Monday, October 22, 2012

Peace, Love, and Murder (Nancy Holzner)

Overall: 4.7
  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language: 5/5
  • Believability: 4.2/5
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Purchase Links:
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Hardcover US | UK
Other Links:
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It all starts with a simple traffic violation. Then they discover the body in the trunk. What follows is a desperate quest to clear the name of an innocent man, all of which seems to depend on gut instinct, a little army training, and sheer dumb luck. As the layers of illegal activity are revealed, it becomes exceedingly clear that Bo is in over his head.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quest of the Demon (ML Sawyer)

Overall: 2.4
  • Plot: 2.5/5
  • Originality: 3/5
  • Language: 2/5
  • Believability: 2.1/5
Genre: Fantasy
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Smashwords
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As a teenage girl living in a modern era, the last thing that Darci expected was to be transported to an alternate world, one in which dragons, elves, and ogres live alongside humans. Drawn there through the ineptitude of an apprentice wizard, she finds herself embroiled in a battle against evil that will decide the fate of more realities than one. At least she gets a nifty weapon and some strong allies.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Legends of Marithia: Prophecies Awakening (Peter Koevari)

Overall: 3.2
  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Originality: 3.5/5
  • Language: 3/5
  • Believability: 2.8/5
Genre: Fantasy
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Hardcover US |UK
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Nine hundred years ago, a cursory act of questionable justice turned a young half vampire into a dark sorceress and renewed an ancient war. She is the fulfillment of one dire prophecy, and yet there is another, a prognostication that centers around the savior of Marithia. Vampires, faeries, elves, dragons, and humans find themselves caught in this epic battle that will decide the fate of their world.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

3 Lies (Helen Hanson)

Overall: 4.3
  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Originality: 4.5/5
  • Language: 4/5
  • Believability: 4/5
Genre: Thriller
Purchase Links:
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Nook
Paperback US | UK
Other Links:
author website

Two seemingly unrelated conspiracy theories link together in 3 Lies, a book that combines espionage, high treason, and a very messy marriage. Betrayed by his wife, and six months away from divorce, technological genius Cliff Masters has chosen to shun all things high-tech in favor of a simple life on a docked boat. All seems to be going well, until his new girlfriend goes missing. Speaking of disappearances, ten CIA contacts have recently gone AWOL. Just what is going on?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Encounters in Paris (Carolyn Moncel)

Overall: 3.7
  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Language: 2.9/5
  • Believability: 4.2/5
Genre:
Purchase Links:
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Nook
Paperback US | UK
Smashwords
Other Links:
author website

Encounters in Paris explores a few key moments in the life of Ellery Roulet. Set in Paris, the woman's life is turned topsy-turvy as a result of two letters. The rest of the stories cover the ripples caused by those initial two events, exploring Ellery's emotional state and focusing on the decisions that she makes.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Card (Jim Devitt)

Overall: 3.1
  • Plot: 2.8/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Language: 2.8/5
  • Believability: 2.7/5
The Card by Jim Devitt

Van Stone has it all, the perfect family, great friends and the best job in the world. Then, his life falls apart. Thrust into a deadly plot masterminded by unknown enemies, Van is in a race against time to save those closest to him.

As The Card barrels forward, Van, armed with only his best friends, draws on his deductive powers and inner strength, to battle the corrupt forces. Set in Seattle, Washington, this fast paced mystery takes you behind-the-scenes in professional baseball. Full of unexpected twists and high stakes drama, this first in a series adventure will keep you guessing until the final scene.

As fresh as today’s headlines, Jim Devitt, in his debut novel, weaves a suspenseful ride that blows the lid off scientific advancement, in a story of breathtaking action and suspense.
Genre: Mystery
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Van Stone, newest bat boy for the Seattle Mariners, has it made. He's quickly learning the ropes at work, enjoying an improved social status, and may even be allowed to purchase a car. Then tragedy strikes, and he finds himself embroiled in a dangerous mystery involving a recent gift: a baseball card for a mediocre player from the 1920s. Between suspicious men in suits, threatening letters, and gunfire, he and his friends need to piece together the puzzle before time runs out.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Zero Sight (B Justin Schier)

Overall: 4.3
  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Language: 3.8/5
  • Believability: 5/5
Zero Sight by B. Justin Shier

Meet Dieter Resnick. Dieter is the sole child of an abusive single father, a perennial schoolyard brawler, and Ted Binion High's number one academic prospect. Dieter is terrified of staying poor. He has few friends and is absolutely obsessed with earning a college scholarship. He's also a latent mage--one of the few humans left that can bend the manaflows to their will.

