“When Wolf Comes” John Pappas

Historical adventure, 1801. A survivor from an attack on a trade ship is sold as a slave to the Makah tribe of the Northwest Washington Coast. In a beautiful hostile land of people with strange spiritual ways he will become teacher and student, find friendship and even love, and realize escape comes in many guises, and survival is not always as simple as saving your own life.

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“When Wolf Comes” begins with Aiden doing what he does in much of the book….deliberating on his next move. Aiden has found himself far from home and does his best to be positive while also endeavoring to be useful. When the first ship comes Aiden’s spirits lift and life takes a new path. Like life can do, the path quickly shifts again and Aiden finds himself once more a slave. This time though, maybe being a slave is a step forward.

As Aiden finds his purpose within his masters tribe and culture his eye finds itself stuck on another slave. Neveah is a beautiful native woman who also turns out to be more than what she appears. Their relationship blooms slowly and it’s a real treat to see. 

Something that should be noted is how Pappas managed to embed a message of tolerance in his story. Aiden and the Makah are very different and those differences are stark at the beginning but as the story deepens those differences don’t seem so far apart and each culture melds together to find this new direction that I found fascinating. Aiden’s culture and knowledge was accepted (albeit with suspicion) and their culture became another piece of Aiden. This story has a message of oneness that resonates even now.

“When Wolf Comes” is well researched. Time and again I found myself lost in time and imagining the beauty of the northwest. The wonder of it’s people and their means of survival. I haven’t read much into this time period or the tribes that inhabited the northwest but Pappas leads the reader expertly through the complexities of both it’s cultural and natural wonders. Pappas has a real talent for cultivating a love in his readers that has at the very least encouraged me to learn more. I imagine that sentiment will spread through each new reader.

Squintanasis was a character that I really couldn’t get enough of. I would love to see him get his own book. I felt like there was more to tell and learn from this most stoic of men. He was mysterious and wise. He was shrewd but fair. I liked him immensely. He was a big part of what made this story bury itself so deep into my psych. 

Pappas depiction of battle is gory but not overly so. The horror is addressed but not dwelt upon. The significance is put more on how the community came together and their bond. I thought it was well written and well balanced.

I could go on for days about how much I enjoyed this story. I encourage you to hop in and lose yourself in the magic of the early 1800’s.

Absolute 5 star book.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: When Wolf Comes | Series: N/A |  Author(s): John Pappas  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 5-8-2016 |Pages: 264 (Print) | ISBN: B01FEC6YM6 |Genre(s): Historical Fiction  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-29-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

When Wolf Comes Cover

“The images conjured up by the Northwest Coast tribes is one of fierce people what with their dramatic masks, nose bones and complex ceremonies. This story takes you to the people beneath that image. It highlights their sense of community as well as their recognition of the changes being brought by traders. It tells of how they treat their “slaves”, their capacity for compassion and their lack of tolerance for wrongdoing.” – Amazon Reviewer

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“Emotive” Kevin Laymon

Emotive is a tale of life, love, compassion, and the pursuit of happiness as told through the eyes of the story’s narrator, Linus. Linus is a puppy living in a small city located in the rolling hillsides of upstate New York. When the abnormalities of his owner Sam are all he knows since birth, he gains a perspective of unyielding acceptance and love towards the man who feeds him, takes him to the park, and murders women in his basement.

I AM LOYAL. I AM TRUSTWORTHY. 

I AM POWERLESS

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When I read the summary of “Emotive” it immediately piqued my interest. I have a huge soft spot for books narrated by animals. Since I also love a good thriller, “Emotive” was a must-read for me and boy am I glad I did. I was glued to this book from the first sentence of the first page. I literally read this entire book in one sitting. Well, I read it in the bath but you get the idea.  I can’t believe I let it sit on my shelf so long unread. I feel like I’ve offended the book gods by letting such a story sit unattended. My apologies, please don’t smite me!

Fair warning, this book will rip your heart out. Don’t worry it’ll return it eventually but holy moly is it one hell of a ride. Of all the murders in this book, I have to admit the cow was the hardest. After all Linus had been through, I had tears streaming down my face as I read those pages. How alone he must of felt. How betrayed by humans. How completely hopeless he must of found it all.

