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.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spotlight on Mirror Image by Michele Pariza Wacek

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Mirror Image
Author:   Michele Pariza Wacek
Published:  May 27th, 2016
Publisher:   Love-Based Publishing
Genre:  Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Which would be worse: knowing that your dead sister has come back to life and is now a serial killer, or that someone else is the killer… and that person is you?
Six months after Linda’s sister Elizabeth killed herself, Linda has finally gotten her life back to some semblance of normalcy. Until a killer appears who is stalking men … a killer who resembles Elizabeth … a killer who seems somehow familiar to Linda.
And to make matters worse, Detective Steve Anderson, her old high school crush, is assigned to the case. He’s asking Linda all sorts of questions – questions she couldn’t possibly have an answer to.
There’s no reason for him to be investigating Linda. She couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this.
Could she?
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About the Author:
When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly.
As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life. She became a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional materials for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.
Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (she’s published two psychological thrillers/mystery/suspense novels “The Stolen Twin” and “Mirror Image” so far) plus, she is also the author of the “Love-Based Copy” books, which are a part of the “Love-Based Business” series and cover both business and personal development.
She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie and is hard at work on her next novel.
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • Signed print copy of The Stolen Twin (US Only)
  • $10 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
Ends May 31st at 11:59 PM EDT
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Excerpt from Mirror Image by Michele Pariza Wacek:
When Elizabeth was born, her mother knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hospital had made a mistake.
It had been a difficult pregnancy. Marie spent most of it in bed, nauseated, uncomfortable, exhausted. She barely kept anything down, subsisting mostly on tea and saltine crackers. When the time came to deliver, the doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section, so she wasn’t able to actually watch the birth.
She couldn’t explain it, but the first time the nurses presented her with Elizabeth, she refused to even hold the baby. “There must be some mistake,” she insisted.
“There’s no mistake,” the nurses said, their approach firm and no-nonsense.
Blond and pale, Elizabeth looked nothing like the other dark haired members of the family. But it was more than that. Elizabeth felt wrong. Marie sensed it every single time she looked at Elizabeth, touched Elizabeth, smelled Elizabeth. The baby was alien to her. Elizabeth was not her baby.
But she could do nothing about it. Her husband hadn’t seen the birth. He had refused to attend any of his children’s births. The nurses kept assuring her that no one had made, could possibly have made, a mistake. So Marie had little choice but to bring her home.
Elizabeth was different, always — strange. Marie hated to use that word about any of her children, especially her youngest, but she could find no other word to describe her. Elizabeth was strange. Period.
From birth, the baby kept quiet. Rarely fussed. Hardly cried. She started talking at six months, much earlier than the rest of her children, and started forming full sentences at just over a year old.
She spent most of her time alone or, once she learned how, reading. In fact, Elizabeth remained such a quiet child, Marie could easily forget about her. It made her nervous. Elizabeth was too quiet.
Even her scent was all wrong. Babies smelled warm and sweet, of milk and talcum powder. Elizabeth’s scent reminded her of meat just beginning to spoil: thick and rotten.
But there was something else wrong with Elizabeth, something more serious than her near silence, her behavior, her scent. Even more serious than that alien feeling, which Marie had tried to dismiss as simple post-partum depression, although it never did go away entirely.
When Marie was really being honest with herself, which didn’t happen often, she could admit what really disturbed her most about her daughter.
Her eyes. Elizabeth had silver eyes.
Not always. Most of the time they looked gray. But sometimes, they changed to silver. Occasionally, Marie even thought she could see them glowing, like a cat’s. Especially at night. There Elizabeth would be, lying on her back, perfectly quiet in her crib, her eyes strangely open, shining faintly in the darkness. Marie would tell herself that Elizabeth’s eyes merely reflected the nightlight in a bizarre fashion. After all, none of her other children’s eyes ever glowed. But it still didn’t make her any easier to face, late at night, as silver eyes stared at her from the darkness. They seemed so old, so ancient. Eyes that had seen thousands of years and hundreds of lifetimes. Those eyes peered out from her newborn’s face, watching her every move, strangely calculating, full of adult understanding and knowledge. She felt afraid, if she were being honest … all alone in the room with those peculiar silver eyes watching, watching, always watching.
Nonsense, she reassured herself. Surely, she could not be afraid of her own infant daughter! What would her husband say? Plenty probably, and most of it with his fists.
Still, she found herself checking on Elizabeth less and less. She argued with herself: Elizabeth didn’t fuss much anyway. Marie didn’t need to check on her so often — not like she did with her other, noisy, “normal” babies.
Her other children. Such a joy they were, her four boys and other girl — Peter, Mark, Mike, Chad and Linda. All healthy, regular children, with coarse dark hair, brown eyes and a little bit of baby fat on their bones. They looked the way children should look, the way her children should look, like their parents. But more importantly, they acted the way children should act — loud, boisterous, rough, needy. Marie loved them for it, loved how she couldn’t get a moment’s peace when they played together. Even when their play turned to fighting, she still preferred it to Elizabeth’s silent, eerie presence.

