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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

It isn’t often that you recommend a fictional novel as being important but I do so recommend this as being important.   I read Dreamland last fall which was non-fiction focusing on the opioid crisis.   Papantonio’s novel is a fictional book on the same crisis but based on what I have learned since reading Dreamland, this novel is thinly disguised reality.   Dreamland also gave me the impetus to do some research into the pill mills.  

Jake and Blake are twins.   Blake stayed home in West Virginia where his life took a turn for the worse.   Jake finished college and became an attorney.   Jake becomes motivated to discover how billions of legal opioids ended up hooking millions of legitimate and illegitimate users.   This story is right out of today’s news.   Narcan (NARCAN® (naloxone)) has now become part of contemporary society.   School nurses, local cops, fireman, colleges and churches are stocking Narcan due to the epidemic.  Even out here in the affluent burbs, there are obits weekly on opioid overdoses.

Papantonio presents much of the factual information found in Dreamland but in a fictional manner that his bound to capture more readers.   Novels sell better than history books and Papantonio makes it easy to learn about the crisis.   As a former counselor who had some real-life experience with drug abuse, I did not see a single thing in this book that wasn’t accurate, frighteningly accurate.

This was not a fun read but a very worthwhile read.

I 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.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

God of the Internet by Lynn Lipinski

This is hopefully not foresight.   The story is about a talented hacker who plans on bringing havoc to the U.S. economy. 

The hacker plans on wreaking havoc and double crossing his sponsor.  

A family caught up in the situation supplies the pathos of the story.   Ken, a white hat organizer, is trying to help Homeland Security find and defeat the hacker.

The tribulations of Omar a teen with medical issues and his sister Leila humanize the story as well.
The Equifax hack settlement is currently playing out in the news and certainly provides a realistic and terrifying backdrop for this plot.

The author points out a lot of vulnerability issues.   I thought the one about back up drives was very telling but the author never pursued that issue.

This is a scary book due to it’s plausibility.

I 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.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

Reacher faces terrorists extorting a clerk from the Pentagon.   As usual, when Reacher’s sense of justice is violated, mayhem ensues.

Child does a nice job bringing a historic perspective to the Afghan fiasco.  At least Child has learned the value of history and the clarity of perspective it provides if one only studies it.  

Reacher is the classic, doesn’t play well with others, protagonist.   His frustration with the inability of the “machine” to protect the vulnerable, leads him to his own brand of vigilante justice.  The scenario’s primary location are the mean streets of New York.   The tenor of the tale, once again, casts aspirations on the quality of personnel in the federal sector.  Reacher has more faith in the NYPD than he does in the alphabet soup of D.C.

As in all the Jack Reacher books I have read so far, there is non-stop action and lots of violence.  

I enjoyed the book and I recommend the book.
Read 9/3/13 and again on 7/22/19  Just as good the second time. 

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.

Friday, August 16, 2019



Debut novel from former officer battles real world 
issue of police suicide
“A gritty and authentic new voice in police fiction” - Kirkus Reviews

Alexandria, VA – Author Mark Bergin’s career as a police officer spanned nearly 30 years and put him in  close encounters with a difficult and often overlooked issue in American culture: police suicide. Currently, more police officers are lost to suicide than to conflicts in the line of duty. Bergin brings awareness to this weighted issue in his debut work, “Apprehension” (Inkshares/Quill, July 30, 2019) and plans to donate a portion of his sales directly to the National Police Suicide Foundation and similar programs.

“Apprehension” follows the story of Detective John Kelly; he was a pro until his niece was murdered right before his eyes. Now Kelly must hide his one shocking, secret – and criminal – act of vengeance when fellow detectives digging in another case can end Kelly’s career and send him to jail. Kelly must ignore this looming threat and focus on protecting a boy from his pedophile father. Except the hotshot defense attorney is his new girlfriend Rachel Cohen, who shares wonderful news but hides her duty to destroy him on the stand. And she can’t reveal she’s investigating a twisted team of drug cops. While his friends work in secret to save him, Kelly is forced to the breaking point – and beyond.

“A terrific first novel that combines non-stop action…and a hero to restore your faith in heroes”
–Christina Kovac, author of “The Cutaway”

MARK BERGIN: is a man of many hats who worked at separate times as both an award-winning crime reporter and police officer. When he worked for the Alexandria Gazette, he was awarded the Virginia Press Association First Place prize for general news reporting in 1985. As a law enforcement officer, he won the Alexandria Sunrise Optimist Club’s Police Officer of the Year award in 1988 and was named Alexandria Kiwanis Club’s Officer of the Year in 1997. Bergin’s diverse background with nearly 30 years spent in law enforcement affords him the “authentic voice” in police fiction that Kirkus Reviews and others are buzzing about. To learn more about Mark and his work visit 

An Interview with MARK BERGIN

Tell us about where the idea for this book came from. How long have you been thinking about writing this novel?

I started this book thirty years ago, sat down and wrote a few pages of notes for three key scenes that popped into my head. I’d always wanted to write a novel but life, wife, job and kids needed more attention than scribbling. I put the notes aside until I retired and expanded the scenes and filled in between. I knew where I wanted to start and end and kept adding events, conflicts and characters to get my story across.

The original theme of the book was race relations, revolving around what it was like for a squad of white cops to arrest so many black men – the truth of street drug enforcement in the 1980s in Alexandria, Virginia. But when I had two career-ending heart attacks in 2013, a nurse told me I was supposed to be dead and that God had something more for me to do here. I’m not sure I believe that, but I decided my post-retirement job would be writing, and that I would use my first novel APPREHENSION to raise awareness of police stress and suicide. I wrote these
elements into the story I’d started so many years ago and made plans to donate half of my book profits to police suicide awareness and prevention. (Whether God does step in to help or hinder us is addressed in my next book, ST. MICHAEL’S DAY, still being written.)

Your writing style has been called authentic by many, including Kirkus Reviews and Christina Kovac, author of “The Cutaway.” Do you see your former career as a police officer as an asset to your writing? Is much of what you write drawn from lived experience?

All of the book is from experience, not that I experienced it all. Everything in
APPREHENSION did or could have happened. I didn’t suffer the psychological trauma that my hero John Kelly did, but I did have two stress-related heart attacks that forced my retirement. (And retirement led to the writing of this book, so yay heart disease!) 

I tried to write a book that a cop will read and say, “Yeah, that’s what it’s really like.” That he or she can give to their family to let them know what cops go through.

Do you think your book – or the police procedural genre as a whole – can help readers gain insight into the complex lives of those in law enforcement?

My goal for APPREHENSION was to write a police novel that was accurate in procedure and realistic in feelings and attitudes. It’s not Dirty Harry or The Shield, it’s how real cops think and act. I tried to show the detailed routine of police work, the constant awareness of surroundings, watching passersby, listening to the radio, planning next moves and potential escape and cover options. And show the violence both surprising and expected, the crushing losses, the mistakes and reversals that force Kelly to the edge. The mundane wrapped around the deadly.

Your work grapples with the difficult subject of police suicide. This is a common issue which is not often talked about. What conversations do you hope to spark among your readers on this topic?

In my twenty-eight year career in Alexandria, Virginia, we lost one officer to hostile
gunfire, murdered during a hostage barricade. But in that same time three officers and two city deputies took their own lives. Always, far more cops fall to suicide than to murder or accidental death. And we are only recently learning to talk about that, to recognize the constant threat of death that every cop walks around with every day. You know why that traffic cop looked so mean at you when he wrote you the stoplight ticket? Because you could be planning to kill him. It’s called hypervigilance, and it’s a pressure that eats at us every day. I want cops talking out their pressure, agencies reorganizing and planning to help with mental health issues, counseling made commonly available and officers who die by suicide to be recognized for their service.