Too bad no one told him. Now a boy is dead.

Meet Rei Acerba Bathory. Rei is a second year student at Elliot College, the premiere magical training academy in North America. She's also on an all-liquid diet. Rei acquired her odd speech and mannerisms living among her centuries-old kin--strange vampiric creatures that have carved out the Midwest as their playground. She can kill a man without blinking, but has a serious weakness for puppies. Thanks to a childhood spent living cloistered from the public, Rei knows little of modern society. She'd do well to make some friends, but her fellow trainees despise her. Rei is the first of her kind to be admitted, and many hope to make her the last.

Dieter was raised in the grimy outskirts of Las Vegas. Rei was homeschooled in a Chicago mansion. Both are on their way to Elliot College. Both believe the other is a creature of idle fantasy. In ten hours, they're going to be at the center of a war fought by shadow actors. In eleven hours, they're going to become a weft-pair, bound together by the most sacred spell in the magic canon. And in twelve hours? Well, in twelve hours, they've got to get to class...
Genre: Fantasy
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Nook
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Times are hard for Dieter Resnick. In a post-depression America, his only hope of getting out of the economic wasteland called Las Vegas is to earn a full scholarship to a private university. The problem? He just accidentally killed a boy while trying to avoid having his head crushed in. Magic is messy, and Dieter soon discovers that in evil or unskilled hands, it can often be lethal. At least he has a vampire on his side.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Burden Kansas (Alan Ryker)

My apologies for the recent delay in posting. It's wedding season (other people's, not mine), and I've been traveling on most of the weekends that I haven't been working. Finally playing catch-up with my own life now =)

Overall: 4.4
  • Plot: 5/5
  • Originality: 4.5/5
  • Language: 3.4/5
  • Believability: 4.8/5
Burden Kansas by Alan Ryker

Vampires are not sexy or sensitive.

Hungry, bloody and stinking of the grave, they hunt the dry Kansas plains, taking what they want until they cross rancher Keith Harris. Keith is a damaged man who's always made the hard decisions others couldn't. As the two forces battle for survival, the lines between man and monster begin to blur. How much of a community's burden of sin can one man take on before becoming a monster himself?

With Burden Kansas, Alan Ryker provides a contemporary novella of vampire horror written in the minimal voice of the western. Burden Kansas is more entertaining, disturbing and thought-provoking than you thought a vampire western could be.
Genre: Horror
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In a small town in Kansas, cattle are getting attacked. Some are torn apart, while others get away with a little blood loss and some strange sort of virus. The target of the contagion isn't bovine, after all: it's human. Keith Harris, an angry man with a weak sense of self control, is the first to come across the vampires, and his actions set off a twisted chain of events that delves into the darkness lurking within us all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vallar (Cindy Borgne)

Overall: 3.2
  • Plot: 3/5
  • Originality: 4.5/5
  • Language:2.7/5
  • Believability: 2.5/5
Vallar by Cindy Borgne

At sixteen, Ian Connors has only one real friend and no hope for the future. He also happens to be the secret weapon of a powerful military faction bent on conquering all humans who have colonized Mars. His job is to use his psychic ability to uncover secrets or hidden bases of other factions. Ian not only uncovers a valuable hidden mine through his visions, but also Kayla, a woman he sees himself with in the future. The only problem is she's on the enemy side.

Ian heads out into a battle to save Kayla. Instead, he discovers the death and destruction his visions can bring when in the wrong hands. Ian vows to never let anyone use him again. His goal is to escape and live in peace, but his superiors monitor him closely and defectors are known to mysteriously disappear. Deep down, he longs to be with Kayla. Despite his age, inexperience and few allies, he refuses to give up. He must outwit a cunning admiral and save Kayla from his own people or he will remain a pawn and forever separated from those he loves.
Genre: Science Fiction
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On Mars, various organizations and colonies have risen, their ultimate goal to get back to Earth, or Hinun. Thus far, the strongest faction has been a militaristic group, called Marscorp,that uses psychics to show them how to defeat and absorb rival colonies. Alliance is not an option. It is within this milieu that Ian Connors, a growing psychic, discovers the love of his life via visions. The problem? She's on the enemy's side. In his quest to find her, Ian comes face to face with the brutality of war and is forced to make a choice: to save lives or to destroy them.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Invisible Dawn (Weston Kincade)

Overall: 3.3
  • Plot: 3/5
  • Originality: 4.5/5
  • Language: 3/5
  • Believability: 2.5/5
Invisible Dawn by Weston Kincade

In a world where rare individuals have evolved, the government kidnaps specific children to study and utilize their abilities. Madelin has been imprisoned in such a facility for thirteen years and suffers from medically induced amnesia. Facing a hopeless future, haunted dreams, and an invisible past, each morning is an Invisible Dawn and life holds no meaning, until she meets Jedd. Her newly discovered godfather becomes her beacon in tumultuous seas as they strive to find answers and allies.

