Required Reading

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Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Unworthy, Star Trek Voyager by Kirsten Beyer

Once again the Trekkies head into action and danger. The Voyager heads into the dangers of the Delta Quadrant to face the Borg or is it Caeliar gestalt. The characters are the plot, the story is secondary.

Admittedly as I guy, I still find anything about 7 of 9 intriguing. The story seems like just a framework for the characters that populate the Voyager version of StarTrek. I am still a fan of Spock and Kirk and frankly never got the same rush from the Voyager crew. I think that fans of the Voyager version will enjoy the book. I don’t think it is a book that a non-trekkie is going to pick up. If you haven’t been in previous touch with the inhabitants of this version of StarTrek I suspect you won’t really care for the book. I saw nothing wrong with the craftsmanship or the plot, just too much depended on previous knowledge.

I recommend the book to practically any version of Trekkie. .

Body of work of Kirsten Beyer

Web Site None Found


Monday, October 26, 2009

Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman

The Vin Lands are plagued by a mystery. Unknown magic stalks the land hidden in chance occurrences. Vineart Malech takes an apprentice, Jerzy, who shows surprising adeptness. The book focuses on how Vineart Malech and his apprentice Jerzy approach the strange occurrences in their land.

The harsh nature of a Vineart selection was a bit dismaying but fit the plot perfectly. The art of wine making fit well with developing this fantasy. Jerzy was a likeable and believable character who by book’s end acquires some unlikely allies in his quest to discover what type of magic is infecting the land. It appears that all segments of his society are being impacted with this mysterious magic. I can only hope a multi book quest develops henceforth.

I strongly recommend the book and hope a sequel is close on it’s heels.

Body of work of Laura Anne Gilman

Review:            Web Site:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Atlantis Code by Charles Brokaw

Move over Da Vinci Code, another new Vatican centric novel. Mix together a hidden secret, a rogue Cardinal, a world renowned linguist, a TV producer and a Russian cop and you get a mélange of excitement. A simple translation assignment thrusts a college professor into a maelstrom of intrigue.

Brokaw paints vivid characters with strong characteristics. His main protagonist, Thomas Lourds, is a world famous linguist of immense sex appeal who unlike Indiana Jones attempts to avoid any physical confrontation outside of the bedroom. Lourds avoids being a caricature by being rescued from harm by his female companions. Initially Leslie, the TV producer, appears to be violence accomplished and a prime protector of the good Dr. However Natashya, the Russian cop, arrives on the scene and brings new meaning to the words lethal weapon. The evil villains show no redeeming characteristics. In spite of the broad brush, I thoroughly enjoyed this rollicking novel. Don’t anticipate a great deal of cerebral activity just lean back and relish the action.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Charles Brokaw


Web Site: none found

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ring of Fire by P. D. Baccalario

A small hotel in Rome receives several unexpected guests. The children of the guests discover a commonality that bonds them together. The four children face adversity with courage and ingenuity and working at a millennium old secret.

This was a very entertaining book. I enjoyed the interaction of the teens and felt that it was realistic. The intricacy of the plot provided thought provoking action. The millennium old secret tantalizes with it’s obscurity. The kids are not painted as infallible which reinforces the authenticity of the story.

This is the beginning of a series and should be enough to captivate the readers to buy and read the remainder of the series.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of P. D. Baccalario

Web Site


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Sale Just saw

First Sale Just saw my first copy of "Daddy Goes On A Trip" was sold on Amazon. WhooHoo! This is so much fun!

Nerds by Michael Buckley

The class bully discovers that popularity can’t conquer all. He joins a group, he perceives as less gifted, and discovers a new depth to his character. The entire time the group is fighting an attempt to literally restructure the world.

I am not the appropriate demographic for this book. However young in heart I might be, I’m not sure I can get all the way back to middle school. I suspect my 11 year old grandson is going to love this book. My guess is that Buckley nailed his target market. The trials and tribulations of being “different” in middle school are delved while being entertained with a astoundingly overblown Bondesque spy thriller. Images, scenarios and plots of preposterous nature seem to be highly appealing to this age group. They are able to suspend their connection to reality and dive into the base humor and broad gags. Sadly, I enjoyed the book which probably says something about my level of maturity.

I recommend the book and it may be of particular value to the reluctant reader.

