Friday, January 29, 2010


© 2009 by Nan Becklean

ISBN: 978-1-60145-747-9
Publisher: Nanbooks
181 pp.

About the book: “Sarah, a gorgeous, older woman, Lionel, a handsome, older man, Zack, a shy free-lance pilot madly in love with Melody, a luscious wanna-be songwriter-singer, Huxley, a cool, womanizing band leader whose mother, Harriet, thinks is gay and Ben, a lovable robot who observes and tries to understand all, interact in this wild eschatological caper/murder on an idyllic island in August 2073 as the day of reckoning for one of them approaches.”

(Word for the day is eschatological.  I had to look it up as I had NO idea what it meant.  Here's the definition - of or relating to or dealing with or regarding the ultimate destiny of mankind and the world.)

In the year 2056 with all the new medicine, healthy habits and scientific breakthroughs, people are living a lot longer. The country is going broke paying Social Security benefits. The governent decides to offer people the chance to live the last 10 years of their life in complete relaxation with rejuvenated bodies in resort-like compounds in return for agreeing to voluntarily die a peaceful death at age 95. These ‘resorts’ are called H.E.A.V.E.N. – Homeland Equitable Alliance for a Victimless Economy and Nation. Now in 2073, Sarah’s turn is coming in about 2 weeks and she’s decided she isn’t ready to die yet. It was all her husband’s idea in the first place and he’s already gone. As she’s searching for a way out of her predicament, she gets into a fight with an employee who later ends up dead. Sarah is one of many suspects.

Ms. Becklean does a wonderful job with her characters and storyline, and the addition of a thinking, 12-foot-long robotic crocodile guard adds just the right touch to the story. Even though the book touches on some very serious matters, it has humor, romance, science fiction, mystery, and gives you something to think about, too …enjoyable all-around.

Author Marketing Experts, Inc sent me a copy of this book for review.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Future Hope

Future Hope
© 2009 by David Gelber

ISBN: 978-1-934572-34-4
Publisher: Emerald Book Company
SRP: $23.95
350 pp.

About the book: “Earth 2156. The fate of the world rests in the soul of a daring adventurer.

Future earth has forgotten God. Science and technology reign supreme. A benevolent government banishes hunger, poverty, and disease and provides a luxurious lifestyle for an ever-increasing population. However, even science has its limits, and the world faces a crisis of diminishing resources.
 Dr. Deborah Tennyson, a brilliant mathematician, devises the only answer for humankind: Discover new resources through the Interdimensional Transport Protocol (ITP). A brash, self-centered but remarkably talented astropilot, Major David Sanders, takes the responsibility of making the first ITP flights and determining the fate of the earth. Will he find the fame he so desperately craves or much more?

Sanders’ journey through interdimensional space takes him to a world he could never imagine and a spiritual destiny he could never expect.”

Earth 2156 and the government provides for almost everything. The trouble is, earth and the surrounding moons and planets are running out of natural resources. Dr. Tennyson’s idea for interdimensional travel would mean that places that were once unreachable because of the time involved to get there, could be reached in a matter of hours, thus unlocking new solar systems for exploration. Major Sanders is chosen for the first manned fight. Something goes wrong when he goes through the portal and he doesn’t come out the other side. Sanders is lost in another dimension. What he finds there debunks modern government’s agenda that the Bible is just a myth.

I guess you would call this genre Christian science fiction because there is definitely a moral to the story. . It was very well written with an interesting plot and characters but just a tiny bit too much Bible re-telling for me to enjoy this entirely as a novel.

PR by the Book provided me with a copy of this novel to read and review.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meandering Thoughts

I enter a lot of contests and I’ve won twice before from Martha Stewart so I got a little excited when I found an email from her in my Hotmail junk folder. Here's the subject line - "You've been selected for the Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home Giveaway" Wow, right? So I marked it as 'not' junk and hurried to open it. It was just a magazine promo wanting me to refer friends for a CHANCE to win a book and tote. You know, it’s just not right to get people’s hopes up like that.

