Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Summoner by Layton Green

Article first published as Book Review: The Summoner by Layton Green on Blogcritics.

In Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, life is often difficult and fraught with danger and hunger. It is here that Dominic Grey finds himself, working in the capacity of Diplomatic Security. Often quick to speak his mind and not always the first to follow rules, he has bounced around on different job. Always a fighter, an expert in self-defense and a practitioner of jiu jitsu, he is not someone you want to mess with. After a stint with Marine Recon, he was later recruited the CIA, where he might be too much of an independent rogue who does what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. Though he may not always be the most political figure, Dominic Grey has been crafted by author Layton Green to be a superb character, one who engenders trust in others and someone to be relied on to handle most situations.

In The Summoner, Layton Green’s character Dominic works with Nya Mashumba, a liaison to the ambassador, and Victor Radek. Nya, a tall attractive young woman, seems quite capable, but Victor Radek is the real surprise. At almost seven feet tall, he is almost a giant. His demeanor showed that he was used to being taken seriously. What brought them together was the disappearance of William Addison, a close personal friend of the ambassador. His girlfriend reported him missing, but the disturbing and almost unbelievable part was that he disappeared at a traditional Yoruba ceremony. The young woman was quite hysterical insisting he disappeared, while in a circle in the middle of the ceremony, in full view of everyone attending. He was in the circle, a sort of fog appeared, she heard screaming, and when the fog cleared he was gone.

Grey is skeptical, Nya is introspective, having a secret of her own for agreeing to the investigation, and Radek is enthralled, his background deals with religious phenomena and how perception is often the precursor to many different alleged miracles claimed by those of faith. This is right up his alley. Beginning as with any investigation, by talking to witnesses and pounding the pavement the investigations goes forward.

Following up on leads guides them to some very unorthodox characters. One name continues to come up, it draws dread and expressions of concern a horror when brought up during questioning. N’anga, who is it and what does it mean. It does not take long to begin to stir up the wrong kind of trouble and Dominic receives a warning, a very dead and desecrated monkey in his lodgings. Grey is not one to take warnings lightly, and he hunkers down even further, pounding out even the smallest of clues. Can he and his companions find William Addison before anything happens to him?

When another disappearance happens in the same way, they need to step up further, to find the culprit behind this crime. When bodies begin to show up and Dominic himself is attacked, all bets are off. This has now become deadly, and he will stop at nothing to find the answers.

But, can they find the answers in time or will they only find more bodies? Will Nya explain her actions and bring more trust to their team? The case is bizarre, and the ceremonies seem almost magical, can this group of individuals find the truth, and stop further murder from happening?

This is one of those books that make you want to turn on all the lights in your house and lock the doors. You begin to look over your shoulder often to make sure someone is not there. It is chilling, yet strange, with just enough of realism to keep it spooky. The settings are authentic and you can feel and smell the countryside. Green does an excellent job at creating the vision.

His characters are quite bold as well. Each has their own reason for being involved and together they make a fierce team. Trust is not automatic but grows throughout the story as each action unfolds. The flaws that make his characters human also make them real, and you get to know them well. Dominic Grey will be a character to look forward to in further stories.

I would recommend this book for reading groups and book clubs; it is well researched and full of intriguing information. This is a wonderful read for those who enjoy both suspense and action stories. It is full of both as well as a light bit of romance. It is quite intriguing and has a very satisfying ending.

Rating 4/5
The Summoner

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Fire Inside: A Sidekicks Novel by Raymond Rose

Article first published as Book Review:The Fire Inside: A Side Kicks Novel by Raymond Rose on Blogcritics.

When we think of heroes and villains and better yet, superpowers, comic books are instantly brought to mind, with the slick Ka Pow, the cool costumes, and the vicious and yet famous moves. Even as children, many of us wanted to join the exalted ranks of Green Hornet, Batman and Robin, as well as Superman and all his friends.

In The Fire Inside: A Side Kicks Novel, by Raymond M. Rose, we are given an opportunity to follow up on the lives of a spectacular group of superheroes and villains, waging a war to protect the innocent. Rose has built Claremont into a city to be reckoned with; a place that once housed the Protectors, and the Teen Protectors. Of course, that was all before the Battle, when a large portion of the town itself was destroyed as well as most if not all of the Protectors and villains. To make matter worse, many innocents died that night so history no longer honored the Protectors, as was once the case.

While most were confirmed dead, a few still made it through yet remained hidden from public record due to their recorded deaths. The villains had moved to a lower income part of town, and most superpowers just disappeared into obscurity. Some of the names were Osprey, Rook, Sparks, Minotaur, Ox and Lady Nyx; they were people to be proud of. Yet for some unknown reason it all went to hell in one fell swoop.

Jack King is one of the survivors, confirmed dead and now leading a new life. He belonged to the Teen Protectors in another lifetime, but in time had found himself a new life. He now worked in a bookstore and took photographs. He was making a name for himself and doing well. His best friend Bruce Webster also survived and joined the Agents, but Jack had not seen or heard from him in some time. Life was mundane and he was getting used to it.

When Webster shows up in his favorite coffee shop to ask for his help, Jack assures him he is no longer interested in his old life. He is no longer the Jack that Bruce used to know. Bruce was easy at accepting his dismissal and they agreed to meet later at a gallery showing of Jack’s work. Little did Jack know this was the last time he would see his friend alive again. Bruce had a secret, and now there were those looking to find the files he carried. All paths now lead back to Jack.

As he begins to look into his friend’s death, unusual episodes begin to happen around him. Things are beginning to happen. Long ago names are beginning to pop up, some of the vilest villains of the past seem to have survived. For some reason they have locked on to Jack. As his life turns crazy and people begin to die, he along with a group of other superheroes decide to find the answers.

Rose’s characters leap of the pages with bold relief. Visualization is a quality that only the best authors consistently attain, and I would have to list Rose in that category. They are true to life, and very human, easily hurt, and not at all casual about their friendships. You are in there with them as they enter the fray and battle the bad guys, you feel the pain as they are hurt and you can actually feel their anger and grief. These heroes are the reason we all wanted to be superheroes as youngsters, the exemplify everything that is human and good. Yet with that good comes just a spark of darkness, the one thing they must constantly overcome to maintain their status.
Rose’s world building is well done and again quite a visual masterpiece. I really enjoyed this book. Usually when you read a book of superheroes there is an expectation of unbelievability, and yet Rose makes you believe. That is a trick all in itself.

I would recommend this book for a reading group or book club. This book is not intended for children. It contains some graphic death scenes. It is hard to put down and I read in in one setting, I did not want to wait to know what happened and then I wanted to go back and slow down because I missed the characters. It is a must have for your library.

Rating 5/5

The Fire Inside: A Side Kicks Novel

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.

