Monday, June 27, 2011

Blood in the Meadows: Terror on the Strip by Dale Day

Article first published as Book Review: Blood in the Meadows: Terror on the Strip by Dale Day on Blogcritics.

With drug wars and Cartels, the funds available to those in power can make almost anything happen. When the death of Olegario, the only son of a major Columbian drug lord comes during an undercover operation by the DEA, the Don will take matters into his own hands. Someone must pay and he will have his revenge.

In Blood in the Meadows: Terror on the Strip by Dale Day, we follow the daily life of a Cab driver, Jason Rourke. Retired from the military, he chooses to drive a cab, in the notable Sin City of America. Picking up fares and moving people from place to place is easy and while he may not get rich, it pays the bills. After dropping of his current fare, he picks up another at the airport. This customer, Hernando Diaz is quiet and yet carries himself like old military. Jason understands quiet and allows him his solitude. In return, he receives a great tip. Diaz also asks him for his card for whenever he is in town and needs a driver. Fares like these are what make Jason's job worthwhile.

What he does not realize is that Diaz is in Vegas for a very important meeting. This meeting could bring about the possible end of Las Vegas, as we know it. Diaz is careful though, he cultivates those few that he can trust to handle one of the biggest jobs of his career. Then he hands over the reins to someone else in order to remove himself from the circumstances as he begins the act of distancing himself from the terror.

There is only one thing he does not anticipate, and that is falling in love with Tomasa, an interesting and unique she/he that he meets at a bar. Knowing such a relationship would be unacceptable in his country he nonetheless finds himself enamored. He is also beginning to be uncomfortable about his assigned task, but understands he must carry out the plan or his life will be forfeit.

As the plans for an attack on Las Vegas are set, Jason, our cabbie, finds himself in the middle. He knows something must be happening, but is not sure what it could be. He reports his suspicions to an undercover officer he knows, but without further information, preparedness is impossible. When he and a reporter, Lupe come together and begin to gather clues, they too come into danger. Following the suspects, they witness the practice of a bombing in an old farm out in the middle of the dessert. After reporting their further findings, the authorities and homeland security race against time to beat the terrorists at their own game. Do they have enough information to put protection in place and stop the possible bombings?

Jason and Lupe are in the middle of the information and yet they must find a way to stay safe. In addition, can Diaz keep his new love Tomasa safe, and remove the obstacles that keep them apart?

Day has given us a threatening possibility in which revenge is a motive for a terroristic move against Las Vegas. The city is chosen because of its draw of people, and the plan is to kill as many as possible to create a horror of untold proportions. He has slowly built his case and drawn in the planning in such a way that you can follow the lines of intent. His characters are likable in most cases, while he drops in an unsavory group as well. Jason is an intelligent and charismatic man who is in the wrong (or right) place at the wrong time. He is smart enough to understand what he is seeing, and it seems to lead to untold trouble. He knows of Tomasa and likes her, but he is finding there is more to her than he understands.

Day has also given us a character, who feels he is doing his job, which just happens to be revenge, but he somehow makes him likable. Diaz is an interesting mix, and it is hard to know how to take him. It is an odd and uncomfortable feeling and yet there it is. Dale Day has built on an unimaginable terror, a nightmare of planning that makes you wonder about the consequences of such a thing happening.

I would recommend this book for the fan of the thriller genre. The story is quick and interesting and should resonate with those that enjoy suspense as well. The terror sticks with you long after the end, and leaves you wondering if such a thing could really happen. It creates an uncomfortable supposition, one that could be possible, or could it?

Rating 3/5
Blood in the Meadows: Terror on the Strip

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Releasing Gillian's Wolves by Tara Woolpy

Marriages often crumble for a variety of reasons, and yet one of the more common seems to be lack of fidelity. We often hear about these issues in the news and gossip columns as it pertains to the rich and famous, but the politicians are fair game as well.

In Releasing Gillian’s Wolves by Tara Woolpy, we follow the life of Gillian as she finally realizes that life is passing her by as she waits for her ever unfaithful husband, Congressman Jack Sach to settle down and create a real and loving life with her. After thirty years of marriage and numerous affairs, she has carved a life of good enough, relying on her friends and cooking to bring happiness and joy to her life.

In one fell swoop though, one thing happens that for some reason triggers that rebelliousness deep inside, that want to be the one and only, and to stop being the doormat for a man that cares deeply only about himself. During an election party as she puts the finishing touches on dinner, she meets a very pretty young woman, wearing a necklace very like the one she herself just received from her husband for her birthday. And she knew. She absolutely knew. Not sure what it is, maybe the age difference, or just another conquest, she find she cannot go on.

This one thing, this young girl finally started a cavalcade of feeling and decisions Gillian could not ignore. Concerned about how her decision would affect their two grown children as well as her mother-in-law Pearl, who is more the just that, but a friend and confidant as well, she decides to live separately yet maintain the marriage, for the sake of appearances. When she decides to spend the summer in Amsterdam with her friends Edward and Sam, she meets someone who changes her life. Luke Vanderwerken is a sculptor, one she has admired for years, and is a friend of Edward’s. Drawn to each other by their love of art, they become inseparable. How will this affect her marriage and her family? When her husband becomes embroiled in the fall out of several nefarious schemes, she must return to the states to prove her own innocence of involvement. Will she ever see Luke again, and how will she finally find the life she deserves?

Tara Woolpy has done a wonderful job of developing characters that seem real. You can envision Jack, the erstwhile politician, with his group of interns and his charismatic demeanor. Gillian strikes a balance that leaves you at once concerned for her, and yet keeps you rooting for her. Other than her art and her friends, food is the thing she turns to for comfort. Tara has interspersed recipes in the chapters as Gilliam cooks her way though many of her issues.

Edward and Sam are a enchanting couple, and she makes you feel the connection with them. Edward and Gilliam have known each other their whole lives, and have the Grandfathers (as they are referred to) to thank for the largess in their life. The money and foundation started by the Grandfathers will sustain them through their lifetime, and with their upbringing, they are more like siblings then friends.

Luke is rugged and serious about his art. He is often introspective and messy; he gets into his work and is not always charming. He is not even really much to look and yet Gilliam finds that bit of him that is what she has been searching for her entire life. And for Luke that same spark is reciprocated, creating a closeness neither of them expected.

