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, December 30, 2010

Boiling Point by K.L. Dionne

Scientists deal with their ethics, morals and personal frailty as they tackle pollution, volcanic eruption and global warming.

This is not a tale for any with a weak heart. Ms. Dionne plunges into contemporary controversy and personal relationships from page one. She uses the issue of global warming and possible scientific solutions to set her stage and then uses an erupting volcano to add drama. It sounds complicated but it works very well. You are draw into the characters concerns and personalities while the action is fueled by the awesome power of a volcanic eruption.

This book forces you to ponder the questions of global warming and the ethics behind individual responsibility for both creating and solving such dramatic issues.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of K. L. Dionne

Web site:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unforgivable by Laura Griffin

Romantic suspense, who knew that was a genre? I learn something new every day and this is a correctly named genre. Well done suspense with steamy interludes. Mia Voss is a DNA expert who finds herself targeted due to her expertise. She finds protection and much, much more from Detective Ric Santos.
I have to admit that preceding the word suspense with romantic nearly convinced me not to read the book. I’m not a fan of the romance genre. Ms. Griffin successfully blends suspense with strong romantic overtones. I found the book entertaining and fast paced and I suspect my wife will find the romantic aspects a little more appealing than I did. This seems to fit the current mainstream perchance for crossovers whether it is in vehicles or books.

The author did accurately portray the inability to address emotions and feelings that many men share. I also liked the strength of character portrayed by the females in the story. They were strong and able without losing any femininity. Perhaps if more authors portrayed women as successful, confident characters the stereotypes of yesteryear could finally be eradicated. .

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Laura Griffin

Web site:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fireships by David Drake

Fireships is the third book in the Reaches series. This book deals with Sarah Blythe, a starship captain, and her need for revenge. An attempt to hijack her ship by federation minions results in several crew members dying. Her righteous indignations propel her into the chaos of the Venus rebellion.

While mildly entertaining, I didn’t like this series nearly as much as many other Drake books. The battles and action Drake portrays are always exciting. The implacable presence of Stephen Gregg and his search for a personal soul gives a strong character to ponder. The Venus rebellion and it’s “privateers” are by Drakes admission, modeled on Sir Francis Drake’s exploits. Drake also notes that Sir Francis was not a relative. I liked the character interplay between Gregg, Piet and Sarah. The anguish Gregg demonstrates seemed very real. Even though I don’t feel this is as good as some of the other Drake work, the worst of David Drake is generally better than most other authors. I recommend the book but you really want to read “Igniting the Reaches” and “Through the Breach” before reading this.

Body of work of David Drake

Web Site:

Review: none found

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mage-Guard of Hamor L.E. Modesitt Jr.

In the continuing saga of Recluce, Modesitt picks up the threads of Rahl, the exiled natural order mage. Exiled from Recluce because his strength and his talent were frightening to the establishment, Rahl suffered a high level of abuse in the last book. In this book, working with Taryl, the former Triad, Rahl begins to gain control of his considerable talent. The intrigue and maneuverings of the various Hamorian factions leads to action and war.

L. E. Modesitt Jr. is a master in keeping you involved. I have enjoyed the entire Recluce series. Modesitt paints his characters with perception and compassion. You feel like you are relating to a real human being. Rahl’s love for Deybri, the healer, is portrayed with honest frustration. In the real world, relationships are never simple and Modesitt takes the time to accurately portray a complicated relationship. Rahl’s relationship with Taryl is no less complicated with mysterious overtones.

This is a great story, it can be read alone and stand on it’s own merit’s but if you are not reading the Recluce saga, I highly recommend both the series and this book.

Body of work of L.E. Modesitt


Thursday, December 16, 2010

For Love of Mother-Not by Alan Dean Foster

This is the first of the Pip and Flinx stories. Pip is an Alaspinian mini-dragon. Flinx is an orphan with interesting talents. Flinx is the unwitting target of both law enforcement and an underground outlaw group. Avoiding entrapment by either group is the gist of the story.

I have enjoyed the Pip and Flinx stories over the years and have carefully kept them for my grandson. I was delighted to find this first volume to set the scene for the later books.

