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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Win a copy of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans

Starting December 3rd

Win a copy of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans a rollicking fantasy. Authored by Robert Louis Smith M.D., MSc by entering at Azure Dwarf on December 3rd or on the Interview with the Author that will be posted at Azure Dwarf on December 6th. The Contest runs from Dec. 3 to Dec. 10 and shipping has been restricted to the U.S. or Canada.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery Series #1) by Lorena McCourtney

I read this on my Droid X, it is a mystery whose protagonist is an unlikely older woman who refuses to age gracefully. 

Ivy Malone is a widow who refuses to accept any limitations.   She suspects foul play in a friend’s disappearance.   She investigates vandalism on her own.   She is an unstoppable force when battling injustice while searching her purse for her Medicare card.  

This book was a treat.   The mystery was suitably complicated to hold your interest but the characterizations were terrific.   Ms. McCourtney has captured an indefatigable spirit in Ivy Malone.   She drives home a point that you are as young as you are willing to accept.   She also drives home a sobering thought that as we age we often become invisible to those around us.  Old people are often overlooked and this book points out why that is a mistake.  A delightful story with a very strong moral!

I recommend the book.

 Body of  work of Lorena McCourtney

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thawed Out & Fed Up by Ryan Brown

Sam Bonham is a no account grifter who discovers internal depths he didn’t realize he had in himself in a pseudo western style.

There were some bizarrely interesting aspects to this book.   Interesting really doesn’t cover it.   Sam Bonham finds himself immersed in a culture he thought died out years before.   Sam is a disagreeable character that you see grown into a likeable human being.  

The set for this play is a western town held hostage by a gang of throw back thugs.   The premise is mildly preposterous and yet still entertaining.   John Wayne and the rest of the characters merely provide scene dressing for the personal redemption of Sam Bonham.  

I recommend it.

Body of work of <a type="amzn"> Ryan Brown </a>

Web Site:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Rhinoceros by Jon Agee

Rhino’s are cool.  Admittedly though I never considered having one for  a pet.   This book describes what is good about having a rhino for a pet.

The illustrations are large, simple and colorful.  They appeal to the younger child.  My 5 year old grandson liked the book but it really wasn’t appropriate for his age.  My 2 year old grandson, however, liked the book a lot.   It is reading level appropriate for 1st graders but I think the story will be more appreciated by pre-schoolers.  

Very cute and I recommend the book.

Body of work of Jon Agee


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Zero Day by David Baldacci

Baldacci has a new hero, a new ethos and another, never boring cliff hanging, throat grabbing thriller.

John Puller takes over for John Carr without a Camel Club or a gang of cronies.  Although Puller is dedicated Army, he runs without a safety net throughout the book.   The Army is his life and his passion is it’s Criminal Investigative Division.  He is an elite Army cop and he is thrown into a situation involving mass mayhem.  Every time he turns around there is another murder.  

Puller ends up partnering with Sam Cole and the two of them bond through their mutual desire to find the perpetrators’ of mayhem in an impoverished coal mining community in West Virginia.

Once again Baldacci paints such a vivid picture.  He sets his stage with clarity and depth.   His characters are both larger than life and realistically human.  

I worked in an impoverished Appalachian coal community years ago.  Baldacci accurately captures the poverty and despair that often results from long term un or under employment. 

One can only hope that we see more of John Puller.  He was a complex, likeable character.

I highly recommend it.

Body of  work of David Baldacci </a>

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Covert Element by John L. Betcher

Once again, James Becker,  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. In his first book, The 19th Element detailed the story of a Islamic terrorists’ attack on a nearby nuclear plant.   This time Becker gets entwined with a drug cartel.

Once again I am impressed how John so thoroughly humanizes his protagonist.  (John Betcher is an eminently approachable author.)  Becker’s sense of humor is endearing and highly annoying to his buddies Gunner and Bull.   Beth is a no-nonsense wife whose common sense and CIA background keeps Becker grounded and safe. 

The book deals with the dismaying invasion of drugs and the impact of the drug cartels on law enforcement and society in general.  John Betcher is not making any claims as a successor for those of us who loved Robert Parker’s Spencer but as a confirmed fan I have to say the mantle may fit.   The interplay between Becker and pals is entertaining in spite of the seriousness of the topic.  I enjoyed interviewing John Betcher and I enjoyed reading this more polished novel.   Keep up the good work Betcher!

I highly recommend this book.

Body of work of John L. Betcher

Web site:

Soldier of Rome: The Sacrovir Revolt" by James Mace

Soldier of Rome: The Sacrovir by James Mace

 A snapshot of the life of the Roman Legionnaire is the most succinct description of this book although as this is the second book the common Legionnaire has been promoted.

Artorius continues to mature both in body and intellect.  This story chronicles a revolt in Gaul.   The revolt is motivated more by personal greed and revenge than subjugation of a populace.  Once again Mace makes the common soldier of Rome a believable being.  Looking at James Mace’s web site, you see he has immersed him historically in the Roman time.  

Once again I liked the fact that Mace was not one sided in his approach.   I thought he showed both the frustration of some of the Gallic nobles and the acceptance of others.  In particular I liked the parent child conflict in regards to participating in the revolt.  The cruelty of the slave trade is presented in graphic detail.

As in the first book, anyone fascinated by military history will love this book.  Historic fiction fans, in general, will also enjoy the book.  

I recommend the book. 

Body of work of James Mace

Web Site:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lot’s Return To Sodom by Sandra Brannan

This book provides more details than you may want to hear about the underbelly of the 1% outlaw motorcycle gangs.  A murder and other despicable behavior are offset by the tenacity and courage of the female protagonist.

Liv Bergen is recovering from her encounters with murder in a previous book.   I think a smidgen more of back story would be helpful in understanding Liv.   Liv’s feelings for her brother Jen overwhelm whatever common sense she might have.   Liv is the consummate “stick your hand in a hornet nest” protagonist.   Her passion and tenacity are laudable.  

Mully is an outlaw biker whose character is somewhat confusing.   Streeter, an FBI agent, apparently held a major role in the previous book.  Streeter is carrying a large torch for Liv who is unaware of his existence.   The book has action, intrigue, violence, romance and interesting twists to the plot.  The setting of the Sturgis motorcycle gathering is colorful and somewhat dismaying.   All in all, Ms. Brannan put together a fun book to read.

I recommend the book.

 Body of  work of Sandra Brannan

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Winner of the Nettie Parker's Backyard GiveAway is Marjorie from Ontario

Congratulations to Marjorie from Ontario on winning a copy  of Nettie Parker's Backyard!
 Thank you to all who participated in the GiveAway!
Stop back often here and at Azure Dwarf to see future GiveAways!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Under Fire by Margaret McLean

A superb courtroom drama with volatile emotional context is the theme of this book.

Sarah Lynch is an attorney is not practicing law, she is playing hockey.   As  this book takes place in Boston, her career change is not seen as terribly radical.   She had a bad experience that is alluded to but never explained.   Her eccentric Uncle Buddy Clancy, worried over her state of mind, entices her to the dark side, that of defending an accused criminal rather than the prosecution side she once practiced. 

Buddy Clancy would top the list of interesting people anyone has encountered.   He and his golden retriever, Rehnquist, both sport bow ties and both have a sweet tooth.   The case is fraught with current topics and undertones of intolerance.   The accused is a African Muslim who is regarded by the community as an “Arab” in the worse sense.   She is accused of killing a fireman who was attempting to rescue her from her burning store.

The plot is complicated and believable.   The current emotional attitude toward anyone different, particularly any one that can be considered related to terrorism, weighs heavily on all of the characters.   Greed, redevelopment and the pedestal fireman now occupy fill out the emotional provocative aspects of the book.

This was a very good book and an outstanding courtroom drama. 

I highly recommend it.

Body of  work of Margaret McLean </a>

Monday, November 7, 2011

Snowman's Revenge by Mark Smythe

A snowman with hurt feelings seeks revenge on his builders.

That pretty much sums up the plot but it doesn’t really describe this delightful kids’ book.   I read it to my 7 year old granddaughter and then she read it to me.  I liked the fact that it was readable by a primary age child.   She spent quite a bit of time going over the book and enjoying the illustrations as well as the “grumpy” snowman.   It is a short book and a very quick read.   There are some pages with a very grim looking snowman that could be scary to little folks.  One grim graphic was diffused by the humorous touch of the snowman eating an ice cream bar.   In the end the snowman got his just desserts. 

My granddaughter and I could not come up with a moral for the story. 

I recommend book.

Body of work: Mark Smythe

website: I did not find one.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lethal by Sandra Brown

This is an excellent mystery with rogue agents, dirty cops and sexy women.

For some reason I think of Sandra Brown as a romantic fiction author.  Well I, once again, need to revise my thoughts.  This was a very entertaining, difficult to put down mystery. 

The characters were varied and colorful.   Ms. Brown paints a brilliant canvas with bold strokes and steamy sexual tension.   Oh, and action, I can’t forget action.  There is plenty of gruesome violence and determination.   The bad guys are bad but Ms. Brown provides enough background to get a feel for why they are bad.   The good guys are just as complex and so are their feelings and actions.  

Coburn is the quintessential bad good guy, ala James Dean.   He is on a path of discovery and his tour guide is a sexy widow and a 4 year old ice breaker.  Emily’s impact on Coburn may have been the most telling emotion in the book.  

I really enjoyed this book.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Sandra Brown

Web site: