Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pigeon Blood Red

I was given a print copy of Pigeon Blood Red by author Ed E. Duncan for review.

 Pigeon Blood Red is a story of double crossing, double dealing, marital infidelity, organized crime, sex, lies and ultimate honor. The honor surfacing in sometimes unexpected places.

The title, Pigeon Blood Red, refers to a sapphire necklace (not a dead bird), around which the story revolves.

It is a light and thoroughly enjoyable read. I say light not because the story is frivolous or shallow, but because it is a straight forward, good guy bad guy tale. We know who's who, and why; the story is in how it all comes together at the climax. The characters are well developed enough to elicit our sympathy, respect, or disdain, depending on the circumstance.

Pigeon Blood Red is the first offering in a trilogy. I do not yet know the title of this trilogy, but author Ed E. Duncan promises to bring us more tales involving these characters. There is plenty of action, intrigue, violence, intimidation, sex and romance to keep us hooked. I finished the book in one day, it held my attention that well.

Pigeon Blood Red at 238 pages, is not particularly long as books go, but Duncan packs a lot of story into those pages. Readers in search of a tight, well written, good guy versus bad guy, crime/action/adventure will find Pigeon Blood Red  by Ed E. Duncan, an engrossing story that will keep them involved to the end. And like me, they will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next installment. Enjoy!


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Waves of Reprisal

Malcolm Little provided me with an e-copy of Waves of Reprisal for review.

I am always up for a good post-apocalyptic read and Waves of Reprisal is a good post-apocalyptic read.

Waves of Reprisal  is set in the area of what was once France and Germany. I say was once because unlike many post apocalyptic stories Waves of Reprisal  takes place almost thirteen centuries post apocalypse. Long enough for the pre-apocalyptic society to pass into myth and legend. We actually start the story with the apocalypse, but it is treated more as an intro so we don't spend a lot of time there.

1266 years later our hero, Hanyma (Ha-nee-ma), is engaged in a blood feud with a merciless marauder, Tulock,  part of a group dedicated to the domination of the world. This group is responsible for the death of Hanyma's family as well as her entire village. Her goal is to stop them from destroying more villages.

Whether by luck or design (the reader can draw their own conclusion), Hanyma begins to uncover ancient technology, becoming a reluctant hero and leader.

Hanyma's world is a brutal place for sure, but she does find the opportunity to make friends and comrades along the way.

Waves of Reprisal  is the first in a series. While not a cliffhanger ending (thank you Malcolm Little), there are plenty of questions left to be answered in future books. This story is definitely action oriented, but this does not mean other themes are ignored. Relationships given prominence as well. Yes, there is even budding romance.

Although ancient technology is at the core of the story, author Malcolm Little does not bog us down with techie info. I like this as I am no techno-nerd. We do have the aforementioned ancient technology; Robots called Synthoids, pulse-pistols, gamma-rifles, clones and technological fortresses. We also have talking wolves, bears, and other large animals (we have not yet been told exactly how these abilities have come to the animals).

So, basically we find that the world is again on the cusp of destruction, setting the scene for a battle for the future of humankind.

Malcolm Little has painted a picture of a brutal yet beautiful world, with well developed characters we can root for and against. The possibility of redemption and renewal exists. I personally am interested in what happens with the wolves.

If, as I do, you prefer your sci-fi to lean more towards fantasy than techno, Waves of Reprisal  by Malcolm Little is the ticket. Enjoy!


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Mirror

John A. Heldt gave me an e-copy of The Mirror because I enjoyed The Mine  and The Show so much.
He did not ask for a review, but I'm going to anyway.

John Heldt immediately joined my list of Indie authors who deserve more attention by publishing houses when I had the pleasure of reading his first book in the series, The Mine . Another of those authors who make me glad I was introduced to indie books.

Kind of bittersweet today, The Mirror is the fifth and last installment (as far as I know), in the Northwest Passage Series. I purposely waited a while to read this book because it is also the only book by Mr. Heldt that I had not yet read. I knew it would be good so I wanted to tease myself. By the way, I was right, The Mirror is great!