Sam will boggle your mind. He’s a total psycho, of that I have no doubt, but he also has one glimpse of remorse for poor Linus. I had a bit of hope for our little K9 hero but that hope was quickly dashed when Sam fell deeper into his obsession and paranoia. It was hard to see Sam discard Linus from his affection. It was hard to see Linus’ basic needs not be met and realize how animals must feel when us humans don’t make them a priority. When we forget to feed them on time or their water bowl doesn’t get refilled or we make them wait hours and hours on end before we let them out to potty. It was eye opening to see how emotionally devastating it is to animal kind to be at the absolute mercy of someone else’s compassion……or lack there of.

It was incredibly hard to see humans fail this one dog over and over again. This is a sight of our kind that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a brand new perspective. As I read, my own two dogs lay next to the tub and I caught myself looking at them multiple times wondering just what they were thinking and what they thought of me. I didn’t expect to be so affected. As a pet owner and human in general, this story will inspire some introspection and I was definitely not expecting that when I began to read.

The climax is cleverly crafted and brings everything full circle. Laymon has written a masterpiece. I strongly suggest you read it.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Emotive | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kevin Laymon  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 4-5-2016 |Pages: 194 (Print) | ISBN: B019YT5UIY |Genre(s): Thriller / Novella / Serial Killers / Psychological  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“Emotive was a unique read full of interesting perspective. The storytelling through the eyes of a dog created deep emotions & connections with powerful characters. The writing was strong & visual.” – Amazon Customer

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“Growth and Change are Highly Overrated” by Tom Starita

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated is a classic coming-of-age story that takes a unique and comic look at what we all fear— having to grow up and abandon our dreams.

For a charismatic man like Lucas James, life is a breeze because everyone else provides the wind. This man-child front man for a mediocre cover band has been mooching off of his fiancée Jackie for years until she finally decides she’s had enough. Faced with the reality of having no income to support his carefree lifestyle, Lucas James abandons his principles and gets a job working in the stockroom at, “That Store.” How does he cope with this new found sense of responsibility?

He casually steals…

In a life spent bucking authority how will Lucas James deal with his manager, ‘Victor the Dictator’? How long can he survive Ralph, a starry-eyed coworker who desires nothing more than to be best friends? Will Lori, a twenty-something cashier, be like everyone else and fall for his charms? Will he ever find a place to live? And is “growing up” just another way of saying “selling out?”

With this hilarious and engaging novel, author Tom Starita perfectly captures a character we have all met and perhaps some of us know all too well.

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I’m going to start this off by being honest and admit that it’s been a week since I finished reading this book. I was way too emotional after I finished to write a fair review. This is one of those few times where not only do I not particularly like the main character, I loathe him. I may even hate Lucas James. However, not being fond of the main character and reviewing a book do not go hand in hand. Just because I didn’t like the main character doesn’t mean the book itself was bad. Lucas James is a grade A jerkface but the fact I’m feeling such strong distaste for a fictional character let me know I needed space from the story to think it through. 

Starita’s writing is introspective and thought provoking at times and others a bit long winded. I enjoyed the introspection but at times there was so much of it that I found myself annoyed and side tracked from the meat of the story. My advice is to cut down on some of Lucas James’ rants and avoid drawing your reader so far from the core story.

I’m all for deep thinking characters but Lucas James’ rants tend to be more of a self validation tirade than philosophical. 

Jackie is another character that I down right do not like. I don’t like how she handled the break up and I don’t like how she handled herself during the relationship. She was an enabler and proceeded to throw a fit about the consequences of her enabling. 

Come to think of it, the only character I like is Ralph. He’s the only one who had any redeeming qualities left. I don’t like how he is treated by literally everyone and I don’t like how unappreciative Lucas James is of Ralph’s friendship. 

To me, this story is about a selfish man-child who refuses to grow up and uses his “dream” of becoming a “rock god” as an excuse to use people. If he really wanted to gain any ground in the music world, taking 548,965,943,207,504,827 naps and putting in minimal to no effort does not a musician make and I don’t think he actually wants to hit it big.

Another issue I have is that there is no real climax or conclusion. Lucas James is the same asshole he started out as. He’s gained no ground and has not evolved into anything else. There’s no real plot line and that needs to be addressed ASAP. I don’t get what the story is about other than Lucas treating everyone like crap and getting away with it.

Overall, I think this story needs some editing and another look at what the purpose of the story is supposed to be. Remove some of the long winded rants and really look at what is trying to be said.

3 stars.

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The Technical Data:

Title: Growth and Change are Highly Overrated | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Tom Starita  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 12-15-2016 |Pages: 234 (Print) | ISBN:  B01N2SW2K8 |Genre(s): General Humor |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Book Review “Ribbonworld” Richard Dee

Miles Goram has a problem. All the down-on-his-luck journalist planned on doing was writing a hotel review and now there’s a body in his bathroom. Far from home on a strange planet, Miles must deal with the fact that somebody wants him dead.
Welcome to Reevis, a planet without days or nights where life is only possible under a vast pressure dome. It is on this airless wasteland that Miles finds himself caught up in a mystery involving a huge interplanetary corporation, a powerful man and his ambitious PA, and a beautiful young heiress who has been missing for years.

Crossing the galaxy in search of answers, Miles begins to uncover a web of deceit that stretches further than anyone could have imagined. With his life becoming at greater and greater risk, he realizes that there is no one he can trust. Will he discover the truth and finally come to terms with his past? And, if he does, will it be enough to save his future…?

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“Ribbonworld” is one of those books that is easy to relate to. You wouldn’t initially think so since it’s based on a fictional settlement but it’s themes are comparable to current day.

The pace is fast and Miles finds himself right in the middle of a conflict that goes far deeper than a hotel review. At first, Reevis’ dome and people feel claustrophobic and Miles is ping ponged between different factions without having a clear view of who has motives, what they are and what his role is in them. What a convoluted mess! 

After some time the picture is less blurry and the allure of this planet of extremes starts to wiggle its way into Miles’ psyche.  The planet descriptions are one of my most favorite aspects of this book. I was transfixed with the beauty of it all. Mr Dee enraptures the reader with his poetic descriptions and the pictures he painted swirled in my mind deepening the stories impact as I read. 

This is a story of intrigue and the relationship between a powerful company with little oversight and the people who built it. This is a look into what can happen when money is more important than people and integrity is an afterthought for the greedy. This is a story that transcends these pages and is eerily similar to the past, present and probably the future. 

Solid 5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Ribbonworld | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Richard Dee  |Publisher: SilverWood Books  / Publication Date: 11-2-2015 |Pages: 201 (Print) | ISBN:B016N4YAI4 |Genre(s): Science Fiction / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-8-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Book Review “Dan Alexander, Pitcher – Bottom of the Ninth” Jean C. Joachim

Fed up with cheating women, Dan Alexander, star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, grew restless. Searching for something more than a bar babe, he zeroed in on a girl in the stands. He never expected to see a beautiful chick pushing frankfurters. But the hot dog girl looked as smokin’ as the food she was selling. Holly Merrill found a place to hide in plain sight, as a vendor at Nighthawks’ stadium. Keeping her secret safe and simply happy to stay alive, she never considered finding love an option. After all, a bad girl doesn’t deserve a decent guy, does she? Coming off his best season ever, Dan went into the playoffs, hell bent on winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. But could he maintain his focus on the field, where everything was going right, when off the field everything was falling apart?

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The first thing I want to say to anyone thinking about not reading this book due to its Baseball theme is….DON’T PASS THIS BOOK UP! It is fantastic! You don’t need to be into Baseball to enjoy the story. I am far from a Baseball fan and I couldn’t put this book down. Both Holly and Dan are compelling characters that will drive a spike into you with their authenticity. 

One of my most favorite aspects of this story is how different Dan and Holly became who they are. Two completely different upbringings and yet Joachim expertly brings them together in such a believable way that I won’t be surprised if ballparks across America find themselves over-run with “hot dog girl” applications. There is even a review on Amazon from someone who is a hot dog vendor! 

The story isn’t all romance. Joachim weaves a thrilling thread with Holly and her ties to a sketchy ex-boyfriend. Right from the first page, the hazardous and perilous life of Holly draws you in to her desperation and regret. While reading, I was constantly concerned for her safety. This book kept me on my toes in more than one way. 

Beginning with the introduction of Dan, I felt an immediate kinship with him. Coming from a small town myself, his charm and authenticity  really made me want better for him. While successful and incredibly talented, I loved how Joachim made him imperfectly real. He’s not the best there ever was. He’s not a Baseball prodigy. He’s a guy who is improving in many areas of his life. He’s like a regular guy who is growing and learning with each new experience life throws at him. He’s a guy you would be hard pressed not to like.