We had another 6” of snow Sunday night and Monday with very strong winds that caused blizzard conditions again. Not good but better than the ice storm we had last week. We were lucky that our electricity never went off but thousands of others were without for hours and even days. So far this is the 2nd snowiest winter on record and we still have several weeks of winter left. More snow is forecast for tomorrow. Wonder what’s next. The sun is shining today and it looks good but it’s only 20°. I was going to take some photos of the squirrels having breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the bird feeder but my camera batteries are dead.

Isn't this a nice paved road?  It's actually a gravel road paved with ice!

I haven’t had a cold all winter and I usually get a bad one with a cough that lasts for weeks. I’ve been inhaling those wonderful, little clementines, at least 2 a day, and I’m sure the vitamin C has helped. I also run a vaporizer full-time in the house that is good for the houseplants and us. Jim and I went and got the H1N1 flu shots Saturday. There have been a couple of people locally who died from flu complications and I figure why take the chance.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Cold Room

The Cold Room
© 2010 by J.T. Ellison

ISBN: 978-0-7783-2714-1
Publisher: MIRA Books
SRP: $7.99
401 pp.
Available in March

About the book: “Acclaimed thriller author J. T. Ellison returns with a thoroughly-riveting story in The Cold Room, the fourth book in the Taylor Jackson series, following All the Pretty Girls, 14 and Judas Kiss. Homicide Detective Taylor Jackson thinks she's seen it all in Nashville—but she’s never seen anything as perverse as The Conductor. Once his victim is captured, he contains her in a glass coffin, slowly starving her to death. Only then does he give in to his attraction. Later, he creatively disposes of the body by reenacting scenes from famous paintings. Strangely, similar macabre works are being displayed in Europe. Taylor teams up with her fiancĂ©, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, and New Scotland Yard detective, James “Memphis” Highsmythe—a haunted man who only has eyes for Taylor—to put an end to The Conductor’s art collection. Has the killer gone international with his craft? Or are there dueling artists, competing to create the ultimate masterpiece? “

Okay, here’s your word for the day – necrophilia. The killer (killers?) in this book slowly starves his victims to death and only then, does he make love to them. Talk about sick! It makes for a very different criminal for sure. This is the fourth book in the Taylor Jackson series but even without reading the previous ones, it’s quite a good book. The only part I didn’t like were the references to ‘The Pretender” who was evidently part of the previous stories and will be in the next. I needed to know more of his background to really understand what that was about. If you like crime stories which are a little off the beaten path, this is for you. Lots of good detecting skills, interesting characters, a little romance, multi-continent locations, plot twists … just a good-all-around en-GROSS-ing crime story.

I received an ARC of this book from Planned Television Arts.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fireworks Over Toccoa

Fireworks Over Toccoa
© 2010 by Jeffrey Stepakoff

ISBN: 978-0-312-58158-9
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
SRP: $ 22.99
272 pp.

About the book: “Every so often that story comes along that reminds us of what it’s like to experience love for the first time—against the odds, when you least expect it, and with such passion that it completely changes you forever.

An unexpected discovery takes eighty-four-year-old Lily Davis Woodward to 1945, and the five days that forever changed her life. Married for only a few days before her husband was sent to fight in WWII, Lily is anxious for his return, and the chance to begin their life together. In honor of the soldiers' homecoming, the small Georgia town of Toccoa plans a big celebration. And Jake Russo, a handsome Italian immigrant, also back from war, is responsible for the elaborate fireworks display the town commissioned. But after a chance encounter in a star-lit field, he steals Lily's heart and soul--and fulfills her in ways her socially-minded, upper-class family cannot. Now, torn by duty to society and her husband--and the poor, passionate man who might be her only true love--Lily must choose between a commitment she's already made and a love she’s never known before.

Fireworks Over Toccoa takes us to a moment in time that will resonate with readers long after the book’s unforgettable conclusion. A devastating and poignant story, this debut novel will resonate with anyone who believes in love.”

Oh, my….. I don’t read romances too often because I find most of them are cookie-cutter stories and you always know how they’re going to end. This book was different. It really got my emotions stirred up. Lily is the daughter of a wealthy southern family who marries Paul just days before he goes off to war. She’s only seventeen and he’s gone for almost 3 ½ years. Days before Paul is to return home, she meets and falls in love with Jake who’s in town to put on a big fireworks display. Although Lily loves Paul, she realizes that what she feels for Jake is much, much more. What’s Lily to do… stay with Paul out of a sense of duty knowing that the passion she shares with Jake will always be missing from her life, or abandon her husband and family for her one true love? I was almost crying along with Lily as she struggled to make a decision. The author does a fantastic job reminding us that not all love stories have perfect endings. I love the cover, too.

My copy of this book was an ARC but I actually have no idea where it came from.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Full Moon in December

Full Moon in December
Ebook © 2009 by Lisa Rusczyk

ISBN: 978-1-897532-84-3
Publisher: Club Lighthouse Publishing
151 pp.

About the book: “Kayla was so young when her new mom took her. Now she is sixteen and wants to have a real man in the basement. Her new mom, who tells her she can call her Elle now that she's sixteen, says she can pick the next one to collect. Sam was not the one she wanted. She wanted Kelly, the handsome football star. He was something to think about, and Kayla does. All the time. If only she could convince Sam to tell her more about Kelly. Kayla knows that Sam doesn't want to be in the basement, but she also knows that what Elle is doing is important. Kayla doesn't want Elle to die, but what can she do? Elle is changed. She is special. Kayla doesn't want to be changed, but she doesn't want to lose Elle either. All she wants is to know the world. She'd never even seen a highway until a week ago. That was when she had to bury the bad man Mike in the earth with the roots of the plants. Elle and the Aunties and Uncle Bingo all say her abilities with the earth are unique. Kayla doesn't know what that means. In this second book of the night person series, Sam must face his fears and his strength. Will he ever again find the peace of the moonlight? Will his captors ever let him go? What does this "changed" person want from him anyway? He only has time to figure all this out. Kelly, the young night person he instructed so long ago, may still come to his rescue without him having to do anything he doesn't want to. But if circumstances change, what decisions will he make?”

This book picks up a few years after Sam the Night Person ended. It has some wonderfully interesting characters and plots but it took awhile for the story pieces to come together. Dall, Jeffrey, and Rose are in Montana, Sam and Kelly in North Carolina, and others elsewhere with different story lines that are seemingly unrelated until late in the book. Everything is explained and everyone gets together eventually but it’s a twisty tale to get there. Good book for fantasy lovers. I do recommend you read Sam the Night Person first.  It really helped to understand this one.

I was provided with an ebook copy by Lisa Rusczyk.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Book Giveaway! Michael Palmer's The Last Surgeon

As promised, I have another book giveaway. Michael Palmer has generously offered an autographed copy of his new book, The Last Surgeon that will be available on February 16. You can read my review here. The book will be sent by Mr. Palmer so be sure to include your email address in your post so I can contact you. The contest will run until February 1 so you have 2 weeks to get your entries in.

Contest rules: I’m keeping this very simple. Post a comment for one  entry. You MUST include your email address in your post…if not, your entry will not count. If someone enters  and clearly says who sent them, (and their entry is valid),  the referrer will get another entry, so spread the word. Contest ends February 1, 2010 at midnight central time. Entries will be numbered and winner will be selected randomly, notified by email, and asked for their mailing info. They’ll have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected. I’ll forward the mailing info to Mr. Palmer and he will send the book after publication. Good luck

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dino Vicelli, Private Eye in a World of Evils

Dino Vicelli,
Private Eye in a World of Evils
© 2009 by Lori Weiner

ISBN: 978-1-4349-0294-8
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.
SRP: $10.00
91 pp.

About the book: “This story transports the reader to an alternate-reality version of New York City, in which talking dogs interact regularly with humans. The hero, Dino Vicelli, is a private investigator who just happens to be a sharply dressed Italian greyhound with a great fondness for cigars. He takes on what initially appears to be a routine missing person case but soon finds himself in the midst of a sinister plot that involves kidnapping, murder, and bizarre scientific experiments aimed at controlling the world. As he investigates this strange case, Dino repeatedly encounters mortal danger, while also finding romance with a beautiful blonde Afghan dog.

With its unusual twists on the traditional detective story genre, this book blends elements of humor, suspense, and fantasy.”

This was definitely a different book. I’m not sure who the intended audience is, but I suspect teens or a little younger as I found the book rather juvenile and it has several illustrations. Some of the characters are dogs and others are humans and sometimes it was hard to remember who was who. The plot was good but the story skipped around a bit. If you like fantasy stories with a different twist, you may like this. It wasn’t one of my favorites.....but then again, I'm a cat person.

This book was provided to me for review by Carol Fass Publicity and Public Relations.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sam the Night Person

Sam the Night Person
© 2009 by Lisa Rusczyk

A Club Lighthouse Publishing E-Book
177 pp.

About the book: "Sam stays up all night, drinks coffee without pause, chain smokes cigarettes and secretly talks to the moon. Azzy knows it, but doesn’t know why or how.

Azzy has been having a series of obsessive daydreams about a young man named Sam. He seems to be a magician of sorts. All she knows is that she can’t eat, sleep, drive or work. All she can do is think of Sam. She is in love, and she must find him.

She follows a daydream to a Colorado lodge where she has seen Sam in her mind. To her astonishment, he appears there the very next day. He doesn’t believe her, but who would? Is she crazy?

Sam and Azzy have a connection. Where did it come from? And who is behind it all? Of course, there’s always a reason for everything. Azzy’s daydreams were no accident.

Will they be able to withstand the man behind the torment? After years being apart, they find themselves facing the most destructive man of water magic they have ever known. He threatens their love. Together in heart and apart by necessity, they must find a way to stop him."

I have to admit I was hesitant to read this. The title suggests yet another vampire story and I am NOT into vamps. I was pleasantly surprised to find a hero and heroine of a completely different nature. Yes, Sam is a night person, but he draws his supernatural abilities from the moon, not from the blood of innocent victims. He’s one of a small race of people who live under the radar. There are others who are day people and derive their powers from the sun, and water and earth people. Although not necessarily friends, they co-exist peacefully for the most part. Azzy is a special kind of psychic who can get into the minds of these people but she doesn’t realize it yet. All she knows is she’s going crazy because all she does is daydream about the unknown Sam. The daydreams she has don’t make any sense to her and yet she’s fallen in love with him. She travels to Colorado, meets him, and finds out her daydreams are true. But does he believe her and return her feelings? And why did someone make her dream about him in the first place? I can’t say too much more without giving away the plot but I did enjoy the story. The characters are interesting with lots of good dialogue, the plot different, and the ending dramatic. I’m looking forward to reading more in Lisa’s next story, Full Moon in December.

I was provided with an ebook to review by Lisa Rusczyk

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Brightest Moon of the Century

The Brightest Moon of the Century
Christopher Meeks © 2009

About the book: “In Christopher Meeks’s The Brightest Moon of the Century, Edward, a young Minnesotan, is blessed with an abundance of “experience” – first when his mother dies and next when his father, an encyclopedia salesman, shoehorns Edward into a private boys school where he’s tortured and groomed.

Edward needs a place in the universe, but he wants an understanding of women. He stumbles into romance in high school, careens through dorm life in college, whirls into a tornado of love problems as a mini-mart owner in a trailer park in Alabama, and aims for a film career in Los Angeles.

In nine chapters, the reader experiences Edward’s life from ages 14 to 45. This is the first novel from Christopher Meeks, which follows his highly acclaimed collections of short stories, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons.”

I enjoyed this coming-of-age story following Edward as he made his way through the boys school, college away from home, trying to become a film maker in California, and especially, when he and his friend were running the mini-mart in Alabama. Although a jerk at times, he was also a hard worker and had definite goals he wanted to achieve. He struggled to find his niche both in business and with the right partner. There was no perfect ending to the book. It pointed the way and then left you to draw your own conclusions as to where Edward would go next in his life’s journey.

ISBN: 978-0-615-24914-8
Publisher: White Whisker Books
319 pp.
SRP: $18.95

I won my copy of this book from

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fatal Gamble

Fatal Gamble © 2008 by JP O’Donnell

About the book: “Twenty years ago a group of doctors formed a partnership to build a medical office plaza in Massachusetts. While it wasn’t the most above-board deal ever made, the doctors have found continued profit and success – until now.

Someone wants the doctors dead, and he or she has already succeeded in murdering two of them. The identity of the killer remains unknown. It is a madman with a vendetta against the medical profession, a small-time bookie seeking revenge for a shady real estate deal, or a disgruntled former construction manager who was unjustly fired?

The widow of one of the slain doctors has a clue – but she’s too afraid to tell the police. She hires Boston private investigator Daniel Gallagher to help track down the murderer. But as Gallagher begins to unravel the mystery, he finds himself entangled in a web of danger and political intrigue.

With the stakes growing higher, Gallagher faces a growing threat to keep him quiet before he reveals the damaging truth. But when push comes to shove, has Gallagher made a Fatal Gamble?"

I read JP O’Donnell’s second Gallagher book, Deadly Codes last month and reviewed it here. Fatal Gamble is the first in the series. While I wish I had read this one first, both are good stand-alone stories. Gallagher is a very likeable person and puts all his effort into whatever case he is working on. Unfortunately, that can lead to trouble for him and those close to him. In this story, he gets mixed up with crooked politicians, the Las Vegas underworld, and cops who want him to stay out of their way. O’Donnell keeps the reader’s interest well as Gallagher searches for clues. There are no huge surprises but lots of action and tense moments as Gallagher races to solve the mystery before the killers decide he’s next on their list. Mr. O’Donnell is currently working on book three of the Gallagher series and I look forward to reading it.

ISBN: 978-0-595-51409-0
Publisher: iUniverse
SRP: $17.95
258 pp.

Fatal Gamble is also available as a free audio book at .

I received a complimentary copy of this book from JP O’Donnell.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Note to Mother Nature - ENOUGH ALREADY!

This is part of my front yard this afternoon.  There's a sidewalk going out to the road and I had shoveled once before this photo was taken, but it filled right back in.  The drifts on either side are about 4 feet high.  We were lucky that a neighbor came down and plowed out Jim's parking place across the road later. (His truck won't fit in the garage.)

We are having one of the worst winters in history here in central Iowa. In December we had about 2 feet of snow, which is a lot for us. Yesterday we got another 6” of light, fluffy snow and today the wind is blowing about 25 mph with gusts up to 40 or 45 mph and the snow is drifting high. The decision to cancel our schools was made last night and travel isn’t advised today because of drifting and poor visibility. Of course, that didn’t mean people didn’t go to work, including my hubby…no work, no pay.

Jim drives a 4-wheel-drive pickup but that doesn’t guarantee he’ll get where he’s going. He spun out coming down the river hill on the way home last night and barely kept it out of the ditch. Luckily, on-coming traffic was able to get out of his way and the guy behind him dropped back. It scared him badly and he was pretty upset when he did finally get home. He said the road was so snow covered, you couldn’t tell if you were on it or off.

