Monday, January 30, 2012

Dark Mind by Jennifer Chase

Article first published as Book Review: Dark Mind by Jennifer Chase on Blogcritics.

The beauty of Hawaii is legendary with the island of Kauai, known as the garden isle, being one of the most exotic. In such a place of beauty and solitude, murder should have no place, and yet no one place remains immune to the intemperance of death.

In Dark Mind by Jennifer Chase, we visit the island paradise with her protagonist Emily Stone. Emily is not there for the beauty though; she is there following the lead of a missing young girl taken by slave traders. She is not alone however; she is accompanied by her partner and lover, Rick Lopez. Both have backgrounds in law enforcement but they now follow leads to stop the unthinkable. In their haste to save this young girl, they come under the radar of local law enforcement.

Sergeant Lani Candena is new to the force and is fighting his own battles. There are undercurrents within the Island department, and he finds he must go outside of his sources to search for the truth. Unsure what to do about the interlopers from California, he finds them to believable. As they find the young girl, it seems like now everyone can relax and enjoy a real vacation in the islands.

Little do they know that there is a serial killer now stalking the young women of this most pristine of islands. As bodies begin to turn up, butchered and posed in the most brutal of ways, Emily finds herself in the middle. The murderer is someone close to the islands, using his tracking abilities and island lore to choose and offer his victims as sacrifice. Emily cannot leave the islands until this killer is stopped. With the help of Rick, Sergeant Candena and another friend from off island, they take you deep into the paradise to find the most sadistic of killers. Can they find him before he takes another victim? What drives Emily to put her life on the line time after time? Will the answers serve to save further victims?

Chase’s characters are strong and bold, unafraid to face their fears as well as the unknown. Emily has heart, and yet she often wears her feelings where others can see them. She is very in love with Rick and they interplay only adds to the danger and beauty of this work. The killer is unexpected, and his mind is a bit warped. The evil inherent in his thoughts is all about sacrifice and what his place is. Each character is well fleshed out and quite human, yet they are courageous as well. They put lives of others ahead of themselves and refuse to give up.

The beauty of the island paradise is shown throughout the story; you can see the jungle and the waterfalls. You can feel the danger in the quiet of the area, but you can also feel the breathtaking panorama, even during dangerous scenes. The heat of romance sizzles and the danger of the events create coldness inside. The mix is very exciting.

I would recommend this book for the romance lover but for the serious thriller reader as well. The suspense is superb and well written, and the romance is electric. This would be a great book for the reader in your home.

Rating 5/5

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

Monday, January 23, 2012

Isadora DayStar by Loni Emmert & P.I. Barrington

Article first published as Book Review: Isadora DayStar by Loni Emmert & P.I. Barrington on Blogcritics.
The promise of youth and the possibilities to come are realized as often as not. But when things to not happen as planned and the choices made change the direction of that promise, can we ever get that first flush, that first possibility of life back?
In Isadora DayStar by Loni Emmert & P.I Barrington we are given the opportunity to follow the life of Isadora, a young woman with a shot at being great. Yet in one fell swoop, her life changes when under unforeseen circumstances she freezes in her duties, and those she is closest too are destroyed. Unable to bare the outcome and to live with her memories she cuts herself off from everyone and everything she knows. When she has an opportunity to try an illegal drug to wipe some memories clear, she is initially elated to find that it works.
However, soon she no longer controls her use, the drug controls her. In an effort to find the money to continue her curse, she becomes an assassin. The problems lies in her drug use, the drug takes her control, and when she does find work, she is the very worst at the game. There are those still willing to hire her though, she has made herself expendable. Little does she know that her new employer is sending her on a mission that will change her life? She will have to face her demons and pull herself together, or she will risk losing it all, including her own life. As she begins to see the shadows of who she once was, can she control her cravings and reach back to the promise that was hers from the beginning?
Emmert and Barrington have written a fantastic story, futuristic in scope and yet with many of the same trappings and problems of the world we live in today. Isadora is both a character of ridicule, and yet a possible hero as well. I found her character to have a bit of the Bruce Willis affect that appears in some of his Science Fiction movies. The bad guy–good guy effect. There is something in all that badness that you cannot help but admire, and it draws you to the character. Isadora is so human, and so full of self-remorse and bravado, there has to be more.
The worlds are very interesting and unique, and they hold that dangerous feel that adds a touch of excitement. The trappings of weaponry and travel in the future hold true to most of what is available in the genre today, and the story of a life close to ruin is found in tabloids everywhere. Add a young character into the fray who is much like Isadora was in her youth, Renan is a youth that is very believable. The aliens are well thought out, and the interaction and problems are just creepy enough to make you shiver.
There is a great deal of the here and now in this futuristic novel, the homelessness, the drugs, the idea of doing whatever it takes to get a hit, and the degradations that people are will to experience to stay high. There is something so raw that the story keeps you turning the pages.
I would recommend this work for those who enjoy Science Fiction, action and just anything a little out of the ordinary. The flow is easy to follow and the story is good. This is not a book for the young adult, and the themes are dark and often dangerous, but the glimmer of hope shows though.
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.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Drayling by Terry J. Newman

