Happy Reading

Toni's bookshelf: read

The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep, #4)
Ape House
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Operation Napoleon
Walking Dead
The Sentimentalists
The Heretic Queen
The Midnight House
Cross Fire
Peony in Love
Absurdistan
Nefertiti
Finding Nouf: A Novel
City of Veils: A Novel
First Daughter
A Place of Hiding
Amagansett
Peter Pan


Toni Osborne's favorite books »
}

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"At Large", by John W. Mefford

Book #2, in the Alex Troutt Thriller series

This book can definitely be a stand-alone but I would suggest reading “At Bay” book 1 first so you can better place the characters and where they come from.

Mr. Mefford writes novels full of intrigue, suspense and thrills and undeniably his style will evoke an emotional connection to his characters. In “At large” Alex is thrust into a bizarre string of murders. She partners with a CIA counterpart and together they chase a killer up and down the east coast. Victims are both male and female but how are they connected and what is the killer’s end game…..

Alex Trout is an intrepid character, while fighting her internal demons this FBI Agent entertains us with non-stop action while the investigation goes on and more mutilated bodies pile up. Yes, the story goes on at a rapid pace, is rather graphic, has a decent language and a pretty good plotline to entertain us. What it does best is keeping us on our toes: guessing who may be next, wondering if Alex is up to the task and will she get her man…..or will he get the better of her….The story is well-crafted but isn’t memorable, soon read soon forgotten…but so much fun to read.

Entertaining

"Emilia", by Ellie Midwood

The darkest days in the history of Nazi Germany through a woman’s eyes

Reading about the atrocities during WW11 is never an easy read. Of course Emilia story is severe and at times even horrific nevertheless it is compelling account of a life under the Nazi regime. This is a fiction where the author has poetic license and uses it quite well, focusing only on the Nazi atrocities.

This powerful story takes us on a journey of lost innocence, hardening hearts and finding love as we follow a young girl wishing for a normal life, only to be sent to a concentration camp, finally liberated at the end of the war and a few years later finding peace. Emilia tells the darkest tale honestly drawing us into her harrowing life, a life that countless victims were subject to. What a nightmare she tells, page after page of horror: rape, abuse, sadistic handlers at every corner. All the while this young woman was desperately trying to survive. The description of what was done on the population in the camps is very graphic and will undeniably touch the reader’s emotions. Of course this book is sad and hard but the story is so well-written without any fluff and long prose and is said with such frankness and raw emotions that I found it very hard to pause and stay away from this wonderful story of survival for too long. Excellent.

I received this ARC for review from the Publisher Ellie Midwood via Netgalleys

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Munich", by Richard Harris

This novel is set over four days during the September 1938 Munich Conference where an agreement was signed between Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain and Daladier to settle the fate of Czechoslovakia.

“Munich” is a tantalising game of “what if” and a glimpse on how things might have turned out. The story is told through the eyes of two men who were friends at Oxford but are now in opposite camps. The main players are Hugh Legat, private secretary to Chamberlain and Paul Hartmann, a diplomat in the German foreign office. With a unique style, Mr. Harris skilfully weaves a gripping fiction with historical events and looks at those four days from both sides. Taking us behind close door is quite an achievement especially when taking something well documented and showing us something else. In this dramatization, both Legat and Hartman’s machinations affect the course of history.

The story is quite slow to start with. The first third of the book is hugging the actual facts with grave-faced men coming in and out of their offices and minutia details involving the procedural of the two parties as they navigate the diplomatic path towards the summit at which the Sudetenland would be handed back to Germany. In the later part, when the dual plotline converges and we inch closer to the center of powers we discover Hitler’s true agenda….and more melodramatic scenes occur giving “Munich” a tad of suspense. Even with some excitement the story never reach the level of a high-octane page-turner I love to read. The tale nevertheless brilliantly evokes a sense of place and its vivid descriptions leading to the main event highlight why Mr. Harris is a master novelist who focuses on events surrounding the Second World War.

I received this ARC for review from Penguin Random House Canada via Netgalleys

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"The Shadow", by Ty Patterson

“Book #3, in the Warriors shorts

This 3rd novella is a fast-paced adventure filled with action introducing two wonderful characters Bear and Chloe. These two have charmed and entertained us numerous times in the main series “The Warriors”. It was nice to see where they came from, how they met and when they joined the elite group lead by Zeb Carter.

Bear is hired to protect a high profile criminal, a routine job….or so he thought. Excellent storyline of only 56 pages, packed with never ending action, suspense galore….and of course captivating to no end. Mr. Patterson knows how to tell a story in ways that can only hold us captive till the last page. This novella compliments beautifully the main series.

I never was one for short stories till I received novellas from Mr. Patterson they are tremendously well-done…….

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"The Bookworm", by Mitch Silver

This story is a bit of everything, a mystery at its base, a tad of political shenanigan to captivate us, some known historical figures to pique our interest (Kennedy, Hitler, Churchill and the French physician Nostradamus) oh…to put a smile on our faces, thinly disguised are our 2 maverick and colourful leaders in a cameo role. To top it all off which is the base of this novel is a conspiracy to keeps us on our toes. With a soupçon of reality and a big dose of fiction we have one ambitious novel that should please most readers.

The setting mainly plays out in Moscow but changes locations between London and Alaska. The mystery features Larissa Klimt, who is a professor of Geopolitical History and her twin brother Lev, who works in Alaska monitoring the oil fields. The plot comes to life when Lara (Larissa) is asked to translate six audio recordings done in the 1940’s from English to Russian and find the book, subject of the recordings. What she hears is just the beginning of her troubles…the book (Bible) contains a false prophecy of all time. Through a series of circumstances Lara and Lev become entwined in the hoax and are pulled into danger and the world of espionage…..

I have mixed feeling about this book. In great parts I liked it a lot and in others I found it dragged so much I was losing interest. It took too much time to get going although I do admit lots was happening but everything seemed to turn in circle then suddenly action and suspense kicked in and voilà you just reached the end. As for the characters they missed colours but were OK in their roles but lacked the credibility and motive to push the mystery forward and make it captivating. I liked the premise, the story is great and interesting and some of the side bars are also very good “ the Bookworm mystery”, “Conception Day”, “King takes Queen”, Lara’s events with her ex-husband the Russian spy just to mention some…..(I let you discover all this).

This novel may not have been my favourite of all times but it was worthwhile passing time reading it nevertheless.

I received this ARC for review from Pegasus Books via Netgalleys

"The Watcher", by Ty Patterson

Book #2, in the Warriors shorts

This second story may be short 52 pages or so but is packed with suspense from the opening page and keeps us glued to every word till its final sentence. Zeb Carter is in poverty stricken area of Cape Town, South Africa when he is approached by a child…. a gang is harassing his family, he needs help ….

Of course this is a fast read, action packed and well- written. It has a very interesting subject matter around drugs and child trafficking organisations and a warrior to save the day. This short story fits well between the main Warriors series and I enjoy squeezing it in my spare time. Till next time “In the Shadow”, enjoy….

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"The Shining", by Stephen King

The Shining #1

“The Shining” is the story of Jack Torrance, who is employed as the caretaker of the gargantuan Overlook Hotel in Colorado one winter. With his wife and son they hoped to spend the winter season in peace and stitch up their fractured family.

The book was first released in 1977 then made into a movie starring Jack Nicholson, just the best choice to play the main character here. I haven’t seen the movie but in the book Mr. King goes to great pains to show Jack as a good man that is simply pushed into fantasy or hallucination. Because I received its sequel “Doctor Sleep” as a gift I needed to know how this horror all started.

For 416 pages, the tense and atmospheric story centers on the family saga. Their encounters with apparitions are very visual, leaving a picture in the mind that may be scary for some and totally ridicule for others. Not only it is a very dark story, with every turn of the page things get worse and worse in the haunted resort, it also borders on the fantastical with plenty of over the top scenes rife with violence and supernatural. For some, Mr. King may be a master entertainer no matter how ridiculous his tales are or how frightening they may be, well perhaps for them but this horror did not gel with me, I simply had trouble getting through this mess. The author gets so bogged down in tedious descriptions and exposition, the story is so overwritten I fast lost interest. Don’t forget, pay attention, not only does the narration rotates between the three members of the Torrance family it is also taken over by many other characters, some human and some not so human.

I didn’t think this book was scary at all despite the considerably large cast of ghosts and creepy critters and the great amount of violence at every page. This is a tedious read, it just drags on and on, so stubborn was I nevertheless made it to the end even if I was bored to death…..evidently not my type of book.

Friday, September 29, 2017

"Zulu Hour", by Ty Patterson

Book #1, in the Warriors shorts

“Zulu Hours” is the first in a series of short stories featuring Zeb Carter and is definitely a prequel to the main Warriors Series.

I always said I wasn’t a fan of short stories but here I stand corrected. 49 pages of brilliantly writing and engaging storyline that bring us back to where it all started. If you are already familiar with the Warriors series reading this prequel will answer most of your questions. If you want to start at this point, this book will give you a sample of what to expect and all you need to go forward.

Even with 49 pages we have a good storyline filled with action and great characters. We find out how Zeb’s group came together and how with Broker became important assets to the Agency.

1993, Mogadishu, Delta Force operative Zeb Carter meets Mohammed Jama, a vicious warlord…..and the action moves on from there….

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Prussian Blue", by Philip Kerr

Book# 12, in the Bernie Gunther Mysteries

This story moves back and forth between Nazi Germany in 1939 and the French Riviera in 1956. We follow Gunther match wits with German officials in two suspenseful stories that at first seemed to go their own ways but meshes nicely by the end. Mr. Kerr brings once again a renewed life to the monsters of the Nazi era and at the same time gives us a thrilling adventure, a deadly cat and mouse game in the French countryside….

Nothing is more frustrating for a cop with a conscience than to work under the Nazis and not end up in prison. “Prussian Blue”, swings around between a plot that trails the reluctant Gunther’s from France in the 50’s being pursued by his old enemies of the Reich, narrowly escaping the noose by doing dirty deeds to save himself. Then the plot brings Gunther to the days when he worked for Martin Bormann to clean up a messy situation at Hitler’s vacation home before he shows up for his birthday celebration in a week. The two plots go back and forth.

Mr. Kerr has a real talent in capturing the mood and misdeeds and once again brilliantly created a whodunit to bring the horrors of life during the Nazi’s regime. The shrewd and acute interpretations of facts blended with fiction makes for a believable depiction. The research and the accuracy of the historical setting can only match the best of the best authors; Mr. Kerr is definitely a master. I am a huge fan of Bernie Gunther and have devoured in gulps of fright and pleasure all of them to date. The plot is an entertaining adventure that takes in high crime, scandals, fraud, drugs and murder and features one of the most successful anti-heroes in crime fiction, Bernie Gunther: a WW1 veteran, a Kripo detective during WW11 who now roams the world like a wanted criminal. Gunther is not a young man how long can he stick around….only Mr. Kerr knows…but in the meantime I will be faithful to him….

I like this book but on the down side, although the pacing is steady it lacks the suspense I was hoping for. It is a bit overwritten, descriptions of people and places and long paragraphs stretch the plot over many pages unnecessary, making a meaty book to read.

Good story but not one at the top of my list.

"King of Swords", by Russell Blake

Book #1, in the Assassin series

This is one brutal and heart-stopping novel I read in a long time. In “King of Swords” we are taken on a violent journey through drug cartel of Mexico. This thriller is definitely not for the fainthearted, it is a blend of facts and fiction and strange enough, we will never know where the truth ends and where Mr. Russell’s inspiration kicked in, the fine line between is a little fuzzy.

This thriller is cranked up on steroids and has left me gasping and cringing more often than not. The storyline is very graphic. It captures the casual savagery of the ordinary men engaged in extraordinary brutality. Thousands of good and bad people die every year caught in violent confrontations. The author wanted to highlight the psychological making of a monster and he perfectly achieved his goal in his storyline. The pacing is high-velocity I couldn’t help but to follow the tempo by furiously flipping the pages so captivated by the goings- on. El Rey, the main character is a cold blooded killer and assassin operating in Mexico who would work for both the cartels and the police depending upon the situation. Romero Cruz is the police captain on El Rey’s tail and with panoply of interesting side players adding to the thrill, we can only be smack into an exciting saga. Reading this book is like watching a Die Hard movie. It is extremely well- written, full of nasty stuff, fast-paced (I think I said this many times), violent, enthralling….

This thriller is an excellent cat and mouse game full of gritty details. I loved it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"The Weshampton Hurricane", by Gerald J. Kubicki & Kristopher Kubicki

Book # 27, in the Colton Banyon Adventure/Mystery series

When Mr. Kubicki sent his book for review he told me “You will like this one”, he was perfectly right. This one turned out to be one of my preferred Colton Banyon books to date.

This book follows the same pattern as most of them starting with a prologue taking us back in time and giving us a bit of history and a tad of speculation. It is followed with multiple short and captivating chapters and finally ends with the usual author’s notes telling us that most of his story is a fruit of his imagination and as always the events and facts are true but have been enhanced to fit the story.

But what a story, Mr Kubicki brings us back to when Colton Banyon was in his late teens living in Westhampton, the year is 1966. It opens after a hurricane struck and smashed part of the Island and destroyed some houses. Colton with his friend Dale decided to explore the surrounding but what they found was the military standing guard. They are young and fearless and a little pocking around couldn’t hurt….and the weekend long adventure commences….

This book is a fun read, not taxing at all with clear and concise wordings. Of course we should be entertained with this mystery and not take it too seriously. In reality, the German U boat mentioned was never found and archaeological societies have discredited anything to do with the Phoenicians. What I enjoyed particularly is the turn down tone the mystery has: no ridiculous fantasies, no nit-wit oversexed women, no big bang and jump over the moon action the previous installments gave us. It is a plain very subdued story writing in a very captivating manner. It doesn’t leave out intrigue, plenty of it throughout. For fans of this series, you will finally know how (Wolf) and Colton met.

Although this book is part of a series starting with this one would be a good move, it works well as a stand-alone novel. I think young people could enjoy this one also.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

"Pacific Reaper", by Carmen Amato

Book# 5, in the Emilia Cruz Mysteries

In “Pacific Reaper”, Emilia confronts a death worshiping cult and takes us once again inside Mexico’s drug war. The setting is Acapulco, a breathtaking and deadly city where Mexican cartels battles for control and more politicians that you can imagine are in the drug lord’s pockets.

Murder victims are sacrificed to Santo Muerte. Looking into gruesome and ritualistic murders Emilia takes us to another level of suspense. This character-driven mystery is hard to put down. The author has raised the stakes for her protagonist by forcing her to face vicious members of the cartel while appeasing her superiors and politician and making peace with her colleagues (Emilia’s continual battle). As the investigation progresses and more clues fall into place, more blood is shed and more is revealed. The novel pulls no punches.

This crackling multi-faceted story is well-written, is most captivating, one that keeps a steady pace and holds the attention from the get-go. We also have new revelations about the main character, her family and the people she associates with, adding a nice personal touch. I can well imagine this scenario happening in the real world this is both scary and fascinating at the same time…..You have done it again Ms. Amato providing your readers with hours of entertainment.

The author is an ace storyteller and one of my favourite authors. I wish to thank you Ms. Amato for the gift of your book for my enjoyment. These are my thoughts I have not be asked to give a positive review.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"Operation Hail Storm" by Brett Arquette

Book #1, in the Hail series

If you are a die-hard fan of thrillers that uses detailed technology of drones and military equipment to intricately detail a plot you will find all you wish for with “Operation Hail Storm” and much more. This captivating story has multi-billionaire Marshall Hail, the main character, using his vast resources to fight a personal vendetta after losing his family in a terrorist attack.

Although well done, this thriller has a level of technology details all through that is quite overwhelming, maybe it is a bit too technically challenging and rather overly done at least in my books. Once passed all those terms we are into a cleverly laid and executed plot with characters we come to know in minutia details. Alongside Hail is Kara a deadly CIA operative who plays the female lead. The drones in Hail fleet are piloted by elite video gamers and MIT graduates we meet some of them in their unique roles. This interesting high-tech story includes super tankers with cinemas, high class restaurants and all the goodies found in upper class hotels, not forgetting all the fire power found on naval ships and plus. The experience may be over the top but is quite exciting to read.

This thought-provoking thriller that uses drones as a way of assassination may have a slow start but the originality and the constant alternate action between Hail’s ship, what happens between US Security Council and Hail (the USA Executive’s problem- solver) and what happens in North Korea make for a very captivating read hard to put down. Yes, the pacing does pick up and becomes fast and furious…or was I so much into this story that I couldn’t help swiping pages at a rapid pace to see what would happen next. Excellent story.

I wish to thank the author for providing a review copy of his book.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"Noble Intentions:Season One", by L.T. Ryan

Book # 4 in the Jack Noble series

This thriller is a collection of five episodes sort of standalone stories that are smoothly meshed into one volume. This series follows the story of Jack Noble, an assassin for hire who practices his art with a clean conscience and he does it for the money.

The main characters:

Jack is an awesome cold blooded killer: rather smart, somewhat funny and definitely you want him on your side but deep down he has a heart of gold. Bear is his best friend, this guy has a soft spot also although don’t step on his toes. Clarissa is the only one that can keep Jack and Bear straight and can keep up with them. Mandy plays a good part in this story also, she the little girl that the group took under their wings.

The setting:

As in many thrillers the story brings you to different countries, where you hear different languages and meet good people and a lot of bad ones.

The story in a few words:

Jack stop to help a lost child moments before he's supposed to complete a deal with one of the east coast's top crime bosses? This is a decision that places Jack in unfamiliar territory. He's become the hunted and finds himself in a race against time to save those closest to him.

My thoughts:

This is a fast-pace suspense full of nonstop action, a bit far-fetched but captivating if you not squeamish with all the killings you will surely have a hoot reading this book. The style is rough and saccadic but this didn’t bother me after all it is mainly a story of killers, don’t forget these guys don’t pussyfoot around. I love all characters even brutal ones can be likable. The author knows how to develop an exciting plot with well-drawn characters to pull us in from start to finish. I would say it is a gripping page-turner

Friday, September 1, 2017

"All She Left Behind", by Jane Kirkpatrick

This historical fiction is a carefully researched blend of historical events using real people. The story is about Jennie Pickett and her struggle to become a doctor in the 1870’s Oregon.

This tale is an amazing journey in a time where women physicians were shun by society. For Jennie to become a doctor she had to surmount imaginable obstacles: her dyslexia and a difficult husband and son. She first learned homeopathic treatments with herbs and oil and practiced her art at every occasion with passion. After her divorce from her husband, she met her second husband, a wonderful man who gave her all the encouragement and the push needed to become a doctor. We follow her life through a bad marriage and a good marriage.

This story is told in a smooth narrative one that easily pulled me in from the first chapter. I wanted Jennie to succeed and have a wonderful life. She is portrayed as a strong and determined person regardless of her disabilities and the tragedies in her life. We have a lot of surprises along the way to keep us flipping the pages.

This is a captivating story of over-coming tragedy and poor choices, personal and family challenges and never losing hope. It is also a story of love. Beautifully written this novel is hard not to like.

“All She Left Behind” is based on a true story

I received this ARC from the publisher Revell via the Early Reviewer Program for an honest and unbiased review.

Friday, August 25, 2017

"Hamfist Down", by G.E. Nolly

Survival and Combat in the Jungle

Book #2, in the Adventures of Hamilton “Hamfist”Hamcock

This novel is based on actual events about air combat in the Vietnam War. This series follows Air Force pilot Hamilton “Hamfist” Hamcock as he evolves from an inexperience lieutenant to a seasoned combat pilot flying aircraft in the skies of North Vietnam. This series is dedicated to American military veterans.

The tone is harsh after all this is war with Special Ops and Green Berets all over the place, this is scary as hell. The first sentence you hear “getting shot down sucks”. For those not familiar with terms this novel is a bit hard to follow it contains a lot of operational details about mission to fetch people from hostile jungle. Although it is a bit romanticised, the experience is inevitably tough and exciting, of course Hamfist does manage to get shot down, get extricated, escape unscathed and have a burgeoning romance with a Japanese beauty…hey why not, many men did have a distraction. The jargon is taken from experience of the time and place and Hamfist characterisation fits both the hardboiled soldier and the sensitive men he really is. He tells his story with humour and with some profanity. He is quite crude at time. Hold your breath, the tempo is fast and furious so much action fills the pages while we follow the day to day activities of the pilots. This is a gritty and gruesome time and such a captivating read.

Although I started this series with book 2 not knowing what had previously happened did not put me at a disadvantage but this story did pique my interest to backtrack and get book 1 “Hamfist Over the Trail”.

Love this one

Sunday, August 20, 2017

"Environmentally Friendly", Elias Zanbaka

I was provided a copy of this book by the author for review. Not knowing the author or the book I had hoped for a decent war against Mother Nature and an exciting cop chase in just a few words.

This short story unfortunately did not deliver. Maybe being only 20 pages was not enough to have development and sustained a storyline that is exciting. I was more of a mish-mash of scenes happening out of the blue. Reaching the end didn’t come fast enough for me. Too many times I had to reread twice some lines to understand the passage in order to grasp what was going on. Some words were cut mid-way or were missing. This book needed editing badly. Maybe if the author would have taken time to stretch his story the result could have been quite different.

I am not a fan of short story this one is the proof why….

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"The Devil's Crucible", by Ian McKenzie-Vincent

This is a highly imaginative global adventure about climate changes. Whether you believe what is told or not one thing for sure Mr. Mckenzie-Vincent’s views will have you ponder….can all this dome and gloom really happen one day ….

True facts in this story are events that happened in the past but again are all of them the results of climate change or simply normal occurrences. Indeed deforestation is a big factor and mismanagement of our resources an even bigger one. To bring his points across and to shake us into taking action, the author has given us a horror story of tsunami, earthquakes, forest fires, air and water pollution, hurricanes, corporation greed and world corruption, any disregard of our ecosystems etc. all events that has or could happened and by extrapolating the effects he brought the what is and what if to life. Although I think he is preaching to us I nevertheless agree this is a very scary vision.

We may not love what is said and find it to be over the top but as extremists do this is a story that pictures a dim future with its many graphic scenes telling us to wake up and take responsibility. Yes, this should make us open our eyes wide and realise that dumping raw sewer in our water is not helpful, killing or capturing endangered species for pleasure and destroying the ecosystem for gain is totally inacceptable. Although the subject may be dark it is nevertheless told in a captivating manner with lot of suspense and action. It progresses smoothly and keeps the pace going till the conclusion. The players are the run of the mill but don’t hold that against them they act their part beautifully. The narration is simple and clear after all a strong message is being told. Over- all a good story.

