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.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Alpha by Steven Konkoly

This is another black ops thriller that has a questionable protagonist. Daniel may have been serving his country but he may have been serving it in illegal black ops operations.  Daniel has retired and is attempting to live in Normal life when he is pulled back into the abyss by General Sanderson, the head of the black Ops program. What transpires has some interesting quirks and turns and a wealth of action and violence.

The author paints a troubled person trying to move away from his past.  The characters are a bowl of alphabet soup, the CIA, DOD(Department of Defense), NSA and the FBI are all involved. Lot of mayhem and a lot of collateral damage.

The goals of the people trying to defend our country are positive but this book illustrates the way those goals may sometimes go awry.


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, September 23, 2018

No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark

Daddy’s Little Girl was the last book by Clark I read.   There was a familiarty of style that came through on this book.  At first I thought I was rereading a story but the stories are not the same.  I guess it is style.  This was a good mystery with a satisfyingly complex plot.  

Clark has a young woman with a troubled past as her protagonist in this book.   She has a lot of self doubt and a measure of self loathing.   She is thrust into a psychologically damaging environment and struggles to keep her head above water.

Clark manages to keep you in the dark until the very end.  Well done!

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.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Need an Illustrator For Your Book?

 Introducing DART

Dani has illustrated 10 books for me.  I also produce books for clients and she has illustrated 6 books for them.  My web page is .  Click on Terrific Illustrator on the left hand tool bar to see examples of the work she has illustrated. Her prices are very reasonable.

I am posting this as a favor, no money changed hands for this recommendation.   Dani is attempting to go full time as an illustrator and needs more work.   Please take a look at a page on my web site to see examples of her work. 

She is available at:

Bloody Sunday 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.  Bloody Sunday takes us to the front pages of last week’s newspaper.   North Korea and nuclear weapons are the main focus.

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.  Dewey has burnt out and decided to hang up his spurs but the President talks him into a mission.

A side story which looks to be continued down the road involves Jenna, a brilliant analyst from the Brits.   Coes sets her up as a mystery.

Action, action and then a little more action characterizes the Coes books.

If you have issues with high levels of graphic violence the book may not be for you but I found it an enjoyable but frightening read.   Too often the world’s fate may hang on a nut cases shoe string.

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.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

First Strike by Ben Coes

Dewey Andreas returns searching for who is funding ISIS.  Coes, once again plucks his plots from the headlines.   The destruction of Aleppo is near term old news and Coes plays upon that horror.   Andreas is a magician in escaping dire circumstances and the entertainment is seeing how Coes provides him with the characters and tools needed to prevail.

Coes doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice characters for his plots.   Practically anyone in his books is fodder for destruction.  This book hits home with terrorism on a campus.   With all the school shootings there doesn’t seem to be any safe places for our children.  

The book is both exhilarating and frightening as Dewey tackles both his own emotions and villains.

I had a touch of difficulty with the level of graphic violence however it did not deter from my enjoyment of the 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.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Force by Don Winslow

This book was interesting, sobering and saddening.   Denny started off his career wanting to make a difference.  He discovered that being a cop wasn’t quite what he had expected.   The streets were hard and the salary was meager.  

The author paints a sad picture of the NYC police department.   I am fortunate to have friends and family who are also cops and frankly I have not seen what the author portrays.   However with that said, I am in the burbs and life here is substantially different than in the urban environment.  Corruption is a slippery slope which impacts not only the mores but the soul.   Baby steps don’t have to lead to wholesale corruption but they may.  Having owned a convenience store for 10 years I had a lot of contact with the local police force.  Occasionally I could get one of the guys to take a cup of coffee after I insisted that I was giving it  to a friend not to a cop. The local chief was very strict about conduct. 

This book paints a very different picture with advancement  based on the who you know policy rather than the what have you accomplished policy.   Rabbi’s or mentors who help guys get ahead are fine but if they are teaching them corruption then the system is flawed.

This was hard to read as my personal experience with cops has been so different.  It smacks of reality in the need for retribution particularly when boundaries of sanity are crossed as in the murder of children.

This may be just a novel but I took it as social commentary.

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, September 4, 2018

The Third Twin by Ken Follett

It has been awhile since I have read any of Follett’s books.  Frankly I forgot how he can take you to the edge, chapter after chapter!  As much as “a master of suspense” is bandied about I’m reluctant to use it but HE’s A MASTER OF SUSPENSE! 