Flinx and Pip have a relationship that is beyond the boy and his pet type. They are interdependent, more so than Flinx realizes. The story is the beginning of a coming of age saga. It is classic, old school scifi and I really liked it.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Alan Dean Foster

Web Site:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three by Ted Dekker

Kevin Parsons is studiously pursuing a degree in divinity when he becomes stalked by a demented purveyor of unmigated terror. Confused as to why he has been singled out as a target, Kevin reaches out to his only long term friend Samantha. Samantha and Jennifer from the FBI pursue the perpetrator of dismay to the shocking end.

Once again Dekker does a masterful job forcing the reader to ponder what truly defines mental illness. Mr. Dekker leads you through a convoluted and stressful story of a tormented soul and who is really the tormentor. He keeps your attention throughout while forcing you to ponder the basic premises of good and evil and the dichotomy thusly illustrated. The characters are well portrayed and it is difficult not to sympathize with their frustrations. This is an excellent mystery and study of basic human nature.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Ted Dekker

Web site:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Free Book and Free T-Shirt

A New Giveaway
a new heroic fantasy novel

Inter-Galatic First prize
is a copy of the book, a poster and Thrall T-Shirt!
(Shipping is restricted to the known universe and this dimension only, alternate worlds and universes need not enter.)

See Details and Enter At Azure Dwarf!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Interview With John L. Betcher, Author of The 19th Element

John, after looking at your web site, I can see you do your research. On behalf of both myself and my readers, I would like to thank you for your taking the time to be interviewed.

Coach Betcher
Thanks. That’s very kind of you.

1) Your novels seem to be quite a step away from both your legal career and your volleyball book, THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF VOLLEYBALL COACHING, Insights From the Trenches. Why did you write The19th Element? What initiated this particular burst of creativity?
Just before I penned the volleyball book, Coaching Volleyball Magazine – a national volleyball coaching publication – had featured my picture and a recent volleyball article on their cover. It was the April/May, 2009 issue. I like to joke that the USA Olympic Gold-Medal-Winning Men's Volleyball Coach, Hugh McCutcheon, had to wait until June to get his picture on the same magazine's cover. That statement is true. But it certainly has nothing to do with my story being more important than his. It's just a fun tidbit to tell.

For about eight years before publication of that volleyball article, I had been involved with youth volleyball in my home town. Writing volleyball articles for Coaching Volleyball – there were three articles in all – was a natural offshoot of the experiences I was seeing play out before me in the volleyball coaching world.

I coached my last year in 2008 - 2009. That spring, my youngest daughter graduated from high school. With her advancement beyond youth sports . . . and a concurrent decrease in my involvement therein . . . I had spare time on my hands.

One night my wife, who loves to read mysteries and thrillers, was lamenting that she was running out of good books to read. She suggested to me that I spend some of my new-found leisure on trying to fix that situation.

I had a few ideas. I was intrigued by a new challenge and all the learning that would accompany it. So I dove in. I found I enjoyed both the writing and the learning, and haven't looked back since.

2.) Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?
The main plot is pretty well fixed before I write the first word of the book. This is because I do lots of research before writing, including frequent in-person interviews. The story forms during the research stage.

Other than side plots and red herrings, the story line is, as you say, a gestalt – an already functioning unit – by the time I start my first draft.

3.) This appears to be your second novel. Was the creative experience any different for this book than for The Missing Element?

You are correct that I published The Missing Element a few months before The 19th Element. But The 19th Element is the first book in the Beck suspense/thriller series. Why?

I started writing The 19th Element first. Then I set it aside to gain some distance from the first draft. While I was busy “distancing,” I decided to write The Missing Element.

As it turned out, my writing skills had improved from book one to book two – so much so, that I actually finished book two first. Confused yet?

Since it was “done”, I published The Missing Element. But I continued to re-write and re-edit The 19th Element until I could maneuver my flawed first novel into a book I was proud of.

At present, I’m pleased with both books. But I know the third book in the series will be better still. There’s nothing like exercising that writing muscle to make it strong.

4.) Do you have a favorite character in this book and if so why?
I’d have to say my favorite character in The 19th Element is Bull. He’s an American Indian with an enigmatic past. No one, including me, knows much about his history.

I know he has military skills and is fiercely loyal to Beck. But I want to know what he’s been up to for the past twenty years. And most of all, I want to know what makes him tick. I pretty sure I’ll find out some of these answers in book three.