Pilgrennon's Beacon by Manda Benson

“Freak” It is a word Dana hears often at school. But what is it that makes Abigail consistently go out of her way to bully and hurt her. Using her ability to make technology work for her just by thought, she finally finds sanctuary in Pauline and Graeme’s rambling home. Her brother Cale ignores her as is his wont but she knows he understands and cares about her. He too is autistic, and she has to suppose that this difference in her is what draws Abigail’s ire.

Because of the constant bullying at school she hates it, and it extremely uncomfortable going. To make it even worse this time she has closed herself in the bathroom, and when Abigail finally gets in, a tremendous fight breaks out. Dana holds her own and actually smashes Abigail’s nose in the process, but as she falls backwards, she loses her balances and smashes her head on the porcelain. The next thing she remembers it being in the hospital having x-rays taken of her head. She is not afraid of the hospital, the machines and their interface’s sooth her, but when the x-rays show a piece of metal in her head, all of a sudden her life begins to change.

Trying to get away, feeling for the first time like the freak she is, she sneaks out of the hospital only to be found by a woman who claims to know about her, named Jananin. She knows about her abilities, and actually claims to be her mother. Convincing Dana that she can help her, she tells Dana stories about her own past. She also gives Dana a rendition of how she came to be. Ivor Pilgrennon features heavily in the story, and as the tale continues, Jananin includes her own plans to use Dana to destroy him.

As Dana is drawn into the scheme and finds Ivor, she finds him to be everything that is opposite of what Jananine suggests. Not wanting Ivor to know of her duplicity she nevertheless hangs around and finds a comfort that she has been missing. Ivor has realized the damage he caused in his youth and is doing what he could to reverse the damage.

Using Jananine’s computer Dana finds an interesting game called Cerberus to keep her occupied while on Igor’s island. Somehow, this game is the center of everything that is wrong in the country and once Cerberus realizes Dana is somehow able to react in ways it does not understand she then becomes a threat to its existence. Now not only is Dana in jeopardy but everything and everyone she holds dear is no longer safe. She has become the Pandora of modern times and released an evil, which is unrelenting. Can she stop it before it is too late? She is unable to undo what she has done. Will she be able to stop the consequences? Can Jananine and Igor come together in time to help Dana before it is too late?

In Pilgrennon’s Beacon, by Manda Benson we meet an unusual cast of characters. Dana is a young girl, autistic in nature but with extra abilities added through early experimentation by Pilgrennon. She is a product of some genetic splicing as well as the plate being added, which gives her the capability to speak with computers of all kinds. She can work with cell phones, GPSs, and Satellites to name a few. It is interesting to watch the interaction. This also brings her added attention, which at her age in school makes her a freak. This too weighs heavily on her. She is drawn into a life unlike anything she has ever known, and she has to change her concept of reality.

Igor Pilgrennon and Jananine are like an old married couple who hate each other, and yet also find they must work together to save the world from a technological menace. They are a great foil and bring a balance to the story.

This is a fun and fast-paced story, and if you or your child enjoy science fiction, it will be right up your alley. Well written, the characters are strong, and it is easy to visualize the scenes as they progress. This would make an interesting book for a reading group with many things to discuss.

Rating 4/5
Pilgrennon's Beacon

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

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Name of Alt by Kevin A Kierstead

If you were an alien living life on earth, how would you out yourself. If you had knowledge of the other aliens that lived and visited earth over the centuries, what would be the proper way to come forward? Especially if you needed something to fix your craft, so you could go home.

In Name of Alt, Kevin A Kierstead had brought us a story of an alien, one of the Douze, a crotchety 172-year-old named Altinison Borahamen. Because it is not really a true representation of his name, he has kindly agreed to let us call him Alt, must easier on our tongue. Accompanied by his companion Khan, a very sarcastic but intelligent alien, Alt is ready to show himself. Khan is different from himself, and yet even with his technology, his family cannot tell what or who Khan is. Not able to get home Alt needs some liquids and metals from earth to repair his craft so he can be on his way.

However knowing the human race is very warlike about things they do not understand, he has come up with a plan, a journal of sorts explaining everything thing he knows about his own race as well as those that have lived and visited the planet over the millennia.

Believing that introducing himself in this fashion will make actual contact easier, Alt has had to take a consensus of the other aliens to get approval of this plan. In Alt Kevin has created a real character, with sarcasm and humor. His friend Khan is the perfect foil to their odd relationship, and the interplay is often quite hilarious. Kierstead has used this mode of information to interject and explain sightings from around the world of different aliens. Through it all Alt has information and reasoning for everything. He has taken bits and pieces of alleged sighting in Europe as well and tied them all together with the help of Alt and Khan.

It is often a fun and fascinating look at the UFO sightings of history, and many of the sightings that have gone by the wayside. Through it all Kevin A Kierstead keeps up the pace and reminders of the different ages gone by.

This is a wonderful story, but I had difficulty getting through it. The paragraphs are long and it often reads a little more like a history text, sometimes just a bit dry. I also like to think I have a great vocabulary but found myself stopping to look up words. At first, I thought they were made up and just another part of the story, but surprisingly enough there was meaning. Periodically there were formulas for speed, and parenthathese were used frequently. I found them to be distracting.

These things created distraction for me and made the book much longer to read. However if you are a science fiction buff, and possibly an Art Bell fan, this will be the book for you. It has something for everyone. The beginning and ending were both fast paced and fun, but it bogged down a bit, for me in the middle. Kiersteads descriptions of his aliens are thoughtful and interesting, easy to visualize.

Rating 3/4

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

A Model Railway Man by Alain Gomez

As addictions go, John Wilson was lost. No he was not into drugs and alcohol such as would be expected; he was addicted to model trains. There was a peace, an excitement as he worked in his basement, hard to give up. In dysfunctional families like John's, his wife was the one who suffered, night after night, sleeping alone with only herself for company. Even with company including Linda’s parents, he struggled to pull himself away a be part of the family.

When Linda finally resorted pushing him in the right direction, he agreed to counseling. Life got better for a time, even during counseling though John would drift to his sets, visualizing what needed to be done. As long as he was doing what Linda wanted, their life was better. When John got sick, it was finally time for him, his decision would be to put up his set and get more involved in his marriage. Being in the hospital scared him, and made him really look at his life.

Was it too late? Could Linda really believe him this time?

Alain Gomez has put together another creepy story and set it with people that you can relate to. John is a nice man but he is caught up in his addiction, something he cannot seem to control. But Linda while initially the sane one in the marriage, begins to ravel as well you have to admire her, and yet I found her actions just a bit bizarre. This short story gives me the feel of Hitchcock, the stories I watched when I was young that gave me nightmares.

While definitely written with an eye to horror, there was not a good understanding of how things came together as they did. I enjoyed the story but would like to see it tied together better at the end.

Rating 3/5

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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Doctor Fleischer by Alain Gomez

Dr. Agatha Fleischer has a job that others can only admire, her office itself would be the envy of any CEO she could think of. The best part is a state of the art lab where she can conduct experiments to her hearts content, as long as her employers are happy with her work.

