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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Demeter Code by Russell Brooks

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Demeter Code' by Russell Brooks.

Constant rumors and theories keep the world on edge with thoughts of pandemic horrors that could destroy everything as we know it. From global warming, to asteroids, plagues, germ warfare and numerous other speculations there seems to be a great deal of fear with limited answers.

In The Demeter Code by Russell Brooks, we follow the exploits of Ridley Fox and Doctor Nita Parris as they become involved in the chase for an elusive code. Having already been put to the test and putting one possibility of widespread death and panic to rest, they are now following the leads of some thirteen deaths involving soldiers. There is something very strange going on and with their background they are the perfect pair to take on the challenge.

As the possibility of another weapon of terror comes to play, they must be spot on their game. Even the slightest error could cost them their lives as well as the lives of untold others. From the beginning the danger is palpable, and both Ridley and Nita find themselves working together –yet separately to follow the clues and stop the code from reaching those with the most to gain. Can they work their skills to stop another terroristic action before it is too late? Already many have died and the panic is just beginning.

Brooks has done a great job of giving us something that has teeth and creates fear in his arsenal of thugs willing to do what it will take to win at all costs. His characters of Ridley Fox and Doctor Nita Parris only grow as they come together one more time to save the country. They are dynamic, smart and skilled in many fighting techniques. From the beginning there is action and you are immersed into the game quickly and intelligently. The interplay between the two is interesting, and there appears to be a bond that may stretch beyond the action of their work. Yet you are constantly guessing as they work mostly independent of the other with just the right amount of connection to keep you guessing.

Russell takes the possibility of death of a large scale and develops a strong set of bad guys that seem more then capable of pulling it off.  Yet Fox and Parris stand in their way and become a threat that must be addressed. We follow them as they do what they can to neutralize their protagonists but to no avail. As bullies, their protagonists constantly underestimates them–a mistake that is soon rectified.

If you enjoy action packed suspense and provocative characters you will enjoy this work. This is the third installment of Ridley Fox and Doctor Nita Parris working as a team and as with his first work Pandora’s Succession he is spot on with the interplay. He has a way of creating their characteristics that help you see them as heroes, and yet the flaws just make them more human.

This would be a great book for your library, and the character team of Ridley Fox and Doctor Nita Parris seem to be one that will come back again and again. There is a great deal of excitement and likability about them that will keep you looking for more.

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

Broken by Traci L. Slatton

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Broken' by Traci L. Slatton.

The years between 1939-1943 were a time of danger and intrigue in Paris. The German occupation created controls unused to in the city of love. While many Jews perished there were others, those who cared to try and protect them and their rights, who too disappeared never to be heard of again.
In Broken by Traci L. Slatton, we are given a view of the times through the eyes of a fallen angel.  Having lost her twin Ariel, Alia makes a choice to become human.  Not sure if her choice of times is intentional, she loses herself in lust and fornication. Parties and orgies are the means of her escape from her pain and loneliness. The danger of the times creates an added thrill, and yet she has inner anguish and questions that drag her down.  Even in her falling, she is watched over by Archangel Michael. He can see the true nature and is disturbed by the turn of events.
Yet he can only watch, aware just how vulnerable she had made herself. She toys with men and two of her favorite lovers are Pedro a bullfighter, and Josef a musician. She has become very close to her neighbor Suzanne, a young Jewish widow, and her daughter Cecile.  Alia soon realizes that she would do anything to ease their pain and fear.  
Yet as her lovers both join the resistance and the Nazis come knocking on doors, Alia works hard to find a way to save Suzanne and her daughter. As she moves forward she too becomes a danger, both to them and to herself.  As her other friends flee Paris, she must stay and find a way to rescue them, but can she.  As torture and pain create those who would do anything to escape the treachery, will betrayal of those closest to her be the end.  
While Arch Angel Michael warns her of her doom, she too has visions of how things will be as differing turns are taken. Can she make the right choices and save them all, or is it too late.
Slatton has created characters that seem to leap off the page, and the danger of the time is palpable. The cruelty displayed raises the hair on your neck, and creates a knot in the pit of your stomach.  In the beginning you don’t know if you will like Alia, and as the story progresses you begin rooting for her. While she continues her lifestyle, there is so much bravery and pain behind the fa├žade. 
The passion and egos of the Parisians depicted is both alarming and bold. Sex, alcohol and drugs are the rules of their group, and their friendships often borders on the absurd.
If you enjoy heat and passion with erotica and danger you will find this to your liking. It is riddled with bits of history and twisted into a paranormal tale, full of greed, romance and a beauty that shines through in the form of Cecile. Her character seems to break the pall that surrounds Alia and helps her move beyond the darkness of her soul.
There is a deadly menace as well, creeping forward and devouring all that is pure and innocent. Inexorably the Jews are hunted and their supporters as well. The times were horrible for so many, leaving broken homes and families in the wake of Germany’s fury.
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.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Ghost In The Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit' by Graham Joyce.

Sometimes we find ourselves a bit dissatisfied with life. Are we really living where we are meant to be, what draws us to another place? Can memories that are deeply hidden be the answer?

In The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce, we follow the exploits of a young college student David Barwise.  He has always known that his father died when he was quite young, and he is more than happy with his Stepfather and their relationship. His mother has never really shared any information with him of his father, and generally gets flustered when any questions are asked. David has always carried a photo of his father, an old black-and-white, with only one word written on the back––Skegness. Skegness is the small beach town where his father suffered a heart attack fifteen years previously and died.

David has decided that during summer break, he will do something totally different. He will head to Skegness and work in an old family resort instead of his usual summer job of working with his Stepfather. His family is hurt by his choice, and his mother seems horrified. Yet he must find what draws him to such a place.