Body of work of Michael Buckley

Web Site None Found


Sunday, October 18, 2009

9 Dragons by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is once again on the ropes with his peers. Harry seldom plays well with others. There is a murder, Harry takes is personally. The results involve Harry and his family, the cities of LA and Hong Kong and a diverse cast of characters.

Connelly always does a nice job setting the stage. Bosch is a hero who is hard to like. Prickly doesn’t begin to describe him. Harry’s passionate love of his daughter is one of his few redeeming characteristics. I found my self reading as I walked, went down the stair, brushing my teeth, this book should be declared a health hazard. Calling it captivating and action packed hardly does it justice.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Michael Connelly

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

On days like this a

On days like this a good book, a comfortable chair and a warm afghan seems so appropriate. That is a knitted type afghan as opposed to a newsworthy combatant.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Daddy Goes On A Trip

"Daddy Goes On A Trip" passed final edit.
Available Soon on Amazon!

Dead Men’s Boots by Mike Carey

An exorcist seeks to find out why a peer committed suicide. In a world where possession, demons, werewolves and exorcists are common, death has a new meaning.

I liked Felix Castro. He is a character you can identify with as far as his guilt of past actions and his desire to right wrongs he may have perpetrated. Fix is an exorcist with a highly developed conscience. He exercises his exorcist talents by sending ghosts beyond. His talents are strong but limited. I liked that he wasn’t just a two dimensional comic book character. I don’t read a great deal of the supernatural fiction so some of the terms and characters could have been better defined for the novice reader. There was plenty of action and the story certainly held my interest. There were subplots within the main plot and Carey did an excellent job wrapping up all of the loose ends and creating a seamless story.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Mike Carey

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Interview with Kelly Jameson Author of DEAD ON

Kelly Jameson is a vibrant, enthusiastic, outgoing author who has been kind enough to answer a few questions about writing and her book.   I met Kelly at a Mystery Author's Book Signing and we exchanged email addresses.   After chatting a bit we discovered I know her parents, which once again pointed out to me that I am one old dude.  Rather that whining and wallowing in my age related self pity, move along to an enlightening author interview with KELLY JAMESON author of DEAD ON!  BTW if I was giving out awards for covers, this one would be a winner, it is truly haunting!

1.)Can you give a brief description of your book? 
Dead On is an indie thriller that was film-optioned for 2 years. It’s about a medical examiner in Doylestown, PA, who’s being chased through time by the same killer.

2.) Why did you write this book? What initiated this particular burst of creativity?
I’ve always been a writer as far back as a remember. It was always my dream to be a novelist. When my son was born, I had an epiphany. As a full-time working mother, I realized, I’m never going to have extra time. If I want to do this now, I have to find a way. I wrote while my son napped and during lunch breaks and wrote things down on napkins at red lights. I worked with a local life-coach, Gayle Crist, on my writing goals. I think being sleep deprived actually helped me because my internal critic was ‘down’. I had a finished book and decided to publish it myself. Writing makes me a better mom and my son can see that hard work pays off and has it’s own rewards. However, this is a fiction book for adults with adult themes. My son won’t be reading it until he’s 17 or 18.

3.) Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?
Great question. It took me a long time to realize that I am not an outline writer. I begin with a character and a what if situation and if the character is compelling enough, like Ann Yang, the fictional medical examiner in Doylestown who has lived several past lives, the plot develops from the character. In this instance, Ann must stop a killer in the present who claims to have killed her before, in other lifetimes. She must use all her forensic skills—as well as the unconventional method of past-life regression, or hypnosis to remember the past lives—to stop the killer for good. Every writer is different and each writer should trust and believe in the method that works best for him or for her, whether it’s outlining or character development.

4.) Do you have a favorite character in your book and if so why?
This is a tough one. I love the tough character of Ann Yang, who is willing to see things out of the box to solve crimes, but I love the character Ruth, in a past life in the early 1900s in Doylestown too. She’s a girl who is confused about who she is and doesn’t have anyone to talk to. Her parents are beaten down and don’t treat her well, and this was very difficult for me to write, because I have really great parents who always nurtured me and still support me. I deliberately pick characters to write about who are completely different from myself but who I can relate to in some way. That way, I feel like I learn something about life.

5.) What do you like the most about writing?
I feel like writing gives me hope. It helps me deal with the way the world is and with things I don’t understand. It’s like in the story and movie Big Fish—one of the best stories about stories I’ve ever read/watched. The main character tells extraordinary tales to feel less ordinary. I love to play with language and create.

