an artful twist to the story and one that gives it a strangely spiritual twist, although I am not sure that is what was meant. While there is nothing spiritual about the story, the entry of this persona lends another level, one of calm yet enduring pain as well.  The depth of deceit is surprising; the exhaustion created in the minds of those impacted is inconsolable.
The story moves quickly and is full of action, some horror filled and some more uplifting. Yet it marches deliberately towards the strange and yet somewhat mysterious ending. The conclusion is satisfying, yet adds another layer of mystery that makes you want more.
If you love a good thriller you will enjoy this book, the suspense and unknown draw you deeper into a pool of mystery that is not that easy to decipher.  A great read for a reading group, this would also be an excellent addition to your library. Murphy is a writer of note, one you will see more from.
The blog tour's official site is: 
Mark Murphy's Web Site:

Mark Murphy's Facebook:

Mark Murphy's Twitter:!/Heeldawg

Mark Murphy's Blog:

Savannah Book Festival:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

The Shadow Man blog tour site:

The Shadow Man Book Summary:
There is a devil in the night, silent and invisible, moving in the dream realm between life and death. And he's coming for you.
Savannah surgeon Malcolm King had a perfect life—a loving wife, devoted daughter, and a thriving medical practice. But when a random airport parking lot hit-and-run links him to a dead body in a Florida hotel and an acquaintance is found dismembered and stuffed into a garbage bag, Malcolm finds himself on the run as a suspected serial killer. But he's no murderer.

Or is he?

Who is the mysterious Thin Man who lurks at the edges of his vision? Are the ravens that crowd the skies overhead a warning of impending doom - or do they exist at all?

With the help of Seminole tracker Billy Littlebear, Malcolm tries to untangle the web of clues left behind by a mysterious chameleon-like killer known as the Shadow Man. But will he be too late?

The Shadow Man is a complex, atmospheric thriller in the tradition of Stephen King. Darkly evocative and relentless in its twists and turns, it dares the reader to put it down - even for a minute.
Mark Murphy's Bio:
A physician currently living in Savannah, Georgia, Mark Murphy is also a lifelong award-winning writer. In the midst of a busy medical career which included several academic publications, Dr. Murphy’s decision to attend the Iowa Summer Writing Festival led to the inclusion of a short story, "The Funeral," in a 2004 collection of works entitled O! Georgia! A well-received regular newspaper column in the Savannah Morning News followed. The Shadow Man is his first novel.

Formats/Prices: $14.95 paperback, $5.99 ebook
Publisher: Langdon Street Press
ISBN: 9781938296031
Pages: 348
Release: July 20, 2012

Amazon paperback buy link ($14.95): paperback buy link ($14.95):

Kindle buy link ($5.99):

Nook buy link ($5.99): ebook buy link ($5.99):

Monday, October 8, 2012

The GOD Franchise; A Theory of Everything by Alan H. Dawe

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review:The God Franchise; A Theory of Everything by Alan H. Dawe

Since the beginning of time we have asked many of the same questions. Why are we here, where did we come from, and the real topper––What is life all about?
In The GOD Franchise; A Theory of Everything, the author Alan H. Dawe tries to give us a stance that he believes answers those questions and more. Not a book on any one religion Dawe delves to the core of the questions that haunt. With so many different religions as well as the non-believers there is a difficulty in answering to everyone’s satisfaction. What happens if you don’t believe, the different religions have different beliefs, so how do you take a concept and make it palatable for the masses.
If these questions and many others have you worrying and wondering, this work is precise and draws a parallel to the differences as well as the likenesses we all question. What about those that don’t believe in God? Well he has a theory for that as well.
If you are looking for answers and have questions about creation, you would enjoy the premise of this work. Dawe has taken the liberty of mixing the proven and the belief system and come up with an interesting scenario. Using the God Conscience as his credo, he has broken down the idea in easy terms. Much like the way a franchise works; he has drawn lines in the sand, a diagram of words to sooth the imagination and tickle the soul.
His philosophy is simple and easy to grasp, he colors the mix so thoroughly to paint a picture of beauty and you are drawn to the idea. You will hear much of what you already know, yet it is simplified. Mixing the scientific with the belief system, he uses famous quotes, passages from the bible and other works.
The perspective draws information from many varied and well researched works, and the ideology will challenge you to look deeper into your own life. If you are open to the challenge you may just find the answers to the questions that have always haunted you. Only you can change the way you live and think, and Dawe gives you a unique process that will at least have you questioning his ideas. As with any thing with free will, it is your choice and yours alone as to what you choose to do.
If you are looking for that certain something, here is another look through a different set of eyes.  You will recognize much of the theory from others works but Dawe draws a perspective that is at once fulfilling and interesting.
This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group. The possibilities are endless.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

Article first published as Book Review:The Cutting Season by Attica Locke on Blogcritics.