Since a good part of the secondary characters are single….I’m looking forward to future books exploring their lives and future (possible) loves!

I loved everything about this story. It’s sweet but tense. Thrilling and comforting. The best of both worlds. I highly recommend it.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Dan Alexander, Pitcher | Series: Bottom of the Ninth  |  Author(s): Jean C. Joachim  |Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform  / Publication Date: 9-21-2016 |Pages: 240 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1539025665  |Genre(s): Romance / Sports |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-17-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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Book Review “The Mirage On The Brink Of Oblivion” Andrew M. Crusoe

synopsis

What if you could hold a memory in the palm of your hand?

In the Mirage, you can. Reachable only by leaving the physical body and entering the out-of-body state, the Mirage allows all within it to trade memories like souvenirs and create structures that defy physics. And now, after centuries, even the memory of the devastating Vakragha attack on their world has all but been forgotten, and most have lost touch with the physical world altogether.

Jyana is different. Driven by her desire to understand the natural world, she dedicates herself to studying the sea below Mirage City. Yet when she finds that the coral reef is being decimated by an unknown cause, no one will take her seriously, not even Torin, whom she loves more than anyone. Ambrosia supply shortages are getting worse, and Torin fears a crisis is brewing. Its formula a state secret, ambrosia gives architects the power to form colossal structures, and without it, their ancient civilization would surely collapse.

In the midst of this, everyone is shocked when a refugee from before the attack returns. Filled with questions, Asha has come with a secret mission which may destabilize their entire planet, causing the end of the Mirage itself.

A fast-paced, out-of-body Sci-Fi adventure, THE MIRAGE ON THE BRINK OF OBLIVION is the triumphant 3rd installment in the EPIC OF ARAVINDA.

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I would like to start this review with a few of my favorite passages from the book.
“To try, as best as we possibly can, to find the place where those three parts agree, because they all have something valuable to say.” 
“But what if you can’t find that space where they agree? What then?”
“Well, then you remember their strengths.”

“The Mirage On The Brink Of Oblivion” is the third book in the “Epic Of Aravinda” series. Want to see my reviews of the first two books? Click on the covers below.

the-truth-beyond-the-sky-cover The island on the edge of forever revised cover

Now that I am three books into this series, I have to brag on Mr. Crusoe a bit. The first book was really good and I enjoyed reading it. The second not quite as good and the message of “one” kind of took over the story. In this, the third book, Mr. Crusoe’s writing has started to gain some finesse and it’s been a real treat to watch him evolve as a writer. That alone is a fun reason to keep reading the series.

In “The Mirage” (shortened the title), a beloved character from the first book comes back in a very unexpected way. I definitely did not see that coming. I have been wondering about the fate of said person since they went missing. Needless to say, a lot of the loose ends from the previous books are beginning to be revealed.

A bad habit that Mr. Crusoe has with his dialogue is over explaining situations. There is no need to simplify every single event. I suggest trying to replace some of that dialogue with action scenes. Show us, don’t tell us. And PLEASE don’t repeat dialogue. I got it the first time. If you’re trying to update a new character through an old character just write “Asha filled her in”, or something like that. Don’t re-explain! Argh! That drove me nuts. That is really the only thing left for Mr. Crusoe to work out.

The “Mirage” was an interesting place. This is a great example of how much Mr. Crusoe’s writing has improved. The picture he paints of this ethereal world is fantastic. It sounds beautiful and magical. I would love to see this world brought to life in film or animation.

Learning more about Asha was a real treat too. Her character is growing and I’ve built a real fondness for her. She’s strong and intuitive but not egotistical. The relationship that her and Zahn are building is beautiful to witness. The bond between them grows stronger every page. They bring a new definition to “soul mates”.

Speaking of growing character, Zahn is getting wise and very philosophical! There are a ton of points that he makes in the story that stuck me right in the heart. Between him and Asha, they would make one heck of a governing system. I would like to see them move up the ranks.

The action in this story is steady and is paced well to keep you on your toes! The creative plot twists were surprising and interesting.

I still have a few questions that I would like more information on. The biggest is the Confederation. We really don’t know much at all about them. I would like to see that part of the story fleshed out more. How does it work? Who is in it?