5.) What do you like the most about writing?
Researching is my favorite part. In writing two novels, and researching a third, I’ve had the pleasure of – trap shooting with a cop; taking a ride in a small plane with an avionics expert; learning the world INSIDE computer chips from a technology company president; talking nuclear chemistry with (guess who) a nuclear chemist; learning about drug trade from a Drug Task Force Officer; and maybe my favorite so far, discussing tactics, terminology and weaponry with a retired Army Ranger over a few beers.

6.) Where do your new story ideas come from?
On a macro scale, my stories arise out of life and the people around me. Not just family and friends – but society in general. When I write a book, I want it to be relevant in today’s world.

On a different level, plotlines develop out of the give and take discussions I hold with expert consultants. Usually, I look at the world from different perspectives than they do – at least when it comes to their areas of expertise.

For instance, I once asked a drug enforcement officer if he thought it would be possible for someone to operate a large scale meth production facility in our county without being discovered. He said “No.”

Then we spent ten minutes discussing specific law enforcement tactics, sources of information, and logistics concerning meth operations. Once I had learned how law enforcement works to fight meth production, I proposed a scenario that he agreed would, indeed, be plausible.

He knew the ways cops catch criminals. He didn’t know the artifices of the criminals who never get caught.

There’s always a clever way for the unexpected to be accomplished. I try to make my bad guys clever – and my good guys even more so.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
The best advice I have received is to just keep writing. Whether I think I’m writing well at the time or not . . . keep on writing. I can always go back later and fix bad writing. It’s hard to fix an empty page.

8.) What is next on your agenda?
The third installment of the Beck series should be in print by mid-2011. It will feature the same cast of core characters fans have come to love. At the same time, it will delve into the effects that Mexican Drug Cartels have, or might have, in the Midwest.

Readers should expect lots of action. Oh . . . and we’ll learn some things about Bull’s past, too.

9.) Who is your favorite author and why?
I have lots of favorites. Robert B. Parker, John Sandford, Brian Haig, Peter Morin. There are too many more to list.

The plotting, action and taut prose are the main factors that draw me to these writers. There’s never a word wasted.

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
There’s never been a better time to be a writer. The traditional publishing industry is in turmoil. Self- and indie-publishing are on the ascent. Today, more than ever, you can get your book into print or digital form and make it available to the masses . . . with little or no upfront costs.

If you have been waiting to try your hand at writing, go for it!

Thank you for your willingness to share your time and your expertise.

Thank you for hosting me today, and thank you to your readers for . . . well . . . reading.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The 19th Element by John L. Betcher, A James Becker Thriller

A retired agent of some type is a small town attorney. James Becker has retired from a terrorism fight to live a sedentary life with his wife and girls safe in a small, insular community. This bucolic life is interrupted by Islamic terrorists’ attack on a nearby nuclear plant.

I like the way Betcher has made James Becker very human. He isn’t a invulnerable, Bondish, clock and dagger semi-super hero. Becker is a nosy, competent patriot who also wants to have a family life.

The 19th element aspect is thought provoking and plausible from what I remember from college. A well thought out plot makes this book work.

The story is frightening as it is taken right out of the front page of today’s paper. The complacency of authorities and the territorial in fighting by the very people who are supposed to keep us safe is demoralizing. I look forward to seeing Betcher’s next work. This is a good book to read but it may keep you up at night.

I highly recommend this book.

Body of work of John L. Betcher

Web site:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Free Book Alert

A New Giveaway
a new heroic fantasy novel

by Steven L. Shrewsbury

Inter-Galatic First prize is a copy of the book, a poster and Thrall T-Shirt!

Go to Azure Dwarf’s Horde of SciFi and Fantasy for details.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury by David Weber and Linda Evans

Book two of the Multiverse series is also most engrossing. Evan’s and Weber’s portrayal of two unique civilizations on a road to conflict progress to the actual conflict itself. Arcana base magic technology challenges Sharona’s psychic talents and their science based technology. The multi-universal aspect is that both civilizations have discovered portal to alternate earths that have no populations until they confront each other.