6.) Where do your new story ideas come from?
It’s hard to say. For me, as a writer, I like not knowing where all these things come from. It’s leaves a bit of magic in the process. I think sometimes it’s the subconscious that churns things over and spits out the most unexpected ideas at times. Combine that with just listening to conversations around you while you are out and about—sometimes you get really great lines of dialogue you can turn into a story. Reading the paper and reading, reading, reading. I am constantly reading. I am in love with books and language. And let’s face it, we all love to be entertained and to escape the sometimes tedium routine of our daily lives.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
Well first my parents have given me a great gift in helping me to believe I could do this. Also, the support of my family, friends, and fellow writers who struggle with the same challenges when writing and trying to get published. I have several really good writing books that I pull out and re-read too. Ray Bradbury’s book Zen in the Art of Writing; Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg; also some writing books by Gail Sher, especially One Continuous Mistake. The best teacher too is just sitting down and doing it. That’s how you learn. And last but certainly not least, the readers. I’ve met many wonderful people who’ve read my book who became good friends.

8.) What is the favorite book you have written?
That’s a tough one. I had so much fun writing Dead On. I actually interviewed a past-life regressionist and spiritual channeler in Doylestown, Jean Finch, while writing the book. Fascinating. For my second novel, Shards of Summer, I interviewed a three-star general, an FBI agent, set it in a place I love—Ocean City, New Jersey. I recently completed a novella set in Post-Katrina New Orleans that I’m really excited about. It’s about a woman whose fourth husband tries to kill her during the hurricane by chaining her to a radiator in the hopes that she’ll drown. She has to cut her own hand off to survive. She believes she’s van Gogh reincarnated and beings to paint murals over the homes in the Ninth Ward spray painted by the government with Xs to indicate the number of dead inside. This novella was recently named one of the top 14 books in an international 2009 Leapfrog Press fiction contest; nearly 500 blind entries were received from 10 countries and my book as in the top 3% of the winner. I’d really like to do something special with this book, get it published and perhaps do some signings to raise money for people still rebuilding their lives in New Orleans. I’m also working on a really fun zombie novel right now and a fourth novel involving werewolves.

9.) Who is your favorite author and why?
So many! Charles Bukowski, Ken Bruen, Susanna Moore, Alice Sebold to name a few….

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
Believe and keep running the race. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and publishing is not the only reward. There are many rewards.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day By Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne

Unbeknownst to me there is a Zombie story genre. This is a Zombie story and that alone seems to attract a loyal following. The protagonist is an active duty military officer in a nation that is combating an unknown disease. The disease turns out to be Zombieism (?) and the bulk of the world is infected. The story centers on the survival of the few remaining uninfected humans.

My initial reaction to the story was disdain. Zombies have never caught my attention. Bourne wrote the story as if it was a journal. He did a nice job capturing the qualities of the protagonist that enabled him to be a survivor. The book surprised me in that I liked it. It held my attention and if you changed the word Zombie to evil bikers or Nazi’s it seemed like just a good story. The action was solid and the close brushes with death seemed realistic. I still have trouble with the concept of Zombies but then there are probably some poor souls out there who have trouble conceptionalizing a dragon or troll.

Ignore the label of A Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Novel and read this, it was surprisingly good and I recommend it.

Body of work of J.L. Bourne

Review                  WebSite

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Even Money by Dick And Felix Francis

Teddy Talbot is a bookie. He laments over the lack of respect that bookies get in the UK. This is a tale of his job, the travails he faces, his wife’s mental illness and his families curious history.

I was initially annoyed at the painstaking detail of the world of the legal bookie. It did end up setting the appropriate stage. Teddy was painted as an ordinary guy who faced some extraordinary events with creativity and panache. The setting of the UK horse racing community was colorful and well portrayed. I enjoyed the detailing of how high tech the security of the racing community is. The plot was intricate without being painfully so. It held my interest and you didn’t sniff out all of the nuances until the end.

I recommend the book, it was a good mystery.

Body of work of Dick Francis
Review        Website

Saturday, October 3, 2009

An Interview with Penelope Przekop Author of Aberrations

Thank you Penelope for taking the time to answer a few questions on being an author and on your new book.   I met Penelope at a book signing at Borders books a few weeks ago.  A delightfully friendly person who was kind enough to be willing to be on my blog.  Not only is Penelope an author she is also an artist.  Talk about a Renaissance Woman, Wow!  I have included links to her book, her site, her blog and her art below.   It is well worth your time to check out this fascinating woman.