I’m rating this 4 stars.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Mirage On The Blink Of Oblivion | Series: Epic of Aravinda  |  Author(s): Andrew M. Crusoe  |Publisher:  Aravinda Publishing / Publication Date: 7-20-2016 |Pages: 241 (Print) | ISBN: B01GWD5A4O  |Genre(s): Young Adult Science Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 12-10-2016 |Source: Copy from author.

 

Book Review “The Collector” Nora Roberts

synopsis

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a novel about a woman who needs nothing, a man who sees everything, and the web of deceit, greed and danger that brings them together—and could tear them apart…
 
When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one…
 
Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Chalking up their intense attraction to the heat of the moment, Lila agrees to help Ash try to find out who murdered his brother and why. From the penthouses of Manhattan to grand Italian villas, their investigation draws them into a rarefied circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away and stolen; where what you possess is who you are; and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession…

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I want to kick this off by admitting that this book has been sitting on my shelf damn near all year long. My husband bought it for me earlier in the year when I was buried in my review pile. I’ve run my fingers over it’s cover at least 20 times wishing I had time to read it. Nora Roberts writes some pretty amazing books and I’ve been looking forward to (finally) reading “The Collector” for far too long. Considering I built up some serious anticipation for this book, I had to take a couple of days after reading it to decompress and make dang sure my review would be on the actual book and not my preconceived ideas of how it was going to go down. After decompression, this is what I’ve got.

The only character that I felt was close to fully fleshed out in “The Collector” was Lila. That’s not to say that she didn’t need some work. I thought I had a pretty good eye on who she was until Ash came into the picture. All the sudden, it was like Lila’s independent nature was squashed. She didn’t put up the fight I was expecting of her and it blurred who she was in my head.

I feel like Roberts should back almost all the way up with Ash. The “brooding artist” stereotype ruined him for me. I love his art and his steady side but found the few things I loved about him stomped on by his downright shitty behavior and inconsiderate nature. I could see that Roberts was trying to convince the readers that while brash, Ash cares about those around him but I’m not buying it. For the most part Ash acts like a douche and I don’t like him. I don’t think he is a good fit for anyone and feel that his behavior is abusive.

One of the main themes in this book is Obsession. The reader is hit with two forms. One slightly veiled in its intensity and the other’s is blatant and frightening. The veiled obsession still unsettles me. I felt the character exhibited some pretty frightening narcissistic traits that were passed off as bluntness. There is a big difference and I don’t like how this was passed off as a healthy relationship. 

The nefarious obsessor is blatant with his disregard for any life other than his own. I can see the distance Roberts tried to put between the “Obsessor’s” but felt that by only vilifying one she glossed over abuse in less obvious forms. Obsession is dangerous.

I love Lila’s profession and found it interesting to get a glimpse into that world. Roberts found a way to make house sitting seem exciting and I felt the job added nicely to who Lila was as a person. While having Gypsy tendencies, I felt Lila is also a very steady person. Someone to be trusted and cherished. Her kindness and thoughtfulness is so at odds with Ash’s domineering personality!

The book is well researched and the premise intriguing. I came away from the book with a mixed bag of emotion but ultimately enjoyed reading it. After serious consideration, I still feel like the book could stand to be reevaluated by the author. There is too much conflict for the romance to come across as anything other than abusive and I feel Roberts should consider this a bit further and consider who she really wants Ash to be.

3 stars.

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Collector | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Nora Roberts  |Publisher:  Berkley / Publication Date: 4-15-2014 |Pages: 485 (Print) | ISBN:  B00FX7REI6 |Genre(s): Romance & Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 11-27-2016 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

Book Review “Missing Mona” Joe Klingler

synopsis

Tommy has boomeranged back to his parents residence and a dead-end job after too many years in college. As he looks squarely at his next decade of life his smartphone convinces him the time is ripe for a change. A gift from his grandfather provides the means, so he embarks on the path of blues artists and beatniks before him–and hits the road.

He immediately meets a damsel in hitchhiking distress who says her name is Mona. Her presence persuades him that the bright lights and dark clubs of Chicago might be his kind of town. So on a summer Saturday night they settle into a fancy hotel overlooking the beaches of Lake Michigan.

On Sunday…Mona disappears.

But she leaves behind more than a sweet memory that involves Tommy in a brand new cash flow problem he never imagined. While trying to sort out how to stay on the right side of the law and get back on the road, he meets a young criminologist who helps him, a DJ who doesn’t, and a librarian who teaches him about the city, women, and the art of the makeover. After truth and lies are stirred like a blue martini, being assaulted by a pink monkey, and witnessing a drive-by shooting that drowns a Ferrari–Tommy is desperate to help Mona.