David Weber and Linda Evans do a superb job in describing two dissimilar cultures and those cultures’ idiosyncrasies. As they alternate back and forth from culture to culture you find your sympathies vacillating as well. The beauty of their work is that you truly find things that are both laudable and stimulating for each culture. They are being drawn into conflict by serendipitous contacts and malicious behavior in spite of their root similarities.

The contrast of opposing technologies is interesting. What makes the book great is the emotional undertones. The ability to evoke strong emotions regarding the characters is rare. I cared for Emperor on Sharona and his family and loathed the Arcana villains.

My biggest disappointment with this book was the cliff hanger ending. Normally I don’t mind cliff hanger endings if there is a proposed forthcoming book to get you off the damn cliff. Sadly according to what I can see on the web there is no forthcoming volume let alone a conclusion in process. I wish the authors would have done a better wrap of the work if they weren’t planning on proceeding with the series in a timely manner.

I highly recommend the book with the caveat that I can almost guarantee that you will be strongly annoyed at the ending and the fact there is no foreseeable conclusion.

Body of work of David Weber
Body of work of Linda Evans


Web site
Linda Evans keeps a very low profile. I could find no website, no info or no photos.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Purity in Death by J. D. Robb

The not too distant future is the setting for Lt. Eve Dallas and her adventures. The entire series I have read so far is focused on homicide and the mystery that surrounds each murder. A vigilante group decides to cleanse the lurid streets of NY of what they consider predators. The trouble is they have substantial collateral damage.

Dallas is a firm believer is justice. Roarke, her husband, feels that justice may often be served by those outside of the judicial process. He may be influencing Dallas. She uses his considerable talent and expertise in socially unacceptable skills to help her solve this mystery. I do like the loyalty that Dallas shows to her staff and the resultant loyalty that is returned. The emotional interplay is the key to success in this series.

I recommend the book and the series.

Body of work of J. D. Robb

Web site:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Quirky Christmas

This header is actually a sneak preview of my upcoming series on Quirky the Squirrel. This is one of the illustrations from the book, A Quirky Christmas that will be out in 2011. The astounding art work has been done by artist  Jan Button who has agreed to illustrate the Quirky series and is currently working on Short or Tall, Doesn't Matter At All which is also upcoming in 2011.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dragonback Bargain by Timothy Zahn

Dragonback Bargain is a bargain. It is a anthology including the complete novels: Dragon and Thief,Dragon and Soldier and Dragon and Slave. The premise of the series is a 14 year old orphan acquires a K’da warrior as a symbiote. The K’da warrior’s appearance is that of a Chinese dragon the size of a small tiger. The K’da people are fleeing the Valahgua who is perpetrating genocide on all races they meet. Jack Morgan, an orphan, is fleeing an unknown persecutor. Jack’s only companion is the computerized download of his late Uncle’s con-artist personality. Jack and Draycos team up to face their foes.

My only frustration with this series is that I thought it was three books and it is six books. In one way that is great because I really enjoying the series, on the other hand I 
don’t normally read series until I have acquired the entire series. I am now forced to track down the remaining three books.I haven’t seen that the series is characterized as young adult but that is how I would characterize it. The story is enjoyable, the characters are well done. Jack is suitably torn between his lonely desire to have a friend and his wish to placate his late Uncles computerized personality. The emotions are pretty clear and so is the conflict. There is a lot of action but it is tempered in a manner that is appropriate for the younger reader.

I highly recommend the entire series.

Body of work of Timothy Zahn

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hell’s Gate by David Weber and Linda Evans

Book one of the Multiverse series is a most engrossing 1200 pages. Evan’s and Weber portray two unique civilizations on a road to conflict. Arcana bases their technology on magic. Sharona has psychic talents but bases their technology on science. The multi-universal aspect is that both civilizations have discovered portal to alternate earths that have no populations until they confront each other.

David Weber and Linda Evans do a superb job in describing two dissimilar cultures and those cultures’ idiosyncrasies. As they alternate back and forth from culture to culture you find your sympathies vacillating as well. The beauty of their work is that you truly find things that are both laudable and stimulating for each culture. They are being drawn into conflict by serendipitous contacts and malicious behavior in spite of their root similarities. I can not wait to read the next volume, “Hell Hath No Fury”.

I highly recommend it and all of David Weber’s Work.