This is a story of life and love, and treats you to the generousness of those who care. Gilliam’s life and exploits keep you captivated, and the recipes are an added extra. If you enjoy a light love story and a story of growth, you will enjoy this often fun and quirky novel.

I would recommend this as a light summertime read, and a great book for a reading group. There is politics and deviousness, as well as love and redemption. It would make for a great discussion.

Rating 4/5

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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Otherworld Tales:Irish the Demon slayer by C.T. Markee

Article first published as Book Review:Otherworld Tales: Irish the Demon Slayer by C.T. Markee on Blogcritics.

In a Charming fantasy-adventure, we meet a group of youngsters that find out life is not always what it appears to be. In Otherworld Tales: Irish the Demon slayer by C.T. Markee, we meet Pete Kehoe and his friends, Streak and Huff. Also known by his nickname, Pete goes by the moniker Irish. One summer while his grandparents visited from Ireland, he mimicked their brogue and immediately picked up the title from his friends.

On a day like any other, as Irish heads out to hang with his friends, he begins to hear voices. At first, he believes someone may be hiding in the tree, but when he searches, no one is there. Then he sees a large snake, it has a black stripe and red eyes. As he joins his friends, he shares his story, only to hear a voice again coming from a tree. Asking them if they can hear it, they assure him there is no voice and begin to make fun, as boys tend to do. They are on their way to an alleged witch’s house to look her over. She is an elderly woman who lives by herself, and the rumors claim her as a witch. They want to get a look at her, and plan to throw stones on her roof until she comes out.

Just as Irish prepares to throw the first stone, the woman comes out. Surprised, he turns to run and slips in the mud. When he turns over to get up, she is there. She knows who he is and tells him she has been waiting for him. When he gets up, he introduces his friends, and wants to know how she knows him and why she is waiting. She asks them in to tell them the story, and they are spell bound by what they hear. The tale is old and mythical, and deals with the world of the Sidhe. He is the chosen, the warrior of the prophecy. It is up to him to save the Sidhe and the human race.

Unsure of the story and agreeing to think about the quest, the choice is taken from them when they find that Irish’s sister Kathy has been kidnapped by Abaddon, King of the Demons. He has taken her to the mystic Irish Otherworld, and Irish must embrace his heritage to save her. Will he and his friends be able to save her? Can they stop Abaddon from taking over the world of humans? Life has just taken a turn for the wild and weird, and they must use their inner skills and strengths to save both Kathy and the world, as they know it.

Irish is a brave young man, and is very close to both his friends and family. He is overwhelmed by what he hears about his quest, and while he does not initially believe the old woman, he quickly learns that his life as he knows it is all over. Life has changed and he must embrace his heritage and power to save his sister and their world. His friends Streak and Huff are with him all the way, and while they are afraid, they are willing to help him in any way they can. They are just as all boys at that age, just 12 years old, they are excited by the possibilities, and yet as they run into difficulties they are fearful. However,they do not let their fear decide their way, courage takes over and each of them develops a talent unique and necessary to help Irish finish his quest.

Markee also fills in with fun and magic characters in the Otherworld. He develops an amazing cast of characters, quirky and exciting, that build on the situation as it happens. Each has a place and a reason for being, only adding to the charm and action that continues at a fast pace.

The description of Abaddon and his demon horde fill the persona of evil quite well. They are constantly looking for ways to trick the boys into making the wrong moves, and can become whomever they want at will. It is imperative that each character is tested as they enter the fray, because they could be a demon is disguise.

This is a fun and interesting story that moves along quickly. Action packed and full of adventure that kids will love, it is also a wonderful book for the young at heart. Woven with real legends and characters it gives a bit of authenticity, making it even more compelling. This would be a great gift for your young reader and a perfect addition to your library. It is a fun and mythical adventure sure to please.

Rating 4/5

Otherworld Tales: Irish the Demon Slayer

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Amber Treasure:Book One of the Northern Crown Series by Richard Denning

Article first published as Book Review: The Amber Treasure (Book One of the Northern Crown Series) by Richard Denning on Blogcritics.

In a wonderful novel from the depths of the dark ages, we follow the life of a young man, Cerdic, born to a family of warriors. In a time of epic battles, where heroes and warriors reigned supreme, we travel the trails of a group of warriors, hoping only to maintain their hold on their homes. Set in the Kingdom of Northumbria, and littered with places and people both real and imagined, we learn about the times and put faces to the people.

In The Amber Treasure, Richard Denning has written a historical fiction, filled with characters you can draw too. Being born into a family of warriors, Cerdic is the younger son. Knowing his brother will take the sword, Cerdic is given the leisure to spend time with his best friends Eduard and Cuthbert. Leisure is not really the apt word in that time and place as they worked hard and had daily battle practice as routine; because one day they too would be called on, to protect whatis theirs.

It is during this time, one of the family slaves, a young Welshman named Aedann is allowed to join in along with another young but angry man named Hussa. Practice is brutal but necessary for this group of youngsters. It is only later that Cerdic learns that Hussa is his bastard brother. Unrecognized by Cerdic’s father, he is angry and bitter, with never much to say, but he learns the way of battle well and quickly. As with Aedann, it is also very unusual to allow a slave to practice battle, and especially this slave, since he was Welsh. The Welsh were the enemies of the Anglo-Saxons and yet Cerdic is able to get into the training.

The Sword of Cerdic’s uncle passed to his brother Cuthwine, the next in line after their father. When a group of Welshman attacks their village, Cerdic and his friends taste their first bit of battle. Having been in the woods, they witness the attack and the taking of women and children. Cerdic and his friends are able to rescue many of them, and while they win their skirmish, Cerdic is worried about his own family. Heading home, he is unprepared for the destruction he sees. As he approaches his home he finds that his brother Cuthwine has been killed protecting their home, and his sister Mildrith kidnapped. His father is injured but his mother and younger sister were able to escape. Cuthwine’s sword is taken, as well as the Amber jewels. Awarded as bounty for their family’s part in helping to save the country in battles past, these were a closely guarded secret.

The raid centered on his home and appeared to be due to the presence of the jewels, known to very few. With only a handful of family and servants even knowing about the treasure, suspicion is high, and Cerdic is almost sure the traitor is his young servant Aedann. It colors most of his actions in the coming months. With his father’s injury, it is up to Cerdic, his friends and a group of warriors to rescue his sister and return the stolen items. Little do they know that they are on the brink of war. Can they find Mildrith and rescue her without becoming embroiled in even more battles and death? Can they save off death and keep their home and land from further war and bloodshed?

