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, March 30, 2014

Killing the Blues by Michael Brandman

This book is a continuation of Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone novels.   Brandman, a friend of Parkers, was given permission by Parker's widow and encouraged by Parker's publisher to continue the series.   The main story is a dark episode from the past haunts Jesse Stone and an up and coming mobster is threatening Paradise.

Brandman did a very good job emulating the repartee one expected from a Parker novel.   The give and take between Spencer and Hawk were the defining aspects of my personal enjoyment of Parker's work.  Brandman recreated that with the relationship between Healy and Stone.  

The plot was a traditional Parker plot with the requisite twists and dipping to the dark side that I enjoyed in the late Parker's books. 

I commend Michael Brandman for doing such a good job in resurrecting Jesse Stone and I hope he will continue the franchise.   Do NOT overlook the fact that this book was NOT written by Robert B. Parker, more as an homage to Parker.   In some ways Parker lite but still better than having the Jesse Stone character die.

web site:  Brandman, not his website since I didn't find one but a good interview with him. 

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, March 26, 2014

White House Down:The Movie

I don't usually review movies but since this movie has taken a bit of a beating in the reviews, I thought I would jump in and say my piece.   I liked the movie!   I don't know what people are looking for when they are so critical of entertainment.   It was unrealistic, it was violent, it was sappy sentimental but that's OK!   Movies are to entertain, this one did.   Lots of action, acting wasn't too shabby and one tough little girl!  

It isn't a best picture or an Academy Award nomination but it was a good flick, provided 2 hours of entertainment and frankly what the heck more can you ask?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader

 I have tried reading Lustbader before.  I guess, considering his success, that it is me.  Sounds like a blow off for a relationship but his books sell well.   I just find them disjointed.   This plot features a Ninja which should be enough right there for excitement.  

I just found the jump from character to character just too much.   I did not finish the book.  I don't say that very often.   I pride myself on plowing through just to see the end.  I couldn't get interested enough to plow through.

Again, Lustbader sells a ton of books so somebody out there is captivated, I'm just not one of them.  

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, March 22, 2014

House of Jaguar by Mike Bond

This book was captivating but strange.   I'm not sure if it is an action novel or a treatise on the effects of war causing character deprivation.  Regardless of that it is certainly critical of our government's clandestine efforts at shoring up governments in the war on drugs. 

Joe Murphy is a veteran whose flying skills were honed in Vietnam.  He carries the scars of his tours on his body and in his mind.  Making a good living as a drug carrying pilot he is betrayed in Guatemala.  His betrayal ends with his friend dead and Murph fleeing while wounded.   A miraculous trip through implacable jungle leads Murph to Dona, the new love of his life.   Dona's calling is saving the peasants of Guatemala from their corrupt government and the orchestrations of the CIA. 

There is a lot of soul searching and somewhat confusing introspection in the book.   The main villain is the CIA liaison to the Guatemalan death squads.  He is a stark raving mad, true psychopath.   Lyman believes the world is out to get him and he feels he is a far better man than any he has ever met.  His self centered, poor me violent persona is absolutely dreadful.   They guy is a walking nightmare.

There is plenty of action and violence.   The implications of the story and the premise are truly sad.   What our government has done in the name of democracy and or the war on drugs defies imagination although Bond has certainly used his in this book.  I can't say I enjoyed the book but it certainly kept my interest.

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, March 18, 2014

The Chase by Janet Evanovich an Lee Goldberg

This is part of a series, The Fox and O'Hare Novels.  Fox is a master thief and O'Hare is a snake eater turned FBI agent.  The two are paired together as a secret FBI strike team out to catch those either too elusive or too well connected to be apprehended by normal means.   A former Presidential aid is the main target in this book.

Fox and O'Hare have the stereotypical love hate relationship with the requisite sexual tension found on many current TV shows.   Goldberg's roots as a screen writer are clear in both the plot and the characterizations.  One tends to think of the TV show White Collar. 

The book is a good mystery but it is a very fast read.  It is not mentally taxing or earth shattering, a good low key beach book.   I do enjoy O'Hare's father and his cronies, they bring a touch of humor to the story.   Black Rhino is modeled after Black Water which was featured in so many news stories.  Black Rhino is portrayed as a merciless mercenary group led by the main target of O'Hare and Fox.