Body of work of David Weber
Body of work of Linda Evans


Web site
Linda Evans keeps a very low profile. I could find no website, no info or no photos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is up to his hips in naked women. Asked to be security on an adult film set, Harry discovers it just isn’t that sexy. Harry makes a discovery that changes both his life and the way he looks at life in this story.

Once again, I enjoy the self depreciating humor that Butcher imbues in his protagonist. Harry is an eminently likeable person with an admitted rough around the edge skill set. His choice of friends and foes provide the basis for entertainment. Murphy is beginning to be seen as more than just a friend and Harry’s discovery of family colors his entire outlook.

I highly recommend the entire series. You will be seeing more as I have finally purchased all the ones that have currently been printed.

Body of work of Jim Butcher

Web Site:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Through The Breach by David Drake

This is the second book in the Reaches series. This book deals with Piet Ricimer and Stephen Gregg’s supposed mission to the asteroid belt that really is a pirate raid through the breach. The breach is a dangerous passage through the Mirror, a block between our universe and another. The other side holds the treasures of the defunct empire, automated factories churning out the chips that hold civilization together. Gentlemen and aristocracy are the linchpins of the society on Venus. Stagnate and intolerant they fund Ricimer and Gregg as privateers to bring home the riches (chips) so they can hold off the North American Federations attempts to pull them back under control.

Ricimer is venerated and protected by the hulking Gregg. Gregg a disposed minor noble is physically and mentally imposing and capable of any act of violence to protect his leader. Gregg is also plagued with doubt about his acts of violence. Jeremy Moore is a dilettante with cyber abilities who discovers to his dismay that he can be a cold blooded killer. The anguish the characters suffer in probing their psyches is well written and seems quite real. Willing to do anything for the cause, right or wrong, but questioning one’s soul in the process provides a realistic look at both leaders and followers. A good book as a stand alone but
I recommend you read “Igniting the Reaches” before reading this and “Fireships” after you read this. It isn’t a monumental trilogy but it is still well worth reading.

Body of work of David Drake

Web Site:

Review: none found

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Death Masks by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is once again in the line of fire. Between his war with the Red Court Vampires and his quest for the Shroud of Turin, Harry finds a wealth of action and demands on his wizardly talents.

Reminiscent of the hard boiled detective stories but characterized by the supernatural, this series is eminently entertaining. Dresden is not a towering super hero. He is an ordinary guy trying to survive in life with what he considers his normal behavior. Always looking out for the victim, Harry is in constant danger from supernatural predators. Harry is dying to love and be loved but true love seems to be forever out of his reach.

I highly recommend the entire series. You will be seeing more as I have finally purchased all the ones that have currently been printed.

Body of work of Jim Butcher

Web Site:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Coming Back by Marcia Muller

Sometimes I feel like I live in a cave. I am frankly shocked that I have never read a Sharon McCone mystery before. Marcia Muller seems to have a ton of books out there and I have missed them all. I intend to remedy that situation.

Coming Back details the recovery of private investigator Sharon McCone from a gun shot wound acquired in a previous book. Her introspection as to her recovery is interrupted by a double kidnapping. Who is responsible and what transpires is the meat of the novel.

Ms. Muller does an excellent job in providing a reality check on her characters. They are multi-dimensional and quite human. They could be friends or family they seem so normal. She allows them to be frail, frightened and extraordinary, simultaneously.

The story had enough twists and turns to satisfy every Machiavellian obsessed reader. Torn from the pages of corporate scandals and Black Water covert ops, this mystery keeps you guessing until the very end. Sharon McCone’s tenacity and compassion make her a very likeable protagonist.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Marcia Muller

Web Site:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hell’s Corner by David Baldacci

Baldacci has the ability to grab your interest by the throat and hold on until you pass out. This is another Camel Club book with a complicated and convoluted conspiracy.
John Carr aka Oliver Stone is comfortable in his graveyard abode when conspiracy finds him again. The primrose path or the yellow brick road, neither leads in the direction that Carr expects. The usual suspects are here sans Milton Farb. The President invites John Carr’s involvement in the war on drugs which soon turns into so much more. Once again Baldacci touts personal relationships over bureaucratic authority.