On the run from PASTOR Agency’s first trained shifter, an egotistical man with power hungry desires, Madelin and her godfather find their lives intertwined with a broke Cajun gambler, an ex-mercenary in search of redemption, and a rebellious Vampire.

Can they survive nature's mysteries and humanity’s greed? Will they find salvation? Only a Darwinian victory will do, but even that may prove futile.
Genre: Fantasy, Horror,
Science Fiction, Thriller
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For the past twelve years, fugitive Jedd Altran has sought to infiltrate the PASTOR agency to rescue his goddaughter, Madelin. She is one of many children kidnapped by the organization for their power to step between alternate realities. As a random memory helps him unlock the ability to astral project, Jedd discovers her location and finds a way to set Madelin free. PASTOR agents, however, are not far behind.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette (Susie Kelly)

Overall: 4.5
  • Content: 4/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language: 4.2/5
  • Credibility: 5/5
The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette by Susie Kelly

Between the glitzy glitter of Versailles and the effervescent glamour of Champagne lies the beautiful but little-known Marne valley. The author and her husband set off to explore this part of France by bike. Their route traced the escape attempt of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, and led them to quaint provincial towns, as well as to battlefields and monuments marking the first heroic engagements of American troops during the Great War. Cycling wasn't Susie's forte, and there were moments of domestic strife. A gripping blend of history, travel, tragedy and humour.
Genre: Nonfiction
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During one alternately rainy and scorching summer vacation, author Susie Kelly and her husband, Terry, set off on bicycle to follow the journey of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette through the Marne Valley. Along they way, food is consumed, physical endurance is tested, and French history is shared. More than as travelogue, as it were, The Valley of Heaven and Hell immerses readers in the past while engaging their sympathies for present troubles. The result is a memorable shared trip through 750 kilometers' worth of France.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Scarab (Scott Rhine)

A review for The Scarab will not be posted on this blog. While interesting in theory, the technical details make it feel too much like a video game description and too little like a novel for my tastes. The frequent, and inappropriate, shifts in tense and confusion of basic grammatical details, like "its" versus "it's," have also left me cold. After wading through a third of the novel, I am conceding defeat and moving on to the next work in the queue.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Shaman, Healer, Heretic (M Terry Green)

Overall: 3.9
  • Plot: 3.7/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Language: 4/5
  • Believability: 4/5
Shaman, Healer, Heretic by M. Terry Green

Even for a techno-shaman, a kachina in the bedroom isn’t exactly part of the drill. When Olivia Lawson wakes to find one towering over her, she panics. A Hopi god visiting the real world isn’t just wrong–it’s impossible.

Or is it?

Soon Olivia learns that the kachina is the least of her worries. As she struggles to save her clients, clashes with other shamans, and fends off the attacks of real-world vigilantes, Olivia finds herself in the destructive path of a malevolent ancient force intent on leaving the spiritual realm to conquer this one.

Left with few options, Olivia is forced to defy centuries of shaman prohibitions. As she and her allies risk everything in their bid for survival, Olivia ultimately learns that the rules are there for a reason and that breaking them has a terrible cost.
Genre: Fantasy,
Science Fiction
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Nook
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Shamanism comes into the modern age. As a techno-shaman, Livvy uses a set of electric goggles to bring her into the spiritual realm. There, she is able to aid those whose souls are in some kind of distress—all for a fee, of course. Lately, however, strange things have been occurring on the so-called "other side," from abnormal spiritual traffic to odd kachina sightings. As the underworld grows increasingly dangerous for souls and shamans, Livvy must find a way to save them all, before trouble finds a way to reach the real world.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Training of Socket Greeny (Tony Bertauski)

Overall: 3.8
  • Plot: 3.4/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language: 3/5
  • Believability: 3.4/5
The Training of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski

A year has passed since the Paladin Nation was exposed to the public. Their mission is still to protect humanity from whatever may threaten them. Previously, it was the human duplications, but now that they've been extinguished their biggest challenge is dealing with the complications of public image. Socket Greeny, now 17 years old, has been a Paladin cadet for the past year and is nearing the final test. But that's the least of his problems. He's trying to live two lives: one as a superhero while hanging onto his normal life. While fearlessly dealing with his masochistic trainer, he's trying to salvage his deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend back home. But Socket's greatest challenge is to find his true enemy. He discovers that fear has many faces.
Genre: Science Fiction
Purchase Links:
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Nook
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Other Links:
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The story of Socket Greeny continues. In The Training of Socket Greeny, Socket works on developing his powers as a Paladin, while maintaining some sense of self. As his old life begins to slip away, however, he finds himself struggling to meet the needs of his loved ones and the demands of a race that sees human attachments as little more than hindrances. As he fights to preserve all that he holds dear, he uncovers a sinister plot that could very well end the world as we know it. Quite the plateful for the average seventeen-year-old. Fortunately, Socket Greeny soon shows that he is anything but average.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Over Easy (Beth Ellyn)

Overall: 3.3
  • Plot: 2.5/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Language: 3.5/5
  • Believability: 3/5
Over Easy by Beth Ellyn, illustrated by Scott Finkelstein

Adam Spiegel is exactly what the Culinary Channel needs: a chef without a clue how to cook. The hilarious instructional show becomes an overnight sensation, but it’s Adam’s son, fifteen-year-old Doug, who emerges as the real star of Over Easy. It doesn’t take viewers long to see who has the talent in the family, and Doug’s sheepish boy-next-door persona and good looks throw him head-first into a media (and fan) frenzy he never asked for. Can Doug's long-time friendship with Dana London (intern for The Good Evening Show) survive? Will Dana's new intern friends be enough for her?
Genre: Children's Literature
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All it took was a tape mix-up at a large event, and kitchen disaster Adam Spiegel found himself with a show on the Culinary Channel. His partner? His teenage son, whose true talent with food quickly overshadows his father's ineptitude. As the summer wears on, friendships are formed and tested, and Doug has to decide if celebrity is all that it's cracked up to be.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

A Call To Arms: Freedom of Speech

I received this e-mail update from Smashwords this morning. For those of you unfamiliar with Smashwords, it is a website that formats and distributes electronic books to sites such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iBookstore. Favored by self-published authors, it is coming under fire. Not an author? Skip to the bottom of this post to see why this is relevant to readers as well.

PAYPAL CENSORSHIP UPDATE
________________________________________

In case you haven't heard, about two weeks ago, PayPal contacted Smashwords and gave us a surprise ultimatum: Remove all titles containing bestiality, rape or incest, otherwise they threatened to deactivate our PayPal account. We engaged them in discussions and on Monday they gave us a temporary reprieve as we continue to work in good faith to find a suitable solution.

PayPal tells us that their crackdown is necessary so that they can remain in compliance with the requirements of the banks and credit card associations (likely Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, though they didn't mention them by name).

Last Friday, I sent the following email to our erotica authors and publishers: https://www.smashwords.com/press/release/27 Then on Monday, I issued an update, and announced we would delay enforcement of PayPal's guidelines so we and PayPal could continue our discussions: https://www.smashwords.com/press/release/28

THE PROBLEM:

PayPal is asking us to censor legal fiction. Regardless of how one views topics of rape, bestiality and incest, these topics are pervasive in mainstream fiction. We believe this crackdown is really targeting erotica writers. This is unfair, and it marks a slippery slope. We don't want credit card companies or financial institutions telling our authors what they can write and what readers can read. Fiction is fantasy. It's not real. It's legal.

THE SOLUTION:

There's no easy solution. Legally, PayPal and the credit card companies probably have the right to decide how their services are used. Unfortunately, since they're the moneyrunners, they control the oxygen that feeds digital commerce.

Many Smashwords authors have suggested we find a different payment processor. That's not a good long term solution, because if credit card companies are behind this, they'll eventually force crackdowns elsewhere. PayPal works well for us. In addition to running all credit card processing at the Smashwords.com store,
PayPal is how we pay all our authors outside the U.S. My conversations with PayPal are ongoing and have been productive, yet I have no illusion that the road ahead will be simple, or that the outcome will be favorable.