1.) Can you give a brief description of your published books?

My first book, Six Sigma for Business Excellence was published by McGraw-Hill in 2005. It speaks to middle management about how they can incorporate the underlying principles of Six Sigma (a popular quality management philosophy and methodology) into their day to day. I'd been writing fiction for years when I had the opportunity to publish with McGraw-Hill. In 2008, my first novel, Aberrations, was published by Greenleaf Book Group. Aberrations is about a young narcoleptic woman whose life has been overshadowed by the mysterious death of her mother. The coming-of-age drama explores how a unique family mystery influences the lives of those left in its wake. Aberrations was a book blogger top 10 for 2008.

2.) Which one is you most recent book?  Why did you write this book?  What initiated this particular burst of creativity?

Aberrations is my most recent published work. Aberrations was the perfect avenue to explore my own emotions and internal questions about love and parenting. It enabled me to consider my own history with having a mother who suffers from mental illness, my leap into parenthood as a young unwed mother in the Deep South, and the experience I've had related to adoption. I began writing Aberrations shortly after my first literary agent passed away. I already had the story and characters in my head, and decided to write a second book rather than look for a new agent to represent my first novel. I was ready and excited about pouring all I'd learned writing the first novel into the second.

3.) Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?

I've become quite methodical over time with my writing. I establish all the characters, overall plot, major themes, etc. prior to typing the first line. I create a high level outline of the entire book, and then work my way through it. This allows room for ongoing creativity yet keeps me on a path. This worked extremely well for me as I wrote my last novel, and I plan to stick with this method.

4.) Do you have a favorite character in any of your books and if so why?

This is a tough question because I love them all. With that said, I do have a soft spot for Angel, the protagonist in Aberrations, as well as Carla, her step-mother. I absolutely love Peyton, the protagonist of my first novel, Boundaries (yet to be published), because she is most like me at her age ... and so close to my heart.

5.) What do you like the most about writing?

I love how writing seems to best reflect who I am. It seems that I can never quite express myself verbally in such a way to capture or nail down exactly who I am. When I write, it appears for me. I see it and it makes me feel understood and accounted for in a way that I'm not otherwise seen or found. Perhaps it seems odd, but literally seeing what was in my head transformed to paper gives me a bizarre satisfaction. I began painting a couple of years ago, and the same concept applies for me. Words are like the building blocks of music and art. Like art, they seem to be images I can use to create something unique. I like that.

6.)  Where do your new story ideas come from?  

I've written three novels so far and my process has evolved. At this point, what interests me the most is tossing a bunch of seemingly unrelated topics together to create a unique plot. I then mold it together using creativity and the original goals for the work (themes, etc.). I have to write about topics that I have a deep interest in or a burning desire to learn about. Otherwise I'd get bored.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?

The advice that has stuck in my head for years, is to write about things that, at a deep level, are emotionally scary to you or that make you feel uncomfortable. The premise is that these may be the topics that actually have significant emotional meaning to you. Of course, there's all kinds of writing, but this hit home for me. It gave me a type of internal meter to find my topics. So far, I think it's worked.

8.) What is the favorite book you have written?

This question is akin to asking which of my kids I love the most. I can't choose! I love them for different, equally powerful reasons.

9.) You have written fiction and non-fiction, which do you enjoy writing more and why?

I absolutely enjoy fiction the most! Fiction is what I've always wanted to write; however, when I had the opportunity to do a book for McGraw-Hill, I was NOT going to turn it down. I did enjoy writing the book. I actually found it easier than writing fiction. I love writing my blog, Aberration Nation, which is all non-fiction. I've written a couple of non-fiction book proposals in the last year, so I'd like to continue on that path to a certain extent. But in the end, fiction is my first love!

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?

After years of keeping at it, and seeing the slow but steady rewards, my advice to want to be writers is this:

-- If it's who you are, never give up. Baby steps can take you a long way.
-- If there's something you love to do more, do that. It's a difficult road to travel filled with rejection (but worth it if you fit in the category above).
-- Study as much as you can about the craft of writing, and read, read, read!
-- Build connections in the publishing industry and foster them over time. This is not only how you'll learn more, but perhaps how you'll ultimately get your words in print.
-- Develop thick skin and a soft heart.

Links for Penelope are:
Agent: Christi Cardenas (

YouTube trailer for Abberrations

Penelope's latest painting." Stuck Inside"