The Mirror is a fantastic finale to the series. Any member of the series' Smith family, you have to wonder when it will be your turn for a trip through time. Heldt always pleases. Although the series follows some of the same characters through the series, he gives us new settings and situations that keep the story fresh. My favorite character throughout the series has been Grace Vandenberg (now Smith).

Heldt is such a great story teller and with The Mirror he only solidifies my opinion. The story becomes a multi-generational adventure for twin sisters Ginny and Katie Smith (yeah Those Smiths). We also get a bit of reincarnation added to the mix this time (time, get it? Ok, sorry).

The Mirror twists the story by starting in the future (very near future) and traveling past us to the 60's. Yes, I was there and I do remember them. As I have come to expect from John Heldt, I got a heart-warming tale with humor, heartbreak, history, tragedy, love and romance. It was fun to revisit a time on the cusp of cultural change. The sexual revolution had not yet started, but our time-travelers come from a more relaxed time. There is more sex in this book (again reflecting the time setting), but it is tastefully presented.

Because of the time frame of The Mirror, there is also more social commentary. I'll let you find that on your own. As always, Mr. Heldt ties up the loose ends nicely, yet unpredictably, by the end of the book. As I said, bittersweet. It has been so much fun to read this series, I kind of hate to see it end.

Once again I say; If you want a well written, good, fun, clean adventure, The Mirror by John A. Heldt is for you. I highly recommend the whole Northwest Passage Series as well as his newer American Journey Series. 

John A. Heldt is definitely an author to follow. Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Death of Anyone

D.J. Swykert sent me a print copy of The Death of Anyone for review.

The Death of Anyone is a detective story most definitely written for adults. The language and details of the crimes committed are not for the timid. The last time I heard language this coarse was 40+ years ago when I was in the Army.

The crimes committed in The Death of Anyone are so heinous I had a hard time reading about them. I don't have a problem reading violent books, but the sickness of the crimes (rape, murder) committed in this book are intense. Fortunately for me. author Swykert does a good job of balancing other more palatable story lines to give the reader a break from the intense emotions stirred.

Our hero, a female cop, Bonnie Benham, is one of the toughest characters of any gender you are likely to encounter. Lead detective on a serial murder case, we see how her life as a cop has impacted her personal life.

We learn a bit about forensics, police procedure, and political power, as we follow progress in the case.

There is a strong romantic story line to balance against the evil of the crime, and on a somewhat humorous level, we find that most police strategy sessions happen over meals (no doughnut jokes). These folks go out to eat a whole lot more than I do.

The Death of Anyone is not a light read. It is tough, gritty, and in your face. I was not surprised to learn that D.J. Swykert is a former 911 operator. His depiction of police seems to be believable, though I am certainly no expert on the subject. He has given us a well written story of; crime, violence, murder, investigative procedure, romance, and sex. It is a no-holds-barred story which kept me reading til well after my bedtime. In fact I stayed awake quite late to finish.

D.J. Swykert has given his audience an intense ride in The Death of Anyone. Readers of the crime/thriller genre should find this offering satisfying. Enjoy!


Monday, August 15, 2016

Fated Memories

Joan Carney, author of Fated Memories sent me a print copy of her book for review.

Fated Memories is a time-travel adventure with a healthy dose of mystery and romance added for good measure.

Our hero, Kitty, is an interesting character; a socially insecure woman who has the ability to kick-ass and take names if push comes to shove. And of course, push seems to come to shove throughout the story. Kitty, teamed with Mags her cousin, and Mags new friend Simon, complete our time-travelling trio.

With many issues and questions swirling about our trio, they find themselves unexpectedly shunted to the year 1861. They become involved in The Civil War while trying to understand what has happened to them. Some of the romantic interests are identified early on but others take longer to develop (I felt bad for John Gruber).

There are a lot of twists and turns keeping the story interesting and the reader involved. I'm not big on trying to predict what's coming when I read, but when I did think I knew what was coming I was usually wrong. Fated Memories does a good job portraying the everyday life of the soldiers of the time. Many books and stories tend to romanticize the topic. Joan Carney dispels any notion of romanticism quickly, instead painting a gritty picture of a life of deprivation and discomfort.

Past-life memories play a major role in Fated Memories. That's all I am going to say about that.  As is the case with other books in the genre that I find most enjoyable, Fated Memories does not concern itself with the physics of time travel. The characters aren't overly concerned with altering history, they are just trying to stay alive.

There is violence (c'mon, it's set in the Civil War), sex (both consensual and non), humor, fear, tragedy, compassion, love, tenderness and spiritual renewal. What there isn't; political opinion, moralizing, racial comment, or social agenda. Fated Memories is set in the Civil War, but is not a "Civil War book" if that makes sense.

Aside from the high quality of the story, Fated Memories is a book whose author has taken the time to produce a quality physical copy of the book. There are very few mistakes, yes a couple, but very few, This is of great importance to dedicated readers; we get in a rhythm when reading (at least I do) and too many glaring errors break that rhythm. So, hats off to authors like Joan Carney whose work shows attention to that detail.

I found Fated Memories by Joan Carney to be wonderfully entertaining read. I really enjoy reading a book that focus on telling a good story, not trying to sell a social agenda. We get enough of that garbage with social media. Books are for fun, for me, Fated Memories was fun. Enjoy!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Lost Prophecy: Awakening

Author Kimberly Bernard sent me a print copy of Lost Prophecy: Awakening for review.

Lost Prophecy: Awakening is the first book in the Lost Prophecy series. I think it does a pretty good job as a first installment. I do think it is aimed a younger audience than me, but it is still a very enjoyable read. As usual in YA stories, it takes a while for the adults to get on board with the situation, but they do finally get it.

First, let's start with the very minor negative. For me, the dialogue comes across as a little bit too formal for teenagers. I'm not saying it should be slang filled or profanity laced, it's just a little stilted and uncomfortable at times. Okay, that's it for the negative.

Positives: Our hero, Nick, although resentful that his parents (adults) don't believe him, he is still respectful (for the most part, he is a teenage boy after all).  I find it encouraging that the teens in Lost Prophecy: Awakening  do not speak to adults as is often the current fashion, ie; cursing, disrespectful and basically in a manner that would have gotten a few of my teeth removed had I talked to my parents in such a manner (Obligatory editorial comment). Kudos to Kimberly Bernard for giving us likable characters on both sides of the age gap. Also, my biggest compliment to the author: She resolved a major question and was still able to keep us involved in the ongoing story line (read; wanting to read the next book) without having to resort to a cliffhanger ending. It is always nice when an author is able to do this. That shows me she has confidence that the strength of her story will keep readers interested.

Lost Prophecy: Awakening is an adventure/mystery which takes our characters to some pretty exotic locales painting a vivid mental picture (theater of the mind don't you know). As I said, Lost Prophecy: Awakening is probably aimed at a young adult audience, I wouldn't have a problem letting younger (middle grade) readers read this book. The language is appropriate for all ages while the story line is sophisticated enough to appeal to older readers (like me). It's fun and exciting, yet still clean (good job Ms. Bernard). There is action, violence (not graphic, more threatened), possibly budding romance, academic bad guys, supportive yet at times clueless parents, and smart, resourceful and intelligent teenagers.

Lost Prophecy: Awakening by Kimberly Bernard is a good, fun, clean read, good for all ages, Enjoy!


Thursday, August 11, 2016


Author L.X.Cain sent me an e-version of Bloodwalker for review. I wish I didn't have to always write a disclaimer, but I guess it's required (heavy sigh).