But Marie loved Elizabeth, too. Loved her fiercely, with the same passion she felt for her other children. Marie knew she did. She told herself she did, time and time again. The fact that she felt relief when Elizabeth wasn’t around meant nothing. She just needed time away from her children, after all. Almost all mothers welcomed the time they had away from their constant, children-related responsibilities. It didn’t mean she loved them any less. It didn’t mean anything at all.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I've read books from each of these authors separately and I have read books that they have collaborated together for the story.   Each are good separately but together they are excellent.   Reliquary  is a good example.  Quirky and dapper FBI agent Pendergast is the only consistent re-occurring character I recall from their books.   Pendergast is on vacation when a grisly corn field murder catches his attention.  It appears to be a singularly bizarre murder until the next one.  Pendegast is intrigued and then deeply involved. 

Preston and Child are masters at creating scenarios that are simultaneously bizarre and plausible.  The plot here ties in Western legends, small town prejudice and serial killers.  

Pendergast seems less likeable and far more quirky than previous books.  I presume I have missed some volumes that led to his increasingly strange personality development.    The inclusion of Corrie, an unlikely assistant, was a nice touch.  It showed an innate goodness in Pendergast that belied his appearance and behavior.   Corrie was an excellent example of the proverbial judgment of books by their cover.  

As I repeat myself from past reviews of this dynamic writing duo, this book has plenty of action, social commentary and thought provoking plot lines to attract a wide variety of readers.

I highly recommend.

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 22, 2016

Six Years By Harlan Coben

This book is one of the better books I have read recently.   Coben sets up a college professor to lose the love of his life.  Said professor moves on but never recovers.   The story revolves on his loss. 

The term bumbling aptly describes the professor or obsessed, which ever fits.   Jake has lots of courage but lacks a lot in the common sense department.   However the feelings he carries motivates his frequently rash and sometimes absurd behavior.

The plot is intricate and compelling.

I highly recommend.

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 18, 2016

Killing Maine by Mike Bond

Pono Hawkins is a retired Special Forces veteran who find himself pulled into the wind controversy in Maine when a former and un-liked fellow operative is arrested for murder.

Bond appears to have a decidedly negative attitude about the building of wind farms in Maine.   I did some reading and research and concluded I don't know enough to have a strong opinion.  I have not gone to Maine to see or hear any of the things that Bond mentions as determents of wind power.   I have attached links to two articles that were informative and appear reasonably unbiased.  

Disregarding the politicizing of the book, the story was a mystery with interesting sexual overtones that were somewhat subtle and certainly not blatant.   Pono appears to have issues with monogamy.   There is some violence, gun play and moderate torture in the book.   The police are portrayed as easily manipulated by politicians and extremely biased as to ex-cons regardless of their charges being exonerated.

Bond expresses a lot of opinions in his characters.
It was an interesting 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.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The God Wave by Patrick Hemstreet

This novel may be a authentic peek into the future.   Consider the brain operated drones for a moment and how experiments are progressing with the brain operating prosthesis hands.   This book goes a large but not inconceivable step forward in the direction of  the main character in the movie Lucy.   The thesis is the mind can be trained into using more of its potential.

Hemstreet postulated two believable characters in Matt and Chuck.   Matt as a bereaved pragmatic genius and Chuck as a naive near genius.    The two of them interact in a predictable manner for their personalities.  The addition of the team provides the necessary counterpoints to the conflict between those diverse personalities. 

The books premise is both exciting and daunting.   Exciting for the possibilities inherent in greater control of our own brain and daunting for how that control could be co-opted by outside malevolent forces.

This book appears to be the first in a series and it should be a hit series as the book was fast moving, extremely interesting and provides a ray of hope for the future.

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.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Don't Say Her Name by Kelly Jameson

Alice Joseph was a diva in a smash Broadway production.   A beautiful, talented woman who appeared to have a major lock on success and happiness.   Little did the world know that behind the bright smile and resounding singing voice lay a heart fraught with anguish and guilt, once a twin and now alone.

Ms. Jameson puts together a compelling mystery while painting a detailed character study of her heroine.   As in most good recipes, the success of the dish is in the details.   Alice Joseph character is vibrant and alive.    The addition of a beau provides some sexual tension.   There are multiple villains with differing goals.   

The book has tradgedy, snake handling churchies, stalkers, perverts, violence and mental illness as well as tenderness, love and affection.

Ms. Jameson put all those ingredients together and produced a tasty bit of reading.

I recommend 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.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Surviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and A Really Big Glass of Wine by Dayna Steele,

Dayna Steele
Author of Surviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and A Really Big Glass of Wine

1.      The book chronicles your mother’s illness through your Facebook posts. Did you include every post in the book? What was the selection process like?
My co-author Heather Rossiello kept a database of every single post and every comment – there were literally thousands of comments on some posts. We went through them all after I lost Mom and tried to keep only the posts and comments that 1) Included informative information for caregivers 2) made us laugh out loud, and, 3) made us think.

2.      After each post you include comments that your community left. Did you pick those or did you have other people help you?
We went through every comment, sometimes two or three times, to make sure we adhered to our own guidelines above. This book wasn’t a memoir so much as a help tool for others in the future.

3.      What was your relationship with Alzheimer’s disease before your mother’s diagnosis? Did you have any preconceptions about the illness before you started this journey with her?
I like to think I am a fairly well educated and informed person. I knew what Alzheimer’s was and I knew it was called “The Long Goodbye.” Then the diagnosis – and I realized I had no idea how stressful, sad, irritating, confusing, etc this disease is. No one tells you the really rough stuff like the possible violence or cleaning up your own mother’s feces or any number of things like this. You also don’t realize how all encompassing it becomes physically and mentally until you actually have to live it.

4.      How did the support of your Facebook community impact you through this hard time?
Facebook became my support group. My Facebook community gave me ideas, information, suggestions and laughter and love. And, once I wrote a particularly hard post, I would let go of the negative emotions. It was very cathartic to write and share.

5.      When did you get the idea to turn your Facebook posts into a book?
Literally when so many people started commenting. “I hope you put this in a book.” In fact, the first couple of pages in the book are those words of encouragement from so many followers.

6.      How has your Facebook and local community supported you through the creation of the book?
Just constantly encouraging me to compile it all in a book. And giving me permission to laugh and cry and get mad – over and over and over.

7.      How did you decide what materials to include in the second half of the book?
The second half of the book is all resources I wish I had at the beginning. There are sections written by people who helped me along the way: a neurologist, document expert, Long Term Care insurance rep, an assisted living advisor and more. I also included a list of questions everyone should ask their loved ones and a section where caregivers and their caregivers talk about what it is like on that side.

8.      You coauthored the book with Heather Rossiello. What was her role in the book’s process?
I found I could not live it and relive it at the same time – it was too daunting and depressing. Heather came in about half way through the journey for a totally unrelated reason – she had some copies of my In the Classroom book she wanted signed for teachers and we met for coffee. She asked what I was working on and I told her about the book idea and my challenges with getting it done. She asked if she could take a look and see what could be done – and then did it! (book link  )

9.      What are you hoping readers will get out of Surviving Alzheimer’s?
Someone once said to me there isn’t a users’ manual on what to do or what is going to happen when you get this diagnosis. I hope this book does become the manual for what to do and how to do it for caregivers everywhere.

10.  You’ve been named the spokesperson for How do you hope to aid those dealing with Alzheimer’s in this role? *Please note it is not
As the Chief Caring Expert for, I hope to be able to guide others to this great resource I wish I had known about early on. Not only would I have been able to read the reviews and make a better informed decision on where to put mom but I also would have had access to so much content for caregivers. There is an answer to just about every question you may have as well as support groups for Alzheimer’s and even more on the site. And, it’s free. Alzheimer’s is a very expensive disease and when you can find any sort of fee help, that’s the best.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Rogue Hunter by John R. Monteith

Monteith's books have that connection to reality that many fiction books lack.   His submarine service gives the authenticity that provides fuel for the read.   This book is another mercenary adventure set in the current events of the Ukraine.

The regular players are back, Jake, Renard and Cahill.    The mission is to disrupt the Russian take over of Crimea.   The mission goes off the rails with some unanticipated actions by the Russians.   The good guys must respond with some unanticipated behavior of their own.

Monteith notes a level of professionalism and respect between submariners that smacks of honor and regard.   One hopes the real people who do this for a living have that same regard.  

Jake still wrestles with his personal demons and even brings a Priest on the sub for moral guidance.   It demonstrates that Priests can honor their calling and still be warriors.   A concept that needs some pondering.  

I recommend the book.

Web Site:
Do a search on Pick of the Literate to see the review of the other Monteith books:
Rogue Goliath by John R. Monteith
Rogue Defender by John R. Monteith
Rogue Betrayer by John R. Monteith
Rogue Avenger by John R. Monteith
Rogue Crusader by John R. Monteith

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