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.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Daddy’s Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark

Ms. Clark did an excellent job in showing how readily love ones are to accept and project blame amidst a tragedy.   A young woman suffers an untimely demise.  Her demise not only ends her life but negatively impacts those around her.  Ellie, the sister, feels she should have done more.  Andrea’s parents both feel the same.  The loss of a child provides such trauma that all around it are impacted.

Frankly I thought the main protagonist, Ellie, was a flaming idiot on more than one occasion in the book.   However stirring emotion is something every author hopes to provoke so Clark did well.  

The human side of the story, not just the plot is a hallmark of Ms. Clark.   Her books never fail to delve into the motivations of her characters.

I 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, April 18, 2018

Eye for an Eye by Ben Coes

Power Down was the first book I read by this author.   The author writes with the pedal to the metal and doesn’t hesitate to gun down a character that you like.   This is not a series for the faint of heart.

The main character is  Dewey Andreas.  Dewey was Delta Force but was forced out by some questionable circumstances.  His background allowed him to become a major force in stopping the terrorists as shown in Power Down.   Apparently some time and books have passed as he is back working for the government.

The villain is China and their clandestine service but the economics of China’s investments in the United States also plays a role in the story.

Overall it is a story of vengeance as illustrated by the title.

If you have issues with high levels of graphic violence the book may not be for you but I found it shockingly realistic.

I 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.

Friday, April 13, 2018

I, Sniper by Stephen Hunter

Bob Lee Swagger a Vietnam Vet, an alcoholic, a sniper and a hunter battling PTSD is back.   Bob is old now, and feels like he is out of the game.   He is not!   Being old myself,  I found reassurance that an old guy can still kick some butt.   Oddly enough, I am not nearly deluded enough to believe I could but Bob Lee Swagger certainly can.

This plot is centered around the defamation of a Marine Corp hero, a sniper.   Bob Lee doesn’t buy into all the hype.   Radicals from the 70s are being murdered by a sniper and the hero stand accused.  Nick Damascus, FBI agent, is back in this book.    He is still a stalwart friend of Swaggers.

The investigation includes very thinly disguised notables.   So thinly disguised as to be amusing.   The theme of Bob Lee Swagger opposing enormous and powerful adversaries with a small network of friends and otherworldly skills continues in this book. 

As I have noted with past Hunter books, don’t plan to get a lot done once you start the book as you will not, I repeat, YOU WILL NOT WANT to put it down.

I highly recommend.

This is not an official website.

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 9, 2018

Isosceles’ Day by Kevin J. Meehan

This was a hard review to write.  I think the author and his subject are both special.  Both of them due to the experience they had in their lives.  I love the illustrations.  The text left me a bit bemused.   The dancing eggs left me confused.   I really did not get the book at all until I read the notes at the end.  I read other reviews that stated there was a positive message on nutrition.  I just didn’t see that.  After reading the end notes, I realized that the different animals were illustrative of Isosceles’ friends.   I struggled to find continuity across the illustration.   I guess each page could be used as a discussion point.  Due to the warmth of the illustrations, the book deserves regard.

I really like the illustrations and the motivation behind the book.

I did receive the book at no charge in exchange for an honest 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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spotlight on Elena Hartwell's Three Strikes You're Dead


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                       Sara Wigal, Publicist
Sydney Mathieu, Publicist

Camel Press Announces the April Release of Three Strikes, You’re Dead by Elena Hartwell: Hot on the Trail of a Kidnapper

Seattle, WA—On April 1, 2018, Camel Press will release Three Strikes, You’re Dead ($15.95, 288 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-727-1) by Elena Hartwell, the third book in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series, set in Washington State. Private investigator Eddie Shoes heads to a resort outside Leavenworth, Washington, for a mother-daughter getaway weekend. Eddie’s mother, Chava, wants to celebrate her new job at a casino by footing the bill for the two of them, and who is Eddie to say no?

On the first morning, Eddie goes on an easy solo hike, and a few hours later, stumbles upon a makeshift campsite and a gravely injured man. A forest fire breaks out and she struggles to save him before the flames overcome them both. The man hands her a valuable rosary and tells her his daughter is missing and begs for her help. He dies before he can tell her more information. Is Eddie now working for a dead man?

Barely escaping the fire, Eddie wakes in the hospital to find both her parents have arrived on the scene. Will Eddie’s card-counting mother and mob-connected father help or hinder the investigation? The police search in vain for a body. How will Eddie find the missing girl with only Eddie’s memory of the man’s face and a photo of his daughter to go on?

Says Hartwell, “In book three, I wanted to explore the other side of Eddie’s family history. Readers often ask about her father, Eduardo, so I decided to give him a little more time in the spotlight. This story also expands on my interest in the experiences of people who come to this country to build new lives, both legally and illegally. Of course, I couldn’t leave Chava out, so she's in there too. A triangle is always more interesting than a duo. I hope readers enjoy the twists in the plot and seeing the relationships evolve as much as I did.”

Praise for the Eddie Shoes Mysteries:

Two Heads Are Deader Than One: 5 Stars: “A delightful heroine in a story that promises pleasant romance and a hint of danger with a twist of an ending. This will keep one from ever putting this book down!”  — InD’tale Magazine

Two Heads Are Deader Than One: “Elena Hartwell has conjured up a plausible protagonist and done a good job of plunking her into a setting and plot that nicely suit her.” —Reviewing the Evidence

One Dead, Two to Go: “Hartwell has created quite a winner in the unique and clever Eddie Shoes, and this first case features not only a twisting, turning, fast-paced plot, but also a number of nuanced, quirky relationships.” —RT Book Reviews

One Dead, Two to Go: “Avid Alphabet series connoisseurs should flock to this kick-off series.”
InD’tale Magazine

Elena Hartwell’s writing career began in the theater, where she also worked as a director, designer, producer, and educator. Productions of her scripts have been performed around the U.S. and abroad. She lives in North Bend, Washington, with her husband. For more information go to

Three Strikes, You’re Dead is currently available for presale in both eBook and 5x8 trade paperback on and After April 1st, it will also be for sale on the European Amazons, Amazon Japan, and at select independent bookstores. Wholesale customers should contact Epicenter Press/Aftershocks Media (, Ingram, or Baker & Taylor. Other electronic versions are available from Smashwords.

About Camel Press—Based in Kenmore, Washington, Camel Press is an imprint of Epicenter Press, Inc. We publish genre fiction: romance, mystery/suspense, science fiction, and fantasy—the books that grab you and hold you in their grip long into the night.

An Interview with
Elena Hartwell

1.     You started out your writing career as a playwright. How did you decide to start writing mysteries? I have been a lifelong reader. From the Narnia Series to science fiction, historical fiction, and non-fiction, I’ve loved reading a wide variety of genres and styles. Fairly early on, however, my granny introduced me to mysteries. She loved the classics, like Tony Hillerman and Agatha Christie. As I got older, I began to read more and more mysteries, so while I still branch out, they are my go-to reading. I began working in the theater during my undergraduate years. I have been a director, designer, educator, and technician. Marrying my writing with theater made sense, so I spent twenty years working as a playwright. But deep down, I always wanted to write a novel. Plays are ephemeral, they last for a very short period of time. Novels last as long as the binding holds. I wrote my first novel about ten years ago. It wasn’t very good, but I learned a lot. I wrote another and another, until my fourth book was published and the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series was born.
2.     How has your training in theater played into your fiction writing? I’ve come to understand story structure pretty well through all my years of both writing and directing--and occasionally acting--for the theater. Nothing teaches a writer more about how to write tight, dramatic scenes as trying to hold an audience’s attention. For the most part, you get two hours onstage to tell your story, so every word and every moment has to count. Theater taught me how to handle exposition (background information) and how to write dialogue. It also taught me a lot about how to create complex characters. What it didn’t teach me was how to write descriptions! I had to learn that the hard way. According to an editor I worked with on my first novel, that first book had “fantastic atmosphere, but no details.” She couldn’t tell what anything looked like, just the mood it created. I’ve gotten much better at including a few specifics.

3.     How has Eddie developed as a character since the first book, and how do you think she might continue to grow in the future? One of the things I love most about Eddie is her independence. But one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about her evolution, is her newfound connection with and reliance on other people. She was an only child, with a teenage, single mother, no other close family, and few close friends. She moved away from her hometown of Spokane, Washington, and became a private investigator. She was just starting to rely on her mentor when he committed suicide (before the first novel). She fled to Bellingham, Washington, and started back from square one. Over the course of the novels, however, she’s let a few people into her life, including her mother. And now she has a dog, so her life is almost complete. Keep an eye out for future Eddie Shoes’ books, however, her lovelife might be what she explores next.
4.     How does setting the story in Bellingham, WA, influence the plot and characters? Bellingham is a wonderful town just south of Vancouver, Canada. I like it as a location to set the series for a number of reasons. From Bellingham, a character can hop on a train, catch a bus, or a sneak on a ferry. They could run for the border or head to Idaho, Montana, or lots of other places to hide. Interstate 5 stretches from the Canadian border to Mexico, so it’s a straight shot out of the country. It’s a college town, so there’s a very active younger population, which is also somewhat transient. There are funky neighborhoods, and a beautiful historic section with brick buildings and cobbled streets. It’s less than 100,000 people, so it has a small-town vibe, without it being out of the realm of possibility that a murder could take place. Weather has a big impact. It rains a lot of the year, so that has to be taken into account for stakeouts and following suspects around. It’s a laid-back community, without gang violence or “bad” neighborhoods, but there are drug problems just like everywhere else. While crime isn’t rampant, there are domestic squabbles, robberies, and justification for criminal activity in my plots. I am aware of the Cabot Cove dilemma, so I move Eddie around sometimes and have the murders take place in other locations. I can’t quite justify killing more than one person a year.

5.     What authors have inspired your writing? Sue Grafton was probably the writer who inspired me the most in terms of writing mysteries. She was the first female author I found and followed on my own. I love Kinsey Millhone. She’s funny and capable and practical, and also feels real. While I love books like the Jack Reacher novels, I don’t think about meeting that character in real life, Kinsey always felt like someone I could sit down and have a drink with. That’s what I love about Eddie. She feels real to me. She makes mistakes, but her heart is always in the right place. In terms of career, I love Dennis Lehane. I think writing a contemporary series and a historical series and several standalones is ideal. Being able to write different protagonists and time periods appeals to me. Lastly, I think the Hobbit is the perfect book. J. R. R. Tolkien’s ability to create a mythological world that integrated battles from world war one has stayed with me since childhood. As I’ve gotten older and began to understand how he merged his real world experiences into his epic novel, showed me how much impact a fiction author can have on humanity understanding itself. It let me see that even when a novel is “light” or designed to “entertain,” it can still have an underlying ethical component. While Eddie is a fun read, I like to think there’s something to be gained by spending time with her. When I used to teach at the college level, I sometimes told my students, what I hope for, is that you leave my class as better people, if you learn something about theater along the way, that’s the icing. I hope when people read Eddie they enjoy the experience, but that’s the icing on the cake. If they think about themselves or other people in a slightly different way, that’s the cake.