If he can find her.

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“Missing Mona” was a fun read. It took me awhile to really get into the story but once I did the suspense had me flipping pages to unravel all those loose threads! 

I have to admit that when I began the book I did not like Tommy. Not even a little. He seems like a grown man baby. He doesn’t at all seem to understand how privileged he is and he surely doesn’t appreciate it. I was more than a quarter into the book before I stopped sneering at Tommy and actually started to like him a little. His evolution as a character is one of the aspects of the book that I enjoyed the most. Because, let me tell you…if Tommy wouldn’t of started to change pretty early on there is a good chance I would of put this book down and labeled a DNF.

Beyond my immediate dislike of Tommy, the plot of “Missing Mona” is intricate and cleverly constructed. Most of the twists and turns took me completely by surprise while a few others were a bit predictable. 

Now, the supporting characters is what makes this book! Klingler did a fantastic job of building Mona, Marvin, Lizz, Kim ect… They each stand out and build on the Chicago setting making the location feel more and more authentic. For a mystery, this had one of the best casts of supporting characters that I have read this year. I really can not brag on this enough. Each time a new character came into play the story became more vibrant and dug its hooks further in. 

All in all, this book is cleverly written and fun to read. Klingler did a great job and this is a series I will follow in the future.

4 stars.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: Missing Mona | Series:  Tommy Cuda Mysteries  |  Author(s):  Joe Klingler |Publisher: Cartosi LLC / Publication Date: 10-23-2015 |Pages: 416 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1941156056  |Genre(s): Mystery & Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-20-2016 |Source: Copy from Author

About The Author

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Joe Klingler was born in the Great Black Swamp on a hot July day during a cold war. In primary school he read Four Wheel Drift. That led to a soap box derby car named Restless, two crashes, and a lifelong love of motion.

Images of Jimi Hendrix playing the U.S. National Anthem at Woodstock inspired pounding on a Gibson in a garage band influenced by local groups like the MC5 and Iggy and Stooges whose pioneering punk music he figured existed everywhere—though it was actually coming out of Detroit, Michigan forty miles to the north.

Joe read The God Machine by Martin Caidin, and started thinking about the nature of computation. He studied electrical engineering, spent time doing research in medical image processing, published academic papers, wrote a few patents. All of which led to an interest in special effects and the software that made them. He co-founded a company that was soon acquired, leading to a string of jobs for bigger and bigger corporations until assimilation by a billion dollar enterprise gave him the idea for a book—which he wrote while moving 525 mph bouncing between the coasts of North America.

That book led to RATS, his debut novel, which draws on the beauty of technology, its uses, misuses and abuses. And how the collision of human ideologies shapes its future—and ours. A minor character in RATS led to Mash Up: a rollicking ride with student musicians through San Francisco, Silicon Valley, social media and the minds of persons who use sharp knives to solve problems.

He currently resides in California with an iMac and a couple of motorcycles, and has recently released his third novel: Missing Mona. He’s fond of turbochargers, and loves his S1000RR.

To learn more, check out Joe’s website HERE.

Book Review “Hands Across The Sky” Andrew John Schmitz

synopsis

From the first page, Hands Across The Sky draws the reader into an intoxicating tale of mystery and hope, beautifully told.

When Ezra Quinn, a San Francisco techie, gets a call one Saturday morning, he has no idea that his life is about to change beyond his wildest imaginings. Quinn is offered a lucrative position in the Middle East in his field of wearable tech. A week later, he’s on a flight to Dubai.

In Dubai, Quinn meets beautiful, cosmopolitan Leila, who orients him both to his work and to the political complexities in the region. Though the Middle East is on fire, Leila drops a hint that there is another way … the way of the Open Hand.

Leila accompanies Quinn to Cairo, where he meets Alif Zahir, the passionate, intelligent official at the center of the operation. As Quinn begins working on the project, he starts to become suspicious. Is Alif Zahir really who he says he is? And is the project truly aimed at peace? Soon events will spiral out of control, and Ezra Quinn will find himself caught up in a web of violence and treason from which there seems no escape.

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I would like to start this review by quoting some of my favorite passages.

“However, it was also difficult to imagine that a single ancient woman in a tiny apartment alone with her cat could possess the key to the power they needed”

‘Let the story enter you and create its meaning there. Do not try to force the meaning on the story.”