This is a wonderful coming of age novel, full of action and bravado. Cerdic is embroiled in an attempt to find his sister and get revenge for his brother’s death. He is brave with a wonderful group of friends that believe in him. He is brash and sometimes outspoken, but with his youth, his thoughts and ideas are often ignored. We see him grow in this book and Denning does an excellent job of describing him, as you would expect of a boy learning to become a man. He tires of battle and death quickly and yet understands it may be his role in life. He seems wise for his age and it does not take long for many of the battle-hardened warriors to begin to learn to trust him a bit.

His friends are both brave and funny. There is something about both their bravery and antics that is endearing, and makes you want to have friends just like them. The descriptions are strong and you can picture them in your mind as they frantically follow Cerdic’s lead.

The battle scenes are well written. They feel both real and down to earth. The scenery and sounds are described in such a fashion; you can feel the heat and smell the sweat and blood. You can hear the clang of the armor and the snorts of the horses as the battles engage. It is really quite exciting.

This is a great read for the Young Adult reader; it is full of historical facts along with just enough fiction to keep it entertaining. I believe it will also resonate with the young at heart reader that enjoys historical fiction with action and intrigue. This is a fun and exciting read.

Rating 4/5
The Amber Treasure

This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey

Article first published as Book Review: The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey on Blogcritics.

Often as children, we build clubs and belong to one or more groups of friends that we remain close to for the rest of our lives. What would happen if a group of children that were bullied by those bigger and stronger formed a new club? Then what would happen if the purpose of that club were to extract revenge?

In The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey, we enter the world of a psychopathic killer, known as the Oracle. Graphic and disturbing murders are being committed and the clues, a group of seemingly random pictures of prior serial killers seem to lead nowhere. As Prosper Snow, the lead detective on the case begins the investigation; he is at once, also drawn back into the drama of his group of friends and their old school club known as the Kult.

Prosper has lost weight and learned to overcome the obstacles of youth, and his club of friends have been there for him whenever needed. As youngsters, they looked out for each other, and their club went on the defensive and sought revenge against those who bullied them. Their own form of vengeance was a bit brutal, and yet satisfying. As one of the members draws them into the darkness of murder, he plots to utilize all the clues Prosper has collected on the Oracle case, as a way to escape punishment. When they allow the Oracle to take the blame for the killing they have committed, they suddenly become the target of this very same serial killer.

As the Oracle killer begins to target each of Prosper’s friends in his brutal, cruel, and macabre fashion, Prosper finds that he has lost control. The death of each only throws the other club members into more of a panic. The kidnapping of his wife makes him realize he must pull out all stops to find the killer while keeping his own culpability unknown. How does the Oracle know the Kult club members are responsible for the copycat killing? Is it possible one of his friends is the actual murderer? Can Prosper find the killer before he commits the final act, and still hide his involvement from the police?

Shaun Jeffery does an amazing job of setting up red herrings, and taking your mind into places and thoughts that lead you in differing directions. Each time you think you have it figured out; the killer makes another move to create further misdirection. His characters are human with both strengths and weaknesses, which draw you in. Easily swayed by the dark side and their friendships, they allow themselves to be manipulated in a copycat crime, but their action puts them at risk in a way they could not have realized. Prosper is a strong protagonist, and yet he still carries the flaws from his youth. While inadvertently being involved in a copycat murder, he is now racing against time to save his friends and family.
The murderer is a disturbed individual, with a mindset out of some of our worst nightmares. His manipulation of the bodies and the way he kills is gruesome, and over the edge. He aligns his clues in such a way that Prosper will take notice, and yet Prosper has no understanding. It is only as he compares notes with his surviving friends that he begins to see a picture of madness. There is no way to prepare for what he discovers.

I would recommend this book for the horror and suspense aficionado. It is full of horror and the suspense as you wait and follow the clues keeps you guessing. Be prepared, the action is nonstop, and the killings are both brutal and graphic. This is a book better read by daylight; even then it will keep you up with the lights on and the doors locked. Be prepared.

Rating 4/5
The Kult
This book was recieved as a free download from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Johnny One-Eye by Jerome Charyn Review and Book Givaway 6/20/2011

Article first published as Book Review:Johnny One-Eye by Jerome Charyn on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment in order to win.

In the early years of America, a ragged group of volunteers, led by George Washington, dealt with the American Revolution and fighting for freedom. Many of them began as farmers, and yet become a part of history and recorded as heroes. Many of these men became the forefathers of our nation and are the very reason and beginning of our independence.

In Johnny One-Eye, Jerome Charyn has used history and rumors of the time, to build a story of heroes, a tale of love and revenge, and of the difficulties and possibilities of the revolution. He has used actual events and characters in history and peopled it with imaginary characters and events of his own.

Drawing from dark times of revolution, Charyn has given us a novel set during the eight years of the revolution, a gritty and difficult time. He uses Johnny as a character and narrator, which ads a different and unique take on the times. Johnny is a young man raised in a whorehouse and a double agent as many were during those times. He first comes to our attention when caught trying to poison Washington’s soup. Johnny is relatively educated and often works as a scribe, and it is during one of these missions, scribing for Benedict Arnold that he loses his eye.

Johnny seems to lead a charmed life, getting in and out of danger while balancing his confusion and concerns about the war. He loves his king, and yet now that he knows him and understands him a bit better, he is drawn to George Washington. There are also the rumors that he may be the illegitimate son of George Washington, a rumor that seems to keep him alive. Both sides have a bit of a soft spot for him, and yet there are those too that want him dead. He is in love what Clara an octoroon whore whom he grew up with and it is obvious to all in the know that the Madame is his mother. This all plays a part in this story and his mother is set as the other woman in Washington’s life.

Through the difficulties and avenues traveled by Johnny, we learn of many of the characters of the time of the revolution, notables such as Hamilton, Arnold, General Clinton, King George III and Washington himself. Set mainly in Manhattan and surrounding areas we read of the skirmishes and problems encountered by Washington and his crew. We learn about the courageous African stevedores and slaves that lay their lives on the line to help make this a new country free from England’s control. Full of both darkness and lightness, it is also full of real history and information as well as riddled with fiction.

Charyn has taken us to a time in history, when America was just becoming a new nation. His descriptions of the times and events both real and imagined, take you inside of the pain and anguish of the characters involved. You feel as though you are there, the descriptions of the winter scenes with Washington and his men such when they left bloodied trails because of lack of money for warmer clothing and shoes, left a lasting impression on me. While I read much of this same information during history classes in school, it was dryer and less real. Charyn makes it real, you can feel their pain and also feel their love and adoration of their leader. It is what keeps them fighting in the harshest and worst of conditions.

Johnny One-Eye is an engaging character that creates more of a story, and gives us an opportunity to see the unfolding of our history from a different and unique perspective. His involvement with both the women of the whorehouse as well as his own bits of intrigue keep it interesting, giving us both a more in-depth look at reality, and offering us a different perspective of events.

Jerome Charyn brings us wonderful fictional characters and weaves them into actual events in history, setting encounters with actual historical figures, which creates an interesting fictional history that reads like reality. Often truth is stranger than fiction, and while the added characters come from imagination, the truth of the times only adds a darker more sinister cast. The character of Johnny adds a bit of humor to a story that could be quite daunting.

If you love historical fiction, you will enjoy Johnny One-Eye. It is riddled with the actual events in history and is a different and more mercurial look at history. It is a view as evidenced by a young man, in the middle of a time of turmoil. This would be a great book for a reading group or book club.

About the Author

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.

View charyn.jpg in slide show

Blog Tour web site:
Jerome Charyn's web site:

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:

Johnny One-Eye Facebook:

W.W. Norton & Company web site:

Leave a comment for your chance to win, and stop by again on June 20th for a look at the review and your chance to win. the drawing will be end of day, June 20th and the winning copy is supplied by Tribute Books.

Good Luck.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pele's Tears by Sharon K. Garner

Posted first at the Romance Reviews

Sharon K. Garner has given us a beautiful island in which she sets a wonderful love story. The characters are involved in a treasure hunt that has been ongoing since their youth. Now someone else is on the track of the treasure and it seems they will stop at nothing to find it first. Full of family, fun, and feelings, you can get a wonderful feel for Hawaii and smell the perfume of the islands throughout the book. Garner does an amazing job of world building.

Noelani (Lani) Beecham grew up, immersed with the Kohoa family since she was quite young. As a child both Dante and Dom were like brothers to her and they did everything together. Exploring and discovering new places, they were constantly on the move in some of the most beautiful areas of the world. The legend of Pele’s tears only gave every search a special glow, an opportunity to find a treasure, the rarest of the rare. Best of all was Dante’s grandmother Rosemary; she was a believer of the treasure and never stopped looking during her lifetime. After the death of Dom in an accident during one of their searches, much of the dazzle and delight went out of the quest. No longer willing to take the risks, all further searches were called off.

Fast forward to years later, after Rosemary has passed away, Lani finds she is now a joint owner of the family flower farm in Kauai. Needing her help to keep the farm from failing, Dante has trailed her to the states to convince her of her destiny. When Dante shows up at her home in the states to whisk her back to Hawaii, she finds that they have both been receiving warning notes. They make mention about the search for Pele’s tears. They suggest dire consequences although they are somewhat ambiguous in nature. She also finds that Dante was injured recently, shortly after receiving one of these letters.

What she did not, or chose not to remember is how she felt about Dante, the man. Just the proximity brings heat and even with a potential boyfriend already present when Dante shows up, she has no control. Luckily, Aiden understands, while hoping to be more, he instantly senses that the choice has never been there and that Lani may have never really been emotionally available.

Back in Lehua, Lani finds clues from Rosemary. It seems she had never given up the search and according to her journal, she had actually found the treasure. However, she could only leave clues due to the danger involved if others found her journal. It was up to Lani and Dante to find those clues in order to solve the mystery as well as find the jewels of legend.

The heat is remarkable, not only is there sexual tension, but there is a strong bond of friendship that carries over as well. Each look and touch only further helps them to understand the love that is buried deep inside. Each step of the way they fight the growing attraction, until it becomes impossible to ignore.

Garner has written a story both clever and sensual. Her descriptions of Hawaii are so in-depth you can feel the breeze and smell the scent of flowers. It makes you long to be there. She riddles the story with Hawaiian phrases and endearments creating a wonderful and exciting journey. You feel as though you are a part of the story. This is the perfect summer reading experience; one that takes you right into the heart of beautiful Hawaii.

Rating 4/5
Available 8/10/2011
Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Revelations by Laurel Dewey

Article first published as Book Review: Revelations by Laurel Dewey on Blogcritics.

As Sergeant Detective Jane Perry listens to her diagnosis–possible cervical cancer–she is devastated. Having made significant life style changes recently, including sobriety, the diagnosis is unexpected. Having to wait on another set of tests puts her over the edge, and she decides to spend some time away from her job in homicide. As she gets to the office to leave a note of her intentions, her partner Weyler stops her. They have just landed the case of a missing 15-year-old boy. Since the case is outside their jurisdiction, she does not understand why they have snagged it. Weyler informs her that the Sheriff is close to retirement and an old friend, one who has asked for his help on the case. He is looking for closure before retirement.

Jane and Weyler are close, but she does not feel she can share her news. It is personal and private to her, something she struggles with. She is a private person that continually finds herself in the public eye based on the media she has received in several past cases. Often just her appearance creates a bit of media frenzy. Already feeling vulnerable and exposed, she hopes to be able to bypass this particular issue. But Weyler insists that he needs her special kind of thinking. Without going into detail, she does not feel she can turn him down.

Jacob Van Gorden has disappeared from the town of Midas, just Northwest of Denver, a place full of secrets. They have the perpetrator in mind, a man just recently released from prison for the murder of a young mentally challenged man in the, 60’s. Jordan Copeland looks good for the take, yet it does not seem to fit his profile. Found covered in mud and blood, although the blood was his own, Jordan has no memory his whereabouts when Jacob went missing.

As Jane begins researching the case on Jordan Copeland, she realizes she must go through microfiche in the library due to the age of the actual crime. When she comes across a photo of her mother in Midas, she is confused. Setting the photo aside for later, she follows up on the information available, and finds it straightforward. When introduced to Weyler’s friend, Bo, she finds out quickly he is a good old boy, and is furious that Weyler has brought her in with him. Weyler stands his ground but Jane understands she will have an uphill battle because the Sheriff has already decided what happened, and she expects her investigation will step on his toes.

What she discovers is that the secrets in Midas are deep, and not everything is what it seems. The lack of clues give every indication that Jake is still alive, but the further she investigates Copeland, the more doubts she has of his involvement. Meeting Hank Ross, Jake’s boss and the local bar owner, Jane has somehow begun to lose her armor. Here is someone she finds comfort with, and yet even he is a suspect. Not even sure Jake was kidnapped; the whole town is in shock when his body turns up. What is the secret someone is willing to kill for, to keep hidden? Can she find the answers before it is too late?

Revelations by Laurel Dewey brings us another case with Jane Perry as the investigator. While she is still the nitty gritty, in your face detective that we have come to expect of Dewey’s character, Jane is more introspective, less sure of herself. The initial diagnosis of cancer gives her a different view of life, so on her own she is much quieter. However, she still has the vinegar to mix it up and create hard feelings with everyone from the Sheriff to the Van Gorden family and to Jordan Copland, the primary suspect. Weaved throughout the investigation she finds out more about her own background and Dewey continues to bring in a bit of the paranormal that helps this work to stand on its own. Is the Sheriff hiding the identity of the real killer? And what is his relationship with Weyler?
Jordan becomes a main character in this novel; something about him does not ring true. Jane finds him to be intelligent and kind and yet he spent years in prison for a grisly crime. What is the true face of Jordan Copeland? He has a tendency to use riddles and create his own truths, so anything could happen when the real story emerges.

I really enjoy the style of Laurel Dewey’s writing. Her characters are strong and interesting, and her protagonist, Jane Perry is just plain gutsy. If you enjoy murder mysterys full of suspense with just a bit of the paranormal, you will enjoy her work. Revelations would make a great book club choice and a great addition to your library.

Rating 4/5

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

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Givaway: Johnny ONE-EYE by Jerome Charyn

Stop by and leave a comment to win a copy of Johnny ONE-EYE by Jerome Charyn. You will have two chances to win, one by signing up on this pre-review page, and again on June 20th when I will have a review posted for a blog tour with Tribute Books.

A wonderful book and " ATale of the American Revolution."

If you enjoy historical fiction, this is the book for you, Jerome Charyn delivers another historical book with humor and political intrigue.

About the Author

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.

Leave a comment for your chance to win, and stop by again on June 20th for a look at the review and your chance to win. the drawing will be end of day, June 20th and the winning copy is supplied by Tribute Books.
Good Luck.

What is it about historical fiction that you enjoy? Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Training of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski

Article first published as Book Review: The Training of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski on Blogcritics.

Having been involved in the destruction of the Duplicates, those copies of the human race, out to destroy the human population, Socket Greeny is back. In The Training of Socket Greeny, Tony Bertauski has further developed his story of Socket Greeny and brought us another installment of a great science fiction tale. Socket is the protagonist and now very involved in the training program for the Paladin Nation.

The training is harrowing involving many techniques we associate more with martial arts and mind control than actual physical power. Socket struggles to understand why his trainer, Pon, continues to use Duplicates as targets. Eradicated during the first war, why are they still considered the enemy? Trying to clear his mind of such questions, he must concentrate to win this latest round, which involves a replicate of his mother.

This exercise is to get him to a level where he can destroy the Duplicate before it murders his replicated mother. Even as Socket continues his attacks, the program learns his process making it more difficult to beat. Trying to use the different techniques learned through his trainer, he hopes this time to win. His day is not complete until he beats the program. He must be ready for the Realization testing, which will determine whether he becomes a Paladin.

After succeeding at saving his replicated mother, Socket takes the time coming to him to return to his home and look up his friends Chute and Streeter. As he relaxes, he realizes that he feels different. Is the stress of training causing his entire system to break down?

When he struggles to locate his friends, he finds that Streeter is going through an addiction, one he must control himself, and that Chute has made a life of her own, one that does not involve her friendship with either Streeter or himself. Yet the connection is still there. As usual, unable to leave things alone, Socket ends up using his new skills when he and his friends are threatened.

Punishment for using his skills is swift restricting further leave until after testing. Socket Greeny is returned to base to continue his training. When Pon steps in as a sparring partner, anger sparks within Socket, which unleashes a power that creates major damage to Pon. But Socket cannot remember what he has done or how. After he heals, Pon continues as trainer but only with instruction, Socket no longer sees him. What did happen and how did Socket cause it?

Pon is hiding a secret; one the Paladin Nation must see themselves. When the discovery occurs, a new war breaks out. Can Socket help the Paladins save the human population a second time?

Socket has grown and developed new and frightening abilities while working and training with Pon. Chute and Streeter too have grown, creating a chasm in their relationships that will be difficult to redress. As Socket tries to bridge the gap, he continues to break rules initiated by the Paladin Nation, which puts him at odds with everyone involved. He is beginning to lose himself, beginning to become invisible to those he is close to, which is a result of becoming a Paladin.

Pon has become a force in Socket’s life. He is trustworthy and loyal, and yet Socket is not sure of him. He does not understand the forces behind Pon, which drive him. Pon is a strong and charismatic trainer; he brings to mind the training received by David Carradine in Kung Fu. Pon is elusive, brave and above all, full of wisdom.

The characters continue to grow and develop, and while you miss who they were, you enjoy watching the changes. They are still the same group of kids, but have developed more into separate individuals, and with Socket being the pivotal character, he keeps them safe and together.
The Paladin Nation seems a lot like boot camp with the officers and rules. It has its positives as well as negatives, and sets high expectations for its recruits.

Tony Bertauski has done an amazing job building a world full of characters that you can relate to. He has put together a race of Duplicates that can be anyone at any time. I would recommend this book for the young adult reader that enjoys action and science fiction. It is full of both, a read that is hard to put down.

Rating 4/5
The Training of Socket Greeny

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, June 9, 2011

The Card: A Van Stone Novel by Jim Devitt

Article first published as Book Review:The Card: A Van Stone Novel by Jim Devitt on Blogcritics.

Winning the essay and becoming a batboy for the Seattle Mariners, was more than Van Stone had ever wanted. Even at 13, he was much larger than many of his friends, looking more like one of the players in uniform than what he really was. In The Card:A Van Stone Novel by Jim Devitt, Van’s life has just taken on a darker and deeper twist.

Receiving a gift from his father for the hard work going into the essay was unexpected and (according to his Dad) just a bit special. It was a baseball card from the early 30’s and 40’s of a relative unknown baseball player, Moe Berg. It was certainly unusual, and yet his father seemed to be deep in thought when he again mentioned that it could be very special to him someday. Trying to get Van to relax for his first big day his Dad changes the topic, and as Van tucked the card in his backpack, the subject did not come up again. His Dad dropped him off at Safeco field to begin his dream.

Receiving a gift from his father for the hard work going into the essay was unexpected and (according to his Dad) just a bit special. It was a baseball card from the early 30’s and 40’s of a relative unknown baseball player, Moe Berg. It was certainly unusual, and yet his father seemed to be deep in thought when he again mentioned that it could be very special to him someday. Trying to get Van to relax for his first big day his Dad changes the topic, and as Van tucked the card in his backpack, the subject did not come up again. His Dad dropped him off at Safeco field to begin his dream.

Learning the ropes and finding his way, gives him a better understanding of the players. Thomson, an unknown player is aloof, and Ron Cantos, the best player on the team is one of the meanest. Getting advice from the other batboy, Van tries to stay out of Cantos way. Part of the job involves cleaning up after the team and cleaning out the lockers for the next team. While checking to see that the lockers are clean and empty Van finds an odd double baseball cardholder in the very top of Thompson’s locker. He can throw it away, since that is their instruction, but Van decides to use it for the Moe Berg card he received from his Dad. Putting it in his backpack to use later, he completes his work.

Life begins to settle, and finally even Cantos starts to treat him better, making life at the clubhouse just short of perfect.

When his Dad is unexpectedly killed in a car accident while on leave from the research facility where he works, Vans world changes. His friends are his comfort, and they become even closer than before. While he and his mom will be all right, his entire life has changed in an instant. The funeral is sobering, and sadness permeates even those things that are good in life.

Looking back and reflecting on his time with his Dad, Van holds his Moe Berg card remembering one of his last conversations with his father. He decides to put the card in the holder he found at the clubhouse to give it a place of honor in his room. When the card warms up, he is a bit surprised. Trying other cards from his collection, he finds the phenomenon only occurs with the Moe Berg card from his father. Is this the real reason for his Dad’s gift?

Suddenly he begins receiving threating phone calls demanding he turn over the card, his gift from his father. He is warned that if he does not comply he will be putting his friends and his mother at risk. Is there something about the card that makes it valuable? Is his Dad’s research the reason for the danger or is there more about the Moe Berg card that Van does not know? Van is unwilling to give up the card. However, when the guard at the Safeco field gate is shot, Van realizes just how much danger is involved. Who can he turn to? Will giving up the card protect his friends and family?

Van is a strong and intelligent young man and Devitt does an exceptional job drawing characters you can relate too. Van and his friends are much like most children their age. Not understanding the danger, they try to come up with plans to hold on to his Moe Berg card. When challenged, Van is afraid and yet he refuses to give in. In the face of the danger that follows, Van and his friends put together plans to elude the perpetrator and try to trap him into revealing himself. This only puts them in further danger, but Van stands his ground. Even with the possible tragedies that could befall, Van is strong and motivated. Keeping track of his mom to keep her out of danger and keeping up with his friends to make sure they are all right, he puts himself in danger to draw the perpetrator to him.

Jim Devitt draws the ballpark as only an insider can. You can hear the crack of the bat and smell the popcorn; he is so in tune with the inner workings. The locker room smells of both sweat and excitement, and he builds the suspense with the images of his words.

I would recommend this book for the Young Adult reader; it is fun and eventful, with suspense and action. Van Stone is a strong character, and has an amazing way of dealing with life. Devitt provides some great ballpark background as he delivers the goods.

Rating 4/5
The Card: A Van Stone Novel

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

The Second Sonata by Nathan Patrick Hardt

Nicholas Andrew Bradley started life on a high note. Receiving a scholarship to college he kept his head down and in the studies secure in the fact that he would excel. However, somewhere life changed and Nicholas was not able to keep up his end of the bargain. It began with Alexia in college, and his inability of letting her understand his real feelings. After they went their separate ways, the bottle became his escape. Moreover, with this escape, as things tend to do, the scholarship became secondary and before too long due to attendance and scoring issues, it was rescinded. Nicholas let his dreams fade as he began a new life, one without the same expectations.

Meeting and marrying Sidney, Nicholas’s life took on a completely new meaning when she became pregnant and he became a father. His son Ashton was everything Nic could ever ask for. Bright and funny, endearing and loving, Nic was back on track for his life. But alcohol is a jealous mistress, and would not let Nicholas go. Continuing to ignore those who loved him and pushing them away, he is at first bewildered and angered, when Sidney too deserts him. Nic is committed to staying in touch and being a part of Ashton’s life, and plans on being in contact with him frequently. As life would have it, things work out that way for a while. Again the alcohol wins the battle when it reminds Nic how terrible his life is, he has no one, no friends or family left to care.

Late one evening, on a bender, and drunk as a skunk he makes a run to his most recent favorite watering hole. It is soon to close but he believes he can make it there, he knows the back roads where speeding is sometimes ignored. Driving while he is so intoxicated does not faze him, and most things are a blur. With minutes to spare just as he reaches the street where the bar is located, he sees the people lurching across the street in front of him. Unable to stop in time he twists the wheel of his car and runs it into a telephone pole, at an excessive speed.

Coming to in the darkness, he does not understand where he is, he is choking on noxious fumes, and he feels trapped. He hears a voice in his head telling him to move, it is insistent and pushy. Nicholas realizes he is trapped in the car and pulls himself out of the wreckage. Looking back, he sees no way that he should be alive; the car is totaled beyond recognition. He determines at that time to change his life.

Something is happening, and Nic is amazed. It is easier than he anticipated making his life change. He has friends he did not quite remember from his alcohol haze, and the alcohol has lost its power over him. Back in contact with his son, he finds that Sidney is no longer with her husband, and will be moving back with Ashton. Then unexpectedly, Alexia, his love from college calls him, she will be in town on a visit and would like to see him. Life for Nicholas has become his dream. But the voice from the accident comes back. What is happening? Nicolas meets a man on his property, one who seems slightly familiar, and Nic invites him into his home. Brad is someone who seems to know things, things about Nic and his life. While Nicholas is living his dream, he is beginning to believe it is a dream, that life may not be what he believes. Something beyond his control seems to be happening. Can he find the answers before it destroys his new life?

This work is an interesting and thoughtful look at how we tend to color the things that happen to us, and make them fit into compartments. It is an opening up of a point of view and an overcoming of bleakness, which is unexpected. The story is taut and full of well-meaning and often great tension. Who is Brad and where does he fit in with the theme. There is spirituality and a deep chasm of understanding of the possibilities of how life would or could change if we allowed it. When all seems lost, can we be given the opportunity to make things right for those who truly care about us before it is too late?

I found this book to be deep and murky in places and yet filled with light and hope as we traversed the road the Nicholas traveled. It was mesmerizing and full of new life as Nic chose to make his changes. It was a bit wordy and could have been tightened up a bit more towards the ending but the scope of the story was quite amazing. If you enjoy a different look at how life is, or would just like to see how there is a bit of spirituality in all of us you will enjoy the premise of this book. It is enlightening and makes you think.

Rating 4/5
The Second Sonata

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.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Joe is Online by Chris Wimpress

Article first published as Book Review:Joe is Online by Chris Wimpress on Blogcritics.

A novel written solely using e-mails, journal entries, IM and other computer-generated conversations, Joe is Online by Chris Wimpress, is a scary bit of work dealing with the machinations and use of the internet. In this case, the internet is used to create both drama and hysteria using messages to targeted groups of people by working on their own insecurities.

With computer technology, we follow the lives of Joe Brady and Penelope Hunt as they make their way through school and life. Set in England and Scotland, both individuals’ live entirely different lives, with the everyday drama of existence sending them spiraling in two total separate directions.

Unaware of each other, nevertheless they will play an important part in the final showdown of the terror perpetrated in the name of the Intercession.

Joe’s lot in life is formed by the interplay at his school as well as the abuse suffered at the hands of his stepfather. Always the odd one out, he is smarter than most of those around him and as such, is also a figure of ridicule by the bullies in the school system. Due to his penchant for trouble and the constant bullying, he is allowed to miss recess and use the library computer. This begins his lifelong love of the intranet and his deep distrust of the world around him. This becomes worse when his stepfather sexually abuses him. With only one friend, he withdraws even further into himself, and manages to disappear from all existence at the age of 13 years. Using his skills with the internet, he sets himself up with a credit card to begin selling porn. He then uses those funds to pay off the card and after careful continuation is able to disappear and hide in London, living off the largesse that he has discovered.

Yet there is a darkness in Joe, a need to punish that will not go away. He uses the internet to build a terrorist organization, preying on those who have nothing to lose. Many have lost loved ones and their lives are shattered. He uses a con woman, a medium to both bilk them of money and to guide them to his organization, the Intercession. The true work of the Intercession is unknown by its members, and Joe bides his time over the years building a trust and deepening his terrorist activities, waiting to spring his trap and punish those he feels responsible of the evil of the world.

Penelope Hunt too is an extremely intelligent person and while she also has problems with her family, she finds herself also drawn to terrorism but as a foil, a counterpart to the evil it brings. She is on a path that will bring her into the shadow of Joe’s organization. As she realizes the stakes and her friends are methodically murdered, she only now realizes the power wielded by this one man. His footprint is so deep and planted for so long even the government finds it hard to believe he is real. Can Penelope find the answers and stop the continued madness from spreading. There is only one other group in the know of what Joe is capable of. Can she find them in time? Is this new group what they seem or are they just another terrorist cell?

The use of the computer medium is well done and set in such a way that it appears almost in story form. It is set in a timeline of correspondence that takes you along the tortured path of Joe and his decline into the madness that begins to consume. You follow Penelope as she lives and learns to deal with life’s lessons and the direction she takes to become who she is. It is an intricate and uneasy story that begins to develop and it holds you enthralled.

Like watching drama unfold by peeking into the private lives of others, it creates a form of voyeurism, reading the secrets of the lives of the people involved. Uncomfortable and yet intriguing, the continuation of the work keeps you both interested and appalled. Reading the private correspondence seems almost sinful.

If you enjoy technology and suspense, this story will titillate your pleasure. It is both different and unique but carries all of the drama of a thriller. Wimpress has written a fascinating story of the dark decline created by the unsavory nurture of a young student. It is a story of extremes and yet with realism that makes you wonder. This would be a great book for a reading group, creating a discussion on the merits of care and nurture.

Rating 4/5
Joe is Online

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.

Life Seemed Good, But ... by Richard Bell

Article first published as Book Review: Life Seemed Good, But... by Richard Bell on Blogcritics.

A group of short stories, somewhat in the style of an anthology, Life Seemed Good But … by Richard Bell is a funny and compelling compilation of stories sure to get you laughing. Reading the first few stories, I was not sure what I thought but as I continued on my journey, I began to see the ties that seemed to connect this set of stories and make it into hilarious continuing work of comedy.

Each of the stories is unique and of itself and yet if you pay close attention you can seem they are not random but very precise in the lineup. I found myself laughing out loud so many times at the different types of word usage and famous sayings that are changed up to fit the story and yet you still get the gist of the original. The comedy is sometimes sophomoric, absolutely slapstick, and while the author states his influences as being Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cosby, and Jonathan Winters, I saw a bit of the humor that would have fit brilliantly in episodes of the Three Stooges.

Throughout the stories, the Mystee Forest figures predominantly, and then our protagonist, whom I identify with the author, seems to find tinfoil some form of safety device. Often wearing a hat made of the material, he has some very ingenious and comedic interchanges with different and oftentimes inventive outcomes. Another quite important part of the story would be the clowns in a jeep that continue to show up periodically, but with their own little piece of the puzzle which usually includes running over or into something. And then there are the potatoes. Whats up with that?

While many of the characters seem to be written with children in mind, the story is not; often they deal with drugs and other formats not particularly suitable for children. Although from the laughter I myself experienced, maybe there is a reason to have characters a child would be attracted to, they certainly held my attention.

If you enjoy humor and better yet, outright laughter, this is an extremely fun and engaging work. Richard Bell’s sense of humor is intact and it seems he is also quite comfortable poking fun at himself as well. This would be a great book for guests, and in fact would be a particular treat for the Dr.’s office while waiting for an appointment, it takes your mind off the mundane and transports you into a sort of cartoon world, a “Calgon take me away” sort of place, where you can be anything you want to be.

Rating 4/5

Life Seemed Good, But ...

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

Friday, June 3, 2011

Death Line by Geraldine Evans

Article first published as Book Review:Death Line by Geraldine Evans on Blogcritics.

For a man known for his ability to read the future, Jasper Moon was totally unprepared for his own death. Killed with a blunt instrument, his own crystal ball, his death brings up more questions than answers. For Inspector Rafferty and Sergeant Llewellyn nothing about the case is what it seems.

As they begin their investigation looking for answers, they find possible suspects at every turn. There is the erstwhile partner, never fully appreciated, Edwin Astell. There is his lovely yet fragile wife, Sarah, who did not like Moon in the very least. Then there is Virginia Campbell one of the staff members, who also has offices on the premises. Mrs. Mercedes Moreno and Ellen Hadleigh round out the cast of characters with possible motive. When Rafferty finds that money is missing, the pool of suspects increases. As Rafferty and Llewellyn discover that Moon is not their victims real name they find themselves looking outside the internal cast to those that may have other issues with Jasper Moon. Just who is Jasper Moon?

In Death Line by Geraldine Evans, we find an unusual cast of characters, unique and just a bit new age, with interesting backgrounds and their own secrets. When Rafferty and Llewellyn find Moon’s real name, their investigation takes another turn, one that leads them to a murky and hidden past. This secret in his past is one that could very well create the anger necessary to perpetuate this murder. As they learn more about Jasper Moon, they try to read the real man behind the facade. Is he the egocentric man they hear about from some of their sources? On the other hand, is he the misunderstood, warm and generous man they are now beginning to develop a picture of? Finding out the truth about the man will lead them to the killer. However, with many of the players and pieces not being what they seem, can they unmask the real murderer?

Inspector Rafferty is a fun and slightly old-fashioned officer. He is not quite politically correct and has a tendency to put his foot in it. He is quite intelligent and seems to have a brooding manor. He is the opposite of his partner and together they seem to have an unbeatable team. Llewellyn is not just intelligent in the classic way he is also well schooled and entirely politically correct. He is young and in love, and he is the perfect foil for Rafferty. The interplay and conversation between the two is fun and they are constantly trying to outdo the other. Together they are able to find the hidden intricacies, those small clues that finally lead them to the brutal murder of Moon.

Due to the very nature of the jobs they do and the fields they work in, the other cast of characters are colorful and slightly eccentric. Evans has done a great job of building their characters and putting together a picture of their emboldened antics. In a funny way, they bring to mind a circus setting and yet that is only due to the color and overdone attitudes. There is also something just a bit dark and dangerous that stirs beneath as well.

I would recommend this book for the suspense aficionado. The dynamic duo of Rafferty and Llewellyn are quite capable and will surely be featured in further works. There is color and fun to the story as well as secrets and darkness. The interplay is good and Evens slowly guides you through the red herrings to unmask the real killer. This is a slow building murder mystery, with just a bit of humor, something for everyone that enjoys a bit of the unusual.

Rating 4/5

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark

Article first published as Book Review: The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark on Blogcritics.

1947 is the year of Britain’s withdrawal from India; it is also a time of civil unrest. Planned Partition is set to happen even against the will of Gandhi. It is a dangerous time to both visitors as well as the differing factions in India. It is during this war-torn strife that Martin Mitchell wins a Fellowship to study in India. He is there to document the end of the 200 years of British Raj. Arriving with his wife Evie and son Billy they settle into their new home with care.

Evie plans to use the time to work on her marriage, Martin is not the same man she married. The War in Europe changed him into an angry and introspective man. While Evie is cleaning and making the bungalow ready, she finds some letters hidden behind a brick in the chimney.Why are they hidden? Just that question alone creates a mystery that envelopes Evie's curiosity.

There is something about the letters and the two young women that intrigue her. Curious as to why the letters were hidden, it makes her want to know more about these young women. Dated from 1846-1851 they follow the lives of Adela Winfield and Felicity Chadwick. There is something fascinating about reading how life was in a prior time.

As her life with Martin continues to erode, she immerses herself in the mystery and romance that becomes clear through the writing of these long ago notes. The small parcel of letters she finds is not enough and she decides to make a quest to find whatever information she can to learn their true story. Beginning at the cemetery, it guides her to the church where parish records are kept. It is here in the records she finds further letters and records of the lives of Adela and Felicity. Further search for information takes her into the bazars and temples of India, looking for more. It is during this further search that she learns of a dark secret. This secret only further drives a wedge in her marriage.

Will her marriage ever be the same? In The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark, we follow the lives of the Mitchell family as well as the lives and times of the two young Englishwomen, Adela and Felicity. The letters are wonderful and well detailed taking you back to an earlier time and place. As you follow their story, you forget they are not in the here and now, and like Evie you want to know more. The details are scintillating and their actions are bold for the times, yet they demand your admiration. From their lives in England to their relocation to India, they remain fast and true to the end. They are the best of friends with a secret that could certainly put them at risk. Will it be worth it?

Evie follows a path, fraught with danger and intrigue to find the answers to the lives of these young women putting herself and her family in danger in the process. Evie is a strong and caring young woman with a heart of gold. But she is beginning to lose her patience with her husband and it makes her reckless. Her relationship with her son is amazing. Newmark has developed a character with humor as well as panache. She has different nicknames for Billy that she brings out frequently sharing a charming and unique side of her that draws you in.

Martin has a secret and is unwilling to share the burden with Evie. It eats at him and shadows everything he is and longs to be. He is in an obvious self-destructive phase, and yet periodically you can see the man behind the pain. He is flawed and yet remarkable, but can he recover from the shadow that haunts him?

Billy is absolutely charming and wins your heart with his conversation and actions. He is an extremely bright child and is able to twist everyone he meets around his finger. The danger around the family is very real and creates a tenseness, an uneasiness hard to overcome.

The backdrop is beautiful, and Newmark does a wonderful job of capturing the sights and sounds of India and shares them with us, making you feel like you are there in that place at that time. She weaves danger and suspense throughout the story, creating an irresistible and fast-paced read. We are there with Evie when she is researching and I found I wanted to know about the Englishwomen's lives as much as she did. It is a story in a story and yet written with a wonderful clarity, a sassiness and verve that pulls you in and does not let go until the very end. Even then, you find yourself thinking about the characters and wanting more.

This is a wonderful work of fiction and would be an exceptional book for a book club and reading group. It is a must-have for your library, a book you can take out and read over, and due to the intricate detail you would find information you may have missed the first time. This is an remarkable story, with a setting you can feel and characters right out of life.

Rating 5/5
The Sandalwood Tree

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