This novel is no longer available at well-known online book stores in North America , too bad I think this book is well worth passing time with….

Monday, August 14, 2017

"The Life She Was Given", by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Set in the 20th century, this very emotional tale weaves together the stories of two women. Alternately we follow Lilly Blackwood, a young albino girl who has been kept in a secret attic room most of her life till one day her mom sold her to a traveling circus freak show. Once there we are in the circus world, with all the good and bad. We jump two decades later, with Julia Blackwood returning to the family farm where she will soon discover the attic’s dark secrets ….

The story is very touching as we slowly discover the disturbing and frightening things done to Lilly and the kind of life she had hidden away in an attic for years and how she must have felt to be sold by someone she loved to an unscrupulous man running a circus. Undeniably Ms. Wiseman did extensive research to recreate the circus life, its slang, performers and their superstitions, animals training and shows, their behaviours including noises and most of all, how the freak shows was run and how important and lucrative this sideshow was, not forgetting the presence of fraudulent medium star performer who was the highlight in many ways. In graphic scenes, the story also explores how the circus animals were treated or mistreated.

The story overlaps with Julia taking over her family’s horse business and slowly the secret that binds the two lies at the heart of the tragedy…..Moving between Lilly’s and Julia stories the authors has portrayed two extraordinary and very different women with exceptional life filled with family secrets, tragedy, hope and joy. Their stories displayed a mix of emotions that can possibly drain some readers. Both characters are compelling as well as the myriad of vivid secondary players even the evil ones. All roles were played perfectly.

This engrossing tale is written in short chapters using contemporary language and keeps a steady pace throughout. “The Life She Was Given” is a page tuner almost impossible to put down.

I received this review copy from the publisher via Netgalleys

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Manhattan Lockdown", by Paul Batista


This thought-provoking thriller brings us to New York City on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to celebrate Roland Fortune’s birthday, the guest of honor and the mayor of the city. Then suddenly multiple explosions rock the entire building….many are killed or terribly injured….Manhattan is placed on lockdown…

This fast moving plot not only provides entertainment but will also make us think….could a terrorist attack happen again…The plot brings us literally into a battle in the streets of Manhattan as well-known buildings are blown apart by terrorists. The story gets straight into the action in the first pages and moves along at a steady pace with never ending twists and turns all the way through. The descriptions are so vivid it is easy to become part of the horrible scenes of carnage. In this provocative tale there is so much tension and turmoil all through no wonder I was kept on the edge of my seat and hanging on…:) The story’s unpredictability is particularly well-done, no way can we forecast how it will evolve, how it will end and who is really responsible for the bombings. The driven force is the many well-developed and complex characters that populate the pages. We work our way through the story following the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, the NYPD, the president of the United States, a doctor and panoply of smaller players.

This thriller is without any doubt a suspenseful look at a plausible scenario.

I received this ARC from the publisher Oceanview Publishing via Edelweiss for an honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"The Con Man's Daughter", by Candice Curry

A Story of Lies, Desperation, and Finding God

Ms. Curry bravely shares with grace what it was like to grow up with a con man and a convicted criminal.

The author writes with so much heart about her painful childhood and how deep the wounds left by her father had affected her well-being. This is an emotional story of a kid with an unimaginable childhood that kept a brave face and hid her turmoil to herself. She only wanted to be love and accepted. This quick and easy read drew me in from page one, told plainly without bitterness she speaks with respect of her feeling towards her father. Later on in life she seeks redemption and was able to find solace in god and finally peace of heart with a loving husband and children. This is a unique and heartbreaking journey that ends beautifully.

This testimony took courage to write and I admire Ms. Curry for doing so. If God was her path to forgiveness and happiness I am happy it worked….

It is hard to like or dislike memoirs after all they belong to the author. It is the way it is said and Ms. Curry does it with passion.

I received this ARC from the publisher Baker Books via the Early Reviewer Program for an honest and unbiased review

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"A Harvest of Thorns", by Corban Addison

Do we really know where and under which conditions our clothes are made? Do we even question ourselves….I admit to simply look at labels to see where it is made and that is the limit of my curiosity till now. After reading Mr. Addison latest novel where he takes us on a journey tracking a brand of clothing across the world I may think twice before purchasing my clothes in the future but again rarely do I see clothes made in my country reasonably priced so what choice do I have?….. Based on real-life events, this fiction begins with a fire in a clothing factory in Bangladesh and follows a large American company's reaction. It also addresses the reality of sweat shops, slave labor and the rights of workers in developing countries.

The chapters alternate from the perspective of Cameron Alexander, general counsel for the company (Presto) and those of Josh Griswold, a disgrace journalist as they dig deep into the many issues in front of them. As the story moves on, we have some very emotional chapters told through the eyes of people working in factories. The narrative voices are thorough and intellectual, complete with refine vocabulary. With firsthand knowledge of law and journalistic inside we find a plot that flows smoothly and is well- informed. At its heart “A Harvest of Thorns” is a story of two men fighting for what they believe is right and decent while fighting an inner turmoil that is shaking their lives…

After long hours of research, Mr. Addison has created a thought-provoking story where he goes into fine details about the fire and how the people made their fateful decision to break through windows. ”A Harvest of Thorns” was inspired by the 2012 Tazreen fashions factory fire in Bangladesh where more than a 100 workers died and more than 200 were injured.

Mr. Corban, an attorney and human right activist uses fiction to explore social justice themes. In the past he has touched the international sex trade in “A Walk Across the Sun”, the lawless coast of Somalia in “The Tears of Dark Water” and in “The Garden of Burning Sands” the epidemic of child sexual assault in Zambia.

All his stories are eye opening and very captivating.

Friday, July 28, 2017

"The Blackhouse", by Peter May

Book # 1, in the Lewis Trilogy

This is an intricately plotted story featuring Detective sergeant Finlay (Fin) Macleod of the Edinburgh police force. Fin has been dispatched to his home village of Crobost on the Isle of Lewis to investigate a gruesome murder that resembles another case he worked on in Edinburgh.

The story has a split framework told in alternating chapters. Narrated in a first person in a melancholy tone are chapters where Fin’s childhood memories come to surface by his homecoming then we switch to the thirst person narration in a tougher tone when the present- day police procedural investigating the grisly killing of the village bully kicks-in and we go back and forth. It takes a lot of time to get use to this but it is well worth staying put.

There is so much going on with the tradition murder investigation which takes many twists and turns while Fin’s memories propels him in the past. After I got used to this style the recollections became quite interesting, it would be unfair to give away too many secrets. And as the story unfolds and all the threads are neatly tied by the end… it emerges that Fin and his childhood story are intimately linked with the murder……

With pitch-perfect characterization, this densely plotted story heavy on atmosphere and richly detailed local colour is addictive. Its strong vocabulary and traditional Gaelic names and terms (a glossary is provided) transports us to the island, a place where life is rugged and where people are fascinating. Some may shy away from the annual trip to kill guga sea birds but this hefty dose of Lewis custom is the perfect climax to wrap this unique story. The ending is huge and heart-pounding.

"The Last Patriot", by Brad Thor

Book # 7, in the Scot Harvath series

Although this thriller is part of a series and I prefer reading the books in sequence I had no trouble picking this one at this stage. I was fast taken in by this exiting story and enjoyed Scot Harvath attempts to uncover a revelation that could damage the standing of radical Islam. This book was on the New York bestseller while being banned in Saudi Arabia when it came out (no wonder).

Being my first attempt reading this author was a good experience although having said this, “The Last Patriot” is very formulaic. . I had to set aside that the plot was pure fantasy and not be offended by its topic. Throughout the book we have long anti-Islamic diatribes that may be too much and again we have Homeland Security operatives working under the radar for the president, nothing new there. Many authors have hashed this over and over, it is time to let go.

“The Last Patriot” mixes a certain amount of truth with creative and artistic fiction. The plot is wrapped around the idea that the prophet Mohammed shared a final revelation with some of his closest friends, who then murdered him to keep him quiet and what he said a secret. It all started when the president read the White House diary of Thomas Jefferson sending Harvath on a journey looking for clues to the Jefferson discovery.

This thriller is a buffet of everything we want in a good thriller: suspense, action, well-written, fun, a high-adrenaline escapist and a cinematic page-turner hard to put down. This is pure entertainment.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Toward the Sunrise", by Elizabeth Camden

Book #0.5, in Until the Down series

I am not a huge fan of novellas but I will make exception here. It was just enough of a teaser to see the author style and enjoy her introduction to the series and her characters. By omitting the fluff that no one really cares about, the author has managed to propel an excellent storyline within 100 pages or so.

This page- turner for some but maybe not for others brings us to the end of the 19th century in Hudson River Valley and is a good start to the Until Dawn series. Although I wish “Toward the Sunrise” would have been a novel instead. The story offers an intriguing peek in the life of residents of the abandoned Vandermark historic estate. Julia Broeder is the main character she dreams becoming a medical missionary and with the help of Aston Carlyle she will achieve her dream ……and more. The plot is vivid, complex and is well paced. Considering the shortness of this novel the characterisation is quite enjoyable although missing substance. (Unfortunately, there is no time for development in a novella).

This is a sweet historical romance novella I enjoyed quite a bit. Maybe I was just in the right mood for this type of book……

Monday, July 17, 2017

"The Policewoman", by Justin W.M. Roberts

Set in not so far distance Mr. Roberts’ novel paints a world with dramatic, over the top action that will impact our imagination long after we finished the last page. In “The Policewoman” we are in a world controlled by drug cartel and it takes the most dedicated officers to face them and put an end to their operation.

Sarah, the protagonist, is a special operative and a heroine in this most brutal tale. She is working in an antiterrorist task force that doesn’t take any prisoners. She has been reassigned to aid in taking down the most notorious drug groups: the Irish cartel….As we follow Sarah we are sent on a tailspin race …..

This story must have taken a huge amount of research to make this engaging story. Filled with details the author spares no words. He is meticulously thorough with the characters’ dialects and local flavour. Apparent in the narrative is the author’s tactical knowledge and his Special Forces background which pepper the pages and makes the entire story quite believable (maybe a bit too much acronyms and info –dumping). The plot line is excellent with terrifying twists to send shivers up our spine from time to time. This is a fantastic fast pace story with well-developed characters. What makes this thriller even more riveting is how the author keeps Sarah running into danger. We do have romance, death and heartbreaking moments but the action is the driving force that makes this book engaging.

“The Policewoman” is a page-turner that has kept me on the edge from the opening page. Mr. Roberts’ debut novel is definitely a winner.

I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"Algonquin Sunset", by Rick Revelle

Book #3, in the Algonquin Quest series

If you are interested in Algonquin history this series brings to life an era rarely written about. Inspired by his own heritage Mr. Revelle provides an accurate description of indigenous life in North America prior to contact with Europeans. The story unfolds in the early 1300’s and is told with an authentic indigenous languages sprinkled throughout. In addition, the Anishinaabe, Mi’kmag, Mohawk cultures, histories and traditions are explored.

Although the book is fiction, according to the author the way the characters live, hunt, harvest, their survival techniques and unique warfare are as accurate as he found during his long hours of research. In “Algonquin Sunset” two native tribes are introduced: the Anishinaabe and the powerful Lakhota. In alternate first person narratives, we follow Anoki, Zhashagi and Waste on their day to day life in a harsh land where they will encounter fierce enemy. The story is full of details of hunting, meal preparation, vision, moving camp and some characters go into long bouts of storytelling making the experience engaging. This novel is not character driven but rather an interesting recreation of Native American life. As I read the book, I had a very realistic feel and a sense of just how Aboriginal people lived, struggled to have enough to eat, keep warm and dry and the need to be alert to the constant threat of enemies.

Although it is always preferable to read series in sequence I did not feel lost to have started here. I melted right into the depiction of Algonquin life. It is so sad that so much knowledge of First Nations culture was lost as a result of residential schools….

I received this ARC for review from Dundurn.com via Netgalleys

"Do Not Say We have Nothing", by Madeleine Thien

“Do Not Say We Have Nothing” is a moving story of musicians who suffered during and after China’s Cultural Revolution. Jiang Li-Ling, the narrator speaks to us from the present day telling us about her father, a brilliant musician, who committed suicide in Hong Kong when she was a little girl.

In Ms. Thien’s novel there is so much going on it is easy to get lost trying to keep track of the people and movements in order to keep everything straight. The numerous details and complexity of the book’s structure gives us an idea what we are up against. Part one: contains eight sequential chapters, Part Zero: seven chapters in reversed order from seven to one, followed by a coda to conclude. A real mishmash…..

At its heart, the novel explores the history of two families while examining the love of musicians in 20th century China, the effect of political changes which had terrible effects on the people. But it doesn’t stay there and to complicate things added into the mix are coded stories from a novel called Book of Records. Time shifts back and forth within chapters weaving back to China’s civil war and up to the present day and shuffling between characters. The story spans some six decades, so don’t blink an eye this novel needs our entire attention, so much is said. To top it all, throughout the novel language is central: English, Mandarin, Chinese and music plays a good part. This is definitely an exhausting read.

No doubt Ms. Thien did extensive research to masterfully layer a story within a story and pen this kind of demanding novel that is full of scenes that linger in our imagination long after the closing page. Ex: the student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The author vividly describes those scenes with passion.

Some will love this novel for its riveting and lyrical phrases and other will find the experience confusing, disjointed and very-long. Although I made it to the end I admit to have struggled all through….At this time, I sit on the fence ….looking more towards the ground….

Friday, July 7, 2017

"Bird's Eye View", by Elinor Florence

Relatively little has been written about the role Canadian women played during WW11, the author sheds light with her first novel. “Birds Eye View” tells the story of Rose Jollife, a young woman from Saskatchewan whose town becomes an air training base.

This novel is more than an historical fiction for addicts. Its alluring storyline, rich prose, vivid description and captivating pace have kept me glued to every word till I reached the final chapter. The protagonist is a Canadian woman in uniform. Although, Rose is a fictional character and the town of Touchwood is a creation the events are factual. Rose joins the air force travels overseas and becomes an interpreter of aerial photographs. This is her story seen through Canadian eyes…..

Ms. Florence describes the prairies beautifully some will certainly recognized the landscape and the setting as North Battleford the actual location for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Throughout the war Rose has a bird’s eye view of the Canadian experience – at Dieppe, in the skies over Germany, on the beaches of Normandy and when Canada shared in the Allied victory. Reading her experiences is so captivating I thought I was there with her bending over photographs searching for details that don’t belong…..

To make this story as historically accurate as possible the author has definitely did an enormous amount of research and has succeeded in penning one of those captivating war story that honours a group of forgotten heroes.

This gem of historical fiction is an excellent read one that should please any historical buffs.

I received this ARC for review from Dundurn.com via Netgalleys

Saturday, July 1, 2017

"Goodnight from London", by Jennifer Robson

Ms. Robson historical fiction was inspired by the memoirs of her grandmother Myra Moir, a reporter, who worked on the women’s pages of the News-Herald. The author in her latest will transport us to London in the midst of the Blitzkrieg.

1940, American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break and moves to London to report on the Second World War as a staff member for Picture Weekly. But life in besieged Britain will test Ruby in ways unimaginable.