“Hands Across The Sky” is filled with such beautiful imagery that each word is like a brush painting the scenes inside your mind. As the imagery settles, the emotions and senses with each scene settle on you in such an intimate way that it could almost be a memory.

There is power in this story and a pile of moral decisions to be made by the main characters. The suspense is built beautifully page by page until it all comes together for a powerful ending.

I really enjoyed Schmitz’s writing style. It’s apparent lots of research went into the writing of this novel. The details are pretty intimate and I can’t help but wonder if Schmitz has been to Egypt.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the telling by a variety of characters old fables. This brought a real authenticity that not many books have. The “Open Hand” ideology was beautiful.

Schmitz developed his characters expertly. It’s really a wonder all its own with how much he put into such a small book. I will be reading more from him in the future.

“Hands Across The Sky” was a profound book that speaks to my generation and I think will continue to speak to others as well. It’s world is our world. It’s problems our problems.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Hands Across The Sky | Series:  N/A  |  Author(s):  Andrew John Schmitz |Publisher: Deep Theory Press / Publication Date: 10-28-2015 |Pages: 276 (Print) | ISBN: 978-0996827904  |Genre(s): Literature & Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-26-2016 |Source: Copy from Author

Book Review “Siren’s Song” Heather McCollum

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Jule Welsh can sing. She enthralls people with her bel canto voice. But it takes more than practice to reach her level of exquisite song; it takes siren’s blood running through her veins. Jule is starting her senior year at Cougar Creek High when her relatively normal world begins to resemble a roller coaster flying through a carnival scare house. Her mother is diagnosed as insane and committed, a psycho-stalker is snapping pictures of her to put into his homemade Jule-shrine, her voice is suddenly putting people into comatose trances, oh and the gorgeous new guy in town, Luke Whitmore, is interested in her . . . but also wants to kill her.

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First lines: Carly Ashe, BFF bordering on sister, flaps her hand in my direction as she stares through my mom’s opera glasses. “Jule! They’re moving in, and you have to see this!” She shoves the golden binoculars into my hand and points across the road toward the new subdivision of colossal homes set on three-acre manicured lots-Amberly Heights.

Siren’s Song is a bewitching novel. Like the Siren’s of lore, McCollum’s writing will draw you in and never let go.

The Siren theme is a well used one but McCollum weaves a unique story all it’s own. Jule is a teenager whose life has been recently turned upside down. Her mother is battling mental illness and the worries of regular teenagedom are interwoven with her mother’s celebrity and all the crazy that brings. It’s clear there is a real family connection between Jule and her parents. I enjoyed learning their family dynamic and was delighted that the protagonist had a good family. 

The idea that someone’s singing can be so beautiful that it holds people captive is a more realistic concept than people might think. Music is an integral part of our daily lives. It’s our muse when we need inspiration. It’s our therapist when we need to work out emotions. Music already has the ability to elicit a wide range of emotional responses as well as assist the listener in recollecting memories. The idea that it can hold our minds is very believable and brings a realness to the story. That thread of realness carries the paranormal aspect of the story. It assists the mind with imagery through out the story and keeps the words flowing at a nice pace. This is a story you will definitely get lost in. I know I did.

The play between Jule and Luke is riveting. The romantic in me loves the idea of perfect matches. The tug o’ war these two go through is heart wrenching and I found myself getting more and more caught up in the story as I read. I even found myself invested with the supporting characters and their plight. At one point in the book Matt hits on Jule and tells her “she has options”. This is the only conflicting thing I found in the book. She doesn’t actually have options. She is only one person’s siren. It’s not one size fits all. I would like to see McCollum explain that passage. In my opinion, it pulls away from the story and confuses the reader.

The climax does have some pretty intense violence and almost violence.  

I love almost everything about this story. The characters are fully formed and interesting. The story is unique and captivating. Fantastic book. 

5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Siren’s Song  | Series:  The Guardians Series  |  Author(s): Heather McCollum |Publisher: Spencer Hill Press / Publication Date: 3-18-2014 |Pages: 376 (Print) | ISBN:  978-1939392824 |Genre(s): Paranormal Romance & Science Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-13-2016 |Source: Copy from Author

P.s. The book I was sent has a different cover than the one listed on Amazon. Both are awesome so I’m not too worked up about it.