The inter-agency friction posed by Baldacci is truly frightening in this age of global terrorism. If congress’s inability to develop any bi-partisan agreements is indicative of the state of Washington’s overall bureaucratic climate, it is a wonder any of us are still alive. Baldacci’s stories always entertain but in addition they make you think.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of David Baldacci

Web Site:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Drop Shot By Harlan Coben

Again Coben’s Mryon Bolitar reminds me a bit of Parker’s Spencer in this novel. Although Win, Myron’s border line psychopath best friend only resembles Hawk in his ferocity and lethalness not his unsurpassed cool. A classic whodunit focused on the tennis world even though it is a tad dated still holds your interest. There is plenty of action, violence and wise assery to satisfy the most demanding hard boiled detective fan, in spite of the fact that Myron is an attorney and a sports agent not a detective. The who and the why are very satisfactorily saved for the last few pages. All in all, a very good mystery and I recommend it.

Body of work of Harlan Coben

Web Site:


Friday, November 5, 2010

Cool Nook Coming

Barnes and Noble’s Color Nook May Not Have A Niche
See my post at Money Saving Tech Tips.
Looks cool and may be cool but is it priced right?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why YOU should read and why YOU should encourage reading!

In an email with Jim Jennewein, co-author of Rune Warriors, I mentioned the following experience. He strongly suggested I should post the experience.

I was on the board of VITA which is a local non-profit that promotes literacy. VITA also was the largest provider of literacy training in the Bucks County Prison system. We had a board meeting in the prison one time to discuss the program with some of the inmates. A very scary looking 30 something guy was so proud of the fact that our program had gotten him to the point that he could read at a 6th grade level. He said that just that week he had finished the first book he had ever read. He ascribes illiteracy as a major factor in crime. He said his inability to read made people think he was stupid and they treated him like he was stupid. He said that made him angry and made it easier to steal from them. Between the demeanor, tattoos and attitude this was a guy you would cross the street to avoid and yet he was so grateful for our program and his learning to read. He said he had a three year old daughter and when he got out he was going to make sure she learned to read because he didn’t want her ending up like him.

Being a life long, early reader and making sure my kids and grandkids love to read, I frankly was flabbergasted listening to this career criminal. It is just amazing that there are so many people out there who can’t read. VITA estimates there are 60,000 functionally illiterate people in Bucks County which is one of the most affluent counties in Pennsylvania. The stats are staggering.

Please read and encourage all the children you have contact with to read. If you teach a child to read recreationally, to really enjoy curling up with a book, you will positively impact that child’s entire life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vermillion Drift by William Kent Krueger

This is much more than a murder mystery. It is a murder mystery in both the past and the present but in addition it is an anthropological cultural exploration of conflict and enlightenment.

Cork is a troubled soul who discovers as much about himself as he does the murders in the book. Cork is a likeable character fraught with self doubt. Keeping one foot in his cultural roots and the other in “normal” society proves difficult.

Krueger posed an intricate mystery with implacable and in some case pathetic foes. The mysticism was well done and not overblown. His characters were painted with clarity and panache.

It is easy to see why Krueger's work sells well, it was an intriguing book that captured my interest and held it until the end.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of William Kent Krueger


Friday, October 29, 2010

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Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison

This is the first book of Harrison’s that I have read. I expected a Jim Butcher level of entertainment. I didn’t get it. I gave it a good effort but I just couldn’t get into the story, the characters, the setting, nothing. I wanted to like the book, I have already got a couple more of her books, assuming I would like it but alas, I didn’t. The book had too much soap opera overtone for my taste. Now I am not foolish enough to suggest that it may be more suited in the romance category of vampire loving teens but maybe… Rachel Mariana Morgan is a witch, rooming with a living vampire and a bunch of pixies and she is the familiar of a demon. Sounds like it should be page turner and obviously from Harrison’s sales for many people her books are page turners, just not for me. I do not recommend it.

Body of work of Kim Harrison


Web site:

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Assassin by Stephen Coonts

Jake Grafton is back! Once again Coonts creates a cliff hanger that you really don’t want to put down. The reality of terrorism is one of the things that makes this book truly sobering. Tommy Carmellini and Jake Grafton team up to stop a radical Islamic assassin.