In a heartbeat I was immersed in a women’s fiction with strong romantic elements and fascinating accounts of life in England. The protagonist profession is a true part of the story I enjoyed particularly. It was much more than a simple filler, it was an excellent exploration of journalism as it was during that time: daring interviews nicely depicted. While in London, Ruby forms bonds with many friends and depends on their kindness to keep her going and since “Goodnight from London “is a mix of suspense and romance of course what else can we expect but to have Ruby fall for a captain in the military….. awe….Their romance was sweet and engaging as it slowly moved forward.

Ruby is one of those gutsy heroines that caught my interest from the first page, joining her is the slew of supporting cast that are equally captivating. It surely helps that they are likable characters. The authors’ prose and research shines through and it is easy to be pulled in especially when the ravished city is so expertly described. Closing each chapter are bits and pieces of articles that Ruby writes the words start by ”Dispatched from London by Miss Ruby Sutton” and her article is dated…..

This is a cozy and enjoyable read

I received a complimentary copy from HarperCollins through the Earlier Reviewer Program.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

"The Dubious SIM Team", by Gerald J. Kubicki and Kristopher Kubicki

Book # 26, in the Colton Banyon Mystery series

A more descriptive title to this mystery should be a fantasy/ science fiction venture. It all started million years ago when the world was populated with blue warriors, had intergalactic space ship, laser swords and gravity transport. The Sumi has been defeated and dangerous weapons are on demand. The Sim team has been tasked to find them. But they are not the only one after the deadly things.

This story happens after the “Sumi Collision”. I agree it is better to know the previous saga to understand this latest.

The story is a bit confusing with its collection of players SIM, Mafia warlords, the FBI, the fire department, the Effort…etc. all wanted to possess those laser swords and each will go to any length to be the first to get them. The main reason to read the previous installment is to put everyone into perspective. Of course the team is running out of time, Colton wants to destroy them, others want to keep them and Colton’s team struggles to find them.

The story is interesting with lots of fantasy, some history and is mostly a mystery that fits well in the series. The characterization is original and charming. The style is definitely not great literature but the simple and funny narrative makes the experience a good one. This series is a great escapism to reality…

I received a copy of this book from the author and I am happy to add it to my collection

Monday, June 19, 2017

"Dividing Zero", by Ty Patterson

Book #1, in the Gemini series

This spin off of the Warrior series features Beth and Meghan Petersen the two kick ass twin sisters who will be working for a deep black agency putting their lives on the line in the shadowy world of counter-terrorism. Their first mission in the leading rolls will be very unusual…..Their client is an eight year old girl.

All the books from Mr. Patterson have been action packed, no exception here. Beth and Meghan lead us into maze of twists and turns where nothing is as it seems. Once again I was into an exciting scenario that smoothly pulled me in and I stay hooked till the very last words. The storyline flows fast and furious and sleekly give a thrilling ride from start to finish. Zeb and the team do have minor roles but this time all eyes are on the sisters. This adventure is captivating, although simple is well-written to give the needed punch to keep us glued and flipping pages. As always, we find a thoughtful plot with well-developed characters. Nothing fancy just plain fun.

200 pages or so of entertainment is definitely not a taxing read. This is another book I am happy to have received from the author and glad to add it to my collection.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"The Trout", by Peter Cunningham

This is a well-crafted crisply written, gripping story of one man search for the crucial secret locked in his memory since childhood and the ability of whole societies to deny the evidence of their eyes.

When writer Alex Smyth receives a letter at his home in rural Bayport Ontario containing only a fishing lure, unsettling childhood memories are triggered. Alex thinks he may have killed another boy when he was seven, he then decides to return to Ireland to seek answers from his father.

Alex is the narrator and recounts events from both a child’s and an adult’s perspective. His voice is gentle almost mesmerizing it is easy to adapt to his tone. As the tale unfolds, the author artfully spins several stories at once: Ex: when Kay, Alex’s wife, alone has doubts about their marriage and has fears of a stalker we are into some interesting interludes.

It takes time to connect with the characters but when several layers of tension are introduced and memories crisscrossed with the present they immediately become accessible. The short chapters and a credible narrative keep the pages turning and the pacing holds up to the tension beautifully when it picks up. Serving simply as a metaphor and to provide a connecting thread in this delicate and powerful tale, the author has intercepted his narrative with brief and cogent paragraphs with the art of fly-fishing and its pursuit of the trout. (Interesting).

I had a hard time getting into this psychological thriller and staying focused during the initial section, it drags too much as it recounts the couple peaceful existence in Canada till mid-way threatened by Alex’s visions everything meshed and I understood where the author was leading. From then on I was hooked.

The last half of the book reveals the monstrous crime that took place in a country populated by good people who are conscious of the truth but prefer to leave it deep beneath the surface till one day they uncover the truth….it burst to light like the beautiful trout....

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss

"Aleutian Grave", by William Doonan

Book #4, in the Henry Grave series

With “Aleutian Grave” began my first experience both with the author and this series. I do preferred reading books in sequence, but at the time I simply judged the synopsis to answer my tastes and voilà without a second thought it was added to my library. Having done so did not remove any enjoyment I slipped nicely into a deferent kind of mystery and a very enjoyable one indeed.

Henry Grave is an elderly private investigator, an engaging and very unique 85 year old who works for the Association of Cruising Vessel Operators. Henry is very charming and eccentric fellow with a passion for food and liquor which he consumes a lot. Because of his advance age people underestimates his capabilities especially when he is loaded to the gills. But beware Henry is a hell of an investigator and will get to the bottom of any mystery.

In this installment the Russian ship falls prey to strange happenings: it started with the murder of Rose DeSilva, a cabaret dance, who was stabled to death and cannibalised. As the story moves on nicely, the ship falls prey to more treats and Henry navigates with skills the Aleutian myths that thrive on all decks of the Arctic cruise ship. “The Windigo” …..

As I was reading, the tone reminded me of “Dragnet “and its characters: slow and deep voice. The plot line is thin but is fun to read, humorous mostly although silly at times, rather entertaining most of the time and definitely worth spending time with if you like a refreshing change from most murder mysteries on the shelves these days.

This is an entertaining read not to take too seriously…..

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"King Peso", by Carmen Amato

Book # 4, in the Emilia Cruz Mysteries

If you like reading Police Procedural novels with a hint of romance and a dose of mystery, you will be well served and especially quite entertained with Detective Emilia Cruz sagas all taking place in beautiful Acapulco. A city with two faces: one for tourist and one to be fought over by drug cartels, hookers and thieves.

In this 4th installment, Emilia’s fellow detectives want her gone and the drug cartel her hide but she can take the heat, she is a smart cookie. There’s a cop killer on the loose and having worked with all of the victims Emilia takes this very personally.

Told from the protagonist deep views in a tough language with a sprinkling of Spanish words and good Mexican food we follow Emilia recently reassigned to an all-female squad. But a Detective is always a detective while performing her new duties at heart she plots out every clue, every connection to find out who was involved in the killing of her colleagues. All through the story we have sharp edged exchanges between Emilia and her partner Silvio, that grudging respect seem to never end, so is her steamy but rocky relationship with Kurt Rucker.

Although, the story is definitely focused on interpersonal relationships more than forensics “King Peso”, is nevertheless a captivating and a gripping mystery, quite a page turner and very hard to put down. Emilia is a well-rounded, fast thinking and very enjoyable character. The good guys and the bad guys are vividly painted and each fulfills beautifully their act. The characterization is strong and interesting. The style is easy to follow: clear and concise narration. The plot is not taxing one that keeps a steady pace with some twists and of course ends by luring us to the next saga “Pacific Reaper”.

Not being a challenging read, I really enjoyed “King Peso”, it was a nice break.

