Saturday, December 27, 2014

Stolen, Heart of Dread by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: Stolen, Heart of Dread by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston.
In Stolen, Heart of Dread by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston, we continue the saga of Nat And Wes begun in the first of the series, Frozen.  Nat and Wes had parted and Nat has gone on to harness her powers. Having learned that the fire within is a part of who she is, at the same time she finds she is also the last of her kind. With the help of her friend Faix she learns to release the dragon and to use him in her fight of all that is wrong and those guilty of holding her planet in its frozen state.

Wes has gone on to find his sister, Eliza, rumored to be held in the golden domes of the Eldorado. Being back in New Vegas has its own dangers and what happens if Eliza doesn’t want to be found. 

When Nat loses her dragon she and Wes reunite as it soon becomes obvious that both their quests are leading them in the same direction, directly into the dangerous cauldron of what has created their frozen world from the beginning. Where does Wes’s sister fit in, and why was she kidnapped from her family so long ago.

If you enjoy fantasy and danger, threaded with mystery and adventure you will love the characters in this tale. The second of a series it still reads well on its own, and you will find that Wes and his erstwhile friends are a mix of fear and courage. It is when they are all together the courage becomes fierce, and when one of their friends comes into trouble, you see what makes them who they are.

Nat is heartbroken for she fears she has lost her inner dragon, but finding Wes again sooths her being for her love is strong.  Yet can she really overcome losing the primary part of her that has been her steady source of courage from the beginning?

Eliza is the question mark. Who is she really, is she a woman needing rescue or is she behind the plots to keep the world as it has become––frozen.  Can Wes and Nat along with their friends find the answers before it is too late for them all?

If you enjoy romance, danger, fun and mystery you are sure to enjoy this work. A young Adult fantasy that reads a bit like a fairytale and holds you captive, it is also a tale for the young at heart.
While is reads well on its own, you will want to find Frozen to find out how it all comes together.

This is a wonderful find for your young adult reader, and a work that you will enjoy as an adult as well. It has just enough mystery and danger to keep all levels entertained.

Rating 4/5

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

Forsaken: Ev amd Ell by C. Ryan Bymaster

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Forsaken: Ev and Ell by C. Ryan Bymaster.

Choices can help or hinder in life. The right choice can send you down pathways of happiness or the wrong choice to the other direction and your own slice of hell. Yet how do you determine the right direction?

In Forsaken by C. Ryan Bymaster, we are introduced to characters that have been offered another chance at redemption by helping to correct choices made by others. Everam, has been given this opportunity to protect “debatable” souls on earth. For each soul he saves he is healed and he moves one more step toward fulfilling his purpose

Yet in the struggle of light and dark there must remain a balance. Another has been sent with the same possible reward, to make sure Everam does not succeed.  It appears there is only one soul available, and winner takes all.

As time moves forward sometimes the rules become a bit blurred. When there is less distinction between good and evil. When the choices are right, there is healing and peace, but the other often wins. When this occurs… the healing is slow and painful for the loser, for the tossup goes to the winner, and the glory becomes their own.

Often the right thing is the death of the soul, and that death could come in many means, often quite brutal. As the struggle between the two continues, the decisions are more difficult, for the ideals and lines become blurred.

Bymaster has taken the fight between good and evil in an alternate direction. His characters are interesting and the differing choices make sense.  Even as they fight each other, due to the amount of time spent on earth, they begin to know each other as well.  While there is that competition between them, after much time together they begin to interact in more direct ways, humor, mockingly and sometimes friendship.

The flaws and the reasons they are chosen for the task make them more interesting, and the back story begins to unfold.  I found myself rooting for one then the other as the differing agendas occurred. While there is brutality there is also light and love, so the story does not seem as dark as it could be. While confusing at times the work is interesting enough to keep you reading.

If you enjoy stories of redemption, epic battles, and paranormal tales, you will find this an interesting read. There is a moral–a lesson that makes you think and consider. How do you really know the truth of any situation? You will enjoy the twist as Bymaster makes you question your own perception of what is right and wrong in this tale.

Rating 3/5

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Venom by Colin Falconer

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Venom', A Suspense by Colin Falconer.