From the beginning he finds himself in a world of change. He becomes a part of the staffers in every way, including being attracted to several of the women. There is also the strange occurrence of the millions of lady bugs that have descended on the town causing a ruckus. He finds himself drawn into strange circumstances that are dangerous, and even worse an affair with a married woman puts him at odds with the beautiful woman's husband.

When a friend disappears he begins to understand the danger of his own situation. If that is not enough, he begins to see things.  A blue suited man who carries a rope, often attended by a child roams the town. They are not visible to anyone else. Can he make it through the danger and cleave to the life and love he has found? And why is there clearly a ghost vying for his attention.

This is a strange and mysterious town full of decidedly odd characters. That David finds a way to fit shows the abilities of those who are open to change. Joyce finds a way to bring the characters to light in a manner that helps you to both see and understand them–at least in a fashion. The danger he portrays is palpable.

I found the story a little slow at times, and yet the action when it did occur was fun. I am still confused by the lady bugs and why they were a part of the theme of the work, yet they did add strangeness to the already eclectic atmosphere. The introduction of the ghost and the young boy kept you interested and wondering what was happening, encouraging you to read further. The romance and the danger added the spice necessary to tie it all together.

If you enjoy romance, danger, and mystery with a ribbon of the paranormal threaded through you will find this an interesting read. There is a satisfaction gleaned when you reach the end that clears up many of the questions and draws David and his family back together.

Rating 3/5

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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Made For You by Melissa Marr

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Made For You' by Melissa Marr.

Being a part of the in crowd is fun and exciting. There is the adulation, the copycatting, and the popularity that abounds. Yet there can be darkness when you are the center of attention directed from anyone of those around you–especially those you call friend.

In Made For You by Melissa Marr we are introduced to a group of young adults that have known each other most of their lives. Eve Tilling is one of the leaders, beautiful and fun, and surrounded by those who are in the same league of money. Yet there are also those she calls friend whose circumstances are not the same, friendships that occurred at a younger age when status was not the deciding factor. Her best friend through school, Nate, is one of them–or at least was. He no longer talks to her shutting her down whenever she approaches. She decides she does not care, for there are others, like her friend Grace who does not see the division of money or status. She likes people or dislikes them indiscriminately. Eve is thankful for her friendship, and tries to be kind, but it is difficult to be herself when expectations from those around her are so high.

When Eve wakes up in the hospital after an accident she is confused. What could have happened? Holding hands or touching people suddenly brings strange visions and death. Initially she believes she has had some form of concussion, and that it will go away. Afraid to mention her feeling to anyone, she continues with the vision when she reaches out for that comfort.  When the visions do not go away, she realizes that she is seeing how people die. Suddenly afraid she does not know where to turn. Her friends surround her and yet there is now a prickling of fear for the police have determined there was no accident. Someone has tried to kill her.  That is when her friend Nate comes back into her life. He too has someone in the hospital and when he realizes that Eve may be in danger the past and their friendship comes back into focus. And yet that friendship is more, there is a heat between them that seemed the deciding factor in driving them apart. Can Nate and her friend Grace help her to understand the darkness that is now settling around her? Who tried to kill her, and will they try again?

Marr has introduced us to a spectacular group of characters. The personalities and flaws are found in schools throughout the country. The tension she creates is remarkable, and the story line hooks you from the very beginning. At some point we have all known someone just like many of the characters she has created.

The danger of popularity often brings obsession and Marr found a way to weave that obsession into a story of romance and friendship, creating a friction that gives you chills. There is something cold and strange about the killer, for he has begun preying on her friends in an effort to woo her.

If you like suspense, mystery and romance with a dash of the paranormal you will find this a wonderful read. This would be a great book for your library and one well capable of keeping a discussion group in full dialogue. Melissa Marr has given us a strange and twisted tale of love and romance.

 Rating 5/5

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Your Perfect Life' by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke.

Often when life becomes complicated we admire and even covet the life of someone we know who seems to have it all. We have watched the moves “13 going on 30”, “Freaky Friday”, and “Big” where changing bodies changed lives as each learned real life lessons.
In Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, we are introduced to two remarkable women, Casey and Rachel, who have been friends forever.  Casey is the career woman and host of Gossip TV. She rubs elbows with celebrities and has a beautiful home. She seems to have everything.  Rachel is a stay at home mom with two teenagers, and new baby. She no longer recognizes the man she married and feels like life has passed her by.
As both women seem to look to the other, each is unhappy in their circumstances and the lack of confidence begins to erode the friendship. It all comes to a head the night of their high school reunion. Harsh words are said as they have a drink together. Life between them is full of jealousy and hurt. The tempers keep them at it and the evening closes with only vague memories as the morning rolls around.  
Yet life had decided to play a trick, and somehow they have changed bodies. Somewhere they were served up a cocktail of magical proportions and they must learn a lesson of love before they can assume their own body again. Yet, have they both finally reached the brass ring they have been chasing?
This is a funny and bright look at life. The surface is only that, what broils beneath is often personal and not seen by others. Fears and thoughts lurk there that rarely see the light of day, and now these friends begin to know each other from another perspective.
The wonderful mix of personalities and abilities as they grow into different roles trying to be the other is both touching and generous.  As the truth of the situations begin to shine through you find them to know and understand each other more than they anticipated.
This is a quirky, romantic and personal growth blend of fun and adventure. The story holds you from the beginning, entranced by the personalities and their insecurities. Yet as they fall into this spell they are each able to dig deep and find the true meaning of their life and dreams.
If you love fun and romantic stories full of adventure and excitement you will want this for your library. It is a feel good book of charming proportions.
This would also be a great book for a discussion group. The thoughts and feelings engendered would create great dialog among the readers.
Rating 5/5
This book was received free from the authors publicist. All oninions are my own based on my reading and understanding of the material.