A fun, non-taxing, relaxing read. 

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.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Traitors Gate by Kate Elliott

Captain Anji and his Qin take the fight for the Hundreds to the false Guardians and their minions.   Whether the dauntless Captain is truly a mommy's boy is discovered.  Treachery on all fronts leads to the title of the book.

The main characters find their lives primarily wrapped up in this book.   The author definitely leaves the fate of the Hundreds open to a sequel.   The battle of good and evil is marked with various shades of gray.   Is order and peace a quantified good or can order and peace be characterized as benevolent dictatorship? 

The open question of the other races in the Hundreds is left as a question.  The potential for a series on each sub-group would be a welcome series.  Whether Wildlings, Mers or Firelings there lies a wealth of material for future stories.  

The author wrapped up the trilogy but leaves the reader famished for more.   I hope the Hundreds will appear again as a topic tackled by Elliott.   She creates believable characters and postulates interesting social conventions.  They may be historically based or purely subjective but they are believable.   If you question the believability, consider for a moment how wildly speculative it would have been twenty years ago to have marijuana legalized in some states.   Sociological theories run amuck in this series.

If you chose to look no further than the action and the adventure you will still be satisfied and possibly sated but if you want to ponder the implications of women's rights, sequesterization, homosexuality, might making right, legal prostitution, this series will  provide fodder for in depth introspection.

I highly 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.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Deadly Crossing by R. E. McDermott

I am lucky enough to be an advanced reader for Bob.  This simply means I got the book before it was published and devoured it with rapidity.   Bob asked me to hold off on my review until the book was actually published which made sense.   So, in conclusion, this is a darn fine book and if you enjoy action and adventure, you should really buy it.  (Again, no compensation what so ever was received for this review and there isn’t a whole lot of resale value in a .mobi file. Oh, and we aren’t related by blood or marriage, don’t play golf or bridge together and never have met face to face.)

Tom Dugan is a marine consultant who finds himself immersed this time in the Russian mafia and the sex trade.

I was pleased to see Tom Dugan again, he is an older and more thoughtful protagonist who does not rush in with blazing guns to save the day.   He does have a Machiavellian streak that serves him well when he is dealing with international miscreants.  There are a few carry over characters from Deadly Straits but this book can certainly be read as a stand alone novel.  The characters are eminently likeable or vilely despicable.  Once again, McDermott has done a super job with his characterizations.
Anna, his main squeeze and deadly in her own right, is once again on the front lines with Tom.  Major Andrei Borgdanov and Sgt. Ilya Denosovitch, formerly Russian Spetsnaz, come to Tom for aid in tracking down Ilya's missing niece.   Anna's MI5 and Tom's CIA contacts are crucial in finding the missing girl.  

The despicable human trafficking trade is the major theme of the book.  How Tom jumps in with both feet provides the action and plot line.  Once again, the plot could be lifted from the daily news.   It has roots in reality and that may be one of the things that makes it so captivating.   There is plenty of action and emotions are more realistic and perhaps less noble than the run of the mill stylized protagonist. 

I find myself being some what redundant in my review as, once again, I am thrilled with McDermott's work.
I highly recommend it.

Body of  work of <a type="amzn" > R. E. McDermott </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.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler & Grant Blackwood

The Cussler franchise continues in this formula book.   Like Patterson, Cussler has created a formula that sells books.   He starts with a preposterous mystery and then shares the stage with the primary mystery.   Eventually they are tied together.   This story starts with WWII German submarines and ends with a hunt for a hidden Grecian treasure.

Sam and Remi Fargo are the protagonists in this book.   They are a couple with apparently unlimited resources to run the worlds secrets to the ground.   They rent and destroy equipment, vehicles and properties world wide.   

The obligatory cameo of Cussler is in this book.   I haven't read any Cussler in about five years so that was a treat to see that some things haven't changed.

Grant Blackwood is a ghost writer who co-authored the book with Cussler.   Speculation is that Blackwood wrote the book and Cussler added his name for the marketing panache.   I have no idea if that speculation is founded in anything but jealousy as the book hit number 10 on the NY Times Hard Cover Fiction list.

The story is entertaining, there is a ton of preposterous action and a black on black villain.   The formula works and provides a couple of hours of escapism.  

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.