Nature or nurture. So goes the argument from time to time when looking for a reason for truly heinous acts. Could the question really be so simple?
In Venom by Colin Falconer, we follow the life if Michael Christian. Born of mixed heritage and loved from birth by his mother, he is unwanted by his father and has learned a hard lesson very early. With hatred escalating between his parents, he is abandoned by his mother as she tries to move on.  The Lies from Jogi have come home to her, and she has learned that he will never marry her for he is already married in his own country. The bitterness and betrayal create a chasm and she takes the only chance she has, for she has found she is pregnant again, and there is only one option left to her.  A loveless marriage, but one that will help her win her father’s graces again and will give her unborn child a name.
Yet Michael is always on her mind, the bitterness of her betrayal of her own young son makes her into a different woman then the one she is destined to be.  Sure in her mind that he is safe with his father, she moves on, but is unable to forget.
Michael feels only anger and betrayal. From his mother who has abandoned him, and from his father who has thrown him away. He finds his own way in life in the back streets through whatever means make themselves known.  He finds very little friendliness, and much hardship. The anger is the only means of strength he can muster, and he thinks of nothing but revenge.  He reaches his manhood in wartime Saigon, and remembers every betrayal and beating. With his survival skills and his looks he builds his own little piece of life, surviving as a criminal.
As the years pass, a string of deaths from around the world reach the desk of Interpol headquarters. Captain Rene Budjinski is hot on the trail and finds the route to lead from Bombay to Paris. Following his own agenda, he is unsure where his search will lead him. With the master criminal cornered and behind bars, the end seems fated. Yet Michael has one last chance, can it be the redeeming factor?
Falconer has created an intense drama, full of vitriol and fear. His characters are a mix of brutal, egocentric, and dangerous. The flaws are exposed and the edginess of the expected disaster keeps your own nerves tingling as you worry and hope for an honorable solution.  You feel the pain and fear and experience a cognitive understanding of what makes them react the way they do.
The description of Saigon as a war torn country make you feel like you are there. The grittiness and brutality add a tenseness all their own.
If you enjoy suspenseful thrillers you will find this work a great find. Falconer creates an intensity that keeps you reading long after hours.
This would be a great book for a book club or reading group full of the types of situations that create active dialogue.

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.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Becoming Richard Prior by Scott Saul

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Becoming Richard Pryor', a Biography by Scott Saul.

Comedy, drama and improvisation create a great form of entertainment. There are some who are so powerful and talented in the realm of these genres that they leave a lasting mark on those who have had to the opportunity to see their work and possibly know them.

In Becoming Richard Pryor by Scott Saul, we follow the life and times of Richard Pryor from his childhood forward.  A man, a legend, a beleaguered and talented personality ahead of his time, and always on display in some form or other. Pryor did not come from privilege and in fact was raised in his families various brothels.  Even outside the norm they had a strong sense of family that Richard clung to. An outcast as a youngster he found his calling early in drama and comedy, the one thing that helped him to pretend he was someone else.

As he grew and continued learning his trade he did what he could to get strong and better, often using his own harrowing background to dredge up and poke fun at those things that he most feared.  With his raucous comedy and on to his acting he became a voice in a generation looking for what he had to offer.  Yet never one to be stationary, Pryor continued to evolve even when he was burning himself out with drugs he was able to move forward and stay in the limelight. From his loves to his decline you will find the story of his life and his climb to fame remarkable. The strength of will to overcome the disbelievers, and the make his mark in not just comedy with his stand-up routines and improvisation, but then to move on and not just act but to write much of the dialog in his parts in such successful comedies as Blazing Saddles and Blue collar, where he become friends with Gene Wilder another rising star.

A Black entertainer Pryor helped to galvanize the spirit of the black freedom movement and counterculture thereby solidifying the legend of who he became.  A product of his times he was a part of the drug culture as well as the sexual revolution and with his burning passion these actions too, become a part of the whole, driving him further into an inferno of fame. To come from obscurity and move mountains to become a legend only to disappear again into obscurity leave you aching with the pain of his passing.  Even now there are many who stylize themselves after Richard Pryor, he set the standards in a way that will forever remain, a standard that survives and strengthens his repute and legend. There is so much we take for granted of those who grace our lives with comedy and drama, it is the unknown tales that tie it all together, and Scott Saul has done just that.

If you enjoy biographical works and are a fan of Richard Pryor or even just enjoy learning about those who have lived before us you will be intrigued and immersed in a life of love, laughter and pain. A great deal of pain.

This would be a great book for a book club or reading group. The amazing growth of a star through the culture of the times will create an amazing amount of questions and dialogue.

Rating 5/5

This work was received free through the publisher. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Moriarty' A Murder Mystery in the Holmes Tradition by Anthony Horowitz.