So far, her employers have been happy with her work. She was still trying to get used to their appearance, which was a bit unnerving. Having been captured by Aliens, she took advantage of her education to ingratiate herself into their mainstream. Now they were asking for another experiment, and while she has been able to placate them thus far, she has still not shown herself to be invaluable.

This new challenge could set her career and make her safe in her new environment. Does she have the fortitude to continue? Will she succeed and find a place in this new society?

Dr. Fleischer is an enterprising person, and has no problem walking over others to reach her goals. Her life on earth actually stifled her imagination with the rules and regulations on experimenting on both animals and human. She finds there is not stricture against this in her new job, and she is overjoyed to utilize her skill to the fullest.

The Alien race is different and quite callus to outsiders. They care very much about their own survival and will whatever means necessary to make that happen. To them, Dr. Fleischer is a tool to be used.

This is a short but quick science fiction, full in interest and just a bit of the unsavory. With just a dab of horror, it will keep you enthralled to the finish.

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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unsavory Delicacies by Russell Brooks

This book is a series of short stories full of suspense centered in either eating establishments or using food as a cover. An anthology of interesting and yet refined reading, Russell Brooks brings you a short novella that packs just enough punch to keep you looking for more. His protagonist shows up in several of the stories, but it is the suspense that ties them together. The individual stories are bundled together under the title of Unsavory Delicacies.

In Crème Brule, Brooks has used a dining experience to introduce his characters. Monique Beauvais is a beautiful young woman willing to use her looks to get what she wants. Working for the Arms of Ares she is more than willing to set up her date, collect the money and mark him for termination. As she completes the deal, she leaves him at the restaurant and as she walks away hears the rifle shot killing her patsy. However, everything is not as it seems. Her contact, Curtis, is not who she believed him to be, and everything she believes has just taken a turn. Her life now in danger and her cover blown, can she finalize the contract for her employers?

Things are not what they seem and Monique is taken aback at her naivety, believing and trusting in her ability to pull a swindle, she is trapped. Having always used her beauty to get what she needed she is at a loss when it is no long enough. Curtis too has his secrets, he is undercover and on to her tricks but will do what it takes to make sure she does not get her way. This is an interesting quick read with a twist to the ending.

In To the Last Bite, Russell Brooks brings us a bit of a creepy suspense, about a food critic. Dennis Kirby makes a living by giving terrible reviews to the restaurants he visits. Occasionally he will give a good review but the bad ones are the fodder that keeps his readers coming back. When he finds a French restaurant with food that he find quite palatable he is impressed. The owner is sweating bullets hoping to receive a rave review, and Dennis assures him he will receive it.

Even after leaving the restaurant, the food stays with him, but something is familiar to him about the owner. He cannot quite put his finger on it but it is there. Maybe he had seen him somewhere before but he is not sure. Calling his girlfriend, he again cannot reach her and begins to worry. He has been trying to reach her now for some time; she is always available so he is concerned.

After his eating experience at the French restaurant, he also finds that other food is not quite as good, but he is understandably surprised with the chef show up at his home with another meal. Something is not quite right, but the horror that unfolds will be so unexpected you will not see it coming.

This is a quick and quirky story with a somewhat creepy undertone. Brooks’ characters are bizarre and the chef is just a bit frightening. There could be a moral and yet it to too odd to list it as so. It is a strange and unexpected tale.

To wrap it all up, Brooks brings us another short but succinct story, Shashlyk and Morozhenoe, revolving around his hero Ridley Fox. Fox goes undercover with a few other CIA operatives, posing as inspectors looking for bad meat. Looking to find and expose some important documents from the Arms of Ares, Ridley realizes the safe is not set up as expected. He calls in his man Dobbs. Unaware of the circumstances, his team is caught in a tight spot when the Russian Mafia show up and inform them that they have been watched on camera.

Can they hold on until Dobbs show’s up. Ridley is not to be trifled with, yet can he get out of one more spot of danger?

This is a fun and fanciful set of stories with are suspenseful and interesting. They hit just the right tone to keep you reading. Each is just different enough to build the pace, and just intriguing enough for enjoyable reading. This is a quick and intense novella, put together with verve. The characters in each case are disingenuous and really keep you interested.

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.

Unsavory Delicacies, and Pandoras Succession by Russell Brooks can be found at the following outlets.


Amazon UK


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Faces, Souls, and Painted Crows by Rudi Unterthiner

Article first published as Book Review:Faces, Souls, and Painted Crows by Rudi Unterthiner on Blogcritics.

Working at a young life in a coalmine in Austria only seemed to build a fire in a young Paul Reiter. Breaking free from a life in the mines and making his way to America to make a different life for himself seemed like a dream until it happened. Even then, fate was determined make difficulties in every way imaginable. However, Paul refused to give up his dream. This is the story of reaching that dream and maybe just a bit more.

In Faces, Souls and Painted Crows, Rudi Unterthiner brings us a story full of challenges and hope. This is his story and he tells it without apology. He has gone through trying and difficult times and yet his tenacity in following his heart led him to the education he needed to become the Doctor he became. His life was not easy and yet persistence and bravado in the face of adversity helped him to build a career that has spanned his lifetime.

A famous cosmetic surgeon, known to many as the phantom, is nonetheless well known in the circles of Hollywood. He is the man behind many of the great cosmetic procedures to both the stars and those willing to pay to look their best. Also known for his work helping those less fortunate in the Baja region and most particularly Puertecitos, the area he visited year after year, helping those most in need.

This is a thoughtful and personal look at a man. One who has questions and made mistakes and yet one who is also revered by those whose lives he touched through the years. A man with flaws he holds nothing back as he explores his life and shares his success and failures. He does not sugarcoat his mistakes and yet he grows and like a chameleon he changes to match his surroundings, whether that of the people he surrounds himself with or the areas he brings to life.

As he yearns to make a difference he often chooses for the wrong reasons, but he has an amazing cast of friends that offer sage advice. Many times, it is just the right advice for the issues he is facing. Like most of us, he is human and faces jealousy and fear. Often behind every great man, there is a woman, and from his description, his wife Linda is part of the strength. She is there in spirit even when not in person and is often a catalyst and sounding board for many decisions.
Her strength is a tie that binds and even through some of the most difficult issues in their marriage, she is able to find the strength deep inside herself to forgive. Not just him but herself as well, something that tookPaul much longer. When you write a book this personal there is nowhere to hide, and yet Paul seems to find a way to move past the mistakes.

I would recommend this book for reading groups and book clubs. It is well written and open, with no effort to hide or reduce the flaws of someone who is after all human. It is a book of hopes and dreams written with a look at how the actions we take today have a resounding impact on our lives of tomorrow. As sometimes happens in real life truth is stranger than fiction, you will find this a powerful and emotional journey.

