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: http://www.mark-e-murphy.com/

Mark Murphy's Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/dr.markmurphy

Mark Murphy's Twitter:https://twitter.com/#!/Heeldawg

Mark Murphy's Blog:http://shadowmanblog.com/

Savannah Book Festival:http://www.savannahbookfestival.org/authors/mark-murphy/

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

The Shadow Man blog tour site:http://the-shadow-man.blogspot.com/

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):

MyBookOrders.com paperback buy link ($14.95):

Kindle buy link ($5.99):

Nook buy link ($5.99):

MyBookOrders.com 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.