You often hear that you can never go home. From experience, I know that what you left behind is never the same as it was before. Often the return brings heartache, and then there are the times that bring terror.

In The Cutting Season by Attica Locke, we visit the Deep South and one of the Plantations of Old. Belle Vie is a huge place and a reminder of the past which includes generations of slavery. Caren Gray has gone home to Belle Vie where her mother and several ancestors put all they had into the home and the land. When the body of a young murdered woman is found, Caren finds herself in the middle of a mystery. It is one that could very well relate to the disappearance of one of her ancestors that went missing years before. Under suspicion herself, she works at trying to help find the answers. Little does she know, but there is more at stake than even she can imagine.

As she continues to look for answers, she finds her own past coming back to haunt her. Something is going on with her daughter, and the others at the plantation seem to know more of what is happening then they should. Can she find any answers before she becomes the prime suspect? What is the secret that it seems someone else is willing to kill for?

Locke has given us a beatific look at what the South is known for. The beauty of the lovely old plantations, and the grit and hard work of the slaves of another era are clear in the telling. She has delivered on the descriptions and the vision is easy to see, both the charm as well as the harm. Her visions come clear though the eyes of her characters as they struggle with the lives they lead as well as their reaction to the murder. Each still has an uneasy fear of the law, and it is quite telling in their different defense mechanisms, including that of Caren Gray.

The story is deep and creates a journey into the history of this centuries old plantation. It is well thought out and well told with an eye to detail. The creation of red herrings is twisted throughout the fabric of the story, taking away the usual easy guess as we try to depict who the bad guys are. She has shown us layers of badness, yet the murderer is the obvious winner in the desperation and vileness of his act. If you enjoy history and suspense you will enjoy this novel.

Locke has an uncanny way of taking you into the story without you even knowing until you are there. It is a skill to get the reader to feel the feelings and see the visions. She does that quite well. This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group. It is full of history and the characters just beg for commentary.

Rating 4/5

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

Monday, October 1, 2012

Stroganov by Ty Hutchinson

Article first published as Book Review Stroganov by Ty Hutchinson on Blogcritics.
When a young man is on top of the world and looking for fun, where can he go? Re-setting your personal life can sometimes be difficult, but don’t always jump into situations that could backfire, know the ins and outs of every opportunity because they just may bring you more trouble than they are worth.
In Strogonov by Ty Hutchinson, we follow the sometimes goofy antics of Darby Stansfield. This time he is involved with the Russian mob, and is their consultant on the items he sells them. When he finds himself flush once more, he knows it is time to look for love. Is finding a woman through a dating service in the Ukraine really the right situation or will he land himself once again in danger?
Going forward Darby believes he has found the woman of his dreams, but when he inadvertently rescues a different woman from sex traffickers, his life is again in the spot light. Unaware that he is being tailed, he heads home to determine his life going forward. When the girl of his dreams is murdered before his eyes while he is Skyping with her on line, he is mortified. To make matters worse the murderer now has a better way to track him. As people begin to die, Darby finds himself deeper in trouble than he ever thought possible.
Can he get himself out of the mess he is now in without losing any more friends and still keep his secret intact. He is on the road to destruction, but he still has hope. If he can only make it through the danger just one more time, he is ready to change his life. But is it too late to make such a commitment?
Hutchinson has given us his usual fare of fun with Darby, but this time he has put in some teeth. The murders are vicious, and the murderer is both cunning and ruthless. Yet much in the way of the Pink Panther, Darby stumbles himself out of danger time and again, and the bad guys look like fools.
This time however the fools are more dangerous and deadly. The descriptions of the murders cause chills. There is a marked menace in the way that Darby is stalked by the murder. Darby’s character is just annoying enough at times that you can understand why the bad guys get crazy when going after him, and this time is no different. Darby has gotten a bit smarter and his luck keeps him from being killed, but those around him are not protected by that umbrella.
If you enjoy crime thrillers and suspense novels you will enjoy this book. The scenes and action seem real and draw you in. The story is over before you know it, and leaves you wanting more.
Rating 5/5
This book was received as a free copy from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Loco Moco by Ty Hutchinson

Article first published as Book Review: Loco Moco by Ty Hutchinson on Blogcritics.

