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.