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.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo

This is a complicated mystery. The fact that it was translated from the Norwegian did not help matters. A serial murder is tracked by an alcoholic cop with one foot in the grave. The murders are almost a subplot to the self redemption of Harry Hole, the alcoholic cop.

Complicated, convoluted, intricate and compelling all describe this story. I had trouble getting into it. I persevered and am glad I did so. Harry Hole is not terribly likeable but he is brilliant and insightful. The book is populated by a lot of un-likeable characters. The author leads you down a twisted path of mental aberration, unfulfilled emotions and thwarted desires. There are also discernable societal differences between the American ethos and the Norwegian. The book is not an easy read but it is a worthwhile read.

I recommend it.

Body of work of Jo Nesbo

Web Site:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Damaged by Alex Kava

I’ve never read a Maggie O’Dell novel before. I intend to read more. The book features profiler Maggie O’Dell and Coast Guard Swimmer Liz Bailey. The two women successfully challenge stereotypes in their respective careers. The impact of a hurricane and the mystery of floating body parts provides the setting for this compelling thriller.

Alex Kava puts together a blood stirring story. It was difficult to put this down and for those of us who read multiple books simultaneously it was even worse. The characters were both likeable and believable. I particularly enjoyed Liz’s father and his reaction to retirement. I guess due to my own life state, I found that very interesting. The action was sufficient and the plot complicated enough to hold your unwavering attention.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Alex Kava

Web Site:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lay Down My Sword And Shield by James Lee Burke

This book details the rebirth of Hackberry Holland. He returned from the Korean War, rebuilt his life and now he is recreating himself. The hard panned setting and historic family background contribute to his reassessment of his identity.
Describing the book doesn’t really do justice to the story or it’s fluidity. The author reminds me of Pat Conroy and his poetry like prose. The descriptions of the countryside and people are thorough and beautiful. Hack’s experiences as a POW in Korea are horrific. His sublimation of both experience and emotions would fit quite well with PTSD victims in today’s conflicts. His drinking appears to be fuel by displaced anger. Hack’s reactions to his environment and his refusal to be what his family expects him to be as opposed to what he wants to be is a thumbnail of the book’s plot.

We tend to forget how recent equal rights are. There are parts of the book that seem practically fantastic that are supported by facts and recollection of the times. I suspect younger readers may even find some of the incidents hard to believe. Burke’s book was extraordinarily done.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of James Lee Burke

Web Site:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guardian of the Vision by Irene Radford

Soul searching could best describe this book. Radford forces her twin or is it triplet, protagonists to search their souls for the strength of their convictions. The Merlin is ever present, whether male of female and influences events regularly. There is a large dose of history and intimate fictional insight to the reign of Elizabeth I and other royals of the period. Action and magic abound to keep the blood flowing when the introspection becomes tedious. A sound conclusion finishes the trilogy. I liked the trilogy and the book.

Body of work of Irene Radford


Web Site:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shadows of War by Larry Bond and Jim Defelice

Global warming plays havoc with the world’s economy. The inevitable conflict between those that have and those that don’t begins. China is seen as an implacable foe that threatens the security of the entire world. The U.S. finds itself in the paradoxical support of a former enemy.
The only criticism I have of this book is that I found it’s premise entirely too believable. The authors pain a gloomy picture of the not so distant future. There was plenty of action and heroic acts. I liked the metamorphic transformation of Josh from the mild mannered Clark Kent to Rambo. The transformation struck me as a metaphor of the character of the U.S. Our nation has a historic repute for acts of kindness to countries that appear to abhor us. Despite that attitude we labor to do good in the world. Other countries often perceive that as weakness until they try our patience one too many times and find they are in the tiger not riding it.

I liked the characters, the setting was clearly painted and the story moved well.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Larry Bond
Body of work of Jim Defelice

Web Site:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Self Publishing with CreateSpace

I am a self published author. I have self published for a variety of reasons. My primary reason is time. I have no interest in spending my days trying to find an agent, who will then try and find a publisher. I have been told this can take years. Although I have a resilient ego, I have no interest in facing a wealth of rejection. Again, I have been told by published authors and read author interviews that document myriad rejections. Some successful manuscripts were rejected for years before finding a publisher who saw the value of the work. I’m a retired guy who always wanted to write something and have it published. If what I wrote actually appealed to anyone and it sold, then all for the better. Since that is currently occurring I have created a self fulfilling prophecy regarding how brilliant I am for seeing that self publishing would work for me.LOL

Now I have established that self publishing is working for me and perhaps it will work for you. Here are some caveats. There are a ton of companies out there willing to take your money and produce your book. No doubt some of them are very good. After much research I ended up with Amazon’s CreateSpace. It is the least expensive solution from a reputable company that I could find. You may recall I am retired. Note I did not say independently wealthy retired, I just said retired. Fixed incomes lead to fiscal conservatism. I stoutly state that fiscal conservatism is not the same as cheap. Fiscally conservative means a willingness to spend money but in a wise manner. CreateSpace meets my fiscally conservative demands.

I have been happy with the cost of CreateSpace, the quality and promptness of their work and their services. I discovered some pitfalls in the area of ISBN numbers. CreateSpace assigns an ISBN to your book for free. That is a distinct savings immediately since Bowker charges over $100.00 for a single ISBN and if you purchase from one of the authorized resellers you will pay at least $55.00. Take note, the ISBN from CreateSpace is a legitimate ISBN and is not a unique Amazon/CreateSpace ISBN. I, erroneously, thought that the ISBN that CreateSpace was not registered in Books In Print (the bookstores bible). This was after speaking with a CreateSpace employee who either didn’t know that or I wasn’t smart enough to specifically ask that question. I wanted one of my books to specifically be able to be found by any bookstore and not just through Amazon. I purchased an ISBN through Aardvark, a legitimate reseller of ISBN numbers. However Aardvark is then listed as the publisher and CreateSpace will NOT allow you to use that ISBN on books they publish. I now own an ISBN that I really didn’t need and am out the $55.00 it cost me due to my not asking enough questions and perhaps CreateSpace not addressing the ISBN issue with thorough clarity. Take note anyone from Amazon/CreateSpace that may read this is that you should clarify the value and use of the ISBN number and save someone else from wasting their money on buying a un-needed ISBN.

What’s my point? CreateSpace is a great place to get your work published for a minimal amount of money. I have discovered that that getting a good layout and setting up a book is substantially more laborious than I realized. My 28 page childhood stress books were relatively easy compared to my first 100 page Hardy Belch book. I did purchase a new desktop publishing package that I am learning by using. Serif PagePlus 11 works very well. The week after I bought it I got an email telling me I could upgrade to their new version for a minimal charge of, I think, $75.00. Since I haven’t even scratched the programs capability surface yet I declined. I do advise if you plan on writing more than a few pages you should consider a desktop publishing software package. Serif PagePlus 11 can be found for $20.00 if you look around.

Bottom line, if you have always wanted to get in print, then you should do so and do it now! It can be laborious, it will be time consuming, it does not have to be expensive and it is enormously satisfying.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Fiddler’s Gun by A. S. Peterson

I don’t often say, “outstanding work” upon reading a new author. The Fiddler’s Gun is historic fiction set in rural Georgia at the outset of the American Revolution. It is a tale of an orphan coming of age and coming to grip with personal characteristics that frighten her.

Fin Button is a very likeable character exhibiting very modern frustrations with pre-determined roles. She doesn’t see her self as falling into acceptable life roles for her time and place. The development of her character and her coming to grips with her life are done exceedingly well.

Bartimaeus’s secrets are startling and refreshing. The ability to change directions in life successfully is reaffirmed. Peter’s willingness to be Fin’s accomplice in her not very merry pranks, when his nature is clearly opposed to those pranks, illustrates a staunch commitment.

I liked the action, the transformations and the tone of the book. The author successfully portrays a time period where rebellion both by society and individuals was tumultuous and often fatal.

I really liked the book and I look forward to the sequel, The Fiddler’s Green.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of A. S. Peterson

Web site

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Pallbearers by Stephen J. Cannell

Shane Scully doesn’t believe that Pop Dixon committed suicide neither do the other pallbearers at his funeral. They form a “murder club” and seek answers to this mystery.

Cannell’s Scully is explained in this book. Shane is a reoccurring character that frequently flies off the grid and exhibits a lot of anger. I haven’t read too many of the books featuring him but in this one you find out the source of his anger. The colorful characters literally illuminate the book. Each one is a bright source of enlightenment. Jack is the loveable rogue and of course Alexa is the steadfast love and partner. Chooch, the son, is barely seen but offers some very thoughtful advice as to Scully’s pain.

I really liked the book. I identified with the tenacity shown by Scully especially since it was maintained in the face of so much pain. Alexa’s support epitomizes the strength a good relationship can offer to the participants in the relationship. This is a good mystery but it is also a journey of redemption.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Stephen J. Cannell

Web site

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Anne is a Realtor. Her open house disastrously morphs into something disturbingly different. Her experience is compounded by an ultimate betrayal; her return to sanity remains a question throughout the book, a grossly disturbing mystery.

I had trouble reading this book. The situation is horrific to the extreme. Anne faces things that no person should have to face. Her responses seemed quite natural for the scenario. Chevy Steven did a nice job portraying such strong emotions. She also did a masterful job of misdirection which completely shadowed the true perpetrators. There were some characters that held up well in the story. This was a story of family conflict and emotional soul searching.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Chevy Stevens

Web site: