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Book Review ~~ Shadow of Murder by Trisha Sugarek

D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review      ‘Book 8 in the ‘World of Murder’ series more than does justice to its companions as it creates both a stand-alone read that requires no prior familiarity with the series, yet dovetails nicely with the emotion-packed approaches and mystery themes of its predecessors.

Homicide Detective Stella Garcia and her partner Sergeant Detective Jack O’Roarke are again challenged by murder, with Jack’s new marriage serving as a quiet opening success to events which quickly turn into hair-raising circumstances based on a true crime.A deadly and gruesome mass shooting of Indian women and children in a family-run store, the killer’s desire to destroy a lovely young woman who neither wanted nor knew him. Unrequited love steeps the story line with a passion and drive that makes it feel true to life and hard to put down.

Forensic profiling has done a good job of identifying the pattern of the deaths; but now it’s up to Garcia and O’Roarke to put together the pieces in a case that leads them to not only identify the perp, but understand what happened and why. The latter charge is what readers are also tasked with in a story line that moves back and forth across time and events to build its case for how events arrived at such a shocking crescendo of violence.

What keeps Shadow of Murder thought-provoking and absorbing is not the ‘whodunnit’ piece; but the ‘why’, which goes into revealing detail about the psychology of a killer’s motivations and psyche. Readers looking for a gripping short murder story which is more psychologically charged than most will appreciate this murder mystery, which pairs a gripping saga with insights that compel reflection long after the case is solved.’
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Book Review ~~ Invitation to Poetry by Mihai Brinas

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4 out 5 quills  ~~  A Review 

I rarely review books for writers I’m not familiar with…and before you judge me…I’m not a book snob. I don’t review those books because I don’t want to have to write a tough critique. New author/writers should be encouraged and lifted up. Not torn down.  But this poet intrigued me. His poetry had something to say. 

let there be rain ©

he was feeling different
he was just waiting to be seen by the world
a world that did not read poetry books anymore
you could not even find books
as if somebody had burnt them in a huge incinerator
as he was different he has gathered up there
the ashes of poetry books
he is scattering it above everybody
with just a single blow
so it may rain with poetry

Mihai stops us and makes us see a camera shot of the lonely, exhibit guard; the invisible ones. Hidden Truths hurt my heart and what more could a poet ask for. The Healed Healer  was truly beautifully written.  I wish the titles of the poetry were shorter in some cases, but that’s just personal taste. The English translation could be cleaned up….but no….that is perhaps part of the charm. 

I agree with Mihai that poetry is forgotten and not read enough. If you feel the need for a little poetry, I highly recommend his books. The verse is not shallow and you may want to read a poem over a second time…but it’s certainly gratifying and worth the reader’s time. 

 

Bio:  Mihai Brinas is a young (25) poet, living in Arad, Romania. He has published two poetry ebooks .’Invitation to Poetry’ in October 2017 and ‘Alignment of Thoughts’ in February 2018. He ‘loves life, poetry, reading. His favorite place is the town library where he enjoys seeing and touching random books while walking among the shelves.  The smell of books. To be able to choose and read one book or another.’ He writes: ‘when the emotion takes the arm of my thought and asks it out for a stroll.’

 

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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: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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A Book Review ~~ The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing     3 out of 5 quills     A Review

I was disappointed in this latest offering in the Maggie Hope series. The plot was so implausible that, after a few chapters, I hurried to the back of the book, hoping for an author’s note. Sure enough, this plot was  far-fetched but based upon truth.  MI-6 and S.O.E. actually had a ‘cooler’ where the British intelligence community sent, what they deemed, their ‘unstable’ agents. 

So why was I having such a hard time connecting with the story? Usually I adore  Maggie Hope and the series. For one thing,  I didn’t care about the other agents. There wasn’t enough of a back story on each of them for this reader to care whether they lived or died.

Just too many clichés for me. A castle and a stormy night, tripping over dead bodies, the wife locked in a castle tower. By this time in the series, Maggie is too high up in the espionage business to be unceremoniously thrown into an island prison by her own government! I couldn’t buy it. She has kept countless secrets for the realm, why is she not being trusted to keep this latest one?

Then in the last forty pages, or so, I felt like I’d been dropped into an action film, with bombs going off and Maggie having to swim for her life. It was disconcerting and unbelievable.  I just wasn’t that excited about this book, but I remain a fan. The rest of the series is one of my favorites in this genre. 

Released today. Click here

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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: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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A Book Review ~~ Green Fees by Manning Wolfe

3 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Reviewreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

The plot was good, the story entertaining. The main characters were interesting, but the supportive characters (Deuteragonists) were more dynamic than the main protagonists. Merit Bridges frequently teetered on being a cliché  but was  brought back just in the nick of time. Mark Green was empathetic and I found  myself rooting for him. 

The story was too golf specific for the general reading public. Golfers will love how the author weaved the game of golf  through the plot. But non-golfers might find it too much. Those readers will not understand the lingo or care anything about the PGA. This reviewer fears it might be a turn-off.  And if the author is going to tell a story where golf plays such a large role (it’s almost a character in itself) then she should have stopped to integrate an explanation of golf terms into the story. Or a glossary should have been included.
For example I don’t remember seeing an explanation for the word ‘par’. (Par is the predetermined number of strokes that a scratch/expert golfer should require to complete a hole. Par is determined by guidelines set by the US Golf Association.) 

If a non-golf enthusiast gets as far as the last round of the PGA Championship (20 pages before the end of the book) they will be drawn in because of the excellent writing in this section. Despite their lack of knowledge (about golf) they will be cheering Mark Green on to victory. 

Did you miss my Interview with Manning Wolfe
Green Fees on sale now 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  June: Manning Wolfe. July: K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Sept: Jonathan Rabb, December: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Book Review ~~ When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

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5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review

 

Perfection!  Saying anything more would be superfluous.

If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery, you must read this one!  If you’ve never heard of Susan (fat chance) you must read this story. The writing is (like I said) perfect. The characters are so interesting and believable. And the plot…oh, the plot.  Delicious! 

Readers of my reviews know that I don’t write spoilers…nothing has changed. I’m not a writer of cliff notes. You have to experience this entire journey that Susan takes her readers on.  But I will say this; the way Mallery brings the four main characters together is flawless writing.  

Reminder: In August I will be interviewing Susan Mallery and asking her about her writing processes.

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

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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.
                                                                                   
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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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