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, April 29, 2010


Jennifer Phillips brings an interesting story to current readers. I taught history and was not familiar with the story of Nina Kosterina. The book is far more than just an explanation of a young girl’s diary. It is a description of the evolving of Russian society. Our days as the bogie man to the Russians and their days as the Evil Empire have passed but we as a society have very little knowledge of what historic events led to the current Russia.

The book is well done with a generational span of content. Reading this book gives a greater understanding of what the “main street” of Russian society endured. It is also illustrative of the lengths that love of country will carry a family.

I recommend the book.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Little Death by P.J. Parrish

I’m not so sure this shouldn’t be classified as scifi or fantasy. If Palm Beach is populated by such a crazed cast, they would fit right into a classic Star Trek adventure. Louis Kincaid is a former cop who now is a P.I. His friend Mel talks him into going to Palm Beach to help a friend who is in trouble. Much to his surprise Louis finds himself emotionally involved in a case he was initially skeptical of taking.

I’ve not read any of the sisters Parrish books before but I have to say their story is much like fine needlepoint, a seamless picture produced by hundreds of tiny stitches. The plot was involved but not in an artificial manner. The characterizations were masterful. They built a despicable picture of the rich, cruel and bored. I’m fond of mysteries than force me to ponder who really is guilty. In this case the guilty parties were so numerous and mostly not guilty of chargeable offenses that pondering was maximized.

I recommend the book.

Web Site:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sending You Sammy by Sarah Butland

Sammy is a little boy who eats in a healthy manner. He sets out on a crusade to help other kids develop healthy eating habits.

This book has delightful illustrations and a simple but endearing story line. Sammy is transformed and can help others. The transformation should appeal to the younger reader’s imagination. The illustrations are bright and cheerful and should be attractive to the reader.   The morale is eating healthy can make you a better person. The book is engaging and should have great a-peel. (read it to get the pun) Well done!

I recommend the book.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Firefly Rain by Richard Dansky

I was a bit annoyed to discover that I was second guessed on the cover of the book. I thought that Dansky had a style reminiscent of Pat Conroy and sure enough there was a note on the cover comparing him to Conroy and Stephen King. I think that is an accurate comparison.

The story is of a homecoming that has a decidedly twisted turn. Jacob returns home after some business reverses. He finds that he doesn’t quite fit in the small town lifestyle as well as he once did. The mystery surrounding his strange encounters provides a few chills down the spine. How Jacob reconciles his current person with the past and his future provide the impetus for the story.

Character definition is the highlight of the book. Growing up in a small town, there is accuracy in the portrayal of both the community and the people. Thomas Tryon comes to mind when you read the book. It wasn’t scary as much as sad. How a boy, now a man, reconciles his younger behavior with who he has become. You are left with hope at the end of the book.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Richard Dansky

Web Site:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Detective Michael Bennett meets a butt kicking female FBI agent and they try and stop an obsessed serial killer. The wealthiest NY families are terrorized by a retro-new age psychopath.

Michael Bennett is a NY detective with 10 kids. He is almost too good to be true. He meets Emily Parker an FBI abduction specialist in the course of a very perplexing case. Sparks fly and the chemistry sparkles between the two while they track a horrific murderer. The relationship aspects of the story are well done and enjoyable. The conscience free killer is grossly disturbing. As most Patterson books, it moves fast, keep you on the edge of your seat and goes quickly.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of James Patterson


Friday, April 16, 2010

The Time Pirate by Ted Bell

In the tradition of Tom Swift and The Hardy Boys this book is a rollicking good time for the young reader and those of us young in heart. Nick McIver is a young man with a time machine. In this adventure he faces historic events in American history, pirates and Nazis.

Ted Bell does an excellent job of recreating the feel of the grand adventures I read as a boy. Nick McIver is pure of heart and free of malice. He attacks life with gusto and with the characteristic disregard for fear illustrated so well by Tom Swift. The character shows decision making and wisdom far beyond his chronological age. He thrusts himself into situations adults would fear to approach. He incites loyalty in adults who indulge his adventurous nature and who give him full rein to jump into exceedingly dangerous situations. So much of the book is totally outrageous in that any adult that knowingly allowed a young teen to do what Nick does in this book would be committed, arrested or pilloried for their behavior. This is probably what will make the book enormously successful for the young reader.

I heartily recommend it.

Body of work of Ted Bell


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Guest Post by D.C. Corso Author of "Skin and Bones"

Islands in a Common Sea-D.C. Corso

I could lie and say that I had the underlying theme of isolation in mind when I chose to set Skin and Bones, my first mystery, on the fictional Carver Isle. I could bend the truth and say that it was all part of my grand scheme of placing guarded and distant characters in a community which is itself remote and distant. But at the time I didn’t really consciously think about it – who really develops a theme in advance of a story? The superficial truth is almost disappointing in its simplicity: I chose the Pacific Northwest island community because it was something I knew, and something that felt right.

Back in the late eighties and early 90s, I lived in Seattle. Being in my mid-twenties at the time, I missed California and the comfort of friends and family, and moved back to the Bay Area. I returned often to visit my sister Ginny and her husband Stu on Bainbridge Island, discovering that while on the surface island living appears very quaint, there are in reality vast socioeconomic gaps. As the price of Seattle homes jumped in the ’90s, longtime islanders found themselves with skyrocketing property values – and taxes – as more and more city folk sought to relocate to Bainbridge. Naturally, resentment grew between those who held ranches and farmland on the island and those who eagerly sought to develop and sell said land. While I didn’t want economic disparity and class resentment to be at the forefront of Skin and Bones, I can’t deny that it’s a hugely important part of the scenery.

But why not just set the tale in a suburb? Honestly, because island communities are much more closely knit than you might find in a suburb. Suburbs allow for a comfortable distance from your neighbors, and this simply does not exist within island communities. While everyone does not necessarily know everyone else on an island, they do know everyone on their block, sometimes far more than they want to know them. In most suburbs, people tend to know just what they need to get by. They know roughly who their neighbors are, but not much beyond their names and house numbers.

Had I set the tale someplace like West Seattle or even the remote and woodsy Snoqualmie, the story might have worked, but those locations still felt far too accessible. Water lends distance to that which may otherwise be near, so the island community completed the setting puzzle nicely.

Looking back, I think the writer in me subconsciously understood that a dark and isolated township surrounded by water would perfectly reflect the story's underlying darkness and the characters' own issues and problems. Then again, hindsight is 20/20.

Thank you for your insights!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Interview with the author of "Skin and Bones"; D.C. Corso

Many thanks to D.C. Corso for taking the time to respond to these questions.

1.) Why did you write this book? What initiated this particular burst of creativity?

There were a lot of factors that went into the "spark" that ignited "Skin and Bones"; part of it was the atmosphere I was living in at the time (a haunting, rambling old Craftsman); my mental state (just being diagnosed as clinically depressed); a highly creative and encouraging house of roommates; the sudden death of a former co-worker; a break-up; and a case in the news circa 2002 that really made me wonder about evil's presence in humanity. That's one spicy meatball, so to speak, and the perfect storm for writing a really dark novel.

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

A little from Column A and a little from Column B, though I would say that in advance of the actual novel, it exists only in essence, so I start with gestalt and as I write, the story develops.

3.) Is your process to outline and then fill in the blanks or just sit down and start to tell a story or ?

Once I have an initial idea in my head, I do some note-based brainstorming to get a rough skeleton and to figure out who the major players are going to be. Then I spend some time thinking about the characters, and try to at least get a beginning, middle and end in concept form. No details present themselves in advance; the hardest part is really getting a compelling opening that doesn't expound to the reader too much. The slow reveal is tricky but worth it.

4.) Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?

I like Agent Ash the best, but Agent Markowitz is a definite second (don't tell Parker!); Ash because he is flawed and despite his good intentions, he sometimes is a little too abrupt (hmmm, wow, sounds familiar!), possibly because he does care so much about doing the best job he can for the victims' families. Markowitz - he's wise and still funny despite all he's seen over the years. And he's not nearly as quick to judge as Ash is.

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

To keep sane. As Lord Byron wrote, "If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad."

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

The most mundane things! Most often: random things I mull over while driving and listening to music.

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

From my editor: action, not Markowitz says in my book, so I really need to start listening to my characters.

8.) This seems to be your first book, do you have something new in the works?

Yes, but it's a very tough one for me emotionally and I've been procrastinating.

9.) Who is your favorite author and why?

The first one who popped into my head is Patricia Highsmith (in particular "This Sweet Sickness") because she just so completely nails obsession in that book; it was just so uncomfortable to read and yet so compelling! But Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver are really my heroes because they are absolute geniuses with minimal yet beautiful word selection. Best epic writer is Stephen King; he can create a huge world like no one else.

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
Show, don't tell. Don't tell us what your character is thinking; show us by what he or she does and how they do it. Verbs, not adjectives, propel a story.

Thanks again and we will all look forward to your next book.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Skin and Bones by D.C. Corso

If you like creepy, you will love this book. The mysterious disappearance of young girls turns a small community upside down. The resolving of the mystery and the developing relationship between characters is well done.