Truth is stranger than fiction. Much of this book could be true. I understand the feelings of frustration and anger portrayed by the characters when dealing with the mindless fanaticism of terrorists. As in all of Coont’s work, the action rocks and the plot rolls. It moves at warp speed and entertains while in some ways depresses. Once again the only solution to a problem seems to be the application of judicious violence.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Stephen Coonts

Monday, October 25, 2010

Free Copy of The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

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Don't forget to comment on the Half-Made World contest to enter and don't forget that Layers of Thought is giving a copy away too.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hollywood Hills by Joseph Wambaugh

Hollywood Hills returns to the goofy scene of Hollywood Moon. Hollywood is goofy. I have a nephew who works on the 911 phone line. He, as well as those whom I know work the emergency room, confirms that a full moon seems to bring out those who aren’t wrapped as tight as the rest of us. A cop story in traditional Wambaugh style that memorializes the insanity that seems to be Hollywood.

The characterizations are so rich, vivid, colorful and flamboyant that they often make you laugh out loud. The interplay between partners provides a thoughtful perspective on how relationships can develop in the pressure cooker of a shop.(squad car) The story often seemed to range widely but finally came down to a tied up conclusion. Some of the action may seem preposterous but it doesn’t take much research to see Wambaugh does his homework. The book paints cops as people, not as stereotype characters of sterling character but people. People with ethics, concerns and lives that are held to a higher standard of behavior than those they police. You can’t help but respect the jobs they do, in conditions that are often amazing.

The above is pretty much a repeat of my review of Hollywood Moon. I enjoyed this book as well. Again antics that make you laugh out loud are graphically told. This is a highly entertaining cop story without the tension and stress that normally are ascribed to “cop” stories.

I recommend it.

Body of work of Joseph Wambaugh


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Reversal by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is a minor but important player in this book. Mickey Haller of the Lincoln Lawyer is the main character. A convicted killer is appealing his conviction and Mickey Hailer crosses over to the dark side to prosecute his re-trial.
Mickey is a likeable character who has emotional difficulty going from his white knight defender role to his dark side (his feeling) acting as a temporary prosecutor.

As always Connelly does a nice job setting the stage. Bosch is still a hero who is hard to like. Prickly but passionate in his love of his daughter is one of his few redeeming characteristics. Mickey’s inability to maintain a stable relationship is balanced by his love for his daughter. As half brothers, Mickey and Harry show normal sibling conflict. The story is convoluted enough to maintain your interest and tense enough to defy you to put it down. Another winning read from Michael Connelly.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Michael Connelly

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

American Assassin by Vince Flynn

This is a prequel to the Mitch Rapp series. This book provides the details of what made Mitch Rapp into the man he is and what motivates his behavior. There is distinct political commentary on how we should be addressing terrorists.

Vince Flynn will never be criticized for lack of action. The book just jumps! Once gain Mitch Rapp shows his mettle. I really enjoyed the fleshing out of the details as to how Mitch became a government agent and the reasons behind that decision. The plot is right out of the daily paper. (or web)

Flynn creates memorable characters. Stan Hurley is unforgettable. The violence is graphic and not for the faint of heart.

I loved the book and I do lean in the direction of Old Testament justice which is epitomized by Mitch Rapp.

I highly recommend this book and anything else Vince Flynn writes.

Body of work of Vince Flynn

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Monday, October 11, 2010

The Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doetsch

Move over Cussler, there is a new guy in town. At least new to me, I see that he has quite a few novels under his belt. I will be seeking those out. This is a saga of a “retired” thief, a priest, cop and beautiful woman questing against evil. Sounds more like the beginning of a tired joke but there isn’t anything tiring about this book except you, when you can’t put it down. A classic adventure romp with jailbreaks, legends, evil and mystery, this book is guaranteed entertainment.

I found Michael and KC’s relationship tiring. However since I have known couples who exhibited similar bizarre relational behavior, I did find theirs believable. Busch was a bit more difficult to believe due to his normalcy and supposed stable marital arrangement, great sidekick though.

The sociopathic psychopaths that provided the villainy were sadly believable. I’ve been lucky to have had very limited exposure to that type of distilled evil and those people do exist, dismayingly so.

I’m not sure rollicking adventure actually does justice to this book. It has some mystic and mysterious twists that lift it out of the mire of simple action adventure.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Richard Doetsch

Web Site: