Required Reading

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
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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.

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.