Article first published as Book Review: Drayling by Terry J. Newman on Blogcritics.

The future often seems tied to peace and the efforts we make to develop such an accord. Fantasy novels often take us in varying directions, revealing a future world where in some cases a utopia occurrs or in others where the end of the world is the outcome. Each novel identifies the aftermath in various ways.

In Drayling by Terry J. Newman, we follow an extremely interesting scenario, where peace did reign supreme. Drayling, an area in Britain–in the future–is a peaceful and interesting place to live. Each of the area governments has their own part in making the transition smooth and to continue success. While a national government is in process, there are also groups of ordinary citizens that do their part to hold on to that success. Part of the success is that the differing areas do not communicate or compete thereby helping to continue in a peaceful existence. When the premier dies under suspicious circumstances, the death creates a change at the head of the national government, that seems to change the way everything is being done, and secrecy seems to sneak into the fray. All of a sudden the local governments find their hands tied, and uneasiness prevails.

Uri Graves is the local historian and recently became a Worthy, one of those consulted with questions. His intelligence is unquestionable and he is held in high regard by the townspeople as well as the other Worthy’s with whom he has become friends. Hi children are well adjusted and his son Marius has also been making a name for himself with his interest and studies.

When the changes to government begin to affect the lives of the people, first with the lies and then the disruption, the reprisal is not far behind. In an effort to make their concerns known, 16 young men are killed, by a security force that is unheard of in the world of Dunstan Heathfield, the founder of the utopia which now exists. His diplomacy achieved what violence could not. Now all of his teaching seemed to be set aside. Could a small group of ordinary people do what it took to protect their way of life? As they begin a mission of danger and suspense, can they reduce the damage being wrought? Will their disobedience and secrecy save their way of life, or distort it even further.

The characters are so laid back and positive, the story seemed to flow effortlessly. The government while a bit strange, seemed to have heralded a long lived peace, and yet appears to have held some of its own secrets, as it seems many governments do. The small group of individuals must make choices, but they must also trust, which does not seem as easy as it once was. Finding the right people to help them in their mission, they must also find those who feel as they do. Knowledge of computers is a must, and a strong will to do the right thing, whatever it takes also tops the list. Uri and his son Marius are smack in the middle of this conspiracy.
I really enjoyed the premise of the book. Newman do an excellent job of fleshing out a government that made sense, and his characters were quite real. With just a bit of over the top belief in what they learned, they also have a tough time realizing that everything may not be as they believed. The response from the outsiders, those from the other areas were possibly a little too honest, especially with the lack of address between the groups in the past. However, again trust was one of the main themes and with just a bit of explanation, there seemed to be an abundance of trust with little knowledge. The trust itself, in their own government also seems to have been a problem, never questioning, just accepting the information as they knew it. Yet this group was ready to fight to retain what they loved, their way of life. It is part of what people do best.

I would recommend this book for the science fiction fan, as well as those who appreciate a good story. The background leading up to the fracas is well written and thought out. If you enjoy history, even the fabricated stuff, you will also find this an interesting read. I believe it would be an excellent book for a discussion group; the intricacies of the belief system would be great fodder to discuss.

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.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Reich TV by Jeff Pearce

Article first published as Book Review: Reich TV by Jeff Pearce on Blogcritics.

One of the most gruesome times in history came during the holocaust. This was a dark time in history where genocide was part of a process in eliminating a people, a time when Hitler had plans to rule the world with what he considered his supremacy.

Reich TV by Jeff Pearce, is a look at the times and events in history, and gives us a background to the beginning. Chock full of actual accounts, Pearce has also used his imagination to give us a fuller story of those who opposed the Reich, as well as giving us alternative information. One of the big uses of media during this darkest of time was set to the television which was just making its debut. Realizing the ability of using this device for propaganda was one of the uses Hitler found to move forward with his schemes. He finds a way to twist technology into the story in such a way as to be remarkable.

Pearce has taken liberties with his characters, and while staying true to form, he at times moved them forward or back into history in order to set the tone for the work. He delves deep into the Marx’s brothers and their part in this work, but we are also put in touch with David Niven,George Orwell and Winston Churchill. The work is set with spies and underground, with dissenters and the disenfranchised. I was remarkably interested in the way it was written and found it to be informative, with many heroic efforts and much sadness. The work revolves around the Marx’s variety shows in London and the efforts that keep the public informed through the use of their comedy routines. We are also treated to a huge cast of characters, names that are familiar to many.

He touches on many of those targeted at the time, and while the picture builds, the story line is more about the efforts to stop and control the madness. The times were horrifying and dark, yet there were those that gave their lives trying to right many of the wrongs.

I found his work to be very compelling and while it does not follow history as it happened, he built a strange parallel, and peopled it with characters full of nerve and strength. We get a glimpse into some of the more famous people of the times and their part of the process–but do we? The story is written so well I found it difficult to separate fact from fiction.

If you are interested in history and fiction, and if you enjoy good spy stories this is just the work to take you there. Imagine the world of George Orwell, and you will find just a bit of the S/F here as well. Full of background and panic, it is also full of heroics. It is not for the faint of heart, there is much to despair, yet there is also some bravery beyond compare.

This would make a fascinating book for a book club or reading group. It is not the usual read or novel and yet it is impactful and informational.

Rating 5/5

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.
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Tears of Min Brock by J. E. Lowder

Article first published as Book Review: Tears of Min Brock by J. E. Lowder on Blogcritics.

Some of the best stories I can remember are those that take me out of my own existence and insert me into a world I have never known. I get to become a part of the story and the adventure and excitement also becomes a part of my own.

In Tears of Min Brock by J. E. Lowder, I have again found one of those fascinating epic fantasy worlds that are daunting and dangerous, yet broodingly beautiful as well. Set in a time after the Dark War, Lowder brings about an adventure that is frightening and visual. His captivating world is filled with the darkness and dread and full of the creatures that cause fear, and yet throughout the story weaves an intricate pattern of light. He takes his characters into untold highs and lows of problems and beliefs as well as concerns for their families. When the darkness fights the light, we often rely on the light to win, yet what happens when it doesn’t? In a world where a darkness rules, Lowder has brought us whispers of light, and a fierce young heroine. Can a young girl along with her best friend bring about the destruction of darkness, or is the light that whispers to her just a figment of her imagination?

In a deep and mysterious world where evil has appeared to win the war, Lowder brings us a story of hope and longing. His descriptions and embellishment’s are both enchanting and dangerous. His young hero, Elabea can hear the whisper of the lightness from the land of Claire that had been rumored to have been destroyed by the Ebon, during the dark war. Elabea is slated as a storyteller, one of the great magic users of time, but will she live to fulfill her destiny? She is young and yet malleable, but her belief is deep and profound.

Her best friend Galadin too begins her journey with her, but he has his doubts. He does not hear the whispers, but he does believe in her. Both of their fathers fought in the war, and were now different men from the proud warriors they once were. Galadin dreams of becoming something more. He knows he will follow Elabea where ever she leads, and soon he too finds his place in this story.

They are joined by others, an old storyteller from before the war, as well as a hero many thought had died during the war. But can they escape the false whispers of the cauldron. How to they decipher which are the true ones, and when they do, will it be too late?

I enjoy fantasy and I found myself unable to put this one down. The evil and danger are inherent, and yet the light finds a way to twist throughout in thoughts and actions. The whisper is exciting and the fight and chase scenes hold you spellbound. In a world where the very darkness seems to hold sway, brightness seems to burn through the pages.

If you love the power of words and enjoy epic fantasy this is a world waiting for you. Our heroine is a 14 year old girl and with her is her young best friend, so while this could be construed as a YA Fantasy, make no mistake, it heralds the themes and storyline that cross over into the adult experience. I found this to be one of my favorite books of the year, and am looking forward to the sequel. Lowder writes a story that does not disappoint.

This would be a wonderful work for your budding reader and one for your long-term reader as well. A wonderful book for your library, Lowder has ratcheted up a notch on the playing field.

Rating 5/5

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

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review and Givaway: Lifting the Wheel of Karma by Paul H. Magid

Leave a comment and your email to be entered for a free drawing for one of three books to be given away on February 1st.
Article first published as Book Review: Lifting the Wheel of Karma by Paul H. Magid on Blogcritics.

