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, January 29, 2012

The Yoga Club by Cooper Lawrence

Four costumed Sarah Palins bond when faced with adversity after witnessing a heinous crime.

Ms. Lawrence background and exposure shows in this book. The characters, their behavior and the setting are so far beyond the bulk of the population that is smacks of fantasy or Science Fiction.

The plot and the characters could be lifted from practically any supermarket tabloid. The sad thing is that due to the antics of the wealthy and famous it is hard to not take the plot and characters as somewhat realistic.

I find it hard to believe that people behave the way the three Jills and a Jack-eline behave but apparently some folks do behave and live that way.

The book is practically a travelogue to another dimension beyond belief or at least as far as afternoon Soaps. I suspect it will be a huge hit with tabloid buyers and beach readers. I also suspect that most guys would find this a difficult read.

For the appropriate audience, I recommend it.

Body of work of Cooper Lawrence

Web Site:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Killer Sweet Tooth by Gayle Trent

This is a food oriented mystery in the fashionable “cozy” mystery genre. The protagonist finds herself embroiled in cake batter, Elvis impersonators and murder.

This book was a fun read. Much like cotton candy, it was tasty and certainly not filling. This was a mystery for those who want mystery without graphic and gratuitous violence. The protagonist, Daphne Martin, is a woman getting back on her feet from a disastrous and abusive marriage. She is an accomplished baker and returns to her home town to recover and start over. This quest is interrupted by dead bodies. Reference to previous bodies in other stories is alluded to but never fleshed out.

Daphne is likeable as are her zany friends. The thrust of the plot is Daphne and her friend Myra trying to prove they had nothing to do with the murder of a philandering dentist.

This is beach reading in a low stress, un-taxing form.

Body of work of Gayle Trent

Web Site:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gods and Fathers by James Lepore

This is another excellent mystery from James Lepore. See my post of Sons and Princes review. This mystery aligns a hot tempered prosecutor against terrorists and criminals in an attempt to save his alienated son, ex-wife and new girlfriend from death and destruction.

Matt DeMarco is a good protagonist. He isn’t perfect, he has trouble controlling his temper and he has problems with relationships. In other words, his characterization is eminently believable. Pristine, perfect protagonists are no fun as they are so hard to identify with.

The story has plenty of twists and turns and a wealth of evil villains. I liked the fact that the main characters worked through their personal demons. Jade successfully faced her fears while Debra didn’t do as well. Another example of how Lepore both maintains interest in the characters but also gives a reality check that all can not be saved.

Having an old testament approach to justice myself, I appreciate Lepore’s willingness to delve out street justice in full measure. I’m aware of the rule of law and the need for it but there is some visceral satisfaction in seeing evil get it’s just deserts.

Lepore also clearly demonstrates how difficult parenting is in any circumstance, let alone in one fraught with peril.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of James Lepore

Web Site:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dreams Of the Dead by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Nina Reilly is the main protagonist in this excellent mystery. It is the first story I have read featuring her as the main protagonist. It certainly won't be the last it was an excellent mystery full of twists and turns and a modicum of violence.

The two sisters that write the series do an excellent job of portraying an attorney who although she believes in the law also answers to a moralistic streak in her nature. Although this story stood alone quite well, I think that events in previous stories would provide greater enjoyment of the story.

The authors fleshed out the characters with enough detail and color to enable emotional attachment or visceral disdain. The scenes were set well the plot was certainly complex enough to capture the interest of the most discerning mystery reader.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of Perri O’Shaughnessy

Web Site:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Eye of the witch by Dana E. Donovan

The book seemed like a typical murder mystery, however the smidgen of the occult that was added provided enough spice to lift it above the average murder mystery.

I particularly enjoyed the main protagonist being an articulate, dynamic retired person. It's always nice to see that retired people can still be seen as a viable and able to impact events.

This is the second book in a series. It was a good read as a stand alone but I suspect it would've been a better read if I have read the first book in the series.

The mystery plot was solid and enjoyable. There were enough twists and turns to maintain your interest. The characters were intricate and well portrayed. The touch of the occult was lightly done but it did spice up the story.

I enjoyed the book and I recommend it.

Body of work of Dana E. Donovan

Web site:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

A demented killer is leaving bodies all over Atlanta with no apparent rhyme or reason. An ex-FBI profiler and her unknown main squeeze combine efforts to stop the mayhem.

This is in some ways a tale of redemption, of the ability to hold demon alcohol at arms length start a new life. So there is a good message of perseverance and tenaciousness seen in Keye Street an ethnic oriental with a southern drawl. Keye is a surprising blend of personalities. She struggles every day with being a recovered alcoholic yet she has time for kindness to strangers and a self destructive bent for chasing unnecessary violence. I really enjoyed the complexity of personality written for this character.

Rauser on the other hand, could have been fleshed out a bit more. He was a good character but I felt his development could have had more depth. Ms. Williams portrays a hot and sweaty southern environment populated by a wealth of questionable characters. Entertaining and thought provoking while maintaining suspense and action are a lot of balls to juggle but Ms. Williams did it well.

This is the first book in a new series and I will look forward to reading more about Keye Street.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Amanda Kyle Williams

Web site:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Amazon Detractors You Should Consider Celebrating Change

I love the brick/mortar book stores, too.
Amazon sells books. Amazon sells lots of books and gasp, Amazon sells lots of digital books. There appear to be many Luddites in regards to books. Superficially I could appear to be one of those people since I still prefer to read a hard copy hard back book.

Did the advent of the paperback book cause the demise of the hard back book? I’m not old enough to answer that question but the advent of anything that disturbs the status quo often results in predictions of doom and gloom.

I like hard back books, particularly the ones I hope to interest my children and grandchildren to read. They hold up better, they are more likely to have acid free paper and I just like them better. However as the prices have risen my ability and willingness to pay over $20.00 for a book decreased. Books from authors I truly love, I still try and get hardbacks. Any that I am not sure about, I get paper or now digitally at more affordable prices.

Baen Free Library offers a wonderful assortment of terrific books in digital format for FREE! I have downloaded them all, particularly since some of my all time favorite authors are represented. Interestingly I have since purchased some of the exact same stories in hard back and in paper because I enjoyed them so much. Some of those books are out of print and unavailable in the used market. I am thrilled to find them digitally and add them to my collection.

Admittedly I am a bit obsessed with books in all formats. I have stated my preference but I am not prejudiced regarding other formats. If my choice is no book or a book outside of my personal preference, I can guarantee you what my choice will be.

How does this relate to the title of this post, Amazon Detractors? Amazon is where my books are sold. My meaning, the books I have authored. Amazon’s market is enormous. I live in a small town, my local book store stocks my books and sells one on rare occasion. However my books sell consistently on Amazon. I’m self published, I don’t have the backing of a publishing house or an agent and yet my books are selling. I like to think it is because I have something worthwhile to say but I also recognize that no matter what you say if you get it in front of enough people, someone will buy it. Convenience store owners are known to believe that bags of dog crap will sell if you put it by the checkout. I frankly think my books are way better than dog crap but I sure haven’t been able to get my books near the register at the local book store. Amazon gives my books and many other unknown and known authors’ books, world wide visibility.

So once again, I don’t believe technology or new means of distribution are necessarily going to destroy a market. Change brings opportunities both positive and negative. Amazon and other on line vendors provide an opportunity for both authors and readers to have a much broader selection than any brick and mortar book store.

Is that the kiss of death for the local book stores, a la Borders?

If local bookstores don’t respond to the online challenge by maintaining or increasing customer service, adding the opportunity for downloading e-books for the technically challenged and providing the warm welcoming experience not available through the Internet they will fail.

As far as books are concerned, I take advantage of online and local businesses. As far as authoring books, there are opportunities galore for fledgling authors such as myself, primarily due to companies like Amazon. The world in general is in a tumultuous flux, how can the world of books be any different. Change is not always bad, sometimes we need to celebrate difference. I know that without my sales at Amazon, I probably would have only written my first book. With the sales at Amazon, I know have eight books in print with more to come, so for me, change in the world of books has been good.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Noble Cause by J. Gregory Smith

Greg’s first book, Final Price was a quarter finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. After Greg self publishing the book, it was picked up by AmazonEncore and re-released. I mention this because I was lucky enough to read and review Greg’s first book and am proud to say I was able to read and review this advanced readers copy of A Noble Caus

Mark Noble’s estrangement from his parents takes a deadly turn when he finds himself caught up in the web of treachery wound about his father’s business.

This book is action adventure at it’s best. Greg Smith has portrayed believable characters facing unbelievable things. Mark, his main protagonist, is sympathetically shown as struggling to find his own identity. I particularly liked the courage and fortitude displayed by his friends. We should all be so lucky to have friends that stalwart.

There is some reflection of current events with the women missing in the Caribbean and the lack of success by local authorities in solving the mysteries.

This book has all the features of a good mystery, a black hearted villain, a loyal sidekick, a damsel in distress and a good hearted but occasionally clueless hero. It is a fun story to read and from my point of view, Greg has a home run with this book.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of J. Gregory Price

Web Site:

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lassiter by Paul Levine

A pseudo-loser tough guy attorney is a mouth full but if you add ex-pro-football player you have an apt description of this loose cannon protagonist with the attitude of a rabid pit-bull. Lassiter defends the unsavory, unwashed and unwanted with an unorthodox style that leaves him on the razor edge of disbarment in this mystery that reeks or the underbelly of south Florida and the porn industry.

Paul Levine does a masterful job in crafting a likeable character in Jake Lassiter. He humanizes him by carefully including his faults and then he highlights the man’s innate goodness. Familial patterns had little to do with creating this craggy Don Quitoic aging athlete. You find yourself wiping the sweat off your brow in the hot Florida sunshine so image invoking is Levine’s writing. Once again I am mystified that I was unaware of this author.

I liked the plot, the intricately woven web of deceit and betrayal that leaves a lingering odor of grimy back rooms and slimy ne’er-do-wells populating the silicon pumped porn industry. Levine succeeds in keeping your interest high with both morality and action in unlikely scenarios and characters. I can’t guess if you will be educated but you will most definitely be entertained with this book.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Paul Levine

Web Site: