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Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery ~~ A Review

   5 out of 5 quills     

I have read dozens….correction…..I have read everything that Susan Mallery has written.  I am here to tell you, she’s never written a bad book.  

But, she has outdone herself with Sisters Like Us!  It is delicious!!  My only complaint is that it ended too soon. As my readers well know, I do not include cliff notes of the story line (in my reviews) or spoil the joy of cracking a book open and meeting its characters. 

I am certain, however,  fans will soon rise up in revolt, demanding a sequel.

Did Ashton and Becca survive being separated?
What was Becca’s next year like?
Did Harper’s wonderful business blossom into an empire?
Did the partnership with Dean flourish?
Did Lucas continue as a detective with LAPD?
How did Jazz do at the memory care unit?
Did Stacey ever warm up to her baby daughter?
Did Kit ever run out of patience?
Did Bunny soften toward her own daughters?

Susan Mallery

I would recommend any of Susan’s books…but I highly recommend this one. It is a flawless story and you will fall in love with the characters. It’s one of those “I couldn’t put it down” books. 

Reminder:  Susan will grace my blog, in August, with an interview!

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 MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe.  July:  K.M.Ecke.  August: Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Failure Is An Option ~ Book Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing  5 out of 5 quills  ~~        A Review 

H. Jon Benjamin had me at the dedication, “For all you failures out there, you can do worse….”

The Robbery (and how I failed to stop one), The Threesome (and how I failed…), How I Failed to Have Chinese (while visiting my 

parents…) it’s chapter after chapter of failures that could be taken from any of our lives and it’s hilarious!   

I would consider  H. Jon Benjamin a comedy business success…. “But he’d like to remind everyone that as great as success can be, failure is also an option. And maybe the best option. In this book, he tells stories from his own life, from his early days (“wherein I’m unable to deliver a sizzling fajita”) to his romantic life (“how I failed to quantify a threesome”) to family (“wherein a trip to P.F. Chang’s fractures a family”) to career (“how I failed at launching a kid’s show”). As Jon himself says, breaking down one’s natural ability to succeed is not an easy task, but also not an insurmountable one. Society as we know it is, sadly, failure averse. But more acceptance of failure, as Jon sees it, will go a long way to making this world a different place . . . a kinder, gentler place, where gardens are overgrown and most people stay home with their pets. A vision of failure, but also a vision of freedom.” (Amazon.com)

Impertinent, tetchy and sidesplitting …I recommend this book to all who need a break from life’s little and big failures. A good laugh always helps. And you can pick it up, read a quick chapter, and put it down again until you need another giggle.

 

H. Jon Benjamin is an actor, voice actor, and stand-up comedian. He lives in New York.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS! April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe

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Review ~~ See Also Proof by Larry D. Sweazy

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing 5 out of 5 quills    See Also Proof  

~~ A Review  

A fresh, new voice in mystery fiction. Larry Sweazy writes with a distinctive flavor that I haven’t seen in awhile.  

“Night returned right on schedule. There was no such thing as a lingering evening in January. Darkness arrived abruptly, showing up before the clock struck five as if the color black had ownership rights to the world…..”

I can’t quite put my finger on it. Phrasing, selection of words, certainly imagery. January in North Dakota, a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business. and then murder comes to town.

The protagonist and amature sleuth, Margorie Tremaine, is by profession an indexer. What the heck is that?  The ‘index’ section that resides in the back of most non-fiction books; well, someone has got to write them and it isn’t the author. It takes a specialized eye to read a section of a book (mostly on subjects the ‘indexer’ hasn’t a clue about) and choose just the right word that a reader might use in looking up something specific in the index. I have used indexes (infrequently) over the decades but never gave a thought to how they were created or who wrote them. 

The fun thing is that while Marjorie gives the reader an example of her job and how indexing is done, it doesn’t get in the way of this excellent murder mystery. In an odd way, it ‘fleshes’ out her character and demonstrates what drives her. 

Those of you who know me as a writer/reviewer know that I don’t write spoilers in my reviews. It’s a easy way to fill space and more than once has spoiled a book for me that I had intended to read. So never will you read the entire story, often giving up the ending, in one of my reviews.  I”d rather talk about the writing, the interesting quirks, or the characters in the story. 

This series (there are three now) are stand-alone mysteries so you won’t be missing anything if you start with SEE ALSO PROOF, but I guarantee that you’ll want to read all of them!  I highly recommend Larry Sweazy’s books!

My only critique is about the cover. It might confuse the new reader to Mr. Sweazy’s work. It is unique but obscure and one could say too cerebral. But once the reader tumbles to the idea behind the index card on the cover and the odd phrasing of ‘See Also —–‘ it’s extremely clever.  And I adore clever!

Postscript:  ‘See also’ references in an index refer to another entry that bears similarity to one where the reference is attached.
 

The three books in the Marjorie Trumaine Mystery series, See Also MurderSee Also Deception, and See Also Proof, all incorporate the See also reference since Marjorie’s main function in life is that of an indexer, a person who writes indexes. Each title is specific to the book, and denotes an event or a concept that bears similarity to another concept or event in the book. 

Did you miss my interview with Larry? Click  here
SEE ALSO PROOF available now

http://larrydsweazy.com/

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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins ~~ A Review

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5 out of 5 quills   Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins  ~~  A Review

 

Once again Ace Atkins nails it!!  Old Black Magic is right up there with the best of Robert B. Parker’s previous books. 
But readers better brush up on the history of Boston, as seen through Parker’s eyes, the hoodlums and mobsters over the past twenty years (introduced in the Spenser series)  ’cause they all show back up, alive and dead. The biggest heist of millions of dollars in classic art from a museum in Boston and the case was never solved. It finally goes cold for over twenty years. Hired by the museum to find the art, Spenser and Vinnie Morris team up…odd bedfellows to say the least. ….and that’s all I’m giving you of the story line.  

I don’t write spoilers in my reviews but I am known for sometimes running off on a tangent that has much or little to do with the book. So I thought it would be fun to see if the story plot had any truth to it…as truth tends to be stranger than fiction. Bingo!! Here’s what I found:  El Greco’s Gentleman was stolen and not returned to its rightful owners for decades.  But it was not a Boston crime crew who knocked it off but rather the Nazis!

‘In 1920, Mr. Priester began amassing a notable art collection of Old Masters, including the famous El Greco, which he displayed in his Vienna home and office. By 1938, however, Mr. Priester was forced to flee with his wife to Paris to escape the Nazis
Before leaving, Mr. Priester entrusted his impressive collection to a friend, but the art was ultimately seized by the Gestapo after the Anschluss with Germany. At the end of the war in 1945, Mr. Priester, who had escaped to Mexico City, undertook an internationally publicized recovery effort with the help of the Austrian authorities, but his collection and the El Greco painting could not be located before his death. 

After WWII, restitution of stolen art work would often take decades. But sometimes it could be accomplished seamlessly if the dealers who purchased the stolen art agreed to cooperate with the claimants, as recently occurred in the case of the stolen El Greco painting, Portrait of a Gentleman.

In a rare deal announced by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, representing the original owners, and Art Recovery International, representing the art gallery which acquired the looted painting in 2010, Portrait of a Gentleman was returned to the heirs of the collection of Julius Priester. This deal took several months to arrange after seven long decades searching for the masterpiece.’ (credit: Observer.com)

Ace Atkins

So I digress a little…sue me!  But, am I the only one that finds stuff like this fascinating?

This is a terrific story and Ace Atkins tells it flawlessly in Robert B. Parker’s voice.  I highly recommend it.
 

Did you miss my interview with Ace Atkins?
Old Black Magic on Sale Now!!  Click here
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 MY  features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Mystery writer, Manning Wolfe.
 
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Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas ~ A Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing     5  out of 5 quills    ~~ A Review

It’s certainly no secret that I’m a big fan of Jodi Thomas’ writing style.  Mornings on Main is another winner.  Characters that you fall in love with. ‘Gram’ was a favorite of mine. She owns a quilting shop and, even though she suffers from short-term memory loss (don’t we all?) she’s feisty and loves her shop, her friends, and her life.  
Jillian and Connor present a sweet love story as Jillian curates Gram’s historic and valuable quilt collection. 

Jodi Thomas’ writing is suburb. Her stories move along and her characters entertain the reader. There’s never any doubt (in my mind) about whether the newest book out by Jodi will be any good. They always are…and in this case, I got a lesson about the art of quilting, the historic significance of quilting and the social aspect of quilting…all of which I had little knowledge about. This is a good read and I highly recommend it. 

Jodi writes:  

‘Three women’s stories together as the stories of the town’s history are displayed in quilts.  Quilts have always fascinated me.  I remember lying under my grandmother’s quilt from that drifted down from the ceiling.  I remember my mother quilting long after her mind had had been invaded by Alzheimer’s.  I loved seeing my sisters’ quilts displayed on their bedroom walls.

One of my first memories is lying beneath the quilting frame and listening to my mother and her friends talking as the needles flew.  I learned that for them it was never about how fine the stitches were, it was about the friendships, the creative adventure, the love that went into each quilt.

Years later, I was in my late thirties and just beginning to write.  My mother was moving into Alzheimer’s.  She’d set in the study with me and quilt on a little frame while I typed away on my stories.  As the years passed and my skill as a writer grew, while her skills slowly vanished we both still loved those morning working together.’ 

But, I don’t quilt. My mother quilted, my grandmother quilted. Both my sisters quilt.I have a quilt room in my house full of handmade quilts dating back five generations. 

My mother only read my first book before she stopped reading completely.  I’ll never forget what she said about my patchwork stories that blend together.  She said, “Jodi, you quilt with words.”


www.amazon.com
Release Date: April 10th

Jodi was a guest blogger on my site 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy. 

April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.
                        
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The Cougar’s Prey by Larry Sweazy ~~ Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills ~ A Review

Who doesn’t like a rousing, shoot-em-up western?  I haven’t read a good, (or for that matter any), western in several decades.  I stumbled upon Larry Sweazy as I stalked Amazon, looking for unique writers to possibly read/review/interview. Larry has written a series around a Texas Ranger, Josiah Wolfe.   And he lives up to the old classic western writers,   Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and Larry McMurtry. 

I happen to choose The Cougar’s Prey which falls in the middle of the series. I am happy to report that it stands alone and nothing is missed.  The author deftly brings the reader up to speed (on Josiah’s story) without belaboring his past.

Josiah Wolfe, an old Texas Ranger is sucked back into service and sent away. He is not a happy man. To be separated from his son in such perilous times. Corpus Christi, Texas is literally lawless and terrorized by Mexican bandits; the early days of Mexican cartels and Josiah is sent there on basically a suicide mission.

It was surreal, at times, riding (with Josiah) north, up the Gulf Coast from Corpus to Ingleside, Tx in 1874.  I lived and worked there in the early 2000’s and my veterinary was in Ingleside. Funny.  It is beautifully written and the reader cares about Josiah almost immediately.  I highly recommend this book.

 Looking forward to reviewing his upcoming mystery, See Also Proof: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery, coming May 1st.

 

Did you miss my Interview with Larry Sweazy?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.
                        
To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

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The White Rhino Hotel by Bartle Bull ~~ A Review

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                                                The White Rhino Hotel   ~~ A Review

A sweeping epic reminiscent of Hemingway, Steinbeck and Kipling. But, none of these…a unique voice that will touch you deeply if Africa touches you. 

The setup for the legion of characters and the landscape of Africa took about 100 pages. By then I was hooked by the richly developed people that fill Bull’s story. The writing is pure prose.

“Remember these stories, Tlaga. My people live inside them. When a tale is told, everyone who ever heard that story is alive again….” 

“An alphabet makes the words that keep a people together….” 

The story is dusty, hot, dangerous and violent. But so is Africa.   Just when the new settlers think they’ve domesticated the continent, warrior ants, a herd of elephants and floods storm through.  Bull’s characters populate Africa but never effect it, much less conquer it. Olivio, the grotesque dwarf. The reader can’t help themselves, they love and hate him at the same time. The star-crossed lovers, Anton and Gwenn. Hugo von Decken and his son, Ernst. German pioneers homesteading their piece of Africa. The list goes on and on. 

The story begins in (literally) the last days of World War I as a German unit traverses the plains of Africa, toting along their prisoners of war, some severely wounded. I don’t write spoilers so that’s about all I will tell of the story. I adore fiction that teaches me history. I had no idea of a Soldiers Lottery for land in West Africa after the world war ended. Whereby soldiers who fought in Africa could enter a lottery and homestead land that belonged only to the African native.  

This is their story. But it’s also Africa’s story; how it was fought over and then the land was passed out as booty after the war. Given away even though none of it belonged to any white man. 
I highly recommend this book. Take your time, savor each word, taste the air of Africa. That’s what I did! 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: in60Learning ~ A unique, non-fiction mini-book read in 60 minutes.
                        
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Chuck Lorre…Vanity Blog (The Big Bang Theory)

writing, blogs, blogger, comedy, Chuck Lorre, iconic televisionChuck Lorre, creator of The Big Bang Theory, (Young Sheldon, Mike & Molly, and Two and a Half Men and numerous movies) has been writing vanity blogs way before the word ‘blog‘ was coined.  If you have a ‘pause’ button on your remote, it’s certainly worth a read. It appears at the very end of each episode, after the credits and ‘Coming next week‘ stuff. 

VANITY CARD #579

“When I was a little boy I was constantly worried about myself and my family being killed by an atom bomb. Air raid drills and hiding in underground shelters were an almost daily part of my young life. (Remove all pens, pencils and sharp objects from your breast pocket, take off your glasses, look away from the window, find a buddy, hold hands, no talking, walk quickly to the basement, get on your knees, place your head against the wall, wait for the all-clear signal, hope the teacher forgets about the arithmetic test you didn’t study for.) Looking back, it was a ridiculously traumatic way to grow up. But like so many awful things, you got used to it. The fear of instant annihilation was just always there, lurking in the background. Until it wasn’t. Somehow, over time, the inevitability of the mushroom cloud simply went away. Wise and prudent men in our country and others, found a better way to exercise their hatred and fear of each other’s social and economic system. Until now. Now the wise and prudent men are no more, and the unthinkable is back on the table. Death and suffering on an unimaginable scale is once again an option. The low drumbeat of existential dread has returned, and I find myself thinking odd thoughts, like: “I hope someone reminds him that he can’t play golf in a Hazmat suit.”

And now, as if his brilliance couldn’t reach higher heights, there’s spin-off show when Sheldon was a kid living in conservative, Bible-belt, Texas. If you love Sheldon in Big Bang, and we all do, you will adore this nerdy little kid (played by Iain Armitage) who’s smarter than anyone in his ‘little kid orb’.  It might take you a show or two to realize the clever, subtle writing in this show when it appears to be so broad and red-neck, but trust me it really is our adored (grown-up) Sheldon as a kid.
My second favorite actor is the Mom, Mary. Played by Zoe Perry you’d swear it was Laurie Metcalf (Sheldon’s grownup Mom) when she was younger.  And then there’s Annie Potts. Remember her from Designing Women and Ghost Busters? She’s back as Sheldon’s Memaw (grandmother) and is a riot!!!

But I digress, just a little bit. Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards aka blog: I will never come close to his writing talent. But I can try. I can encourage others to try. And I can simply sit back and enjoy Lorre’s genius just for the sake of genius! 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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A Review ~~ Finding My Way by Judith Keim

reviews, authors, writing1 out of 5 quills        A Review  ~~  Finding My Way 

Very disappointed.  Right away the first chapter was familiar, so after checking I discovered the author had cut and pasted a chapter from Book 1 to begin her sequel in the Salty Key series. This is cheating and so lazy. In my forty+ years of reading and my 15 years of reviewing books, I have never seen this done. What was the author thinking?

The proof reading of the book was non-existent or at best, slack. In order to have the book seem to be full-length, 1.5 spaces was implemented, (instead of the industry standard 1.0 space format) causing the book to be 305 pages long, when in fact it is a cozy of about 175 pages. 

Any good sequel stands alone with its own story line.  This is not a stand-alone sequel. There is too much repeating of Book 1’s story. The author has chosen to write each book from another sister’s perspective.  The first sister, Sheena, had a somewhat interesting story line. In the second book it is from Darcy’s perspective.  And she’s not a very interesting character.  She brags about the novel she is going to write but doesn’t do much about it. Thinks that writing a restaurant review will hone her craft as a fiction writer. Huh? And she is ‘man-hungry’. Every man she meets in the story is either boyfriend/husband material or not. That’s what she leads with and it gets boring after a while.

Near the last 50 pages the author takes an unfortunate right turn. For no apparent reason, she introduces a severely disabled long-lost cousin. It was so out-of-the-blue! After that chapter he is never mentioned again.  She would have been well advised to develop the characters already on deck.  ‘Gavin’s people’ for instance. (lots of good stories there) The many boyfriend-material guys of Darcy’s. The editor/writer who is giving Darcy a chance to write for a local newspaper. (His illness/death is glossed over.)  Sheena’s son’s friend, Randy. The list goes on and on.

Sadly, she is not comfortable writing about the married physical love between Sheena and Tony. It’s stilted and I didn’t believe it.     

Ms. Keim needs to stay in the ‘voice’ of each of her characters. The writing bounced around and was frequently clunky . Sentence structure was a distraction. 

I was hoping that the author would grow in her craft with Book #2 but sadly this was not the case. It’s a shame because the story premise is a good one. I do not recommend this author’s books.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow.  January: In Memory, Sue Grafton.
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 
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Cast Iron by Peter May ~~ A Review

 

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5 out of 5 quills  A Review 

Flawless writing!  Some writers have simply got IT!  Peter May is one of those. 

Cast Iron is proclaimed to be the final episode in the Enzo Files. Years ago Enzo Macleod was challenged/dared to solve seven cold case murders. This one was the toughest of them all because the original evidence (which there was damn little to begin with) was flawed. Macleod must unravel what happened years before in the long dead dynamic of the victim’s family and friends.  Powerful people want to thwart this detective’s efforts at all costs and it gets very personal.

Peter in Spain

Another aspect that this reader really enjoyed was getting to know Macleod’s personal life without it intruding into the murder plot.  The subplot is masterfully accomplished.  

Let’s hope it isn’t the acclaimed finale to the Enzo Files! 
 

Did you miss my Interview with Peter May?
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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author is Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. 
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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