The lessons of Karma are sometimes quick, and available for all eyes to see. The action seems quite obvious. Yet there are the times when Karma is slow to deliver, those times when the receiver may feel that he has eluded the wheel of fate as Karma takes time, and ponders the truth and possibilities of redemption itself.

Paul H. Magid has given us an exciting and strange adventure into the realm of Karma, and what might happen when past and present meet. In Lifting the Wheel of Karma, we follow the life of Joseph Connell, a young man from Montana. He is loved by his family and leads a life as many young men do, but what sets him apart are the visions and nightmares he cannot seem to escape. They change who he is, and set him apart from others.

Joseph’s life takes a turn when he is injured in an accident, but it also brings a knowledgeable old Wiseman into his life, one who lives well hidden in the Himalayas of India. The meeting is quick and yet powerful. Knowing his life will never be the same, Joseph understands that he must convince the man to reveal the secrets he knows, in order for Joseph himself to understand the torment he has been undergoing. What is it that brought this man into his life? Can knowledge finally bring about the peace that Joseph is looking for?

Magid has taken the life of a young man that seems so normal on the outside, and given us a deep and magnetic looks at how dreams and nightmares may be more than just that, but a possible doorway into other lives that may have been. He creates characters that have depth and pain, people you can draw to for their very normalcy. The family he creates resonates with feeling about each other, so much so that the story is very reminiscent of our own family moments.

Magid takes us from Montana and the wide open spaces, with the quiet peace and transplants us into the hustle and bustle of India, full of people and color, with beliefs that are quite varying. The change is such a shock of culture, and yet as Joseph finally finds his wise man, he is immersed back into the quiet he is more used too. The characters continue to grow and evolve, with new ones added, each with a place in this story of life.

His descriptions of the scenes and scenery make you feel like you are there. You can see the sky and the colors, you can feel the atmosphere. You feel as though you too are on this journey and have a stake in the outcome.

If you enjoy mysteries and myths, or just a good story you will find this to be a great example. If you wonder about Karma, or the mystics, Magid has done an amazing job of giving us a place to start. Once I picked up his story I could not put it down, each turn just took me deeper. I found it to be both interesting and enlightening. Magid is an author to watch for.

Paul will be giving away 3 paperback copies of his book to readers. Please leave a comment and email to be entered. The drawing will be conducted on February 1st. Don't miss out.

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Lifting the Wheel of Karma Book Summary

A Profound Spiritual Journey of Extraordinary Healing and Redemption

Joseph Connell is a gifted high school athlete from Montana, loved deeply by his family, yet tormented by nightmarish visions he can neither explain nor escape.
He believes the answer to what threatens to crush him can be found in the knowledge possessed by a mystical old wise man, who lives deep within the remote Himalayas of India.
If Joseph is ever to find the peace he so desperately seeks, he must get this wise old man to reveal what he truly knows, but that will not be easy…for this sage knows far more than he admits.
A modern tale that harkens back to the myths of antiquity. It takes you on a remarkable journey, while exploring the themes of healing, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice, and ultimately...peace within.

Paul H. Magid started writing his debut novel, Lifting the Wheel of Karma, twenty-five years ago while still in high school. It took him so long to complete because he tried repeatedly to abandon it, but the work refused to be forsaken. Eventually he realized that sharing this story with the world was, in fact, his Dharma.
Along the way he has worked as a Wall Street financial analyst, a waiter (not a very good one), a Hollywood Agent Trainee, a real estate developer, a summer day camp director, an award winning screenwriter, and independent filmmaker—including his autobiographical film, A Life Unfinished, which screened in The Hamptons International Film Festival.


Price: $15.00

ISBN: 9780984016068

Pages: 192

Release: September 23, 2011

Amazon buy link

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Price: $9.99

Kindle buy link

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti

Article first published as Book Review: The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti on Blogcritics.

Time and tide are steady and reliable, functions you can rely on. When you involve personalities and events however, egos and feelings as well as the search for the everlasting dollar contribute to how those various functions relate to lives. Tide may never change, but time is elusive, you can have more–or you can have less. Sometimes fate intercedes. Sometimes that fate if brought about by those you know in unimaginable ways. Murder is not new; it has been around for thousands of years. The reasons are varied and yet make sense to the perpetrator at the time, but not necessarily to anyone else.