Can you tell us a little bit about the National Police Suicide Foundation and the work they do? Why did you choose them as a partner in raising awareness here?

The National Police Suicide Foundation will be the first recipient of my book profits. It operates a no-tell hotline that law enforcement can call for help and know their agency will not be notified of their issues. Fear of disclosure to bosses and the possible loss of career and livelihood often prevent cops from seeking help, and the NPSF keeps calls confidential. Dr.Robert Douglas Jr., NPSF’s director, also travels nationwide to teach departments how to recognize and reduce stress on officers, how to identify or predict troubled cops and ways to improve agency procedures. There are other similar programs I hope to work with in the future, including the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, of which I am a member.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Karin Slaughter Making A Personal Appearance in Hanover PA 8/21/19

Who:       Karin Slaughter 
Where:    Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover, Pennsylvania!
When:      WednesdayAugust 21, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.

Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover, Pennsylvania! We think this will be a great event for coverage and would welcome the opportunity for any medi
a to join us for this exciting opportunity. The event will take place on WednesdayAugust 21, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. Karin will be joined by Lisa Kane, Executive Director of Guthrie Memorial Library, for an informal, lively discussion on being an author, writing in general, and Karin’s books – including THE LAST WIDOW.

THE LAST WIDOW begins with an abduction. The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end...they find nothing. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air. A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, medical examiner Sara Linton is about to have lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer’s day is broken by the wail of sirens.
Sara and Will are trained to help in an emergency. Their jobs require that they run toward a crisis, not away from it. But on this one terrible day that instinct betrays them both. Within hours the situation has spiraled out of control; Sara is taken prisoner; Will is forced undercover. And the fallout will lead them into the Appalachian Mountains, to the terrible truth about what happened to Michelle, and to a remote compound where a radical group has murder in mind.

About the Author:
Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her nineteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novels Pretty GirlsThe Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, Slaughter lives in Atlanta. Her standalone novels Pieces of HerThe Good Daughter, and Cop Town are in development for film and television     

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Past Tense by Lee Child

Jack Reacher is doing genealogical research in his head butting manner.   A search for his paternal past leads him to typical Reacher action.

Reacher is a firm believer in preemptive retaliation.   Finding himself in a small town, Jack proceeds to tilt at windmills and place himself clearly in the bull’s eye of both the Boston mob and regional bullies.  

In addition to the normal Reacher behavior, is a side story that reads simultaneously with the Reacher story.   It is almost like two stories which one can assume will connect at some point but remember what assumptions lead to.

Another action winner with the separate story lines being the main difference from past Reacher books.

I enjoyed it and 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.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Lions of the Sky by Paco Chierici

If you are a fan of air combat books or ever watched the movie Top Gun three or more times then you MUST read this book.   Slammer is a Naval aviation flight instructor.   He is tired of instructing and wants to get back to the fleet.   He is coerced into taking one more class and it has two (gasp) female aviators in it.  Results are not predictable.

Slammer and the other “good ole’ boys” are not overly thrilled with the integration of women into the fraternity of fighter pilots.   Female pilots are fine but testosteronely (no it is not in the dictionary) speaking men are more suited to combat than women from some of the male fighter pilot’s perspectives.   Obviously they have never seen a female in full banshee mode defending her children or they would recognize that women are often far more likely to utilize over kill to insure a situation doesn’t arise again.

Dusty and Quick are the handles of the two female pilots.  Dusty’s perception that the ends justify the means shows her some success.  Quick is less prone to using anything but her flying skills to succeed.

An ambitious Chinese general initiate a situation that tries the skills of the “nuggets” (newly minted fighter pilots) and threatens to start a global conflict.   Slammer discovers some of his preconceived notions are correct and some are incorrect.

The life of a fighter pilot is documented and the perils of Navy Aviation are clearly shown. This book was a page turner and I 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.