"The Underground Railroad", by Colson Whitehead

This is a moving and wildly inventive tale that shines a light on a very dark period of American history and tells how networks of black and white helped slaves escape to freedom decades before the Civil War.

The story chronicles the life of a teenage slave named Cora as she flees the Georgia plantation risking everything. Traveling Cora tried to elude bounty hunters, informers and lynch mobs with the help of a few railroad workers who were willing to risk their lives.

The novel jumps around in time and space and is quite fractured with interludes portraying other characters such as her friend Caesar and Ridgeway, the bounty hunter. The narrative is plain yet smoothly conveys the horrors of slavery: fear, humiliation, brutality and the loss of dignity. The author never flinches in portraying the worst of the slaves’ experiences even salting words with a racist undertone (nigger). The characters use the language of the period: examples: pickaninny and buck. I must admit it took some time to get used to this.

“The Underground Railroad” is an uneven book with great passages and some no so believable (railroad and tunnel scenes). It is great when it tells the story yet loses spunk when the imagination seems to be in over-drive. Although we have compelling snapshots of the life during that time, it missed the mark emotionally with a characterization that is simply underdeveloped…they seemed such a bunch of blah players…. This is a good book but I admit to have read far better and more captivating novels on slavery in America.

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Synopsis from the Pulitzer Prices site:

“For a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.”

Friday, May 26, 2017

"The Zookeeper's Wife", by Diane Ackerman

This non-fiction recounts how Antonina Zabinska and husband Jan Zabinski, directors of the Warsaw Zoo and active with the Polish underground resistance during WW11 managed to shelter over 300 Jews escaping from the doomed Warsaw ghetto and hide them at their villa and the zoo’s structures. Remarkably, only 2 of the “guests” were captured by the Nazis and murdered, the others survived. The book is based upon the writings of Antonina Zabinski –the true life zookeeper’s wife, survivor interviews and research.

Set within the gilded cage of the zoo with the horrors of the Holocaust playing out in the background the author who is a poet and naturalist tells a tale of animal camouflage techniques with human survival. The story plays out from the perspective of the Zabinskis and sometime the image is a bit strained. Although the narrative portrays compassion and courage it shies away showing the pain and suffering and adds little to the heroism of the people involved. Being a poet the author’s prose is flowery and filled with metaphors. We have superfluous details described at length: animals, bugs, piano playing etc., and yet barely tell how the people managed to survive. The story bounces around a lot the narrative mainly focusing on animals and unfortunately lost in the shuffle are our two heroes. The characterization is rather flat and could have been more developed and more sensitive yet again they were plunged into trying circumstances.

I join those saying this is a great story but the problem is the way it was transmitted: overly poetic and too centered on the animal world…..

"Fifty Shades Darker", by E.L. James

Book #2, in the Fifty Shades series

This series is definitely proof that a book doesn't have to be well written to be a best seller. I am not one to read erotic romance as a steady diet so I took a 5 years hiatus between installments before I succumbed to my friends rave about this series….curiosity got the better of me and I gave in….Well I am glad I waited this long between installments.

After all, this second book is a rehash of the first book, a kind of a soft-core bondage porn story that features two main characters: Anastasia a very young and adorable woman and Christian, a handsome and incredibly rich powerful man. Same as in the first book, “Fifty Shades of Darker” also becomes another sexually graphic romance with all the S&M unimaginable done in the state of the art playroom or anywhere else these two overly sexed people managed to find. The story is told from the point of views of Ana and not with a light touch. Lots of lewd language and opinions under the belts, especially Christian’s…definitely not literature and out of this world characterization.

The story doesn’t have much action actually there is near a total lack of plot. What there is concerns Anastasia’s troubles at work and Christian stalking by a former submissive partner. While the story moves on, some of the scenarios seemed to repeat themselves too frequently: the fights, the misunderstandings, his insecurity, her understanding and the “kinky-fuckery”and .....etc. all very redundant and extremely boring.

If you didn’t read the first book, “Fifty Shades of Darker” is not entirely unreadable as a standalone. I was glad when the first one ended but this second installment ends in a cliff-hanger, just enough tension to pique my interest to tackle book 3 “Fifty Shades Freed”. Who knows, I may not wait 5 years this time:), then again I may never pick it up…..

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"American Demon Hunters:Sacrifice", by J. Thorn

With the collaboration of Zach Bohannon, Lindsay Buroker and J.F. Penn

If you are a fan of horror, dark fantasy, mystery or paranormal suspense and love a plot that is fairly simple to grasp you will be pleased with this novella. It is quite an adventure taking us into a make believe world through 134 pages of chilling horror.

The authors meshed beautifully their part each taking the role of a character and blending their story into an eerie tale of demons, portals and gateways. Sonya (Thorn), Blake(Bohannon), Aiko( Buroker), Sebastian (Penn) board an Amtrak train from Chicago to New Orleans for 19 hours that will change their lives.

The train is the backdrop and where all the spooky action takes place. Demons escapes, body count rises and some will have to pay the ultimate sacrifice. The plot is definitely creative with no shortage of descriptive scenes: blood and guts, humans versus demons….ouf… this was one exhausting quick read.

I admit this is not my favourite kind of book although for a good part of the book I was deep into it till the action started to be too creepy for my taste. I lost a bit of interest yet I still stayed captivated till the end. I would say this is imagination at its best (or worse): so scary, so out of this world and definitely unbelievable ….. Thank goodness “Sacrifice” is a fantasy….

I received a review copy of this book from J.F. Penn

"Blood and Belonging", by Vicki Delany

This is a Rapid Reads novel with the entire characteristic that makes it a fast, easy and enjoyable read.

RCMP sergeant Ray Robertson is on leave from his job in Haiti and is vacationing with his wife in the Turks and Caicos Islands when one morning jogging on the beach he discovers a body on the surf, the dead man he recognizes as a Haitian police recruit. Once a Cop, always a cop. He needs to finds out what happened……

Of course a novel that is barely over 100 pages sees a case that is easily solved or has a fast wrap up but as in the previous books getting there is what makes the mystery captivating. As Ray follows the leads he finds himself into the world of human trafficking: Haitian looking for a better live exploited by shady people. A very timely subject indeed. Of course the mystery unravels and becomes complicated…….

I like this series and appreciate Vicki Delany’s concise with no frills or long sentences style. She has a way to make a captivating plot within the limited pages she has to do it in. The story is simple yet not boring and all along she has stayed true to her character.

When one is limited with time, this book is a great escapism.

I received the ARC through the Early Reviewer Program

Saturday, May 13, 2017

"The Thirst", by Jo Nesbo

Book # 11 in the Harry Hole series

Our unorthodox detective is back, facing another killer, one that will remind him of an old nemesis in his past. In this chilling and emotionally charged mystery Harry is drawn back to the Oslo police force and soon is on the tail of a serial killer working the streets and targeting people using the online dating service, Tinder.

This is a crime fiction at its best: gritty, atmospheric, violent and gripping. “The Thirst” is top notch writing and one of the bloodiest novels written by Mr. Nesbo. I was immediately drawn into a dark police investigation and as the layers slowly revealed themselves I was not only caught up in a cat-and- mouse chase but also in a twisted and breathless journey into the mind of a depraved killer. What a razor-sharp and masterfully plotted “The Thirst” is. Not to forget the vivid and wonderful although rather complex characters that populate the pages, what more can we wish for.

OK, this novel is brutally violent and the story is laced with melancholy but take it from me this is one gripping white-knuckle ride that deploys all the key ingredients of a cracking good thriller: Tension expertly ratcheted upwards, effortlessly shifting objectives and scenery and a tempo that will outpace our ability to guess the outcome. What an ending…..

