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, June 30, 2018

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

The irreverent John Corey, former NYPD detective, is back but this time is name is Mac and he isn’t a cop and isn’t the same guy.   However the characterization and sense of  humor are very similar.   Mac is a charter captain in the keys hired to help some Cubans recover items from Castro’s Cuba.   The story is set in the not too distant pass just prior to the thaw in relations.

I did not find this story as compelling as some of DeMille’s previous books.  That isn’t saying it wasn’t enjoyable but it didn’t grab me as firmly as others.   The sense of humor and sarcasm of the protagonist is much the same as John Corey.   There is a sultry female counterpart, a crusty Vietnam Vet and some died in the wool anti-Castro partisans.  

The story line does not turn out quite the way that Mac expected and there were some behind the scene manipulations that were surprising but understandable.

Good interpersonal interaction characterizes DeMille's writing and it continues in this book.

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.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Q & A With Caroline Taylor Author of The Typist

1.     Has this story been floating around in your head for a while, or was it a more recent development? Actually, this is a complete rewrite of something I started years ago, featuring the same lead character, only she lived in a small Midwest town and the only crime was some stolen items and . . . yawn. So I kept the characters’ names, changed the venue to Washington, and made it about murder and spying during the Cold War.
2.     In what ways do your characters manifest the urban-cultural divide? Here’s just one example: Judah Lundquist is an upright, uptight Midwesterner with a strict religious upbringing; whereas, her friend Nancy Pinkerton is a younger, more cosmopolitan woman from a less sheltered background. Judah has a strong sense of right and wrong, and yet things in Washington are much more fluid.    
3.     Why did you decide on a 1960’s setting? It had to be during the Cold War, and the mid-1960s seemed just about right for something that was fought mostly in the shadows and yet loomed large in people’s lives.
4.     Having lived in Washington D.C., what past experiences of yours play a role in this novel? Other than my familiarity with the area, in one of my very first jobs, I was required to type insurance policies that could not have any errors or erasures. 
5.     Are there any similarities between Judah and the characters in any of your previous books? No. Judah has a strong religious background, even though she was a child thief. None of the other characters in my previous books hail from the Midwest
6.     What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Understand that rejection does not mean you’re no good. Rejection simply means that the person doesn’t want your story and that it could be because of personal prejudices, the current market, competing stories, or even personal or work issues that make rejecting a piece easier than taking it up. Learn from rejection on those rare occasions when someone gives feedback. But, also, look at that feedback with a critical eye
7.     Do you have a method for tackling writer’s block? If I can’t think of what to write, I go for a walk, take up some household task that involves physical rather than mental labor, or, when available, work on a freelance editing assignment—anything that gives the creative side of my brain a rest.
8.     What’s next for you? I am working on two novels, a mystery with a theme of human trafficking and a mainstream novel with a theme of dealing with loss of loved ones.
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, June 20, 2018

Spotlight on Caroline Taylor’s Newest Thriller


Caroline Taylor’s newest thriller features classic noir elements, mysterious characters who aren’t what they seem

WASHINGTON D.C.1966. Washington, D.C. To survive in this town, sometimes a good girl has to be bad. Really bad.

Longing to transcend her Midwest roots and strict religious upbringing, Judah Lundquist spends her days obediently typing insurance policies for Tom Lawrence of Standard Life Insurance.

But Washington is not Peoria, and she finds herself caught up in a nightmare that threatens to subvert all the values she’s tried to uphold while exposing secrets from her past. A shameful one-night stand with neighbor Ralph Hicks lands Judah in a trap of her own making.

To protect what is left of her tattered reputation, Judah must become a seductress and a thief, betraying the only man who can possibly save her—a man with secrets that have nothing to do with crime and everything to do with the Cold War.

Fans of Taylor will recognize her signature edge-of-seat style and mysterious characters who all have something to hide.  Steeped in atmospheric noir, “The Typist” will have readers telling themselves “just one more page” until they’re at the end of the book.

Caroline Taylor is the author of mysteries, “What Are Friends For,” “Jewelry from a Grave” and “Loose Ends”; the award-winning nonfiction book, “Publishing the Nonprofit Annual Report: Tips, Traps, and Tricks of the Trade,” and a short-story collection, “Enough!: Thirty Stories of Fielding Life’s Little Curve Balls.” A lifelong writer and editor, Caroline has received numerous awards for editorial and design excellence for publications she. She is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America.

Advance praise for The Typist
“The Typist has everything you could want: a small town girl making her way in the big city, enough plot twists and turns to keep you guessing late into the night, an off-balance romance that keeps you coming back for more, and some very clever bad guys — or wait, are they the good guys? Secret codes, secret romances, secret frame-ups, and a secret past keep likable protagonist Judah Lundquist on her toes — and us along with her.” 
Kelly Oliver,
author of the Jessica James mystery series

“Caroline Taylor’s book catapults readers back to 1966 Washington D.C., where newcomer Judah Lundquist becomes entangled in a web filled with danger, murder, romance, and blackmail. An intricate tale of intrigue, deceit, hidden pasts, and dark secrets.”
Michael H. Rubin,
author of The Cottoncrest Curse and Cashed Out

“No one, not even Judah Lundquist herself, is what he or she appears to be in this very readable thriller. Judah’s job should be boring—she’s a typist in an insurance company—but her coworkers drag her into their tricky business. Seasoned with a bit of romance, The Typist is a real page-turner. Bonus points for the authentic feel of the 1960s setting.”
Karen Pullen, author of Cold Feet and Cold Heart

About the Book
“The Typist”
Caroline Taylor | June 21, 2018 | Black Rose Writing
Paperback | 978-1-68433-069-0 | $14.95

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, June 15, 2018

Alone Against Gravity by Thomas Dew Padova

This is a book about Albert Einstein from the years 1914-1918.   It is dry.  I enjoyed the history but the physics didn’t do a lot for me.   The changes in Europe were fascinating.   Historically speaking Serbia was a big deal in the early 1900s where today it is regarded, fairly or not, as a third world country.

Einstein may have been a genius but he was not someone whose personal life you would want to emulate.   His mores left a lot to be desired as well as his overall disposition.   Assuming the author did his research,  Albert Einstein lost the super hero glow that I had previously ascribed to 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.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Clinging to the Iceberg by Ron Hutchinson

This is a tongue in cheek how to book on script writing.

The author is apparently someone!  I found some humor and did pick up a writing tip or to that has nothing to do with scripts.   It was not a page turner.   I would not recommend it for the beach.   It probably has some bearing for aspiring script writers.

I got a copy of the book free 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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Written in Blood by Layton Green

I’m sitting here sipping Eagle Rare neat an musing over how I just reviewed a fantasy by Layton Green, a five part series which is currently on volume 3.   I am really enjoying that and now I find that Green writes a darn good detective story as well.   A detective finds himself returning to his hometown with his metaphoric tail between his legs.   A big deal homicide detective, he found himself doubting his abilities and returned to a perceived bucolic refuge.   Then the murders started!

Preach, the detective, is weathering a crisis of confidence and is twisting in the wind and in careers.   Thrust into the limelight with a series of unnerving murders, he is struggling to maintain his equilibrium.   He has a partner, Kirby, who is riding his own horse of misfortune.   Together they struggle to find the killer in an increasingly hostile community and search to find clues written in blood.

I highly recommend it.

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