Monday, November 16, 2015

Art In The Blood, A Sherlock Holmes Adventure by Bonnie Macbird

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Art In The Blood, A Sherlock Holmes Adventure' by Bonnie Macbird.

The Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a man of cunning and intrigue, full of wonder and bravery with an eye to investigation that boggles the mind. Those who now follow bring us variations of the character as they perceive him to be.

In Art In The Blood, A Sherlock Holmes Adventure by Bonnie Macbird, we find a Sherlock, very true to form, more like the one first introduced by Doyle himself. Holmes has reached a pinnacle after his investigation of the Ripper murders. Unable to close the case he once again takes up his use of cocaine. Watson is unable to help him and in fact cannot even interest him in further cases. It is only when an encoded message from Paris arrives that Holmes takes any interest in his investigations. The beautiful star of the French Caberet has lost her son, and she is absolutely sure his very life is in danger.

Holmes and Watson take the challenge, where in Paris Holmes finds that the missing child may not be the whole of the case, just a part that draws the most urgency. Yet there are also other children being found throughout London murdered. Can he find the Mademoiselle’s son and deliver the truth before more deaths pile up?

Macbird has given us back the Sherlock Holmes of old, one that has flaws that are a constant battle and yet maintains that sense of panache that creates trust in those who rely on him. Watson is the stalwart mate that helps him decipher and maintain Holmes’s mindset, while finding the deep and dark cavities within the minds of a killer.

The story is great with a solid plot. You are taken into the streets of London of old and the descriptions take you there as you follow the exploits of a man that thinks far differently than most. MacBird does a great job of keeping you on the chase and shows us the Holmes we  grew up with.
I have a great deal of respect for the way MacBird is able to find a tale that holds realism, then twists and turns the plot in ways to keep you ducking red herrings, while Holmes alone seems to see behind and around the decoys.

If you enjoy mystery and intrigue, and are a fan of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes you will love this work. There is no better who done it, then those perused by the great master of mystery himself. This is a must have for your library and would make a great gift for your reader for the holidays.

Rating 5/5

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Whistling Women by Kelly Romo

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In Whistling Women by Kelly Romo, we are introduced to the lengths that people will go to when in trouble or need. When Addie Bates was young she and her sister were close, as close as anyone could be. Yet when she is forced to flee that life she has no option of direction. She finds herself a part of the Sleepy valley Nudist Colony where she has been able to hide from a crime that has haunted her for 15 years. Over the years she tried to reach out to her sister but found that door closed to her.

So when the residents of the Colony decide to put together a reunion and exhibit at the 1935 world’s fair in San Diego, she is thrilled with the possibility of finally meeting up with her estranged sister. Yet she knows that forgiveness may not be possible, but she has to try. It is time to move on from her life in the colony but can she find her way without the forgiveness of her beloved sister.

In the city her sister refuses to meet with her, but her one of her nieces has somehow tracked her down and is determined to discover what has torn the family apart. She will not rest until she finds a way to fix whatever created the rift.

Romo creates a story of loss and need that takes you to the past and the life of woman in a way that is both enlightening and distressing. Her characters are strong with determination, and you are drawn in a way into the very tragedy. She gives us a sample of the sacrifices that families are willing to undertake to protect each other, as well as the consequences of acting impulsively.
She sets this all in the late 20’s and early 30’s with such style and understanding of the time that you feel as though you have traveled into the past. The treatment of woman and the differing dynamics are different than what we have now and yet the correlation between the two creates a divide.

If you enjoy stories of family and what it takes to move forward, you will enjoy this work. If you enjoy a bit of history you will finds pieces of interest and charm in the characters of the 1930’s, both the challenges as well as the lifestyle.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club with hours of dialogue available.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, November 8, 2015

When The Devil's Idle by Leta Serafim

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'When The Devil's Idle, a Greek Island Mystery,' by Leta Serafim.

In When The Devil’s Idle by Leta Serafim, we follow the scene of a murder that is both troubling and odd. An elderly man is found on an isolated estate brutally murdered. The place this murder occurs is highly restricted to outsiders, and at the time of the murder the gate is bolted.

The family living there consists of a husband and wife and their two younger children. The murder victim is the grandfather of those children on the husband’s side. In residence at the time of his death the only other people there at the time are the gardener and the housekeeper.

Yiannis Patronas, of the Chios police, summons his top detective Giorgos Tembelos, to assist. In the Greek city of Patmos, when a German tourist is murdered it can only bring problems to the island. Giorgos brings his friend and amateur sleuth, a priest, Papa Michalis to help.

As they dig deep into the family history and the background of the victim, they find a past that is brutal. A Nazi and a killer, the old man has escaped his past to move to the island and live out his life with his family. But is his past behind him. Can it shed light on the brutality of his murder? As Giorgos and his friend Michalis travel to find answers, they uncover the story of his life and even darker rumors of a crime more brutal.

With so many red herrings and possible murderers, how can the Police decipher the real reason for his death? Until they can separate the darkness the surrounds the victim and the sickness and brutality of his past, they can only assume to understand what has happened. There is a deeper and darker grief at work and they must decipher the past and delve into the present to discover if that past is responsible, or if a new wave of secrets is behind brutal murder.

The characters are mysterious, and stay to themselves. While they avow no knowledge of what has transpired, it is obvious they are in hiding for some reason. With no friends, they are an island to themselves. While all appear very innocent, Serafim takes us into their own secrets to flush out the possible motive.

The detectives are an admirable mix of determination and steadfastness. The addition of the priest brings a bit of humor to the situation as well as distraction, for he takes away a bit of the fear of the police. His help is invaluable to this story.

If you enjoy mystery and murder this is a rare find. The descriptions of Greece are wonderful and help to take you there as you journey into the horror and history of the Nazi regime. This would be a great book for a reading club with a great deal of background to decipher.

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Leta Serafim's Bio:
Leta Serafim is the author of the Greek Islands Mystery series, published by the Coffeetown Press, as well as the historical novel, To Look on Death No More. She has visited over twenty-five islands in Greece and continues to divide her time between Boston and Greece.

When the Devil's Idle Book Summary:
In the Book of Revelation, written by St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, it was said a pale horse would appear whose rider was death, others would cry out for vengeance, and the stars of heaven would fall to the earth. Death does indeed come to Patmos when a German tourist is found murdered in the garden of one of the island’s fabled estates. Yiannis Patronas, Chief Officer of the Chios police, is called in to investigate. He summons his top detective, Giorgos Tembelos, and his friend and amateur sleuth, Papa Michalis, to assist him. What the policemen discover will disturb them long after the conclusion of the case. Only six people were at the house at the time of the murder—the gardener and housekeeper, the victim’s son and his wife and their two children, a boy of seven and a teenage girl of sixteen. All appear to be innocent. But access to the isolated estate is severely restricted. Surrounded by high walls, it has only one entrance: a metal gate that was bolted at the time of the crime. Patronas can only conclude that one of the six is a killer. He continues to probe, uncovering the family’s many secrets. Some are very old, others more recent. All are horrifying. But which of these secrets led to murder?

Book 2 of the Greek Islands Mystery series, which began with The Devil Takes Half.

Price/Formats: $6.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Mystery Suspense Thriller
Coffeetown Press
September 1, 2015

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

All The Stars In The Heavens by Adriana Tirgiani

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'All The Stars In The Heavens', A Novel by Adriana Trigiani, Author of The Shoemakers Wife

The lights of Hollywood shine brightly for those who are lured into the drama and dream of movies and T.V.  In All The Stars In The Heavens by Adriana Trigiani, we are taken back into the glamour of Tinseltown as old Hollywood was known at the time. Also called the golden age, it was a time of glamour, beauty, tragedy, and dreams.

Trigiana gives us a riveting tale based on a true story, filling it with romance, adventure and family. Her writing takes you into the romance and secrets that thrived in the 1930’s and 40’s. She weaves her own remarkable storytelling around a true Hollywood story and holds you enthralled as she fills in the unforgettable faces creating the mysterious and magical moments behind the scenes of the movies during this powerful and dramatic time in the history of cinema.

We are introduced to a young Loretta Young, a woman who held the hearts of Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable. She was a spirited and beautiful woman with high standards and great family values. You are taken on a journey as she tries to find her way, and drawn into the romance of the major stars of her life. There is a beauty and poignancy that threads throughout, and you are drawn to the characters as though they are new. For in a way, with Tirgiani’s telling we learn more of their background and circumstances, while the rumors continue as they did at the time, the beauty, betrayal and pain are brought to stark relief in this wondrous work of magic.

If only one could make a movie of the tale of romance and secrets that grace this work, a story of pain and grief, but riddled with beauty, friendships, family and fun. The innuendo and gossip about the stars involved between the chapters is sorted and categorized, labeled and then just thrown out, as the beauty of the romance is more real and in depth then the shallowness of the gossip columns of the day.

This is a work of intense feeling and the risks involved in becoming a face to the public. Always on show the actors are careful to stay out of the limelight and yet sometimes that burst of lightening awareness shines through the crust, taking you into a world of love, yet one that must remain undeclared.

If you enjoy drama and romance, stories of passion and intrigue based off true beginnings you will find the Adriana Trigiani has delivered once again in her bold style. This would be a remarkable book for your library or a wonderful gift for your fan of old movies and movie stars.

Rating 5/5

Monday, November 2, 2015

Forgotten, The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War by Linda Hervieux

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Forgotten, The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War by Linda Hervieux.

Sometimes the most heroic stories are those you don’t hear about, those held in the hearts of the men who lived them.  In Forgotten, The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War by Linda Hervieux, we are introduced to the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion. With a time of war and especially the fateful landing on a French beach Normandy there are many unsung heroes, those who willingly gave their lives to save the lives of the many.

The 320th Balloon Battalion was a unit of African American soldiers who also landed on the beach—their job—to use their curtain of armed balloons and deter enemy aircraft.

With the discovery of military records and the interviews of the last of the survivors, Hervieux has given us a look into the lives of those who served anonymously. While known and respected for their work, they were nonetheless ostracized by other U. S. battalions for race was still a major issue. Lacking freedom from their home in the U.S. the treatment and friendship they garnered in England and most of Europe opened their eyes to the way things could be if equality could really happen for them.

This work draws on the life of Wilson Monk, Henry Parham, William Dabney, Samuel Mattison and thousands of other sent abroad to fight for the liberties they were not yet afforded in their own country. These very experiences they carried back added fuel to the civil rights of the time.

As Hervieus tells the story of this group of freedom fighters she also imbues the work with the tensions of the racial politics of the time as well as the human bravery for a group fighting for freedom and for many giving up their lives for something they had yet to earn for themselves. For these veterans most of their stories remained unheard for the depth of danger and anguish made the retelling difficult.

As Hervieus tracks the stories through the lead up and aftermath of the Normandy landing you get a visual picture of the situations as well as the danger involved. Yet this team of amazing individuals were a very necessary part of taking the beach that day, and the trail of searching for them and getting the stories from the survivors and their families, as well as the few records, we once again see the courage and brilliance of their actions and how their heroism helped to fuel as well as inflame the civil rights movement that came after.

If you enjoy history and works about D-Day, and just getting to know more about the differing views of occurrences and as well as the lives and faces belonging to the Barrage Balloon Battalion you will find this a great work.

This would be a great work for a book club or reading group with a great deal of detail to discuss.


Blood Sky, Book 4 of The After Series by Traci L. Slatton

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Blood Sky, Book 2 of The After Series', A Dystopian Romance by Traci L. Slatton.

In Blood Sky, Book 4 of the After Series by Traci L. Slatton we are once again taken into the future world where danger reins. The once lovely planet has been destroyed by the very people trying to save it. Introducing the mists was meant to cleanse the land yet they quickly turned deadly to those it touched.

All over the world the danger continues and yet there are those whose lives have changed in differing ways based or the presence of the mist, gaining powers unimagined in the history of time. While Arthur continues to battle his own demons, Emma tries to move on without him. Having nearly lost him on several occasions she must now make a choice between her love and the lives depending on her.

Trying to get one of her young chargers to where the destruction all began, Emma knows she must stay out of reach of Arthur. While he has deep regrets for being a part of the team that brought the mists to the world he is still convinced that if corralled and controlled they will be the saving grace of the world that has now been beleaguered for so many years.

That makes him extremely dangerous, and Emma is convinced that madness is over taking him. She must harden her heart and stay ahead of him to rescue the world and eradicate the mists. She is determined to do what it takes, even destroy Arthur if necessary. Can she really take a part of her heart that has a life of its own, and move beyond for the betterment of mankind, or will Arthur convince her of his sincerity?

Slatton builds tension and romance in such a way that you are involved from the beginning. As you view the happenings from the eyes of her characters you are at once, appalled and even in love. Arthur is the epitome of that one who draws you in, with both the danger and the caring. She has done a great job or making the characters so real that you relate to them.

She draws you into a dystopian world of destruction and pain and yet portrays the beauty of what still stands. For among the destruction there are still the vistas to behold, the power of the sunsets and the icy bit and tingle of the frost in the air that glitters upon the damage. You often feel you are there, struggling with her group of survivors.

If you enjoy futuristic worlds, heroes, danger and tense passionate romance you will find Slatton’s newest release, Blood Sky, a great addition to your library. If you enjoy this work you will want to find the rest of the After Series to catch up on all the events.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest by Scott A. Lerner

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book review: 'The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest', a Samuel Roberts Thriller, by Scott A. Lerner.

Samuel Roberts has moved and begun a new life as he tries desperately to get over a relationship with Susan.  Unable to keep her from the danger that seems to follow him, she has moved on, leaving him free to find love again.

In The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest by Scott A. Lerner, we catch up with Samuel as he begins putting his new life together. When his friend Bob introduces him to a new woman, he is strangely smitten. Bridget Gillis is beautiful and vivacious and also happens to be a fortune teller. Yet if that wasn’t enough to get his “spider senses” going, she also belongs to a coven of witches.  The village that contains the coven was founded by her great aunt, and Bridget could certainly be her twin if the paintings are even close to her aunt’s depiction.
The relationship becomes quickly complicated as just a few days before Halloween; Bridget is to be tried by their coven for practicing dark magic. The punishment is to be burned at the stake. With

Sam’s background in law, he is the perfect advocate for her dilemma.  His best friend, Bob, is suspicious of the quick relationship, but comes to help all the same. Can they help determine if she is the good witch or the bad witch before it is too late?

Lerner gives us another fun and dangerous romp with his returning character Samuel Roberts. As usual Sam is only trying to do the right thing, and this new romance seems so wonderful.  Caught up in the crazy circumstances that usually accompany his life, he finally seems to have found a new direction and woman. Can it all really be so simple?

Bridget is such a mix of characters, part minx, part seductress and part innocence. Yet there are secrets hidden beneath her beauty. Calculated and cold she is temptress and succubus all at the same time ensnaring Sam in her life. She is in need of rescuing, is Sam the man that can get her back on track?

If you enjoy mystery, humor, romance and danger you will find this perfect for your library. Paranormal and magic thread throughout the telling and you will fall in love with the characters one more time.

This would be a great book for the upcoming holidays. It is fun and enjoyable, one you will want to pass on to your friends.

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Scott A. Lerner's Bio:
Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of Demons. The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.

The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest Book Summary:
Samuel Roberts, a lawyer in Champaign, Illinois, has just moved to a new home to escape the memories of his old place—the stray body parts left by evil entities as well as traces of his relationship with Susan, who left him because he couldn’t stop risking both their lives trying to save the world. That leaves Sam free to fall in love again. Sam falls hard, suspiciously hard, for Bridget Gillis, a beautiful fortune teller who also happens to be a witch and a member of a coven. The village that encompasses the coven was founded by Bridget’s great-great aunt, also named Bridget and a dead ringer for her descendant. The new relationship quickly gets complicated. It is two days before Halloween, and Bridget is about to be tried by her fellow witches for the crime of practicing dark magic involving the blood of children. The punishment is to be burned at the stake. Bridget needs an advocate, and Sam is the perfect man for the job.

Sam brings in Bob, who is suspicious of his best buddy’s sudden passion. The two of them have until the Witching Hour on Halloween to clear Bridget’s name and find out who is killing the local children. As they comb the area for clues, quiz the locals, and take a crash course in witchcraft and Wiccan customs, Sam and Bob can’t shake the question: is Bridget a good witch or a bad witch?

The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest is the fourth book in the Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons and The Fraternity of the Soul Eater.

Price/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Camel Press
October 31, 2015

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