Rating 4/5
Faces, Souls, and Painted Crows

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

Monday, April 18, 2011

Passing Whispers by Lisa Ann Vance

Posted first on The Romance Reviews

In PASSING WHISPERS, Lisa Ann Vance has taken one of the most heartbreaking things imaginable—the murder of a loved one—and found just the right touch to help our heroine move on. The story is enchanting and full of wonder, with a new love well within reach. If the one you loved came back and helped you through the pain and grief, would it be any easier? And if it were, how would you let go another time?

Endel Sorra, a police detective, is on his way home when a stop for coffee creamer at a local store puts him in the middle of a robbery. The young man doing the robbery panics and Endel is murdered, leaving Kate a young grieving widow. She is uncaring and unfeeling, just doing her job to get by. Life no longer has meaning and it is hard to make it through each day.

When Kate finds a snow globe that Endel gave her their first Christmas, little does she know that a miracle will happen. Endel begins to show up and Kate is initially skeptical, feeling that she has finally gone over the deep end. However, Endel too needs closure, and he needs to make sure that Kate will go on without him.

One of Kate's coworkers, Brian Morris is the only male member of the staff. A social worker at the community center, he is kind, resourceful, and full of fun. But even his antics cannot help Kate through her pain.

With the entrance of Endel's ghost, Kate is beginning to feel again. While she knows she has probably lost it, she also needs this presence, this sense of belonging. Can she learn to live and love again? Endel's time is short; will she make it through a second loss?

Kate is a young woman feeling guilt and anger at losing her husband. Unaware that the anniversary of his death is coming up, a miracle happens as she finds the gift from their first anniversary. Initially feeling that she is seeing things, Endel convinces her he is back to help her heal. She is ecstatic and begins to believe again. As Endel slowly helps her to heal, she finds that her thoughts are beginning to turn to her friendship with Brian Morris. She feels guilt for liking him and yet she is encouraged to enjoy his company. She is torn; she is so in love with her husband it feels wrong to think of another man. Yet their friendship is slowly growing into more.

Brian has had feelings for Kate for some time. He is great with the kids and wonderful with the people he works with. Just being around Kate is enough for Brian most of the time, and he has no thought of things ever going further. She is healing from a devastating loss, and he is not sure she will ever come to terms with it. Not only does she hurt, she also blames herself for her husband's death. Brian knows that if he wants there to be anything between them, he must be there for her in every way. She needs a friend and he intends to be her choice.

Endel loved his wife more than life itself. When given the opportunity to help her, he returns to help her restart her life. He is not supposed to feel the same and yet he can still feel the love. He must help her to get past her grief and move on, but he loves her. Although he knows it is too late for them, he is not sure he can put her on the right path. He does not want to lose her again.

This is a wonderful love story which transgresses life itself. The love between Endel and Kate is burning and passionate, even in death. The new love she is finding with Brian is fresh and fragile. The antics are fun and as Kate begins to take her life back, life for her begins to change as well. Her thoughts are going through a metamorphosis, and she is finding out that forgiveness is also a part of love.

In PASSING WHISPERS, Lisa Ann Vance has put together a love for the ages. It is unselfish and strong. Can it be strong enough to help them all make the right decisions? Kate's recovery puts her back in touch with the people present or part of her husband's murder. Is she strong enough to survive? Ms Vance's characters are memorable and fun, a bit feisty and yet loving. They will hold your heart.

Rating 4/5
Passing Whispers

This book was received as a free download from the author thorugh The Romance Reviews. All opinions are my own based on my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Celebrity Space by Alain Gomez

As exploration continues, only those with the most money and often those most bored with life choose the opportunity to visit the stars. Those are the earthly stars themselves–celebrities. Take that mix and add in one lonely former Navy man,  Dan Cooper. With just three weeks of training, he is in charge of the basic safety on board. Other than his passengers, he is the only presence on board this commercial shuttle set on automatic pilot. Tucked in among the celebrities is a Dr. known for some cutting edge experiments, and while due to her stature she would still be considered somewhat a celebrity, she stayed off to herself, above the riff raff, from her expression.

While not in space long the craft his hit by some sort of power, knocking most of them unconscious. Dan sends out a mayday, but even before it is answered, the ship is attacked again. Will he be able to save the crew, and what is this threat? He is out of his element, with very little training and must rely on his naval background to try to find answers. Yet after being knocked out himself, he wakes up to the unimaginable. This is horrifying and sinister, and he can only look on as his wildest nightmares begin.

In Celebrity Space, a short novella by Alain Gomez, horror seems to come in small packages. The story while short is succinct and makes the hair stand on the back of your neck. The characters could be fleshed out a bit more, but Alain certainly makes the most of this unnatural tale of space.

If you enjoy short work, and science fiction horror this book will be right up your alley. It is a chilling and unnatural tale.

Rating 4/5
Celebrity Space

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

Steam Queen by Jack Hessey

Article first published as Book Review: Steam Queen by Jack Hessey on Blogcritics.

In a Europe known for its lawlessness, mercenaries travel from town to town selling their security. Railway lines are the travel preference of the ruthless bandits that use Steam Engines to travel the country looking for easy marks. Only the most ruthless of people join the ranks of paid protectors. War is at hand when two of the largest cities are looking for change but in different and opposing ways. Unable to agree, they decide to fight for the survival of their own ideas.

The traditionalists of St. Vith feel that steam power is the way. The Wintescheid Diesel Empire opposes St. Vith; they feel that diesel is the only power. The fighting is dirty and messy, and the traditionalists have come up with a new ploy to get more soldiers to their side. Death and destruction continue on both sides.

Erica is an emotionally troubled girl with a penchant for trouble, and on her last good footing with the law. Her father is forced to send her to work as a mercenary with a reputable group to keep her from arrest. She is brash and insists on punishing those she considers to have done her wrong. Her feelings are somewhat stunted and she does not care for people. She uses a knife and a gun like actual appendages, something that will useful in her new life as a mercenary. She is oddly afraid of dirt and cannot abide touching or being around any type of filth. Her new surroundings are not what she is prepared for; she will be living and moving from place to place in a Steam Engine called Steam Queen. She is not impressed with her compatriots, and makes it very clear in very short order. When her crew is pulled into the war, she has no choice but to come along. Fascinated by the diesels, Erica makes herself known in her usual but somewhat alarming fashion, by creating a scene. Trapped in the situation they find themselves in, can they survive the war?

In Steam Queen, Jack Hessey has built a story around the Steam era. It is a fascinating world set with odd and yet likable characters. Written in the steampunk tradition, it resonates with action. Set amidst gangs, bandits and soldiers, it is a world in turmoil, with different factions believing their side is right.
Erica is an interesting hero, unlikely and yet she seems to fall into the fray without trying. Always looking to punish those who wrong her often puts her in precarious situations. The rest of her crew is quite gregarious and have their own set of characteristics. While I have never read steampunk before, I found it to be very quick paced and often just a bit ‘tongue in cheek’. It was strangely addictive, and when I put it down, my mind kept traveling back to the story.