Doing the wrong thing for what seems to be the right reason is usually the first indication that trouble is on its way. With a mindset that often runs contrary in such a fashion, it is easy to see where the expression, "trouble is your middle name," came into being.
In Loco Moco by Ty Hutchinson , Darby Stansfield again determines that he will give up his unsavory clients and go straight. With his plans to spend some time in the beautiful paradise of Hawaii with his girlfriend Izzy, he is ready to settle down and he is confident that she is the girl for him. Convincing her to take time away from work so they can spend some quality time in the island paradise is the easy part. Even as he begins to relax in his new accommodations trouble is brewing. Little does he know that eyes are on them––hot and angry eyes? Someone is desirous of everything he has, but Darby is still unaware of the danger.
Surfing is in their blood and Darby and Izzy find they must get the permission of the island surfing gang in order to invade the waters for their own surfing fun. As they receive the okay, Darby finds himself again in a situation where he needs to decide right from wrong. He is known for his sales to the mob, and this group is aware of his fame. The money is more than he can make himself give up. However, this small gang of thugs is more than meets the eye. Trouble is brewing, and when Izzy is attacked, Darby is not sure where to turn. One of her new friends on the island gives her some advice, while a few of Darbys friends have their own ideas.
When a young girl goes missing and ends up murdered, and then their bungalow is broken into, Darby takes matters into his own hands. Hiring a P.I. and installing a state of the art alarm system, they begin the task of tracking down leads.
When Izzy accepts his proposal of marriage, Darby finds out for the first time that her father is in the FBI. He is no long quite so enamored of his own choices. Can he keep his involvement with the mob from her and her family? Can he safely leave Izzy in their Hawaiian retreat as he treks back to the U.S for his business meetings, or is the danger closer than they know? When Izzy disappears, Darby finds that he is under suspicion. Can he help decipher the clues before it is too late for her?
Hutchinson has a canny way of taking desperate situations and finding the humor in them. His character of Darby Stansfield is quite cunning in a somewhat shady and slapstick way. He is easy to like and while he certainly plays in the big leagues, he has a charm that takes away the sleaziness. Certainly from the time his character was introduced in Chop Suey, he has evolved from a lowly bottom feeder of a salesman to one of the top contenders. His charm and cunning has grown as well, but there is that bit of naivety that keeps him honest. (In an odd sort of way)
His stories are well thought out, and the action is quick and easy to follow. The interesting element of this series it the fact that you rarely figure out the solution until it is there before you. The characters that interact with Darby are well composed and his friendships are deep. He has a compassion that keeps you trusting him even though he is quite a bit of a rogue.
If you enjoy action and comedy this is a great series, one that will keep you entertained. If you love suspense with just a bit of the absurd, this is the work you are looking for. This would be a fun book for a reading group, one where you could discuss the odd merits of the decisions that are made throughout.
Ty Hutchinson just keeps getting better.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Friday, September 21, 2012

On The Bayou by Sean Patrick Bridges

Article first published as Book Review:On The Bayou by Sean Patrick Bridges on Blogcritics.