I received this ARC for review from Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalleys

"The Agent", by Mark Dawson

Book #3, in the Isabella Rose Thrillers series

Michael Pope and Isabella Rose are still caught up in a conspiracy and the exciting drama continues with act #3. As the pair travels across the globe trying to find out what is going on, we as readers are plunged into an amazing and suspenseful plot that has us turning pages at a rapid pace to see if they will eventually make it out of their predicaments in one piece. Again this latest is part of a series that in my views should be read in sequence although some may say “The Agent” also works well as a standalone novel.

Mark Dawson is an excellent story teller and has always offered an action packed and fast paced thriller. He knows how to hold our attention from the opening page and keep us interested till the very end with never ending action. But this time, beware, the story does not connect all the loose threads and ends quite abruptly, leaving us to believe a fourth book is in the making (I really do not mind, I simply can’t get enough of Pope and Isabella).

Pope and Isabella hunt is a race against time, a chase that will bring them from the slums of Mumbai to the wealth of Shanghai and to America. As the story moves on, Pope sees an opening to rescue his family and put an end once and for all at being the main target of hit men sent by the Manage Risk Team.

Again we find a great storyline, captivating to no end, populated with determined characters we can’t help but to root for. Maia, a new evil character, is a wonderful addition that gives a total different spin and one I am eager to see more of. Of course as in the other novels, all is said in a clear, vivid and appropriate language. This is a great installment that clearly deserves high marks from me.

This book follows “The Angel” book #1 and “The Asset” book #2.

I received this review copy from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalleys

Sunday, May 7, 2017

"The Moscow Code", by Nick Wilkshire

Book # 2, in A Foreign Affairs Mystery

My favourite bureaucrat is back. Charlie Hillier (love this character) is eager to start his next posting. Moscow bound he comes….It doesn’t take long before he is working a fresh case….and follows the sparse clues that will bring him too close to dangerous powers that he and his client could have ever imagined ….Soon finding what happened becomes less important than getting out of the country……..

I enjoy reading Mr. Wilkshire storylines: they are a snappy quick and light read, have interesting premises and are well-written with to the point narration and clean dialogue. Most of all, the experience is very visual and cleverly entertaining.

Hillier, you have to love this guy, plays the role of a bureaucrat but is actually a likeable sleuth that is thrust into events beyond his control. Moscow is not Havana, his last gig, and the players are definitely not of the same calibre. They mostly play the game by their rules and Hillier soon finds himself at the wrong end of the stick…….

This story kept me interested from page one and I zipped through it in no time so captivated to see how Hillier would pull out of this predicament to save the day and his damsel in distress…awe… of course there has to be one…:)

I simply loved this story and can’t wait for Hillier's next assignment.

I received this ARC for review from Dundurn.com via Edelweiss

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"Heart of Gold", by Warren Adler

Mr. Adler has written a story that has kept me guessing, wanting more and flipping pages to see what this suspenseful and intriguing drama will lead to. He hasn’t disappointed me, as in the past this latest has provided all the unpredictability I enjoy. This is a genuine page turner with all the essential ingredients to make it a captivating thriller and a best-selling book.

Seems that search for Nazi gold is the topic of choice these days. “Heart of Gold” is the third book I have read lately on the subject of treasures taken from victims during WW11. Here we have Milton Gold a hustling lawyer hired by Karla to find her inheritance of one-hundred millions dollars in gold coins hidden by her father from the Nazi during the war.

When the hunt started, the thrills began and I couldn’t help but to keep holding my breath as Milton and Karla brushed close encounters and attacks from those who wanted to get their hands on the pot…..negotiating with foreign government was another challenge and getting the loot out wasn’t a piece a cake either….but a thrilling ride for the reader.

This is a dramatic and suspenseful action packed journey filled with climatic scenes and populated with a diverse cast of characters.

“Heart of Gold” is a provocative psychological story released at a time when threats and acts of hatred are made around the world, especially towards the Jewish community.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author

Friday, April 28, 2017

"New Boy", by Tracy Chevalier

This is the author’s contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series

Ms. Chevalier has given a contemporary spin to William Shakespeare’s “Othello” and has transported the tragedy to a 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard where a disastrous chain of events follows a black student’s arrival at a white elementary school.

Osei Kokote is the new kid in town, son of a Diplomat, he has moved a lot and became quite adept at dealing with being the only black kid in a white environment. To survive his first day he knows he needs an ally and he found one in Dee, the most popular girl in the school. But that alliance doesn’t please everyone. Ian vouches to put an end and crush their friendship…… By the end of the day pupils and teachers will be deeply affected……

The themes of racism, love, jealousy, revenge and repentance are revived in “New Boy” mix in racing hormones and place the drama in a schoolyard and you have a dynamic setting that is bound to be shocking and not end well. The author schoolyard depiction is right on: the clashes between kids, the hierarchies among them, their game, their emotions, etc. and how the adults react to bullying and racism. The book is easy to read, entertaining and a well-presented glimpse of schoolyard manipulation. It is a short novel that unfolds quickly and ends abruptly. Actually I had to reread the ending a few times to see if I hadn’t lost some pages….

“New Boy”, is unique way to live one day in the life of a group of sixth graders.


I received this ARC from Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalley

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"War,Spies, And Bobby Sox", by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Stories About World War Two at Home

This novel contains three fast-reading tales that depicts the tumultuous effect of war on the home front. Chicago is the backdrop and where the action takes place.

Contents:

The Incidental Spy (a novella) was originally published in 2015.
“The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared” was published in 2005.
P.O.W. (a novella) will be published for the first time in 2017.

Taken at large from real events, the author has used her wild imagination to give us a glimpse on what may have happened to people caught up during this tumultuous time. The stories are short and sweet, written with passion and very engaging. “The Incidental Spy” is clever story that brush on the Manhattan Project and the spies who wanted its secrets. “POW” is a love story involving a young farm girl and a Nazi prisoner of war. Finally, “The Day Mariam Hirsch Disappeared” recounts the disappearance of a beautiful Jewish actress and a possible espionage ring days before Pearl Harbor.

I loved these stories I was drawn in from the get-go and stayed immersed into their plots till the very end. Even being novellas the stories are complete with suspense and progresses at a good pace, have excellent plot lines and well-rounded characters. A bit of romance didn’t hurt as well making the lives of the people involved all too real.

I received this ARC from the author for an honest and unbiased review

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Nazi Gold", by Tom Bower

This book was first published in 1997 and republished as an Ebook by Open Road Media in March 2017. I received an invitation by the publisher to read and review this book via NetGalleys.

Tom Bower, a British journalist, chronicles the 50 years of greed between the Third Reich and the government of Switzerland and the Swiss banking industry. Millions of dollars, gold pilfered from occupied country including gold teeth extracted from the mouth of those murdered were hidden away in Swiss bank accounts. The crimes didn’t end with the end of the war. The Swiss authorities hid the wealth from the rightful owners for the next half a century. Finally when a class action was launched by the Wold Jewish Congress against the Swiss banks a settlement was reached and millions of dollars were released in the late 90’s.”Nazi Gold” tells how it took a huge amount of time and patience to reach a fair conclusion.

Mr. Bower not doubt has put his heart into writing an account in great details. It seemed well-researched with first rate sources to back his statements. I was quite interested for part of the book but after a while the narration became too technical, highly colourful and particularly overwhelming. I found to presentation to be done in a journalistic manner: rather cold and in a sharp tone. Mid way, I thought things were going in circle and I lost interest, the writing was somewhat repetitious so I kept skipping parts to see the outcome in this grizzle chapter of history. Even if I was not totally captivated by this book it nevertheless gave me a better appreciation of the Swiss government involvement with Germany and the perfidies of the Swiss banking system.