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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Targets of Opportunity by Jordon Sandor Paperback

The Simon & Schuster Press Release announcing the release of the paperback version of Jordon Sandor's Targets of Opportunity mentions my review.   Check out my review and then check out this excellent thriller. 

“Sandor is a character molded in the likes of CIA agent Jason Bourne.”  —The Greenwich Post

“Sandor is a worthy James Bond clone.”  Pick of the Literate blogspot

“Jeffrey Stephens is right up there with Tom Clancy and Jordan Sandor may well rank as the next Jack Ryan.” Cheryl’s Book Nook blogspot

For readers who are seeking a book that will deliver the thrill of a James Bond movie, the suspense of a Jack Ryan scene, and the action of a Jason Bourne flick, look no moreJeffrey Stephens’s Jordan Sandor returns in TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY (Pocket Star Books; April 24, 2012; $7.99) to satiate readers’ appetites!  Book reviewers have embraced Jordan Sandor and compared him to all three top action heroes.  Compelling readers further stand the authors whom Jeffrey Stephens has been compared to: Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, and Tom Clancy. 

You also might be interested to know:
 Upcoming Jordan Sandor books:
Targets of Deception, Jordan Sandor #1, Paperback, September 2012
Targets of Revenge, Jordan Sandor #3, Original Hardcover, February 2013

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Under Oath by Margaret McLean

Another superb courtroom drama with volatile emotional context from Margaret McLean.

Annie Fitzgerald is prosecuting a despicable criminal figure in Boston’s infamous Charlestown section.   She has a personal ax to grind and is obsessed with getting a conviction.  She is assisted by homicide detective Callahan who is grinding his own ax.  Together they share the obsessed cause of convicting Billy Malone.  

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.   Buddy was more likeable in McClean’s previous book, Under Fire.    Buddy seems more contentious.  His folksy style fades against the counterpoint of the killer he is defending.  Buddy seems to undergo a crisis of conscience with his defense of what may be a multiple murder suspect.  

The plot is complicated and believable.   There are a wealth of seedy characters that provide grit and grime to the story line.  Sadly the story has a ring of truth which probably is the reason it is so captivating.   Charlestown exhibits many of the characteristics of small towns and insular communities.   Ms. McLean did an exceptional job in painting the atmosphere of this type of neighborhood.  

The murdered artist Trevor Shea tells his own poignant story through out the book.   The thread of his work is what ties this book so very neatly tight. 

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

I highly recommend it.

Body of  work of <a type="amzn" > Margaret McLean </a>

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The One You Love by Paul Pilkington

Sibling interaction with murder as a result provides the impetus for this mystery.
This can probably be classified as a psychological thriller. It was well laid out but seemed to plod along. There wasn’t anything that grabbed my attention and forced me to continue to read.
The characters were well described but somewhat clueless and occasionally confusing. The plot was well done and if action is not an imperative for your reading pleasure this story may fit the bill.

Body of work of Body of work of Paul Pilkington
Web Site:
I read this on my Droid-X.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Department of Magic by Rod Kierkegaard Jr.

This book appears to be a satire on government.  The Department of Magic responsibility is to protect “America” the goddess from any harm. 

The premise of the book was very attractive.   It prefaced each chapter with satirical definitions that were often quite funny.   I found the main protagonists hapless and clueless which most likely was intentional.

There was plenty of action and gore.  I just couldn’t get into the story.  I didn’t find it captivating.   I suspect it will find a fervent audience such as Adam’s Hitch Hiker which I also couldn’t get into. 

Body of work of Body of  work of <a type="amzn" > Rod Kierkegaard Jr. </a>
Web Site:

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Free eBook Redemption Day by Steve O'Brien

Steve O’Brien’s author of Redemption Day is offering the Kindle version FREE on Amazon from April 15th – 19th . It would be great if you could help spread the word.  Check out my review.
Here is a little write up from Steve about April 19 and its significance in Redemption Day.

 April 19 has become a date marking horrific violence in this country's history.

The date is not well known like September 11 or December 7, the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Unlike dates that commemorate great military victories or the end of World Wars, April 19 is about a different kind of violence.

Violence between citizens of this nation and the government itself.

Like most traditions it began as a coincidence, but later transitioned into a date of significance for members of sovereign citizen groups like the Posse Comitatus.

It began in 1985. Jim Ellison was the leader of a sovereign group called CSA (The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord. On April 19, 1985, three hundred federal officers surrounded his compound in northern Arkansas. Ellison surrendered and was later convicted of conspiracy and weapons charges. Aside from traditional firearms, the federal officers rounded up hand grenades, plastic explosives, blasting caps, land mines and even a US Army anti-tank rocket. One of Ellison’s men, Richard Wayne Snell was charged with murder and his execution took place ten years later as fate would have it, on April 19.

April 19, 1993 the FBI stormed the Branch Davidian complex outside Waco Texas, killing seventy six members, including seventeen children. David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidian group was sought for illegal weapons charges, something sovereign groups adamantly believed was not a crime, but a right. This came on the heels of the Ruby Ridge shootings which had enraged members like Tim McVeigh. Terry Nichols and McVeigh saw Waco as yet another illegal intrusion by a corrupt government.

Following Waco, April 19 became a date of significance for sovereign groups. They would use the date as a symbol and cause to retaliate against the government.

On April 19, 1994 militia leader Linda Thompson issued a call for sovereign citizen groups  to assemble in Washington DC, armed and in uniform. The purpose of the assembly was the forced repeal of the Brady Bill and the arrest of Congressmen and Senators for treason. She identified herself as the acting adjutant general of the Unorganized Militia of the United States. Although later rescinded, her call to arms became known as the Thompson Ultimatum.

At nine pm April 19, 1995, CSA member, Richard Wayne Snell, was put to death by lethal injection in Arkansas. Twelve hours earlier, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols had ignited a truck bomb outside the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people.

For McVeigh and Nichols the date was not a coincidence.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

From The Ashes by Jeremy Burns

An action thriller with historic inferences might best describe this captivating book.   Two Indiana Jones type brothers face a government cover-up and a generations old secret in this first of (I suspect.) the Jonathan Rickner thrillers.

Mr. Burns does a nice job on the back story.  He fills in blanks and fleshes out both the characters and the story.   There is plenty of material alluded to that may provide the seeds for forthcoming books.   I liked the characterizations and the action.    The loyalty of Jonathan and Mara to a memory was touching.  The tenacity to which they ascribed their quest was laudable.  

This story has a little something for everyone.   Treachery, government conspiracies, Nazi politics and pre-cold war machinations all combine in a very good book.    

I recommend the book.  

Body of work of <a type="amzn"> Jeremy Burns </a>

Web Site:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Latest Review of My Book:Short or Tall Doesn't Matter At All

5.0 out of 5 stars A Story To Be Shared, April 12, 2012
This review is from: Short or Tall Doesn't Matter At All: Dealing with bullying in school. (Paperback)
Mr. Bentrim has hit another home run. I have shared all of his stories with my grandchildren and this will be no exception. He has continued his style of introducing a topic and writing a story which applies to many. A reader of Mr. Bentrim's stories should never read in mono because his stories are always in stereo.

Just look at this story: a message for the parents, a message for concerned friends (neighbors), a message for classmates, a message for the bully, and a message for the bullied. It would be interesting to give this story to a bully and see what the reaction would be. The thing that impressed me the most with his story is the fact the bully and the bullied resolved the issue. It doesn't get any better than this.

In the real world, it would be nice if we could see well enough to help orchestrate endings like this. Maybe this story will help US see better!!!

Thanks Mr. Bill----Keep it up

Whit Gentry

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner

 This is another legal novel that will probably make ethical lawyers cringe.  (Note I am refraining from any of the cheap shot jokes here.)

Alex Miller has pulled the all nighters studying to be a lawyer, the incessant hours to become a partner and now as a partner the world is his oyster or is it?

This a not a thriller, it is more of a character study.  If you enjoy legal novels, I suspect you will find this very satisfying.  If you are an adrenalin junky, I suspect the lack of action will mean this book is not your cuppa.  

Alex Miller’s life is put on trial in this book.   The decisions he makes, the people around him, the impact others have on his life all contribute to the persona that defines Alex Miller, attorney, son, husband and father.  

There is a hint that overly ambitious goal setting may contribute to an unsatisfying life.  

I recommend it.

Body of  work of <a type="amzn" > Adam Mitzner </a>

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, April 6, 2012

An Interview With Karen Spears Zacharias author of A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder

Q&A with Karen Spears Zacharias author of
A Silence of Mockingbirds:  The Memoir of a Murder

Question: How did you meet Sarah Brill Sheehan? 
Karen: As a young teenager Sarah Brill was assigned to an in-school detention class that I was supervising. Sarah possessed the jaw-dropping beauty of Halle Berry, and the reckless nature of Casey Anthony. She embodied a certain dangerous vulnerability that I recognized, so I reached out to her in a mentoring way that teachers often do.

Question: How was it Sarah came to live with your family? 
Karen: At age 19, Sarah got pregnant. She asked my husband and me to adopt that child. For a variety of reasons we didn’t, but after Sarah gave birth she came to live with us. We considered Sarah our “adopted daughter.”

Question: So Karly wasn’t her first child? 
Karen: No. She adopted her first daughter out to someone I introduced to her. Karly was the daughter she had with David Sheehan. A native of Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland. David met Sarah in Corvallis, Oregon, home to Oregon State University. David was an engineer in town for training at Hewlitt-Packard’s Corvallis campus, when the two met. They married in a Reno rush, lived in Ireland for a short time, and eventually settled in Corvallis, where Karly was born in January 2002. 

Question: What happened to Karly?
 Karen: She was murdered on June 3, 2005.

Question: This book is true crime memoir. Can you discuss what that means?
 Karen:  I worked the cop beat as a reporter in Oregon, so I knew all too well the inherent dangers of writing true crime. Fortunately, I had the benefit of being a known commodity in my community. Our local police trusted me to get it right. I didn’t have that advantage with A Silence of Mockingbirds. Although I am an OSU alum, I knew no one in law-enforcement in Oregon’s Benton-County when I began my research. It took me years to gain the trust of some of the law enforcement and attorneys on this case.

I suppose it was natural for me to approach this story as a crime reporter – it’s what I knew. I had years of experience in courtrooms and courthouses. I spent three years writing and rewriting A Silence of Mockingbirds as straight true crime. When I sent the manuscript to my agent, she read it and then called me early the next day. Alanna told me that while she thought I had written a very compelling true crime story, there was a problem with the manuscript. “What interests me in this story is your relationship with this family and you’ve told us very little about that,” Alanna said. “You need to rewrite it as memoir.”

For six weeks, the then 435-page manuscript set on my desk staring at me like a flame-eyed demon. I had no idea, none at all, how I would deconstruct this book and start again, but I was determined to do so. Then one day I came across some of the letters I had written to Inmate Shawn Field, the man convicted of killing Karly Sheehan. It was one of those Ah-ha moments that Oprah speaks about so frequently. My Ah-ha moment came when I realized those letters were the opening for the true crime memoir, and I began to write. A year later, I had an entirely new manuscript.
Question: How does true crime differ from memoir? 
Karen: Having authored three memoirs now, it’s not the differences between true crime and memoir I notice, but rather the many ways in which they are similar.

It does seem that the most compelling true crime stories are those in which the writer finds themselves entangled in personal narrative. That has certainly been the case for the beloved crime writer Ann Rule whose long-career started with her relationship with serial-killer Ted Bundy.

I met and interviewed Ann during my reporting years. She had suggested at the time that I turn my eye toward writing true crime. When I told her about Karly’s death, Ann said, “This is your Ted Bundy story.” I’m humbled and overwhelmed that Ann Rule has given such a resounding endorsement to this work, calling it “a must read”.

In my opinion, the pitfall for any memoirist is the temptation to cling to one’s own mythology. Unfortunately, some memoirists write as if they are elementary school boys trying to out-wee each other. Such writing isn’t about honesty as much as it is about trying to crank up the shock value. But when the writing is about the discovery of truth, it matters not whether one is writing true crime or memoir or fiction. 

Question: Does the book contain specific recommendations for individuals and society in preventing child abuse? 
Karen: Yes. The book is being released in April to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention month. I have partnered with national advocacy groups such as Childhelp (, Child Abuse Intervention Centers, the National Children’s Alliance ( and Fathers and Families ( to help raise awareness about our nation’s child abuse epidemic.

A Silence of Mockingbirds provides practical insights into the subtle, and sometimes glaringly obvious things we overlook, the multitudes of ways in which abuse insinuates itself into our neighborhoods, and our communities, and our families. Everyone in Karly Sheehan’s life was college-educated. Many of them were trained professionals who were supposed to be able to identify and prevent child abuse. Yet, Karly’s abuse had been ongoing for months prior to her death. These people should have known better. Why didn’t they? 

Question: Will you write another true crime?
Karen: I write real stories about real people and about things that really matter. I try to use my voice as a writer to speak for those whose voices have been marginalized and/or muted. So while I don’t think of myself as a true crime writer, dead people often play heavily into my work, so I suppose it’s entirely possible.

Remember April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Silence of Mockingbirds by Karen Spears Zacharias

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.   Frankly it is horrific to think we need a month to suggest the obvious, that children are to be cherished and protected.    I am reading A Silence of Mockingbirds by Karen Spears Zacharias.  It details the abuse and murder of a three year old girl named Karly.

This is not an easy book to read due to the subject matter.  My family suggested that I should not read it due to my propensity for emoting.   I was a teacher and a guidance counselor and dealt with real life situations that were dismaying but none as horrifying as this true story.

I caution you that to read the book will give you pause and perhaps motivate you to being proactive if you see signs or symptoms of abuse.   Keep in mind that abuse may be emotional as well as physical and it is not limited to just children.   

This book is an important read, not an easy read, but an important one.  

The best seller of my own books is Mommy’s Black Eye, which is a picture book on domestic violence.  I am dismayed that it sells so well and hopeful that it may help someone.   In this I share the impetus of Ms. Zacharias that we all need to be sensitive to what goes on around us.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.