BUILDING A COALITION OF SUPPORT:

Independent advocacy groups are considering taking on the PayPal censorship case. I'm supporting the development of this loose-knit coalition of like-minded groups who believe that censorship of legal fiction should not be allowed. We will grow the coalition. Each group will have its own voice and tactics I'm working with them because we share a common cause to protect books from censorship. Earlier
today I had conversations with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). I briefed them on the Smashwords/PayPal situation, explained the adverse affect this crackdown will have on some of our authors and customers, and shared my intention to continue working with PayPal in a positive manner to move the discussion forward.

The EFF blogged about the issue a few days ago:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/02/legal-censorship-paypal-makes-habit-deciding-what-users-can-read
Today, ABFFE and NCAC issued a press release:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/83549049/NCAC-ABFFE-Letter-To-PayPal-eBay-re-Ebook-Refusal-2012

I will not be on the streets with torch in hand calling for PayPal's head, but I will encourage interested parties to get involved and speak their piece. This is where you come in...

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Although erotica authors are being targeted, this is an issue that should concern all indie authors. It affects indies disproportionately because indies are the ones pushing the boundaries of fiction. Indies are the ones out there publishing without the (fading) protective patina of a "traditional publisher" to lend them legitimacy. We indies only have each other.

Several Smashwords authors have contacted me to stress that this censorship affects women disproportionately. Women write a lot of the erotica, and they're also the primary consumers of erotica. They're also the primary consumers of mainstream romance, which could also come under threat if PayPal and the credit card companies were to overly enforce their too-broad and too-nebulous obsenity clauses (I think
this is unlikely, but at the same time, why would dubious consent be okay in mainstream romance but not okay in erotica? If your write paranormal, can your were-creatures not get it on with one another, or is that bestiality? The insanity needs to stop here. These are not questions an author, publisher or distributor of legal fiction should have to answer.).

All writers and their readers should stand up and voice their opposition to financial services companies censoring books. Authors should have the freedom to publish legal fiction, and readers should have the freedom to read what they want.

These corporations need to hear from you. Pick up the phone and call them. Email them. Start petitions. Sign petitions. Blog your opposition to censorship. Encourage your readers to do the same. Pass the word among your social networks. Contact your favorite bloggers and encourage them to follow this story. Contact your local newspaper and offer to let them interview you so they can hear a local author's perspective on this story of international significance. If you have connections to mainstream media, encourage them to pick up on the story. Encourage them to call the credit card companies and pose this simple question, "PayPal says they're trying to enforce the policies of credit card companies. Why are
you censoring legal fiction?"

Below are links to the companies waiting to hear from you. Click the link and you'll find their phone numbers, executive names and postal mailing addresses. Be polite, respectful and professional, and encourage your friends and followers to do the same. Let them know you want them out of the business of censoring legal fiction.

Tell the credit card companies you want them to give PayPal permission to sell your ebooks without censorship or discrimination. Let them know that PayPal's policies are out of step with the major online ebook retailers who already accept your books as they are. Address your calls, emails (if you can find the email) and paper letters (yes paper!) to the executives. Post open letters to them on your blog, then tweet and Facebook hyperlinks to your letters. Force the credit card companies to join the discussion about censorship. And yes, express your feelings and opinions to PayPal as well. Don't scream at them. Ask them to work on your behalf to protect you and your readers from censorship. Tell them how their proposed censorship will harm you and your fellow writers.

Visa | American Express | MasterCard | Discover Ebay (owns PayPal)

While they are appealing to the authors, I would like to appeal to the readers among us. If you call for the removal of books containing bestiality, rape, or incest, you question the validity of such works as Julie of the Wolves (rape), I Am Regina (attempted rape), The Rape of Nanking, any work referencing the Greek Pantheon (Zeus and Hera were siblings, remember?), and Piers' Anthony's Xanth series (those half-breeds had to come from somewhere, folks). The point is that as taboo as these subjects may be, they are also a part of life, both real and imaginary, and the ways in which they are used may tickle our fancy, or push us to moral outrage on the behalf of protagonists male and female.

If you don't speak up, you are passively allowing censorship to occur. Remember the scene from Nat Hentoff's The Day They Came To Arrest The Book? The school principal began ripping out portions of the Bible because they contained references to incest, abuse of women, etc. 'Nuff said.

You don't need a soapbox upon which to stand, nor a pulpit from which to preach—just drop another thirty-second e-mail to one of the companies listed above, and get on with your day. Feeling a bit more outrage than that? Spread the sentiment online and in your community. Make yourself heard. Be passionate, be bold, and above all, be thoughtful: remember the principles for which you fight.

Thank you for joining the worldwide community of readers and writers in this cause.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The End Is Near (Harry Ramble)

Overall: 4.5
  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Originality: 4.5/5
  • Language: 4.8/5
  • Believability:4/5
The End Is Near by Harry Ramble

On his forth-fifth birthday, as his hostages dozed fitfully and state police prepared to take him by force, Nathan Huffnagle penned nine last words into a journal recounting a remarkable week's worth of events. Then he placed the cold steel circle of a shotgun barrel beneath his chin, gripped the trigger, and pulled. And his life began again.

Nathan had hoped to pay back one injustice with another, and tip the scales back to even. But so few of us have a real talent for havoc and vengeance and violence. And our cherished grievances and justifications rarely match up so neatly with the realities of our lives. Now, frustrated at every turn and pestered by a series of seemingly angelic visitors, Nathan makes a hospital-bed deal with Death--the Big Guy himself. Will he receive the release he desires? Or a new lease on life?
Genre: General Fiction
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At the ripe middling age of forty-five, Nathan Huffnagle completed a body of work he termed to be his "suicide journal," and while his hostages slept on, he slid the muzzle of a rifle beneath his chin. Moments later, he pulled the trigger. To his dismay, instead of death, he was greeted by apparitions who pushed him to fill in the blanks that his journal left behind. Just who was Nathan Huffnagle, and why was he holding hostages in the stockroom of a small auto shop? Let us find out.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red (Jacqueline T. Lynch)

Overall: 3.3
  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Language: 3/5
  • Believability: 3.2/5
Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red by Jacqueline T. Lynch

A “cozy” post-World War II mystery about a museum heist, a missing child, a murder, and the partnership of a recent ex-con and an even more recent widow.

In Hartford, Connecticut, 1949, Juliet Van Allen, a museum administrator, returns home from work early to find her artist husband having an affair with another woman. Juliet slips unseen back to her office, where she meets an intruder. Elmer Vartanian, recently released from prison for a museum robbery, is coerced into helping scout the museum for a heist by a gang that has kidnapped his daughter. Since Juliet left her apartment, her husband has been murdered. She is the prime suspect, and Elmer is her only alibi.

Juliet, the rebellious only daughter of a wealthy financier, and Elmer, a lower-class ex-convict who has educated himself in prison, learn to rely on each other. Juliet is Elmer’s guide to a post-world that has changed so much since he entered prison. He feels guilty for having missed his daughter’s childhood, for being safe when friends were killed in World War II, and is bewildered over atomic energy, Modern Art, ballpoint pens, and frozen orange juice concentrate.

Juliet is not sure she believes Elmer’s story. Elmer is not sure she didn’t kill her husband. They are compelled to work together, dogged by the scandal-monger newsman, the shrewd police detective, and scrutinized by the even more judgmental eye of Hartford’s elite in world where Modern Art meets old-fashioned murder.
Genre: General Fiction
Purchase Links:
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Nook
Other Links:
author website



All Juliet van Allen, aka Mrs. McLeod, wanted to do was go home early to make love with her husband. Instead, she wound up with a dead, adulterous spouse, an ex convict as her new chauffeur, strange men climbing through her ventilation system, and a detective convinced that she's a murderess. To top it off, most of the happenings are printed in the paper each day, courtesy of an ethically-unbound reporter. Simmer, stir, and let the plot thicken.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Rubies of the Viper (Martha Marks)

Overall: 2.4
  • Plot: 2/5
  • Originality: 2.5/5
  • Language: 3.2/5
  • Believability: 2/5
Rubies of the Viper by Martha Marks

When her brother is murdered in first-century Rome, Theodosia Varro inherits the family estate, going from poverty and isolation to great wealth and a prestigious position in society. Unfortunately, she lives in a time and a place that deny women of her class the very things she most desires: personal freedom and self-determination. Only by identifying her brother's killer can she feel safe, yet her efforts take her in quite the opposite direction. After her own actions and the scheming of others lead to catastrophe, Theodosia struggles to survive and recover what matters most in her life.
Genre: Historical Fiction,
Women's Fiction
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In a Rome shortly set to fall under the infamous Nero's rule, Theodosia Varro has come into an fortuitous inheritance. All is not as it seems, however, as her good luck came at the cost of her half-brother's murder. Caught up in social intrigue and the struggles of a wealthy woman without any real male support, she soon learns the true value of life and freedom.

 

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