Bloodwalker is basically a murder-mystery, but there is nothing basic about it. Set in middle Europe (Hungary and Romania mostly), our story follows the lives of an itinerant circus and at the same time a group of Bloodwalkers. For your information, Bloodwalkers are those women who have historically been the caretakers of the dead, preparing them for burial. There are more things they are capable of, but that is part of the story you need to read for yourself.

Those who are familiar with my reviews know that I don't deal in hyperbole or overly effusive language. But I have to tell you folks, this book is nothing short of awesome. Cain weaves a tale of such horror and darkness that the reader can't easily put it down. To label Bloodwalker a "page-turner" is to damn it with faint praise. It is riveting.

So many themes are integrated into the story so well it amazed me. Issues of murder (of course), mistrust, self confidence, mans inhumanity to man, forced marriage, spouse abuse, personal redemption, superstition, love, loyalty and justice, just to name some (I don't think  got them all). You may think that with so many themes the story might become off as preachy, fear not, it doesn't. What it does come off as is; one hell of a good book.

Bloodwalker also gives insight into the culture of circus performers and workers. These people live by their own code of honor and loyalty. It is in fact this code that is at the very heart of the story. Our hero Rurik and our heroine Sylvie stick to their individual codes of ethics throughout the story. They won't, and don't, compromise these principles. It's nice to read a story where the main characters do not have situational ethics no matter what.

Bloodwalker is a good horror story, not just in the evil that men do sense, but also in the real there are grotesque monsters out there. The geographic setting for the story is perfect. Think the eerie atmosphere of Dracula, Frankenstein and other such horror classics; dark, creepy and spooky.

Bloodwalker has not yet been released (current scheduled release date: Oct. 4) so I am not able to post my review in all the familiar places yet. I believe it is available for pre-order at Amazon.

I have not had the pleasure yet of reading any other work by L.X. Cain, but wow, Bloodwalker was a great way to be introduced to this author. This book is a must read. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Making Angel

Making Angel (Mariani Crime Family #1) penned (Digitized?) by Amanda Washington was given to me in e-format by the author for review.

First I must say, Amanda Washington is a very clever (maybe even sneaky) author. She managed to weave a romance into a Mafia story.  We all know I'm not much for straight-up romance stories. Making Angel is a terrific blend of action/adventure and romance.

Going strictly off the title, I expected "Angel" to be a female (yeah I know, sexist old fart) so I started the book surprised, yep, Angel is a guy (D'Angelo).  No secret now,  Making Angel is not your typical shoot-em up mafia story. It is a well rounded tale of crime, technology, familial loyalty and yes, romance.

Our hero is a very like-able guy, especially considering his place in the local Vegas mafia hierarchy. Even though a strong story-line is the romance he becomes involved in, I enjoyed the almost equally strong "buddy" story-line (Angel and his body guard Bones).

The characters are well developed and believable. It would be easy to fall into the genre stereotypes of mafia characters. Ms. Washington deftly combines in Angel, confidence and business acumen with almost schoolboy goofiness and ineptitude in matters romantic. I find this a much more appealing character than a suave, does everything right, seducer of women.

Making Angel, although full of drama, life and death situations, deep emotional conflicts, violence, crime and corruption, is still able to leave the reader with a light-hearted feeling. I think that is a testament to the authors ability to tell a good story.

Making Angel (Mariani Crime Family #1) is actually the second book (numerically) in the Mariani Crime Family trilogy. Book 0 may be a "prequel" who knows. I do know that the installment I read was very good, so I expect the rest is as well.

If you are more concerned with reading a well told story than what specific genre it occupies, Making Angel is the book for you. Enjoy!


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Trapped In A Hall Of Mirrors: How the Luckiest Man in the World Became a Spy

Trapped In A Hall Of Mirrors  by Michael Connick was sent to me in print format for review.

This book is, according to the title page, "based on true events". Author Michael Connick has a background of working with the intelligence community and has provided us with a exciting and often hilarious fictional account of that background.

