Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The good Liar by Nicholas Searle

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Good Liar' A Novel of Suspense by Nicholas Searle.

In The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle, Roy is a con-man finding and hooking up with elderly women on dating websites. He is calculating and cold, with a charm that just touches the surface as he finds the woman he is looking for. When he finds the one woman who is his ideal, and though he understands that Estelle is not her real name for purposes of the dating game, once he meets her, he realizes that she has all the qualities that he is looking for. She is refined; she has money and most of all she seems to be easy to be around. For him this is a snap, he has done this all before, and he is ready for his new game. He is not finding it as easy as he once did when he was younger.

She, on the other hand is no fool, but she is ready to take a stance. She is lonely and finds him to be attractive and attentive. Once she realizes that he is the man she is looking for they become closer and she reveals her name is really Betty. She also introduces him to her son, Stephen. She seems quite close to him and he seems very protective of her. Roy knows that it will be a challenge to get what he is after, but knows the rewards outweigh the risks.

After moving in together, Betty wonders if she has made the right decision. Stephen is not pleased, but he must be made to understand that her relationship with Ray is all for the best. For Ray, his life is both what he expects but some odd things are happening. Not sure he understands, he knows in his heart that he will get a big payload at the end of this con. But Betty seems different, yet he can’t quite put his finger on it. He will certainly miss her, but he is all about the con, and this will be a good one.
Can Betty find her way to understand the real man behind the mask, or has she known all along and just willing to put up with him for the sake of her loneliness?

Searle has given us characters that you either adore, or just hate. They are so real that you find you have a stake in the outcome, but be prepared for he has also given twists and turns and red herrings that change the game at each juncture. He gives us a great deal of history as well without us really even realizing it as his steady pace holds you enthralled and he keeps you wondering how the story will play out.

If you enjoy mystery, suspense and thrillers with history as part of the background this will be a great addition to your library. If you are looking for a strong protagonist, both Ray and Betty fit the bill in this strange, psychological work by Searle. This is his debut novel, so look out for more of his work in the future.

Rating 5/5

Monday, March 21, 2016

Violent Crimes by Phillip Margolin

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Violent Crimes, A Amanda Jaffe Novel by Phillip Margolin.

In Violent Crimes by Phillip Margolin, Amanda Jaffe is hired to represent the son of a senior partner at a large Oregon law firm. The son, Brandon, was seen by a witness leaving the scene of the crime where the body of his father was severely and fatally beaten, and his clothes were covered in blood.

While it seems like an open and shut case, the stakes are high as Brandon’s father, Dale Masterson, represented the interests of both oil and coal. Brandon is an activist and has become disenchanted to the point of serious quarrels with his father over the damage being created by drilling. Brandon confesses to the killing, but Amanda does not see him as the perpetrator. His physique and his mentality do not seem to fit the profile. Brandon confesses to murdering his father in revenge for all the people whose lives have been destroyed by his shortsighted backing of his clients.

After speaking with him and trying to assess the situation, she believes he may be martyring himself. Yet if he is innocent then who is the killer? And does the crime also tie in to Masterson’s colleague, Christine Larson, who is found dead in her offices? A lower level employee has been tagged for her murder but are the two murders related, they worked for the same firm and knew each other.

As Jaffe digs for answers she finds more than she bargained for. Digging deeper, even at the risk of her life, she must find the answers to this vicious murder. As danger becomes her enemy and she begins to understand the real truth, can she make the decision that is necessary to put the murderer behind bars?

Margolin finds the stories that seem to often accompany the headlines and brings them into stark relief. His protagonist, Amanda Jaffe, is just the right mix of bravado, softness and smarts. She is easy to like and you find yourself digging with her to find the answers. She goes beyond what is expected of her job, but she takes the life of her clients very seriously, and she will do everything she can to make sure justice finds the way.

If mystery, suspense and courtroom drama are to your liking this is an excellent addition to your book shelf. Margolin gives us a character to admire in Amanda Jaffe, and you will find yourself looking for his other works with her in the central role.

This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group. The question of ethics is always up for debate.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Contract: Sicko by Ty Hutchinson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Contract: Sicko' A Sei Assassin Thriller by Ty Hutchinson. .

In Contract: Sicko by Ty Hutchinson, we catch up to Sei, a hired assassin, as she continues her hunt for her daughter. Her search has resulted in mostly dead ends, as the elusive Black Wolf has eliminated any witnesses. She doesn’t understand why he went to such lengths to kidnap her daughter, nor why he’s killing those who would be of help finding her. Sei is persistent and will do what it takes to locate her daughter, even cozying up to the enemy in order to get close. But make no mistake, once she gets what she is after, she also has her own form of elimination.