Severin Ash is an FBI agent with shackles of empathy for the victims he has to see in his daily work. His anguish and frustration is clearly portrayed. Parker Kelly has ghosts in her past that slink back to the present under the cover of new crimes. The relationship between Ash and Kelly is well portrayed. I liked the author’s style and the knife edge of anxiety that is evoked.

Corso also portrays the wicked as very wicked. Parts of the book will most definitely make you squirm. Abduction of kids is hard to portray in any way but disturbing. If you like this kind of book, I think you will like this one.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of D. C. Corso

Web Site:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

9th Judgement by James Patterson

The Women’s Murder Club deals with an obsessed war veteran, an aging movie star, multiple murders and a cat burglar in non-stop action.

Lindsay Boxer faces horrific murders and comes through, non-stop. There is action on top of action in this Patterson page turner. I don’t care who or how they turn these out, they make entertaining reading. For non-Patterson readers, there must be some some where; you may find it a little hard to keep up with the cast of characters. For those of us who are fans, the book just rockets! I enjoyed the book, found the subject matter frequently distasteful but regardless it was a very fast, good read.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of James Patterson


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rune Warriors The Sword of Doom by James Jennewein and Tom S. Parker

Their Backkk! Dane the Defiant, Klint the Raven and Astrid Mistress of the blade have returned. Dane discovers that fame and fortune are fleeting. His 15 minutes of fame dissolves is the mundane issues of protecting and leading a community.

Dane and company provide an enormous range of interesting characters. Dane finds himself and his friends in another quest complete with the requisite evil villains and outlandish monsters. The interplay between Dane and his friends provides comedic relief. Atrid’s support helps Dane maintain own resolution. A surprise ending just when you think all the scary stuff is over sets the stage for another book.

The authors did a nice job showing courage, cooperation, conflict resolution while interjecting age appropriate humor.

I recommend the book .

Body of work of James Jennewein
Body of work of Tom S. Parker

Web Site:
BTW, very cool web site.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In The Shadow of The Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck

This book is a multigenerational saga of mysterious treasures and information. It reads like a journal in some spots and more like fact than fiction.

My initial reaction to the book wasn’t overly positive. It seemed somewhat dry and boring. The style was almost contrary to excitement. The story turned out to be interesting and thought provoking. I’m fond of history so I ended up enjoying the story as it read like history. It is speculative fiction that has a historic feel to it

Several characters could have received more attention. I felt there were stories inferred but left unsaid. There is very little action or adventures if you are seeking that seek elsewhere. If you are looking for a well thought out story with solid prose and an historic flavor, this may be the book for you.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Thomas Steinbeck

Web Site:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak

This book will no doubt be a major hit with World of Warcraft fans. It details Malfurion Stormrage’s part in the Emerald Dream.

I am normally a major fan of fantasy. I guess I am just not a fan of Knaak. I wasn’t a fan of Beastmaster Myth either, the only other book of his I read. I can’t even point my finger at what I don’t like so my supposition is there is just something about his style that doesn’t resonate with me. I mean, how can you not like a book whose main character is named Malfurion Stormrage. That just shouts out excitement and action.

Analyzing the book, it seems to have all the right pieces. Colorful, exotic characters with definitive personalities that are conflicting in a mysterious manner. I suspect that those who are familiar with the entire scenario of the Emerald Dream will be intoxicated with the book. I have no doubt that it will be a success and suggest that you look at my other recommendations to determine if my thoughts run parallel or perpendicular to yours.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Richard A. Knaak

Web Site:

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Review of Mommy's Black Eye

This Book is Available At Amazon

By William Bentrim, Author from Bucks County Pennsylvania, USA on 4/2/2010


5out of 5

Pros: Deserves Multiple Readings, Well Written, Easy To Read, Informative, Engaging characters

Best Uses: Special Needs

Describe Yourself: Bookworm

As the author, I am predisposed to recommending the book.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fever Dream by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

preston--fever dream  dragon 4up  

Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is faced with one of his most daunting challenges.  Discovering the perpetrators of a murder close to his heart taxes even his stoic control.   A mystery that crosses continents and wallows in swamps.

Preston and Child can be expected to write a riveting and thought provoking mystery.   They certainly continue that trend in this book.   Pendergast’s ability to convert even the harshest critic of his investigative style illustrates his characters strength.   I felt Lt. Vincent D’Agosta’s character could have had a little more depth.   He was a stalwart side kick but didn’t seem as full fleshed as he might have been.   The mysterious murder and the ensuing investigation certainly keeps you interested. 

Pendergast’s brand of eye for an eye justice seemed appropriate in several situations in the book.   Overall the team of Preston and Child has succeeded again.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of <a type="amzn" > Douglas Preston </a>

Body of work of <a type="amzn" > LIncoln Child </a>

Web Site