He does not tell us what parts are real and what are his own invention. I guess if he did he would have to kill us, and I believe it is usually considered bad form for an author to kill his audience.

Trapped In A Hall Of Mirrors  brings to mind Get Smart meets James Bond. Only the reminder that the story is based on actual events keeps me from taking the story as a complete spoof. I think it was the tv show M*A*S*H that coined the term "screwing up in reverse", and that seems to have happened quite a bit in the case of Stephen Connor (our hero). He at times irritates, aggravates, puzzles, perturbs and downright pisses-off several major intelligence agencies around the world.

In the end, we have to say "Thank God he was on our side". Connick has a great time pointing out the twisted logic that often holds sway in the intelligence community as a whole ("our side" didn't often appear to be that much more logical in their actions).

I didn't really take Trapped In A Hall Of Mirrors as and indictment of, or comment on, the state of intelligence agencies in general. I take it as a fun peek behind the curtains, so to speak (the bad guys really shouldn't have paid any attention to that man behind the curtain).

Michael Connick hinted at another story for another book (okay, he didn't hint, he came right out and said it), I hope he chooses to tell us that story as well.

There is some violence (fairly graphic), some sex (fairly un-graphic) and almost-sex (he does get the girl, or does she get him?), but most of all good bureaucratic silliness.

For a good, quick (158 page), fun read, I recommend  Trapped In A Hall Of Mirrors by Michael Connick, I think you'll like it. Enjoy!


Friday, August 5, 2016

Lies & Alies The Blessed Trilogy Book 1

 I was given a print copy of Lies and Allies by author Jonathan Lenahan for review.  I'm not sure if the copy I received is an ARC or the finished product. It reads as well as any finished product, hardly any mistakes. But the things I have not seen in other books; no page numbers, and no printing at all on the spine, make me wonder. No big deal you understand, just things that make me go hmm (nod to Arsenio).

Before I get started on the nuts and bolts of Lies and Allies I should just go ahead and say, I really like this book.

As the title informs us, Lies & Allies, The Blessed Trilogy, Book 1 is the first book in a new epic fantasy trilogy. At its heart this is a quest story, but unlike others I have read, the companions in this story are nowhere near a cohesive group and they remain that way through most if not all of the first story. In fact, one of the characters is almost completely unlikable. None of the companions fall in love with each other (or anyone else), at least by the end of this installment.

Our heroes have basically been coerced into taking on a suicidal quest; kill a King and Queen. No spoiler, it's on the back cover of the book. Making the quest are; a former general, a priestess, a mercenary (Rake, rogue, just plain jerk?),his simple associate, and a timid man imprisoned for his magic ability, five in all, a good quest number.  Along the way, all sorts of unsavory characters get involved usually to their own detriment.

Lies and Allies is replete with political intrigue (lies), unwilling partnerships (allies), magic (the blessed), extreme violence, hinted at sex, torture, vengeance, compassion, and even love (filial).
As any good quest goes our heroes have to contend with several discomforts, from mild to downright horrible. Very good action sequences keep the adventure moving along nicely. The characters are much more developed and much earlier than in other quest adventures. The story is definitely character driven, we see the interpersonal conflicts played out in great detail. They are an integral part of the story, not just a weak hinted at side story.

Praise for author Jonathan Lenahan; he has shown he knows how to end the first entry in the trilogy without resorting to a cliffhanger. Not much more frustrating to me as a reader than to be left hanging and having to wait who knows how long to read the next part of the story. Lenahan is able to resolve enough of the story to let us feel satisfied, yet is also able to keep us hooked, looking forward to the continuation of the story (Three cheers for Jonathan Lenahan!).

As usual, I have not given much in the way of story detail. I figure, if I tell you the whole story, you don't need to read the book. That would be a shame. Lies and Allies by Jonathan Lenahan should actually be read, not just read about. If your a fan of the quest, magic, politics, and general entertaining adventure, do yourself a favor and start this trilogy. Enjoy!