In the world of literature Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty are a staple of the mystery genre for observation and investigation. What happens when they both tumble to their doom, leaving the world looking for answers?
In Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, we follow Frederick Case, a Pinkerton Detective, and Athelney Jones from Scotland Yard who form an uneasy relations ship as they follow a strange missive purported to be written by Moriarty inviting a dangerous criminal into the London underground.
 Jones, an aficionado of the late great Holmes is intrigued by the situation and open to collaboration. He has studied Holmes’ methods and has an amazing grasp on the use of deduction.  Case finds himself mesmerized by the abilities of Jones, and fascinated at his internal processing.  After having been embarrassed on three different occasions and having missed clues, Jones has been ridiculed by Holmes. The frustration and embarrassment has led him to study the methods used by Holmes, leading him to become one of the best in his field.
Case needs his expertise in order to follow up on his own leads on an American Criminal Clarence Devereux, a devious and deadly adversary from Boston in the U. S. who has relocated to London, and is even now beginning a new crime spree. Devereux has already stepped in where Moriarty left off but with entirely more carnage. Can Case along with his Scotland Yard partner stop Devereux and solve the mystery of Moriarty before all is lost.
This is a strange and unique tale very much in the way of the Sherlock Holmes tales of old. The character of Jones is interesting and just a bit bizarre but eminently very likable. Case is straight forward and  quite intrigued by Jones pseudo Holmes methods.  Jones has molded his character to be  very like that of the renowned Holmes himself.
Devereux is very crafty and deadly. Those who get in his way never make the mistake twice. They are no longer of this world. No one knows who he is or appears to have seen him but he rules with an iron force no one dares to tamper with.
If you enjoy murder mystery and the techniques of Sherlock Holmes, you will find a bit of an uncanny resemblance to his methods. This is an interesting work that delivers red herrings where least expected, and holds you spellbound to the end.
This would be a great book for a book club or reading group. The strange and interesting occurrences are sure to create a strong igniter for robust dialogue.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Awoken: The Lucidites:Book One by Sarah Noffke

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Awoken, The Lucidites:Book One, a Young Adult Fantasy by Sarah Noffke.

Have you ever looked at your family and thought you were not a part of them. Everything you are and do feels foreign. Do you feel as though you are treated differently and wonder if you just don’t belong in some way?

In Awoken, The Lucidites-Book One by Sarah Noffke, we follow Roya Stark who is an outcast in her own family. Abused by her parents and threatened by her own brother, she feels the presence of a shadowy manifestation that carries an evil taint. Every night she dreams she is drowning, and has strange premonitions. And always there is that burning question offered during her sleep by strangers she does not know. Who is she?  Not sure where life is headed she hears a story about herself she finds hard to believe. Yet as the presence of the shadow comes ever closer she takes an offer of protection, knowing that her life is about to change.

The presence of the evil infiltrates at all levels. Her dreaming has prepared her for her true task, and the water is a conduit for her to travel outside her body.  The world is in danger and the Lucidites, those who have been whispering to her in dreams, are looking for the one from their prophecies.  When she is chosen to be tested she is given very little direction. Only that there is only one that can save the world, and that one is her.  Yet when she reaches the compound, she finds it filled with others who are also testing.  Confused, she is both angry and aggrieved.

It is written that in a certain place at a certain time, the meeting and fight will take place. To eradicate Zhuang’s presence the Lucidites must be in concurrence on their champion.  Yet there is more, and as the training continues she finds and sees what others don’t. Each has a special gift and hers seems to be clairvoyance. Finally chosen as the leader, the rest become her backups. The gifts together make them strong, but can they truly beat the evil that is even now causing heartache and death in the mundane world. 

As the day of reckoning comes, she learns more of who she is and why she is chosen.  As the discoveries keep coming, she has to channel her hurt and anger and use it where it will do the most good. Can she protect her friends and be the destruction of Zhuang when all others have failed?
Noffke has given us a wonderful story of courage. It is powerful and well thought out once you get past the initial confusion of how Roya initially connects with the Lucidites. The characters are an eclectic mix of trembling and afraid, to the bold and humorous, much as teens are everywhere.  There is a certain bonding and binding that occurs as you move forward and you come to care for the characters.

The Lucidite teachers are either very strict, indecipherable, or just plain mean.  Yet each has their own part of the agenda and the necessity of seeing it through.  Knowing that they may be sending these students to their death may be a part of what they show themselves to be.

This is a great paranormal adventure for your young adult and would make a great Christmas gift. The young at heart would also find this a notable book for their library. The first book in the series, it will have you searching for more so you can keep up with these characters which will have captured your imagination.

Rating 5/5

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Woman with a Gun,' A romantic murder mystery by Phillip Margolin.

Images evoke thoughts and feelings, both good and bad. Art through the ages has been collected, stolen and forged in an effort to hold a piece of that vision.  Photography is also a venue that evokes meanings and memories, and each photo or piece of work you see creates a visual resonance, either good or bad. The beauty, the subject, or even just the colors are sure to set the tone on your imagination.

In Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin, we follow the mystery of an unsolved murder. One of the pieces of evidence is a photo shot just after the murder occurs. The new wife of the man murdered walked into the scene unprepared and at some point picked up the murder weapon, and in her grief headed out to the beach unaware of her actions. It was there that a visiting photographer spied the vision and shot a photo that helped to make her famous in her field.

Years later during a gallery showing, a young aspiring writer is riveted and intrigued by the photo of a woman with a gun that hangs in the gallery. Finally something sparked within her, giving her the inner voice crying out for a story. And what a story she thought it would be.  Unhappy in her daily grind, she decides to move to the West coast to follow up on the story and to interview some of those involved in order to write a fiction that feels real.

The fact that the crime had never been solved only adds another layer of mystery that shadows that shown in the photo itself.  Stacey Kim is determined to write a best seller and the veracity will depend on how thorough her interviews are. Yet when another murder occurs she gets more then she bargained for as the killer becomes determined to stop her questions, and those who may know more then they think.  Who does she turn to as the danger heats up and the varying agendas create a lack of trust.

Margolin has given us a picture of murder. His story is ingenious and the interaction of his characters, are both interesting and exciting. The insertion of romance into the work makes the flow smoother, and helps to give credence to the viability of the interviews being scheduled. The connections of the love interest as well as his own account of the killing help to create some of the mystery as well as making the witnesses as well as the players more visible to an outsider. The authenticity seems to come from the very essence of the photo itself.

If you enjoy suspense and romance you will want this for your library. The mystery is solid and the ingenuity of the events leading up to it keeps you guessing.

Rating 4/5

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

Keeping Mum: Episode One by Perrin Briar

Tongue-in-cheek and quirky you will find the action and ideas in ‘Keeping Mum’ both fun and gregarious.

 Peter is a fledgling actor looking for his slot in the difficult world of acting. Kate, his sister, is a high maintenance woman without the money or prospects to pull it off.  Their mother has been in declining health and they both know that in only seven more days, they will finally receive their trust money. Their mum only has to live for seven more days and they will be home free.  For Kate this means everything. She has spent more than she can afford and is now in dire trouble.

It is with both shock and dismay when Kate shows for a visit only to find that their mum has passed away. In a panic she calls her brother, and even in her anxiety she has a plan.

She knows that Peter has auditioned for a part that requires someone to play an elderly woman. He feel like he flubbed his chances and his sister Kate uses this to her advantage. With the right props and makeup he can pretend to be their mum for the next seven days and then they can announce her death. In the meantime they can put her in the big freezer and thaw her when the time comes.  Peter thinks she is crazy and will have none of it. When she comes clean with the mess of her life and the immediacy of her need he begrudging concurs, and so begins the fun and irresistible romp of humor and drama that pulls you in.

If you are a fan of the absurd and bizarre, this will fill the bill. If you enjoy comedy and strange behaviors then you are sure to enjoy the antics. I look forward to following the comedic situation as it unwinds, and believe that Perrin Briar has done a great job of setting a story and creating characters that seem a perfect fit.  You will want to read his episodes in their entirety to get the full comedic scope of his drama.
Rating 5/5

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

Thursday, December 4, 2014

We Are The Destroyers by D. K. Lindler

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review:'We Are The Destroyers' a Science Fiction Romance by D. K. Lindler.

There are times throughout history where many of the same situations occur. We often hear how history repeats itself, as it seems that mankind does not always learn from their past mistakes.
In We are the Destroyers by D. K. Lindler, we are taken on a journey into the stars. Bel’lar is a military man in charge of an important fact finding mission. The abuse of his home planet over the centuries has begun to pile up and there is fear of where they are headed.  His companion Ry Sing began years ago to learn to focus within where she learned of things as they would happen.  She is troubled at the news she brings, but the information is important. A space ship like no other has come to the attention of his group, and the brotherhood of the Syn is ready to overtake them.
Food had become difficult to find and many have become addicted to the synthetic foods now being offered. The danger of eating synthetic foods has caused mutations and there is a marked difference between those who are unable to get real food and those who call themselves organs because of the organic foods they consume. Yet even those options are just about gone.  There is something about Bel’lar though that speaks to the ship and vice versa. As they find themselves about to be attacked by the Brotherhood, they make their escape to search for a new home for their people, to save them from their dying planet.
Bel’lar has no idea of what is in store for him and his group of travelers. The ship itself it a part of the problem, and the ghosts of those long departed have their own agenda.
Ry Sing is able to communicate at a level far above the norm, and the information she shares is quite unwelcome.  Between the ghosts and Ry Sings visions he is informed that in the past he destroyed a planet when he was known as the Great One. Even now it is written that a man with the same birthmark he carries will destroy another planet.  He is not a believer, and will do everything in his power to make sure this never happens.  Yet fate often has its own agenda. Their only chance to save his home is to find the mythical blue-white planet.  Does such a planet exist and is it truly inhabitable?  Only time will tell.
Lindler has given us an interesting story within the story, one that traces it roots to the past, which then also moves us to the future. His characters are both interesting and unique and the cultures he has developed could be very real in the future. There is a dream like aura that drifts around the entire story and you find yourself drawn in.
As Lindler moves us back to the home planet we find a changed world, and yet there is still hope. You are moved by the situation and the living conditions. The governing body hides a great deal from the people and encourage the continued consumption of synthetics.  You find yourself horrified by the differing agendas.
If you enjoy Science fiction, fantasy and romance you will want this book for your library. The individuals expand and grow as we move forward and there is a sense of renewal that is in the making. Fate seems to play a part and you will enjoy the interplay.
Rating 3/5
This work was received free through the Cadence Group and all opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Spark by John Twelve Hawks

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Spark' by John Twelve Hawks.

There are times when we feel an overriding emptiness inside, times when things don’t feel quite right. Often this reflects a loss, or illness of those near and dear to you.

In Spark by John Twelve Hawks we are introduced to a different kind of this hollowness that burrows within.  Jacob Underwood is one such person. After a series of events in his own life, he finds himself to be very different than most. He has no fear and feels himself as just a spark within a temporary housing which happens to be his body.  Due to his mindset he seems perfect for the job he has been selected for, that of a contract employee for a shadow department in New York, buried way beneath the radar of both government and law enforcement.

His own brush with death has made him different.  He is not like any of the other employees, or anyone else for he experiences Cotard’s syndrome, a real condition that causes him to believe he is dead. To him his body is a shell that houses his spark.  This makes him perfect for his job, for he is not a businessman, but a contract killer. He never questions his orders and follows his directions to the letter.

When Emily Buchanan disappears from the same company he is employed by, he takes on the job of finding and neutralizing her.  But something has changed and he finds himself on the wrong end of his company. What has occurred that makes him question his orders?  He is now being hunted as well and he finds himself with more questions than answers.  This is an anomaly that causes him concern for he doesn’t understand where the feelings come from.  Can he figure it out, and possibility keep Emily safe, as he tries to find the key element that has changed his life one more time.

This is a riveting book about an interesting condition as well as a story of greed and avarice. The characters are dark and without morals, leaving you horrified. It is difficult to dislike Jacob though for he doesn’t seem to even feel and yet much of what he does seems despicable. Yet somewhere in his delirium he has set a boundary, and this small feat seems to be the catalyst to change his emotional stance.

The story of the shadow corporation holds enough credence that it is easy to follow and believe that much of what is written is real. There is often greed and a belief by those who feel themselves above the law which we see in the headlines occasionally, helping to visualize the situations as they are written.

If you enjoy mystery and suspense with a twist of eeriness, you will enjoy this work.  It would be a great book for a reading or discussion book for it brings forth questions of morals, relationships, reasoning, corruption, and illness.

Rating 4/5

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Neve & Egan Cases, Danse Macabre by Cristelle Comby

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: Neve & Egan Cases, Danse Macabre by Cristelle Comby.

Young Women go missing every year. Often they leave on their own, with differing agendas. Other times they disappear without a trace. As a parent, the vanishing women create a gap in their lives leaving them to think the very worst.

In Neve & Egan Cases, Danse Macabre by Christelle Comby we are introduced to a situation where a young ballerina has disappeared. Her mother has hired the Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan to help solve the mystery of her missing girl. While the police are on the case, they believe it is a simple runaway, and are tied up in a grisly murder, not putting much into the missing dancer case. Her mother, Mrs. Doughton, believes the worst. She knows her daughter better than anyone, and is convinced she has been kidnapped.

As the sleuthing duo look into the background and question the young woman’s friends they begin to understand their client’s conviction.  They also understand the difficulty of beginning a case already held by the police and must find a way to work together without causing interference.  The police are only too happy to release the case to their care, for they are working on the gruesome murder of a choir member.  They do not have the manpower necessary to tackle both cases at the same time.

When a murder case in another jurisdiction suddenly ties the murdered girl and the missing girl together, the police are no longer as happy to have the investigators aboard. Yet there is more going on behind the scenes that put the entire investigation in jeopardy.  Can they work together to decipher the clues before another young woman disappears?

Comby has done a great job of giving us a murder mystery with characters that draw you in. The teams of individuals working together are a mix of dynamic, shuttered, and fun, yet the differences seem to round out the type of brain power needed to solve the case. There is something humble and yet fierce about Neve and Egan, and their working relationship is both interesting and interactive, but in a strange way.  The flaws of each character make them human, and you find the peculiarities endearing.

The case itself is deep and muddy, with a macabre killer who has his own agenda. The killings are brutal and staged, and the killer does well staying under the radar. It is only the strange characteristics of the investigators that find the way to solve the mystery.  The interplay between the police and investigators is often tinged with a bit of humor, taking a bit of the horror away, but there is no doubt that a twisted killer is on the loose.

If you enjoy mystery and romance you will enjoy this work. If you are interested in puzzles and enjoy a chance to develop your own thoughts you will enjoy the red herrings and twists and turns introduced throughout.

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Danse Macabre Summary:
Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.

To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.

Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...

Cristelle Comby's Bio:
Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.

Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Danse Macabre is her third new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $11.99 paperback
Genre: New Adult, Detective Mystery
October 2014

Amazon buy link:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Three Strikes and You're Dead by Michael A. Draper.

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review" 'Three Strikes and You're Dead by Michael A. Draper.

Sports fans are the most loyal of factions. They back their teams and follow them all the way. Even when they are playing poorly, the ardent fans continue to root them on. As with all types of celebrity whether sports personalities or others in the limelight, there is also the possibility of that fandom to become adoration and even obsession.

In Three Strikes and You’re Dead by Michael A. Draper we follow a tense situation as a Baseball strike is underway. Differing chat rooms echo with dismay and even anger. Often money is the driving factor in the talks, and as with all sports there is great deal of figures being overpaid. When someone decides to stir the pot even stronger, they have an active audience of potential targets. At least one of those who cross the line from fan to obsession is bound to drop out.

America’s pastime has suddenly gained fame for another reason. Bobby Chapel is the first to die. His star is just rising and everything is coming up roses. Life has just opened the door to a lucrative future, and he is set to make his mark. Lured from his home town team by the prospect of more money, he seems to be the most likely choice to make a statement. When Bobby is found dead in his hotel room, electrocuted in the hot tub, the scene is set. As the perpetrator finalizes his work, he wonders only what his special friend from the internet chat will think of his work. Humming a tune, he cleans up his mess, and scatters a pack of baseball cards to set the stage. Knowing this is only the beginning he leaves his grisly work and heads home to decide where he goes next. For him this is now his calling and he will make the greedy players sorry for ever deceiving their fans.

Roseanne Kelly, Randy Larkin and Graham Dunne, having found success in finding the murder of Roseanne’s husband, are now in the business of investigation. The death of a baseball player seems to be the perfect foil for the start-up of their new business. With the FBI already on the case, can they convince the baseball commission of their own abilities? With Roseanne in the lead not only can they but they do, with the backing of their new agency chief, Fraser “Pete” Peterson. Can they help the FBI to corral the killer before another player dies?

Draper has taken the headlines of a Baseball strike and infused it with the obsession of someone willing to create chaos and use others to do his bidding. Killing the players takes his protagonist one step further in a plan to create pandemonium, and fear. Surfing the net to find those on the fringe, he is able to quickly adapt to their own personal needs. Money is the international language and he hits a home run immediately. His killer is clever and somewhat connected so the action is perfect.

If you enjoy suspense and action this you will find it in Three Strikes and you’re Dead. If you enjoy sleuthing than you will find this team of PI's fun and energetic with both humor and bravado.

This would be a great book for a reading club or discussion group. The idea of celebrity, fans and obsessions would create a great deal of information and ideas to debate.

Rating 4\5

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Black Ice' by Becca Fitzpatrick.

Chance meetings can be just that, meeting someone at a point of time and never seeing them again. Yet there are also encounters that bring fast friendships, or possibly even danger.  
In Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick, Lauren Huntsman has a chance encounter that changes her life. No one knows where she has gone, and her family is horrified. Yet she is not the only young woman to have gone missing.
Britt Pfeiffer is not worried about some random disappearances. As her class decides to take their break in Hawaii, Britt talks her friend Korbie into backpacking with her in the Teton Range. Korbie’s brother Calvin was Britt’s boyfriend, and suddenly he dropped her with no explanation. Korbie doesn’t know what happened, but when she agrees to the trek, Calvin also decides he wants to tag along. Calvin is very experienced in the outdoors, while Britt has done more rudimentary training. Unsure of how she feels about this unexpected situation, Britt and Korbie agree to meet him at their destination.
Wondering if she can figure out what happened to them, and determined to rekindle their relationship her plans go awry when they get stuck on their way up the mountains. Knowing that Calvin is on his way, they are not so much afraid of being on their own, but that they might freeze before he reaches them. Deciding to take their gear and hike the rest of the way to their destination, they get lost but stumble on a cabin that appears occupied as they begin to lose heart. Two young men inhabit the place, and agree to help them after much discussion. They seem nice and it doesn’t hurt that they are good looking. That is until the gun comes out. Suddenly they understand the dangers of the mountain in a new way.
Agreeing to help their captors find their way out of the woods, Britt knows that Calvin is on his way and will save them.  Stumbling upon a body in a hidden trunk in the room where she is kept, she begins to understand that she and Korbie are in way over their heads. The descriptions of one of the missing girls’ clothing match the clothes on the corpse in the trunk.  Can they survive long enough for Calvin to find them?
Fitzpatrick has given us characters that seem quite real, and the mistakes they make on the way while a bit sophomoric, seems to fit in with the character and age of the girls. On the surface Calvin seems like the knight in shining armor, but there is something wrong that you can sense from the beginning. Yet Britt has stars in her eyes and misses the strangeness that is noticeable to the reader.
The beauty of the wilderness shows through as well as the danger of the weather and terrain. To have trust in such a setting of someone unknown only shows how desperate and afraid the young women were on their own. Letting down their guard in the most inappropriate situation has put them in danger.
This work takes you into the darkness of a killers mind, but the red herrings have you guessing and wondering what is really happening. There is a chilling secret that slowly peels away, revealing the truth of who can be trusted.
If you enjoy mystery, suspense and romance you will find this a great read. The danger and beauty create a haunting mystery that even as it is revealed stays with you long after the book is done.
Rating 5/5
This book was recevied free for an honest review. All oninions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Wedding and a Funeral by Lauren Carr

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'A Wedding and a Funeral; a Mac Faraday Mystery' by Lauren Carr.

Many nuptials are conducted within the hallowed grounds and premises of the Church. Arranging the timing is often the most difficult, between the sermons, the pastor’s free time and juggling your own time constraints, the lure is still there.
In A Wedding and A Killing by Lauren Carr, we find another obstacle in play that most do not have to deal with. As Mac Faraday and Archie Monday finally decide the time is right, and schedule an unprompted wedding, they are put on hold when a body shows up. Yet this is not just any murder, this is the murder of one of the churches own. Found in one of the church offices, everything is put on hold as Mac and Archie find themselves in the middle of another murder. This one though hits closer to home, as everyone in the church is suspect, including their friend and pastor.
As the clues begin, the local police have their own ideas of the culprit. Yet Mac does not agree. When he gets his own attorney involved and the local suspect claims church sanctuary, the words begin to fly. However there is an overriding trust in Mac’s abilities that create a fissure in the storm, giving them all the time to look deeper then imagined.
Sometimes the simplest of answers are the hardest ones to find, and Mac and Archie are hot on the trail, for nothing can stand between them and their decision to marry.
This is a mystery of jealousies and wants. The deviances of those who claim to be church members give a wicked name to the exploits of their seething need. The characters of Mac and Archie remain true to our initial introduction, but those who serve the church in varying ways have the ways and means to create chaos. There is a mix of tragedy that transforms goodness into pain, and there is vileness that hides in a cloak of goodness. The red herrings are well done and take you in every direction.
As a crime fighting duo, Mac Faraday is a great character, and when matched up with his lady love, they are hard to beat.
If you enjoy murder mystery and romance you will want to find this work. Once you have enjoyed this triumph you will be looking for the other Mac Faraday mysteries by Carr. She twists in the romance so it is more about the mystery, but the romance creates a feeling of surety that makes you want more.
Rating 4/5
This book was received from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dislexic Dick by Richard "Dick" W. Kraemer

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Dyslexic Dick' by Richard "Dick" W. Kraemer.

Many choose to serve their country through the different branches of the military. Each has its distinct heritage, and those who have served often hold their training and abilities learned for a lifetime. Yet not everyone has the same experience.
In Dyslexic Dick by Richard “Dick” W. Kraemer, we are given a view of entirely different circumstances and experiences. Often what we know about the different branches comes from who we know a family member or friend who may have served. Many are silent and hold their time and experience close, not sharing that interval of their life with anyone except with friends they may have made in their own branch. Others let fly everything that may have occurred, and with everything there is both good and bad.
Dick has given us a view of his own experiences. Having found a way to enlist in the Marine Corp he finds difficulty with many of the training exercises, often due to a genetic marker called Dyslexia. Often more of a hard ship in school, reading is made difficult, but there are other side effects as well which he brings to light as he moves through training.  
Throughout the narrative, the author is very open about his anger, and his own activities, he is also unapologetic and very succinct in his view of his own experience.  He brings his own brand of humor as well as his diary like journaling and takes us on his passage as a young man through jaded eyes enlightening us to some of the pitfalls and decisions that occurred. He is open about his own activities, sometimes criminal in nature, as well as the drug culture of the time. He also discusses those in charge who may have crossed the line in punishment, often with their own hidden agendas.
His story deals with both his home life as well as his time abroad and discusses his romances and his heartaches. His accomplishments and his criminal activities are laid out in succession, and he is open and quite unapologetic about his past, as it is a part of who he is now.
Kraemer moves through the narrative relating his own experiences as he sees them, and recognizes both the good and the bad. Much of what is writing seems hard to understand, and yet human nature creates its own set of rules and each person carries the baggage of their past into their present, often creating who they become.
If you enjoy autobiographies and want to see a differing view of the military you may find this book to your liking. There is humor and yet there is pain and loss. There also seems to be a bit of overriding anger, suppressed but still showing through in places.
This would be a good book for a discussion group, I am sure it would create a great deal of controversy and conversation.

Rating 3/5

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Orleans Requiem by D. J. Donaldson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'New Orleans Requiem' by D. J. Donaldson.

We are often guilty of judging by appearances. The look of ones clothes, their demeanor and often their size lead us to make assumptions that are often grossly incorrect.

In New Orleans Requiem by D. J. Donaldson, we are introduced to a wonderful medical examiner, Andy Broussard. Plump and proud, he loves his food. His looks deceive even the most wary of fiends, for he is not only one of the best in his field, but he hates murderers. To top it off his helper is psychologist Kit Franklyn and together they are unstoppable.

When a man is found stabbed with one eyelid removed and four Scrabble tiles on his chest they are both appalled and intrigued. What is the killer trying to tell them? As the killings continue the pattern is obvious, and it does not appear as though he will go away. Can they figure out the clues before he can continue with his macabre game?

Donaldson has given us a wonderful character in Broussard. He is very human and full of fun. He enjoys his food, but he is spot on in his dislike of those who take the lives of others. He is witty and charming, yet also has the degree of toughness to get him through some of the worst of killings. You will find him to be an unlikely hero, yet champion for the dead all the same.

Kit too is an interesting character, and her strength lends solidity to Broussard in a very uncanny way. Together they are as two parts of a whole and they can bend and twist the bizarre evidence into contortions that make sense.

If you enjoy mysteries and the inner workings of medical examiners, you will find this a great read. If you enjoy the whodunit type of mystery, overseen by very human characters then you have found a new type of hero.

Donaldson has given us a grisly killer playing a sick game, and as his characters move forward, we are surprised to find who the killer really is, there is a twist of surprise that keeps you guessing to the very end.

Rating 4/5

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Lodger by Louisa Treger

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Lodger' by Louisa Treger.

From the beginning there have been those who can twist words in such a fashion as to make you feel.  Whether it is poetry, fiction or non-fiction, the abilities of these authors are the staples of our Classics.
In The Lodger by Louisa we are taken back in history to a time of turbulence. This was a time when women could not cast a vote and had very little say. This was also a time of literary genius and the likes of authors such as H.G. Well and Dorothy Richardson.
The two are brought together through Dorothy’s friendship of Wells wife, and they immediately realize they are very alike–shared souls. For Dorothy who has faced so much hardship and pain, the companion ship of both Wells and his wife mean everything to her. While she only occasionally stays with them she finds herself deeper in thrall than is comfortable, and imagines she can see the knowledge on her friend Jane’s face.
Unable to deny her attraction Dorothy is fascinated by the depth she can see in Wells and struggles to keep her feelings under control. Yet Wells is a man of passion, and Dorothy is a forbidden fruit he must have.  As the dance of attraction begins the tug of emotions is very powerful. Well will not let up on what he feels is his muse, and they fall into complicated sexual and emotional relationship with threatens to tear apart his marriage, and casts Dorothy into the position of the other woman.  
As the pain of betrayal continues, another turbulence is occurring, that of the rights of women. The abuse and danger of belonging to the suffragette movement is ugly and creates a backdrop of danger to the elicit romance continuing on. Can Dorothy pull her self-respect together and find her own way?
You will find yourself immersed in the lives and situations drawn together by Treger. Her characters are quite interesting and with a realism that is moving. Using the travails of the time, we are transported into a very uncomfortable time when women are fighting for their own. The danger for a belief of equality is daunting.  The Back drop of using the authors makes for a poignant interlude, one too riddled with both danger and passion. The betrayal and humiliation makes you feel. It is difficult to pin down who you would root for; each of her characters has a strength of personality that draws you.
If you enjoy history, romance and biographies, this would be a good fit for your library. This would be a great book for a reading and discussion group. The suffragette movement always creates a dialogue, and the forbidden romance will liven the circumstances.
Rating 4/5
This book ws received from the authors publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tinseltown by William J. Mann

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Tinseltown' by William J. Mann.

Early Hollywood, known to many as Tinseltown was both alike and different then the place we know of today. Actors and Actresses certainly had many of the same issues, but here was so much more. Movies were silent, new actors struggled to find work, and the moguls of the day were struggling to see who would come out on top. As is today, drugs and ambition ruled the streets of the differing studios.

In Tinseltown by William J. Mann we follow the growth of the industry as it becomes the darling of America, but we are also introduced to the darkness and danger that besieged those who made it to the top.  Tragedy and murder including that of William Desmond Taylor, the president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, dogged the industry from the beginning. This crime remained unsolved for countless years until the truth only recently comes to light.

We learn about the struggle of the trade and those who will do whatever it takes to be in the lime light. A true story, Mann has written in the venue of suspense, and the nature of the story makes this a perfect foil. There is so much in the background and underground of the developing phenomena that it creates just the right creepiness that keeps you reading into the night. We move into the darkness of those in the drug trade and the actors that are hooked, as well as the sex and symbolism of being a star.

Mann has done a great job of delivering a story of mystery and suspense using the real backdrop of the death of a man who has become a legend partly because of the mystery surrounding the entire event.  The friends and enemies are brought to life as an investigation occurs, and we get a view of early police procedural and how sometimes it really does pay to know those in high places. Yet this work is not just about the mystery and the death but also the rise of Hollywood as we know it today.

The tracks of tears and pain to become the best made for heartache and fear, but also created an underworld of tragedy where those who didn’t make the grade, made their own way, often in crime.

If you enjoy romance and suspense, mystery and glamor you will find yourself enamored of this work. Once started you will find the story holds you in place, and you gain a reluctant understanding of just how much difficulty stood in the way of a business that is now part of our daily entertainment.

This would be a remarkable book for a book club or reading group. With those out to stop the industry as well as those who worked hard to make it work, there is much discussion and robust dialogue available. Mann has done an amazing job of giving us a history of the Motion Picture industry, as well as the backdrop of the movement to grow into the industry of today.

Rating 4/5

This book was received free through the publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.