The book takes place at a small liberal arts college and involves a feisty new hire teacher, not yet a professor who is studying twins and criminal behavior.   Her works is interrupted when one of her friends is raped during a campus fire.   She deduces that her theories are correct but struggles to find proof.   Steve Logan enters Dr. Jeannie Ferrami’s life and everything changes.

There is struggle, violence, allusions to consensual sex and interpersonal action.   Follett mixes it up and keeps the door open for mystery clear up to the end when he neatly ties all loose ends into a great big glorious bow!

Taking note of the exclamation points it should be clear I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

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, September 3, 2018

An Interview with JENNIFER GRAESER DORNBUSH Author of The Coroner

Jennifer Dornbush is a writer, speaker, and forensic specialist creating a diverse range of stories that shed light on the dark places of the human experience. As a daughter of a medical examiner, she investigated her first fatality when she was 8. She has several crime dramas in development, and a feature film inspired by her novel, God Bless the Broken Road, is slated for release Sept. 21, 2018. She is also the author of Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas, hailed as a north star to creating authentic crime dramas. Jennifer teaches seminars and speaks on writing crime fiction for screen, forensic fundamentals, and death investigation. She hosts webinars on crime writing through Writer’s Digest; and has collaborated with The Writers Store and Script Magazine to produce a video on crime writing for writers. She also hosts a YouTube channel on forensics and the writing life. She teaches screenwriting and mentors aspiring writers through the Act One Program, Regent University, and Universita Catholica Milano. She is a member of the Writers’ Guild of American and the Mystery Writers of America.
1.Obviously being the daughter of a medical examiner had a big influence on you. Did you ever want to follow in your father’s footsteps?
As a  teenager, I was rather grossed out and embarrassed about what my father’s job at M.E. These were the days before CSI and Forensic Files made death investigation exciting and cool. When my friends found out my dad did this, they took great interest, so that lessened the embarrassment on my part. And while I do love the sciences, I always knew my calling was to be on the storytelling side of crime solving. 

2. You’re also the author of an inspirational novel and feature film about an Army widow, and a nonfiction book about the science of forensic investigation and crime dramas. How did writing a mystery differ?
Storytelling is storytelling no matter the genre. All genres follow the same story rules and arcs. I find it takes the same amount of time, effort, thought, energy, and research to develop a story whether its for book or screen. Creating a screenplay requires the same amount of story work as it does for a novel. The only difference is that I can write a screenplay in a fraction of the time it takes me to write a novel because most of the backstory and ground work never shows up as words on the page. Nonfiction is a whole different ball game. It requires a lot less emotional energy. And in that sense, it feels less exhaustive.  I love the challenge and results of all of them. 

3. Did you plan out the mystery before you started or did you see where you writing took you?
I’m a plotter. That comes from my screenwriting training. When I start a new mystery I pretend I’m the investigator and I create a case file for my “case.” From there I create a rough skeleton outline of the mystery plot. After that I flesh out the character’s arcs and emotional journeys, and B, C, and D stories surrounding the case. Then, I create a treatment. Workshop it. Then, a first draft. More workshopping. I’m a collaborative writer. It’s more fun, makes the project stronger, and gets the project done faster.  

4. What is something that you frequently see the media portraying incorrectly in regards to forensics?
 I have my top ten and they all have pet names. One of my favorites is what I call, “Sex Appeal.” You see this a lot on television. The good-looking, welldressed investigators show up in heels, skirts, or suit to a crime scene investigation. Their hair and make-up are perfectly done. They are fresh and well-rested. A lot of times they aren’t wearing any proper protective gear. It’s not a criticism. I understand it why they do this. Shows want to portray a certain sex appeal from their actors. But it’s not a reflection of how real life investigators show up to crime scenes.    
5. Why did you decided to set most of the book in a small town? 
The Coroner harkens to my experiences growing up in a small town and seeing how death investigation works in a rural area. I like to expose the reality that resources in rural areas are often limited and different than they are in big cities. I’m not saying they are not professional. They are. But the elements of staffing, equipment, education, experience, and budget all factor in and vary vastly from county to county.  Secondly, I think it’s interesting to explore how small communities react when one of their own is taken from them. No one remains anonymous in small towns. Everyone plays a role. Everyone is affected. Everyone has an opinion and a stake. 
6. The cliffhanger leads me to think we’ll be seeing more of these characters – can you tell us anything about their futures?
We’ll be continuing the journey of Dr. Emily Hartford as Coroner.  Her love life becomes more complicated as she struggles with calling off her engagement, tests the dating waters, and explores any remaining sparks with Nick. And she will be have to solve a brutal cold case murder… much darker than the first book… with Nick as a key suspect. 

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