This is a great book for those that enjoy the steampunk genre. I have seen other books described as steampunk, and I was not sure of the category; I do believe I understand now. You have to like a girl that carries a gun named Mr. Pop Bang, and a knife called Mr. Slice. It is an intriguing story, full of spunk. 

Rating 4/5
Steam Queen

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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Author Interview with Ethan Cross -The Shepherd

The Shepard is an amazing work penned by Ethan Cross. Ethan has taken the time out of his schedule to answer some questions and in gereral let you know more about himself. If you have not read The Shepherd it is time to make it a TBR book of the year. Thank you for stopping by.

Thank you Ethan for allowing my questions.

Please supply your writing name as it appears on your book or e-book
and the name of your most recent published story.

Ethan Cross - The Shepherd

Intro: Please introduce yourself to our readers. (Name, where are

you from, married, kids, go to school....things that your readers may find interesting.)

I'm from a small town in Illinois where I still live with my wife, two daughters, and two Shih Tzus. I currently work as the Chief Technology Officer for a national franchise. I've also performed as lead singer and guitar player in a few bands and have been lucky enough to record several albums and share the stage with some major national recording artists.

Tell us about your book.

The Shepherd has been described as “Silence of the Lambs meets The Bourne Identity" and "A fast paced, all too real thriller with a villain right out of James Patterson and Criminal Minds." At its core, it's the story of an ex-cop and a serial killer who become pawns in a conspiracy reaching to the highest levels of our government. But without quoting another blurb or running through the standard book description, I would say that my goal with The Shepherd was to write a book that I would want to read. And I love books that are fast-paced with a lot of action. I tried to take the serial killer genre but put a slightly different spin on it (and the book also revolves around a larger conspiracy in which the killer plays a part). There are a lot of books out there that feature the hunt for serial killers; after all, these men are like aliens among us. They think and act in ways that most of us cannot begin to comprehend, which in turn makes them fascinating. But while most novels of this type take the police procedural approach and the following of clues to find the killer (and my book does have some of this), The Shepherd is designed to get the reader into the killer’s head and wonder how the other characters are going to escape. In other words, it’s not a “follow the clues to unmask the killer” type of book. It’s more a “oh my God, he’s in the next room…and he’s got a shotgun” type of book.

What inspired you to be a writer or have you always had a passion for writing?

Telling stories on a grand scale has been my dream for as long as I can remember. When a fireman or a policeman would come visit my school, most of my classmates’ heads would swim with aspirations of growing up and catching bad guys or saving someone from a blazing inferno. When these moments came for me, however, my dreams weren’t to someday be a cop or put out fires; I just wanted to make a movie or write a book about it.

It started as early as I can remember. I wasn’t an only child, but since my three sisters are so much older than I am, it felt that way growing up. I’ve always been an introvert and my favorite pastime as a young boy was playing pretend with my action figures and my imaginary friends (as my parents called them). But I’m not sure if they were truly the imaginary friends that we traditionally think of. I say this because they were more like characters in my own little movies. At the time, it was a boy playing with his imaginary friends, but I still do basically the same thing as an adult, only my imaginary friends find life on the pages of my books.

If you could give advice to other authors or aspiring authors, what

would you say?

To established authors, my only advice would be that we live in an exciting and ground-breaking time for books. Don't be afraid to embrace these changes, but don't forget that it's still all about the book.
For aspiring authors, I think that the best advice would be to tell them to get out there, attend conferences, and make as many connections as they can. It's like kindergarten; it's not as much fun if you don't have any friends.

When you completed your work what was your most difficult roadblock to being published?

For most authors, finding an agent is a difficult task. I was lucky enough to snag the first agent that I sent to. But that didn't mean it was all easy from there on out. The publishing industry is going through some major shifts and publishers are taking fewer and fewer chances on new authors. The search for a publisher was a stressful time, and it's hard to hear someone say that they really liked the book but don't feel it would get the attention it deserves at their firm. Luckily, I had made some good friends in the industry that helped pave the way.

Where can people go to get more information about you and your book?

You can find me at , , and - I love hearing from readers, so don't hesitate to contact me through one of these channels.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Shepherd by Ethan Cross

Article first published as Book Review: The Shepherd by Ethan Cross on Blogcritics.

Can evil flourish without goodness? Is it possible to be a murderer and yet not be evil? Often what lurks inside the mind makes the difference. In The Shepherd by Ethan Cross, we meet evil head on in his serial killer, Francis Ackerman. Cold and cunning, ruthless and bold, he shows no fear as he stalks his victims. Even the police are not immune to his cunning, when one of their finest is cut down along with his family. To Ackerman it is a game as he twists the tables and reduces his victims to terror, offering them the worst possible avenue in an opportunity to save themselves. It is all a part of his game, a horrible psychological game with unlivable circumstances regardless of how the game plays out.

Ackerman is the monster from your nightmares, and possibly worse. Ethan Cross creates such a believable character that you can feel the frost when he is in the room. The hairs rise on your neck and you can feel that faint sense of doom along with the victim. With short work he is able create a feel for the victim themselves, he draws them from parallels of our own life, whether it be our mother or father, our children or sister, it is all personal, and horror provoking.

Being a shepherd is tantamount to being a keeper. In days gone by the shepherd watched over the sheep and kept them safe, and nurtured them. With that in mind Cross has created a foil of goodness, to counter act the evil. Marcus Williams is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and drawn into the path of the killer. However, Williams is more than what meets the eye, he has found darkness within himself that he continues to try to purge. Having worked in law enforcement, he is conversant with the ins and outs of procedure, and when he meets the sheriff’s daughter Maggie, he is smitten. When he discovers a murder close to where he lives, he realizes that the serial killer lurks in the very heart of his home.

As Marcus digs deeper into the investigation, he finds that things do not add up. There is more going on with the police and the corruption seems to come from someone high up in the ranks. Can he keep the townspeople safe from a sadistic killer? Who can he turn to for help?

In Williams, Ethan Cross has developed a hero full of flaws and with a hint of darkness in his own soul. He has faced evil before and flourished. He is hardheaded, smart, quick on his feet, and seems to be able to think his way out of the worst situations. He maintains his calm in the toughest environment and has the ability to calm the reader as well as the victim. He is charismatic and people are drawn to him. However, he is not sure whom he can trust.

This powerful thriller keeps the pace at a rapid fire. Once I started reading, it was difficult to put the book down. Right when you think you have an understanding of the situation it takes a difficult turn, throwing you off stride. It is must have for the action and thriller fan, and a great addition to any library. The Shepherd is full of surprises to the very end, you won’t be disappointed and you won’t see it coming.

Rating 4/5

Where to Purchase a copy
The Shepherd

Author Website
Ethan Cross The Shepherd 

Ethan Cross Facebook

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Joe DiMaggio The Long Vigil

Article first published as Book Review: Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn on Blogcritics.