In a situation where you find that you may be one of the good guys, but that those that would have your back in the usual course may be on the take, how do you move forward? When your entire team is killed and you are the survivor, how do you make others understand, rogues in law enforcement are often hard to spot. Yet when your career is on the line how would you move forward, when proof is beyond your grasp?
In On the Bayou by Sean Patrick Bridges, we follow that path of Special Agent Jennifer Nash as she finds herself in such a situation. After her entire team is killed in a shootout she is put on leave. Given an opportunity to redeem herself as a ride along with a DEA group in the Swamps of Louisiana, she is out of her depth quite quickly. Not only is her team attacked again, the villains from her first stake-out, where her partner and group were killed, appear to be involved in this situation as well. She is forced to rely on men that do not trust her, and are not aware of her background. Fleeing deeper into the swamps in an effort to save themselves and put an end to the killing, they only find themselves deeper in danger. The killers live amongst the swamps and use the creatures that lurk there as their toys and tools of punishment. Not knowing who to believe in even as each of her new team are killed and mutilated; she takes a stab at Corey as someone she can trust. But even he has his secrets as they begin the long journey to freedom.
Will they survive another day, or will the cartel win in the end. Can they find and stop the corruption from within or is it too late for them as well?
Bridges has given us a slow build up to a frenetic showdown. The action is palpable and keeps you turning the pages. The killing in the beginning is not as climactic as expected—much too soon to get close to the characters. But as Agent Nash moves through the bayou with this new team of defenders you find your favorites and hope they are not the bad guys.
Surprise is evident at every turn as you find courage where you least expect it, yet you also find madness and despair. Some of the action is brutal and deadly, and often just plain cruel, yet the story keeps bringing you back. How will it end, who will survive? Who is really the rogue that turned on the team?
If you enjoy danger and suspense you will enjoy this work. I found the buildup slow and was not sure of my reaction, but once the action starts you find the background to have been necessary to guild the lily––so to speak. Bridges has a talent for bringing in the unexpected and for finding the cruelty that exists in those special few individuals. This is the second work I have read of his, and he often borders on horror, with the madness and ideas that his characters create to keep themselves amused.
There is no lack of action or questions as you delve into the darkness and passions of the Cajun life. The darkness and secrets of the bayou make their way into your view with the depth and depravity that seems just short of horror.
If you worry about swamps and gator country, don’t stop now.
This is one that will keep you holding on to those fears.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Maps of Fate: Book Two by Reid Lance Rosenthal

Article first published as Book Review:Maps of Fate: Book Two by Reid Lance Rosenthal on Blogcritics.

The old west of America was a lure for many in the 1800’s. Freedom and rumors of gold created a frenzy of movement, wagon trains were the mode of travel, and danger lurked at every turn.
In The Maps of Fate by Reid Lance Rosenthal, we follow the amazing journey of a group of young men and women who are dreaming their own dreams and drama as the rush to settle the West is in its infancy. We met the characters in Book one of the Threads West series, where the introductions took us back to their homes across the seas and their very reason for being in America. As the story continues we tail them into the west following the trail of the ancestors of many who have settled in the Midwest and Western part of this country. The romance is thrilling and the danger is exciting, yet the story captures your imagination as it creates a strong fear of the unknown.
As we follow Zeb, Reuben and Johannes and the women they love as they carve out a piece of history, we meet the natives and the outlaws, both with their own quests. Life on the trail and the rigors of traveling with a wagon train are brought to basic relief as the story continues to unfold. Danger within the group creates almost as much damage as the dangers they face from the outside on this epic journey. We being to hear the rumblings of dissent as the story furthers. News makes its way West through the writings and newspapers, hinting of a war brewing between the North and the South.  
Hostility and rage drive some while glory and choice drive the others. The creak and of the leather and the rumble of the wheels create the sounds and sights that create such an exciting saga. As you move through the words you can actually smell the smells, and hear the sound of the wind as the trail takes you deeper into the unexplored territories. Rosenthal has surpassed his previous work and given us such a complex telling you feel as though each and every story is true.  The horror and danger are real, yet the excitement and challenge are the edge that builds the heroes of the time.
The description of the characters is flawless, creating a feeling of knowing. You love them or hate them, but the feeling is real. The romance is fierce and gentle at the same time, but the savagery is just as abundant. The interaction of the group draws you in as you become immersed in their daily lives and begin to dream their dreams. Where you could only imagine what life at this time in history could be like, you now can begin to live it through the characterization of this wonderful group.
The story is exciting, the suspense is bold, and the period setting is sensational. You can smell the sage, and are startled with the unexpected sounds as you travel with the team. The sounds and sights are so real you begin to place yourself in the scenes, viewing the happenings as they occur, reeling with the danger and feeling the fear and adrenalin as you too take this journey.
If you love a great story and love history this is a fantastic work. If you enjoy romance, suspense, danger and action this would be a great book for your library. The work stands on its own, but the saga is certainly worth the read. The beginning sets the stage, but you can join up anywhere.  Be prepared to become engaged, as Rosenthal sets the stage for another leg of this fascinating journey.
Rating 5/5
This book was received free from the publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.