As she moves from lead to lead, she continually finds herself in danger, but she has no fear, her daughter is all that matters. Using her enemies to get just a bit closer, the collateral damage is almost her undoing. Those who have helped her in ways that create a bond, those who only peripherally understand what is happening, become targets as Sei persists in her quest to find what was taken from her. Will this be her final search, she has found another witness? Can she get to him before he too is taken out of the equation?

Hutchinson brings us a stronger and more visceral Sei. At her wits end, beyond any thought of redemption, she moves closer to finding her daughter that was kidnapped at birth. Having been told the child was dead, the information slowing leaking in from those who were there, may provide her with answers. She will not rest without finding more.

Each she finds is either already on the run or hiding out from both her and the elusive Black Wolf. And the field is dwindling, soon there will be no one to ask as the pool of those present at the kidnapping is quickly being eliminated. Each character has both repulsive as well as redeeming qualities, but they are all unsavory. Sei has no qualms of using them until they are no longer of use and then leaving them as she has all the others, either dead by her own hand or that of the Black Wolf.

If you like fast paced action with tense situations and strong female leads you will find this and the rest of the series fascinating. Full of mystery, suspense and even some gratuitous killings, you find the story interesting and the curiosity of how it will turn out keeps you enthralled. Hutchinson brings in another home run as Sei continues her search.

This would be a great fit for your library if you enjoy action packed, high energy novels with dangerous but strong heroes

Rating 4/5

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Arcadia by Iain Pears

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Arcadia'-A Sci-Fi Fantasy by Iain Pears.

Arcadia by Iain Pears is a work of time travel, but not in the traditional sense. It creates alternate times and parallel places that are accessed by an incredible machine built by a mathematician named Angela Meerson. Secretive and elusive Angela holds the secrets and buries them in various places of the past and future, and then she goes about disappearing herself.

Unwittingly others are a part of her story, as Henry Lytten in the 60’s lives his world of teaching and espionage, while Rosie Wilson feeds his cat. She is entranced by the stories he writes, but she is also a curious girl who stumbles into a place she doesn’t know.

Then there is Jay, he lives in a very quiet and peaceful setting unrelated to the others. However, through the mode of this machine and the necessity of keeping it secret these characters find themselves intertwined with each other as Angela’s old company and enemies think they have found her in her new life.

Looking for clues in both the past and future, they have stumbled on what they think is the answer. Can more than one world exist in parallel time?

Pears has given us a Sci-Fi fantasy that keeps you looking for answers. It carries mystery, danger, suspense, and an overall array of genres to keep even the most die-hard reader engaged. His characters are charismatic and the ideas feel radical with a bit of realism. He makes the elusive Angela a strong and abrasive character. She knows she is hunted, and is haunted by her findings. She tries to align her characteristics with the different places she moves through in order to move with impunity. She knows there are those who would see her dead and use her discovery for evil, yet she must continue on her quest.

She must find a way to perfect what she has discovered before it is too late. By moving throughout the past and present as her enemies draw near she is able to stay clear of their manipulation. Henry, Rosie and Jay are all a very important group as they are catalysts to various moves and as the hunt reaches threatening proportions the characters find themselves in an array of dangerous happenings.

If you enjoy literary fiction, Sci-Fi and fantasy, mystery, suspense and danger you have found the right material to keep you interested. Creating a set of worlds and creating such an interesting array of lives Pears takes us into the unknown and shows us magic and danger in a way that makes it fun.

Rating 4/5

Monday, March 7, 2016

Therese Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra s. D. Hinrichs and Illustrated by Renee Graef

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Therese Makes a Tapestry' by Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs and Illustrated by Renee Graef.

Therese Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs and Illustrated by Renee Graef is an exceptional work for a child. Therese is a young girl working in her family’s tapestry business, doing unraveling and cleanup, when she receives one of her first gifts from her Papa. It is a beautiful painting of the palace in winter. She is entranced and wants to do something special in return. Knowing that women are not allowed to do the actual tapestries, she nonetheless determines that she is going to immortalize her small painting through tapestry.

She works hard and is often belittled by her brothers who do the finest of work, but she knows that she can do this. She is nimble and determined and when completed she and her brothers are amazed at the final project. They do not show their pride but she does not care. This is her gift to give, and she is proud.

Hearing that her Papa is coming home she is unprepared for the surprise that is in store for her, one that will rock the tapestry business to its core. Will this damage the family business, and will her beloved Papa forgive her?

If you are looking for a book for your child that stretches the imagination and encourages them to push and challenge the status quo, you will not be disappointed. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is poignant, but exciting.

This is a wonderful reader, and the history takes you to a time long gone. This work is a true treasure for your child’s library.

This would be a great gift for your child and one that could be handed down for generations.

Rating 5/5

Last Stop: Paris by John Pearce

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Last Stop Paris' A Novel of Romance and Suspense by John Pearce.

The lure of Gold captures the imagination of all; it crosses the barriers of both culture and race. In Last Stop: Paris by John Pearce we follow the trail of an international killer who has nefarious plans to boost the price of gold through whatever means necessary. Set between the U.S city of Sarasota, Florida and the wonderful French city of Paris, you find yourself both entranced and horrified as you follow the chase.

Eddie Grant finds himself along with his girlfriend Aurelie, at a cocktail party in Paris, full of men and women in business suits. There are many things they would rather be doing. Their host Henri has offered up his home for a meeting of gold bugs, those who feel that gold is the future.  Eddies spots a longtime friend, Jeremy and they discuss the group as the meeting begins.

It appears the fund manager, Claude Khan has followed the gold once again is is not available to meet the group. Edward is disappointed; he and Aurelie are known for finding millions of dollars in Reichs-bank gold bars hidden in a building not far from Gare Saint-Lazare and were looking forward to meeting Khan. A priceless Raphael painting that was rumored to have also been with the gold was not found, although many rumors abound.

The meeting continues with speculation and historical events that to the gold bugs prove their theories that gold is the only standard.

The meeting takes a turn for the creepy, and soon Eddie, Aurelie and Jeremy retire to dinner with a friend who has information for them from an unlikely source. As they ponder the information and what it might mean for them, they walk back to their room. It is here that they begin to suspect there is more at risk then just rumors of trouble. A car speeds up to hit them, but is cut off by a taxi driver who had noted it idling for some time.  Saved from certain death, Aurelie is fine but Eddie receives some non-threatening injuries. Something is going on and somehow they have found themselves as targets. The information seems to lead towards the elusive Khan. The more they dig for answers, the more sinister and elusive they become.

Pearce sets the stage for terror and takes us into the beauty of Paris. His scenarios are well written and his pace keeps you on the edge of your seat. His characters are very real, and there is almost a James Bond feel to the work, but only a tinge. The women are as involved as the men when it comes to getting the answers, and he keeps it in the tradition of Paris with the romance that is weaved throughout the danger.

If you enjoy suspense, romance and terroristic action you will find this is just the work you are seeking. A worthy book for your library, you will find yourself reading late into the night.

Rating 5/5

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Rabbit Who wants To Go To Harvard by Zeldar the Great with help from Diana Holquist and Christopher Eliopoulos

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Go To Harvard', A Parody by Zeldar the Great with Help from Diana Holquist and Christopher Eliopoulos.

The Rabbit Who Wants to go To Harvard by Zeldar the Great with Help from Diana Holquist and Christopher Eliopoulos is a fun poke at the concentrated effort some families use on children to overachieve at a young age, when friends and fun should be more important.

Interactive and witty, the work is fun and zany, almost more for an adult reader, although the way it is written is fun for a child. Leaving blanks to fill in the child’s name is one way it works to involve younger readers. Anyway, who couldn’t love the bunny family.  However there is certainly enough humor to entertain an adult as well.

Ronald Rabbit wants to be normal, but he can't. His mom wont let him. She harbors an obsession with Harvard. While she pushing him in every direction she works her way through her own issues. The rest of Ronald's siblings seem to be overlooked in this strange yet fascinating dive into his moms obsessive and compulsive push for achievement. But he won't let her down, even if it means giving up his own fascination with Peter Rabbit, after all his mother assures him that Peter will never go to Harvard with his background.

The Rabbit family is somewhat dysfunctional, but there is a strong push for the little rabbit to begin preparing himself for greater achievement while mom does her own form of encouragement. If you are looking for a book that is fun to read and can challenge your youngster, this may be the very one. By involving them with the use of their name and with all the various ways of encouraging the adult to follow the vocal cues required this is a great book for a parent to read with their child.

This would be an interesting book for a reading group, one full off fun and discussion, especially about obsessions and how they affect others.

Rating 5/5