Accessing the moments and memories of a bygone era and a time of spectacular achievements, Jerome Charyn has delved into the mystery of Joe DiMaggio and brought him to life. In Joe DiMaggio The Long Vigil, we follow Joe from his beginnings, to his fame in baseball, into his two marriages and then on to his decline. And through it all, we begin to get a picture of the man behind the legend.

He was a man known for his grace and his dignity, a star centerfielder for the New York Yankees from the years 1936-1951. His career did not end with baseball however; he is also famous as the husband of Marilyn Monroe. A private man well respected and revered in sports, he was nevertheless second fiddle to Marilyn, a woman whose life was even larger than his own. While Joe DiMaggio The Long Vigil by Charyn certainly details the marriage reported at the time, this book is in no way about Marilyn, yet she is still a part of it.

Charyn uses the myriads of information on the life of “Joltin” Joe and wends it into a detailed look at his life, and the effects he had on those around him. As you read the information, you are at once drawn to Joe’s character, and yet put off by some of his reasoning. It is the story behind the story of a man who became a legend. It is also the story about a man who helped to build the legend of Marilyn as well.

He is a remarkable character, but with flaws that make his as human as the rest of us. He surrounded himself with people of character, unique and funny, and usually well known. He was friends with Frank Sinatra, Hugh Hefner and Ernest Hemingway to name a few. While the book takes you through his baseball years, along with his remarkable abilities, it also details his tortured relationship with Marilyn, the woman that captured his soul. There is sadness and despair, anger and frustration, and through it all Charyn keeps you caring and understanding about Joe’s past.

Even after Marilyn’s death, Joe persevered. In another odd and unusual way, he then became the representative for Mr. Coffee. Based on Joe’s inherent dislike of the press and speaking, this very private man moved into the spotlight in an unexpected way. This was one of the stranger evolutions in his life.

Here was a man, that in the course of his life had not just one, but three different careers that were amazing and yet larger than life. Charyn brings it all together and gives you a sympathetic and yet intense look at the man. With his love for Marilyn never diminishing, Joe nevertheless lived for 37 years after her death, and yet never forgot her. This is a personal look at the life of a man in turmoil and yet one that went on to a form of immortality through his abilities and the memories he carved.

If you are a sports fan, a Marilyn fan or just really enjoy a book that makes you think, you will enjoy Joe DiMaggio A Long Vigil. I waded into the material with certain expectation but found that I was nowhere prepared at the depth and scope of the story. Once started, I found Joe the Legend to be just a man after all, with the same pains and fears as we all have. Somehow, to me, I am even more amazed at his progress, and while you could say this could or would give you a more sympathetic look at Joe DiMaggio, I have actually just become a bigger fan. Here is a man, with all the fear and flaws that could derail him and yet he emerges as a legend and just a bit more.

This would be a wonderful book for a reading group and a must have for your library. This is an extraordinary telling of  Joe the man.

Blog Tour web site:

Jerome Charyn's web site:

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:

Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil Facebook:!/pages/Joe-DiMaggio-The-Long-Vigil/173247736020293

Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil Twitter:

Yale University Press web site:

Jerome Charyn's Bio:

Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”
Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009.
In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, "The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong."
Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

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Price: $24.00

ISBN: 9780300123289

Pages: 192

Release: March 8, 2011

Buy links:

Barnes & Noble

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Superhero Sister By Toni LoTempio

In the tradition of comic book heroes everywhere, Toni Lotempio has put together a fun and energetic young adult fiction dealing being an outcast in a family of superheroes. Holly Hamilton is a normal young teen and takes after her mother. Now many would not find this to be an issue, but Holly does not live in a normal family. Her father is Invincible Man, an incredible Super Hero. Again, this is kind of cool unless of course your sister takes after that side of the house. In her case, Ellen was the recipient of the super power genetics. Her super name is Suprema. Holly’s friend Mona thinks she is jealous of her sister, but Holly knows that is just ridiculous. I just does not seem fair that she does not have even a bit of superpower herself.

In school, she also has to compete with her sister who is also super cool, even without her powers. She is on the cheer squad, and well-liked by both the students and the teachers. Holly is not good with the same types of studies, but she does excel in science. During lunch, she notices that two new students have started at school. Eddie is kind of a geek but Holly’s friend Mona thinks he is dreamy. Holly on the other hand finds Tad the other new student to be quite attractive. He appears to be attracted to her sister Ellen.

When the family finds out that Anti Hero has escaped Space Station Prison, they are deeply concerned. Invincible Man was retired because during the capture of Anti Hero, he had lost most of his super powers. He had almost lost his life. When a new hero shows up, Holly wonders if it is possible that Anti Hero has found a new way to finish the job on her dad. Can she figure it out before it is too late? Can she, with her scientific mind be the one to save her family?

In My Super Hero Sister, Toni Lotempio has taken a normal family with all the interactions of any that you meet, and yet added another dimension with the super powers. There is sibling rivalry, and jealousy, and yet there is love and caring as well. Holly is a fun character, full of deviousness and energy. Her friend Molly is a great foil to her personality and brings out the devil in her.

Holly gets into all kinds of scrapes, and wants so much to be a part of everything. When she tries to find Magna Boy’s alter ego, she puts herself in danger. Can she find the answers in time to save her father and sister? Will she finally be the hero of the hour?

This would be a fun book for the young adult on your list. It is a cross between a novel and a comic book. It is fun and exciting with characters that have super powers. As usual, they are trying to save the world from evil. It is well done and quick paced. The conflicts and personalities feel like those you find in school and with friends. This is a nice and light read, with a twist of fun.

Rating 4/5
My Superhero Sister

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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Karma and Melodies by Katie Salidas

Posted first on The Romance Reviews

Katie Salidas is a writer that finds the places in your heart that create heat and passion. She is a strong voice in the Vampire Genre, one could say a speaker of the dead. In her usual way, she has given us that unique young man that tugs at your heart strings, the one you always remember. She sets her stage with strong female characters, and in KARMA AND MELODIES, she has also brought the music. This is a dark novel as most vampire stories are, but she brings humor and lightness with her witty prose. This is a fun tale of everlasting love. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The music scene was always Kendra's passion; it was when she was visiting her favorite hangout that she first met her Master. The vampire that turned her and now controlled her. But it was also at this same hangout that she met whom she thought was the man of her dreams, an up and coming musician just making the scene.

Escaping her master, she finds herself back in that place, a homecoming she did not expect. The band has gained notoriety and packs in a crowd. Even with her blood lust, she finds herself drawn to Marcus as he sings his song of love and loss. The heat of the crowd and the smell of blood almost distracted her, but like any fan, she is lost in the music and the idolatry of the man himself. Knowing she must leave before her need begins, she leaves the club to seek a place to spend the night.