Added to the snow and wind are very cold temperatures. Tonight’s windchills are going to be about –40°. Tomorrow night it’s supposed to get about –20° actual temperature. We’ve had it that low already this winter here on the river bottom so it will probably be colder here. The cold water at the kitchen sink has frozen up every night for about a week. The kitchen was added on and only has a crawl space under it. Winter is just a pain in the butt!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Abandoned and Forgotten

Abandoned and Forgotten:
An Orphan Girl’s Tale of Survival During World War II
by Evelyne Tannehill ©2006

About the book: “Much has been written about World War II, but not often do we hear about the immeasurable suffering of the Germans who wanted no part of Hitler’s regime.
Abandoned and Forgotten is the memoir of a young girl growing up in the then-German province of East Prussia by the Baltic Sea. Orphaned at the age of nine and left to fend for herself in a hostile world, Evelyne Tannehill witnessed firsthand what happens when law and order break down and self-preservation becomes the only thing that matters. Her journey is a poignant example of how resilient the human spirit can be, even in the face of war’s greatest horrors.

The author, Evelyne Tannehill, was born in January of 1936 in the German province of East Prussia. She was a dual citizen of Germany and the United States due to the US citizenship of her father. She lived and attended school in Germany until the age of sixteen at which time she came to the United States.”

I’ve heard the history and seen photos of what Hitler’s army did to the Jews, as you probably have. This book, however, tells another side of the story – what happened to the German citizens when first the Russian army and then the Polish people took over what was then East Prussia. It’s told from the viewpoint of a little, orphaned German girl and what she went through will break your heart. I know I never could have survived the things she did and the fact that she did survive and live to tell about it is amazing. The book is written in a very straightforward way and pulls no punches. As Ms. Tannehill’s friend Georg said to her many years later, “The cruelty of war spares no one. Good and evil have no nationality. In war, atrocities are committed on all sides.” Read the book and hopefully, you’ll take something good away from it. I know I’ll be thinking about it for some time.

For more about the book visit .

ISBN: 978-1-58736-693-2
Publisher: Wheatmark
SRP: $29.95
431 pp.

I received this book in return for doing a review from Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Last Surgeon - Michael Palmer

I’ll start the new year with the review of a really great thriller, one of the best I’ve read in quite a while. I hope you like it as much as I did.

About the book: “Everyone told Jillian Coates that her sister’s suicide was just that – a suicide. Everyone told Dr. Nick Garrity that his best friend, Lieutenant Umberto Vasquez, had simply disappeared, battling the demons of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jillian doesn’t believe it. Nick doesn’t believe it. And soon, they discover a chilling connection between these two seemingly random events…a common denominator that will lead a killer to the next victim…. and the last surgeon.

 The Last Surgeon, like each of Michael's books, is built around a medical ethical issue. Two years ago, Michael met a Marine veteran with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Moved by their conversation, Michael began thinking about weaving a story around this sad, frightening condition.

The result is The Last Surgeon--the terrifying tale of Army trauma surgeon Nick Garrity, working on a mobile medical van caring for vets and the homeless in D.C., while he tries to conquer the fallout from the suicide bomber who killed everyone in Nick's field hospital in Afghanistan except Nick and his best friend Umberto. When Umberto, whose PTSD is even more virulent than Nick's, disappears, Nick is brought into the crosshairs of brilliant psychopath Franz Koller, the remorseless master of the non-kill-murder that does not look like murder."

As I've said before, mysteries/thrillers are my favorite genre. This novel fits that label perfectly. It has a very interesting story line, likeable good characters and a really evil bad one, tie-ins to the current political scene, loads of drama and suspense with a little romance thrown in, and a tense build-up to a great ending. It was interesting in that you knew who the killer was early in the book, but not the reason for the killings. The book will be released on February 16th but you can pre-order the it now from Michael is also releasing exclusive material to his followers via Facebook and Twitter. You can win exclusive prizes for becoming involved. I'll also be having a contest soon for a personalized copy of The Last Surgeon so be sure and watch for that.

ISBN: 978-0312587499
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date of publish: Feb 16, 2010
Pages: 384
S.R.P.: $26.99

Bostick Communications and Michael Palmer provided an ARC of the book to me for review.