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.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Love Thug by Daniel Berenson


Billy Cantrell is in love, un-requited love, the worse kind.   His heart burns with passion and un-met longings that he is incapable of understanding.  All he knows is that he must, absolutely must possess the unreachable, impeccable Veronica!

         This book is the tawdry tale of a love smitten teen and his attempts to transform himself from well thought of boy to the Love Thug in order to win the admiration of the fair Veronica. 

     Daniel Berenson has crafted a work that will resonate with those of us who have survived our teen years.  It is a rare adult who can get into the head of the young and grab their attention.   The story has such a familiar feel because all of us who survived the hormonal debacles of middle school or junior high can relate to Billy Cantrell’s feelings.

    What provides the humor is the manner in which Billy tries to change himself to a James Dean/Fonsie type of character.  Of course reference to either will immediately cause a look of consternation on the average teen who has never heard of either bad boy.   Heck even Kurt Cobain is ancient history to the current crop of middle schoolers.

      I think this book will pique the psychic of the teen reader and convulse him with laughter when Billy works his less than successful magic.    Berenson is in touch with his inner child and it shows.  This is an amusing tale and doesn’t stoop to the antics illustrated by much of the supposed juvenile literature.  This is not Capt. Underpants or Whimpy Willie.   Billy Cantrell stands tall as an anti-antihero.

    BTW I am impressed with how Mr. Berenson has crafted such a different story than Firebug which I also enjoyed. 

I highly recommend both.

I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review but if you read my reviews it should be apparent I strive for honesty in all my reviews regardless of the source of the book.

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, May 26, 2013

A Man Of Indeterminate Value by Ron Felber

Jack Madson is a tortured soul.   Jack can’t decide if he is fish or fowl, prey or predator.   Trapped in a loveless life, soul simmering with resentment, shoulders bowed under misplaced responsibility, Jack attempts to escape his current reality.   This story is a diary of despair. 

Jack Madson is not particularly likeable.   A corporate raider in the worse sense, Jack doesn’t build, he destroys.   In many ways this novel is a blanket condemnation of a style of business that views short term rewards and ignores long term dissolution and destruction.   The author paints such a dismal picture of a slice of corporate America that you wish it was pure fantasy.  Sadly Felber is just holding up a mirror to some of the more despicable practices that have characterized recent Wall Street debacles. 

The story is characterized by torturous introspection by the main character.   Jack has to delve deeply into his past to find a single redeeming act that allows him to describe himself as a Man of Indeterminate Value rather than a soulless demon inflicting pain on all those around him.

The story has a twist at the end that either supports Jack’s deep seated feelings of positive worth or confirms society’s overall corruption.

I’m not sure I enjoyed the book as much as it made me think of how you can get carried away with a corporate culture and fall down an endless Lewis Carroll rabbit hole seeking your own demise. 

I recommend the book, it should make you ponder your own reality.

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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cherry Bomb by J.A. Konrath

Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey is satisfying, not my favorite but satisfying.   Jack Daniels the book character is a hard nosed female detective tracking a psychopathic serial killer out to destroy all who Jack loves.

Apparently in a previous book, Jack had incarcerated and disfigured Alex while killing her only love.  Alex took this amiss and that is her rationale for her demented behavior.

I have only read one other Konrath book and this one was even more violent than the last one.   This too had some humor mixed with the incessant violence.  The action was continuous with soul searching by the protagonist and introspection by the villain.   The viewpoint of the villain is often overlooked and that added an interesting dimension to this book.  

The plot was not too complex, revenge, horrific revenge was the theme.  It was well done and a compelling read.

I highly recommend it.

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.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Smoky Mountains Murders by Marlene Mitchell and Gary Yeagle

This mystery features a small town cop as the main protagonist.  Grant Denlinger is a young man pondering his future in law enforcement while faced with the antagonism of his red necked Chief.  Grant is thrust into a series of grisly murders that are totally out of character for his small town.

The authors start the book with a graphic depiction that tends to turn the stomach.   It certainly captures your attention.   The story doesn’t start slowly, it explodes in the first few pages.   Then you are lulled into a folksy mystery that explodes again.   The authors do a great job of dragging your attention away from the TV and painting a true 3-dimentional heart stopper.  

The culmination of the story leads to an ethical dilemma.   Grant is faced with a major decision that will impact the rest of his life.   Motive and means take a new perspective in the final twist of the plot knife.   What is good and what is evil and what responsibility does the average man have for cleansing the soul or perhaps the community. 

I highly recommend the book.    Echoes of Death TBA.

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, May 14, 2013

Marlene Mitchell and Gary Yeagle Virtual Tour May 15 to June 14, 2013

About Marlene Mitchell:
Originally from St. Louis, Marlene makes her home in Kentucky now. A mother and grandmother, Marlene has a wide range of interests including watercolor and oil painting, yet writing has always been her passion. That comes through loud and clear in her wonderful novels!

These novels reflect a genuine sincerity with very strong characters to which her readers can relate. To quote Marlene: “It took me a long time to start writing, but now I can’t stop. The stories just keep on coming.”

About Gary Yeagle:
Gary Yeagle was born and raised in Williamsport, Pa., the birthplace of Little League Baseball. He grew up living just down the street from the site of the very first Little League game, played in 1939.

He currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife and four cats. He is the proud grandparent of three and is an active member of the Jeffersontown United Methodist Church. Gary is a Civil War buff, and enjoys swimming, spending time at the beach, model railroading, reading, and writing.

Seasons of Death
Book Synopsis:
In the fall of 1969 in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, a poor backwoods farmer and his wife were brutally shot and killed by four drunken hunters, along with their three dogs, horse and two fawns. The farmer’s two young sons managed to escape but were unable to identify the killers. Now decades later, the murders of the Pender family remain unsolved. In Townsend, Tennessee, in Blount County, someone has decided to take revenge.

Echoes of Death
Book Synopsis:
It’s springtime in the Smokies and despite the four murders of the previous year, tourists from every corner of the country have made the journey to Townsend, Tennessee. The hiking trails are packed, the restaurants are jammed, and the campsites are full. Vacation season is in full swing in the peaceful side of the Smokies.
But then… there is another murder.

Tour Schedule and Activities

May 15  - Bookishly Me - Promo/Spotlight
May 16 - Full Moon Bites - Interview
May 17 - Read 2 Review  - Excerpt
May 18 - Pick of the Literate - Review
May 19 - Beagle Book Space - Promo/Spotlight
May 20 - Sheila Deeth - Guest Post
May 22 - A Daydreamer’s Thoughts - Interview
May 25 - The FlipSide of Julianne - Excerpt
May 26 - CelticLady’s Review - Promo/Spotlight/Excerpt
June 1 - Mochas, Mysteries, and More - Guest Post
June 3 - Crossroads Reviews - Review
June 4 - Shelley’s Book Case - Review
June 5 - Darlene’s Book Nook - Character Interview
June 6 - Breath of Life - Review
June 6 - Babs Book Bistro - Promo/Spotlight/Excerpt
June 8 – JeanzBookReadNReview - Interview
June 10 - Bee’s Knees Reviews - Review
June 11 - Mary’s Cup of Tea - Review
June 12 - The Dan O’Brien Project - Excerpt-Promo
June 13 - Mom Cat’s Book Blog - Character Post
June 14 - Fictional Candy - Review

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

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Die Trying by Lee Child

I am now getting used to the pace Lee Child sets in his Jack Reacher books.  I am budgeting the time necessary to read it in as short a time as possible since it is darn near impossible to put down.  In this rendition, Jack is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up in a hostage situation with a psychotic militia.

Jack is once again a force of nature.   He is willing to go with the flow unless he is personally affronted or if he feels someone is being wronged.  We find out in this book that Jack is sniper trained.  I have only read four other Reacher books and I was not aware of this area of his expertise.  

Holly, a wounded bird FBI agent, is the object of Jack’s affection in this book.  It appears that Jack is destined for heart break in his previous books but perhaps he gets lucky in this book.   (Take that for whatever meaning you want to ascribe to it.)


Government agencies, the military and bureaucracy in general are once again showcased with a high level of incompetency.   Beau Borken is an excellent villain as he is so easy to despise.   Child paints with a broad brush and not a lot of technical nuances.  His stories are easy to follow and frequently leave you breathless with their pace.  Although this book is several years old, the plot resonates with the current events of the Boston Marathon.   That adds a veneer of believability that enhances the story and frankly is rather frightening.   In spite of that I am really enjoying this series.

I do like the way Jack faces his fear and conquers it.

There is non-stop action and lots of violence.   I enjoyed the book and I recommend the book.

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, May 5, 2013

The Sixth Station by Linda Stasi

Dan Brown meet Sandra Brown.   This is a novel of the 2nd Coming.  Alessandra Russo has a Manhattan size chip on her shoulder and a mouth most truck drivers would be ashamed of having.   She despises hypocrisy and authority equally.  She finds herself caught up in a millennium old religious conspiracy.

Demiel ben Yusef is either Satan incarnate or the Son of God.   Alessandra finds herself trying to discover which.  

This book had a fast pace incongruent with it’s thought provoking premise.   It has the hallmarks of a major best seller with intrigue, secret societies, age old vendettas and modern violence.   Ms. Stasi adroitly uses historic underpinnings to provide plausibility to her story.   Her plot encourages skepticism even while reading.   I found myself Googling things to see what was fact and what was fiction. 

I think Ms. Stasi clearly points out that religious conflicts have the potential for being the most destructive of wars.   The book is a captivating read that alludes to historic conspiracies that force you to ponder.   Ms. Stasi makes no attempt to pander to the sensitivities of those who may be offended by her irreverence.  This book will no doubt offend some.  

This is an action adventure mystery that must be read.

I highly recommend. 

Web Site: none found

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

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reading Humor 5/2/13

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