Crossing the road to find the darker shadows, she is unaware of the car bearing down on her. The impact is brutal and weakens her body and resolve. Knowing she needs blood to rebuild her strength, she goes to the closest source, the driver of the vehicle. Little does she know until it is too late that the driver is Marcus, the man of her dreams. She has now become his Master.

This not only creates issues with his band mates, but her own Master has been seeking her and she is well aware that he will make an example of her rebelliousness. Every one of the band is now in danger. She has to trust them with her secret to keep them all safe, and because of this, there is a lack of trust, but certainly, something expected. Can she keep them from harm, as the Master tracks her and prepares to teach her a lesson? A lesson that does not allow love or friendship?

Kendra is a young woman turned by an unsavory and unscrupulous vampire to become his toy. Forced to do unspeakable acts time after time, she finally escapes his madness. Yet she belongs to him, she is still considered young in vampire years and she does not have the strength to stand up to him. But her love for Marcus has apparently never wavered. She had always loved him, and when they met again, that attraction was still there. But how would she know if he truly cared about her now? He is enthralled because in order to save him she has had to share her blood. Would she really ever know if he cared?

Marcus is enamored of Kendra. Even though she may not believe it, he remembers her from the club scene from years ago. All of his songs of love and loss are written with her in mind. She disappeared one night never to be seen again. He lost his opportunity with her and he felt as though there would never be another. Can he convince her that it is love, and can he save her from the very presence that took her from him in the first place?
This is an earthy and fun vampire story set in the music world. Fast paced, the story leads you on a merry chase. The interplay is both disturbing and at times quite funny. When push comes to shove though, all the band members line up behind Kendra, just as it should be. If you like vampire lore and stories of romance, you will enjoy this book.

Rating 4/5
Karma and Melodies

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.
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Monday, April 4, 2011

A Hard Death by Jonathan Hayes

Article first published as Book Review: A Hard Death by Jonathan Hayes on Blogcritics.

Helping an old friend in Florida after losing his job and reputation in New York gives Edward Jenner time and space to make decisions. Of course, it would have to be soon, money was running out. A forensic pathologist by trade, and brilliant in his field, he is in the area helping as a medical examiner.

Working second fiddle to his friend Doc Roburn his life is more sedate. Covering while the Doc is on vacation, Jenner realizes he will have to make his funds stretch to cover his expenses.

Jenner receives information about some bodies, and as he investigates, he finds not one set of bodies but two. The victims’ cause of death was hanging. Finding two sets of bodies, one set current, and the other from several months prior, is a surprise, hanging is no longer a common form of murder. Many farms and ranches dot the area so when the bodies are of Hispanic decent it is no surprise. Many illegals still work the area and it will be difficult to establish identities. Deb Putnum from the Ranger service joins the search, and Jenner finds her to be capable as well as attractive. Detective Rudge is also at hand and Jenner finds comfort in having someone he can trust.

Later, coming on the scene of a car accident, Jenner is shocked to find his mentor as well as his wife in the car, but the deaths are not due to the accident. Both are murdered, and Jenner finds the similarities to the other bodies found to be an odd coincidence. Is it possible the murders are related? Will his professionalism allow him to autopsy his old friend? He is not so sure.

When the murders attract national attention, Jenner is again in the middle of a controversy. The same reporter that dealt his career as a Pathologist in New York a death blow, is back on the chase with every intention of dragging him down again. Can he do his job and still maintain his distance? Little does he know that his life has just tilted again and he will not only be responsible for his life but that of many of the people involved. Can he find the answers before it is too late? Someone from the force is leaking information, and it takes a deft hand to stay ahead of the killers. Only with answers can Jenner stop the killing, but can he find them in time, his only hint at the truth lies in a small package found in the Doc’s car.
In A Hard Death, Jonathan Hayes has taken a community and cordoned it off from society. Small towns are often close and suspicious, but Jonathan takes it to another level. Jenner is scraping rock bottom, putting his life back together. Losing everything in New York, he is determined to begin again. Unaware how his life will shift with his friend and mentor’s murder, he thinks he can determine the cause of death. When more deaths pile up and those he most loves are in the cross hairs, can he find it within himself to dig out the answers? Hayes has written his character as a fractured soul with the heart of a hero. The character comes to life, and when attacked it becomes personal, as if he is our own family or friend. The depiction of who he is resonates.

His friends and coworkers become our friends and coworkers and when danger and death occur, we are mortified, sad and disheartened. The pathology, done with an eye to the nonprofessional is laid out for easy perusal. Jenner is brilliant, move over Kay Scarpetta; there is a new pathologist in town.

The story resonates and I read it in one sitting. I found I could not put it down; I was immersed in the menace and following the danger, willing it all to work out. This would be a great book for a reading group and a must for your library.

If you enjoy thrillers this is a first class read. Jonathan Hayes has found the perfect pace to keep the reader involved from the first page to the last. Make time, for you will not want to put it down.

Rating 5\5
A Hard Death

I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Apostle Rising by Richard Godwin

Article first published as Book Review: Apostle Rising by Richard Godwin on Blogcritics.

In the age-old debate of nature versus nurture in the formation of a murderer, one has to wonder what happens when you put fanaticism in the mix. In Apostle Rising by Richard Godwin, you will find a dark and sinister mystery that may beg to answer the question.

Following the leads of a new and vicious group of murders, Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle finds himself back in to the same nightmare that destroyed his family and life years earlier. In the original case, the murderer was known as the Woodlands Killer because of where he left his victims. Knowing in his gut who the killer was and yet not able to find proof created a living, breathing hell for Castle. His entire life became the case; it got inside his head in a way that was not healthy. His wife left him and he became a mockery due to press exposure of the case. Pressure from the case continued to hold sway and Castle turned to alcohol, another way to drown his pain.

Now many years later there is a copycat, killing in much the same way. Castle is convinced that his old nemesis is behind the game. He and his partner DI Jacki Stone, race against time to gather the clues and stop the new murderer before he kills again. Castle is convinced that Karl Black is behind these killings as well, there is religious fervor in the destruction of the body; the deaths are brutal and sadistic.

Drawn deep into the fabric of the newest killing spree, Jacki understands the hypnotic and psychological pull of the case. Her life has now begun to twist in the same fashion as her husband leaves her for another woman. Unable to pull back from the precipice she continues on the case to find this sick and masochistic maniac as bodies begin to pile up. Getting in the mind of such a killer is tantamount to losing your soul, but she understands that Castle needs her help. He cannot do this without her, and she believes she is strong enough to withstand the pressure without breaking. Can they follow the clues to find the real killer? Is Karl Black involved, or is it as the press portrayed, just another mishandling of a serial case from the prior years? Will Castle be able to redeem himself? The new killer is invisible but Castle is convinced that Black is the puppet master. Can he prove his theories?

In Apostle Rising, Richard Godwin has written a brutal and suspenseful mystery, dotted with murders and mayhem throughout. The murders are graphic; crafted with visual process the scenes bring the picture to mind. The story has a dark and fanatical backdrop, with threads that interconnect. The suspense and mystery are superb; you never understand the emotional depravity until the end. It is an end you never see coming.

Castle is a charismatic and likable character. His damaged psyche is a part of what draws you to his fragile and one-track mind. He is determined to track his nemesis and solve both sets of murders. He is often in the fog of alcohol, which is now a part of his life. His depiction keeps you eager to find his thoughts and solutions, hanging on his knowledge.

Jacki is tough and yet she too is a figure that draws your sympathy. Castle is like a father figure to her, and she feels as though he needs her strength. She is hurt by her husband’s treachery, but angry as well. Not sure if she can allow him back, she continues to push him away. She is slowing losing the battle to hold her mind and keep it clear from the psychological workings of Karl Dark.

I would recommend this novel for those who love thrillers. Be prepared as the scenes are visual and quite graphic. The pace is a bit slow with the evolution of the new killer, and with a look into the inner workings of his mind. The tension keeps the read going, and leads you in an unexpected direction. Godwin has created a great whodunit. This book stays with you long after the final page.

Rating 4\5
Apostle Rising

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

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adoption by Victoria I. Sullivan

Article first published as Book Review:Adoption by Victoria I. Sullivan on Blogcritics.

In Adoption, an odd and yet remarkable story of genetics and test tube engineering, Victoria I. Sullivan has put together a story of extremes. Her Characters leap off the pages, and her background lends credence to the potential of the story.

Dr. Val Smythe is a Botanist who suddenly becomes the keeper of an intelligent and giant young girl at six years of age. Yet Mary Solven is anything but normal. She is already the size of a full-grown adult and just as capable. Yet she is a child in many of the ways that matter, she still needs her mother. However, her mother has just died, and she has instructed Mary to relay information and papers to Val, and let Val also know that she is now Mary’s Trustee.

At first, Val is mortified, she is not ready to be a mother, but worse, the story makes no sense. Mary is not a child. To Val it appears more than obvious. Yet she has the proof, and she is so childlike in many ways. As Val tries to find more background, she runs into roadblocks at every turn.

Thinking Mary is one of a kind, Val traces her birth to a fertility clinic, where the main scientist is also Mary’s father. Messing with genetics and using both plant and human DNA and characteristics, he has produced a child of scientific proportions. What she finds is that not only is Mary a part of this genetic research, he has been birthing a small army with the same genes.

Trying to find a way to live in the world as it is, Mary has had to grow up fast. When she meets others like herself, they decide to find a home unique to them. For the most part, they are a loving a peaceful group, but it only takes one man, angry and bitter to bring their house of cards down.

Now the government is involved, sterilization becomes the key to keeping them under control. As with any difference, there is discrimination, but it is worse because it goes all the way to the top and also topples into church doctrine. Will Val be able to save this group of Children, can they live in peace?

In Adoption, Victoria I. Sullivan has used her background in Science to put together a story of fear and discrimination, based on the differences of genetics. She winds the fabric of Botany into the story of human genetics and comes up with a possibility of an abnormal growth cycle complete with regeneration. It is an intensive book with depth and information, well researched to create believability.

Her characters are interesting, with their unique qualities and appearance, because they are still children regardless of their size and abilities, they are also still very immature and childlike. It is a story of challenges faced when others are afraid of the differences they do not understand. The societies involved bring to mind the narrow-mindedness of the Salem witch trials, where lack of understanding fanned the flames of fear, creating a frenzy of destruction.

Adoption is a story of extremes. It should resonate with science fiction fans and those that enjoy such genres. I would be an interesting addition to reading groups adding a different type of spice to their discussion. The author is knowledgeable and has put together a story of unique and yet devastating consequences.



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

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Bullet Work by Steve O'Brien

Article first published as Book Review: Bullet Work by Steve O'Brien on Blogcritics.

Somewhat in the tradition of Dick Francis, Steve O’Brien has put together a remarkable story set in the background of the horse racing community. When prime horses begin to die or disappear, one trainer goes the distance to find the culprits. The background information uncovers the reasoning behind the nefarious dealings; it is a swindle to milk the trainers or their owners of money. The money required is twenty dollars a head on the horses to keep them safe. While on the surface it does not seem enough to put the beautiful beasts at risk, it is nevertheless a clever ploy at protection.

Many trainers understand the problem is only the tip of the iceberg, and understand that to give in could only create further blackmail and further demands. Dan Morgan takes it personal when his horses and team become targeted. He begins his own investigation.

Watching the denizens of the racing world, those that remain in the background, he discovers a young man, a boy really, one that seems to stand out. While looking for information and background on the people from the track, he cannot help but notice that there is something different about this youngster. Constantly bullied he remains unhurried and calm that is until it comes to the horses. Terror and pain are common in the racing scene for the animals, but A.J. Kaine, appears to have the ability of “horse-whispering.” Yet it is more, from Dan’s perspective it appears that Kaine is able to siphon the stress and pain from the horse to himself. He is intrigued and makes every attempt to become A.J.’s friend. That is something A.J. is not comfortable with, but Dan perseveres, and is able to gain his trust.

The killings and the insertion of A.J. into the very darkness of the repugnant deeds put Dan in the middle of a roller coaster ride of emotions. As everything he owns and holds dear seem to attract the men holding the card in this dangerous game, he must look to himself and his reliance of A.J. to find the answers. Will he succeed? Can he make a difference? Time is running out, already trainers are pulling their horses ready to give up hope.

In Bullet Work, by Steve O’Brian, we see the back stages of the horse racing community. It is about the trainers and crews that work the horses, and do the work not seen by the people attending the events. It is a hard but rewarding life full of dangers. O’Brian’s descriptions put you in the paddocks and on the track, making you feel the heat and sweat. The depictions of the situations are brutal, with an eye at realism.

Through it, all you get to know the characters, they are hardworking and gregarious. The horses are their love and they take pride in their jobs. Where winning is everything, it is sometimes a thankless task. However, the work and pride goes on.

A.J. is an anomaly, a lonely young man, except for the horses. They mean everything to him. He has a form of Autism, and is incapable of socializing, so is often the butt of jokes and often abused.

This is a wonderful story, full of stories of the people behind the scenes. It is a mystery and suspense, with a bit of paranormal overtones. People are often interested in the “horse-whispering” phenomena and Steve O’Brien brings it to another level in Bullet Work.

I would recommend this book for reading groups and book clubs. It is interesting and fast paced with plenty of discussion fodder. I would consider it a must read for the Dick Francis fans, just another direction for the aficionados of the horse racing field with is mysteries and suspense, but it is also a wonderful addition to the paranormal scene. This book is a must have for any library.

Rating 5/5
Bullet Work

This Book was recieved as a free copy from the Author through the Cadence Group. All Opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

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