In The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti, we are given the opportunity to look into the lives of a group of both women and men that were responsible for the murders of the women’s husbands in the 1930's. The story is based off a true set of crimes, and the strange and unethical reasons understate how little it takes for some to cross over to the side of murder. During this time in Philadelphia, the scandal resulted in seventeen wives being arrested for murdering their husbands. It would take one man to stand up for the victims and uncover the acts that would bring justice.

During the depression, money was scarce and this is the story about how a group of women went about finding the money to lead the lifestyles they were accustomed to, and the depravity of the acts they were willing to use to get where they felt they had to go. Not alone in their disenchanted lives, there appeared to be a mastermind, one who helped and used convincing arguments that allowed them the reasoning for killing their husbands for the insurance money. This man was also an integral part of the process and a lover to all of the women involved.

Pelagatti has used his background as a trial lawyer to help dig into the files and do the research behind this strange and bizarre set of crimes and bring us a story of these women and their prolific thoughts and reasoning’s. He digs deep into the psyche of those involved and brings us a look at the lives they led and the circumstances that lead them to the final act of taking another’s life.

As the story unfolds Pelagatti has a way of bringing sadness to the lives of those involved although each murder was well thought out and planned with malice. The women themselves almost came across as victims as well in some cases, but each time the crime seems so brutal. The conspirator, Giorgia DiSipio, was an amazing con man and as such he created a con for each of the wives. They seemed almost naïve in their belief that they were his one and only love. Even their knowledge of the others could not convince them of his unreliability. The story moves from time and place in a well-orchestrated fashion keeping you interested and often in disbelief. While the money involved seems so small in our day and times, we are continually reminded of the times and the depression as it affected the lives of all those involved.

If you are interested in true crime and murder mysteries, you will find this a strong starting point. The methodology behind the killings and the brutality of the process leaves you wondering how this could have happened. Pelagatti not only tells us a story of the times he is able to set some strange red herrings and give us a surprise that you do not see coming.

This would be a great book for your true crime library, full of history and real life. I believe it would also be a great find for a reading group, a way to discuss how little is can take to make someone step over the edge.

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.

The Night Swimmer by Matt Bondurant

Article first published as Book Review:The Night Swimmer by Matt Bondurant on Blogcritics.

Personal interests often vary, and those with no knowledge or even care about those things which others see as unique and interesting, are a part of what makes each and every person individual. I do not profess to know much about swimming, nor do I understand the thoughts of those who live to swim, so I was quite surprised to find myself  immersed in The Night Swimmer by Matt Bondurant.

The Night Swimmer tells the tale of a couple very in love, and who find themselves in a place that they little imagined. Winning a Pub in a small town on the coast of Ireland, Fred and Elly Bulkington find themselves in a place full of resistance to strangers, and next to a powerful and wild North Atlantic sea. The land itself is shaped by the storms and wild waves surging into the land which becomes a source of the belief and heartache of the natives of this wild and harsh land.

While Fred works at making the Pub successful, Elly realizes her love of swimming and finds solace in the surging waters of Cape Clear Island. It is hear she first becomes involved in the age old feuds and dangers of life in the remote islands of Ireland where danger seems to lurk everywhere. As her marriage begins to unravel, so too their idyllic lives begin to fall apart with danger and mayhem from those who do not want them there. Can they get through the anger and build their life together as it is meant to be? Can they help to stop a feud riven before time and full of heartache, or will they too be lost to the dangers and harshness of the land?

Bondurant has given us a group of characters full of life and danger. The descriptions of the land pull you there and engrave the beauty as well as the danger in the storm torn waves. The sadness and hurt of past disasters hold the residents in sway and have a part of everything they do. Those who are not born in the wilds of this beautiful country are treated as outcast and are made to understand their place. But even the vilest of those who make life miserable for the outsiders have a story that tugs at your being. Yet not everything can be forgiven.

As hurt and anger take their toll, bodies begin to turn up, and lives are changed in an instant. Can Fred and Elly survive the onslaught of such anger and make a home for themselves in such a dangerous and hostile place or must they give up their dreams? Through all the hurt and anger, Elly’s love of swimming and the sea take her to places and bring her in contact with others in ways that are hard to imagine.

I would recommend this story for those who enjoy romance and mysteries. With just a bit of the unusual and danger at every turn you will keep on turning the pages wanting to know where the story is headed. The danger of the coastline as well as from the people is well told and daunting, keeping you guessing as to where it will all end.

This would be a terrific book for a reading group as well as a book club. This is a story that will stay with you and one that would be great for your library.

Rating 5/5
This book was received free from the publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.