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Book Review ~ Schugara by Joe English

 

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5 out of 5 quills.  Book Review  

 

If you like words as much as I do (and you know how much I do) you will love this book. Words chosen and arranged so masterfully. English’s use of language is superb. No surprise, maybe, as the author took thirty years to complete the book. And he was still editing when he sent me the advanced reader’s copy. That’s dedication…but it also shows in the final product. 

I don’t writer spoilers…that is, I don’t include the whole story (as so many reviewers do) in any of my book reviews. I review the writing and the story. Is the writing good? Is the story entertaining and complex? Are the characters believable and do I care about them?  In the case of Schugara the answers are a resounding ‘YES’!

We’ve all wanted to run away and reinvent ourselves at some point in our lives. I certainly have…upon reflection I have actually done it! And that’s what this story is about. Several characters run away and they end up on the same remote island in the Caribbean. This book will require your full attention. It is not ‘light reading’ as the multiple characters are rich and the story complex. 

My only negative critique is with the publisher. The back cover of the book does not give a synopsis of the story to lure a reader into buying it. Reviews are fine but they should be taglines on the back cover and full reviews saved for inside the book.   The format is very distracting. (Maybe the issues were only in my advanced copy. Let’s hope so.) Unjustified spaces. Indents too deep. All these issues, including line spacing, contribute to the final number of pages, 500+, and may be a negative when a reader considers buying the book. Believe it or not, buyers check to see how many pages there are. No effort was made to create an author’s page on Amazon.com and other outlets, which is basic marketing. The readers want to know more about the book and its author. 

Having said my piece about the production of the book, it’s a fine piece of writing and I congratulate the author. Waiting anxiously for his next book. I think there’s a book in Joe Rogers, Zero and the bookstore, The Yellow Harp. 

Did you catch my interview with this author?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  other AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
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Book Review ~~ Colorblind by Reed Coleman Farr (Robert B. Parker)

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

I have been wandering the streets of Paradise, Massachusetts with Jesse Stone for over 15 years and {over two decades with Spenser in Boston}. Following Jesse as he tries to make his little town a little safer. We all loved the creator of these wonderful mysteries, Robert B. Parker. After his death, Reed Farrel Coleman and Ace Atkins took over these series, helping the Parker estate to keep them alive. 

The latest offering is Colorblind. Whether by intent or coincidence, it’s a timely story of racism, bigotry and tribalism. The plot is complex while remaining very entertaining and keeps readers on their toes.  And if you’re a series fan of any writer, as I am, it’s always fun to meet back up with recurring characters, such as Molly Crane, Luther ‘Suitcase’ Simpson, and Healy. 

I am constantly amazed at the writer who can speak in another writer’s voice. Reed Farrel Coleman does this flawlessly. Giving the fans of Robert B. Parker years more of his stories, even though he is gone. I’ve never been one to write spoilers in my reviews. It’s all about the writing for me. The story. The Characters.  But I will tell you, there is a huge surprise in Jesse Stone’s story line. I mean HUGE! 

Another winner and I highly recommend it. 

Did you miss my Interview with Reed Farrel Coleman?
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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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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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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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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.
                        
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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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Interview with author, Larry D. Sweazy (conclusion)

Larry with wife, Rose

   Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

 LS. Yes, See Also Proof, the third book in the Marjorie Trumaine Mystery series releases May 1, 2018. Marjorie is mourning the loss of her husband. It’s winter in North Dakota. Cold. Snowy. A neighbor’s fourteen year-old disabled daughter disappears, and Marjorie joins the search. I think it’s my most personal Marjorie book to date.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

LS. I wrote poetry and short stories in high school, and beyond, but I was close to thirty when I started sending out short stories to be published. I sold my first short story in 1993 to a little magazine called Hardboiled for five bucks. That was a great day.

Q. How long after that were you published?

Kassi and Sunny meet a new friend

LS. I realized early on that if I wanted to really make it as writer that I needed to write novels. It took me a long time. I published my first novel in 2009. It was the seventh novel I’d written. I promised myself that I would write ten novels. If I didn’t get published by then, I could quit with my head held up high, knowing that I’d given the dream to be a writer everything I had. Luckily, I didn’t have to quit. Not that I would have anyway…

Q. What makes a writer great?

LS. Always being a student.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

LS. A year of butt in the chair. Write, revise, walk the dogs a lot, revise more, rewrite more. Let it go when it’s ready, and not until. Writing is a job. I show up every day and write a thousand words, or revise a thousand words a day, or rewrite a thousand words a day, no matter what. I wrote the day of my mother’s funeral. On Christmas. On my birthday. At midnight, and every hour in between. Writing a book is an obsession. If it’s not that way for the writer, then how could the story be and obsession for the reader?

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

LS. Here’s the thing I learned early on: Life’s not fair. You’ve got a choice to learn from a bad experience or to be bitter about it. One or the other is going to dictate the direction your life takes, how you handle the bad days and the great days. Publishing is a tough business. Being bitter just kills the spirit and the desire to make a go of it, especially when it looks like things are never going to work out…Don’t be bitter no matter what. That will destroy your dreams faster than anything.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

LS. I write westerns and mysteries at the moment. I’m not married to any genre, really. I think the story determines the genre, not the other way around.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

LS. I know every day that I’m a lucky guy when I sit down to write. I’ve published fourteen novels, and spent half my life as a published writer all because readers have read my work and liked it. I’m humbled and grateful.

 

Did you miss part 1 or 2: Click here 

SEE ALSO PROOF will be released for sale May 1st. 
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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.
                        
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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A Review ~~ The Wanted by Robert Crais

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5 out of 5 quills             

A Review ~~ The Wanted                                                                                                  

A good old fashioned murder mystery reminiscent of the writings of John McDonald and Robert Parker.  Simply and beautifully crafted, Robert Crais weaves a great story. Like myself, new readers to Crais will be delighted. And his fans are counting the days until the newest in the Elvis Cole & Joe Pike novel is released. 

A panicked mother, goes to veteran PI Elvis Cole as a last act of desperation.  She fears ‘her son is in deep sh– trouble’  when she found things in his bedroom that indicate that he has been stealing from other people.  Oh, if it were only that simple.  Tyson and his two buddies have committed a string of home burglaries and, by accident, have stolen from a really, really bad guy.  Now two hit men are on their trail and the big question is: will Elvis find the two teenagers before these hired killers find them and silence them forever? 

I readily admit this is my first novel by Crais and I look forward to catching up with Elvis and Joe in the other books in this series.  A highly recommended read!

On sale at all book stores December 26th. 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?   October’s author was Donna Kauffman. November: Rita Avaud a Najm. December: British writer, J.G. Dow. 
                                                                                   
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Emma and the Lost Unicorn, A Children’s Book

Announcing the second edition of this popular children’s chapter book, Emma & the Lost Unicorn

Book 1 of the Fabled Forest Series: Emma, an earthling girl visits her friends in the forest with great regularity. She delights in the antics of Stare, the rhetorical owl and Cheets, the mischievous elf.  One day she’s introduced to Rainey, the unicorn,  a prince who’s been banished, for centuries, by the warlord, Hazard.   He can never return home unless Emma solves more riddles than Hazard’s Lieutenant, Kodak. The fable ends with a surprise twist which will delight readers young and old.  While written for children, this fairy tale is sophisticated enough to appeal to adults as well.

Queens, warlords, faeries, elves, unicorns, handmaidens, scary henchmen and one small mortal girl child in an enchanted forest.  This fable offers many subtle lessons.

 

Available in illustrated paperback, audio-books and e-books at all book stores. 

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greed, ecology, elves, warlords, love, friendship

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Book 4 in the series/Beautiful illustrations

 

The Hangman’s Sonnet by Reed Farrel Coleman ~ A Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingA Review     4 out of 5 quills

Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone is back!  Beleaguered and grief riddled but still standing….except, that is,  when he’s falling down drunk.  

This is a very layered plot. It’s a murder mystery for certain but layered with  the disappearance of a master reel of an album. The artist, Jester, was right up there will the Bee Jees, the Beatles and the Beach Boys. The team had just finished his best album, in the studio, when the master went missing. For forty years.  

Readers continue to fall more in love with the tiny police force of Paradise. Molly Crane, Luther ‘Suitcase’ Simpson and some new additions like Alisha. But, this time around, I found myself being a little annoyed by Jesse Stone’s eternal angst. Okay, I get it. He’s had some tough breaks, brought on mostly by himself and….Johnny Walker.  Stop repeating your mistakes and suck it up, Jesse!

In spite of my irritation, the story is good and entertaining. You won’t be disappointed!  It still astounds me, as a writer, how these wonderful authors can so successfully speak in Robert Parker’s voice.

 

On Sale: September 12th  To purchase
Did you miss my Interview with Reed Farrel Coleman?    

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 MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    In August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon. September we host Dylan Callens and Oct.’s author is Donna Kauffman. 
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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